Table of Contents
Croatia is situated in the South-eastern part of Europe along the Adriatic Sea. It shares land borders with Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, and a maritime border with Italy.
The country was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World War I, and then became a part of Yugoslavia. In 1991, Croatia declared its independence. What followed was the long and brutal Balkan War.
Croatia has long since recovered from its war wounds and most scars. Given its long and sunny coastline, numerous islands, and rich history, the country has developed into a great tourist destination. A visit to Croatia is a treat for the senses, with each region showing a new face, from unspoilt islands to Roman ruins and sprawling vineyards.
Passports & Visas
Passports are required to enter and leave Croatia. Visas are not required for citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, UK and other EU countries for visits of up to 90 days. For longer visits contact the Croatian embassy in your home country. Visitors from other countries require tourist visas to enter the country. You may also be asked to produce a return ticket and other details (proof) of your stay.
Obtaining a US Passport
The US Government Website is where to start.
Contact: Consulate General of Croatia
For local consulates, look under Consulates on the Website
Provides consular assistance to US citizens
United States Embassy
2nd Thomas Jefferson Street
Culture and History of Croatia
A brief history of Croatia
Currency and Money of Croatia
The official currency of Croatia is the Kuna (1 Kuna = 100 Lipas).
While Euros are accepted by hotels and for large payments, most stores, restaurants and cafes accept payment only in Kunas and by credit card; all major credit cards are accepted, including American Express.
ATMs are widely available across the country. Cash and travelers checks can be exchanged at most banks and currency exchange bureaus. It is advisable to exchange currency locally and preferably at banks, as they offer a better rate of exchange. Banks operate from 8am to 4pm on weekdays.
Driving in Croatia
It is important to pay close attention to all Croatian driving rules. Croatians drive on the right side of the road; headlights are required to be switched on even during the day; at unmarked intersections, the car on the right hand side has right of way. Most road signs are self explanatory and universal.
The speed limit within cities is 50kmph; 90kmph in the outskirts; 110kmph on major roads; and 130kmph along the motorways. Speeding fines must be paid on the spot. Also be warned that the blood alcohol limit is 0.05% and tests are administered frequently by police officers. Fines range from 500 to 3000 HRK.
Traffic can get very congested along the highways and boarder crossings during the summer, especially during the weekends. The highways also run through a number of tunnels. It is advisable to wear sunglasses while driving during the summer.
Electricity in Croatia
Croatian electrical outlets supply 220 volts. This requires the standard 2-point plugs used across Europe. Unless, you come from a country that follows the same measure, it is best to carry a travelling adaptor to ensure all your appliances work properly.
Etiquette in Croatia
Croats are a warm and friendly people. They are very proud of their country, culture and food. However, be sure not to pry for recent war stories. This is still a very sensitive topic in Croatia.
Croatia is a Catholic country, and religion plays a major role in Croatian life. Family is also a very important institution in Croatian society. Many extended families live close together, if not in the same complex.
It is a norm to greet and engage shopkeepers while entering and exiting any commercial establishment. Most people speak English, but learning a few basic Croatian phrases goes a long way. Be sure to respect local beliefs and customs.
Public Hours in Croatia
Most shops work from 9 am to 8 pm on weekdays, and are open from 9 am to 3 pm on Saturdays. During peak tourist season (July-September) stores may be open longer and even on Sundays. Markets are generally open in the mornings, shutting down post lunch.
Safety in Croatia
In general, Croatia is a safe place to visit with low levels of crime. However, it is prudent to follow general travel safety rules: keep your valuables safe, do not travel alone in poorly lit neighborhoods and watch out for pickpockets in tourist areas, especially during festivals and beach parties.
Croatia follows GMT + 1 in winter and GMT + 2 in the summers.
Tipping in Croatia
As a service tax is included in the bill, tipping isn’t obligatory. However, when tipping for good service, the standard tip is around 10 percent at restaurants, and a rounding of the bill or leaving a few coins at cafes.
Most restaurants, bars, and malls offer facilities for customers. Additionally, toilets can be found at service stations and mobile toilets are often available at or near toll stations and at highway rest stops.
Weather in Croatia
Croatia experiences two principle climate patterns – Continental within the country’s interior and Mediterranean along the coast.
Inland Croatia experiences a continental climate, with bright, hot summers and temperatures ranging from 20-30°C; and mild to cold winters with temperatures ranging from -5 to 10°C.
The Croatian coast and islands on the other hand enjoy Mediterranean weather, with long hot summers (temperatures are usually in the mid 30s) and mild, rainy winters. The coastal regions experience varied wind patterns throughout the year – the south-easterly Jugo in the autumn; and the Bura and the Maestral, a soothing summer wind.
