Being vegan or vegetarian in Croatia isn’t very common. In fact, when some of my (Balkan-based) family learned that I was vegetarian they didn’t believe me, and definitely didn’t believe that I would even survive. 10 years later, most of them have somehow grasped it, but depend on me eating cheese, eggs and such instead. So if you’re a vegan, you’re a rare kind. Traveling in Croatia as a vegan is not the easiest, but luckily it’s getting easier and easier – especially in the more popular tourist destinations. Dubrovnik is one of the most popular destinations in Croatia and once you visit you will see why. It’s a wonderful, beautiful town. Being vegan in Dubrovnik might not be the easiest thing, but I was there just a few weeks ago and did some research on the vegan food scene. Here’s my guide to visiting Dubrovnik as a vegan:
- Stay in an apartment or a good hotel
When we were in Dubrovnik we stayed in a wonderful hotel that had some options for vegans during breakfast, but not much else. They had rice and soya milk, sourdough bread (which is made with no animal ingredients), lots of veggies and fruit, marmalade and so on. If you’re planning to stay in a hotel, do check in advance what they offer. However, a cheaper alternative to staying in hotels is booking an apartment with a kitchen. I find this option makes me feel more like a local than a tourist and you can often get great tips from the hosts. Try AirBnb, Booking.com or hotels.com (yes they have apartments too!). When you rent your own apartment with a kitchen you can make your own breakfast and on-the-go lunch as well as the occasional dinner. Not only is this a cheaper alternative than eating out all the time (believe me, I’ve learned the hard way!) but you can ensure that your food is vegan. Plus all the veggies are so much more delicious when they are grown in Croatia.
Nischta is one of my favorite restaurants! Not only in Dubrovnik but one of my all-time favorites. I’ve written about it here before. The menu is vegetarian and vegan and most of the vegetarian tems can be ordered vegan, which is great. The food is absolutely delicious and the staff is really friendly. It is located on one of the small streets, parallel to the main street in the Old Town, Stradun. Make sure you book a table ahead if you’re eating dinner there though, as it is often fully-booked during evenings. I could eat here every single day, but beware it’s closed on Sundays.
Where: Old Town, Prijeko bb
More information an d menu on website.
- Marco Polo Restaurant
Marco Polo is a regular restaurant but also serves vegan food. There’s a vegan salad with apples, walnuts, and cranberries, a tofu steak with wok vegetables, and wok rice noodles with veggies and soya sauce. Although I unfortunately didn’t have time to visit the restaurant, I hear it’s very good. We did walk past it and it looks very nice so I definitely recommend coming here if you’re visiting. Plus, it’s perfect if you’re with a meatie who craves something other than veg food.
Where: Old town – Lučarica ul. 6
More information and menu here.
Bio&bio is a health store with shops throughout Croatia and makes it that much easier to be vegan in Dubrovnik! The Dubrovnik shop is located a bit outside of the Old Town but you can easily walk there or take the bus from Pile gate. Here you’ll find lots of vegan food – vegan snack bars, plant-based milk, patés, tofu, seitan “meat” and other vegan items. Shop ’til you drop and go cook yourself a lovely meal before you head out for the evening.
Where: Vukovarska 36, Dubrovnik (walk there or take the bus from Pile gate to the Tommy centre). You can buy tickets on the bus.
- Be nice and ask!
Most restaurants who don’t have anything for you on the menu will make something just for you. They are used to tourists and you’re probably not the first vegan to walk into the restaurant, so don’t be afraid to ask. I normally ask the host/hostess before entering if they have anything I can eat and if they don’t, they often say which dishes the chefs can make for you. If they don’t have anything, well, at least you’ve let them know there’s a demand for it.
- Farmer’s market
Buy fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruiton the daily open farmer’s market in the Old Town. Get there early and buy everything from juicy, ripe tomatoes to herbs and olive oil at better prices than in the supermarkets. There’s also a farmer’s market in Gruz (by the harbour in Dubrovnik) but it’s also a fish market so be prepared to see a lot of dead fish 😉 .
I think that covers it for now, but as soon as I hear more about new vegan-friendly places I’ll make sure to add them here – do let me know in the comments if you’ve found a good restaurant or shop with a proper vegan selection. So as you can see, although Dubrovnik isn’t covered with vegan restaurants on every corner, being vegan in Dubrovnik can definitely be done with some research and planning – and preferably a small kitchen.