Ancient Roman ruins, Slavic heritage, and culture, Mediterranean diet, continental food, typical central-European cities, an abundance of biodiversity and natural sightings, Balkan vigor, and old European fineness are just a few of Croatia’s characteristics.
If you’re interested in discovering any one of these aspects, you should definitely travel to Croatia, and to make it easier for you, we’ve assembled a complete Croatia travel guide where visitors to Croatia can find a bunch of travel tips, such as renting a car, places to stay, and the best things to do, for the optimal experience in our lovely homeland.
- Travel to Croatia Ukraine War
- Where is Croatia located on the map?
- Do you need a visa for Croatia?
- Travel to Croatia
- Croatia Car Rental
- Driving in Croatia
- Traveling in Croatia
- Best time to visit Croatia
- Accommodation in Croatia
- Activities and things to do in Croatia
- Holiday destinations in Croatia
- Food in Croatia
- What time zone is Croatia in?
- What is the climate like and what should I wear in Croatia?
- What is the Croatian currency and how much of a budget do you need?
- Work hours and holidays in Croatia
- Can I speak English in Croatia?
- Croatia Travel Guide: Internet, Roaming, and cellular data
- How safe is Croatia?
- How many days in Croatia is enough?
- What to see in Croatia
Travel to Croatia Ukraine War
Probably while you planning your trip to Croatia you asked yourself, is it safe to travel to Croatia during Ukraine War?
Croatia is one of the safest tourism destinations in Europe. It has always been a country of peace and stability. Its miles away from the war in Ukraine, is not directly involved in the war, and tourists can safely visit the whole country. Croatia is a member of the European Union and NATO alliance which makes it a very safe country.
Where is Croatia located on the map?
Croatia is on the border of Central and Southeast Europe, which is reflected in its geography, climate, architecture, and culture.
It’s surrounded by Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro and is one of the countries in the Mediterranean, so it shares a marine border with Italy over the Adriatic Sea.
Croatia also belongs to the Balkans along with some other neighboring countries, and it’s a part of the European Union, which is something you should keep in mind while traveling to it.
It is not yet a part of the Schengen Area, so you still need a passport or a personal ID to cross its border, even if you’re coming from Slovenia.
Membership in the European Union makes Croatia a great destination for anyone coming from another country within it, as it has different entrances on border crossings for tourists from the European Union versus the rest of the world.
Keep in mind that even if your country isn’t a member of the European Union, Croatia is still a great destination for taking a vacation since it’s relatively easy to get a visa and it’s a really tourist-friendly country.
Do you need a visa for Croatia?
As mentioned above, you don’t need a visa if you’re coming from the European Union – just your passport or personal ID. Croatia also accepts residents from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand without a visa.
Countries whose citizens need visas to stay in Croatia are Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Egypt, Philippines, India, Iran, Indonesia, Jordan, South Africa, Qatar, Kazakhstan, China, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Mongolia, Nigeria, Oman, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
To apply for a Croatian tourist visa, you will need to collect these documents, which
- Visa Application form
- Passport documents and their photocopies
- Passport size pictures
- Travel health insurance
- Hotel reservation documents
- Copy of return flight tick
- Proof exhibits that you have sufficient funds to finance your trip and stay in Croatia
After completing the application form and gathering all the required documents, you will
need to book your appointment and pay the fees.
Once you apply, you will need to wait for the processing of the visa. Once the visa application is approved, you will be allowed to travel anywhere within the islands and cities of Croatia.
You can read all about how to get it and what documents you need on the official site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (click here).
The good news is that you can fill out the Croatia visa application form online, so you don’t have to bore yourself with visiting offices and waiting in lines.
Travel to Croatia
Depending on where you’re coming from, there are a few options for how to travel in Croatia. Croatia is really well connected to the rest of Europe as well as other countries by plane.
Its main airline is Croatia Airlines, but you can get cheaper flights with RyanAir for as low as 7 euros. If there isn’t a direct flight from your country, you can often get a layover in Frankfurt and continue from there.
If you are planning a travel to Croatia, it’s best to go directly to the WayAway and get all information you need for your flight.
Another way of visiting Croatia is by bus. There are a lot of bus companies in Croatia, but the most important for tourists is probably the Flixbus.
Every now and then, there’s a great offer for traveling to and from Croatia, so you can get cheap tickets, but even if you miss the offer, a lot of the European Union is connected by bus, and they’re pretty regular and affordable.