Overview of the Main Croatian Sights
Zagreb, the capital of Croatia has amazing historical sights to see
A guide to Croatian Airports
Boat and Ferries
Given the country’s long coastline, ferry services form a vital link in the country’s transportation network, linking the many islands to the mainland. Most ferries along the Adriatic are operated by a company called Jadrolinija (http://www.jadrolinija.hr). Service is year-round on most routes. Transporting cars can be expensive. A number of ferries also run from Italy to Croatia through the year; their frequency is higher during the summers.
Croatia’s railway network connects all the major inland cities; however, it does not run along the coastline, and popular coastal cities like Dubrovnik cannot be reached by train. You can opt for either the high-speed trains, known as tilting trains (these only run between the major cities) or the regular speed services. The rail system also connects Croatia with countries like Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Serbia. Railway timetables and other details can be found at the Croatian Rail Website.
Rental cars are available in all major cities and at airports. It is recommended that you book a vehicle online to avail yourself of special offers and discounts. If you are driving to Dubrovnik, you’ll have to pass through Bosnia- Herzegovina. Have the necessary travel documents ready for the border police. Rental companies need to be informed if the car is going to be transported on a ferry.
Taxis are widely available in all cities. They can be found outside airports, bus stations, hotels and at taxi stands around the cities. All taxis have an electronic meter. The meter displays a base rate when you commence your trip. This figure increases thereon till you reach the destination.
Buses are an economical and effective way to travel within Croatia. Tickets are reasonably priced and the buses themselves are comfortable. It is advisable to reserve bus tickets to popular coastal destinations during the summer. Tickets are available at the bus station (and on the bus itself for shorter routes). Seats are assigned during purchase of ticket. You can look up bus timetables at the Autobusni Kododvor website.
Zagreb’s tram network covers the entire city. You can buy a single ticket or a 24-hour ticket, which is more cost-effective if you will be using the tram more than once.
Tourists traveling to Croatia are not required to take any specific vaccines. However, it is advisable to be immunized against Hepatitis A and typhoid. Tourists need to be wary of conditions like heat exhaustion and heat stroke during the summer. Be sure to stay well hydrated and use plenty of sunscreen.
Croatian medical facilities are of a high standard. Citizens of counties that have signed the Health Care Convention with Croatia receive free medical care. Other tourists are required to have medical insurance.
Depending on your needs, you can choose from a number of accommodation options, including: hotels, hostels, villas, apartments, campsites and trailer parks. It is best to make hotel reservation in advance during the summer, as this is peak tourist season. On the other hand, a number of apartments are available to tourists. These are generally clean, comfortable and affordable.
Public Holidays in Croatia
1 January – New Year’s Day
6 January – Epiphany
8 April – Easter Sunday & 9 April- Easter Monday
1 May – Labor Day
7 June – Corpus Christi
22 June – Anti-Fascist Resistance Day
25 June – Statehood Day
5 August – Victory Day and National Thanksgiving Day
15 August – Assumption Day
8 October – Independence Day
1 November – All Saints’ Day
25-26 December – Christmas Holidays
Telephones in Croatia
Public telephones are easy to find in Croatia. These can be operated by using phone cards. Phone cards, of several denominations, are available across the country at newspaper stands and kiosks. You can make both local and international calls using these cards. In addition to phone booths, you can also use public phones at the post office.
The international code for Croatia is + 385. For outgoing calls dial the code (00) and country code.
For calls from the USA or abroad to Croatia, dial the country code (+ 385), followed by the area code (the local area code is related to the area zip code), followed by the phone number. While phoning within Croatia, dial the area code and then the local phone number.
For cell phones: Croatia uses the GSM 900/1800 frequency. This means American phones are not compatible in the region. It is cheaper to buy a local SIM card in Croatia. There are a number of service providers offering economic tariff plans.
Useful Country Codes:
The country code for Croatia is + 385
USA and Canada is +1; UK +44
Emergency Numbers in Croatia
Emergency calls can be made to 112.
Other specific emergency numbers include: Ambulance: 94
In case of car trouble: 987
Returning to the US
Customs, VAT & Duty Free
All travelers, both foreign and domestic, are exempted from customs duty on non-commercial goods. Expensive, technical equipment, however, must be declared when entering Croatia.
If you are traveling with pets, it is essential to produce an International Certificate issued by an official veterinarian. The vaccinations need to be updated and administered at least 15 days before the travel period, but not earlier than six months from the stipulated timeframe.
You are entitled to a VAT refund for goods purchased in Croatia over 500 Kuna. Be sure to ask for a PDV-P form from the point of purchase. Be sure to complete the form and get it stamped. This should be verified by the Croatian Customs service when leaving the country. For further information, consult the Croatia Customs Administration website.