Before You Go On Your Trip:
A few tips and what to know & expect from your trip to Croatia!
“What’s the currency in Croatia?” “Will my credit card work?” “What type of clothes do you recommend?”
All of your questions are answered here and if we‘ve left anything out ~ just let us know and we‘ll be happy to answer!
Croatia occupies the largest part of the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, which, as a part of the Mediterranean Sea, penetrates deepest into European soil. Croatia’s shoreline and numerous islands enjoy the majority of the Adriatic coastline. The narrow Dinara Mountain Range separates the country’s Mediterranean region from its central European continental part, which spans from the easterly edges of the Alps in the North-West to the shores of the Danube in the East, encompassing the southern part of the fertile Pannonian lowlands.
The mainland covers an area of 56 594 km2 and coastal waters cover a surface area of 31 479 km2.
Croatia has 4,290,612 inhabitants.
The majority of the population is Croats, with the largest minorities being Serbs, Bosnians, Slovenes, Hungarians, Czechs, Italians and Albanians.
System of government:
Croatia is a multi-party parliamentary republic.
With 792,875 inhabitants, Zagreb is the economic, transport, cultural and academic center of the country.
Length of the coastline:
6,278 km, of which 4,398 km is made up of island coastlines, solitary rocks and reefs.
Number of islands, islets, solitary rocks and reefs:
1,244. The largest islands are Krk and Cres. There are 50 inhabited islands.
Dinara, 1 831 m above sea level.
There are three climate zones in Croatia: in the country’s continental interior the prevailing climate zone is moderately continental, while the mountain climate prevails at 1200m above the sea level. The areas along the Adriatic coast have a pleasantly mild Mediterranean climate with a large number of sunny days, summers are hot and dry and winters are mild and wet.
The average temperatures in the continental interior are: January -2 oC to 0 oC, with somewhat lower temperatures in the mountains; July temperatures reach 20 oC-22˚C, and around 13˚C in the highlands. The average temperatures in the Littoral (Adriatic Coast) are: January 5˚C – 9 oC and July 23°C – 26°C. Winter sea temperature is about 12 oC and it reaches approximately 25 oC in the summer.
The official currency in Croatia is the kuna. Foreign currency can be exchanged in banks, exchange offices, post offices and in the majority of tourist information offices, hotels and campsites.
Credit cards (Eurocard / Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Diners) are accepted in almost all hotels, marinas, restaurants, shops and cash machines.
Electrical in Europe: Converters
Yes, you will need an electrical adapter/converter to use your American volt appliances. WalMart© or Target© feature affordable converters. Power supply: 220 V, frequency: 50 Hz
Tap water is safe to drink in all of Croatia.
There are four main TV channels in Croatia – HRT 1 & 2 (which are state-owned), Nova and RTL Televizija. A number of local television stations also operate throughout the country. You will find a wealth of American and British programming on these TV channels – programs are normally shown with Croatian subtitles rather than Croatian dubbed over the proper audio, so you still might be able to catch your favorite show from back home! Unfortunately, reality TV has also hit the country in recent years – don’t be surprised to find Croatian versions of Big Brother or Pop Idol when tuning in. Soap operas from Latin American countries also tend to be very popular. If staying in a hotel, you will find that most provide at least basic satellite channels – CNN, BBC World and similar.
Internet & Wi-Fi: Internet access is widely available in Croatia and broadband services are now very commonplace. Something that passes for an Internet cafe can be found pretty much anywhere – even if this consists of a PC in the corner of a bar. Usage tends to be pretty cheap. Wi-Fi in Croatia isn’t perhaps as widespread as other major countries, although is certainly on the increase. Some towns (or parts of towns) are even setting up their own free-to-use hotspots. More and more accommodation places (particularly private accommodation) are recognizing the demand for Wi-Fi and many offer the service (either free or paid) to their guests. You will also find Wi-Fi in other typical places – bars, cafes and so on. These days, many people travel with smartphones, tablets and the like so it’s pretty easy to search for open Wi-Fi networks and connect to open ones when and where you can. These open Wi-Fi networks are fine for casual, non-reliable usage of the internet. If you need a reliable internet connection, we highly recommend a USB wireless personal hot spot for your computer and phone.
