Some gentle haggling might save you a few kuna at a market stall; in all other instances you’re expected to pay the stated price.
Dangers & Annoyances
- Street violence is rare and there's no particular problem with pickpocketing, but you should employ common sense regardless.
- During the 1990s war over a million landmines were laid in eastern Slavonia around Osijek, and in the hinterlands north of Zadar. Although the government has invested heavily in de-mining operations, it’s a slow process. The mined areas are generally well signposted with skull-and-crossbones symbols and yellow tape. Don’t go wandering off on your own in sensitive regions before checking with a local. Never go poking around an obviously abandoned or ruined house.
- Most museums, galleries, theatres and festivals in Croatia offer student discounts of up to 50%. For youth travel and the cards listed here, contact the travel section of the Croatian YHA.
- An International Student Identity Card (ISIC; www.isic.org) is the best international proof of student status. Those under the age of 26, but who are not students, qualify for the International Youth Travel Card (IYTC).
- The European Youth Card (www.eyca.org) offers discounts at selected shops, restaurants, sights, hostels and transport providers.
Electrical supply is 230V, 50Hz AC. Croatia uses the standard European (round-pronged) plugs.
Emergency & Important Numbers
To call from outside Croatia, dial your international access code, then the Croatian country code, the area code (without the initial 0) and the local number.
|International access code||00|
Entry & Exit Formalities
With an economy that depends heavily on tourism, Croatia has wisely kept red tape to a minimum for foreign visitors.
- Travellers can bring their personal effects into the country without paying excise tax, along with 200 cigarettes, 2L of liquor under 22% proof, 1L of liquor over 22%, 4L of wine and 16L of beer.
- There are restrictions on food crossing into Croatia from non-EU countries.
- There is no quarantine period for animals brought into the country, but cats and dogs must be microchipped and you should have recent documentation from a veterinarian certifying the animal's current state of health. Otherwise, the animal must be inspected by a local veterinarian, who may not be immediately available.
Your passport must be valid for at least another three months after the planned departure from Croatia, as well as issued within the previous 10 years.
Citizens of EU countries can enter Croatia with only their ID card.
Croatian authorities require all foreigners to register with the local police when they arrive in a new area of the country, but this is a routine matter normally handled by the hotel, hostel, campground or agency securing your private accommodation. If you’re staying elsewhere (eg with relatives or friends), your host should take care of it for you.
Generally not required for stays of up to 90 days. Some nationalities (such as Chinese, Indian, Russian, South African and Turkish) do need them.
Citizens of many countries, including EU member states, Australia, Bosnia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, North Macedonia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea and the USA, do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. (This means that leaving the country just to get a stamp and then return isn't a legal option.)
Other nationalities can check whether they need a visa and download application forms on the website of the Croatian Ministry for Foreign & European Affairs (www.mvep.hr).
Greetings Friends and family, both male and female, greet each other with a kiss on each cheek – never a single kiss. If you go in for a third kiss (as they do in Serbia), a Croatian will even it up with a fourth – it can never be an odd number. Don't panic – if locals are greeting a tourist, a handshake is more usual.
Dining out If you head out for a drink or meal with a Croat, whoever does the inviting should do the paying. It's an unspoken rule that the other person should even the score next time around.
Dining in If you're lucky enough to be invited to a local's house for dinner, come with an empty stomach (force-feeding is a national obsession) and a small gift such as chocolates or flowers. If you bring flowers, there must always be an uneven number of stems.
Gay & Lesbian Travellers
Homosexuality has been legal in Croatia since 1977 and is tolerated but not widely accepted. Public displays of affection between same-sex couples may be met with hostility.
Gay venues are virtually nonexistent outside Zagreb. However, many towns on the coast have an unofficial gay beach – usually a rocky area at the edge of the nudist section.
- Zagreb Pride (www.zagreb-pride.net) Usually held on the second Saturday in June.
- Split Pride (www.facebook.com/lgbt.pride.split) Also in June.
- LORI (www.lori.hr) Lesbian organisation based in Rijeka.
- Dating apps Grindr (www.grindr.com) and Planet Romeo (www.planetromeo.com) are very popular with local gay and bisexual men.
- Many cafes, restaurants and bars across Croatia have free wi-fi; just ask for the password.
