Ultimate backpacking guide for Croatia

Croatia is not only a setting for Game of Thrones, although it is what has given it the tourist boom that it is experiencing right now. Croatia is natural parks, walled cities, paradisiacal islands, beaches with crystalline waters comparable to those of Ibiza or Menorca and, above all, a tourism of very young people wanting to have a good time.

I tell you from my own experience, be clear about the four places you want to visit and keep moving forward, the magnetism of each of their sites will make your plans are altered and you want to stay where you are. In my case, my magnet was Hvar. In my quest to escape the typical drunken tourism, I was intending to stay in Hvar for just one day, but the fantastic people I met there made me rethink it and stay for three more nights.

Everything you need to know for your trip to Croatia:

  1. Best time of year to visit Croatia
  2. 9-day itinerary of Croatia
    1. Days 1 and 2: Dubrovnik
    2. Day 3: Split
    3. Day 4: Krka National Park
    4. Days 5 to 7: Hvar
    5. Day 8: Plitvice National Park
    6. Day 9: Zagreb
  3. Daily budget for backpacking Croatia
  4. Where to stay in Croatia
  5. What to do in Croatia if you have more time

Official exchange rate 1 EUR = 7.5 HRK (kuna)

Best time of year to visit Croatia:

Without a doubt, May to September is the best time of the year to visit the country Croatia. Beyond this time, the interior of the country becomes a very cold and inhospitable place, with significant snowfalls and cold waves. The coast, on the other side of the mountain range, has a Mediterranean climate that makes it ideal for enjoying warm temperatures in summer and mild winters. It may be that out of season you will find a lot of the accommodation offer closed, since the coast lives mainly on tourism and there are long periods in summer and, the rest of the year, many establishments are closed.

9-day itinerary of Croatia

Days 1 and 2: Dubrovnik

Departure from Barcelona at 05:55 am, probably the first plane of the day, as the airport closes its doors at night. The arrival at the Dubrovnik airport occurs earlier than planned, due to the low air traffic due to Covid19 … ah yes! I had forgotten to mention that this trip was in the midst of a global pandemic. It did not prevent that, with due precautions, he could enjoy the trip. We must not let this special moment in which we have lived take away our desire to travel and enjoy the little things.

At the airport you can take / catch a bus for 55kn, it will drop you off at the doors of the Old Town. From there you should walk to your accommodation in the center of the walled city. In the morning, I dedicated it to doing a free tour of a couple of hours, to learn and know in depth the history of Dubrovnik. It is important to know where we are and what is the history of the places where we are, so that we can live them more.

Once finished, I dedicated myself to walking and discovering the city on my own. Losing myself through the alleys, going up and down the stairs up and down all over the old city walls. As the early morning had hit me, after eating I went to rest at the hostel, to regain strength. There I met a boy with whom we quickly hit it off, he was obsessed with going to jump off some cliffs into the sea. It hadn’t even crossed my mind, but as a lover of adrenaline and adventure sports, I quickly accepted the challenge (it can be reached through Buza bar on the south wall).

In the hostel where I was staying, most of the workers were Spanish. They invented, of course, the “Sangria Night”. In honor of the national drink, we started the party on the terrace of the hostel and then the workers took us to the port where all the young people of the town gathered.

Dubrovnik Walls

The next day, with all the time in the world, we went touring the walls of Dubrovnik. Here it is already the decision of each one, whether or not to pay the high price of these; To give you an idea, since Game of Thrones began, its price has multiplied by four to the current 200kn. From my point of view you have to go, it is like going to Paris and not climbing the Eiffel Tower. The views are spectacular, it is worth exploring them during a two-hour visit. You will also have access to the fortress that watches over the city, to the west of the wall.

By now you might be wondering … What else can you do in Dubrovnik? It is true, you will have practically everything seen. If you have some extra time, I recommend that you do a Kayak Tour or simply rent it on your own and head to the Island of Lokrom, right in front of the wall. We were four friends and we took two kayaks. We were snorkeling, bathing and paddling for almost three hours until the sun began to set. How could it be otherwise, our day ended in the port until the wee hours of the morning.

By the way, if you are a fish lover, I recommend you go to the Barba restaurant. They make burgers with sardines, octopus, tuna and prawns. It was the only thing I ate from in Dubrovnik.

Day 3: Split

From Dubrovnik to Split it takes about 3: 30h. The cheapest way to get there is by bus, the main option is Flixbus 125kn. Split was perhaps the least special place of the trip. It is usually the gateway for many travelers, since it is the second most populated city in the country and, from there, ferries leave to the islands.

I arrived at noon and spent the afternoon visiting the historic center, the Diocletian Palace, the Split Cathedral and the bell tower (55kn combined ticket). In the afternoon many young people head towards the beaches of Bačvice and Firule.

Day 4: Krka National Park

I will not deceive you, the waterfalls are spectacular, as well as its trails, buuuuuuuut, it is a real tourist. I arrived on my own, just when the national park (200kn) opened, it was great. Despite this, within an hour it began to fill with tours that only came to splash in the waterfall, without barely going around the park, which only lasts 45 minutes. I was asking several guards and managers if there was a hike to do somewhere or if it was possible to go to the north of the park, but it was very expensive and, because of the feeling it gave me, they did not assure me of being able to do any trekking. So instead of taking the boat to Skradin, I grabbed my backpack and walked along a path that skirted the river.

Krka National Park

Skradin is the main entrance gate to the park, there you will find places to eat and the bus stop to return or continue with your route. As we said before, Flixbus is the main operator in the country and / it will cost you 150kn. At night, back at the hostel, I met a crazy Russian who, together with a guy he had met through couchsurfing, took us partying in Split.

