By Rachael Funk
Whether you’re visiting to check a Mediterranean dream escape off your bucket list or to indulge your inner "Game of Thrones" nerd, your Croatian vacation is sure to please. If you are looking for extras to add to your itinerary without jeopardizing your student loan payment schedule, check out these stops that don’t require admission fees!
1. Sea Organ • Zadar
This 230-foot long installation by Nikola Bašić is a beautiful way to spend a few hours in the sun. As wind and water push their way through the organ pipes, they create music. Since the sounds are entirely reliant upon the waves, you may never hear the same song twice.
2. Sun Salutation • Zadar
Only a short walk away from the Sea Organ, the Sun Salutation (also created by Nikola Bašić) is an expansive circle of solar panels which illuminate at night and produce a light show as the light fades.
3. Street Festivals
Croatia has street festivals throughout the year, many of which are free for spectators! Enjoy the popular Rijeka Carnival which includes carnival celebrations culminating in a parade through town, or Croatia’s annual three-day Easter Regatta which attracts sailors from all over Europe.
4. Hiking • Lovran
To catch a glimpse of Croatia’s breathtaking panorama, head over to Učka Nature Park and get climbin’! If you can make it to the peak of Mount Vojak, you will be rewarded with some of the best views in Europe. Don’t worry, if roughing it isn’t your thing, you can drive up a paved road. Drive with caution, though – much of the road is “proceed at your own risk.”
5. Museum Night
An annual event in Croatia, most museums waive their entrance fees for this event. If you can’t make it, make a stop in Split! Art galleries and temporary exhibitions in Split are free of charge, even when they are located inside museums, so be sure not to miss out.
6. Katedrala • Zagreb
Free for tourists, the Zagreb Cathedral is the tallest building in Croatia and a Roman Catholic institution. Enjoy a walk through this towering structure and marvel at the impressive architecture steeped in history.
7. Open-Air Markets
Most towns and villages set up daily markets, making perusing the locally-grown food and home goods a breeze. Pretty much anything you need can be found at one of these markets, but it’s fun just to look, too.
8. Strossmayer Promenade • Zagreb
A romantic place for a stroll with great views of the city, the Strossmayer Promenade is accessible 24 hours a day. You can get to it via funicular, but it is also an easy walk up.
9. Botanical Garden • Zagreb
Boasting over 10,000 plant species, this garden is a beautiful place to spend a relaxing afternoon. The garden is closed certain months of the year, so be sure to double check the schedule before you go.
10. Street Art • Zagreb
Don’t miss out on the ever-changing street art in Zagreb! You could look up a map of where to find murals in the city, or you could surrender to the fluidity of the art scene and keep your eyes peeled as you explore. If you make a day of it, you can also hunt down artist Davor Preis’s permanent solar system installation, which is in scale 1:680,000,000 to our actual solar system.
11. Beaches • Dubrovnik
Have a beach day in Dubrovnik, where you can enjoy pretty much any beach without worrying about an entrance charge. If you insist on a lounge chair, though, you will likely accrue some substantial rental fees if you don’t bring your own.
12. Old Town • Dubrovnik
Exploring on your own is free of charge, and there’s no better place to do it than in Dubrovnik’s Old Town! If you want to make stops at “Game of Thrones” filming locations, you can find our cheat sheet here.
13. Roman Ruins of Salona
Part of an archaeological park, the Salona ruins are relatively unvisited and provide a nice escape from the city of Solin. Bring a picnic and meander through the olive groves and shrubs to the amphitheater.
14. Gradac Park • Dubrovnik
If you’re looking for seclusion in the bustling city, Gradac Park is a short walk from Dubrovnik. This is a spot frequented by locals walking their dogs, so you might even get to meet a new four-legged friend!
15. Stradun • Dubrovnik
This pedestrian-only street runs almost a thousand feet through the Old Town. Take advantage of a warm afternoon and take a walking tour of the old town to check out the bell towers, monastery, and the centuries-old architecture.