Visit Croatia: Top Things You Need to Know Before You Go

Welcome to my ultimate Croatia travel guide! Below, you can read through in-depth tips to help make your first (or next) visit to Croatia the best travel experience possible. Whether you’re looking to cruise around the islands, explore the gorgeous national parks, try all the local food, or soak up the sun and waves at the beaches.

You can start off by watching my “Top 10 Things to Know for Visiting Croatia” video for a quick guide, or read on and get even more expert travel tips for when you visit Croatia. I’ve got you covered when it comes to the best places to go to in Croatia, when to visit, the best places to stay in Croatia, the weather in Croatia, the currency you need, and more. I hope you get inspired to visit Croatia and have an adventure of your own!

When is the Best Time to Visit Croatia?

Croatia is known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic” because of its beautiful islands, vibrant culture, and historic buildings. Because there are so many different things to do, the best time to visit Croatia depends on things like the weather, activities, events, etc.

In previous years, most tourists were heading to Croatia during the summer months of July and August. Today, those months are still popular among sun chasers and summer fans. However, remember that traveling in a high season always results in crowds, higher prices, and humid Croatian weather.

On the other hand, June and September have pleasant weather, sunny days, and fewer crowds, which probably makes them the best time to visit Croatia. If you’re visiting the continental part of the country, you shouldn’t miss the rich amenities and activities during the holidays. December is pretty popular for Christmas markets, concerts, events, and more. If you’re looking for a fun time and a real Christmas vibe, head to the capital, Zagreb.

So, choosing the best time to visit Croatia depends on all these things, and I want to give you a breakdown of each one. While weather is important, I think knowing what you want to do is the first step.

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Best Things to Do in Croatia

As I said, planning your visit around the weather is important. But is the weather going to make or break your trip? In my experience, it’s best to start planning your visit around the activities you want to do and events you want to go to. To make the most of your stay, here are my top 5 best things to do in Croatia!

Attend Yacht Week

Yacht Week Croatia is a fun thing to do, whether you’re passionate about yachts or not. It’s basically a giant party week on yachts for 7 days. You will sail across the country and see some of the best places in Croatia, including Split, Hvar, Krka National Park, and many others! Set sail on select dates from May through August.

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Discover Croatia's Best Beaches

Many people visit Croatia for its beautiful beaches!  One of the most famous beaches in Croatia is a golden sand beach, Zlatni Rat, on the island of Brac. However, it’s not the only beach worth the visit! The best sandy beaches can also be found in Dubrovnik, Hvar, Korcula, Sibenik, Makarska, and more. On the other hand, if you like rockier beaches, then you might want to visit Istria.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes is the biggest and the oldest national park in Croatia, under UNESCO protection. Each year, more than 1 million tourists visit this natural attraction. Lakes and waterfalls are simply stunning regardless of the time of year. Experience a winter wonderland or summer feast. Plitvice is always a good idea!  Make sure to hire a guide for the best experience.  We hired Nikola a couple of weeks before our trip, and we had the best time.

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Explore Croatia's National Parks

Besides Plitvice Lakes, Croatia has many other national parks and attractions to offer. Krka National Park is a nature reserve with beautiful waterfalls and castles (here’s a guided tour for that). For all those who want to combine national parks with hiking and trekking, Paklenica is the place to be. Furthermore, Kornati is a great choice if you want to see yachts in Croatia, go dolphin watching, or experience incredible maritime flora and fauna! (You can find a variety of Kornati park tours here).

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Try Croatia's Traditional Foods

Croatian traditional food is rich in its diversity as the cuisine is different from one region to another. Mediterranean spices, vegetables, and fresh seafood mark Dalmatian cuisine that is light and health-oriented. Istria represents a great mix of continental and Mediterranean cuisine (just think about delicious homemade pasta and olive oil – yum!). On the other hand, the Continental region is famous for its tasty stews and meat dishes served in spicy sauces.

I always recommend trying a food tour your first day in a new city. It’s a great way to get a feel for the area and hear more tips from a local guide.

