The fastest growing resort destination in Europe, with most beautiful places to visit in Croatia and rich culture attract more than 20 million tourists every year. The Adriatic coast is a favorite place for outdoor enthusiasts. Croatia national holidays, urban culture, unspoiled Adriatic Islands and perfectly clean beaches – in Croatia you will discover a lot of new experiences. Some people will be impressed by a tour in the footsteps of Game of Thrones, and others – a fascinating shopping in Croatia.
Brief information about the country
The Republic of Croatia is almost 2000 km of rocky coasts and more than a thousand Islands in South-Eastern Europe. Wild Islands, quiet bays and fishing settlements with stone houses make you feel as if you are not in a modern European country, but in a place from the distant past. The best places in Croatia are cozy harbors with yachts, luxury hotel complexes, uninhabited Islands and magnificent beaches.
Croatia is gaining popularity in terms of festivals and holidays. Music events organized on beaches and in ancient FORTS on the coast, art festivals and local celebrations in small towns – after visiting one of these events, it becomes clear that the culture of Croatia is no less attractive than a beach holiday or boat trips.
A country with an area of 56,594 sq. with a population of 4.3 million, it borders several European countries. The Capital Is Zagreb.
According to archaeological research, Croatia was settled in the Paleolithic era. Settlement of the territory took place from the VI to IX centuries. During the reign of Duke Branimir (June 7, 879), the country was first recognized by the international community as an independent state.
The first Croatian king was Tomislav (925). Under his rule, the country received the status of a Kingdom. Sovereignty was maintained for two centuries. Croatia declared independence on 25 June 1991.
Main resorts and resort regions
Croatian resorts are the best place for beach holidays and boat trips in the Adriatic. Croats take care of their natural resources, which guarantees tourists and locals a comfortable stay and an abundance of places where you can sunbathe on a sunbed.
Resorts in Croatia cities are in demand no less than French or Italian coastal cities:
Opatija is a favorite holiday destination of Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria and many famous writers. Here you can find the best beaches in Croatia, several Grand hotels and a charming promenade that stretches for 11 km. nearby stands the medieval town of Moschenice. Opatija is famous for the statue of the "maiden with a Seagull", and the city's Angiolina Park has collected plants from all over the world.
The island of Lopud is famous for its sandy beaches in the Bay of Sunj and a beautiful natural Park. This is a great option if you are planning Croatia holidays with kids.
The resort town of Rabac. A campground and three large hotels are located on the main beach of the city. Cozy hotels are located in the town of Girandella on the second largest beach. If you don't know what things to do in Croatia, go to Rabac! Music concerts are regularly held in local hotels and on Rabac beach, with comedians and magicians performing at night. The island and cruise port of Brac, the island of Losinj, Rovinj, Cres and Krk are among the country's unique holiday destinations.
How to get
Croatia public transport consists of the latest roads, a developed network of Railways, airports and a huge number of ports (sea and river) that provide cruise and ferry services between Croatia and other countries.
The easiest way to get to Croatia is to choose air lines. International flights are accepted by the airports of Dubrovnik, Osijek, Pula, Rijeka, Split, and Zadar. The largest and busiest airport is the Franjo Tudjman airport in Zagreb. During the summer season, most of the country is connected by flights to the UK, Ireland and some countries outside of Europe. Air ticket prices can be quite high. Instead of flying directly to Zagreb, Split or Dubrovnik, you can choose cheaper flights to Bratislava, Milan, Prague and Vienna. From there, it will be much easier to get to resorts on the coast of Croatia.
Travelling to Croatia by train from the UK is unlikely to save money. It is easier and more profitable to travel by train from Europe. If you are heading to Dalmatia, consider taking a train trip to Ancona, Italy – this is the departure point for ferries to Zadar, Split and Stari Grad.
