How To Choose Your Destination in Croatia?

In this post, we will show you how to choose your destination in Croatia. If you have already decided to visit Croatia but you aren’t sure what place in Croatia is right for you, kick back and relax.

These simple steps will help you to narrow down your destination choices and ensure that you have the best travel experience in Croatia.

How to choose your destination in Croatia, Illustration
How to choose your destination in Croatia | Croatia Travel Tips

7 Tips To Help You Decide On Where To Visit In Croatia

Follow these 7 simple steps when deciding on where to go in Croatia.

  1. Get to know Croatia
  2. Decide on duration of your visit to Croatia
  3. Decide on the mode of transportation in Croatia
  4. Define your interests (what do you want to see, do, and experience)
  5. Set the budget for your Croatia trip
  6. Decide on time of your visit
  7. Know your travel style

1. Get to know Croatia

With a surface of 56.594 km2, Croatia is the size of Iowa or the State of New York. It is almost 5 times smaller than the UK. But this doesn’t mean that you can just hop from one place to another in a matter of a few hours.

Before you decide on your destination in Croatia, get yourself familiar with the country. Learn about Croatian regions, main tourist spots, national parks, landmarks not to be missed, and off-beaten-path destinations worth visiting.

2. How Long Do You Plan To Stay In Croatia?

If you’re planning a weekend break in Croatia, you won’t be able to visit all the highlights of the country due to the limited time. It’s recommended that you choose one destination and explore it thoroughly rather than rushing to see multiple places. Opatija, Rovinj, Split, Dubrovnik, and Zagreb are all great places for a weekend break in Croatia.

If you plan to stay in Croatia for up to a week, it’s better to choose a centrally located destination as your base and explore the surrounding area. Instead of spending your time traveling on a bus or in a car, focus on a smaller area and enjoy exploring it. Below are some suggested options!

  • Stay in Porec, Rovinj, or Pula to explore the Istrian region.
  • Zadar is a great choice if you want to explore coastal and continental Croatia. Zadar is less than three hours from Zagreb, two hours from Plitvice Lakes, and close to several national parks.
  • Split is an excellent base to explore central Dalmatia, including the islands of Brac, Hvar, Vis, and Solta, coastal towns Trogir, Sibenik, Omis, and Makarska, and natural sights like Biokovo mountain and Krka National Park. Southern Dalmatia is best explored from small villages along the Dubrovnik Riviera, like Komarna, which is perfect for day trips to Dubrovnik, the Peljesac peninsula, the islands of Korcula, and Mljet, and even some awesome sights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, like Mostar or Kravica Waterfalls.

If you plan to stay for at least a week or longer, you can travel from north to south, stay at various destinations, and explore the broader area. The most popular tour includes visiting Zagreb, Rovinj, Plitvice Lakes, Split, Hvar Island, and Dubrovnik.

3. How do you travel?

Do you know how you’re going to get around Croatia? Your choice of transportation impacts the places you decide to visit.

Driving is the fastest way to travel around Croatia and lets you see as much as possible in a short amount of time.

However, buses are a great option for most of Croatia, except for Istria and the islands. If you’re visiting one of these places, driving is recommended. Buses are reliable and frequent, making them a convenient choice for other areas.

Trains are not a good option in Croatia as they have limited connectivity and are slow and unreliable. Only a few destinations, like Split, Rijeka, Zagreb, and Zadar, can be reached by train.

Flying is a good option for visitors who want to explore Croatia, and it can be combined with driving as well. Many tourists start their trip in Zagreb, rent a car, and travel to Dubrovnik, visiting other destinations along the way. Then, they fly back to Zagreb from Dubrovnik.

To sum up, driving gives you the most flexibility and speed, while taking a bus is convenient for most of Croatia, , albeit slower than driving. Trains should be avoided, and flying is a good option for exploring the country in combination with driving.

4. What are your interests?

When choosing a destination in Croatia, the most important factor to consider is the kind of holiday you want. Do you prefer cities or the countryside? Are you an adventure traveler seeking adrenaline-filled activities or do you want to relax by the beach? Are you into culture, history, good food, and wine, or do you want to avoid crowds and find a place away from it all? Answering these questions will help you narrow down your options.

If you’re an adventure lover, you might choose Zadar for its proximity to the Paklenica National Park, Split or Omis. For party enthusiasts, the islands Murter, Pag, or Hvar are the ideal destinations. If you’re a foodie, then Istria is the place for you. And finally, if you enjoy cities, then Split or Zagreb will keep you happy.

