Uber on the Croatian coast!

Yesterday Uber‘s uberX service launched in two of Croatia’s most popular destinations for visitors – Split and Dubrovnik. Having already launched in Zagreb in October 2015, locals and visitors alike can now use Uber services in these two new locations using the Uber app.

Uber Croatia

01.06.2016.,Split- Zapadna obala, Riva; lucka kapetanija, Ela Dvornik za Uber.

To celebrate the launch, Uber are very excitingly offering free uberX rides this weekend to all users, new and existing. All users can request up to two free rides by using the code BESPLATNIVIKEND (which is Croatian for ‘free weekend’) in the Uber app.

uberX will operate in Dubrovnik during peak season (June to October) and in Split all year round.

“We want to make the Croatian coastline even better and safer for the millions of tourists visiting our country, adding our contribution to local tourism and celebrating one of the most beautiful places in the world. We have been present in Zagreb for over 6 months, providing safe, reliable and affordable transportation – we’ve been overwhelmed by the response there. Today, we take a step towards becoming a national service, as we launch licensed uberX, in Split and Dubrovnik” said Davor Tremac, Uber Croatia General Manager.

Uber currently offers various services in over 65 other countries around the world, including 21 European Union member states.

All uberX drivers in Croatia are qualified and licensed professionals who have passed rigorous criminal background checks and who hold commercial insurance. Every driver is self-employed, and chooses the hours they wish to work.

Uber is a cashless service as all payments are made electronically using a credit card linked to the user’s account. This means that professional drivers no longer have to carry cash and all transactions are fully traceable. At the end of every trip a receipt is automatically emailed to the rider which includes a breakdown of the fare, details of the driver and an overview of the exact route taken, as all rides are tracked by GPS.

Pricing of Uber on the Croatian coast

Uber’s journeys on the Croatian coast will have a starting fare of 9 Kunas ($1.34/€1.20), then priced at 5 Kunas per KM/0.5 Kunas per minute and will have a minimum fare of 15 Kunas ($2.23/€2).

Some popular journeys will have a flat fare:

  • Split to Dubrovnik – 228 km: 1,500 Kunas ($223/€200)
  • Split port to Split Airport – 26 km: 225 Kunas ($34/€30)
  • Dubrovnik Pile gate to Dubrovnik Airport – 21 km: 180 kn ($27/€24)
  • Dubrovnik Port Gruž to Dubrovnik Pile gate – 3.3 km: 55 Kunas ($8/€7.3)
Dalmatia in September 2015 - Makarska

Reader’s Review: Dalmatia in September 2015 – Part 1 – Dubrovnik & Makarska

Earlier this year, we were contacted by a friendly gentleman, Neil, who needed a little assistance in planning his trip to Croatia. After a few emails back and forth, he had set out a plan for visiting Croatia with his partner – specifically the towns and islands of Dalmatia in September. He was kind enough to keep in contact with us during his trip and has even more kindly written a wonderfully informative trip report, complete with some stunning photos, to share on the Visit Croatia website.

As well as writing extensively on the sights and experiences of these locations in Croatia, there’s also plenty of other useful tips that Neil shares – including using AirBnB for accommodation, and how to handle having particular dietary requirements when visiting Croatia.

Read on below for the first part of his report, featuring Dubrovnik and Makarska. Part two – covering the island of Hvar and Split – will be posted very soon!

Thank you ever so much for sharing your experience of Croatia with us, Neil!

Dalmatia in September 2015

by Neil Killeen

We decided to go to Croatia at rather short notice; it was part of our trip, in the end, of 10 days in the UK, 10 days in Croatia and 4 days in Rome. Fortunately, I discovered the Visit Croatia website and even better (for me) wrote to Anna for some advice. This was along the lines of “I’m too lazy to work anything out for myself, please tell me what we should do in our 10 days” !  Anna was so incredibly generous with her time and ideas; I was truly amazed and appreciative.  Later I discovered she runs many web sites and wondered how on earth she found the time and energy to bother with me.

We ended up having 3 nights in Dubrovnik, 3 in Makarska, 2 in Hvar town and 3 in Split.  If we hadn’t booked so late, we might have spent the time on a cruise around the islands (easy set and forget), but by the time we started to look, the prices were quite expensive. If you book early, they can be pretty cheap and probably a nice way to see the Dalmatian coast.

