Have you ever heard so much hype about a country that you feel like you just HAVE to go!? Croatia. The name itself sounds like an intoxicating oasis full of beautiful beaches, palm trees and crystal blue waters with a side of ancient history. Frankly this paradise is exactly what I was expecting, but wound up a little disappointed.
Maybe it was because I was hearing so much hype about the place from fellow travelers, or maybe because these beautiful waters have been cluttering my instagram feed for years? I ended up taking a bus from Bosnia to Croatia on a whim. Hoping for a relaxing work-cation with a view, but didn’t really find what I was looking for.
What I did find was a very westernized European country swarming with tourists, as well as a perfect place to party by boat. Doesn’t exactly sound like the perfect place for a digital nomad wanting to get some work done. However if you’re looking for a vacation, a stopover between surrounding countries, a party boat with other travelers, or a temporary home office, Croatia has something to offer you.
Getting to Croatia
If you’re visiting Croatia you should absolutely be visiting Bosnia and Montenegro too! Buses are pretty inexpensive, only 30.46hrk (4.62USD) each way and will take you around half a day to get to Split or Dubrovnik from either country.
This is a great option if you’re taking a trip to Italy or already working remotely. Consider taking a ferry over from Venice, Pesaro, Pescara or Bari. It’s a long route, but a great way to get some work done and take a break on a boat. There’s also lots of surrounding islands you can build into your itinerary such as Hvar, Korcula or Brac.
The major cities in Croatia such as Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik have international airports with daily direct flights from most major European cities. As it is increasing in popularity, there are more and more direct flights being added each tourist season. It’s only a two and a half hour flight from London and a 10 hour direct flight from Philadelphia.
Travel in a Group:
This is a great option for people that are heading to Croatia to relax and party…not so much for the working digital nomad. There are a ton of options for a party boat week in Croatia, but I will highlight two popular options:
Busabout is one of the most popular ways to see Croatia. They have the most amount of boats running and they run well into October! You can even do a well-planned one way Croatia route from Split to Dubrovnik (or vice versa!) and islands in between. Busabout also has a really popular Balkan’s trip where you spend two weeks traveling around Croatia, Montenegro and Greece. It’s perfect for travelers that wanted to see more than just one country.
The Croatia route was The Yacht Week’s original route when they first began in 2006. Since then, it’s become THE spot for a week of partying floatilla style- a lot of smaller boats that travel around together. The Yacht Week has really put Croatia on the map for American tourists and although it’s one of the more expensive options, you get awesome perks like private sunset parties. Another alternative is their competitor Sail Week
When to go
I recommend going to Croatia in the low season November-April or shoulder season in May and September-October. Although there will always be tourists coming to Croatia, it won’t be completely sweltering hot and jam packed like it is during the high season of June-August. If you want to explore the cities or hike the countryside, you will appreciate going in cooler weather.
After a hectic travel day missing our first bus to Dubrovnik, we arrived in the Old Town to chaotic streets with thousands of tourists coming off of cruise ships. It was insanity. Our Airbnb host explained that this was only 20% of what we would have experienced if we were here during high season. I suddenly became very thankful it was October. The popularity of The Yacht Week and Game of Thrones combined with it being a popular cruise ship port has really turned Dubrovnik into a city filled with tourists in the warmer months.
Every single day 2-6 cruise ships drop their passengers off for the day. As soon as the clock strikes 9am, it becomes a zoo in the Old Town. This lasts until about 2-4pm when they all have to shuffle back onto the ship. Because of this, I recommend booking a hostel or Airbnb outside of the Old Town. You’ll be able to get away from the overpriced food, Game of Thrones shops and tourists.
Where to work:
We spent a lot of our time working in our airbnb in Croatia since there was no co-working close to where we stayed inside the Old Town in either Split or Dubrovnik (Dubrovnik having no co-working spaces at all). Split has four co-working spaces outside of the old town, and a great coffee shop to work right in town. Just be sure to get there early to grab a seat!
TIP: if your lodging is suffering from weak internet, and can’t find a coffee shop to work in, turn to the hotels. In most countries you will always be able to find a chain hotel that has open lobby space, a cafe, and fast internet for you to use. Just be sure to order something and add a tip. It’s a nice break from the crowds and you’ll feel luxurious for the day. I’ve found the best rooftops this way!
A very touristic and the most popular city, but that’s not to say you still shouldn’t pay a visit if you’re in Croatia! Just be sure to stay outside the Old Town so you can live more like a local and not get stuck between floods of people.
