Croatia Open For Tourism, Americans Welcome

Filed Under: Travel

Many (especially in the US) are excited to plan post-vaccination trips. While I know many people are hoping to travel to Europe, we have no reason to believe that the most popular tourist destinations in Europe will open, like France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

However, there is one often overlooked European Union country that’s already open to visitors, and which could be worth considering. This country is so easily able to make its own rules in this regard because it doesn’t belong to the Schengen zone yet.

Croatia open to those who are vaccinated or test

Croatia is already open to visitors from around the world, with just a few requirements. For those coming from the US, you’re eligible to enter without having to quarantine if:

  • You’re fully vaccinated, meaning it has been at least two weeks since your last recommended dose
  • You present a negative PCR test result taken no more than 48 hours prior to arrival in Croatia, and if your test is older than 48 hours, you can get tested upon arrival and just quarantine until you get a negative result; if you stay in Croatia for an extended period of time, you’ll have to get tested again on your tenth day
  • You present proof of having recovered from coronavirus, in the form of a positive PCR or rapid antigen test, performed between 11 and 180 days ago

All tourists also have to provide “a certificate of paid accommodation.” In other words, you just need to be prepared to show proof you have a hotel or other accommodation booked.

Is it time to plan a trip to Croatia?

I’d love to hear from OMAAT readers who have are more familiar with travel to Croatia, both because I’m considering a trip there this summer, and because I’m sure other readers are as well.

While I flew through Croatia a couple of years ago, I’ve only visited the country once before, and I don’t even remember it much. I must have been 10 years old, or something, and was on a cruise with my mom. We spent a day in Dubrovnik, but again, that was a couple of decades ago, and I really don’t remember a whole lot, other than walking through the old town.

But yeah, Croatia seems pretty tempting, no? I’ve always found Croatians to be friendly in my travels, and the coastline along the Adriatic Sea is gorgeous.

The three most popular cities in Croatia for people to visit are Dubrovnik, Split, and Zagreb. I haven’t done that much research yet, but my initial thoughts are:

  • Dubrovnik seems like the obvious choice and could be awesome, especially since there probably won’t be cruise ship passengers this year
  • Split is also on the water, so if anyone has thoughts on Dubrovnik vs. Split, I’d love to hear them
  • Is Zagreb worth visiting compared to the other two cities, given that it’s inland, which on the surface has less appeal to me

It seems like the best potential hotel options would be Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties, which participate in the World of Hyatt partnership, allowing you to earn and redeem points.

For example, Hotel Excelsior seems like it might be one of the best hotels in Dubrovnik, and that participates in the partnership. Tiffany also had a good stay at the Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera several years ago.

Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik

There are some other cool-looking properties, like Hotel Vestibul Palace, though looking at the property more closely, it seems like the cool design may be limited to the exterior.

Hotel Vestibul Palace Split

Bottom line

If you’re looking to travel to a European Union country this summer and want to be realistic, Croatia could be worth considering. The country is already open to visitors from around the world in conjunction with testing or proof of vaccination.

I only briefly visited Croatia as a kid while on a cruise, though I’m seriously considering a trip here this summer.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has been to Croatia more recently, and would welcome any tips on where to go, where to stay, and what to see (and I’m sure I’m not alone, because many OMAAT readers are presumably considering something similar).

Anyone considering a trip to Croatia anytime soon?

Comments
  1. Dubrovnik 5 times here both pre cruises and even last summer as an American. The Villa Dubrovnik is head and shoulders above any other hotel there in terms of rooms, food and service. It’s priced accordingly.

    Hvar is an hour ferry ride from Split and much more scenic due to its small size. Still a lot of great hotels and better food options as well as the more relaxed vibe.

  2. I stayed at that Sheraton using an old 7 night certificate. Was a highlight. Would have been nice to stay closer to Dubrovnik, but the hotel has great staff and amenities. I emailed the hotel in advance as I was celebrating an anniversary with my boyfriend. I inquired about breakfast options since I lost platinum that year and the manager gave it to us anyway. They had an impressive buffet spread. Seems like they were getting a lot of tour groups through there and most of them had breakfast anyway.

    This is exciting for us to be able to visit Croatia. That is a great point that there will be no cruise traffic. We walked the entire city wall early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Thankfully the year we went the city already reduced the cruise traffic. Looking forward to hearing about your stay. I think that was the same year (or +/- 1) we went to Tallinn and you had just left. We stayed at the Hilton as well, was another fantastic experience. Felt like royalty.

  3. Ben, we were in Dubrovnik in 2010 and it was a highlight of our self-planned 3 1/2 week European visit. We flew in and out of Milan on easyJet, which was not fun but there weren’t many options from Italy direct to Dubrovnik. Stayed at a private guesthouse in the old town right below the city wall. We loved the location, food, and friendly people who all spoke English, and it was a total contrast from dirty, crowded and tourist-overrun Italy. (We had just come from Venice.) Everything appeared new and clean, from the airport to the bus we took into town, to the new airport highway. Swimming in the Adriatic was a highlight: The water was crystal clear and warm. We had dinner at a restaurant on a cliff side terrace with an amazing view back toward the walled city, dining on locally-caught fresh fish. They were just completing the new cable car in the summer of 2010, so we didn’t get to ride it. We’d love to go back.

  4. You absolutely need to go to Hvar. you can skip Zagreb. Spend time in Hvar. going to Croatia and skipping it is ridiculous.

  5. I spent 2 weeks in Croatia last summer, it was absolutely phenomenal. I fell in love with Croatia, the people, the culture, the food and the wine!! We started our journey in Zadar and drove all the way down to Dubrovnik. We did a bunch of day tours (island hopping/food & wine tastings). Split and Dubrovnik are excellent to base yourself in as both have daily ferry departures to other islands.

