Croatia might not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of road trips. This country in the Balkans is famous for its beautiful islands, sparkling Mediterranean sea and pristine beaches – so island hopping is normally what tourists opt for. But not us! We decided to head off on a two-month road trip in Croatia and it turned out to be an epic journey.
In this article, we will be sharing our experiences on the road and providing you with a few tips to make the most of your Croatia road trip. Before we get started, let us introduce ourselves and tell you a little bit about how we met and what inspired our 10-year open end trip around the world.
We are Mona and Alex (@betterworld.travellers): a travel couple originally from Bavaria, 60km away from Munich. We guess you could say we grew up in normal families. Mona grew up with six sisters and Alex had no sisters or brothers (only child). We met each other back in 2013 at an event in our hometown of Rosenheim, which was a similar event to the Oktoberfest.
It sounds cheesy but it was “love at first sight”! When we first met it was difficult because Mona was at the event with a friend of Alex’s who was in love with her. For Mona though, it was only a friendship. So it was hard to tell him that we had fallen in love. In any case, it happened and we don’t regret anything. We aren’t friends with him anymore but that’s life.
We began to travel together a year later and were always hungry to see new places. Alex read “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss in Barcelona and it opened his eyes to everything that is possible in this world. After that, he read 300-400 books and together we created our dream travel life.
First, our goal was to save money. So we started to save about 50-60% of our salaries which would end up funding our travels. We found our passion, built on our strengths, read tons of books, visited many seminars, listened to thousands of podcasts and invested in ourselves everyday.
Our Two Month Road Trip in Croatia
Our plan is to travel around the world for more than 10 years. So the negative side of this is that we can’t see our families. Because of this, we plan every six month route to have a little trip back to Germany to visit our families and friends. We started in France, Spain and Portugal and then for the summer we scheduled our Balkan route: Croatia, Albania and Greece.
In Croatia, we spent two months on a road trip. We started in Krk, went to Cres and then Pula, Cape Kamenjak and Rovinj. Afterwards we headed to Zavratnica, Krka National Park and Paklenica National Park, Nin and Zadar, drove e-bikes in Dugi Otok, took drone footage in Galesnjak and capped of our trip in Sibenik, Trogir, Split, the Dragon Eye of Cetina and Brac.
Our trip ended with a big surprise. We rescued a dog and got her all vaccinated! Now, she is home with Mona’s parents. After Croatia we went to Italy for a month because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a vacation with Mona’s family. So we arrived in Italy by ferry, enjoyed two beautiful weeks together and explored Apulia. Then we traveled to Albania!
What Vanlife in Croatia is Like
Croatia was a beautiful country to explore. There were a lot of campgrounds for us to stay at. But the problem was that they were expensive! Croatia isn’t a country suited for budget travelers. If you plan a trip there you will love it but if you go for more than three weeks you will have a budgeting problem. Before the high season, nights were 20-45€.
Besides the campgrounds, the infrastructure for wild camping in Croatia is lacking. It’s actually not prohibited to wild camp and there are no stations for grey water, toilets and only a few for water. We did end up finding a few spots for wild camping in nature, but our research was in-depth.
One time we had to pay a fee though and it cost us 135€. Because of that we always had a bad feeling about being charged high prices while in Croatia. The highways, roads and streets for driving were excellent though, and we didn’t have to pay any tolls. Driving in Croatia is beautiful.
Island Adventures Along the Way
During our two month Croatia road trip, we also got the chance to visit a few of the best islands in the country. We spent time in Krk island meeting friends and enjoying a wonderful hike in Baska Mountain. After that, we went to Cres island and it was the best Croatian island for camping.
Our favorite island though was Dugi Otok, but we were only there for a day and rode around on e-bikes. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take our van there as camping was expensive and wild spots weren’t recommended.
Brac was another island we visited and we enjoyed one week here. It was nice, however the crowds were big. The Zlatni Rat, often referred to as the Golden Horn, was amazing but to be honest we wouldn’t recommend spending a whole week in Brac as some of the other islands were better.
Favorite Places in Croatia: Dragon Eye, Dugi Otok & Sibenik
Our favorite places in Croatia were the Dragon Eye of Cetina, Dugi Otok and Sibenik. Dragon Eye was amazing, especially for drone photos. Dugi Otok, on the other hand, was the best island we visited as the water was like something out of the Caribbean. The city we loved the most was Sibenik. It was beautiful and we had lemonade at this rooftop bar watching the stars.
Where we Slept on our Croatia Road Trip
As mentioned before, we slept 60-70% of the time in wild spots. We had to get up early in the morning to leave the sites just to be safe. And we used the brand autark which is 100% ethical and slow fashion, made in Australia. Never did we put chairs or stuff outside if we parked somewhere overnight.
Camping in Croatia is expensive and you have to pay for everything. So you pay for water, showers, electricity and other things, but 99% of the time we didn’t need any of this stuff but we still would have needed to pay. Nevertheless, we always treated our wild spots with respect, cleaned up rubbish and got up early so as to not take parking spots away from people.
Rescuing a Dog on our Croatia Road Trip
Funnily enough, the best experience of our Croatia road trip was when we rescued a dog. We gave her food, vaccinated her, brought her to the doctor, made her comfortable and then gave her to some friends of ours to bring back to Germany to stay with Mona’s parents. We saved this dog’s life and gave her a beautiful new life in Germany, which was such a nice feeling.
Now, we love it when we get photos of the dog from Mona’s parents. So that experience ended up being a special one for us in Croatia, above any specific place we visited. You could tell the dog was super grateful to be rescued. She loved us so much and it was such an amazing experience!
Final Tips for your Croatia Road Trip
We believe if you have two months or more then you would love taking a similar route to ours. But if you have less time, maybe two or three weeks, then we suggest going to Rovinj, Pula, Cres, Zavratnica, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Krka, Nin, Dugi Otok and if you have time to Sibenik, Split, Dubrovnik and the Dragon Eye of Cetina. You will love all those spots!
In a few weeks we will also be releasing our full Croatia Travel Guide with all the GPS info of our camping and wild spots, tips to save money, best spots to visit in Croatia, travel recommendations and more. So in a few weeks we will be able to inspire you even more with our Instagram highlights (free) and then with our Travel Guide which will save you time and money!