Read more about the best vegan food in Croatia and whether is Croatia vegan and vegetarian-friendly. Find out about the best accidentally vegan dishes and the best vegan restaurants in Croatia.


Croatia has been a very popular tourist destination for the last couple of years, and with veganism on the rise, I decided to share some tips about vegan food and the best vegan food and spots in Croatia.

Croatia is famous for its natural beauty, including national parks, stunning landscapes, crystal-clear seas, and, of course, incredible food. From cheese, olives, and olive oil to fish, impeccable wine, cured meat, and the famous Istrian truffles, Croatia is a must-visit destination for every foodie.

Having spent most of my life in Croatia before moving to London, I enjoy returning home to savour traditional Croatian food made vegan and explore restaurants across the country.

VEGAN IN CROATIA

Unfortunately, veganism is not a widely discussed topic in Croatia, and it can sometimes be challenging to find good vegan places to eat in Croatia. Even though you can see the progress, it is still way behind, especially on the coast. The reason for this is that Croatian cuisine is heavily centred around meat and cheese, which makes it difficult for restaurants to offer vegan dishes. While there are always some options available, veganism is still somewhat of a taboo, and it often feels like restaurants are not making a big effort to expand their vegan offerings.

Additionally, there is a common misconception that most pescatarians in Croatia are vegetarians, as fish is not considered meat. This comes from a Catholic practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays, during which fish-based dishes were preferred.

TRADITIONAL CROATIAN DISHES – Best Vegan food in Croatia

Vegan Strudla, Pita, Burek and Soparnik

I understand if all of this sounds very similar, but Croatians are very passionate about different types of pastries, so do not mess this up.

All of these pastries are either made with filo pastry or homemade dough.

Strudla (strudel) is a dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast, as a snack, or dessert. There are a couple of different fillings for strudla – mainly cheese, apples, or cherries. My mother bakes apple strudel every time I come back home, and it is the most wholesome love language that a Croatian mother can offer.

Pita is typically made with spinach, potatoes, or cheese. I’m not sure if you can find a vegan version of pita with cheese, but you can definitely recreate the dish yourself using silken tofu, vegan cream, and vegan cheese. There are plenty of recipes online but it’s on my list to share my own.

Burek is traditionally made with minced meat, but you can swap it for lentils. However, please note that the taste will differ as the texture is completely different.

Soparnik is a traditional dish on the coast of Croatia made with spinach and flatbread, which is accidentally vegan.

Strudla and Pita are accidentally vegan most of the time, so you can find them freshly prepared in almost every Croatian bakery.

Vegan Sarma

Sarma is a dish made of stuffed sour cabbage leaves, originally filled with a mixture of minced meat and rice. It can be served with mashed or boiled potatoes and is typically enjoyed during the winter months due to its richness and heaviness. Only the toughest souls dare to indulge in summer sarma!

Finding a vegan version of sarma is a rarity almost anywhere, but the homemade version tastes absolutely incredible. Made with lentils instead of minced meat, along with rice and similar spices as the traditional recipe, it will envelop you in a warm feeling of cosiness and pure love.

Vegan Stews and Soups

Traditionally, every stew and soup in Croatia contains meat, as Croatians believe that no meal is complete without it. However, these dishes can also be prepared without meat. One of the most popular stews is beans and sauerkraut, known as ‘grah’ and ‘zelje,’ which is a staple of traditional Croatian cuisine. Additionally, you can find goulash made with potatoes and carrots, which traditionally includes beef or sometimes venison (I’ve recreated this dish with mushrooms here), green bean stew (‘cuspajz s mahunama’), savoy cabbage stew with potatoes (‘kelj s krumpirom’), and clear broth with noodles (‘juha s rezancima’). The latter is typically prepared with cooked beef or chicken for flavour, but it can also be made using only vegetables and stock powder/cube (the most famous one being ‘Vegeta’)

CROATIAN DESSERTS – Vegan desserts in Croatia

Desserts in Croatia are undeniably delicious, but they tend to be very sweet and rich. It’s a must to have a variety of cakes during every celebration like birthdays, christenings, weddings or even just a basic coffee time at home. Most desserts are not vegan, except for the previously mentioned pastry creations and ‘fritule’ (mini doughnuts with icing sugar).