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How is the Weather in Croatia?

The weather in Croatia is as diverse as its stunning landscapes, ranging from the sun-soaked Adriatic coast to the snow-capped mountain peaks. There are three distinct climates in Croatia, depending on the region you’re visiting.

The interior of Croatia has cold winters with an average temperature around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers are hot and dry, with average temperatures in the high 70’s to low 80’s.

The Mediterranean climate rules along the coast, boasting abundant sunshine and hot summers where daily temperatures can soar above 90 degrees. Winters here are milder and wetter compared to the interior. However, the region is occasionally visited by ‘Bura,’ a fierce and cold northerly wind that sweeps down from the mountains, bringing a burst of cold air. In the same way, the temperature of the sea also varies.

As for the mountainous areas of Croatia, they experience winters that are heavy and cold with lots of snow. In contrast, the summers are warm and sunny, with fresh and crisp mornings and evenings.

The coldest month in the year is typically January, with July and August being the warmest. However, due to climate change, the weather in Croatia is not always as it should be. That’s why it can happen to be snowy in March or too warm in December.

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What to Know About Croatian Currency

Even though Croatia is a part of the European Union, they still don’t use the euro as their currency. Croatian currency is called Kuna (short: kn), and it is definitely the best currency to use while visiting the country.

However, euros are widely used when paying for accommodation, pay-tolls on Croatian roads, and even some meals in restaurants. In this case, you will get your change in Kuna. Keep in mind that the change you’ll get will be by the less favorable exchange rate than at the exchange office.

The current exchange rate is at about 6,92 kn per 1$, 7,53 kn per 1€, and 8,77 kn per 1£. You’ll find numerous exchange offices across the country. The majority of them advertise ‘no commission’ policy, so head for those. While exchanging the money in Croatia, pay attention to exchange rates. Some offices can have a lower rate than the official rate set by the Croatian National Bank, but there are also those that offer extremely low rates. Beware of potential fraud and always go for the best rate!

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Using Credit Cards in Croatia

Credit cards are widely accepted in Croatia. There are numerous ATMs all over the country, so head for those with a sign of Croatian banks, such as Zagrebacka, PBZ, Erste, OTP, etc. Usually, they are very close to the bank’s offices. However, in some places, you will not find an official bank’s machines, but blue and yellow Euronet or black and yellow Auro Domus ones. These kinds of ATM machines are situated in noticeable spots in towns, hotels, and resorts, but they are more expensive to use.

If you ask yourself why there are so many ATMs if credit cards are accepted, here it is. Small businesses, private accommodation options, and even some restaurants and bars prefer cash. If there is no sticker talking about credit card payments, you can always ask to be sure.

Croatia Travel Tip: when paying with a credit card, the staff will ask you if you prefer the charge in your own currency or local currency. Always choose the local currency! This is important because otherwise, you would end up paying more than you should. While you’re at it, you might as well pay with a card that gives you travel perks back! Check out my favorite credit cards for travel here.

Best Places to Go to in Croatia

Croatia has so many beautiful places worth visiting. It really all depends on your preferences. If you’re visiting Croatia for the first time, main tourist towns and attractions might be your best options. In this case, cities like Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Hvar, Plitvice, and Split are some of the best places to go to in Croatia. These are also popular Croatia holiday destinations, regardless of weather or time of year.

On the other hand, if you’ve already visited Croatia and crave some hidden gems, this Croatia travel guide has you covered. Various amazing beaches, charming coastal towns, beautiful natural sites, and interesting activities are ready for you to explore.

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How to Get Around in Croatia

Before I talk about all the wonderful places to visit in Croatia, I want to talk about how to get around the country. The best way to wander around Croatia is by car. The roads are very good and are sometimes the best option to reach secluded, charming little towns. I definitely recommend renting a car if you want to explore a lot outside of where you’re staying.

Another great option to consider is exploring Croatia by bus. A company named Croatia Bus has modern, affordable, and fast buses. Find more info on the schedule and prices on their website.

