Italy or Croatia? Which Place is Better to Visit?


Europe is rich in stunning countries. And two amazing places are Italy and Croatia. But which country is the better travel destination – Italy or Croatia?

While finding the perfect travel destination depends a lot on personal choices, there are a few parameters that might help you to find out if you should travel to Italy or Croatia.

Comparing countries is difficult and personal – this is supposed to be a post helping you to find the better destination to travel to. But it is not based on facts, but more based on my experiences and my impressions. So, you might disagree and have a different opinion, but this is for the readers who need some help when they are totally unsure about what to expect.

Spoiler: I think both countries are great and eventually you should visit Croatia and Italy. 

But of course, it is not always possible to visit both countries in a short period and so I have compiled a list. This list should help you in your decision-making process and finding out whether Croatia or Italy is the best to visit for you at the moment.

Maybe you agree, or maybe you disagree – however, these are not facts but just my opinion.

So, without further ado, here are the arguments for or against Italy/Croatia.

Better Place For History Nerds – Italy Vs Croatia

Italy and Croatia both have a long history and buildings that tell a lot about the past. Both countries impress with medieval towns and sights. 

Dubrovnik views from the city wall
In Croatia, we have Dubrovnik with its medieval walls (that are still very well maintained), Split, Sibenik, Pula, and more perfect places for anyone – not just the history geeks.

However, Italy takes the cake here. Rome alone has so much to offer for history fans – hardly any other city in Europe can compete. Just think of the Colosseum

Florence Michelangelo David Statue
Then we have the birthplace of the Renaissance – Florence. And let’s not forget all the small old towns that you can find in almost any town and city in Italy. 

Italy does not only win against Croatia but would win this category against most countries, so the winner is clear here!


Is Italy Or Croatia Better For Road Tripping

Which country is better for road trip? Italy or Croatia? My winner is clear: Croatia is the better place to road trip. At least, it is the more relaxed place to road trip. You may know that I drive regularly in Italy, but I am always anxious as heck – driving in Italy stresses me out (and also other non-Italians I have spoken to).

Best places to visit in the Dolomites
 The thing with driving in Italy is: The views are often scenic – depending, of course, on where you drive, but especially in the mountainous northern part of Italy, where the window views are amazing.

However, if you use the highways in Italy, you have to pay. A lot. The tolls are extremely high. But if you use the side streets, it will take you forever to get from one place to another.

Then, you have the crazy Italian driving style. I‘ll try to say it nicely – drivers in Italy are not very considerate. They tailgate (but somehow often don’t want to overtake), honk their horns whenever they feel like it, speed down narrow streets, and so on. 

Yes, I love Italy and Italians, but driving in Italy has been – so far – not a thing I truly enjoy. In addition to this, cars without a special permit often cannot drive into town centers.

However, many people regularly report that the GPS does not warn them, and it can easily happen that you drive there and receive a high fine (ask me, Bergamo charged me 70€).  Of course, it was my fault. With all the stress that already comes with driving in Italy, this is an unnecessary extra problem.

Driving in Croatia, on the other hand, is like a dream come true. Yes, tolls on the highways are extremely high. 

D8 street in Croatia when road tripping
Even higher than in Italy, BUT there are many, even more, scenic routes that you can drive for free. You can avoid paying toll highways most of the time – even if you drive from Rovinj to Dubrovnik, you can basically – and easily – drive without using highways. And I promise the roads and views are amazing.

Streets are mostly not narrow, but mostly wide enough – even the mountain roads. And streets, apart from cities and busy towns, are not busy, making driving in Croatia a lot of fun. 

Also, the drivers in Croatia are completely different from the drivers in Italy.

They are much more considerate and patient. Yes, I love driving in Croatia – actually, the Croatia road trip has been one of my favorite trips so far (probably even better than driving in Switzerland with its amazing mountain roads).


Which Country is Cheaper? Italy Vs Croatia

Croatia and Italy are both NOT budget-friendly destinations, in general. 

Croatia is no longer a hidden gem with great prices – but most countries aren’t the most expensive travel destinations in Europe either.

Fort Lovrijenac in Dubrovnik
If you visit in the summer months, both places will be expensive – you have pricey Dubrovnik (very pricey Dubrovnik actually) and Hvar in Croatia and many expensive places in Italy like Florence, Lake Como, Rome… (I could go on forever).