Some of the most famous Croatian desserts include madarica (‘Hungarian girl’), kiflice (crescent biscuits), breskvice (peach biscuits), orahnjaca (walnut roll), and ledeni vjetar (icy wind cake). Another popular treat is ‘Cupavci’ (Lamingtons), which I’ve recreated on my blog, although they are not originally Croatian but Australian. You can find the recipe here.

Every Croatian would agree that the best traditional cakes are made by their Croatian ‘baka’ (meaning ‘grandma’) and/or almost everyone’s mother. This tradition is being passed down through generations, although it feels like we are slowly losing it.


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OTHER POPULAR CROATIAN VEGAN DISHES

Other dishes that are common in Croatia and can be made vegan include Rizi bizi (pea risotto), Punjene paprike (stuffed bell peppers), djuvedj (rice with stewed vegetables), ajvar (a condiment made from red peppers and aubergine), cold green bean salad, and bean salad with raw onion, typically drizzled with pumpkin oil.

The remainder of the cuisine mainly revolves around grilled meat, cheese, seafood and cured meat platters.

 CROATIAN COFFEE TIME – Plant-based milk in Croatia

Croats cherish their coffee time, not so much for the coffee itself, but for the conversation it fosters. It can be considered a part of our tradition, where you sit for hours, savouring a cup of coffee and engaging in the latest gossip – typically before and after work or even during school. Yes, we start young!

When it comes to plant-based milk, most cafes in smaller cities don’t offer plant-based alternatives, but this is gradually changing, becoming more and more popular. If you prefer a latte and are not a fan of black coffee, the best option would be to purchase a small package of plant milk and bring it along with you. Other alternatives that you can order at a cafe include fruit tea, herbal tea, sodas, and more. Keep in mind that hot chocolate or Nescafe often contains milk or milk powder.

vegan cafes in croatia
Coffee time at Lido, Opatija

SHOPPING FOR VEGAN GROCERIES IN CROATIA

I must say, big shopping chains in Croatia offer an incredible choice of vegan groceries. From meat alternatives to cheese, and yoghurts, to chocolate and ice cream. It even surprised me that Lidl in Croatia has a bigger vegan range than Lidl in London.

The prices are decent and similar to other products but it ranges from brand to brand. 

Croatian food chains that offer a vegan range – Lidl, Konzum, Interspar and Spar, Kaufland and Plodine.

Vegan shop in Croatia
Vegan Groceries from Lidl, Kaufland, Interspar and Konzum

EATING OUT AS A VEGAN IN CROATIA

As mentioned previously, it can be quite challenging to find good vegan options beyond grilled vegetables and fries, Swiss chard and potatoes, an occasional tomato soup, vegetarian pizza without cheese, and risotto.

Most pasta dishes aren’t suitable for vegans because pasta contains eggs.

However, over the last couple of years, there has been a growing number of vegan restaurants emerging. While I still have many more to explore and discover, I’d like to share with you the ones I have tried and enjoyed.

Let’s explore the best options for vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in Croatia;



Vegan food in Zagreb (Capital city of Croatia, central Croatia)

Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, seamlessly blends history and modernity. You can explore the charming Upper Town, visit St. Mark’s Church, Zagreb’s Cathedral and the Museum of Broken Relationships. Descend to the Lower Town for vibrant city life, including Ban Jelačić Square and Dolac Market.

vegan food in zagreb
Cathedral of Zagreb

Vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in Zagreb:

1.Zrno bio bistro

“Croatia’s oldest organic farm provides a range of artisanal produce for this vegan restaurant.”