Direct route from the UK-a trip from the Belgian coast through Brussels and other European cities to the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana. From here, you can continue on the normal road South to Rijeka or South-East to Zagreb. An alternative route runs through France and Switzerland to the Italian Ancona, where ferries leave for the ports of Dalmatia. The bus journey from London to Zagreb takes up to 38 hours with a transfer in Frankfurt.
Seasonal ferry services are available from spring to late autumn. Ferries depart from Ancona in Italy to Split, Stari Grad and Zadar, as well as from Bari to Dubrovnik. The trip to Split and Dubrovnik takes from eight to twelve hours. Passenger catamarans operated by Venezia lines depart from Northern Italy. They go to Porec, Pula and Rovinj from Venice.
In such an amazing country as Croatia tourist season does not end all year round. The influx of tourists begins in April and stops in November. In winter, many people practice thematic tourism and excursions, combining them with sea trips. Most of Croatia has a moderately warm and rainy continental climate. The warmest areas are located on the Adriatic coast. The interior of the country has a Mediterranean climate.
The lowest amount of precipitation is observed on the Islands: Bisevo, Lastovo, Svetac, Vis. The maximum level of rainfall in the Dinaric mountain range and in Gorski Kotar the.
In the interior of the country, various winds are blowing: from light to moderate North-East or South-West. In the coastal zone, the strength of the wind depends on the terrain. Higher wind strength is most often recorded on the coast during the winter months. As a rule, at this time comes a cool North-easterly wind Bura, and in the summer-a warm Jugo. For yachtsmen going to Croatia tips for travelling about the weather and wind in the country will be very useful. The sunniest areas are Hvar and Korcula, where more than 2,700 hours of sunlight are recorded per year. This is followed by the regions of Central and southern Dalmatia, as well as the Northern Adriatic coast with more than 2,000 hours of sunshine annually.
Cities and regions of the country
For the first time Croatia was divided into counties in the Middle ages. Borders changed under the influence of the Ottoman conquerors and due to changes in the political status of Dalmatia, Istria and Dubrovnik. The traditional division of the country into counties was abolished in the 1920s.
Modern Croatia is divided into 20 districts and the capital city of Zagreb. The latter has the legal status of a County. Its population is about 800 thousand people. Other major city:
- Osijek in Osijek-Baranja County
- In the seaside Rijeka-Gorski Kotar the
The last border revision occurred in 2006. The districts are divided into 127 cities and 429 municipalities.
Time, currency, visa requirement
The Republic of Croatia lives on Central European time (CET). Time in Croatia is one hour longer than the average Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in London; six hours longer than in New York (EST); nine hours longer than in California. Daylight saving time is changed on the last Sunday of March and October, respectively.
Croatia is part of the EU, but not part of the Schengen area. The visa-free regime is valid for up to 90 days for citizens of the EU, USA, Canada, Australia and several dozen other countries. EU citizens can enter the country with a national identity card. Citizens of other countries need a visa requirements for Croatia.
Before you travel, it is important to know Croatia currency name. The unit of the local currency is the Kuna (Kn). Croatian banknotes come in different denominations: 1000 (rare) 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Kuna is divided into 100 Linden trees. There are silver coins of 1, 2 and 5 Kuna, coins of 50, 20, 10, 2 and 1 Lipa. Hotels, excursions, accommodation and plane tickets are priced in euros and can be paid in European and local currencies.
Ports and sea cruises
International cruise lines are increasingly including in their schedules for cruises Croatia that can be combined with visits to Italy and Greece. The most common stop is Dubrovnik.
As part of cruises in the Eastern Mediterranean, Croatian ports are visited by ships from: Carnival Cruise Line, Costa, MSC, Azamara, Celebrity, Silversea, Pullmantur, TUI Viking Ocean( Viking Cruises), Marella Cruises, Royal Caribbean, etc.
