Van Life in Croatia – The Ultimate Guide

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Croatia Van Life

Van life in Croatia is becoming increasingly popular, and we recently spent 5 weeks exploring all over and experiencing the best of what this country has to offer.

Croatia is known for its stunning coastline, national parks, and mountain ranges, making it the perfect place to explore in a van. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder van life has become so popular in Croatia. Whether you’re looking for a rugged outdoor adventure or a more relaxed experience, Croatia has something for everyone.

And with a motorhome or campervan, you have the freedom to explore at your own pace and enjoy the stunning landscapes of this beautiful destination.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about van life in Croatia.

Van Life in Croatia Quick Facts

Our Route – Kapari Ghost Resort, Dubrovnik, Omis, Makarska, Krka National Park, Sibenik, Zadar, Plitvice National Park, Pula

Duration – 5 Weeks

Currency – Euros

Language – Croatian

Fuel / LPG Cost – Roughly £1.30 a litre

Toll Roads – There are just over 1000km of toll roads in Croatia that can be paid at the toll booths by either cash or card.

Places to park / stay overnight – In the summer time, you will be struggling to find anywhere to wild camp in Croatia, as it’s illegal, so you will need to book campsites which can be extremely expensive in the high season.

If you are found wild camping in the summer in Croatia, you run the risk of receiving a pretty hefty fine.

We visited in the Winter and we were able to find plenty of wild camping spots because it is tolerated a lot more in the Winter, and also campsites were much cheaper.

Water / Electricity / Emptying – Due to the fact that wild camping is illegal in Croatia, there are not so many free spots to fill up with water and empty black and grey waste.

Laundry – There are launderettes in Croatia, or you can use campsites to do your laundry.

Supermarkets – There are many different types of supermarkets in Croatia, selling lots of international foods. Some of the main supermarket chains are –

  • Konzum.
  • Plodine.
  • Lidl.
  • SPAR.
  • Kaufland.
  • CBA.
  • Metro

Why you should do Van Life in Croatia

Van life in Croatia is an increasingly popular way to explore this beautiful country. With its stunning coastline, vibrant cities, and breath-taking national parks, Croatia is the perfect destination for a van life adventure.

Van life in Croatia offers a unique travel experience. From the rolling hills of the Istrian Peninsula to the majestic mountains of the Dalmatian Coast, Croatia has something to offer every kind of traveller. And while you can find plenty of traditional accommodations, van life in Croatia gives you the freedom to explore the country at your own pace.

You can easily find stunning campsites with picturesque views of the sea, or take a detour to explore the hidden gems of the countryside. For those that want to make the most of their van life experience in Croatia, there are plenty of activities to choose from.

Whether you want to spend your days exploring the coastline and enjoying the sun, or take a road trip to discover the hidden gems of the country, you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities to keep you entertained. From kayaking and hiking to swimming and cycling, you’re sure to find an activity that’s perfect for you.

The great thing about van life in Croatia is that you can easily move around the country and explore different regions. Whether you’re looking for a beach getaway or a city break, you can find it all in Croatia.

There are so many reasons why you should do van life in Croatia. Not only will you get to explore the country at your own pace, but you’ll also get to experience the unique culture and stunning landscapes of this magical country. So if you’re looking for a unique travel experience, van life in Croatia is the perfect option for you.

Van Life Croatia destinations

Kupari Ghost Resort

Kupari Ghost Resort is an abandoned hotel resort which was destroyed during the Yugoslav Wars that ravaged the region in the 1990s.

You are able to visit the resort, and wonder all around the inside and outside of the hotels to see the complete destruction that was caused during this war.

In the off-season, you can also wild camp here which is a really beautiful spot to stay overnight as it’s right on the beach front.

We really recommend a trip here if you are looking for something different to do in Croatia, as the surrounding area is super beautiful to visit too.

If you’d like to know more about the Kupari Ghost Resort, you can check out our blog post which will tell you everything you need to know – The Bay Of Abandoned Hotels In Kupari, Croatia

Kupari Ghost Resort

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is a thriving city located on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, and is a popular tourist destination for travellers looking to explore the many wonders of the Balkans.

Dubrovnik is both a cultural and architectural masterpiece, and is often referred to as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, and that has helped to protect its incredible beauty.

The city is known for its impressive stone walls and towers, which line the city and are some of the most impressive defensive structures in the world. They have stood the test of time and remain in excellent condition. The city is also home to a number of beautiful churches, palaces, and other historical attractions, such as the Franciscan Monastery, the Clock Tower, and the Rector’s Palace.

