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Is cash really necessary anymore?

We are on the RS Best of the Adriatic tour soon and then will be in Amsterdam, on our own, after it. We wonder if getting euros from an ATM when we arrive ahead of the tour is necessary. We keep hearing about how Europe has gone cashless. We expect the big cities are cashless but what about smaller towns, places?

Anyone have insights from recent trips? We've been to Europe many times but this is our first time since the pandemic.

Thanks!

Posted by
4252 posts
  • Pay toilets are still out there, but I have noticed some in populated areas may have credit card option.
  • A Bed and Breakfast in Tobermory, Scotland and a small pub in Glasgow last year were cash only.
  • We got an 8% discount in Rome in April at a hotel for paying cash.

But overall, not much is required and most places preferred not to have cash.

Posted by
229 posts

We were on the Best of Eastern Europe Tour back in June. In general, very little cash was needed and cards were accepted almost everywhere. Some pay toilets took a card, most didn’t. I would start with a small amount of cash, maybe the equivalent of $50-100 (in whatever local currency is used). That way you’ll have some pocket money if needed.

One place that seemed adverse to credit cards were several small shops/cafes in Rovinj (I think your tour stops there). When we tried to use a card, the staff would say the machine was broken. So we had to use cash. It seems maybe they had an aversion to people using a card for small purchases. I’m not convinced that ALL of the card Mack lines were broken, haha. Rovinj was the only place where we encountered this, however.

Posted by
18568 posts

Yes, it will be prudent to bring some cash. "EUROPE" rarely does anything. Some countries in Europe rely less on cash then others. Some neighborhoods in cities in those countries rely less on cash than others. Some more. The only way I would think it would make any sense to imagine that you would never need cash is to stay with your tour group, never leave the guide and stick to the tourist attractions.

Posted by
7666 posts

Compared to the days when hitting up the ATM was a daily task, things are virtually cash free, but not completely.

I have taken to having 50 euro or so on me. A few times, cash will be needed, or perhaps the best route.

In addition to things others mentioned, if the total is only a couple euro, I still use cash. We ran into a number of laundries that had not updated their machines to contactless, and a few parking pay points that were coin only.

I would not be surprised that you will run into vendors on the Adriatic tour that will press for cash. Post Covid, places are backsliding on contactless, perhaps they find the process taxing.

Posted by
5687 posts

I was in Croatia last October (Zagreb, Split, and a few islands e.g. Vis, Brac, Hvar). There were plenty of "cash-only" restaurants - not just little places, I mean sit-down restaurants in Zagreb, Split and the islands. So cash was essential there.

Posted by
4011 posts

In my travels in Central & Western Europe, if you want to shop at an outdoor or farmers’ market, you will need cash. If you need the bathroom depending upon where you are, you will need cash. If you take a taxi, you will need cash. If you go to a small mom and pop café or restaurant, you might need cash.

Posted by
7404 posts

Hi Jana, I was on this RS tour in June - a wonderful tour! Our tour guide from Croatia advised us to get Euros from an ATM and pointed out the best ones to use in the major cities. I used my credit card on Apple Pay for some restaurants. But other transactions and the smaller restaurants were cash.

Posted by
27362 posts

Some restaurants take credit cards but won't let you add a tip to the card.

Free churches sometimes have a coin-operated box that illuminates the mosaic, fresco or sculpture you want to see. Those boxes usually take 1-euro coins, but there is some variation.

Donation boxes at churches are normally cash-only. Ditto if you want to buy a candle to light.

If you need to buy city bus/tram tickets from a newsstand or tobacco shop (or from anywhere other than a person or machine belonging to the transit company), you'll have to use cash.

I noticed in Rome a few months ago that most people were paying with cash at gelato shops. I assume most if not all gelato places accept credit cards but prefer cash for those 3-euro sales.

I had a museum in one of the Baltic countries tell me I had to pay for my (very inexpensive) senior-discount entry with cash but could use a credit card for a full-price ticket.

Some luggage lockers take coins. I don't know whether you'll encounter coin-operated lockers at many museums these days. Many are now free (you're usually paying to enter the museum); others use free wooden or metal tokens.

A lot of beverage and snack vending machines have been retrofitted to take credit cards, but I don't know how universal that is.

As for public toilets, sometimes the ones that take credit cards won't like your card, or perhaps anyone's card on that particular day.

Posted by
35 posts

THANK YOU to you all for the timely and insightful responses. I appreciate it! We will get some euros for sure! I had forgotten about pay toilets, though I have used enough of them throughout Europe :). Good advice, everyone!

Posted by
18568 posts

Free churches sometimes have a coin-operated box that illuminates the
mosaic, fresco or sculpture you want to see. Those boxes usually take
1-euro coins, but there is some variation.

In Budapest, it's the mummified hand of St Stephen

Posted by
937 posts

Some cash is always good to have, but you’re right it’s not as critical as it used to be. Cash is still king in Croatia though. They prefer it. While a lot of restaurants, bars, etc will take your card, cash often gets you a discount. The sobe rooms I stayed in were 100% cash only.

Posted by
514 posts

I always like to have some cash with me for all the reasons people have listed. Also, sometimes it’s easier to use cash when splitting a bill with another traveler.

If I have some leftover cash at the end of the trip, I buy chocolate at the airport LOL.

Posted by
5687 posts

At least in Croatia, you don't have to worry about leftover Kuna anymore! Last year I spent my last Kuna on candy bars at the Zagreb train station because I knew I would never use them again if I came back! But Euros can be used all over Europe.

Posted by
11 posts

We are in Croatia now. Yes cash is needed. Our small family owned accommodation for two nights in Old Town is cash only which we knew ahead of time. Also when we bought our Dubrovnik Pass at the tourism office they required cash. Definitely bring cash or use the cash machines which are everywhere. A few restaurants were cash only also in Split and Dubrovnik. Most asked ‘cash or charge’ and brought a hand held machine to the table if you were using credit card.

Posted by
169 posts

As Andrew noted, now you do not have to worry about unspent Kina cash any more. Euros are good all over Europe.

I am in Croatia every Fall, and always carry cash. I use ATMs at open major banks - open in case it swallows your card, as Rick advises. There was a shortage of Euro cash at the beginning of this switchover in January this year - imagine the US or Canada changing to some currency not in circulation - drachma? So I imagine no one will like you offering large denomination banknotes/bills.
My main reason for cash is to offer tips or round up to people who do not make enough money anyway, and their inflation rate is now colossal - as was Germany's when the Deutschmark was replaced by the Euro. Croatia smartly ruled that all receipts and bills had to be in both currencies so people could see they were not just being cheated. German menus went to Euros only overnight. Looked cheaper as the number was smaller. 18 Euros also looks better than 130 Kuna. Buyer beware.
I arrive with some Euros, in case the bank machine is empty.

Posted by
7 posts

In Croatia - yes is king. As someone pointed out. You can charge your meal but tip a not be included. If you buy something at the store they will give you a discount for cash. We were advised to get cash from the bank atms only - otherwise more fees are tacked on. OTP bank for example. And they are not free with giving change

Posted by
14580 posts

I have not been to Croatia, still on the bucket list. Good to know, however, that cash is preferred , as it is in Germany, where cash is king.

Posted by
7 posts

As a Croat: No, cash is not a must in Croatia; credit and debit cards are widely accepted. However, it's good to carry some cash for smaller businesses and rural areas.