Road trip to Croatia

by Michael Gimm Holdensen

The summer of 2020 was slightly different from expected, as it impulsively ended with a road trip to Croatia. Originally we had planned a two week holiday in Tuscany “Agriturismo” or in Danish, farm holiday. Unfortunately, Covid 19, which hit Denmark in the spring, meant that the summer holidays probably did not turn into anything. That is why we postponed the holiday to Italy – initially until 2021.

Before the trip to Croatia, we had booked a holiday home with grandma and grandpa in Hemmet by Ringkjøbing. It was nice, but with a little too traditional Danish weather. We felt we lacked warmth and the opportunity to bathe.

While we were on our holiday home, the borders became open once again. Suddenly it was possible to go on a road trip to Europe. Therefore, a little spontaneous, we decided to drive to Croatia on the upcoming Sunday afternoon. A “short” trip of approximately 18-19 hours from Denmark before we arrived at our campsite Park Umag, just south of Trieste in Italy. We only had one week of vacation left, but it didn’t matter.

Facts about Croatia

Croatia is located in southern Europe and spans quite different areas. The capital is Zagreb, in the north, close to Slovenia. Croatia is part of Europe and the European Union.

It has mountains with snow and frost in winter and a coastline with a Mediterranean climate. There are over 1.000 islands along the coast, many of them quite popular with tourists.

Croatia borders Slovenia and Hungary and a small area of Italy to the north (Trieste). To the east, it borders Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. To the south, along the coast, Croatia borders Montenegro.

Croatia was part of Yugoslavia until 1991, when Yugoslavia collapsed shortly afterwards. One of the common denominators of the countries of Yugoslavia was language, as they were all of Slavic origin.

  • Population = Approx. 4 mio.
  • Currency = Kuna (HRK).
  • Tap water is drinkable.
  • The capital of Croatia is Zagreb.
  • Croats are Roman Catholic (Christian).
  • The total area of Croatia is 56,594 km2.

kør-selv-ferie med bilenRoadtrip to Croatia

The trip to Croatia went well, and the kids slept most of the time as we drove at night. And with my audiobook (set for Game of Thrones) in my ears, well-fueled with Redbull and coffee, and peace in the back seat, it was fantastic to head south. The highways were almost empty.

When the kids woke up on Monday morning, our first pit stop was a rest area in Austria, overlooking the beautiful Alps. We had some breakfast (and more coffee) at this stop before heading to the last part of the road trip through Austria and Slovenia. Although we only saw a tiny bit of Slovenia, we agreed to soon return to Slovenia. Maybe skiing. The scenery was astonishing!

kør-selv-ferie til Kroatien på camping

Accommodation in a mobile home

We had booked a mobile home through the agency, Dansk Bilferie. But when we arrived, we found that we could quickly have booked something directly at Park Umag. It was only about 50% reserved. Still, it was nice to have some assurance when leaving Denmark that we could easily settle in and quickly go swimming once we arrived.

If you are going camping in combination with a road trip to Croatia, there is a big difference in how you can stay and the options range in most places from tents to luxury cabins. Some even with their own pool, which you share with a few other houses. At the campsite we were, one can book some of them through their website and others through Tripadvisor, Dansk Bilferie or Booking.com. But Google is your friend 🙂

We talked about that if we ever got back to Park Umag, we would try to grab one of these close to the pool. Because the campsite is quite large, and if your accommodation is at one end of the campsite, there can easily be some walking distance.

Usually, we have this unwritten rule that we like to experience something every other day whenever we go on vacation. However, this time, the trip was too short to do so. We visited Umag town, but it was VERY quiet and VERY hot! Besides, there was not much exciting to see. I don’t think it is always this quiet, but Covid-19 had certainly deterred many from visiting the area.

Car holidays in Dalmatia vs Istria

The Dalmatian coast is a beautiful stretch with the Adriatic Sea as a backdrop. The coastline is dotted with picturesque towns and villages, perfect for day trips or more extended stays by the water. Since ancient times, the region has been inhabited, so there are plenty of historical monuments and sites to see.

Dalmatia is the southern part of Croatia, and the entire stretch is located on the Adriatic Sea. It consists of beautiful beaches and endless small islands. The two most famous cities in Dalmatia are Dubrovnik and Split.

Istria is the part bordering Italy and therefore the easiest to get to by car, from the Northern Europe, when going on your road trip. The area consists of a smaller part along the coast of the Adriatic Sea and a larger part bordering the surrounding countries.

Dubrovnik Game of Thrones

Dubrovnik – one of the best sights for Game of Thrones fans

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, Dubrovnik is a must. In fact, several scenes from the series were filmed here. It’s clearly one of the biggest sights or tourist magnets in Dubrovnik, and while you’ve taken the car on a road trip anyway, it makes perfect sense to visit the city. 

On the map at the bottom of the page👇 of Dubrovnik city and surroundings, you can see the location of 19 places where the footage was shot for the series. If you go on foot, you can combine your road trip with some exercise 😉

We haven’t experienced Dubrovnik ourselves at the time of writing, but we 100% will. If you want to read more about the different places I’ve shown on the map, I can recommend Thewholeworldisaplayground.com, where the areas are described.

Worth knowing about a road trip to Croatia

It is pretty cheap to go camping in Croatia, but it’s a good idea to be prepared before you leave. Driving the car costs approximately EUR 270 in fuel and EUR 670 for one week (in a mobile home with air conditioning). Food prices are lower than in many other areas of Europe and even take-away on the campsite is reasonably priced.

If you are from Denmark, prices are about 28% lower. Be aware that many shops and restaurants do not accept credit cards, and in most ATMs, you can only withdraw the local currency Kuna (HRK).

You must remember to buy eco-labels for the countries you pass. For us, the trip went well to Croatia, but when we were going back, we got pulled over at the Slovenian border and received a fine. The man who gave us the fine said that it was a bit up to him to decide the size of the penalty and that he gave us a slight discount as we were a large family of 5. We ended up paying him 100 euros, which would have been better spent on ice cream or some other fun stuff. He also told us that we would probably get a similar fine at the Austrian border.

Fortunately, we were able to buy a sticker at the Slovenian border and avoided that. A good piece of advice is to buy the stickers you need from back home if possible or remember to buy them at the border BEFORE entering the country. There are different rules in different countries for tolls (e-vignette). A good place to look for them is at tolls.eu. That page also links to sites you can buy them.

Alternatives to Croatia

Croatia is a beautiful place, but it has become a destination where many tourists go. If you have the courage to go to places that are not yet so visited, I can highly recommend going to Albania. It’s beautiful, welcoming and cheap.

If you want to know a bit more about what Albanians are like as a people, I’ve also done a short post about their fascinating history.

Dubrovnik – Game of Thrones

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  • Pile Gate Entrance to Old Town
  • Pile Harbour: Bokar Fortress and Fort Lovrijenac
  • Dubrovnik West Pier
  • Dubrovnik West Harbour
  • Fort Lovrijenac
  • Gradac Park
  • Fort Bokar
  • The City Walls
  • Minčeta tower
  • Ethnographic Museum
  • The Jesuit Staircase
  • The Rector’s Palace
  • The Stradun
  • St Dominic Street
  • Dominican Monastery
  • Ploče Gate
  • Hotel Belvedere
  • Lokrum island
  • Trsteno Arboretum

Images from our summer holiday 2020

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