Croatia Solo Travel: The Ultimate Guide
Last updated on January 14th, 2023 at 10:15 am
The world is just too big with too much to offer to wait around for someone to go on an epic adventure with you.
Whether you are planning a solo trip because your friends just can’t get off work, or you simply love being able to explore without having to accommodate anyone else, solo travel can be one of the most rewarding experiences.
One country that has been recently been rising in popularity among solo travelers in Europe is Croatia.
Croatia is a spectacular destination bursting with jaw-dropping landscapes, amazing history, and delicious food. Combine this with its excellent travel infrastructure and safety, and you’ve got an ideal destination for exploring on your own.
Whether you are an experienced solo traveler or someone who is looking to get a taste of traveling on their own, Croatia offers an incredibly rewarding solo travel experience.
In this guide, I’ll be breaking down Croatia solo travel including the safety of travel in Croatia, how to get around the country, the best locations for solo travelers, and more. Everything you need to know about solo travel in Croatia is right here in this guide!
Croatia Solo Travel: The Ultimate Guide
Is Croatia Safe?
As a solo traveler, you might be asking yourself: Is if safe to travel to Croatia?
The answer is: Yes!
Croatia is absolutely safe to travel to and is actually one of the safest countries in the world. Overall crime levels are low in this Mediterranean nation and violent crime is rare. The U.S. State Department has also given Croatia a “Level One” travel advisory, which means that visitors should “exercise normal precautions when traveling”.
Is Croatia Safe for Women?
One of the things I hear most about when it comes to living in Croatia is how safe the country is for families, and for women as well.
It is not uncommon to see a woman walking alone at night, even in larger cities like Zagreb. For many women, this would not be the case back home.
As a female myself, I can honestly say that I have never felt unsafe in Croatia. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule (as there is with everything else), but generally speaking, Croatia is a very safe destination for solo female travelers.
Croatia Solo Travel: Is It for You?
Croatia solo travel is for anyone that wants to experience the beauty of the country at their own pace.
By embarking on a Croatia solo travel adventure, you will have the freedom and flexibility to do exactly as you please. If you want to check out every single one of Zagreb’s amazing museums, you can do just that. If you absolutely fall in love with a place and want to extend your stay, you can do that too.
It’s your trip!
In addition to traveling at your own pace and making your own rules, Croatia solo travel is a wonderful choice for these reasons as well:
- Awesome travel infrastructure (especially for first-time solo travelers). Cities and towns in Croatia are exceptionally well-connected by a large number of bus and ferry routes. Not only can you get from point A to B for a relatively modest price, but these routes are also simple to figure out. All of the information you need can be found at the local bus terminals or on the bus terminal website (if you are traveling by bus, of course).
- Wide range of accommodations for every budget. There are hotels for every single budget, hostels in most major destinations, affordable private apartments, and even luxury glamping sites in Croatia. Whether you want your own place, or you want to share a dorm with other travelers, you can definitely find something to fit your needs. The two major sites for finding accommodation in Croatia are Airbnb and Booking.com.
- Croatia is easy to travel. Thanks to the excellent travel infrastructure, a wide range of accommodations, and the fact that English is widely spoken, Croatia is an easy country to travel to. Most information can be found online, and if you are unable to find it online, a local will likely be able to assist you once you arrive.
What About the Langauge?
Many people who plan to travel to Croatia are concerned about the difficulty of the language.
The local language is practically incomprehensible if you are unfamiliar with it, which might turn some solo travelers off. However, most Croatians (under 50 years old) speak very good English. Growing up with movies and TV shows in English (with Croatian subtitles) and taking mandatory English classes starting in first grade makes them some of the best English speakers in the region.
However, just because most Croatians speak English does not mean you should not at least attempt to learn a few Croatian phrases!
Common Phrases in Croatian
Although you can get by speaking entirely in English during your stay in Croatia, the locals really do appreciate it when visitors at least attempt to learn a few phrases in Croatian. Below, you will find a list of the most common phrases that can help earn you brownie points with the local community.