Post:Hrvatska Posta runs the postal service. Post offices can be found in almost all villages, towns and cities. The post service in Croatia isn’t actually too bad! If you want to send something back home, ask for marke (stamps). The company issues special edition stamps relatively frequently, so look out for those if you’re after something a little fancier. In keeping with the main color of Hrvatska Posta, postboxes in the country are yellow and are usually affixes to walls rather than being freestanding affairs (as in the UK).
Telephone: Payphones appear pretty much everywhere. Buy a telephone card from a newspaper kiosk for easy use – these come in various denominations. The country access code for calling Croatia is 385.
A mobile phone in Croatia is called a “mobitel”. The three mobile phone networks in Croatia are T-Mobile, VIP and Tele2. If bringing your handset from home, you will find it will hook up automatically to one of these. You also might find Tomato and BonBon, although both of these are owned by one of the main mobile companies, and not really separate networks in their own right.
If you think you’ll be using your mobile phone a reasonable amount to either make phone calls within Croatia, or text and call home, you should consider purchasing a pre-paid SIM card. The three mobile network operators all have details of these on the websites (see above) and you can buy SIMs at some news kiosks and other stores.
It’s not so much of a concern these days what with all these ultra-modern phones, but if you have a slightly older phone make sure it works on the 900 or 1800 MHz GSM frequencies that are utilized in Croatia. (Travelers from Europe shouldn’t have any problems, but travelers from further abroad, particularly North America, may need to double-check). Make sure also that, if necessary, you call your home mobile phone operator before travelling, to make sure that roaming is enabled. At the same time, you’ll probably want to switch off data roaming if you have a smartphone, so you don’t rack up crazy data charges.
Do you use your cell phone to make calls when traveling abroad? Or do you tell your friends and family back home that you’ll talk to them in a week? Your faithful glued-to-your-hand phone doesn’t have to collect dust when you’re jet-setting—take these 10+ tips for using it without breaking the bank. You’ll be calling from Paris to Paraguay and Taiwan to Tahiti in no time.
Mobile phone tips:
- Make sure your phone will work internationally.
The Issue: Just like radios (AM, FM, shortband, wideband), some phones can pick up multiple bands of frequencies. But unless you have a “quad band” phone (which will work in any country that has cell service), you should take the time to make sure your phone is compatible with the networks/countries you’ll be traveling through.
The Solution: The big four US service providers each offer online tools: T-Mobile’s handy chart, Verizon’s Trip Planner, AT&T’s Travel Guide, and Sprint’s Travel Tips. By the way, if you’ve got an iPhone, your service provider may allow you to unlock it.
- Know the difference between international long distance and roaming.
The Issue: It’s easy to confuse the rates and services offered for calling from the US to other countries (international long distance) with those for making calls when traveling abroad (international roaming).
The Solution: Identify both with your service provider. Knowing that difference means you won’t be making decisions based on the wrong rates.
- Get a plan.
The Issue: Part one: To add international calling as a feature to your account, your service provider may need to approve you. (Typically they look at your history with them, but may also check your credit.) Part two: You may get better rates by adding an international package to your monthly service.
The Solution: Call your service provider.
- Treat Canada and Mexico differently.
The Issue: Although in Canada and Mexico you can dial 10-digit local numbers just like you would in the US, some special conditions apply. If you do it right, you should expect to pay less than a buck per minute.
The Solution: Confirm with your service provider whether they charge something different (i.e. their regular global roaming rate) when the ship is docked.
- Treat cruise ships differently.
The Issue: Different cruise ships use different cell frequencies and command different rates. The trickiest part is that different rates may apply on the very same ship when it’s sailing in international waters as opposed to when it’s docked in port.
The Solution: Confirm with your service provider whether they charge something different (i.e. their regular global roaming rate) when the ship is docked.
- Turn off data roaming.
The Issue: In an effort to make voice calls when traveling overseas, you might be inadvertently using your data plan when abroad (and therefore getting charged astronomically).
The Solution: Turn off the potential troublemakers: email and other automatically updating data services. Another thing to keep in mind so you don’t accidentally incur charges is that shutting off your data like this doesn’t prevent incoming/outgoing texting, which can also get pricy.
- Beware of voicemail.
The Issue: If your phone is on and you let an incoming call go to voicemail, you could wind up getting charged three times—once for international roaming to get the call to your device, once by the foreign service provider to send the call back to your domestic voicemail system, and once for you to actually retrieve the message.