- Hotels and private guesthouses are almost always equipped with wi-fi.
- Free wi-fi access has removed much of the need for internet cafes, but local tourist offices should be able to point you towards those few that remain.
Although it is highly unlikely that you’ll be hassled by the police, you should keep identification with you at all times as the police have the right to stop you and demand ID.
By international treaty, you have the right to notify your consular official if arrested. Embassies and consulates can normally refer you to English-speaking lawyers, although they will not pay for one.
Freytag & Berndt publishes a series of country, regional and city maps. Its 1:600,000 map of Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and North Macedonia is particularly useful if you’re travelling in the region. If you're only staying on the coast, its 1:200,000 Croatia Coast sheet map is wonderfully detailed.
Local tourist offices usually provide helpful town maps for free.
- Newspapers Widely read newspapers include Večernji List, Jutarnji List, 24sata and Slobodna Dalmacija.
- Radio Popular radio stations include Narodni Radio (which airs only Croatian music), Antena Zagreb and Otvoreni Radio. Public broadcaster Croatian Radio (Hrvatski radio) broadcasts news in English daily at 8.05pm on HR1.
ATMs are widely available. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and restaurants. Smaller restaurants, shops and private-accommodation owners only take cash.
- ATMs can be found throughout Croatia and are tied in with international networks such as Cirrus and Maestro.
- Most ATMs also allow you to withdraw money using a credit card; note that you pay interest on the amount immediately and are charged a withdrawal fee. Privredna Banka usually has ATMs for cash withdrawals using American Express cards.
- All post offices will allow you to make a cash withdrawal on MasterCard or Cirrus.
- There are numerous places to change money in Croatia, all offering similar rates, including travel agencies and post offices.
- Most places deduct a commission of 1% to 1.5% to change cash, though some banks do not.
- Travellers cheques may be exchanged only in banks.
- Kuna can be converted into foreign currency only at a bank and only if you submit a receipt of a previous transaction.
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in hotels but rarely accepted in any kind of private accommodation. Diners Club and American Express are less accepted and many smaller restaurants and shops do not take any credit cards at all.
- Croatia uses the kuna (KN). Each kuna is divided into 100 lipa. Commonly circulated banknotes come in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10 kuna. You’ll find silver-coloured five, two and one kuna, and 50 and 20 lipa coins, and bronze-coloured 10 lipa coins.
- Many accommodation providers set their prices in euro. It's often possible to pay in euro notes, but credit-card charges are invariably billed in kuna.
- You can sometimes pay for a meal or small services in euros, but the rate is not as good.
- International boat fares are priced in euros, although you pay in kuna.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Tipping in Croatia is purely discretionary and is generally only done in restaurants and cafe-bars.
- Restaurants Up to 10% but only for good service; leave nothing if you're dissatisfied in any way. Leave your tip in cash, even if you're paying by credit card.
- Cafes & bars Round up to the nearest round figure.
Opening hours vary throughout the year. We've provided high-season opening hours; hours generally decrease in the shoulder and low seasons.
Banks 8am or 9am to 8pm weekdays and 7am to 1pm or 8am to 2pm Saturday.
Cafes and bars 8am or 9am to midnight.
Offices 8am to 4pm or 8.30am to 4.30pm weekdays.
Post offices 7am to 8pm weekdays and 7am to 1pm Saturday; longer hours in coastal towns in summer.
Restaurants Noon to 11pm or midnight; often closed Sundays outside peak season.
Shops 8am to 8pm weekdays, to 2pm or 3pm Saturday; some take a 2pm to 5pm break. Shopping malls have longer hours.
Croats are early risers: by 7am there will be lots of people on the street and many places already open. Along the coast, life is more relaxed – shops and offices frequently close around noon for an afternoon break and reopen at about 4pm.
Coastal travel agencies open from 8am or 9am until 9pm or 10pm daily in high season, shortening their hours as the tourist season wanes. In continental Croatia, most agencies keep office hours.
In Zagreb and Split nightclubs are open year-round, but many places along the coast are only open in summer.
Supermarkets are open from 8am to 8pm on weekdays. Some close at 2pm on Saturdays while others stay open until 8pm. Only some supermarkets are open on Sundays during the summer season.
