Solo Travel in Croatia
This country is so open to tourism that it is easy to solo travel in Croatia. It’s a popular tourist destination with great infrastructure, good transport systems and so many places to stay. No matter which destination you visit, you’ll meet friendly locals and other travellers too. Croatians are proud of their county and heritage and have a love for life. Being helpful and accommodating means you will feel really welcome here. Croatia is popular with Australians and New Zealanders who come to explore the country on a sailing trip. The whole country is not only beautiful but it has a comfortable vibe.
Croatia was once a destination kept under the radar, but nowadays sees this Mediterranean country rapidly growing as a tourist destination with old towns, diverse islands and a vibrant night scene all adding to its appeal for both older and younger solos.
Sharing borders with Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia is part of former Yugoslavia and declared independence in 1991 causing the Croatian conflict which lasted until 1995. Nowadays this peaceful country attracts those who come for its dramatic coastline, Renaissance walled towns and of course, its Croatian charm.
Known as the ‘pearl of the Adriatic,’ the City of Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its timeless beauty makes it a mecca for history lovers. Once a great trading hub, the city is now one of the biggest tourist destinations in the Mediterranean city with outside cafes and a quaint marina.
Exploring is the key here and if you love meandering around a gorgeous old town through secret alleyways then Dubrovnik is the place to get lost or just enjoy some seafood and people watch. The city walls are one of the best preserved in Europe making it an ideal background for the Game of Thrones scenes which were filmed here. Learn more about the city’s past with a scenic cable car ride and a visit to the war museum. Looking out at one of the most iconic images of Croatia, it’s hard to believe that this was once a town that had been bombed only 24 years before.
If tranquility and stunning waterfalls are on your solo bucket list then the Plitvice Lakes has to be visited. Known for lakes, alpine forests and heavenly waterfalls, it has some of Europe’s oldest woodlands and was once called “the devil’s gardens,” because of its dense forests. Today you’ll find well sign-posted hiking trails through its magical landscape making it easy to explore this natural region for yourself.
Croatia has made quite a name for itself on the festival scene too. Visit in the summer and you’ll be dancing to world class DJs in your flip flops. Hvar is also a popular destination for partygoers. There is even a party island with an exclusive nightclub for those who want to take the water ferry across. Taste some of the country’s best wine at Stari Grad, on the northern side of Hvar, and one of the oldest towns in Europe.
The capital of Croatia, Zagreb is the largest city and is also a vibrant one with plenty of parks and Habsburg architecture to admire. Zagreb has a big cafe culture and even in the winter you’ll find locals sitting al fresco underneath heated lamps sipping their coffee or whiling away their evenings in one of the bohemian bars at Tkalciceva Street. Located at the foothills of Mt. Medvednica, the city has an Upper and a Lower Town and is easy to get around within a few hours. A small funicular railway runs from the Upper Town to the Lower Town where you’ll find many of the museums. Visit in the summer for free cultural festivals.
Having a 3000 year history means that Zadar is a city rich in heritage with plenty of ancient history to lose yourself in amongst pastel coloured buildings. Marble streets gleam back at you as you wander past Roman ruins, ancient monuments and archaeological gems from the Renaissance and Medieval times.
Rovinj is a little gem which many people miss off their Croatia itinerary. On the west coast of the Istrian peninsula, this charming fishing port has a bit of an Italian feel to it. It was once of the most important towns in Istria under the Republic of Venice and is now a romantic Mediterranean town. But you don’t need a partner to visit this small coastal city, just yourself and your sense of adventure will do.
Split is the gateway to the islands and where most of the sailing trips depart from but there is another reason for visiting Croatia’s second largest city. Diocletian’s Palace is one of the most impressive Roman ruins in the world and this ancient fortress now forms the old town of Split. Inside you’ll find cafes, shops and bar-hoppers amongst the few thousand residents who live within the UNESCO-protected remains.
Then there are the day trips. Visit Trogir, a Croatian island which resembles a small Split with a pretty fortress and medieval streets to wander around. Or explore the architectural gems of Sibenik, a coastal destination which is fast-becoming a place to visit. From here you can Krka National Park, another of the country’s regions of nature.
If you choose to go island hopping, Vis is the furthest island from the coast and was once a military base. Mljet is an island to escape the crowds and fall in love with nature. Known as the “Green Island” it is abundant in vegetation with panoramic coastlines and reefs to explore. Rab is also one of the greenest islands in the Adriatic and has a historic town dating back to 360 BC. Lastovo remains relatively untouched and is off the beaten path (or sail) with an air of Croatian mystery.
If you love medieval history, walled old towns, islands, partying and festivals then solo travel in Croatia could be the perfect experience.
How Long Do I Need?
There are so many lovely places to see that you should definitely spend a week here. Even Dubrovnik itself is worth three days at least. Spend a week travelling from Dubrovnik up to Split stopping at Korcula and Hvar, or longer to include Zadar, Pltivice Lakes, and finishing in Zagreb.
Accommodation in Croatia
There is such a wide choice of accommodation that you can find anything from a bed in a hostel to a studio apartment. Even universities open up their rooms during the summer months so you can get a private room for a bargain price. Plus there’s Airbnb where you can stay with locals. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
But with so many places to stay it can be a bit confusing choosing the right accommodation especially if you are on a budget.
Click here for a list of the best accommodation in Croatia for solos as recommended by our Girls about the Globe.
If you feel more comfortable in a group for either part of your trip or the whole duration, G Adventures is a responsible tour company which mainly caters towards budget travellers. Most tours have an average of 10 people and there is no upper age limit. Once you book your trip you pay extra for any excursions you want to do when you’re there.
