The Republic of Croatia is a state located in the west of the Balkan Peninsula. In the north-west, Croatia has a border with Slovenia, in the north-east – with Hungary and Serbia, in the south – with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. The country conditionally consists of two parts: continental, stretching in the basin of the Sava River, and coastal, stretching in a narrow strip along the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The total area of the country is 56,594 km², the water area is 33,200 km². Croatia also owns a large number of islands, a total of 1185 pieces, of which only 67 are inhabited. The capital of Croatia and the country’s largest city is Zagreb.
The history of this area goes back many centuries: the first archaeological finds on the territory of Croatia date back to the Neolithic era and are examples of Impresso cardiac ceramics. By the beginning of our era, the entire territory of present-day Croatia, then called Illyria, was conquered by the Romans. The Slavic tribes of the Croats appeared in those places only in the 7th century, forming the Croatian kingdom, which soon became the strongest in the region. In subsequent times, Croatia experienced Hungarian, Turkish, Austrian rule, part of the country was part of the Venetian Republic, while the other part of it – the Dubrovnik Republic – largely retained its independence.
Croatia found itself practically within its present borders in 1939, having received the status of autonomy (the so-called banovina) within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. At the end of World War II, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was created, which, in addition to the federal republics of Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, also included Croatia.
In 1991, Croatia declared independence, but soon after that, JNA forces were brought into its territory, and a war of independence began, which lasted until the end of 1995. The declaration of independence by Croatia was the beginning of the collapse of the SFRY. Finally, the integrity of Croatia was restored in 1998.
- Capital: Zagreb
- Area: 56,594 km²
- Population: 4,154,200
- Language: Croatian
- Of.site: https://croatia.hr/en-GB
Today Croatia is a popular tourist destination, one of the best countries for ecotourism in Europe. This is largely facilitated by the reverent attitude of the Croats to their own natural resources: the presence of a huge number of national parks and protected areas, an impeccably clear sea, beaches marked with the blue flags of the FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education). Another treasure of the country is 20 mineral springs and one unique deposit of the rarest medicinal oil called “naftalan”.
How to get to Croatia
The easiest way to get to Croatia is by plane. The year-round service is carried out by regular flights, in the summer they are supplemented by charter flights organized by travel companies.
Another way to get to Croatia is by rail. From Moscow to Zagreb there is a train number 15, which departs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from the Kievsky railway station. On the way, the train takes 52 hours, from Budapest the route continues by a trailer car to Zagreb. The fare is 390 euros (one way) in class I and 250 euros (one way) in class II. In summer, this train goes to Split (travel time – 60 hours 40 minutes), the timetable should be checked on the official website of Russian Railways. The path passes through the territories of Ukraine and Hungary. For such a trip, a Hungarian Schengen transit visa is required.
You can also get to Croatia by car, passing the territory of Ukraine and Hungary, you also need a Hungarian transit visa and the corresponding documents for the car (international driver’s license, vehicle registration certificate, “green card”).
Croatia can be reached by sea by yacht, cruise ship or ferry. Thus, the local ferry company Jadrolinija operates flights to Italy – to Ancona from Split and Zadar and to Bari from Dubrovnik. Ticket prices and online booking options should be checked on the company’s website.
From the ports of Mali, Lošinj, Porec, Pula, Rabac, Rovinj in Croatia, you can travel to Venice by the Italian company Venezialines.
Also, the Italian company Azzurra Line serves the water route Dubrovnik – Bari, and the Italian BlueLine Ferries operates ferry services from Split and about. Hvar to Ancona.
Croatia has a well-developed international bus network, and once you get to Zagreb or another city in the country, you can easily get to any Croatian resort on a comfortable bus. Thus, the main international carrier is Promet Makarska, whose flights connect Croatia with almost all European countries, and all buses are air-conditioned and very comfortable.
From Ukraine (from Chop and Lvov) in summer bus charters run to Croatia – via Zagreb along the coast to Dubrovnik and to Porec via Pula. The issue price is 95–120 euros in both directions.
Climate and weather in Croatia
In Croatia, three climatic zones are distinguished: continental, inland, Mediterranean – along the coastline of the Adriatic Sea, mountain and semi-mountain – in the central regions
The continental part is characterized by a temperate continental climate, the coastal – Mediterranean. Winter temperatures on the continental part are from -5°C to 0°C, in some mountainous areas they can reach -30°C.
In coastal areas in winter – from 0°C to +5°C. Summers are dry and warm on the coast (+26-30°C), cool (+22-26°C) – on the continent, in the mountains even in summer it can be quite cool (+15-20°C).
Average sea water temperatures: + 10-15°С – in winter, + 25-27°С – in summer.
The comfortable holiday season in Croatia lasts from June to September inclusive.
