Greece or Croatia: Which Coastal Getaway is Right for You?

Deciding whether to visit Greece or Croatia can be quite the challenge–especially if you love both countries as much as we do.

Croatia and Greece are both home to crystal-clear water, interesting cultural highlights, stunning scenery, and tasty cuisine–and they both happen to rank among our ten favorite countries on the planet to travel in.

We absolutely adore both and completely understand that choosing to visit Croatia or Greece is not an easy decision to make (especially if you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip like a honeymoon or babymoon).

Completely torn on whether to visit Croatia or Greece? 

Here’s what to know before you choose between the two.

3 blue domes of Santorini, 3 days in Santorini itinerary

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Visit Greece if…

… you’re excited to visit Ancient Greek ruins.

The culture of Ancient Greece is one of the best-known ancient cultures in the world, and the monuments they left behind are enormously impressive.

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If your dream trip includes staring in awe at the Parthenon or one of the many other temples left behind by the Ancient Greeks, planning an amazing Greece itinerary is absolutely your best bet.

Athens Parthenon--if your dream trip includes this view, your choice between visiting Greece or Croatia is clear!

… food is a big priority for your trip.

Croatian food is tasty… but Greek food is phenomenal.

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If you’re looking to thoroughly indulge your foodie side when visiting Greece or Croatia, book your flight to Greece immediately!

Your taste buds will not be sorry (and please eat like eight Greek salads for me).

Close up of a pork gyro, Athens food tour

… you want to check out as many UNESCO World Heritage sites as possible.

Both Croatia and Greece have their fair share of UNESCO World Heritage sites, but Greece comes in at nearly twice the amount, with 18 UNESCO sites as compared to Croatia’s 10.

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You can visit several as part of a Greece road trip, which is a great way to explore the mainland.

fishing boat in front of a village in greece

… you’re traveling in the deeper parts of shoulder season.

Greece’s islands reach further south than Croatia’s, which means that in any given year, you can stretch the season just a bit further in Greece vs Croatia.

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This is especially true if you head all the way south in Greece to Crete.

Traveling during the shoulder season is also a great way to stretch your Greek islands travel budget, as seasonal prices tend to start to drop before the weather cools off significantly.

Peach and blue dome with trail on Santorini, 3 days in Santorini itinerary

Visit Croatia if…

… you want to take an epic road trip.

Croatia’s excellent roads hug the coast of the Adriatic all the way down the beautiful country, and you absolutely can’t go wrong with a road trip in Croatia.

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If your idea of the perfect trip when dreaming about visiting Greece or Croatia includes plenty of time on the open road where you can stop off at whatever adorable town or beautiful bay catches your eye, Croatia is absolutely the destination for you.

View of Hvar Town from Spanish Fort with Pakleni Islands in the distance, one of the best things to do in Hvar Croatia

… chasing waterfalls is exactly what you’re looking for.

Croatia is home to, hands down, the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen in my entire life.

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Plitvice Lakes National Park heartily deserves its UNESCO World Heritage status, and it alone is worth visiting Croatia for–and it’s not only the only place to chase waterfalls in the country!

Krka National Park also deserves a visit, and any waterfall-lover visiting Plitvice must also plan a pitstop in the delightful village of Rastoke, where waterfalls literally flow through the town.

Postcard view of Plitvice Lakes Croatia showing lake and waterfalls seen from above in a vertical image

… you want to include pretty cities in your itinerary.

Large Greek cities like Athens and Thessaloniki can be called many things, but “pretty” is not a word that tends to come to mind.

For the Croatian capital of Zagreb, though, as well as coastal cities like Dubrovnik and Split, it’s downright perfect!

View of Ban Jelacic from Zagreb 360, a must-visit during one day in Zagreb!

… you’d like to day trip to a different country.

Depending on where you are in Croatia, it’s fairly simple to take a day trip to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina or Kotor, Montenegro.

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Or, if you have enough time in Croatia, you can visit both!

If you’d like to add some Balkan variety to your trip, Croatia might be the place for you.

Girl in pink shirt climbing San Giovanni Fortress: Best Things to Do in Kotor Montenegro

… you’re a Game of Thrones fan.

Game of Thrones filming locations can be found all over Croatia, including the most famous location of them all: Dubrovnik, also known as King’s Landing.

If hunting down the backgrounds of famous scenes is a priority for you on your trip to Croatia or Greece, head to Croatia.

One Day Dubrovnik Itinerary: View of Dubrovnik from Minceta Fortress

Visit Croatia and Greece for…

… stunning islands and coastline.

Whether you’re staring out of the Adriatic, Ionian, or Aegean Sea, you’re bound to be looking and something absolutely stunning.

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Greece and Croatia are both home to some of the most beautiful coastline on the planet (in our biased opinion, anyway), and you can’t go wrong with either.

Blue and white roadside shrine, Honeymoon in Santorini

… incredible sailing opportunities.

While Greece has been a classic sailing destination for decades, Croatia is a bit newer on the block as a sailing darling–but both are excellent places to hit the water.

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… beautiful sunsets.

Santorini sunsets may be the most famous, but we promise, the ones from Dubrovnik won’t let you down.

What to Do in Dubrovnik: Sunset in Dubrovnik Croatia

What about visiting both Croatia and Greece?

Over the course of a lifetime, we absolutely recommend visiting both Greece and Croatia–they’re both phenomenal travel destinations that we intend to revisit over and over again for the rest of our lives.

That being said, they typically don’t make the best single-trip combination in and of themselves.

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If you’d like to pair either Greece or Croatia with another country (or two) during your trip, Croatia pairs best with Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, or even Italy, while Greece pairs best with Turkey.

Unless you’re planning an exceptionally long getaway, we wouldn’t recommend trying to visit both countries on the same trip.

