If you’re looking for some first hand tips and travel experience for getting around Croatia with dogs, you came to the right place!
I can also hook you up with some awesome picture and video footage of our Croatia adventure, so either way you’ll get something out of this blog post, ha!
So we recently took off to Croatia on a much needed two week summer vacation, and our pup Wally came along for the ride. He’s a 35 lb Feist mix and celebrated his 4th birthday during our trip. Fun fact: Him and I actually share the same birthday!
We started at our current home near Stuttgart, Germany and made the 12 hour trip via Austria and Slovenia. On our way back home, we spent one night in Salzburg, Austria, at about the half way mark.
Keep in mind that your pup will need to do fine in the car. Otherwise, it’ll be a miserable long ride for you and them!
Thankfully, Wally loves car rides, so we didn’t have any issues there.
How We Experienced Croatia With Dogs: Our Summer Road Trip With Wally
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.
General Croatia Know How
Just as a general FYI: Croatia joined the European Union in 2013, so typically there are no border controls. You just drive into the country as if you were driving from one US state into another. That applies as long as you’re driving within the European Union.
However, traffic was only inching forward as we approached the border area because of 3 things:
- The summer travel rush. Most roads were packed because people were so happy to finally be able to go on vacation again! (Future reader: The Corona pandemic didn’t make this possible for quite some time).
- The toll booths right before the border. Yep, expect to pay to use the roads. They take both cash and cards.
- Occasional checks for Corona related paperwork (negative tests, proof of vaccination or proof of recovery). We were both vaccinated twice but didn’t get pulled over. I think they checked every 50th car or so. It would have been an absolute congestion nightmare had they checked every single car!
Although Croatia did join the EU, they haven’t joined the Euro zone yet. That’s because their economy is not strong enough to do so yet, but it’s expected to happen by January 1, 2023.
In the meantime, their currency remains the Croatian Kuna (kn). €1 = $1.17 = kn7.50.
If you want to exchange any Euros or Dollars for Croatian Kunas, I suggest you do so at a local post office in Croatia (Pošta). You’ll get a lot more bang for your buck there than you would at an Exchange Office.
Paperwork Needed To Travel Into Croatia With Dogs
You’ll need two things to get your pup into Croatia.
That’s an internationally readable, 15 digit microchip that complies with the ISO (International Standards Organization) and proof of a current rabies vaccination.
At least in theory.
I say that because no one asked to see this paperwork at the border, or anywhere else for that matter! Honestly, I was kinda bummed about it. That’s because I took the time to get Wally his very own European Doggie Passport with all of his information prior to embarking on our summer trip.
Here in Germany, any vet can issue those as long as you have a current German address. The vet I took Wally to scanned him for his microchip to double check that the information I gave her was correct. Then she noted it in his passport.
I also decided to have her give him his rabies booster a little earlier than necessary. Otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to jot it down in the passport. I figured it’d be more convenient than having to bring all of the paperwork along that Wally used to travel from the US to Germany earlier this year.
Oh well, now that he has it, it will definitely come along on our next trip with him. I’ll report back on whether or not we’ll need it then, ha!
But back to our Croatia trip.
Our Car Set Up For Wally
During this road trip, Wally traveled in a car crate on our long trip there and back. For our day trips in Croatia, we secured Wally with his harness and our headrest seat belt.
The crate is a crash-tested, German car crate called 4pets Transportbox EcoLine three, medium size. We bought it for a little over €300 at a local pet retail store in Germany.
We decided to leave it in the car for the long drive there and back, and to keep it in the apartment during our stay in Croatia. It’s stupid heavy, and we stayed on the top floor, so there was no way we were going to carry it up and down 6 flights of stairs every day.
While writing this blog post, I tried to find that particular model on the US market, but couldn’t find it.
However, I found these two similar items in the States:
- Secure Aluminum Pro Series Car Crate (retails for around $350, but not crash tested), and the
- 4×4 North America MIM Safe Vario Cage Single (retails for around $900, crash tested)
The harness we used on our day trips in Croatia is the Mighty Paw Sport Harness 2.0 and their headrest seat belt. Both are a great alternative for a car crate, especially if you have less room to work with.
Our Dog-Friendly Vacation Rental in Crikvenica, Croatia
For this particular trip, we decided against staying at a hotel.
Instead, we opted for a vacation rental with a kitchenette. It was one of 6 apartments in a villa with a pool and a small balcony overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Wally felt very much at home there!!
The beauty about Croatia is that these types of accommodations are pretty affordable at around €300 per person/week. At the current exchange rate, that’s about $350 US Dollars.
Most places allow dogs, and while some don’t charge extra, ours did. However, at €8/day, it was also quite affordable and ended up costing us €112 = $131 US.
