The Ultimate Backpacking Croatia Travel Guide

Croatia has one of the fastest rising tourism rates in the world. There is a good reason for that.

Croatia is often overlooked when it comes to most summer vacations or backpacking trips to Europe. Largely because of the more popular destinations of Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Greece and the United Kingdom.

However, Croatia is the place to visit in Europe.

I have included three sections from my Croatia Travel Guide PDF that is available on the ‘shop’ section of this website for £3.99. The sections included are visa information, when to visit and money. 

My Croatia Travel Guide PDF covers everything in this blog post and a lot more!

Topics include facts about Croatia, vaccine information, budgeting advice, Croatian phrases, the best places for food & drink in Croatia, how to travel between each city and much more. 

LIMITED TIME OFFER – USE THE DISCOUNT CODE “1FREE” FOR BUY ONE GET ONE FREE – OFFER AVAILABLE ON ALL TRAVEL GUIDES

Croatia Travel Guide

Croatia Travel Guide
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Visa Information

At the time of writing (May 2020) – Croatia is not part of the Schengen area. It is reported they do plan on joining in 2020. If Croatia does join the Schengen area I will update this Croatia travel guide section. 

If you are a citizen of the UK, EU country, the US, Canada, New Zealand or Australia you do not need a visa to visit Croatia. This is providing you are visiting for tourism or business purposes and do not spend more than 90 days over a 180 day period in Croatia. 

If you are not a citizen of any of the countries mentioned, please visit the official website of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

You are required to have a passport with at least 6 months remaining validity, as required for travel to any country. 

When To Visit

Croatia offers mixed weather throughout the year. However, there is a clear pattern to the weather, unlike some countries where you might be caught out by an unexpected change in the climate.

Most tourists view the summer as the perfect time to visit Croatia. Due to the favourable weather, seasonal festivals and the tourist attractions open more frequently.

However, during these months prices are significantly higher. Accommodation, transport, restaurants and tourist attractions all raise their prices due to higher demand.

Therefore, visiting during the ‘shoulder months’ is the best time to visit Croatia (April/May and September/October).

Whilst Croatia may experience slightly milder winter months compared to the rest of Europe, they do also experience a lot of rainfall. You’re unlikely to find any winter sun in Croatia. 

The majority of tourist attractions and some accommodation options close for winter. 

Money

The currency used in Croatia is Croatian Kuna (kn/HKR). Notes include 5kn, 10kn, 20kn, 50kn, 100kn and 200kn. Less commonly used notes include 500kn and 1000kn.

Coins include 1kn, 2kn and 5kn. The kuna is divided into lipa. Coins of 50, 20, 10, 2 and 1 lipa are also used.

  • 1 USD = 6.98kn , 1 GBP = 8.69kn , 1 EUR = 7.57kn.
  • 10 USD = 69.8kn , 10 GBP = 86.9kn , 10 EUR = 75.7kn.
  • 100 USD = 698kn , 100 GBP = 869kn , 100 EUR = 757kn.

(Accurate as of 05/05/2020).

Exchanging money is easy throughout the country. Some ATMs may as for a 6-digit pin code. If your pin is only 4 digits then enter that. If your 4 digital pin does not work, simply enter “00” before your pin.

I found that no bank company was better than the other. They all offered similar ATM withdrawal fees and the daily withdrawal limit is dependent on your home bank. 

One tip for using your card in Croatia is to ‘accept WITHOUT conversion’. This is because ATM’S will always offer a weak exchange rate.  

Where to visit

The best thing about Croatia is its versatility. Croatia has everything.

If you’re a traveller who loves to party then Split has you covered, if you love nature then the area around Zadar has you covered, if you’re a beach day type of traveller then the thousands of islands have you covered. 

The destinations I’m about to talk about are my personal pick of the bunch, however, there are many places that just miss out on this list. 

Including Dugi Otok, Omis, Vis, Hvar, Pag, Rab, Krk, Rovinj and Paklenica National Park. 

If you have any other destinations you love in Croatia, let me know in the comments and help other travellers!

Are you planning a trip to Croatia?

Drop a comment at the bottom of this post, I’d love to hear your travel plans!

Dubrovnik

I’m guessing there is going to be at least one Game of Thrones fan reading this? I’m also guessing that I’m going to upset you by saying I’ve never seen a single second of it.

