Not so fast: since the publishing of this article (unrelated) Croatia experienced a spike of covid-19 cases andthe country is taking steps to ramp up safety measures, including requiring covid-19 testing if travelers from outside the EU want to avoid quarantine. For travelers outside the EU/EEA/UK, you’ll need a recent negative covid-19 test taken within 48 hours, if you wish to avoid quarantine when traveling for tourism. This includes: US Travelers, and even those on the 15 country approved list from the EU, like Canada.

You’ve probably seen the headlines: Europe is closed to Americans. It’s not fake news – the European Union really added guidance for member states to allow entry from outside to 14 countries, but due to new spikes in cases, the United States was not one of them. Although Croatia is definitely in Europe, Americans are definitely actually able to still visit, opening up one of the most extraordinary destinations, and values in all of Europe, to travelers without too many choices this summer.

It all started when I made the brave decision to read the comments section of my own website on the internet. Someone posted “but, what about Croatia?”. I’d heard the rumors, but I was having a tough time reading up on the Timatic restrictions – the system airlines use to verify entry requirements – and seeing any place where Americans were mentioned at all.

When you run a large travel blog, you don’t really want to go telling people to book tickets to a place they can’t actually go…

It turns out, they’re not mentioned at all, and that’s ok, because Croatia is open to anyone coming for the purpose of tourism, and by anyone, they pretty much mean anyone. That’s probably not enough to compel anyone to book, and it wouldn’t be for me either, so that’s when I started digging, and found a treasure trove of information.

As for the Timatic info, you just need to politely mention to anyone questioning your brilliant travel savvy that they need to scroll past the first bit where it talks about only allowing Europeans in, and down to where it says anyone “traveling as a tourist with a confirmation of accommodation booking” can enter.

The Croatian Government offers the following little tipple…

Other foreigners who do not hold the citizenship of an EU/EEA Member State or the aforementioned countries, nor have regulated stay in those countries and are not members of the families of citizens of these countries, may enter the Republic of Croatia, but upon arrival at the border crossing point they must prove their reason for entering the Republic of Croatia.

Ok, so that’s a positive sign for potential American visitors, but I still feel like there’s a but. But, there’s not. One of the acceptable categories of visitor is simply a tourist. It’s either that, business reasons, urgent personal reasons or property ownership, but tourism is just fine. In fact, the Croatian Government states…

tourist – it is necessary to present a confirmation of the reservation or paid accommodation in one of the accommodation facilities in the Republic of Croatia (e.g. confirmation of the reservation of accommodation of all accommodation providers / all registered types of accommodation, lease contract or lump sum payment of a camp, permanent berth contract in a nautical tourism port, confirmation of berth reservation in a nautical tourism port, travel agency voucher, etc.)

That’s about as clear as mud – chalk it up to translation – but it basically states you’ll need a confirmed reservation for a hotel or accommodation, even including an Airbnb. That’s it. If you’ve got that, and you state specifically you’re coming for tourism, you’re good to go, err, almost. You’ll need to gather a few pieces of “evidence” to make your journey much-much easier.

Americans (or anyone outside of the EU directives) hoping to visit Croatia needs to submit a request to be a tourist, and also fill out another form. According to all the data points I’ve seen, it’s all very straightforward and quick acceptance is all but guaranteed once you do.  When you get your acceptance, you need to print out a copy(s), of each and keep them with you when you travel.

You’ll end up with a copy of an email from Croatian officials, and the acceptance of your tourist request, and chances are you’ll need both, if you want to avoid any hassle in transit. This matters, because there’s a fair chance the person checking you in for your flight will tell you you cannot travel, because Europe is closed to Americans, and you can point out that Croatia is an exception.

Total Croatia News has the best resource on the subject showing data points of the many people who’ve recently made the journey and following this advice have had zero issues, perhaps beyond a 10 minute wait at check in while a person consulted a supervisor. Transiting through Europe – aka going through a country where you’re not welcomed to enter, just to catch another flight without leaving the airport is totally fine.

For example, an American could fly KLM from the USA to Amsterdam, transit via Amsterdam Schipol Airport without leaving the airport, and then carry on to Zagreb, or another Croatian destination without any issue, even though there’s theoretically a ban on Americans. Same goes for British Airways via London, Air France via Paris, Lufthansa via Frankfurt and so forth.

This all means you really can visit Croatia this summer, even you Americans.

Should you? Obviously the world doesn’t need any more covid-19 problems, so someone at risk, or who’s been in contact with covid-19, or currently sick should sit this one one. For anyone traveling responsibly, wearing masks and using the best hygiene practices, it’s an amazing opportunity to catch a buzzing, upcoming destination with fewer visitors than usual.

What’s there to do in Croatia? Everything! The country is blessed with some of Europe’s best beaches, hikes, castles, food and even some decent wine. It’s a culture creature paradise, but also a great place to be a lazy bum.

