Wild Camping in Croatia
written by Elisabeth Mansel in Croatia on Saturday, the 26 August 2017, last update on Tuesday, the 29 August 2017
In the train from Munich to Villach there was an other cyclist, who wanted to cycle from Villach through Slovenia. He asked us, where we are going to sleep in Croatia, because there are high fines for wild camping in Croatia. I told him, that we have read, that wild camping is forbidden in Croatia, but that some persons made the experience, that no one punishes you, when they find you. Actually I don’t know yet how the police or people would react, if they find us wild camping. Hopefully everything will go well.
The first night (Krk)
When we arrived in Rijeka, I was so tired that I became grumpy because of everything, which won’t work out as planned. We wanted to meet up with a friend of us, Jonas, who was going to travel with us for the first few weeks. He had to take the airplane, so he arrived on the island Krk before us and spent one day at a campsite. It took us some time to put the tandem back together, so it was already 17 o’clock when we met him at the campsite. I didn’t want to drive any further and would have agreed to just stay one night at the campsite. But Jonas told us about a good place to camp in the wild near the airport, where he had already slept one night. It sounded way better to go there than to pay for the campsite. We rode to the beach of Krk to sleep there. The first thing we noticed were all the camper vans and tents all over the beach. The second thing I saw was the sign, which said, that camping is forbidden here. The funniest thing about this was, that a policeman had told Jonas about this place. We found a good spot, decided to sleep right in the open air and we didn’t put up our tent. Because of all the people around us, I felt unsafe and was worried that someone could steal our stuff. But I was so tired, that I fell asleep very fast. Suddenly something woke me up. I looked around and realised that the weather had changed. There was a stronger wind and near a far away mountain I could see some flashes of lightning. With soft tapping I woke Frieder. He agreed that it would be better to put up the tent in case the rain would come to us. In a hurry we carried all our stuff to a thunderstorm safe place and build up the tent. We decided to stay outside until we would feel the rain, because we weren’t sure if the thunderstorm would come to us or not. It was so far away, you couldn’t hear the thunder. Gladly it didn’t rain that night.
The second night (Krk)
During the day it was so hot in Croatia, that it was hard to drive between 11 o’clock and 17 o’clock. The next morning we woke up late because we were all shattered. But we needed to get some food, so we went by bicycle until we found a huge supermarket. Inside it was cold. One of the shop assistants told us to get dressed, because Frieder was topless and I wore a bra. So Frieder got us both a t-shirt. I felt a bit like I was already in Iran. Later we cooked at a beach and used the sea water to clean our dishes. We found a public shower and showered completely dressed to get some sweat out of our clothes. There was only one big street going to the harbour. It wasn’t easy to find a place to sleep. But we got lucky and found a little track next to the street. It was an entrance to an old empty tennis court. Next to the track was a meadow, where we were going to sleep. The night was quiet. But in the morning, when the bood red sun rose we were attacked by hungry biests, which desired to drink our blood. At first we didn't notice them, until one of us was bitten. Then they were everywhere. All of us had several bite wounds. There were so much more mosquitos than at the beach. We hurried up to pack everything and kept on driving.
The third night (Cres)
We took a ship from Krk to Cres. There we had to choose between two ways to go uphill. Fist option: the street full of cars. Second option: a smaller shorter track. We asked some locals, if it was possible to go the small street with bicycle. They told us, that you can do it with a normal bike, but not with our tandem. Nethertheless we decided to try to go the way. They didn't know, that we will pull the tandem intead of pushing it. At first it was easy to pull it up. We saw very nice landscape and passed a little village. For a short rest we stayed at a little church. The track became harder with more stones on it. My feet sometimes didn't get a stable hold on the ground. We were slowly moving uphill and the sun got hotter and hotter. At some point we decided to push/pull it one last difficult distance with all three of us. But we made it up there. It was hard and we would only do it again, if there would be no other option, but we were happy about the great views. Alfter a short drive downhill, we cooked lunch at a beach next to a campsite and used the drinking water and showers at the beach. In the evening we had to pull our tandem a long easy steet uphill and found a little spot next to the street to sleep. There was oversoft dead wood on the ground.
The fourth night (Cres)
At the next evening we were looking for a nice place to stay and while driving down. We found a sign "Camping forbitten". That sounded like a place, where you could find a lot of wild camping tents and vans. We hoped to find a good spot without other campers. When we turned left, we got lucky and saw an old ruin with grafiti. Next to it was a nice ground to sleep on.
Some nights in Zadar on a campside
We took a ferry from Cres to Zadar and decided to stay there for some days. On the ferry we charged all our electric devises. It was already dark when we arrived at Zadar. But we already agreed to go to the city campsite in the middle of Zadar. There are definitly nicer campsite, we saw on the islands before. The price was ok, so we didn't care too much about the dirty or broken toilets and showers. But there also was a really friendly family, who asked us, if we would like to borrow their table and chairs for one evening. In exchange we left our business card. Thank you again for that. Yes, since Zadar we have got business cards. We let them printed in a nice copy shop in the city center of Zadar. It was good to leave the tandem at the campsite to see the city, but I missed a better place to sleep. The ground was so a hard that we didn't try to push the pegs in the ground but just laced the tend on bags and our tandem. In Zadar we met someone, who also told us, that there is a big difference between law and reality in Croatia. You are only allowed to drive with 0,0 per mill in Croatia. But a police officer told him, that he can't arrest tourist for drinking one beer and drive, because Croatia lives by tourism. That's also why, they aren't that strict with wild campers.
It is possible to wild camp in Croatia. Sometimes it was hard to find a good spot at the time you needed one. But I guess at least the police won't make trouble. You have to be careful while cooking, because everything is so dry in Croatia, you could course a big forest fire. We always cooked near a water source like the sea. The best places to sleep are olive groves without houses. If nobody finds you then they can't punish you. We always stood up when the sun was rising and went to sleep with sunset. I don't know, if the police would charge you for wild camping. Here some more pictures of other wild camping places and lunch breaks: