A Travel Price Comparison for Croatia Zagreb vs. Novalja for Nightlife, Backpackers, Food, and Families

Should you visit Zagreb or Novalja?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Zagreb and Novalja. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Zagreb

Zagreb is a local, historic, and beautiful city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Novalja

Novalja is a energetic, backpacker-filled, and wild town. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the nightlife and beaches.

Zagreb and Novalja: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less family-friendly


Is there more to do in Zagreb or Novalja?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Zagreb than Novalja, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Zagreb is better known for its museums, food, historical sights, shopping, and big city activities, while Novalja is more popular for its nightlife, resorts, beaches, and impressive beauty. Novalja is more touristy than Zagreb and is known for its crazy beach parties and popularity with the young backpacker crowd. Zagreb is well known for its museums, parks, and convenient transportation options. Also, Zagreb is famous for The Zagreb Cathedral.

How is Zagreb different from Novalja?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Novalja and Zagreb. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Zagreb or Novalja?

Zagreb
Novalja

Zagreb is a great destination for its museums and landmarks. However, Novalja is a town with minimal options for its historical sights.

Zagreb offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. There are many historical sights around town, particularly in the historic Upper Town. Make sure you visit the Zagreb Cathedral, the Museum of Broken Relationships, Lotrscak Tower, and the historic Stone Gate.

If you're looking to pass the time, head to a museum or historic sight in Novalja. It's a beach and party destination, not somewhere you go for museums or historical sights.


Is the Food Better in Zagreb or Novalja? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Zagreb
Novalja

Zagreb is a great destination for its restaurant scene. However, Novalja is a town with minimal options for its local flavors and cuisine.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Zagreb. The food is heartier than you might expect with many recipes that involve stew or dumplings. Cheese and meat are common ingredients as well, with far less seafood than you'll find in the coastal cities. Popular dishes include Zagrebački odrezak (a rolled up ham, cheese, and veal sandwich), Štrukli (dough filled with cheese), and Ajngemahtec (vegetarian stew).

Novalja may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. You'll find a lot of places to grab a quick bite to eat or a cheap meal around town. There are pizzerias, fast food, and some nicer bistros to choose from.

Is Zagreb or Novalja Better for Nightlife?

Zagreb
Novalja

Novalja is a must-visit destination for nightlife and partying. Also, Zagreb is still popular, but not quite as popular for its evening party scene.

Novalja is a world class party destination. This is a party island, and you'll find most of the action around Zrce Beach, which is about a 20 minute drive from town. The party scene appeals to the young, backpacker crowd and there's live music, DJs, and parties that last well into the morning. Zrce Beach has a huge number of bars and clubs including three clubs that are listed on the Top 100 DJ's Magazine Best Clubs List.

The nightlife in Zagreb has something for everybody. There are a huge number of live music venues, clubs, and bars around town where locals hang out late into the evening. The city's nightlife has a more local vibe than other Croatian cities, so you can party with the students and residents and get a true feel for the Croatian culture.

Is Zagreb or Novalja Better for Resorts?

Zagreb
Novalja

Novalja is a town with a few options for its resorts. However, Zagreb is not a resort destination.

Not known for its high-end resorts, Novalja offers a few options. Most of the accommodation is in the form of apartments or hostels. There are also some hotels on the island, but because the number is limited they can be quite expensive.

Zagreb is not a resort destination.


Is Zagreb or Novalja Better for Beaches?

Zagreb
Novalja

Novalja is a great destination for the beache. However, Zagreb is not a beach destination.

Many people visit Novalja for it's beautiful beaches. You'll find a mix of beaches near town including hidden gems that feel remote and undiscovered as well as wild party beaches like the famed Zrce Beach. Many beaches are pebbly or have coarse sand with turquoise blue waters.

Zagreb is not a beach destination.

Is Zagreb or Novalja Better for its Old Town?

Zagreb
Novalja

Zagreb is a great destination for its old town. However, Novalja does not have a historic old town.

Many visitors explore the old town while visiting Zagreb. The upper town is filled with charm, cafes, and historical landmarks such as St. Mark Church, Kamenita Vrata (the Stone Gate), and the cathedral.

Novalja does not have a historic old town.

Is the Shopping Better in Zagreb or Novalja?

Zagreb
Novalja

Zagreb is a great destination for its shopping opportunities. However, Novalja is a town with minimal options for its shopping areas.

Zagreb is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. The city has a huge number of shopping centers where you'll find retail shops selling international brands, clothing, jewelry, sporting goods, and more.

Shopping in Novalja can be found for those interested. This isn't the place to go shopping for clothing or local items. You will find some beach and souvenir shops around town though.