Whichever company you choose to travel with, you can purchase the tickets online and even reserve the seats.
Flixbus is the cheapest and best way to show you how to get around by bus, where you can easily check and book your intercity bus travels from Split to Zagreb, from Dubrovnik to Pula, or any other destination in the country.
There is also the train option if you prefer commodities or even overnight trains with sleeping cabins. Trains are the best option if you want to view the scenery on the way to Croatia, and it’s also affordable, just like buses.
Most of Europe is well connected by trains since its railway date from before buses and airplanes, and Croatia’s train lines are relatively fast if you catch a direct train, and most of the trains are new models, so they’re a really comfortable traveling option.
If you’re a student, a great option would be to purchase an Interrail ticket for a few European countries and incorporate Croatia as one of the destinations. Interrail offers cheap tickets for students over 18 and free tickets for those who are turning 18 in the year of the journey.
Last but not least, you can easily reach Croatia by car. Whether it’s your own car or a rental car, Croatia is well connected to the rest of the neighboring countries as well as the rest of Europe.
If you’re driving in Croatia on a highway, you’ll be able to get to Croatia fast, and once you arrive, you’ll have a higher level of independence for traveling through it.
Croatia Car Rental
Renting a car in Croatia is the best way to explore the country. You’ll be able to see more in less time, travel off the beaten path; to see more in less time, and have the freedom to stop wherever and whenever you feel.
If you plan on visiting Croatia in the summer months of June, July, and August, you’ll need to secure your car rental well in advance.
There are two reasons for this: first, car rental prices increase dramatically in the summer months. Second, you may have a hard time finding an available car at all.
Using Rentalcars.com will ensure that you get the best price and deal for your car rental in Croatia.
FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CAR RENTAL HERE
Driving in Croatia
Croatian cities are well connected by highways. Their construction started in the 1970s, and they’ve been improved several times since then.
The whole highway system is 1306 km long (811 miles), and it’s connected to other smaller roads.
Highways are mostly made to get from one big city to another, but there are a lot of exits, so you can incorporate them into your travel no matter where you’re going.
Concerning highway fees, you have two options.
One is paying just as much as you travel – there are multiple points on a highway, near every exit, on which you pay for the route you’ve taken.
The second one is ENC, a prepaid digital option with which you can save up to 30%. If you’re staying for a week and you’ll be using the highway, I suggest you get an ENC.
There are 75 gas stations and 124 rest stops along the highway system – some of them include popular food chains like Mcdonald’s and Burger King,
some are international brands of cafes like Marche, and some have local Croatian cuisine and offer different activities. Such is Macola, on the Zagreb-Split highway.
If you take an exit from the highway, you’ll see that a lot of inter-city roads are well-kept.
This is because a lot of Croatian people commute daily to bigger cities on these roads.
Depending on where you’re at, the roads will differ, so don’t expect perfect road conditions in every part of Croatia.
One important thing to remember is that Croatians are really confident drivers, so they don’t tolerate slow and indecisive driving, especially from tourists.
Remember that Croatians drive on the right side of the road and the wheel is on the left side of the car, so that might be problematic for those coming from the UK.
The best advice you can get is to be sure where you’re going and drive near the speed limit.
FIND MORE ABOUT DRIVING IN CROATIA HERE
Traveling in Croatia
As for making your way through Croatia, the same rules apply to getting to it. If you’re not on a budget and you’re trying to get from one part of the country to the other, you can go by plane – for example, Zagreb-Dubrovnik is a popular plane route. However, not a lot of people do this.
Croatia has a great bus network; you can get to all the big cities easily, and all tickets can be purchased online, so you don’t have to worry about not getting a seat.
For getting to smaller towns, there are local bus lines whose prices are much lower than the cross-country ones.
The same rule applies to commuting inside a city – all bigger cities have buses, and the capital, Zagreb, has a tram infrastructure. The bus and tram prices are only a few kunas for a ride, so they’re a great alternative to walking everywhere or driving a car when you’re in a city.
Croatia doesn’t have a metro but rather an on-street tram network, so you can actually keep sightseeing while commuting from one place to another. Another option for moving through a city is renting a bike.
Most of the larger Croatian cities have scooter rental options, which are great for the most part, but the old town cores are often cramped or uphill, so you’ll have to take a walk. That leads us to the last part of in-city transport, which is on foot.