Specializes in cruises to Croatia of the Seabourn and Crystal Cruises lines. The SeaDream I offers a regular nine-day trip “Dubrovnik-Athens (Piraeus)" with stops in such places as Korcula, Split, Katakolon, Pylos, Monemvasia, island of Spetses, Athens.
Rijeka is the main sea port of Croatia. It is located in the Gulf of Kvarner, about 360 km from Italy. Other major passenger (cruise and ferry) ports are Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar and Sibenik. Sibenik is a port city on the Adriatic coast of Croatia, where the Krka River flows into the Adriatic Sea.
Dubrovnik can be called one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The city's port serves about 600 cruise ships and about 900,000 passengers annually. The port of Zadar, Gazenica, receives almost 140,000 passengers a year.
Yachting and Parking
The undoubted advantage of a yacht holiday is that you will spend the night on the water, you will see many unique places, some of which are not even served by ferries. And most importantly – you will be able to enjoy every day a different landscape, dive into the sea directly from the yacht. The tourist season lasts from the beginning of May to the beginning of October.
Yacht Charter in Croatia is represented by two main options: "bareboat" - independent travel or "skipper", when you pay for the services of the captain or team. The most convenient boats for independent navigation are catamarans. They are stable and have a shallow draught, which is especially important for the trip to the island of Dugi Otok or Kornati archipelago.
The Croatian coast is a rugged coastline with many natural bays and beaches. It is teeming with numerous marinas with more than 12,500 marine berths and 7,500 shore berths.
All berths along the Croatian coast are well equipped. This is especially true for "ACI marinas" – it offers various facilities: restaurants, bars, toilets, showers, Parking, grocery store and much more.
ACI club provides its clients with a unique network of 21 yacht parks that stretches from Dubrovnik in the South to Umag in the Northern part of the Croatian Adriatic. ACI's head office is located in Opatija. On uninhabited Islands, you can also find yacht berths, usually served by residents of nearby Islands. They can offer tourists and yachtsmen fresh water, electricity and lunch in a tavern
Religion, language, cuisine
There is no official religion in Croatia; the country's Constitution defines religious communities as equal before the law and separate organizations from the state. Despite all the freedom of religion, Christianity in is the main religion in Croatia, it is practiced by 90% of the population. Roman Catholics make up the majority, followed by Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism, and Islam. According to surveys, almost 8% of the population considers themselves atheists. Only 24% of residents regularly visit religious institutions.
The official language of Croatia is Croatian, derived from the West-South Slavic group. It appeared in this region in the VI century along with the migration of Slavs and the formation of the Croatian state. Local governments officially use minority languages (more than a third of the population): Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Russian, Serbian and Slovak. In addition, English (81%), German (49%) and Italian (24%) are well spoken here.
Croatia's wide range of food and beverages reflects the country's geographical location and the impact of the culture of Central Europe and the Mediterranean. Here you will find all kinds of seafood that dominates the entire coast, meat, sauces, pastries, desserts.
Baked meat, skewered lamb or suckling pig are favorite dishes in Northern Dalmatia. The Kvarner Bay is famous for its shrimp scampi and the cheese of Pag. On the Istrian Peninsula, be sure to try oysters from the Lima canal, fat kobasice sausages, dried ham prshut and gnocchi. The Croatian Islands have their own recipes, for example, octopus salad.
The cuisine of mainland Croatia is rich in calories and seasonings, especially paprika. Stewed meat and fish dishes are traditionally preferred here. Each city has its own pizzeria with branded recipes.
Holidays and festivals
Since ancient times, Croatia has been at the crossroads of different cultures. Since the XIX century, accelerated development in all areas of art and culture began, and many significant historical figures appeared. Modern Croatia can be confidently called a country of event tourism – many people come here for holidays and festivals.
