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How to Get a FREE Holiday to Zagreb, 12 Months a Year

By 18 October 2018

It is one of the hottest tourism destinations on the planet.


(Photo Igor Tomljenovic)

Almost 2,000km of idyllic coastline and 1,000 islands.


(Photo Romulic and Stojcic)

Home to the sunniest island in Europe. (The island of Hvar - and the view at night is not bad either)


With some of the best beaches in the world. 


A destination of heritage and culture, with no less than 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


The birthplace of Nikola Telsa, a symbol of this natural paradise, and home to the quietest and cleanest rally in the world. 


Birthplace also of the original Zinfandel, just one of 130 indigenous grape varieties. 

Outstanding regional food, so great that the late Anthony Bourdain said you were a f*cking idiot if you not been here.  

A country famed for its beauty and the perfect location for blockbuster films and TV series, such as HBO hit, Game of Thrones.

A country which won millions of hearts in Russia this year, for its performances both on - and off - the pitch at the World Cup. 


Full of Life, the Mediterranean as It Once Was, and the New Tourism Star of the EU. Whatever the slogan, the story is the same - Croatia is IN. With 18 million tourists a year and rising, each year is seemingly a new record. 

But how to visit this idyliic Adriatic haven for free? 12 months a year?

Yes, it is possible, if you organise yourself to use the opportunities available in Croatia to have Croatia provide you savings which not only cover the cost of your holiday, but will - in many cases - give you some nice spending money as well. 

Before I explain how another jewel of Croatian tourism, not mentioned above, can do just that, let's make some quick assumptions about how people run their lives in the modern day. 

It is fair to say that those who plan ahead generally make smarter and more financially astute decisions. People who put 10,000 euro in the back for 12 months, rather than keep it under the mattress, for example, will have money for a holiday off the interest after a year. People who are in the habit of taking advantage of early bird discounts on car insurance will have more to spend than those who pay in monthly installments. The list goes on. 

And those who plan their Croatian trip against a backdrop of their own daily lives can find the savings to fund a holiday and more from things they would have spent the money on back home. 


For Croatia has one more jewel in its crown of tourism which is not so well-known, but which has industry insiders very excited indeed - medical tourism


(Copyright Dr Prem Jagyasi)

What if you could get that dental treatment, eye laser treatment, stem cell therapy or cosmetic surgery done for a fraction of the price of in your home country, but with the same (or higher) level of care, expertise and equipment, but with such savings that the money you would have spent on the treatment back home was the equivalent of the treatment in Croatia, plus a holiday, spending money and enough for presents for the family? What if you could plan your healthcare to a visit to Croatia and its capital Croatia, saving potentially thousands (or in some cases, tens of thousands). Quality treatment in one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. Treat your body, then treat yourself and your wallet. 

We took examples from two different medical areas: dental and aesthetic surgery, to explore some of the opportunities.


Bagatin Clinic - Cosmetic Surgery -UK v Croatia

One of the leading clinics in the region is Bagatin Clinic from Zagreb (soon to open also in Split, for those thinking ahead to summer 2019 on the Dalmatian coast), whose core activities are focused on dentistry, dermatology, and cosmetic and plastic surgery. The most active Croatian clinic on the international stage, and with a host of international awards for medical excellence, Bagatin is located on the 10th floor of the Double Tree Hilton in Zagreb, a convenient accommodation option for patients visiting for treatment. 
Zagreb is an increasingly popular destination for cosmetic surgery, and the chance to enjoy a holiday with the savings brought on by excellent treatment in Croatia is just one factor. One recent example from a satisfied Bagatin patient from London will suffice. The patient came for nose surgery (rhinoplasty) in Zagreb, having been quoted £5,950 for just the surgery in London, a price which did not include the consultation, further surgery or follow-up care. By contrast,  the total cost with the premedication, general anesthesia, surgery, postoperative care and post medication in Bagatin Clinic was 18.000,00 kuna (about £2,150).
Since preoperative tests are also required before undergoing surgery, she had them done in Zagreb as well due to huge cost savings. In Zagreb she paid 600,00 kuna (about £75) for the tests and she reported that the price in London would have been  £500. Thinking of some rhinoplasty surgery? Why not come out for a short break just to have the preoperative tests done, stay in a nice hotel, enjoy some great food and culture, and still go home with money in your pocket for the price of the same test back home. And if you decide to have the surgery of course, enjoy a much longer holiday in Croatia with the thousands you will save.  To learn more about Bagatin Clinic, click here.