If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, then Dubrovnik is a must-visit place for you, as Dubrovnik was used for lots of the filming locations and there are lots of Game of Thrones tours that you can do here!

Dubrovnik is not the easiest place to park a campervan or a motorhome right in the centre as it is super busy and parking is very tight, so we stayed at a campsite just outside of Dubrovnik called Auto Camp “MATKOVICA”. From here we got an Uber into the old town of Dubrovnik which cost around 10euros each way. This was the easiest way that we found for us to get into Dubrovnik whilst leaving the van in a secure spot.

Dubrovnik is also a popular destination for travellers looking for a beach vacation. The city is home to a number of stunning beaches, including Banje Beach, which is considered one of the best beaches in Croatia. It is a great place for swimming, sunbathing, and other beach activities.

For anyone looking to explore Croatia, Dubrovnik is an ideal destination. It is a city full of history, culture, and beauty. With its impressive walls, stunning beaches, and delicious cuisine, it is a must-visit for any traveller.

A view over the old city walls in Dubrovnik

Omis

Omis is a beautiful coastal town located in southern Croatia. It is a popular tourist destination and offers a variety of activities and attractions. The town is situated on the banks of the Cetina River and has a stunning view of the Adriatic Sea.

The city is home to many historical sites, such as the medieval fortress of Mirabella and Starigrad Fortress, which sits high above the town with the most incredible views. The fortress was built in the 13th century to protect the city from Ottoman attacks and is now a popular tourist attraction.

The city also has a number of churches, monasteries and other religious sites, such as the Church of St. George, which is one of the oldest churches in Croatia.

The town also has plenty of water sports activities, such as rafting, kayaking, and sailing, as well as several hiking trails for those looking for an outdoor adventure. If you’re the adventurous type, no trip to Omis is complete without a go on the Omis zipline, a fast zipline ride high above a canyon of the River Cetina.

We stayed at a great campsite in Omis called Kamp Galeb which was in the perfect location to easily get right into the centre of the town, and it was also right on the beachfront. In the Winter off-season, they have a deal where the cost of the campsite is 15euros per night if you stay for 4 or more nights.

Omis is a great destination for anyone looking to experience the beauty and culture of Croatia. With its stunning beaches, historical sites, and adventurous activities, Omis has something for everyone.

If you’d like to know more about the Starigrad Fortress, you can check out our blog post here – Hiking To Starigrad Fortress – Omis, Croatia

starigrad fortress 2

Ston – Great Wall of Europe

Ston is a lesser known part of Croatia, but is a place that’s well worth a visit if you are interested in history and are looking for something different to do.

Ston is a small town located in the Dubrovnik-Neretva county. It is located at the foot of a large mountain, and is best known for its wall that stretches for more than 5 km, making it one of the longest walls in Europe and gaining it the nickname ‘the great wall of Europe’. This wall was constructed in the 14th century and is one of the longest preserved fortification systems in the world

The town is home to some of the best seafood restaurants in the region, as well as a number of interesting historical sites.

Visitors to Ston can explore the remains of the 15th century castle, the 16th century monastery, and the old salt pans which were used to produce salt from the Adriatic Sea. The town is also known for its oysters, which are harvested from the nearby Ston Bay.

The town’s fascinating history, stunning beaches, and delicious seafood make it a popular destination for van life travellers.

There is a large car park right in the centre of Ston that has spaces for bus and motorhome parking, so it is really easy to visit with a campervan or motorhome.

If you’d like to see ‘the great wall of Europe’ in more detail, you can watch our YouTube video below where we take you along with us!

Makarska

Makarska is a beautiful and picturesque town situated in Croatia. It is an ideal destination for travellers who are looking for a perfect vacation spot. The town is located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and is a popular summer destination for tourists from all over the world.

Makarska has a rich history and culture that can be seen in its architecture and monuments. It is also known for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters. Tourists can also enjoy a variety of activities such as swimming, sailing, fishing, and sunbathing. The town of Makarska has a lot to offer to tourists including plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants.

Makarska is a great place to get away from it all and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of Croatia.

Makarska

Krka National Park

There are two main National Parks in Croatia, Krka and Plitvice, and both are equally as beautiful in our opinion.

Krka National Park is best known for its numerous waterfalls and is a great place to explore the stunning beauty of the region. The park is made up of two main areas, the Upper and Lower Krka River.