The Solution: Keep your phone off unless you’re expecting an important incoming call or making an outgoing call. If you have to call in for messages, do so just once or twice a day (at your international roaming flat rate). Look into the possibility of having your voicemail forwarded.
- Be sure your phone’s frequency band is set to Automatic.
The Issue: If your phone’s band is set to a US frequency, you won’t get a signal or be able to make a call.
The Solution: Under Settings, look for an option like “wireless and networks” and select that. Then make sure it’s set to automatically find a network when it’s roaming.
- Hold down 0 for +.
The Issue: You’ve done all the research; you’ve got a phone and plan for calling abroad; you’ve got a signal; and you’re ready to make a call. So don’t let a simple symbol hold you up.
The Solution: On many phones, you can enter the + sign just by holding down the 0 key for a second or so. Then you just need to enter the country code, city code, and local number. Of course, before you do all that, you should check with your wireless phone service provider for proper dialing instructions within and to outside the countries you’ll be in.
- Get help.
The Issue: On one hand, this advice may be plenty for many of you. And it’s great that the websites of all four major US service providers offer lots of info on calling abroad; but it can also be overwhelming. Sometimes, it helps to talk to a human.
The Solution: Dedicated help lines for answering questions about international services: AT&T Wireless: 800-331-0500, Sprint: 888-226-7212, T-Mobile: 877-453-1304, Verizon Wireless: 800-711-8300.
Croatia’s electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.
Croatia Money Tips
This guide lists prices in the local currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.xe.com or www.oanda.com/convert/classic to check up-to-the-minute rates.
Currency:The Croatian national currency is the kuna (kn) which comes in notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000. One kuna equals 100 lipa, and coins with values of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 lipa and 1, 2, 5, and 25 kuna are in circulation. To convert prices in kunas to current prices in U.S. dollars, go to www.xe.com/ucc.
With Croatia’s anticipated E.U. membership in process, many Croatian businesses are beginning to express their prices in euros and kuna, though euros are not yet widely accepted. Foreign currency can be exchanged at post offices, banks, and exchange offices. Numerous hotels and travel agencies also will exchange currency, but beware of the service charges, which can be as high as 3%. To convert prices in kunas to prices in U.S. dollars, go to www.xe.com/ucc.
Warning: kunas and euros are very similar in look but dissimilar in value: One euro is worth seven times as much as one kuna. Be sure you separate the two and keep the currencies in separate compartments of your wallet.
ATMs:The easiest and best way to get cash in Croatia is from an ATM (automated teller machine, aka Bankomat in Croatia). The Cirrus (tel. 800/424-7787; www.mastercard.com) and PLUS (tel. 800/843-7587; www.visa.com) networks span the globe; look at the back of your bank card to see which network you’re on, then call or check online for ATM locations at your destination. Be sure you know your personal identification number (PIN) before you leave home, and be sure to find out your daily withdrawal limit before you depart. Also keep in mind that many banks impose a fee every time a card is used at another bank’s ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions ($5 or more) than for domestic ones (where they’re rarely more than $3). On top of this, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. To compare banks’ ATM fees within the U.S., use www.bankrate.com. For international withdrawal fees, ask your bank.
Traveler’s Checks:You can get traveler’s checks at almost any bank. American Express offers denominations of $20, $50, $100, $500, and (for cardholders only) $1,000. You’ll pay a service charge ranging from 1% to 4%. You can also get American Express traveler’s checks over the phone by calling tel. 800/221-7282; Amex gold and platinum cardholders who use this number are exempt from the 1% fee.
Visa offers traveler’s checks at Citibank locations nationwide, as well as at several other banks. The service charge ranges between 1.5% and 2%; checks come in denominations of $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1,000. Call tel. 800/732-1322 for information. American Automobile Association (AAA) members can obtain Visa checks for a $9.95 fee (for checks up to $1,500) at most AAA offices or by calling tel. 866/339-3378. MasterCard also offers traveler’s checks. Call tel. 800/223-9920 for a location near you.
Foreign currency traveler’s checks are useful if you’re traveling to one country, or to the euro zone; they’re accepted at locations such as bed-and-breakfasts where dollar checks may not be, and they minimize the amount of math you have to do at your destination. American Express, Thomas Cook, Visa, and MasterCard offer foreign currency traveler’s checks. You’ll pay the rate of exchange at the time of your purchase (so it’s a good idea to monitor the rate before you take the plunge), and most companies charge a transaction fee per check order (and a shipping fee if you order online).