- Good day – Dobar dan
*This phrase is commonly used when entering shops or when a waiter greets you at a restaurant
- Goodbye – Doviđenja
- Please – Molim
- Thank you – Hvala
- Yes – Da
- No – Ne
Trust me, by making an effort to say “hello” or “thank you” in Croatian, you might just make someone’s day!
How to Meet People in Croatia
Meeting people in Croatia is just as easy as it is anywhere else you would travel solo!
While Croatians aren’t necessarily known for being the friendliest people in Europe, you will meet lovely people during your stay and you will find that most locals will be happy to help you.
Meeting people in Croatia will happen organically through hostels, meetups, or expat groups.
Other Ways You Can Meet People in Croatia
Visit Croatia on a Group Tour
Visiting Croatia (or anywhere, really) on a group tour is a great way to meet new people. There are plenty of group tours available through Contiki, G Adventures Croatia, Busabout, and more. Whether you love to party or want to sail the dazzling Adriatic Sea, you will definitely find a tour that is perfect for you.
Group tours are awesome in that they provide a natural environment for meeting like-minded individuals while traveling.
Day Trips and Local Tours
Another great way to meet people is by joining a day trip or a local tour. Whether you are snapping shots of filming locations on a Game of Thrones Tour in Dubrovnik or sampling local snacks on a food tour in Zagreb, you can be sure to meet lots of other friendly travelers.
As always, hostels are one of the most ideal places for making friends while traveling. There are plenty of hostels in Croatia’s major cities that offer dorms and private rooms as well.
If staying in a hostel isn’t your thing, keep an eye out for hostel group tours or activities that you can join in on even if you’re not staying at that particular hostel. Some hostels, like Swanky Mint in Zagreb, even have bars, making them a great place for socializing. Here’s a full list of my top recommendations of where to stay in Zagreb, including the best hostels for solo travelers!
Reach Out on Social Media
A lot of times, you might know someone who knows someone traveling, or even living, in a certain place. The same goes for Croatia. A simple story on Instagram stating that you’ll be in the area might just spark an introduction.
Best Places for Croatia Solo Travel
Where are the best places for solo travel in Croatia? We’ve got you covered!
While there are many places worth visiting in Croatia, below you’ll find a list of the best places for traveling Croatia solo.
Zagreb is Croatia’s capital city that is often skipped by many travelers who are heading directly to the coast. Though it may be small, Zagreb is a charming city that is worth exploring for a day or two, or even serving as a base for long-term travel!
This city successfully blends history with modern amenities and is very well connected to the rest of the country as it is to major destinations in Europe. Unlike the Dalmatian coast, Zagreb is a city that is lively all year round. No matter what time of year you choose to visit, there will always be something exciting going on whether it be a Christmas Market or summer festival.
Read More: The Perfect 2-Day Zagreb Itinerary
Istria is an entire region in Croatia that makes up the western peninsula of the country. You will find that it is similar to Italy in many ways, from its architecture and charming Italian piazzas to its endless olive groves and vineyards. This is one of my personal favorite areas in all of Croatia.
In Istria, it is best to base yourself in one of the larger cities along the coast like Pula, Rovinj, or Porec. This will give you the opportunity to mingle with other travelers while still having easy access to Istria’s charming hilltop towns and villages.
Zadar is a small city located on the Croatian coast just halfway between Zagreb and Split. Zadar boasts amazing beaches, has a low-key vibe, is not overly touristy, and is home to some pretty cool Roman ruins. The city also has some pretty unique monuments like the world’s first and only Sea Organ and “The Greeting to the Sun”.
Split is a popular choice among travelers as it is a major transportation hub. If you are planning to visit any of Croatia’s islands, you will most likely be departing from Split’s ferry port. Don’t let that fool you into thinking Split is just a place for a quick overnight stay!
The old town of Split was built into the ancient remains of Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it worth spending at least 3 days in Split before skipping off to the islands.
Dubrovnik is by far Croatia’s most popular destination thanks to its stunning Old Town that served as the set of King’s Landing on Game of Thrones. If you’ve seen photos of Dubrovnik, know that the town is one-hundred times more breathtaking in real life!
