View of the Ionian Sea Greece Greece or Croatia? A Traveler's Guide to Choosing Your Mediterranean Escape
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Greece or Croatia? A Traveler’s Guide to Choosing Your Mediterranean Escape

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Having spent the last three years sailing the Mediterranean, we finally feel ready to weigh in on the frequent dilemma faced by travelers of choosing between Greece or Croatia, two destinations world famous for their sunkissed islands, ancient history, and Mediterranean culture. Those looking for Europe’s best summer destinations often have to decide between the two.

While it’s totally subjective, and the decision is not an easy one, gun to my head, I have to go with Greece. That is probably a reflection of my personal preferences for food and the occasional sandy beach.

However, what appeals to me may not appeal to you, so we decided to put each country to the test across a range of criteria to try to help answer once and for all which Mediterranean destination reigns supreme.

Greece or Croatia? A Quick Guide

Greece 🇬🇷Croatia 🇭🇷
Beaches🥇
Island Hopping🥇
Food🥇
Sailing🥇
Road Trip🥇
Affordability🥇
Weather🥈🥈
Hospitality🥇
Crowds and Tourist Experience🥈🥈
History🥇
Outdoor Activities🥈🥈
Accommodation🥈🥈
Transport🥇
Family Holidays🥈🥈
Romantic Getaways🥈🥈
Culture, Festivals, and Events🥇
Nightlife🥈🥈
Our extremely subjective assessment of Croatia or Greece

Which Has Better Beaches, Croatia or Greece? Greece 🇬🇷

Sivota Lefkada. Girl looking out through the foliage at a beautiful white sandy beach with blue waters
Greece has a diverse range of beaches, including more sandy beaches, giving it a slight edge.
Girl standing on a platform with beautiful blue waters at one of Croatia's best beaches.
Croatia’s beaches are beautiful, but sometimes it is difficult to find a place to put your towel.

Greece just edges out this category with its diversity and opportunity to find somewhere to throw down a towel.

Greece: Greece’s beaches are world-famous for their stunning beauty, characterized by crystal-clear turquoise waters and fine sandy shores. The country offers a diverse range of beach experiences—from the organized beaches of Mykonos with their chic beach bars to the secluded, untouched sands of the smaller islands. Navagio Beach on Zakynthos, known for its shipwreck and towering cliffs, and Elafonissi Beach in Crete, famous for its pink sand, are standout examples that attract tourists from all over the world.

Croatia: Croatia’s coastline is just as scenic, though more renowned for its rugged beauty and dramatic rocky outcrops. The beaches here, while often rocky and pebbly, are no less spectacular, with the clear waters of the Adriatic Sea offering ample opportunities for swimming and diving. Hvar has all the ritz, glamour, and action of Greece’s party islands, while Zlatni Rat on Brač is frequently highlighted for its unique horn-shaped strip of pebble land changing direction with the wind, and the serene beaches of the Elaphiti Islands are loved for their tranquil beauty.

While both countries boast beautiful coastlines and crystal clear waters, Greece’s varied and picturesque sandy beaches generally provide a more quintessential beach holiday experience compared to Croatia’s predominantly rocky outcrops and pebbly shores.

Which Is Better for Island Hopping? Croatia 🇭🇷

Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea with its blue waters
Greece’s islands are beautiful but quite spread out.
Girl standing at the front of a sailboat watching the sunset over the Adriatic Sea.
From anywhere along Croatia’s lengthy coastline, you are a short sail from the islands.

Home to some of the most wonderful archipelagos in the Mediterranean, this is a very hard one to separate.

Greece: Island hopping is almost synonymous with a Greek vacation. The country is peppered with numerous islands, each offering its unique charm and character. The Cyclades, with iconic Santorini and party-centric Mykonos, the lush Ionian islands like Corfu and Kefalonia, and the Dodecanese, including Rhodes and Kos, offer vastly different landscapes, histories, and experiences. The Greek islands are well-connected by an extensive network of ferries. However, the distances between the furthest flung islands are vast.

