Croatia is a great alternative to Greece if you’re looking for beautiful scenery, fantastic beaches, lively nightlife, and vibrant cuisine. In fact this country is one of the top contenders for most beautiful places in Europe to visit.
What’s better than visiting one of the most beautiful countries in Europe? Visiting Croatia on a budget without sacrificing the magic!
Best time to visit Croatia
To have the best trip of your life in Croatia you must first know the right time to visit so you don’t rack up your credit card.
Going during popular summer times such as June-August is great and fun, but your spending will be much higher. This is why one of the best times to go is during the end of August or beginning of September. The water is still warm enough to enjoy, rainy days are few and far between, and with less people visiting you’ll find it much more enjoyable. Also, restaurants, bars, and clubs are still open. Their nightlife is an experience you don’t want to miss out on.
Make sure to book your flight and stay at least 3-4 months in advance and save hundreds of dollars. If you do this you could be spending less than 100 pounds for a roundtrip flight. Also the most popular way to travel throughout Croatia’s cities and islands is via ferry. They are budget friendly and even more cost effective if you book your ferry trip in advance and willing to take the slower ferries. However, do keep in mind some routes are only seasonal so if you travel past September you may not find a ferry that can take you to certain islands.
Where to go in Croatia
Do a little research to see what cities you want to visit as Croatia has many cities and islands to visit. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan then Dubrovnik may be the city for you. If you can only visit Croatia on a budget then I recommend visiting Split and Hvar. Buy your plane ticket at least 3 months in advance and you’ll be surprised by how little the plane ticket is. Also you’ll be able to visit multiple other islands in between this main city and popular island, truly making the most out of this inexpensive trip.
What to do in Split
Split is the second largest city in the country and its old city is filled with many historic sites.
The old city will be the main area to explore when visiting this city. Its white cobble-stoned streets, live music and maze-like layout will fully immerse you into the city and its culture. Exploring during the day and night show different versions of Split and are both highly recommended. During the day it’s great to visit the different shops full of artists and souvenirs.
There are many hidden restaurants throughout the streets that it will feel almost impossible to choose. This may seem like a weird recommendation but you have to eat at the Mexican restaurant To Je Tako. This restaurant had the best tacos and margaritas I’ve ever had (and I’ve been to Mexico) all within a reasonable price. It is a small restaurant with no option to reserve online so I suggest going during a not so busy time and be prepared to queue. Another great restaurant to go to would be Fig. They offer an international menu and are also located in Hvar, but their restaurant in Split is a prime spot to experience during the nighttime with their hidden courtyard and candle light setup.
What to do in Hvar
Hvar is an island off the coast of Croatia and has become a popular travel spot for its food, beach clubs, and overall experiences. The minute you get off the ferry you will be in awe of Hvar’s beauty. The port is within the city centre so once you step off you will see many restaurants, bars, and the landscape of the island. Stay within the city centre as everything is walkable, just be prepared to climb many stairs.
When looking at Airbnb’s everything you will most stays are very well priced. Make sure to get a stay with a kitchen. You’ll save a lot of money by going to the local supermarkets for most meals and making snacks to bring while swimming or exploring. If you have room in your budget then do treat yourself with meals or drinks out in the city centre. The atmosphere is great and you’ll never regret grabbing a glass of wine on a warm sunny day.
If you are staying somewhere with a kitchen, it is preferable to visit the neighbourhood grocery for fresh ingredients to cook with. The supermarkets are great places to find reasonably priced fruit or snacks to eat while sitting by the water or exploring the island.
Experiences in Hvar
The island offers many great beach clubs to experience while lounging in the sun and again this is an experience anyone who visits must experience. Hula Hula is an amazing beach club to go to as the beach chairs are only 20 euros with an amazing spot right on the water. You can essentially jump in right from your chair into the clearest water ever seen.
Stay till sunset and you will get the best view of the sunset on the island and depending on the night you can stay pass sunset for a Mamma Mia dance party you won’t want to miss.
While we’re on the subject of dance parties another beach club you absolutely have to experience is Carpe Diem Beach Club. It is one of the best clubbing experiences with famous guests, unique performances and surprises. Truly a night you wouldn’t forget, but be aware the drinks are expensive so maybe go out before and only have a couple at Carpe Diem.
Remember you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend your entire holiday money on this one night because trust me you could if you get carried away. And the most important thing: dress to impress.
Don’t worry Hvar has more to offer than partying.
If you’re looking more for adventure then don’t skip the blue and green cave tours. You can find these tours just by googling them or going on Airbnb experiences for Hvar and finding boat tours to go on. Depending on which tour you purchase it can be anywhere from 50 to 100 euros and lunch can be provided. If it’s not, stop by the store and grab some food and drinks for the day. Again don’t worry the supermarkets won’t break the bank. During your boat tour you will stop at famous caves known as the Green and Blue Cave.
You can swim throughout the Green Cave and once you look underwater you will see an emerald light throughout the water. What makes this experience even better? This cave is located on the island of Vis, where Mamma Mia 2 was filmed. So if you’re a big Mamma Mia fan like me then I highly recommend exploring the island Vis before or after visiting the Green Cave. I’m sure you’ll find some familiar spots.
The best moment of your tour, the Blue Cave. Off the coast of Vis, this is a well-known cave throughout the world. You can only get to the cave through a very narrow hole in the wall which is only accessible by a small boat. Once you get into the cave you’ll find everything surrounded by this extraordinary blue light, created from sunlight reflecting off the cave’s white floor and bouncing off its limestone rock walls. If you’re lucky you’ll get a cool guide who will let you steer the boat just for a little like ours did.
Another spot you should absolutely see is the most beautiful beach in the world, Stiniva Beach. This is a hidden beach that you can only get to by swimming or hiking. The boat should stop by as close as they can when then you’ll jump off and swim through an opening to get to shore. Once you get to the pebbled beach you’ll be in awe of the water, high cliffs, and peacefulness of the secret beach. Enjoy a good sun bath before heading back to the boat to continue on your tour, but don’t fall asleep or you may get left behind like some groups almost did.
Exploring the island
If you find yourself needing a break after visiting the caves and swimming through the sea, then visit Fortica Fortress. Located on Hvar it’s easy to get to, besides the stairs but we’ll take that over spending money on a taxi, and it is only 7 euros to enter. From there you’ll find breathtaking views of Hvar and the surrounding islands. You won’t be able to bring your own alcoholic drinks, but pack yourself food with some soft drinks and have lunch with an unforgettable view for the day.
Enjoy your trip to Croatia without breaking the bank!