Croatia travel tips: local, delicious and cheap eats in Croatia

If you are a budget-conscious traveler visiting Croatia, then you’ll be happy to know that you can still eat cheaply in Croatia. In this post, we’ll show you how to eat in Croatia on a budget and where to find cheap eats in Croatia.

Delicious Cheap Eats In Croatia | Croatia Travel Tips
Delicious Cheap Eats In Croatia | Croatia Travel Tips

Unfortunately, since 2020, prices have been increasing steeply, especially food and energy prices. Both, unfortunately, are extremely important for the restaurant business and consequently caused an increase in the prices of restaurant meals. Additionally, Croatia adopted Euro as its currency on January 1st, 2023, which caused further price increases as businesses massively upward rounded the prices while converting prices from the old currency Kuna to the new currency Euro.

But, following our tips, you’ll still be able to eat cheaply in Croatia. Every country has its cheap but good eateries. If you want to eat cheap but good in Canada, the UK, or the USA you’ll look for all-you-can-eat buffets. In Croatia, buffets are only served in hotels. And at 15€-20€ per person (unless purchased as a half-board package along with your accommodation), they are not cheap.

But in Croatia, there are ways and places where you can eat for under 10 €.

Restaurants Serving Marenda

Here, in Croatia we’ve got neighborhood restaurants serving marenda, gablec or uzina (the word changes depending on the region of Croatia, but it means the same). It means a warm, cooked affordable meal. It takes a spoon or fork to eat it. It’s usually served between 11 am and 2 pm. It costs anywhere between 5 € and 10 €.

Although today many meals are called gablec or marenda (even fast food!), don’t get fooled. Marenda in the real sense of the word needs to be prepared from fresh local produce, served warm, and must be a food that’s eaten using a spoon or fork (no sandwiches here either!). In Dalmatia traditional marenda is, for example, a cod stew, meatballs in tomato sauce, boiled veal with potatoes, or veal risotto. In Zagreb, traditional gablec is tripes, goulash, or brat sausages with sauerkraut.

Croatian take their marenda seriously. Many companies offer this kind of meal to their employees (usually free of charge or for a very small fee like a couple of €). I love this! And sure the morning conversation is based on what there is for marenda today.

So if you want to eat a tasty quality meal for little money while on holiday in Croatia, look for the places serving this kind of meal. They usually have a chalkboard outside with a choice of three or four different daily dishes written on it.

We’ve put together great places serving affordable lunch menus in the main Croatian tourist towns. Hope you’ll check out some of them.

Cheap restaurants in Zagreb

  • Vallis Aurea (Tomićeva 4; +385 1 4831 305; Sunday closed): Located right downtown near the funicular, Valis Aurea offers hearty lunch for less than 7 €. Stick to their daily lunch offer, and avoid ordering a la carte.
  • Ficlek (Pod zidom 5, Zagreb | +385 99 4958 909 | Website ): The small bistro that offers authentic Zagreb food. The price of the main meal ranges from €6 to €12. For the side dish, you need to pay an extra €2-3.
  • Apetitlih (Jakova Gotovca 2, Zagreb | t: +385 95 309 3905): Close to the green market Kvatric, and just a couple of tram stations from the Main Square, you’ll find Apetitlih, a cozy neighborhood bistro with a warm atmosphere, nice outdoor terrace, and a choice of daily lunch dishes ranging in price from 3.40 € for a soup, to 9.30 € for sauerkraut rolls with mashed potatoes.
  • Gladni Vuk (Ozaljska 38, Zagreb | t: +385 1 4851 940): This small family-run bistro is located near the green market Tresnjevka, 10 minutes tram ride from the Main Square. They offer 10 or so daily dishes, all freshly prepared and all for less than 10 € a piece. Daily offer is published on their Facebook page every morning for that day.
  • Kod Sime (Martićeva ul. 62, Zagreb | t: +385 1 4610 643): Located just across from the green market Kvatric, Kod Sime offers daily dishes like beans with sausage, breaded chicken leg and tights, daily soup, grilled trout, etc… Prices range from 3€ for a soup to 10€ for a sea bass with a side. 
  • Marenda (Kuniščak 24): perhaps the best-kept secret in Zagreb, Marenda is actually always full. Here you’ll eat dishes that Dalmatian grandmas’ used to prepare at home. Even doctors from the nearby hospital eat here. ‘Nuff said! Prices range from 10 € to 15 € per dish. Read Florence Lince’s reflections on the sister restaurant Marenda in Šibenik to get a full idea of what to expect.