When traveling to the Croatian islands, using a ferry is a great, affordable method. The main ferry ports are in Split, Zadar, and Rijeka. However, they also depart from smaller cities such as Makarska, Ploce, Orebic, and Prapratno.

When it comes to getting around the city, public transportation is well organized in bigger cities. Some of the cities like Pula, Split, Zadar, and Rijeka use public buses. On the other hand, Zagreb has a wide network of public trams, trains, and buses.

Croatia Travel Tip: Taxis are generally more expensive, but if you don’t have another option, go for Uber or Bolt. Car rental Croatia is also available, but check out your options before renting one.

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Cruise Around the Croatian Islands

While you can take the public ferries, as I mentioned above, there’s actually a better way to explore the Croatian islands that I highly recommend! And that’s by doing it in style on an incredible cruise experience with LiveAboard.

Travel from island to island without repacking all your luggage in between. You can go snorkeling and scuba diving, depending on which ship you book, and a dip in the sea is only a few steps away from your bed. I recommend you book the Katarina Deluxe or Katarina Deluxe Superior for the best time sailing around the Croatian islands.

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Is Croatia a Safe Place to Travel?

When it comes to safety in Croatia, there is one answer. Yes, Croatia is safe. There is no violence and very little street crime there.

However, just like in any country, take care of your belongings and be aware of your surroundings. Pickpockets are always a possibility, no matter where you travel.

Do You Need a Visa for Croatia?

The majority of tourists don’t need a visa for Croatia. If you’re a citizen of EU countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, or the UK, then you don’t need a visa to visit Croatia. Citizens of these countries can stay for 90 days within a 180-day period.

Citizens from countries of the European Union can enter Croatia with only their ID cards, while citizens from the other countries need to show their valid passport.

Best Places to Visit in Croatia

Now, back to the main event: the best places to visit in Croatia! As mentioned above, there are many places to explore, including more than a dozen islands. I’ll briefly introduce the 6 best Croatia destinations for you and then we’ll talk about the best islands to visit.

Zagreb, Croatia

Croatia’s capital is an all-year-round destination. During the summer months, you’ll find various open cinemas, concerts under the starry sky, garden parties, and much more. On the other hand, when the winter comes, the city becomes a huge Christmas market wrapped in holiday vibes.  It’s truly magical!

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Split, Croatia

Croatia’s second-largest city is a cool mix of modern and ancient. It has magnificent ancient monuments, luxurious palaces, city museums, great nightlife, and trendy restaurants. It’s known for its lively waterfront promenade, called Riva, and its beautiful sandy beaches.

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Istria, Croatia

Istria is a northern Croatian region known for superb wines, delicious truffles, homemade olive oil, and fresh seafood. There are plenty of historical and cultural monuments, cathedrals, cultural events, beautiful beaches, and local shops. Istria consists of many charming little towns such as Groznjan, Rovinj, Motovun, and Hum (the smallest town in the world!). In the same way, the bigger cities like Pula, Porec, Rijeka, and Opatija, are also worth the visit.

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Dubrovnik, Croatia

The city, known for filming sets for the popular series Game of Thrones, is much more than that. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dubrovnik attracts thousands of tourists each year. City walls surround this pedestrian-only old town. Here you can find luxurious café bars and fancy restaurants. Moreover, Dubrovnik has the magnificent Diocletian’s Palace, the interesting Lovrijenac Fortress, amazing beaches, and lively nightlife. However, this city is always crowded and much more expensive than the other ones.

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Zadar, Croatia

If you’re looking for a perfect city as a base to start exploring Croatian national parks, then Zadar is the place to be. This coastal town not only has beautiful architecture and monuments, it also has vibrant café bars and excellent fine dining restaurants.

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Lika, Croatia

This mountainous region of Croatia is ideal for relaxation and introspection. When in Lika, eating traditional food is a must-do! This part of the country is best known for its gorgeous natural attractions, including the world-known Plitvice Lakes. A place resembling a fairytale is one of the most popular Croatian national parks.