The Upper Krka River is home to the main waterfall, Skradinski Buk, which is one of the largest waterfalls in Europe. This area is also home to a variety of flora and fauna, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers.

The Lower Krka River is home to several smaller waterfalls and is great for swimming. Visitors can also explore the small islands in the river, which are home to a variety of birds and wildlife. The park also offers several hiking trails, ideal for those looking for a more challenging adventure.

The park also offers several activities, such as kayaking, fishing, and swimming, making it a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Krka National Park is a great destination for any traveller visiting Croatia. With its stunning waterfalls, lush landscapes, and abundance of activities, Krka National Park is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

There is a really large gravel car park in Lozovac which is the best place to park for entrance into the National Park. We stayed in the car park overnight, which is tolerated in the off-season. The ticket entrance price in the off-season is a lot cheaper than it is in the Summer. It cost us roughly around 10euros in total.

Krka National Park

Sibenik

Sibenik is a coastal city in Croatia, located between Zadar and Split. It is a beautiful city, filled with historic buildings and incredible views.

It is a unique city with a blend of old and new, making it an interesting and exciting destination. The city is home to a variety of historical buildings, including the Cathedral of St. Jacob, the 15th century Sibenik Town Hall and the Fortress of St. Nicholas. The city is also known for its beautiful beaches and stunning views.

The most popular beach is Solaris Beach, which is a great place for swimming and sunbathing. There are also many other beaches in the area that offer a variety of activities, such as snorkelling, kayaking, and sailing.

Sibenik is a great place to visit in Croatia. It is a unique city with a blend of old and new, making it an interesting and exciting destination.

Sibenik

Zadar

With its stunning coastline, beautiful architecture, and rich history, it’s no wonder that travelers flock to Zadar to experience some of the best sights and activities Croatia has to offer.

The old town of Zadar is an impressive sight with its historic structures nestled against the Adriatic Sea. Stroll through the cobblestone streets and take in the sight of the old Roman forum, the 12th century St. Mary’s Church, and the stunning St. Anastasia’s Cathedral. Explore the many museums such as the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Ancient Glass, and the Museum of Illusions.

For a taste of the local culture, visitors can experience the various festivals, events, and traditional dishes. From the Zadar International Film Festival to the Zadar Summer Festival and the Zadar Beer Festival, there are plenty of celebrations to take part in.

No trip to Zadar is complete without a visit to the iconic Sea Organ and Sun Salutation. The Sea Organ is a unique set of stairs that have organ pipes built into them to create music as the waves crash against them, while the Sun Salutation is a solar powered sundial that emits a light show at night.

Zadar is a place where we discovered one of the best campsites we have stayed at on our travels across Europe! The Falkensteiner Premium Camping site provides access for those staying on the campsite to it’s neighbouring hotels facilities which include a spa, swimming pool and gym.

In the summer, this campsite can be very expensive but in the off-season, it was incredibly reasonably priced at only 25euros a night for access to the luxury facilities at the campsite and also the facilities in the hotel.

If you’d like to see more of our stay at this campsite, you can see it all in more detail in our YouTube video below.

Zadar

Plitvice National Park

Plitvice National Park is an incredible natural wonder and one of the most popular tourist attractions in not just Croatia but the whole world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest national park in Southeast Europe.

The park is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including 16 different species of fish, over 90 species of birds and several mammals. From pristine lakes and cascading waterfalls to lush forests and meadows, Plitvice National Park has something for everyone.

The park is divided into two sections: the Upper Lakes and the Lower Lakes. The Upper Lakes are known for their cascading waterfalls and unique limestone formations, while the Lower Lakes are home to the largest lake in the park, Lake Kozjak. Visitors can explore the park on foot, by boat or on one of the many hiking trails. The trails range from easy to difficult, so there is something for everyone.

We visited Plitvice in the off-season in the Winter and it was a complete magical Winter wonderland. We haven’t ever been anywhere quite as beautiful in the snow. In the off-season, the ticket prices were also much cheaper and it only cost us around 10euros each to enter, however large sections of the park were closed off for visitors due to the weather conditions and flooding, but we could still see enough of the park for us to be completely amazed.

Plitvice National Park is a truly unique and unforgettable experience. With its breath-taking scenery, abundant wildlife and numerous activities, it is the perfect destination for travellers who want to experience the beauty of nature and it provides so many amazing photography opportunities.

