The mesmerizing nation of Croatia is the jewel of the Adriatic and the best of both worlds when it comes to European getaways. With the Mediterranean climate, mountainous scenery, and azure waters of Western Europe, but the slow-pace, southeastern rhythm of the Balkans, it has something for everyone.
Heritage sites, raging nightlife, pristine beaches, and even waterfalls, it can all be found along Croatia’s 1,000 miles and more of Adriatic coastline. Holidays are often worth the splurge, but with so much to offer, you’re probably wondering, is Croatia expensive?
It might not be as budget-friendly as Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia’s backpacking trail, but Croatia can definitely still be traveled on a shoestring and we’re here to show you how. From getting there to where you’ll stay and everything in between, our guide looks at the real cost of visiting Croatia in 2022. Let’s get into it.
The average cost of a holiday to Croatia
Europe is on everyone’s travel bucket list, and if you can’t decide between the west and the east, Croatia is the perfect choice sitting at the crossroads of the southeast. The dreamy summer retreat is dotted with coastal towns and heritage-packed cities just waiting to be explored. Once a notoriously budget destination, you’re probably interested in just how much it costs to travel to Croatia now that its popularity is soaring?
Like in any country, the sparkly Croatian islands are always going to cost more that the mainland. Pair importation costs with heightened popularity and you have the recipe for budget-blowing prices, but Croatia still has no shortage of cheap breaks, and the big cities like Split and Zagreb offer a bit of everything.
Depending on where you go, you can get by on around €45 to €105 per day, that’s $48 to $110 USD, discounting the occasional splurge. However, seeing as this range is pretty large, we’re going to look at how these prices break down and where you can get the most bang for your buck in Croatia.
Before we get started, check out some of the general daily expenses you can expect in the Balkan country, no matter where you go:
|Price (EUR)||Price (USD)|
|Inexpensive Meal (restaurant)||55.00||$7.50|
|Mid-range Meal for 2 (restaurant)||250.00||$35.00|
|Takeaway Cappucino (restaurant)||11.00||$1.50|
|Coke Bottle (supermarket)||14.00||$2.00|
|Water Bottle (supermarket)||10.00||$1.40|
|Snorkeling Trip (half-day)||367.00||$50.00|
|Vacation Rental (one night)||585.50||$82.00|
Is Croatia expensive to visit? Getting There
The first thing to consider before booking any holiday is how you’ll get there, and the price all depends on where you’re coming from. With a well-connected mainland that shares borders with five different European countries, and that is in reaching distance of countless more, getting to Croatia need not be too difficult or expensive if you’re on the continent.
Even so, the quickest and easiest way to reach Croatia from most countries is by plane. The nation has five main international airports located in Zagreb, Pula, Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik which connect tourists to different parts of the country.
These ports handle the majority of scheduled and charter flights from Europe and North America and you shouldn’t expect huge discrepancies in airline prices between each one. That said, if you’re planning to visit the islands, you’ll be better off flying into one of these airports rather than the terminals on islands like Rijeka and Brac as these can be more expensive to reach. In this case, a combination of taxis and ferry transfers depending on where your final destination is will be cheaper.
If you are coming from one of the border countries, you can easily drive into Croatia or travel by train. From Trieste in northeast Italy, you can reach beautiful Pula on the tip of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula in just an hour and a half by car, even though you need to cross through a portion of Slovenia to do so. The fastest public bus traveling this route takes just two hours and costs as little as €13 ($13.70) each way.
You can also get from Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, to Zagreb, in two hours and 20 minutes by rail, with prices starting from €25 ($26.50) one way. This service runs seven times a day, or you can journey from Budapest in Hungary to Zagreb in just over six hours, costing €40 ($42) each way on average.
From London to Zagreb non-stop, you can expect last-minute airfares of less than $200 return, which are slightly more if you’re heading to Dubrovnik or Split which average at around $250 return. Booking in advance and outside of peak seasons will see these costs halve.
From New York, you can to Croatia’s capital and back for less than $800, while Split and Pula will be closer to the $950 mark. Due to airline routes, it could be cheaper to fly from NYC to Zadar with one-stop off than any other airport in the country. Averaging less than $700 and taking just two hours longer, consider changing your port of entry even if it means making the two-hour drive down the coast to your final destination in order to save a few hundred dollars.
Accommodation prices in Croatia?
After travel, your next big concern, and expense, is where you’re going to stay. Croatia is a vast country and has it all when it comes to accommodation. Where you decide to situate yourself will have the biggest effect on the price, but you can still find budget lodgings like hostels and shared homestays on even the priciest islands.
With variety comes great deals so booking far in advance and outside of the peak season promises the best return on your accommodation. Mainland villages and more remote stays will be your cheapest options, but you don’t have to sacrifice atmosphere just to save money in Croatia. Choosing a buzzing seaside town with connections to the islands but easily accessible on the mainland will provide the best of both worlds.
Dubrovnik and Split are the most popular coastal cities and they’re brimming with accommodation of all shapes and sizes. Hostels in Dubrovnik start from around $30 a night and you can get a room in three-star accommodation for $80. Hotels average at around $123 a night while most vacation rentals will start at the $100 mark but could sleep four to six people.
