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In Croatia, if there’s a street, there’s an outdoor café. We walked, we sat, we sipped. Then we repeated the unbend cycle again. Four times a day, at least. It was delightful, despite the chilly evening breeze.
The HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’ was filmed on the Dalmatian coast in Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia.
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Croatia is part of the EU, but not the Schengen. To travel to Croatia, EU, Canadian, New Zealand, Australian, and U.S. citizens will only need a valid passport with recommended six months validity.
- A visa is not required if it’s a leisure visit up to 90 days.
Zagreb Airport (ZAG) receives the most passenger traffic in Croatia. Foreign travelers will want to fly into ZAG when coming into Croatia.
The airport is international and recently had a new terminal done.
ZAG services flights from European cities such as Paris and London. Outside Europe, connecting flights are offered from New York, Miami, Toronto, and other North American markets.
Aside from domestic flights, there are other ways to explore Croatia.
Train travel is less frequent. Croatian Railways is the chief company. There are options to travel over Croatia or even take a super long ride into another country. More info can be found here.
Driving in Croatia is not advised. The bus system is expansive, heavily used, and tickets are affordable. It’s easy to travel across Croatia via bus. Tickets can be bought same day too, but it’s best advised to buy ahead in summer. More info on buses can be found on Visit Croatia.
Taxis are also a means of transport in Croatia. As a foreign traveler, make sure to ride only in a taxi where the meter is showing. This way, you get an legitimate price and no scam is possible. Uber is also available to use in Croatia.
Croatia is a safe place to visit. That being said, foreign travelers should follow the same procedures as any other country to stay safe.
In case of need, the phone number for the police, an ambulance, or fire is 112.
- Be wary of pickpockets and keep an eye on your belongings, especially purses, money, and phones on the coast and cities.
- Lock hotel rooms before sleeping at night.
- Always let someone know where you are when venturing into more mountainous or rural areas.
- Be wary of landmines in more rural parts of the country.
- Be wary of scams at clubs or through taxis.
- Clubs are not safe in Zagreb.
Safety Tips for Nighttime
- Do not walk alone at night, especially in Zagreb city streets and areas such as Ribnjak Park and King Tomislav Park.
For Female Travelers:
Female Travelers should follow the tips above in addition to these:
- Keep an eye on drinks, especially when going to any sort of club or party.
- Try not to dress provocatively.
- Avoid traveling solo at night.
The best time to go is in September. In general, expect weather around the coast to be hot, dry but sunny during summertime. Think: extremely Mediterranean. During winter time, it’s partly wet but commonly mild. Zagreb will be much cooler than Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik. Make sure to pack accordingly.
Croatia has two different weather types. The coastal part experiences a Mediterranean, mild climate. The interior is continental, so this includes frigid winters.
The year round average weather for Croatia is as follows:
Coast: Not much snowfall, temperatures linger around 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Interior: Snow, temperatures are usually below freezing.
Coast: Hot and Dry, temperature is usually 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Interior: Hot summers as well. Temperatures average around 80-90+ degrees Fahrenheit.
Visiting Croatia is ideal during May or late August/September. This avoids peak summer heat and the winters. Also, the large herds of tourists are not as frequent during these times. In addition, deals for tours and resorts may be cheaper.
Croatia only has one time zone.
The country follows UTC + 2 hours in summer, so all cities in Croatia are 1 hour ahead of London, 6 hours ahead of New York/Toronto, 7 hours ahead of Chicago, and 9 hours ahead of Los Angeles/Vancouver.
Croatian is the official language in Croatia, it belongs in the South Slavic family. Although it may sound very similar to Serbian or Bosnian, but it’s important not to lump them all into one. The accents may not be similar and they may use different vocabularies but due to the past between these countries, you should recognize that Croatians speak Croatian.
English is also widely spoken in Croatia, making it easy for travelers to communicate with locals.
Here are some keywords to know during your trip:
Thank you: Hvala
I’m sorry: Žao mi je
- Don’t walk any Old Walls during peak tourist hours. One thing you’ll notice is that almost every major city has an Old Wall (or Bell Towers in Zagreb and Split.) These stairs are quite narrow and difficult to climb, imagine having to hike and squished with massive tourists in heat. Not fun and quite dangerous.