    Primosten and Makarska Riviera are NOT to be missed!

    PS, since it was during the pandemic, there were practically no tourists and we go to enjoy the beautiful country without massive crowds. I would come back to Croatia anytime!

  6. A few thoughts – I’m a Croatian American dual citizen who’s currently working remotely from Split. I’m thrilled that Croatia wants to open but some caveats. Covid numbers are spiking like crazy in Croatia. Many counties have additional lock downs in place including limits on gatherings and no alcohol sales (even at cafes) after 8 or 9pm. These restrictions include Split and Dubrovnik. Vaccinations are very slow and the situation will likely get much worse before it gets better. While you can get into Croatia with proof of vaccination, you still likely need a test to get there and to return. Germany is the most common connecting point to ZAG, SPU, and DBV and Germany current requires a negative covid test for all transit passengers. So does Amsterdam and I believe Paris. And, Americans can’t take intra-schengen connecting flights so EU transfers aren’t an option. The Covid testing infrastructure in Croatia is very poor and getting the test to be allowed to fly back to the US is a challenge and also very expensive – expect 150 Euro for rapid results. All this said, the country might be open but it will be difficult to pull off a trip, at least in the short term.

  7. If you have 10 days or so:

    Dubrovnik (without cruise passengers then stay in old town or close, with cruise passengers stay on the small islands 20 mins boat ride away).

    Then ferry hop:

    Korcula island (no big brand hotels but Tara’s Lodge or Korcula Holiday apartments both amazing)

    Then Hvar island (town is superyacht crowd but go 5 mins out of town and blissful)

    Add island of Vis if you have time.

    Back to Split for 1 or 2 nights (don’t need more).

    Wouldn’t miss Plitvice National Park or plenty of the other amazing places north from Split to Rijeka/Zagreb/Pula.

  8. Switzerland is already open for travelers from the United States, no quarantine requirements, only a negative corona test. Definitely a cool country to visit

  9. Go to Dubrovnik and Hvar. Would recommend Zadar and Korčula too. I’d fly into ZAG and out of DBV – don’t spend more than a day or two in ZAG, as a local I can tell you there’s not too much to do as a tourist. Everyone here speaks good English and almost everyone is covid safe. Make sure you look into the restrictions as some counties are in lockdown while others have outdoor dining open. Indoor dining is only for hotel guests and has heavy capacity limits. Hope you enjoy your stay in Croatia!

  10. We are sailing the Croatian islands this summer – and have been holding our breath that the country would open – it’s by far our favorite trip and this will be our fourth time over the last 7 years. Good news. Now to book the air before it all disappears!

  11. Croatia is very nice; we flew to Split, stayed a few days, drove to Dubrovnik and spent a few more days there.

    We stayed in the Radisson in split which was nice and had very good food. The girls who did our laundry made the money symbol behind our back when we said we were at the Radisson which cracked us up. We drove to plitvice lakes and a bear refuge from Split. The roads were all brand new and in great condition, but in the city of split beyond your hotel parking is impossible. The put 130 cars in lots where Americans put 50.

    The Hilton had a great location to explore dubrovnik and the lounge and breakfast were good enough.

  12. Lots of great things in Croatia, but give me Split over Dubrovnik. Much larger town build inside of a 2,000 year old Roman palace? Yes please. I’d bet that DBV will be very sleepy until tourism really returns. Maybe not?

  13. Done both Split and Dubrovnik…it’s a beautiful drive down the Adriatic coastline… Do both!

  14. Judging by everyone’s Instagram stories from 2017-2019 I wouldn’t say Croatia is “overlooked.” It seemed to be the main congregating point for unmarried US tourists under 40.

  15. Ryan, Where did you get that information about Switzerland?

    https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov/empfehlungen-fuer-reisende/quarantaene-einreisende.html

    “The following do not exempt you from the mandatory quarantine requirement or shorten the quarantine period:

    A negative test result. This is because a negative test result does not completely rule out an infection with the coronavirus. You will find the biological explanation for this on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.

    A COVID-19 vaccination. This is because while the vaccination provides protection from the disease, it is not yet clear whether it also prevents you from infecting other people.”

  16. Yea I don’t think Croatia is a very smart move at this point. Cases are going up there and if it gets really bad they are going to start imposing more restrictions. Being vaccinated isn’t a guarantee you won’t be infected.

  17. I spent a couple days in Split in 2017 and really enjoyed it. Froggyland museum is not to be missed…it’s insane and kind of wonderful. Didn’t have time to get to Dubrovnik or Hvar but renting a car and visiting Plitvice en route to Ljubljana was the highlight. Plitvice was incredible, highly recommend it. The area around Plitvice is also very scenic. I rented a guesthouse overnight in Rastoke, even that small town near Plitvice was very unique and pretty.

  18. Would highly recommend spending a few days near and around Rovinj. It’s a beautiful, small coastal town that is within short driving distances to plenty of sights – including a well preserved amphitheater in Pula. We spent two nights at Hotel Adriatic (we were there in off-season and it was wonderful) but there are other Design Hotels nearby.

    We flew in and out of Zagreb, bookending our time in Croatia with a night at both ends at the Canopy hotel. We found it Zagreb to be a nice city with a quaint center – perhaps not a destination – but a great place to spend a little time. Lunch at Beštija was a highlight.