Croatian cities aren’t so large that you couldn’t go sightseeing on foot, and most of the cultural and historical landmarks are usually in the city center, so they’re relatively close to one another.
Back to traveling between cities – the second option is by train. It might be less popular for tourists, but a lot of people working in larger cities go to their jobs by train if they live outside the city.
There’s also a student discount for traveling in groups, and most of the trains are new and comfortable. Traveling by train may take a little bit longer than by bus or car, but it’s a great opportunity to see nature on the way.
Probably the best option for traveling through Croatia is by car. This is because some of the smaller places aren’t as well connected as the bigger cities.
Also, some nature parks are only accessible by car, and since our country has so much natural beauty to offer, it’d be a shame to miss it just because of your transport choice.
There are a lot of rent-a-car options in bigger cities if you’re not planning on coming with your own car. Also, Croatia’s highways are of great quality, and even though there can be traffic jams in the summer, if you travel smartly, you can avoid them.
For example, you should avoid traveling right before a holiday – you should rather travel on a holiday when most people are already at home.
Traveling in Croatia by car is the best way to explore Croatia because you can visit all the small, unknown places that you might not be able to get to by bus or train.
For every major city, there are alternatives to the highway that offer a unique experience of sightseeing and driving through nature while also discovering small villages and local cuisine.
If you’re traveling in your own car, or a car rental, you can avoid tolls and highways by prolonging your drive a little bit and taking the old road in most cases.
Best time to visit Croatia
There is never a bad time to visit Croatia. Thanks to its biodiversity and natural beauty, it’s a great location for every season. As a Mediterranean country, it has a long shoreline, so it’s definitely a perfect place for a summer vacation – actually, tourism is one of the main sources of income for the Croatian economy.
It is full of islands varying in size, and each one of them has its own story; a lot of the landmarks are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Croatian beaches vary from big rocks to pebbles and even sand, so everyone will find something that suits them.
Coastal Croatia enjoys a tropical climate with hot balmy summers and mild winters. The best time to visit Croatia is from May-September.
These are the months when the sunny weather grants travelers a favorable opportunity to engage in outdoor sports like sunbathing, swimming, or unwinding on the beach with Pina Coladas and cocktails.
Croatia destinations are less crowded in May and June compared to July and August, which are the busiest tourist months. During these months, millions of tourists flock to the cities and islands, and even the locals turn up to touristy destinations to enjoy weekend getaways in vacations.
The coast can be secluded and quiet from October to March as many tourist attractions are closed. Visitors can head over to Dubrovnik, Split, and Zadar in the winter months to unravel the treasures in these historical cities when the weather displays mild winters.
On the other hand, Croatia has popular ski locations, one of them being just next to its capital, Zagreb. This makes it a perfect place for a winter trip, and a bunch of visitors from neighboring countries are here to prove that.
Natural sights are popular go-to places in every season since their beauty changes depending on the time of the year, and every season brings another part of them to light.
Depending on the time of year, there are more and less popular locations; continental Croatia might be more popular in the autumn and winter with its snowy mountains, and the coast is more popular in the summer, but there’s no rule saying you can’t mix it up.
Moreover, going to the coast in the cold months guarantees you there won’t be any crowds, and while you might not be able to swim, you can still discover the landmarks and nature.
Accommodation in Croatia
This country has a number of hotels, hostels, beds, and breakfasts, as well as Airbnb apartments. Probably the most popular type of stay is in the so-called “houses for rest”, which are often listed on Airbnb, Booking, or are separately advertised.
These are fully equipped houses in which you could probably live for the rest of the year, and they’re often near the sea or secluded on a quiet parcel. They’re not only a sleeping place but a whole experience for itself.
Apartments may be more popular on the coast and in nature, but there are some amazing hotels in the cities. Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, has the Esplanade and the Sheraton, which are both famous, high-quality hotels and have housed some really popular actors.
There are also wonderful hotels and resorts on the coast for those who enjoy full service and prefer the pool to the sea so the list of best hotels in Croatia is long and diverse.
Have a look at our accommodation guides for these destinations in Croatia:
- Where to stay in Split
- Where to stay in Zagreb
- Where to stay in Dubrovnik
- Where to stay in Makarska
- Where to stay in Plitvice
Hotels in Croatia
There are a number of great hotels in Croatia – it doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a modern all-inclusive hotel or an older classic, we have it all.
