Study Abroad in Croatia: A Complete Guide

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Wondering what it’s like to study abroad in Croatia? Keep reading for the complete guide on studying abroad in this beautiful country!

This post was written by guest contributor Olivia from Inspired by Croatia.


With a sparkling sea, dazzling coastline, incredible food, and over 1,000 islands to choose from, Croatia is a country that has it all.

It should come as no surprise that 20 million tourists flock to this Mediterranean nation each year to enjoy the sea and sun. However, a two-week vacation is much too short to truly experience the Croatian way of life.

Setting yourself up to live and study in Croatia for an extended period of time can allow you to immerse yourself in the country’s incredible culture and lifestyle.

This article will dive into why you should consider studying abroad in Croatia, and what you can expect while living there as a student!

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View on ancient castle in Dubrovnik. Croatia - study abroad in Croatia

Why Study Abroad in Croatia

The Location

Situated in southern Europe, Croatia is a Mediterranean nation that stretches along the gleaming Adriatic Sea. Sharing borders with Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro, Croatia makes an excellent base for students wanting to explore the rest of Europe. 

Its ideal position allows nearby destinations to be easily discovered by car within just a few short hours. Croatia also has a number of small airports that offer a wide selection of low-cost carriers like Easyjet, Ryanair, and Eurowings for easy access to other popular cities in Europe.

Kastel coast in Dalmatia,Croatia. A famous tourist destination on the Adriatic sea. Fishing boats moored in old town harbor.

The Weather

Croatia offers a combination of both coastal and continental climates.

Along the Dalmatian coast, you’ll enjoy a typical Mediterranean climate. This means the summers are dry and hot, while the winters are wet with mild temperatures. Snow on the coast and islands is rare, but can happen on occasion!

As you go more inland, the climate transitions into continental, but still remains relatively mild compared to other European nations. Summers in Zagreb are hot and sunny while the winters bring cold and fog, but the Christmas Markets ensure the wintertime is filled with plenty of holiday cheer. 

The Culture

As a result of being under the rule of many different empires, Croatia offers a mixture of different cultures including Italian, Austrian, Hungarian, and even Turkish.

The influence of these countries can be particularly seen in the architecture and on the food in Croatia. Along the coast, and in the Istria region, you’ll notice a strong Italian influence, while continental Croatia reflects similarities to Austria and Hungary.

A view of white and orange buildings on the water in Istria, Croatia
Istria // Photo by Olivia from Inspired by Croatia

The Cuisine

Much like the architecture, Croatian cuisine has been influenced by the traditions of neighboring countries, creating a distinct collection of dishes.

On the Dalmatian coast, you’ll find an abundance of fresh seafood, risottos, and pasta, while continental Croatia offers flavors that can be compared to those found in Austria and Hungary.

Despite its similarities to the tastes found in neighboring countries, Croatia puts its own unique spin and interpretation on each dish.

Some foods to try while in Croatia include:

  • Štrukli – a traditional Croatian dish made with dough and various fillings
  • Black risotto – a seafood rice dish that gets its black color from squid ink
  • Pašticada with gnocchi – a Dalmatian beed pot roast dish
  • Skradinski risotto – a famous specialty risotto that takes up to 12 hours to prepare
  • Gregada – Croatian fish stew
  • Peka – a meat and vegetable dish

The Prices

Due to rising tourism each year, prices in Croatia have slowly been increasing as well, particularly in the Old Town of Dubrovnik. However, it is entirely possible to live on a budget in Croatia, especially in Zagreb.

Depending on their own personal spending habits and lifestyle, most students will typically spend between $600 to $900 per month on accommodation, utilities, food, travel, and other necessary expenses. Compared to other European destinations, Croatia is definitely one of the more affordable countries for students studying abroad.

Food in Croatia is also quite inexpensive, especially when shopping at the local farmer’s market. Fast food and bakery products are also great options for those looking to save a little extra money.

Your student status can help save money on some expenses, like admission to cultural attractions or discounts in restaurants. Make sure to apply for an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) before you leave for Croatia.

The Safety

Compared to other countries, Croatia is considered to be very safe. One thing that many foreign visitors notice when visiting Croatia is how secure they feel when out and about. The country has a low crime rate and is both economically and politically stable, making it an ideal place to study. Croatia is also LGBTQ+ friendly.

A view of the buildings in Dubrovnik Croatia
Dubrovnik // Photo by Olivia from Inspired by Croatia

Best Cities to Study Abroad in Croatia

Zagreb

With around 800,000 inhabitants (nearly ¼ of Croatia’s population), Zagreb is a vibrant city that has plenty to offer. From lively markets and buzzing cafes to countless museums and lush green spaces, there is something for everyone in Zagreb.

It is a fantastic all-year-round destination, and you can be sure that if you choose to study in Zagreb, there will be no shortage of things to do. There is always some type of festival or event going on in the city. Whether it’s a food festival, movie festival, vegan festival, or the award-winning Christmas Markets, Zagreb is bursting with activities.

Zagreb is also a great place to base yourself for exploring the rest of Croatia and Central Europe. Italy, Slovenia, Austria, and Hungary can all be reached in just a few hours by car. Plus, Zagreb’s Main Bus Terminal offers inexpensive connections to destinations all over Europe.