We decided to use AirBnB for all of our accommodation.  We like to Couch Surf as a great way to meet the locals and learn about a country. However, CS is not very big in Croatia – there were very few couches to be seen !  AirBnB worked out very well for us. We rented self-contained apartments (so we could cook for ourselves because of dietary restrictions).  We typically paid Aus$70/night, which was pretty cheap.  All the hosts were lovely and helpful. All the apartments were just as advertised (you have to do your research of course and select carefully). The main variable is beds and pillows. It’s hard to know what you will get, as hosts will generally tell you their bed is very comfy. I happen to have an unhappy neck, and so bed (and more importantly pillow) quality is important. I even contemplated dragging my special pillow around the planet! I did have a bit of pillow trauma, but usually we were able to improvise something with towels and other cushions that might be in the apartment.

Regarding food, my partner, Ri (“Ree”), is fructose (including wheat) and dairy intolerant.  Two of the main fructose bearers are onion and garlic, which can be problematic when eating out.   So although we did eat in a lot, when we did eat out, we were expecting pain (either stomach or waiters) in finding food she could eat.  It turned out to be quite the opposite.  The attitude everywhere was ‘Of course we can do that’, and they could.  Perhaps food is less pre-prepared than in Australia to help this along.  Even better was that we found the BEST EVER dairy-free ice-cream in Dubrovnik (at the harbour).  We hardly believed the server when she said it was milk free (as it tasted just like normal and was so thick). But no stomach trauma occurred so it was true.  We went back for more.

We flew from London to Dubrovnik.  Because this trip was in September, flights were not so frequent.  We didn’t want to get on a dawn flight, and I think the only afternoon flight (that we were prepared to take) was only 1 or 2 times a week (that was EasyJet).  Some of the budget airlines also stop flying these routes around this time (e.g. EasyJet stopped flying Split to Rome mid September before we departed).    Although we arrived in the evening, we took the frequent Airport bus (much cheaper than a taxi) into the old town to one of the main gates. From there we took a cab to our destination.  Our host was working but he lined up his daughter to meet us. She took us for a little walk to orient us, which was sweet of her.

Like most people, we focused on the old town. We did buy a 3-day Dubrovnik card (museums and some bus tickets).  However, really, many of the places supplied by the card are not exactly world class, so I don’t think it’s really worth it. On the other hand, you could say that it does give you an interesting and useful cultural perspective and one should not get too snobby. There are of course plenty of great cultural buildings and experiences; it’s just that not many are on the card.

Dalmatia in September 2015 - Dubrovnik

Panorama of the Dubrovnik harbour

I was interested in the (very complex) history of the Home Land wars of the 90s and both in Dubrovnik and at the top of the hill (in the old fort now museum which was a defensive stronghold in the siege of Dubrovnik) there is lots of very worth while material.   I reckon it’s worth taking the cable car up to the fort rather than a tour in a 4-wheel drive (they have a long list of reasons why they are better of course).  Really, we like to do things at our own pace, not have deadlines to meet (20 min here, 30 min there).   Because it was September it wasn’t too busy which was great – neither did we suffer the arrival of a cruise ship and several thousand people clogging the place. The weather was lovely; I reckon September is good to be in Croatia.

We went to an Art Gallery with a large exhibition of one emerging artist. Now my partner is an Artist, and we are very familiar with the process of writing the words for those cards that sit next to the art work so that you, the observer, can appreciate the incredible intellectual effort that is behind the art work. In colourful Australian vernacular, we call this “Art Wank” (I am quite good at writing it). We encountered the best example ever of this in this gallery which you can see for yourself in the picture.

Visiting Dalmatia in September - Gallery

“Art Wank” in the gallery

I particularly liked the “personal invisible musical scales” (being a musician). We did also find a very small, almost invisible gallery with a photographic exhibition. The pictures were all of a single family, and the photographer was one member of that family. They were a quirky lot and the exhibition explored how that particular (all grown up) family came together and created their own fun. There was no art wank at all, so we got the guy looking after it to explain it to us !

