Travelling Croatia as a vegan? Here’s what you need to know.

Like many countries in Europe, Croatian cuisine is largely meat- and dairy-heavy.

That can make Croatia a hard country to travel for vegans and vegetarians. 

It may have even put you off travelling there (but I hope not – Croatia is incredible!).

Whether you’re a full vegan, vegetarian, lactose intolerant or simply trying to reduce your meat consumption, here are 10 things to know before travelling to Zagreb.

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1 – Croatia isn’t particularly vegan friendly 

I’m not going to beat around the bush and pretend it’s easy to be vegan in Croatia. It really isn’t the easiest place in the world to avoid meat and dairy.

Due to the nature of Croatia’s traditional cuisine, veganism is still a relatively new concept. 

Unlike other destinations, like Bali and the USA, you won’t find endless vegan and vegetarian options in Croatia. 

It’s not that you won’t find anything vegan, but vegan food simply isn’t popular there.

That means it often isn’t advertised in any way, and you’ll have to look a little harder.


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2 – Vegan options are often there

Croatia isn’t exactly known for its vegan food scene, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Most restaurants have at least a handful of vegan and vegetarian options, but they’ll probably be hidden among all the other dishes. 

Don’t write off a place because it doesn’t explicitly mention its vegan dishes. If you do, you might be hungry for a while!

You’ll just need to be prepared to do a little research or ask questions


3 – There are several fully vegan restaurants in Zagreb

I didn’t expect to find much vegan food in Croatia, but during a cafe research session, I stumbled across an interesting find: a restaurant that served organic vegan food. Winning!

Zrno Bio Bistro is a fully vegan organic restaurant in the heart of Zagreb. They have an INCREDIBLE menu full of healthy, hearty meals and light snacks.

There are also lots of vegan versions of popular Croatian dishes, so you don’t have to miss out on trying the local cuisine in Zagreb.

The kidney bean stew is particularly delicious and perfect for warmer up on a cold winter day. For a lighter option, try out one of the many bowls available.

Even if you’re not vegan, I recommend visiting Zrno Bio Bistro. You’ll enjoy a delicious meal and also can be sure you’re reducing your environmental impact while travelling.

4 – You’ll have no problem in Zagreb’s coffee shops

Stopping for a coffee is easy as a vegan in Zagreb.

You certainly won’t need to forgo the very special Croatian coffee shop experience and can take your pick of Zagreb’s many quirky cafes. 

Coffee shops in Zagreb generally have pretty extensive menus, with dairy-free options for everything. 

As well as the usual hot drinks, it’s not uncommon to find matcha and chai lattes, as well as a range of teas, craft sodas and sometimes even cocktails.
 

5 – Most Zagreb hotels are well-prepared, too

If you choose to have breakfast in your hotel in Zagreb, you should be totally fine. 

Most of the hotels in Zagreb have a range of vegan and vegetarian breakfast options, and can also make you a great dairy-free latte or cappuccino to kick start your day.


6 – Menus often won’t have labels

There probably won’t be much point looking for a green ‘V’ or ‘Ve’ on many menus in Zagreb.

Even though vegan and vegetarian exists on most menus, it’s very rarely labelled.

That means you might need to do a little searching or ask your server to recommend dishes.


7 – Double check with your server before ordering

Just because something looks and sounds vegetarian in Croatia, it doesn’t mean it is!

Even if the dish lists the ingredients in the description, that may forget to mention all of them

I learned that the hard way when I ordered a salad that came with surprise bacon bits.

The menu listing just said green beans – not green beans with bacon – so I was surprised when it came out that way. 

It’s always best to double check with your server when ordering food in Croatia and let them know of any dietary requirements. 

I found people to be very accommodating and patient when asking.

8 – You might have to compromise 

Sometimes, there aren’t as many vegan options on a menu as you would like. In case you didn’t realise already… Croatia still isn’t big on vegan food.

If you travel to Zagreb with the right expectations, it won’t be a problem. If it helps, plan your Zagreb itinerary around the restaurants you know serve vegan food. 

In other cases, you may just need to compromise. Many restaurants are happy to adapt their dishes to meet your requirements.

Just don’t expect them to come up with a replacement or a fancy new dish – they’re more likely to simply remove the things you can’t eat. 

If you choose a dish that’s dairy heavy, it may come up as barely anything at all!


9 – It won’t ruin your trip

More than anything, don’t let the fear of finding vegan food put you off travelling to Croatia.

It’s likely that the food you eat there won’t be one of the highlights, but Zagreb isn’t exactly known as a foodie destination.

When I visited at the end of 2019, the number of vegan options had improved dramatically since the first time I visited Croatia in 2017.

It’s a trend that’s likely to continue, especially if other European capitals are anything to go by.

As long as you know what to expect and see food as an essential rather than integral part of the trip, you can still have an amazing time in Zagreb (and the rest of Croatia).


Le Bistro in the Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb

Vegan restaurants in Zagreb

Sometimes it’s easy to eat out in a city if you have a ready-made list of vegan-friendly places.

Most restaurants in Zagreb have at least one vegan option, but sometimes it’s easier to not think at all.

The following restaurants and bars are 100% vegan, so you don’t need to worry about a single thing.

Zrno Bio Bistro 

I already mentioned Zrno Bio Bistro above, but it’s worth mentioning again. Their food is truly phenomenal!


Root

If you only have one day in Zagreb and want to make the most of it, head to Root for all-vegan fast food.
 


Vegehop 

This all-vegan restaurant serves everything from burgers and pasta to light salads and cake. 

Simple Green

Simple Green is a little bit out of the way, but worth the trip for some of the best vegan food in Zagreb.


Barcode Mitra

This vegan bar is known for its juice and smoothies, but Barcode Mitra also serves up amazing burgers.


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Alajode UK travel blog and vlog by a female digital nomad
Jodie Marie Dewberry

Jodie has been travelling the world full time since 2017, sharing the most unique places in the world along with tips for living as a digital nomad. She is a passionate wildlife photographer and has worked with a number of prominent travel brands, including airlines, tourism boards, hotels and tour operators.

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