Although Lake Balaton is still an important holiday destination for Hungarians, more and more people choose to go to the Adriatic Sea than to the Lake. According to the most recent statistic the number of Hungarians vacationing in Croatia has peaked last year. Pénzcentrum.hu compared the costs of a family vacations in the two countries.
Many Hungarians choose to travel to Croatia because it’s close and the costs are reasonable. According to Attila Orient, editor of horvatorszaginfo.hu, the most frequently visited locations are the Islands of Kvarner Gulf such as Krk- and Rab Island, but the Crikvenica Riviera and the Split region are also popular.
According to the data based on tourism tax, almost 465,000 Hungarians have visited Croatia in 2015; 16.8% more than in 2014. The number of overnight stays was 2.493 million, 15.5% more than in 2014. The number of overnight stays spent by Hungarians at Lake Balaton is 3.266 million. Although the numbers favour Lake Balaton, the number of overnight stays in the second most popular Budapest-Central Transdanubia region is far less than in Croatia.
Although it’s hard to predict what will happen in 2016, but according to Marin Skenderovic, representative of the Croatian National Tourist Board in Budapest said that the number of tourists will probably increase in 2016, although not as rapidly as last year, because due to recent events many people avoid travelling by plane.
The city of Dubrovnik in Croatia has new laws concerning tourists who are not dressed properly while walking on the streets: according to the new law, a fine as high has 100 000 HUF can be given to anyone who is not dressed appropriately (e.g. wearing bikinis or wearing nothing from the waist up).
Comparing the prices, Lake Balaton is much closer to Budapest than any Croatian city. According to penzcentrum.hu’s findings, the Budapest-Siófok route costs around 9 985 HUF by car (there and back) at takes an hour, but the same trip to Rijeka, Croatia costs at least 39 679 HUF (including the gate fee) and takes 4 hours and 40 minutes. Gas fees are high in Croatia at the moment, so it’s cheaper to fill the car’s tank in Hungary before going.
The website compared the housing prices for two adults and two kids, for four nights. Although there’s a huge difference in the prices depending on where the hotel or apartment is located, Lake Balaton is usually cheaper: apartments can be rented as cheap as 45 000 HUF at Lake Balaton, and rooms in a 3 star hotel are around 83 000 HUF. The same costs about 70 000 HUF in Croatia, but hotel rooms can be as expensive as 211 000 HUF.
It’s advised to take a good look around on several websites, because there are huge price gaps sometimes. Bus tours lasting for 3-4-5 days could also be a good option.
Food prices tend to go up during the summer season in Croatia, especially if the restaurant or shop is in a frequently visited location. The prices are similar in Lake Balaton, and it’s always cheaper to shop at local markets and supermarkets.
A family dinner costs around 8 200 – 10 250 HUF in Croatia, depending on the restaurants location and the food, but it costs almost the same at Lake Balaton. The location is extremely important, because the more tourists visit the place the higher the prices are. Eating at different buffets or street food stands can be 20-30% cheaper.
The entry fees at Lake Balaton and in Croatia are also about the same: visiting the Plitvice Lakes National Parks costs 4 510 HUF/adults and 3 280 HUF/students. The entry to the Pula amphitheatre is 2050 HUF/adults and 1025 HUF/students. Going to the Krka National Park is of course more expensive, 6 150 HUF/adults and 3 690 HUF/students.
The prices are about the same at Lake Balaton: the entry to Csopak beach is 2 200 HUF for families (2 adults at 4 children at tops); the Aqua park at Balatonfüred costs a little more: 4000 HUF for children between the ages of 3 and 10, and it’s 6000 for anyone above the age of 18. The family ticket costs 9000 HUF (2 adults and 3 or more children). Taking a cruise trip at Lake Balaton costs around 6 800 – 9 600 HUF.
The quality of the water is excellent in both places, but the Adriatic sea is usually warmer (24-27°C), while the water of Lake Balaton is usually around 20-23°C during the summer. The number of sunny hours is much higher in Croatia (2600, and it’s around 2000 at Lake Balaton), and the chances of having a summer storm in Croatia is lower. Also, there are special insurances which gives a 50-100% refund for rainy days.
It’s evident that, apart from travelling costs, the prices are usually the same at Lake Balaton and in Croatia. Gaining information and choosing the best option can save a lot of money whichever place we choose to go. However, SZÉP cards are only accepted within Hungary, and this may convince many families to stay in the country.
Copy editor: bm