  19. I know youre not a beach person, but the islands are really where you want to spend your time (at least in relation to Split/Dubrovnik). You can get through either of those two cities in 1 day (2 max)… then get out to the islands (Hvar, Korkula, Brac, et al). I really enjoyed driving on Hvar & the coastline, and imagine it;ll be even better in a pandemic depressed tourist environment.

    I’ve heard great things about Plivtice National Park (and Zagreb for that matter) but haven’t been myself.

    Enjoy!

  20. I haven’t been to Dubrovnik in a long time, but like some other places in Croatia it has an overtourism problem due to Game of Thrones and such. Sure, the lack of cruise ships this year is a plus. It’s still gonna be busy with Germans, Austrians, Durch, Brita and so on. Croatia saw 3 m German visitors in 2019. I think it’s gonna be even more popular this year as fewer people will choose non-EU destinations.

    If I were to plan a vacation at the Adriatic Sea, I might go for the Abruzzo Region instead. For some reason, it is much less crowded there (it sees more domestic, fewer international tourists)

  21. Croatia is awesome and yes, I agree with you Ben, it’s one of the safer bets for Americans to visit. It’s not part of Schengen, therefore it can determine its immigration regulations independently.

    In terms of Schengen, many countries would like to open up, but in Germany it’s an election year (“Superwahljahr”) and therefore politics are going mad. I’m not sure if Merkel can be convinced to allow the other countries to open up.

  22. Not possible to visit Croatia from the US as you have to transit major European airports that demand proof of negative COVID-19 test and banned transit for tourism purposes.

  23. I’ve seen a lot of comments regarding not being able to transit EU to get to Croatia but you can always fly Turkish from the USA and get right past all that. Turkey does not require any COVID test for transit passengers.

  24. Hi all,

    Croatian here, avid reader of OMAAT, living between Korcula Island and Zagreb.
    For comprehensive info abt Croatia in English https://total-croatia-news.com/ is good starting point, run by British expat living in Croatia since 2001.

    Zagreb is lovely CE city with great streat vibe, safe, fantastic coffee bar scene, restaurants which still have local character and still not too touristy. Lots of things to see and experience there, it represents well the culture of Croatian North. Earthquake 13 months ago did lot of damage but we are back on our feet.

    I live in Korcula Town on the namesake island. Lesic-Dimitry Palace (https://www.ldpalace.com/) is boutique hotel, part of Relais&Chateaux and with Michelin Star restaurant and I am sure you would love to spend few night in the pallace from 16th century turned high end hotel. Two recent videos abt Korcula are here, 2 mins each:

    https://youtu.be/SDtOCjE8RYs

    https://vimeo.com/444182525/2bd4596dba

    Drive through Croatia, visit Plitvice Lakes as they are real wonder of nature and go with the flow. Safe, easy to travel, everybody communicate in English and if not in the peak of high season you will never get into a crowd. Wherever you go you will feel comfortable. Hvar is probably the most gay friendly town on Adriatic coast and is just 1.5h boat ride from Korcula.

    Safe travels to all,

    rgds from Zagreb

  25. @Ed – not true. I have a friend who transited to the US through Frankfurt from Malta. He’s a US citizen without dual citizenship anywhere else.

  26. @Kim – Your example is about transiting Frankfurt en route to the US, not transiting Frankfurt coming from the US.

  27. I do find the idea that Croatia is ‘overlooked’ amusing, Americans are the second biggest group of tourists in e.g. Dubrovnik after Brits. AA was even operating a direct seasonal PHL-DBV flight in 2019 before COVID killed it.

    LHR is a good transit point if everyone can get over their BA-phobia, BA fly to ZAG, DBV, SPU and PUL, often multiple times per day in a normal summer.

  28. @Ed, you can transit through Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. No test required on the outbound.

  29. Seems that transit through Frankfurt and Munich, including from the US, is open as long as COVID-19 testing negative less than 48hr before. Does anyone else had a page to say otherwise?

  30. I’ve only been to the northern half of Croatia so can’t comment on Dubrovnik or Split. But Zagreb is probably worth about a day, especially if you are flying in or out of there. If the city center itself is no interest then a nice walk is to connect a picturesque cemetery a couple miles north of the city to a nice forested park a couple miles to the east. Makes for a relaxing day.

    Plitvice is well worth it but don’t overplan your time there. You can probably hike both upper and lower lakes sections in about 4 hours

    And I really liked the hill towns in Istria (the peninsula in the far northwest) like Motovun and Groznjan. Great places to just chill and have a beer or wine while overlooking the valleys. Probably no points hotels though…

  31. I’m in Croatia right now on my yacht. I flew in from the UK via Amsterdam. Leaving the UK was the hardest part as you need to have an excuse to leave…. A letter from my charter agent worked. Equally a letter of invitation from a real estate agent will suffice.

    There are lots of ways to do croatia. I’ve been coming since 2006, so seen plenty of changes. Dubrovnik is generally very busy. Split is ok for one or two days max. Best bet is charter a yacht for one week with a skipper and you can do most things. I’d say for me the kornati national park and korcula are highlights but definitely get a boat. Trying to do it by ferry etc is a royal pain in the ass. Remember that if you’re on a boat you don’t need to spend for hotels only dinners so it’s pretty economic and you have huge flexibility.

    I think that stari grad on hvar is great and I like martinis marchi on solta. But there’s good stuff everywhere tbh, can’t go far wrong in Croatia.

  32. The frustrating thing about all the different requirements is….sometimes they are followed and sometimes they are not. Case in point: Returned from Liberia, CR, last week. Made sure to take the required COVID test so that we could re-enter the USA given the new restrictions as of late January 2021. Flew American Airlines – NO ONE ever asked to see our negative COVID test as we checked in for the flight. Agent handed us a piece of paper asking us to ‘sign here and indicate you are negative.’ Ohhhkay. I guess anyone could say they were negative. Why did I just spend $300 getting tested!!!!

