Coronavirus and COVID-19 – the two terms you have heard the most often for the past three months. Am I right? I bet I am.
This pandemic was and still is a part of every single discussion so I believe you are sick and tired of always the same story. But we can finally talk more optimistic about that subject and I know now your only wish is to forget these tough months and to free your mind and soul somewhere abroad, by the sea.
But there are still many questions, as well as fear about travelling, right?
In normal circumstances Croatia is always a good idea. If you have already been here, I believe you will agree with me. If you haven’t been, probably you heard all the good things about it – islands, coast, sea, sun, food, people, and I bet you want to experience it.
In circumstances like this one, Croatia is a good idea as well! Actually, according to Croatian National Tourist Board, during May there were 44 984 arrivals of foreign tourists and 230 665 overnights. There is certainly a reason why these people were not afraid to cross the Croatia border. Of course there are more arrivals in June, but no statistics have been made yet.
Since I am living here and I know the situation from the first hand, I will explain to you why Croatia should be your first travel destination when the corona crisis is over.
1. Situation under control
During this quarantine when it was forbidden to have any social contact, I was “drinking coffee” with my friends online, by video calls, probably as well as you did. I was even talking often to friends of my friends of my friends – just because we all had a lot of free time so there has always been some active group chat.
But what especially makes me happy is that I was talking with many of my foreign friends with whom I usually talk rarely because we are all always busy so it is impossible to catch up with them. They were all curious about the situation here, because the newspapers in their countries weren’t writing anything about Croatia. Fortunately – because most of the news all over the world for the past three months was the “Black chronicle”.
Now, when the black wave has finally passed, you CAN read about our country in some newspapers, but as an example of a state that was doing well with the crisis – even the American New York Times wrote it.
Also, Belgian television VTM published a video report about Croatia as a corona-free destination where the commentator said that Croatia has organised excellent defense against the coronavirus and that Croats have been extremely disciplined in carrying out all the prescribed measures.
Even the prestigious Vogue Paris on its Facebook profile is also talking about Croatia as an ideal summer destination.
I believe you have also read about the Adria Tour tennis event, held in Zadar that brought as a few new cases, but the epidemiological situation here is still good and that should not affect your travel.
So – the situation in Croatia was under control for the whole period. On the official website of our government, you can find accurate and verified daily information about it.
We made everything necessary to quickly respond to the crisis and we managed to save each other’s lives. Actually, according to the University of Oxford, Croatia (HRV) was the country with the world’s strictest restrictions and measures for infection reduction in relation to the number of infected.
That’s why we are healthy and able to enjoy our lives now.
Our lives have returned to normal, actually to a “new concept” of normal, but hey – we are allowed to hang out normally as before, everyone is back to work, restaurants and cafe bars are opened, shopping and fitness centers as well, we can go to a beach since the summer is at its highest point. Gatherings of a larger number of people are also allowed, including weddings or nightclubs, as well as sports events but for now still under epidemiological conditions. Public transport is also available throughout the whole country but masks must be worn while using it.
So it looks like Croatia has really positioned itself like a corona-free destination and that you will spend your vacation here very well!
2. Safety comes first
As I have already mentioned, the concept of “normal” will be different from now on and so will be traveling. We will all need to be more careful than usual to travel safely. Croatia has taken all measures to make everyone feel and BE safe within our borders – local people, as well as tourists.
Social distancing is not an imperative anymore but it is a recommendation and you will see warning signs into every enclosed space you enter – shops, agencies, libraries, even at the beaches. Of course, people that came together can be one next to another, so don’t be afraid that you will need to spend your holiday 1,5 meters away from your family or friends.
Also, everywhere will be provided an endless amount of masks and hand sanitizers, so you do not need to worry about that as well.
Because of the new rules, daily group tours in Croatia will be organised differently than before. Every tour operator will need to take many steps to keep its participants safe, as well as limit group sizes.
Analyzing the local market, I realized that most of them will focus on private tours this year – organize them for a particular group that comes together and knows each other so they don’t need to keep a social distance. That is, after all, the best and safest option this summer.
Croatia also has many accommodations where it is possible to keep a space between guests – doesn’t matter if it’s a hotel, villa or a small private accommodation, so you can choose whatever you prefer more and you can be completely sure you will be safe and feel comfortable as well.
All of this doesn’t mean we will not be able to enjoy the same or even more than before because I believe now we will appreciate more every single moment and all the little things that make our lives better and that before we weren’t paying attention to.