Couple Standing on Dubrovnik City Walls: Packing List for Europe Summer

Greece or Croatia: The Final Decision

Ultimately, you can’t go wrong when deciding whether to visit Croatia or Greece!

The countries are very similar in what they offer tourists, and both are home to unforgettable highlights that are well worth the effort it takes to reach them.

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If you’re having an extraordinarily difficult time deciding whether to visit Greece or Croatia, we’d recommend letting flight prices and the logistical challenges of getting to your most sought-after destinations decide.

Odds are that if you list out the top five experiences you hope to have in both Croatia and Greece, and then price out the monetary and time cost of getting them all done in the window of time you have available to visit Greece or Croatia, one spot will emerge as the clear winner!

Fun Things to Do in Dubrovnik Croatia: View of Fort Lovrijenac viewed from city walls

9 thoughts on “Greece or Croatia: Which Coastal Getaway is Right for You?”

  1. Love your website and tips! My husband has retired, and we are planning a dream trip. We were planning exactly what you caution against-doing both Croatia and Greece. You say that’s not a good idea, but don’t tell why you believe so. Would you mind expanding on your answer? Our current outline is an itinerary close to your suggested 10 day Croatia tour, then a quick flight to Santorini, enjoying that island for 3-4 days. We would then take a ferry to Athens, and see the sites around there for 3-4 days before flying home. We would have 8-9 days in each country, so why would you not do this? Thanks for your expertise and your willingness to share!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Christy!

      You certainly can do that. At almost 3 weeks, you guys are getting close to what we would define as an exceptionally long getaway. Most people we talk to plan trips for 1-2 weeks (especially Americans like us).

      It is a lot of transit time–you’ll lose a full day to travel by flying to Santorini (I’d have to double-check, but my guess is flying out of Dubrovnik you won’t find a direct flight), as well as a full day taking the ferry to Athens, but if both countries are dream destinations for you and the transit time seems worth it, we certainly wouldn’t discourage it with 18-19 days to work with. Be prepared to be exhausted at the end, of course! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Thanks for this summary of your travels to both Greece and Croatia. We have been holding out hope that we can keep our dreamy 3-week itinerary in Italy, but as of today (4/19/21) it’s looking less and less likely because of Covid-restrictions that flying to Italy on 5/21/21 is happening. Switching gears now to Greece and Croatia. Similar to the traveler above, starting with maybe 3 nights and 2 days in Athens then a house rental for a week of relaxing in Santorini, then hopping along the coast of Croatia… first thinking by boat (because we’ve heard many people say that’s the best way to see the beauty of Croatia) but thinking twice now that you’ve mentioned the ease of driving in Croatia.
    Here are my questions for you:
    Have you visited Croatia, traveling the coastline by boat? If so, can you tell me a bit more?
    Do we need more than a California driver license to drive in either place?
    Is a week sitting in a villa with a pool and beautiful views too long (traveling with our 26 yo who lives and works in London and our 23 yo who is just graduating university and starting his job July 1st, so looking for a bit of family time as they have less and less time). Are we going to go stir crazy with not much to go out and do?
    Can we home base is Santorini and take a couple day trips to other places?
    Can we home base in Split and/or Dubrovnik and see the Croatian coastline? I’m ok with moving once during the week, but honestly, 3 nights minimum in a place is the way I like to travel.
    Thanks again so much for your blog post about this and any further insight you’re able to share!

    Reply
    • Hi Beth! We haven’t traveled Croatia by boat unless you’re counting ferries and day trips, but it sounds lovely!

      You’ll want to look at an international driver’s license in addition to your CA ones, but that’s an easy thing to buy before leaving.

      Personally, a week in a villa in either Greece or Croatia sounds amazing to me, but that depends entirely on your travel style!

      If you homebase in either Split or Dubrovnik you’ll have a great time–I’d say Split has more island-like day trip options but Dubrovnik is the prettier city.

      Hope you guys have a great time!

      Reply
  3. Croatia, coastal, islands, Dubrovnik, then Corfu, islands,Greece, then Istanbul or the other way. 2 or 3 weeks. Mostly love water.

    Reply
    • With that plan, I’d honestly just pick which direction based on the flights you can get! Istanbul will be easy to fly in and out of, depending on where you are coming from, Croatia will potentially be more expensive to fly into. If you’re staying 100% coastal, I’d look into Split for a place to fly into or out of.

      Reply
  4. What an amazing honest blog. Wanting to go to either Croatia or Greece for my 50th bday ( along with another couple) and your blog was perfect to helping me decide.

    Reply
  5. Hi guys!
    My fiancé and I are still struggling to answer the question between these 2 beautiful places! BUT, our honeymoon is from April 24 to may 10th, most likely including Venice +/- Rome, Barcelona +/- Seville, and end in Croatia OR Greece. Undecided where we’ll be at what point.
    Most of the research says we won’t be able to swim in the ocean at this time of year in Greece or Croatia. Any personal experience? How about more specifically with the inland fresh water sources and waterfalls?
    Whether we end up choosing Croatia or Greece, it will likely be our last stop, and be the most glamorous (as opposed to the money saving we’ll be attempting in other locations!) Any tips on villas/resorts; and do you know: are the pools generally heated; whether at individually owned locations vs. resorts?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Katy!

      Yes, most of the ocean water will be way too cold then, though that does depend somewhat on where you’re from/what your expectations are. You may be able to get lucky and swim at the tail end of your trip in May if you go all the way south to Crete!

      I don’t have any experience that time of year with the inland, but I’d generally say it’ll be too cold.

      Heated pools are pretty common at villas and resorts, but not guaranteed, so be sure to double-check if it’s important to you. 🙂

      Reply

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