Cities and regions
Croatia is divided into 20 districts called zupanija (from Croatian županija). At the same time, the capital of Croatia – Zagreb – is a separate county. Below is the geographical division, and even lower, in the section “Regions of Croatia” – administrative.
The main tourist cities of Croatia:
Central Croatia is an area located in the basins of the Sava, Drava and Mura rivers. It is on the territory of Central Croatia that the capital of the country is located – the city of Zagreb. The region is famous for its dense forests, vineyards, medieval fortresses and curiae (noble estates), thermal springs. The main cities of Central Croatia after Zagreb are Varazdin, Sisak, Krapina, Koprivnica.
Slavonia is the eastern continental part of Croatia and a historical region with the central city of Osijek, located in the valleys of the Drava, Danube, Sava and Ilova rivers. The area is famous for its fertile plains, ancient oak forests, picturesque mountains and thermal springs. Besides Osijek, other large cities of Slavonia are Vinkovci, Virovitica, Slavonski Brod.
Tourists in Croatia mainly visit the coastal part of the country, which, in turn, is divided into five regions.
Istria is the northern part of the Adriatic coast, the region with the most developed tourist infrastructure. Istria is famous for its picturesque medieval towns with many historical monuments. The region is also known for its rocky coastline, coniferous and deciduous forests, and vineyards. The main cities are Pula, Rovinj, Porec, Umag.
Kvarner is a tourist region located between the Istrian peninsula, mainland Croatia and Dalmatia. This area is considered the founding father of Croatian tourism. The administrative center of Kvarner is Rijeka, and the most famous cities are Opatija and Crikvenica. The most famous Croatian islands are also located here: Krk, Rab, Cres and Lošinj, famous for their picturesque landscapes.
North Dalmatia is a popular coastal region of Croatia, but not distinguished by an abundance of hotels and tourists. The largest city is Zadar. Local resorts are small but very cozy towns Biograd na Moru, Vodice.
Central Dalmatia is the largest tourist region in the country with its capital in Split. Central Dalmatia includes the central part of the Adriatic coast from Sibenik in the north to the small town of Gradac in the south, and many islands, including Brač, Hvar, Vis, Primosten. Local landscapes are perhaps the most beautiful in the entire Croatian Adriatic: with dense pine groves descending to the water’s edge, with a scattering of secluded bays, rocky beaches marked with blue flags. The main resorts are Sibenik, Trogir, Brela, Makarska, Tucepi.
South Dalmatia is the southernmost part of Croatia, also called the Dubrovnik Riviera with its capital in Dubrovnik, “Croatian Venice”. Other popular resorts in the region: Cavtat, Mlini, Plat, Slano, Stop, as well as the islands of Kolocep, Korcula, Mljet.
Regions of Croatia
- Belovarsko-Bilogorsk County
- Brodsko-Posavskaya County
- Varazdin County
- Virovititsko-Podravska County
- Vukovar-Sremska County
- City of Zagreb
- Dubrovnik-Neretva County
- Zagreb County
- Zadar County
- Istrian County
- Karlovack County
- Koprivnitsko-Kryzhevatska County
- Krapinsko-Zagorskaya County
- Litsko-Senj County
- Medzhimur county
- Osiecko-Barana County
- Pozhezhsko-Slavonskaya County
- Primorsko-Goranskaya County
- Sisak-Moslavinsky County
- Split-Dalmatia County
- Shibensko-Knin County
What to see in Croatia
The capital of Croatia, Zagreb, is located in the Sava River valley on a vast plain near the Zagreb Upland. The city managed to keep its architectural ensemble intact, despite the fact that it became the arena of all military conflicts at the end of the 20th century. The old city, divided into the Upper City (Gornji Grad) and the Lower City (Donji Grad), was first mentioned in the annals of 1093.
In Zagreb worth seeing:
- City gate and Lotrscak tower
- St. Mark’s Church
- Archaeological Museum
- Mimara Museum
- Museum of the City of Zagreb
- Strossmeier Gallery
Split, Croatia’s second largest city, was built on the site of the ancient Roman colony of Salona, whose ruins can still be seen in the northwest of the city. It is believed that it was in the Salon that the Roman emperor Diocletian was born, who later built a grandiose palace in the city.
The intricate intertwining of architectural styles and historical eras has created a unique image of the city. But today’s Split is also a popular resort with modern infrastructure, as well as a bustling seaport, which is the gateway to the amazing surrounding islands of Brac, Vis, Hvar and to the national park – the Kornati Islands.
Of the city sights worth visiting:
- Diocletian’s palace
- Art Gallery Meštrović
- Split City Museum
- Archaeological Museum
In addition to the aforementioned sights in Split, you can also see the 15th century Town Hall on the People’s Square with the Ethnographic Museum inside, the monument to Bishop of Nin by I. Meštrovic at the Northern entrance to the Diocletian Palace and the ruins of the Roman settlement of Salona with a large amphitheater, the remains of temples, palaces, villas.