5. What’s your budget?

You need to consider your travel budget for a trip to Croatia. You might have dreamed of a luxurious week-long vacation in Dubrovnik, staying in a 5-star hotel overlooking the old town, and eating out every night. However, if your budget can’t cover it, you would have to make some adjustments. You might have to opt for an apartment rental outside the old town, cook your meals, and shop at the local market. Alternatively, you could choose a less expensive destination.

Although you can visit any destination in Croatia on any budget, it’s important to remember that the more popular a destination is, the more expensive it gets. Below are a few examples of this rule.

  • Admission to the Risnjak National Park in August costs €7 ($7.70, £6) per person for a 2-day ticket, while a one-day entrance ticket to the Plitvice National Park costs €40 ($44, £34.50) per person.
  • You’ll pay at least 20% more for a half-board for two in any hotel in Rovinj than in Porec.
  • A simple burger in Hvar Town costs €15 ($16.50, £13), while the same burger in Jelsa on Hvar Island costs €7 ($7.70, £6).
  • A beer in Dubrovnik Old Town costs €6 ($6.60, £5.20), while the same beer in Pula costs €4 ($4.40, £3.40).

We’ve also published a post on how much money you’ll need in Croatia, which might be helpful for planning your trip.

6. When Do You Plan To Go to Croatia – off-season vs. high season

Croatia is a small country, and the towns and villages along the coast become very quiet during winter, with January and February being the quietest. During this time, restaurants close, shops empty, and locals ski in neighboring countries or stay home.

The busy streets you experience in summer become deserted in winter, and you will likely only encounter stray cats. Unless you’re looking for a peaceful retreat, you’ll probably want to avoid small Croatian coastal towns during the winter (and islands even more).

However, Split and Rijeka are still alive in winter, although quieter than in summer. Zagreb is also bustling with activity. On the positive side, everything is cheaper, especially accommodation. So, you might want to trade activities for a cheaper vacation with fewer crowds.

7. What’s your travel style?

When planning a trip to Croatia, it’s important to consider the type of traveler you are. Are you traveling solo, as a family with kids, or as a couple? Your traveling preferences will largely determine the best destination and accommodation option for you.

If you are traveling solo, you may prefer to stay in larger towns where you can easily meet fellow travelers or find locals who are more open-minded and easier to make contact with. However, you may have a different preference and instead seek a remote location with very few people.

As a family with kids, you may want to visit historical and cultural sites but your kids may not be as interested. Therefore, you’ll want to find a destination that offers a balance between the two. For instance, Porec can be an excellent choice for family holidays.

Check our post on the best destinations in Croatia for couples.

What does affect your decision the most when choosing your destination in Croatia? Did we forget anything? Let us know in the comments below.

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19 thoughts on “How To Choose Your Destination in Croatia?”

  1. Can you go from Split to Dubrovnik (roundtrip) in one day and really enjoy Dubrovnik? If so what’s the best way to get there? Rent a car? Ferry? Do you need a tour guide?

  2. Hello, I love your information. I will be visiting Croatia in early May, 2019 with a friend. We plan to fly from Rome to Dubrovnik, rent a car and see what happens!! Is it possible to rent a car in Dubrovnik and return it in Zagreb? And, is it a reasonable idea to travel from Zagreb to Venice, Italy by bus? Other ideas, especially about Zabreb to Venice are appreciated.

  3. Hi Frank! Great post. I will be travelling to Croatia in mid may for about 7-8 days. Would love it if I could get your help in planning an itinerary, specially choosing the cities since there are so many options. I will be travelling with my friends and am looking for a party trip along with a couple of quiet or scenic places to squeeze in between. Let me know if you can help!

  4. Hi Frank
    We are a couple in our 50’s and plan to visit Croatia and Slovenia for a week at the end of Oct. Can you suggest places we could visit ?We dont want to rush around too much, preferring to do one city in each country. We dont want a beach holiday, and we enjoy exploring the city, cafes , stopping for a drink here and there and the odd shopping ( something to take back as souvenirs, no brands). We will be flying in from New Delhi.