Croatia: Croatia also offers excellent island-hopping opportunities, especially along the Dalmatian Coast. The islands of Hvar, known for their vibrant nightlife and lavender fields; Korčula, with its preserved medieval architecture; and the tranquil Mljet, part of a national park, are popular stops and examples of the diversity of experience available in small areas. While the number of islands is fewer compared to Greece, the quality of the experience is high, with each island providing a unique insight into Croatian culture and natural beauty. Croatia’s islands also run perpendicular to the coastline, making it simple to reach most islands directly from the mainland.

Greece’s extensive array of diverse islands is an advantage; however, Croatia’s accessibility is a major drawcard, with the ability to easily reach Croatia’s islands from the mainland.

Which Country Has the Best Food, Croatia or Greece? 🇬🇷 Greece

Greece. Did I say that too fast? Sorry, it’s not even close.

Spread of delicious Greek food.
In Greece, good food is simple, affordable, and ubiquitous
Croatian hams and cheese at a winery outside of Primosten Croatia.
Croatia has lots of high-quality cuisine, but it can be more difficult to track down.

Greece: Greek cuisine is a pillar of the Mediterranean diet, known for its health benefits and the use of fresh, local ingredients like olive oil, seafood, vegetables, herbs, and grains. Iconic dishes such as moussaka, souvlaki, the humble gyros, and spanakopita are beloved worldwide. Greece also offers a rich tradition of wines and spirits, with local varieties such as ouzo and retsina enhancing the dining experience.

Importantly, the best meals we’ve had in Greece were often in tiny family-run tavernas or beachfront shacks on sparsely inhabited islands. They were intimate, affordable, authentic, and, holy cow, delicious.

Croatia: I don’t mean to throw any shade on Croatian cuisine, which is delicious and unique, reflecting its geographic and cultural diversity, with a strong influence from Italian, Hungarian, and Ottoman culinary traditions. Seafood is popular along the coast, while the interior offers heartier fare such as smoked meats and stews. Istria, known for its truffles and olive oil, and Dalmatia, famous for its fresh fish and peka cooking method, are highlights. Croatia’s wine scene is lesser-known but just as delicious, featuring indigenous grapes like Plavac Mali and Malvazija that you’ll only find on specific islands in Croatia.

There are no doubt many delicious meals to be had in Croatia, but in our experience, they are harder to find and often come with a premium price. Everyday konobas (Croatian taverns) are sometimes quite ordinary and with a repetitive menu of pizza, grilled or fried fish and squid, black risotto and pasta dominating the coast, or pizza, pastas, stews and grilled meats in the interior.

While both cuisines offer unique tastes and traditions, Greece’s incredible culinary pedigree is on display throughout the country, from tiny souvlaki stalls to popular tavernas.

Which Is Better for Sailing, Greece or Croatia? 🇭🇷 Croatia

The beautiful Sivota Bay in Lefkada, a popular sailing destination in the Ionian
Greece is well set up for sailors with countless islands, anchorages, and marinas.
Sailboat nestled in a cove of blue waters and lush vegetation.
Croatia offers predictable winds, sheltered archipelagos, and a high level of quality infrastructure.

It’s a tough call; both offer slightly different yet equally incredible experiences.

Greece

Sailing is a highlight of visiting Greece, which is known for its idyllic conditions and extensive archipelago. The Cyclades, Ionian, and Dodecanese islands offer very different sailing experiences. Yacht charters and sailing schools are abundant, catering to both novice sailors and seasoned skippers. With a sailing culture stretching back to antiquity, there are many public facilities and affordable mooring opportunities.

Croatia

Croatia and the Adriatic Sea is also a premier sailing destination, famed for its crystal-clear waters and lengthy coastline dotted with over a thousand islands. The Dalmatian coast, in particular, is a sailor’s paradise, with historic towns and secluded coves accessible only by boat. Marinas here are well-equipped and provide excellent facilities for sailors. That being said, Croatia also knows what it has and isn’t afraid to charge accordingly.

We are giving this to Croatia because, for occasional sailors coming for a week of sailing, Croatia’s predictable winds, sheltered archipelago, and high level of quality infrastructure and amenities are hard to beat. That being said, Greece’s deep-rooted sailing culture, cheap access to public moorings, and variety of sailing conditions and routes may be preferable for liveaboards and experienced sailors.