The most famous hotels are located in the cities of Zagreb and Dubrovnik; some of them are international brands like Hilton. If you’re going to the coast, you’ll have a variety of resorts and hotels to choose from.
Some 3 stars hotels in Croatia are as good as the 5 stars hotels in other countries – such are the hotels of Lošinj. There are brands that offer services all along the coast, so you can be sure that the accommodation is of high quality.
Of course, there are some cheaper options for those who don’t really give much importance to the accommodation and wish to explore the outside more. The best way to find hotels is Booking.com.
FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BEST HOTELS IN CROATIA HERE
Apartments in Croatia
An apartment is an even more popular option than a hotel. Croatia is full of rentable apartments and houses for rest.
This is because a lot of Croatian people have a summer house or a weekend cottage that they inherited from their family and which they don’t use very often.
This type of home is often turned into apartments for rent. As is the case in most countries, your best option is Airbnb, but you might get even luckier if you know someone who has already rented a place in Croatia and can vouch for its quality.
FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT RENTING APARTMENTS IN CROATIA HERE
Villas in Croatia
In the last couple of decades, a lot of people have been renovating old family villas or building new ones.
Whether you’re into a rustic atmosphere or want that minimalistic look, you’ll find something for yourself. The most popular place to rent villas in Croatia is Istria – villas here have wonderful views from the balcony and are often in the middle of nature or the first row to the sea.
FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT RENTING VILLAS IN CROATIA HERE
Campsites in Croatia
One thing that Croatia has is campsites. Whether you’re into glamping (glamorous camping), camping with a camp house, or in a tent, you’ll find a place.
What’s great is that campsites are often close to some natural landmarks or near the sea.
Camp parks for tourists with camp houses are popular in Istria and are a favorite destination of our Slovenian neighbors. There are permanent campsites that are open most of the year, and there are temporary campsites as part of music or film festivals.
Activities and things to do in Croatia
While you could spend all your time here sightseeing, it would be a shame if you hadn’t tried some of the best things to do in Croatia offers.
Depending on what part you’re visiting, the offers will vary, but all are equally interesting and thrilling.
Since it’s a country with a great food tradition, there are a lot of tasting options. You can visit a wine cellar and pretend you’re a sommelier or you can visit an Istrian olive grove and taste the award-winning Istrian oil.
You can visit local festivals such as a truffle festival in Livade, Istria, or any other kind of festival dedicated to local goods.
The entrance is free most of the time, and while you’re expected to buy something at the end, you won’t be judged if you just tasted all the options. On the other hand, there is a 99% chance that you’ll buy some of the local products because of their high quality.
READ MORE ABOUT THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN CROATIA
Adrenaline activities in Croatia
Croatia also offers activities for adrenaline junkies like bungee jumping, parasailing, rafting, and mountain biking.
If you belong to this category, I suggest you visit one of our many rivers because deep river canyons are great for these kinds of activities.
Since this is a Mediterranean country, there are a great number of sea activities like jet skiing, stand-up paddling, windsurfing, scuba diving, etc.
Whichever coastal city you visit, you’ll find some of these activities, but be aware that they can be a little pricey for tourists, so don’t go to the first one you see. Also, you can read more about the best things to do in Croatia for young adults guide.
Another thing Croatia’s great for is partying. There are numerous music festivals and clubs all across the country, so be sure to visit some while you’re here. There is Zrće or Ultra in Split for Techno lovers, Jazz is back in Grožnjan for jazz and blues lovers, InMusic in Zagreb for all kinds of music, and many more.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN CROATIA FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Holiday destinations in Croatia
No matter what time of the year you’re visiting, Croatia is a popular holiday destination. It’s as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer, but because of its Mediterranean location, it’s probably more popular in the summer months.
Some of the most popular summer destinations are Dubrovnik, Split, Plitvice, Hvar, Lošinj, and Zagreb, even though Zagreb isn’t a coastal city. Zagreb also serves as a great winter destination because it has a ski slope, Sljeme. There are a bunch of winter festivals in Croatia, and the north gets snowy, so it can be a real winter fairytale.
Croatia is a great holiday destination, and you can’t go wrong no matter which places you choose, especially if you’re following a specific travel guide for that area.