This is one of my absolute favourite vegan restaurants in Zagreb located in the centre of the city.The restaurant has its own farm called Zrno (meaning grain) and serves homemade tofu (from homegrown organic soy) and seitan, artisan sourdough bread, and organic vegetables. I would recommend trying dishes like Breaded tofu and Seitan Cordon Bleu

Zrno bio bistro, vegan food in zagreb
Breaded tofu and stir fry veg

2.Curry Bowl

Curry Bowl is a Sri Lankan restaurant in Zagreb that serves beautiful, flavourful curry dishes with rice, noodles, veggies and meat. The story of Curry Bowl Restaurant is about two brothers travelling through Europe and falling in love with Zagreb. They decided to settle and share their Sri Lankan food with Croatian’s capital city.

They offer a menu with excellent vegetarian and vegan options, and one of my favourites is the vegan curry bowl, which combines six different veggies on a bed of rice noodles.”

Vegan in Zagreb Curry bowl
Vegan curry bowl

3. Eggspress

I know, I know. Eggspress doesn’t sound vegan, don’t come at me. I can confirm it serves incredible vegan scrambled tofu with avocado and toast, salads, coffee, tea and freshly squeezed juice.

Vegan food Zagreb, Eggspress
Scrambled tofu with avo, Eggspress

Vegan food in Karlovac (central Croatia)

Karlovac is a town near Zagreb, with four beautiful rivers flowing through it, a rich history, and a calendar filled with incredible events like the Christmas market, Bonfire night, Karlovac Beer Days (Dani Piva), and Summer Nights. Additionally, there are some excellent restaurants in Karlovac that offer vegan options.

Karlovac holds a special place in my heart as it is my hometown, so I couldn’t overlook it.

Dubovac Castle, Karlovac - vegan in karlovac
Dubovac Castle, Karlovac

If you happen to be passing through Karlovac while travelling by car or bus from Europe to the coast, I highly recommend stopping by to savour some delicious vegan dishes.

Vegan-friendly restaurants in Karlovac:

  1. Kastel (Dubovac castle) – spring rolls, falafel salad (ask for a vegan option without yoghurt), most salads, french fries, grilled veggies. 
  2. Bistro Spajza – Seitan salad, smoked tofu stir fry, fajitas (request without cheese).
  3. Tiffany pizzeria -(grilled veggies and chips, veggie pizza (ask without cheese)
  4. DP Mreznicka kuca (located in Zvecaj on Mreznica river) – beyond meat burger with sweet potato, side dishes like potato wedges, french fries, salads, grilled vegetables, Swiss chard
Vegan food Karlovac - Spajza
Smoked tofu stir fry, Spajza

Vegan food in Opatija (Western Croatia)

Opatija is a town located in Western Croatia along the Adriatic Sea. It boasts stunning architecture, crystal-clear waters, and a delectable culinary scene.

Opatija is famous for its iconic “Lady with a Seagull” statue and its famous coastal promenade called Lungomare. It links the villages of Volosko, Opatija, Icici, Ika, and Lovran.

vegan in opatija
Lady with a Seagull

In terms of food, like many coastal places, it may not be the most extensive vegan hotspot, but you can still find decent vegan meal options.

Vegan-friendly restaurants in Opatija:

  1. Ruzmarin – their menu has a separate veggie section so you can find interesting dishes. It ranges from hummus with sun-dried tomatoes, and vegan burgers, to seasonal soups (ask the staff to be tailored to your needs), risotto, veggie pizza (ask without cheese) quinoa salad with potato wedges on the side, grilled polenta, chips, grilled veggies and most of their side dishes.  
  2. Roko – stir fry veggies, mixed seasonal salad, chips or potato wedges, veggie pizza (ask for no cheese)
  3. Yacht Club – very limited vegan options but it’s worth visiting for the ambiance as it’s located in the harbour. The restaurant offers grilled vegetables with fries and Swiss chard. 
Vegan food Opatija Ruzmarin
Ruzmarin Restaurant, Opatija

Check out Dubrovnik Tours


Vegan food in Split (Southern Croatia)

Split is the second-largest city in Croatia, situated on the coast. In addition to its incredible history, marked by some of the most stunning landmarks like Diocletian’s Palace, Saint Domnius Cathedral, and Park Šuma Marjan, Split offers a blend of traditional dishes and high-quality ingredients.

