Wild camping in Croatia, is it even possible? We came from Serbia, where wild camping is very easy and pretty much accepted everywhere. About Croatia however, I read different stories. Wild camping, especially at the coast, would be totally illegal and impossible. Of course we wanted to see if this was true
Wild camping in Osijek
Our first destination in Croatia was Osijek, the fourth largest city in Croatia. Osijek is all the way on the eastern point of the country and totally off the beaten tourist track.
As soon as we arrived we found a big parking lot in the city center. It was not the most charming place, but we asked around and were advised by locals that it would be no problem to sleep there. (they also gave us free beers) We found a spot with a security camera pointed to it and that was it. We decided to spend the night on the parking lot. Whenever we spend the night in a city, we are very discrete. We don’t pop up the roof nor put chairs outside. We also try to use as little light inside the van as possible. This way the van looks like a normal parked car, so no one can accuse us of wild camping.
After the first night we decided that we wanted to stay in Osijek for a few more days and we found even better sleeping spots, in the historical center, at the beach and in a hidden park. We stayed on all these spots without any problem. All spots are listed on our Sleepin4wheel map.
Wild camping in Kopački rit natural reserve
As Boef is from the wetlands of Brazil, we had to see Kopački rit, one of the largest wetlands in Europe. We took Box for a short ride form Osijek and arrived at the natural park. Not much later we found the perfect camping spot: in front of a stunning lake, with picknick tables and bathrooms available. However during the day it was full of tourists and park staff. We decided to come back there at night so we would have the place for ourselves. We came back when the sun went down. We did not know how fast to get Box down to the lake, take off our clothes and take a dive! This was just perfect! We had bought groceries to cook dinner, a bottle of wine, and this would be our first real wild camping experience in nature. But just as I came out of the water and wrapped myself in a towel, a light showed up in the darkness. And it came closer….I rushed into Box to hide. it did not help…it was the park ranger who told us to leave. Good bye wild camping experience…We ended up spending the night just 50 meters away from the lake, along the road. Which was okay, but just not….you know….the way we imagined it.
Wild camping on the Croatian coast
A few weeks later we headed to the Croatian coast, to Opatija to be exact. The Croatian coast is amazingly beautiful, but also very touristy. This automatically means the regulations for wild camping are stricter. We expected it to be very difficult to wild camp here, so we spent the first night on a camp site. Just to get a feel for the area and to explore the possibilities. Soon we discovered that a lot of parking spaces had signs with campers with a red line through them….that’s clear, no wild camping.
Luckily Boef has a very good nose for hidden parking places and soon he found a very nice little spot under the trees on a dead end road. Perfect! The road to this spot was so small and steep that no police would come there without a very good reason. So, we spent the night there, 2 minutes walking distance from the beach with showers, public toilets and restaurants. And that for free 😉
In the following days we found a few more hidden wild camping spots along the Croatian coast. Every time we felt comfortable enough to pop the roof up and cook dinner in the van, all without any problems or complaints from locals or the police. Just look our best spots up on our map with places to sleep in a van!
Wild camping on Cres Island
As soon as we drove off the ferry and entered Cres island, it was VERY clear what the rules on wild camping were:
But hey, we would not be Livin4wheel if we would not try. And of course, after a very pleasant and stunning drive to the first town on the island, we found a little windy road in a residential area with many vacant parking spaces under the pine trees. The road was on a 1 minute walk from the ocean, with free showers and water taps. Can it get any better? No it can’t…we decided to put Box there, pop the roof up and see what happens. Well, the only thing that happened was that we had a great night of sleep and woke up with the best view ever. Great succes!
So what is the conclusion on wild camping in Croatia?
Even though the laws suggest otherwise, wild camping in Croatia is perfectly possible. Of course you have to know when to be discrete. When you are in a city, don’t act like you are camping. (This goes for any city in any country) Are you in more rural areas, then you can spread out a little more. However, always be careful because you are officially acting illegal.
We met one other T3 owner on our trip who got busted by the police while wild camping in Croatia. Eventually the only thing that happened is that the police escorted him to the closest camp site. And even when we got sent away by the park ranger in Kopački rit, he still allowed us to camp a few meters further down the road. So even when you get busted, you are not really in trouble. (Please note that we are not legal advisors, so if you do get a fine it’s your own fault ;)) So, just be smart about picking your spots and you should be fine. And if you want to find the spots we wrote about in this post, we listed everything on our Sleepin4wheel map!