Croatia Coronavirus Travel, Tourism, Flights & Borders Update May 19, 2020
May 19, 2020 – So what is the latest Croatia coronavirus travel advice? When will borders open, flights take off, and tourism finally begin? An overview of what we know at the moment.
Can you travel to Croatia? Around Croatia? Is Croatia safer than other destinations? When will tourism start? Who can cross the border?
With so many questions, so much uncertainty, and SO many people wanting to go on holiday and get tourism started, here is what we know today.
Official Websites, and Why TCN Thinks Lack of Information is a Deliberate Policy
The national tourist board has a page called Coronavirus 2019 nCoV Q&A.
Ministry of Tourism COVID-19 travel page.
Official government corona website.
Please be advised that all the information on this page has been compiled voluntarily from people in the private sector. This is both a disclaimer and reminder that TCN does its best to provide accurate information with limited resources, and you should contact official sources for 100% confirmation – links above. The reason TCN even started these travel updates was because those whose job it is to provide this info service were simply not doing their jobs. We have conducted an awareness campaign of just how bad the information was in the Croatian media. And with some success. The Ministry of Tourism can no longer be contacted by fax, and they have decided to put email contact details instead of fax numbers. Meanwhile, the Croatian National Tourist Board has upgraded from obscure references to the Official Gazette in favour of telling people what the current situation is. The first link above is the most useful and is being updated.
At the request of the Deputy Minister of Tourism 6 days ago, I sent a list of 14 questions our readers were asking, so that we could create a conclusive information page on the Ministry website and TCN. Six days later, no answers, despite me speaking directly to the Deputy Minister on Friday who promised we would receive one.
This policy of non-information is deliberate I think, and I explained why in Croatian Tragedies: Health v Economy, Politics v Tourism
Croatia corona travel – how safe is Croatia and how well has it handled the corona crisis?
Croatia has handled the health threat from coronavirus extremely well, both in terms of measures taken and communication. The authorities reacted quicker than most as they watched the horror unfold across the Adriatic in Italy, and an extremely effective National Civil Protection Headquarters has kept infections and deaths well below the European average. And this despite the additional challenges brought on by the Zagreb earthquakes.
(Source – Koronavirus.hr)
Croatia currently has 2,228 cases of infection, which has resulted in 95 deaths. The majority of cases – 1,946 – have recovered.
The authorities also moved quickly not only to close borders, but also to localise infection by severely restricting all unnecessary travel between municipalities. Its famous tourist islands have remained almost totally corona-free. Only those with an island ID were permitted to use the ferries, and only then with a special purpose.
So in terms of its approach to the virus, and the results, there is perhaps nowhere better than Croatia.
And then question on everyone’s lips is – when can we travel to Croatia, and is Croatia corona travel safe?
Nothing is totally safe in these very uncertain times, but I would say that COMPARATIVELY speaking, Croatia is as safe as anywhere in Europe to come for a holiday IF conditions allow. More on that below.
What is the current situation with Croatia’s borders? Who can enter the country?
at Bregana and Macelj (with Slovenia);
at Goričan and Duboševica (with Hungary);
at Nova Sela, Stara Gradiška and Slavonski Šamac (with Bosnia and Herzegovina);
at Bajakovo (with Serbia).
use motorways only;
during breaks keep distance between You and other people;
obey the rules of Civil protection or police officers.
at Goričan border crossing, detour: Goričan junction-ŽC2026-DC3;
at Dvor and Vitaljina border crossings – open only to passenger traffic;
at Gunja border crossing – there is a traffic ban on freight vehicles and buses.
Due to traffic bans on freight vehicles in Slovenia long delays should be expected in freight traffic at Bregana/Obrežje and Macelj/Gruškovje border crossings starting 1 June.
What is the reality on the ground? Here was my experience after I visited the main Bregana crossing near Zagreb, which borders Slovenia on May 17.
Key takeaways were that EU citizens can enter, but only with an official invitiation, proof of ownership of property in Croatia, or accommodation reservation. The crossing procedure currently takes 5-8 minutes. This is because in addition to checking your passport, they are manually adding all the details about your stay into the system. This is so that they can contact you in case of an outbreak of corona. By knowing where you are staying, they can monitor the situation. This is why I THINK (but please check with official sources), you can’t just go anywhere without informing them in advance. They can only track a finite number of people, and that (I think) will be the number of people who will come in. All EU countries can now visit. If one million did tomorrow, they would not be able to track everything. This is a very sensible approach, keeping people as safe as possible. It is just executed in a terrible way, and there is a much better and more transparent solution.
Not everyone was allowed to cross the border. Examples of those who were turned away: a local from a Slovenian village going to meet his mistress for lunch (yes really). No official invitation, no entry. Two Slovenian ladies looking forward to seeing the Adriatic but not yet decided where to go. No reservation, no entry. And there was a LOT of discussion before a man from Munich (15 mins) was allowed to cross. His business invitation consisted of just an email. My advice having seen the border up close – make sure your invitation is as official as possible, they do seem to love their stamps, and contact the authorities before you travel on the email above.
