Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Staying Connected While in Croatia

Staying connected while traveling in Croatia is easy and relatively inexpensive. Much like the rest of Europe, Croatia uses GSM standard networks so any GSM mobile phone should work in the country (roaming rates will apply; please check with your local carrier). For Americans, if your phone has a SIM card inside then it is probably on a GSM network. If your phone is unlocked (meaning it can be used with multiple carriers) then you can buy a local pre-paid SIM card in Croatia and have a local phone number during your stay. Most phones come locked (meaning it can only be used with the carrier from whom you bought it – AT&T, Verizon, Vodaphone, O2, etc). If this is the case, you can usually pay a small fee to have your phone unlocked at an independent mobile phone store where you live or you can purchase unlocked phones online.

Assuming you have an unlocked phone, pre-paid SIM cards are widely available throughout Croatia. You can often buy them at airports, post offices, mobile phone shops, and even some convenience shops. The two main carriers are T-Mobile and VIP, with T-Mobile being the most popular. A SIM card at T-Mobile costs only 20 Kuna (less than 3 EUR) and comes with a credit of 120 minutes talk time if you register your number with a T-Mobile shop. Make sure to have a photo ID and tell the sales person that you want to register the phone to avail of the free minutes. If you use up all the credit you can purchase more at post offices, shops, ATMs, and newsstands (called “Tisak” in Croatia). Having a local number is convenient for planning your trip on the go, making dinner reservations, and keeping in touch with other traveling companions within the country.

You can also send the number to friends and family back home as receiving calls is free (although normal long distance charges will apply to the caller). They can also be used for making international calls, but the rates are quite high and you will find your credit runs out quickly that way.

For those that need to stay connected to the Internet while in Croatia there are a few options. Most hotels and many private apartments offer Internet access and there are some cafes and restaurants with free Wifi. Internet cafes (with computers for use by the minute or hour) are also ubiquitous in Croatia.

If you want to have your own mobile Internet connection, T-Mobile and VIP both offer pre-paid mobile Internet devices for use with laptops. They are USB devices so can only be used with laptops or tablet computers with USB ports. T-Mobile sells a USB modem for 150 Kuna (about 20 EUR) which includes some data transfer. You can then buy top-up cards for additional data transfer (they come in various bundles of MB). It is fairly inexpensive and works well enough, but not quite as fast as a DSL or cable modem. USB modems are a great option for checking email, planning your trip on the fly, making phone calls via Skype, and posting your great Croatia photos to your Facebook page.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dubrovnik Local Bus Routes

The local Libertas bus system is a reliable and cost-effective way to get around the small city of Dubrovnik. Single ride tickets cost only 10 Kuna when purchased in advance and 12 Kuna when purchased on the bus. Popular city routes include the #1A, 1B, & 1C which run from Old Town’s Pile Gate to Mokosica with a stop at the main bus station in Gruz, the #4 which runs from the Pile Gate to the Hotel Palace in Lapad, and the #6 which runs from the Pile Gate to Lapad Babin Kuk. There are also buses that travel routes outside of the city of Dubrovnik, such as the #10 to Mlini, Plat, & Cavtat, #11 to Molunat, #12 to Slano, #15 to Ston, and the #21 to Orebic, where travelers may then catch a ferry to Korcula. Most routes operate 7 days per week from early in the morning until about midnight, but service may vary depending on the day of the week. Detailed schedule information may be found on the following websites:

Dubrovnik City Buses

Dubrovnik Suburban Buses

Monday, June 6, 2011

Currency to use in Croatia

We often get the question “Should I use Euro or Kuna in Croatia?”. Kuna is the official currency in Croatia and is most widely used. Larger items such as villa or apartment rentals, car rentals, tours, and transfers are often priced in Euro, but can usually be paid for in either Euro or Kuna. Local businesses such as restaurants and shops price in Kuna and most only accept Kuna. Some restaurants, shops, and cafes in popular tourist areas such as Dubrovnik’s Old Town will accept Euro, but generally at a poor exchange rate. Very few, if any, businesses accept British Pounds or U.S. Dollars.

Visitors to Croatia can get Kuna from ATM machines at all the major airports and at banks in city centers throughout Croatia. Most airports and cities also have exchange offices that will exchange a variety of currencies (and travelers’ checks) for Kuna. However, the best rates are usually obtained at ATM machines.