Another option is the new prepaid traveler’s check cards, reloadable cards that work much like debit cards but aren’t linked to your checking account. The American Express Travelers Cheque Card, for example, requires a minimum deposit, sets a maximum balance, and has a one-time issuance fee of $15. You can withdraw money from an ATM (for a fee of $2.50 per transaction, not including bank fees), and the funds can be purchased in dollars, euros, or pounds. If you lose the card, your available funds will be refunded within 24 hours.
Credit Cards:Credit cards are a safe way to carry money: They provide a convenient record of all your expenses, and they generally offer relatively good exchange rates. In Croatia, credit cards are accepted by most hotels and restaurants in larger cities, but they generally are not accepted for private accommodations or in rural areas. In addition, some establishments that accept credit cards will offer a discount if you pay in cash.
You can withdraw cash advances from your credit cards at banks or ATMs, provided you know your PIN. If you’ve forgotten your PIN, or didn’t even know you had one, call the number on the back of your credit card and ask the bank to send it to you. It usually takes 5 to 7 business days, though some banks will provide the number over the phone if you tell them your mother’s maiden name or some other personal information.
Keep in mind that when you use your credit card abroad, most banks assess a 2% fee above the 1% fee charged by Visa or MasterCard or American Express for currency conversion on credit charges.
In addition, when I called Visa and MasterCard to alert them I would be using my credit cards abroad, I was warned that I would be charged a 3% service charge on every foreign transaction. Even so, credit cards still may be the smart way to go when you factor in things like exorbitant ATM fees and higher traveler’s-check exchange rates (and service fees).
Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, and American Express credit cards are accepted in most Croatian establishments that accept plastic. The Maestro debit card is also widely accepted.
Croatia is an affordable country compared to other European destinations. Hotel rooms and rental cars will be your highest expenditures, but food, entertainment, and public transportation costs are well below those of nearby E.U. countries, such as Austria and Italy.
VISA Money Tips
1:Before you leave, note down the number of Visa’s Global Customer Assistance Service (GCAS), a global support network for cardholders that’s available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Cardholders can call GCAS free from anywhere in the world. In Croatia, you can call 0-800-220-111-866-654-0125. If you experience difficulties using this number, please call collect at +1-303-967-1096.
2:Before leaving check the expiry date on your Visa card and let your bank know you’ll be using your card abroad.
3:Withdrawing cash from an ATM in another country is exactly the same as it is at home – you use the same card and PIN – but the machine will dispense local currency. To find your nearest ATM while abroad, use the ATM locator at www.visa.com.
4:Visa cards are a global currency, so it doesn’t matter if you have a chip-based or a magnetic stripe card – you can use it anywhere. If you are using your chip card while abroad, you may be asked to provide a signature instead of a PIN.
5:Visa is committed to providing cardholders with a safe, convenient and cost-effective way to pay when travelling internationally. To see the competitive rate you may receive when using your Visa card abroad, use the Visa exchange rate converter.
6:While travelling, it’s a good idea to have a mix of cash and cards available – that way you’ll have something to fall back on in the case of an emergency. For safety, don’t keep them all in the same place.
7:Credit cards are a great way to pay for larger expense items like your hotel accommodation or car hire. Just remember that in many hotels the amount will be taken off your daily spending limit, which may impact how much of your limit is left for other purchases.
8:Before you leave, check whether your Visa cards are subject to any daily spending or withdrawal restrictions while you are abroad. Also make sure you have enough funds in your account and that your card payments are up to date.
About the VAT – Value Added Tax
Every year, tourists visiting Europe leave behind millions of dollars of refundable sales taxes. While for some, the headache of collecting the refund is not worth the few dollars at stake, if you do any serious shopping, it’s hard cash — free and easy. The process isn’t difficult; you just have to get the necessary documents from the retailer, carry your purchase with you, and track down the right folks at the airport, port, or border when you leave. These days you’ve got to check in early at the airport; this will give you something to do while you’re hanging around. The standard European Union Value-Added Tax ranges from 15 to 25 percent per country, averaging about 20 percent overall. Rates change, so you’ll want to check with merchants when you’re there.