There is a very cool café just outside the old town walls which looks out over the sea. Great to have a local beer there for a while – you have to be alert to get a seat closest to the sea. There were some young men jumping into the sea from the rocks. They were swanning about in their boardies attempting to look cool/tough/attractive as they attempted a free beer by flirting with the waitresses. No free beer ensued, but the waitresses were nice to them. Throughout our trip, people were invariably friendly, positive and helpful, even though it was the end of the season and probably they were totally over the tourists. We didn’t do any boaty things in Dubrovnik – we left them for later in the trip.

Visiting Dalmatia in September - Cafe

The Waterside Old Town Café

From Dubrovnik we took a bus (there are lots of buses in Croatia and I usually used an App on my iPhone to book tickets – that worked well) to Makarska, sometimes dubbed the “Riviera of Croatia”. The bus trip provides some beautiful coastal scenery and our host kindly picked us up at the bus station (he even deferred his shift at the fire station by 45 min so he could collect us).

Visiting Dalmatia in September - On the way to Makarska

On the way to Makarska

Visiting Dalmatia in September - Makarska Harbour

Makarska Harbour with mountains in the background

Our apartment was about 10 steps to the harbour – which is pretty darn handy.

Like much of the Dalmatian coast, Makarska is jammed in between the mountains and the sea. But here, the mountains are extra beautiful exuding this steely grey strength. I really just had to stare at them a lot to soak in the beauty. We sampled our first pebbly beach here and found it pretty comfortable, even without a mattress (the experienced travellers could be detected easily by their pebble-beach preparations).

Visiting Croatian in September - Makarska mountains

Makarska mountains

Visiting Croatian in September - Adriatic

The beautiful Adriatic

We also found a nice park right next to the beach with lovely grass out of the wind to lie on, gaze at the mountains and read books – I did a lot of that here. Strangely, nobody else took advantage of it in this way! There were no “Keep of the grass” signs, so I don’t know why nobody else did; perhaps a little over-obsessed with becoming a lobster at the beach.

Visiting Dalmatia in September - Makarska Park

Makarska Park

The tourist demographic in Makarska was very middle-aged couple (like us!). However, we were struck by the huge amount of obesity that we saw (in the tourists), especially, but not only the men. Australia has an obesity problem, and I thought I could stand to lose a Kg or 2, but I felt like a wraith there. We noticed also the huge amount of food people packed away when they went to dinner. We might share a meal and be sated – we observed one guy (not so large – yet) eat more for dinner than I could have managed all day. We wandered around the back streets of Makarska and found some nice fresh food (cheaper and nicer than the supermarkets). The supermarkets did however cater for gluten free bread and the like.

We also had our first real taste of Croatian music making here. We happened to be in Makarska for their Fish Festival (could have been a weekly event for all we knew!). So in the evening down at the harbour there was lots of traditional music making. It seems all Croatian men know all the songs as they all sing along with great gusto (and some with rather fine voices). The degree of gusto seemed to be correlated with the rapidity with which wine glasses were recharged…. The melodies for many of the traditional folk songs are simple, so I gusto-ed along as well, spouting pseudo-Croatian as needed.

There is a famous beach, Zlatni Rat, on the island of Brac. You can take a ferry from Makarska to Sumartin, then a bus to this beach. The only problem is you can’t get back again. In September the time tables change to something unhelpful. Basically, the bus back to Sumartin arrives after the ferry departs back to Makarska. Take an earlier bus you say. Well if you do that, then you arrive back at Sumartin before you have even arrived there in the first place (it’s all a bit Dr. Who). This was the point in time where we discovered that some of the tourist information folks were a bit tired and weary of a long season. Mainly, when you go into their office, they grudgingly get off Facebook to talk to you. Then mono-syllabic answers can be dragged from them with great effort. This particular person in Makarska knew that the timetables change, that they are dodgy, but didn’t really want to tell us. It was only because I had googled before and found inconsistencies that she grudgingly called the bus line on Brac (“you can call them, or I suppose I can if you really want”) to confirm the above transport conundrum. So, needless to say, Zlatni Rat, with its 5 degree (I think) side-to-side temperature differential remained a delight for the future.

Stay tuned for part two – with Neil travelling to Hvar and Split – very soon!

