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Croatia Travel Information, Tips and More

Croatian Society and Culture

Language  

The Croatian language is a South Slavic language. The majority of Croatians speak at least one other language. According to a recent poll, some 80% of Croatians are multilingual and, of that group, 81% are English-speakers. The next most popular language is German at 49% followed by Italian at 24%.

Croats

The majority of the population are Croats. Minorities include Serbs, Hungarians and Gypsies. The population is predominantly Roman Catholic, although there are Christian Orthodox, Muslim, and Jewish minorities, mostly living in Zagreb.

 

Religion

  • The Catholic Church plays a large role in Croatian society. Historically, the clergy played a pivotal role in the country’s education and culture. Under Communist rule The Church had difficult relations with the authorities, constantly remaining loyal to Rome. Between 1945 and 1952, many priests were shot or imprisoned.

  • After communism was defeated, the church slowly started to re-create its once prominent role in people’s lives. Croatians are especially devoted to the Blessed Virgin (called "Gospa").

  • There are sanctuaries throughout the country built in her honour. Each village and town has a patron saint and that saint's feast day is celebrated with a procession and church ceremony. Some villages still have a traditional bonfire on their patron saints’ day. Many professionals also have their own patron saint.

 

Nationalists

  • Croats are extremely proud of their heritage and culture and are thus staunch nationalists. They call their country "Our Beautiful Homeland" ("Lijepa naša"), which is also the title of the national anthem.

  • The sense of nationalism comes both from their long and rich culture as well as a legacy of foreign invasion and control.

  • Folklore plays a key role in preserving the culture. Life experiences are translated into verse, poetic songs, melodies, fairy tales, symbolic rituals, music, dance, costumes, and jewellery. Folk songs and poems often attest to the sentiment and regard between family members.

 

Customs

Meeting and Greeting

  • Greetings on initial meetings will tend to be formal and reserved.

  • A handshake, direct eye contact and the appropriate greeting for the time of day are standard.

  • "Dobro jutro" (good morning), "dobro dan" (good day), and "dobro veèer" (good evening).

  • Address people with their honorific titles plus surname. If you are unsure of titles then use "Gospodin" for Mr, "Gospodja" for Mrs and "Gospodice" for Miss).

  • Only close friends and family members tend to use first names. Never jump to first names terms without being invited to.

  • Close friends may greet each other with an embrace and a kiss on each cheek. Again, wait until the Croatian initiates this form of greeting.  

  • At social gatherings hosts introduce guests, usually starting with the women and then moving on to the men in a rough approximation of age order, oldest to youngest.

 

Travel Information

Passport and Visa

 

USA and Canadian travelers to Croatia must have a passport valid for three months beyond the length of their stay and issued within the past 10 years. It must also have a minimum of one empty page for the Croatia entry stamps.  Travelers must also have a valid return ticket. A visa is not required for stays up to 90 days. We recommend that you always check to be sure the Visa requirements have not changed prior to your departure.

 

Currency

 

The official currency of Croatia is the Croatian Kuna.  It is subdivided into 100 lipa. The symbol for Kuna is Kn.  Notes are in denominations of Kn 1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10.  Coins are in denominations of Kn 25, 5, 2, 1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 Lipa.

 

One Kuna = .17 cents USD

 

We suggest that you convert your local money in Croatia rather than at home, as the exchange rates will be much more favorable. Where possible; exchange your money in a bank or retrieve money from an ATM. Ttry to avoid exchanging money at hotels or in a Bureau de Change as the rates are typically quite poor.  Most major towns and islands in Croatia will have ATMs that are linked to international networks; however, smaller towns may not have ATMs available. Credit cards such as

Visa and MasterCard are widely recognized and are accepted in most tourist areas; however, it’s always a good idea to have a small amount of cash if you’re travelling off the beaten path.

 

Water

 

The official travel guide to Croatia says the water is safe to drink.  In reviewing many sites there are recommendations that the water is not safe and many that say bottled water is best.  To be on the safe side and to ensure a good trip we suggest that you drink bottled water.