Days 5 to 7: Hvar

So Hvar, so good. For three days time stood still, the only thing we worried about was drinking beer and touring the islands with a rented zodiac, while at night we closed the bars.

In summer you have ferries between Hvar and Split every 45-60min for 100kn. You can buy tickets online. There are three operators that carry out this route, I went with Kapetan Luka.

As you may already know, if you are a regular reader, finding the appropriate hostel is finding a better trip. In this case, Dink’s Place is the hostel to be, which in the midst of a global pandemic is the only full hostel on the island, means something. So, as I arrived, I met a group of chicXs with whom, five minutes after arriving, we had already decided to rent an 80kn boat (don’t think anything of the other world, a piece of wood with a motor). We visited several islands, did snorkeling and took a nap in a cove. At night, for those who no longer remember, it was like going back to before March 15, 2020, when Covid had not yet changed our lives.

Carpe Diem Beach Club, Hvar

So just as I woke up, I told Dink that he will book me two more nights and rearranged my schedule for the next few days. That day we rented three 100kn scooters with the hostel’s friends and we went to a cove called Zaraće, about 30min by motorcycle, then to eat at Stari Grad, in the northern part of Hvar. The restaurant is called Nook (5 stars on Google), with vegan options, the place where I ate the best throughout the trip, the six of us agree on this statement. Back in the village of Hvar, we walked the north road that runs along the ridge of the mountain, while on the side and side of the road we could see the saffron fields. Far from closing the day, we got handsome and went to see the sunset at Hula Hula bar, a bit expensive, but it offers one of the best sunsets on the island.

So Hvar, so good

On the third day in Hvar we also took a boat, with the exception that this time we did not take one but four. We had assembled our little army. Due to the complex logistics of moving four boats across the islands, we tied the boats together, in front of Carpe Diem Beach Club, and threw our own party.

Day 8: Plitvice National Park

Far from wanting to leave Hvar, I took the first ferry to Split, because the next day the only plane of the week was leaving from Zagreb to Barcelona and I didn’t want to miss Plitvice National Park.

The bus you should take is in the direction of Zagreb with a stop at Plitvička Jezera 200kn, you will probably have to make a short change in Zadar. The trip lasts about 4: 30h. This park is worth it, the most likely reason is that it is far from the coast, this already represents a physical barrier for most tours.

Plitvice National Park

The park is simply spectacular, it is suitable for doing different trekkings depending on the desire or time you have. None are demanding, they are simply more or less long. So design your own route! In my case, due to time constraints, I entered through door 2 and left through door 1, I was walking for about three hours. The route consists of going up the lakes and waterfalls from the lowest part of the park to the highest.

The town is full of homestays, you can stay for about 250kn. A little more expensive than in the rest of the sites, since the offer is a little more limited and therefore, the prices are more expensive. The restaurant offer is also quite limited, but Bistro Vučnica is undoubtedly the best restaurant in town and not expensive, its specialty is pizzas.

Day 9: Zagreb

To close this adventure and catch the flight back home, I am heading to Zagreb. An area of the country totally different from the rest of the parts he had visited. Buildings with Soviet architecture that contrast with monumental government buildings. It is worth strolling through the city center and going up to the Zagreb Cathedral.

Perhaps what most caught my attention in Zagreb was the tunnel galleries that run between Mesnicka and Radiceva streets. They served as a refuge during the war and now serve to unite the upper and lower parts of the city.

Daily budget for backpacking Croatia

You may have already realized that, despite trying to opt for a budget option, the trip is not cheap. Especially the transport and the entrances to the parks and monuments, are quite expensive. It should also be borne in mind that the trip was made in full covid, so it may be that the prices are even somewhat lower than in previous years.

Daily budget for backpacking Croatia

Enjoy the premium experience before sticking to a budget and, as you can see, you can do everything at a great price. Of course you can always take a sailboat or yacht instead of a zodiac, or party at beach clubs instead of having your own party on the boats. Each one is the owner of their budget. Withdraw cash for free with N26. If you don’t have an N26 card register and earn 25€ of free credit.

Where to stay in Croatia:

I stayed in four different places, a homestay and three hostels. But I am only going to recommend two of them and one I am going to advise against. Old Town Hostel Split is the one to avoid, small place, little care, not very clean and I had problems with the payment, since, despite saying the opposite on their hostelworld page, they did not want to accept card payments.

  • Hostel Angelina – Old Town Dubrovnik // Dubrovnik: Par excellence the hostel where to go to Dubrovnik. When you arrive they put you in a WhatsApp group, from there they coordinate and propose events both the staff and the clients. Every day there is an excursion organized by the staff or free drinks on the terrace. The atmosphere is unbeatable. Managed by a young Croatian and encouraged by several Spanish workers eager to have fun. It is very clean and very large.
  • Dink’s Place // Hvar: A bit far from the center, but without a doubt the best vibe I have ever seen in a hostel. Dink runs the hostel and makes sure no one gets bored. The girls who organize Hvar’s bar crawl live there in the summer, so you won’t be short of fun. The hostel is very big and very clean.

Also, I made friends at Villa Angelina, with whom we would later meet at Dink’s. To give you an idea, we still have Hvar’s whatsapp group and, even though I couldn’t go, three of them went on a trip together to Mexico.

What to do in Croatia if you have more days

  • Brac or Korcula: Like Hvar, beach destinations where you can relax in front of the sea, perhaps more peaceful and familiar than Hvar. Korcula is famous for its strong winds. Here you can windsurf or kitesurf.
  • Pula: City of Roman origin, its amphitheater is worth visiting.
  • Mostar (Bosnia & Herzegovina): One of the typical day trips from Dubrovnik. You can rent a car to visit the neighboring country and go see the mythical bridge of Mostar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *