A small but renowned tourist hotspot, Croatia is on the road to recovery and ready for international visitors. Read below for a detailed post-pandemic travel guide before you go.
In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Croatia was heavily impacted by rigid travel restrictions as a popular bucket list destination entirely dependent on its tourism industry. On April 1st, the Adriatic paradise reopened for COVID-free travelers, but its dreamy coastlines and medieval villages have remained largely vacant months into peak travel season. As rising vaccination rates offer reassurance to incoming tourists, Croatia is opening its borders and preparing for a summer of recovery and adventure.
Before jetting off to Croatia, travelers must present a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure or a negative antigen test taken within 48 hours prior to takeoff. Eligible vacationers can also enter Croatia with a valid EU COVID passport proving vaccination or recovery from the COVID-19 virus in the last 180 days. Other vaccination documentation such as CDC cards for American citizens will also be accepted, and travelers must wait at least two weeks after their last vaccine dose for full immunity.
Those traveling from high-risk, restricted areas or non-EU/ non-EEA countries must present evidence of accommodation or proof of essential travel for entry into any Croatian destination. To reduce confusion and waiting time at customs and border patrol, travelers should fill out this online form from the Croatian Ministry of the Interior meant to facilitate a smooth entry for international visitors.
According to the World Health Organization, Croatia reported a total of 361,595 confirmed cases as of July 18 with nearly 3 million vaccine doses administered nationwide. Zadar County is currently tallying the highest number of COVID cases across Croatia, and its neighboring counties to the south like Split-Dalmatia County and Dubrovnik-Neretva County are also reporting high rates of infection and transmission. For this reason, popular coastal cities like Dubrovnik may not be ideal destinations for COVID-conscious travelers, though cases are steadily decreasing as southern Croatia slowly flattens its curve in the final stages of its second devastating wave of COVID-19.
For those seeking a COVID-safe coastal getaway, Lika-Senj County is surrounded by rugged mountains overlooking balmy, quiet beaches on the northern shores of the Adriatic. The natural escape is also home to several national parks like Plitvice Lakes National Park, where visitors can hike to roaring waterfalls and take in terraced lakes and rocky canyons from mountain peaks near the Dinaric Alps. Rural inland locations like the hilltop village of Motovun also offer captivating views with Venetian fortresses and a strong influence of Italian culture away from the bustle of southern cities.
Throughout 2020, travel costs in Croatia fell drastically with almost no demand for tickets and reservations in the wake of COVID restrictions and numerous lockdowns across the globe. To revitalize its tourism industry and boost the nation’s economy post-pandemic, prices are steadily increasing on flights and cruises into Croatia. Many major airline companies and cruise lines are still offering flexible cancelation policies and package deals, but costs will likely exceed pre-pandemic rates throughout the summer as more tourists book their trips.
Savvy travelers should make reservations in advance for greater availability, flexible booking policies, and low rates. For safe and ethical tourism after a financially devastating pandemic, vacationers should also support local vacation rentals and villas, small stores and boutiques, and local restaurants and businesses instead of crowded corporate chains and tourist traps.
Despite a rise in national vaccination rates and a decrease in regional cases, Croatia is still enforcing many preventative restrictions to ensure the health and safety of locals and incoming tourists. Face masks are mandatory in all enclosed public spaces, and social distancing is also required both indoors and outdoors. All stores, restaurants, churches, and cultural sites are operating at limited capacities, so lines can be expected at popular attractions across Croatia’s major cities and top destinations.
Public transportation continues to operate normally with facemask ordinances, allowing for smooth travel throughout Croatia’s 20 picturesque counties. Visitors should frequently check updated COVID maps and government websites like this one here for the latest information on health regulations and active case numbers.
As one of the most beloved tourist hotspots in the world, Croatia’s decision to reopen for international visitors marks the end of a lengthy period of solitude and uncertainty and the start of a new season of travel, leisure, and rebirth for the jewel of the Adriatic.