Croatia is a glorious crescent-shaped country that bridges the central European and Meditteranean worlds. Sat alongside neighbours like Hungary and Slovenia, you’ll find that Croatia’s borders are very different and less distinguishable compared to only 20 years ago.
Across it’s deep and dramatic history, the country has been occupied by the Illyrians, Romans, Slavs, Austro-Hungarians and Venetians, to mention a few. As a result, it’s history is now a melting pot of brilliant culture, cuisines and rich architecture.
Croatia’s distinctive orange-tiled roof cities start to tell this story as you wander through the maze of streets.
Beyond its history, Croatia has so much to offer. There’s thousands of miles of glimmering coastline, gateways to the vast number of islands scattered in the Adriatic sea just waiting to be hopped.
Croatia’s National Parks
Alternatively, you can head inland to one of Croatia’s 8 national parks. These parks are filled with adventure, whether it be hiking 1,528m to Risnjak peak or exploring Plitvice Lakes National Park. Considered THE National Park of Croatia, hours can be spent admiring it’s 16 iner-connecting lakes, numerous waterfalls, gorgeous nature and thriving wildlife.
Our top 3 places to visit in Croatia
It’s no wonder Croatia has become such a popular destination for travellers from all over the world. This is especially true for the 3 places below that have been firmly put on the map:
- Dubrovnik – Yes, this is the famous destination in Croatia where Game of Thrones was filmed. Once you visit this city it will become very clear why they choose Dubrovnik as the perfect film setting. The well-preserved Medieval city walls, churches, monasteries and palaces are just beyond stunning. A walking tour here is a must to both appreciate Dubrovniks beauty, as well as its history. Check out this page to find out on how to travel from Split to Dubrovnik.
- Hvar – With an average of 7.7 hours of sunshine a day, holidaymakers flock to the island of Hvar and the surrounding islands, making it a world famous destination for sailing boats to dock at the harbour of Hvar. Besides the gorgeous harbour filled with luxury yachts, you’ll find delicious seafood restaurants, cocktail bars and clubs that go on until sunrise. Taking the ferry from Split to Hvar only takes about 1 hour.
- Split – the most popular gateway to many of Croatia’s islands, but that’s not all the city has to offer. Split is the largest city on the Dalmatian coast and boasts the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its history-rich Old Town. See here how to get from Dubrovnik to Split.
These may be Croatia’s most popular cities, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best place to visit. Here’s some of our other favourites you should check out:
- Zagreb (capital city)
- Plitvice National Park
And if you really want to get off the beaten track, Croatia’s interior is dotted with quaint villages as well as the magnificent Dinaric Alps mountains.
When’s the best time to travel to Croatia?
Instinctively you’re probably thinking the best time to travel to Croatia is when the weather is at its best. The sun shining, not a cloud in the sky, making that dip in the sea that bit more refreshing.
Well, you along with millions of other tourists have both had the same thought.
The saying ‘packed like sardines’ comes to mind when we think of Croatia in July/August. Okay, it’s not that bad, but it is busy! The streets are packed, the beaches rammed and prices are hiked up too.
If you have the chance, we recommend travelling in the shoulder months instead – May (~21°C), June (~25°C), September (~23°C), October (~18°C). These months may not be as hot, but your experience of Croatia will be so much better! Also for those on a tight budget, with lower prices during these months, it should make travelling a bit easier on your wallet.
Winter-time in Croatia offers a very different experience. For most people, Croatia is a flurry of waterfalls and dips in the glorious sea, but at temperatures between 5 and 10°C, it’s unlikely you’ll be doing either of those.
With fewer tourists, a lot of businesses decide to close up for the winter, limiting your choice of restaurants, bars and things to do. Also if you’re a solo traveller, it may make meeting new people slightly harder.
The plus side? You get to experience a Croatia that most tourists miss, a Croatia that usually just reserved for locals.
How to get around in Croatia
Your budget, the number of people you’re travelling with, whether you have a driver’s license or not, are all factors that will influence how you decide to travel around Croatia.
- By car – hiring a car offers you ultimate convenience, comfort and privacy. It means you can explore wherever you like in Croatia, whenever you like. In low season, you can rent a car for a few euros per day. Check Skyscanner Car Rental to find the best rental prices.
- By bus – The Croatian bus network is extensive and should be your go-to public transport when travelling around the country. Bus tickets are fairly cheap and can be bought either online or directly at the bus station. If you buy a return ticket, the price can be discounted by up to 60% – a good tip to know!
- By ferry – if one of Croatia’s islands is on your list, then the only way to reach them is by ferry. Ferries are cheap as long as you don’t have a car with you.
- By taxi – Taxis are a pretty expensive form of transport in Croatia and most of the taxi’s are metered. If you’re more of a fan of Uber, you’ll find that it operates in most of the major cities but in Dubrovnik only between June and October.
- By plane – a lot of the larger cities including Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split etc. have airports. If you’re short on time and want to get from one end of the country to the other, you may consider flying. However, flights aren’t cheap and it’s not the best for the environment.
The perfect packing list for Croatia
Let us stop right there. The perfect packing list doesn’t exist. It completely depends on what you need to exist and function on a day to day basis. This is different for everyone.
If you’re visiting Croatia during the summer, it’s going to be hot. Make sure to bring loose fitting clothes and of course your swimwear. The shoulder months can start to get a bit colder during the evenings, so it’s a good shout to bring a light jacket or jumper.
Remember: overpacking may seem like a good idea when you’re at home, but when you’re lugging around heavy luggage, you’ll regret it.
Aside from the essential travel gear, here are some that have become permanent fixtures on our packing list:
- Reusable water bottle – they’re better for the environment and can save you money on water.
- A portable charger – there’s probably going to be a time when your phone’s battery is on red, at a time that you desperately need it.
- An adaptor – Croatia uses the same plugs as most of Europe (C&F). A universal travel adaptor is a great purchase if you’re travelling between different continents.
- Suncream – The sun in Croatia can be extremely strong. Especially when spending a lot of time in or near the water, you won’t notice the burning sun until you arrive back at your hotel. Better take care of your skin and pack enough suncream!
What other tips should you know?
Here’s a selection of the best tips and pieces of information that may make your trip to Croatia that little bit easier:
The official currency is Croatian Kuna. A pint of beer is 14 to 20 kuna, around €2 to give you some perspective.
It’s good to always have some cash on you as not all establishments take cards. If you’re in one of the big cities, you won’t have to walk far to find the next ATM.
Croatian is the official language that is spoken by around 95% of the population.
It’s always good to know a few essential words before travelling to a place, so here’s a few to get you started:
- Thank you – Zdravo
- Please – Molim
- Sorry – Oprosti
- Beer – Pivo
The best way to truly get to know a country is through its food, so here’s a list of foods you must try:
- Strukli – a pastry filled with cottage cheese and sour cream
- Black risotto – risotto made with squid ink
- Burek – a flaky pastry filled with meat, cheese or vegetables