What are some travel tips for Croatia
In this week's Croatia travel tips we share our information for first trips to Croatia. Readers of our blog often send us e-mails with questions about their upcoming and often first-time visit to Croatia. So we decided to post a post with some of the most common concerns, misunderstandings, and general tips.
Even if you have been to Croatia before, we hope that you will find some useful tips for your next vacation in Croatia here.
Even if you've been to Croatia before, we hope you find some useful tips for your next vacation in Croatia.
Croatia Travel Tips: Everything You Need To Know If Your First Time To Croatia
Find a centrally located location
You can't visit the whole country in a week. No matter how small Croatia is, the country is long and you have to travel 700 km from Umag in the northwest to Dubrovnik in the southeast. Plus, there are so many places to visit in Croatia that you just can't do everything in a week or two.
If you want to visit more than one location, stay in one central location. Take day trips from your base location.
Split can be a great base from which to visit Dalmatia (Split is a great city!). From Split you can easily reach the islands of Brac, Hvar, Korcula and Vis, Trogir, Omis, Krka and even Dubrovnik.
Porec is an ideal starting point to visit Istria. It is centrally located to visit all the highlights of Istria within an hour's drive. It's cheaper than Rovinj.
Get in the car, go on a road trip!
Croatia is a perfect destination for trips by car. If you don't have one, we recommend renting one. The roads are in very good condition and the scenery is breathtaking.
Our preferred routes are trips along the Adriatic coastal road from Split to Dubrovnik, along the Peljesac peninsula and around Istria. Here you will find our articles about driving in Croatia and car rental in Croatia.
Visit local restaurants
In my opinion, travelers often leave our country with the wrong impression about the food.
Along the coast, locals prefer the roast lamb. But if the Germans, our largest number of guests, want their roast pork, then we will be happy to prepare it for them.
Many restaurants cater to tourists only and aren't particularly exciting. You know the places where pasta, pizza, risotto, grilled meat and a fish plate for two are offered ?! For a better understanding with photos of the plates.
Please try to eat at least once in restaurants where the locals eat.
Island hopping on your own is not that easy
Many readers of our blog, as well as our friends, imagine jumping from one island to another within a week on their first visit to Croatia and visiting half a dozen of them.
This is not possible. Although the islands are not geographically far apart, they are still not that easy to get to. Most of the time, if you plan to visit more than one island during your short stay in Croatia, you'll need to choose a mainland port city for your base.
We're sorry to disappoint you, but the only way to visit multiple islands is by renting a yacht or one of the charter boats that sail along the Adriatic Sea.
Zagreb is the starting point for many in Croatia, but the majority of travelers either visit the city for just a few hours or continue traveling straight away. Error! Zagreb is wonderful, especially in the summer when a lot of locals are leaving the city, the traffic is less and there are many outdoor performances.
Include Zagreb on your Croatia itinerary! Check out all the wonderful things to do in Zagreb here or read our post on the best places to stay in Zagreb.
Shop at a local market
Croatians love to buy fresh produce in the vegetable and fish markets. You can find these markets in every city in Croatia.
Feel the pulse of the city and watch the locals go about their daily habits as you explore the local markets. We wrote about Dolac, Zagreb's main market, and Pazar, Split's market.
Plitvice is not the only national park
Plitvice is one of the most visited and famous national parks in Croatia. But in fact it is not the only beautiful national park in Croatia.
Croatia has eight national parks. If you don't like crowds, you should visit the national parks Risnjak, North Velebit or Paklenica.
If you love to see waterfalls, visit the Krka waterfalls. The most famous national parks on the islands are Kornati, Mljet and Brijuni.
Istria is the most visited region in Croatia. Nevertheless, it is very rarely visited by foreign guests such as Australians, Americans or Japanese.
It seems like Europe's best kept secret at times. Many Europeans, especially Germans, Austrians and Italians, spend their holidays in Istria.
If you are visiting Croatia for the first time, you should visit Istria. The region is beautiful, full of history, culture and a dream destination for every gourmet.
