Got heaps of time on your hands this summer but not so much money? Get thyself a tent, dear friend, and indulge in the joys of camping! There’s 1000km of coast at your disposal in Croatia, and almost as many islands. There are forests and meadows, rivers and mountains, all waiting to be explored on foot, by bike, on horseback or even on your trusty four wheels.
Croatia’s campsites grew up during the 20th century to cater for everyone from inter-railing students to well-off families in motor homes that are better-equipped than many peoples’ apartments. People love the freedom that camping offers. You can head off on a great road trip, stopping where you fancy. And there’s something special about crawling into your very own nylon and fiberglass home or lying back in a deckchair while steaks sizzle on the barbecue and cicadas chirrup all around.
Designated campsites only!
Don’t be tempted to set up camp at the roadside for the night! It might earn you a fine. Camping in Croatia is only allowed at proper campsites or designated parking facilities for camper vans.
Don’t Light My Fire
Don’t even think about it. Long, hot summers turn the vegetation in Dalmatia into one huge tinderbox. Wildfires caused by a moment’s thoughtlessness spread rapidly with tragic consequences for people, wildlife and property, so penalties for culprits are stiff.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons:
Litter: We’re sure you have the good sense and good manners not to leave your litter strewn around the countryside, but be especially aware that discarded glass and plastic can act as a magnifying glass for the sun’s rays and be a cause of fire.
Cigarettes: A tin with a lid or a screwtop container makes a great portable ashtray so you can dispose of your cigarette ends properly in a rubbish bin. If you must dispose of your cigarette end in the countryside, be especially careful to extinguish it properly, and definitely don’t throw burning butts from the car window.
Fires and barbecues: Flying sparks can set overhead trees alight and fires will race over grass and scrub. Look for designated areas in camp sites and nature parks with properly enclosed barbecues. Be sure to have water to hand in case of mishaps, and be sure your fire is properly out before you leave it.
Food and drinkCamping is a great way to get to know a country. When it comes to mealtimes, you get to choose between sampling local restaurants or exploring shops and markets for local produce. Campsites usually have inexpensive eateries onsite or nearby, and in our experience they’ve always been fine, serving stuff like grilled mackerel, fried sardines, squid, risottos, grilled meats and salads. And when it’s time for a light snack, is there any better taste than freshly-baked bread and ripe tomatoes drizzled with home-produced olive oil, eaten in the shade?
Creature comfortThe best news is that in recent years the standard of facilities in campsites has improved considerably. Whether you’re heading for the quietest outpost on the remotest island or the biggest resorts on the tourist itinerary, these days your shower block is mostly modern and clean, while washing machines, fridges and barbecues will probably be at your disposal. An increasing number of sites offer facilities for dog owners such as designated beaches and dog showers. Some campsites offer beautifully-appointed mobile homes or bungalows, others have communal areas that look like trendy lounge bars, and an increasing number are open all year and have heated facilities. Many campsites have also have tents and trailers for rent so you can camp even if you don’t have kit of your own.
Fresh air and exerciseSince folks who enjoy camping tend to enjoy the great outdoors, it’s a happy coincidence that many campsites are located slap-bang next to (or even within) the country’s national parks and other beauty spots. Most camping facilities are on (or near) the coast, but inland Croatia is finally getting its moment in the sun, with increasing numbers of guests opting for a change from the usual sea and sun combination.
Wherever you are there are usually plenty of sports and outdoor activities laid on, from hiking and biking to climbing and diving, to name just a few. On the coast, campsites tend to have the cleanest beaches. On the islands, which offer perhaps the best combination of peace, attractive surroundings and interesting stuff to do, a whopping 98% of Blue Flag beaches are those attached to campsites.