Croatia Backpacking Guide

Step into Croatia, where Europe meets the Mediterranean in a whirlwind of stunning landscapes and rich history. From medieval streets to sun-kissed beaches, this land of contrasts promises excitement at every turn.

Explore the Past, Taste the Present: Meander through ancient streets, marveling at architectural wonders and savoring mouthwatering local delicacies. Croatia’s culinary scene is a feast for the senses, blending tradition with innovation in every bite.

Nature’s Playground: Venture off the beaten path to discover Croatia’s hidden gems, from rugged coastlines to lush forests. Hiking trails beckon adventurers, offering glimpses of untamed beauty and serene landscapes waiting to be explored.

Iconic Landmarks, Unforgettable Moments: Walk in the footsteps of kings along the ancient walls of Dubrovnik, made famous by “Game of Thrones,” or lose yourself in the ethereal beauty of Plitvice Lakes’ cascading waterfalls. Croatia’s diverse landscapes are a photographer’s dream come true.

Your Ultimate Guide: In this guide, I unveil the must-see destinations, insider secrets, and unforgettable experiences that will transform your backpacking adventure into a journey of a lifetime. Let me be your compass as you navigate the wonders of Croatia, saving you time on planning so you can focus on creating lasting memories.

What to Expect: A simple Overview

Croatia is a combination of stunning nature, rich history, and fascinating culture. That’s what you can surely expect when traveling to this wonderful country. Here’s a brief overview of what you’ll encounter:

Beautiful landscapes: Brace yourself for a jaw-dropping rollercoaster ride through Croatia’s diverse landscapes. From the dreamy Adriatic shores to lush national parks and towering mountains, it’s a visual feast fit even for the most discerning.

Historical sites: Step into a time machine because Croatia is rich in well-preserved architecture, historical monuments, and museums. Dubrovnik, Split, and Zagreb are like living history textbooks, but with fewer yawns and more “wow” moments.

Coastal charms: Dive into the Mediterranean magic of coastal towns and islands. Think sun-kissed beaches, crystal-clear waters perfect for a dip, and seafood so fresh it might slap you with a high-five.

Outdoor activities: Calling all nature buffs! Croatia is your playground. Hiking, sailing, and more await amidst hidden caves, majestic waterfalls, and trails straight out of a fairy tale. Pro tip: Leave the flip-flops at home – this isn’t a stroll in the park!

Cultural experiences: Tap into Croatian culture through music, dance, and festivals. And let’s not forget the food! Seafood feasts, mouthwatering pastries, and homemade wines are just the beginning of this culinary adventure.

Hospitality: Prepare to be smothered with Croatian hospitality. Locals are like human sunshine, radiating warmth and eager to show off their homeland.

So, whether you’re craving beach bliss, nature thrills, or a crash course in Croatian charm, pack your bags – Croatia awaits with open arms and a whole lot of fun!

Travel Costs: Detailed Breakdown

In Croatia, your budget can stretch quite a bit, depending on which part of Croatia you’re visiting and during which period. During the summer months, prices are higher along the coast, while in the continental areas, accommodation and food prices are somewhat lower. With about $30-$40 a day, you can cover accommodation, food, and transportation. For extra comfort, $50-$80 a day allows you to enjoy more luxurious experiences without breaking the bank.

Suggested Budget per Person per Day

  • Low: $30 – $40
  • Middle: $50 – $80
  • High: $90+

Detailed Costs


  • Low: Hostel dorms provide an affordable and social option, with prices ranging from $15 to $20 per night. Ideal for solo travelers and groups looking to meet fellow backpackers.
  • Middle: For those seeking a bit more comfort, mid-range hotels or boutique accommodations typically cost between $30 and $50 per night.
  • High: Luxury hotels or upscale resorts start at $60 per night and can go much higher, offering premium services, exquisite locations, and often breathtaking views of Croatia landscape.