Because it’s so touristic, there are no co-working spaces available so make sure you book lodging that you like, for you may spend a lot of your days working from there. The good thing that comes with touristic places? They always have luxurious hotels that have impeccable wifi, so definetely explore your options–– who doesn’t like a rooftop workspace with a pool?
continue reading the full guide: digital nomad’s guide to Dubrovnik, Croatia
Split has a lot to offer as the second most-popular city to visit in Croatia. It’s a great place to stay and work as well as visit historic sites. Not only do they have co-working options (unlike Dubrovnik) but plenty of cafes to work in as well.
In Split, you’ll be able to divide your time quite nicely from working at one of their famous coffee shops, taking a walking tour and visit the iconic Bell Tower and Cathedrals, spend your weekends at the beach (and beach clubs), and enjoy the local nightlife at one of the Jazz lounges and nightclubs.
continue reading the full guide: A Digital Nomad’s guide to Split Croatia
Normally an island full of partying it was quite dead when I was there due to the season. Very similar to the other cities in Croatia it was filled with narrow pedestrian streets, beautiful views, and tourist shops to get souvenirs.
You can take a day trip here like I did with a tour through a local hostel, or take a ferry and spend a couple nights. I recommend just a weekend visit as finding places to work is minimal. So enjoy a nice Saturday, buy some local champagne and walk around the town!
Travel with other travelers
Besides the floating festival, otherwise known as Yacht Week, there are some less partying options for digital nomads. Busabout, is a great option that gives you more flexibility and has a hop-on-hop-off model. They have a lot of different destinations and transportation, including Croatia. I like to think of it as a hostel on a boat. It’s for 14 days rather than a week, 30 people on the boat as opposed to 6.
The other companies include Med Sailors, Sail Croatia and Go Croatia Sail. The most important thing is to decide what kind of experience you want, for how long, and what your budget is.
Charter a boat
Depending on your budget and number of people you’re traveling with, this is a great option. There are many sites like Samboat and Zizoo where you can pick anything from a small motor boat for the day to a catamaran and sailboat with a skipper and cabins.
It’s kind of like airbnb for boats, so it’s recommended to book in advance. Depending on the size and kind, you will need a boating license, which you can obtain in Croatia. If you already have a boating license from your home country, they accept some and not others, so be sure to do your homework.
If you want to sit back and relax and not worry about having a license at all, I’d opt for hiring a skipper. Although this option may be more expensive, if you have a big group it could be a great way to have a private boat tour of the islands.
Take a day trip
The great thing about Split is that it makes for a great home base. The islands, Krka National Park or the Plitvice Lakes National Park are not too far away.
Montenegro is also a popular destination from Dubrovnik and is easily accessible by car! In fact, many travelers actually prefer Montenegro to the touristy Croatia. If you’re based out of Split, you can easily take a day trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina and see the beautiful sites in Mostar.
Although they make for great day trips, I highly recommend spending more than just one day in Montenegro or Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Lowdown on Croatia:
Currency: Croatian Kuna (HRK) 1kn = $0.15 USD AND Euro.
Languages: Croatian (English is widely spoken)
Population: 4.1 million
Religion: Majority Catholic
Tipping: waitstaff 10%, taxis 0
Getting around: Very walkable cities, Uber is also available
Foods to try:
- Black risotto, black & white truffles, octopus salad, whole roasted lamb, grilled sardines, dry-cured ham, local cheese, fritule doughnuts, local beer, fresh fish
- Burek – (baked pastries filled with cheese or meat) starting from 12 kuna to 20 kuna, these are hearty and delicious. You MUST try one while in Croatia (and most likely more afterwards!)
- Soparnik – a thin double-crust pizza filled with spinach or blitva (chard) for 10 to 12 kuna
- Pizza – range from 10 to 50 kuna depending on ingredients and you can find really good ones at Italian pizzerias
- Viska pogaca, a type of pie from the island of Vis with anchovies, onion and tomato for approx 25 to 30 kuna. Another must try Croatian delicacy!
- Cevapi or Cevapcici – grilled beef and pork rolls with onions served in a thin bun called lepinja, together with ajvar (a relish of red peppers, with garlic). Mouth watering and really cheap – prices varying greatly based on the number you’re ordering.
Price: Because it’s a popular destination, it’s not the cheapest. Travelers will often pay more than locals because of it being so touristy. Backpackers should plan on spending €75/$85 a day with a mid-range budget being €150/$165 a day (this includes lodging, meals, alcohol and tours)
Safety: Croatia is a very westernized country, it’s definitely safe. But as always when you’re traveling keep your belongings close to you. It is very touristy, and heavy tourism brings petty theft. I got my sunglasses swiped from me on the Riva Promenade while capturing ice cream photos and have 100% put the blame on myself.
Digital Nomad Communities: Digital Nomads Croatia
Wifi: Average speed 15mbps