Dramatic coastal cliffs. Crooked cobblestone streets. Shimmering azure waters. Croatia is one of the most photogenic countries on Earth, and the rightful backdrop to Westeros’ majestic King’s Landing.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what that means (I’ll admit I didn’t until I arrived in Dubrovnik) – Croatia will win you and your camera over, even if you have no idea what Jon Snow looks like.
Feeling the need to send a million pictures already? Grab a local SIM card, and flood the timelines of unsuspecting friends and family with those jealousy-inducing shots.
Note: Croatia is part of the European Union, which introduced new roaming regulations in June 2017. These “roam like at home” rules effectively ended roaming charges across much of Europe, meaning you’ll usually pay no more for calls, texts, and data in other EU countries than you would in the country of purchase.
There are some exceptions and limits, however, so be sure to double-check the details at time of purchase if you’re planning to use your SIM elsewhere in the region.
The main cell carriers in Croatia are T-Hrvatski Telekom (T-HT), Vipnet, and Tele2. T-HT is the leading service provider, with almost half of users in the country. It is also the one with the largest 4G network, covering nearly 97% of the country as of 2016.
T-HT and Vipnet offer tourist packages, which are short-term, prepaid plans heavy on data. Vipnet’s plan includes 100 minutes of domestic voice calls / 100 domestic SMS, so if you need those, it could be a good option. T-HT charges extra for them.
T-HT is also slightly more expensive, but I picked it due to the larger high-speed network.
You can purchase packages at the carrier’s official stores, as well as in several convenience stores, souvenir shops and electronic stores around the country.
Setup is easy enough – simply put the SIM card in your device, and as soon as it recognizes the network, you’re good to go.
I bought mine from an official T-HT store in Zadar. As soon as I entered, I was asked to take a number from a machine by the door. The screen gave two options in Croatian, for personal or business customers. The machine does offer English versions of the text, but if it happens to not work (as was the case for me) you should go with “privatni korisnici”, or private user.
As soon as my number came up, a representative who spoke flawless English took care of me. No passport or ID card was needed for the tourist contract, though it would be if you would like to sign up for any of the non-tourist packages.
If you have any problems that turning your device on and off doesn’t fix, the stores can lend you a hand – even if, like me, the problem is self-inflicted and embarrassingly silly. Hint: don’t try to open your iPhone’s SIM card slot with a wooden toothpick. It will not end well.
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The tourist package set me back 85 kune (11€). The unlimited data plan itself costs 80 kune per week, with the remaining 5 kune are kept as credit. Once the week is up, T-HT sends a text reminding you that the plan will be renewed if sufficient credit is available.
If you decide to go for the daily plan, it runs 15 kune (2€) per day. Adding 45 minutes of voice calls costs 10 kune (1.35€) per month.
If you’re in the country for longer, monthly packages are also available, eg. 2GB of data for 75 kune.
For Vipnet, the tourist plan costs 75 kune (10€) per week, or 15 kune (2€) per day.
You can recharge your account in the usual ways: online through the provider’s website or app, with a call or text message to the service provider, or with a voucher purchased at the same places you buy SIM cards from.
International cards are allowed for payment. When I recharged my account I went the online route, and my Spanish credit card worked without a glitch.
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Coverage and Data Speeds
Data was consistent and reliable throughout the country, alternating between 3G and 4G depending on the area. Speeds ranged from 2Mbps to 15Mbps, and service was reliable — I made several calls with WhatsApp audio during my stay, and had no major interruptions in any of them.
I found the fastest data to be in the cities, particularly Split, but also got decent service on the island of Lokrum, off the Dubrovnik coast.