 

Time

 

6 hours ahead EST / 9 hours ahead of PST

 

Weather

 

The coast has a typically Mediterranean climate consisting of hot, dry, sunny weather during summer, and relatively mild though sometimes wet in winter. Average temperatures during summer should be in the 77 - 86°F range, although the temperatures could reach the high 80s or low 90s °F.  It is not unusual for the summer weather to stretch into autumn with temperatures in the high 60s. In general, however, during autumn and winter on the coast, you will still experience some sunny days, although it can sometimes get quite rainy. Winters are cooler, with temperatures never getting below 40°F. Anything colder is considered out of the norm but not impossible.

A continental climate exists in the interior of Croatia which means that winters can be pretty cold, with temperatures often falling below freezing. Snow is very likely, and can be pretty heavy during the winter. Summers are often sweltering with temperatures often reaching high 80s or low 90s °F.

 

Electric Current, Plugs, Converters & Adaptor

 

The standard voltage in Croatia is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. If the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 100 V - 127 V (as is in the US, Canada and most South American countries), you will need a voltage converter, as well as a plug adaptor, in Croatia.

 


In Croatia the power sockets are of type C and F. Check out the following pictures.

 


Type C: also known as the standard "Euro" plug. This socket also works with plug E and plug F.

 



 



Type F: also known as "Schuko". This socket also works with plug C and plug E.

 




 

If your country has 220-240 V you may just need an plug adaptor.  Be sure to check your voltage needs.

 

Mobile Phones

 

Nowadays it’s relatively ease to use your own mobile phone in Croatia, however, the costs of both making and receiving phone calls can be high.  Please check with your carrier for availability and rates and look into getting Croatian Sim card.

 

Internet and Wi-Fi

 

Internet in Croatia these days is widely available and broadband services are now very commonplace and fast.

 

Some towns (or parts of towns) are even setting up their own free-to-use hotspots. You will also find wi-fi in other typical places – bars, cafes and so on, although many times these are secure networks for which you’ll have to ask the password. Don’t hesitate to do so…although you may have to ask the waiter (or similar) to write it down for you if it’s something a little on the tricky side (i.e. in Croatian)!

 

What to Pack for Your Croatia Vacation

 

In Croatia you will find yourself involved in many different activities during the day so it is best to think of pieces that can be mixed together easily.  Consider that Croatia has four seasons, and three distinctive climates: Mediterranean climate along the coast, mountain climate on its rugged mountains and a continental climate inland. This means that if you are visiting Croatia during the summer the majority of your clothes should be light and comfortable. However is you will traveling to the interior and cities it will still be warm but may be cool at night, to be on a safe side bring a windbreaker jacket or cardigan along with a pair of long pants and long sleeves shirt or sweater.

 

A Swim suit is definitely the most important piece of clothes you should have on your packing list for a vacation in Croatia. Croatia is all about the fun under the sun. Bring two swimming suits because nobody likes to stay wet. While many accommodations in Croatia, provide bathroom towels, beach towels aren’t usually provided, at least not free of charge.  If there is room in your suitcase, make sure to pack a beach towel.

 

Water shoesshould be the first item on your packing list for a vacation in Croatia. Croatian coast is rocky, its beaches pebbly, so everybody wears water shoes. And if you don’t like water shoes, check jelly shoes. While they are not perfect for walking on the Croatian rocky coast, they do the job and are usually more stylish than water shoes.  

 

Foot Wear - You should definitely bring comfortable walking shoes to wear.  Most tours involve a lot of walking. Sandals are convenient to keep your feet cool as long as they are comfortable and give you support for walking. Leave your high heels at home.

 

Toiletries - Bring your personal toiletry needs.  Hotels provide body wash, shampoo and soap.  

 

Sunglasses are a must in this sunny country. Two pair are suggested, one to keep in your bag and one you will wear constantly.