The Documents. When you make your purchase, have the merchant fill out the necessary refund document, called a “cheque.” You’ll need to present your passport. Make sure the paperwork is done before you leave the store so there’s nothing important missing. If they leave any blanks for you to fill out, be sure you understand what goes where. Attach your receipt to the form and stash it in a safe place.
Know where to get your refund. If you buy merchandise in a European Union country and you’re bringing the goods home with you, process your documents at your last stop in the EU, regardless of where you made your purchases. So if you buy sweaters in Denmark, pants in France, and shoes in Italy, and you’re flying home from Greece, get your documents stamped in Athens. Be aware that if the currencies are different in the country where you made your purchase and where you process your refund you may have to pay an extra conversion fee. Get your documents stamped. The customs export officer will stamp your documents after you present your purchased goods to verify that you are, indeed, exporting your purchase (try to keep the goods in your carry-on).
Collect the Cash. Once you get your form stamped by customs, you’ll need to return it to the retailer or its representative at the airport, port, or border crossing. If the retailer handles VAT refunds directly, it’s up to you to contact the merchant for your refund. You can mail the documents from home, or quicker, from your point of departure (using a stamped, addressed envelope you’ve prepared or one that’s been provided by the merchant) — and then wait. It could take months so be advised.
Other Important Information
A valid passport or some other identification document recognized by international agreement; for certain countries a personal identity card is sufficient (a document which testifies to the identity and citizenship of the bearer).
Information: Diplomatic missions and consular offices of the Republic of Croatia abroad or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Croatia.
Tel: +385 1 4569 964,
Food & Drink
Traditional Croatian cuisine reflects widely diverse cultural and geographic influences. Some are a result of Croatia’s proximity to the sea and fertile farmland, and some are the result of foreign occupiers who imported their tastes and recipes. Croatians are very proud of their gastronomic traditions, and while there are regional differences, you’ll find that freshness, grilling, and daily baking are consistent across the country.
Until recently, there was little menu variety within the region. But in summer 2009, it was clear that a new breed of chefs had infiltrated Croatia’s dining scene with food-forward trends and preparations. In large cities and small, menus offering dishes made with local produce, meats, and fish were being prepared using sophisticated methods like sous-vide, infusion, and vertical presentation. The new culinary outlook has given new life to Croatia’s dining scene, which is now innovative and exciting.
In Istria, the development of the country’s first quality rating system for wine and olive oil production has been introduced, opening the way for development of new export possibilities. And in such cities as Dubrovnik and Zagreb, there has been an explosion of ethnic restaurants offering Croatians the opportunity to sample global cuisines including Thai, Mexican, Japanese, and even southern American. These are long overdue accomplishments, and they are making a significant contribution to more interesting dining choices and the development of a new Croatian culinary tradition.
Meals & Dining Customs:
Croatia’s old dining tradition still is strong, but it is changing as citizens change their work hours, eating habits, and culinary awareness.
Breakfast & Gablec — Western-style breakfast (dorucak; eggs, pastries, meats, cereals) is served at larger hotels and restaurants throughout Croatia. In smaller towns and in homes, a glass of rakija (fruit brandy), a cup of coffee, and bread or a roll hot from the local bakery comprise the usual early-morning meal.
Around 10am Croatians who farm or start work early often stop for gablec (marenda on the coast), literally “breakfast eaten with cutlery.” This meal is a smaller version of lunch, Croatia’s main meal, but it sometimes substitutes.
Gablec was common in the former Yugoslavia because back then people started work and school around 6 or 7am, which didn’t allow time for breakfast. They were hungry around midmorning and a meal of home-style food like sarma (stuffed sour cabbage), goulash, or fis paprikas customarily was offered in factories, schools, and local restaurants.
Lunch — Lunch (rucak) generally is Croatia’s main meal. It often begins with a bowl of soup followed by an entree of roasted meat, vegetable or salad, potatoes or noodles, and dessert. Croatians eat lunch anywhere from 10am to late afternoon, and if they eat dinner at all, it usually is a light meal.
Dinner — Dinner (vecera) for Croatians often consists of a very thin-crusted pizza or a shared plate of snacks, such as cevapi (spicy grilled sausage), prsut (smoked ham) and cheese, or grilled sardines, usually served well after 8pm. If they aren’t eating at home, Croatians most frequently dine at restorans or konobas, both of which serve a wide range of dishes but differ in levels of formality, with restorans being the fancier of the two.
