The best places to stay in Croatia, from mountain huts to luxury villas


From basic mountain huts to self-catering luxury villas, there are lots of accommodation types to choose from in Croatia. Though hotels abound in cities and popular tourist destinations, the majority of accommodation on offer is made up of tourist apartments, owned and often managed by locals.

Croatia also has a huge camping scene that caters to the large number of visitors who arrive by car from nearby European countries. In rural areas, you can find private villas that are ideal for families traveling with young children.

Adventure seekers and avid hikers also have the option to stay in Croatia’s network of mountain huts that serve as overnight shelters in often spectacular natural settings, which can be an experience in itself.

When it comes to nightly rates, these can also vary widely from budget to boutique. The cost of tourist accommodation has risen significantly in recent years and it can be a challenge to find good-value options during the peak tourist season of July and August. It’s important to book accommodation in advance if you’re planning a summer vacation in Croatia – gone are the days when you could just show up without a reservation and easily find an available room.

Here’s our handy guide to accommodation options in Croatia and our recommendations to best suit your travel style.

Apartments for city trippers

Long before Airbnb made homestays explode in popularity across the globe, tourist rooms and self-catering apartments rented out by locals were widespread across Croatia, and often the only option in smaller destinations.

Privately owned lodgings still make up the majority of tourist accommodation in Croatia and staying in a furnished apartment is an excellent way to get an insider’s eye view of local life.

Best tourist apartments in Croatia:
Divota Apartment Hotel (starts from €81) is a “diffused hotel” made up of a collection of immaculately restored stone houses scattered throughout the charming residential neighborhood of Veli Varoš in central Split. Studio apartments and guest rooms are done up in all-white decor accented with colorful artworks, and many open onto cheerful balconies or plant-filled courtyards.

The dreamy Med-inspired design interiors of SALT (starts from €100) in the historic city of Rovinj scream seaside getaway. This compact apartment spread over two floors is decorated with tasteful objets d’art, while its exposed stone walls and wooden beams add a touch of rustic charm.

A White Cliffside Studio (starts from €105) on the island of Pag has all the mod cons for a cozy stay, but guests will likely spend all of their time taking in the fantastic seascape from the open-air terrace perched 30m (98ft) above the sea.

Save money by staying in a hostel and stretch your party budget © DisobeyArt / Getty Images / iStockphoto

Budget beds for party people

Hostels are increasingly popping up in Croatia’s cities and beachside hot spots and are designed for young people (or the young at heart!) traveling on a budget. Most offer the usual shared dorm-style accommodation in same-sex or mixed rooms, but many also have private rooms that are ideal for couples or friends traveling together.

A few of the newer hostels have a contemporary boutique feel when it comes to decor and amenities and offer a step up from lounge areas and shared kitchens. Expect lively on-site bars as well as organized city and bar-hopping tours, and excursions to popular beaches and cultural hot spots.

Best hostels in Croatia:
The six-bed dorms and private rooms with two, three and four beds at Tchaikovsky Hostel (starts from €15) in central Split are bright and airy; some are even fitted with work desks. Pause for a free cup of tea and a chat with your fellow travelers in the common room that opens onto a balcony overlooking treetops.

White Rabbit Hostel (starts from €32) is smack in the center of Hvar Town and opens its doors from April to August. It gets rave reviews for its squeaky clean interiors made up of mixed dorms and private rooms with a minimalist vibe highlighted by colorful accents.

Stay at Hostel Angelina (starts from €44) in Dubrovnik’s historic old town, and you’ll be just steps from the Stradun, the main cobbled thoroughfare. The mixed dorms and private rooms are spread over a centuries-old building and three annexes with handsome exposed stone walls and wooden floors. Join a walking tour of the old town or one of the organized trips to nearby islands.

Rural villas for family trips

Rural regions with bucolic landscapes of vineyards and olive groves offer the perfect settings for a getaway. Here you’ll find private villas set in lush gardens with shady terraces and often luxurious extras such as pools, sun beds and hot tubs.

Rural villas are especially popular with families with kids in tow – they’re content to splash around in the pool when they’re not out exploring local attractions. Many prefer to rent their own private villa for a week or two and use it as their base to explore a particular region.

Best rural villas in Croatia:
Those looking to disconnect should check out Olive Garden Paljka (starts from €100), a compact and eco-friendly stone house set among olive trees and lavender fields in an isolated spot 23km (14.2 miles) south of Zadar. Its green credentials include solar panels, LED lighting and tanks for rainwater harvesting. The large flagstone terrace entices as the ideal spot for al fresco meals and nighttime star-gazing.