Rome in 2 weeks in Italy

So, in general, visiting either of the countries in July or August is not the best idea for your budget – but even though Croatia is not a cheap destination, overall, I would definitely say it is still cheaper than Italy in terms of accommodations, food, and activities.

If you are budget-conscious, then Croatia is probably the better place to visit, though prices increase with the more visitors the country gets.


Traveling With Dogs in Italy Or Croatia

If you are a dog owner, you might be wondering whether Italy or Croatia is more dog-friendly. 

Lago di Braies in the Dolomites
We have a clear winner: Italy is probably the most dog-friendly country in Europe (along with San Marino). 

This comes from two things: my dog loves Italy, and the people in Italy love my dog. It is such a tight bond that they have created in the last few years.

So, why is Italy so dog-friendly? First of all, quite a lot of accommodations allow dogs.  Sure, not all do, but compared to many other countries in Europe, dogs are often welcomed – and many times, without an extra charge.

Second, Italians show a lot of affection for dogs (at least for smaller dogs). My dog, Puppygak, makes friends daily. He normally is not the friendliest dog, but Italians talk to him in such a beautiful voice (and Italian is such a sweet language that dogs like it generally, I assume).

Next, you can take dogs (smaller and medium-sized at least) into many indoor places. Taking dogs into restaurants is quite common in many countries, but in Italy, I was allowed to take my dog into some museums, grocery stores, churches (yes, you have read that right), and other indoor buildings. 

Of course, sometimes dogs were not allowed, and sometimes dogs were only allowed if carried in bags. In popular places like Pisa and Florence, dogs were not allowed at the main attractions at all. But in the end, no other country has been as dog-friendly as Italy.

What about Croatia? Well, Croatia is not really dog-unfriendly, but it is also not really dog-friendly. If you filter accommodations on Booking that allow dogs, you will realize that a lower percentage than in Italy allows dogs. And thus, that leaves you with a smaller choice of accommodations.

Traveling in Croatia with a dog
Also, dogs are not allowed in most buildings – I was even kicked out of a bus in Dubrovnik because of my dog.

I did not even check if dogs were allowed because I assumed it would be fine (especially because he was carried in a little bag). On the other hand, he was allowed on boats in Dubrovnik and Rovinj.

So, I would not say Croatia is very dog-unfriendly, but Italy is the best place to visit in Italy with a dog.


Are the People in Croatia or Italy Friendlier?

There is no clear winner, and it is a close call, though I would probably say that the Italians might win by a hair. 

My experiences with Italians have been pretty positive – although Italians often vote for right-wing parties. And I have heard from some other visitors, especially colored people, that they experienced some blunt racism even when they visited for only a few days.

Luckily, I haven’t experienced anything like that. Yes, I do look Italian, but people quickly realize I am a foreigner – due to my lack of language skills. But I love how friendly the people are – yes, Italian men are very flirty, but even the women are amicable.

What about Croatians? Croatians are friendly, too – but somehow, they seem more reserved, and younger women, in particular, were not as friendly.

As for language, Croatians often speak better English (and many even speak some German,) but even communicating with Italians wasn’t a big issue. So, for me, Italians are the friendlier ones – but I sometimes wonder if the people are so overly friendly in Italy just because they really like my dog?! 

I don’t know, and I have heard other opinions, so my tip is to be open-minded in this category.


Where Are Better Mountains and Lakes? Croatia or Italy

To be more precise, the Dolomites in northern Italy, South Tyrol, is one of the most stunning outdoor places in Europe, if not the world.

Best lakes to visit in the Dolomites, Italy

Stunning lakes, like Lago di Braies and Lago di Carezza or Lago di Sorapis, and the uniquely shaped mountain range of the Dolomites, make Nort Italy one of the most distinctive unique areas in the world. This alone is reason enough to declare Italy, the winner for mountain and lake lovers. 

Yes, Croatia is mountainous, too. Driving in the mountains in Croatia is fun, and the views are beautiful, too. 

Dubrovnik old town view Srd Hill
But the Dolomites win the race and bring the trophy home for all of Italy.


