We receive countless emails – week in week out – asking for our help in planning holidays to Croatia. So here, we thought we’re share some of the Visit Croatia magic and help you plan a holiday to Croatia!
For the purposes of this page, we’re assuming that you that you have no preference for where to visit/stay in Croatia, and haven’t yet read up much on what to see and do in the country.
Plan a holiday to Croatia, step by step
Step 1: Find out where it’s easiest (or cheapest!) to fly to
If you’re travelling from the UK or Ireland, take a look at our Flights to Croatia page (and the related flights by destination or flights by departure airport pages) to see who flies to and from where. There will give you a better idea of where in Croatia you can reach from your home airport, or how you will need to travel within Croatia to reach where you want to go.
Once you’ve figured out what routes are available to you, start checking out the airlines’ websites for prices of flights on the dates you wish to travel. If you can, shift your travel to mid-week…prices are often cheapest then!
Step 2: Check out what accommodation is available
Perhaps you’re not too bothered about the town you’ll be staying in, but have specific requirements for accommodation. In which case, check out an accommodation portal such as Booking.com which offers a wide range of hotels, apartments, villas, hostels, mobile homes, cottages, bed and breakfasts…even boats! The site also helps you filter accommodation preferences based on your particular requirements and needs e.g. with pools, beachfront access, whether it’s part of a chain (or not) or any accessibility preferences.
You may find that as you browse around the site, a particular hotel or apartment takes your fancy. Or you may find that a particular accommodation site – say a villa or a campsite – has a stunning location that you just can’t pass up.
For more apartment choices, do also see what’s available on Airbnb. Private accommodation (staying in rooms and apartments) has existed in Croatia for yonks, well before Airbnb turned up on the scene!
Obviously, you may also like to look at accommodation price comparison sites such as Trivago to try and get a good deal on your accommodation.
Step 3: Will you stay in one place, or travel around?
This is something that perhaps confuses travellers the most.
Do you really want to make the most of your time in Croatia and travel around seeing lots of the country, or will you just kick back and relax in the sun for a week?
Be realistic – yes, Croatia is a small country but it’s not that small. You can’t realistically “see it all” in a week; or rather, you could try (and fail), but you’d really just be spending your entire week inside a car driving around, with the odd 30 minutes here and there for some actually sightseeing.
Do also be realistic about what you really want to see and do. You may want to holiday in Dubrovnik but also “see the lakes” (we assume that refers to the Plitvice Lakes). These two places are very far apart and a day trip would basically involve a 10-hour round trip! Essentially, not really doable – so, if you really want to see Plitvice, either have a multi-destination holiday or base yourself in the Zadar or Split regions instead of Dubrovnik.
A look at our Croatia Map might help you decide where to stay!
Step 4: Consider the time of year
Visiting in low season
If you’re visiting just outside of season (either earlier in the year – let’s say March or April, or later in October) but still want to try and catch some pleasant weather, we’d always recommend that you head to southern Croatia – essentially, Dubrovnik! Although most places along the coast (and inland) will likely be experiencing pleasant weather (low to mid 20s Celsius, and sunny) you’re more likely to guarantee the further south you go. And, of course, the further south you go the warmer the sea will be for swimming!
But what if you’re visiting Croatia outside even those months? Perhaps in winter? Certainly Zagreb should feature in your considerations, especially if you’re visiting in December. The city hosts one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Otherwise, many of the larger cities all along the coast will also be vibrant places to travel to, offering plenty in the way of culture, sightseeing and dining. Just be prepared for winter weather!
As for the islands in winter? They’ll be quiet…very quiet. We suggest you skip them entirely – unless of course somewhere very quiet (but pretty cold!) is what you’re looking for.
Don’t forget Croatia’s national parks if you’re visiting in winter. These are magical places to visit all year round, and we would certainly recommend you pay them a visit – especially Plitvice Lakes National Park and Krka National Park.
Visiting in high season
Of course, in high season (end of May to end of September) everything – transport, cafes, restaurants, sights, clubs, events – will be in full swing…as will the weather! Just be aware that Croatia is a very popular destination in the summer months and many destinations will be busy. So if you’re visiting during this time, consider booking transport (buses, ferries) ahead of time (particularly if there is a date/time you really must travel on) and accommodation as well if there’s somewhere you would especially like to stay.
If you can’t decide whether to visit in high or low season (or the ‘shoulder season’) check out When to Go to Croatia.
Step 5: Consider where you’d actually like to go
There are very few bad places to visit in Croatia – only perhaps places unsuitable for the kind of thing you’d like to do! There’s no point heading to club-heavy Novalja if you’re after some peace and quiet, and likewise there’s no point in heading to one of the smaller, remote islands (such as Lastovo) if you’re really after lots of sightseeing, culture and want to dine in a different restaurant every night.
We’ve got a guide to Where to Go in Croatia that may help you pinpoint some suitable destinations based on your interests and wants out of a holiday. Or you might prefer to get a guidebook on Croatia to read up more on the country in this way.
We really would recommend reading up about the destinations in Croatia to see what you’d like to visit and see and do. That will give you a better idea of what specific places you’d like to visit and will help you start putting together an itinerary.
Croatia is famed for its islands, of course. Whilst they are a great place for a holiday, do consider whether you mind the extra transfer time involved in heading out to one of the islands from the airports on the mainland. (The exception being Rijeka Airport which is on the island of Krk!)
Step 6: Plan for your next visit, too!
Perhaps you won’t be able to fit in everything you want to see in Croatia on your holiday. That’s honestly no big problem…it just means you have to come back! And then you can plan a holiday to Croatia, round 2!