Vegan Travel Croatia
Are you a vegan who wants to visit Croatia after the corona craze passes? You could be thinking about Croatia's lengthy Adriatic coastline, its breathtaking waterfalls and woods, or the lovely hilltop villages that dot the Istrian peninsula.
Alternatively, you may be packing your belongings and travelling to Croatia to take advantage of the country's new digital nomad visa. Of course, you'll want to visit Croatia's numerous food markets and outstanding restaurants. That's why we've put up this helpful vegan travel guide for Croatia!
What Is The Purpose Of This Vegan Croatia Guide?
I've lived in Croatia since 2013 when I ‘returned to my roots and moved to the mountain hamlet in Istria where my father grew up. I've been vegan since 2008, and I've discovered that being a vegan in Croatia might be difficult compared to other nations I've lived in and visited. However, things are rapidly changing!
A Croatian Cuisine Introduction
Croatia is a country in southern Europe that is geographically and culturally at a fork in the road. Its long Adriatic coastline and numerous islands enjoy a Mediterranean climate and way of life, in contrast to the country's northern and eastern regions, which are dominated by a more continental weather pattern.
Croatian cuisine is also influenced by a variety of regional influences. Croatian cuisine has been influenced by Italian, Austro-Hungarian, and Turkish culinary influences.
Croatian food is traditionally primarily meat-based, hence it is not very vegan-friendly. Dinner isn't considered complete without a serving of meat, most commonly hog or beef.
Vegan Diet Attitudes In Croatia
In Croatia, some people confuse vegetarians with pescatarians since fish was historically served on Fridays instead of meat, hence fish was connected with vegetarianism. With the recent rise in popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets, however, most people are now aware of the differences.
Veganism is becoming increasingly popular in Croatia, although it has not yet reached the mainstream as it has in other countries. As a result, becoming a vegetarian or vegan is still regarded as unusual in this country. However, in a society where hospitality is valued, individuals are eager to go out of their way to accommodate vegan tourists.
In Croatia, Eating Out As A Vegan
As a long-time vegan who has lived in Croatia since 2013, I've discovered that the country is not as vegan-friendly as other nations I've visited and lived in. You can certainly survive as a vegan in Croatia.
However, dining out alternatives are restricted and lack diversity and originality. For this reason, I rarely love eating out, yet I am occasionally pleasantly surprised.
However, things are changing and improving with each passing year, as more vegetarian and plant-based restaurants open around the country.
To gratify a customer, most chefs are also prepared to prepare something off the menu. So don't be afraid to request a plant-based choice.
Hotels and restaurants catering to travellers are typically well-versed in ‘alternative diets,' and it's rare to encounter a menu without at least one or two meat-free and maybe vegan alternatives.
What Are The Vegan-Friendly Hotels In Croatia?
Although there are no vegan hotels in Croatia yet, hotel groups such as Valamar and Maistra excel in catering to vegan, gluten-free, and halal diets. If you're staying at one of these brands' hotels, let them know about your needs when making your reservation, and you'll be properly taken care of. If you give them enough notice, smaller hotels will gladly accommodate your needs.
What Are The Vegetarian Options In Croatia Cafes?
Croatians, like most Europeans, enjoy chatting over a cup of coffee, so you'll never have to travel far to locate one. These usually open early in the morning, at 7 a.m.
Despite the fact that more cafés are including plant-based milk on their coffee menus, they are not yet widely available. This will undoubtedly alter as demand grows.
You'll get the equivalent of a milkless espresso if you ask for a basic coffee. If you order a cup of tea, you'll almost certainly get fruit tea unless you specify black or green tea.
In Croatia, Vegan Food Shopping
Vegans who want to tour Croatia or work as digital nomads for a while can choose a self-catering vacation. With each passing year, I've noticed that stores are stocking more and more vegan items.
Following Vegan Food Croatia on Instagram allows me to stay up to date on new vegan items coming to the Croatian market.
Vegans will like Lidl's vegan selection, which includes plant-based milk, tofu, soy yogurt, mayonnaise, vegan burgers, and even vegan ice cream.
At the very least, plant-based milk may be found on the shelves of Croatian grocery chains such as Plodine, Konzum, and Studenac.
Shops like DM, Mueller, and BIPA will give you a higher chance. These stores are comparable to Boots in the United Kingdom in that they sell cosmetics and toiletries, as well as have health food departments with plenty of vegan options.
Vegans visiting Croatia should visit the bio&bio; network of health food shops. Vegan basic foods, organic fruit and dry products, and vegan takeaway sandwiches are all available. You may also place an order for delivery through their website.