Villa Rustica (starts from €150) is a wooden cabin tucked in the Karlovac region and is the perfect option for those looking for a stay in the lap of nature. The villa is bright and airy, while the central heating and open fireplace make it a wonderfully cozy winter escape.

Villa Veli Dvor (starts from €200) on Lošinj Island offers peace and privacy in a 19th-century stone house accented with bright blue window shutters in the middle of a vast garden scented with rosemary, oregano and laurel. The architect-designed interiors reveal plenty of stone, wood and metal details creating a chilled earthy vibe.

A family singing together on a beach in Croatia with their camper van parked in the background
Campgrounds are an excellent budget option next to the beach for families © m-gucci / Getty Images

Camp grounds for beach stays

Croatia is known for the many camping grounds dotting its coastline from north to south, which are largely preferred by European road trippers. Almost always located on a scenic beachside spot, camps are designed for caravans and camper vans, but many also have dedicated areas for those who prefer to pitch a tent.

Amenities can vary from bare basics to upscale: you can expect toilet and shower facilities as a bare minimum, with some also offering kitchen facilities or barbecue pits. A step up are camps with swimming pools to cool off in, as well as on-site restaurants and bars to stop in for a meal or nightcap.

At the higher end are glamping resorts where you can splash out on air-conditioned luxury tents or wooden cabins with private decks, as well as five-star extras such as plunge pools, spas and lounge bars.

Best camping sites in Croatia:
Lavanda Camping (starts from €15.50) is set in a stunning spot on a beautiful pebbly beach on the northwest coast of the Pelješac peninsula. Motor homes and tents are welcome, while mobile homes are also available for rent as well as a four-bedroom villa with its own private infinity pool. Kids can let off steam at the playground while parents relax at the beach bar or tuck into a meal at the restaurant.

Camping Stobreč Split (starts from €23) occupies a leafy peninsula east of Split where the Žrnovnica River meets the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea. Set under towering umbrella pines are camping pitches and air-conditioned mobile homes, three swimming pools, a beach bar, a wellness spa and even a dog park for your furry friends.

If camping with a touch of glam is more your thing, check out Arena One 99 Glamping (starts from €130) in the southern tip of Istria. Luxurious sea-facing tents are kitted out not only with comfy full-size beds but also air-conditioning, espresso makers, LCD TVs, and kitchenettes. Unwind in the spa tucked under the pines, join a morning yoga class or have a lazy soak in an open-air hot tub.

Mountain huts for nature lovers

Walking and hiking enthusiasts can take advantage of Croatia’s network of over 150 huts and lodges tucked away on remote mountaintops. Situated along major hiking trails, these are resting spots where long-distance walkers and mountaineers can bed down for the night for free.

These overnight shelters fall under three categories: Planinarski domovi, or mountain lodges, offer meals in addition to dormitory-style beds and are open throughout the year; Planinarske kuće are mountain houses that open their doors only on weekends and holidays. For both these options, bookings must be made in advance by phone or e-mail. Planinarska skloništa, or mountaineering shelters, make up the third category – these are not much more than basic shelters and are left unlocked.

Best mountain huts in Croatia:
Perched at an altitude of 1174m (3851ft), the Ratkovo mountaineering shelter is a rustic-looking 12-bed log cabin tucked into a rocky niche in the side of a mountain in Gorski Kotor.

Zavižan mountain lodge in the soaring Velebit mountains is Croatia’s highest mountaineering house at 1594m (5230ft). The imposing brick building sleeps 29 and has two dining rooms in addition to a kitchen and bathrooms. It’s also home to an important meteorological station.

Architect-designed Ždrilo mountaineering shelter is set among craggy rocks on the Velebit mountain trail and stands out for its contemporary design. Lodgings are more basic in this one-room shelter with space for six, but the views from 1040m (3412ft) up are divine.

A group of friends taking a photo next to a villa and pool in Croatia
Most villas for rent in Croatia can now be booked online © AzmanL / Getty Images

Airbnb in Croatia

Unlike some European countries that have imposed strict measures and rules on Airbnb rentals, there are no restrictions in Croatia. Airbnb and other platforms such as Booking.com have become popular in recent years with locals seeking to advertise their tourist accommodations and streamline the reservation process.

In pre-Airbnb days, you would see elderly ladies greeting arriving travelers at bus stations with signs saying: Sobe/Rooms/Zimmer. Today the vast majority of bookings for tourist accommodation in Croatia are done in advance online.





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