Dubrovnik to Novalja

Travel question: Getting from Dubrovnik to Novalja

Question: Myself and a friend are arriving in Dubrovnik and need to travel to Novalja. Is there any direct transport from Dubrovnik to Novalja? If not, what’s the easiest, shortest and cheapest way to get there? Train? Bus?

Answer: Some of you who are heading to Novalja this summer for one of the many festivals held there may have booked flights to Dubrovnik. It’s not the closest airport to Novalja on the island of Pag (Zadar is; Split is second), but there’s certainly plenty of flights from the UK and Europe to Dubrovnik and you may well have found it cheapest to fly there.

Dubrovnik to Novalja

So, if you’re looking for public transport options from Dubrovnik to Novalja, here’s what we’d recommend…if you’re trying to get between the two as quickly as possible. There is no direct transport from one to the other, so:

Option 1: Dubrovnik to Zadar to Novalja

Travel Dubrovnik to Zadar by bus (8 buses per day, with most in the morning; journey time 6-7 hours) and then Zadar to Novalja by bus (3 buses per day; journey time 2 hours).

Look up timetables on the Zadar Bus Terminal website.

The approximate one-way cost is 280 Kunas (200 Kunas Dubrovnik – Zadar; 80 Kunas Zadar – Novalja).

Option 2: Dubrovnik to Split to Novalja

Travel Dubrovnik to Split by bus (many per day; journey time 4.5 hours) and then Split to Novalja by bus (one per day; journey time 5 hours).

However, the Split – Novalja bus operates in the morning, so you’d most likely have to split this journey up into two days with a night in Split. (No bad thing.)

Look up timetables on the Split Bus Terminal website.

The approximate one-way cost is 340 Kunas (120 Kunas Dubrovnik – Split; 220 Kunas Split – Novalja).

TIP: If you’re keen to secure a seat on the Split – Novalja bus, tickets can be bought online (with a 5% discount!) on the Autotrans website.

Technically you could also do Dubrovnik – Split (4.5 hours); Split – Zadar (lots of buses on this route; 2.5-3 hours; approx. 95 Kunas) and Zadar – Novalja (2 hours) but then that does involve two stops!

Happy festival going!

Getting from Split to Dubrovnik

Getting from Split to Dubrovnik…and Dubrovnik to Split!

We’re sure that many of you will be travelling from Split to Dubrovnik (or Dubrovnik to Split) this summer, so we thought we’d lay out the various options for getting between the two!

Getting from Split to Dubrovnik

Split to Dubrovnik by Catamaran

Kapetan Luka have a daily catamaran operating in both directions from Split to Dubrovnik. The catamaran operates in the early morning from Split to Dubrovnik – stopping at Milna on Brac, Hvar Town, Korcula Town and Mljet – whilst the opposite journey operates in the late afternoon/early evening. Journey time between Split and Dubrovnik is 4 hours 15 minutes.

You can of course also split up the journey en route to either Dubrovnik or Split e.g. Dubrovnik to Korcula and then stay there for a night or two.

You can book tickets online on the Kapetan Luka website or using the search box below – during peak season, this would be advisable.

The catamaran does also operate in October, although only three times a week.

2017 Update: Kapetan Luka have a new daily catamaran operating between Split and Dubrovnik. This one stops at Bol on the island of Brac, Makarska, Korcula and Sobra on the island of Mljet when travelling between the two cities. Journey time between Split and Dubrovnik is 4 hours 30 minutes, and the sailing is also in the early morning from Split, with the reverse in the mid afternoon.

Jadrolinija also now have a catamaran connecting Dubrovnik and Split. Operating daily from early June to mid September, their catamaran stops at Bol on Brac, Hvar Town and Korcula Town en route. Sailing time between Split and Dubrovnik is 5 hours and 15 minutes. This catamaran sails from Split in the mid afternoon (reaching Dubrovnik at 9pm), and sails from Dubrovnik in the early morning (reaching Split at 12.30pm).

Split to Dubrovnik by Ferry

Jadrolinija used to run – for absolutely years and years – a coastal ferry service that stretched from Rijeka in the north down to Split and Dubrovnik, stopping off at a couple of the islands along the way (Hvar and Korcula). For 2015, this route has been cancelled – so there are no car ferry options between Split and Dubrovnik. 2017 Update: Details of this service being restarted in 2017 was released – however, by the summer, this has failed to materialise.