The architecture and the atmosphere are simply magnificent. However, with its massive popularity come massive crowds too. For this reason, it is best to avoid visiting Dubrovnik on a day trip as this will only guarantee that the city will be packed with tourists. During the summer, Dubrovnik is best enjoyed in the early mornings and in the late afternoons.
Hvar Island is an iconic destination on every Croatia travel itinerary. While this island is known for its high-class visitors, there are plenty of activities and places to explore that are more casual and budget-friendly as well. The island is best explored by renting a scooter, allowing you to visit charming towns and gorgeous beaches at your own pace. Just watch out for sharks in Croatia!
Read More: The Only Hvar Island Travel Guide You Need
Pag is known as Croatia’s party island and is the place where many young people love to go to experience the famous nightclubs in Novalja. In addition to an unforgettable party scene, the island offers some pretty unique landscapes and hidden beaches worth checking out.
Croatia Off the Beaten Path
There is much more to Croatia than the destinations mentioned above. The cities mentioned are simply recommendations for first-time visitors and solo travelers coming to Croatia.
Of course, there are many off-the-beaten-path destinations that are worth combining with the more popular and touristy locations. Depending on what your travel style is or what you wish to experience, you may be interested in visiting Trogir, Šibenik, Gorski Kotar, Varaždin, or some of the many other hidden gems Croatia has to offer.
There is also an entire region that is often left unexplored by tourists but is well worth visiting. This region is located in the northeastern section of the country and is known as Slavonia. Slavonia is home to some pretty incredible cuisine and also Europe’s largest wetland known as Kopački Rit. A few places worth visiting in Slavonia include the town of Osijek, the traditional villages of Baranja, and the city of Vukovar to learn more about Croatia’s history.
Getting Around Croatia Solo
Croatia by Car
The absolute best way to explore Croatia is definitely by renting a car. If you are planning on staying in Croatia for a short amount of time but want to see the most the country has to offer, then renting a car in Croatia is the way to go.
This is the most ideal way of traveling through Croatia as the country is relatively small, and most places can easily be reached in just a few hours. Plus, as with any road trip, renting a car will allow you to stop at interesting destinations along the way.
The highways in Croatia are in great condition and the road signage is very clear, so you should have no problem navigating.
However, you will want to be a little more cautious when driving in smaller cities as the roads tend to be narrower and the traffic denser. Oftentimes you will find many one-way roads (for example in Zagreb) as well as roundabouts. As long as you are alert you should be fine.
Read More: Best Summer Road Trips in Europe
Croatia by Bus
If you’re not up for renting a car, Croatia has an excellent bus system. The buses in Croatia are first-class and offer an incredible amount of connections both within Croatia and the surrounding countries.
There are frequent buses that cover both short and long distances between the largest cities all the way to the tiniest villages.
In almost every large town and city, there will be a bus terminal (autobusni kolodvor) that sells bus tickets. There, you will be able to see the current bus timetables and purchase your tickets. Depending on the time of year you visit, bus prices may fluctuate, so it is best to check the latest pricing online or at the bus terminal itself.
Information for the major bus terminals can be found here:
Croatia by Train
The train system in Croatia is quite limited and is not as well connected as the bus system. There is also no train service that travels along the Croatian coast, making this option unsuitable for most visitors.
For this reason, I rarely ever recommend planning to explore Croatia via train.
Croatia Travel Tips: Advice for Solo Travelers
Croatia is generally a very safe country and violent crime is a rarity. However, it is important to use common sense and trust your gut just as you would anywhere else.
When traveling to Croatia, I recommend combining more popular destinations with those that are off the beaten path. This way, you get the opportunity to meet people in the busier locations, while still enjoying more local experiences in destinations that are less traveled.
Many travelers also like combining a visit to Italy and Croatia into one trip!
Stay in the Town Center
When booking your accommodation, I recommend staying in the town center if possible. This will often lead to unplanned discoveries and introduction to new people (or potential friends).
