A First-timers Guide to Sobe Homestays in Croatia

Croatia may be a regular inclusion on European hot spot lists, but it's not quite Spain – yet. Thankfully it's not overrun with hotels and resorts big enough for their own postcode.


Photo © iStock/xbrchx

If you like your accommodation more "deluxe" than dorm room, hotels are easy enough to find in the major tourist centers like Split and Dubrovnik.

As tourism is booming, so too is the number of big international hotel chains opening properties in the larger cities. But they can be pricey, so the more common form of accommodation in both the cities and the islands is to rent a sobe.

Croatian Homestays

A sobe is a room in a private house that is rented out by the owner for short-term stays. It's a great way to immerse yourself in Croatian culture and meet the locals.

Some advertise online, but they often require a money transfer to book. This can be costly and inconvenient, so most travelers arrange their accommodation once they arrive.

Visit any ferry port, bus station, or airport in Croatia, and it's impossible to miss the hoards of sobe hosts with their signs crowding around the arrivals area.

Watch Out for These Scams

Depending on the time of year and size of the city or island, they can be more aggressive than a rugby scrum, so be prepared. Some travelers have reported being ripped off by hosts looking to take advantage of tired tourists.

Ferry ports, in particular, are often located outside the main town centers, so you also run the risk of ending up in a room nowhere near where you'll actually be spending your time. You may be on the brink of exhaustion after a long trip, but ignore the temptation to hand over your hard-earned kunas to the first host you see.

Although this is changing, English is not as commonly-spoken in Croatia as in other European countries, so be prepared for the language barrier. This can make it difficult to figure out what the host is offering and how much they're charging for it.

Croatiatraveller.com recommends showing up as early in the day as possible. That way, you're in a better bargaining position than you will be late at night when the hosts know the thought of a comfy bed will take over your desire to bag a bargain.

Wander Around Town

If you've got the time and inclination, some travelers recommend having a wander around town to identify the areas you like and feel safe in.

Once you've picked a spot, keep your eyes peeled for houses with a sign in the front window advertising a sobe available for rent.

However, be aware that in peak season (July and August) demand for accommodation will be sky-high, so it may pay to organize a room before you arrive.

Arrive with an Empty Stomach

Most sobe are run by sweet little Croatian grandmas, where the biggest threat posed is the danger of over-feeding. But, as with all travel, it's still a good idea to take some precautions. Staying with a friend or travel buddy will not only keep your costs down, it'll also ensure safety in numbers.

Ask First: Things to Check

Remember that it's perfectly acceptable to ask to see the room before you commit and settle on a price.

If you're traveling with someone else, confirm whether the price is per room, or per person.

Also, check if there is a minimum stay required. Croatiatraveller.com reports that some hosts double the price for a one-night stay, especially at the height of summer.

Payment is always in cash, so make sure you have enough kuna (or, increasingly, euros) in your wallet when you arrive.

If you'd prefer the convenience and assurance of having someone else organize accommodation for you, many tourist offices have booking agencies that can arrange a sobe for you, but you may have to pay a booking fee.

Want to know more about Croatia? Check out our podcast. Are we loving places to death? How a bathtub saved travelers from Hurricane Irma , and the ultimate gap year travel guide.

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  • Alex@tripsuit said

    Hey Phil,

    we did exactly what you are describing here last summer. And it really works. In some towns, we needed to search a little longer as expected to find a good room (Krk for example, because it was a bit crowded), but it is a perfect strategy for a budget stay and it's much cheaper than booking in advance.

    I loved how friendly the Croatian hosts were to us. And I used this memory for a blog post about "traveling against racism" a couple of weeks ago. I linked this blog post to get my point across. :)

    Best wishes from Cologne,

  • rob said

    Great article.. we would like to visit a small grand ma home stay, in the hills or mountain, hopefully with dinner included. How long is the drive from Lugano, as we have 6 days. Are dogs allowed??
    Thanks and kind regards, from Lugano
    Rob & Graz

  • Natasha said

    We would like to visit Croatia for our honeymoon, we love camping. Any ideas or tips.

    The fotos look amazing, is it really that good?

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