So you’re planning to go campervanning in Croatia? We travelled down the coast for three weeks in April 2023. Here are the important and realistic things you need to know.
Hi there! We’re Jolly, Nemi, and The Vanbino, a travelling family living full-time in our self-converted Luton campervan “Vandertramp”.
We’re a thrifty family on a budget who loves exploring new places. We like to go at a steady pace and share with you our honest and realistic travel guides.
To help you plan your Croatian adventure, we cover everything you’ll need to know about wild camping, regular camping, finding water, fuel and LPG, the cheapest supermarkets, and much more. Plus, we’ll offer tips about vegan travel and keeping costs low.
We’ll share where we stayed, where we found water, and how and where we spent our money.
Table of Contents:
Important Information When Campervanning In Croatia
1. The Schengen
As of 1st January 2023, Croatia is part of the Schengen. This means it has joined 26 other countries that have abolished their internal borders, allowing unrestricted movement of people.
So the rule about spending less than 90 days out of 180 in a foreign country applies to all 27 countries. Unless you’re in the Schengen Club, then you can roam and travel for as long as you want.
(We’re not bitter about leaving… honest.)
So if you plan to go campervanning in Croatia, and you want a fairly long time there, you’ll need to do some long stretches of driving to get there and back within 90 days.
“Water” in Croatian is “Voda”; although getting it is possible, it isn’t always easy or free if you’re filling a large tank on your camper.
Service stations have free water you’d use in a vehicle, but most places state that it isn’t suitable for drinking. Many other travellers say they’ve used it and been fine, but we didn’t want to risk it, as The Vanbino would be drinking it too.
Campsites will often let you fill up for a fee; around €4 to fill a 100-litre tank, which is quite expensive if you refill every few days. However, we found a couple of smaller campsites that let us fill up for less.
Another, albeit costly, option is to stay at a campsite every few days and fill your water tank before you leave.
For free water, there are quite a lot of public fountains. However, these are only suitable for filling a water bottle or small container. Attaching a hose and filling your water tank is impossible. In addition, when we travelled to Croatia in April, many public fountains didn’t have running water, as they were probably still off from winter.
Some bars and restaurants have outside taps, and they’ll let you fill up in exchange for buying a drink or meal.
Providing you can get your van into a marina, you can sometimes find water, as long as no #boatlife folks have an issue with you using their facilities.
Although finding free water when campervanning in Croatia is possible, we found it more difficult and time-consuming than in other countries we’ve visited.
A lot of petrol stations in Croatia have LPG. It can also be called autoplin, plin or UNP. When we visited in April 2023, LPG was around 95 cents a litre.
Most stations are self-service, although sometimes a clerk will come out to help. As in the UK, fill up with LPG before paying in the shop.
We found it super helpful when campervanning in Croatia to have plenty of places to fill up with gas.
You’ll also need to buy adaptors to use the LPG gun in Croatia. (You’ll need them for other countries too.)
We used MyLPG.EU app to search for petrol stations with LPG and check the prices.
When we visited Croatia, fuel prices were sky-high all across Europe. So it was a relief to find that fuel prices were significantly lower and that the price was consistent across the country. Diesel was around €1.30 per litre.
5. Food Prices
Before campervanning in Croatia, we’d read that the food prices were crazy cheap. And as fuel prices were nearly 50 cents cheaper than in the UK, The Netherlands, Germany, and Italy, we were excited for an inexpensive month. Unfortunately, this was not the case! Food prices were super inflated and far more expensive than any country we’d previously visited.
A basic shop to last us a few days, consisting of fruit, veg, oat milk, tinned beans, rice, and pasta, cost nearly fifty euros. A comparative shop in previous countries we’d visited cost around 30.
We don’t know whether these prices will eventually settle down. Still, speaking with locals, we discovered that the cost of living (like in the UK) keeps increasing.
Lidl is the cheapest supermarket in Croatia, although it is only marginally cheaper than Konzum or Plodine. However, similarly to the UK, you can’t get everything from Lidl, so you need other supermarkets too.
Other supermarkets include Mercator, Kaufland, Spar, Tommy and Bila, although these are all slightly more expensive. There are also a handful of zero waste shops in cities; Split, Zagreb and Rijeka.
We also noticed that supermarkets only sell things in small sizes. For example, we usually buy big bags of porridge, rice, frozen fruit/veg, and sultanas. However, in Croatia, they were only available in small bags.
7. Wild Camping
Before campervanning in Croatia, we thought that though wild camping is technically illegal, you could get away with it if you weren’t camping somewhere you explicitly shouldn’t be. We thought wrong!
Most travellers we spoke to had received either a hefty fine or had been moved on from a wild spot.
However, we only travelled down the coast of Croatia (to get to Montenegro), so if you head inland, it might be different.
Wild camping along the coast has become difficult for two main reasons. The first is that the police have started monitoring P4N, and during quiet periods will visit the wild spots to catch people out. The second is that locals who are fed up with campers and motorhomes are likely to call the police if they see someone wild camping.
We’re guessing, but we think some of the reasons for campervan animosity might be:
- The mess some travellers leave, including rubbish, toilet tissue (and whatever went with it), remnants of fires, cigarette butts etc.
