If Croatia isn’t on your dream destination list, it should be.
While the entire country has plenty to offer, the Dalmatian Coast is one if the biggest highlights. Especially for people like me: travel addicts who spend 8+ months of the year daydreaming about warm, sunny places.
In 2015 I finally got to explore Croatia’s coast. I spent just under three weeks playing in the sea and lounging on sunny beaches, exploring ancient cities and swimming in waterfalls. I visited four cities; Zadar, Split, Hvar, and Dubrovnik and would highly recommend Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast as a perfect destination for any solo traveller. Here’s why:
If you were to ask me where I felt the safest travelling alone, my answer would be Croatia. Specifically Zadar (mainly because it’s mostly locals and not as busy and hyped up as Split and Dubrovnik), however I never had an issue, or even thought I may have an issue, at any point of my time exploring the country.
As a solo female traveller I am used to standing out and being harassed by the men; whether they mean to be threatening or not. But it didn’t happen once in Croatia. Sure a few said hi to me or came over to talk, but they were always respectful (even at the clubs). Maybe I was just incredibly lucky, but I’m not going to complain because it was pretty awesome.
My feeling of safety wasn’t just in terms of not being harassed. I never felt like I needed to be overly alert. Either in terms of protecting myself or my belongings. I walked around by myself at night and even went swimming in the sea alone at 1am on my last night- just because I could and I wanted to. It didn’t occur to me til after the fact that it was a dumb thing to because I was alone. It’s definitely not something I would have considered doing anywhere else.
It’s Easy to Get Around
Getting around Croatia is a breeze. Renting a car is obviously an option but there’s no need to with the train and bus system. There are generally two types of buses: the fast buses and the slow ones. If you are in a rush, the fast ones are the best option. However if you have some time I highly recommend the slow ones. The drive is significantly more scenic (especially along the coast!). Buses do not have toilets but still stop for a break at a large station (just make sure you have coins as you do need to pay!)
To get to the islands you take the ferry. Again there are multiple choices, come a little faster than others but the main perk about there being so many options is that you don’t have to wait forever to get where you are going.
There are also plenty of public buses to the main attractions as well. For example to Krka (where you can swim in the waterfalls) or Plitvice National Park. You can also join tours to these sites as well but should there not be enough numbers you can always hop on a bus and go on your own. Your plans needn’t depend on anyone but you.
Hostels to Fit Your Travel Style
Hostels are generally a solo traveller’s best friend: they are budget friendly and allow you to meet people. But plenty of hostels are also party palaces and can end up leaving you exhausted and frustrated. While Croatia’s cities definitely have party hostels, there are plenty of low-key options as well. One of my favourites was Helvetia Hostel in Hvar. It’s run by a family who, while encouraging you to go out and enjoy Hvar’s famous night life, are quick to enforce silence for those staying in at night. Hostels like these are a great option and allow those who don’t like the party atmosphere (or need a break from it) without having to break the bank for a private room at a hotel.
Of course is hostels really aren’t your thing there are plenty of guesthouses, hotels, resorts, and airbnbs to choose from.
Opportunities to Meet Other Travellers
Even if you choose not to stay in a hostel, you will have plenty of opportunities to meet other travellers throughout Croatia. As well as the group tour options to some of the country’s attractions, there are plenty of city walking tours and pub crawls for those looking for a night out.
Croatia’s coast is also popular for sailing tourism and plenty of solo travellers climb aboard for a multi-day sailing and island hopping adventure. Of everywhere I’ve been, I found Croatia to be one of the easiest places to make friends.
It’s (Mostly) Budget Friendly
While Croatia has definitely risen in fame over the past few years, it’s still considered to be a very affordable place to travel. Dubrovnik is probably the most expensive city (mainly due to the surge in tourism courtesy of Game of Thrones) however even this medieval city can be explored on a budget.
Here’s some simple tips for keeping costs low while travelling through Croatia’s coastal cities.
– Consider staying outside of the old city itself (I stayed in a hostel in a local neighbourhood outside of Zadar– a 25 minute walk to Old Town but right by the beach, bus station, grocery store, and beach bar!)
-Eat local; there’s lots of delicious and fresh food in Croatia but stay away from ocean-side restaurants or restaurants flaunting the view- they up the price, but not the quality!
-Check out multiple companies before signing up for an activity or tour
-Visit during the shoulder season (May/June/September) before tourist season starts, but before things start to close off for the winter. It’s cheaper and less crowded. You’ll also be thankful for the (slightly) cooler temperatures during these months.
-Plan on staying in Split and Dubrovnik during the week (there’s a major influx in tourists on weekends mainly because of sailing trips. It’s not only cheaper during the week, but it’s also less crowded).
Tip: Looking for flights to Croatia? Check Skyscanner; they are my go-to for finding cheap flights.
Psst: Hoping to get some amazing travel photos of yourself? Have you considered booking a photoshoot with a local photographer? Localgrapher offers photoshoots around the world for solo travellers, couples, friends, and families. I did a shoot in Santorini and it was fun and resulted in amazing photos. Check out my experience here.
Must Have Travel Accessories for Solo Travel
I love solo travel, but it does mean I need to take some extra precautions. For any other solo travellers out there, especially my ladies, I highly recommend you pack the following:
- A lockable backpack for when you are in crowded areas and have nobody to keep an eye on your back.
- A whistle in case of an emergency. It’s an easy and reliable way to get attention worldwide
- A lightweight power bank. There is nothing worse than your phone dying when you are using it as a map!
- Activated charcoal for tummy troubles– the best solution when there is nobody you can count on to go to the pharmacy for you.
- Door stopper. Most hostels/hotels are safe, but if you are worried this will help you sleep better.
A Note on Travel Insurance in Croatia
Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine twice before (once for damaged luggage, once because I developed a lung infection while traveling). While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance. With prices starting at $37 for 4 weeks, they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.
*this post was updated Feb 2018