Jane Cody, author of the Croatia Cruising Companion and prolific blogger on all things Croatian, discovers some very special places where you can get back to nature in Croatia, without compromising on comfort and style.
Not so very long ago, Croatia was primarily a budget holiday destination for near neighbours from Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe. Packed into enormous campsites, with a fortnight’s supply of food, these loyal visitors were able to eke out their meagre holiday fund to enjoy some of the best scenery, clearest water, cleanest beaches, sunniest weather and friendliest hospitality Europe had to offer. On top of all that were a huge variety of entertainment options – kids clubs, watersports, tennis, mini golf, and volleyball to name but a few, and, of course, the summer festivals which have been taking place, since time immemorial, in almost any Croatian coastal settlement of any size.
These large campsites still exist in Croatia, modernised over time, but still good value and affordable for those on a strict budget. However, like all other aspects of contemporary tourism in Croatia, there are new and distinctly more glamorous and upmarket alternatives. What has not changed, of course, is Croatia itself – the spectacular mountains, the azure Adriatic, the myriad of accessible islands all with something different to offer, the fascinating culture and traditions, the great food and drink, and the historic towns and cities, with their striking architecture, reflecting all the different civilisations who have contributed to this stunning and eclectic Mediterranean hotspot.
Croatia has something for everyone, be it vibrant coastal towns like Opatija, Split, Zadar or Dubrovnik; the rolling verdant hills of Slavonia; the medieval inland towns of Istria, like Motovun; the dramatic and unspoilt scenery of islands like Mljet, with its lakes, and Opat, Kornati, with its lunar landscape; the wilderness of the Velebit mountains and Lika, traditional fishing villages like Komiža on Vis island, or Tribunj, near Šibenik; wildlife such as the dolphins off Lošinj island or the endangered Pygmy Cormorants of Paklenica, and traditional holiday resorts such as Biograd, Makarska and Poreč.
There are so many different ways to enjoy all that is Croatia that the choice can be bewildering – charter a yacht? rent an apartment? book a hotel? take a tent? Of course part of the choice will be down to budget but there’s only one option that takes you really close to nature, and that’s camping. And there’s only one way of doing that in style and that’s Glamping.
Of course the very word “Glamping” implies a blurring of the boundaries between camping and glamour, and even the dictionaries struggle to provide a consistent definition. Not surprising then, that with the rising trend in Glamping, all manner of accommodation providers are trying to jump onto the glamour bandwagon and there are a plethora of “structures” and “locations” claiming the title, some stretching the camping part of this portmanteau word just a bit too far from its true meaning which implies a temporary, rather than permanent, structure. For our purposes, true Glamping is something that takes you as close to nature as possible, with maximum comforts, but still provides a taste of the pioneering spirit associated with spending a night under canvas.
Not surprisingly, Croatia has plenty to offer here too. Only recently, in a popular move away from the large resort-style campsite of old, a number of small mini camps sprang up, often in remote and undiscovered places, but all with, at the very least, modern basic facilities including electricity and water pedestals, waste disposal, showers and toilets. Now there’s an ever increasing choice for real Glampers, who no longer need to make a long road journey in their own mega Glamping unit, but can just arrive and experience natural Croatia at its best and in style.
Next week’s article will feature some of the best glamping sites on the Croatian coast.