First-time Croatia ideas: every part you have to know earlier than you go to

With its glittering Adriatic shoreline, 1244 islands, endlessly fascinating cities and terribly dramatic landscapes, Croatia has been steadily making its method up folks’s must-go record. 

Naturally, vacationers are drawn to these stunning Adriatic seashores that simply maintain their very own in opposition to their Mediterranean rivals. However inland Croatia is simply as fascinating, from the hilltop villages of Istria to the elegantly buzzing capital, Zagreb. Earlier than you go, take a look at these journey tricks to take advantage of out of your Croatia journey.

Planning your journey to Croatia

Make sure you might have the correct foreign money

Though Croatia joined the European Union in 2013, it received’t be becoming a member of the eurozone till 1 January 2023. Within the meantime, stick with it utilizing the Croatian kuna, which you should purchase upfront exterior the nation in addition to from the banks and ATMs when you arrive. Some retailers and eating places will settle for euros, however you’ll get your change in kuna, and never at a really engaging fee.

Get the within scoop on the most recent cultural happenings all around the world delivered weekly to your inbox with our e mail e-newsletter.

Don’t overstretch your self when planning an itinerary

It may be tempting to squeeze in as many locations as doable into one journey, however you received’t be doing your self any favors until you’re staying for a minimum of two weeks. When you’re planning to go to multiple Adriatic island, assume realistically about how a lot time you may spend in every place and the way you may be getting round. Get to know the schedule of the nationwide ferry operator, Jadrolinija, when you intend to do some island-hopping. Croatia has an in depth bus community, however think about some lengthy journey instances when you’re touring alongside the Adriatic coast.

Uncertain what to tip at a Croatian restaurant? 10% is customary  ©paul prescott/Shutterstock

How a lot do you tip?

Croatia’s tipping tradition is extra laid again than in different nations. Having mentioned that, it’s customary to depart a minimum of 10% in eating places and for magnificence and spa remedies. In bars and cafés, simply spherical up the invoice. Tour guides recognize a number of kuna on the finish of a tour, and taxi drivers don’t anticipate a tip, however, once more, if you wish to spherical up a fare from, say, 22 kuna (US$3.15) to 25 kuna (US$3.57), it’s appreciated. When you’re filling up your automotive and see a number of college students cleansing automotive windscreens, give them a number of kuna, as they’re working for ideas solely.

How protected is it to journey in Croatia?

Croatia is a comparatively protected nation, with low ranges of violent crime. Probably the most prevalent challenge for vacationers is pickpocketing, however even that’s on a a lot decrease scale than in different European nations. Feminine solo vacationers ought to really feel protected on their very own, though it’s sensible to get some data from lodging suppliers on areas to keep away from, if any. When utilizing taxis, all vacationers ought to make sure they’re utilizing a licensed automotive both from an official taxi rank or ordered out of your lodge.

What’s Croatia like for LGBTQI+ vacationers?

On this comparatively conservative nation, homosexuality is tolerated however LGBTQI+ vacationers must be discreet. Public shows of affection might elevate a number of eyebrows, and a few vacationers have skilled hostile reactions. Zagreb’s homosexual scene is rising, nonetheless, and each Zagreb and Cut up maintain Homosexual Pleasure festivals each June.

Purchase some swimming footwear

Most of Croatia’s seashores are pebbly or rocky and will be onerous to take pleasure in in naked toes. Simply decide up a pair of these neoprene or plastic swimming footwear you see in all of the resorts and also you’ll even be defending your toes from sea urchins that lurk below rocks and pebbles.

Be ready for plenty of naked flesh

Naturist seashores are fashionable in Croatia, and typically you received’t know you’re on one till folks begin stripping off. Most are marked with FKK – the German phrase “Frei-Körper-Kultur” that means free physique tradition – not surprisingly, as Germans make up among the greatest numbers of vacationers in Croatia. Away from the FKK seashores, topless bathing is sort of widespread.