Dubrovnik, the “pearl of the Adriatic”, is hardly the most beautiful city on the Croatian coast. It was founded in the first half of the 7th century by a group of refugees from Epidaurus and was named Laus. Soon the settlement merged with the neighboring Slavic town of Dubrava, becoming a city and then the center of the powerful Republic of Dubrovnik.
Many buildings in the old part of the city tell of its glorious past and have not escaped the influence of the Venetian architectural style. Here you can see buildings from the XIV-XVIII centuries: residential buildings with galleries, narrow cobbled streets, squares with fountains and statues. The sights of Croatia cannot boast of being famous all over the world, however, this does not mean that they do not deserve special attention.
The best attractions here are:
- City walls
- Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
- Franciscan monastery
- Dominican monastery
- Great Fountain of Onofrio
In addition to the above sights, in Dubrovnik, it is worth seeing the beautiful Sponza Palace with the city archive inside it, as well as museums and galleries. Thus, the Knyazhev Dvor Museum stores 15,000 exhibits that tell about the history of the Republic of Dubrovnik, and the Dubrovnik Maritime Museum, located in the fortress of St. Ivan, is dedicated to the history of shipbuilding and navigation. The Ethnographic Museum and the Natural History Museum are also interesting.
Rovinj is the third largest city in Croatia after Zagreb and Split. It is located at the highest point of the Istrian peninsula and is considered one of the best holiday destinations in the region. The appearance of Rovinj is defined by a harbor with white yachts and fishing boats, surrounded by buildings in the Venetian spirit. Narrow stone streets and elegant squares give the city a unique Italian flavor. Here, the proximity of neighboring Italy is felt more strongly than anywhere else in Croatia.
The main attractions of Rovinj:
- Basilica of Saint Eufemia
- Museum of local lore
Zadar, a major city in Central Dalmatia and a popular tourist center, is famous for its magnificently preserved fortress walls, the first Croatian university and Maraschino cherry liqueur. The old town is located on a small peninsula (4 km long and 500 meters wide). Conquerors of all kinds and stripes, from the Romans and Byzantines to the Austrians, Turks and Italians, did Zadar a favor: they left behind a huge number of historical monuments reflecting different eras and cultural layers. The main attractions are concentrated around the ruins of ancient Roman structures within the old city walls; archaeological excavations are constantly being conducted here.
- Church of Saint Donatus
- Church of St. Anastasia
- Sea organ
- Hello sun
The Archaeological Museum, the wonderful National Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Ethnological Museum and the City Art Gallery are also famous in Zadar.
Sibenik is a famous resort in Central Dalmatia, located at the confluence of the Krka River into the Adriatic Sea. The city was founded in 1066; its appearance is defined by a cozy harbor formed by nearby islands and an abundance of ancient architectural monuments.
Attractions in Sibenik:
- Cathedral of St. Jacob
There are 4 fortresses in the city:
- Fortress of St. Michael
- Fortress of St. John
- Fortress of St. Nicholas
- Fortress Shubichevac
Pula is a resort in the south-west of the Croatian region of Istria. Pula is a very unusual city due to its centuries-old history: the first mention of it is contained in the legend of the Argonauts. According to legend, it was the Argonauts who founded the city of Polai on the way to the Golden Fleece. The rich history has determined the architectural appearance of Pula, the culture of the city and its traditions. Many travelers notice that the city makes an ambiguous impression: it fascinates and disappoints at the same time, but leaves no one indifferent.
Attractions of Pula:
- Archaeological Museum of Istria
- Historical Maritime Museum of Istria
At a distance of 20 km west of the city of Split, there is the Trogir museum town. The city is filled with historically important architectural monuments, many castles, temples, ancient buildings that qualitatively distinguish the city from other cities on the Croatian coast. UNESCO even took custody of the historical heritage of the central part of the city.
Attractions of Trogir:
- Cathedral of Saint Lawrence
- Cathedral bell tower
- Fortress Camerlengo
Makarska is the name of a Croatian city with a population of over 13.5 thousand people. It is the capital of the region of the same name and is part of Dalmatia, a historical region with access to the Adriatic coast. At the same time, the Makarska Riviera occupies an advantageous central position on the coast, and the city itself is located between such large centers as Split and Dubrovnik.
- Church of st. Brand
- Church of st. Petra
- Franciscan monastery
- Krk Island and one of the oldest Franciscan monasteries
- Cres island and Vransko lake
- Korcula Island and the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the 13th century
- Vis Island and Blue Cave
- Mljet Island
- Lastovo Island
National parks of Croatia
National parks are the pride of the country. Croatia today is an extremely valuable and most environmentally friendly region in Europe, and is one of the best ecotourism destinations on the Adriatic.
Croatia carefully preserves the purity of its environment and rich flora and fauna. Today, almost 8% of the country’s territory is occupied by national natural parks and other protected areas.