Choose Your Timing Carefully
The time of year you visit has the chance to make or break your visit to Croatia. If you can, I highly recommend visiting during the shoulder seasons, which includes the months of May and June as well as September and October.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the number of flights flying into and out of Croatia is reduced before and after the summer season. For this reason, it might be difficult to find good connections to destinations like Pula, Split, Dubrovnik, and Zadar. This is just something to take into consideration when planning your trip to Croatia.
Croatia is Officially Part of the Schengen
On January 1st, 2023, Croatia officially entered the Eurozone and the Schengen. What this means is that you can visit Croatia on a Schengen Visa, but once your visa expires, you will need to leave Croatia. It also means that Croatia’s former currency, the Kuna, has been officially replaced with the Euro.
Pickpocketing and petty theft happen much less in Croatia compared to other European nations, however, you still want to keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Being aware of your surroundings is important no matter where in the world you are, so a few key rules to follow are:
- Never let your purse hang from the back of your chair
- Don’t keep your phone or wallet in your back pocket
- If you’re at the beach, leave your belongings in a place where you can see them while swimming
Cash is King
While you can use credit cards in most shops and restaurants in Croatia, you will still want to carry cash with you. The majority of bars and cafes throughout the country are cash-only. If you are in a smaller town or village, you can expect to pay with cash at restaurants and even some local boutiques.
Remember: the official currency of Croatia is now the Euro, so you will want to have cash in Euro.
ATMs throughout the country are plentiful, as are money exchange offices, so it should not be a problem to withdraw or exchange cash if you need to.
Where to Travel After Croatia
Croatia’s central location makes it an excellent base for exploring the rest of Europe. It is in close proximity to a large number of fantastic countries worth exploring that can all be reached in just a few hours. If you are looking to continue traveling, you absolutely can.
Here are some nearby countries worth visiting:
Just north of Croatia is the beautiful country of Slovenia. Its lovely capital of Ljubljana is a short 2.5 hour bus ride from Zagreb, or it can be reached by car in just over an hour. Slovenia is a country that offers tons of natural beauty and is dotted with stunning national parks and alpine villages.
Austria, Vienna in particular, is a very popular destination among Croatians as it can be very easily reached by car. Vienna is a beautiful city made up of stunning architecture and gorgeous imperial palaces like Schönbrunn, the main summer residence of the Habsburg monarchy. This capital city can be reached in just over four hours by car when traveling from Zagreb.
Hungary is an incredible, yet underrated country in Europe that is definitely worth visiting. The capital of Budapest is just a 3.5 hour drive from Zagreb and is a cool city filled with hidden bars, unique neighborhoods, and magnificent architecture.
If you are traveling in the Istria region of Croatia, you may notice that it is quite reminiscent of Italy. That’s because Istria was once part of Italy! You can easily extend your trip from Croatia to Italy by hopping over to Venice via ferry from Rovinj or Pula. Alternatively, driving to Venice from Rovinj will take just over 3 hours by car.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
When traveling throughout southern Croatia, you might consider extending your trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina. The fascinating city of Mostar is a popular day-trip from Dubrovnik where people flock to admire the bridge and historic old town. If you have time, spend a few days exploring the rest of the country by checking out Kravice Falls and paying a visit to Sarajevo.
Montenegro is a gorgeous country located just a short drive away from Dubrovnik, making it the perfect choice for extending your travels. Montenegro offers many incredible experiences including the impressive Bay of Kotor, the beautiful Durmitor National Park, and the enchanting medieval town of Budva, just to name a few.
Croatia Solo Travel: Final Thoughts
Croatia is a country that, although growing in popularity, is still somewhat of a hidden gem. Its incredible food, breathtaking natural beauty, and great travel infrastructure make it an excellent choice for all types of travelers. Even more so, Croatia’s safety makes it a top destination for those who love exploring solo, or for those who are looking to embark on their first ever solo adventure.
Have more questions about traveling Croatia solo? I can answer them and give you personalized advice in a one-on-one call.
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