TRAVEL TIPS FOR CROATIA

      Camping cards, Camping Gaz and Internet      Guidebooks and maps for Croatia
      Driving in Croatia      Supermarkets, credit cards and ATMs

     Review of Croatian campsites

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ENTRY FORMALITIES
and
HEALTH MATTERS:


 

UK passport-holders may visit Croatia for up to 3 months without a visa, and drive for up to 6 months with a standard UK-EU driving licence. Carry your passport at all times as identification. All visitors are required by law to register with the local police within 24 hours of arrival; campsites will do this for you but sometimes add a small charge

For current official advice on travelling within Croatia, visit the FCO web site:

    Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice on travelling to Croatia

Britain has a reciprocal health care arrangement with Croatia, where no charge is made for ‘emergency’ treatment. But only basic care may be available in rural areas; make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance, and carry your European Health Insurance Card (even though Croatia is not yet in the EU). Immunisation against tick-born encephalitis which is endemic in inland Croatia is recommended.

CROATIAN
CAMPSITES:





 

 

 



 


 


  

 

 

 


 




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There is a multitude of campsites along the entire length of the Dalmatian coastline and islands from Istria in the north-west right down to the Montenegrin border. Although there is no national accreditation agency, commercial competitiveness keeps standards generally high. Of all the sites we experienced, most had an acceptable standard of facilities: clean toilets/showers, and wash-ups with hot water.  Where they varied was in the attitude shown by owners, and the level of hospitable welcome and helpfulness: this is reflected in the ratings we have given on our Campsites Review page:

    Croatian Campsites Review

Campsite opening dates: where sites also vary is in their opening periods: there are few sites open all year round, and many open only for the peak tourist months of May~August. But as you can see from our mid-March to end-May trip, if you do careful advance research about site opening dates, it is perfectly possible to put together a viable itinerary for an early-in-the-year trip, when the weather is more tolerable, you'll get discounted prices and certainly sites are almost deserted, allowing you to enjoy this beautiful coastline in peace. It is also worth bearing in mind that even though a campsite is officially closed, they will often let you stay anyway.

Websites listing Croatian campsites:  the most useful organisation by far to help with pre-trip planning is the Croatian Camping Union; their web site lists all member sites, and they publish this information in brochure form as well as an even more useful listing of mini-camps, smaller privately operated sites - email them for copies:

    Croatian Camping Union

Click on 'The campsite I'm looking for' tab to search for sites by region, either using the interactive maps or regional listings; on the individual campsite page, the price-list chart will give up-to-date opening times, essential when travelling early or late in the season. The Croatian Camping Union is one of the most helpful camping organisations we have found; they readily respond to email enquiries and we were particularly grateful to Ivana Kalčic for her consistent help and advice.

Another useful campsite-listing is the web site of the Dutch camping organisation ACSI. Although more selective in the sites it includes, their Google mapping facility is a helpful means of pinning down a campsite's location, essential with the sometimes unintelligible place names.

    ACSI Croatian campsites web site

Campsite prices:  by and large, prices charged by Croatian campsites are very reasonable; expect to pay between 80 kuna/night for the small privately-run sites and 120 kuna/night for the larger sites. With the exchange rate currently (July 2008) at just over 9 kuna to the pound-sterling, that's between £9 and £13 per night. Prices will include the local tourist tax and sometimes an additional charge is made for registering your presence with the local police. Discounts are the norm, but be sure to ask for them; any pretext will do: using a Camping Card International (see below), over-60, early in the year and limited facilities. We took a supply of Camping cheques but with such reasonable prices, these were of dubious value in Croatia.

Wild-camping:  it's illegal in Croatia, and particularly down the coast, infringement of this law will bring problems with the police; but with such a wealth of campsites, there is no excuse for ignoring signs forbidding wild-camping at beaches, rural car parks and harbours. Inland however in the Krajina region and Slavonia, where there are few if any official campsites, it is a different matter. We managed without problem to wild-camp or use unofficial sites for over 2 weeks in order to explore Slavonia and inland Croatia: with awareness of potential security issues, and basic common sense and courtesy, there was always a solution, as the campsite review shows. In fact, by good fortune, we stumbled on some of the most serendipitously memorable experiences during this period of wild camping.