By the way, our villa was fully booked and most guests also had dogs. Our landlady also had a pup, so while there was some occasional barking, everyone followed the rules to a T. Those rules were pretty straight forward – leash and pick up after your pup, and no dogs in the pool.
So all in all, our 13 night stay was a lot less inexpensive than we would have paid for a stay by the Mediterranean in France or Italy.
If you can make it to Croatia with your pup, I highly recommend you do!
Shoot me a message at Barbara AT K9sOverCoffee DOT com if you want the name and address of the place where we stayed.
To help Wally keep his nightly routine, we set up the car crate I mentioned earlier in our rental. Just like at home, it stayed open throughout the day so he could walk in and out as he pleased.
He slept in it with the crate door closed, also just like he does at home.
What I Fed Wally During Our 2 Week Vacation
As many of you know, Wally is raw-fed.
I usually try to keep his raw dog food routine as much as possible when we’re going away on trips, but this time around, I admit that I didn’t.
The car was already full enough as it was, and I would have needed 2 large coolers to bring 2 weeks worth of raw dog food along. Since we didn’t stay at a hotel, there also wouldn’t have been any ice machines. And keep in mind that ice machines are not as common elsewhere in the world as they are in the States.
For this reason, I also decided against ordering 2 weeks worth of raw and shipping it to our vacation rental. That would have been an option as well.
Since I also didn’t find any freeze-dried raw dog food here in Germany, I opted for canned dog food. I had noticed it in the travel product section of one of my current raw dog food providers in Germany, Barfers Wellfood.
The ingredients were actually not bad at all:
- Turkey 62% (heart, meat, liver, necks)
- Broth 28.5%
- Cranberries 4%
- Sweet potatoes 2%
- Minerals 1%
- Safflower oil 0.3%
- Yucca extract 0.1%
- Wild herbs 0.1% (basil, camomile, dandelion, parsley, rosemary)
Although I would have liked to see one more secreting organ besides liver, this food was a solid option for our 2 week getaway.
Thankfully Wally’s not overly picky when it comes to his food, and he devoured these meals as happily as he does his raw meals!
I will say that I noticed one thing though: his poops were definitely much larger than they are on raw.
To be on the safe side, I ordered enough canned dog food for 3 weeks. That way, I was able to slowly transition him from raw to canned before we left on our vacation. I also still had one can left for when we returned home. That way, I didn’t have to worry about thawing any raw meals right away.
The protein options I chose for Wally were beef, turkey and horse. Yep, the latter is big on this side of the pond…I’ll dedicate a blog post to that protein soon! Spoiler alert: It’s a great option for dogs with lots of food sensitivities like Wally.
I’d say that it’s similar in quality to Ziwipeak’s canned dog food. I used to feed Ziwipeak for a little while before I switched my two Boxer mixes Missy & Buzz to fresh raw dog food.
These are Ziwipeak’s beef canned dog food ingredients:
- Beef Lung/Kidney/Tripe/Liver/Bone
- New Zealand Green Mussel
- Dried Kelp
- Sea Salt
- Minerals (Zinc/Copper/Manganese Amino Acid Complex)
- Vitamins (Vitamin E/B1/B5/D3 Supplement, Folic Acid)
Enjoying Restaurants & Coffee Shops in Croatia With Dogs
Much like Germany, Croatia is a very dog-friendly country. As a matter of fact, dogs are welcome in most restaurants and coffee shops.
It’s still a good idea to ask the staff if it’s OK to bring your pup before you walk into any restaurant or coffee shop. But it’s really more of a rhetorical, polite question to ask!
Most places we went to with Wally immediately brought him water in a dog bowl. I only had to specifically ask for water for him a few times!
At this point, Wally’s used to coming along to eat in restaurants and coffee shops. It took all of us a few times to get used to this new concept, but it didn’t take us long to develop a routine.
Obviously we kept him leashed, and then we tied his leash to our table. That was usually the most solid structure. While we grabbed a drink and decided on food, Wally was allowed to stand next to me or his Daddy and get some TLC.
Once the food came out, we asked him to lie down and stay there. That worked very well for all of us because it’s exactly what we ask him to do at home as well. At the end of our meal, we rewarded him with a few tasty treats, and sometimes also with a little taste of what we had. #SpoiledPup
Plitvice Lakes National Park With Dogs
If you want to experience the most amazingly colored, clear water ever AND visit a UNESCO World Heritage site, you have to come here!
The park is located in the back country, really close to the Bosnia and Herzegovina border.
It was about a 2 hour drive up and down the mountainous countryside from our place in Crikvenica, but one well worth it. If you decide to visit during peak travel time like we did, you better make it out there early or the place will be packed af. As in, arrive no later than 9 am. 8 am is better!
