Tourist season 2022 - opinions and experiences of our travellers
After two seasons affected by the pandemic, tourism in Croatia returned to the figures of 2019. By October 2022, Croatia had over 17 million visitors. In the same period, almost 100 million overnight stays were realized. More precisely, these data are very close to those of 2019, which was at that time considered a record year for Croatian tourism.
To find out exactly what attracts visitors to Croatia, which places are the most popular and what can we expect in the upcoming season, we invited more than 500,000 travellers who used our GetByFerry.com and GetByBus.com platforms to participate in the survey.
Our travellers told us that we can expect an excellent, if not a record, tourist season in 2023. As many as 89% of the visitors who participated in the survey said they intend to return to Croatia. Moreover, 91% of the visitors said they would recommend Croatia to their friends as a vacation destination.
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How did we conduct the research?
Considering the excellent results of the past season, we used the opportunity to ask our travellers for their opinions and experiences about their vacation in Croatia. Namely, we invited more than 500,000 of our travellers to participate in a survey about how satisfied they were with their vacation in Croatia.
We first asked the travellers general questions such as the method of arrival, how many nights they stayed and what was the reason for their visit. Then, they could choose the cities and towns they visited, and rate them in categories such as general satisfaction, gastronomic, cultural, entertainment and other aspects. In addition to cities, travellers also rated national parks, specifically their natural beauty, entrance fees, maintenance and other aspects.
We have processed all the answers, and present you the results of our research.
Who visited Croatia this year?
According to the official data of the State Bureau of Statistics, last year Croatia was visited mostly by Germans, followed by Slovenians, Austrians and Poles. In addition to nationality, we were interested in the age group of our passengers, the reasons for their visit and how they came to Croatia.
Almost a third of respondents who visited Croatia last summer were solo travellers. However, most of the respondents like the company. Therefore, almost 50% of them came to Croatia with their partners or friends.
As far as the age group and reasons for arrival, more than 40% of our travellers visited Croatia for rest and relaxation. If we add culture and entertainment, which are the next most common reasons, we can conclude that about 80% of our travellers visit Croatia to have a relaxing summer vacation. All other reasons account for about 20%, and these include family, sports, business, health and other reasons for the visit.
In addition, almost a third of our passengers are young people aged 25-34. A slightly smaller, but still significant percentage refers to those younger (18-24) and older (35-64). According to our research, the smallest number of visitors belongs to the age groups 35-44 and 65+.
Which cities and towns delighted travellers?
The places most visited by our travellers last summer are primarily coastal and island cities and towns. According to our research, visitors mainly travelled to the city of Split, as many as 46% of those surveyed. Split is followed by Dubrovnik, Zagreb and Zadar.
Hvar town was the most visited of the island towns. It was visited by as many as 20% of the respondents. It is followed by Bol on Brac, which was visited by 10% of respondents.
We will point out that the three most popular regions among our respondents are Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia. As for continental Croatia, the most visited city among our travellers was the city of Zagreb.
According to our research, as many as 60% of respondents stayed in Croatia for an average of 3-5 days. They mostly visited at least 2 destinations. Therefore, we can conclude that the majority of visitors who come to Croatia have a desire to visit as many locations as possible, and not just stay in one place.
How do visitors find their way around Croatian cities?
The good connectivity of the city makes it easy to get around. We were interested in how our travellers got around the Croatian cities they visited last summer. Likewise, were they satisfied with the options available to them.
Public transport and walking are the most popular
The research showed that as many as 41% of our respondents explore Croatian cities on foot. Moreover, in as many as 76% of cities, it was the most common way of getting around. Knowing that most Croatian cities are relatively small, this information does not surprise us.
When we take into account the largest Croatian cities where sightseeing is possible in several ways, the results show that Split is the city that visitors explore mostly on foot. On the other hand, public transport is used the most in Zagreb.
In addition to walking, scooters were also popular in smaller towns this summer. This is best shown by the data for Bol, Vis and Vodice, where this transport mode was used in more than 15% of cases.
Below are the most common ways to get around major cities.
Which places are the easiest to get around?
Our travellers proved to be very satisfied when it comes to finding their way around the Croatian cities. Namely, as many as 87% of visitors were satisfied with the way they toured the city, of which 25% were extremely satisfied.
