When you are planning your itinerary through Eastern Europe, Croatia is a country you just cannot skip. With its beautiful beaches, quaint little towns and pristine national parks, Croatia has something for everyone and is perfect for a relaxed holiday and not to mention light on your pockets!
Croatia (or Hrvatska in Croatian) shares borders with Slovenia and Hungary in the north, Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina in the east and Montenegro in the south. In the west the Adriatic Sea with over a thousand Croatian islands – is the ultimate island-hopping dream! The idyllic Dalmatian coast in the south offers everything from crazy nightlife and parties to spots where you can sit back, sip on a cocktail and enjoy the slow and quiet life.
Best time to visit
June to August is the peak tourist season as the weather is warm at this time of the year as in most other parts of Europe. If you want to avoid the crowds, plan your trip in late May, early June or September – the prices will be lower and you will also get good weather.
What’s the best way to get around Croatia? Oh, and what about the visa?
To plan your travel in detail, check out our blog on Travelling in Croatia made easy, but here’s a quick snapshot to get you started.
In most itineraries, you would enter Croatia from one of the two countries in the north (Slovenia or Hungary) and reach the capital, Zagreb.
Zagreb is well-connected to all neighboring capitals by land, air and rail. From there on, you can get buses to anywhere in the country. The roads are quite good and buses comfortable, making the commute easy. This is also the cheapest option available. The coastal cities and islands can be navigated using catamarans. Book in advance to get a good deal. You can also choose to fly to your destination – there are airports in all major cities.
Indians will need a visa to enter Croatia. Though Croatia doesn’t come under the Schengen Zone yet (as of Jan 2020 – they’re still trying!), you can visit Croatia with a valid multi-entry Schengen Visa. Which means, they will stamp your passport as you enter and leave Croatia. (Good news for those who get excited by immigration stamps like us!) Get more details about the Visa requirements based on your country here.
What is the ideal number of days to spend in Croatia?
There is a never a correct answer to this question. You can spend months exploring the place! It totally depends on your budget (both in terms of number of days and money). We usually have a strict limit on our number of days as we have to get back to our jobs in India – so we try to optimize our number of places in order to get a true essence of the place (sights, culture and food!) while not being “too” rushed. Here’s our itinerary along with some of the options to help you decide!
Day 1: Arrive at Zagreb from Budapest by train. Explore the city and leave for Plitvice by the evening bus. Spend the night at Plitvice.
Day 2: Explore Plitvice National Park – read all about how to make the most out of your day at Plitvice, what routes to take etc right here. Leave for Split by the evening bus. Enjoy the Split nightlife.
Day 3: Morning catamaran to Hvar island. Spend the day relaxing and exploring the island. Eat some amazing seafood! Night in Hvar.
Day 4: Catamaran to Dubrovnik. Explore the walled city and take the evening catamaran back to Split. Don’t miss out the best the Dalmatian coast has to offer and check out our detailed account here.
Day 5: Explore Split old town. Evening bus to Zagreb.
Day 6: Fly out of Zagreb.
Here are some suggested changes based on the type of person you are / group you are travelling with:
The Slow and Steady Tortoise: you can add more days at each place if you have the luxury of time. Or if you have only 6-7 days, you could skip Dubrovnik and spend more time at Hvar/Split.
History Buffs: add more time at Zagreb to check out the museums and learn more about the history of the region. Croatia has had a troubled history witnessing unrest and wars till as recently as the 1990’s. The people here have done an amazing job to get the country to where it is today.
Terrestrial humans: you can head to Pula, Umag and the Istrian peninsula. This cannot be combined with the above itinerary as it will be completely off the route and you would need many more days. You can follow the itinerary upto Plitvice and turn towards Pula.
Water-loving humans: Add the coastal city of Zadar and more islands like Brač, Vis and Korčula.
Foodies: Check out our Croatia Food Guide to follow our food trail.
This should get you started on your Croatia itinerary. Check out our other blogs on how to make the most of your Croatia trip here. Croatia holds a special place in our hearts. You could get lost all day in the beautiful streets and discover new things on every corner. Among all the countries we’ve visited so far, we would not think twice before packing our bags for Croatia again!
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