After all the talk about a trip to Croatia, I’m sure you have tons of questions. I’ll try to answer some I had to research and if you have more please ask!
How do I pay for things in Croatia?
Croatia isn’t on the Euro (yet, watch for it in 2013) so they have their own currency, the kuna. Most big cities and hotels will accept a credit card, Euros, USD, or the kuna but smaller places may be pickier. Luckily there are ATMs in the country that make it easy to withdraw money in kunas so you’ll probably be just fine. Consider converting some money to kunas after you land to keep on you just in case.
How favorable is the US Dollar to the Kuna?
1 Croatian kuna = 0.1846 US dollars as of today or 1 US dollar = 5.4215 Croatian kunas. I know that doesn’t help but the lesson here is if you see a seafood risotto on the menu at Komarda, don’t freak out if you see 60,00 as the price. One, they use commas in place of decimals and two, 60 kuna equals about $11 USD.
One thing to keep in mind is that Croatia can be fairly inexpensive but the real cost will be your flights. There are no direct flights from the United States into Croatia so you can maximize your savings by stalking airfares. Check Nomadic Matt’s guide to hacking airfare to see if you can’t save a little more.
Do I need a passport? A visa?
US Citizens need passport books to travel to and from Croatia. You will only need a visa if you plan on staying over 90 days.
How the heck am I supposed to drive in Croatia?
Rent a car (top picks Avis and AutoEurope), drive on the right side, and you’ll be fine. Consider ordering or downloading some maps ahead of time since Google maps isn’t that reliable in Croatia. In fact, street signs may not always be around in the tight city corridors but the cities are good at putting up directional signs guiding you to hotels and attractions. Ask your hotel host or anyone in the city and they’ll be able to guide you in the right direction. Remember, most people speak English here. Just greet everyone with a “Dobro Dan” (Good afternoon) and strike up a conversation. Say “Hvala” to thank them.
What if I don’t want to take a ferry from Split to Dubrovnik?
In yesterday’s post I had you take a ferry between Split and Dubrovnik but you can easily drive between the two cities. There’s just one teeny tiny little catch: You’ll have to drive through Bosnia and Herzegovina to do it. Remember how I said Google wasn’t reliable? You’ll be driving about 9 km through an area known as the Neum corridor. While you will probably be stopped at the border, you may or may not have your passport checked at this point. Have it available either way.
US citizens won’t need visas unless they are staying over 90 days. If you are not a US citizen, double check with the embassy but Bosnia usually waives visa requirements if you are only traveling this corridor. Take highway E65 between the two cities. You won’t need a cross-border card either, something the rental agencies will try to upsell you.
Travel tip: The Dubrovnik airport is a ways outside of town and the rental car return location is a little drive away. Either allot extra time for the return or return your car inside the city of Dubrovnik and take a taxi to the airport.
Planning a Shorter Trip to Croatia
Maybe you like my road trip across Croatia but don’t have 7+ days to spend in the country. Here’s some tips on doing Croatia in fewer days:
- Skip the detour to Pula
- Spend only 1 day at Plitvice Lakes National Park and take Trail C instead
- Fly in and out of the Dubrovnik airport and stay in the Split/Dubrovnik corridor. Visit little islands by renting a boat or taking the ferry around.
- Fly into Italy and take a little detour to Split, Zadar or Dubrovnik via the ferry from Ancona or Bari, Italy
Bring water shoes– Many beaches have rocky soil and sea urchins
Watch out for FKK– If you’re wary of naturist/nude beaches, the FKK signs are how to spot them. These beaches are especially common in Pula, Hvar, and Rab
Tipping- You don’t need to tip (but feel free!) but be aware there may be high taxes in tourist areas
Lodging- Stay for less in Croatia by renting an apartment. If you visit ferry terminals in cities you can also meet hosts for inns with open rooms that can offer you great prices, just make sure to ask where they are located so you don’t end up outside the city.
When to travel– Most locations close down between October and April. The main season runs May through September. I highly recommend the month of September as a perfect time to plan a trip to Croatia.
Another way to plan your trip is around festivals. If you don’t mind traveling in the cooler months and making appointments to visit attractions this can be a great way to avoid crowds and enjoy some fun. Zagreb has a Christmas fair in in November and December, Split hosts the Gast Fair (the country’s largest food event) in March, a boat show in April, and Days of Diocletian in August and there’s even more events across the country.