Is Croatia Gay Friendly? Croatia LGBT Travel Tips
We live in a day and age which is far more diverse than ever, but unfortunately, we are still to reach the point of every country across the globe having total tolerance, and Croatia is no exception.
I’m asked regularly if Croatia is gay friendly or at least a tolerant place for those in the LGBT community. So, I figured what better way to answer that question than to do a blog post dedicated to answering the questions around gay travel in Croatia.
Before we get into it, let’s me start by saying, I am not gay and have compiled this post based on the information from fellow expats, Croatians and those in the travel community. It’s aimed at homosexuals or those traveling with homosexual friends.
The good news is that yes, Croatia is by in large a place that the LGBT community can travel too, with some precautions.
According to the 2011 census, around 86% of Croatians are Catholics, and most Catholics share a biblical ideology that only a man and woman can be together and raise a family. Though our gay community in Croatia are permitted civil unions since 2014, and single gay people can adopt (couples are not permitted).
A survey from the ‘German Spartacus International Gay Guide’ announced that in its 2019 ranking of countries for gay-friendliness – that Croatia is now as gay-friendly as the USA, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Costa Rica, Thailand, and Cuba.
Croatia is still a place where homosexuality is taboo and frowned upon by some of the population, and I would say that Croatian’s acceptance of homosexuality is mixed.
It’s recognized by most that there are huge differences in the mindset between the more touristic urban areas, and the rural areas of Croatia as to the acceptance of gay travelers. Given this, where you go in Croatia and how you act while there could make a difference to your experience.
Legal protection in Croatia has risen to good levels for the LGBT community, and homosexuality has been legal since 1977. Some say that Croatia is one of the most tolerant countries in Europe for gay travelers.
There are laws that protect the rights of gays and lesbians: such as anti-discrimination clauses in the Labor Code and the Croatian Criminal code recognizes hate crimes since 2003.
There are no legal issues stopping you from holding hands or other forms of PDA in Croatia – though it’s widely agreed that gay tolerance isn’t 100% just yet. Sad, yes, but this is the world we, unfortunately, live in, and I’d recommend that you think about your desire for PDA and the potential conflicts that may arise on your vacation.
Below, I’ve tried to give you all the information I’ve compiled from the community to help you understand travel and being gay in Croatia.
Is Croatia Gay Friendly? The General Consensus
The general consensus amongst locals and visitors to Croatia is that it’s perfectly acceptable to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transexual, or anything else you want to be in Croatia – but it’s not a good idea to be that open about it.
For instance, gay couples are perfectly welcome in Croatia, no problems at all, but it’s not the best idea to hold hands in public or indulge in major PDA given there are some who may still take offense.
Some report, they were given odd looks or disparaging remarks or even refused service for being openly gay. That said, other people have no issues at all.
When I asked, it seemed that Zagreb and Dubrovnik are touted as the most LGBT-friendly locations in Croatia, with Split and Rijeka also great choices.
The rural areas are not to be avoided, because they have some areas of true beauty and culture, but in these areas, it may be best to travel as friends, rather than a couple.
It pains me to write that, and it’s not a blanket rule of course – though I’d be sad to hear of someone having issues if I said ‘be as open as you like’. The overwhelming majority of locals even in rural areas will welcome you with open arms, but it really only takes one to spoil the party, right?
Gay Friendly Accommodation In Croatia
As I can judge from my reader’s emails and messages, it seems that the biggest worry for most LGBT couples is the issue of accommodation, and worries about being turned away if they ask for a double bed.
In most touristic parts, and with large hotels, this will not be an issue. Most hotels and guest houses I contacted all stated that they were perfectly welcoming to LGBT guests, however, there are stories where people faced issues in private accommodation as was the case in Zadar in 2018.
Someone wrote to me and said when they travel, they ask for twin beds, so as not to arouse suspicion; then they push them together, so the hotelier is none the wiser!
From the general advice on my Facebook page however, these accommodation choices are known to be LGBT-friendly:
- Whole Wide World Hostel, Zagreb
- Lilly’s Cozy Cove, Tisno
- Aussie Dream Apartments, Zadar
- Coastal Villa, Makarska
- Apartmani Mistral, Mimice
- Murter Island Apartments, Murter Island
- Hidden House, Hvar
- Brown House, Trogir
Of course, there I am sure there are countless more, but these will get you started!
Activities & Gay Clubs In Croatia
There aren’t that many openly gay clubs in Croatia, however, Zagreb does have a couple (Hotspot and Rush). This is certainly the most LGBT friendly of cities in Croatia.
Zagreb even has a Gay Pride Day which is gaining more attention each and every year. Dates change every year for this event, you can keep up to date with the next ones here.
You won’t find any gay parties like those in other parts of Europe, though there are several gay only tours from various travel agencies. One that I saw was a gay sailing cruise – from a sailing company which specializes in gay only cruises, with Croatia being one of their destinations. Look up www.gaysail.com, it seems as though the trips are either one or two weeks, and you get to see the main coastline during this time, with a gay skipper and crew onboard.
There are no specific LGBT beaches in Croatia, however, there are loads of naturist beaches if that’s your thing. If not, simply visit any one of the many stunning beaches in Croatia.
So, Croatia – LGBT friendly or not?
Yes, but be cautious with showing affection and speaking openly about your homosexuality. It’s absurd that in 2019 I have to give that advice, but unfortunately, we’re a long way from total acceptance here in Croatia just yet.
I am sure that you will enjoy your time in this stunningly beautiful country, and if you have anything to add after your trip – please let me know in the comments below.