 

Mosquito repellent is a good idea to keep from getting those pesky bites.

 

Sunscreen is very important as the days will be sunny and hot.  We suggest that you bring a good brand with a high SPF.  You should definitely wear sunscreen at all times. Sunscreens are expensive in Croatia, so it’s best to bring it with you from home.

 

Please see our general Packing List.  Then don’t forget the following:

 

Brimmed hat, visor, baseball cap

 

Bathing suit and cover up

 

For women, a shawl or scarf if entering a religious building

 

Windbreaker or sweater for evenings

 

For warm summer months, long sleeve shirt to protect arms from sun.

 

Comfortable clothing for summer months.

 

Shopping In Croatia

Shopping in Croatia is usually not on travellers' radar as the country is not known as a major shopping destination. Whether or not you're looking for a unique souvenir, browsing Croatia's shops and markets is part of the getting-to-know-you experience. Stores in Croatia are open long hours, usually from 8am to 7pm on weekdays and until 2pm on Saturday. Sunday shopping is only allowed during the tourist season.

 

There are outdoor markets in all major cities and many small towns as well. Most markets center around food with an emphasis on produce from local farmers. Many of the farmer stands also sell their homemade cheese, wine or spirits. The packaging may be basic but the quality is excellent. The larger markets also sell cheap clothes, shoes, sunglasses, trinkets and household accessories.

 

What to Buy

Croatia has a long handicraft tradition that has resulted in a wealth of distinctive and original souvenirs. Here's what to look for:

 

Pag Lace  - Produced only on Pag Island, this intricate lace once decorated the clothes of Empresses and Princesses throughout Europe. The lace is produced using an ordinary mending needle and you can still see older women at work creating it in Pag Town. It is available in more upscale souvenir shops throughout Croatia.

 

Embroidery - Croatian embroidery reflects the country tortured history. There's an Ottoman influence in the north and a Venetian influence along the coast. Throughout, the predominant color is red which symbolizes fertility. Look for table linens, scarfs and aprons decorated with traditional Croatian designs.

 

Samobor Crystal - This little town is known for its incredible crystal. If you're in Samobor, stop by Crystal Shop to get the best.

 

Ties - Croatia is the home of the tie (cravat), a style which was once the rage of Louis XIV's court at Versailles. Croatian ties are still beautifully made and sold largely through the Croatia shops which have outlets in all major cities.

 

Biska Croatian Wine
makes a wonderful souvenir but even more unusual is a bottle of homemade Croatian rakija. By far the most popular Croatian rakija is travarica  (trah-var-reetza), concocted from grape brandy allowed to marinate in an assortment of herbs. Travarica is produced commercially but the best (and strongest) is homemade. You can find the commercial variety in a supermarket and homemade travarica in many open air markets.There's also rakija made from plums, carob and even mistletoe.

 

Local Foods of Croatia

Croatian food is as complex and varied as the many cultures that have influenced its evolution. Easily recognizable Italian, Middle Eastern and Ottoman influences intermingle with Croatia’s Balkan staples. The country’s long coastline gives it access to a wide range of seafood, making fish and shellfish very popular. Fresh seasonal, local vegetables and dishes of meat, including pork, lamb, and beef are all popular on Croatian menus..

 

  • Meso z tiblice – pork from "tiblitsa" wooden barrel from Međimurje County, northern Croatia.

  • Lobster from Dalmatia.

  • Goulash is very popular in most parts of Croatia.

  • White Truffles from Istria.

  • Croatian style Punjena Paprika/stuffed peppers.

  • Cheese škripavac.

  • Pogača bread.

  • Savijača or Štrudla with apple


Coffee & Tea -
Croatians drink lots of coffee, and Croatian coffee is excellent. However, at home Croatians mostly drink Turkish coffee, or Moka, while bars in Croatia serve espresso. Croatians drink lots of teasan, but black, green, oolong or premium and delicate teas are hard to find.  

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