Out of the most visited cities, according to our research, travellers found it easiest to get around Hvar, Bol and Zadar. Poreč, Vis and Opatija stand out among the less-visited places.
We would like to emphasize that no city achieved a negative result or objection. In all cities, at least 73% of visitors declared that they were satisfied with getting around.
National parks in Croatia are still a must-visit
Although many may not consider them the most popular summer destinations, as many as 39% of our respondents visited at least one of the 8 Croatian national parks. A fact that did not surprise us is that the largest amount of visitors went to Plitvice Lakes and Krka Waterfalls.
Namely, the Plitvice Lakes and the Krka Waterfalls are the most visited national parks in Croatia as well as according to our research. Of the total number of surveyed travellers who visited the national park, 54% went to Plitvice National Park, and 28% went to Krka National Park.
All other national parks account for a total of 17% of visits, and the lowest percentage was recorded by Northern Velebit National Park.
Generally speaking, as many as 93% of respondents expressed satisfaction with visiting national parks. For as many as 6 out of 8 national parks, visitors did not express any form of dissatisfaction.
Although travellers expressed high general satisfaction with all the parks, the highest percentage of exceptionally satisfied travellers was achieved by NP Plitvice (35%), NP Mljet (33%) and NP Paklenica (31%).
How did visitors get to the national parks?
In Croatia, 5 national parks are located on the mainland, of which Plitvice and Krka are the most connected by public transport. As many as 3 national parks are located on the islands and can be reached only by boat.
The largest percentage of our passengers came to the park by car. Given that 86% of our travellers stated they came to Croatia by plane or bus, we can conclude that many of them rented a car to get around the country more easily.
However, due to their popularity, the national parks of Plitvice and Krka are very well connected by bus lines, which is why the bus is the most frequently used form of transportation to these two parks. More precisely, as many as 58% of visitors to Plitvice and 33% of visitors to Krka came by bus.
Of course, all visitors to national parks Mljet, Brijuni and Kornati came by boat. However, while Mljet was mostly reached by regular ferry lines, Kornati and Brijuni were mostly reached by organized boat tours.
National parks as day trips
Most Croatian national parks offer accommodation within the park or in its vicinity. Despite this, an average of 75% of visitors declared that they did not spend the night in the national park during their visit.
However, visiting some national parks is almost impossible without an overnight stay. If we take into account the size of the island and the relatively rare ferry lines, we were surprised by the fact that as many as 33% of visitors did not spend the night in Mljet National Park. Therefore, we can conclude that 'island-hopping' or one-day trips from Dubrovnik are also popular choices.
From these data, it is evident that our respondents mostly visited national parks as part of one-day trips.
Visitors enchanted by natural beauty
We knew that Croatian national parks are enchanting. But now we also have a confirmation from our passengers. Namely, we examined the satisfaction of visitors with two important factors - natural beauty and cleanliness of the national parks.
We were surprised by the fact that an average of 96% of visitors were satisfied with the natural beauty they experienced during their visit. Moreover, for 6 out of 8 national parks, our respondents did not express any dissatisfaction with the natural beauty.
A similar situation has emerged concerning the cleanliness and maintenance of parks. On average, 94% of visitors declared themselves satisfied with this aspect. For 4 out of 8 national parks, our respondents did not express any dissatisfaction with the cleanliness of the parks.
Crowds and entrance fees are not a problem for visitors
Ticket prices for national parks in Croatia currently range between 6€ and 40€ in the middle of the season. That range depends on several factors, one of which is the popularity of the park itself.
The most visited parks, such as Plitvice and Krka, charge up to 40€ per person during the tourist season. As many as 68% of visitors to Plitvice and 77% of visitors to Krka consider these prices appropriate for what the parks offer.
Among the "most expensive" national parks are Kornati and Brijuni. While ticket prices for Brijuni National Park were evaluated positively in as many as 77% of cases, no visitor expressed dissatisfaction with tickets to Kornati National Park.
National parks Paklenica, Risnjak and North Velebit have the lowest ticket prices. Therefore, it is not surprising that almost 100% of respondents are satisfied with the prices when it comes to these parks.
The same is true regarding crowds. For as many as 4 out of 8 national parks, not a single respondent had any objections when it comes to crowds.