- Quiet and beautiful spots are becoming busy and clogged with campers and motorhomes.
- They don’t want campers and motorhomes near their houses.
- Tourism negatively affects their lives by driving up prices. Therefore, they dislike tourism and tourists.
- The entitlement of some campers and motorhomes thinking they have a right to park anywhere without any consideration for locals.
On P4N, someone had listed an “overnight parking lot” in a hospital car park. The comments were along the lines of “the locals don’t like you parking here/we were told off/we were asked to leave”. Hello?! It’s a hospital car park, OF COURSE you were!
Just because a place is listed on P4N doesn’t mean you have a right to camp there. Wild camping is illegal, and you do so knowing you may get fined and/or moved on.
We did find places to stealth camp near cities or wild camp away from tourist spots. However, at night we were anxious about getting a knock on the door and needing to wake The Vanbino to move on.
Campervanning in Croatia was the first time we’ve regularly paid to stay to avoid the anxiety of wild camping. And although Croatian campsites are lovely, paying for them stretched our budget.
However, we’d have rather paid for a campsite than potentially pay hundreds of euros in fines.
Large campsites in Europe are not like UK campsites; they’re huge. They’re more like holiday parks and usually have large shower blocks, a pool, a clubhouse, a bar, kids’ play areas and (if they’re near the coast) a beach.
Croatia is no different, and their large, mainstream campsites are all like this. However, there are also plenty of small, family-run campsites which are more basic and similar to campsites in the UK.
A couple of times on our Croatia trip, we sprung for a campsite for a few days. Both campsites were less than €30 a night, but this is still a massive expense for us. Also, we travelled during the low season, so the pitches were cheaper. In high season, prices would have set us back €40-70 per night.
A lot of campsites close for the low season. During our first two weeks in Croatia, hardly any campsites were open.
Although the campsites were super pricey, we stayed in a couple for peace of mind in big tourist areas where we couldn’t wild camp. Even though it was costly, having a brain break without worrying about finding water or somewhere to wild camp for the night was nice.
Although you’d think that smaller, more basic campsites would be cheaper, this is only sometimes the case, so check the prices of the bigger campsites too! For example, we saw a campsite that was essentially someone’s garden (with rubbish piled up at the bins), with one shower and toilet, and they wanted €40 per night plus extra for water. In contrast, we stayed at a large campsite where everything was included with off-season prices of €25 a night.
Campsites have a pitch fee and an additional charge per person. When you look up a campsite, it may advertise a cost of €15 per pitch, but the actual cost will be higher, as they might charge €10 per adult and/or charge for extras like water or electric.
Also, campsite costs incur a fee of €1 /adult and €0.50/child tourist tax. So if you think you’ve found a bargain, double-check the price structures!
Laundrettes aren’t really a thing in Croatia, as everyone has a washing machine at home. There are dry cleaners and cleaning services where you drop everything off and pick it up later, but very few actual laundrettes.
If you need to wash your clothes, head to bigger cities, which are more likely to have a laundrette. However, it will cost around €6 euro for a wash and €1 or €2 for ten minutes of drying.
Alternatively, look for large campsites. These have washing machines and tumble driers on sight, although they are also expensive. The cost of campsite washing machines is in addition to the camping price, so ask reception whether you can use their washing machines even if you’re not staying there.
Free public showers are dotted along the coastline at beaches. Alternatively, some service stations have showers you can use for a small price.
Otherwise, you can be cheeky and steal a shower at a campsite. Of course, this tactic won’t work everywhere, as some campsites have codes/wristbands, but you could blag others if you confidently walk to the shower block.
*We didn’t have to do this, but we saw how easy it would be. I mean, who would be on the lookout for someone trying to steal 5 minutes in the shower?!
In the past ten years, Croatia has seen a massive boom in tourism.
Things that were once free, like National Parks, now have a hefty entry fee. In 2023 the entry cost to Plitvice Lakes was €10 per adult in winter, €22 up until April, and €40 in the high season. Krka Waterfalls is slightly cheaper in the low season but costs the same during summer.
Croatia is also becoming ridiculously busy. UNESCO Heritage has threatened to remove Plitvice Lake’s UNESCO title because of the many tourists there. They’ve been told they must reduce the footfall by a considerable amount. (We foresee that in the near future, tickets will need to be bought in advance as they try to reduce the number of people visiting.)
Dubrovnik, was also threatened a few years ago by UNESCO Heritage because it was getting too many visitors.
Overtourism, overcrowding and price hikes are the two main reasons why many Croats hate tourism (and why wild camping is becoming so difficult). The average Croat doesn’t benefit from tourism – to them, the price of everything is just drastically increasing, and everywhere is getting busier. Because of this, many Croats dislike tourism and tourists.
Read more about Croatia’s problem with overtourism here.
12. Motorways and Tolls
There are tolls on some stretches of motorway and some bridges and tunnels. For some short stretches, you pay before you go onto the road. For longer stretches with multiple exits, you will get a toll card when you join the motorway, which you present when you leave to show how far you’ve travelled.
