A beautiful Mediterranean country dotted with over 1,000 islands along the Adriatic coast, Croatia has become one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations. The country provides an interesting volunteer abroad location, as it moves at the relaxed pace of a small fishing town while thriving from a rich national history due to its central location caught between Eastern and Western Europe. Many volunteering opportunities in Croatia involve natural preservation efforts, community building, and infrastructural development. If you are looking for an adventurous and rewarding experience, then try out this pearl of Southeastern Europe and volunteer in Croatia.
The capital city of Zagreb is by far the largest city in Croatia with over 700,000 inhabitants. Along with volunteer placements in Zagreb, there are opportunities to volunteer in Croatia in smaller cities, such as Split, Rijeka, and Osijek, which each have populations of over 100,000 people. Life in Croatian cities is fairly laid back, as suggested by the relatively remote populations. This relaxed feeling is enhanced by the beauty of the coastal location and medieval architecture that still lines many city streets.
Volunteers in Croatia outside of the cities can engage in preservation efforts along the Dalmatian coast or in the mountains of the Slovenian Alps. About 50 of the thousands of islands off the coast of Croatia are permanently inhabited, making “island hopping” a popular activity for Croatians and travellers alike. Croatia also is bordered by Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia, and Montenegro allowing for easily accessible travel throughout Eastern Europe while volunteering abroad.
Projects & Placements
Within cities most volunteer opportunities in Croatia are rooted primarily in education, childcare, and community development. While Croatia remains a highly developed country by international standards, the brief but devastating war for independence in the 1990’s has left its mark on the country to this day. Infrastructural development is accordingly another area of potential volunteer placement.
Outside of the cities there are a variety of volunteer projects in Croatia targeted at the preservation of natural habitats and native species. There is a particularly concentrated effort in the eastern mountains to protect the native brown bear population, which has been dwindling in past years.
Many of the available volunteer opportunities in Croatia combine local work in a variety of locations with adventure opportunities, such as kayaking, hiking, and exploration throughout Eastern Europe. Volunteering in Croatia is a great way to explore the beautiful region of the continent while also giving back to the local communities. These volunteer-adventure programs typically last a few weeks and move around from place to place.
Costs & Affordability
Do not come to Croatia expecting it to be as cheap as most Eastern European countries. Croats tend to identify as Western European, and their high-performing economy reflects this in the general cost of living. While the national currency of Croatia is the Kuna (5.8 HRK to $1 U.S), they are slowly moving to the Euro and the affordability of the country is rising to reflect the Western standard of living. Prices remain on par with most other Western European countries.
Check out GoAbroad’s Scholarships Directory for more information on how to apply for funding to volunteer abroad in Croatia.
Accommodation & Visas
Most programs will offer the standard opportunities for apartment, dorm style living, or homestays. Accommodations for those who volunteer in Croatia are generally up to the Western standard of living, but this may change if you plan to visit other parts of nearby Eastern Europe. Costs will vary depending on location, and it may be best to consult your attending program for the type of housing available to you.
Depending on your home country, you may also need a visa to volunteer abroad in Croatia for an extended period of time. This is not a difficult process for Westerners as Croatia is part of the European Union. For more information consult your specific program and also check GoAbroad’s Foreign Embassy Directory for Croatia.
Benefits & Challenges
Croatia is a wonderfully accessible gateway to the world of Eastern Europe. Some tension with neighboring countries remains from the war for independence in the 1990’s, but there has not been any conflict for quite some time and the country is safe for foreign travellers.
It is a beautifully laid back culture that will sweep any foreign traveller off their feet. Be careful - after volunteering in Croatia you may fall in love with the Adriatic lifestyle and never want to leave!