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How To Travel Croatia On A Budget: Tips, Ideas & How To Save Money While In Croatia
Croatia is often referred to as a dream-come-true holiday destination because of our fantastic weather, the fantastic people, breathtaking nature, and prices that are known to be some of the best in Europe.
We hope these tips will be handy if you are planning the trip to our Croatian treasure!
Budget Travel In Croatia Tips
Croatia On A Budget Tip #1 – Transport
You need to get from point A to point B. So, how do you do that traveling Croatia on a budget? The cheapest way is by bus.
Buses in Croatia
Numerous bus lines connect thousands of Croatian destinations, as well as destinations throughout the rest of Europe. The coaches in Croatia are modern, with most having free WiFi services and electric plug-ins so you can stay connected while on the road. Gone are the days of trying to cram as many passengers onto the bus as possible.
Buses are now being built to maximize passenger comfort and provide a better experience. These days buses have headrests, more space between seats (hooray for me, I can actually fit), more room for your personal travel bag, are air-conditioning (an absolute necessity), and have toilets. Most of the drivers speak English, which can be very handy. You can even save 5% just by buying your tickets online!
The best part for me is that taking the bus allows you to relax and soak in all the beauty Croatia has to offer, and it’s the best option for budget travel in Croatia.
Budget Car Rental in Croatia
Of course, buses are not for everyone. Car rental can be inexpensive if you book early and rent a small vehicle. Just be sure to make sure there is room for your bags. Those little cars have small trunks!
Also, note that the Croatian motorways have tolls. To avoid those added costs, you can use local roads instead. They’re slower but often more scenic and 100% free.
Private Transfers in Croatia
Another way to save money is through a private transfer. If you are in a group, a private transfer can work out the same or cheaper than you all hauling ass on a hot, smelly bus.
Croatia On A Budget Tip #2 – Accommodation
Naturally, if you are planning a trip to this country, you are going to need a place where to crash after a long day of tours and wandering. We were always hotel travelers and found them the best place to stay, but now that we travel so often, more and more we find local apartments or homes on Airbnb.
Croatia doesn’t have a ton of international hotel chains, but the ones we do have charge accordingly. If you are traveling Croatia on a budget, you should look for deals via specialized booking sites early and look for sales.
There are some essential tips you should consider if you want to book a nice hotel on the cheap:
- Browse privately. Always search and book hotels using incognito mode in your browser. This way, you will escape from the traps of dynamic pricing.
- Book early. Remember that most hotels offer early booking discounts, so it is crucial to start looking for a hotel room as soon as you decide to travel. Also, this discount works on bookings made up until the end of March, though you will also find last-minute sales all year round.
- Book Direct. Don’t be afraid to book your room directly with the hotel via their website or phone and ask for all-inclusive options and a discount.
- Sleep out of town. Book accommodation out of the central part of the city. Look for places in the backstreets or the next suburb away.
- Camp. Ditch the comforts of a swanky hotel and get out to camp and get back to nature.
- Stay at hostels. Though not for everyone, hostels in Croatia offer an excellent way to meet people and travel cheaply.
- Consider a housesit. Housesitting will not cost you anything, and you can stay in Croatia longer, living like a local. You can find a guide to what and how of housesitting here.
Croatia On A Budget Tip #3 – Go In The Off-Season
If you want to visit Croatia on a budget, you should really take a better look at the calendar and plan your trip accordingly.
When it comes to tourism in this country, the demand is very seasonal. The peak season is from July through August. This is when prices are at their annual highs – in most cases so high that even as locals, we stay home and don’t travel. No matter where you are visiting or where you are going in those months, it could really hurt the wallet.
Instead, if you want to travel to Croatia on a budget, go in spring and autumn, and you will save money instantly. Moreover, April, May, and June are relatively warm, and the lack of tourists means you can see Croatia just like a local. September is still swimming season, so you can laze by the beach as you save your pennies.
