Thursday, May 31, 2012

What currency should I use in Croatia?

Now that the summer season is upon us we often get the question “What currency should I use 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.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Packing List for Your Croatia Trip

When taking a trip to Croatia it is important to pack the right things to make your holiday a success. Other than the obvious list of clothing and toiletries there are a few things that are especially useful when visiting the Croatian coast. Below is a short suggested packing list:

- Sunblock with a high SPF as the sun can be very strong in Croatia, especially during the summer months.

- Water shoes are very useful as much of the swimming in Dubrovnik is done from rocky beaches or just large jagged rocks leading down to the sea. Water shoes will enable you to be more adventurous and explore more unique swimming locations. They are even useful at the most calm beaches as getting in and out of the water can be difficult when balancing on round, slippery rocks. Water shoes can be purchased in Dubrovnik at various shops. Prices range from just 50 Kuna in Cavtat to 200 Kuna in some shops in the Old Town.

- Mosquito repellent is very important for those that generally get attacked by bugs. Mosquitoes are ubiquitous along the Croatian coast, especially in the hot and humid summer months. It is especially important to use when going out in the evening to dine al fresco.

- Electrical plug adapters are necessary for any electrical devices such as cell phone chargers, laptop computers, or personal grooming devices. The electricity is 220 V as in all of Europe and the plugs are of the 2-prong variety seen in most of Continental Europe. If traveling from the UK or Ireland you will only need a simple adapter so that your plugs fit into the electrical outlets. If traveling from North America you will need to check that your devices are compatible with the 220 V system or they will be ruined when plugged in. Most mobile phone chargers and computer power cords are universal for 110 V ~ 240 V (meaning they will work in both North America and Europe) but most personal grooming devices such as hair dryers and electrical shavers are not. For these you will have to bring a special voltage converter which can be quite bulky and heavy.

- Beach towels will be necessary if you plan to go swimming while in Croatia.  Most hotels, private villas and apartments provide bath towels but not beach towels. Of course you buy beach towels in Dubrovnik and most other coastal towns, but you are likely to pay more for them in tourist areas than you would at home.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dubrovnik Cruise Ship Schedule 2012

One of the biggest problems in Dubrovnik is overcrowding due to the arrival of cruise ship passengers during the summer months. On busy days there can be more than 7500 passengers clogging the streets of the Old Town. Most cruise ships are only in town for the day, so the best way to avoid the congestion is to leave the Old Town during the middle of the day and wait until the evening or early morning to enjoy it.

A useful tool for planning your visit is the online cruise ship schedule that shows approximately how many people will be in town on any given day: 2012 Cruise Ship Schedule. The schedule is in Croatian-only, but you simply choose the month of the year you want to view (by number for non-Croatian speakers) on the left side of the page and click on the button beneath labeled “Prikaz izvjesca”.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jadrolinija Coastal Ferry to Operate in 2012

After months of indecision (Fate of Costal Ferry Uncertain), Jadrolinija has decided to operate their coastal ferry route as normal this year. The route will run from 1 June to 30 September between Dubrovnik, Sobra (on the island of Mljet), Korcula, Stari Grad (on the island of Hvar), Split, and Rijeka. The schedule has sailings twice per week, with departures from Dubrovnik on Thursday and Sunday mornings at 8:30 and departures from Rijeka on Monday and Friday evenings at 19:00 for the return trip.

For the full schedule, including departure times from Split and Hvar, please see the following schedule: Coastal Ferry 2012. Passengers traveling with a car should book in advance. Foot passengers generally do not need to book tickets in advance. For more information, please visit the Jadrolinija website.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Elaphiti Islands Tour

One of the most popular day trips from Dubrovnik is the Elafiti Islands. It is possible to reach them on your own by local ferry boat, but it is difficult to see more than one per day that way. A great way to see all three in one day is the Three Island Tour. The tour leaves from various locations including Gruz Port, Old Town, Lapad, Zupa, Plat, and Cavtat. Aboard an old wooden boat, you will visit the islands of Kolocep; known for its bountiful fruit orchids; Lopud, known for its beautiful sandy beach; and Sipan, famous for its aristocratic history. Tours include a lunch of fish and white wine and entertainment by local musicians. Prices vary by tour operator, but are generally between 40 and 50 Euros per person. It is said that Dubrovnik is best seen from the sea, and this is a great way to explore the area in a short time. Be sure to bring a bathing suit as there are lots of opportunities for swimming along the way.

Tours can generally be booked a day in advance by walking down to the port from which you plan to depart.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ferries from Korcula to Hvar

With the probable cancellation of the coastal ferry route in 2012 (Fate of Coastal Ferry Uncertain) options for traveling from Korcula to Hvar are limited. However, it is still possible to travel between the two destinations on any day of the week.

For foot passengers there is year-round daily catamaran service between Korcula town and Hvar town. From October 1st to May 31st it leaves Korcula at 6:00 Monday through Saturday and at 13:00 on Sunday. The return trip leaves Hvar at 17:10, 7 days per week. From June 1st to September 30th it leaves Korcula at 6:00, 7 days per week. The return trip leaves Hvar at 18:10, 7 days per week. The journey between the two islands takes about 1.5 hours. You can view the full schedule here: Korcula to Hvar Catamaran.

For those traveling with a car, there are no longer any direct ferries from Korcula to Hvar. You will have to take a car ferry to Split and then switch to a car ferry to Hvar (or travel to the mainland via the Korcula to Orebic ferry and drive to Split or Drvenik to catch a car ferry to Hvar). There is twice daily service from Vela Luka (on the island of Korcula) to Split departing at 6:15 and 13:45 from June 1st to September 30th (view schedule here: High-season Schedule). From October 1st to May 31st there is also daily service from Vela Luka to Split, but the times vary depending on the day of the week. Here is a link to that schedule for more details: Low-season Schedule.

Once in Split there are several car ferries per day from Split to Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. The schedules for those ferries are as follows:

October 1st to May 31st

June 1st to September 30th

Foot passenger ferries generally do not need to be booked in advance but reservations should be made for car ferries. Reservations can be made and tickets can be purchased at Jadrolinija offices throughout Croatia and through specific travel agents in Europe & Australia, as listed on the Jadrolinija website.