In addition to its excellent location and abundance of entertainment, Zagreb is the most student-friendly city when it comes to the low cost of living and public transportation system. Being Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb also has the highest number of universities to choose from including Rochester Institute of Technology, Zagreb School of Economics and Management, and the University of Zagreb.

A yellow building in Zagreb, one of the best cities to study abroad in Croatia
Zagreb // Photo by Inspired by Croatia

Study Abroad in Croatia: Split

Split boasts a population of a little under 200,000 people, making it the second-largest city in Croatia. Built around a 4th-century palace, the town dazzles with its gleaming stone streets and impressive architecture.

Being based in Split guarantees mild weather and close proximity to Croatia’s most beautiful islands. The nearby airport also often offers great, low-cost connections to a number of destinations throughout Europe.

The atmosphere in Split is much more relaxed than in Zagreb as there are fewer colleges and fewer students. Most classes will have less than 40 students in them, which gives students more opportunities to get to know their professor and their peers better.

Split’s campus is located in the middle of the city and is well-connected to the surrounding neighborhoods. No matter where you choose to stay in the city, you will likely be able to walk to class, thus, saving money on transportation costs.

It is important to note that Split is generally more expensive than Zagreb due to its popularity among tourists visiting Croatia.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik gives you the chance to experience what it would be like to live and study in a medieval city. Waking up to views of the Adriatic Sea and walking the historic streets each day is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

With only 42,000 inhabitants, Dubrovnik’s small-town-feel makes it a great choice for those who are studying abroad for the first time. The intimate setting allows students to get to know one another, including the locals, and get a taste of life abroad without becoming too overwhelmed.

A few things to keep in mind when considering studying abroad in Dubrovnik is that things in town slow down quite a bit when the summer season ends and the tourists leave. Additionally, Dubrovnik is the most expensive city for studying abroad in Croatia thanks to its mega increase in popularity over the last several years.

Dubrovnik offers opportunities to study abroad at Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Dubrovnik.

A view of Dubrovnik from the city walls
Dubrovnik // Photo by Olivia from Inspired by Croatia

Living in Croatia

Croatia boasts an enviable lifestyle where high value is placed on social life, free time, and spending quality time with friends and family. After living in Croatia, you’ll soon notice that there is always time for a cup of coffee on a sunny terrace. 

Cafe Culture

The cafes in Croatia are unlike the cafes you’ll find in the United States. In Croatia, a cafe is a place where you go to get a drink – coffee, tea, beer, you name it.

Very rarely will you see people working on laptops as cafes are where people go to socialize. It is not uncommon to spend several hours at a cafe catching up with friends. It is also not unheard of to trade your cappuccino in for a cocktail as the afternoon transitions into the evening!

Bakeries

Freshly baked goods are in abundance in Croatia. You’ll find a bakery on almost every corner offering freshly baked bread for around $1.00 and a variety of pastries, croissants, sandwiches, and more.

The bakeries in Croatia are a staple of life. They are cheap, delicious, and can be almost considered as a type of fast food.

Nightlife

Croatia offers some pretty incredible nightlife. If you love to party, you’ll want to be sure you check out Novalja, Hvar Town, Makarska, Split, and Zagreb. Depending on where you go, the prices for drinks will vary. The nightclubs in Croatia are also open pretty late and it’s not unusual for people to stay until 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning.

Best Places to Visit While in Croatia

The best way to experience all that Croatia has to offer is by taking a road trip! Luckily, if you choose to study abroad in Croatia, you’ll have plenty of time to do just that.

Some of the best locations to check off your Croatia bucket list include:

  • The islands of Brač, Hvar, Korčula, and Vis (the perfect places to go if you happen to be celebrating your 21st birthday while in Croatia)
  • Istrian Peninsula
  • Plitvice Lakes
  • Krka National Park
  • Kornati National Park
  • Primošten
  • Biokovo Skywalk
  • Makarska Riviera
  • Dubrovnik – its City Walls are among the most famous landmarks in Europe

Of course, these destinations are just a few of the breathtaking places that you can find in Croatia.

While traveling around Croatia, you can find cheap places to stay on Booking.com, HostelWorld, or VRBO.

An aerial view of Primošten, one of the best places to visit while studying abroad in Croatia
Primošten // Photo by Olivia from Inspired by Croatia

Why Study Abroad in Croatia

The reasonable cost of living, safety, climate, cuisine, and excellent location in Europe make Croatia an attractive choice for students wanting to study abroad.

This small country packs a big punch when it comes to student life and travel experiences, which is why you simply can’t go wrong if you choose to study abroad in Croatia!

About the Author: In 2014, Olivia left her home in the United States to study abroad in Croatia. Soon after moving, she completely fell head over heels for the Mediterranean lifestyle and has been living in Zagreb, Croatia ever since! You can read more about Olivia’s life in Croatia on her blog, Inspired by Croatia.

Pin this post for later Croatia travel planning!

Study Abroad in Croatia with boats in the Croatian Harbour
Study Abroad in Croatia: The Complete Guide

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