There is a year-round Jadrolinija car ferry that operates from Split to Vela Luka on the island of Korcula. As an alternative to the above ferry, you could utilise this – perhaps staying on Korcula for a bit! – before then taking a ferry from Korcula to Orebic on the mainland, and then driving down to Dubrovnik. (It’s a bit of a different alternative, admittedly!)

Split to Dubrovnik by Bus

Luckily, these two Croatian coastal gems are connected numerous buses that run daily. Journey time is around 4 and a half hours – although do note that in peak season (July and August), you may be delayed by an hour of more if the coastal road is especially busy with holiday traffic.

The route stretches through a portion of Bosnia & Hercegovina (called the Neum corridor), so do keep your passport on your person/in your hand luggage and not in the suitcase you’ve put in the hold!

This is a transit route through Bosnia & Hercegovina, so you won’t need a visa for the country (if you otherwise would – EU/US/Canadian/Australian nationals don’t).

Split to Dubrovnik - Neum Corridor
Neum

Buses normally use Neum as a comfort break – a chance to stop for the loo, stretch your legs and to snap a few pics of ‘you in Bosnia’. Luckily, it’s a pretty nice view! There’s also a shop there if you fancy stocking up on ‘duty free’ (booze and cigarettes) and a few little knick knacks; snack options are a little thin on the ground unless you like biscuits, crisps and soft drinks/water.

Check schedules for the route – whether for Split to Dubrovnik or Dubrovnik to Split on the Split Bus Terminal website. The Dubrovnik Bus Terminal also displays this information, but it’s not quite as user friendly.

Split to Dubrovnik by Air

Trade Air have a few flights a week in each direction between Split and Dubrovnik; flight time is 40 minutes.

There are transfer buses between both airports and each city’s main bus station – and in the case of Dubrovnik, the bus also stops at the Old Town. See Getting to and from Split Airport and To and from Dubrovnik Airport.

Split to Dubrovnik by Road

If you’re driving between Split and Dubrovnik, there are two road options – either the scenic coastal road for the whole route, or inland on the A1 motorway as far as Ploce – where the motorway ends – and where you need to then towards the coastal road to continue the journey.

Which one you take is up to you in terms of whether you’re under time pressure or not. The coastal road is beautiful of course – but it can be very busy during the summer months!

Split to Dubrovnik Private Transfer

Visit Croatia Recommends A popular transport option for travel between Split and Dubrovnik is a private transfer. This door to door car service makes for easy and comfortable travel between these two cities. Best of all, prices are fixed and very competitive – cheaper, in fact, than a taxi with prices starting at €210. In addition, you can choose your pickup time and whether you’d like to modify the trip to include stops along the way, making the transfer into an excursion. For a free quote on Dubrovnik to Split transfers contact Octopus Transfers Croatia

Split to Dubrovnik by Train

This one’s a no go! Dubrovnik has no train station, for starters…and train services up and down the Croatian coast don’t really exist. But you’ve luckily got plenty of other transport options – as detailed above!

Useful Links

Rovinj

Croatia tourism statistics for January to July 2013 are in!

Statistics for the number of visitors travelling to Croatia in the first seven months of 2013 were released today – and despite some doom and gloom and uncertainty for this year’s summer season, they do indeed still show an increase on last year’s figures.

Rovinj

In total 6.6 million tourists – which includes both foreign and domestic – holidayed in Croatia from January to July 2013, which is an increase of 3% on the same period last year. These visitors stayed for a total of 36.5 million nights, which is an increase of 2.5%. Of these numbers, almost six million were foreign visitors to the country (up 4%), who stayed for 33 million nights (up 3.3%).

The month of July alone also saw increases in visitor numbers. 1.1% more tourists visited the Croatian coast and Zagreb (the two main tourist centres in the country!) than in July 2012, 3 million visitors in total. These visitors stayed for a total of 21.3 million nights, which is also an increase of 1.1% on the same month last year. Of these numbers, 2.8m were foreign visitors (an increase of 1.7%) who stayed a total of 19.3 million nights (up 2.5%).

