With the clock running out on our time in the Schengen Zone, after petsitting in Paris, Luna and I took a series of trains down to sunny, seaside Split, Croatia, where we spent a month in a charming, exposed-stone studio exploring Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast.
Then, after a lovely month of mostly warm winter weather and delightfully affordable living, we headed north by bus and spent a week in Rovinj, Croatia, one of the more picturesque cities in the region of Istria.
With stays in several Croatian regions, I’m happy to announce that Croatia is a pretty dog-friendly place. Not as dog-lovin as Western Europe, but much more friendly than the US.
First, I’m happy to report that finding a dog-friendly rental in Split, Croatia is incredibly easy. Almost every single apartment I wrote to either already accepted dogs or was willing to make an exception for a small, well behaved dog. We settled on a lovely, pet-friendly apartment near Diocletian’s Palace, but had about 10 options to choose from, all well-located and beautiful.
In Rovinj, we had similar success (though a few less options, possibly simply because Rovinj is a bit less lively in the winter and seems to have less options overall) and eventually decided on a top-floor apartment full of sunshine.
I’m also happy to report that Croatians seem to be a dog-loving people. The Split Riva (the walkway along the harbor) is constantly full of people walking their dogs. And the big, beautiful park just south of Rovinj was also full of dog-walkers. People were very friendly and often came over to say hi to Luna while we were exploring.
Dog supply stores were also easy to come by. In Split, I found a really great one (with hypo-allergenic dog food!) at Prvanova Ulica 3, Split 21000, walking distance from my apartment. In Rovinj, I had to go a little farther to find a supply store, but it also seemed well outfitted. The Rovinj shop was next to the Mercator Shopping Center.
That said, Croatia is a little more confusing and less easy-going than Western Europe in several ways:
The first (and this is the confusing part), there are no-dogs-allowed signs everywhere. They’re in the parks, on the doors of the ferry sitting area, on many of the beaches. And here’s the confusing part: everyone completely ignores them. The Croatians are constantly walking their dogs on the beaches right next to the signs. And when I asked someone about it, he waved me away nonchalantly, saying that those signs were only for the very busiest parts of the season. For the most part, he said, the signs aren’t even enforced in the summer…and they definitely aren’t enforced in the off-season.
Ignoring the signs made me nervous, but it seems to be a cultural norm and I eventually gave in with no ill consequences.
The main place that I ignored the no-dogs signs was in the ferry sitting area. Dogs ride free on the ferries and in the winter it’s too cold to sit outside on the deck (where there are no signs). So Luna and I settled in the indoor ferry sitting area – and no one batted an eyelash.
The second less-dog-friendly thing was the Croatian bus system. If you want to take a long-distance bus in Croatia, you can’t buy a ticket ahead of time because it is up to the individual bus drivers whether they allow you and your pooch onboard. For planners like me, this can be a bit annoying, especially since the trains in Croatia barely go anywhere and buses are often the only option.
Luckily, both the bus drivers we encountered were fine with a small, quiet dog in a carrier. But I still don’t love the you-must-wait-till-the-last-second system they have in place.
And the final not-so-dog-friendly thing is the restaurants and bars. For the most part, you don’t see dogs inside them (unlike Western Europe). On the island of Solta, we found one darling, family-owned restaurant that made an exception for Luna, but generally I was told to leave the dog at home.
That said, Luna and I had a great time in Croatia. Her particular favorite part? Exploring the quiet, pretty island of Solta (where most of the photos above came from) off leash.
Finally, while we never needed to use it, here’s the info I was given for Split’s emergency vet: located at Sibenska 9. Phone: 385-21 56 9804 or 099 216 99 61.