5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Croatia

So we’ve all been there, you’ve read the guide books and done everything you think you could to prepare for your trip overseas.

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Beach at Tucepi Croatia, Photo by [vacation2], Flickr.com

Then you arrive on your spectacular holiday and realize you should have brought your sweater, some sunscreen (yes, Croatian weather can be fickle), extra cash... you get the idea.

We combed our network of adventure travel operators and asked them for their expert opinions on Croatia. Below are five tips to keep you traveling safe in Croatia and help you avoid the ‘oh no!' moment.

1. Consider Public Transport Over Driving in Croatia

The bus system works well as does the train system, and you‘ll meet some local friends by taking public transport! But if you are keen to make your own tracks in a rental, be aware of the very Balkan way of driving here. And make sure you know the road rules.

2. Bring Some Aqua Shoes for Coast Walking/Swimming

Maggie Soladay from Salaam Garage comments, “I wish I had known that the coast was rocky and that most beautiful water for swimming is hard to get to. If you jump in you can't get back out because sea urchins patrol the whole rocky stinging coast. I wish I had taken water shoes, I would have worn them every day.“

3. Be Sun Smart in Croatia

Our own Christy McCarthy from World Nomads says, “The sun can be very strong, so don‘t underestimate it, even under the cloud cover." No one wants to get sunburned, it can ruin a holiday, so be sun smart. We promise you'll still get a tan.

4. Save Money, Travel in Shoulder Seasons

Our friends at Lonely Planet advise: Croatia is more expensive in the summer than it is from September to May. Accommodation, boat fares, car rental and anything else relating to tourism skyrockets in summer, reaching a peak in July and August. Speaking of accommodation, in addition to hotels and hostels Croatia has a unique option for visitors, sobe. The rules are a bit different, but they're a great option.

5. Potential Earthquake Risk in Croatia

The coastal areas of Croatia are prone to small-scale earthquakes. In Dubrovnik, buildings in the Old Town area look old and crumbly but in fact the city government has been rigorous in implementing modern reinforcement techniques to stabilize the ancient structures so don‘t worry too much but be prepared if you feel some tremors.

What did you learn in Croatia and wish you knew before you went? Let us know in the comments below!

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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37 Comments

  • Kathy Dragon said

    I'm about ready to head back to Croatia for the 4th time in the past year and a half. <br><br>Here are some tips:<br><br>Swimming and Snorkeling: the water can be cool in the fall so take a light surf shirt or shorty websuite<br><br>Food: most of the food is "organic" as Croatia has never been exposed to the pesticides due to the fact that farmers couldn't afford it.<br><br>Smoking: smoking is part of the culture and, though it is supposed to be prohibited in many restaurants and hotels soon, at last visit in the fall the smoke is quite bad in all restaurants and unbareable in clubs.

  • Alyssa at United Planet said

    I spent the month of May in the Balkans and would have loved to know these tips before heading into Dubrovnik. The coast was phenomenal, but after my first jump in the water and a cut on my foot from the barnacles I was not a very happy person. Next time I will definitely be going with water shoes.

  • Clem Robin said

    The best part of Croatia is the coastline and the coastal towns, so jump on a boat/yaught and hop along the coast and small islands. The water's amazing and if you travel during the summer months, you'll be spending a whole lot of time in it! (however, as mentioned above, beware of the spikey urchins)

  • Andrea Barbieri said

    In all croatian camping doesn’t exist a security service during the night, so noise could be a problem. If your idea is to relax and to sleep on the night, take care when you have to choice a place for the tent. You could find a beach party on the night inside camping, or your neighbors could be a group of young guys coming from a country where be completely drunk is the only reason for living, so shout is the only way to communicate regardless people are sleeping. In these cases anybody from camping staff will do something because you can receive answers like “there are on holidays”.<br><br>If you plan holiday cost, consider in summer 2009 an amount of 30 euros for 2 persons in tent, while renting an apartment has almost the same cost.<br>

  • Diane Greene said

    Try taking the ferry ride from Split to Korcula and you will get a fantastic view of the island of Croatia. If you continue on to Vela Luka you will can visit this lovely small city. I have friends in Vela Luka and always look forward to a visit to Croatia.<br>I live in Anacortes, WA and Vela Luka is our sister city and we have many Croatians living here, including myself. There is an active Croatian culture club and a Vela Luka Dance troop.

  • Jason Tesh said

    The best part about Croatia is that it's close to Serbia! I was there last year and prefered the people, food, country and culture of Serbia. Heading to Exit music festival and Guca music festival in August and can't wait to swill some more rakija and down some Serb sausages - I think they were called 'chevapi' - and party in Belgrade! Highly highly recommend it.

  • Samantha said

    actually, the worst part about croatia is that it is close to serbia. who the hell goes to serbia anyway? no water, its digusting. The people are disgusting, and the music is so gypsy like.<br>croatia is beautiful. i go every year, sometimes twice. it is always happening, so much fun, people are friendly, and you never feel like an outsider.

