Planning a trip to Croatia

10 Tips For Planning A Trip To Croatia

February 21, 2020 17 Comments

In recent years, Croatia has become a hugely popular European tourist destination. What was once overlooked by many as a possible holiday destination, has now become a top choice for holidaymakers everywhere.

Croatia is brimming with heavenly landscapes, dazzling, turquoise waters, ancient Roman ruins, friendly locals and exquisite local cuisine. Croatia provides experiences, scenery, people and food like no other part of Europe.

Are you planning a trip to Croatia soon? This guide will ensure that you’re well prepared for visiting this beautiful country.


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The Ultimate Croatia Travel Guide

Planning A Trip To Croatia – Essential Travel Tips

  • Croatia is a member of the EU but it is not part of the Schengen Agreement. EU/EEA citizens along with citizens of a number of countries including the USA, Canada and Australia can visit Croatia for up to 90 days without a visa. Find out more here.
  • The currency in Croatia is the Kuna. If you need to exchange money, the best place to do so is at the bank. Pro tip: Get a Revolut card and forgo all of those pesky bank charges!
  • The standard continental European type which is the two round pin plug/socket of 220V-240V.
  • No vaccinations are required when entering Croatia and tap water is safe to drink everywhere so don’t forget to bring a reusable water bottle like this one!
  • Wi-Fi is quite common in lots of hotels, hostels and restaurants and there are also plenty of internet cafes in larger cities which can be helpful if you need to print tickets etc.
  • Tipping is not essential but if you’ve had a delicious meal and/or fabulous service then tipping the waiter/waitress shows a lot of respect.
  • By European standards, the crime rate is low. However, pickpocketing (similar to other parts of Europe) is common in larger cities like Split or Dubrovnik. Always take the necessary cautions against this.


Now you know the basic travel essentials, let’s dive straight in and find out what you need to know when planning a trip to Croatia.

Try To Avoid Travelling During The Peak Season

If you can, avoid planning a trip to Croatia during the peak season. This runs from June until the end of August each year. The country is literally bursting with tourists during this time.

On our first visit to Croatia, my partner and I arrived in July and all of the main tourist cities were overcrowded beyond belief. It almost felt like we were walking around in a huddle or a pack which made it hard to enjoy the sights.

what you need to know when planning a trip to Croatia

It’s also extremely hot during this period and as it’s peak season, prices are considerably higher. Croatia is a part of the European Union but at present, it still has its own currency, the Kuna.

If you can’t avoid travelling during this time (like us, who have set work holidays), then plan ahead for the crowds. Go out earlier in the morning or late in the evening and buy food and drinks in the supermarket instead of only in bars and restaurants.

Split, Croatia

Travel Croatia Using The Bus Network

Most of Europe is interconnected by trains which is a fun, sustainable way to explore Europe. However, the train system in Croatia is quite poor and should simply be avoided when planning a trip to Croatia.

Travelling by bus is much more viable – we travelled extensively throughout Croatia by bus and Wi-Fi, storage and sometimes a table was often provided.

What I will say, though is we did sometimes find that bus journeys that were supposed to take an hour, took three hours instead. So be prepared for that. We booked all of our seats through GetbyBus who cater for a lot of Eastern European destinations and they’re really reasonable too.

Croatia hidden gems

Rent A Car To Explore Hidden Gems Of Croatia

While the bus network in Croatia is extensive, it can also be quite time consuming with few stops to take in the beautiful scenery along the way. If you would like to see off the beaten track Croatia, then hiring a car is the way to do it.

I highly recommend using the car rental service Discover Car Hire – I have rented cars from them many times when travelling. I found that they provide great value for money plus they also offer 24/7 customer service.

Check Car Rental Prices

Learn A Few Of The Local Phrases

I mention this quite a lot on the blog but I honestly think that it is such an important thing to do when visiting a country that doesn’t speak the language that you do.

Learning a few phrases of the local language before you visit can go a long way – it shows respect, it highlights how glad you are to be there and it’s a nice way of communicating with local people.

Yes, you may pronounce words wrong (I know I did) but the look of delight and gratification was well worth it. I have created a printable which has simple, easy to use language phrases – you can download it here.

Pin me for later!

Basic Croatian Phrases For Tourists

Don’t Forget To Bring Water Shoes

When planning a trip to Croatia, I’m sure that spending time by the water will factor in on your itinerary. If so, then do not forget to bring these water shoes. You will thank me later for this tip!