There are 13 official public holidays in Croatia. Regional holidays are marked separately. Official dates for 2020:
- New year's day-January 1
- Epiphany – January 6
- Easter Monday – April 13
- Labor day – May 1
- Statehood day – May 30
- The day of the body and blood of Christ – June 11
- Anti-fascist struggle day – July 22
- Victory day – August 5
- The day of the blessed virgin Mary – August 15
- All saints ' day – November 1
- Memorial day – November 18
- Christmas – December 25
- St. Stephen's day – December 26
Before the start of 2020, Croatia revised some holiday dates, for example, Croatian statehood Day is now celebrated on May 30 – the date of signing the Constitution.
Croatia offers an increasingly rich list of festivals every year. Most of the events take place in Zagreb in spring and autumn. Dubrovnik, Split and Rijeka compete with it.
Croatian film festivals are held in the following cities: Motovun (July-August) and Zagreb (October), Zagrebdox (February) and Animafest (June).
The most prestigious festivals:
- new music Biennale, held in April in odd years
- modern dance week in May-June
- world theater festival in September
- Dubrovnik summer festival, six weeks of classical music and drama
Folk events are represented by an international folk festival, which is held on the weekend of July. The carnival before Lent begins before Christmas, when processions and masquerades are held in cities.
In small towns, festivals are associated with pre-Christian fertility rites. For example, in the vicinity of Rijeka, groups of male bell ringers put on sheep skins and ring bells. In many areas, it is customary to burn a doll (Empty or Poklad) to clear the coming agricultural year of bad luck.
The best city for shopping in Croatia can be called Zagreb, which offers the widest selection of goods on the Adriatic coast. It is famous for boutiques with original products for the home and fashion accessories by Croatian designers. There are flea and collector markets, second-hand clothing stores, and many stores selling old books, records, and CDs. In addition to Zagreb, shopping lovers should visit Rovinj, Dubrovnik and Split.
In Zagreb, it is not difficult to navigate in stores, the vast majority of them are located on Ilica Street. To find more interesting things it is necessary to turn to the side lines with shops of local brands. Outside the city, in the shopping area Rugvica, is "Designer Outlet Croatia", which opened in July 2018. Here you can find products from more than a hundred brands: from Armani to Trussardi with discounts of 30%-70%.
Unfortunately, the most fashionable models of clothes the local people prefer to buy in Italy. Often local designers offer things much more interesting than famous brands. Best place to buy Souvenirs – morning market in the square Gunduliceva in the center of the Old town. It is open from 7 am to 1 PM.
Lapad shopping center is a modern shopping complex with familiar establishments and retail outlets of international chain companies. Vinoteka Dubrovnik wine shop is conveniently located in the clock tower of Dubrovnik. Designer clothing is sold at Maria Boutique at Ploce Gate. More expensive models are presented in Outlet Maria. An interesting place is Ronchi-a hat shop that has become a landmark of the Old city. It has been operating since 1858. Souvenirs can be found at Lega Lega in the Old town. In search of traditional products, visit the place Dubrovačka Kuča, which is located next to the Dominican monastery.
Split's daily market, Pazar is located on the East side of Diocletian's Palace. The lively market is located just steps from the ferry pier and bus station, and is open daily from 7 am to 13 PM. Here you will find the best prices for fruits, vegetables, olive oil, local cognac, tools, dishes, clothing, shoes, and electronics.
Split fish market is open from 8 am to 10 am, where local fishermen are proud to show customers a fresh night's catch. Unique jewelry is sold in the cellars of the Diocletian's Palace. The shopping center of Split is located to the North-East of the city center, where there are more than 200 brands of clothing and shoes, there is a food court and a casino. It is better to get to the shopping center by public transport.
Best time to shop
Retail outlets of European brands are located in shopping centers and on commercial streets. Seasonal sales are held twice: from the first days of January and in mid-July. In early spring, late autumn and winter in Croatia, prices for accommodation and flights are reduced. Excursions and food in restaurants are becoming cheaper. And most importantly, the value of the domestic currency is falling. The Croatian Kuna is linked to the Euro, but Croatia is not in the Euro Zone. This trick allows the government to make its currency more expensive in the summer, when the flow of tourists to the country increases.