Croatia's green marketplaces will appeal to vegans. A city market (Trnica) can be found in every town and city, and this is where you may obtain fresh, locally grown greens, fruits, and vegetables.
Vegan Foods In Croatia By Accident
Side dishes include roasted vegetables (povre na aru), Swiss chard (blitva) – either plain or puréed with potatoes, a variety of salads, and fried or baked potatoes are among the ‘accidentally vegan' meals you'll find on practically every menu in Croatian restaurants and cafés. Pork fat is frequently used as a basis in vegetable soups and stews.
In the spring, risotto (rioto) with mushrooms (gljive) or asparagus (paroge) is a must-have on the menu in Istria and coastal districts. Pasta with mushrooms, veggies, tomato sauce, or truffles is another alternative (in Istria).
It's worth noting that fresh pasta nearly always has eggs in it. Another simple alternative is pizza; simply request it sans cheese (bez sira).
Snack foods like burek and strudel may be found at every bakery. Apple, cherry, and potato are among the vegan fillings (burek). I make it a point to read every bakery's ingredients list, and they almost never include butter, milk, or eggs.
Soparnik is one of my favorite Dalmatian treats, and it hails from Omi. This is a spinach-filled flatbread. If you come across it, give it a shot!
The Best Vegan Places In Croatia
When it comes to the number of vegan-friendly restaurants and businesses, the capital city of Zagreb has the most to offer.
VegeHop is a popular choice. This modest vegan restaurant is tucked away in a courtyard off Vlaka, a popular road, with a daily changing menu and the opportunity to order à la carte.
Green Point serves falafel sandwiches, seitan and tofu burgers, and stir-fries on a side street just a few feet from popular Cvjetni Trg (Flower Square).
My favourite vegetarian restaurant in Croatia is in Split, the country's second-largest city and a magnet for digital nomads from all over the world. Up Café is a short walk uptown from Diocletian's Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular tourist destination.
Vegan wraps, burritos, lasagna, sandwiches, and desserts, as well as hot meals like varivo, a tasty and substantial vegan lentil soup, seduce you from the glass display case.
Sibenik is sometimes overlooked, although it is home to treasures like the UNESCO-listed St Jame's Cathedral, centuries-old castles, classic Venetian palazzos, and the charming cobblestone streets of its old town.
Bistro & Rooftop Bar SHE
SHE Bistro & Rooftop Bar is a popular vegan café with a patio on a lovely sunny plaza. The restaurant is run as a social company, and the food is mostly plant-based, with views of the town's terracotta roofs and harbour from the rooftop bar.
First and foremost, a brief overview of Croatian food in general. It varies greatly depending on where you are in the country. Inland, the cuisine is more similar to that of other Slavic countries.
Consider smoky paprika, black pepper, bread and noodles, sausages, potatoes, cabbage, and cheeses.
The food of coastal Croatia is more akin to that of other Mediterranean cuisines, particularly Italian cuisine. Pizza, spaghetti, fresh fruit and vegetables, and salads with plenty of olive oil and fresh herbs. It's surprisingly vegan-friendly in both circumstances.
It's helpful if you know a little Croatian, but it's not required. In addition, HappyCow offers a diverse range of services across Croatia. However, it is far from complete. Some of the greatest meals I had on my trip were not on the list.
However, the many sections of Croatia had one thing in common: I was able to get delicious vegan cuisine EVERYWHERE I went.
Near Plitvice Lakes National Park, Vegan Options (Central Croatia)
Even though there are no significant cities nearby, I wanted to highlight this park since it attracts a lot of people. For this round of the journey, I went food shopping. There aren't many eateries in this neighbourhood because it's not a densely populated area.
The only restaurant alternatives are those located within the park itself, which are significantly more expensive. There are largely French fries and cappuccino as vegan choices.
On my trip up to Plitvice, I stopped at a Mercator grocery and loaded up on rice milk, cornflakes (a European version that appears to be less sweet/healthier), bananas, and local strawberries. Before travelling into the park, I had a big breakfast with these items at my Airbnb, as well as an espresso.
When it comes to vegan eating alternatives, large chain stores like Mercator and Konzum are omnipresent in Croatia, so you'll always be able to buy vegan necessities.
I never encountered one without non-dairy milk, vegan-friendly snacks and cereals, fruit, bread, and a large range of ajvar, a regional red pepper spread that is inherently vegan and sometimes used in place of ketchup.
Vegan Options In Šibenik (Central Dalmatia) And Krka National Park
I spent two days in picturesque Sibenik and would remain for at least four days if I returned to Croatia. This area has it all: the finest Airbnb I'd ever been in; tons of vegan-friendly eateries; spectacular sea views; a beautiful castle overlooking the entire town; a wonderful pebble beach; excellent weather; and easy access to the picturesque Krka National Park.