  • patricia said

    We visited Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia. No one liked Croatia, people are gipsy like, Exit was lots of fun, going back this year, but i was amazed by Slovenia and the people...great, warm, friendly, cuontry is georgeuos...I wish i was born in Slovenia.

  • balkanski špijun said

    I wish I was born in Kazhastan ;)
    But really, jelaous Serbs (Jason & Patricia) go on Ceca's music videos, why the hell you even google Croatia.. :/

  • korcula larus said

    One really important thing that is not written here is that the sea and the winds are very very dangerous, but tourist mostly ignore this because it may not seem so dangerous when you look at the sea and, let's say, nearby islets, from a beach on the shore, while the actual conditions on the sea are much more different when you take off just a little bit further from the shore. Sadly, accidents happen often because foreign people without sea experience don't know for exemple when and what type of wind blows. Also, the weather can quickly change from calm to extremly windy, so keeping track on the weather forecast is an absolute must, especially if you are planning sea activities like kayaking, boat rental, yachting etc. Making and distributing flyers for usual local weather conditions wouldn't be so bad idea either...

  • Roko Karan said

    Lol,You do not have to be Serbian tho know people.I am an ex Croat,and am quite happy there is not as many Croats as there is Chinese.I guess the God too knew what he was doing.

  • Raewyn Portef said

    Korcula is a simply beautiful place to be but you have to be aware that most of the food is imported, seafood in the restaurants are not always fresh, most is frozen. Bad most often is imported from Germany. Bus timetables do not often reflect the real times. Sunday's and public holiday they seem to almost be non existent so if you want to go somewhere do it before Sunday or a holiday.
    Bus drivers tell you to buy a ticket at the office and the office tells you to buy a ticket on the bus??? Be careful or you will miss the bus. Some apartments do not provide simple things like toasters and you do not think about this until you go to cook your breakfast. Also accomodation websites often do not tell you how far the accomodation is from town, be prepared to do a lot of walking, ok if you are young but no good if you have any hip problems. We had a ally nice time but one has to be aware of differences and make allowances or preparations. Food can be really stodgy to what we are used to, hard to find something that is light to eat with flavour.

  • pizza said

    [email protected] the jealous Serb and Slovenian and the "ex Croat".
    Everyone sees through your shabby little tricks. It`s not Croatia's fault that so many people love it so much and noone cares about your shitty countries .

  • pizza said

    @raewyn portef

    stop bullshitting, none of your claims are true. Why the fuck would the sea food be imported from Germany when the Croats have their own sea with plenty of wild catches and aquacultures? Doesn't make any sense. The thing about public transport is not true either. You are just trying to badmouth the country

  • Audiamus et altera pars said

    Croatia, when it first tried being independent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jasenovac_concentration_camp

  • Ellen Watkins said

    Thank you for the article. I think it looks and sounds amazing and I would love to visit. It will remain on my bucket list.

  • LISA said

    Would love to visit Croatia, thanks for the tips!

  • Shirin said

    Very funny. I've visited Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro, and this comment thread is how I remembered it: the Serbs and Croats going on and on about how they're the best, while the Slovenians smile happily and the Montenegrans bask in their silence.

  • Debi Doyle said

    Love Croatia! Of the 6 countries we visited in 2014 by far my favorite. Watched Germany destroy Brazil in 2014 WC, on the big screen in the Harbour. Visited during Yacht Week leading up to Ulta. Just to watch the boats -Yachts- in the Harbour was amazing. Upon arrival at the bus stop in Split, met a gent that led us to a lovely room for rent, which worked out great until Ulta started and rooms every where increased 500%. My son, 24, spent the night at Ulta, me mid 50's spent the night on the promenade in Split, watching those who come out at night to keep it clean for the tourist, work incredibly hard and felt totally safe. Spent the previous five days walking and exploring all over Split. Can't wait to go back and explore more. Beautiful country. Got there by bus from Munich, flight out to Milan both modes of transport safe and without issue. Bus was definitely more interesting and beautiful as it goes through the mountains of Solvenia and down the coast of Croatia.

  • rick baldwin said

    Is there a boat from Italy?

  • Danica said

    If you are heading of to Croatia, be aware that you will end up in a xenophobic, racist country that has been engaged in ethnic cleaning for the last 2-3 decades. If you are black, just don't even bother. If you are anything but white, western male, expect some nasty incidents. If you are in fact white and western, you will probably have an acomodation in one of the places that somehow was robed from minorities, " mix " origin, politicly inconviniet ones, and so on. Have your vacation on a count of someone's elses misery. Support neo fascism and all that shit. Go fuck yourself.

  • Marila said

    I'm going to spend a week in Croatia between the 15th of Agost and 21st. I'm looking for a camping in a Island not too much touristic. My Okan is driving from Italy to Croatia, take a ferry and camping in a nice, quite Island. I don't look for discos, etc. Just beautiful sea, good food and a loro of relax! Any tips for me :)? Thank you? Marika

  • Lucy said

    @rickbaldwin there are boats from Venice - only 2 hours to the Croatian coast.