Like any destination in the world, plans are subject to change, so it’s important to keep an open mind and take extra care in reading any change and cancellation policies airlines and hotels are offering before booking. The long and the short of it is the more flexible, the better. See you in Croatia?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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20 Comments

  1. Under better circumstances, I’d go back to Zagreb in a heartbeat and I’d still love to explore the coast. That said, this is a good year to avoid Europe. They pretty much have their act together and we don’t. Some things are best not shared, and the cause of the global pandemic is pretty high on the list. It’ll be there next year.

  2. The health and other insurances attached to your premium CC’s are surely gonna provide coverage in Europe during a pandemic. NOT.

  3. It was all done before the elections last weekend, so that people vote for the ruling party. As announced today in Croatian papers, this will soon change as new measures for arrivals from third countries will be implemented from next week. Plus don’t forget the number of covid cases is now on the increase and at levels not seen before the opening up! Dalmatian cities and Zagreb have high number of cases.

    To be honest as a dual national of Croatia, I wouldn’t travel there myself. Maybe to some of the remoter islands or places if I could get there without too much fuss. But it ain’t cheap either! Most Airbnb’s and hotels have either left the prices as they were before or doubled them.

  4. According to chief Croatian epidemiologist this is going to change next week. There were elections in Croatia last week and this was all done for the sake of current government being re-elected! They had to open up the country so that dual nationals from Bosnia (third country) can come and vote.

    Plus no one wears a mask, there are no measures, no social distances and number of cases on the rise.

  5. The EU is trying to avoid a second wave of infection from the US, which is currently experiencing a spike in cases. Of course there are loopholes, there always are.

    But instead of encouraging your readers to exploit these, perhaps you could honour the spirit of the rules and help protect those more vulnerable than you?

    1. I’m not encouraging anyone to exploit anything. I’m providing factual basis of where people can go, as well as context that says it’s likely not a good look.

  6. It’s on the list of places we want to visit and can’t say this doesn’t make it really tempting now. At the same time, it’s far too irresponsible to take leisure travel at this point. I’m on a truly necessary (and not even remotely leisure) trip and everything is a hassle and a half. I’m on a domestic trip and judging from this, I won’t be leaving again anytime soon. Things are coming together in Europe and I love that. In the states, it’s the opposite direction and, in my opinion, anyone taking a leisure trip right now, is being completely selfish and irresponsible. If you are in Europe then please do and go and support places. Unfortunately, Americans have proven to be too careless to be let in to nice places.

    My jaded opinion there as I’m seeing complete and total carelessness here. To the point where I just cancelled the return portion of my flight and are driving the return simply to avoid the unbelievably careless people here. I’m in the southeast.

    Thanks for the article and nice pictures Gilbert!!

  7. Just because you can does not mean you should…
    Let us pickle in Trumps land until this virus cools off.

  8. For the people with comments stating people shouldn’t travel – that is your opinion but not mine (or many others). If a country opens up for travel they have decided it is OK and that the benefits of tourism outweigh the risks. Obviously don’t travel if at high risk, have been exposed to someone infected or sick (with COVID or anything else). Otherwise I have no problem traveling.

    I have taken 4 leisure trips since the lock down ended (no flights yet) including 2 casino trips and 2 beach trips (at wonderful house on FL Gulf Coast right now). I wear a mask, distance and ensure businesses I go to are following required steps but I don’t feel any more at risk (or that I am a risk) than back home.

    Again to each his own and if you don’t want to travel please don’t but also don’t try to apply your views to others. We all make risk assessments and it is truly possible to travel and still be safe. Sure it isn’t as safe as sitting home but, at least to me, that isn’t as option. BTW retired 62 year old so not a young person looking to party or other gatherings where infections are more likely to be spread.

    Finally – highly recommend Dubrovnik- incredible city!!

  9. I may have missed something but aren’t we still subject to a 14 quarantine once we return from anywhere international?

  10. Gilbert, you’ll need to update your article. Croatian Minister of Health announced today, 14 days mandatory self-isolation or shorter period if you undergo a test.

  11. With respect to Americans, no country should accept American travelers or a U.S. residents now, period. Some of them are not responsible, don’t respect any social distance and will spread the virus again. Americans who resides in U.S. shouldn’t be allowed to travel.

  12. Gilbert, there are additional measures for tourists even for those with PCR tests.

    This is official information in Croatian:
    https://www.hzjz.hr/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Preporuke_i_upute_za_prelazak_granice_RH_10_07.pdf

    It says under 2f paragraph 3 (just a few things from the list)

    – during first 14 days you must restrict your movements only to necessary ones.
    – you should not use public transport
    – avoid group gatherings
    – only pay contactless/card or online
    – every morning measure your temperature and if it is more than 37.2 than you need to report it to a local AE/ doctor/regional epidemiologist

  13. Dear Gilbert, please update the image of the article. Im a Croatian living in Montenegro and the picture of the article is showing actually Montenegrin town called Perast. I mean, I’m happy you are using it however is irrelevant for this article 🙂

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