3. Historical cities without the crowd
You know our country is full of history – the best indicator are many sights that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, such as Diocletian’s Palace in Split, the old cities of Dubrovnik and Trogir, cathedral in Šibenik or the Field in Starigrad on the island of Hvar.
It is really fascinating and overwhelming to visit these UNESCO protected areas, but very often people can’t fully enjoy it because of the masses of the people around. You can’t even take a photo without hundreds of people that ruin your perfect spot for it.
Honestly, Dubrovnik is one of the most overcrowded cities in the world. TV show Game of Thrones made it popular so everyone wants to visit it and, of course, they become enchanted by its beauty but, unfortunately, it is not a full experience because of the crowd.
That is really a pity because all these places are not protected by UNESCO for no reason, and I think everyone who is spending his vacation in Croatia needs to enjoy peacefully every corner of it.
The good thing about this whole situation with the virus is that there won’t be so many people as usual so you can completely enjoy the historical cities, old streets, and buildings.
Even The New York Times included Dubrovnik among the top 11 destinations in the world that have become peaceful places because of the coronavirus pandemic and until crisis they were struggling with over-tourism. A guy that is living there told them that Dubrovnik hasn’t been empty like this since the war and the eight-month shelling in 1991 and 1992.
So now is the time to experience something that only recently seemed impossible.
I also believe that the city walking tours all over the country will be more interesting and will suit you better now because the guides won’t have one tour after another like usual, which means they will have more time to dedicate to your tour without rushing.
4. Beautiful nature only for you
What Croatia is also known for and rich in is, guess what, nature! Without false modesty, we have it all here – more than a thousand islands, sea, fish, plants, rocks, mountains, whatever you wish for. That is one of the reasons why it is an ideal destination for anyone planning a holiday.
These months we have given Earth a little break so nature is full of life now.
Since this year we won’t experience some big crowds in Croatia as we usually do, you can also enjoy nature peacefully, without noise and many unknown people. I bet you want to swim on an empty beach where you don’t have to worry about grabbing a spot and without anyone putting his towel right next to yours.
Probably you are familiar with the beautiful Golden Horn beach on the island of Brač and you want to visit it one day when you come to Croatia. But do you know that it is so popular that sometimes the beach is too crowded and you cannot experience its beauty?
This summer you can!
Have you ever heard about Stiniva bay on the island of Vis? If you haven’t – that beach was declared as the most beautiful one in Europe in 2016. That is great – of course, but exactly because of that you can find hundreds of people and boats arriving every minute so, unfortunately, you can’t find peace and tranquility there like you could before 2016.
But you can find it in 2020 and who knows when you will be able to again. What do you think about that?
Try also to imagine this – you are walking through National Park Plitvice without bumping into people passing by you, peacefully enjoying beautiful landscapes made by 16 lakes and taking the best pictures that you will ever have.
Or does it sound better swimming inside the National Park Krka, in front of the biggest waterfall that is usually covered with tons of people? This year is your last chance because from 2021 swimming won’t be allowed anymore.
So this summer Croatia will be a quiet place, without masses, where you can experience the Mediterranean way of life, where you can walk through a green, climb the mountains and completely remove from the stresses of these times. Here the sun always shines, but this summer will have a special vibe, so don’t miss it.
5. Outdoor activities
By the very richness of nature, what Croatia can offer to you as well are many, many outdoor activities all over the country – on land and on the coast. From river adventures and zip-lining to hiking, biking, or driving a quad – an outdoor activity is something you are looking for and something that is the best and safest option to do in a situation like this one!
On each of the excursions, you will have too much fun, trust me, but I still prefer the activities on the Cetina river. If I need to choose one, that would be the (extreme) canyoning tour. Why did I put “extreme” in parentheses? Because, basically they are the same tours, the only difference is in rope lowering.
Now I could write at least 500 words about that tour, but since that is not our subject now and I just wanted to give you some suggestions, let’s put a pin in it for some other title.
If you are not an adventurous type or you think you have no strength for sports activities in the river canyon or you are traveling with small children – Croatia also has something for you! You can do some easier and calmer activities, such as sea kayaking, or spend your day visiting some Ethno village or National Park, take a walk in nature and have lunch outdoors.
6. Could be cheaper than before the crisis
If we exclude the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia is not an expensive destination. To be completely honest, it’s not cheap either, but I think everyone who has already managed to come here, can fully enjoy all the benefits it provides. Of course, if you want luxury and a higher level of everything, it will cost you more, like in every other country.