  33. I’m a US-American and I’ve been living in Germany for 20 years, currently workIng as a European Tour Director (pre-covid and i hope again post-covid).

    I’ve always chased jobs and other opportunities that let me travel, and I’ve been to around 50 countries now. Out of all of the amazing places I’ve visited, no place has touched my soul in the way Croatia has.

    It wasn’t on my radar, I ended up there as an after thought in August of 2014. I ended up there on a boat, cruising between amazing Dalmatians costal port towns and islands on the crystal clear Adriatic.

    It literally changed my life. I’ve been going back every chance I get since and in 2016 I got a place in Omis and started splitting my time between Germany and Croatia.

    Every summer I get back on a boat. It’s magical and in my opinion the ultimate way to visit Croatia!

    The towns are small and beautiful, but You don’t need a lot of time to see them, so you can see so much on a boat in a just a week and with the comfort of home – your room moves with you. Boats can take anywhere from 4 to 40 passengers. You stop each day for a swim break in a secluded bay before the next port, while enjoying local cuisine prepared and served to you on the boat. For me it just doesn’t feel like summer anymore if I don’t spend at least a week on a boat on the Adriatic.

    With over a 1000 islands and islets along the Croatian coast, there is still so much more I have yet to see and do. National parks, hiking, biking, wine tastings, ziplining, climbing, Roman ruins, pirate towns, submarine caves on islands, hidden beaches and natural caves you have to swim into. Cruises distances aren’t far with so many islands so every day brings something new yet its still an easy relaxed pace. You overnight in port and charters you have the option of bays. it’s got for something for everyone and the crazy thing is you can do it all from a boat.

    If you go with a hotel, I’m biased as I live near Split. It’s an amazing city with a good amount of activities and a good base for day tripping to other cool places. 3 of the countries biggest islands are just a ferry ride away and you can book a day trip to Krka National Park from Split, which I prefer to Plitvice.

    Whenever and however you decide to go to Croatia, you won’t regret it. If you want more info on activities or places, I’m happy to share what I know!

  34. Croatia is the only country I see that’s open that I’d be actually interested in going I think…

    Maybe Turkey or Iceland, but not sure.

  35. I love Croatia and have been there three times in past 13 years. Last trip in 2018 was my favorite…flew to Zagreb for three days. Stayed at Hilton…meh. I loved the town but don’t expect Paris. Then bis to Split with a half day stop to Plitvice national park. Totally worth it. Then two nights in Split at AirBnB inside wall. Then bus to Dubrovnik at huge AirBnB house 15 minutes south of town right on the coast. I think the Adriatic Sea is nicer and cleaner than the Mediterranean. And any boat to any island off the coast is worth a day trip.

  36. Lucky – I think you would love Croatia. I only went once (back when AA had PHL-DBV non-stops). Spent 5 nights at Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik right outside the walls. Used points to get 5th night free and highly recommend this property. Combination of location, amenities and service was hard to beat. First of all I am Hilton Diamond and that helped. Very nice executive lounge with breakfast offerings and also appetizers/free drinks in the afternoon. All Diamond members have complimentary access and think you can purchase a room (or package) with lounge access as well. In addition, they had a great breakfast buffet and I was allowed to eat there at no cost if I preferred that over the lounge. Not sure if free breakfast applies to all guests or if that was a Diamond benefit but it was very nice.

    Look forward to getting back to Croatia and exploring more of the country.

  37. Hey I went to Croatia in 2019 and visited the northern part. Pula and the surrounding area is really nice and Rovinj was one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever visited! Really couldn’t recommend it enough

  38. Another Croatia fan here. Went in 2015 and planning to go again in June. No one has yet mentioned Rovinj on the Istrian Peninsula. It is very pretty Italian influenced town directly on the Adriatic. The best property there, IMO, is the Monte Molini. Split is charming and Dioclentian”s Palace is a must do. I have stayed at the Vestibule Palace—A plus pus for location as it is on the grounds of the ruins of the Palace but only a B for facilities as the hotel itself is just okay.

    I am going to Brac, staying at the Lemongarden Hotel. It looks gorgeous— from its website anyway—and it located in a small charming looking town. As someone else already mentioned Villa Dubrovnik is one of the best hotels in Dubrovnik bar none. Unfortunately it is prices that way too, over 600 Euros per night even for the smallest room. But if you can swing it, it is a wonderful option.

    Oh, and I forgot, I am returning to the Spilt area, but staying in Trogir instead, at the Brown Beach Hotel. It is only a 16 minute ferry ride from Split is could be another option to consider.

    I am so excited to return to Croatia. Cannot say enough good thing about the people, food, sights and fortunate geographic location!

  39. Had a great visit there in summer 2019. Stayed at Hilton Dubrovnik which really should be badged as at least a Conrad as it’s by far the nicest Hilton we’ve ever stayed in. Also stayed at Le Meridien outside Split on an old Starwood points and cash rate. Managed to also visit Kotor (day trip), Mostar (on way to Split), Zadar, Ljubljana (Intercontinental IHG free night) and Zagreb (Westin – meh). Driving is easy there and you can do one way from Dubrovnik to Zagreb (or vice versa).

  40. I’m gonna go with @Aram here and say Istria/Rovinj. Since we moved to Budapest in 2017 we’ve done a family trip to Rovinj every year. We usually stay at Hotel Lone, but they recently opened the new Grand Park Hotel Rovinj, and it looks great. There’s a walking path that connects 3-4 different hotels and it goes right into downtown, only a 15-20 minute or so walk away. Downtown Rovinj is gorgeous, and the Michelin starred Monte restaurant is incredible.

