Croatia is a great summer destination, especially for island hopping on the Adriatic. I spent two weeks there last year, laying out on the beach, eating gelato and sharing drinks with my fellow backpackers.
The average summer temperatures range between the 70s and high 80s Fahrenheit, so plan accordingly. While you can easily pack light for a trip like this, here are some items you will definitely want to include. I have created this packing list under the assumption that the traveler will do a little bit of everything, including sailing along the coast and exploring the national parks more inland.
5 dresses – For casual day activities and dressing up at night.
2 swimsuits – Especially if you are spending time on the coast, you will spend most of your day in a swimsuit, so let one dry and wear the other.
3 tank tops or t-shirts – For throwing over a swimsuit or wearing around while you wander the city walls.
2 pairs of shorts – Better for climbing and hiking.
1 pair of leggings – This is a good substitute for jeans, especially under dresses for breezier nights. They are also good to sleep in.
2 bras – You will most likely be wearing your swimsuit most of the day if you’re sailing and won’t need bras as much.
5 pairs of underwear – Laundromats are plentiful in each town, but I just washed mine in the sink and let them air dry.
1 pair of socks – Depends on what shoes you pack.
1 scarf - Useful for covering your shoulders when it gets windy or for balling it up to use as a pillow.
1 light jacket – Keeps you warm on buses and at night.
1 pair flip flops – Must haves for hostel showers and good for walks to the beach.
1 pair black flats – Basic rubber flats are ideal for dressing up an outfit for a night out for those of us who don’t wear heels.
1 pair tennis shoes/Tevas/Chacos – You need at least one pair of shoes that has a decent grip on the soles, especially if you’re doing some exploring. Many of the cobblestones in the old towns have worn down and become quite slippery.
1 pair dressy sandals – I wore these just as much as my black flats because they are nice enough to wear out, but more comfortable than heels.
Towel – While I usually recommend a pack towel for travels, you want something to lay out on the rocky beaches with.
Sarong – I used mine as a bathrobe, swimsuit cover up, sleep sheet and towel. You can just cut a long strip of fabric and sew together the longer ends if you don’t want to buy one.
Shampoo/Conditioner – Travel sized and TSA friendly.
Soap or Body Wash – I brought body wash instead, but soap is usually easier to pack if you’re flying carry-on only.
Toothbrush/Paste – Also get a snap-on case so you don’t get anything on your toothbrush.
Deodorant – Keep yourself smelling nice!
Razor – You only need one.
Brush – Travel sized worked for me.
Hair ties – Necessary to keep the hair off your neck on those hot days.
Motion Sickness Medicine – If you are doing any sailing or ferries, this is a must-have. You don’t want to be seasick!
Sunscreen – I cannot reiterate this enough! I got seriously burned on my first day there because I was mostly in the shade and didn’t put any on.
Birth Control – There’s plenty of frisky backpackers in Croatia and it’s good to be prepared.
Diva Cup – The last thing you want on your trip is to be tied down by lady products. The Diva Cup is ideal for this trip since you will be active and won’t always have time to change.
Prescriptions – Get as many of your prescriptions at home as you can. Emergencies arise and you can go to a local chemist, but the language barrier may make things more difficult.
Sleeping pills – I found it hard to fall asleep on a rocking boat sometimes, so sleeping pills were good to have.
Protection from the Elements:
Sunglasses – This one is pretty obvious.
Hat – Protect your ears and scalp from the sun, too.
Rain jacket – A small jacket that folds up small is good just in case of bad weather.
Laptop – I didn’t bring mine, but I saw a lot of travelers who did. Many towns have outdoor areas with free wireless Internet.
Camera – How can you not take pictures of all the beautiful sights?
Necessary chargers – Don’t forget your European converter plug!
Lock - Keep your backpack safe in the hostel lockers.
Underwater camera or case – The last thing you want is to damage your camera while trying to get the perfect shot. I bought the DiCAPac alpha WP-410 case for my point and shoot and it worked perfectly for cool underwater shots.
iPod – Listening to jams from home makes any bus, plane, train or boat ride more interesting.
Earplugs – Block out the noise of rowdy backpackers, the boat engine and vendors at the morning markets.
Eye Mask – Sleep as long as you can, not just until the sun comes up.
Water bottle – Many of the towns have public water fountains that have been around since Roman times. They’re a great way to cool off and save money on bottled water.
Books or E-Reader – Transportation days can be boring, so bring books (English language ones are harder to find, not to mention more expensive) or a handy e-reader.
Passport and necessary visas – For visitors from the United States, a visa is not necessary if you are staying in the country less than 90 days.
Deck of cards – Good for playing solitaire alone on a bus or starting a drinking game with new friends.
I found it easy enough to take out money with my American debit card, but I probably should have changed over some cash before arriving at the airport. Also be sure to check the exchange rate so you know you’re not getting scammed by vendors and taxi drivers.
The further you go off the tourist trail, the harder it will be to find people who speak English, so learn at least a few phrases in Croatian before you go.
What else would you recommend for a backpackers trip to Croatia?