Here’s How We’re Paying to Go to Croatia This Fall

Recently, my husband and I were trying to figure out the best place to travel for a week this fall. We have some free time in November where my mom is going to stay with our kids, but we weren’t sure where to go or what to do.

We are already doing quite a bit of Caribbean travel this year, so we were thinking of going to Europe. But, we didn’t want to go just anywhere in Europe – we wanted to go somewhere that would have enjoyable weather in November.

Ultimately, we started looking for flight options to several destinations – Portugal and Western Spain, for example, along with Sicily and Croatia. After a few weeks, we found a sale fare from Chicago to Zagreb and home to Chicago from Dubrovnik for around $628 per person on Lufthansa.


How We’re Paying for the Rest of Our Trip

While I like to use airline miles when we fly, there are times when it makes sense to pay cash for a flight instead. I would much rather fork over $628 of my travel budget per person to fly to Croatia than 42,500 – 60,000 American miles per person (or several other airline currencies), which would have been my alternative if I could even find availability.

However, flying into Zagreb and home from Dubrovnik has some challenges – namely, that country is so long and skinny and hard to get around. Ultimately, we chose to book two nights in Zagreb and five nights in Dubrovnik so we could plan our day trips out from there. And since there is scarce public transportation that is time effective, we booked one-way flights from Zagreb to Dubrovnik on Croatia Airlines through Chase Ultimate Rewards. These are cheap one-way flights that last only 50 minutes, so our cost was approximately 4,300 Chase Ultimate Rewards points each.

For our hotels, I used 15,449 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book two nights at the Palace Hotel in Zagreb. For our five nights in Dubrovnik, I was torn on whether to use Hilton Honors points or cash at the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik. In the end, I chose to pay around $650 USD for five nights at the Hilton because it was so cheap. I could have paid a little over 100,000 Hilton Honors points instead (it was 26,000 Hilton points per night for our stay plus 5th night free), but I am trying to save up Hilton Honors points for a big redemption. I am happy that, since we now have Hilton Diamond status, we will qualify for free breakfast, lounge access, and an upgrade at the hotel. Hopefully, we will get a sweet view of historic Dubrovnik.

I don’t really want to spend five full days in Dubrovnik, but it is a nice place to branch out for some day trips. While we’ll spend three days in the city of Dubrovnik itself, we also booked the following day trips through Chase Ultimate Rewards:

  • Montenegro – Perast, Kotor, and Budva Full Day Trip from Dubrovnik – 10,390 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for two people
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina Day Trip including Mostar and Medjugorje – 8,096 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for two people

We’ll be in Zagreb for a few days, and I’m really excited about one of those days because we booked a day trip to Plitvice Lakes. This trip was pretty affordable (in points), too.

  • Plitvice Lakes, Rastoke Village, Turanj Fortress and Cheese Tasting – 19,120 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for two people

The Bottom Line

All in all, I think this trip will probably cost us around $2,500 total. We paid a little over $1,300 for our flights and around $650 for our hotel in Dubrovnik. Since our day trips are paid for with rewards, we’ll mainly just need to pay for food.

I try to use points or miles when I can, but the cheap flights and hotel in Dubrovnik convinced me to spend some of my travel budget this time. Sometimes it works out that way, but I’m happy to save my stash of points for another trip.


Have you ever been to Croatia? How did you pay and where did you stay?

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