Find a full list of excellent restaurants in Zagreb for lunch or check our list of must-try restaurants in Zagreb.

Cheap restaurants in Pula 

  • Plocica cevapi (Narodni Trg 9, Pula | t: +385 91 244 6117): If you feel like eating a hearty lunch, just go to Pula’s green market, look for a small shack where Snjezana and Mersim grill the tastest and cheapest cevapi in town.
  • Bistro Pizzeria Caruso (Gortanova 12, Pula | t: +385 98 206 092): This restaurant serves a choice of 4 to 5 daily lunch dishes for less than 7 € a dish. They publish daily offers every morning on their Facebook page.
  • Trattoria Vodnjanka (Vitezica 4, Pula | +385 98 175 7343 | Sunday & Monday closed): Vodnjanka in Pula is a favorite spot of many local and visiting chefs. The formula here is simple, fresh local ingredients, traditional recipes, and good value for money. This place is a temple of real Istrian home cooking. Locals love it. We added it here, although the dishes go more for 15€ to 20 € a piece than below 10 €. It is the most popular lunch spot in Pula for ages, so had to mention it.

Cheap restaurants in Split

  • Buffet Fife (Trumbićeva obala 11, Split; +385 21 345 223;): Buffet Fife offers traditional Dalmatian food in a casual setting. The service is a bit rough around the edges, but the food is delicious, fresh, and cheap. Locals rave about Fife’s cod stew.
  •  Tri volta – Dioklecijan ( ): You’ll hardly find a more local place in Split than this one. Tavern Dioklecijan, among locals known as Tri Volta, reminds of some other times, of old forgotten Split, Split before big cruise ships and backpackers (not that anything is wrong with that!). Don’t get discouraged by its weary look, or the few semi-drunk regulars. Three different dishes are on a lunch menu here, and if everything is gone by the time you made it to Tri Volta, just order a plate of prosciutto and cheese. It comes with bread, olives, and dill pickles.

To find out where locals eat in Split, check our list of locals’ favorite restaurants, or read about the best restaurants in Split.

Cheap restaurants in Rovinj

  • Restaurant Orca (Gripole 70, Rovinj; +385 52 816 851;): Orca definitely offers the best value for money in Rovinj. Located on the main road to Rovinj, in a residential area, it doesn’t have the best location or views, but the food is homemade and delicious. Their marenda start from 7 € onward and includes dishes like tripes, stuffed peppers with mashed potatoes, and other Croatian classics.

If you are looking for a good place to eat in Rovinj, check out our post on the best restaurants in Rovinj.

Cheap restaurants in Zadar

  • Sabunjar (Jadranska cesta 99, Zadar; +385 23 340 355;): Located in an industrial part of Zadar, near Getro, this place doesn’t offer haute-cuisine, but solid homemade food. Popular among locals for their daily marenda menu.
  • Stomornica (Stomornica 5, Zadar; +385 99 448 3694): This place, located in the heart of the old town, has always been popular for its fried smelt fish and pilchards, prosciutto, cheese, and a glass of table wine. While the other dishes tend to come with a higher price tag, these simple Dalmatian treats are very affordable.
  • Restaurant Veseljak (Franje Tuđmana 161, Sukosan; +385 23 393 050;): Located in a small village Sukošan, 12 km south of Zadar, Veseljak is a place where locals go for marenda whenever possible, or whenever they feel like eating a good homemade meal including anything lamb. The restaurant, located on the main road, is little appealing from the outside, but their marenda is delicious and starting at 30 Kn (4 €) onward, quite cheap.

Pizzerias in Croatia

Croatia Travel Tips: Cheap Restaurants in Croatia - pizzeria
Croatia travel tips: Pizza in Croatia is excellent!

The pizza in Croatia is excellent. Think large, thin-crust pie, a variety of toppings, and baked in a wood-burning oven. The price of pizza in Croatia range from 7 € to 12 € depending on size and a choice of toppings. The normal-size pizza is big enough for two people. Pizzerias also serve homemade bread rolls, grilled meat and veggies, salads, pasta, and rice dishes.

Bakeries in Croatia

Bread in Zagreb is excellent. The smaller the town, the less good bread you’ll find in the town’s bakeries. But lately, chain bakeries started opening across the country where you can find really good bread. One of them is Mlinar Bakery, and you absolutely have to taste their whole-grain Švedski bread. But besides bread, bakeries offer all kinds of delicious pastries (sweet and savory) that can keep you full for quite some time. Phyllo dough pies are extremely popular (greasy but delicious). They come with different fillings and my favorite one is potato pie. Other popular pies include burek (minced meat-filled pie) and cheese pie.  Buhtla is another typical pastry sold at Croatian bakeries. It’s made of yeast dough and filled with jam, chocolate spread, or cheese.

