Planning to go to Croatia? 8 Things You Need to Know
Here are 10 things everyone should know about traveling in Croatia.:
1. Most beaches are pebble – bring water shoes
For a summer time, Mediterranean vacation I expected to spend some time sitting on the beach, playing in the waves and swimming. What I didn’t expect was for these activities to be impossible to do without wearing water shoes/socks of some sort. Almost all of the beaches in Croatia do not have have sand, they have pebble. It is very hard and uncomfortable to walk on the pebble in your bare feet. Fortunately, you will find plenty of shops near the water which sell water socks. If you don’t bring your own be sure to buy them on your first day!
2. Many places are cash only
Unlike the rest of the world which is moving more and more towards a cashless economy cash is definitely king in Croatia. Even one of our hotels would only accept cash as a payment for our stay (and they didn’t tell us this until we were checking out!) Restaurants were a mix of cash and credit cards but even if you can use a card for the bill the tip must always be in cash. Fortunately there are ATMs everywhere in the cities although some folks in our group had troubles with 4-digit pins not being accepted, so check with your bank before leaving home.
3. Summer is Crowded
This is probably not a surprise, Croatia is a hot destination right now and everyone wants to go. Make your plans well in advance. We left a couple of tours to the last minute and missed out. Even ferry tickets to Hvar sold out the day before and trips to the Blue Cave also sold out well in advance. In the same vein restaurant reservations are needed for the most popular restaurants in advance.
Read about my experience at the Plitvice Lakes where it was so crowded you could barely enjoy the nature.
4. It’s normal to make a reservation over Whatsapp
While the country is not advanced in its payment technology it is advanced in communication. All of the restaurant reservations and tour bookings I made were done online in some fashion, nothing over the phone. Some vendors used Whatsapp, others Facebook messenger and some email.
5. Dinner time is 9pm and served at a leisurely pace
This is true in most of Europe but something to keep in mind. People generally don’t set out for dinner until 9pm and who knows what time the nightlife heats up from there! Split is know for its nightlife and clubs but I didn’t see any of them open at any hour I was awake!
6. Dubrovnik has a lot of steps
Dubrovnik is not a city for bad knees and aching backs. The entire city is up and down steps so be prepared with your walking shoes and cardiovascular fitness!
7. Highway driving is easy; city driving is difficult
There is not much public transportation in Croatia so the best way to get between the major cities is probably by car. The highways are very well marked, well kept and easy to navigate. However once you get in the city it is best to stow the car away or better yet return it. Parking is very hard, the streets are narrow and the cities are simply not set up for cars.
8. Apartments are a great option for groups
Apartments are very reasonably priced if you are in a group. We rented 3 bed apartments for the price of one hotel room. There are not many big chain hotels in the cities (some exist but are a long drive from the city centers) so the options are either independent small hotels or an apartment rental.