I’ve been to Croatia a few times now and whenever I mention it to other people, they always question how when it seems so expensive.
Although it is one of the more pricier places I’ve visited, there are definitely ways to cut costs and still have an amazing trip.
For this year’s trip, me and boyfriend visited Kings Landing Dubrovnik. It was definitely A LOT more expensive in the city in comparison to our trip to Split the year before, but overall we ended up spending less as we had a smaller budget.
After a few quiet months freelancing we had no choice but to budget and to be honest, it wasn’t too bad and I didn’t feel like I missed out on a lot.
CUTTING COSTS WHILE BOOKING
Go out of season - The main season for Croatia is May to September, so by going in October the prices for both flights and accommodation were drastically different to what they would have been before (I’m talking hundreds per person!). Although the weather isn’t as great, we were still able to swim in the sea, sunbathe and didn’t wear a jacket all week!
Book flights and accommodation separately - our flights were gifted to me by Jet2.com (more on that soon), so we had no choice but to book our trip separately. Even though I knew I had to do this, I wanted to compare the difference between booking a package deal and booking everything independently and the difference was huge! Although we missed out on all-inclusive, we felt we didn’t miss this too much as we were hardly in our room.
Don’t be too picky when it comes to accommodation - obviously, you want something that’s clean and well looking after, but if you’re planning on spending a lot of time exploring then your room isn’t going to be one of the most important things to you. Sure, I was gutted we didn’t have a pool but it wasn’t the end of the world, especially when we only paid £300 for the whole week AND we were still in the city.
CUTTING COSTS ON EXCURSIONS AND ACTIVITIES
I didn’t quite realise how many excursions and activities there were until we got to Dubrovnik, but we ended up doing quite a few of them without blowing our budget.
Book directly with the vendor in the Old Town - Although it was tempting to book excursions beforehand, it was actually much cheaper (by around £15 per person) to book them with vendors when we got there. It also meant that we were able to judge what days were best to do tours based on the weather.
Decide what is most important to you - although I would have loved to have done everything, it just wasn’t possible at around £30 a go. We skipped out on a few things (including the cable cars and kayaking) in favour of an island tour, a trip to Lokrum, the city walls and a trip to Bosnia. I feel like we definitely made the right choices, and it was all affordable!
Choose excursions that have meals and drinks included - when booking the three island tour one of the selling points for us was that it included one meal and all inclusive drinks for the day - including wine. This means we didn’t need to buy anything while we were on the islands, and the price of the tour was literally all we spent that day.
Buy the Dubrovnik City Card - if you’ve read my blog before you’ll know that I am a huge fan of tourism board cards, and the Dubrovnik City Card was no exception! With 1, 3 and 7-day cards to choose from (costing no more than £30) you really can make a lot of savings. We bought the 3-day card which gave us our entrance into the city walls, unlimited bus journeys (to and from our room) and entrance and discounts to lots of other popular attractions across the city. We didn’t do everything the card allowed, but we still more than made our money back with everything we did.
CUTTING COSTS IN GENERAL
Don’t eat in the Old Town every day - although it may be tempting, the Old Town is VERY expensive and with tonnes of cruise tourists and Game of Thrones coming in every day you can see why. We only actually ate in the Old Town twice and opted for pizza and beer both times, as they worked out the cheapest options. If you do want to eat in the city every day, there are lots of hidden restaurants down side streets that are cheaper, as well as bakeries where you can try traditional Croatian pastries.
Cook at home - if you’ve booked yourself a room that has a kitchen (definitely advised) you will be able to cook meals at home. We bought lots of pasta, bread, meat and snacks and it came to about as much as it would have for a meal each in the Old Town. I agree it’s great to try different food in new countries, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Have quiet nights in - to be quite honest, our days were so busy that we were home by around 8 pm most nights. I’m not a fan of the notion that you have to be doing something ALL the time while you’re on holiday or travelling, so spending the evenings recuperating in our room was ideal. We took my laptop and an HDMI cable and watched a whole load of The Walking Dead. Perfect!
Research free things to do - when we were starting to worry that we’d run out of the budget, we started looking at free things to do and it turns out there are loads! Whether it’s watching the sunset at Sunset Beach, sifting at the edge of the harbour watching the world going by or walking around Lapad’s peninsula - some of the things that didn’t cost a penny were actually my favourite.
Buy bottles of water outside of the city and take them with you - although the price difference isn’t much, you can buy a big bottle of water for the same price as you can a small in the Old Town. Buy a few, keep them in your fridge and take them out each day! You’ll need it! There are also several water fountains dotted around the Old Town where you can top up, but I wasn’t brave enough to drink Croatia’s water after getting sick in Bali.
I’m always a fan of budgeting, as the less I spend, the more I can travel! Do you budget too?