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What you need to know about Croatia
Croatia is a country located in the Balkan region of Europe. Over the last 10 years, it has become more and more popular as a tourist destination, particularly among backpackers. This probably has a lot to do with the stunning coastline and islands in the Adriatic Sea, and the cruises that island hop up and down the coastline. Dubrovnik in particular has become hugely popular, perhaps also due to it being the filming location for Game of Thrones.
Rewind to the early 1990’s, and Croatia was at war. The Balkan war that engulfed the region after the break-up of Yugoslavia lasted from 1992 until 1995, and saw thousands of people lose their lives.
These days, however, Croatia is completely safe, and is each year more and more popular as a place to visit in Europe
- Population: Around 4.1 million
- Capital city: Zagreb
- Official Language: Croatian
- Currency: Croatian Kuna
Places To Go In Croatia
The most popular tourist destination in Croatia. It’s a medieval style walled city, and has recently become super popular party due to it being a filming location for Game of Thrones.
A lot of cruises come in and out of here, and a lot of island hopping tours either start or end here. It’s worth spending at least 3 nights here. But prepare yourself for a mountain of tourists. Overcrowding is getting worse every year, and if you can we’d recommend visiting outside of peak season.
Another hugely popular coastal destination in Croatia. It’s a great place to take some day trips from, either out to more islands or to some of the national parks in the surrounding area.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Probably our favourite place in Croatia. Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most popular of Croatia’s national parks, and it’s easy to see why. The colour of the water and the waterfalls is stunning.
It is possible to do a day trip here from Zagreb, Split or anywhere in between. But we’d highly recommend spending at least a night in the area, so you can do some extra activities and still have a full day exploring the park.
The capital city of Croatia. Zagreb can be a little underwhelming compared to some other European cities, but it’s a great place to learn about the history of Croatia. The Museum of Broken Relationships is also found here, and it’s one of our favourite museums we’ve visited. It’s worth spending 2 nights in Zagreb if you have the time.
Most people explore the Croatian islands through a Sail Croatia tour, and that’s what we did. These tours can be a little hectic with a lot of drinking. If you don’t fancy that, do one of the slightly more expensive tours on a nicer boat. That’s what we did, and we found it a lot less hectic with an older average age on the tour. Popular islands include Hvar (pictured), Korčula, Mljet and Vis (most of which you’ll visit if you do a Sail Croatia Tour).
Other places to visit
There are plenty more places to explore in Croatia if you have the time. Some of the main ones are:
- Zadar: Another popular city on the Croatian coastline.
- Krka National Park The second most popular national park in Croatia. The good thing about Krka is that unlike Plitvice, you can actually swim in the lakes there.
- Sibenik: A coastal city between Split and Zadar, close to Krka national park. A good place to base yourself if you want to explore the park.
- Makarska: Another city on the coast. Makarska is quite often a stop on a Sail Croatia tour, so if you’re doing one then double check to see whether or not it’s included.
Travel Tips And Things To Know About Croatia
Best time to visit:
Croatia is a European summer destination, meaning that the best time to take advantage of what it has to offer is between June and September. However, it’s becoming extremely busy through summer, particularly in July and August. If you can, we’d recommend going in June or September to avoid the rush.
Croatia has a good bus network that’s relatively easy to use. Get By Bus is the easiest way to find routes and buy tickets for bus travel. Buses run between most of the major cities and towns every day.
- Tip: Some of the buses require you to have a PRINTED ticket (not on your phone). Be sure to double check before you get to the station and print it out if you need to.
The other main option for getting around Croatia is driving. Hiring a car is a popular and easy way to get around the country, and it means you have a lot more flexibility with what you do. In particular, it’s a good way to go if you’re travelling between Zagreb and Split, and you can stop as much as you like along the way. It can be cheaper than bus travel if there’s a group of you too.
Croatia is a relatively cheap European country in parts, although it’s a bit more expensive in the main tourist areas. A hostel will set you back around 100 Kuna a night ($20AUD or €13). A cheap meal out will cost around 30-40 Kuna, and a pint of beer around 15 Kuna.
There are quite a few options for onward travel from Croatia.
- To the north (usually from Zagreb), the popular destinations are either Budapest, Hungary or Ljubljana, Slovenia.
- To the east, venturing into Bosnia is quite easy by either bus or car. Mostar and Sarajevo are the two most popular destinations.
- To the south, many people head down through Albania and into Greece. This can be done either via a tour or hiring a car.
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