Volunteer in Croatia
Croatia is one of the most most desirable places to volunteer in Europe and it's easy to see why - there are spectacular beaches, deserted islands, a stunning countryside, pretty remote towns and villages, warm weather and also friendly locals. There are several environmental and community based projects operating all year round.
Volunteer Programs in Croatia
Guide to Volunteering in Croatia
Croatia is a special country to visit and you can do a whole lot more than just sightseeing by signing up to volunteer. This is one of the most beautiful countries to volunteer in Europe and there are so many incredible places you can see in your spare time. This country has suffered a great deal in the past decades due to the Balkans war which ravaged the region in the 1990's but now you can expect a quiet and peaceful country which is still waiting to be discovered.
Types of Volunteer Programs in Croatia
There are lots of changes and improvements being made to social, cultural and economic institutions and you can play a role in helping on the ground. You will get to experience the culture and community spirit of this crossroads between East and Western Europe. Croatia has a population of around 4.5 million people and there is a good quality of life with a warm climate. But there is some poverty in the country with around 17% of people living in below worldwide standards. You will learn a lot about the country, people and complexities of this emerging nation by volunteering here.
Building & Construction
Group building, construction and renovation projects are very popular - these experiences are usually offered by large international organisations and run in conjunction with local NGO's. The local community you help will be very friendly and open to you being there and tasks can include mending structures, building houses and community centres - all beneficial to local people. This is a really rewarding cultural exchange but if you don't want to be flexible or get your hands dirtry then this project probably isn't for you.
Social & Education Projects
People in Croatia and nearby country suffer a lot as a result of the conflict in the past, many members of society were displaced and given refugee statues. This has causes some tensions between ethnic groups and left Croatians in financial trouble or suffering from psychological problems due to the 90's war - the effects are still felt in some places today especially with regards to jobs and infrastructure. There are local organisations trying to counter balance the social caused in the past and there are now projects working to help people in need and also helping to provide training and education to young people to provide them with a better future. Lots of young Croatians speak English and then ones who don't want to learn, sometimes home stays are available where you can live and eat with a local family helping them improve their language skills.
Croatia is a naturally beautiful destination with lots of protected National Parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the government has done a lot of positive work to in getting people involved with environmental conservation. More work is needed to be done though to protect more areas of the country and develop long term sustainable living programs and improving areas like the protecting the biodiversity of the ocean and making established industries more green.
If you are passionate about wildlife you might want to help at a bear refuge in Kuterevo, this is a small run operation by Velebit Association Kuterevo (VUK). You might not know it but Croatia has the second highest population of bears in this continent but the species has been under threat for a while due to loss of natural habitat. This refuge cares and rehabilitates injured and orphaned brown bears and the work they do is inspirational. There are applications accepted year round and you will get to help out with daily tasks like cleaning, collecting food, working with local staff and also raising awareness online and in local communities. You can also apply to local NGO's and volunteer with dolphins in Croatia.
Location of Projects
Croatia is located a small distance from Italy and bordered with Slovenia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. With the spectacular Adriatic Sea on the West Coast there are photo opportunities around every corner. You can join volunteer programs throughout the country in places like Dubrovnik, Split, Korcula, Zagreb, Vukovar, Kornati Islands and the Plitvice Lakes. You might want to view our volunteer abroad directory for more options in this continent.
Croatia is a very accessible country to visit and you will not need to get a visa in advance. Most Nationalities (EU, USA, Canada, Australia) can arrive and stay for up to 90 days and when volunteering you can enter on a tourist visa.
Placements are very flexible, usually work around 5 hours per day with 2 days off per week. In your spare time you might want to visit the coast, hit the beach or go sailing - there is a lot of options available.
How to Apply
Some organisations will charge a fee to participate, this usually include placements, training, accommodation and meals. You will need to pay for flights to Croatia. If you apply locally direct to organisations you might need to pay for your board and food separately. The local currency in Croatia is the Kuna and you will get great value in this country compared to other volunteer destinations in Europe. Search projects and organisations above to apply, there are short and long term placements available. If you are looking to spend your summer here get your application in early because this is the most popular time of the year to visit.