What about another option altogether? Discover Montenegro

Which Is Better for a Road Trip, Greece or Croatia? 🇭🇷 Croatia

Road winding through the Greek countryside.
A road trip through Greece is rewarding, but it will take careful planning.
Bridge over a river in Croatia.
Croatia is built for road-tripping.

Croatia’s layout, compact size, and infrastructure allow you to see the whole country efficiently with your own wheels.

Greece

While Greece has plenty to offer road trippers, including historical sites, beautiful landscapes, and quaint villages and towns, the driving experience can be challenging due to mountainous terrain, narrow roads, and sometimes inconsistent road signage. What’s more, the Greek islands are scattered throughout the Mediterranean and require more time and planning to navigate due to the need for multiple ferry trips.

Croatia

Travelers can cover a variety of landscapes in a short amount of time—from the stunning Adriatic coastlines and medieval coastal towns to the lush national parks and mountainous interior regions.

Croatian roads are well-maintained and typically don’t suffer from congestion, making it easy to travel between destinations. The A1 motorway, stretching from Zagreb down to Dubrovnik, provides panoramic views and connects major cities and attractions efficiently. Additionally, Croatia offers numerous well-organized rest areas and modern facilities along major routes, enhancing the road-tripping experience.

The really unique appeal of driving in Croatia lies in the accessibility of its many islands via short ferry rides. This allows for a mix of continental and island experiences.

Which Destination Is More Affordable, Greece or Croatia? 🇬🇷 Greece

Delicious Greek meal at a Greek tavern.
Dining out in Greece is particularly good value.
A woman shopping for fresh vegetables in Croatia.
Croatia can be affordable if you are on a budget.

In our experience, Greece was cheaper. However, this will be highly dependent on your particular travel style, and both destinations are relatively affordable compared to Western Europe.

Greece

Traveling in Greece can be affordable, especially outside of the peak summer season. Accommodation in destinations can vary widely in price, with famed islands like Santorini being more expensive, while many islands without the PR are just as beautiful at a fraction of the cost. Street food, such as souvlaki and gyros, offers delicious and budget-friendly meals for just a few euros throughout the country. Many small restaurants offer cheap and delicious sit-down meals at very affordable prices.

Croatia

Croatia’s overall costs are comparable to those in Greece, with potential savings in off-season travel. The country also offers a range of accommodations, from luxury resorts to budget hostels, although the spread between the two is not always as stark. Affordable food like burek and ćevapi is available, although we’ve found fewer high-quality budget restaurants here.

Both countries offer a good range of budget to luxury travel options. Greece may be slightly cheaper for daily expenses like food, especially at the budget end, while Croatia can offer better value in accommodation and less crowded experiences during the off-peak season. Croatia is also more expensive to travel by sailboat, with higher mooring fees and other associated costs.

We may be exceptions to the rule here because we are sailing, and this may affect our budgeting, but we spend more money traveling in Croatia.

Which Has Better Weather, Greece or Croatia? 🇬🇷🇭🇷 Tie

Girl watching the sunset behind an island from a sailboat.
Greece experiences long warm days in the summer….sometimes too warm
Sailboat anchored in aqua blue waters in the Adriatic Sea.
Croatia is blessed with warm summers and mild winters

Both Croatia and Greece offer a renowned Mediterranean climate, so determining the ‘best’ from a weather standpoint is a bit like splitting hairs.

Greece: Greece is celebrated for its sunny Mediterranean climate, providing long, hot summers and mild, wet winters. The weather is particularly favorable from May through October, with peak tourist season in July and August when the sun is almost guaranteed daily. This climate not only benefits beach-goers but also enhances outdoor cultural experiences, like visiting ancient ruins or dining al fresco. The southern islands, including Crete, enjoy one of the longest tourist seasons due to their warmer temperatures extending well into fall. The downsides of Greece’s summer weather are the intense hot spells. We suffered through back-to-back heatwaves in Greece, and it was not at all fun.

Croatia: Croatia also enjoys a Mediterranean climate along its coast, with similar long, warm summers and mild winters. However, the tourist season is slightly shorter, typically peaking from June to September. The Adriatic coast offers plenty of sunshine during these months, making it ideal for summer vacations. Inland areas have a continental climate, with colder winters and hotter summers, which can impact travel plans, especially for those looking to explore national parks and rural areas.

