A few years ago, Croatia made all sorts of travel headlines for the beauty of the country combined with its incredible affordability. That made more people want to go visit, and then… Game of Thrones. So now that Dubrovnik frequently is jam-packed with people, and the country is on everyone’s “hot list” the question comes up. Is Croatia a budget travel destination?
Croatian Travel Costs
Given its newfound popularity, it is more expensive than ever to go to Croatia. In general, it’s still cheaper than most western European countries like Spain and France.
Croatian travel is highly seasonal. The crowds come with the gorgeous weather and cruise ships in the summer, and diminish quickly when the cold of fall and winter sets in. If you’re willing to travel in the shoulder season, you can save quite a bit compared to high season.
Right now, the exchange rate is fairly favorable to the US, with about 6.3 Croatian Kuna to the US dollar.
Zagreb Travel Costs
Zagreb is much cheaper than the Croatian coast, so it’s still a fairly budget destination.
Zagreb has more to do in terms of culture and museums than the coastal cities, so expect to spend more on entrance fees. Expect to pay 20 – 50 kuna (roughly $3 – $8) per museum.
With a good public transit system of busses and trams, Zagreb transportation might also cost more than other cities. It’s 4 kuna (a bit less than a dollar) for each 90-minute ticket. If you want unlimited rides for 24 hours, it’s 30 kuna (about $5, and if you want unlimited rides for 3 days, it’s 70 kuna (about $12.50).
Zagreb has a number of parks, squares, churches and other spaces that are both gorgeous and open to the public for free.
Add in food, and a cheap daily budget for Zagreb will start around $50US.
Split Travel Costs
Split is one of the main coastal towns in Croatia. It’s beautifully set on the water, and has a number of beaches to enjoy. Remember that Croatian beaches are quite rocky, so consider budgeting to rent a beach chair for the day. Those costs depend on the beach and the location, but budget at least $5US.
Hostels in Split can book up quickly, and you’ll typically spend at least $25 – $30/night on a hostel dorm bed. Cheap hotels in Split are at least $75/night, while most hotels in Split are quite nice and can run upwards of $200/night.
Because Split is a more expensive town, expect your food costs to be somewhat similar to what you’d spend in the US. Quick food is likely to be about $10 US/meal, while a sit down meal can easily hit $25 or more per person. The closer you are to the water, the more expensive the food will be.
Ultimately, a cheap daily budget for Split will be more expensive than Zagreb, and should start around $65. A cheap daily budget also won’t include activities like boat rides, kayaking or partying at night, so if you’re wanting to do that, add in more!
Hvar Travel Costs
Hvar is one of the primary island destinations in Croatia. As such, you’ll pay quite a premium in the high season.
The easiest way to save money in Hvar is actually to consider skipping it or making a day trip out of it. Nearby islands like Korcula offer similar beaches, beauty and activities at a far more reasonable price.
Because almost all food has to come in via boat, expect to pay quite a lot for that as well. Drinks when you’re going out you can expect to cost what they do in the States. Similarly, a day-long kayaking tour can easily run $60+.
Don’t forget to budget for the ferries to and from Hvar. Expect to pay 55 kuna+ (About $10) each way on the ferries.
A cheap daily budget for Hvar should start around $100 US – if you plan on mostly enjoying the beaches and the sun. If you want to add in activities, plan for more.
Dubrovnik Travel Costs
Dubrovnik is a gem of a city, and the city walls are just gorgeous. Thanks to its popularity from Game of Thrones, and the number of cruise ships, expect giant crowds. And expect prices to match!
If you want to stay in the Old Town of Dubrovnik, expect a cheap hostel bed to start at $50/night. Cheap hotels in Dubrovnik start at about $150/night. In Dubrovnik, location matters more than most places. Yes, there is a public transit system, but the busses can get so packed they can’t let any more people on.
If you want to have a drink on one of the gorgeous bars outside the city walls, you’ll be paying $12 – $15/cocktail.
Luckily, Dubrovnik can easily be done in a day or two. Expect to budget at least $100/day for Dubrovnik.
Croatia Budget Travel
So it’s true – during the high season, Croatia is no longer the steal of a deal it once was. Be prepared for high costs, but also prepare for the absolute beauty of the country. You can save a great deal of money by going to the destinations not as many people visit. Istria, in the north. Cavtat, south of Dubrovnik, and others can offer great value.
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