JayWay Travel

  • Travel planning starts with a good map!

    Travel planning starts with a good map!

    Why do bad trips happen to good people? Here are the top ten errors, misconceptions and mistakes of Croatia-bound travellers.

    1. Croatia is small.

    Occasionally someone will approach me for a consultation with a request like “I’d like to visit Istria, Plitvice Lakes and Dubrovnik with a stop at an island or two. I have a week”. Um, no. At 56,538 sq km Croatia is not gigantic but the coast is loooong. From Umag in northern Istria to Dubrovnik near Croatia’s southern tip is 725km or a good eight hour drive, without breaks. And that’s not even counting the islands, some of which are a good three hours by ferry from the coast. To return to Zagreb from Dubrovnik, count on spending at least 6 1/2 hours on the road. See a Croatia map.

    2. Ferries go everywhere.

    Yes and no. Every inhabited island has a car ferry connection to the coast that runs at least daily. Where tourists get into trouble is assuming that anyplace on the coast has a ferry connection to any island and that all islands are connected by ferry. In fact few islands are connected by ferry and those that are connected have passenger ferries only in the summer. The famous coastal ferry from Rijeka to Dubrovnik runs only twice a week in summer. See more on Croatia ferries.

    3. I can get accommodation on arrival.

    At the height of the season (like now for example), showing up without a reservation can be disastrous. There may be a few people holding up soba signs when you disembark your bus or ferry but I wouldn’t count on it. And neither the price nor the location is likely to be optimal. Off-season the situation is better but more and more apartment owners are renting online and see no need to hang around bus stations. In case of emergency, head to the local tourist office. See more about last-minute accommodation.

    4. Croatia is cheap.

    Not so much. Croatia provides good value for money and can be excellent value off-season when hotel prices start dropping. Groceries, petrol, clothes and car rentals are on par with the rest of Western Europe. Buses are cheap; car ferries are pricey. Restaurants can be relatively inexpensive outside tourist hotspots such as Hvar and Dubrovnik. Meat, pizza and pasta are cheap; fish is expensive. The sun and sea are free! See more on costs.

    5. I need a car to see everything.

    The public transportation system is excellent. Buses link all major towns and in summer there’s a wider choice of passenger ferries to the islands than car ferries. Travelling via public transport is slower, yes, but more convivial. With only a few days to visit an island however, you’ll see more if you rent a car for the day. See more on getting around Croatia.

    6. I need a cross-border card to visit Bosnia or Montenegro.

    If you rent a car in Croatia your insurance papers will cover day trips to Bosnia or Montenegro. Many car rental companies try to sell you a cross-border card but it’s not necessary.  If you bring a car from elsewhere in Europe, check your insurance papers.  See more on cross-border cards.

    7. I can plan my trip easily.

    If travel planning has you tearing your hair out, rest assured that you are not alone. Because of the long coastline and complicated ferry routes, planning a holiday can be tricky. Try not to cover too much. You cannot see everything in a week or two. Throw away the must-see lists and concentrate on what it is you really like. You do not “have to” see Dubrovnik or any other place. Croatia is a rich and varied country with more than enough to delight you wherever you find yourself. See sample itineraries.

    8. With my ticket for the car ferry I can drive up at the last minute.

    When you buy your car ferry ticket you do not have a reservation, only a ticket. It means that you are not assured to get your car on that particular ferry. If you are late and the ferry fills up, you’ll have to wait for the next one. When you buy your ticket (which you can do at any Jadrolinija office at any point) the agent will tell you how long in advance to arrive. Pay attention. See more about booking Croatia ferries.

    9.  I can put everything on my credit card.

    Hotels, car rentals, car ferries yes. Private accommodation is nearly always cash only and smaller restaurants and cafes may also only accept cash. Fortunately ATMs are everywhere. See more on money.

    10.  I’d like to visit several islands from one base.

    This is extremely dicey. In certain months it’s possible to do a day trip to Hvar island from Split and it’s always possible to visit Brac Island on a day trip but that’s about it from Split. From Dubrovnik, you can visit Mljet on a day trip in summer and Korcula on certain days in summer. The Elaphiti islands are always doable on a day trip from Dubrovnik. Again we get back to geography. Croatia’s major highlights are fairly elongated from each other and just a little too far to make day trips convenient. See more on Croatia’s islands.

    And by the way. . .Korčula is pronounced Korchoola NOT Korkula! (I just had to mention it)


    Velo Grablje, Hvar

    Croatia in the summer is not just about sunshine. Far from it! The evenings resound with music, much of it free. Nearly all coastal resorts scoop up musicians to enliven the town squares, churches and other venues. It’s an opportunity to showcase local talent and keep visitors entertained. Here are the best of the summer festivals and events:

    June 27-28

    Hvar Lavender Festival

    In the mountain village of Velo Grablje, Hvar Island, the festival celebrates Hvar’s most famous product

    Days of Frankopan

    In the coastal resort of Crkivenica, this historical festival presents medieval costumes, games and cuisine. More.

    June 27-June 29

    Kairos Festival

    Painting, dancing and street theatre are on display throughout Trogir.

    June 28

    Fireworks Festival

    In Opatija, the world’s best light up the Kvarner sky.

    June 27-July 5

    International Children’s Festival

    The latest games and toys, children’s performing ensembles, workshops, children’s art, enliven the streets of Sibenik for the 53rd year. More.

    July 4-6

    Liburnia Jazz Festival

    In Opatija, performances and workshops are a delight to the jazz-loving public. More.

    July 4-6

    Pop Music Festival

    Split has been holding this festival of light music for 53 years. More.

    July 7-9

    Garden Festival

    In Tisno, world-famous DJs attract massive crowds for one of Europe’s best music festivals. More.

    July 11-13

    Ultra Music Festival

    This prestigious festival attracts throngs to groove on club music in Split. More.

    June 25-July 25

    Rijeka Summer Nights

    Music both classical and pop interspersed with theatre fills all available venues in Rijeka. More.

    June 23-September 14

    Summer in Ston

    The ancient village of Ston showcases its history and features traditional Dalmatian klapa singing. More.

    July 26-27

    Cavtat Summer Carnival

    Street performances throughout Cavtat culminate in a klapa performance.

    July 1-August 31

    Istra Inspirit

    A series of events throughout Istria combines reenactments of events, museum tours and feasts to illuminate Istrian history and culture. More.

    July 5-August 15

    Music Evenings in St Donatus

    Zadar‘s 9th-century church is known for its excellent acoustics which enhance the classical music concerts here. More.

    July 10-August 25

    Dubrovnik Summer Festival

    The most prestigious of all the summer festivals, this one presents top-of-the-line theatre and classical concerts in venues throughout Dubrovnik. More.