CAMPING CARD INTERNATIONAL (CCI): The Camping Card International (CCI - Camping Carnet) is a worthwhile small investment; it only costs £4.75, lasts for a year and can be bought through Camping Organisations  eg  Camping and Caravan Club  It gives a degree of camping insurance, and since it also carries passport details, you can offer it to campsites in place of your passport during your stay. But on leaving, always ensure you have been given back the right card.

Even more importantly, most Croatian campsites will give up to 10% discount for having a CCI; always be sure to ask for a discount.

CAMPING GAZ IN CROATIA: Camping Gaz is simply unavailable in Croatia; we failed to find even any semi-legitimate sources of re-filling empty 907 cylinders. So make sure you take a good stock of gas with you.
INTERNET IN CROATIA:

 

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Very few Croatian campsites yet have wi-fi internet hotspots (identified in the Campsites Review), and while the Croatian mobile phone network, VIP-net, has excellent coverage for telephone calls, it is totally unreliable for GPRS or 3G data transmission; your 3G datacard therefore is effectively unusable in Croatia.

There is however a ready availability of relatively cheap internet cafés in every town and city; check at the Tourist Office (if it's open!).

GUIDEBOOKS FOR CROATIA:

 

 



 


BIBLIOGRAPHY:

 

 


 


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Guidebooks we found most helpful were:

  Rough Guide to Croatia:     published by Rough Guides, 4th edition May 2007
                                        ISBN no: 978-1-84353-783-0  Price £12.99


   Bradt Guide to Croatia:       published by Bradt Guides, 3rd edition May 2007
                                         ISBN no: 978-1-84162-192-0  Price £13.99

                             Sunflower Walking Guide    
published by Sunflower Books,
                             to Croatia:
                        Landscapes series,  1st edition Feb 2006
                                                              ISBN no:
978-1-85691-299-0  Price £12.99


To help understand the origins of the 1991~5 wars, the break-up of federal Yugoslavia and the turbulent creation of the new Croatian state, the following books make compelling if gruelling reading:

       The Fall of Yugoslavia:       Misha Glenny,  3rd edition 1996
                                             published by Penguin
                                             ISBN no:  978-0-140-26101-1

      The Death of Yugoslavia:   Laura Silber and Allan Little,  Revised 1st edition 1996
                                             published by Penguin-BBC
                                             ISBN no:  014-02-6168-0

                        Croatia, a Nation              Marcus Tanner, 2nd edition 2001
                               Forged in War:                    
published by Yale University Press
                                                               ISBN no:
0-300-09125-7

MAPS FOR
CROATIA :

 

 

 

 

 

 




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For the soundest advice and supply of Croatian maps, as always we recommend consulting:

   The Map Shop, Upton upon Severn, Worcs

For planning and general use, the most useful and durable overall map of Croatia is that published by Rough Guides 1:325k scale (see left) price £5.99; details on The Map Shop web site. But in an attempt to fit Croatia's peculiar shape onto the two sides of the map, the cartographers have had to turn the projections 45° out of the conventional alignment; north is no longer where familiarity dictates it should be, and the Dalmatian coast seems to run west-east rather than NW-SE. It takes some getting used to!

The 1:150k scale Road Atlas of Croatia & Slovenia published by the Austrian cartographers Freytag and Berndt, although expensive at £15, covers the whole of the country and is invaluable for travelling around. There are however some glaring inaccuracies, not least of which is the apparent abundance of campsites in inland Croatia and Slavonia. Don't believe a word of it; they simply do not exist. It is as if the cartographers had plenty of spare red tent symbols and didn't know what to do with them, so scattered them liberally across Eastern Croatia, simply to bemuse travellers searching for somewhere to camp!

For detailed maps of the Dalmatian coast and islands at 1:100k scale, we recommend the series of 6 maps published by Freytag and Berndt, covering Istria, the Islands of Cres and Krk and Kvarner coast, and the middle and southern Dalmatian coast. These do show campsite with reasonable accuracy.

Local tourist information offices (if they are open!) can supply town and city plans, as well as generally useless glossy brochures by the forest load.

DRIVING IN CROATIA:






 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 



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Roads and driving standards: despite the macho Balkan image of Croatians, driving standards are no worse than elsewhere, and certainly better than Greece!  Road conditions are generally good on main roads, but inland on minor roads, re-surfacing work or road widening may result in sometimes long stretches of unsurfaced road. The main highway down the whole length of the Adriatic coast, the Jadranska Magistrala (Adriatic Highway or Magistrala) has progressively been improved and, although only single carriage-way, is now a good road for most of its length.

