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.
Table of Contents
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.
- Get to know Croatia
- Decide on duration of your visit to Croatia
- Decide on the mode of transportation in Croatia
- Define your interests (what do you want to see, do, and experience)
- Set the budget for your Croatia trip
- Decide on time of your visit
- 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.