You can find more information here:
- Split Travel Guide
- Zagreb Travel Guide
- Dubrovnik Travel Guide
- Plitvice Lakes Travel Guide
- Makarska Riviera Travel Guide
Best Croatia itinerary for visitors
It’s good to have a plan before visiting Croatia. Even though we’re a relatively small country, it’s rare to see someone travel from one end to the other in a week. People mostly stick to one area since it’s easier to explore that way. Some of our proposed itineraries are the best Croatia trips:
- Zagreb – Plitvice lakes – Split – Dubrovnik
- Tour of Coastal Dalmatia: Dubrovnik – Split – Zadar
- Tour of Slavonia
- Kvarner Islands Tour
- National Parks Tour: Plitvice Lakes + Krka Waterfalls
Depending on what you’re looking for, you can design your own tour, and arrange private tours in Croatia as your travel agency.
For example, if you plan to hike, you can visit all mountain tops higher than X meters in a Y km radius. Or you could visit all the Kvarner islands.
Itineraries also depend on how long you’re staying. If you’re here for two weeks, you’ll have enough time to get from Zagreb to Dubrovnik with a few quality stops, on Plitvice Lakes, Trogir, and Split.
Food in Croatia
As was mentioned in the beginning, Croatia has a mixed cuisine. On one hand, it has the classical Mediterranean diet full of fish, vegetables, healthy oils, and pasta, while on the other hand, it has continental and Balkan cuisine with a lot of meat and strong flavors.
Food follows the climate, so the cuisine is lighter on the coast.
It should be noted that the Mediterranean diet also has meat in it, but the parts of the animals that are used and the way they’re prepared vary depending on the part of Croatia you’re in.
Croatia is home to one of the best olive oils in the world – Istrian olive oil has got numerous awards and it marks the whole cuisine with a particular flavor.
I would definitely recommend trying roasted lamb in Lika or Dalmatia, which is a traditional Croatian meal prepared on bigger occasions such as weddings. Croatians are as great at preparing the main course as at making the dessert.
There are endless types of cookies, cakes, and sweets traditionally made in Croatia and some of them are centuries old – if you’re staying in Northern Croatia (Hrvatsko Zagorje), you should definitely try “štrukli”.
No matter what you prefer to eat, you’ll find something for yourself in Croatia and its numerous taverns and restaurants.
There are a lot of taverns with homemade food that doesn’t differ a lot from those that a regular Croat would eat on a holiday or on the weekends, so you’ll never stay hungry or without a nice warm home-cooked meal.
Don’t despair if you’re a vegan or a vegetarian – there is a growing trend in vegan restaurants and food shops, with every restaurant having a vegetarian option and a lot of them starting to have vegan ones too. You’ll have to search beforehand, but you’ll surely find some great food.
As for drinks, this country is famous for its great wines and absolutely every part of it has its own kind of trademark wine. From Slavonia to Istria and Dalmatia, you’ll never go wrong with trying local wines. There are a lot of wineries that offer tours and tastings, but even if you don’t have time for that, you can always get a glass of local wine in a restaurant or a bar. Other regional specialties include rakija, strong drinks similar to spirits that can be made from a variety of plants and are regionally specific.
Recently, there’s also been a positive trend in local craft beer with a lot of new breweries showing up, so there’s a new beer scene, even though Croats have always enjoyed drinking lots of beer.
Is the water safe to drink in Croatia?
There’s drinking water in all of Croatia, with it being of a greater or lesser quality in different parts, but all of the popular tourist sites definitely have drinking water.
Croatia’s water is of great quality, whether we’re talking about tap water or bottled water. There are a number of springs of water that allow bottled water brands to have truly good quality water.
The taste of water might differ depending on which city you’re in because of the variable water hardness, but it’s still drinking water, so you can be sure it’s safe to refill your bottles when traveling.
What time zone is Croatia in?
Croatia is in the UTC+2 and UTC+1 time zones, which means it’s 2 hours ahead of the Coordinated Universal Time in the summer (CEST) and 1 hour ahead of UTC in the winter (CET). This means that the sun sets after 20 in the summer, so the day is long enough for you to visit everything you have planned.
What is the climate like and what should I wear in Croatia?
As is obvious from the geographical position, Croatian weather varies from the north to the south and from the west to the east.
Generally, it’s colder in the north and continental parts, with it being the coldest in the regions of Gorski Kotar and Lika.
It’s warmer on the coast, but it also depends – the temperatures are often higher in Dalmatia, which is more to the east than in Istria, which is on the northwest part of the coast.