Croatia On A Budget Tip #4 – Choose Your Location Wisely
As we all know, Dubrovnik is probably the most famous town in this country, so naturally, there are always tons of tourists and sky-high prices. While in smaller cities you can enjoy the same beauty, yet spend less.
To save money in Croatia, stay away from the Old Town in Dubrovnik, and instead, look to the broader Dubrovnik Riviera or Konavle Region.
Instead of staying at Split, look for a stay in Trogir or Omiš. Or even skip those two major players and instead check out Zadar. From there, you can get to Split in a few hours on the bus and be close for day trips to many national parks, including Plitvice Lakes. Just use Google Maps to look for the smaller towns surround the big cities you’ve got on your wishlist to save.
Croatia On A Budget Tip #5 – Island Hopping On A Budget
Ever dream of island hopping in Croatia, in places like Dalmatia or the Kvarner Region, but put those dreams on hold simply because you felt like you couldn’t afford such a luxury? Well, here in Croatia, there is a way to have an affordable Croatia island hopping holiday, and even we can show you how to set your own itinerary!
You decide which islands you want to visit and for how long. But, before you even consider a holiday, you need to make sure you have all the travel necessities to make your vacation comfortable. There is nothing worse than getting to a destination and realizing your missing something.
Croatia On A Budget Tip #6 – Food
Everybody needs to eat, and this can be one of the biggest expenses when traveling. Of course, we always recommend you eat traditional Croatian restaurants. However, to save money, you need to eat where locals eat and not at places that are always full of tourists.
Many restaurants offer what is known as marenda (or you may see it as gablec), which is just traditional Croatian meals prepared at a fixed price. Consisting of a main course, salad, a side, and maybe even dessert, these are created to make a person full for a day, and they always taste amazing!
Also, consider making your own food. You will always find local markets in each town, all packed with fresh vegetables and fruits, and if you have a hotel with a fridge or if you choose to rent an apartment, you’ll even have a kitchen where you can cook. You can indeed save a ton of cash by cooking some of your meals. We have some tremendous Croatian recipes you can try here.
Your money will go a long way at the supermarkets if you also consider eating breakfast at your hotel (or making it yourself) and then take picnic lunches with you while out and about. This allows you to spend some more money on dinner. After all, you can’t miss trying all that tasty Croatian cuisine.
Croatia On A Budget Tip #7 – Fewer Destinations Are Better
If you’d like to save money while visiting Croatia, it’s a good idea to limit the number of places you stay at. Moving from one town to the next is usually not the most budget-friendly thing you can do.
This is because many accommodations, from hotels to private apartments, offer discounts if you stay longer. So, by basing yourself in strategic cities like Zadar, Zagreb or Split, and going on day trips, you can really cut down on your accommodation expenses. Croatia is not that big, and it’s totally possible to see much of it by choosing your bases wisely.
Bonus Budget Travel Tips
- Check out this guide to budget-conscious travel to help guide you on your journey to traveling on a budget.
- Be sure not to scrimp on travel insurance; it’s the one thing that you simply must arrange before you come here as Croatia’s hospital system isn’t cheap (or effective). Also, the guys at Just a Pack have some more great budget travel tips for Croatia that you should check out before you come.
- And, if you wanna travel to Europe on a budget, you can find more tips here.
Things To Do In Croatia On A Budget Or For Free
While some major attractions in Croatia require you to pay a fee, there are still several amazing things to do for free. Here are some suggestions for budget-friendly activities in Croatia:
- Visit one (or more) of the spectacular beaches in Croatia.
- Go hiking in Croatia’s amazing national parks.
- Walk the streets of literally every historic town in Croatia. That’s 100% and offers amazing sightseeing and people-watching opportunities.
Just those three things (beaches, national parks, and beautiful towns) are essential to an all-round Croatia experience. Luckily for you, they’re all free or require the payment of a small entrance fee, which is always well worth it.
Travelling Croatia on a budget can be done; you just have to plan ahead. What other budget travel tips do you have?Share