Bagatin Clinic - Dental Surgery - USA v Croatia

When it comes to health tourism in Central and Eastern Europe, the region is perhaps best known for its dental tourism. The quality of dental care is generally high and the prices are much lower compared to the UK, USA and other parts of Europe. 
Back at the award-winning Bagatin Clinic in Zagreb is perhaps my favourite Croatian tourism story of all, of how an American man with disastrous teeth not only had his mouth transformed by surgery halfway across the world with incredible savings, but also turned his life around as a result, discovering a new-found self-confidence, as well as having the holiday of a lifetime. In Zagreb. In December! I really encourage you to read Carl's story, for not only is it heartwarming, but it is probably the best Croatian tourism story I know. Read Carl's story here.
And now look at the treatment costs - 52,100.00 HRK = $8050,00 with Bagatin, all completed in 10 days, compared to the estimated cost for this procedure in USA is $25.000,00 - $30.000,00   (27 metal ceramic crowns and endodontic therapy), which would have taken place over a two-year period. A saving of $17,000 - $22,000 gives plenty of room for transatlantic flights for two and a great holiday. And if you happen to come out of season, there is no better time to be in Zagreb than during Advent in Zagreb, which has been voted the best Christmas Market in Europe for two years running. 
But for even bigger savings, talk to another American patient at Bagatin Clinic, who found the Zagreb clinic after being quoted $90,000 back in the USA, for 24 metal ceramic crowns and 3 tooth extractions, as well as dental implants. Bagatin did the work, minus the dental implants which were not needed - total cost - 41,040.00 HRK = $6,340, a total saving (with the need not to do dental implants taken into consideration) of more than $83,000. To learn more about Bagatin Clinic, click here.
I recently interviewed Dr. Prem Jagyasi, a leading speaker on the global medical tourism circuit, on the potential of Croatian medical tourism. Here is part of what he said about price:

"A study was done looking at the cost of 26 common procedures in various countries. The results were interesting. For the equivalent of $685 of care in the United States, the same procedures could be done for the following prices around the world - Singapore ($205), Turkey ($175), Croatia ($185) and India ($100). So if an American needed to have $68,500 of medical care, he could get that in Croatia for $18,500. Spend $5,000 on an amazing holiday, and look at the savings. Croatia's pricing on health tourism is competitive, and the quality of its care is high. But price is just one factor.

"A successful medical tourism destination needs to offer much more than just the operation itself, and this is where Croatia has a huge advantage to develop. It is located in Europe, within easy access of a number of countries. It is extremely safe. It has an excellent climate, nothing too extreme. It has culture and good infrastructure. English is widely spoken. It also has some great thermal spas which play a part in recuperation. And it is a fantastic tourist destination, so the possibility to combine some medical treatment with a holiday is a great combination - the savings on the treatment pay for the holiday. If you look at other places in Europe, Germany has more medical tourism than Croatia, but the conditions here are really favourable. You can read the full interview with Dr. Prem here

There is another factor to the Croatian medical tourism story which I had not appreciated until last week when I attended the 2nd Adriatic Health and Tourism Investment Forum in Zagreb. UK patients on NHS waiting lists can get free healthcare in countries such as Croatia, so if you are on an NHS waiting list and do not want to wait, but would prefer to have the expertise of Croatian doctors, who offer competitive pricing for the NHS and excellent care and a quick appointment for the patient, such treatment IS possible. Learn more about it from a company organising such procedures in the UK, called MedRefund

Holidays are supposed to be about relaxing, not worrying about your health. But with a little practicality and planning, coupled with quick and painless treatment procedures, the savings that Croatian health tourism can pass on to the patient who has thought ahead can not only cover the cost of that holiday, but put a nice downpayment on an additional one too. To learn more about health tourism in Croatia, here are 25 Things to Know about Health Tourism in Croatia

Zagreb: An Insider's Guide