I will get round to it one day.

The reason I’m mentioning Game of Thrones is that a large proportion of scenes are filmed on locations in Dubrovnik.  

Dubrovnik has a very distinctive old town that consists largely of medieval stoned walls that surround the city. 

Dubrovnik is rapidly growing as the number one tourist destination in Croatia due to its position on the Dalmatian coast and its easy accessibility thanks to Europe’s budget airlines. 

The nearby island of Lokrum is well worth a visit for anyone looking to escape the city lifestyle for a few hours. 

Don’t get too comfy on the forested island as no one is allowed to stay on the island overnight. 

Split

Split will always hold a place in my heart as it was my first destination in Croatia. 

Whilst Split is the second-largest city in Croatia, and one of the busiest. It still maintains its vibrance and beauty. 

Unlike some of the other popular tourist destinations along the Dalmatian coast, Split has numerous beaches that are within walking distance of the city centre.

Whilst, the beaches are mainly pebble beaches rather than sand, it is refreshing to have the option to have a quick trip to the beach and a swim in the Adriatic.

Split is the ideal spot for a few days of city exploration before moving on to some of Croatia’s finest islands, including Brac, Vis and Hvar.

If you’re a traveller looking for a party, you’re in the right region.

Split is well known for its party scene, particularly during the summer months. Along with nearby island, Hvar.

Brac Island

Brac island is home to the most famous beach in Croatia. Whilst it might not be the best beach, it is certainly the most recognisable. Often referred to as ‘Zlatni Rat’ or ‘Golden Horn’ beach, located in the town of Bol.

Brac island actually has a lot more to offer than just the beach. 

You’ll more than likely catch a ferry over from Split to the town of Supetar, on the northern part of the island. The town of Bol is on the southern part of the island. Making for an interesting journey getting there.

As the island is full of mountains, there are only a few roads on the island. Meaning the journey to reach Zlatni Rat beach is quite thrilling. 

Many tourists visit the island to participate in outdoor sports such as quad biking, mountain climbing and even paintball.

If you want to relax, Zlatni Rat beach might not be the place for you. Given its status, it’s very busy. 

However, the beauty of the island means there are plenty of other options located on the coast. 

If you don’t fancy staying on Brac Island you can easily jump on another ferry to a nearby island, such as Vis or Hvar.

Zadar

Alfred Hitchcock once claimed Zadar is home to the best sunset in the world. I was not fortunate enough to see it for myself, as it was cloudy on all three evenings I spent in Zadar.

However, one thing Hitchcock didn’t mention is the beauty of the city.

Zadar is a very charming city, with a superb location along the Dalmatian coast. 

The city offers some very unique sightseeing opportunity for tourists. 

None more so unique than the Sea Organ.

The Sea Organ is an architectural instrument that plays different music depending on the current of the waves.

I know, that sounds bizarre. It is. However, it’s something you have to check out when you’re in Zadar.

Another unique sightseeing opportunity is ‘The Greeting to the Sun’. The monument consists of three hundred, multi-layered glass plates that light up during sunset. The locals then come down and dance on the glass plates until the sun has set.

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Krka National Park

One of the biggest debates when it comes to Croatia is the national park debate. Krka vs Plitvice. Amazing waterfalls vs amazing waterfalls.

In my opinion, everyone should feel blessed Croatia has two breathtaking national parks that are easily accessible. Therefore, visit both and appreciate both.

Krka National Park gets very busy, particularly during the summer months. Due to the fact it is slightly more accessible and close to popular destinations along the coast of Croatia. Meaning a lot of organised tours visit Krka, rather than Plitvice. 

The entry fee to Krka National Park ranges from 30kn to 150kn, depending on the time of year you visit. 

Even during the shoulder months, the entry fee is 110kn.

However, the entry fee is definitely worth it.

The cost of the ticket includes a 20-30 minute boat ride from Skradin to the start of Krka Falls. 

You’ll then have as long as you want to explore the surrounding national park… try not to get lost as if you miss the last boat back to Skradin, it will be a cold and lonely night in the national park.

Plitvice Lakes

Of course, Plitvice Lakes has to be included on this list. Whilst very similar to Krka National Park, Plitvice Lakes has some very different features. 