Dogs are allowed at Plitvice Lakes National Park and don’t cost extra.
However, they do have to be leashed the entire time and aren’t allowed to swim in the lakes.
Humans aren’t either, and it definitely makes sense. Because if we were all allowed to swim in them (think sweat and sunscreen), they’d probably look a lot less serene and clean than they currently are. … and clean they ARE!!
Since it was a hot summer day when we went, we let Wally stand in the lakes every now and then to cool off, and that seemed to be perfectly fine.
We also brought bottled water along and bought another bottle at one of the concession stands along the way. We used our collapsible silicone bowls from Mighty Paw to water Wally along the way.
Obviously, you also have to pick up after your dog, but that should be a no brainer. Keep in mind that while there are trash cans, there are no poop bag stations. So make sure to bring your own!
There are a few factors that might be challenging for some pups, so here’s what to expect:
- Lots of gappy boardwalks, as I called them
- Shuttle boats and busses if you’re opting for the 2 or 4 hour hike instead of the 6-8 hour hike
- Lots of people during peak visiting times in the summer like ours
- A decent amount of other dogs
Wally did really great walking the boardwalks, and he doesn’t mind being surrounded by people either. On the contrary, he’s a little social butterfly and will get all the pets he can get!
He also did fine on the boat and in the bus. We sat in the far back on both with Wally between us, and both rides were only about 10 minutes long.
However, he’s one of those pups who does best with a decent amount of space between him and other dogs. Unfortunately, that’s one thing that’s hard to come by on more than half of the hike at Plitvice Lakes.
Thankfully, we walked Wally on his dual handle bungee leash that has a built-in traffic handle right next to his head. So whenever there’s oncoming doggie traffic, we’d grab that handle and kept him right next to us.
In combination with his slip dog collar, it made the doggie encounters very doable and much less stressful than they would have been on a flat collar and a standard leash.
Krk Island With Dogs
We discovered a really nice, quiet little bay in the Omišalj area on Krk Island and spent many afternoons there.
It was only about a 30 minute drive from our rental location in Crikvenica, and a lot less busy than the local beaches in the Crikvenica area.
That’s because it was SO easy to lift Wally in and out of the water using the handle on the back of the harness! And the check cord gave him plenty of controlled freedom when we were in the water, and it also kept him safe while he was swimming.
Granted, he only swam very short distances, essentially just long enough to cool himself off. I really wasn’t expecting any currents that close to shore, but you never know, and I definitely wasn’t going to take any chances. Plus it was perfect to keep him from adventuring elsewhere on his own!
Most beaches in Croatia are rocky beaches rather than sandy ones, so I was super glad I read up on Croatia beforehand and brought my Vibrams. They were truly life savers for my feet, ha! I bought them back in 2012 and they’re still in really good shape.
Mainland Cities Crikvenica & Novi Vinodolski With Dogs
We spent most of our time between Krk Island and the two mainland cities of Crikvenica and Novi Vinodolski on this trip.
Crikvenica has a charming downtown area nestled right around its harbor. There’s tons of little coffee shops and restaurants, bakeries and gelato shops.
Crikvenica also has a dedicated off-leash dog beach! You’ll see signs for it all over town, but we decided to skip it since Wally’s not too crazy about other dogs.
Whenever dogs aren’t allowed on a beach, there’s a big sign with a crossed out dog – unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of those signs – my apologies!
Novi Vinodolski is about 20 minutes South of Crikvenica and has a lovely harbor/beach walk. It’s particularly pretty at night with all of its lights, sights and the cooling breeze.
One issue that’s true for both cities is that parking is hard to come by during summer vacation time. That’s why my advice is to drive into town super early (absolutely no later than 9:30 am, that’s already pushing it) or prepare to circle around for a while.
Bottom Line: How We Experienced Croatia With Dogs
It was an unforgettable summer trip with so many new impressions and memories!
I’m so glad that Wally was able to come along and join us on our many adventures.
Besides several firsts, this was one heck of a socialization experience for him. So many people everywhere, lots of other dogs and tons of restaurant and coffee shop trips.
His main few firsts on this trip were:
- His first road trip in Europe! Wally has now been to Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.
- His first swim! At least while he’s been with us.
- His first boat ride at Plitvice Lakes National Park.
On our way home, we spent one night in Salzburg, Austria. We checked into the hotel around 3 in the afternoon and then walked into the historical downtown area.
It was only a 20 minute walk that was followed by exploring the city, grabbing some coffee and watching Wally react to horse drawn carriages…he was not sure at all what to make of that and barked at every single one he saw. And there’s lots of them!!
All in all, we loved this experience and will definitely come back. Maybe not necessarily to the same area, but probably more South.
There’s still lots to see and explore in Croatia!