Starting from 7 day trips from Zagreb to Dubrovnik you can explore Croatia overland or on a sailing trip. If you are planning to explore the Balkans, they also offer trips to Montenegro and Bosnia. If you have longer than 2 weeks you can travel with them down to Greece or explore 9 countries within a month with their classic tour. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company.
Intrepid Travel is similar to G Adventures with an average of 12 people on each tour. Over 50% of people using their trips are solo travellers. They tend to use hotels instead of hostels and have a more comfortable style of accommodation hence the trips can appear a bit more costly than G Adventures.
Trips start from an 8 day Croatia Sailing Adventure from Split to Dubrovnik, to a 29 day Vienna to Dubrovnik trip. With both tour companies you share a room with someone of the same gender or you can pay extra for your own room.
MedSailors – If you’ve ever wanted to sail around the Mediterranean but have no experience as a sailor, then hop aboard a Medsailors tour instead. Medsailors arrange sailing trips to Croatia where you get a chance to try out your sailing skills (if you feel inclined too). Catering for 18 to 35 year olds, the sailing trips are week-long. As a solo you get paired up in a cabin.
- Viator – Viator offers tours with insiders in various destinations in Croatia. Take the Game of Thrones Walking Tour in Dubrovnik, visit the Plitvice Lakes or head the islands with some company in tow.
- Secret Zagreb – Explore the secret side of the city on a Secret Zagreb Walk or take one of their ghost tours instead and learn about notorious witch hunts and dark Croatian writers.
- Zadar Walking Tour – You can easily do your own walking tour around Zadar especially the Old Town but if you prefer the chance to meet others and learn about what you are seeing join a walking tour like this one.
Travelling Around Croatia
Hiring a car is easy but the Croatian drivers do drive a bit erratically so take care if you decide to hire a car. The country is beautiful is drive around and the road from Split to Dubrovnik is a stunning scenic one which takes you through the border of Bosnia. To hire a car I recommend pre-booking your car hire so you can collect your car when you arrive at the airport.
The country is well connected with frequent buses which are reasonably priced. There are also trains which connect the major cities. If you are short on time then taking a tour or hiring a car for the day is the quickest way to visit places out of the way.
If you’re planning on spending some time on the islands then consider a sailing trip. Not only is this a great way to see more than one island but you also get to sleep onboard a yacht and experience the coastline. Travelling as a solo means that you’ll have to share a cabin with someone else unless you pay for two. If you are on a budget then the cheapest way to see the islands are by ferry. Taxi boats can take you anywhere you want to go.
They also have Uber in Dubrovnik. Uber is a driver app where each driver is vetted beforehand, and you can see the driver’s picture and registration number before they arrive. Save up to $20 off your first ride with Uber using promo code RIDINGUBER20.
From The Airport
From Zagreb Airport – Buses run from the airport to Zagreb’s main bus station. Pleso Prijevoz leaves every half an hour from early morning until 8pm and takes 40 minutes. From the main station you can take tram 6 to the city centre.
From Dubrovnik Airport – From the airport it’s 30 minutes in a taxi and will cost you approx 300 HRK. Save your pounds by taking an airport shuttle instead which stops at Pile Gate (easy to access the old town) and also the Gruz Port bus station.
From Zadar Airport – Zadar has its own airport but it’s easy to get here from Split or Zagreb. There are airport buses from Zadar which run from the airport terminal to the Old Town and bus and train station and take approx 30 minutes.
Croatia borders Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro. Being on the border of so many countries means that you have a wide choice of places to travel to next. You can even travel across the water to Italy.
To Italy – You can reach Italy by ferry from either Hvar which goes to Pescara, Zadar to Ancona, or Rovinj to Venice. Direct Ferries have timetables.
To other European countries
Buses – International buses run from Zagreb to other European countries such as Austria, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Slovenia. Travel from Dubrovnik to the Bay of Kotor (a stunning place).
Train – Or catch a train which although may be a bit slower, can be a good way of seeing the scenery. Trains go to Germany, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Hungary and Austria. The main train station in Zagreb takes credit cards and the staff speak really good English.
Where can I go from here?
Bosnia – 50 mins
Austria – 1 hr 10 mins
Serbia – 1 hour
- Can I drink the water? Yes but check with where you are staying first.
- Is tipping expected? Yes. Leave at least 10% if you can.
- Fixed price or barter? Usually fixed price.
- Any ATMs? Yes.
- Which side of the road do they drive? The right-hand side.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes.
- Any seven wonders of the world? No but Dubrovnik's Old Town should be.
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Capital – Zagreb
Population – 4.253 million
Language Spoken – Croatian
Best Time to Go – July & August
Did you know? Scenes from the Game of Thrones were filmed in Dubrovnik.
Go eco camping on the island of Krk with Eco Camping Glavotok.
Stay in a beautiful cottage in the vineyards of Dubrovnik.
Stay in a tent or forest lodge on Obonjan Island.
Experience the culture of Croatia during their May to September festivals.
Learn how to cook Croatian style with Culinary Croatia.
Sample the olive oil and wine on a day trip from Split
SOS Children’s Villages works with families who have children with mental and physical disabilities.
Mind Body & Soul
Enjoy hot springs and thermal spas on the Istrian peninsula at Istarske Toplice and nearby towns.
Summersalt Yoga offers yoga retreats combined with adventures such as SUP yoga or one for foodies.
Take part in a holistic yoga and healing retreat at Suncokret Retreat.
Treat yourself at the luxurious wellness and spa centre at Hotel Dubrovnik Palace.
Issues in the Country
Children from the Roma community face discrimination in Croatia. Not only do these children have the highest school drop-out rate in the country but their families suffer the highest rates of mortality and unemployment.