Don’t miss the chance to take a leisurely stroll along Splitska Riva. Savour a cup of coffee while enjoying the picturesque view of the harbour and palm trees.

Vegan Split, Croatia
Split, Croatia

Split also boasts a variety of fully vegan restaurants and eateries with respectable vegan options, particularly within the city centre. However, please note that options become more limited on the surrounding islands and other areas you may visit around Split.

Vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in Split:

  1. Submarine – this is actually a restaurant chain located around the country and they have really good vegan burgers. The menu offers 5 different vegan burgers.
  2. Veg plant-based meals – it offers vegetarian meals but you can find some vegan options or ask the staff to accommodate. 
  3.  Pandora Greenbox – this is an incredible fully veggie and vegan restaurant, with items named after famous women. They offer breakfast, lunch and dinner options – chia pudding, smoothie bowls, avo on toast, risotto, burgers etc. 
  4. Bistro Toc – Laid-back bistro serving Mexican dishes & seafood pasta. There are vegetarian dishes that can be made vegan upon request like Vege Quesadilla, Nachos, Vege Wrap.

Most of the other restaurants in Central can also accommodate your dietary preference. 

Submarine vegan burgers
Submarine, mini vegan burgers

Vegan in Trogir (Southern Croatia)

Trogir is a charming town located on the central Adriatic coast of Croatia, situated in close proximity to Split. If you happen to be visiting one of these two cities, I highly recommend exploring the other one as well.

Vegan in Trogir Croatia
St. Lawrence’s Cathedral, Trogir

During the summer season, Trogir can get quite crowded. If you find yourself in this picturesque town, be sure to pay a visit to St. Lawrence’s Cathedral and Kamerlengo Castle for a taste of its rich history.

Vegan-friendly Restaurants in Trogir:

  1. Vrata o’ Grada – One of my absolute favourite vegan-friendly restaurants in Trogir. I’ve never had tastier lasagna and vegan bolognese in my life. The portions are very generous, and the staff is exceptionally friendly, ensuring your dining experience is nothing short of delightful.
  2. Calebotta Wine Bar & Restaurant – Another noteworthy, vegan-friendly restaurant in Croatia. I had pasta with mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes and a seasonal mixed salad on the side.
  3. Cafe Bar Bella – Lastly, if you’re craving vegan gelato, head just a few streets away from Vrata o’ Grada. There is a little cafe called Cafe Bar Bella that serves the best vegan gelato in town.
cafe bar bella trogir vegan ice cream
Cafe bar Bella, Trogir

I hope you enjoyed reading this little guide about vegan food in Croatia as much as I enjoyed writing it. There is so much more to Croatia than I mentioned in this post but I would have to write for hours to cover it all. I am hoping to extend my Croatian vegan restaurant list soon so I can share even more vegan-friendly food spots in Croatia.

To end this post, I would like to share a couple of links related to travelling to Croatia.

Tour Croatia – In case you wish to book tailored holidays around Croatia, private tours, or small ship cruises, head over to Tour Croatia and choose one of their many packages. (one of my really good friends owns the company and I could not recommend it enough.)

Croatia Digital Nomad Visa – Croatia now offers a digital nomad visa. If you are currently living outside of Europe, working for a foreign company, and wish to relocate to Croatia, this is your chance.

Coolinarika – This is a famous Croatian recipe website where you can find amazing recipes for various Croatian (and non-Croatian) dishes.

My Complete Vegan Food Guide and Vegan Stays – Thank you for supporting Thyme with Tina!

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4 Comments

  1. Anton & Bee September 15, 2023 at 1:57 pm

    Such an interesting and informative guide! Very helpful for when we visit Croatia, even though we’re not vegan. Looking forward to trying some of the restaurants and meals you’ve recommended.

    Reply
    1. Thyme with Tina September 16, 2023 at 9:54 am

      i’m glad you like it guys, hope you enjoy Croatia whenever you go! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      Reply
  2. Andrey September 15, 2023 at 3:41 pm

    Love it!

    Reply
    1. Thyme with Tina September 16, 2023 at 9:54 am

      Thank you!

      Reply

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