Coffee & Ice Cream — Drinking coffee is a social event in Croatia. People sipping espresso are a common sight on almost every street in every town at any time of day. Sometimes Croatian coffee shops are cafes attached to restaurants or pastry shops, and sometimes they are free-standing shops that serve only drinks (alcoholic or nonalcoholic). Ice-cream shops — almost as ubiquitous as coffee shops — serve coffee and mostly nonalcoholic beverages plus a huge array of frozen concoctions ranging from basic cones to multilayered sundaes, as well as a selection of cakes and pastries.
Tipping — Tipping in Croatia is becoming more commonplace, especially in upscale restaurants. In the past, tipping was welcome but not expected. Today, an extra 10% or 15% is the norm in upscale establishments and in big cities. Tipping is rare and not expected in informal restaurants and in smaller towns, but most people leave any coins they receive in change for the waiter. Croatian waiters do not depend on tips for living wages.
Couvert — Adding a couvert to the bill is a relatively new practice in Croatian restaurants and it is not uniformly imposed. The couvert is a “cover charge” that is a prima facie charge for bread, which is brought to the table automatically in most places. Menus usually list the couvert and its cost, which can range from 5kn to 70kn or more. You can refuse the bread and escape the couvert, but once the bread basket lands on your table, you have to pay the charge.
Dining is a national sport in Croatia. Generally, food is surprisingly good in all regions of the country. However, besides consistent quality and an ever-present offering of grilled meat and fish and pizza from north to south, each part of the country prides itself on specific traditional dishes.
Continental Croatia (Zagreb, Bilogora, Zagorje, Podravina, Medimurje) — Food traditions in this region have roots in seasonal climate, fertile farmland, and the rural lifestyle of the common people, plus the lavish gastronomy of the nobility (Austro-Hungarian) who lived in castles dotting the terrain.
Consequently, cuisine in this part of Croatia is more substantial than in other regions. For example, the need to store meat safely inspired lodrica ili tiblica (big wooden bowl), baked meats kept in bowls full of lard in cool places for later use. Smoking and drying, also methods used to preserve meats, extended to cheese (prgica), still a popular item in regional markets. Zganci, a kind of grits topped with cheese, sour cream, yogurt, or bacon, is a common breakfast dish. Turkey or duck with mlinci (baked noodles), sarma (ground meat in cabbage leaves), and krvavice (blood sausage with sauerkraut) are popular mains.
Favorite desserts in this region are strukle (phyllo filled with fresh cheese, apples, cherries, or other fruit) and palacinke (crepes filled with honey and walnuts or jam). Knedle sa sljivama (potato dumplings stuffed with plums) are on almost every restaurant menu. In Medimurje, prekomurska gibanica (yeast cake layered with fresh cheese, apples, walnuts, poppy seeds, and raisins) is a must-try sweet after dinner.
Gorski Kotar & Lika — The area southwest of central Croatia (including Plitvice Lakes National Park) is a combination of forests, hills, and pastures where winters are long and summers short. The food is similar to that of continental Croatia, with a few notable additions. You’ll see a lot of roadside stalls selling homemade cheeses and fruit brandies as well as spit-roasted lamb and pork. Look for janjetina (lamb) or janjetina baked under a peka (a metal, bell-shaped lid). Lika-style sauerkraut is another specialty that consists of marinated cabbage and smoked sausage served with potatoes boiled in their skins. Pijane pastrve (drunken trout) is fish cooked in wine sauce and served with potatoes and veggies, while licki lonac (Licki pot) is a stew of cabbage, potatoes, root vegetables, and meat.
Slavonia & Baranja — Cuisine in the eastern part of continental Croatia has a Hungarian influence: The food is quite heavy and seasoned with a lot of paprika. Specialties include cobanac (goulash made from meat and seasoned with hot paprika, garlic, and bay leaves), ribli paprikas (paprika-based stew with a variety of fish), punjene paprikas (paprika peppers stuffed with minced pork, rice, and bacon), and freshwater fish grilled on a spit over an open fire. Kulen (spicy paprika sausage), rezanci (broad egg noodles topped with sweetened walnuts or poppy seeds), and breskvice (dough balls filled with walnuts, sugar, chocolate, and fruit brandy, colored red to resemble peaches) are other regional delights. And the red stuff served with meat is called ajvar, a kind of red-pepper tapenade that can be mild or hot.