While both destinations offer great weather for summer travel, Greece’s longer tourist season and milder winter temperatures provide more flexibility for travel dates and extended summer activities. On the other hand, Croatia’s heat can be less intense which can benefit those traveling in the summer season.

Which Country Has Better Hospitality? 🇬🇷 Greece

A busy Greek tavern in Corfu in the Ioanian Sea.
Greece is known for its hospitality.
People sitting under a foilage canopy at Mikro Bar in Corfu
Croatia has its own style when it comes to looking after visitors.

Greece: Greek hospitality is legendary and deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric as ‘philoxenia,’ which translates to ‘friendship towards the stranger.’ Greeks are known for their warm and welcoming nature, often going out of their way to help visitors. This friendliness extends across the country, from bustling city centers to secluded island villages, enhancing the travel experience with a genuine sense of belonging and connection with local people. Locals are often outgoing and effusive, which can put visitors at ease right away.

Croatia: Croatian hospitality is also highly regarded, particularly in smaller towns and less touristy areas. Croatians are proud of their heritage and eager to share their culture with visitors. People are always ready to lend a helping hand if you ask. Locals are generally warm toward tourists who show interest in their customs and language. Croatians value direct, honest communication.

In terms of hospitality, both Greece and Croatia excel in looking after their visitors, but Greece may make them feel more welcome.

Crowds and Tourist Experience: 🇬🇷🇭🇷 Tie

Busy beach on the island of Corfu
Greece has tourist hotspots and lesser-known gems to beat the crowd.
People Spending Their Summer at the Beach
Croatia is also home to hidden gems and crowd favorites.

Greece: Greece is a major tourist destination, particularly during the summer months when islands like Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos can become quite crowded. However, Greece offers such a wide array of destinations that vary in popularity, allowing visitors to find spots less traveled by tourists. The mainland, with its historic sites like Meteora and the Peloponnese, provides a rich experience away from the island crowds. Additionally, Greece has countless smaller islands like Folegandros, Paxos, and Symi that are perfect for those seeking a quieter, more authentic experience.

Croatia: Like Greece, Croatia experiences its highest tourist influx during the summer, especially in popular areas like Dubrovnik and the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Dubrovnik, in particular, has seen significant overcrowding in recent years, leading to measures to limit tourist numbers. However, Croatia also offers less crowded alternatives, such as the Istrian Peninsula, hidden gems like Primošten, and lesser-known islands like Vis and Lastovo, which provide a more relaxed and intimate Croatian experience.

Both countries have their hotspots and quieter areas. By researching properly, you can beat the crowds and escape to unique destinations or embrace the frantic energy of the most popular destinations.

Which Country Has the Most History? Greece 🇬🇷

Odeon of Herodes Atticus
It’s hard to compete with Greece’s ancient history.
Boats on calm sea water and stone fort
Croatia has plenty to offer history buffs.

Greece: Considered the cradle of Western civilization, Greece boasts an array of world-renowned archaeological sites and monuments. The legacy of ancient Greece is vividly alive in the ruins of the Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athens, the mysterious Oracle of Delphi, and the majestic Minoan palace of Knossos in Crete. The history here is not just ancient; it spans through Byzantine and Ottoman ages, offering a layered historical narrative that is hard to match.

Croatia: Though lesser known, Croatia has a rich historical tapestry of its own. The country’s history is showcased through its incredibly beautifully preserved medieval towns like Dubrovnik and Split, where Roman, Venetian, Slavic, and Austro-Hungarian influences merge. Diocletian’s Palace in Split and the Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč are highlights, offering visitors a glimpse into the diverse cultural influences that have shaped this Adriatic nation.

In the realm of historical significance, Greece’s profound impact on art, philosophy, and politics gives it the edge, providing a more comprehensive historical experience.

Which Country Has More Outdoor Activities? 🇬🇷🇭🇷 Tie

Girl looking out over a white beach and the blue waters of the Ionian Sea.
With seemingly endless opportunities for outdoor adventures, you won’t run out of adventures in Greece.
The waterfalls of Krka National Park in Croatia.
Croatia is another outdoor lover paradise with everything from diving to paragliding on offer.

