People Also Ask Google: Is Croatia Expensive or Cheap?

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The view I fell in love with. Panorama Penthouse Jelsa on Hvar.
The view I fell in love with. Panorama Penthouse Jelsa on Hvar.

If I had a dollar for every time I have been asked how expensive Croatia is, I would have been able to buy my own superyacht with permanent mooring on the Hvar waterfront. Is it a simple question, with many layers of answers. Let’s dive in.  

Is Croatia cheap or expensive? Where are you looking from?

As with most things, it depends on who is asking. Croatia appears much more expensive if you are living here and working on a Croatian salary. The money I earn here compared to what I was earning back in the UK means that my spending power is a lot less here. But then so are the stress levels, and one can’t knock the lifestyle. But if you are a tourist from Scandinavia, for example, Croatia is incredibly cheap by comparison – the same continent, just three hours by plane with sunshine more or less guaranteed most of the year. 

Is Croatia expensive for tourists?

Again it depends to a large extent where you go. My local bar in Varazdin in the north charges me 12 kuna for a half-litre of beer, and I fondly remember paying 55 kuna on Stradun, the poshest address in the old town of Dubrovnik. Croatia is as expensive as you want to be. I know of Russians who think nothing of blowing 30,000 euro on a good lunch at Gariful on Hvar, while round the corner you can eat well for 15 euro. 

The tourist hotspots are obviously more expensive and (in some parts at least) getting more expensive. It is also the case, however, that choice is expanding rapidly, and real quality added to the tourism offer. 

Visiting Croatia and on a budget? Don’t head for the top spots in peak season. There is an incredible amount to be discovered both in continental Croatia and on the coast and islands away from the popular spots where prices are much more affordable.  

How to get the ‘local’ price even if you don’t speak Croatian?

It is illegal under EU law to have dual pricing (as I understand things), but it is common practice, not only in Croatia but in many places. The ‘local’ price is reserved for friends, regulars and anyone the owner feels like indulging. If you point out the discrimination, the results are hilarious to watch.

One of my favourite instances was in Split several years ago, when the waitress quickly withdrew my ripoff invoices, after my Croatian colleague arrived and asked why I had been charged so much. The justification was that her (much cheaper coffee) – served on a Sunday as the cathedral bells rang close by – was due to a discount given by the cafe to churchgoers. The fact that she had not been inside a church in 25 years had us laughing all the more. You can read the full tale in Cheap Catholic Coffee and Local versus Tourist Prices in Croatia.

Another favourite was on Korcula where I drank with local friends at lunchtime. They kindly paid the bill, which was 20 kuna a beer. I returned alone an hour later to be given a bill of 32 kuna. When I enquired (in Croatian) as to why the price had increased by 60% in an hour, my bill was hastily withdrawn, to be replaced with one at the original price. 

Now, as a semi-local, I am used to these ways, so how do you as a tourist ensure that you get the cheaper price? If you learn one Croatian sentence on your holiday, learn this:

Molim Vas, to je domaca cijena?

Excuse me, is that the local price? Even if you can’t understand the reply, the message will have come across that you are aware of the dual pricing, something that is not supposed to be known by higher-paying guests. You will often be rewarded for your efforts with a smaller bill.  

Why is flying to Croatia so expensive?

Why indeed? Croatia is a very seasonal flight destination, and things used to be a lot worse. The season is much longer than it was when I first moved here in 2003. Back then, there were no budget airlines. The ‘cheap’ flight option out of season was Ryanair to Graz or Trieste, then bus or train/bus to the ferry in Split and then on to Hvar. Exhausting. 

Ryanair entered the market in 2007, and the floodgates opened. Obviously, we will have to see how COVID-19 affects things, but for those of you who can plan ahead, there are some VERY cheap flights usually with the like of Ryanair, easyJet, Eurowings and Vueling if you book early enough. These understandably get much more expensive closer to departure. 

A key reason why the Croatian market is not more competitive is the protection given to the dinosaur that is Croatia Airlines, a loss-making State company which the powers that be refuse to let die a graceful death. As a result, there are no low-cost flights into Zagreb, for example, which would transform the capital’s tourism if it were introduced.  

How expensive is Croatian food in restaurants and supermarkets?

The price of restaurant food in Croatia obviously depends on the level of dining quality you are looking for. There are a growing number of Michelin Star restaurants, for example. For people on a budget like mine, restaurant prices do vary according to how hot the tourist destination is, as well as the time of year. And things are definitely much cheaper in continental Croatia than on the coast. 

As a very rough guide, expect to pay in the region of $5- $15, main courses from $10 – $30, and desserts from $5 – $15 for a reasonable restaurant. 

