“Sun is shining, the weather is sweet…” with Spring upon us here in Croatia, the tourist season is fast approaching, so we wanted to give some tips on how to be a better tourist.
Sustainable tourism doesn’t mean you need to hitchhike here, pitch a tent in a forest, forage for your food and basically do nothing fun. It simply comes down to being aware of our impact as tourists and how our choices have the power to have a positive impact on the environment, society and economy.
Here are a few of our top tips to being a better tourist (and human)
1.Where to Stay
Besides the flights (or preferably bus or train), accommodation is the first thing most of us book when going on holiday and this is the first place we can start making a positive impact. The market is saturated with accommodation options these days, but where possible, search for small locally owned apartments or villas – many of which have a ‘green standard’. By supporting small, green accommodations, you are already supporting the local economy and environment, check out an example of a gorgeous Boutique Green Villa here.
If, for whatever reason, a hotel is more convenient, there are still plenty of ‘Green Certified’ accommodations (follow our Sustainable Hotels series here). And, of course if you do wish to ‘rough it’, beautiful, well-equipped camping sites are dotted throughout Croatia.
Once in Croatia, it is easy to get around by public transport: bus, train, trams, ferries and catamarans… Croatia is also the perfect destination for cycling; whether for leisure, i.e. renting a bike on the island Mljet and biking around the National Park, to something a little more demanding and adrenalin-filled, Croatia has it all. You can find more information on cycling in Croatia, routes and itineraries on Total Croatia Cycling.
3.Where to Eat
As an avid traveller, every destination I go, I always visit the local markets – I believe this is one of the places you can truly feel the life, culture and pulse of a town. The quality of produce in Croatia is enough to rival most any destination, so do yourself a favour and shop at the local markets.
Each season, brings its bounty, and heading into the summer season it is time to look forward to fresh cherries, nectarines, peaches (the best I have ever had), cranberries, raspberries… then comes watermelon, rock melon and gorgeous figs… It is hardly a chore to explore the markets, so take along a reusable bag and fill up on the best produce Croatia has to offer.
But don’t fear, if you have a love for gastronomy and eating out, there are still sustainable options. Before the word ‘Sustainable Tourism’ came into popularity, this was a way of life here in Croatia. From the family table to the local Konoba, everything was grown and sourced locally. Such Konoba’s still exist today, like the family-run Hora on the Stari Grad plain, everything is grown on site or sourced locally, it is a truly unique and authentic dining experience.
In the mood for a burger or fine dining experience? You can still make positive choices – like Submarine Burgers in Zagreb which focuses on locally sourced products, its interior is fitted with upcycled materials and it has strong recycling practices; or Zinfandel food & wine, who, as well as focusing on sourcing the best local produce, also has an impressive wine list, promoting Croatian grape varieties.
4.Where to Shop
Croatia is the country which gave the world the neck tie and fountain pen, among many other things, so you better believe it has great local designer and boutique shops that you can get a genuine souvenir to remember your time.
From local olive oil and wines, to stone sculptures from the island Brač, local artworks and even jewellery. Avoid the ‘tourist trap’ of the markets which offer the same, dare I say it “crap”, everywhere you go; you know what I am talking about – the beach towels, cheap hand bags, magnets… Take a little extra time to wander the streets and alleyways of each town, you will be surprised with the genuine treasures you will find – like these gorgeous, designed in Croatia bracelets by Break Time Nautical a perfect memento for a trip or for friends.
Or search for local artists and exhibitions, so you can get an authentic piece of artwork by local talent (sculptures below by Neno Mikulić).
5.What to Do
The stunning backdrop of Croatia is the perfect setting for sustainable activities, half of which you probably won’t even realize you are making a positive contribution. There are far too many activities to name, but just to give you an idea, how about: wine tasting, trekking, Canyoning or rafting on the river Cetina, visiting museums, Stand Up Paddle-boarding (SUP), Windsurfing at the famed Zlatni Rat beach, horse riding in Istria…
Another activity I personally do and always recommend, is taking a guided walking tour of the city, not only does this support the local economy, but it will enrich your experience of Croatia. Walking through Diocletian’s Palace in Split is impressive, even more so when you realize you are walking the same streets of a Roman Emperor from more than 1700 years ago.
Be a better tourist
Being a better traveller doesn’t require an extraordinary amount of effort, it merely requires a little extra thought and choosing sustainable options wherever possible. The best part about it (apart from doing your part for the local economy and environment) is that, in almost every case, it will enrich your travel experience because you will find yourself having genuine, authentic experiences that get you closer to the heart and soul of each destination.
So, when you come to Croatia, do your part to #keepcroatiabeautiful.
If you had a great experience somewhere and would like to share it with us, please contact us at: [email protected], we would love to hear about it.