We are big fans of different backpacking styles. And hitchhiking is one of our favorites. Because this is what mindful travel is all about. When you hitchhike, you meet new people. Sometimes there are some locals, who can tell you the history, facts, tips, and tricks. Sometimes there are other travelers, and you get to know their experience, stories. And you get inspired by that.
Adventure Backpacking in Croatia
Hitchhiking in Croatia was very tempting for us. Because most people have a stereotype, that it is made only for beach vacations. And only a few know, that it actually has a reach history, architecture, and beautiful nature.
In this article, I want to share with you our itinerary for hitchhiking in Istria (North Croatia) and a few stories that inspired us or influenced in some way. I hope it will help you to make up your mind and try a bit of adventure next time.
From Bratislava to Zagreb by bus
Most of the people travel from Slovakia and close countries to Croatia by car. It’s relatively fast, cheap, and comfortable. Nowadays they’ve started to put some flights from here, but last summer it was still pretty expensive (this year the tickets are much cheaper). Since we wanted to hitchhike, renting a car didn’t make sense for us. So we went by Flixbus from Bratislava to Budapest. And from there to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.
Of course, the adventure started on the very first day. Our first bus from Bratislava was late for more than an hour. And since there was 10 minutes break before the arrival of the first bus and departure of the second, well…You get it. We arrived in Budapest at midnight. And of course, our bus to Zagreb left a long time ago.
Luckily, we managed to call Flixbus, and they said, they will book us the next bus in the morning. And they’ve suggested us to find any accommodation up to 70 euros, which they would pay since we had to wait overnight. Like this we ended up in a 4-star hotel, sleeping a few hours before the second try of departure to Zagreb.
Hitchhiking from Zagreb to Krk
We decided to walk in Zagreb on our last day of the trip. The idea was to get to the Krk island as fast as possible and sleep there in a tent. Since we traveled by bus, it was easy to take the tent with us.
We’ve got our typical Balcan lunch and got to the hitchhiking point – right next to the tolls for a highway. We wrote the name of the island on paper and decided to try to hitchhike straight away there. Why not, maybe we get lucky?
Funny enough, one huge truck stopped behind us and blocked the way for our destiny car to stop. He was standing there, we were trying, but nobody wanted to risk and stop. Until the driver of that truck didn’t come to us and told, that he will take us. Almost to Krk. We decided to go with him close to the island and then try to hitchhike further to Krk.
That was my best hitchhiking experience. First of all, because we were in the truck. Second, because of the hospitality of that guy. He gave us wine and beer and was telling a lot of stories from his work and about the country. He recommended us where to go, where to sleep in a tent and many other things. We were so grateful to meet him!
Hitchhiking on the island Krk
After our first guy dropped us, we’ve spent less than 10 minutes until the other guy stopped for us. He was going to the island Krk and directly to the village, which was also called Krk. Since we didn’t have some concrete destination for sleeping, we went with him until the very end.
Krk village was beautiful! Very chilly, relaxed, and cozy. We got a little walk after arriving and then an important question has arrived. Where to sleep?
There was camping close to the village, but we wanted a wild experience. So we went deep into the woods and found a little spot, which was probably used before for tenting. It was an incredible experience. There was some concert at the camping and we could hear the live music from there pretty well.
How about swimming in Croatia?
Well, to go to Croatia and to not swim there would be a bit stupid. Our truck guy suggested us to go to Baska, on the south of the Krk island. He said, there is one of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia.
To the beach Baska, we got by using 2 cars. It was also quite fast and all the people were super friendly. Surprisingly, mostly all of our drivers were Croatian, not tourists. And they all spoke pretty good English.
We chilled and swam at Baska beach for a while there and after headed to another destination.
Hitchhiking from Krk to Rijeka
From Baska we planned to get to Pula. We were always pretty flexible, and if someone would recommend us to some other place, we would check that out.