Kvarner & Istria — These two regions offer the most diverse cuisine in Croatia, perhaps because they combine both inland and coastal tastes. Here the peka covers food placed on a ceramic slab during cooking. The peka is covered with hot ash during the process. In the Kvarner, try Creska janjetina (lamb from the island of Cres) and skampi (shrimp cooked under the peka); or try game stews infused with bay leaves that from the mountainous part of Cres island.
In Lovran and along Kvarner Bay, maruni (chestnuts) are used in almost everything, including krostule (fried strips of dough made with flour, eggs, lemon zest, and grape brandy). On Pag, try Paski sir (Pag cheese), lamb, and prsut (Dalmatian ham), all infused with a distinct Pag flavor because of the animals’ diet of local herbs.
Istria has the most refined cuisine in Croatia, and it is also the source of some of the country’s best wines. Try riblja juha (fish soup), riblji slozenac (fish stew), kuhane kozice (boiled prawns), crni rizoto sa plodovima mora (black and white seafood risotto), and any dish with tartufe (truffles), including Istarski fuzi sa tartufima (Istrian fuzi with truffles). A special Istarski fuzi sa gulasom od divljaci (fuzi with game goulash) is worth trying. Wines from this region are Malvazija and Vrbnicka zlahtina (whites); and Teran and Borgonja (reds).
Dalmatia — Freshness and simplicity are the watchwords that most aptly characterize Dalmatian cuisine. Main meals typically start with prsut and Paski sir, both often scattered with olives that have different flavors, depending on the Dalmatian village that grows and processes them. Oysters (kamenice) from Ston on the Peljesac Peninsula are also prized, as is anything from the sea. Riba na leso (fish grilled with olive oil) and served with blitva (boiled Swiss chard and potatoes) is a common main course, as is skoljke i skampi na buzaru (shellfish and shrimp stew). There are as many recipes and spellings for buzara as there are restaurants, but common ingredients in this sauce seem to be oil, garlic, parsley, wine, and shellfish. Pasticada (larded beef or pork roasted in wine and spices) is another good choice.
Wines to seek out in this region include Bogdanusa and Postup (white); and Kastelet and Plavac (red).
Croatian language (hrvatski jezik) is a specific Croatian national standard form of the Serbo-Croatian dyasistem spoken by Croats, principally in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serbian province of Vojvodina and other neighboring countries.
Croatian standard language and literary is based on the Shtokavian dialect (Štokavian) the influence of other dialects spoken by Croats are Chakavian dialect (Čakavian) and Kajkavian dialect (Kajkavian). These three dialects, and the four Central South Slavic national standard languages, are sometimes subsumed under the term “Serbo-Croatian” in English, though this term is controversial for native speakers and paraphrases such as “Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian” are therefore sometimes used instead, especially in diplomatic circles.
Vernacular texts in the Chakavian dialect first appeared in the 13th century, and Shtokavian texts appeared a century later. Standardization began in the period sometimes called “Baroque Slavism” in the first half of the 17th century, while some authors date it back to the end of 15th century. The modern Neo-Shtokavian standard that appeared in the mid 18th century was the first unified Croatian literary language.
Croatian is written in Gaj’s Latin alphabet.
Here are a few words in Croatian:
Yes – Da
No – Ne
Please – Molim
Thank you – Hvala
Hello/hi – Zdravo/bog
Goodbye – Do videnja
Good morning – Dabro jutro
Good evening – Dobra vecer
Good night – Laku noc
Good day – Dobar dan
Men – Muskarci
Women – Zene
Where is…? – Gdje je…?
Is there…? – Ima…?
There isn’t… – Nema…
I would like… – Zelim…
Entrance – Ulaz
Exit – Izlaz
Open – Otvoreno
Closed – Zatuoreno
WC – Zahodi
Tours and Excursions
If you have a lunch or dinner stop during your tour or excursion, quite often our travelers will invite their guide or driver to join them. It is a Croatian custom that travelers buy lunch or dinner for their guide/driver. Many of our clients enjoy interacting with locals but if you would prefer to eat alone, please let us know in advance or mention to your guide/driver during your tour.
At the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your guide and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in local currency (Kuna), the equivalency of $4 USD per person per day for your driver and $6 USD to $10 USD per person per day for your guide. Perhaps a little more when it’s a long day or long tour.
Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
Important Telephone Numbers
Weather forecast and road conditions 060 520 520
Croatia Airlines 062 777 777
Croatian National Tourist Board +385 1 4699 333
International operator 901
International Directory Enquiries 902
What to pack for a Croatian holiday
Packing light is always a good thing according to every travel expert’s advice. If part of your trip includes taking public transportation, such as the ferry/catamaran, light is absolutely essential. Nothing is worse than dragging heavy suitcases up the ferry ramp and getting your bags into the storage compartment. For our clients who are touring with private car and drivers, you have more leeway but it’s still wise not to overdo it. The more stuff you bring, the more stuff there is to pack up every time you check out of the hotel and the greater the chance that you’ll leave something behind. Still, you need to have the essentials so you feel appropriately dressed, ready to face contingencies and with all the gear necessary to get the most out of your Croatian vacation.
Blending into the local scene can be a challenge when you are on the go but here are a few thoughts on how to NOT stand out as a foreigner: Each region of Croatia has its own “style” and there are plenty of scruffy tourists around but in places like Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik, you may notice that the women dress well. Not to mention, Croatians invented the tie! So plan on a few nice “going out” outfits. Remember the proximity to Italy—you will also see Italian fashion on the eastern side of the Adriatic.
No trip to Croatia is complete without enjoying the fabulous beaches! Bikinis and sarongs fit in nicely on the islands, where casual chic tends to be the look. Don’t forget the pebbly shores create a footwear challenge. Flip-flops aren’t enough and you’ll probably want a water shoe with rubber soles.
If you are visiting any of the major parks, such as Plitvice or Krka, good walking shoes are essential. Paths are well marked, kept clean and tidy, but they consist mainly of gravel or wooden paths above lakes and waterfalls. These paths often get wet and slippery. During winter months the snow is cleared but the walkways can get icy! Consider bringing comfortable walking/hiking boots or athletic trainers.
If you are traveling into areas such as Bosnia and Sarajevo, please be aware of the fashion differences between east and west. Although there is much cultural and religious diversity in these regions, if you are going into a mosque or church please wear appropriate attire. No shorts or short skirts. Covered bodice and arms are appreciated too.
It’s a Walking Experience!
Yes, be prepared to do a good deal of walking throughout the trip – it truly is the only way to explore Croatia and its many corners – so comfortable shoes are in order! Once you get to your destination by transport, you will still be walking a lot to see places like the Coliseum or the Diocletian Palace. A little exercise routine prior to your Croatian trip is not a bad idea just to get in shape. It will only improve your overall experience.
As far as amenities go, you will usually find modern toilet facilities readily available in the large cities. However, as you get out into the countryside and smaller communities, amenities can be substandard.
Security is always a key factor when traveling abroad, but especially so in a post-911 world. Everyone in your group should be conscious of the need for safety. Whether you are flying or traveling on the ground, do whatever you can to deflect attention away from yourself. Dress in clothes that do not scream ―I am an American! T-shirts and ball caps emblazoned with American logos are not recommended. White sneakers and Hawaiian shirts are also a bad idea. You want to be comfortable, but think European or Continental as much as possible. Shorts and flip flops are also not recommended. Aside from the fact of calling attention to yourself, most Croatians dress very nicely, so you will see few of them dressed in such a casual manner.
Always keep an eye out for anything that looks suspicious, and report it to your tour captain or the local authorities. Do not alarm your fellow travelers, but do keep an eye out for one another. In the highly unlikely event you should find yourself in a security situation, remain calm and do not call attention to yourself. Only take extreme measures as a very last resort. It‘s not a fun topic, but safety is paramount.
Our Adventures Croatia Guides
One of the great features of an Adventures Croatia Tour is the wealth of knowledge and experience you will get from your local tour guides, who work with us to make sure you have a great experience. These are people who live in the area and make their living by showing you around their city and country. They may even give you hints or tips about great places to eat or shop on your downtime. You will come to appreciate these people for the great professionals they are, and you will remember them fondly when you look back at your vacation photos. So, treat them with the courtesy and respect they deserve. They will do the same for you. And while all base tips are included in your tour, you may wish to go beyond that to show your individual appreciation.
We hope these tips, info, restaurants and hot spot lists are helpful. Enjoy your trip to Croatia!
Relax and enjoy your trip with us! Please rest assured all details have been coordinated for you. Thank you for your business and we appreciate follow-up critiques and compliments!
We are confident you will have an amazing experience!