Croatia is known for its ancient craft traditions, which have provided a large range of goods in stores and shops. Best products:
- Lace produced on the island of Pag once adorned the dresses of European empresses and princesses. As then, it is sewn by hand;
- Croatian embroidery reflects the complex history of the country, the products are dominated by the red color, symbolizing fertility;
- Samobor crystal. The town of Samobor is famous for its unique crystal products. A large selection is presented in the Crystal Shop;
- Croatia is the birthplace of the tie, this accessory is made of high-quality materials, sold in local stores;
- Wine and tinctures. Croatian wine will be a wonderful souvenir and gift. Often, a bottle of local raki is purchased as a souvenir of Croatia. No less popular is travaritsa-cognac based on grapes and herbs, it is produced on an industrial scale, so home-made tincture will be a more valuable gift. In addition to grapes and herbs, tinctures are made from plums, carob and mistletoe. The latter is produced in Istria under the name biska.
In addition to see attractions in Zagreb, there is much to do in this city. It is one of the busiest cities in Europe. The clubs operate in an enhanced mode from the end of September to the end of June.
From June to September, famous DJs perform every weekend in clubs on the Adriatic coast. The city of Tisno serves as a venue for mass musical events. At the beginning of July, sixty thousand spectators gather at the Poljud stadium to dance and sing all weekend.
The InMusic music festival takes place at the end of June on the shore of Lake Jarun. Guest stars of the past years – Kraftwerk, Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire and many others.
Medicine and safety
Croatia is a safe country for travelers. Violent crime is extremely rare here. As elsewhere, it is worth taking security measures against pickpocketing. Medicine is well developed, but most services will have to pay. If you are an EU citizen, the European health insurance card covers most ambulance services. Citizens of other countries should consult their Embassy about whether they have a health care agreement with Croatia. When planning a trip, think about getting insurance, especially if you plan to do water sports.
- Reference – 18981
- Reference Assistance – 11888
- International assistance – 11802
- Emergency assistance – 112
- Weather and road conditions – 18166
- Croatian auto club – 1987
- Police – 92
- Fire service – 94
Croatia's code is 385, you must first enter the prefix of your international operator. When calling from abroad, exclude zero.
Expensive professional and technical equipment should be registered at the entrance. Dogs and cats need an international type certificate with mandatory rabies vaccination carried out at least 15 days before arrival in the country. A limited number of alcoholic beverages, wine, tobacco and perfumes can be imported to Croatia. You can freely import foreign currency up to 3 thousand euros. Duty-free shops are located at airports. VAT is refunded for purchases that cost more than 500 Kuna.
What to do
Between the coastline and the mainland, you will find 8 national parks with unspoiled nature, a rich underwater world, mountain rivers, forests and caves. Velebit is the largest mountain range in Croatia and offers a wide range of opportunities for Hiking, climbing and cycling, as well as the Dinaric Alps. The country has several deep caves from 250 to 1000 meters.
The Elaphite Islands are ideal for Hiking and Cycling. Along the way, you can admire olive groves and vineyards. On the island of Mljet in the national Park there are convenient Bicycle and pedestrian paths.
Lopud Island is a great place for Hiking, active games, diving, and snorkeling. Tourist transport options are Golf carts (there are no cars on the island) and tourist boats (elafiti).
There are many places for kayaking in Croatia. Previously, rafting was used as a means of navigating inland rivers, but today it has become one of the most popular types of recreation.
Diving in Croatia has only become popular in the last 10 years, despite the fact that diving clubs existed on the Croatian coast as early as the 1950s. Underwater treasures of Croatia – shipwrecks, coral reefs, endless caves and numerous schools of fish. Not very deep places are located in the Istrian region, and the deepest (up to 1300 meters) – around the island of Jabuka.
