More than 10 years ago, I fell in love with Dubrovnik upon seeing it in Samantha Brown’s Passport to Europe. And from then on, I promised myself I would go to Croatia someday. I was jobless and got no money back then so I didn’t know what I was thinking :).

Fast forward to 2015, I finally set foot to a country I have long been dreaming of going and it did not disappoint. Even with all the problems that I encountered during my visa application, I can really say that some dreams are worth it. So here’s a quick travel guide for your first time visit in Croatia.

Dubrovnik Old Town
Dubrovnik Old Town

Located strategically in Europe, Croatia is at the crossroads of Southeast, Central and Mediterranean Europe, making it accessible from almost anywhere in the continent. This country is famous for medieval towns and post-card-perfect beaches and lakes. And it is is one of my favorite countries to date, not only because of the amazing sights, friendly weather and good food but also because of its extremely nice and warmth people!

Visa Requirements:

For Filipinos, we are required to apply for a tourist visa in the Croatian Consulate in Makati. However, if you have multiple entries Schengen visa, you can also use it granted that it’s still valid on your intended dates. For more details, please read this article on How To Apply For Schengen Visa. For other nationalities, you can check your visa requirements here.

Currency: Croatian Kuna

Conversion: As of October, 2016

1 Kuna = 7.0 Php
1 Euro = 52.9 Php

Recommended Places:

Dubrovnik – is the most famous tourist destination in the country and Games of Thrones even made it more famous than it was already after the TV show used it as one of their main filming locations (Want to experience King Landing’s in person, anyone?). Famous for its picturesque medieval town, it is really a must-visit destination. And though the place is a bit touristy, I am really in love with this little medieval town. And oooohh those rugged cliffs that lead to crystal clear beaches? Ahhhmazing!

Just one of the several communities in the cliff side along Dalmatian Coast. Taken from a running bus.
Just one of the several communities in the cliff side along Dalmatian Coast. Taken from a running bus.

How To Get Here?

If you’re coming from Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, I would recommend to take the 10-hour bus ride (around 30 euros). If you think it is a long ride, you can split the travel time by spending a day or two in Split which is another beautiful town in Dalmatian coast. I recommend the land travel because you’ll enjoy the view along the road. There are also several flights from different parts of Europe that fly directly to Dubrovnik – if you don’t have enough time and a ferry from Italy’s Bari Porto if you are feeling adventurous.

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Inside Dubronik’s Old City

Plitvice National Park – consider by several travel magazines and websites as “One of The Amazing Places To See Before You Die“, this national park is truly mind-blowing.  I went last summer and I was batshit crazy with its brilliant blue-green water and amazing landscape. But people are also saying, it’s equally amazing during winter when the lakes and falls are frozen. So I guess, Plitvice is awesome anytime of the year!

Plitvice National Park
Plitvice National Park

How To Get Here?

From Zagreb, you can take a bus going to Plitvice. It costs around 12 euros for 2-hour trip. You can book it online here or buy it directly from the bus station.

One of the most amazing landscape I have ever seen!
One of the most amazing landscape I have ever seen!

Zagreb – I personally think Zagreb, the capital of Croatia is underrated. It might not be able to compete with Paris and London when it comes to glitz and glamour but it is charming on its own. From really good restaurants, to charming local markets, medieval architectures and special museums (ever heard of Museum of Broken Relationships?), Zagreb is your vibrant city with small-town feel.

Ban Jelačić Square
Ban Jelačić Square

How To Get Here?

Zagreb is easily accessible from the rest of Europe due to its good location. It’s only few hours from Central and Eastern Europe by bus and train. There are also several flights from the other sides of Europe and even from Middle East.

Flower Stalls somewhere in Dolac Market
Flower Stalls somewhere in Dolac Market

Budget:

Recommended Daily Budget: 35-50 euros/ day

Accommodations – are cheap in Croatia. I was paying from 10-25 euros per night for a hostel. If you’re not travelling alone, a private room in a decent guesthouse or small hotels only cost from 15-30 euros per night. The most expensive place for accommodation is Dubrovnik which cost me 25 euros a night for a hostel outside of Old City (but with amazing view and service so I’m not complaining!). And that was during summer which is the most expensive season in Croatia. If you want to save in accommodation for up to 40%, avoid summer at all cost.



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Food – My food budget ranges from 2-15 euros per meal. Which is cheap in European standard. I can get really good breads and sandwiches for 50 cent to 1 euro in local bakery and 1 euro coffee in a nice little cafe in Zagreb. My biggest expense for food was when my friend and I tried Didov San – a fine dining restaurant that serves traditional Croatian food in Zagreb which cost us 14+ euros per person. But it was so worth it! It was the BEST meal I had in Europe! And according to what I have read, the place is frequented by Croatian VIPs. Not bad for 14 euros :). And if you’re like me who loves fruits, cherries and raspberries only cost from 2-3 euros per kilo! Only if I can hoard them and bring them home! 😛

Transportation – just like other European countries, Croatia has efficient transportation system sans the expensive fares. In the capital, a 1.5 hour one zone ticket for a tram only cost for a little over 1 euro or 4 euros for 24 hours. Taxi and city buses are also reasonable. Although regional buses is a bit more expensive in my opinion. A 2-hour ride (e.g. Zagreb to Plitvice) costs around 12 euros.

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Croatian National Theater

Entrance Fees – In Dubrovnik, I paid the entrance fee in the City Wall for 100 kunas or about 12 euros. I also paid an entrance fee of 110 kunas or about 13 euros in Plitvice. Some of the museums got nominal entrance fee like Museum of Broken Relationships for about 3 euros and others are entirely free during special occasion.

What To Expect:

Croatians are naturally warmth people. I find them to be the friendliest and the most helpful Europeans I have ever met. Croatia is generally safe and it’s easy to travel within the country. Although as main rule of thumb when traveling, make sure to bring your common sense with you all the time. English is widely spoken so you won’t have any issues with communication especially with younger people.

Verdict:

Croatia is one of the countries that tops my favorite list. From gorgeous landscapes, beaches, lakes to impressive architecture and interesting history, to nice weather for the most part of the year, and to really amazing food – truly Croatia has its all.

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