What is the latest news about the borders opening for tourism?
Everyone WANTS tourism to begin, but just how safe is it, when might it happen, and will it be for everyone?
From the Ministry of Tourism website:
Big interest in opening borders, says tourism minister
Croatian, Italian tourism ministers discuss plans for tourism
Hotels and camps in Istria to open May 11
Minister says talks on cross-border travel underway (May 4)
Some clues from some recent TCN articles:
Croatian Tragedies: Health v Economy, Politics v Tourism
Who Can Cross the Croatia Slovenia Border? Who Cannot? A May 17, 2020 Border Visit
Socially Distanced Summer in Croatia: Rules for Beaches Published (May 16)
Restrictions for Travel across Slovenia-Croatia Border Relaxed for EU Citizens (May 15)
Police Director: About 2,700 Foreigners Entered Croatia since May 9 (May 15)
Bozinovic: Third-County Nationals Banned from Entering EU until June 15 (May 14)
Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli Reveals New Slogan for Tourists Coming to Croatia (May 14)
Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli Reveals When Croatian Borders Will Open (May 13)
Are Croatian Borders Open? Who Can Enter? What Conditions? Are There Flights? (May 13)
Trip Report of Belgian National to Hvar by Car on May 7-8, 2020 (May 9)
Source Claims Croatia Could Reopen Borders Incrementally in June (May 8)
Croatian Tourism: Dubrovnik Seeks Special Flight Arrangements (May 5)
Any Hope for Croatian Tourist Season? We’re Neighbours’ First Choice (May 4)
Gari Cappelli and Slovenia Optimistic about Opening Borders between Two Countries (April 30)
EU Ministers Meet: COVID-19 Passport, Cro Card and More (April 28)
Istria County Tourism Committee Hosts First Session about Opening Borders (April 28)
COVID-19 in Croatia: Gari Cappelli Discusses Summer Travel with EU Tourism Ministers (April 28)
Austrian Media: Croatia is Our Best Chance for Summer Holiday (April 27)
German Bild on Croatia: Corona-Free Destination for Summer Travel (April 25)
What about flights to Croatia? An overview of all the major airlines to Croatia and their current positions
If there is one tiny cloud with silver lining for Croatian tourism, it is that the vast majority of its visitors arrive by car. The proximity of countries such as Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary and Serbia mean that the season will not be a total disaster if it is allowed to start. Holiday options for these countries will be more limited due to the drastic reduction in flights which will be a post-corona reality. So destinations such as Greece, Turkey and Egypt will be much harder to reach than hopping in a car from Central or Eastern Europe.
You can read some detailed analysis of the Croatian aviation market in the future from Max Oldorf, COO of ch-aviation in this TCN interview this recently:
Flights to Croatia Post-Corona: Overview with Max Oldorf, COO of ch-aviation
The big intercontinental carriers have mostly writtten off 2020 totally, with Qatar Airways and American Airlines, delaying Dubrovnik until 2021. And with the CEO of easyJet saying the airline will feel like a new startup post-corona, Ryanair’s homepage focusing on September breaks since March, and Norwegian Air on the brink, the reality is that flights to Croatia will be much reduced. The official Koronavirus website has produced this very helpful overview of where individual airlines are with their plans. You can follow the updated page here.
From May 4, 2020, it is mandatory to use face masks / headgear on all Croatia Airlines flights. Passengers on all Croatia Airlines flights are required to bring and wear face masks or covers. Masks must be worn throughout the stay in the cabin of the aircraft.
Acceptable face covers:
two-layer cotton face masks
medical (surgical) face masks
filter half masks with and without valve (FFP2 / N95)
CA contact center: 0800 77 77 (free calls from Croatia), 072 500 505 or +385 1 66 76 555. For more details see the link.
Dubrovnik Airport – From 11.05.2020, domestic air traffic on the route Zagreb – Dubrovnik – Zagreb is re-established. Croatia Airlines will operate two flights a day. More details.
Osijek Airport – from 27.4. the Pothodnik branch reopens. While prevention measures are in place, the opening hours will be 9 am-5pm on weekdays (Monday through Friday). More information can be obtained by e-mail [email protected]osijek-airport.hr and phone +38531284611. It is recommended that all inquiries be sent in writing to the specified e-mail. More information.
Rijeka Airport – latest info here.
Zagreb Airport – latest info here.
The Croatia Airlines contact center is available on the following numbers: 0800 77 77 (toll free calls from Croatia), 072 500 505 or +385 1 66 76 555. More info.
AirBaltic – All AirBaltic connections are suspended from March 17 to May 17, 2020. Click for the latest info.