White, sandy beaches are not common in Croatia and most beaches consist of hard to walk on white stones. I read about this before our trip and I invested in these shoes for both myself and J, which were a lifesaver, especially as the stones were scorching hot due to the sun.

Turquoise water of Croatia

If I’m honest, I actually preferred the stony beaches of Croatia over sandy beaches. Because of the stony beaches, we were able to leave without the usual ‘sand everywhere’ nightmare.

The beaches of Croatia were by far some of the most beautiful I have ever seen in all my travels. Prepare to be mesmerised by the glistening water and make sure you stick around until sunset for the most magical of views.

Croatia beach

Avoid Staying Too Close To Popular Spots

It often seems easier to stay close to the action in Croatia such as in the old towns of Split or Zagreb. Each city comes with its own charm, history and beauty and they are incredibly popular destinations in Croatia.

However, these old town cities are also often heavily overcrowded, expensive and noisy, especially during peak season.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

If you’re fine with this, then great! But if you’d like to experience Croatia without constantly trying to meander through the crowds, then perhaps staying a few minutes outside the city might be the way to go.

For example, we stayed just outside Split in an area called Podstrana where we were able to experience Split without all the hustle and bustle. Bus services in Croatia are great and if you’re renting a car, even better! Planning a road trip around Croatia is so exciting, find lots of top tips and must-see places here.

split croatia old town. what you need to know when planning a trip to Croatia

Don’t Always Expect Amazing Customer Service

In my experience, Croats are unbelievably hospitable, friendly and kind people. On our flight to Croatia, we got chatting to a guy from Croatia who lives and works in Ireland. He invited us for dinner and drinks one evening and insisted on paying (we kept in touch and repaid the favour).

We stayed in six different types of accommodation during our trip to Croatia and each and every one of the hosts went above and beyond to help us. We were travelling to the island of Hvar and somehow got on the wrong boat, which left us on the opposite side of the island.

Yet, our host came to meet us, despite it being an extra 40-minute drive for him. (Just in case you’re wondering, this was the gorgeous, family-run Dela B&B which I highly recommend if you are wondering where to stay in Hvar). All of our hosts were so incredibly hospitable and friendly during our stay with them.

croatia at night

Despite this, customer service can be slightly different from local hospitality in Croatia. It is common to experience somewhat unhelpful and slow service. Side street stalls closed on us unexpectedly, we were refused service for not having small notes and we often had extra long waits for food.

I’m not suggesting that it’s like this everywhere but it’s always good to be prepared. If you do experience this, just keep calm and try to understand that this tourism boom is still relatively new to Croatia.

Try To Visit At Least One Of Croatia’s National Parks

If you are spending any length of time in Croatia, then you really should visit at least one of the country’s glorious national parks. There are 8 national parks in total so keep that in mind when planning a trip to Croatia.

Two of the most popular parks are Plitvice National Park and Krka National park. Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it holds a huge sense of pride for Croats. Krka is also hugely popular with tourists as it one of the only parks where you can swim in the water.

krka national park Croatia. planning a trip to Croatia

Both parks offer gorgeous natural scenery, stunning waterfalls, hiking trails and picturesque views. If you can’t visit both of these places then this chart might help you to decide which one to visit:

Plitvice National Park Krka National Park
Lots of hiking trailsOne main hiking trail
2-3 days is recommendedEasily visited in 1 day
Swimming is forbiddenSwimming is allowed
Easy to avoid the crowdsGenerally always busy
plitvice national park croatia. what you need to know when planning a trip to Croatia

Research Before You Book A boat Trip

Boat trips are very popular in Croatia due to the proximity of so many stunning islands such as Hvar and Brac. It is also possible to do day trips from Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik and other coastal towns. You can check out my post on day trips from Zadar here.

You could also stay over for a few nights which we did in Hvar. It really depends on how much time you have. One huge piece of advice I have though is to do your research!

There are literally hundreds of agencies and stalls offering the ‘best’ boat trip imaginable. I mean, you can’t blame them, they are eager businesses who depend on tourism for their livelihood.

boat trip croatia

We were very pleased with ourselves when our trip to Hvar worked out pretty much the way we wanted to (getting on the wrong boat was not part of the plan, however!).

So when we landed back in Split after a blissful 4 days in Hvar, we decided to do an impromptu day trip to one of the other islands. Silly us really – what was meant to be a half-day tour with food and drinks ended up being a full day trip with the majority of it spent on a boat with not enough room for everyone on board.

island town croatia

We did get to see the beautiful town of Solta and snorkel in the glistening blue lagoon but we were told the majority of our time would be in the water and visiting Solta which just wasn’t the case.

