Croatia is gaining the reputation as one of the hottest destinations in Europe. With fascinating cities, beautiful islands and stunning waterfalls one visit to Croatia will never be enough.
After spending some time traveling around and staying in some of the top destinations in Croatia we learnt quite a few tips that will make your first time trip a lot easier.
If you are planning a trip check out my top 10 tips for Croatia to make sure that you have the best possible holiday.
1. DON’T STAY IN THE OLD CITY IN DUBROVNIK
If you are going to stay in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Dubrovnik DO NOT stay in the city itself.
To say that Dubrovnik becomes overcrowded during the summer months is an understatement.
I highly recommend finding accommodation in Lapad (we stayed in Babin Kuk an area of Lapad). Getting around is easy on the buses and these areas are only about 10 minutes away from the main gate into Dubrovnik.
On that note an hour ticket for the bus costs 15 kuna if you pay on the bus (or 12 kuna if you buy from a kiosk). Make sure to validate your tickets. Often the bus driver will do it – they were on the whole really helpful. Find out about the buses here!
There is a pedestrianised strip in Lapad with lots of bars and restaurants. Visit the Cave Bar at the Hotel More for a drink at sunset. Its beautiful and you get a lovely view. (Consider a meal in the restaurant too – highly recommended!)
2. THINGS TO KNOW IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO WALK THE WALLS OF DUBROVNIK
If you are planning to walk the walls of Dubrovnik (of course you are its a must) go early in the morning or late afternoon if you are there in summer.
Its a gruelling 2 hour walk including lots of steps – not something to do in full on sun.Make sure to wear comfortable shoes as there are uneven steps and cobbles to navigate along the walls and in Dubrovnik.
Take water with you – there are a few places to buy refreshments along the way but they are expensive. There is only one opportunity to get down from the walls but that is a good half way around. Keep your tickets as they checked at that point too!
3. PLAN WHEN TO GO TO THE OLD CITY VERY CAREFULLY
Dubrovnik gets extremely crowded in summer particularly when there are a lot of cruise ships in port. Leave yourself time to get out of the city. Nearly everyone goes in and out through one main NARROW gateway. Imagine a few thousand people trying to get in and out at the same time… You get the picture.
I refused to go through the crush of people and had to wait an hour or so before it felt safe enough to leave.
4. DO VISIT NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES
The roads are excellent in Croatia – probably the best I have seen in Europe. We didn’t hire a car but we did hire a car and a driver for a couple of days to take us to nearby Montenegro and Bosnia. Well worth considering as they are close enough for day trips if you are in Dubrovnik. We used Cheap Dubrovnik Tours and they were excellent.
6. TAKE THE CATAMARAN TO SPLIT
If you are travelling to Split consider catching the catamaran from Dubrovnik. Save on car rental and relax as you sail the Adriatic coast. Its a scenic trip and you get a great view of some of the many islands along the coast.
If you have time stop off for a few nights on some of the islands – Hvar is a very popular choice.
7. STAY IN THE OLD CITY IN SPLIT
If you are going to Split I would say the opposite to the advice for Dubrovnik. In Split stay IN the old city. It is like nowhere else I gave ever been a truly magical city. The atmosphere is fabulous and you are surrounded by the Diocletian’s Palace – quite literally!
It is also a fantastic city to base yourself in as it is fairly central and there are lots of great places to visit from Split.
8. BUY SHOES IF YOU PLAN TO GO SWIMMING
Buy shoes for swimming. The Dalmatian coast isn’t all sandy beaches but can be quite rocky in places. You will also need them if you plan to swim at Krka waterfalls! (Although more famoue Plitvice are not the only beautiful waterfalls to visit in Croatia!)
You can buy swimming shoes all over Croatia so I would just buy them after you have arrived.
9. TAKE SOME CASH WITH YOU
Although part of the EU Croatia uses their own currency – the Kuna – although Euros seem to be widely accepted too. There were plenty of cash machines and most places take cards too. We did have to pay cash for our apartment in Dubrovnik and in Split so check if you aren’t staying in a hotel if they accept card payments. Also for entry to some places we needed cash – Arboretum Trsteno was example.
10. REFILL YOUR WATER BOTTLES AT THE FOUNTAINS
Save yourself some money and help the environment and reuse water bottles – there are lots of fountains around for you to refill your bottles for free!
And my biggest tip of all?
(though preferably not on a cruise ship)
Those are my top 10 tips for Croatia. Have you been? Is there something else you can add to my top 10 tips for Croatia?
PIN FOR LATER – CROATIA TRAVEL TIPS
RECOMMENDED READING – BOOKS ABOUT CROATIA
Tracy is your expert expat!
She has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified school teacher with an interest in history, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train)
With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, she is also able to share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help you travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!