    The entire Istrian peninsula is gorgeous, and if you want to do a combo trip, (depending on COVID), you can drive 40 minutes down to Pula and take the ferry over to Venice. Can’t go wrong with Hvar, Split, or Dubrovnik, but I’m just an Istria fan.

    For the people talking about a PCR test to transit Germany, Ben has a German passport so I don’t think that applies. I have Hungarian residency and I flew back to the States 2 weeks ago for a work trip. I needed a negative PCR test to check in to my flight to SFO, but it wasn’t checked in Frankfurt, and they didn’t ask for anything on my way back. I would say plan a long layover though because, at least in FRA, the line through immigration to transfer from the Z to the A gates was around 2 hours long.

  41. Croatia is awesome! My wife and I visited a few years ago, saw Dubrovnik and Split. You’ll want to see both – each is a “must see” for sure. But when I think back, the city I enjoyed the most was Split. The waterfront promenade adjacent to the palace is awesome. My big tip is to skip the hotels in both cases, and stay in an AirBnb on the hillsides near each town to enjoy amazing views.

    In Dubrovnik, the hotels don’t tend to have great views over the old walled city. If you stay in an AirBnb on the hill above the town, you can enjoy amazing views of old town day and night. Spectacular! (Note that the hills can be steep, and the walk up and down can be strenuous). Also – a day trip from Dubrovnik to nearby Montenegro and the Bay of Kotor is a very nice odd-on. Beware the twisty roads!

    In Split, many of the hotels are inside the walls of the ancient palace, which is very cool, but they also tend to be a little closed-in without sea views. I loved our AirBnb there with views out over the water, watching the ferries and cruise ships glide past while enjoying cheese, crackers, and cocktails from our terrace. I’ve rarely been so content.

  42. My wife and I have visited Croatia many times and I would highly recommend Dubrovnik over Split. For the best Croatia experience you should rent a car and drive up the Adriatic Coast to Split and the hit Plitvice National Park (a real Must-See) and go to the Istria section of (Northern) Croatia. Driving is easy and safe in Croatia, and Istria on the Adriatic Sea has some of the most beautiful Old-World towns (Rovinj, Porec, etc) in all of Europe

  43. Croatia is Islands. And some land.

    The best experience if you are adventurous is to take a Gullet cruise through the islands.

    A Gullet is a converted Turkish fishing boat with about 8 or so staterooms. You wander from island to island with stops to swim and on-board BBQ. Overnight tied up with others at a dock in some small island town.

    Our Gullet left from and returned to Split. After our cruise we took a bus to Dubrovnik (on a VERY HOT SUMMER day) and stayed at the Hilton for a week. It was very good back in 2007.

    It would be best to travel with a group of friends. We were a couple and, knowing that all Canadians speak French (only in Quebec), we were matched up with 10 others from France who chose not to speak English (until we had an onboard emergency).

    But we still have incredibly fond memories of the Gullet and the crew.

  44. You can transit through the UK too… Below is from the Heathrow Airport website…

    All international arrivals are required to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken no earlier than three days before departing for England. This applies to passengers transiting the UK.

    If you have a boarding pass issued for your onward journey, you will be able to stay airside during your connection. This means that when you arrive into Heathrow, you will not need to pass through immigration or customs and can follow the purple signs for connections and make your way to the departing gate once it opens.

    ‘Red list’ passengers transiting via the UK do not have to quarantine if they do not pass immigration. More information can be found on the UK Government website.

  45. Done Dubrovnik twice and Zagreb once. Really enjoyed all our trips and with 92 countries under our belt we’ve experienced a few places. the Croatian people are great. Warm, welcoming, helpful and fun.

    ( Reading this back should just make clear the hotel assessment below isn’t paid for, don’t work for whoever owns the place and is my own objective view. I’d say any place was sh*t if it was lol)

    If you stay in Zagreb I’ll personally recommend The Esplanade hotel. It’s the one that they used to put Orient Express passengers up and it oozes class, style, sophistication and service levels hard to find nowadays. That said it doesn’t suffer ‘Soviet Timewarp’ issues and has great WiFi and facilities throughout. The concierge and front desk team have no concept of going too far to exceed any expectations. My partner asked them for a few recommendations on a place to go for my birthday and after asking her a few questions we were taken to the 1920s themed bar ( some of the best and most consistent espresso Martinis I’ve had in the world btw) and told they’d be with us soon. 20 mins later she turns up with a laptop and YouTube open so we can actually look at places she thought we’d like and gave us no BS opinions not her own answering any questions we had. They then comped us transport there and back as a birthday gift which was a lovely touch. Breakfast is bountiful even with self pour champagne for mimosas if the mood takes you.

    We booked the 2nd from lowest grade room and it was huge with exquisite heated marble floor bathroom and the bedroom being about 4.5 – 5x your average NYC room.

    If you take the time to chat to locals in a bar then they will go out their way to be friendly even warning you about the, relatively few, tourist traps.

    There’s some great and varied architecture throughout the city and a tunnel under a hill that’s a great shortcut to places.

    Bonus point: some of the most honest cab drivers going which is a rarity!

  46. We have Dubrovnik and Korcula booked already! Been wanting to go for years but modified an existing trip that was to Italy.

  47. Just remembered @Ben you should reach out to Brian Kelly from TPG. He went recently and loved it. Was hoping to fly over & hook up with him for drinks but UK based and we locked down again after he’d arrived.

