It’s easy to see why remote workers might be tempted by this corner of the Balkans. Pebble beaches washed by teal-blue sea, a mix of Slavic and Italian cooking, handsome medieval towns, Roman ruins – it’s all on the menu. But what are the best towns and the best cities in Croatia for digital nomads?
That’s what this guide is all about. Here, we’ll scour the long, thin backbone of the Balkans from tip to toe on the hunt for the places that we think hit the high notes when it comes to providing for remote workers.
There’s a good mix of options. You’ve got buzzy cityscapes in the form of Zagreb, where student crowds mingle and meet in bars and EDM clubs. You’ve got classic Dalmatian resorts where you’ll find idyllic beaches. You’ve even got island towns that are known for their summertime partying from May onwards. Let’s begin…
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All things considered, we don’t think there’s anywhere that can beat Split to the top of this list of the best cities in Croatia for digital nomads. It’s got it all. Fast internet? Yep. Fantastic rental options for month+ periods? You bet. History? Loads. Urban beaches? Plentiful. It’s the all-rounder pick that should suit all remote workers.
The piece de resistance here has to be that UNESCO World Heritage Site core. Called Diocletian’s Palace, it was first built in the Roman era but has since been added to. Today, you’ll visit cafés tucked under Byzantine-style cathedrals and glug beers in the shadow of Doric peristyles from the age of the emperors.
To the west, the Marjan peninsula is the place to go beach hunting. You can walk out there from the old town to find lovely pebble coves like Kasjuni within an hour. You could also go east, which is where the livelier party beaches of Bacvice and Žnjan await. Finally, Split is a fine jump-off point for the Dalmatian islands, which means weekends can be spent bopping around the Hvar marina or lazing on Brac’s fantastic sands.
The pull of Pula is in the city’s mix of history and nature. Perched at the very pinnacle of the Istrian Peninsula, the town is surrounded by high cliffs and sea caves, but also mountains dotted with olive farms. Delve within and you find ancient Roman temples standing next to one of the best-preserved ancient amphitheaters anywhere in Europe. It’s pretty tempting stuff.
The last couple of years have brought a growing DN community to Pula. That’s had a knock-on effect on the internet speeds (which were already pretty decent since this is a student city) and infrastructure (there are more medium-term rental options in the town today than there were five years back).
Our advice would be to look for somewhere to stay in the new town areas of Kaštanjer or Pješčana Uvala. They are a little further out from the historic core, where you’ll get a more lived-in, local vibe. The latter also has top access to the Pula beaches on the south side of the Verudela headland.
Zagreb reigns supreme among the best cities in Croatia for digital nomads according to Nomadlist (the global ranking for DN destinations). It’s easy to see why. First, the town offers a cost of living that’s well below the national average – estimations put your monthly outgoings here at just $1,900 per person, which includes rent, food, drink, activities, the whole shebang. Second, it’s got some of the best nomad infrastructure around, with co-working spots, cafés, urban Airbnbs, and more.
Thing is, Zagreb probably isn’t the Croatia you’ve been dreaming of. Home to just shy of one million people, it’s the largest town in the country. It’s also far from the glinting coves and yachting meccas of the Adriatic, tucked deep into the Samobor Mountains on the Slovenian Border.
The message is: Don’t come here expecting sunbathing and swimming. Come to experience one of Croatia’s buzzing student towns, visit the country’s finest museums, and hit the hardest nightlife spots the nation can muster.
Zadar is a great choice for nomads on the hunt for somewhere a touch more off-the-beaten-path yet still with one foot in the shimmering Adriatic Sea. Sat on the northern part of the Dalmatian coast, it’s not as busy as Split et al in the middle of the summer, though there are still lovely sands like Plaža Borik and Plaża Kozino to chill on when the weather’s hot.
The center – like so many here – dates to the Roman era and has temples rising up from medieval plazas. The whole lot is anchored on a promenade known as the Riva. That’s where you’ll find the most iconic landmarks in town, in the form of a modern sea organ and light display that harnesses the power of the sea to provide public entertainment.
Zadar strikes a nice balance between the sought-after climate, coast, and lifestyle of Dalmatia and cost of living. You probably won’t spend quite so much here as in, say, Dubrovnik, and there’s just a fraction of the tourist hordes to contend with come August time.
Calling all nomads who like to party – Hvar Town is where you’re going to want to be. From May to August every year, this small clutch of terracotta-topped buildings on the western end of its namesake island turns into a sleepless bout of pub crawling and chill-hop sessions in Hula Hula Beach Bar. It’s largely fed by the influx of yachters, who you can’t miss on account of their priceless ships bobbing in Hvar harbor.
More than just a place to shindig and glug champagne after sessions at the laptop, Hvar Town can also offer access to the hiking and biking routes that weave through the island’s interior. They are stunning from spring to fall, with blooms of aromatic lavender and forests of Aleppo pines broken up by the occasional ancient farm.
The downside of Hvar is the cost. Staying here in the peak season – the season that EVERYONE wants to come to Hvar – will set you back a whole load more than a jaunt to another Dalmatian Island or the mainland. You’re looking at an average expenditure in the region of $2,750 per person, per month according to Nomadlist.
Rijeka is the main port in the depths of the Kvarner Gulf in the northern part of the country. It’s a bustling, lived-in sort of place and one of the man industrial hubs of the region. But it’s also right there on the doorstep of lovely Istria (see Pula above) and the island of Krk (a top escape for summer breaks to the beaches).
In recent years, more and more folk have been looking to Rijeka as a good gateway to the Kvarner. That’s mainly thanks to all the work that’s gone into the local airport – plenty of low-cost carriers now link the town with other EU hubs. But it’s also because Rijeka was crowned European Capital of Culture in 2020, something that turned on the spotlight.
Nomads who come tend to get a good deal. The cost of living in Rijeka can be a touch less than it is in more developed resort towns like Dubrovnik and Split. Plus, there’s a charming old city area that dates back to Roman times. Oh, and a 30-minute drive can give you the coves of eastern Istria, which boast some of the clearest H2O this side of the Maldives.
There’s no more jaw-dropping a town in Europe than Dubrovnik. It’s not for nothing that it was chosen as the filming location for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. Castles lurching from the Adriatic meet crenulated walls dating from the 12th century, an old town maze of cobbled lanes and orange-roofed homes wedged within.
Looks aside, Dubrovnik also deserves a place among the best cities in Croatia for digital nomads. Yes, there’s been a much-publicized backlash against Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms in these parts in recent years. However, a lot of the resentment has been driven by the boom in cruise ship traffic, not the ever-growing DN community.
And there really is a community…At last count there was nearly 50 co-working hubs, and the town even runs its own in-residence digital nomad program. Perhaps more pointedly, it’s tucked between stunning beaches and islands, has oodles of nightlife options, and even boasts access to the high ridges of the Dinaric Alps.
The best cities in Croatia for digital nomads – our conclusion
Croatia isn’t short on options for digital nomads. Since joining the EU in 2013, this corner of the Balkans has only grown as a potential place for remote workers to set up shop. There are now even dedicated nomad visas and work programs for those looking to come here for extended periods. There’s loads on offer, too, no matter whether you’re seeking a place to live by the see-through waters of the Adriatic or a Slavic cityscape with student bars and history museums.