All in all, Croatia has a moderate continental climate; the mean temperature in January is −3°C (27°F) and 18°C (64°F) in July, but it can get up to 37°C (98°F) in the summer and below –10°C (14°F) in the winter.
The clothes you carry depend on when you are visiting Croatia. You should bring a raincoat or a waterproof wind jacket because it can get pretty windy and rainy here, with unexpected and brief showers in the summer and long rainy periods in the autumn.
If you’re visiting in the summer, you should dress lightly but be prepared that the temperatures can fall by 10°C at night in some parts of the country, so always carry a hoodie with you.
Another piece of advice is to wear sneakers even if you’re only visiting cities because a lot of landmarks have stairs and steep rises, so your legs will be thankful.
If you’re going for a hike or a walk in nature, you should take a pair of hiking shoes with ankle support because forest paths can get pretty bumpy and you don’t want to twist your ankle. Also, higher shoes provide great protection against ticks.
The best advice anyone can give you is to dress in layers wherever you’re going so that you don’t have to worry too much about dressing too warm or too light.
Anyhow, if you’ve taken the wrong clothes with you, there are a lot of regular brands and stores in Croatia with reasonable prices, so you can go shopping for something more appropriate.
What is the Croatian currency and how much of a budget do you need?
The national currency is the Croatian kuna (HRK), with 1 € being equal to 7.52 HRK, and 1 $ to 7.38 HRK. If you’re going to visit popular tourist destinations, you should exchange your money before arriving since the conversion rate is higher on the coast than, for example, in Zagreb. Also, Croatia is very card-friendly.
You can pay with a card in all stores, but there are smaller tobacco stores where you can only pay with cash. Also, the farmer’s market is always cash only, just like the small food stands.
The important thing to remember is that, even though you can pay with a card in cafes, it’s a little bit unusual and you must mention it before the transaction is over.
Concerning tipping, there isn’t a fixed percentage of how much you should tip and it’s custom to leave a bigger tip on a larger bill and to always leave a few kunas, but no one will actually hold a grudge if you don’t tip on a cup of coffee.
As for the budget, it depends. If you’re going to visit national parks, you’re going to have to pay for a ticket. The same goes for visiting historical and cultural landmarks, but the price is usually higher for national parks than for cultural and historical sights.
The good news is that entrance to the nature parks is sometimes free, and you can pay for extra activities such as renting a kayak or going bungee jumping.
We’ll talk more about food and transportation prices in the next few fragments.
All in all, Croatia can be a relatively cheap country to visit if you bypass the most popular locations and eat in less expensive restaurants, so it’s a good choice for any budget.
Work hours and holidays in Croatia
You should check out a calendar of Croatian holidays before coming to Croatia so that you don’t end up with all the doors closing in your face.
Most of the larger holidays are Christian, which are non-working days for most people, no matter their religious beliefs.
Even on bigger holidays, grocery stores work in the morning, so you’ll have time to buy what you need, but it’s a common practice to buy whatever you might need the days before.
Also, there are some holidays that are celebrated but are regular working days.
One thing that might be interesting to people is that every town or village has its own patron saint, who is believed to have saved it from some malice in the past, so every year there’s a celebration for these saint’s days, and those can turn out to be some great fun, especially in the summer.
Concerning work hours, the Croatian work week is Monday to Friday, with the weekend being the days off for most people, and a lot of stores close early (at about noon) on Saturday and Sunday.
On workdays, there’s no pause in the afternoon and the work hours are often 8h-19h or even until 21h for larger stores. Cafes and restaurants work until much later, with a lot of them being both a cafe and a nightclub so that they can stay open until 2h in the morning.
Can I speak English in Croatia?
Yes. Most people in Croatia understand English, especially those working in service activities, who have enough knowledge of English to communicate with tourists.
Other languages that might be useful to you are German and Italian. Italian is kind of like the second language in Istria, and probably 99% of people will understand you better in Italian than in English.
A German is a great tool in Zagreb and the northern parts of Croatia, which are closer to Austria and Germany. Even though a lot of people know English, don’t expect it from everybody, especially from older people.
In the 20th century, German was the second language that was taught in schools, so English might not be as natural to them.