Air France – From May 11, masks are mandatory on flights. Due to coronavirus, they have reduced 90% of flight capacity and this supply reduction is in effect until the end of May. Due to the closure of Paris-Orly Airport, all flights from and to Paris go via Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. Latest info.
Air Canada has suspended all flights between Toronto and Zagreb for the summer of 2020.
Austrian Airlines, a branch of Lufthansa, has decided to suspend all its scheduled flights until the end of May 2020. More details.
British Airways – the latest updates.
Brussels Airlines has decided to suspend flights until May 15, 2020. More details.
Czech Airlines – Masks are mandatory on flights. More details on flight plans.
easyJet – They made the decision to ground the aircraft until further notice. More details.
Emirates – Emirates has established limited passenger flights to transport passengers departing from the UAE. More details.
Germanwings – Germanwings flights no longer exist.
KLM – Latest info.
Lufthansa – More details.
Ryanair – As most EU countries have imposed flight bans or other restrictions, more than 90% of Ryanair’s aircraft are grounded, and the limited flight schedule has been extended until 28 May. More details.
Turkish Airlines – All international flights are canceled until May 28, 2020. More details.
Qatar Airways – all direct flights between Zagreb and Doha are suspended until May 31, 2020. Flexible when changing travel plans until September 30, 2020. For more information, contact the Qatar Airways office in Zagreb at +385 (0) 1 4961110 / 111, email: [email protected] or check the details here.
Wizz Air – In early May, it will fly from Budapest to Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Birmingham, Basel, Dortmund, Eindhoven, Gothenburg, London, Liverpool, Madrid, Podgorica, Sarajevo, Stockholm and Targa Mures. See more here.
All this flight info above is official information. Below some TCN articles which cover various aspects of flight news.
Flights to Croatia Post-Corona: Overview with Max Oldorf, COO of ch-aviation
Ryanair Significantly Reduces Summer Routes to Croatia (May 18)
Is Eurowings Returning to Croatia this Summer? (May 16)
Croatia Airlines Already Beginning to Reduce Number of Flights (May 16)
Hope for 2021? American Airlines Dubrovnik – Philadelphia Loaded for June 4, 2021 (May 14)
CEO Eddie Wilson: Ryanair Zadar Base Will Not Go Ahead (May 13)
Ryanair to Croatia Planned for July: Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Rijeka, Pula Flight Info (May 12)
British Airways Will Fly to Zagreb and Split from June (May 12)
Flights to Croatia: Korean Air Cancels Seasonal Zagreb Service, Air Transat Delayed (May 9)
What about freedom of movement within Croatia at the moment?
Currently, as far as I know, Croatia is totally open, with the exception of Brac, which had an outbreak of infections and was placed under 14-day quarantine. No new cases have been reported on Brac in recent days.
Recommendations and instructions for tourists entering Croatia
Recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health for Croatian and foreign nationals who are crossing the state border and entering the Republic of Croatia. Official guidelines (May 9)
What is the situation with ferries in Croatia?
Ferries are now operating more of less normally, with coastal lines restored yesterday.
Public Coastal Liner Transport to be Restored on May 18
From the HAK website – you can check the latest here:
Dubrovnik-Korčula-Hvar-Bol and Split-Hvar ferries do not operate till 19 June.
On the line Zadar-Ancona operates Marko Polo ship, according to its timetable, still for freight vehicles only.
Sumartin-Makarska ferry does not operate, on the line Supetar-Split journeys are reduced.
Till 1 June 2020 401 Zadar (Gaženica)-Ist-Olib-Silba-Premuda-Mali Lošinj ferry does not embark at Silba port due to roadworks.
Here is the timetable in full in English.
You can check the latest news in English on the Jadrolinija website.
Timetable and news from Krilo catamarans.
Are buses running between cities in Croatia?
A really good resource from GetByBus gives you all the latest.
Also worth a read on the new realities on buses:
FlixBus Returning to Croatian Roads, Passenger Instructions Published
What about local transport?
As far as I know, local transport has now restarted. I don’t have more information currently than what is in the links below, but happy to add if anyone wants to send updates to [email protected] Subject Travel Update
New changes to the ZET tram timetable in Zagreb (May 4)
An overview of the situation in Zagreb. (April 26)
Promet Split Back in Action Monday: Bus Timetables, Tickets, and Rules (April 26)
Are there any trains currently running in Croatia?
What is the situation on Croatia’s roads and motorways?
There is obviously a lot less traffic on the roads currently. For the latest information on roadworks and other problems, check this HAK page (in English)
Are taxis and private transfers available in Croatia?
Yes. I checked with one of the most reliable providers, Octopus Transfers, and they are able to cover transfers all over the country.
The situation is constantly evolving, and for the latest on travel updates and all other coronavirus developments, we recommend you follow the dedicated TCN COVID-19 section.
If there are errors or omissions in the above, please contact me at [email protected] Subject Travel Update, so that I can get this resource updated. Thanks in advance and stay safe.