Freedom, flexibility and full relaxation: for some years now, Barbara and Romeo Müller Trachsler from Zurich have chosen camping as their family holiday option. Today, they will share their best tips and favourite spots in Croatia with us. Get ready for some adventure!

The Müller Trachslers are seasoned campers. For several years now, they have spent their summer holidays away from the urban hustle and bustle, in the heart of nature. After several vacations on Italy’s beautiful coastline and beaches, Barbara Müller Trachsler, her husband Romeo and their two children Joya (10) and Keanu (6) wanted to experience something new and (literally) headed off to new shores. They had heard from multiple sources that Croatia was beautiful and still relatively undiscovered. Their first destination in Croatia was Pula situated on the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula, offering spectacular vistas of the bay of Medulin.

Ruggedly romantic: camping in Pula

As real camping pros, the Müller Trachslers had reserved their sea-view spot on the “Camping Arena Medulin” (approx. fifteen minutes from Pula Airport) six months in advance. On arrival, they were thrilled and impressed by the spectacular vistas, the long sandy beaches and the high-quality infrastructure of the campsite that is situated on two peninsulas.

“We had to revise our opinion that nothing can surpass camping in Italy,” says Barbara who was thrilled to have the privilege of waking up every morning to an unobstructed sea view (despite the katabatic wind “Bora” that can blow quite strongly at times requiring parasols and tent sidewalls to be firmly secured).

Activities in and around the campsite

Snorkelling, scuba diving or surfing: there are plenty of things for families to do and discover in Pula / Medulin. The relaxed, ruggedly romantic atmosphere is particularly impressive. Cycling is a great and flexible way to explore the area, with bicycles available for rent at most campsites. There are also many playgrounds, bars and restaurants in and around Medulin that offer a wealth of treats on site – including “ćevapi”: this spicy sausage-style speciality was so good the Müller Trachslers basically made it their daily snack staple.

"The ambience in Pula and surroundings is very Mediterranean, almost slightly Italian,” Barbara notes as she flicks through her small camping holiday album where, besides photographs, she has lovingly documented her family’s holiday adventures and excursions. Barbara’s insider tip? A day trip to the beautiful fishing village Poreč situated approximately forty miles from Pula. But, she adds, Pula itself is also worth visiting more than once. The town features an historical amphitheatre and is also the venue of many open-air concerts. For children who enjoy jumping and splashing in a pool, there are several water parks in the area where oodles of aquatic fun is to be had.

“This was a dream holiday,” Barbara concludes. But Pula / Medulin was just a part of the Müller Trachsler’s Croatia adventure. Their second highlight and insider tip: Split. The scenic drive in a rental car along Croatia’s coastline to this city on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea takes roughly six hours.

Tended with care: camping in Split

With a population of approximately 180,000, Split is Croatia’s second-largest city and also a real magnet for camping aficionados. The “Stobreč” campsite is situated in a suburb of this coastal city and about thirty minutes from the airport. “I found Split to be even more colourful, even more ‘authentic’ than Pula. We felt we were truly in Croatia,” Barbara explains. The Müller Trachslers were impressed by the lovely four-star “Stobreč” campsite with its well-kept facilities and carefully tended premises, including flowerbeds, palm trees and other trees that provide welcome shade on particularly hot days.

The small town of Stobreč itself attracts visitors with many charming little restaurants – among them the “Pizzeria Orbis” that, according to the Müller Trachslers, is very good – as is the campsite restaurant with sea views so beautiful the family often chose to eat there. Keanu and Joya had a blast with the campsite’s five-metre-high diving platform. Eager to dive from the platform into the turquoise water, ten-year-old Joya had no qualms about cheekily passing numerous cool teenagers awaiting their turn (earning her their respect and applause).

A visit of the town of Split should not be missed. Getting there from the campsite takes fifteen minutes by local bus. The Müller Trachslers explored the city’s historic centre on foot, which included climbing to the top of the sixty-metre-high bell tower from where panoramic views of the port are to be had. Needless to say, it is also involved eating an untold number of ice creams. By the way, ice cream is not viewed as a dessert in Croatia, but as an indispensable snack to be enjoyed any time. The Port of Split is the departure point for a wide range of boat excursions to the islands nearby. Thus, time should definitely be made for a boat trip. Another tip from Barbara: “An apparent wind on the boat doesn’t mean you won’t get a sunburn. So don’t forget to apply sunscreen!”

Another family highlight was the “Stobreč” campsite in Split where children are most welcome and will find plenty of things to do whilst mum and dad can relax or try themselves at surfing.

Barbara Müller Trachsler‘s Croatia camping tips

Water shoes are a necessity: there are sea urchins along Croatia’s entire coast. Their spines can cause considerable pain!

Visitors can get by with German in Pula and Split. Still, the locals appreciate being greeted with a “Dobar dan!” and addressed with "molim", for please, and "hvala", for thank you.

Thin nylon string is your best friend at the beach: you can use it to additionally tie down your parasol with some large rocks and create a Bedouin-style tent.

Since it can get very windy, inflatable beach toys are not suitable and likely to be carried away by the wind.

Food and beverages are low-priced in Croatia, and also very good. They can easily be purchased on site, including on campsites. However, it is advisable to bring one’s own sunscreen, so as to avoid unpleasant surprises or the risk of allergies caused by local products.

Croatia is home to many nudist beaches, which is something that should be taken into account when booking a holiday.

Clothes shopping is great fun in Croatia: sales start early in the season, and there are real bargains to be had, including for items of use back home.

Must-tries in Croatia: Croatian beer (e.g. Karlovacko), local wines and Prosek, which contrary to its name is not a sweet or sparkling wine, but tastes delicious!

Text: Steffi Hidber