Monday, June 19, 2017

Getting Around Croatia

Dubrovnik from the Old City Wall

Nights Spent in Croatia: 4 nights
Cities Visited: Dubrovnik, Hvar, Zadar, Plitvice National Park, and Zagreb
Transportation: planes, ferries, and buses

Whenever I am in Europe I like making the most of my time and traveling to more than one country since it's very easy to do. This time around, we chose to go visit Croatia! Tizzy and I had heard and seen some amazing pictures and stories of the country, we wanted to check it off our bucket list. We only had 4 nights so we tried to make the most of it by exploring a different city each day, overall it was a great time and we wished we had more time to explore!

This post will be a breakdown of how we planned everything and about how much we spent getting ourselves around the country. At first we contemplated renting a car since we were planning going from one end of the country to the other (like 375 miles apart), but then can you imagine the bickering that would go down between Tizzy and me?! So glad we didn't go that route lol. Plus learning a foreign countries traffic rules.... is completely foreign to me! Anyways, we went the public transportation route.

Booking Flights:
We all had roundtrip tickets flying in and out of Munich to the States, so when we were booking our Croatia flights, we ended up booking 2 separate flights, since we were closer to Zurich, Switzerland when flying out, we booked Zurich to Dubrovnik, Croatia and then Zagreb, Croatia back to Munich. I also chose for us to fly out of Zagreb because there were direct flights back to Munich and not some roundabout way, with horrible layovers lol. Our flight there, we had a terrible layover, we went from Zurich layovered in Barcelona then to Dubrovnik, which took us 8 hours. If we had flown direct it would've only taken 2 hours, and if you look at a map, flying to Barcelona was backtracking... anyways, things you do for cheap flights!

We booked 2 months ahead of time so the price breakdown of our flights were:
Zurich to Dubrovnik via Vueling: $100
Zagreb to Munich via Luftansa: $200

Booking Airbnbs:
Tizzy and I browsed through Aribnb and there were so many options we were slightly overwhelmed. We ended picking the places we did by the good reviews, the cost, and the pictures. Location should've weighed in, but since we didn't know the cities, we chanced it and it didn't turn out too bad.

First city we stayed in was Dubrovnik: Studio with laundry $55
Location wise, this place was the least desirable since we were far from the old city and had to walk over a mile to get to the main attractions. There were buses but they didn't seem to run on the posted schedules. One of the perks of this place was that it had a washing machine though! After 7 days in Europe we were in desperate need of doing laundry, so this place worked out well overall. It had a full kitchen but the burners were crap and it took us an hour to hard boil some eggs for breakfast.
My rating: 3/5

Second city we stayed in was Hvar: Apt w/ View $90
This was, hands down, both Tizzy and my favorite place we stayed. It had an AMAZING view and the apartment was brand new it felt. Location wise, it was really good. It was an easy walk from where the ferry dropped us off and the next morning it was a short walk to the Fortica (an old fort in Hvar). We utilized this place's kitchen for dinner and made ourselves a meal as well. It had a great balcony to sit and enjoy the sunset!
My rating: 5/5
Hvar Airbnb

3rd city we stayed in was Zadar: Studio with A/C $40
We spent the least amount of time in this one. We had gotten in at 1:00 AM, slept for a few hours, and left by 7:30 AM to catch a bus to Plitvice from here. Location wise, we took a taxi from the main bus station the night we got in, and the next morning we walked it. It was about a mile away from the bus station. So location wise, it was ok but it was a super duper clean apartment! You also can't argue with $40/night.
My rating:4/5

Zadar Airbnb

4th city we stayed in was Zagreb: Apt in the Heart of the City $70
Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and the location of this apartment was perfect. We were right next to the bar district, and easily walked to the shops and the daily farmers market from it. What made this apt so great was the host. He let us store our luggage after check out, and even offered to drive us to the airport for 25 Euros, which took a lot of stress off us in finding transportation. My only gripe about this place was it felt like people had smoked in it previously, and there was noticeable black mold in the bathroom, so this was the least clean place out of the 4 airbnbs we stayed in.
My rating: 4/5

Public Transportation:
I had originally wanted to book buses and ferries ahead of time, but we chanced it by booking when we got there, and it worked out fine. I mean, some situations could've been a lil better, but overall we got to where needed to go lol.

We took a bus from the airport to the city the first day for about $10/person. We just walked off the plane and followed the bus signs and found our way.

The next day we needed to take a ferry to Hvar, and we found a schedule online saying there was only one boat time, 4:30 pm. So the next morning we went looking for ferry tickets first before we explored Dubrovnik. It was a 3 hour ferry ride, and the fare was around $30/person. Because the ferry left later, we had plenty of time to explore the city!

Once we got to Hvar, we were told by our airbnb host that we should buy our next day's ferry ticket that night since she was afraid they would sell out. But we chanced it and waited till the next morning. The next morning, we went looking for ferry tickets and were told there was only one boat out of the area, and would be leaving at 7:45 pm. Ideally I hadn't wanted to stay that late on the island because, it was a 1.5 hr ferry ride, then another 2 hour bus ride to our next destination. But the other option to get off of the island Hvar was to take a bus to the other side of the island and catch the car ferry, that sounded too complicated so we sucked it up and took the 7:45 pm ferry out. Fare was also around $30/person

The ferry from Hvar took us to the city of Split where we walked to the bus station and bought bus tickets to Zadar. We waited around for an hour before the bus came, and we got into Zadar a little before 1:00AM. Bus fare was around $25/person.
The ferry boat!

From Zadar we took a bus to Plitvice National Park. I felt this was the most stressful of buying last minute transportation tickets. We couldn't buy the bus tickets the night before because the booths were closed. We looked online, and saw the first bus out was at 8:00AM and the websites said we had to have printed tickets so we couldn't buy them online, we didn't have anywhere to print them. So the next morning we got to the bus station 30 min before our bus left and were able to buy the tickets at the counter! Score! It was also around $30/person. From Plitvice we were heading to Zagreb so we couldn't buy that bus fare in Zadar, but were told we could get it at the national park.

Our bus fare from Plitvice to Zagreb was around $25/person. Overall, looking back, we dropped a fair amount of money on transportation in Croatia! Add it all up it was about $150 per person, not including the 25 Euros ride to the airport. I am not sure if we could have gone cheaper though if we booked ahead of time. But that is still cheaper than renting a car or flying from one city to the other.

So overall, flights + airbnbs + transportation = $550-600 total per person

Overall, Croatia is an amazing country. It has so much history and it was so beautiful! Next time I go to Croatia, I think I would want to set aside 10 days instead of trying to see it in 4 days. Also, I felt so safe in this country! Unlike when you go to Barcelona or Rome, you worry about pickpocketers and taxi drivers trying to rip tourists off. I felt none of that in any of the cities in Croatia.

Until next time Croatia!
 Tourists inside the old city wall
1500 residents still reside inside the old city wall of Dubrovnik
Mussels! Yummm
Cliff jumping in Dubrovnik
 View from our balcony in Hvar
View from the Fortica in Hvar
 Map of Plitvice National Park
  Felt like we were in Hawaii!
Such a beautiful place, Plitvice National Park
 Boardwalks everywhere!
My first national park abroad!
 Zagreb Cathedral
Zagreb Funicular (only cost 50 cents to ride it!)

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