I first heard about Croatia when I explored Europe the first time. I met a group of people traveling around Europe in a Camper-Van, and saw incredible photos of Plitvice National Park. I knew I needed to add it to my itinerary this time around.
I knew I needed to make it to Plitvice. Upon arriving to Zagreb, I exchanged my US dollars for Kuna. Zagreb is the closest major city to Plitvice, so I booked 2 nights in Zagreb and stayed in Wide World Hostel. From there, I knew I wanted to check out Medieval cities and experience the local culture. For this reason I chose to do a route going North to South. Many travelers do this route and it is easy to find people going in the same direction as you if you are traveling solo.
In Croatia, the best way to get around is by bus. There is not a developed rail system, so using sites like Getbybus, flixbus, and BusCroatia is the best way to hop from city to city. Additionally, there are buses from the cities to the national parks. Usually tickets are between $5.00-$30.00.
Additionally, there are several small airports in the city, so I was able to fly into Zagreb and out of Split, making it an easy trip. If you want to go to the islands, you can take a ferry or catamaran. If you have more people in your group, you can also rent a smaller boat.
When I first arrived in Croatia, I had the privilege of exchanging $100.00 for Kuna. At the airport, I got about 580 Croatian Kuna. For the entire two weeks, I spent about $400 on food and drinks.
My route included Zagreb, Plitvice, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Split, Krka and Trogir. I took buses to all of these cities, and national parks. In terms of affordability, Dubrovnik was by far the most expensive, and Zagreb, Croatia’s capital was the least expensive. Additionally, Dubrovnik was the most crowded.
Here is the time breakdown:
Zagreb: 2 nights (one full day in Plitvice)
Zadar: 3 Nights
Dubrovnik: Overnight bus and one night
Split: 5 nights, with a boat to Hvar and day trip to Krka
I stayed in hostels and never paid over $15.00 a night, with the exception of Dubrovnik. All of the hostels I stayed in were booked through hostelworld, and the rating system was consistently effective.
Best Time to Go:
Summer is peak season in Croatia. That being said, I visited Croatia in September, and there were still plenty of people, ferries running from the beach to all of the islands, and backpackers in hostels. Many of the places I visited had enormous amounts of crowds.
Croatia is an incredible country with beautiful cities, plenty of nature, and great beaches. If Croatia is not on your itinerary, you need to add it as soon as possible. You won’t be disappointed.