Croatia solo travel guide
Having been to Croatia once before, I knew roughly what to expect the second time around. My first time in Croatia was on a sailing tour called The Yacht Week. This was a great experience and a lot of fun. However, the tour schedule didn’t allow me enough time to explore the islands in a fashion I would’ve liked. This time my priority was to see more of each place I visited.
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The first thing you need to decide when travelling Croatia is whether you want to see the islands by sail boat or island hop at your own leisure by local ferry.
Is sailing Croatia right for you?
The sailing route is a great experience during the summer months it’s a blast and great way to meet new people from all over the globe since you get to spend the entire sailing time together socializing and there is organized activities planned that make opportunities for lifelong friends. Sailing also allow you see the best parts of each islands in a short amount of time. If you only have a week or two in Croatia then this might be the best option for you.
If being on the water for a lengthy amount of time doesn’t sit well with you another option you have is, island hopping by ferry and possibly sailing only for a day excursion. I think this is the best way to see Croatia if you want to explore the islands more thoroughly on your own.
How I decided what my budget was?
My budget was 100$ CAD / per day. I came to this number by estimating my daily expenses and doing my research online to ensure that my budget could be met; I broke it down like this:
· 35-50$ /day on Air BnB accommodation (price is divided by two) as I travelled with someone else and split all costs evenly.
· 20-25$ /day on food (making my own meals mostly)
· 15-25$ / Activities (boats, bus rides, rental prices for scooters)
Some days I spent less and some days I spent more which equalled out to staying within my budget. 100$ a day was a good number to base myself at I was able to live comfortably and experience all the things I wanted.
Currently the Canadian dollar in the Croatian economy has good value but keep in mind I wasn’t planning to party or dine out every day which afforded me some cost savings. I wanted to sight see and indulge only when I felt the opportunity couldn’t be missed.
If your budget is more than mine, island hopping and seeing the best of each island over the course of a few days is the route to go!
How I decided where to visit?
I was in Croatia for 3 weeks and I wanted to see the most beautiful islands and not feel rushed. So, I chose the following places based on what sights I felt I couldn’t miss seeing. I started on the north side of Croatia and ended in the south, the order of the islands I visited was based on how close it was to the next. This is the route I went, Dubrovnik, Markaska, Brac, Vis, Hvar, Split and Zagreb. A list of my favourite locations is located in my entry called Places You Must Visit In Croatia.
How I bounced around Croatia without a Sail boat?
Traveling by bus
It’s easy to get around Croatia’s mainland by bus or Train. I bought all my tickets online through Get By Bus. Try and snag a train ride when you can available tickets can be purchased on Euro Lines train rides which are more comfortable than buses in Europe.
Pro Tip: Avoid the bus company Croatia Bus at all costs, pay the extra few euros for a better bus company all my experience with them are horrible. Also arrive early to ensure you don’t get stuck at the back of the bus (it's the worst!)
Traveling by Ferry
Island hopping can be done by ferry. Jadrolinija is the most popular company and it's an inexpensive method to get from island to island offering a ride for around 10-15€ /per trip.
Pro Tip: It’s easy to book tickets on ferries on your departure date at the ferry dock. No reservation is needed, if you don’t have a vehicle. If you have a car, reserving online is necessary as spots are limited and fill up fast.
Pro Tip #2: It’s important to consider your travel dates and see if ferries are departing to the island on the days you plan to travel. If not, you may have to book through an independent agency offering catamaran services to the island for a more expensive price. Some ferries will only go to a specific island once a week, for example Brac to Vis.
How to save money on the islands?
Finding a place to stay on the islands can be hard when you’re not sure what town to base yourself out of. The bigger the town is, the more food options will be available. If you plan to cook for yourself the best grocery store is Konzum. Other options include Studenac or Tommy Market. There is also many local fruit and vegetable stands in the town squares, just remember to bring cash for that.
Pro Tip: Most restaurants, travel agencies, grocery stores and bars take credit card, however small stands that sell souvenirs, fruits or snacks do not.
How to travel the island once you’re on it?
In general taxis are expensive all over Croatia. This is especially true on the islands.
It’s best to get a scooter, quad, or car and tour the island yourself. (it’s not necessary to have a special motorcycle or international license to rent these vehicles.) There are also local buses going from each town to the next every few hours. You can find the time tables at the main bus stop in each town.
When you first arrive at each island I would recommend finding the schedule for ferries and buses right away. If you go to a information centre (located in every town) they can give you a map and the timetables for transport, both are very handy to have! Then go to a travel agency to book a boat excursion for activities around the island if this is something you want to do because (these spots fill up fast).
Pro Tip: If you ever feel confused on what to see or do or how to do it, locate a travel agency nearby you and they will direct you, don't worry!