    Not to say all of us don’t have great opinions but as Briansade a living out of travel like yourself if u can’t trust his ( let’s be honest pretty high bar expectations) then who can you lol.

    Imagine your already linked up in some way but just incase his Insta is @briankelly . He’s currently lording it up in Portugal but sure he’d GBTU and give you his pov.

  48. My only visit to Croatia was in June 2012 to Zadar and the nearby islands. I was sailing for a week with a gay American couple who’s sailing around there on their boat. It’s the most relaxing sailing trip I’ve ever had. There’s no agenda or itinerary, just go where the wind blew. We stopped at Pasman, Ugljan, Dugi otok, Kornati National Park. Usually anchored in a bay overnight – star glazing, so peaceful and quiet, just amazing; dinner at the village with fresh seafood. I’ve joined the couple for two more times sailing other parts of the Med, but they just sold the boat right before COVID (good for them!). There are other operations for sailing between Split and Dubrovnik, and I joined one of them in Seychelles (another great place to sail to see the country). Although it’s not as relaxing joining a sailing tour, it’s still fun and laid back. I am considering either sailing the Greek islands or Croatia at the moment for this summer. I heard Greece is opening up for vaccinated people in May.

  49. @jan @nun

    The United States seems to be removed from the “Increased risk of infection” (FOPH list) countries, however I do take my comment back because I didn’t realise you need an EU/Swiss Passport to enter Switzerland. Sorry for the confusion.

  50. What can Australian Croatian do To travel .To Croatia what would there requirements be allowed .We can’t travel Until 2024

  51. Another Croatian here…..

    First to understand is that Croatia is quite a small country but it also has a very good highway network so you can easily drive wherever you want. If I were you, I would fly into Zagreb and rent a car, spend couple of nights there. Zagreb itself is fairly small and a one day of sightseeing should be enough. If you stay another night or two you can head north to city of Varazdin and Trakoscan castle; that will make a nice day trip.

    After that start heading south and plan a day in Plitvice lakes. Maybe an overnight stay there would also be good not to make trip too exhausting (you can easily spend 4-6 hours walking around the lakes). Heading to Dalmatia I would say that there are 4 cities that are a must to visit… Zadar, Sibenik, Split (and Trogir) and of course Dubovnik. For sightseeing, as these are all quite small places a day per city is plentiful.

    Taking a car you will see a lot of diversity that Croatia has to offer, various landscapes, culture etc…

  52. I’m also interested in going to Croatia but very hesitant due to the covid test requirement to get back to the US. If you or others can share your research/knowledge, that’d be great!

  53. Dubrovnik is head and shoulders above Split ( a relatively industrial city but great ferry port). Agree with all about staying close to the pedestrian old city: Villa Dubrovnik v smart but too far from the old city, Hotel Excelsior has the location, Hilton Imperial has superb service (do not rent a car in the city). On the other hand, a drive to the Plitvice lakes NP is superb, stopping at Ston, Trogir, Šibenik (with it’s beautiful Krka NP) and Zadar – superb couple of days! (Hvar is more of a party down IMHO.) Zagreb is a nice Austro-Hungarian city and worth a day. Let me know if you need more info. Have fun. Stay safe.

  54. @winnie I’m with you. Too many variables if Covid required for transit in Europe on the way there and mandatory for return home. Anyone who’s been to the Balkans know nothing happens on time and I’m not gonna risk being forced to self isolate for 10 days at an Airbnb and relying on food delivery service. Count me in once testing requirements lifted for vaccinated passengers. Croatia never really closed nor have Serbia or other places. Being open to tourists isn’t the issue as much as being forced to get brain scrambled just to get on a plane.

  55. I agree with davidO Hotel Lone in Rovinj stayed 2018 still an SPG back then. The newest addition in Rovinj The Grand Park Hotel, i think opened 2019,was still under construction when we were there. I had been monitoring this one for awhile. Rovinj is a really small town. Dubrovnik stayed twice at The Sheraton Summer 2017, it was a Cat 2 ! Great summer spot out of town, took the boat around the coast into town The Excelsior had a major refurbishment in 2017, looks good and out of town, Good choice.
    Booked the newest Hilton Costabella Resort for end August, love this part of the world.

  56. @V1 I’m pretty sure Lone is now under the Marriott umbrella as a Design Hotel. It was a category 5 last time I checked. The rooms with the private plunge pools are great and the views are amazing. We’ll be in Rovinj again in July or August, (only a 6 hour drive for us), and I think we’re planning on staying at the Grand Park this time to see how it is. Really can’t recommend the area enough!

  57. Seems a lot of people are worried about testing for return to USA. Since the USA is so loose in their time frame (3 days before first flight departure to USA) and what kinda tests they will accept it will be quite easy to get a test before departure. The Croatia gov website has list of all testing centers in the country and some allow for online appointments. In Zagreb a PCR test looks to be around $80. You can also get a rapid antigen test at ZAG airport with results in 30 minutes. Was set up for KLM pax to AMS but the airport website says it can be used by anyone.

  58. @davidO SPG before the merger, now Marriott. We stayed 5 nights March 2018 cash rates €133.20/night ! Plat member so bfast inclusive Stayed in the room with plunge pool but too cold in March. Loved the spa and architecture Great base for local area restaurants Kantinon , Konoba Nono, Chiavalon Olive oil , Koslović winery plus many more. Next trip we want to try Hiša Franko.
    Same roughly 6 hrs for us. But Hilton Rijeka Costabella Resort wins this year.