  • Monika said

    Croatia is a very beautiful country, with all kind of different natural beauties, cultures, food, wine, parties, lonely beaches... Everyone can find something for themselves. And, allways you can visit countries in the neighbourhood which are also very interesting (Bosnia, Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro). First, I recommned to visit Croatia. If you like peace and relaxing then you should visit some islands like Cres, Lošinj, Rab, Vis, Lastovo, Mljet...also, some small places on coastline. If you like party then you should visit Zrće on Island Rab or some bigger cities like Zadar, Rijeka, Split. There are also very beautiful National parks: Plitvice lakes, Kornati, Krka, Brijuni... On the coastline you should try many of different food specialites like pršut, olive oil, fish, brodet, home made chees (especially on Island Pag)...

    In the continental part of Croatia you must visit small cities with baroque soul like Varaždin and Čakovec on the north of Croatia. Also, in the near is capital Zagreb. On the east part of country you can find beautiful cities Osijek and Vukovar. Here you can enjoy in National park Kopački rit. Continental part is rich with all kind of delicious food ( zagorski štruklji, varaždinski klipiči, turkey with mlinci, fišpaprikaš, kulen...).

    And, if you like hiking you must visit mountain part (mountains Velebit, Dinara, Učka...). This mountains are close to the coastline so you could connect swimming in the sea in the morning and hiking in the evening. Croatia is full of magic!

  • ywalker said

    SO can one take a boat from Dubrovnik to Venice? Or from somewhere close to Dubrovnik to Venice? We will be in Dubrovnik in September and my hubby and I would enjoy visiting Venice again even as a day trip.

  • marco said

    wtf earthquakes in croatia omfg who told you that hahahahaha that neeeever happens -.-'

  • sam said

    @patricia @jason Tesh Cetnik!
    haha

  • Cheri said

    Zagreb is a very dull city..Nothing to see.

  • Dan said

    I have been to Croatia numerous times in last 10 years from Australia. Ignore the I'll informed comments from Serbians above, who can't move on from the past. Croatia is a stunning country as are Slovenia and Montenegro. It does have the odd tremor but no more than other places infact less so I'm surprised tve author bought it up in the article. It's safe and has good tourism infrastructure. It will have 15 million tourist in 2016. Put that in perspective Australia gets approx 5 mill. Croatia has a population of 4.5 million . It regularly gets voted by tourist promos as amongst tbe most beautiful in tbe world. Check out on Google Images my hidden treasures. Town of Betina on island of Murter. Murter and tbe Kornati archipelago. Rastoke, Varazdin, Bale & Motovun. Rovinj and my favorite Sibenik and the Krka falls and also Solaris beach. As for tbe comment above re Zagreb too many people come here without doing their homework. Have been all over Europe and in my opinion has the nicest cafe strip about 700 m long called Tkalciceva street, also amazing Cathedral, and a church with possibly the most unique roof in Europe in the old town. It also has the most beautiful cemetery in Europe, an architectural delight and beautiful Austro Hungarian buildings around the many city green squares. It doesn't have land marks because until films are made somewhere landmarks don't become popular

  • Danilo said

    Dubrovnik was stolen from Serbs...

  • Powder Snow Skier said

    Recently came back from a holiday in Europe, visited Germany, Austria, France, Italy and final place was Croatia.

    Dammm, I wish we had allowed for more time in Croatia, we had only 5 days, was not enough. Out of all of the above countries Croatia was the winner, FOOD, PEOPLE, SAFETY, HONESTY and of course SCENERY absolutely stunning.

    We are planning a return trip in 2018, Croatia only, 4 weeks, coastal and in land Croatia.

    Cant wait.

  • Johnson said

    I am a Nigerian coming to Croatia for a job.I really want to know if people are paid either weekly or monthly in Croatia.Also is it possible to switch job when one arrive because am a graduate and don't really like they job provided to me.are Croatians freindly?I jus hope I made they right choice by wanting to go to Croatia in search of greener pastures

  • dileno said

    Johnson please dont come to Croatia for work.we Croats people dont have work and we dont want you here.go away

  • Danjel said

    Spoken like a true balkanian dileno *claps*

  • Francisc said

    Had to drive through Croatia over the past months. Service is generally bad and expensive. Hotel receptionists do not answer to your greetings. Highway toll booth operators keep change for themselves.

  • Proud Croatian girl said

    Its making me laugh how most of the worst comments here come from undercover Serbians.Get over the jealousy guys.War is over long time ago now.In trying to make Croatia sound bad you only show your own badness inside yourself nothing else.And if something was so bad why make a war to keep it from leaving you.Enough said...

  • Tj said

    I'm a Canadian and have traveled to Croatia twice, the second time I stayed in Zagreb for 3 months and used it as a base to travel the region.
    Croatia is a beautiful country, however the coast line is becoming crowded and often the service was grumpy. I don't blame them, dealing with tourists all day can't be easy but I had several encounters with people who maybe needed a time out from their jobs.
    A little further down the coast is Montenegro and their coast line is as beautiful but they seem less jaded from the demands of tourists. Its worth it to check it out, even rent a car and easily cross the border.
    Don't get me wrong, Croatia is beautiful but I think they may have reached that point where the growth has become a little painful and it's starting to show.

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