Forget trains, use buses
Unlike the rest of Europe, the Croatian train network is very poor and not a really viable way to explore the country. However, the bus network is extensive, fantastic and reliable. Forget about trains and look for buses instead.
GetByBus does an excellent job of consolidating many bus routes in Croatia as well as between Croatian cities and major European destinations. In addition, they offer online tickets for all of these bus routes.
Croatia is a well-known and popular tourist destination
That's not true! Croatia has always been popular with European travelers.
When visiting popular destinations like Plitvice, Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Istria in high season (July, August), expect crowds, queues, traffic jams and few (if any) solo moments for a selfie.
Taxis are expensive
Uber only started operations in Croatia a few years ago and has only been active in Zagreb and Split for one year so far. In other coastal cities like Dubrovnik, Zadar and Rovinj, Uber only operates seasonally.
Zagreb also has the most competitive and cheapest taxi scene in all of Croatia. So, yes, when you visit Zagreb use taxi everywhere.
Outside the city of Zagreb, only order a taxi if it is your only means of transport or if you can share the costs with several people. Taxis are super expensive and the drivers are not always polite.
English is widely spoken
You don't have to worry about not speaking Croatian. It's hard to learn and the Croatians know it.
Almost everyone speaks at least a little English, and many people also speak at least one other foreign language (German and / or Italian are the most widely spoken languages after English).
Excellent tourist infrastructure
Tourism as we know it today began in Croatia in the 1960s and is now the main industry and main source of income in Croatia (for better or for worse).
An excellent tourist infrastructure awaits you along the entire Croatian coast: from fantastic all-inclusive resorts, luxury and boutique hotels, inexpensive hostels to numerous holiday apartments, villas and campsites.
Read more: Croatia accommodation guide
Do not be afraid to book the accommodation directly with the locals
Croatians have a long tradition of welcoming vacationers from all over the world. Almost every family on the coast rents apartments to tourists. Vacation rentals are a great alternative to hotels, are better value for money (especially for families or large groups), have full kitchens, and offer more space.
Take a look at my in-laws' apartments in South Dalmatia and our villa near Porec. Or read our full post on rental apartments in Croatia.
Croatia isn't cheap, but it doesn't have to be expensive.
People sometimes mistakenly assume that Croatia is cheap. Well it is not. In fact, many things, especially groceries, are more expensive than in the US or any Western European country.
The only things I find cheap in Croatia are wine, spirits, cigarettes, pastries, and restaurants.
You can expect the rest of the prices just like at home.
Wine here is great, and so is olive oil
Wines and olive oil have a great tradition in Croatia and can be found in excellent quality. Croatia is a small country, everything that the people produce here is produced in small quantities. All products are mainly sold in Croatian markets.
This is why you may never have heard of Croatian wine or olive oil. But I assure you they are of excellent quality and you have to try it in Croatia. We strongly recommend that you enjoy a wine or olive oil tasting.
Our favorite white wine is Malvazija Istarska (see our post on 5 wineries in Istria), and our favorite red wine is Dingac from the Peljesac peninsula (especially Saints Hills).
As for olive oil, I am absolutely crazy about it. So much so that from this year we even started producing our own olive oil. We recommend a visit to the Chiavalon Olive Oil in Vodnjan.
Croatian currency is kuna
Yes, it is true! Croatia is a member of the EU, but not a member of the Eurozone (countries that use the Euro as their common currency).
The Croatian currency is the Kuna, and the exchange rate (as of December 2018) is 7.4 Kn per 1 €, 6.5 Kn per 1 US $ and 8.3 Kn per 1 £.
Pack a little, but don't forget these items
We firmly believe that you can always travel with little luggage.
We recommend that you take mosquito repellent (Nobite skin spray), swimsuit and water shoes with you for Croatian rocky beaches to Croatia.
Read more: Packing list for a vacation in Croatia
More Croatia travel tips
Photo credit: MacPepper via Flickr
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