There are 8 national parks in Croatia:
- Plitvice Lakes
- Northern Velebit
What to do in Croatia
Beach holidays in Croatia
First of all, Croatia attracts tourists who respect beach holidays. Today, the country has 125 blue flag beaches and 21 marinas (yacht marinas), making Croatia a leader among the FEE countries. There are almost no sandy beaches in the country, except for the Cavtat region. Most of the beaches are stone platforms with steps leading into the water. In the region of Central Dalmatia there are also a number of pebble beaches. All beaches in Croatia are municipal, admission is free. Paid only rental of sun loungers and umbrellas.
The beaches of Croatia can be divided into three groups: sandy, pebbly, platform beaches.
Pebble beaches are typical for South and Central Dalmatia, pebbles in these regions are small, the beaches are surrounded by pine forests. The most famous beaches of the Makarska Riviera (Baska Voda, Brela, Makarska, Tucepi, Podgora).
There are not many sandy beaches in Croatia. They can be found in the Dubrovnik area, on the Omis Riviera, as well as on the islands of Dugi, Lopud, Korcula, Krk, Hvar, Vis, Pag, Rab and Mljet.
Platform beaches are the most common in Croatia and are scattered all over the coast of the country. These can be public beaches, and small beach areas, organized by the owners of hotels and guesthouses for their guests. The base of such a beach is a concrete platform with ladders descending into the water, on which sun loungers, umbrellas and other beach devices are located.
It is very difficult to single out the best beaches in Croatia, because every vacationer has his own opinion on this matter. The site “Beaches of Croatia“, dedicated to Croatian beaches, presented a rating of the best beaches in the country, focusing on the quality of the beach itself, objects on the beach, and the presence of the surrounding picturesque landscapes.
- Drazica Beach
- Golden Horn beach
- Punta Rata Beach
- Banje beach
- Lokrum Beach
- Gornja Vala Beach
- Milna and Dubovica beaches
- Pakleni otok beach
- Vela Plaza beach
- Stara Baska Beach
- Suncana Uvala Beach
- Ninska Laguna Beach
- Beach Zrće
- Raduca beach
- Rajska plaza beach
- Maslinica beach
- Crveni Otok BeachCape Verde Beach
In addition, it is worth mentioning separately the nudist beaches, since it is Croatia that is considered the founder of European nudism. In 1953, the country officially opened its borders for this kind of centers, until that moment nudism and naturism in Europe was practiced only in closed clubs. The beginning of the history of nudism can be traced back to 1930, when the abdicated British King Edward VIII and his beloved American Wallis Simpson decided to swim naked on the island of Rab in the Kandarola Bay. Today, the Croatian Adriatic coast ranks first in the world in terms of the density of nudist beaches and resorts.
The oldest nudist resort in Croatia is Koversada, which received its first visitors back in the early 1960s. There are several nudist beaches on the Pakleni islands in Dalmatia on Bol. In Istria, 3 km from Rovinj, there is the Monsena International Naturist Center, which brings together naturists from all over Europe.
The official nudist beaches are designated by the abbreviation FKK (from German – Freikorperkultur, free body culture). They are, as a rule, specially separated areas on the territory of “ordinary” beaches. Entrance to nudist beaches is paid.
Diving in Croatia
Thanks to the numerous islands, the Adriatic in Croatia is very calm – there are practically no storms. The rocky coast creates excellent conditions for diving: perfectly clear water, good visibility, a wide variety of marine life.
However, it should be remembered that diving in Croatia is allowed only with a special license: you can buy it for 15 euros in marinas and dive clubs, however, provided that you already hold international certificates IDD, UDI, CMAS, MDEA, PADI. The license is valid for 1 year.
Interesting dive sites are scattered all over the Croatian coast, but they are concentrated mainly in Istria and South Dalmatia.
So, a large number of wrecks (wrecks – sunken ships) and unique natural underwater formations are in the Adriatic waters of the northern coast of Croatia.
In central Dalmatia, the islands of the Kornati archipelago, which are part of the national park of the same name, are popular among divers.
In southern Dalmatia, in the coastal waters of Dubrovnik, there are also many wrecks and beautiful natural diving sites. The following islands are popular among divers: Hvar, Korcula, Lastovo, Vis.
Dive sites of Istria
- Brijuni Islands
- The merchant ship “Lina”
- Excavator vessel “Draga”
- Minesweeper “Giuseppe Dezza”
- Passenger ship “Baron Gosh”
- Minesweeper “Coriolanus”
Dive sites in South Dalmatia
- The merchant ship “Taranto”
- Torpedo boat S57
- Steamer “Dubrovnik”
- “Field of amphorae”
- St. Andria Island
Fishing in Croatia
The Adriatic Sea in Croatia, as well as the huge number of lakes and rivers located on its territory, attract avid fishermen to the country. The quality of fishing in Croatia is such that it can be a real discovery even for sophisticated fishing enthusiasts.