Avoiding the tolls by choosing other roads is possible, but your journey will be longer (but much prettier!).
The toll fee depends on the length of road you have used, the time of year (in some cases) and your vehicle category. For a full list of Croatian highways and their tolls and prices, click here. https://www.expatincroatia.com/croatian-driving-guide/#tolls
13. Basic Phrases
Like most places you travel, putting in some effort with the language will endear you to the locals. Remembering how to say hello and thank you will show that you’re willing to put in some effort. Locals are more likely to go out of their way to help you if they feel like you’re meeting them part-way.
Although there are different greetings for different parts of the day (good morning/good afternoon/ good evening/good night) we found that just one greeting “dobar dan” was an acceptable way to say “hello”.
Dobar dan (DOH-bar Daan) = Hello
Dobro jutro (doh-broh you-troh) = Good Morning
Hvala (HV-aalah) = Thank You
Doviđenja (DOH-vee-jen-yah) = Goodbye
Molim (moh-leem) = Please
Da = Yes
Ne = No
Being vegan in Croatia was like being vegan in the UK ten years ago. The selection was extremely limited if a place had anything at all.
Lidl had the most on offer, although their selection consisted of frozen vegan burgers and maybe some nuggets. They sold a few more bits in the fridge section, but everything was in plastic packaging, so we avoided it. Most Lidls sold small packs of tofu for €1; their oat milk was €1.30.
Although we didn’t eat out much in Croatia, we’d often have a peek at menus, and the only thing we ever saw was a vegan burger. Still, most restaurants only had a single vegetarian dish, so hoping for anything vegan was a long shot!
The last week we were in Croatia, Nemi’s Mum flew out to visit, so we ate out a couple of times near Dubrovnik. First, we went to Green Garden Burger Bar in Lapad. Although there’s only one vegan and one veggie option, the vegan burger was incredible. We also went to Urban & Veggie – Vegan Restaurant Dubrovnik, where we had a seitan kebab. The cost worked out the same, as the burger at Green Garden came with fries and cost €15, while the kebab was only €10, but a side of fries was €5.
In cafes and bars, the only vegan drinks were “accidentally vegan” (Coke, Sprite, Fanta, fresh juice etc.). Unfortunately, we didn’t go anywhere with soya or oat milk, so we drank black coffee.
15. Low Season
We advise travelling in the low season to save money campervanning in Croatia. Everything is more expensive during the summer months – even some toll roads!
Keeping costs low in Croatia was hard enough in the low season, so if you’re on a budget, avoid the summer months!
Our Route Through Croatia
Our route when campervanning in Croatia was a slow cruise down the coastal roads into Montenegro. We didn’t use any motorways or toll roads, preferring to take the scenic route.
We wild camped where we could, did some stealth parking and stayed in campsites when it was unavoidable. We found places that would let us fill up with water; however, this was rarely free.
Stop 1 – Rovinj.
Campsite Polari: €10 per night + €7.50 per adult (low season prices).
Water fill-up: Campsite Polari (INCLUDED)
Stop 2 – Paz.
Wild camping at castle ruins (Utvrda Possert).
Stop 3 – Kraljevica.
Wild camping by a small harbour and restaurant. Restaurant Ugostiteljski Obrt Sidro
Water fill-up: Small building next to the restaurant (FREE)
Stop 4 – Grabovaca.
Camping by the Badestelle Likan: €20 for two tickets to the nearby cave park.
Water fill-up: Cave Park parking (INCLUDED)
Stop 5 – Grabrovaca
The Cave Park car park. As long as the Cave Park tickets were displayed on the dashboard, the staff had no issue with us staying for a few days.
Water fill-up: Cave Park parking (INCLUDED)
Stop 6 – Zadar.
Stealth camping at Supernova Zadar shopping centre. (We parked here to use the laundry over the road.)
Stop 7 – Zadar.
Stealth camping in a public car park next to the police station.
Water fill-up: Gebastica Campsite €4 (to stay here would have been €40, plus extra for water(!!))
Stop 8 – Primosten.
Free camping at restaurant Saricevi Dvori. 3 pitches, among the olive trees with beautiful views. The restaurant looked lovely but too pricey and meaty for us.
Water fill-up: Camp Horizont€3.
Stop 9 – Split Beach
Wild camping at Beach Kamp Kastel Gomilica.
Stop 10 – Split Town – A car park for the day only, near the Stadium. This was the only parking lot we found that was suitable for large vans.
Stop 11 – Back to Split Beach – Beach Kamp Kastel Gomilica. We had a beach day and a nice drink in the beach bar, but we were asked to leave by “city police”
Stop 12 – Split.
Campsite Stobrec €28 per night
Water fill-up: Campsite Stobrec (INCLUDED)
Stop 13 – Dubrovnik
Solitudo sunny camping. It would have been €50 a night, but we stayed in a mobile home with Nemi’s mum.
What We Spent Campervanning In Croatia
So go forth and have a great trip campervanning in Croatia! Now you should have some ideas about where you can stay, how to find water and how to keep your travel costs low.
Let us know if you find any good wild spots further inland and if wild camping is easier away from the coast.
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