The majority of the Adriatic counties all posted increases in visitor numbers and nights stayed for the month of July, although there were also some falls. Istria, in particular, received 3.2% fewer visitors who stayed for 2.2% less nights. Zadar county was the only one in Dalmatia to record a fall in visitor numbers and nights stayed – of 1.6% and 3.5% respectively – whilst the other Dalmatian counties recorded relatively healthy increases. Split-Dalmatia county saw 6% more tourists who stayed for 5% more nights, whilst Dubrovnik-Neretva county – home, of course, to the wonderful and ever popular Dubrovnik – received 4.4% more visitors and 3.6% more nights. (For the purpose of completeness, we can mention that Sibenik-Knin county got 3.8% more visitors who stayed for 4.7% more nights.)

It was away from the coast, in Zagreb, that the largest increases in visitor numbers and nights stayed was recorded. 14.6% more visitors came to Zagreb in July 2013 than in the same month last year, staying for 18.6% more nights.

Source: Jutarnji

Photos of Croatia - Dubrovnik

Game of Thrones Tour in Dubrovnik

There’s been quite a bit of press recently about an exclusive new guided tour that’s being offered in Dubrovnik – one that is sure to thrill fans of a certain hit TV series and popular set of novels. US-based tours company Viator are offering a new ‘Game of Thrones’ Walking Tour of Dubrovnik that takes in many of the locations used during the filming of the show, including the sights that double up as King’s Landing and Blackwater Bay. There’s obviously plenty of Dubrovnik’s main sights to see as well – taking advantage of viewpoints from where you can look over and imagine yourself in King’s Landing, such as from Dubrovnik’s wonderful Old Town walls or Lovrijenac Fortress. So whilst you enjoy taking in and imagining everything as it looks like in the TV series, you’re also experiencing the wonderfully historic sights of Dubrovnik, one of the most beautiful and most popular places to visit in Croatia. The tour also teaches participants a little more about the Targaryens, Baratheons, Starks and other noble families featured in Game of Thrones. And maybe, just maybe, it’s a way to comfort yourself after a recent unexpected and violent plot in the TV show!

Photos of Croatia - Dubrovnik
Looking out to Lovrijenac Fortress from the Old Town Walls

This walking tour is clearly a must for any Game of Thrones fans that are visiting beautiful Dubrovnik, but we can imagine that it would be plenty of fun for those that aren’t even that well acquainted with the show. Join the tour and make your friends jealous at having seen the “real” locations from Game of Thrones!

Viator’s tour takes three hours and departs at 10.15am. It includes entrance fees (for the town walls and Lovrijenac Fortress) as well as the facilities of a local guide. Hotel pick-up and drop-off isn’t included, but since it’s so easy to get around Dubrovnik’s Old Town and Dubrovnik itself, that’s hardly needed!

As mentioned, this tour is exclusive to Viator so can’t be found anywhere else! It takes place daily and costs £47.33/$72.66/€55.00 for adults or £23.67/$36.33/€27.50 for children aged 4 to 11. Children under 4 go free.

Viator

To find out more details about the tour or to book a place, please see Viator Exclusive: ‘Game of Thrones’ Walking Tour of Dubrovnik.

Check out the following press reports on the Game of Thrones tours:

Zagreb Cathedral

Reader’s email: Experiences on visiting Croatia in December!

A few months ago, we were very happy to receive a lovely follow-up email from a traveller to Croatia (who we assisted in their travel plans via email), which told of their happy experiences whilst enjoying a summer holiday in the country.

Very recently, we were happy to receive another such email from a traveller (that we also assisted, pre-trip, via email) from Latin America who visited a number of towns and cities in Croatia. His comments are well worth reading as he provides a number of very useful tips on the places he visited, whilst it’s also interesting to note his experiences as he visited Croatia in December – and as Croatia is often considered a summer-only destination, it’s great to see an enjoyable visit during this particular month.