  59. @V1 That’s what I thought, SPG and now Marriott. Agreed, the spa is fantastic! Also, drop everything and go to Hiša Franko, and when you do, stay at Nebesa in Kobarid. We went for our anniversary last summer and it’s one of our favorite places we’ve ever stayed, and one of the best meals we’ve ever had. Nebesa is owned by the parents of Ana Ros, and is managed by her sister and brother in law, which we didn’t even know until we got there! Also grab lunch at Hiša Polonka in downtown Kobarid. Also owned by the Ros’s but much more casual, and with a great beer selection. Wine tasting through Goriška Brda and walking through Šmartno was also a highlight.

  60. @Micky Bacic: “What about Australian’s still can’t travel untill 2024 .”

    I thought that was merely speculation from a Deloitte report, and not an actual government policy.

  61. Croatia is Lovely id recommend it 100%, I would say Dubrovnik is the nicest city but Split is also lovely, I would visit both places and car hire is a must, The coast road from split to Dubrovnik is a must too but your have to briefly pass through Bosnia but your hire car insurance will include all the paperwork needed, car hire is cheap and vehicles mainly new, There are lots of nice hotels in Dubrovnik although the Sheraton will not be close to the city centre, Id recommend the Radisson blu split I’ve stayed there a number of times or the Le Meridian split both right on the coast route.

  62. My first trip to Zagreb was 4 yrs ago spent 3 days before going to Dubrov… Loved Zagreb, returned 2 yrs later and to my surprise I was there for the world cup final.. crazy, I rented an apt for a Week, great city lots of side trips; Lake Plitvice, plus town around Zagreb make great trips for a day, no car needed as I took public transport. Can not wait to return and perhaps discover other places, was on a cruise ship that stopped in Split.

  63. Croatian (CTN pilot) here.

    Don’t skip Zagreb! The problem about Croatia is than tourists routinely skip the inland, which is a mistake, coming from a person who’s seen it all here. Museums, fabulous places to walk and see, as well as packed with historical sites, boutiques, cafés, restaurants, parks and everything else that has great appeal for whoever visits from outside Europe. It’s a relatively small European capital which makes it easy to see in about 2 days, but it’s definitely worth seeing if you can spare the time! Look it up!

    Dubrovnik is the place to visit absolutely, even more so without tourists. There’s also a place nearby, the Dubrovnik riviera, which is a fabulous stretch of coastline between the city and the airport, also where the Sheraton is located, look it up!

    Split has less appeal to me, but is certainly worth visiting, especially since I love Trogir, the epitome of a Mediterranean small island town located about 30mi north along the coast. Definitely worth an afternoon’s walk and a coffee in one of the cafés on the quay. I like Trogir even more than Split, actually.

  64. Not sure where people get these so-called transit issues from. Just about every European country allows international transit as long as you stay airside and connect to your flight – tests are only required when entering the country. It’s unreal that people cannot after a year read instructions that end with “entering Germany” or whatever country and confuse that with entering their airport, staying airside in their airport and leaving their airport without ever actually ‘entering Germany’. I went to Croatia last year during the pandemic. Transited through Germany. Went home through Vienna. Going again in a month through London. You need to show your vaccination and test to get on the plane…..and show it again when entering your final destination country (Croatia). Now, that means you have to be on a flight that stays airside meaning your baggage is booked all the way through. You can’t have two different tickets and have to go collect bags and recheck cos that’s considered entering the country….., but if staying airside you won’t be entering a country, you will be in transit so you won’t need to show anything………you will show it again when getting on your next plane….and then arrive in Croatia and show it because you are entering there. I Just cannot understand all the experts that say you can’t transit. Then who is flying on all these planes that are going from country to country? Asia and Oceania are all transit restricted without testing and sometimes just forbidden. But Europe? Transiting? No test or quarantine needed. You are somebody else’s problem if you are transiting. The Viber account ‘total Croatia travel info’ is a great resource for thousands of stories of people getting in, where they transitted through etc…..actual travelers not speculators….and you can always email the border police in Germany and most other countries and get a response within 12 hours….I’m a US citizen…can I transit..I won’t be entering the country…..and they will say yes….print it out and add it to your paperwork….the main issues as I mentioned are to have your baggage sent all the way through, stay airside and make sure all your paperwork is in order and you will have zero issues…and if COVID spikes…..buy some great Croatia drinks and food and enjoy the shoreline and sunsets and a nice break…..

  65. @DS This is from the German Federal Foreign Office website:

    “From 30 March 2021, all persons travelling to Germany by air must present a negative COVID‑19 test result before embarking on their journey. This applies regardless of the country from where the individual has travelled and also to passengers only traversing Germany (i.e. for international transit). Persons under six years of age and aircraft crews are exempt. The negative test result must be presented to the airline before departure.

    The tests must be done at the relevant test centres abroad no more than 48 hours before entering Germany (time of the swab). In countries where such a test is not possible, airlines may carry out the tests or charge a third party with carrying them out.”

    This went into effect on March 31st so it’s brand new. But even without this new regulation if your final destination is a Schengen country, you clear immigration in the first country you land in, which can create confusion. So if you’re transiting Germany but are connecting to a Schengen country with lighter restrictions, you would still have to clear immigration in Germany and adhere to their rules. Croatia isn’t Schengen and at least in Frankfurt, prior to this new regulation, you’d be able to stay airside at the Z/B gates and be ok. If you have to connect to an A gate, you’re getting your passport stamped, and don’t book a short connection. Waited in an almost 2 hour line a couple weeks ago.

  66. DavidO, thank you so much for clarification !!! If we would like to take a flight from NY to Dubrovnik what airline is better to take ?

