Just in case you’re too lazy to flip through a guidebook…
Here’s a quick rundown of etiquette, Wi-Fi info, cash exchange, SIM cards…and more!
5 Things to avoid:
- 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.
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.
Spring: The weather is pleasant, mild and there aren’t many tourists.
Summer: It gets hot! Ranging from mid-to-high 20s °C/77-86°F, or sometimes 30s °C/high 80s or low 90s °F.
Autumn: It’s common that summer weather will extend to autumn months so you can still go swimming and sunbathe.
Winter: It’ll never get below 5°C/41°F. Although Zagreb will reach 0°C/32°F with snow. In recent years, Dalmatia and Split have experienced snow in some parts.
Croatia follows Central European Time Zone, UTC+01:00. Essentially the same as France.
For water resistant watches:
Since July 1st, 2013, Croatia has been a member of the European Union but it’s still not a part of Schengen.
If you’re a EU, EEA, Swiss, Andorran, Monégasque, San Marinese and Vatican City citizen, you can enter Croatia visa-free for up to 90 days with a passport or an ID card. These countries include: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, USA, Uruguay and Venezuela.
If you’re a refugee or a stateless person holding a travel document issued by these listed countries below, you can enter Croatia visa-free for a maximum stay of 90 days. These countries include: European Union countries, Andorra, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, the United States or the Vatican City.
If you have a residence permit, uniform visa, or a long-stay visa issued by a Schengen country, you can enter Croatia visa-free.
For those who doesn’t fit any of the above, you’ll need to apply for a visa at a Croatian embassy or consulate. The application fee for a short stay Croatian visa is 35€. Check Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs for more detailed info.
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Croatian is the official language in Croatia, it’s 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 be different 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
Croatians are very laid-back and chill. They’re also friendly to tourists. The way to say hello the first time you meet someone is always with a handshake. If you’ve grown close to a friend then you can kiss one time on each cheek. Otherwise, that’s typically saved for close friends and families.
In an emergency situation, dial 112.
Since the war ended, there were approximately 90,000 landmines left in Croatia from the war. Although you won’t find them in major tourist areas, but if you’re preparing to visit off the beaten paths, be sure to consult a local guide. Mine areas typically have warning signs.
Croatia gets REALLY hot during summertime, so be sure to bring sunscreen and stay hydrated.
To avoid being overcharged, stay away from strip clubs since they’ve been known to bill thousands of euros for a bottle of champagne targeting tourists. If you can’t pay up, it’s a lot of trouble sometimes even involving physical harm.
Even though Croatia is part of the EU, it still uses its own currency: kuna, or HRK. Euros are accepted in some touristic areas. You can even convert your kunas into euros at the end of your trip at an exchange office or a bank.
You’ll be able to find ATMs everywhere throughout the country.
Most places will accept all kinds of European cards: Diners Club, Eurocard/MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Cirrus, Maestro, Visa…and more.
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.
The country code for Croatia is +385. Each city has an area code (similar to the US) so when you’re calling a number in another city, you’ll need to dial the area code then the phone number.
The three major operators are: T-Mobile, Vip and Tele2. You can buy a Tele2 prepaid SIM card for 25 kunas. They’re available at grocery stores, kiosks, airports and post offices. You can also buy calling cards, there are two reliable brands: Dencall and Hitme for 25 kunas.
Today, Wi-Fi in Croatia is widely available. You’ll most likely be able to find an open network anywhere you are. Any restaurant, bar, cafe or hotel will have free Wi-Fi and some are even setting up their own hotspots free to use for travelers.
Croatia uses one of the two European standard electrical socket types, with voltage of 220-240 Volts (U.S./Canada are 110-120 Volts.)
What makes traveling to Croatia so fantastic is also the amazing quality of its tap water which is perfectly safe to drink.
Try to fill up your own water bottles because restaurants will charge for water.
Taxis are prevalent in most major cities, although once you’re in popular cities including: Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik; you won’t need cars to get around since everything is within walking distance. In many cities, taxis are far more expensive than Uber (such as: Dubrovnik) so check the prices first before choosing one over the other. Before getting in taxis, always ask for the estimate price first to prevent from being overcharged.
Photos: Wendy Hung
Have you ever been to Croatia? Share your experience with us in the comments.