  5. Hi I’m planning our 1st trip to Croatia, 2 adults & a 16yr & 11yr, was thinking of flying into Dubrovnik for a few days then traveling by bus up to Split & Zadar where we can fly home from, we are fairly active & would like to see some islands & maybe kayak hike cycle, we have 10/12 days , any advice would be welcome, thanks in advance

  6. Hi Frank, Am planning to do a female solo road trip in Croatia from sept 20th-sept 30th and I have put this as my travel plans – any thoughts on if this is workable or too much? I will rent a car and drive through –

    Land Wednesday Sept 20th in Zagreb – rent a car from thursday
    Thursday 21st
    Zagreb – 1 day – Thursday the whole day-
    Friday –
    Leave for Zadar – spend a night – 2 nights
    Day trip to either Pag Town?
    Sunday –
    Leave early morning for Split – Spend the day in Split
    Monday –
    Day trip to Hvar from Split
    Tuesday –
    Leave for Dubrovnik –
    Dubronvik – 4 days – Tuesday – Wednesday – Thursday – Friday
    Thursday – Day trip to either Mostar – bosnia, Gulf of Kotor
    Saturday morning fly to London

    Thank you

  7. Hi Frank!
    What would be a best spot to go for camping, somewhere near the sea and a national park?
    Thank you for your tips!

  8. Hi Karen,
    sounds great to me. The only thing I would change is staying two nights on Plitvice. I think a night there will suffice. The rest sounds perfect. Have a nice holidays in Croatia and Slovenia.

  9. Hi Frank,
    Thanks for the tips! I am planning a 5 week holiday in Croatia for this September and every little bit of advice helps. I like to plan my trip to see a lot of a little instead of a little bit of a lot of places. Croatia has so many beautiful places to see, it makes it hard to choose! I feel 5 weeks is plenty of time to hit the highlights and spend some time living like a local as well. This is my plan so far: fly into Zagreb 3 nights, hire car drive to Lake Bled 4 nights visit caves, Ljubljana 3, Rovinj 4 and do day trips to Pulla & Motovun, Plitvice Lakes 2, Zadar 2 and Split 2 or stay 4 at one of them and do a day visit perhaps by ferry? Gradac 5 and day trip to Mostar and Peljesac wine region, Dubrovnik 3 and finish up in Bol on the island of Brac for about 5 days before getting a ferry from Split to Ancona. I would love some feedback from you on my plan so far, do you think it sounds do able? I will continue to read all of your web site in the mean time! Thanks Karen.

  10. Hi Hamilton, thanks for reading! I’d say Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik
    and Zadar (in that order). Zagreb is nice in summer, as it goes a bit empty (just enough), Split is a town, and you’ll always find something to do and explore. Dubrovnik has lots of tourists, and many solo travellers as well. Are you planning to stay in hostels or elsewhere?

  11. What would you say is the best place in Croatia for a solo female traveler to go in the summer months? Thanks!

  12. These are great tips! We spent almost three weeks in Italy and I’ve been so anxious to go back because there is still much I have to experience. It’s always hard to fit in all of what you want to do and see when traveling but you did a great job reminding us of some important things to think about no matter where we’re going. I can’t wait to visit Croatia and now I’ll have your tips to reference. THANKS!

  13. Good tips…..if you could only pick one sandy beach convenient to an airport, which would it be?

  14. Great tips! I am looking forward to making it back to Croatia in the coming years after having just gotten a glimpse cruising along the coast.

  15. Croatia is such a delightful country! We’ve now visited many of the little places like Korcula and Trogir one two different small cruise ships. And Mali Losinj holds a special place in our hearts. Split, though a larger city, is great for catching a classical music concert, especially in the summer during the summer music festival. You might like our recent post on Diocletian’s Palace:

  16. As a solo traveller, I’ve always found Croatia’s bus network to be excellent. Fast, frequent and comfortable, they give me the freedom to gaze in wonderment as the constantly changing scenery all around and I always have my mp3 player with me.
    The other thing I like is that on a long journey, the driver will make ten minute ‘comfort’ stops, so people can use the loo, grab a macchiato or just stretch their lags.
    Having said that, I’ve always travelled on or near the Adriatic coast, I’m sure things get a bit more ‘hairy’ in more remote, inland parts.

  17. I think driving is really the best way to get around. Croatia is so gorgeous; I wanted to stop and take pictures every five minutes. I would love to do a weekend in Zagreb! And maybe next time, Istria…too much to do!

  18. Hi Frank,
    great post!! can’t wait to be in Cres next august!! We’r quite shocked about Pitvice tickets vs. Risnjack… fool!!

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