Greece

Greece offers a variety of outdoor activities, with its diverse landscapes ranging from mountainous terrains to idyllic beaches. Hiking is popular in areas like the Samaria Gorge in Crete and Mount Olympus, the mythological home of the gods. The country is also a prime destination for water sports, including windsurfing and kitesurfing, particularly in the Aegean islands.

Croatia

Croatia is known for its stunning national parks, such as Plitvice Lakes and Krka, where visitors can enjoy walking amidst waterfalls and lush forests. The Adriatic coast is excellent for diving, kayaking, and snorkeling. Adventure sports like rock climbing are also popular, especially in Paklenica National Park.

Both destinations are excellent for lovers of the outdoors, with Greece providing iconic hikes and beach sports, while Croatia offers a mix of marine activities and diverse natural parks to explore.

Is Greece or Croatia Better for Accommodation? 🇬🇷🇭🇷 Tie

Small guest house overlooking a beautiful bay in Greece.
Greece has a huge range of accommodations, from luxury hotels to basic guest houses.
Aerial Shot of Rixos Premium Dubrovnik Resort in Croatia
Croatia also offers a variety of accommodation options to suit any style or budget.

Greece

In Greece, accommodations range from luxurious island resorts to charming family-run guesthouses. The islands, especially Mykonos and Santorini, are known for their high-end hotels with stunning views and excellent service. For travelers on a budget, there are plenty of affordable hostels and apartments, particularly in the less touristy areas.

Croatia

Similarly, Croatia offers a wide array of accommodation options, including modern hotels in major cities, historic hotels in old towns, and seaside resorts along the Adriatic coast. Unique stays like lighthouses and agritourism farms are also available, providing a different experience from the standard hotel stay. The options cater to all budgets, ensuring comfort and convenience.

In terms of accommodations, both countries cater to a broad spectrum of travelers, with Greece offering a slightly more upscale atmosphere in select island resorts while Croatia provides a diverse range of unique lodging experiences.

Which Has Better Transportation? Croatia 🇭🇷

Buses in Greece.
Transport varies throughout Greece.
Croatian flag in the wind at sunset
Croatia is compact and has good transport infrastructure.

Thanks to its geography and layout, transport in Croatia is a little smoother.

Greece

Greece’s transportation is well-organized…at times but varies from region to region. Ferries connect the myriad of islands efficiently, while the mainland features an extensive bus network that connects major cities and tourist spots. Athens has a reliable metro system that is useful for navigating the city center. Renting cars or scooters can be ideal for more in-depth exploration, especially on larger islands.

Croatia

Croatia’s transportation infrastructure is also excellent, with excellent road conditions, making it ideal for road trips. Buses are the most common form of public transport and connect nearly all parts of the country, including smaller towns and villages. Ferries in Croatia are crucial for exploring the Adriatic coastline and the many islands, with regular services provided by numerous operators.

Both Greece and Croatia offer efficient transportation options that are suitable for tourists. Greece’s extensive island ferry network is particularly commendable, while Croatia’s road system is excellent for those who prefer to travel by car.

At the end of the day, Croatia is much easier to navigate due to the country’s shape, whereas Greece is a sprawling archipelago, and it can sometimes take days to get from point A to point B.

Which Is More Family Friendly, Greece or Croatia? Tie 🇭🇷 🇬🇷

Two Girls Sitting on Brown Bench Near Body of Water
Greece offers experiences for the whole family
Three Boy's Jumping Into the Water
Croatia has plenty of family-friendly destinations and accommodation

While we didn’t travel either with a family, both seemed ideal for family vacations.

Greece

Greece is family-friendly, with a culture that is warmly welcoming to children. The beaches are largely safe for children, and family-oriented accommodations are readily available. Attractions like water parks, safe beaches, and kid-friendly museums make it an appealing destination for families.

Croatia

Croatia is also a great choice for family vacations, offering plenty of outdoor activities that appeal to children, such as beach days and exploring national parks. The country’s historical sites, like the ancient walls of Dubrovnik, can be fascinating for older children learning about history.

Both Greece and Croatia are excellent for families, each offering a blend of activities and cultural experiences that can cater to both children and adults alike, with perhaps Greece having a slight edge in terms of child-oriented amenities like water parks.