- Be careful of what you say about Serbia. Since the fall of Yugoslavia, Croatian War of Independence left harsh feelings between Croatians and the Serbs.
- Don’t call Croatia Yugoslavia. Prior to its independence in 1991, Croatia had to fend itself from outside forces including: Hungarian, Habsburg, Ottoman, Venetian, Serbian and Yugoslav. Croatia became truly free after the Bosnian War in the early 90’s. So calling it Yugoslavia would be quite an offense to locals.
- Refer to local language as Croatian, even if it may sound like Serbian, Bosnian and other languages spoken in nearby countries. In general, they can all sound similar but the accents are different. But call it Croatian, not Serbian-Croatian or anything else.
- Avoid the mines. Towards the end of the war, hundreds have been killed due to mine fields. Croatia isn’t expected to be mine-free until 2019. Even if most touristic areas don’t have mines now, if you visit Eastern Slavonia, Brodsko-Posavska County, Karlovac County, or Zadar County, stay on popular paths. Veering off means you may run into mine fields.
Croatia’s currency is the kuna (Kn). 1 USD is equivalent to 6.55 kuna.
The coins are called lipa, and there are 100 lipa in a kuna. Lipa can come in values of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50. Kuna can come in values of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000.
Exchanging money in Croatia can be done at banks/ATMs, hotels, or stores. It’s very highly advised to exchange money at banks. Rates apply.
Tipping should be done as a traveler, but only for certain things. At restaurants, a 10-15% tip should be given. You can tip the guide of a tour and bellhops. It’s not expected to tip for a taxi or at a bar.
During your trip, if you make a purchase of more than 740 kunas then you’re eligible for VAT tax return at the airport. All you have to do is:
- Ask for PDV-P form.
- Fill it out on the spot, then have it stamped by the person you made the purchase from.
- At the airport, show the receipt to the Croatian Customs who will verify the form.
- Your refund will be returned to you in kunas within six months.
Or you can simply buy items that are labeled “Croatia Tax-Free Shopping” in shops.
Croatia uses 220 volts of electricity, so it is not possible to charge devices from North America. However, having or buying a universal adapter can help with charging devices. Local sockets look like this:
Drinking tap water is completely fine in Croatia.
WiFi can be found across all of Croatia, and major cities such as Zagreb have free WiFi in hotels, coffee places, and restaurants.
Croatia is a fine place to visit for LGBTQ travelers. However, it’s tolerated in the country, and not accepted in some parts. PDA is best advised to be avoided.
That being said, there are a few gay clubs in the capitol city of Zagreb, in addition to the Zagreb Pride Parade held annually in June.
Croatia is a country that cares about the environment.
There are 8 national parks and 11 nature parks in the country. Plitvice Lakes is one of the most popular parks to visit. It is full of emerald green lakes and radiant waterfalls. It is a UNESCO World Heritage location.
There are also an ample amount of eco-friendly lodging options in Croatia. Specfic names and information can be found on Ecobnb.
As a traveler, be sure to engage in recycling and have reusable items.
First known inhabitants of present day Croatia can be traced to this time.
Croats settle in modern day Croatia.
Hungary and Croatia are united.
The Turks defeat the Hungarians in the Battle of Mohacs and Ferdinand of Hapsburg from Austria becomes king of Croatia.
The formation of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise leads to Croatia being ruled by Hungary.
The end of World War I ends the Austria-Hungary empire, leading to Croatia’s independence and a union to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.
The dictatorship of King Alexander leads to the name Yugoslavia for present day Croatia.
Germans invade and control Croatia, and after the defeat of the Germans, Croatia enters a Communist State.
The island of Hvar became the location of the first disco in Yugoslavia. The start of its partying tradition.
Communism ends in Croatia and elections result in the country’s first president.
Croatia’s independence is proclaimed from Yugoslavia, but a war breaks out with the Yugoslavian army and lasts until 1995 when Croatia wins.
Croatia joins NATO.
Croatia joins EU.