We’ve shared all sorts of Croatia travel planning advice here on Visit Croatia (that’s what this website is all about, after all!) but now we’re here to help you do Croatia on a budget. On this page, we’ve put together advice to keep your travel costs low when you visit Croatia. And even if you’re not especially trying to conserve your budget as much as possible, there might be one or two (or, hopefully, more!) useful tips here for you that you can still take advantage of.
Is Croatia Expensive?
Well… Let’s put it this way. It will likely be cheaper than your home country, but it’s certainly not a bargain basement kind of place. Some travellers think that given its position in Eastern/Southern Europe, its “turbulent” history in the 1990s and its longer history as part of a communist country, Croatia is bound to be a cheap and cheerful destination.
Well, Croatia is certainly cheerful but we wouldn’t say cheap, which is something that surprises many travellers. Don’t forget that the country joined in the EU in 2013 and the Euro in 2023 and this automatically makes the country more expensive than some of its neighbours.
To compare it to some of its Mediterranean neighbours – think of Croatia more on par with Italy than with Albania.
Croatia on a Budget – Be Flexible!
Above and beyond any other advice I’m going to give on this page, the best advice I can say is – be flexible!
You’ve most likely already heard and read about plenty of general budget travel advice already. “Save money by flying in the middle of the week, not on the weekend! Don’t travel during school holidays (half terms – mid-February, end of May and end of October; Easter-time and in July and August) when all the families will be travelling!”
Don’t travel during peak season either. This is certainly very, very true for Croatia. The absolute peak season for the country is July and August. June and September will be cheaper, May and October cheaper still. April – after Easter – would be a good month too, although perhaps a little too cold for sea swimming.
You can also make some savings by selecting an “unusual” holiday length – i.e. not one or two weeks exactly. Go for five days, six days, 13 days, 17 days…
Also, be flexible with your destination. You’re thinking of Dubrovnik, but maybe you can find cheaper flights to Zadar? Or if your heart is really set on Dubrovnik, why not stay in one of the smaller towns close by – Cavtat or Mlini, for example.
Extra tip: Take a look at the best Croatian alternatives to your favourite destinations for some suggestions for other places to try as a holiday destination in Croatia.
Croatia on a Budget – Flights
Whatever your destination, you’ll likely want to get the best deal on flights. Travelling to Croatia is no exception!
I would suggest there are two ways of approaching researching the best budget flights to Croatia.
Budget Airlines to Croatia
These days, there are many, many budget airlines that operate flights to Croatia. (Are budget airlines still called budget airlines? Or are they just…airlines?) If you’re flying from the UK, Ireland or so many cities in Europe, you can choose from Easyjet, Ryanair, Jet2, Wizz Air, Vueling, Volotea, and Eurowings to name just a few.
Take a look at these airlines’ websites to source the best flight prices. Almost all of them offer very simple-to-use booking platforms that allow you to select dates on a calendar – and these calendars also show the different prices of flights.
So, for example, I’ve just looked up flights for London Gatwick to Split with Easyjet for the end of May 2024. Travelling on Thursday 30th May 2024, a one-way ticket is £274. Travelling two days earlier, on Tuesday 28th May 2024, a one-way ticket is £105. That’s some saving!
So make use of these airlines not just because they’re budget airlines but also because they can really help with selecting the cheapest flights to Croatia.
It is worth signing up to these airlines’ mailouts to get alerted to any sales they may be holding, or special codes you can use.
Extra tip: take a look at our guides on Flights to Croatia from the UK & Ireland, plus Getting to Dubrovnik, Getting to Split, Getting to Zagreb, Getting to Istria, Getting to North Dalmatia and Getting to the Kvarner Riviera for details of flights to all of these destinations.
Use travel portals/price comparison websites
I’m sure you’re a seasoned traveller and have frequently used travel portals and price comparison websites for booking flights and holidays.
These days, Google Flights seems to be the revered option for savvy travellers. Once again, you can make use of their calendar option to easily see which dates offer the cheapest fares. You can also use Google Flights to mix and match and fly different airlines on your outbound leg and for the return. Google Flights will also easily show you the cheapest holiday length for your chosen destination. Finally, you can also track flights to a particular destination to get alerted by email when fares are low.
I must also recommend Jack’s Flight Club as a great website – an email newsletter, in fact – for savings on flights. Although you can’t select Croatia as a destination, the newsletter often sends out deals for flight savings “across Europe”.
Extra tip: Do also sign up for the Visit Croatia newsletter! We often feature codes and offers for flights (and holidays) to Croatia.
Croatia on a Budget – Other ways of getting there
Is there a cheaper way of getting to Croatia than by flying? Well…that depends on where you’re travelling from!
Generally, flying is always the best way of getting to the country. But let’s take the example of travelling from London to Zagreb. We recently looked at Getting to Croatia from the UK by train in which we showed that whilst train travel on this route may be a fun, almost 24-hour adventure, it’s not exactly cheap! Train tickets would come out at around €200 for a one-way journey, perhaps slightly cheaper if you book far enough in advance.
If you look on the Flixbus website, you can travel by bus from London to Zagreb for £82 one-way. It’s a 35-hour journey, however! (But only involving one change of bus, in Paris.)
And flights? Selecting Ryanair as an example, I’ve found one-way flights to Zagreb for as little as £21.75. And that’s only a 2-hour flight!
Note: there are extras to pay on most of the above options for e.g. luggage and being able to choose seating.