Military installations may not be photographed. Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Photography is full of helpful tips for photography while on the road.
Post services are operated by Hrvatska pošta (www.posta.hr) and are generally very reliable. Check the website for up-to-date postage rates and the location of post offices.
Croats take their holidays very seriously. Shops and museums are shut and boat services are reduced. On religious holidays, the churches are full; it can be a good time to check out the artwork in a church that is usually closed.
New Year’s Day 1 January
Epiphany 6 January
Easter Sunday & Monday March/April
Labour Day 1 May
Corpus Christi 60 days after Easter
Day of Antifascist Resistance 22 June
Statehood Day 25 June
Homeland Thanksgiving Day 5 August
Feast of the Assumption 15 August
Independence Day 8 October
All Saints' Day 1 November
Christmas 25 & 26 December
- Smoking Smoking (including vaping) is, in theory at least, banned on public transport and in restaurants and most hotel rooms, bars and cafes. However, this isn't always enforced. People are generally permitted to smoke outdoors, including on the terraces of cafes and bars.
Taxes & Refunds
Value-added tax (VAT) is a 25% sales tax levied on most goods and services; it's usually included in the advertised prices. Travellers from non-EU countries who spend more than 740KN in one shop are entitled to a VAT refund.
In order to claim a VAT refund, the shop merchant must fill out a PDV-P form, which you need to present to the customs office upon leaving the country, along with the unused goods. You'll then need to mail a stamped copy within six months to the shop, which will then credit your credit card with the appropriate sum.
There is also a service called Global Blue (www.globalblue.com) that will give you your refund in cash at the airport or at participating post offices.
- To call Croatia from abroad, dial your international access code, then 385 (the country code for Croatia), then the area code (without the initial 0) and the local number.
- To call from region to region within Croatia, start with the full area code (drop it when dialling within the same code).
- Phone numbers with the prefix 060 can be either free or charged at a premium rate, so watch out for the fine print.
- Phone numbers that begin with 09 are mobile-phone numbers. Calls to mobiles are billed at a much higher rate than regular numbers.
Users with unlocked phones can buy a local SIM card; they're easy to find. Otherwise, you may be charged roaming rates.
- If you have an unlocked 3G phone, you can buy a SIM card for between 20KN and 50KN, which includes 15 to 30 minutes of connection time. You can choose from three network providers: VIP (www.vipnet.hr), Hrvatski Telekom (www.hrvatskitelekom.hr) and Tele2 (www.tele2.hr).
- You can also buy a special prepaid SIM starter pack for tourists; these are available during the high season (June to September) for between 50KN and 100KN, with data and/or minutes included.
- You’ll need a phonecard to use public telephones. Many phone boxes are equipped with a button on the upper left with a flag symbol. Press the button for instructions in English.
- Phonecards are sold in post offices and newspaper kiosks.
- You can call from a post office without a phonecard.
- Croatia is on Central European Time (GMT/UTC plus one hour). Daylight saving comes into effect on the last Sunday in March, when clocks are turned forward an hour. On the last Sunday in October they’re turned back an hour.
- Croatia uses the 24-hour clock.
Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and Rome No difference
London and Dublin One hour behind Croatia
New York Six hours behind
Los Angeles Nine hours behind
Auckland 10 hours ahead from April to September; 11 hours in October; 12 hours from November to March
Sydney Eight hours ahead from April to September; nine hours in October; 10 hours from November to March
- Most toilets are of the standard sit-down variety, although you'll sometimes come across squat toilets in some of the older ferries and public conveniences.
- Public toilets aren't all that common and most charge a small fee.
- If you're caught short, head to a cafe-bar – but it's polite to at least buy a drink.
Regional tourist offices supervise tourist development. Local tourist offices have free brochures and good information on local events. Tourist information is also dispensed by commercial travel agencies.
Croatian National Tourist Board (www.croatia.hr)
Dubrovnik-Neretva County (www.visitdubrovnik.hr)
Istria County (www.istra.hr)
Krapina-Zagorje County (www.visitzagorje.hr)
Kvarner Rijeka (www.visitrijeka.hr)
Osijek-Baranja County (www.tzosbarzup.hr)
Primorje-Gorski Kotar (Kvarner) County (www.kvarner.hr)
Split-Dalmatia County (www.dalmatia.hr)
Zadar County (www.zadar.hr)
Zagreb County (www.tzzz.hr)
Travel with Children
With safe beaches, hiking and biking tracks to suit all abilities, a clutch of interactive museums, and lots of ancient towns and fortresses for would-be knights and princesses to explore, Croatia offers entertainment aplenty for those with children in tow.