Remember that legal fishing in Croatia requires a special license: it is bought at fishing clubs. You need to have a passport with you, and a certificate of a member of the fishing clubs of Russia or Ukraine will also not interfere – in this case, you will be given a discount on the Croatian license. Please note that fishing is prohibited in National Parks and in some protected areas, a list of which you will receive when purchasing a license.
Yachting in Croatia
The most popular entertainment in Croatia is yachting. This is favored by a huge number of islands, inhabited and uninhabited, with landscaped marinas or wild bays, seascapes of incredible beauty, crystal-clear sea. Croatia is also an ideal destination for those who decide to try sailing for the first time, because the Adriatic waters here are so calm and not fraught with surprises. In July-August a light wind blows, there are almost no waves.
Features of yachting in Croatia
Yacht charter lasts from Saturday to Saturday (from 17-18: 00 to 9-10: 00). Taking a yacht on other days and for a different period is possible, but difficult, especially in high season.
Marinas in Croatia are equipped to the highest standard: there are supermarkets, showers, laundries, toilets, restaurants, cafes. You can fill up with water and recharge the batteries. Parking in the Croatian marina is paid. Its cost depends on the size of the vessel and the season, but, as a rule, the price starts from 60 euros / day.
Anchorages in wild bays are paid and free, but every year the number of paid ones increases. At the same time, a day of parking in a wild bay will still cost three to four times cheaper than in the marina.
To charter a yacht in Croatia, it is necessary that at least one crew member has a license to operate the yacht, recognized by the Croatian authorities.
You can rent a yacht in any corner of the Croatian coast on the website. Also yachtsmen will need a site about yachting in Croatia.
Other sports Croatia offers tourists surfing, water skiing, rafting, tennis, windsurfing, trekking.
Alpine skiing in Croatia
Skiing is one of the winter pleasures in Croatia. Skiing is possible in the resorts of Sleme and Platak. A day lift pass in Croatia costs about HRK 115 (for 5 days – HRK 550), night skiing – HRK 80.
Health resorts in Croatia
On the territory of Croatia there are more than 20 thermal springs, 15 mud deposits and the only healing oil in Europe (and the second in the world) “Naftalan”. Many tourists go to Croatia to improve their health in its well-equipped spas with healing mineral and thermal waters. Treatment in Croatian waters is indicated, first of all, for those who suffer from diseases of the musculoskeletal system, rheumatic, cardiological diseases and ailments of the nervous system.
The balneological resorts are distributed over the territory of Croatia as follows: the sources of the Croatian Zagorje – Tuheljske Toplice, Krapinske Toplice, Stubička Toplice, Varaždinske Toplice, Ivanić Grad (“naftalan”) and Topushko Toplice. The sources of Slovonia are Daravur, Lipik and Vizovac.
Seaside resorts with curative mud and thermal waters – Vela Luka, Duga Uvala, Sibenik and Istria. Thalassotherapy and SPA centers are concentrated mainly in Opatija, Crikvenica, in the resorts of Veli Lošinj, Hvar and Makarska.
Getting around the country
The most common form of public transport in Croatia is the bus. In addition to buses in large cities (in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek, Pula, etc.) there is also a network of tram lines, and in Zagreb there is also a funicular. The railway communication is mainly developed in the central part of the country. Domestic airlines and ferry services are available.
The most common and convenient way to travel between cities in Croatia is by bus, bus lines connect all parts of the country. Almost every town has a bus station (Autobusni Kolodvor) where you can buy tickets and check the timetable.
In public transport in cities, a single ticket for a single bus ride can cost HRK5.5 – 18. The cost of a night bus ride on city routes is twice as expensive. All-day pass – around HRK 15, including night flights. The fine for travel without a ticket is HRK 150.
Almost all intercity buses are very comfortable and equipped with air conditioning, the car fleet consists only of new cars (the age of buses does not exceed 12 years). The cost of tickets for long-distance flights is different, it depends on the distance and which carrier you use. Here are some examples: Zagreb – Split HRK 125 -175 (410 km), baggage – HRK 10, travel time – 5 hours; Sibenik – Zadar HRK 45 (85 km), Sibenik – Trogir HRK 36 (45 km), etc.
Major bus carriers in Croatia
- Autobusni Promet
- Croatia Bus
- Promet Makarska
Main bus stations in Croatia
- Zagreb Bus Station
- Split Bus Station
- Dubrovnik bus station
With a total length of 2,296 km, the Croatian railway cannot boast of a variety of destinations, although it sometimes becomes an alternative to buses. The railway lines mainly cover the central part of the country, connecting it with neighboring European countries. So, trains from Zagreb go to Milan, Venice, Trieste, Munich, Leipzig, Vienna and Salzburg. There are also direct flights to neighboring countries – Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro.