Supermarket prices are reasonable, although they perhaps seem less so to people living on a local wage. 

Is Croatia cheaper in Winter and more expensive in Summer?

Yes, on very many levels. Ferry prices and motorway tolls, for example, are less expensive out of the summer months. Supermarket food is too, and I always smile when I see the summer premium on the case of beer at a large supermarket chain I could mention, but won’t. 

There are big price changes outside the peak season in accommodation as well, and you can often get the same accommodation for half the price in the shoulder months. And if you want to do a longer stay out of season when it would otherwise be empty, you can almost name your price in some places.  

Is Croatia more expensive than Greece, Italy or Spain for a holiday?

Again, that depends. If you are looking for package holidays, then I really think that Croatia cannot (or rather chooses not to) compete with Greece or parts of Spain. But if you look around, you will find extremely good value in Croatia (as well as a lot of overhyped, overpriced stuff).

Is it expensive to travel around Croatia?

What’s that phrase again? It depends. Driving around Croatia IS expensive IF you stick to the motorways. I think I am correct in saying Croatia has the highest tolls in Europe. A 3.5-hour drive from Zagreb to Split, for example, will set you back $30 in tolls alone. For a one-way trip. 

You don’t have to use the motorways, however, and the old road from Zagreb to Split in season is a true joy. Here is my experience a few years ago

You also have the option of services such as BlaBla car, which are growing in popularity. 

The bus service is generally excellent and very affordable, while the train network is limited and slow, but also inexpensive. More on both in the TC Bus in Croatia and Croatian Train Travel pages. 

Taking a car ferry with car can be pricey, and it is worth considering renting a car locally on the island for the time you are there.

How expensive is tourist rental accommodation in Croatia?

Again it depends, but I would also add that there is a LOT of overpriced stuff out there. There is a lack of quality hotels for the demand, and tourists are often shocked by the prices they are faced with, especially in peak season. 

The situation with private accommodation is even worse in many respects. With no clear strategy and an insane tax policy, Croatia has tripled its private beds since 1990 from 267,000 to over 800,000 in 2018 (excellent article by Kresimir Macan in How Croatia’s Tourism ‘Strategy’ Created Tax-Free Paradise for Private Renters).  

The pandemic has really shaken up the market, however, with more renters now open to longer-term rentals. There are far more bargains to be had. 

How expensive is Croatia compared to the UK?

The cost of everything is pretty much cheaper in Croatia than the UK IF you are talking actual amounts. However, if you factor in the disparity in salaries between the two countries, then I would say that Croatia is more expensive. 

But for UK tourists used to UK prices, your pound sterling will go a lot further in the bars on the Adriatic than in your local back home. There are other great savings to be had as well, and a growing number of Brits are coming to get their teeth fixed and other medical procedures done while on holiday. Croatian medical tourism is on the rise, and you can often get the work done, enjoy a flight and a holiday and still go home with some change compared to what you would pay back in the UK. Learn more about Croatian medical tourism in the Total Croatia health tourism guide.  

Is Croatia an expensive place to live? 

With a Western salary, not at all. There is a saying in Croatia that the idea of perfect living is to live in Croatia for the lifestyle with a Western salary earned with a foreign company. 

I have the Croatian lifestyle and the joys of running a media business with a Croatian company. I certainly would enjoy a more comfortable life in terms of buying things in the UK, but I wouldn’t swap it for what I have in a million years. 

Getting by on a Croatian salary is not easy, and there is a reason why the average age of people moving out of their parents’ homes is much higher here than most of the EU.

How much are basic consumer goods in Croatia?

Here is what Numbeo came up with in February, 2021.


You can see what the latest prices are when you read this article (assuming you get this far) on the Numbeo website

Is property expensive in Croatia?

Yes, although there are also good deals to be had. The Great Croatian Property Boom inflated places a lot in my opinion, with some foreigners paying crazy prices for derelict goat sheds and other ruins. Much more on real estate in Croatia in the Total Croatia property guide

Is Croatian wine any good? How expensive is it?

Did you know that Croatia is the home of the original Zinfandel, grown on vineyards just outside Split in Kastela? Or that it has over 130 indigenous varieties? Or that it was served at the inauguration of President Biden in January 2021? Or that it was served at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, and you can still buy a bottle to the same 1947 vintage served on that royal occasion. Learn more in Croatia’s Most Expensive Wine: Selling Well at 7,400 Euro a Bottle.

Learn all you need to know about Croatian wine in the TC guide.

Are drinks expensive in Croatia? How much is a beer?