Split with its party atmosphere offers even cheaper budget accommodation, with a bed in a hostel dorm starting at around $25, while hotels are on the pricier side at around $128 a night. Vacation rentals average at $188 and this is much the same on the nearby islands of Hvar and Korčula, with the latter having a little less variety due to its sleepy vibe.
No matter your budget, check out some of these hotels in Croatia to suit every traveler:
Hotel Bozica Dubrovnik ($) – Four-star accommodation overlooking the bay with breakfast included from $75 a night.
Bed & Breakfast Pino ($) – Save money by cooking at home with these self-contained sea-view apartments on the waterfront in Podstrana starting from $60 a night for two adults.
Mobile Home Pine Adira Camp Soline ($) – Camp in luxury among the Mediterannean pines of rural Biograf for $115 a night – sleeps up to six.
Hostel Antique ($$) – Laidback hostel vibes in clean and quaint dorms in the center of Pula City for $50 a night.
Whole Wide World Hostel ($$) – A gem on Zagreb’s party hostel scene located in the center of Lower Town. Private twins start from $70 a night with breakfast included.
Heritage Palace Varos ($$) – Located in a centuries-old stone building in central Split with period features and four-star service, this hotel is just 350 yards from the beach. Private doubles start from $90 a night.
Is Croatia expensive for food and drink?
Just like everything else, food and drink in Croatia doesn’t have to break the bank but what you eat can make a difference. Places like Hvar and Brac Island are known for their upscale restaurants with harbourfront seafood restaurants and fusion cuisine. In these sought-after locations, you can expect a two-course dinner excluding drinks to come to around $80. However, a similar dinner in a mid-range restaurant in Split and Dubrovnik could cost half as much.
You can get by spending around $30 a day on food on a budget, but this means eating in small local restaurants and buying your own groceries to cook at home. While holidaymakers who want to eat out and sample as much seafood and different cuisine as possible should expect to spend closer to $100 a day on food and drink.
When it comes to alcohol, you can usually find a pint of beer for around $2 at a local bar or beach restaurant, but closer to $4 for an imported brand name. A glass of house wine or beer in a restaurant will cost around $5 but you can buy a bottle of local vino from the supermarket for the same price. Alcoholic drinks come at a premium on the upscale islands of Korcula and Hvar, as well as in nightclubs in the party town of Split. Still, cocktails shouldn’t set you back more than $8-12 wherever you go.
When is the best time to visit Croatia?
Croatia benefits from a temperate Mediterranean climate with seasonal weather meaning the whole country experiences hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The further south, the hotter it is, all year round. Still, the best time to go to Croatia is between June and August if heat is what you’re after with average daily maximums of 85 degrees Fahrenheit in July and lows of 70.
However, this means the whole country is at its most crowded throughout these months, and accommodation, tours, and even food prices can skyrocket with the increased demand. So when it comes to saving money, consider visiting Croatia in May and June or September and October, especially in the south when the weather is still warm and sunny with plenty of blue skies.
You can expect highs in the 80s until the end of September and little rainfall, giving Croatia an endless summer feel. Low season discounts and fewer crowds make it all the more appealing.
Croatia on a Budget: Our Top 7 Money-Saving Tips
It’s not as cheap as it once was, but Croatia is definitely still a destination for budget travelers. Check out our round-up of the best money-saving tips if you’re visiting the Adriatic coast this year.
- Visit in the shoulder seasons – This is always an obvious one when it comes to getting great deals but even more appropriate for Croatia as it has some of Europe’s sunniest islands. April to June and September to November promise fewer crowds, cheaper costs, and warm enough seas for a dip.
- Use public transport – There’s no reason to rent a car just to travel down to the islands. Use the bus transfers, trains, and pedestrian ferries (they’re cheaper) to get around Croatia and even travel to and from other countries.
- Eat local – Croatia doesn’t have its own native street food per se, but the local markets and even supermarkets are a great alternative to having a sit-down meal every time. Snack on fruit and baked goods, and even buy your alcohol locally to avoid restaurant markups.
- Invest in a vacation rental – Outside hostels, an Airbnb is your best bet for saving money because you can cook, clean, and look after yourself at home. Better yet, find a hostel with a communal kitchen and you’ve hit the jackpot.
- Book in advance – Early bookings will get you the best accommodation in the best locations before all the good deals are snapped up. Shop using a VPN or private browser to stop the prices from increasing every time you revisit the site.
- Mix and match flights – Rather than booking returns with the same airline, check if you can mix and match your outbound and inbound journey as this can sometimes save a fortune. And if you’re coming from further afield, sometimes opting for the option with more stop-offs can be cheaper than flying direct – if you don’t mind the long haul.
- Get a multi-currency bank account with an online bank – Banks like Revolut, Wise, and Monzo can help you save massively on ATMs fees, as much as 10 percent, often offering free or lower fees for withdrawals. Croatia remains a predominantly cash country so being equipped will help. Always bill to the destination’s currency when you’re at an ATM too.
Is Croatia Expensive? Our Verdict
So there we have it. It’s changed a lot in recent years with increased popularity and allure, but there is no reason for rising costs from inflation to put a dampener on your dreams of traveling to Croatia. Whether you want the heritage and scenery of the Med at half the price, or you’re looking for a coastal spot to add to a European backpacking adventure, Croatia always fits the bill. It’s easy to splurge when you’re on holiday, but with our tips, the crossroad country of Western and Eastern Europe won’t break the bank.