The capital of the country Zagreb is connected by direct regular flights to the coastal resorts – Split, Osijek, Varazdin, Pula, Rijeka. There is also an ICN high-speed train between Zagreb and Split, the travel time is 5.5 hours.
The cost of tickets is different, it depends on the distance, train type and carriage class. For example, a ticket for the Zagreb-Split train will cost HRK 138, Zagreb-Rijeka – in HRK 81. In express trains, the ticket price will be about HRK 10 more expensive, in InterCity trains – HRK 15. The website of the Croatian railways.
Taxis in Croatia can be ordered by phone or taken from the parking lot. All taxis are meter-operated. Taxi fare is HRK 12 plus HRK 4.8 for each km, one piece of baggage is HRK 0.8. Trips from 22:00 to 5:00, as well as on weekends and holidays, will be 20% more expensive.
Various ferries, motor ships and boats run between the cities of Croatia located on the Adriatic coast. Most of the inhabited islands can be reached by boat. From May 28 to September 30, the number of water voyages increases several times.
Nearly all of Croatia’s coastal cities are connected by ferry lines operated by the local company Jadrolinija. The main ports are located in the following cities: Dubrovnik, Pula, Rijeka, Sibenik, Split, Zadar. Also, internal ferry lines connect the continent with the islands: Cres, Lošinj, Rab, Pag, Ugljan, Pasman, Dugi Otok, Izh, Šolta, Brach, Hvar, Vis, Korcula, Lastovo, Mljet. Local ferries connect almost all small islands with no car traffic.
It is possible to buy a ticket on the Yadroliniya ferry for the entire trip on the Raeka – Dubrovnik route, while stopping several times anywhere for several days, and then continuing the journey on the same ticket.
Croatia has 6 international airports (Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Pula, Zadar, Rijeka) and three civil airports for local and charter flights (Bol, Losinj, Osijek).
The local airline Croatia Airlines operates daily flights between Zagreb and several Croatian cities on the coast (Split, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Poole, Sikhov). Flight time is less than an hour. A roundtrip ticket in the “low” season (October-April) usually costs around 100 euros, in the high season, fares increase by 20-30%. It is best to purchase tickets on the airline’s website, since in this case you can get a 3-5% discount from the basic fare.
To rent a car in Croatia, you must have an international driver’s license and be over 21 years old. Standard insurance is paid with the rent and usually covers travel to the EU countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Montenegro and Serbia. At the same time, the export of the car to Albania and Macedonia is prohibited. Even if you pay by credit card in small companies, you need to make a deposit of at least 150-300 euros in cash. Some companies give a 10% arena discount when paid in full in cash.
The most convenient way is to book a car in advance through the websites of rental companies, which have a huge number of offices in Croatia (Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, etc.). The cost of car rental depends on the number of days, the order of prices – from 25 euros per day.
The condition of the roads in Croatia is excellent, but remember that the mountain roads and highways along the Dalmatian coast are very narrow and often without fences. Traffic in the country is right-hand.
In Croatia there are the following speed limits: on roads in settlements – 50 km / h; on expressways – 130 km / h; on other roads – 80 km / h; for a personal car with a van – 80 km / h. Part of the roads (Zagreb – Split, Zagreb – Rijeka, Zagreb – Varazdin, Zagreb – Lipovac on the border with Serbia) is paid. Gas stations are located everywhere, they are open 7:00 – 19:00 (20:00), in the season until 22:00; gasoline costs 1.26 euros per liter.
The use of a mobile phone by the driver while the vehicle is in motion is prohibited. The permitted rate of alcohol in the driver’s blood is 0.5 ppm. The fine for driving while intoxicated is HRK 500–1500. Headlights must be on while driving, regardless of the time of day. The local drivers are very polite and always respect pedestrians and cyclists. On the website of the Croatian Automobile Association (Hrvatski Autoklub) you can get all the additional information you need.
Croatian cuisine is the result of centuries of interpenetration of various cultures and peoples inhabiting this country. The differences in the products used and the cooking methods are most noticeable between the cuisine of the central regions of Croatia and the cuisine of the coast. Thus, in the central regions the influence of Old Slavic culinary traditions with some elements of the cuisines of Hungary, Austria, Turkey is great. The coastal cuisine preserves the traditions of Greek, Italian and French cuisine.
The specialties common to the whole territory of Croatia are “pršut” (pork ham smoked and dried with boron by the Adriatic northeast wind), sheep cheese soaked in olive oil from the island of Pag, “Slavonski kulen” sausages and “Zagorsk cheshnovki” sausages.
The continental part of Croatia is distinguished by a rich selection of meat dishes, among which a special place is occupied by young lamb and pig roasted on a spit, turkey with mlinets, boiled or baked strukli (pies with cottage cheese). Other simple, but very appetizing dishes are Samobor steak, potatoes stewed with sweet wine.