Croatia on a Budget – Package holidays
Generally, you’ll find the cheapest holiday if you put together the whole thing yourself. Flights/travel, accommodation, transport, extras… (Hey, that’s what the Visit Croatia website is here to help you do!)
But you might just find a good package deal that will include many of these options. You may also weigh up the options of eating out and realise that opting for a half-board or full-board option would help you save in the long run by getting all of your meals included upfront.
We personally loved Jet2 as a package holiday option for a family holiday in Croatia (and I am not being paid to say that!). If you read up on my post, you’ll see they offer a number of nifty booking features for keeping holiday costs down.
Croatia on a Budget – Accommodation
Whilst I’d love to share tips for how to get 5-star accommodation in Croatia for next to nothing, that kind of scenario is just not going to be possible. Stay away from five-star big-name hotels and luxury villas and consider something more wallet-friendly.
Croatia is absolutely filled to the brim with what used to be called “private accommodation” – essentially, apartments (sometimes also just rooms!) which you can book. Whilst some are super fancy, there are plenty that are more basic that would be a more than suitable option for accommodation. Take a look at apartments in Croatia on Booking.com.
Campsites in Croatia can also offer very budget-friendly accommodation. In case you’re wondering – no, I’m not suggesting pitching up a tent for the entirety of your holiday. (Although – yes, that would be possible, and certainly very cheap!) Campsites these days offers a number of different options, and I’d take a look at some of the mobile homes on offer. These can be very smart and modern with excellent facilities. And given that some campsites are mini-resorts in their own right (with private beaches, pools, sports and fitness equipment/courts/classes, kids’ clubs, restaurants, bars and more) they’re also a great base for a holiday.
You can also make savings when it comes to location. Instead of choosing – for example – an apartment right in the centre of a town or city, choose one on the outskirts or in a small settlement close by. Almost all of Croatia’s towns and cities are very walkable, or offer excellent, cheap public transport options.
Croatia on a Budget – Travelling around
Now here we’ll tell you what not to do. Hire a car, essentially! Whilst obviously this is a great way of travelling around, car hire remains a pretty expensive option for Croatia.
Stick to public transport – buses and ferries/catamarans will be what you will most likely use. Train travel is of course possible, but the train network isn’t anywhere near as extensive as it could be.
Use GetByBus to look up bus timetables and compare ticket prices. Bus companies in Croatia price their tickets differently for the same route.
Catamarans – the “fast option” – are more expensive than ferries, so opt for the slower (but more leisurely and tranquil) ferry option where you can. (Of course, catamarans and ferries don’t always run on the same routes.) Take a look at our Ferry and catamaran prices in Croatia page for a comparison. And do also take a look at our Island Hopping in Croatia on a Budget page for island travel tips there.
Unfortunately, bus, ferry/catamaran and train operators in Croatia do not offer any kind of “flexiticket” or season ticket for visitors.
Croatia on a Budget – Take advantage of sightseeing cards and tourist offices
If you’re based in a particular destination for a certain amount of time and want to make the most of the sights, consider buying the local sightseeing card which will offer you free or discounted entry to many sights. Some will also offer you free public transport!
For example, the Dubrovnik Pass gives you entry into the Old Town Walls, the Franciscan Monastery, a number of museums (such as a Natural History Museum) and free transport on local buses. It also offers savings on other attractions such as a 30% discount on entry into Mljet National Park (if you opt for the 7-day Dubrovnik Pass).
The Split Card gives you free or discounted entry into certain attractions – and in fact, the Split Card is itself free if you stay for 2 nights in Split from October to March, or 5 nights if you stay from April to September.
Pop by the tourist office of wherever you are staying to pick up all sorts of useful literature about your destination. You’ll likely come away with a map but also a free guide with lots of suggestions of things to see and do. Some places may even suggest free walking tours and similar.
For example, the main Zagreb Visitor Centre is located at 11 Trg Ban Jelacic Square (if you’re facing the good man on the horse – it is on your right-hand side in the corner). Be sure to pick up the latest edition of the truly excellent Zagreb In Your Pocket guide. The In Your Pocket series is also published for Split, Rijeka, Dubrovnik, Zadar and Sibenik.
Croatia on a Budget – buy your own food, go to markets
Eating (and drinking) out is certainly one way to ramp up holiday costs, often without you even noticing. Whilst there are plenty of cheaper eateries – pizzerias for one – and quick bite places (you can’t go wrong with a tasty burek) you will make the most savings if you opt to buy your own groceries and create your own meals. Obviously, this would work best if your accommodation has its own kitchen! At the very least, consider making your own breakfasts and lunches and then eating out for dinner.
Supermarkets, large and small, are plentiful in Croatia and you can easily stock up on essential food items. But do make sure to stop by one of the many food markets for an amazing variety of fresh fruit and veg and other homemade goods.
Extra tip: If you’re staying near a bakery, pop down to it each morning to get a tasty pastry or even some rolls, all freshly baked. Delicious!
Croatia on a Budget – entertainment
These days there are so many free events taking place in Croatia’s towns and cities practically year-round. There’s also some kind of festivity taking place. Pop along to the local tourist information centre to see a list of what’s taking place whilst you’re on your holiday.
If you’re vacationing on the coast in the summer months, almost everywhere has a summer festival of some sort. Whilst some of the summer festival events require paid tickets, many (such as open-air concerts) are free to attend and often have a lovely atmosphere.