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Croatia’s hostels, in the sense of barrack-style bunks and shared showers, are most commonly found in Croatia’s big cities. There, budget conscious travelers can save a few bucks and still sleep within stumbling distance of the bars, clubs, and tourist fueled summer nightlife of Dubrovnik, Split, and Zagreb. Meanwhile, backpackers, tourists or anyone in need of a shower can crash side-by-side in economical luxury.
But urban centers are few in Croatia, and the more charming sites are often found in the small villages peppering the islands, farmland and peninsulas along the coast. You’ll get a more private room, a bathroom to yourself, and a better sense of the local culture in these in-house hostels. Drive to the information stand at the edge of most towns marked with an “i” and let them find a room for you, or just start knocking on doors. Homemade signs advertise “rooms” for their most frequent clientele in German, Italian and Croatian, (zimmer, camere, and sobe) but many hosts have a handle on English and if that fails there’s always pointing at the sign with an outstretched wad of cash.
Prices start at a “too good to be true” 10 kuna, but many hosts offer a homemade breakfast in return for a few more. Take it. Breakfast will give you a chance to bend their ear about the surrounding sights and learn a bit about the local culture, and on top of that, it’s likely that your host will be a fine chef.
Although traditionally reserved for the backpacker crowd, the city hostels in Croatia are becoming a mix of the grungy budget travelers and middle aged vacationers. Increasingly luxurious accommodations combined with a somewhat polarized hospitality market—options are limited to high-end resorts or budget hostels—in Split especially, has driven travelers into hostels and the quality of the hostels up.
If you do spend a night in the city, check out these low-cost options:
Zagreb: Fulir Hostel—Close to Zagreb’s main square, the hostel was new in 2006 and offers extreme convenience to the local sights. While limited to 16 beds, if you can get a reservation their free access to the world wide web will save you a trip to the local internet cafe.
Dubrovnik: Dubrovnik Youth Service—Free pick-up from the airport or harbor, laundry facilities and an on-site scooter rental separate this hostel from the local fare.
Split: Split Hostel—Located at the foot of the Adriatic and near the Diocletian Palace, the Split Hostel is an attraction in itself. Marketed to the “booze and snooze” crowd, this Aussie-run establishment caters to a younger clientele, and offers daily adventure excursions. But if you can keep up you can sleep here.