To legally dive in Croatia, you must obtain a permit at the dive center after presenting your passport and diver's certificate. A special document is required for diving in areas such as Kornati Islands (national Park), Mljet (national Park) and a number of other sites. The diving season lasts from May to November.
Scuba diving courses are offered by many centers where you can get your C-card and improve your existing skills. PADI and CMAS courses are offered in Croatia. One of the best centers is considered Blue Planet in Dubrovnik Palace Hotel. This is the only five-star PADI dive resort in Croatia, and you can get certified as part of the Master Scuba Diver course.
Traces of Neanderthals Dating back to the middle Paleolithic period have been found in Northern Croatia, the most famous site is located in Krapina (55 km from Zagreb). Today, the Neanderthal Museum is open there – one of the most interesting evolutionary museums in Europe. It is surrounded by a Park with many statues of Neanderthals and the game they hunted. The neighboring municipality of Krapinske Toplice is famous for its thermal springs and developed resort infrastructure.
Plitvice lakes is a system of 16 natural reservoirs with waterfalls, wooden suspension paths that connect over dolomite and limestone cascades. Lakes have a special color: from turquoise to mint green, gray or blue.
Varaždin – the capital of Croatia in the XVIII century. The well-preserved fortress of the Old city is one of 15 sites in Croatia that are included in the UNESCO world heritage list. There are also several dozen architectural objects in excellent condition. Trakoščan castle (Dvorac Trakoščan) is one of the best preserved historical buildings in Croatia.
The UNESCO list includes:
- Old town area in Dubrovnik and Trogir
- St. James Cathedral in Sibenik
- Historical center of Split with the fourth-century Diocletian's Palace
The most ancient examples of Croatian architecture are considered to be the churches of the IX century, the largest of them is the Church of St Donatus in Zadar. The Grand arena of Pula (Pulska Arena) of the I-st century was the sixth largest Amphitheatre in the Roman Empire.
Hvar is a magnet for celebrities and those who want to have fun. In addition to chic bars and restaurants, as well as bright yachts sparkling in the Harbor, the island offers many secluded coves and beautiful unspoiled beaches washed by crystal clear water.
Discover medieval Dubrovnik – a beautiful walled city. Rovinj is the most atmospheric coastal city in Croatia with a distinct Italian atmosphere.
Rab Island and the Lopar Peninsula compete for the title of the greenest of the Islands in Kvarner Bay. The movie "Mama MIA!" was filmed on the island of Vis. Vis – a magnificent beaches and coves, the stunningly clear water, houses built in the Venetian style, palm trees, and two charming towns of Komiža and Vis.
Useful travel tips
If you want to save money when traveling in Croatia, stay in private houses and apartments. Working hours vary greatly between the interior of Croatia, including Zagreb, and the quieter coast. Croats Wake up very early, the streets come alive at 6.30 am. Businesses are open from 7 am to 15 PM or from 8 am to 16 PM from Monday to Friday. Restaurants are almost empty at noon, customers begin to arrive from 15 hours.
Shops in Croatia are open from 8 am to 5 PM on weekdays and until 2 PM on Saturdays. Sunday purchases can only be made during the tourist season. Tourist offices are open from morning to midnight in the high season. Banks are open from 8.00 to 16.00, and post offices are open from 7.30 to 19.00, except on Saturdays and Sundays.
Additional expenses when renting a yacht include the skipper's work for a week, final cleaning, food and drinks. You will have to pay local tax for every person on your boat, including the skipper.
The average cost of Parking depends on the chosen location and method of mooring. Mooring buoys cost 30-40 euros per day, and a place in the Marina costs from 40 to 130 euros. Parking in remote locations will be cheaper.
The long coast of Croatia is an ideal place for sailing and sea travel. Elaphite Islands Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan are among the most beautiful in the Adriatic and the beaches on the Peljesac Peninsula and the Islands of Brac and Susak, of course, is the most irresistible.