A few years ago, Joe Orovic wrote a great article called Beer Prices in Croatia 2018: A Cost-Conscious, Inebriated Guide To Getting Hammered. It included a hilarious (and very accurate) coefficient for calculating beer prices, depending on proximity to the sea, top destination, time of year etc. I heartily recommend it if you want to understand the nuances of this important topic. 

Beer prices in Croatia vary a LOT. To give you an example, that trusty half litre in my local in Varazdin up north costs 12 kuna (less than $2), with the same bottle costing 22 kuna in my local on Hvar. Much more on beer in Croatian in our dedicated TC beer guide.

Is it cheaper to live inland or on the coast in Croatia?

Again it depends. I was shocked at how much cheaper things were when we moved to Varazdin from Hvar (see the beer example above). Salaries also tend to be lower in many cases, and there is liltle or no tourism for locals to supplement their income with. But all the money I saved in the pub was taken back to me when I got my heating bills up north. 

Overall, the cost of living is much cheaper in continental Croatia, although that is from a viewpoint of starting with the same amount. 

Is it cheaper to buy fuel in Croatia or neighbouring countries?

If there is a place in the EU which has more expensive fuel prices than Croatia, I have yet to find it. I was stunned when I visited a petrol station in Graz driving through Austria last year. Just 1.07 euro per litre. The current cost of diesel is just under 10 kuna in Croatia, about 1.30 per litre. If you are driving from Split to Dubrovnik, tank up in the Neum Corridor (the section of Bosnia you have to travel through. Your savings will buy you a good portion of a hearty lunch.  

Let’s look at some of the hotspots: How expensive is Dubrovnik?

Back to that two-word answer again – it depends. 

A few years ago, I was having a coffee on Stradun with a local, and I asked if she thought Dubrovnik was expensive and how she felt about the label. 

“No, we are not expensive. For this location in Paris, Madrid and London, you would probably pay even more.” More expensive than the rest of Croatia, less expensive than comparable cities of culture in Europe. We are back to that viewpoint again. 

There ARE many tourist traps in Dubrovnik, but similarly, there are more affordable places. Get to know the Pearl of the Adriatic in our Dubrovnik in a Page guide

How expensive is Split?

When I moved to Croatia back in 2003, Split was not so much of a destination as a transit lounge. Indeed it was more often referred to the Gateway to the Dalmatian Islands. How things have changed! I love Split now for its diverse offer, although the crowds were starting to become an issue pre-COVID-19. 

Prices have increased in the tourist areas accordingly, although they are nowhere near Dubrovnik levels. But there are still plenty of places with more reasonable prices. Learn more about the Dalmatian capital in our Split in a Page guide

How expensive is the capital Zagreb? 

I find Zagreb in general to be quite a bit cheaper than the big cities on the coast, and excellent value as a capital city in the EU. I can still find my trusty half litre for as little as 10 kuna, certainly for 12, something that is no longer so easy in Split and Dubrovnik. Learn more about the Croatian capital in our Zagreb in a Page guide

How expensive is Hvar really?

Ah, Hvar.

Having lived there for 13 years, I have a fair bit to say on the subject. Firstly, there is a huge difference in terms of pricing between Hvar Town and the rest of the island of Hvar. And within Hvar Town, you can spend tens of thousands on lunch, or get by very well on a backpacker budget. More on Croatia’s premier island in our Hvar in a Page guide.

A clue in the pricing is reflected in the makeup of the tourist. In Hvar Town, for example, Brits, Americans, Brazilians, Germans, Italians and Scandinavians make up a lot of the guests, while in Jelsa, there are a lot more from Czechia, Slovakia, BiH, Serbia and Hungary. Prices are much cheaper and so attract a lower-spending clientele. But yes Hvar is more expensive than other places,  especially on the continent. But there is a reason for that, which brings us to the last point. 

Learn the Croatian phrase to explain how cheap/expensive Croatia is.


So how expensive is Croatia? We are back where we started – it depends. 

But I leave you with one of my favourite questions in Croatia, which you see a LOT on Facebook on a beautiful day. And I found myself doing the same on the terrace of our Jelsa home before we moved and turned it into the Panorama Penthouse Jelsa holiday rental.

Ko ovo more platit?

Who can afford that?

Nice view isn’t it? Is it expensive or cheap?

If you have any thoughts on the above, or any corrections or suggestions, drop me a line at [email protected] Subject Expensive  

To get the answers to more questions in our People Also Ask Google series, visit the dedicated section

Check out Croatian national television checking out the San Francisco digital nomad lifestyle on Hvar. Ko ovo more platit… 


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