There is a large car park right on site for visitors, but overnight parking is forbidden, in the summer and the off-season, so the parking is for the day time only. This car park is free in the off-season but you do have to pay for parking in the summer.

Plitvice National Park

Pula

One of the most popular places to visit in Croatia is the city of Pula which is best known for its ancient Roman ruins which are some of the most impressive Roman ruins in the world.

The ancient Roman amphitheatre, constructed between 27 BC and AD 68, is the most iconic landmark in the city, and it is also among the six largest surviving Roman amphitheatre in the world. Visitors can also explore the ruins of the Temple of Augustus and the Twin Gates.

There are also plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy the local cuisine, as well as plenty of shops to buy souvenirs and other items.

Pula Ampitheatre 2 jpg
Pula Ampitheatre
Pula Ampitheatre

When is the best time of year to go to Croatia?

When it comes to planning van life in Croatia, there are a number of factors to consider, with the best time of year to go being one of the most important.

Croatia is an incredibly diverse country, with a variety of climates, landscapes and attractions that mean you can have a unique experience no matter when you decide to visit. The peak tourist season runs from mid-June to mid-September, and this is when Croatia experiences the most visitors.

During this period, the weather is warm and sunny, making it ideal for those looking to spend time on the beach, exploring the country’s many islands and soaking up the sun. However, this is also when the country experiences the highest volumes of tourists, so the prices of accommodation and activities tend to be far more expensive.

For those looking for a more budget-friendly van life experience, spring and autumn are great times for van life in Croatia. The weather is less predictable, with temperatures ranging from mild to cold, and rain is likely. However, the smaller numbers of tourists mean that accommodation and activities are cheaper, and the country is less crowded.

In addition, the changing of the seasons offers the chance to experience a variety of landscapes and activities, from sunbathing on the beach to exploring the snow-capped mountains. Overall, there is no definitive answer to the question of when is the best time of year to go to Croatia.

The time of year you decide to visit will depend on your budget, the activities you want to do and your preferences. No matter when you decide to visit, Croatia offers an incredible range of experiences and memories to make your van life adventure one to remember.

Is Croatia in the Schengen Zone?

As from the 1st January 2023, Croatia joined the Schengen zone which means that for people from the UK, it is now included in the 90 day rule.

Can you free camp in Croatia?

Wild camping in Croatia is illegal in the summer but is tolerated a lot more in the winter off-season.

If you are caught free camping in the summer in Croatia then you will receive a fine from the Police, please follow the rules that are set in place by the country.

If we all follow the rules that are set in place, then we can all continue to enjoy van life across these wonderful countries.

Van Life in Croatia

Is driving in Croatia difficult?

Driving in Croatia is not difficult at all. Generally, the roads are in good condition, although there can be some windy, bumpy roads, but you can expect to find them in many countries in Europe.

Driving in Croatia can be an incredibly rewarding experience, especially for those living the van life and travelling in motorhomes or campervans. The country is full of beautiful, picturesque landscapes that are best explored by car. Plus, it is a great way to get around and explore the country at your own pace. With a bit of preparation and research, driving in Croatia can be a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Other great destinations to visit in Croatia

  • Zagreb
  • Split
  • Islands – Hvar, Korcula, Vis, Brac, Losinj, Rab, Bisevo & Pag
  • Zrmanja Canyon
  • Dragon’s Eye – Cetina
  • Primosten
  • Velebit Mountain
  • Zavratnica
  • Novigrad
  • Cavtat
  • Paklenica national park

Summary

If you are looking for a varied country, that has a bit of everything, from the beaches, to the mountains, to the National Parks and the history, then Van Life in Croatia might just be for you.

Out of all the 21 countries that we travelled to between February 2022 – January 2023, Croatia was the country that we spent the most time in. We found it to be a country for us where we could slow down our travels, enjoy the slower pace of life, take in the beautiful scenery but also get out and about and have enough incredible things to do and see.

We hope this post has helped to inspire your own van life in Croatia adventures!

Keep up with our full-time van life travels over on our YouTube channel! If you enjoy our videos, please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel  – Three As A Bird – Vanlife Travel – YouTube

You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice (threeasabird.com)

If you’d like to follow more of our adventures or keep up to date with our travel hints and tips, please join our Facebook group, we’d love to connect with you all! –https://www.facebook.com/groups/309295536220437

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I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.

 

Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.

 

There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.

After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.

It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!

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