Plitvice Lakes in a series of terraced lakes, connected by a network of stunning waterfalls. Unlike Krka National Park where there is a clear ‘main attraction’, being the large waterfall at the start. Plitvice Lakes doesn’t have a ‘main attraction’, they’re all equally impressive.

Unfortunately, I personally don’t think one day is enough to explore everything Plitvice Lakes has to offer.

The National Park spreads over 296 km². Meaning, it would be impossible to see the entire park in a short period of time. 

The cost to enter Plitvice Lakes National Park ranges from 55kn to 180kn, depending on the time of year you visit.  

Pula

Pula was a surprise package for me. 

My flight home was from Pula, so naturally, I included it in my itinerary. 

It would have been slightly difficult to catch my flight if I didn’t.

However, during my time in the rest of Croatia, I heard many travellers discussing just how stunning Pula was. 

Therefore, I allocated slightly more time to Pula during my trip. That turned out to be a very wise move.

Pula is well known for its impressive amphitheatre, and rightfully so. It’s stunning. Who needs Rome when you have Pula…

The rest of the city is not to be slept on. 

The city has a lot of local restaurants and cafes that you have to check out. Fast food Piantina is one of my favourite spots in Pula.

15 minutes further north from Pula you can find a lot of ‘secret’ beaches. Whilst they’re not actually secret beaches, they do have a lot fewer tourists compared to the rest of Croatia. 

Zagreb

The capital city of Croatia.

However, Zagreb has a slightly different feel to it compared to other European capital cities.

Zagreb isn’t as well travelled compared to some of the European favourites such as Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, Madrid or Amsterdam. 

Therefore, a lot of people are pleasantly surprised after visiting this vibrant city, myself included. 

Zagreb has a unique and very intriguing landscape and cityscape.

To get the best view of Zagreb, I suggest you head to the Zagreb 360 tower. From there you will be amazed by the different architecture the city has to offer. 

Upon first glance, you’ll be met by many orange rooftops, commonly associated with the Balkans region. 

However, after diving slightly deeper you’ll notice the impressive network of narrow alleyways, that you’ll only find in Croatia.

Just north of the city, you’ll find the Medvednica mountain. Due to its close proximity to the city, this place gets very busy. Particularly during the high season. 

However, it does make for an excellent day out of the city.

If you’re anything like me and love coffee, you’re in luck. Zagreb has an excellent coffee scene. Find any coffee shop in the city centre and you’ll likely be amazed by how good the coffee is in Zagreb.

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Croatia Travel Guide FAQs

Is Croatia safe for travel?

Many concerns surrounding the safety of Croatia come from previous troubles in the country. However, the conflict ended in 1995. Croatia is now a very safe country to travel with very rare violent crime and low overall crime rates. Certain parts of Croatia do have unexploded landmines, however, these areas are well away from the tourist route typically travelled in Croatia.

When is the best time of year to visit Croatia?

Many tourists view the summer months (June through August) as the best time to visit Croatia. This is due to seasonal festivals, many tourist attractions open frequently and the favourable weather. However, with that comes a significant increase in prices. Therefore, the shoulder months of April/May and September/October are the best time of year to visit Croatia.

Is travelling in Croatia expensive?

Croatia is considered one of the more affordable countries in Europe. This is due to many factors including its location within Europe, whilst Croatia is not considered to be a part of Eastern Europe, it is certainly not a part of Western Europe which is often considered expensive to travel. Croatia use there own currency (Croatian Kuna), making it more affordable to tourists given the favourable exchange rate.

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Final thoughts on Croatia

Croatia offers some of the finest coastline in Europe, along with many remarkable national parks.

If you haven’t considered Croatia already, hopefully after reading this post you will.

For those of you who already had Croatia in mind for an upcoming trip, hopefully this post has fully convinced you.

For further reading on Croatia and more details on topics not covered in this post, check out my Croatia Travel Guide!

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ABOUT ME

Hey! I’m Aaron Jarvis. I’m a budget backpacker and online content creator. 

For the past 3 years, I have slowly been backpacking around the world and sharing my adventures on YouTube and more recently on my blog.

I’ve created a number of well-received travel guide videos on YouTube and have now converted them into popular PDF Travel Guides right here on my website!

If you’re considering purchasing a travel guide why not check out this video that takes a look at the contents in detail!

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