Saying that Croatia is one of the main tourist destinations in Europe is the same as saying that the sun will rise again tomorrow. Everyone knows it, and with good reason! This amazing country has a lot to offer. From balmy bay surrounded by turquoise water, the famous Plivitce lakes paradise or old medieval cities, Croatia’s inner beauty is breathtaking!
However, this mass tourism has not been without consequences. Fragile ecosystems have been devastated and the increasing number of tourists arrival hasn’t benefited the locals as it should have.
Hopefully, there is a way of traveling in Croatia without hurting these ecosystems. Government and tour operators are acknowledging that managing the environmental footprint left behind by tourists is crucial for keeping Croatia’s natural and historical treasures.
We have selected 4 experiences you can do in Croatia, which support sustainable tourism. Even better! These experiences are unique and we are betting that none of your friends or colleagues did it before.
Skip the touristy paths and try these unique and sustainable travel experiences in Croatia instead:
1. Rent boats from locals
Croatia’s coast is made up of multitude islands with lovely port towns and spectacular natural settings. Over the past decades, large cruise companies have taken control of the Adriatic sea, discharging a huge amount of waste and polluting water.
As tourists among these cruise lines, we rarely care about such things or if we do, we do not pay attention at all. Indeed, making the most of a 2 weeks vacation is our top priority and there are so many things to do and see. Thus, cruising is a logical choice, just laying back and letting ourselves get carried away.
But what if we told you there is another way for island hopping?
Croatian people have always had a certain attraction to the sea. Naturally, a lot of them are boat owners. So why not rent a boat directly from a Croatian instead of doing a charter from big companies?
And do you want to know the best part?
This way of island hopping Croatia supports local businesses and pollutes less than the traditional cruising lines. Final pro tips, Dubrovnik, this famous city is absolutely gorgeous from the sea and will stay in your memories for quite a long time.
2. Take a shot of adrenaline at the Cadmos Village
In Greek Methodology, Cadmos was the first king and founder of Thebes. Back to present days, Cadmos is now an enchanting place, 30 minutes close to Dubrovnik. This atypical village of Dalmatia is an example of eco-tourism in Croatia. Hidden in an oakwood forest, far away from main tourist attractions, Cadmos will appeal to you by its atmosphere.
Indeed, whether you are looking for a little bit of adventure or just planning to relax for a few days, Cadmos is perfectly made for you. Building around an attraction park, the village hosts its guests on treehouses that can accommodate up to 6 people. Provided with modern equipment, the unique ecological-adrenaline park is 100% powered by solar energy and wind power. Sustainable tourism and living naturally, in harmony with nature are the core values of Cadmos. The dedication of the owners respect for nature is apparent.
A large restaurant with a terrace on a tree welcomes hungry visitors while adrenaline junkies can test their skills among a broad range of activities. Hiking, archery range, biking, paintball, and slingshots; the opportunities to be physically active during these holidays are numerous.
Plus, one of its strongest points is its relative affordability. The overnight stay is 250€ on average. Quite a small price to pay for a devoted nature lover and adventurers!
3. Sleep on the isolated Eco Shelter at Salbanura
If you want to avoid mass tourists at all costs, this might be for you! Located on the Bisevo island with a population of 16 (yes, you read that well), all farmers and fishermen, the Eco Shelter is the perfect choice for nature-lovers with adventurous-mind.
Picture this, no running water, neither traffic nor shops. You better be prepared when stepping on this island. Moreover, this Eco Shelter has only a capacity of eight beds, guaranteeing you a stay far away from crowds.
The minimum stay is 5 days. However, do not worry if you didn’t pack enough food. A lovely restaurant will serve you healthy local Mediterranean dishes. Most of the products are homemade such as jam or grappa.
Finally, reaching the island is also an adventure in itself! First, you have to go to Split, the second-largest city of Croatia. From this city, take a boat (why not renting one from local charter ?) to Vis island. The change of scenery will starts from Vis. Indeed, used as a remote army base for the Yugoslav army, it was totally cut off from foreign visitors until 1989. This isolation preserved this island.
From Vis, take another boat to Bisevo island which will leave you at the Salbanura bay where eco shelters are located.
4. Taste the amazing local food and wine
No sustainable tour in Croatia would be complete without a taste of the fine local cuisine and wine. You will find many influences in Croatian dishes. From Italian, Hungarian, Turkish and plenty others, Croatian cuisine offers both continental and coastal specialties.
Gastro-tourism in this country starts to be a thing and encouraging amazing local producers will contribute to the sustainable development.
You can find a lot of organic products in the local farmers market. They can be found in almost every village and city. Wandering between stalls of vegetables, fruits, cheese, and seafood is a good opportunity to meet and mingle with locals. They know the best and will help you choose amazing dishes matching your taste.
Our best find? Knedli, which consists of a sweet potato dumpling stuffed with plums or apricots. Such a delight!
Croatian wine isn’t really famous because it is not well exported. Yet, still little known by wine lovers, wineries in Dalmatia produce amazing beverages. Sipping on their astonishing wines, you can ensure to support the local economy while enriching their cultural experience. It’s a win-win relationship!