Now, when the world faces travel restrictions and tourism has dealt with a great loss in the blink of an eye, perhaps the prices will be dropped. I can not say for sure, so take my words with a grain of salt, but it could be.
A lot of accommodation capacities will be empty this summer so I think many owners will cut prices to fill those empty beds so they can have at least some income – better anything than nothing! So this summer you may be able to sleep in better accommodation, for the same money you might have paid last year (or next year) for lower category accommodation.
I think even private tours will be more affordable this summer. It will be easier and more cost-effective for tour operators to do and organize a tour with people who come together than to combine different groups of people that don’t know each other, keep their distance and thus have a lot of empty space in buses or vans.
Advice: Before booking any group tour, always ask if there is a private option for it.
7. Home away from home
Croatia is beautiful with its cities, islands, mountains, and everything else, but what will make a difference to your stay here are the people. So meeting Croatian people is the top thing to do. Croats tend to be friendly, helpful, and funny and they (we) will make you feel at home.
If you stop someone on the street and ask for directions or any other information, be sure they will explain everything to you with a smile and maybe even exchange a few words just because the Croatian population is a very communal and social one. We all love to hang out with our friends, drink coffee for hours and talk with them, and often to hug each other.
If you have some Croatian friends, you probably noticed how generous and hospitable they are. When you come to someone’s house, he will offer you everything possible to host you – cookies, candies, coffee, juices, liquors, everything to feel you welcomed.
And you WILL really feel welcomed, that much that you will not want to leave.
Something that, I believe, you will like as well, in particular if you come in Split and the area around it, is the easy way of life. Since you are on vacation, you don’t want to rush anywhere or feel stressed, especially after the stress of the previous three months, and here we really have a relaxed attitude. Things do run on time, but our motto is to “take it easy”.
This all sounds great, right? It sounds and it really IS great, believe me! But I know you want me to ask some questions like:
Can I enter Croatia?
Yet from May 28th, residents of 10 countries are free to enter Croatia, as they could before the coronavirus pandemic, but from July 1st all EU/EEA citizens and EU/EEA permanent residents (EU 27 + UK + Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, as well as Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican) can freely enter Croatia, without any restrictions. All other third-country nationals are allowed to enter Croatia for tourism with a paid reservation or for business.
If you are traveling by car and you want to reduce the jam at the border and shorten the waiting time, you can give all the information in advance via this website. All visitors who fill out the online form will receive an e-mail with all the epidemiological guidelines and necessary information.
When you enter Croatia, no quarantine or self-isolation is required. All passengers, regardless of citizenship, will be handed a leaflet with instructions and recommendations from the Croatian Institute of Public Health.
What about flights to Croatia?
Local flights are operating since May 11th, while European international resumed on June 8th, but with reduced departures. However, the number of flights to Croatia increases on a weekly basis. On this website, you can follow information and news from airlines and airports in Croatia.
What will the travel be like after the lockdown?
I have already written that COVID-19 is changing travel. We will need to respect the social distancing rules, use masks and disinfectants, but I think we will all get used to it. But to travel safely and to stay safe firstly you need to choose a country that provides all the necessary security and a country that has dealt well with the COVID-19 crisis.
What about traveling with kids after the COVID-19 crisis?
In Croatia kids can go on the playground now, kindergartens and schools are open as well so I can say it is pretty safe traveling with kids here. But, of course, despite the security provided by Croatia itself, just as you need to take care of yourself following the instructions in order to get back to your country healthy, so you need to take care of your children and to have eyes both for yourself and for them. Great if they are obedient and can take care of themselves, but if they are mischievous, too small, or babies, you need to take it on yourself. So if you are traveling with your children, I would suggest you to take the safest option which will be some private tours.
How can I book my next trip if the virus is still present?
Carefully, of course! It will be best for you to contact a real-life person to assist you before choosing the exact place and time – just to be sure about the situation from the first hand, from the people living there. Here we got your back, Jack!
Okay, to sum up – this year seems to have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed and given us all the bad things that lasted too long, but we mustn’t allow the virus or anything else to destroy us the second part of the year. So don’t let your travel to Croatia remain just an empty wish, a pie in the sky, but take some action and start planning your trip!
Croatia is always a TOP choice, but now it is also a corona-free destination, do not forget that information.
What do you think about that? Don’t hesitate to share with me your thoughts and if you need help with organising your vacation, let me know!
Ask, write and stay tuned for updates because here I will write to you all the new information that you should know before your trip and also when you cross the Croatian border.
May 27, 2020
updated July 2, 2020