Also, bring a small Croatian dictionary or use one on your phone to learn some of the everyday phrases like “Dobar dan” meaning “Good day” as a greeting, and “Hvala” meaning “Thank you” The locals will appreciate this, and everyone loves it when someone has bothered to learn a little bit of their language.
Croatia Travel Guide: Internet, Roaming, and cellular data
If you’re from the European Union, your cellular data plan should be the same in Croatia as it is in your home country, with the fares being equal.
Though, if you’re coming from America or any other continent, you’ll probably find it useful to buy a small local data plan because you’re probably going to need maps and the web for navigating around.
In larger cities, there is free public Wi-Fi, but it’s often overcrowded and slow. Most of the coffee shops have their own Wi-Fi, and there are some Internet cafes from the time when mobile data wasn’t so cheap and in common use.
If you’re staying in an apartment or a hotel, the host will probably provide you with a Wi-Fi connection, so you should check with them beforehand.
How safe is Croatia?
Croatia is a really safe place with a really low crime rate, so you don’t have to worry about your safety while traveling.
Even though it’s a safe country, as a tourist, you’re always a bigger target than a local, so you should keep track of your belongings and carry your wallet near you.
This is particularly true at train and bus stations as well as on public transit. It’s much easier not to get your stuff stolen than to return it once it’s gone.
Remember to search for what you want to see and how much you want to pay beforehand, so you don’t end up getting ripped off.
No matter how safe Croatia is, it’s always good to know the most important numbers, such as:
112 – the Universal Emergency Call Number, equivalent to 911 in the USA,
192 – Police,
193 – Fire brigade,
194 – Ambulance,
195 – Rescue at sea,
1987 – Croatian Auto Club HAK, road assistance.
How many days in Croatia is enough?
To be honest, there will never be enough days.
Croatia offers so much to any traveler thanks to its rich biodiversity, interesting geographical position, unique culture, and eventful history, that it’ll always leave you wishing you stayed just a little bit longer.
The good news is that no matter how short your stay is, you’ll get to see something interesting, and it really doesn’t matter where you are.
Every Croatian city has something to offer, not just the coastal ones, which are probably the most popular destinations.
If you’re coming for a road trip, you should take a week so you can rest between the rides and actually explore some places.
Another option is to come to visit a particular city so you can discover all its depths and visit local villages, which should also take you a few days.
Remember that there are a lot of museums in Croatia, especially in Zagreb, and a lot of art galleries. If you don’t want to travel through the whole country but still aren’t satisfied with just one city, you should take at least two weeks and come explore one region.
Istria is popular for this kind of travel since you can visit a lot of places in a short time and it is filled with natural and cultural beauty, and incredible food.
In the end, you can always come for a weekend trip to whichever part of Croatia is the closest to you and have just a little taste of what it’s like to be in this miraculous country.
What to see in Croatia
As was mentioned, Croatia has a range of geographic profiles, so its natural beauty is matchless. From the sea to the mountains, there are a lot of places worth visiting, but we’ll number just a handful of them for you to get a feeling of what to expect in Croatia.
National parks and nature parks
There are 8 national parks in Croatia and 12 nature parks which are all worth visiting, but if you’re here only for a short time, you should choose based on your interests. Some of the national parks are islands, and a lot of nature parks are mountains.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
The Plitvice lakes are definitely one of the most popular destinations in Croatia with tourists coming from all over the world. It’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, which confirms its unique status.
The Plitvice Lakes consist of a number of lakes and waterfalls connected by wooden paths which are accessible all year round. This National Park is popular not only for its beautiful waterfalls but also for its flora and fauna.
Plitvice has a mix of Mediterranean and Alpine flora, which makes it a really special place from a biological perspective as much as the regular observer’s.
Some of the famous animals living in this place are the Eurasian lynx, brown bear, grey wolf, Eurasian eagle-owl, Alpine newt, golden eagle, and European polecat.
Northern Velebit National Park
This park is located on the mountain of Velebit in Lika. It’s one of the biggest national parks in Croatia and its raw beauty astounds everyone who visits it.
Velebit is a lot different than the previous national park and is home to a few special reservations which have even stricter policies on human involvement. There is an abundance of animal and plant species, and it’s also a geologically interesting site.
Velebit is a great hiking spot, but you have to bear in mind that its nature is pretty intact; there are wild animals you might encounter on your way and the paths are pretty confusing, so it’s good to go on a tour or with a guide. Anyway, if you want to experience unique mountain beauty, you should definitely visit Velebit
Croatia has a rugged coastline with a large number of islands. Some of them are inhabited places that function with little dependence on the land, but some of them aren’t inhabited and their nature is completely preserved.