  • Low: The street food scene and local eateries in Croatia offer an authentic taste of the country’s culinary delights, with meals ranging from $5 to $10. Don’t miss the chance to try traditional dishes like buzara, zagorski štrukli, fritule or soparnik.
  • Middle: A meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost between $15 and $25, allowing you to explore a broader range of Croatian and international cuisines in a more comfortable setting.
  • High: Dining at high-end restaurants or opting for international cuisine can start at $30 per meal, perfect for those special nights out or when you want to indulge in a gourmet experience.

Things to See and Do

Alright, let’s sprinkle some zest onto this guide to Croatia’s hotspots and hidden gems!

Absolute Top Cities

Dubrovnik: Stroll the medieval streets, snap pics atop the city walls, and don’t forget to give Lokrum Island a nod—it’s like Dubrovnik’s quirky cousin.

Split: Get your dose of history at Diocletian’s Palace, then hit up the Riva promenade for some people-watching. Pro tip: If you’re feeling adventurous, tackle Klis Fortress like a true conqueror.

Zagreb: Dive into the capital’s hustle and bustle, from Upper Town’s historic charm to the quirky Lotrščak Tower. And hey, don’t leave without tasting some štrukli!

Rovinj: Lose yourself in the colorful maze of the Old Town, then climb to the Church of St. Euphemia for Insta-worthy views that’ll make your followers swoon.

Zadar: Experience the coolest blend of ancient and modern with the Sea Organ serenading you while you explore Roman ruins. It’s like time travel, but with better music.

Historical Landmarks

Pula Arena: One of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world is located in the center of Pula. It hosts concerts, festivals, and re-creations of gladiator battles, allowing you to experience a glimpse of the past. Warning: You might feel the urge to reenact “Gladiator”—just resist the temptation.

Diocletian’s Palace in Split: Step into the past within the palace complex built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Explore underground tunnels, ancient temples, and Peristyle Square.

Trogir: The historic center of Trogir, a well-preserved medieval town, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a place where every cobblestone whispers tales of the past. Keep your eyes peeled for Kamerlengo Fortress—it’s a real-life fortress fantasy.

Fortica Fortress Hvar: Scale this fortress for views that’ll knock your socks off. And hey, it’s not every day you get to stroll through a 16th-century time capsule.

Natural Wonders

Krka National Park: You’ll delight in the breathtaking waterfalls, pristine lakes, and rich vegetation of Krka. Take a stroll to Skradinski Buk, the most famous waterfall in the park, and, if weather permits, take a refreshing swim in the water. Just remember, no diving headfirst—it’s a park, not a pool party.

Kornati Islands: Cruise through this island labyrinth for a slice of untouched paradise. Pro tip: Keep your camera handy for some seriously envy-inducing snaps.

Plitvice Lakes National Park: Prepare to be spellbound by cascading waterfalls and turquoise lakes. Just don’t get too caught up in the selfie game—you’re in nature’s territory now.

Blue Cave (Biševo): Visiting this cave requires a boat tour, but it’s also the best way to experience its beauty and the light cascading through the cave’s interior, created by sunlight reflecting off the sea floor.

Brijuni National Park: Formerly the summer residence of Yugoslav President Tito, these islands are rich in natural beauty and history. Here, you can explore ancient Roman ruins and archaeological remains, while enjoying the rich flora and fauna.

Cultural Experiences

Traditional Festivals: Whether you’re a history buff or a music aficionado, Croatia’s got a festival for you. If you’re a fan of music, theater, or dance, we highly recommend the Dubrovnik Summer Festival or the Split Summer Festival. For film enthusiasts, there’s the Motovun Film Festival or the Pula Film Festival. And for those who love history, there’s the Sinjska Alka in Sinj, a medieval knight’s tournament.

Wine Tasting: Sip your way through Croatia’s vineyards and discover your new favorite vintage. Plavac and Malvazija are the stars of the show—cheers to that!