So if you’re planning a day trip, do your research online before booking with a tour company. Ask the tour operator questions like “how many people will be onboard the boat?” and “what food and drinks will be available?”. This will ensure that you get to experience the islands of Croatia in the best way possible.


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The Ultimate Croatia Travel Guide
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Over To You….

Do you have any travel tips for Croatia? Would you like to explore Croatia? I’d love to know what you think in the comments

a view outside

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17 Comments

  • izzy April 2, 2019 at 3:23 am

    WOW!! Gorgeous photos! Croatia looks like a beautiful place but I do agree it has become a very popular tourist hotspot so best to go when a bit more quiet and the tip with the water shoes is a good shout, something most people don’t think about.

    • Ciara April 3, 2019 at 12:05 am

      Thanks for the comment! It really is beautiful! The water shoes saved me literally – I forgot them one day and the pain when walking on the stones was unbearable, sandals just don’t work!

  • Serial Jet Settet April 4, 2019 at 8:32 am

    I totally agree with your point on not staying in the usual spots. We came across a darker side to Croatia’s Dubrovnik.

    https://serialjetsetter.com/2018/07/11/isle-of-dogs-dubrovnik/

  • Laura April 5, 2019 at 11:18 am

    These are great tips to read for anyone considering a trip to Croatia!

    Xoxo,
    Laura // afinnontheloose.com

    • Ciara April 15, 2019 at 11:42 pm

      Thanks so much!

  • Andrea April 5, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    Very good and true tips. I’ve used to go to Croatia every summer and visited many little islands and spots outside of the tourist traps. So anyone who wants to go to Croatia should read your post.

    • Ciara April 15, 2019 at 11:41 pm

      Thank you so much! I am glad that you agree with my tips especially as you have been so many times! I hope that they will help anyone who visits!

  • Claire April 6, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    I am absolutely desperate to visit Croatia, I’m pinning this for future reference.

    I am so with you on the sand nightmare!

    Thanks for sharing x x

    • Ciara April 15, 2019 at 11:40 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment! Oh you have to visit – it is so stunning! Haha yep sand is a nightmare which is why I loved the beaches in Croatia, it was so much easier to relax!

  • Katie Diederichs April 13, 2019 at 7:53 am

    As much as possible, my wife and I always try to avoid traveling during the peak season, but if we can’t help it, we try to go to the “road less traveled” and visit unpopular places. Love your blog post, and I’m pretty sure we won’t be using this only in Croatia but in other places too!

    • Ciara April 15, 2019 at 11:37 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment! As a school teacher, most of my travels have to be during peak season unfortunately. So I definitely agree with your tactic of ‘finding the road less travelled’ – it is something we actively do all the time too.

  • Stories from a backpack April 28, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    These photos look great! I’ve never been to Croatia, it’s always been on my list! Maybe this year! Love all your tips! Laura

  • Roslie May 23, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    loved Croatia, and definitely plan to visit again, but I as read, “Don’t Expect Amazing Customer Service”, I thought oh so true. Lovely people and I had a great time in Croatia, but the customer service was almost non-existent.

    Great read and truly useful tips for when traveling to Croatia.

  • Linnea February 22, 2020 at 5:10 am

    Great tip about the currency! I went in April of last year and I was surprised how many places took cash. I’ve only been to Dubrovnik, but I would love to do Split, Hvar, and Zagreb too!

  • Charu Goyal February 22, 2020 at 9:17 am

    I have always wanted to visit Croatia and these photos just make me want to book it ASAP! Thank you for your wonderful tips (especially the water shoes one) x

  • Louise Allonby February 22, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    I would love to go to Croatia, it looks amazing and I could easily get used to sitting in those squares or by the port in the sun. Brilliant post and your pictures are amazing too.

  • menty March 1, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    wow, water shoes are definitely not a that common thing! Thanks for the tips! I’ve been seeing Croatia so often online and it’s such a beautiful country! I definitely want to visit it and definitely starting from its beach and national park as on your list!

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    Welcome to my blog! I'm Ciara, a native of Dublin Ireland. I'm an introverted wanderer who loves to explore this gorgeous planet of ours. I try to live by the motto 'Feel the fear and do it anyway' which has led to some ridiculous mishaps along the way. Join me as I try to complete my never-ending bucket list. Read More

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