Some islands are great locations for partying and meeting young people, such as Brač with Bol being a popular destination. Others are great for relaxing and enjoying the scenery – such as Cres and Lošinj which have great hotels that offer spa treatments and various activities.
The island of Biševo is famous for its natural anomalies like the Blue Cave, which is a cave with only one entrance for light that’s under the water, so the whole inside of the cave glows blue from the sea.
LIST OF THE BEST ISLANDS IN CROATIA
It’s only natural to mention Croatia’s beaches because it’s a Mediterranean country. There are various types of beaches: from big rocks perfect for jumping into the water to pebbles and sand that make a perfect surface for sleeping in the sun or enjoying water sports such as “picigin”.
Seawater is of great quality in Croatia and most of the places have a blue flag that confirms it. One of the most famous beaches is Zlatni Rat on the island of Bol, with strong winds great for surfing and paragliding.
The Valley of Stiniva is also a popular destination; it’s a beach surrounded by cliffs, so there’s only a small entrance to it by the sea. It’s located on the island of Vis and is one of the most special places on the Croatian coast.
The best thing about the Croatian coast is that it’s full of small, undiscovered beaches and valleys that are rarely crowded, and you can always find a place away from the noise. On the other hand, if you enjoy beach bars and partying, every coastal town has its own beach for this purpose, where you’ll get to meet a lot of people and have fun.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BEST BEACHES IN CROATIA
Croatia has a variety of mountains that are a part of the Dinarides, with Dinara being the highest one. It is worth noting that none of them are taller than 2000 meters and all are great hiking destinations, with some of them being ski locations in the winter.
Some of them, like Medvednica, have a city below, so they’re great weekend destinations, and absolutely all of them have something unique to offer, so you won’t miss whichever you decide to visit.
Cultural and historical sights
The Croats as a people date back to the 7th century, but their land was inhabited much earlier.
There are a number of archaeological sites in Croatia dating back to various periods of history, and there are even a few archaeological museums for different regions.
One of the most important archaeological sites is in Krapina, where found fossil records of Neanderthals, are about 130,000 years old.
The land that is now the country of Croatia was once filled with Roman towns such as Salona and Andautonia, and one of the most famous Roman landmarks is the Diocletian Palace in Split.
There are several other fortresses worth seeing, including those in Šibenik and Dubrovnik. Croatia has a rich cultural and historical heritage with a lot of places on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, such as the old city of Dubrovnik, the Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč, the Šibenik Cathedral of Saint Jakov, etc.
One of the great things is that when you visit Croatia, you won’t see only its history and how it used to be in pictures because there are a lot of traditions that are held on to this day.
The most popular example is the Alka of Sinj, a unique knight’s game. Then there’s the Regatta of Nerezine, in which traditional sailboats are used, as well as the knight’s sword dance of Moreška in Korčula.
If you’re visiting coastal Croatia, you’ll witness at least one of many fishermen’s nights, which are always a big celebration. In some parts of Croatia, you might participate in a Slavic mythology night.
Another interesting thing is the open-air Ulysses theatre on the island of Brijuni, which has plays for most of the summer and is a one-of-a-kind experience.
All in all, Croatia has had an eventful history and there’s a visible impact on other cultures, but what makes it special is the combination of all the variations and different traditions it has.
Croatia in pop-culture
Even though Croatia is of historical importance, it has its place in pop culture too.
Thanks to its old fortresses and ancient and medieval architecture, it’s been home to many scenes in cinematography. Probably the most popular one is Game of Thrones, which was partly filmed in the old city of Dubrovnik, which played the role of King’s Landing, and partly in Split, in the Diocletian Palace.
Another TV show that was partly filmed in Dubrovnik was Borgia, a series set in a medieval setting for which Dubrovnik was perfect.
A really interesting fact is that the famous Japanese director, Hayao Miyazaki, was also inspired by Dubrovnik and decided to use its setting for some scenes in his animated movie, Porco Rosso. The Stiniva Cove, which was already mentioned, also got some screen time in this movie.
On the other hand, when movies reference Croatia, they rarely show its true beauty and view it as a typical Southeast European country, which it isn’t – it’s a unique combination of Southeast Europe and Central Europe.