Is Zagreb or Novalja Better for Families?

Zagreb
Novalja

Zagreb is a popular place for its family-friendly activities. However, Novalja is a town with minimal options for its kid-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Zagreb. The city is filled with parks where kids can run around. There are also kid-friendly museums like the Museum of Illusions and markets that are fun for the whole family. While it doesn't have the coastal activities that many Croatian towns offer, this is a unique city in its own way.

For families, Novalja is not always the best place to visit. While there are family-friendly places to visit like some beaches and waterparks, at its heart this is a party destination that is known for its wild parties and crazy crowds.

Is Zagreb or Novalja Better for Couples?

Zagreb
Novalja

Zagreb and Novalja both notable destinations for a couple.

Zagreb makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Filled with history and beautiful parks, this often overlooked Croatian city actually has a lot that couples can enjoy. The historical monuments offer a glimpse into the country's past and the markets let you experience a more authentic side to what has become a very touristy country.

Novalja is a good city for couples to visit. Stunning beaches, blue waters, and surreal landscapes make this a one-of-a-kind place to visit. But romance isn't on most people's minds, as this is first and foremost a party destination.

Is Zagreb or Novalja Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Zagreb
Novalja

Novalja is a must-visit destination for backpackers. Also, Zagreb is still popular, but not quite as popular for backpackers and budget travelers.

Backpackers and budget travelers come from all over the world to visit Novalja. Famous for its wild parties that attract backpackers and young travelers, this island destination has become a hotspot for backpackers and party-goers. There are hostels around town that offer a cheap place to crash.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Zagreb. Because it's not the most touristy city, prices are reasonable. There are also a wide range of hostels in town where you can meet other backpackers and enjoy the fun environment.


Is Zagreb or Novalja Better for Students?

Zagreb
Novalja

Zagreb is a great destination for students. However, Novalja is not popular with students.

Zagreb is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. There's an endless supply of bars and cafes where students hang out. This is a great student city that offers access to many beautiful parts of Croatia and Europe in general.

Novalja is not popular with students.

Is Zagreb or Novalja Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Zagreb
Novalja

Zagreb is a great destination for its public transit. Also, Novalja is still popular, but not quite as popular for times when you don't have a car.

Zagreb has some very good public transit options. The system includes trams, buses, and a funicular.

While Novalja offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are local buses around the island or you can rent a personal vehicle like a motorbike or scooter.

Is Zagreb or Novalja a more walkable city?

Zagreb
Novalja

Zagreb is a great destination for its high level of walkability. Also, Novalja is still popular, but not quite as popular for its ease of walking around.

Zagreb is a very walkable city. It's a city that lives outdoors. It's very walkable with many outdoor cafes and parks where you can take a stroll.

Novalja is a somewhat walkable city. In town, you can reach most places on foot, but if you want to explore further you'll need to find another way to get around.


For even more information, also check out Is Zagreb Worth Visiting? and Is Novalja Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Novalja or Zagreb?

How long in Zagreb or Novalja?

It's fun to spend time in either Zagreb or Novalja. In our opinion, Zagreb has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Zagreb than Novalja. However, 2-4 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Families should spend more time in Zagreb than Novalja. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Zagreb, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Zagreb than Novalja. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Zagreb that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Zagreb than Novalja if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Zagreb.


  • How many days in Zagreb or Novalja? Ideal Length of Stay
    Zagreb 2-4 
    Novalja 2-4

One day in Zagreb or Novalja?

In Zagreb, you'll find nightlife and food. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. This city offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

Many travelers enjoy the nightlife when visiting the destination of Novalja. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Zagreb or Novalja?

In Zagreb, you'll find food and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Visiting the old town is also a must. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Zagreb has to offer.

Novalja is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Don't miss the nightlife, as that's what most people do. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Five days in Zagreb or Novalja?

Zagreb is a great place to explore. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Novalja. Don't miss the nightlife, as that's what most people do. Most people come for the beaches. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


A week in Zagreb or Novalja?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Zagreb. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Zagreb. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

Travelers enjoy the nightlife when visiting the wild destination of Novalja. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours from Dubrovnik, The Best 2-Week Tours from Split, The Best Family-Friendly Tours to Croatia, and The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in Croatia.