When iz Zagreb, make sure to go to Bread club (the location in city center is Vlaska ulica 27; +385 1 7875 209, Website) and Korica (Preradoviceva 39; +385 1 6231 995, Website). Both places use sourdough and here you will find top pastry and sandwiches. Also, they have sitting places and offer coffee/tea and non-alcohol drinks.

We hope that these Croatia Travel Tips will help you better plan your holidays in Croatia.

Do you find our Croatia travel tips helpful? Do you try to cut on food expenses or you rather cut on other costs and indulge in the country’s specialties regardless of cost? Let us know in the comments below.

SHARING IS CARING! is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated sites. This post might also contain affiliate links to other sites, like accommodation or activities. And if you purchase anything using these links, we earn a little commission with no extra costs for you. Thank you for supporting our blog! Read full disclaimer here.

23 thoughts on “Croatia travel tips: local, delicious and cheap eats in Croatia”

  1. We plan to visit our ancestral villages of Stupovaca and Veliko Vukovje. How do we get there, where to stay near there and where to eat? Is it far from a good hotel to stay in? Perhaps you can recommend what to see there. I know there is a St Demetrius Church.
    Please help. Thanks.

  2. Hi Graham,
    yes, info(at) I would be happy to share a few addresses with you.

  3. You don’t seem to have any recent Mail on this site.Is it still active? ,if so would be interested in places of interest To visit and eateries in Cavtat.We don’t travel until June next year.Thankyou.

  4. These sound really great. Thank-you! Do you have recommendations for restaurants in Dubrovnik, as well?

  5. We are in Croatia now, we have visited Dubrovnik, Hvar and Zadar so far and found the food really expensive. Pizza is closer to 80/90kn. Our tip is to find a supermarket and buy breakfast and lunch there and save your money for dinner. We have spent between €50 – €80 on dinner most evenings (starter, main, wine for two).

  6. Hi Ara,
    we do have a couple of posts on Dubrovnik (like where to stay, what to do, best beaches, best restaurants, etc). Browse through web. Hope it helps.

  7. Hey frank thanks!! You don’t like Dubrovnik? You don’t post a lot of it, I read all your emails hoping to find information on it but never seem to find much, I am traveling there on September and want to have the local experience as much as possible. Thanks tho!! At least i have an idea of what to look for hahaha

  8. Thank you for your great tips. My daughter and I will be traveling there in a couple of days and wondered about meals. Don’t want to live on cheese platters and olives. We have all the flights and accommodations and many of the tours already arranged, but because we are picky eaters, this will be a great help.

  9. Konoba Kopacina for lamb. And konoba Dol in Dol. Also ther eis a new fine dining restaurant in Supetar – Lemon Garden. We haven’t been, but heard it’s good.

  10. This was so informative thank you ! We arme going for our honeymoon August 17 til sept 14 th we will be trying these places out for sure !!!

  11. Hey, we’re Canadian too, and we’re not usually fans of buffets (unless they’re really fresh and creative). But pizza and vino (or a chilled beer)? That’s always appetizing for a casual bite. And it’s good to know about the “marenda” choice at most restaurants in Croatia :-).

  12. Thanks Julio! Don’t forget that Vodnjanka is open only for lunch. There is another restaurant of the same name in the village of Vodnjan. Great food too, but more expensive (and fancier) than one in Pula. Have a great time in Pula! Let us know if you need any information.

  13. Those are some great tips Frank, especially because the budget is always of my concern. So far I am still not sure if I am making it to Croatia this summer, but if I do, I might be in touch with you and ask for some additional tips. Hopefully that is ok for you. Knowing where to find cheap and good local food always helps to provide a great introduction to any country… :)

  14. Great tips. I always book mark this kind of posts, I may one day get to visit Croatia and this information may just come in handy.

  15. Wow, these are great tips. I’m going to pin this for when I finally make it to Croatia. As eating is one of my favorite things to do, I usually don’t skimp on it when traveling, but I sure appreciate cheap eats! And oh man, that pizza looks really delicious!

  16. Hi Guys, thanks for this post. I have planed to visit Pula the next september. I will try to eat in The Tratoria Vodnjanka. Thanks!!!

Leave a Comment