Local Cuisine: Indulge in a feast fit for royalty, from fresh seafood on the coast to hearty stews inland. Just make sure you’ve got room for seconds—trust us, you’ll want them.

Ethno Villages: Step back in time and immerse yourself in rural Croatian life. It’s like a living museum, with traditional crafts and folklore waiting to be discovered.

Klapa Music: Let the harmonies of klapa music transport you to the shores of Dalmatia. Whether you’re a spectator or a wannabe singer, it’s a melody you won’t soon forget.

Itinerary Ideas

Here are some itinerary ideas to inspire your backpacking journey through Croatia.

For a 4-day visit to Croatia, we have two suggestions for you.

4-Day Itinerary: Split and Dalmatian Coast

Day 1: Split

Start your adventure in Split by diving headfirst into the ancient wonders of Diocletian’s Palace. Marvel at Peristyle Square, snap some selfies at the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, then hit the Riva waterfront for some primo people-watching. Need a breather? Head to Marjan Forest Park for a nature fix.

Day 2: Trogir and Šibenik

Next up, a double dose of history awaits! Explore Trogir’s medieval charm, with highlights like the Cathedral of St. Lawrence and Kamerlengo Fortress. Then, zip over to Šibenik to soak in the UNESCO-listed sights, including St. James Cathedral and St. Michael’s Fortress.

Day 3: Hvar Island

Hop on a ferry to Hvar Island for a taste of island life. Dive into the old-world vibes of Hvar town, scale Hvar Fortress for Insta-worthy views, then cool off with a dip at one of the island’s dreamy beaches. Feeling adventurous? Cruise over to the Pakleni Islands for more sun-soaked fun.

Day 4: Blue Cave (Biševo) and Vis Island

Last but not least, embark on a boat tour to Biševo Island and witness the enchanting Blue Cave in all its glory. Then, set sail for Vis Island and explore its hidden gems, from quaint villages to Tito’s Cave. It’s the perfect finale to your Croatian escapade!

4-Day Itinerary: Zagreb and Istria

Day 1: Zagreb

Kick things off in Croatia’s vibrant capital with a whirlwind tour of the Upper Town. Gawk at St. Mark’s Church, conquer Lotrščak Tower, then refuel at Dolac Market with some local delicacies. Got time to spare? Dive deeper into Zagreb’s cultural scene with a visit to the Croatian National Theatre or the Mimara Museum.

Day 2: Plitvice Lakes National Park

Prepare to be spellbound by the natural wonders of Plitvice Lakes. Lose yourself in a maze of waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, and lush greenery. Whether you’re hiking the trails or cruising the lakes, it’s a day you won’t soon forget.

Day 3: Rovinj and Pula

Rovinj’s charm awaits! Wander the cobblestone streets, admire the Basilica of St. Euphemia, then make your way to Pula for a dose of ancient history. Channel your inner gladiator at the Roman amphitheater, then marvel at the Temple of Augustus and Sergius Arch.

Day 4: Istrian Villages

Venture inland to discover the hidden treasures of Istria’s picturesque villages. From the medieval magic of Motovun to the artsy vibe of Grožnjan, each town is a gem waiting to be explored. And don’t forget to indulge in some local delights—truffles, olive oil, and Istrian prosciutto await!

With these itineraries, your backpacking journey through Croatia is bound to be a wild ride filled with history, culture, and natural beauty at every turn!

7-Day Itinerary: Croatian Highlights

Day 1-2: Zagreb

Kick off your adventure in Croatia’s capital with two days of non-stop exploration. Lose yourself in the historic charm of Upper Town, snap pics at St. Mark’s Church, and conquer Lotrščak Tower for epic views. Then, dive into Lower Town’s cultural scene, from museums to parks, and don’t forget to grab some goodies at Dolac Market!