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Best Croatian Islands

Whether you’re following Croatian yachting or just want to relax on spectacular beaches, the Croatian islands are a must whenever you visit Croatia.

While there are a lot of Croatian islands, here are some of the ones I recommend checking out first.

Hvar Island, Croatia

One of Croatia’s largest islands, Hvar is known for its spectacular beaches, hilltop fortress, vibrant lifestyle, Renaissance monuments, and lively streets full of café bars and restaurants. It has, on average, 2,724 hours of sun annually, making it an ideal place for sun-seekers. It is also one of the favorite holiday spots among yacht owners, celebrities, and luxury-loving travelers. In fact, here you’ll find some of the most luxurious yachts in Croatia. If you’re more of a fan of culture, heritage, and history, go to the coastal towns of Jelsa and Stari Grad.

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Korcula Island, Croatia

Korcula is a Croatian island with a laid-back vibe, a peaceful atmosphere, charming shops, and café bars. It has various great local wineries (don’t forget to try their local white wine!) and pristine beaches. It is also known for its medieval walls, galleries, museums, and other cultural monuments. If you want fully to explore the city, rent a bike and go for a tour!

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Vis Island, Croatia

When it comes to the best Croatian islands, another must-visit spot is Vis. This island is full of sandy beaches and unspoiled natural attractions. One of the most famous attractions is the blue cave of Bisevo which looks absolutely magical and unreal. Welcome to the fairytale! 

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What Should You Pack for Croatia?

It’s always important to know what to pack when traveling anywhere. When you visit Croatia in the summer months, bring light and breathable clothing as temperatures are high. The weather in Croatia is unpredictable during spring and autumn, so don’t forget to take your waterproof shoes, raincoat, long sleeves, and a light jacket. Finally, winters can be really cold, so pack your winter jacket, warm sweaters, boots, hat, and gloves.

Extra travel tip: the mountainous part of Croatia is always a little bit chilly, even during the summer months. That’s why packing a light jacket, warm socks, and sweaters is not a bad idea.

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Additional Tips to Know Before You Visit Croatia

  • Public parking in Croatia is not free. It depends on the city you’re visiting, but generally, the city center has the highest rates, while other parts of the town are less expensive. In addition to street parking, there are garages and open-air parking lots. However, many accommodation options, hotels, and resorts offer a parking spot free of charge.
  • Most Croatians speak English or at least another foreign language. German and Italian are also widely spoken in Croatia.
  • Tipping in Croatia is welcomed! Some of the bars and restaurants round up the bill, but the majority expect the tip (around 10-15%).
  • The Wi-Fi connection availability is pretty good. Many cities offer free Wi-Fi hot spots in prominent parts of the city. In the same way, accommodation options will provide you with free Wi-Fi during your stay.
  • Croatia uses European type C & F plugs, 220 V, 50 Hz frequency. If the plug in your device is different, you will need to buy an adapter.

Are You Ready to Visit Croatia?

Croatia is an incredible country to visit!  From Dalmatia to Zagreb, the country is diverse and unique, with incredible food and inviting people all over.  It’s relatively inexpensive for European standards, and English and Italian are widely spoken throughout the country.  Make sure to add Croatia to your travel bucket list!

What are your favorite places to go in Croatia? Do you have any tips for traveling to Croatia? Please leave your comments below​ or on my YouTube video!

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I’m Kim The Abundant Traveler and this is everything you need to know before you go to Croatia! Thanks so much for stopping back by the channel, and if you’re new here, I put out weekly laid-back luxury travel videos inspiring you to buy that plane ticket, get on that yacht in Croatia, and go and see the world.

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So this week I’m going to share with you everything that you need to know before you visit Croatia. First of all, Croatia is part of the European Union but they are not yet on the euro; they still use their original currency called the Kuna. And let me tell you, in Croatia, cash is king! It’s quite funny, as soon as you get off that airplane there were a row of ATMs there, so definitely bring your ATM card that works overseas. We actually even paid for some of our hotels in cash because they didn’t accept credit cards.

