Heading to Europe’s hottest vacation destination? Find out what to pack for your Croatia trip—and how to fit it all in a carry-on!
Seasoned travelers and digital nomads seem to be constantly buzzing about Croatia, and you’re just a plane ticket away from buzzing along with them! If you plan to hit up this European hotspot, packing properly is the first step to making the trip successful. That means you need to know the weather in each place you'll visit in Croatia so you can pack the right clothes (it's not all beaches if you plan to head inland to hike some of the national parks!).
Read on for five tips on what to pack—and the best way to pack it—for a fun-filled trip to Croatia.
Pick the Right Luggage
The first step of packing for any trip is picking what luggage suits your trip. Most travelers should use a backpack-style travel pack rather than a traditional suitcase. If you really need wheels, consider a convertible backpack (one that has both straps and wheels) or a small international carry-on to fit on those tiny European planes.
Why a backpack? Traveling across Croatia can involve buses, trains, and boats—a backpack makes it easier to travel hands-free. You also won’t have to worry about dragging it across ancient cobblestoned streets—not the easiest feat! Plus, it’s carry-on size, so you won’t have to spend valuable vacation time waiting at the airport luggage carousel, or worry about it getting lost.
You'll also want a small day pack while you explore Croatia. This should hold your cell phone, wallet, a bottle of water, chapstick, and any other essentials. Waist packs can work as daypacks for the minimalist traveler, but most travelers should instead pick a small, comfortable backpack.
Once you have the right luggage for your Croatia trip, pick up a set of packing cubes to keep your bag ruthlessly organized.
Bring Bus Basics
There is much to see on a trip to Croatia, and bus transportation is a surprisingly efficient way to cover ground. With major stations in Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb, Zadar, and Rijeka, buses take travelers to most of the top mainland destinations. Though most buses are comfortable and air conditioned, plan to BYOC (bring your own comfort) in the form of a travel pillow, blanket, ear plugs, and eyeshade. Stocked, resealable snack bags and a reusable water bottle are also smart suitcase stuffers (lest you be unprepared and stuck snacking on gas station food).
Also, most bus routes have multiple stops, but you want your valuables to have only one. Safely carry money, passport, and travel documents in a money belt while on the bus, in case a fellow passenger goes treasure hunting in the overhead compartments.
Pack for Water Activities
If you’re traveling to Croatia in the warm season (May to October), adventurous travelers surely plan to enjoy the water, whether by taking a ferry to the beautiful islands off the coast or spending an afternoon sea kayak.
Prepare for ferry rides with seasickness pills, and for water sports with a bathing suit, sunscreen, and insect repellent. A clean/dirty packing cube is your friend, as is a water-repellant packing cube when you're out on the water for the day.
Consider packing a pair of water socks or sandals that can endure a swim: The rocky coastline is beautiful, but not kind on your feet.
In addition to being TSA friendly, a 3-1-1 travel bottle kit provides smart storage for sunscreen and insect repellent during ocean adventures.
What Clothes to Pack for Croatia
The weather in Croatia varies greatly, from a Mediterranean climate along the coast, to a continental climate inland, and a mountain climate—you guessed it—in the mountains. Research the areas you plan to visit in advance, and pack layers of climate-appropriate clothing for wherever your trip will take you. That means packing lightweight clothes for hot weather in the summer, plus a windbreaker for evening boat rides, and preparing for cooler rainy weather in spring and fall.
Also pack clothing in neutral colors, so you can mix and match your outfits. You can always add a pop of color with a scarf or cool accessory, maybe even one you pick up on your trip!
For both men and women, what to pack for Croatia brings up some questions of how formal you should dress—Europeans generally have a smart style and you'll definitely want a few outfits you can dress up or down. Think: lightweight travel dress for women and airy linen slacks for men. You'll be glad you packed these things when you hit the town in the evenings and the locals are looking sharp.
Packing a sarong is also always a good idea—it works as a beach blanket, beach coverup, scarf, or more!
Best Shoes for a Croatian Vacation
On a trip to Croatia, it’s all about the shoes— the walking and hiking shoes, that is. Whether you’re walking around the walls of Dubrovnik, hiking the forested mountains near Istria, or exploring Paklenica National Park in Starigrad, comfortable and durable shoes are a must. Protect the rest of your luggage from the “adventure dirt” you’ll pick up along the way with water repellent shoe sacs.
Travel tip: Be wary of venturing too far off the beaten path. Though Croatia is considered a mine-safe area in its tourist destinations and throughout its infrastructure, the country still has landmine zones.
Pack the Right Travel Accessories
If you plan to plug in any devices on your trip, prepare for the difference in power. Electricity in Croatia is 230 volts at 50 hertz. If your electronics aren’t compatible with that (or if you have no idea because you’re too focused on planning your amazing hikes), bring both adapters and wattage converters.
Keep your electronics organized with a laptop sleeve, cord organizers, and more.
Packing sacs are also a wonder at organizing all of the bits and bobs in your bag—a set of three in various sizes suits most trips and works for snacks, hair ties, and just about anything loose you might have floating around your bag otherwise.
And a small toiletry bag ensures you keep your bathrooms clutter free.
Croatia Packing List
Clothing packing list
- Lightweight clothing that can be layered
- T-shirts and tank tops
- A long-sleeved shirt
- Nicer outfit
- Bottoms (shorts, skirts, pants)
- Windbreaker (rain jacket for shoulder-season)
- Bathing suit or swim trunks (and rash guard for the fair folk)
- Socks and water socks
- Sandals, water-sandals, and hiking boots
Toiletry packing list
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hair brush, hair ties, etc
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Sunscreen and face lotion with SPF
- Seasickness pills
- Lip balm with SPF and lipstick or lip gloss
- Insect repellant
- Personal hygiene items
- Feminine hygiene products
- Extra contacts, solution, and contact case
- Glasses and prescription sunglasses
- Hanging toiletry bag
Additional travel gear to pack
- Reusable water bottle
- Mobile device and charger
- Money belt
- Travel pillow, eye mask, and ear plugs
- Electronics organizer
- First Aid Kit
Now that you know what to pack, it’s all about an organized approach to fitting it in your backpack. We’ve got you covered with our collection of packing organizers!
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By Caila Ball-Dionne
Caila Ball-Dionne is a freelance writer and full-time travel enthusiast. You can find more of her writing at CailaBall.com.