SHE Bistro is the first restaurant in Sibenik that I suggest. The restaurant is entirely vegetarian, with all of its food sourced locally. So you won't find a better chance to enjoy authentic Croatian vegan cuisine than this.
The majority of the menu is vegan, and everything is clearly marked as such. There are lunch/dinner and breakfast meals available. I had potato salad and spinach fritters with balsamic reduction.
I went back into the city center the next morning intending to dine at SHE, but the menu at Caffe Bazza caught my eye. This location was not listed on HappyCow.
However, there were various vegan alternatives on the menu, such as vegetable curry. More crucially, the morning menu included something substantial for plant-based diners, such as a variety of smoothie bowls and fresh local avocado toast.
While staying in Šibenik I also took the time to visit Krka National Park. The food selections were similar to Plitvice, although significantly better.
I had some French fries and seltzer water since I was hot and weary and it sounded wonderful, but there were vegan-friendly cafés throughout the park serving vegetable stew, sorbet, and a few other items.
I recommend visiting early, as I did with Plitvice, to avoid being caught plodding over a boardwalk in a mob of hundreds.
Trogir's Vegan Options (Dalmatian Coast)
Trogir, about an hour south of Sibenik, was a lovely town. I went to one fantastic-sounding veg-friendly restaurant on HappyCow, Pasike, but they were closed for a wedding. What a beautiful spot for a wedding!
Not only did we locate vegan gelato and milkshakes across the block from Pasike, but we also discovered a lovely restaurant called Konoba TRS that catered to vegans. This was our trip's “nice” lunch.
The dining room is a lovely shaded outside garden. Fresh pasta with pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and zucchini, as well as a couple of slices of their baked bread, were among the dishes I appreciated. There's also a craft beer from the area.
Zagreb's Vegan Options
Zagreb, Croatia's capital, offers so many vegan alternatives throughout the town and on HappyCow that I almost don't think it's essential to describe them all. Unlike tourist towns along the coast, where you can always find something open on any given day, Zagreb is completely closed on Sundays.
Going through the HappyCow list and seeing that every establishment mentioned wasn't open till tomorrow was the primary hurdle to my vegan eating:).
In Zagreb, you may eat vegan-friendly Korean, Croatian, Mexican, and other cuisines. Plant-based culinary ingredients and snacks are readily available in shops.
Zagreb Has Vegan Options Airport Of Franjo Tuman
Are you taking an early flight to the United States? I strongly advise you to visit Spread in the Zagreb airport's international terminal.
This is a type of improved fast food joint featuring a wide variety of vegetarian alternatives such as veggie burgers, veggie nuggets, fresh-squeezed juices, vegetable noodles, and more. Because the menu isn't clearly labelled, just ask the staff which things are vegan. It was also open quite early in the morning.
One Last Vegan Tip For Travelling In Croatia
Before embarking on this foreign vacation, I made one significant life adjustment that proved to be really beneficial. Doubtless, because I spent a lot of time on my phone looking for vegan meals. My partner and I both switched to Project Fi for our phone plans.
We are on track to save hundreds of dollars each year thanks to the low-cost, sliding-scale data plans, even before factoring in the benefits during overseas travel. The initial fee is mere $20 per month, and after that, it's $10 for 1GB of data, with a ceiling of $60 if you use more than 6GB.
But, perhaps more crucially, the cost of mobile data is the same in practically every overseas destination (they cover over 150 countries). So, unlike in Singapore, when I had to use mobile data for 30 seconds to load some Airbnb information and ended up owing something like $80, I was able to utilize (and pay for) mobile data at my regular rate.
That meant I could use Google Maps GPS, the HappyCow app, Uber, Google Translate, and other services for free. It literally saved my life. If you're interested in Project Fi, you can read more and join up using this link, and we'll both get a $20 credit on our bills. Best wishes on your journey!
Is It Possible For Vegans To Survive In Croatia?
I didn't just make it through this journey. It was a success! I completed several difficult runs and treks, as well as much strolling and swimming in the Adriatic Sea.
And no matter where I travelled, I was able to find a variety of delicious vegan dishes. I returned from my trip a few pounds lighter, feeling healthy and joyful, and with just the right amount of tan.
Croatian vegan food contains more carbohydrates than any other cuisine. This is ideal for me because I'm really active and don't consider carbohydrates to be an enemy.
During my trip to Croatia, I never measured or bothered about my macro intake, but looking back, I can see that I ate a lot of bread ;). I don't see this as a problem or a drawback, but perhaps someone else might.
I trust you enjoyed this article about the Vegan Travel Croatia. Please stay tuned for more blog posts to come shortly. Take care!
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