With Dr Felicity Nicholson
Istria has reasonable health services and some good private doctors. There is a hyperbaric chamber for diving-related accidents at Pula. All the major towns have some hospital services, with Pula being the main hospital for Istria. Larger facilities are available in Rijeka, with the country’s best services of course in Zagreb. From Slovenia, the best services are in Ljubljana. Croatia already has very good public health services for tourists, which are available at most hospitals. Travellers from the EU and Switzerland can use their EHIC in Croatia to access free or discounted public healthcare in Croatia – UK nationals currently just need to show their passports to access free emergency treatment in a hospital; however, this may well change when the UK leaves the EU. Private healthcare is not included, nor is the cost of repatriation or routine monitoring of pre-existing conditions, therefore additional health insurance is still strongly recommended.
Sexual harassment is not usually a problem in Istria and it is not considered strange to be a woman traveller on your own. Dress for women here is as in the rest of western Europe, but take care not to be in swimwear or skimpy attire in churches.
The gay and lesbian scene is very limited in Istria although it is more accepted throughout Croatia and Slovenia than in other parts of former Yugoslavia. This said, the most popular gay resort this side of Zagreb is Rovinj. Whilst the town itself may not offer much overtly to the gay and lesbian visitor, Punta Križa Beach north of Rovinj town, between Amarin and Valalta campsites, is the renowned gay mecca. As an extension of the Valalta nudist camp, it is full of bronzed males perfecting every last inch of their tan.
Travellers with disabilities
Istria is not so easy to get around for those with mobility problems, in part because of a lack of public transport in small towns and because of the steep cobbled streets in most of the seaside towns, and the hill towns of the Istrian interior. Poreč, being at least more flat, is easier to get around. Disabled car-parking spaces are common, however. Pula airport has ramps until you enter the plane itself. For the blind or partially sighted, there is little assistance. Modern hotels, and those of the large conglomerates are more accustomed to clients with mobility problems and do have some specially fitted rooms, at least with walk-in showers.
Travelling with children
Istria, being Mediterranean in nature, is very tolerant of children, who will be welcome in all restaurants, and are expected to be out in the late evenings when it is cool. Croatian children, who are in nursery till they are six or seven years old, have a 2-hour siesta at nursery; hence they are all still awake at 22.00. Finding washrooms with baby-changing facilities or restaurants with high chairs is more difficult, so bring with you travel change mats and portable booster seats. Big hotel restaurants are better equipped.