Thanks to its miles of luxury beaches and resorts, this country heavily relies on travelers booking flights to Croatia. Croatia flights are filled with holiday travelers seeking sun and surf during the winter months and cruise ships docks millions of travelers a year on Croatia’s coastline. The most alluring part of Croatia is its abundance of land – despite the hoards of travelers that book flights to Croatia every year – there is always a secluded piece of land hidden among beach coves for visitors needing a little solitude.
Step into Croatia’s medieval past and explore ancient ruins, castles and churches that ooze history. Take a walk through Croatia’s tiny villages or the capital city of Zagreb and dine at one of the locally owned-restaurants before rejoining the masses in one of Europe’s most magnificent countries.
Undulating lavender hills on Hvar; the Unesco world heritage site of Dubrovnik and the unrivalled beauty of the Dalmatian coast are some of the main reasons tourists book flights to Croatia every summer. With thousands of kilometers of coastline on the Adriatic and more than a thousand islands, the country is a popular European destination for sun lovers. The surroundings to the predominantly rocky beaches are also stunning. Unending pine forests and mountains make the view inland just as attractive as that out to the turquoise sea.
Though the country’s tourism has completely recovered from the Yugoslav war of the early 1990s, evidence of the destruction is still apparent. A walk along the old city walls of Dubrovnik show a patchwork of roofs, some hundreds of years old, some replaced just a decade ago after the bombings. The coastal towns of Dubrovnik, Split and Rijeka are most visited by beachgoers, but inland Zagreb has plenty to offer sightseers. This is also the arrival point of most flights to Croatia, though transport from here to the coast is easy to find.
Book a flight to Croatia for utter relaxation in the midst of a rich culture.
Croatia has mild seasons all year, thanks to its coastal Mediterranean location. The summers are dry and hot, averaging temperatures around 80 degrees. The winters are fairly mild, with temperatures above freezing.
Peak Season: As one of the most popular beach vacation destinations in Europe, most flights to Croatia are packed during the summertime. Sun-worshipers of all ages from around the world find their hot-spot along Croatia’s coastline. As a result, resorts are more full between June and August and prices rise accordingly
Off-peak Season: Croatia experiences plenty of precipitation during the fall and spring seasons, but these transitional periods make for the best time to find cheap flights to Croatia. As the main draw of Croatia is its coast, the winter period (especially from November to February) is the low season for tourism. However, it is possible to ski in the mountains as there is often snow. Zagreb is rapidly becoming a tourist hotspot and is worth visiting at any time of year – even if the weather is freezing, there is enough to do inside. Lent and the accompanying carnival is another great time to fly: Rijeka is the place in which it is celebrated with the most enthusiasm.
The mountain range running north-south alongside the country’s sea protects the coastline from the worst of the winds and the cold weather, which means spring arrives early and autumn ends late. If you’re heading for the coast, therefore, it’s possible to swim from about May, and right up until October in Southern Dalmatia. This means that May-June and September-October are great times to visit. Avoid most other tourists, pay discounted prices for hotels and pick up cheap Croatia flights.
You’ll enjoy quieter hotels, beaches and restaurants if you secure your flight tickets for either spring or autumn. Autumn has the downside that temperatures are slowly starting to decline whereas spring is when the weather is really warming up. You’ll need to book your flights to Croatia at least 2 or 3 months in advance if you are planning to visit during the peak season. If you can be flexible with when you travel and where exactly you are planning to visit, then you’ll find the cheapest flights to Croatia.
Direct flights from the United States to Croatia are essentially nonexistent, so travel times can vary wildly depending on how many transfers you need to make and the length of each layover. Flights from New York tend to be the shortest at about 10 hours, while flights from Chicago and Miami tend to be closer to 11 or 12 hours. The shortest flights from Los Angeles tend to be around 13 hours.
There are three major international airports in Croatia, located in Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split. Although specifics may vary, all three work with a variety of European and Asian airlines. Some of the larger names include British Airways, Vueling and Lufthansa. Croatia Airlines is another popular regional choice, with numerous flights between Croatia and other European countries.
Unless you’re traveling in the dead of winter, beach wear is probably the most important thing to pack. In additional to the standard swimsuits, beach towels and bottles of sunscreen, toss in a pair of water shoes. Croatia’s beaches are notoriously rocky and can be painful to walk on barefoot. Bring along some sandals for getting to and from the beach, and pack some comfortable walking shoes. If you’re traveling in the wet winter months, bring along a raincoat and some waterproof boots. Even in the summer, pack some warmer layers if you plan to visit the mountains as it can be significantly cooler there.
