The Ultimate Travel Guide to Croatia
Your guide to Croatia! First of all, I am very excited for you if you are going to Croatia. It is an awesome country! Second, if you are planning a trip, this guide is to help make that planning just a little easier.
The best time to visit
Croatia is growing in popularity. Already a popular summer vacation spot for Europeans, it is now gaining popularity in other parts of the world, largely due to the filming of Game of Thrones, and, how I came to decide to go to Croatia, by word of mouth because it is just such a beautiful and unique country! It is also a frequently visited spot on cruise ship routes. With the increase in popularity comes an increase in overcrowding, especially in the Old Town and especially when cruise ships dock.
Cruises typically slow down at the beginning of October and pick back up toward the end of May. I highly recommend visiting Croatia, and especially Dubrovnik, during off-season to avoid crowds. The best times to visit are likely the end of April/beginning of May or the end of September/beginning of October to catch mild weather and less crowds! We even visited at the end of October and had 70 degree F (21 degree C) weather and swam in the Adriatic Sea.
Weather inland can actually get rather chilly, despite Croatia being known for it’s sunny, warm days. If you are venturing along the coast, the climate is Mediterranean and more mild year-round. However, expect to still need warmer clothes even in Dubrovnik in the winter. The highs in the Dalmatia region in the winter are typically in the 50’s F (10’s C). In May the highs warm up to the 70’s (20’s C) typically and September and October typically remain in the 70’s (20’s C).
Summers can be hot and humid. If you visit in the summer, especially July/August, expect your explorations around town to be toasty, so take advantage of the beautiful Adriatic Sea!
Whenever you go, check the weather before you leave. Click here for recommendations on what to pack for Croatia!
Croatia has it’s own currency, the Kuna (kn or sometimes HRK). Some restaurants and business, especially in the more touristy areas, may accepted Euros. However, I just recommended getting some of your cash converted into the Kuna to make it easier for the locals. You may run into some business that only accept cash, although this is becoming less common as tourism ramps up. Your best bet is to have a little kuna cash and use your credit card where you are able!
For tipping you will need cash. You can rarely leave a tip using your credit card! Tipping is common at restaurants or if you stay at a bar for a while. Also, tipping is common during tour guides. I recommend having cash if only for the tipping!
If you are going to exchange money into kunas, you will likely get a better exchange rate once you arrive in Croatia.
In both Split and Dubrovnik, most attractions are located in the Old Town, near Diocletian’s Palace in Split and within the walls of Old Town in Dubrovnik. We opted to stay just outside the perimeter of both Old Towns, getting better prices but still being in walking distance of everything. Once we arrived in each town, we did not have to use transportation or our car at all.
We stayed along the eastern side of Split, closer to the walls of the Old City and an easy walk from everything we wanted to see. In Dubrovnik we stayed outside the city walls, just north of the Minceta Fortress and close to the Pile Gate. I’ll warn you that the Dubrovnik location required a LOT of stair climbing. However, we had amazing views of the city from our window! We stayed in the upper portion of a locals apartment and he helped with recommendations and took us to our car that was parked a mile from the apartment.
Use these tips for finding the best accommodations for you!
Views from our AirBNB in Dubrovnik
To the right, you will notice our cute little Audi the nice gentleman at the car rental agency upgraded us to (won’t name specific details). However, fun fact, with some rental companies (including ours) an Audi is not allowed in Croatia. And, although we told the gentleman we were leaving our car at the Dubrovnik airport, he upgraded us to an Audi anyway.
We learned quickly why these luxury-type vehicles are not allowed in certain countries by certain rental companies. Our long and spacious vehicle had a HARD time parking in Croatia and the driving was kind of wild in the narrow streets! We were NOT prepared for this. So, if you are planning to drive to Croatia, make sure you have the appropriate vehicle and double check with your rental company for any restrictions they may have! If you aren’t making a long road trip, busing to your major cities in Croatia may be your better option.
Once you get to Split or Dubrovnik or most cities in Croatia, nearly everything is accessible by walking so a car is not a must-have when seeing Croatia.