Is The Weather in Croatia Or Italy Better

Both countries have a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and colder (and wetter) winter months. So, both are great for beach vacations in summer and perfect for sightseeing in spring and fall. And in winter, you can do some winter sports – at least in some areas of both countries.

It gets freezing in northern Italy in the winter months, and it is a perfect place for winter sports – but you can do winter sports in Croatia, too.

There is no winner in this category.


Where Are Better Waterfalls – Italy Vs Croatia

Italy is known for many things, and though there are some waterfalls in Italy, it surely is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Italy. 

Plitvice Lake in Croatia
One of the first attractions that come to mind when talking about Croatia, though, is the Plitvice National Park with its many, many waterfalls. Then there is the Krka National Park with even more waterfalls – so, if you chase amazing waterfalls, then Croatia is the place to go.


Best Fashion Country – Italy or Croatia

Are you a shopping addict? Then head to Italy – Italy is the fashion capital of Europe.  Especially around Milan, people are just extremely beautifully dressed, and in general, Italians are the best-dressed people. 

It does not surprise that many famous fashion designers, like Armani, are Italian. If you are a shopping addict, and especially into fashion, Italy is the better place to visit.


Where to Party – in Italy Or Croatia?

This is another category that I personally cannot really judge first-hand. Given the many big cities, I assume Italians have a lot of parties taking place. However, it seems that visitors love Croatia as a party destination. Think about the Yacht Weeks and Hvar – the party island. Younger people who like to party tend to flock to Croatia!


Are the Beaches in Italy Better or in Croatia

Are you looking for a relaxed and still fun beach holiday? Okay, I am not the expert here as I am not the biggest beach person – but both Italy and Croatia have beautiful beaches.

Due to their locations, both countries have many beaches, and it will never take too long to find a beach. You can even combine a city trip with some days at the beach. But there are differences. 

Beach in Croatia, road trip in Croatia

Many of Croatia‘s beaches are rocky or pebbly beaches – which is not to everyone’s taste. The water is clear and stunning, but it really comes down to whether you like sandy beaches or not.

There are definitely enough beaches to choose from, and if you really want to find a sandy beach, you can find those, too. Beaches in Italy are also stunning – not all beaches are sandy here, either, but you can find more of them.

So, both places are great for a beach vacation, and I cannot really name a winner.


Is Food in Croatia as Good as in Italy?

If asked for one of the world’s best foods, many would probably name Italy in their top 3.

Vegetarian food in Italy-2

Italy has some amazing food – pizza and pasta are just some of the delicious food options. Let’s not forget about antipasto and gelato.

Yes, the food in Italy is great, and I don’t know anyone who seriously dislikes Italian food. There are, however, some big differences between southern and northern Italian food (I am more into southern Italian food, with its vegetables).

BUT Croatia is actually also known for good food – seafood and meat lovers especially are in heaven in Croatia. The food here is heavier though not bad. You can find international dishes (like the Indian food in the picture), but that is not typical Croatian food.

Vegan food in Dubrovnik

Though I do not eat any seafood or meat, I did have some great dinners there, and Croatia for sure did not disappoint. However, given the overall reputation of food in both countries, Italy wins here.


Where is the better Wine – in Croatia or Italy

So, for many, this might be another important aspect. Where do you get better wine? This is another category I am no expert in, but think of Tuscany!

Wine tasting at Ruffinio Relais Tuscany estate


Besides the green rolling hills, it is all about wine – what wine lover does not dream of visiting Italy and trying all the different wines? The biggest wine producer in Italy has also opened its own relais – perfect for anyone who wants to combine a vacation with wine tasting!

Yes, Croatia also has a long history of wine production. If you drive through Croatia, you will find many vineyards along the way – but when competing against Italy, Croatia gets the short end of the stick.


Where to Go? Croatia or Italy?

This comparison is totally based on my own judgment. Of course, I tried to back it up here and there with facts, BUT please do not take it too personally. 

It should help you find the perfect destination – we are all different and are all looking for different things when traveling. Both share a lot of similarities, but also some differences.

I do like both countries and have enjoyed my time there. But of course, it is not only we humans that are different but also our countries. Maybe you agree, or maybe you disagree and have had different experiences. Either way, don’t take my opinion for fact, though I try to be as honest as I can be.

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