Zagreb Cathedral, Croatia

Zagreb’s Cathedral

So, here’s what our happy traveller had to say:

I’m back from my trip to Croatia and it was great in every sense including the weather. We were able to visit Zagreb and stayed at the Dream Hotel  near the airport on our first and last nights. The hotel is quite new and the furniture is custom made for the limited area of the rooms. The service was more than expected with buffet breakfast (I expected toast and coffee!) including fruit, juices and with eggs made to one’s request. The personnel was very helpful and even prepared breakfast at 5 a.m. before driving us to the airport for free as advertised!
We later visited Vukovar where some of my wife’s relatives live. A new museum of a prehistoric culture is being built. It will be inaugurated in 2013, so there’s an additional tourist attraction besides the war-related things. We visited it and it’s located next to the Danube River with an unobtrusive design on the hill.
From Zagreb we flew to Dubrovnik. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen, and I have seen quite a few in Europe and America (the continent). We stayed at the Excelsior because of the location on the beach and within walking distance to the Old Town. I followed your advice and drove the airport bus to Pile Gate and then took a taxi saving some kunas. This was offset by the taxi #91 back to the airport gave us some extra turns as what was supposed to cost 30-35K ended up being 45K with little traffic… The hotel is a 5* and the buffet breakfast has an extensive variety as expected. We paid for a room with seaview which was worth it. As you indicated, we didn’t need a tour guide and just wondered around with a map. Since this is the low season, it was great not to have too many tourists around. The food we had at a Konoba to the right of St. Blaise Church was excellent even if the waitress was not too happy doing her job. Walking on the walls was one of the highlights as it gives a different perspective of the town. Even though we stayed only 1 day, we were able to wonder around all of the Old Town and took many pictures. 🙂
From Dubrovnik we flew to Split (via Zagreb). We stayed at the Palace Judita per your recommendation and were fascinated with the hotel and it’s service. It was worth the looong walk with luggage from the bus station. After Dubrovnik, Split doesn’t seem as impressive or beautiful, but was worth visiting. It would be better to visit Split first. Too many graffiti on the walls give a bad impression. It’s rather difficult to determine where the Palace starts and ends and the shops outside the walls are not a nice sight although they do offer bargains. A map was more than enough and no tour is needed even on a 1 day rush visit. At the hotel, Marija, the manager, recommended Konoba Varos, and we were delighted with the good service and seafood which was fresh, tasty and well accompanied with a local wine. This is a restaurant we will remember for a long time!
Back in Zagreb, we visited the old part of the city. It’s too bad that new buildings are built along old ones because the city has very nice neo classical and gothic architecture in some places. The area near the cathedral is well kept and the cathedral is worth visiting even considering we had seen some impressive ones in Spain, particularly Toledo’s.
Lastly, the Croatian language lessons on your web page were most helpful. Although my pronunciation was not too accurate, the words helped to communicate (although many people speak English). I enjoyed trying to use the different words and phrases and most people were helpful. [Note: See Croatian for Travellers]
Thanks so much for your help in making this trip such a nice one and without ugly surprises! We’d like to return to Croatia although it’s expensive to fly from Guatemala.

Thanks very much, dear traveller, for taking the time to email us after your trip and for your kind comments as well! We’re very happy to hear you enjoyed visiting Croatia, and thanks for providing us (and other travellers) with some great tips!

If you’d like any assistance in planning a visit to Croatia (this is a free service – and we don’t try and push any kind of company or service on you!), please do email us at webmaster@visit-croatia.co.uk. We’d be more than happy to help – and would love to hear your experiences of visiting Croatia!
Dubrovnik Photos - Old Town Harbour at Sunset

Croatia’s tourist statistics for the first half of 2012

Yesterday saw the unveiling of tourism statistics that show visitor numbers to Croatia – both foreign and domestic – for the first six months of the year. These figures reveal overall visitor numbers, as well as showing statistics for the individual counties in Croatia, and the numbers of tourists arriving from different countries.

So, to tackle the overall statistics first, it was revealed that Croatia received 3,418,306 tourists between January and June this year, which is up 6% on the same period last year. Of this, the vast majority were foreign tourists – 2,922,632 (up 8%) – whilst 495,674 were Croatian(a drop of 4%).

Visitors stayed for 14,456,034 nights in the country (up 5%), which once again were mostly made by foreign tourists (12,898,639 nights – up 7%) rather than domestic (1,557,395 – another fall, this time of 6%).

Croatia's tourist statistics - Dubrovnik

Stunning Dubrovnik

All counties included in these statistics have seen visitor numbers go up – with the exception of Sibenik-Knin county, which has seen a drop by 1% in visitor numbers. Top honours go to Dubrovnik-Neretva county (unsurprisingly, home to Dubrovnik!) which saw 13% more visitors in the first six months of the year, as did Lika-Senj county (where the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park is located, as well as Velebit National Park). The former county also saw 15% more overnight stays during the same period, whilst the latter achieved 10% more.