Are you able to keep away from the crowds in Dubrovnik?

Though the variety of cruise ships docking in Dubrovnik isn’t at pre-pandemic ranges, there might nonetheless be instances when as much as 8000 folks may descend in at some point. That’s the cue to avoid the Previous City till the cruise passengers depart within the late afternoon. Control the Dubrovnik Port Authority’s website for cruise arrivals.

Can I exploit my cell phone in Croatia?

Croatia is a part of EU roaming, which is useful when you’ve got a contract that means that you can use your knowledge overseas. It’s simple to seek out Wi-Fi in cafes and bars: simply ask the server for the password (šifra).

People in swimsuits sunbathe on the pier in Adriatic coast with sailboats, ship and houses in the distance behind them
Do because the Croatians do: save the swimsuits for the seashore © AlexLinch / Getty Pictures

Etiquette in Croatia

Make an effort to decorate appropriately

When you’re visiting church buildings and different sacred websites, hold your shoulders coated and, when you can, keep away from naked thighs. When you’re sporting a hat, take it off whenever you’re in a church. Though costume codes are relaxed on the coast, Cut up, Dubrovnik and Hvar have handed legal guidelines in opposition to strolling across the metropolis in swimwear or bare-chested. Croatians like to decorate neatly and take nice satisfaction of their look, so that you don’t need to look too scruffy when you can assist it.

Don’t get drunk in public

After years of tolerating hordes of drunken vacationers, the mayor of Hvar City had had sufficient. In 2017, the vacation spot began to challenge fines to folks behaving badly – public drunkenness shouldn’t be solely frowned upon, but additionally topic to a tremendous of as much as €700 (US$755). Identical goes when you move out and go to sleep in a public place resembling a park bench. 

Get to know the Croatian character

Croatians will be fairly reserved folks, typically showing brusque. It’s nothing private, particularly whenever you get to know them higher and the preliminary reserve melts to disclose a heat and pleasant facet.

Be tactful when speaking about Croatia’s warfare of independence

The Nineties warfare that splintered the previous Yugoslavia is a subject that wants cautious dealing with. If folks present a willingness to speak about it, then by all means ask wise questions. However don’t be intrusive, and keep in mind that Croatians received’t take too kindly to being known as both Yugoslav or Balkan. Equally, on this predominantly Catholic nation, be conscious of creating loud statements in opposition to faith. 

A red car drive around a bend with Dubrovnik in the background
When driving in Croatia, remember these headlights! © Dallas and John Heaton / Getty Pictures

Well being and security in Croatia

Are you able to drink the faucet water?

Faucet water in Croatia is completely protected and really drinkable. 

What about earthquakes?

Croatia has a historical past of earthquakes going again centuries, however two current ones in 2020 brought on important harm. The quake that shook Zagreb broken hundreds of buildings, many within the previous city together with the cathedral. Quickly after, the town of Petrinja, about an hour’s drive south of Zagreb, was severely broken in a quake whose aftershocks rippled all through the area.

Are there any security considerations to remember?

There are nonetheless components of the nation within the hinterlands of Northern Dalmatia and Lika the place landmines stay from the Nineties warfare, however these might be signposted with a cranium and crossbones image. Don’t be remotely tempted to go close to them.

What’s one of the best contact for an emergency?

Dial 112 for basic emergencies, 192 for police, and 194 for an ambulance. When you fall unwell in Croatia and also you’re an EU citizen with a European Well being Insurance coverage Card (EHIC) or a UK citizen with a International Well being Insurance coverage Card, you’re entitled to vastly diminished well being care – for instance, a physician’s appointment is barely 10 kuna (US$1.50). However even with this cowl, you must nonetheless take out journey insurance coverage.

Any particular driving legal guidelines to learn about?

When you’re driving in Croatia from November to April, it’s obligatory to have your lights on throughout daytime in addition to at evening.