  67. @inessa vernovsky, well if it was me, I’d take Air Serbia. Easy transit in Belgrade and a relatively short layover. Also their new A330 is about to enter service so there’s that to try. The other good option is Turkish. Can’t really go wrong either way!

  68. Doesn’t matter whether the country is part of Schengen or not, each EU member state is still allowed & able to control their own borders.

    This is the ultimate irony of Brexit & BoJo etc “taking back control” bollocks.

  69. @mkcol, well yes and no. Schengen countries of course have the right to control their own borders, but if Germany is requiring a test to transit, and let’s say your final destination is Hungary, which doesn’t require a test or quarantine for business travel from many countries, you’d still have to comply with the German regulations and show a negative test result when checking in for your flight. I brought up Schengen just because Schengen departures out of Frankfurt are from the A gates, which means you have to clear German immigration to get to your connection, and they’ll probably want to see your test result. If you’re connecting to a non-Schengen destination you can stay airside, so no check by immigration, but you’ll still need the negative test to check in and get your boarding pass. But at least there’s a simple solution, just don’t transit through Germany!

  70. @DavidO – I wasn’t talking about the transit requirements, I was simply clarifying the oft incorrect assumption that just because a country was a Schengen member they don’t have control of their own border.
    This was amply evidenced about a year ago when several Schengen members shut their own border independently.

  71. @DavidO Also I wasn’t responding to one of your comments, I was responding to what Ben had posted, which is why I hadn’t tagged you to start with.

  72. @mkcol, ah that makes sense, I had forgotten he made that comment about Croatia not being Schengen. My bad!

    I think just about every Schengen country has differing entry rules at this point. It’s pretty bizarre not being able to just drive right across the border. It’s easier for me to drive to Serbia right now than Austria, lol.

  73. @davidO or anyone else please chime in: We are chartering a catamaran for Croatian islands in July – Would it be better to transit through Dublin rather than FRA or MUN? My group will be vaccinated but I’m worried about all the contradicting transit info.

  74. This is the perfect time to visit Croatia. We went for 2 weeks last summer August 2020. The roads were amazing to drive, so quiet and beautiful. We drove the whole coast north to south with a few days in Plitvicka lakes area and Dubrovnik. After that we drove up to Split and rented a sailboat with a skipper and sailed the islands for a week. This is the time to do Croatia! Not crowded at all. We plan on sailing for 2 weeks in August again this summer. AMAZING!

  75. I just canceled my plane tickets to Croatia for this summer … I’m Croatian living and working in US, and me and my daughter try to go visit every summer … last year we didn’t go , and we’re not going this summer either … way too complicated with all those Covid restrictions bs … my biggest problem is that you need a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours to board the plane , PCR tests are notoriously unpredictable , and they can show positive results with healthy person very easily , and what if I get positive test and get kicked off my flight ? I’d have to self quarantine for 14 days before trying again , and my daughter as well … I can’t play that game because I have to be at work , and she back to school … until this Covid circus is over with , I ain’t going nowhere , not even home to Croatia

  76. We booked our trip to Croatia for the first week of August and trying to brace ourselves for crowds or Covid restrictions. The flight is thru London which does allow transit passengers. Rental car prices are crazy. The biggest logistic problem is to go to Montenegro and Bosnia for a couple of days and having to do another test coming back to Croatia ( my 14 yo daughter will not be vaccinated), looks like Bosnia does allow transit visitors with no test, but no certainty there. In Croatia we did find the Covid test place, in Split for coming hone (about 40 euros for rapid antigen) and we had to alter some of our travel plans because of that. We will visit Split,Dubrovnik, day trip to Hear, and maybe kayak trip to Locrum, and a couple of days in Montenegro. We would love to hear from someone who visited recently and share travel plans.

  77. We just got back from a 2-week road trip through Croatia. It was incredible and yes, GO BEFORE THE CRUISE PASSENGERS COME BACK. We stayed at the Hotel Stari Grad in Dubrovnik. The staff is incredible and they have a delicious Michelin restaurant on the rooftop. From there, we headed to Zadar at Hotel Bastion. Most beautiful sunset I’ve seen in awhile. Less busy than Split. The second half of our trip was spent at the Meneghetti Wine Hotel in Istria and making day trips from there. I’m still sad we had to leave. Zagreb was nice, too.

    All of our tour guides and hoteliers expressed their hope that the tourists will come back soon. The people were so incredible gracious and kind. It’s definitely worth the trip and I think you will really enjoy it.

  78. Read some of the comments about COVID test to get back into US. Our hotel in Zagreb offered them on site. (Hotel Espanalde). We scheduled them at 9am, had results back by 2pm, and flew out via FRA at 7:10am the following morning. (The Four Seasons Bosphorus offered same service last month.)

    We transited through MAD on the way to DBV. We did not need PCR test because we were only in transit and used our vaccine cards in DBV. I printed the paperwork to show the airlines. No passport control required.

    When we went to IST in March, they checked our PCR both directions in FRA. We did not pass through passport control. It was really very easy. US did not look at them upon re-entry.

  79. I’m a U.S. citizen, and just arrived in Zagreb today! I’ll be here until May 16th, but won’t be able to explore much outside of Zagreb, as I’m also working during my stay.

    I had to show proof of negative COVID test in Chicago and Warsaw, and proof of vaccine when I arrived in Zagreb (in addition to my Airbnb receipt/confirmation). Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about my experience. It actually went pretty smoothly.

  80. @sara would be genuinely interested what you thought of the hotel? Personally I loved in and thought the service level was very high ( see my previous comment up thread) but would lov to know your own impressions especially as we stayed pre-covid so your experience would likely be different.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.