Although casual, comfortable clothing is ideal for most tourist activities, pack one or two more stylish outfits in case you want to visit an upscale restaurant or go dancing at one of Croatia’s hip nightclubs. Bring along a phrasebook as well, as not all locals speak English.
The airport is located around 11 miles away from the city and there are a couple of ways to get you between the two. There is a bus which operates twice every hour which goes to the bus station around a 15 minutes’ walk away from the city center. This is ideal if you don’t have a lot of baggage with you or if you intend to hail a taxi from the bus station. Your other option is to take a taxi straight from the airport. You’ll be able to get directly into the city easier this way but you’ll need to part with more money than the bus. It’s also worth making sure you agree on the price before getting in.
With Split you are limited to either hailing a taxi or taking a bus. Once your flights to Croatia have landed you’ll want to look for bus number 37 or bus number 38. Both go to the city although the 37 is quicker. You can also pre-arrange for a bus to collect you from the airport, although this isn’t really necessary unless your flight tickets have you flying in very late. Taxis are available from outside of the airport and if you are travelling with a friend and can split the fare then this can be a worthwhile option.
You can take the airport shuttle to the city of Pula relatively easily. Once you’ve booked your flights to Croatia you can go online and secure your bus ahead of time or just buy a ticket once you arrive. The shuttle buses can go to other cities too such as Rovinj and Porec so make sure you get on the right bus. Taxis are another option and if you have a lot of luggage then it might be easier to find one outside of the airport and just go straight to the city that way.
Internal Croatia flights are the quickest way of getting around and are available between all major destinations, such as Split, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Zadar and Pula. Croatia Airlines is the national carrier.
Regular, efficient ferries in the summer time serve Croatia’s coastline, though in the off-season ferry schedules are restricted. This is certainly not the quickest route – ferries from Rijeka to Split, for example are overnight, whereas you could drive in four hours – however it is easily the most attractive and one of the best ways to see the country. The ferries are run by Jadrolinja (pronounced “yad-ro-lin-eeah”) and are very reasonably priced. For travel to some of the more remote islands, ferry is obviously the only option.
Buses are available throughout most of the country and tend to be the quickest form of public transport. They are often more expensive than the trains, though not as comfortable. The rail network is relatively good, but any travel along the coast, or from the coast to Zagreb, is far easier accomplished by bus. The coastal path from Rijeka down to Dubrovnik offers some wonderful landscape and views of the azure sea.
Cars can easily be hired and driving is easy. Most roads are in a good state of repair for travel between the more popular tourist destinations.
Many Croatian activities center around the beaches and coastline. The rocky pebble beaches create crystal clear waters, so snorkeling and scuba diving are particularly popular. Keep an eye out for shipwrecks and historical artifacts that dot the shoreline. Sailing is another popular activity. Hire a passenger boat or take a ride on the ferry to explore the numerous islands, such as quaint, old-fashioned Brac.
Inland Croatia is also home to numerous natural wonders. Tour Plitvice Lakes National Park, which features stunning waterfalls and tranquil lakes. This park features a network of wood plank trails for easy navigation. For a more strenuous hike, head to Paklenica National Park, which is home to the country’s highest peak and boasts world-class rock climbing opportunities for more adventurous travelers.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll find an endless amount of sites to explore. Visit the Old City quarter of Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring buildings dating to the 13th century. Tour the walled city of Motovun in Istria, where you can stroll along the top of medieval fortifications before stopping in at one of the popular restaurants or cafes. Check out Zadar, a stunning seaside town that features Roman ruins built more than 2,000 years ago.
Croatia is also known for its fine foods, particularly wine and olive oil. Visit one of the country’s high-quality olive oil producers, such as Oleum Viride, Chiavalon or Kabola Estate, to learn more about how the oil is produced and to experience a tasting of the different varieties. Take a wine tour of the island of Hvar to learn more about traditional winemaking techniques and taste delicious local vintages. For dinner, head to the coast and savor the taste of fresh seafood from one of the many restaurants featuring fresh-caught local fish.
Flying out of Croatia can be quite convenient. If you’re leaving from Zagreb, use the modern ZET bus to get to the airport inexpensively and efficiently. With departures every 35 minutes, it’s easy to plan your arrival at the airport. Dubrovnik and Split also have bus services to the airport, but their schedules may vary. Taxis are widely available around all three airports.
Since American travelers have to stop in another European city anyway, it can be convenient to plan to spend a few days there. Most major cities, including Paris, Munich and London, are between one and three hours away from Croatia by air, and several flights depart daily. Croatia’s close proximity to Italy makes it particularly easy to tour both. Croatia Airlines and Vueling have multiple flights from Croatia to Rome each day, with most departing from Split.
(prices quotes are from London)