On the Adriatic coast, the most popular meat dishes are “pashtitsada” (a spicy dish of beef), boiled young lamb, “vitalc” (lamb gut stuffed with mutton entrails and fried on a spit).
The menu is based on fish and seafood dishes. And this is not surprising, considering that in the waters of Croatia they catch the best varieties of fish in the Mediterranean, crayfish and sea crayfish, shrimp, lobster, squid and oysters. Most often they are served boiled or fried (often grilled). Other traditional dishes from the coastal regions are wine soup, pea chowder, spaghetti, risotto (risotto), variations on the theme of Italian pasta and pizza.
On the coast, magnificent juicy fruits have long been considered the best dessert. But a meal in Croatia can be universally completed with the following pastries: pancakes (palacinke) in any form (fried, baked), pies with poppy seeds or nuts, strudels (strukli or strudli) with cottage cheese or fruit, samobor donuts with whipped sugar cream, cakes and cakes with chestnut cream.
Among the drinks in Croatia, it is customary to drink mineral water, juices, herbal teas and coffee. The choice of alcohol is extensive. So, in Croatia there are very good varieties of beer: the famous Kaltenberg, produced under license, delicious local Karlovačko and Ozujsko.
Wine is the pride of Croatia. The history of viticulture and winemaking of the country has a thousand-year history, and vineyards can be seen everywhere. To date, more than 700 varieties of wines are officially registered in Croatia, of which 76 are elite varieties (vrhunsko – “vrhunsko”, or chuvno – “cuveno”). Croatian wines are mostly dry (suho), with red wines in Dalmatia and white wines in Istria and mainland Croatia. Rarely, but you can find semi-sweet wine (poluslatko), and even dessert (desertno), for example, Prošek, but it is not customary to drink it in its pure form – you need to dilute it with water. Table varietal wines of local production are inexpensive and of very high quality – the average cost of a bottle of dry wine is HRK 30. Often red strong dry wine is diluted with water and the result is bevanda. If white dry wine is diluted with mineral water, then a gemist is obtained. Wine diluted with soda is called a sprinkler.
In Croatian markets, you can buy local wine – homemade (homemade wine, “domace vino”), the taste of which, as a rule, is not inferior to that produced at the factory. For example, the wine from the cellars of the Croatian Tomac family is famous, which has even received awards at world wine fairs.
Of the stronger alcoholic beverages in Croatia, various varieties of brandy are known: plum brandy, grusovitsa (kruškovac), travarica, prepared according to the old technology: grape bunches are heated (“baked”) on the fire, alternately adding various herbs, the number of which can reach 15. Then the brew is infused on fruits and herbs, and bottled.
Another popular Croatian alcoholic beverage is Maraschino, a colorless dry fruit liqueur made from maraschino cherries that are crushed together with a pit to give the drink a bitter almond flavor. The beverage production plant is located in Zadar.
An easy snack or a hearty meal is not a problem in Croatia: cafes and restaurants of different levels are located at every corner. Prices are roughly as follows: dinner with spirits or vintage wine – about 20 euros per person. Meals with local draft or house wine – 12-15 euros per person, with mineral water or beer – 10 euros. Lunch with seafood will be more expensive – 25-30 euros. Be prepared for the portions to be very large – so much so that often only two people can eat them.
Shopping in Croatia
In Croatia, as elsewhere in Europe, there is a large number of all kinds of shops: large shopping centers, supermarkets, boutiques of famous brands and shops with goods from local producers, souvenir shops and shops with handicrafts.
Shops are usually open on weekdays from 8:00 to 20:00, on Saturdays and Sundays until 14:00. On the coast, during the tourist season, all outlets are open from 6:00 to 12:00 and from 17:00 to 20:00, and sometimes until 22:00.
Currency (preferably euros) can be exchanged at banks, exchange offices, post offices, at the offices of the Croatian Tourist Office (travelers checks can also be exchanged there) and at hotels. Reverse currency exchange is possible only in banks, while it is necessary to present receipts for the previous exchange of currency into kunas. Traveller’s checks are accepted by most major banks in the country. Banks are open daily from 8:00 to 17:00, on Saturdays until 13:00, the day off is Sunday.
Credit cards of major payment systems (MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club, Visa) are accepted everywhere (up to small street cafes and souvenir shops).
In fashionable Croatian boutiques of European goods, Italian brands are most often found, due to the territorial proximity of Italy. There are also well-known pan-European brands – Benetton, Sisley, Diesel, etc., prices for which are somewhat lower than in Moscow.
