Not Quite North's Essential Croatia travel guide
Croatia has been increasingly a desired destination for motorhomers and travellers alike. Some amazing cities to visit for a weekend trips – easy airport access and the most beautiful beaches. The jewel in the crown for the Balkans. With over 1000 islands scattering its shore, roman heritage scattered with abundance, stunning countryside with cascading waterfalls such as the stunning Plitvice Lakes and a wonderfully hip and trendy capital city of Zagreb (I did a really cool street art tour here).
This handy Croatian travel guide will give you all the practical and essential information that you need to know before you go!
Key Facts - Our Croatia Essentials
When to Visit Croatia
The best time to visit Croatia is the shoulder seasons. So April, May and June (June is starting to get busier) and then again in September and October. Many say that the end of September is the absolute best. The weather is good still and the crowds have gone and the price of campsites drops.
In December, you can catch the Christmas markets in Zagreb – and January you may catch some skiing at Mount Medvednica, which is just above Zagreb – so you could moho around for a few days catching the city vibes along with a day skiing! Admittedly, I would not like to rely on a full weeks skiing holiday – it is only 1000m above and has 5 runs – and does close if there is no snow!
Croatia in Pictures
driving in Croatia
Starting with the basics: Drive on the right and overtake on the left. Give way to the right. Compulsory seatbelts – front and back seats. No children under 12 in the front seats. Headlights always dipped between October and March. Keep documents on you (licence, registration, insurance). Winter tyres compulsory in winter and snow chains advisory on snow over 5cm.
A frames are illegal for towing in Croatia – so you need to find another way.
Drink drive limits are lower than the UK – for the under 25’s reading this, there is a zero tolerance – for those over 25 it is 50mg per 100ml of blood.
Croatia does have landmines which are still uncovered – so hiking and trekking and off-road driving – is better done with maps or guides. As Croatia has woken up to tourism, adventure tourism is more popular which tends to be offroad – so mountain biking, rafting etc. Many of the areas are around the Bosnian/Croat boarder. If you see this sign “Ne Prilazite – na ovom podrucju je velika opasnost od mina” it translates to “Do not cross, there are landmines in the area”. The last known death was in March 2021 and was near the Croatian/Bosnian border. For this reason, Wild Camping is Illegal – there is a hefty 400 euro fine – its up to you if you want to take the risk!
The driving speed for your motorhome in Croatia under 3.5 tonnes are:
- Urban – 50km/h (30mph)
- Minor roads – 90km/h (56mph)
- Motorways and Dual carriageways- 130km/h (80mph)
The driving speed for your motorhome in Croatia over 3.5 tonnes are:
- Urban – 50km/h (30mph)
- Minor – 80km/h (50mph)
- Motorways and Dual carriageways- – 90km/h (55mph)
Essential Driving Requirements for Croatia
The following items are those which are either legally required (M) or advised (A):
- Current passport (M)
- Valid Drivers Licence (M)
- Proof of Insurance (M)
- Registration documents for the motorhome or camper (M)
- Reflective vest (for each person in the motorhome) – you can get a fine if you are not wearing one if you breakdown on a motorway. (M)
- Warning triangle in case of breakdown or accident (M)
- Spare wheel for your vehicle
- Headlight beam converters (already fitted to the motorhome) (M)
- Spare glasses if you wear them (M)
- First Aid Kit (A)
- Spare bulbs and fuse box (A)
- Fire Extinguisher (A)
local foods in Croatia
We were very much looking forward to the plethora of seafood we were going to eat in Croatia! I had also read that Istria was also the finest place to get truffles from – Buzet was our first stop where Tartufi was available in all forms – even white chocolate truffle spread. Scrummy on toast!
Croatia has 10 Michelin star restaurants – from Rovinj, Sibenik and Pag down to Dubrovnik. However – we like to keep this section to the local foods to try – we can’t list them all – but these are the favourites we tried!
Paski Sir – The salty cheese that is made on Pag Island. Absolutely delicious, made from the milk of small sheep who graze only on the island. Paski Sir is also a DOP product, so if it has that stamp, you know it is genuine. A hard, crumbly cheese which goes well with honey (I like the tartufi honey!) and a nice red wine.
Fuzi – the traditional diamond shaped, rolled pasta that is found in Istria. Given the close proximity to Italy, there are no surprises! There should be no surprises when I say that it is often served with a creamy truffle sauce (truffles also being an Istrian product).
Soparnik (DOP) – one of Croatia protected products, meaning it can only be made in this area – much like the vinegar in Modena or the Champagne in France. It is a traditional pie that is made with chard, onions and parsley from the region between Split and Omis. Its flat, like a sandwich really, with filling between a pastry top and bottom, and is eaten as soon as it is cooked.
Brudet – A traditional Croatian seafood stew. Any fish can be used for this – it was made typically on the coast by fishermen to use up fish they could not sell, although you are unlikely to find the fish head in it these days! Cooked up with fresh tomato, onions, spices and a bit of vinegar, it is served with polenta. You may find versions with frogs and eels too.
Zagorski Strukli – A food that appears on the list maintained by the Ministry of Culture of Croatia – means for that reason alone you must give it a try! A pastry prepared with sour cream and cottage cheese and baked or boiled. More popular in the north of the country than anywhere else.
Essential phrases to use in Croatia
We figured it would be useful to have some core phrases to get by in the restaurants of cafe’s – speaking just those core words show a little respect for the people and the country. The only different phrase here from Bosnian phrases is the ‘Have a good evening’ which would be expected given the history of the countries.
- Hello – bok
- Thank you – hvala
- Have a good day – ugodan dan
- Goodbye – dovidenja
- The bill please – Racun molim
- Have a good evening – ugodnu vecer zelim
We have given you the basics to start planning your road trip to Croatia. Why not check out our blog posts for our Croatian road trips itineraries – and get some inspiration. A country truly of 2 halves – coast and inland.