Which places in Croatia are a paradise for foodies?
Given the fact that Croatia is a recognized gastronomic destination, we were interested in the experience of our passengers; how often they visited restaurants during their stay and whether they were satisfied with the prices and the offer.
It is interesting to note that as many as 51% of respondents declared themselves to be in the category "does not apply to me". For this reason, we excluded these respondents from this part of the research.
The best offers in restaurants
When asked about satisfaction with the restaurant's offer, as many as 74% of respondents declared themselves satisfied, of which 17% were extremely satisfied.
When it comes to the 10 most visited cities according to our research, the city of Hvar stands out the most with 88%, Zagreb with 83% and Zadar with 83% of satisfied users. However, when we take smaller places into account, the picture changes. Porec, Makarska and the city of Vis come to the top of the list.
If we compare satisfaction with the restaurant offers at the regional level, we can notice differences between Istrian, Dalmatian and continental cuisine. Namely, as many as 89% of visitors expressed satisfaction with the offer of restaurants in Istria and Kvarner. Whether the secret is in the Istrian fuji pasta or the adored Malvasia wine, the traditional cuisine of Istria and Kvarner delighted our travellers the most.
After Istria, the city of Zagreb follows - its restaurant offer was rated positively by visitors in as many as 83% of cases.
The best price-quality ratio
A slightly smaller number of visitors expressed satisfaction with prices in restaurants. However, we are still talking about a high 63% of satisfied respondents, of which 13% were extremely satisfied.
If we consider only the most visited cities, Pula stands out with 79%, Zagreb with 78% and Zadar with 68% of satisfied visitors. However, in the overall picture, the highest percentage of satisfied people is in Porec with 91% satisfied visitors.
On the other hand, the unpopular "coffee on Stradun" is not the only expensive thing that visitors often complain about. If we ask our passengers, Dubrovnik is one of the cities where the guests were the least satisfied.
Nightlife - where to find the craziest party?
During the tourist season in Croatia, you can expect a variety of content and events that promise a good night out.
If we look at the average of all Croatian cities, we can say that visitors are relatively satisfied with the nightlife. Namely, 55% of the respondents declared themselves satisfied, of which 12% are extremely satisfied.
As for individual cities, our travellers confirmed that Pag and Hvar have the best nightlife.
However, what we didn't know was that they are followed by Pula . In addition, at the very top of the ranking, there are the capital Zagreb and the unmissable Novalja, whose Zrce beach breaks records every summer.
Unforgettable beaches in Croatia - where to find them?
Due to its location, Croatia can boast a large number of beaches and coves. As our research has shown, they are popular among visitors. Namely, as many as 78% of respondents are satisfied with Croatian beaches, of which 26% are extremely satisfied.
As far as cities are concerned, travellers rated Krk, Vis and Hvar as the best. However, certain beaches stood out due to the number of extremely satisfied users. Among them is Bol with 45%, Supetar with 59% and Makarska with 45% of extremely satisfied visitors. In other words, the travellers showed the greatest enthusiasm for the beaches on the islands and the beaches of the Makarska Riviera.
As for the regions, it seems that visitors are most satisfied with the beaches in Kvarner. Namely, as many as 88% declared themselves satisfied. But if we think of Rajska plaža or Vela plaža on Krk, it is clear to us why this is so. Immediately after Kvarner, follows Central Dalmatia where there are beautiful beaches such as Stiniva on Vis, Zlatni rat in Bol and Dubovica near Hvar.
Croatia as a shopping destination
Our research confirmed that Croatian cities are not Milan, London or Paris. Croatia as a shopping destination was positively evaluated by 59% of visitors, of which 12% expressed extreme satisfaction with shopping in Croatia.
Generally, big cities had a better percentage of satisfied people compared to smaller Croatian cities. So, cities like Zadar (79%), Zagreb (74%) and Split (73%) were at the top of the ranking. Given that these are larger Croatian cities, visitors can choose between numerous shopping centres, markets and shops.
The information that surprised us was that some less-expected cities such as Krk and Opatija were also on the list. Did the visitors expect more from the capital cities?
The rich cultural heritage continues to attract
According to our research, the rich cultural heritage of our country was positively evaluated in 75% of cases, of which 23% of guests declared themselves extremely satisfied.