Day 3-4: Plitvice Lakes National Park

Next stop: paradise at Plitvice Lakes National Park! Spend two days hiking, boating, and soaking in the awe-inspiring beauty of waterfalls and crystal-clear lakes. It’s nature’s playground at its finest—don’t forget your camera!

Day 5-6: Split and Dalmatian Coast

Head south to Split for two days of coastal bliss. Dive into the ancient wonders of Diocletian’s Palace, then escape to the nearby islands of Brač or Hvar for some sun-soaked fun. Whether you’re snorkeling or sunbathing, it’s island life at its best!

Day 7: Dubrovnik

Wrap up your adventure in style in Dubrovnik, the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” Wander the historic Old Town, stroll along the city walls, and soak in the sights from Stradun. It’s the perfect finale to your Croatian escapade!

7-Day Itinerary: Istrian Discovery

Day 1-2: Zagreb and Trakošćan Castle

Start your journey in Zagreb with two days of urban exploration. Roam the historic streets, then escape to the fairy tale setting of Trakošćan Castle for a day of medieval magic.

Day 3-4: Istria Peninsula (Rovinj and Pula)

Venture to Pula for a walk through history at the Pula Arena and other Roman marvels. Then, soak in the romance of Rovinj with its colorful streets and panoramic views. It’s a feast for the senses you won’t soon forget!

Day 5-6: Hilltop Towns (Motovun and Grožnjan)

Climb to new heights in Motovun and Grožnjan, where medieval charm meets artistic flair. Hunt for truffles, indulge in Istrian cuisine, and soak in the breathtaking vistas—it’s the perfect way to unwind.

Day 7: Plitvice Lakes and Zagreb

Wrap up your adventure with a return to nature at Plitvice Lakes National Park. Spend the day hiking, exploring, and soaking in the serene beauty before bidding farewell to Croatia’s charms in Zagreb.

These itineraries offer a variety of experiences, from exploring historic cities and national parks to relaxing on beautiful beaches and tasting delicious cuisine, allowing you to discover the best of Croatia in 7 days.

14-Day Itinerary: Cultural and Culinary Journey

Day 1-3: Zagreb and Samobor

Kick off your journey with a cultural bang in Zagreb! Dive into the city’s vibrant museums, galleries, and historic spots. For a delightful detour, hop over to the postcard-perfect town of Samobor. Brace yourself for a feast of traditional cuisine and the quaint charm of its old town.

Day 4-6: Istria

Time to saunter through the historic gems of Istria! Roam the enchanting streets of Rovinj, Pula, Poreč, and Motovun. But wait, there’s more! Dive into the world of local wines and olive oils with tastings and culinary escapades that will tantalize your taste buds.

Day 7-10: Split, Trogir and Šibenik

Welcome to the triple treat of Split, Trogir, and Šibenik! Marvel at the grandeur of Split’s Diocletian’s Palace and conquer Marjan Hill like a true adventurer. Then, drift over to Trogir for a historical immersion and lip-smacking seafood delights by the waterfront. Cap it off with a visit to Šibenik, a UNESCO-listed marvel, where history comes alive in its Old Town.

Day 11-14: Dubrovnik and Pelješac Peninsula

Get ready to be spellbound in Dubrovnik! Lose yourself in the maze of its Old Town and trace the city walls for epic views. Need a change of scenery? Hop on over to the Pelješac Peninsula for a grape-fueled adventure, sipping on local wines and soaking in the stunning scenery. Wrap up your journey with a dollop of beach bliss and seafood feasts overlooking the dazzling Adriatic Sea.

Where to stay on a Budget in Croatia

It is easy to find budget-friendly accommodations. While hostels are more commonly found in cities like Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Split, Hvar or Zadar, in other areas and places, traditional guesthouses and apartments per day are your go-to for a cozy stay.