At first, we thought, we again got lucky. One man stopped pretty fast after we started to hitchhike. He said, he is not going directly to Pula, but he can drop us on some very good spot close to Rijeka city. He knows that for sure we will find there someone who will take us to Pula. Well, we trust people.
In the end, he dropped us out literally in the middle of the highway. It was a bit scary because it’s almost impossible to walk there, the same as hitchhiking. Yet still, we tried to hitchhike on the highway for a while. But cars are going very fast and they cannot stop on a highway. So we gave up hitchhiking. All we had to do is walk. Rijeka was also a part of our plan, on the way back from Pula. But since we were pretty close to it and extremely tired, we managed to walk there.
Ate some pizza, walked for a very while in the city center of Rijeka, and decided to book a hostel. What you should know is that accommodation in Croatia is pretty expensive. Even the hostels. The cheapest we found was the Youth Hostel, which even had breakfast included. So we headed there to rest and prepare for the next day.
Hitchhiking from Rijeka to Pula
On the next day, we headed to the next hitchhiking point to get to Pula again. Since not everything went as planned, we didn’t have much of time, so Pula was our last destination. And then we planned to come back to Zareb and go home from there.
This time we’ve waited for a little longer, but got success again. The guy who picked us was going directly to Pula! We arrived there at lunchtime, got stuffed again with Balkan food, and made a little excursion to the city.
Hitchhiking is sometimes tiring process. We again felt that the hostel would work better to regain energy and prepare for the final round – going to Zagreb. The cheapest one this time was Art Hostel. We’ve got a room with 6 beds, 2 from them were double. Nothing luxury to expect, but a normal place to sleep overnight.
There we’ve met a nice couple from Switzerland. They were traveling around Europe on bikes. It was so interesting to hear their stories. I’ve told myself, that we will have to make a Europe bike trip as well in the nearest future.
What to see in Pula?
By the way, Pula is a very nice small city to walk to! It has a city center full of antic history with even a colosseum built during the Roman empire. The whole city center is small and possible to walk in 2-3 hours, but it’s worth the energy invested.
Hitchhiking back to Zagreb
Hitchhiking from Pula to Zagreb was the most challenging part. From Pula to Zagreb there were plenty of different roads and less chance, that somebody will go straight to the capital. We had to divide your hitchhiking for more places.
The farthest we managed to get was a town called Matulji, which was very close to Rijeka. It was the hardest hitchhiking there. Maybe because of the place we’ve chosen. Or the distances. But there were very few people stopping this time. It was also getting late and we’ve made a decision to get to Zagreb by bus. For sure, we would be more flexible, if we wouldn’t need to leave Croatia tomorrow.
Walking around Zagreb
After arriving to the capital and sleeping at Airbnb, we still had half of the day to explore Zagreb, before our bus was leaving to Bratislava. And we loved it! Walk around the city center, got to the famous St. Mark’s Church. We loved creativity on the Strossmayer Promenade. We went through a few parks and a botanical garden. I would definitely come back to explore it a bit more.
Final tips for succesful hitchhiking
- Choose a good place for it. Cars need to have space to stop, they should see you clearly from far and don’t go too fast. Many times we use Hitchwiki, where hitchhikers put some good spots. If you couldn’t find it there, try to check on maps with street view.
- Try to wear bright clothes, so drivers could see you.
- Do not try to hitchhike to far places. Better check on the map closer cities to you and try to get there first.
- You can use your hand to hitchhike, but writing on a big paper your destination could help more.
- Smile. The most important from all 😉
What did we learn by this hitchhiking trip to Croatia? Mostly, it taught us how to adapt and be more flexible. Our plans in Croatia were (due to hitchhiking) changing all the time, sometimes every hour. I am the person, who loves to have everything under control and planned. For me, it was a step out of my comfort zone. But I think, it’s important to make it for you to develop. And travel is the best way to help you.
Have you been to Croatia before? Share your travel stories in comments!