Croatia has become a dream destination for many. With it’s incredible national parks, breathtaking beaches, gorgeous history, and fun nightlife, what’s not to love? Before heading to Croatia, make check out these things to know before visiting Croatia.
1. Croatia is bigger than you might think.
Croatia seems quite small on the map, so it seems like an easy country to get around. While it’s fairly easy to get around, things are not especially close. If you’re taking the ferry from Split to Korcula, it takes over 2.5 hours (if everything is going according to plan!). And if you’re heading from Hvar to Dubrovnik, the ferry can easily take more than three hours.
Yes, it’s easy to get around. But plan ahead for the time it’ll take. Most things are not easy day trips from one another.
2. Expect heavy crowds in Dubrovnik.
It’s hard to overstate how crowded Dubrovnik is. With cruise ships, Game of Thrones fans, and others, Dubrovnik is a crazy mess of people. Walking the walls is a must-do, but be prepared for some sections to be wall to wall people. (And drink something before you go – the water and other drinks for purchase along the walls are incredibly expensive!)
3. Beware Game of Thrones Tours.
There are many options for Game of Thrones tours in Croatia. Make sure to investigate what you’re doing and what you’re getting. And consider what you actually want. The vast majority of tours will take you to the filming sites and show you pictures (in a binder) from scenes that were filmed there. Some take it to the next level, with the guides in Game of Thrones cosplay. You do you, but make sure you know what you’re getting!
4. Remember that There are Ferries to Italy.
There’s a ferry that runs from Dubrovnik to Bari, Italy, and another that runs from Venice to Pula. This makes it surprisingly easy to do a vacation that includes both Croatia and Italy. The Dubrovnik to Bari ferry sometimes runs overnight, and sometimes runs during the day. Make sure to check the schedule carefully. While you shouldn’t be late to the port, you should also be aware that the ferry rarely runs on time.
5. Croatia is no Longer a Budget Destination.
For a few years, Croatia was touted as the hot new budget destination. It might be a hot new destination for many, but it’s hard to call it a budget destination these days. Especially in Dubrovnik and on the islands (especially Hvar), be prepared to pay US-like prices for food, drinks and tours.
6. There are Still Less-Visited Gems in Croatia.
While the country has seen a tourist surge, there are still a number of destinations that offer great experiences with fewer crowds than the better-known ones. Want to go to Dubrovnik on a day trip? Consider staying in cute Cavtat, which has beaches, an adorable town, and more. It’s on the bus line to easily connect to Dubrovnik. If you want the island experience, consider Korcula rather than Hvar. It’s less-visited and is a perfect oasis for a vacation.
7. The Croatian Currency is the Kuna, not the Euro.
Yes, Croatia is in the European Union. If you just know that, you might pack Euros for your trip and think you’re ready to go. While Croatia is in the European Union, it’s not in the Eurozone. Croatia’s currency is the Kuna. The exchange rate is a bit more than 6 kuna to the US dollar.
8. Be Prepared that Plitvice Lakes is Not an Easy Day Trip.
If you go with an organized tour, you can easily go to Plitvice Lakes in a day. You’ll get to see it with all of the crowds, and you’ll miss the quieter moments there. But it’s do-able. Otherwise, know that the public busses that run there can get crowded and full quickly, and there are only a few hotels and hostels to stay at in Plitvice. It’s much easier to do Plitvice as a day trip if you rent your own car (or take an organized tour).
9. Known that Croatian Beaches are Rocky.
Images of Croatian beaches are almost always breathtaking. The water is so clear, it’s just incredible. Part of the reason that the water is so clear is that the beaches are almost all rocks. You’ll find pebble beaches, too, but very few beaches in Croatia are sandy. You’ll want to pack or rent a beach chair, because laying out on your towel can get very uncomfortable!
Also, beware the sea urchins. Most Croatian beaches have sea urchins – and a sea urchin sting can easily ruin a vacation! If you’re going to be touching the bottom a lot, consider investing in rubber-soled swim shoes.
10. Yes, There Are Nude Beaches in Croatia!
If you’re in for something a little different, there are a few nude beaches and topless beaches in Croatia. It’s generally not a custom there for women to sunbathe topless, so if that’s what you want, make sure you check first.
(Hint: In Cavtat, there’s one at the Hotel Croatia Cavtat that’s open to the public!)
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