The top visited county was the ever-popular Istria, which saw 975,391 people visiting from January to June, an increase of 5% over the same months last year. Other counties to enjoy good visitor growth include Split-Dalmatia (8% growth; 503,713 visitors); Zadar county (7% growth; 295,707 visitors) and Zagreb (5% growth; 298,850). Indeed, Zagreb enjoyed an increase of 11% in the number of nights stayed by tourists, clearly showing that those visiting Croatia’s capital are staying for longer.

Taking a look at the different foreign nationalities visiting Croatia in the first half of this year, the largest increase was posted by visitors from Japan of which there were 38% more (staying for 37% nights) when comparing this time period to the same one last year. British visitors also posted a very healthy increase (25% more, staying for 26% more nights), as did Belgian visitors (26% more, staying for 16% more nights), Dutch visitors (22% more, staying for 24% more nights) and Swedish visitors (21% more, staying for 21% more nights).

Just for the month of June, Croatia received 1,618,472 visitors in total (1% more than June 2011), who stayed for 8,330,928 nights (which is being recorded as the “same” as last year!). Dubrovnik-Neretva county again posted the best increase of 11% more visitors (164,426 in total), who stayed for 13% more nights (756,345). Rather interestingly, Istria actually posted a drop in both visitors numbers (down by 5%) and overnight stays (also down by 5%) for June 2012 over June 2011.

Rather pleasingly (given where we are based!), it was British visitors that posted by far the biggest increase for June 2012 over the same month last year – 36% more Brits visited, staying for 34% more nights.

Source: Croatian National Tourist Board

Travel question: Train from Zagreb to Dubrovnik?

I want to know that if I come from Budapest to Zagreb by flight and want to catch a train to Dubrovnik the same day is it possible? My flight reaches at around 12 noon and there is a train at 2pm , how far is the airport from the station? Thanks. A.M.

I’m afraid that you’ve been wrongly informed – there are no trains from Zagreb to Dubrovnik as Dubrovnik has no train station. The closest to Dubrovnik that you could travel to is a town called Ploce, but this is still 2 hours north of Dubrovnik. If you did take a train here from Zagreb, you could change here for a bus to continue your journey; however, a train to here from Zagreb is still a long journey, 13 hours.

You could travel from Zagreb to Dubrovnik by bus. Firstly, take an airport bus (from outside the terminal building) to the main bus station in Zagreb. The journey time is approximately half an hour. Then, from here there are a number of buses per day to Dubrovnik (see timetables at www.akz.hr). Journey is long, however! (About 11-12 hours.)

If you need to reach Dubrovnik quickly, then flying is obviously the best method. There are several flights per day (in summer) with Croatia Airlines. Tickets aren’t always even that expensive, but it depends how far in advance you book.

Fancy a break in the New Year? How about a 3 night mini-break in Dubrovnik for under £200!

British Airways are currently running their “Goodbye Winter” sale and, although perhaps we in the UK haven’t (luckily) had the harshest of winters this year, it’s always nice to have something to look forward to for next year – right?

Amongst their deals to many of their destinations, I’ve noticed that they’ve also listed mini-breaks to Dubrovnik for some really rather excellent prices. As the airline fly year-round to this wonderful Croatian city (even in winter they fly four times a week – Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays) a mini-break is more than do-able. They’re advertising a deal that includes a return flight plus three nights in a three-star hotel (on a half board basis) from only £169 per person, which is based on two sharing.

I keyed in a few dates, and personally couldn’t find that price (although I’m not saying it doesn’t exist!); however, the best deal I could find was still a pretty amazing £193.50.

If you fancy ramping up the glamour, I’ve also come across the same flight + three nights package – but in a five-star hotel! – for only £247.

Their flights to Dubrovnik didn’t seem to be part of their sale, although they are offering one-way flights to the city during January, February and March from only £61.

In general, Croatia has had a particularly mild winter so far, especially so in Dalmatia, which is expected to continue into the New Year. Without all of the summer crowds, early 2012 could be a great time to visit!

Note: The BA sale ends on 24th January 2012.