Croatia has an extremely varied and interesting country; they are a wonderful crowd, gorgeous people. It’s a very laid-back, easygoing country. Typically, coming from the US, I like a little more detail with my descriptions and directions and all that, but in Croatia you just go with the flow and it will all work out. Because it did!

Next, Croatia has some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world. They also have some of the cleanest water in the Aegean. They’re known for having yacht week, which is in June or July. They also have all of these incredible islands, like Korcula, Hvar, Brac. Definitely worth going to see all of those Islands when you visit Croatia.

One thing to note though, the water is very cold all year long. It’s very salty, it’s actually very therapeutic, and it’s not common to have sand for beaches so make sure to bring your water shoes. Speaking of shoes, so you definitely want to bring very sturdy stable walking shoes. In the cities like Split and Dubrovnik, they have these beautiful limestone pavers from the quarries throughout Croatia. It’s this kind of uneven ground, so it’s very very important to have a very stable shoes.

The topography is very different in Croatia. I spent most of my travels in Dalmatia; yes, that’s the home of the dalmatian dog and that is where Dubrovnik and Split are, and I would say where most of the tourists go. There is also an interior part below Slovenia and above Bosnia, as well as the northern area along the coast. So, if you think you’re just going to one part of the country, you might want to think again. There’s lots to do, from hiking and biking to yacht week.

Make sure when you’re traveling to Croatia, if you’re along the coast, that you pay attention to the cruise schedules. The day that I was in Dubrovnik, it wasn’t too bad as there were only two cruise ships. However, they told me that the next day there would be 26,000 cruisers in town. Okay, Dubrovnik the old town is not that big and there are only 42,000 people that live in Dubrovnik as a whole. It gets packed, so pay attention and maybe you should go to Croatia just on the offseason or on the cusp of the high season. I was here in September, the weather was beautiful, I get to lay out, I got to swim, I got to do everything I wanted. However, there weren’t quite as many people as there are in July and August.

I also found Croatia really safe to travel around. In the islands, in Korcula, our guide actually said that they don’t even lock their doors. No matter where I went I felt safe, whether it was early in the morning or late at night. I was traveling through Croatia with some girlfriends, took off on my own in the evenings and didn’t have a single problem. Obviously, look out for pickpockets because everywhere in the world that you’re in the tourist area, you potentially have pickpockets.

Now let’s talk food! Since I was in Dalmatia, they were quite famous for their seafood and also since they were controlled by the Venetians for several hundred years, they have a huge Italian influence as well. What I found to be really interesting though, is the food was sort of Eastern European heavy. One of my favorite dishes that I had in Split at Canova Vestivi was a chickpea in a brown sauce with octopus. It was rich and decadent and heavy. Oh yes, let me say about the portions in Croatia; you will not go hungry in Croatia. Their portions are like this. No matter where you go, no matter what restaurant, they’re going to serve you the largest portions you’ve ever seen. And everywhere I went it was lunch, dinner, breakfast, gigantic portions in general.

I found Croatia really easy to get around, really easy to maneuver, as well. And additionally if you want to rent a car, they have a great roads. Or if you feel like taking the bus, you can go to Get By Bus or Flix Bus and buy bus tickets. If you’re with a couple of friends, I recommend getting a car though instead of taking a bus. Buses tend to not run on time and even though they’re nice, they usually have bathrooms on them and they do make frequent stops, if you have your own car you could stop wherever you want.

So if you are a shopper or you need to buy some gifts while you’re in Croatia, something to look for are the handmade filigree jewelry or the coral. Make sure to go to a registered jeweler or you’re going to end up with imitation jewelry and you definitely don’t want to take that home.

I hope that you found my tips on Croatia valuable and make sure to stay tuned for the videos about my yacht and cruising the islands in Croatia as well as the other videos in the Balkans.

Again, I’m Kim, The Abundant Traveler, and I’ll see you on that yacht in Croatia on the next adventure!