Just a few common misconceptions to take note of before you plan that perfect getaway to picture-perfect Croatia. I found some of these out the hard way… so now you won’t have to!
1. Dubrovnik is the #1 “must-see” in Croatia. Dubrovnik is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s the most-visited place in Croatia for a good reason – the beautiful medieval old city looks like something straight off your TV (literally, as it’s the setting for many scenes in Game of Thrones). It’s nice to wander along the ancient alleyways and explore the little shops and cafes, but the recent influx of tourists definitely deter from the city’s charm. And to be honest, Dubrovnik isn’t even so different from Croatia’s other coastal towns. Pula, Zadar, Split also all have charming old towns alongside the beautiful blue Adriatic Sea and are much less touristy. Looking back, I would have spent less time in Dubrovnik and added a few more days elsewhere.
2. Peak season will be perfect because it will be so lively! This was probably the worst mistake I made. Ideas of strolling along a bustling town and partying at cute beach bars became nightmares of maneuvering around crowds of people. Beaches, streets, restaurants, and bars were literally packed with people, and not just laid-back backpackers but annoyingly posh vacationers as well. My advice: go to Croatia during shoulder season when the weather is still perfect, the prices lower, and the crowds are less, and it will be much more pleasant.
3. Eight days are enough to see the whole country. Despite being a fairly little country (especially compared to the US), Croatia has a loooong coast with a great deal of islands. Just driving from Dubrovnik down south to the Istria peninsula on the Northwest can take nearly eight hours. In eight days, you can see a lot, but you’re going to have to be selective. Between Dubrovnik, Hvar, Split, Zadar, Plitvice, Zagreb, the Istria peninsula, and the many islands dotted along the coast, you could really spend a whole month in Croatia. You don’t need to visit every island… With only eight days, you’ll have to pick your top choices and cut out the rest.
4. Croatia is super cheap. So wrong. Partly because I went in peak season… Decently located hostels in Dubrovnik and Hvar were around 25-35 Euros per night! And entry tickets (to places such as Plitvice Lakes) were over three times the off-season price. A typical meal was generally around 8-10 Euros, and going out in fun places like Hvar was around 10 Euros per drink (or 30 Euros for entrance to the famous Carpe Diem beach party)! Maybe this seems cheap if you’re coming from somewhere like Norway, but after coming up through the Balkans (Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro), I was very surprised at the leap in prices.
5. The public transportation is awesome. Actually, it can book up quickly and get quite expensive. I tried booking a ferry From Dubrovnik to Hvar two days in advance to find that it was completely sold out. So instead, I had to take a bus halfway and catch the ferry for the second half. The public transportation is good, but don’t expect to just rock up and hop on – do some research and buy tickets in advance, especially in peak season.
6. Island hopping is the best part about Croatia. Though Croatia became famous for its gorgeous island with clear sapphire-blue water against rugged cliffs and nice flat rocks to sunbathe, the islands are not all it has going for it. Actually, there are eight amazing national parks on land (Plitvice Lakes being the largest and most famous), and many charming cities to explore. So don’t just do a sailing trip and island-hop up the Croatian coast… make sure you mix it up and stop to explore the mainland too.
Questions about visiting Croatia? Feel free to ask!
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