Of the local textile specialties, men’s ties are in the first place in popularity among tourists, because Croats consider their country to be the homeland of this part of men’s wardrobe. And in many languages the tie is called “kravat” (in particular, in Ukrainian – “kravatka”), which is consonant with the word croat – “Croatian”. Legend has it that Croatian women tied bright scarves around their husbands’ necks when they went to war. Then ties spread throughout the world, but such a variety as in Croatia cannot be found in any other country: here they sell ties made of silk and wool, sophisticated or shocking style, traditional or extravagant colors.
In addition to ties in Croatia, you can buy locally made wool, cotton jersey, linen. These things are inexpensive, but they are of good quality. The quality of the shoes in Croatia is excellent, however, the models do not differ in variety, which cannot be said about the Italian shoes presented in Croatian stores. Among the shoe boutiques we recommend Urban Shous, Stiletto, Mr. Joseph, Alphina, Peko.
There are a lot of traditional Croatian souvenirs. Every region, city and even island boasts its own authentic souvenir symbol.
The most popular souvenir from Croatia is lavender, as well as all its derivatives: lavender sachets, lavender water, aromatic oil, lavender-based cosmetics. Lavender is widely grown on the Croatian Adriatic coast, but the best, of course, grows on the island of Hvar.
Wool and leather goods, carpets, tapestries, embroidery from Osijek, lace from Trogir are very popular among tourists.
Croatia is also famous for its stone products: the stone from the island of Brac is especially famous, from which souvenir dishes, figurines and ornaments are made.
Rijeka is famous for its jewelry called morcis, which has been made in the area since the 17th century. “Morchish” – these are gold or silver earrings, brooches, pins, pendants in the shape of a Negro’s head, similar to the Venetian moretto jewelry.
Do not forget to bring fountain pens as gifts to your friends, which were invented in Croatia by Slavoljub Penkala.
You cannot return from a vacation in Croatia without food souvenirs. For example, on the islands (in particular, on the island of Pag), it is worth buying the local pashki cheese soaked in olive oil. Remember that it does not have a long shelf life as it does not contain preservatives and you need to buy it just before leaving.
Croatian sweets will be no less interesting souvenirs: black chocolate with peppers, jams (in particular, from dried figs), nuts and dried fruits filled with local honey in original jars. Dried or canned truffles must be brought from Istria. Well, and almost everywhere it is worth buying the excellent Croatian olive oil.
Tip: Don’t forget to take your purchase receipt: if the financial police notice that you have not taken the receipt, they will consider you an accomplice in tax evasion of the store owner.
Croatia has a tax free system, according to which VAT (Croatian PDV) is refunded to foreign citizens. To use the system, you need to make a purchase of goods worth more than HRK 500 in one day in one store that supports the tax free system. VAT refunds include up to 16.8% of the purchase amount. At the customs point, you must present your passport, a “tax free” form, a purchase receipt from a store and the product itself in unopened form. The money will be returned either in cash at a special point near the duty free shop, or transferred to the card.
In all localities in Croatia there are street payphones that work with telephone cards (telefonska kartica). Cards can be bought at newsagents and post offices. The cheapest rates for calls outside Croatia are between 22:00 and 6:00. A call to Russia from a street payphone with a card will cost from HRK 5. Cards can be from 3 minutes (HRK 15) or more.
If you are going to make calls from a mobile phone, you should ask your mobile operator about roaming in Croatia in advance.
If you are going to stay in Croatia for a long time or plan to make a lot of phone calls, it makes sense to buy a sim card from a local mobile operator.
List of the most popular mobile operators in Croatia:
The SIM card can be bought at newsagents (TISAK), Konzum supermarkets or operator stores. The average cost of the card is HRK 100, this amount can be used within 90 days. To replenish the account during this period, it is possible to purchase bonds of a lower denomination. After the expiry of the term, the card must be extended by activating the coupon in HRK 100.
The same operators offer mobile Internet services, without a monthly fee, with bonuses.
International dialing code of Croatia: 385
Useful phone numbers in Croatia
- Ambulance 94
- Fire brigade 93
- Police 92
- Roadside Assistance 987
- General rescue service (on land and at sea) 112
- General reference 981/989
- Taxi service 970
- Tourist Office 901-300-600
There are no problems with the Internet in Croatia. In all localities it is mandatory to find Internet cafes, Internet services are also provided by hotels and almost all private boarding houses that rent rooms and apartments. Also, many cities in Croatia have open wi-fi zones in the centers.
Post offices are open Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, Saturdays from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Croatia is one of the most criminally prosperous countries in Europe. The crime rate in it is very low, but, as in other places, there is a possibility of becoming a victim of pickpockets in crowded places. Therefore, the recommendations are standard: valuables, large amounts of cash and documents should be kept in the hotel safe. It is advisable for tourists to carry a photocopy of their passport.
The tap water is quite drinkable, especially after boiling.
In coastal waters, especially in secluded places and outside the territory of equipped beaches, sea urchins are found in large numbers. Therefore, when swimming, it is worth using special slippers, which are sold in all shops and kiosks with beach accessories.