Croatia on a price range: the best way to save on lodging, points of interest, and nearly all the things else

As extra vacationers uncover the delights of Croatia, costs have been creeping upwards in step with the nation’s steadily rising recognition. You’ll discover extra luxurious resorts than ever bobbing up at a fast tempo, significantly in a number of the upmarket resorts alongside the Adriatic coast and on just a few of the islands. On the similar time, nonetheless, there’s been a surge in personal flats and family-run guesthouses, which makes it extra inexpensive to go to Croatia for those who’re on a price range.

One of many largest bills will likely be your flights to Croatia, which might rise to mind-boggling ranges as quickly because the summer time season approaches. However when you arrive, it’ll be surprisingly simple to journey round. Right here’s the best way to get probably the most out of Croatia when cash is tight.

Go to Plitvice Lakes Nationwide Park within the winter and you may lower your expenses on lodging and entrance charges © Sorin Rechitan / Getty Pictures

 When reserving flights, plan forward and be versatile

From June onwards, flights to Break up begin to soar. No marvel, because it’s the gateway to a few of Croatia’s most fascinating islands, together with Hvar, Brač and Vis. As costs rise to fulfill demand, you may need to strive totally different airports, resembling Zagreb, Zadar or Rijeka (which is definitely on the island of Krk). 

Buses with Arriva from Zagreb to Zadar price as little as 95 kuna (US$14), and with Croatia Bus you may pay 180 kuna ($27) for a single from Zagreb to Break up. There’s additionally the choice to fly into neighboring nations – Ljubljana in Slovenia, Budapest in Hungary or Trieste in Italy – and lease a automobile.

Look past the summer time months

Excessive season in Croatia – July and August, and generally the second half of June – means excessive costs. Lodging will likely be dearer, and lots of points of interest elevate their costs. Examine entrance charges to Plitvice Lakes Nationwide Park from June to September – at 300 kuna ($44) – to these in April, Could or October, at 180 kuna ($26). Higher but, come within the winter when Plitvice turns into a snowy magical place, and it prices solely 80 kuna ($12).

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A view of the Onofrio fountain from the city walls of Dubrovnik
Think about staying proper exterior of town partitions of Dubrovnik to economize © Vesna Celebic / Lonely Planet

Widen the online to save lots of on lodging

Whereas it’s tempting to remain within the middle of city, it could actually usually come at a premium. You may need to stroll 15 or 20 minutes from the middle to search out cheaper lodging, however it may be well worth the cash saved. Dubrovnik is an efficient instance: Reasonably than keep within the Outdated City or simply exterior town partitions, look additional out in the direction of Gruž or Babin Kuk, each of that are simply reached by bus from the Outdated City. 

Take into consideration swapping a resort room for an condo

Lately, there’s been a mushrooming of personal flats in Croatia to cater for rising demand. You’ll actually save on the price of meals if you are able to do self-catering, and a few flats supply the usage of a shared barbecue. Others produce other helpful free providers resembling bikes you may borrow. 

Uncover Croatia’s rail community

It does have its limitations, however Croatia’s nationwide railway firm, HŽPP, is an inexpensive option to get round elements of the nation. The primary snag is that the community might be extra in depth. Trains run from Zagreb to Break up, however not additional south in the direction of Dubrovnik, though the areas round Zagreb and the north are higher serviced. Fares are fairly priced: for instance, a return from Zagreb to Break up prices 199 kuna (US$28). 

Get to know the nationwide bus networks

If Croatia’s rail community is restricted, the identical can’t be mentioned for the buses – significantly alongside the Adriatic coast. The one drawback is looking for the service you want amongst all of the totally different firms offering all the things from long-distance journey to vacationer coaches. Arriva is an efficient place to start out, because it additionally contains worldwide routes. Verify the web sites of the principle railway stations, together with Split and Zagreb, to get timetables and tickets. 