Is Greece or Croatia Better for Romantic Getaways? Tie 🇭🇷 🇬🇷

Girl sitting on a sailboat at sunset.
Greece is perfect for taking in a romantic sunset over the sea from one of its many islands.
Turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea along the rocky shoreline.
Croatia has plenty of secluded beaches and coves for a romantic getaway

Greece

Greece is a quintessential romantic destination, especially popular for honeymoons and couple retreats. Santorini, with its iconic sunset views and white-washed buildings, tops the list for lovers. The intimate tavernas, secluded beaches, and luxury resorts cater perfectly to couples seeking romance and relaxation.

Croatia

Croatia also offers romantic settings, particularly in its historic cities like Dubrovnik and Rovinj, where couples can wander through ancient streets or dine overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Alternatively, smaller towns like Primosten or remote islands such as Lastovo offer secluded, intimate experiences. The serene landscapes of the Istrian peninsula and its hilltop towns also provide a picturesque backdrop for a romantic holiday.

Both countries offer enchanting environments for couples, with Greece perhaps being the more traditionally romantic, especially with its famed sunsets and islands, while Croatia provides a historic charm and a quieter alternative with equally breathtaking natural beauty.

Which Has Better Culture, Festivals, and Events, Greece or Croatia? Croatia 🇭🇷

greek dancers edited Greece or Croatia? A Traveler's Guide to Choosing Your Mediterranean Escape
Greece has many cultural and traditional festivals.
People Having a Concert
Croatia is probably more famous for its contemporary festivals.

We are more partial to Croatia’s events calendars, but that comes down to personal preference.

Greece

Greece is home to numerous festivals and events, reflecting its rich culture and traditions. The Athens & Epidaurus Festival is a highlight featuring international music, dance, and theatrical performances in ancient amphitheaters. Other significant events include the Thessaloniki Film Festival and the Carnival, which is celebrated with great enthusiasm.

Croatia

Croatia’s festival scene is vibrant, encompassing music, film, and cultural heritage. The Pula Film Festival, held in a Roman amphitheater, and the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, with its live performances in medieval settings, are key attractions. Music festivals like Outlook and Dimensions showcase Croatia’s appeal to younger audiences.

Both Greece and Croatia offer a rich tapestry of cultural events, with Greece focusing more on classical arts and traditional celebrations, while Croatia provides a mix of both historic cultural festivals and modern music gatherings appealing to a diverse crowd.

Which Has Better Nightlife? Greece 🇬🇷

Lighted Buildings Nighttime
Greece is famous for its nightlife.
Clear Wine Glass on Table
Croatia has some world-class nightlife destinations.

Greece

Nightlife in Greece has a huge variety. In Athens, you can enjoy lively bars and traditional tavernas in neighborhoods like Gazi and Psirri, which are perfect for experiencing local music and snacks. For those after a more intense party scene, head to Mykonos, where beach parties last until dawn, featuring international DJs. Santorini offers a quieter vibe with upscale wine bars and lounges that provide stunning views of the sea, ideal for a relaxed evening.

Croatia

Croatia’s nightlife is deeply influenced by its historic and picturesque settings. Cities like Split buzz with activity, especially around Diocletian’s Palace, where bars and clubs blend into the ancient architecture. Music festivals like Ultra Europe in Split draw huge crowds. Dubrovnik offers sophistication with its wine bars and upscale clubs in the Old Town, while Hvar caters to the chic, yacht-loving crowd with trendy beach clubs and vibrant bars. Croatia’s nightlife combines its cultural heritage with lively entertainment options.

While Croatia has a few places known for nightlife, Greece has a wider array of options.

*

Both Croatia and Greece offer rich, diverse experiences for travelers, whether they seek beaches, cultural sites, nightlife, or outdoor activities. Your choice between the two will ultimately depend on specific interests, such as the emphasis on ancient history in Greece versus the diverse cultural influences in Croatia, the vibrant island life versus historic coastal towns, or culinary preferences.

The good news is that there is no wrong answer, and both countries have more to offer travelers than can be seen in one lifetime.

Have you been or are you thinking about going to Greece or Croatia? Let us know your thoughts below.

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