Visitors agreed that the cultural heritage of the cities of Korcula, Dubrovnik and Hvar is by far the most impressive. While Dubrovnik's City Walls and Hvar's Fortica have been delighting visitors for years, charming Korcula managed to find its place at the top next to these two tourist giants.
Active holidays in Croatia continue to have a good reputation
As many as 81% of our respondents evaluated the offer of activities in Croatia positively. Of these, almost 30% declared themselves extremely satisfied.
But now something unusual follows - for an active holiday in Croatia, the city of Hvar turned out to be by far the best. It is known that Hvar is a symbol of the craziest nightlife and it is relatively easy to reach from Split.
Considering that, we are not sure if our travellers remember which activities in Hvar particularly delighted them. Anyway, with its impressive cultural heritage and abundant underwater life, Hvar seems to meet almost everyone's expectations.
In addition to Hvar, we will highlight Dubrovnik, Vis and Rovinj which were rated extremely well by visitors. In fact, we cannot say that any city has a bad rating because the percentage of satisfied visitors exceeds 60% in all cities. We can rightly conclude that Croatia is an excellent destination for an active holiday, especially during the tourist season.
Accommodation in Croatia - how and where did our guests stay?
Finding the optimal accommodation that meets the price-quality ratio is one of the crucial components of every trip. We were interested in what the offer of accommodation in Croatia is, and how satisfied visitors are primarily with the ratio of price and quality in accommodation facilities.
Accommodation quality satisfactory
As far as the quality of Croatian accommodation units is concerned, we can say that visitors were relatively satisfied this summer. Namely, 65% of them rated the quality of the accommodation in which they stayed positively, of which 15% were extremely positive.
However, some cities proved to be better than others in terms of accommodation quality. Of the most visited cities, visitors are most satisfied with accommodation in Porec, followed by Zagreb and Pula.
If we look at the data at the regional level, we will see that there are differences in the quality of accommodation in Istria and Dalmatia. Namely, the visitors were by far the most satisfied with the quality of accommodation in Istria.
Accordingly, Istria had as many as 86% of satisfied visitors. On the other hand, visitors were pleased with the quality of accommodation in Dalmatia in 58% of cases.
The price of accommodation is not a problem for visitors
Out of the total number of respondents, an average of 62% declared themselves satisfied with the price of the accommodation they stayed in. Moreover, 13% of them said that they were extremely satisfied with the price of the accommodation.
Of the most visited Croatian cities, the visitors once again rated Zagreb, Poreč and Pula the best, and in the same order.
The neatest towns and cities in Croatia
In the eyes of our visitors, Croatian cities proved to be extremely clean and tidy. Almost no city evaluated by our travellers achieved below 60% satisfied visitors.
In the overall picture, as many as 83% of respondents declared themselves satisfied with the cleanliness, of which as many as 31% were extremely satisfied.
Of the cities that stand out, there are primarily Stari Grad, Hvar and Dubrovnik with a high number of satisfied visitors. Considering the popularity and number of visitors in these cities, these data are extremely commendable.
Do visitors feel safe in Croatian cities?
Croatian cities are relatively small compared to European metropolises, so it is expected that their level of protection and security of citizens is higher. Our travellers also agree with that.
Namely, on average, 83% of visitors declared themselves satisfied with the safety aspect of the city they visited. Of these, even 30% said they were extremely satisfied. If we look at the cities individually, the important fact is that none of them achieved below 60% of satisfied visitors.
Of the cities, Opatija, Stari Grad and Rovinj stand out the most. From this example, the conclusion emerges that smaller places are rated somewhat better. However, larger cities such as Split and Dubrovnik were rated positively in more than 90% of cases.
The results of the survey showed that visitors are satisfied with Croatia as a summer vacation destination. While in Croatia, they enjoy the gastronomic offer, activities, cultural heritage and natural beauties.
With its rich and varied offer, Croatia is becoming an increasingly attractive tourist destination where everyone can experience a vacation tailored to their needs.
In addition to attracting, Croatia also retains. The research shows that many travellers spread the good word about Croatia to their acquaintances, and many intend to return. With that in mind, we dare to forecast that a bright future for tourism awaits us, and we have every right to expect an even better, if not a record, tourist season in 2023.