Which place is cheaper, Novalja or Zagreb?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Zagreb is $83, while the average daily cost in Novalja is $63. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Zagreb and Novalja in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Zagreb $52
    Novalja $34
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Zagreb $104
    Novalja $68
Compare Hotels in Zagreb and Novalja

Looking for a hotel in Zagreb or Novalja? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Zagreb


Hotels in Novalja


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Zagreb Hotel Prices and Novalja Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Zagreb $9.83
    Novalja $13

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Zagreb

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Zagreb:

  • Airport Zagreb Transfer and Shuttle : $99
  • Arrival Private Transfer from Zagreb Airport ZAG to Zagreb City by luxury van: $66
  • Departure Private Transfer from Zagreb City to Zagreb Airport ZAG by Minivan: $66
  • From Sarajevo: One-Way Transfer to Zagreb & Plitvice Lakes: $432
  • From Split: Transfer to Zagreb with Stop at Plitvice Lakes: $150
  • From Plitvice Lakes Round-Trip Comfort Bus Transfer: $15
  • From Transfer to Split & Plitvice Lakes Guided Tour: $161
  • Guided transfer from Zagreb to Split with Plitvice Lakes stop: $153
  • Krka National Park Private Tour from Zagreb with transfer to Sibenik: $273
  • Krka National Park Private Tour from Zagreb with transfer to Split: $298
  • Luxury Private Transfer Zagreb - Zagreb Airport: $41
  • Luxury Private Transfer Zagreb Airport to Hotels and Vice Versa: $88

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Novalja

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Novalja:

  • Private Transfer from Crikvenica to Rijeka Airport (RJK): $75
  • Zrce, Private Transfer to/from Zadar Airport: $172

Is it cheaper to fly into Zagreb or Novalja?

Prices for flights to both Novalja and Zagreb change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Zagreb $18
    Novalja $21

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Zagreb

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Zagreb.

  • Taste Zagreb Food Tour: $75
  • Taste Zagreb Food Tour: $76
  • Private Authentic Market Tour and Cooking Class in the Heart of Zagreb: $144
  • Wine & Food tour of Plešivica near Zagreb: $961

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Zagreb $13
    Novalja $6.57

Tours and Activities in Zagreb

Here are a few actual costs in Zagreb for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • First Discovery Walk and Reading Walking Tour: $3.24
  • Nikola Tesla Technical Museum Ticket: $4.32
  • Highlights Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt & Tour: $5.40
  • City Exploration Game and Tour: $6.48
  • Skip-the-Ticket-Line Museum of Broken Relationships: $7.56
  • Museum of Illusions Entrance Ticket: $9.72
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour: $11
  • Zagreb's Old Town: Walking In-App Audio Tour(ENG): $11
  • Self-Guided Zagreb Tour; Sit & Meet - Meet the great Croats: $15
  • Small-Group Walking Highlights Tour: $16
  • City Walking Tour w/ Funicular Ride and WW2 Tunnels: $19
  • Group walking tour of Zagreb (funicular included): $22

Tours and Activities in Novalja

Here are a few actual costs in Novalja for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Bungee Tower Ticket with Zrce Beach Panoramic Views: $31
  • From Svetojanj Bike Tour: $48
  • Standup Paddleboard Guided Tour: $48
  • From Kolanjsko Blato, Kolan, and Mandre Bike Tour: $48
  • From Metajna/Pag Bay Guided Sea Kayaking Tour: $50
  • Zrce Beach Tandem Bungee Jumping Experience: $51
  • Zrce: Novalja Boat Party Booze Cruise: $53
  • Glowing Standup Paddleboard Guided Night Tour: $58
  • Pag Island Light-Up Kayak Night Tour: $63
  • Kayak and Via Ferrata Adventure: $71
  • Zrce Beach Bungee Jumping Experience: $75

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Zagreb $9.63
    Novalja $7.87

Sample the Local Flavors in Zagreb

Also in Zagreb, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Zagreb:Private Bar Crawling and Alcohol Testing with a Guide: $32
  • Private Zagreb Walking Tour and Wine Tasting From Zagreb: $104
  • Taste Zagreb Heritage Wine Tasting with Traditional Lunch: $176
  • Plesivica countryside Wine Tasting: $200
  • Fairytale castle & delicious wine tasting and lunch: $204
  • Castles & Wine Tasting - Private Day Trip from Zagreb: $218
  • Private Wine Tour from Two Local Wineries & Samobor : $220
  • Plesivica Region Wine Tasting Half-day Tour : $275


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Zagreb and Novalja, we can see that Zagreb is more expensive. And not only is Novalja much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Novalja would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Novalja and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Zagreb would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Zagreb than you might in Novalja.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Zagreb Expensive? and Is Novalja Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Zagreb or Novalja?

Zagreb has a larger population, and is about 330 times larger than the population of Novalja. When comparing the sizes of Zagreb and Novalja, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.