Few Hostels we love

Here are my guides to cities:

How to get around Croatia

Getting around Croatia is relatively easy thanks to its well-developed transportation network. Here’s how you can navigate the country:

Car Rental

Zooming around Croatia? Renting a car is your golden ticket to unlocking hidden gems in this stunning country. From charming hamlets to rural havens, major cities like Zagreb, Split, and Dubrovnik boast a bounty of rental agencies. Just mind those toll roads and parking puzzles, especially in the urban jungle.

Bus Transportation

With a web of intercity buses buzzing about, hopping between cities is a breeze. Whether you’re riding with Croatia Bus, Autotrans, or catching a FlixBus, these cost-effective chariots whisk you to major destinations in no time. Bonus: bus stations conveniently double as transportation hubs.

Train Transportation

Choo-choo your way through Croatia’s scenic landscapes! While not as sprawling as the bus network, Croatian Railways (Hrvatske željeznice) still offers comfy rides between major hubs like Zagreb, Split, and Rijeka. Sit back, relax, and soak in the views as you glide through this picturesque terrain.

By Ferry

Ahoy, island adventurers! Croatia’s coastline begs to be explored by ferry, with Jadrolinija leading the charge. Sail away to island paradises like Hvar and Korčula, or hop across the Adriatic to Italy’s shores. Pro tip: snag those ferry tickets early during peak season to avoid a sea of disappointment.

By Air

Take flight over Croatia’s stunning vistas! While domestic flights are more about hopping to international gateways or distant regions, Croatia Airlines keeps you soaring between major cities. Just beware, sky-high travel might dent your wallet more than other options.

Taxis and Ride-Sharing

Need a lift? Taxis rule the urban streets, ready to whisk you away with a wave or a tap. Feeling fancy? Summon an Uber or Bolt for a modern twist on the classic cab experience. It’s all about getting from A to B in style.

Electric Scooter

Scoot around Croatia like a boss! Glide through city streets and coastal roads with the wind in your hair. Scooter rental hotspots in cities like Zagreb, Dubrovnik, and Split await your two-wheeled adventures.


Pedal power, activate! Croatia’s mild climate and breathtaking landscapes make it a cyclist’s dream. Rent or share bikes in cities across the country and pedal your way to mobility nirvana.

Croatia’s transportation smorgasbord caters to every traveler’s whims, whether you’re a city slicker, a coastal cruiser, or a countryside connoisseur.

Best Time to visit Croatia

Summer (June to August):

Ready to dive into Croatia’s sizzling summer scene? From June to August, the country transforms into a bustling hub of sun-soaked bliss. Picture-perfect weather beckons beach bums and adventure seekers alike. Just brace yourself for the throngs of fellow travelers and wallet-busting prices.

Spring (April to June) and Autumn (September to October):

Seeking the sweet spot between sunshine and serenity? Spring and autumn roll out the welcome mat with mild temperatures and fewer crowds. From April to June and September to October, you can bask in the glow of sunny days without jostling for elbow room. Plus, snagging a cozy spot to lay your head won’t break the bank.

Winter (November to March):

Embrace Croatia’s quieter side during the winter months. From November to March, cities, cultural gems, and national parks beckon without the stifling heat and tourist hordes. Just be prepared for shorter days and the occasional attraction taking a siesta.

The best time to visit Croatia is as unique as your own fingerprint. Whether you’re chasing summer rays, craving a crowd-free escape, or plotting a winter wonderland adventure, Croatia’s got you covered. It’s all about finding the perfect blend of weather, vibes, and unforgettable experiences.

Backpacker Essentials & Safety Tips

Safety Tips

Croatia is quite a safe country, much more than what you might have heard back home. Nevertheless, here you have some safety tips.

Stay Alert, Stay Safe: Croatia’s safer than a hug from a teddy bear, but keep your wits about you, especially in busy spots where pickpockets might lurk. Keep a tight grip on your gear in markets, on public transport, and at tourist hotspots.

Nature Calls: Respect Mother Nature’s turf! Stick to marked trails, bin your trash like a responsible earthling, and leave the flora and fauna untouched. Croatia’s beauty deserves to be treasured, not trampled.