Motorways: despite the hostile terrain, the Croatian motorway (autocesta) network is of high standard and increasing. Motorways are commercially operated and tolls are quite expensive:

  A1: currently extends south from Zagreb to just beyond Split and is planned to reach Dubrovnik
        later in 2008
  A3  runs from the Slovene border past Zagreb and out to the Serbian border at Lipovac

  A4  runs north from Zagreb up to the Hungarian border beyond Čakovec
  A6  runs west from Zagreb to Rijeka; although still partially under construction, all tunnels are complete

  A7  runs north from Rijeka up to the Slovene border at Rupa

The web site of the Croatian Motorways Agency (Hrvatske autoceste) is tediously slow and difficult to navigate, but with perseverance, you may get useful information about motorway conditions and progress with development:

   Croatian Motorways Agency web site

Fuel:  fuel is readily available across the country and credit cards are accepted at garages. Fuel prices are no cheaper than most of continental Europe.

S
peed limits:  within built-up areas:     50 kph (30 mph)
                                   open road:     80 kph (50 mph)   }  The distinction is ambiguous -
                                    highways:     90 kph (60 mph)   }  watch the speed limit signs
                                  motorways:  110-130 kph (70-80 mph) - watch the signs

Croat drivers seem to believe they enjoy immunity to drive at whatever crazy speeds they like; under NO circumstances does this freedom apply to you. Croatian police are rumoured to target foreign registered cars and on-the-spot fines for speeding are hefty. So observe speed limits punctiliously!

Driving regulations: Croatia has a zero alcohol policy for drivers, and penalties for offenders are SEVERE.
Dipped headlights are compulsory at all times, regardless of weather conditions with on-the-spot fines for driving without lights.

Insurance and the notorious Neum corridor: check before you leave that your vehicle insurance, and recovery service, cover you for Croatia; there are still unbelievably some backwoodsmen UK insurers that don't. But it is unlikely that your insurer will cover you for Bosnia-Hercegovina (BiH), and if you plan to drive the full length of the Magistrala down to Dubrovnik, you have a potential problem: the so-called Neum corridor refers to a 10 km wide strip of Bosnian territory which gives BiH access to the Adriatic at the grubby coastal resort of Neum, and which you have to drive through to reach southern Croatia. Despite the official advice given by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, even the Croatian and Bosnian embassies in London insist that this strip is open space between the separate parts of Croatia, and that a 'green card' is unnecessary if your insurance covers Croatia. The alternative is to cross by ferry to the Pelješac peninsula which re-joins the Croatian mainland further south, a pleasant enough drive but more expensive and a long tortuous and mountainous route. If you take the risk and drive through the corridor, Bosnian driving standards are less forgiving and technically you would be uninsured without a 'green card'. It's really up to you. If you want to know what we did,  click here

Ferries and island hopping:  part of the fun of travelling down the Dalmatian archipelago is exploring the many islands of this fascinating coastline, using the extensive ferry services operated mainly by the Jadrolinija Ferry Company. Crossings are not unduly expensive, almost all the ferries are drive-on/drive-off, and you buy tickets at the port of embarkation, usually 10 minutes before sailing times. Visit the Jadrolinija web site, and click on the sailings schedules interactive maps:

   Jadrolinija ferry services

CROATIAN
SUPER-MARKETS:


 

SHOPS:



CREDIT CARDS:

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Part of the experience of finding your way around a new country is doing your daily shopping; the cost of foodstuffs is still cheaper in Croatia and your supermarket bills will not sting the pocket unduly. The Croatian Konzum supermarket chain has shops in most towns and cities around the country. Similarly you will find a number of supermarkets operated by the Slovenian Mercator company and by the Austrian Billa chain. All offer good choice and value.

Almost every village has a baker's shop (pekara), a butcher's (mesnica), and a small mini-market (simply called market or trgovina). Most towns also have a vegetable market (tržnica) and along the coast naturally the fish markets (ribnica) are well stocked with fresh daily catch. It is an absolute delight to wander among the stalls and savour the smells and atmosphere.

There was no difficulty anywhere in Croatia with supermarkets or garages refusing to accept payment by credit card. Similarly you trip over ATMs every few paces in every town and city, so obtaining cash in kunas was problem-free.

 
       Review of Croatian campsites
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