Use town buses

Croatia’s city buses will be astonishingly low-cost, even within the capital Zagreb, the place a ticket can price as little as 4 kuna (US$0.60). Typically, tickets are just a few kuna cheaper for those who purchase them from kiosks slightly than the motive force, who will take solely money. In case you plan a number of journeys in the middle of a day, a every day ticket will be – however not all the time – cheaper. 

The Jadrolinija ferry entering Drvenik from Hvar Island
Croatia’s nationwide ferry can take you between the nation’s lovely islands © Marsan / Shutterstock

Take advantage of island ferries

With a little bit of planning, you may journey to Croatia’s inhabited islands simply and affordably, each from the mainland and between islands. The nationwide ferry operator, Jadrolinija, runs automobile ferries in addition to passenger-only catamarans. Catamarans are sooner, however generally will be marginally dearer, significantly in July and August. A ferry from Break up to Hvar prices 47 kuna (US$6.80), but a catamaran can be 55 kuna (US$8). 

Look out for sudden restaurant bills

Croatia’s seafood is excellent, and in lots of locations, you pay for that prime high quality. However for those who’re on a price range, you may need to cross on the grilled fish that many eating places promote by the kilo. You received’t know the precise worth till the invoice comes, and it may be an disagreeable shock. There will likely be different fish and seafood choices on the menu which have a set worth, so at the very least you’ll know what you’re paying. 

Additionally keep in mind that many eating places robotically cost a couvert – slightly like a canopy cost – per individual, and it normally features a basket of bread. It shouldn’t be greater than about 30 kuna (US$4.30) a head. You can attempt to wave away the bread and demand to not be charged for it, however this doesn’t all the time work. 

Get into the marenda behavior

Marenda is sort of a Dalmatian model of brunch, a hearty meal eaten earlier than midday that harks again to the times when folks would have been working since very early morning and wanted a filling break. These days, you’ll see marenda menus which can be served solely at lunch and supply a number of the least expensive locations to eat in Dubrovnik. 

Burek is a filo pastry that is affordable and hearty
Burek is a filo pastry that’s inexpensive and hearty © heinstirred / Getty Pictures

Refill at breakfast with burek

Picked up from a bakery (pekarnica), these filo pastries pies are an inexpensive and scrumptious option to kick off the day and hold you going until lunch. Burek will be full of cheese, spinach (generally each) or meat, and style good chilly as a picnic snack. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for faucet water

Faucet water in Croatia is completely drinkable, and it can save you cash in addition to the surroundings by not ordering bottled water. Ask for a glass of obična voda.

Save on points of interest by avoiding excessive season

Lots of Croatia’s points of interest, together with its nationwide parks, have seasonal costs. Krka Nationwide Park fees adults 200 kuna (US$29) for July and August, however solely 110 kuna (US$16) from April to June and September to October. 

Verify for pupil reductions

If in case you have an up-to-date Worldwide Pupil Card (ISIC), the financial savings will be enormous. Reasonably than spend 200 kuna (US$29) to stroll Dubrovnik’s metropolis partitions, you’ll be charged solely 50 kuna (US$7.20).

Do your sums before you purchase a metropolis cross

Whereas a metropolis cross that provides free entry to sure points of interest, free public transport and reductions in retailers and eating places can look good on paper, generally you’ll must spend your whole journey visiting all the listed points of interest earlier than you save any cash. The Zagreb Card is an exception, as after three museum visits, you’ve already saved money – and that’s earlier than you issue within the free transport.

How costly is Croatia?

Listed below are just a few common every day prices to bear in mind:

  • Hostel dorm mattress: 250 kuna ($36)
  • Fundamental room for 2: 550 kuna ($80)
  • Self-catering condo for 2: 700 kuna ($100)
  • Public transport ticket: metropolis buses can vary from 4 kuna (60¢) to 21 kuna ($3)
  • Espresso: 12 kuna ($1.75)
  • Sandwich: 30 kuna ($4.30)
  • Dinner for 2: 500 kuna ($72) for 2 programs
  • Beer on the bar: 30 kuna ($4.30) for a half-liter of Croatian draft beer
  • Breakfast slice of burek: 25 kuna ($3.60)