Sizzle Safely: Croatia’s summers are hotter than a chili pepper eating contest. Keep cool with a trusty water bottle and slather on that sunscreen like it’s your sidekick. You don’t want to fry like a beachside schnitzel.

Coastal Caution: Thinking of a dip? Watch out for rip currents, choppy waters, and rocky shores. Stick to lifeguarded spots and obey those warning signs like they’re law (because they kinda are).

Document Defense: Make copies of your passport, travel insurance, and other important documents, stash away the copies, and keep your originals locked up tighter than Fort Knox. Money belts and hidden pouches are your best buds in busy areas.

Cultural Norms

Greetings Galore: Sprinkle your conversations with a hearty “Dobro jutro” or “Dobar dan” for some Croatian charm. Keep it classy with formal titles unless invited to switch to first names.

Dining Diplomacy: Before you chow down, wait for the host’s nod of approval. Keep those hands where we can see ’em, elbows off the table, and remember to sprinkle in a “Dobar tek” before you dig in.

Space is Sacred: Step back! Croatians like their personal space, so give ’em some breathing room. No close encounters of the awkward kind, unless you get the green light.

Tipping: Tipping’s not compulsory, but a little extra for exceptional service earns you major brownie points. Think rounding up or dropping 10% of the bill like a generosity ninja.

Things Not to Do

Holy Hush: Show some reverence at Croatia’s religious spots. No loud chatting, no inappropriate attire, and definitely no paparazzi moments without permission.

Keep the Peace: Croatians love their tranquility, so don’t be the noisy neighbor. Keep it chill in public spots, leave the party at the club, and for the love of quiet, no drum circles at the beach.

Safety Dance: Sure, Croatia’s safe, but don’t get too comfy. Stick to well-lit areas at night, keep your valuables close, and listen up for weather warnings like your mom’s nagging.

Cover Up, Buttercup: Nudity’s for designated spots only, folks. Keep your swimsuit on at regular beaches and save the birthday suit for the nudist zones.

Road Rules: Buckle up, speedsters! Know your traffic laws, don’t be the road rage warrior, and leave the drink driving to the amateurs.

Snap Responsibly: Capture those Croatian moments, but ask before you snap, especially if people are involved. Respect their privacy like you’re guarding state secrets.

Resources and Planning

Find all our favorite websites and apps for travel planning here.

Jadrolinija: Navigate Croatia’s island paradise with ease using this ferry-savvy app. From schedules to ticket bookings, it’s your ticket to smooth sailing.

Uber and Bolt: Need a lift? These ride-hailing apps have your back, whisking you around major cities and coastal hotspots without breaking the bank. Bonus: Bolt’s got scooters for those feeling a bit more adventurous.

GetByBus: All aboard the convenience train! Plan your bus journeys hassle-free with this handy app, from schedules to snagging those must-have tickets.

Dubrovnik Airport: Fly like a pro with this airport app, your one-stop-shop for flight schedules, check-ins, and nailing that airport-to-city commute.

LibertasApp: Dubrovnik explorers, rejoice! This app’s your personal guide to navigating the city’s bus routes with ease, helping you hop from hotspot to hotspot like a local.

HAK – Croatia Trafiic Info: Cruising Croatia’s roads? Stay ahead of the traffic game with this app, offering real-time updates and multilingual roadside assistance for smooth sailing.

Campy: Campers, rejoice! This app’s your secret weapon for scouting out the best campsites across Croatia, complete with insider reviews to help you pitch your tent in style.

Nextbike: Pedal power to the people! Rent a bike and zip around Croatia’s charming streets with this handy app, perfect for exploring every nook and cranny of this breathtaking country.


Croatia’s got it all, from stunning landscapes to mouthwatering cuisine and warm hospitality. With these apps in your pocket, your adventure awaits. So pack your bags, hit download, and let the unforgettable journey begin.

Safe travels!