Best Regions for Kids
- Northern Dalmatia
Kids are fascinated by Zadar's nature-powered Sun Salutation and Sea Organ. Šibenik hosts an excellent children’s festival.
- Dubrovnik & Southern Dalmatia
Offers lots of beach action and unique experiences; let the little ones off the leash in the car-free old towns of Dubrovnik and Korčula.
- Split & Central Dalmatia
Wander the maze that is Diocletian’s Palace and then head to the beaches of the Makarska Riviera.
Poreč and Rovinj are great bases for exploring nearby caves, dinosaur parks and beaches.
Sandy, toddler-friendly beaches on Rab Island, and beaches for all the family on Krk, Cres and Lošinj.
Ride the funicular, check out the many museums, get active at Jarun and Bundek, and hike up to the mountain peak of Sljeme.
- Inland Croatia
Savour a slice of Croatian country life at Vuglec Breg and Grešna Gorica, tour the interactive Neanderthal museum in Krapina and visit medieval castles.
Croatia for Kids
Croatia has a lot of open spaces, playgrounds aplenty and pedestrian zones where there’s no danger of traffic. Most seaside towns have a riva (seafront promenade) away from the water’s edge that’s perfect for strolling and letting the toddlers run around.
There are beaches galore, although some of what are referred to as 'beaches' are rocky indentations with steep drop-offs. Many of the sandy beaches are extremely shallow: perfect for toddlers but not so great for the teens. The numerous pebbly beaches tend to offer better swimming.
Keep in mind that some of Croatia’s smaller seaside towns can be too quiet for fun-seeking teenagers. They (and you in turn) will be a lot happier in the more happening coastal destinations where there are buzzy cafes and seasonal funfair rides.
Children’s discounts are widely available for everything from museum admissions to hotel accommodation. The cut-off age is often nine, when student discounts kick in. Many attractions offer free entry for the little ones.
Eating with Kids
Croatia's relaxed dining scene means that you can take children almost anywhere. Even the more upmarket restaurants will have a kid-friendly pasta, pizza or rice dish on the menu. Children’s portions are easily arranged. However, you won’t often find high chairs for the tinier tots, and dining establishments are rarely equipped with nappy-changing facilities.
Locals are quite happy to take their children out for dinner to restaurants, and you'll often see kids running around on the square while the adults are eating, drinking and chatting. Children eat mostly the same food as the adults, and everyone tucks into an ice cream at the end of the meal.
Specific baby-friendly facilities are still thin on the ground, although that is slowly changing. Baby food, disposable nappies and powdered baby formulas are easily found at supermarkets and pharmacies. Breastfeeding in public is generally fine, if it's done discreetly.
Those spending a lot of time in forests during spring, summer or early autumn should make sure that they check the kids for ticks. If you do find one, go to a doctor immediately. Be mindful of the numerous sea urchins in the shallows, particularly on rocky beaches; invest in some plastic water shoes for safer playing.
- Baška, Krk Island A 2km-long crescent of beach with a little water park at one end.
- Cres & Lošinj Islands Lots of family-friendly campsites set right by the beach.
- Crveni Otok, Rovinj Two connected islets awash with pebble beaches.
- Lopar, Rab Island Shallow, sandy beaches that are perfect for toddlers.
- Mljet National Park, Mljet Island The smaller of the saltwater lakes is warm and perfect for babies.
- Krka National Park Have a dip in a cool lake underneath cascading waterfalls.
- Plitvice Lakes National Park Stroll along the paths and take in the turquoise lakes, towering waterfalls and dense forests.
- Lokrum Escape to this forested island and take the little ones for a swim in the saltwater lake.
- Mt Medvednica Tire the tweens out on the verdant tracks of Zagreb’s favourite mountain.
Museums & Sights
- Museum of the Krapina Neanderthal, Krapina Get up close and personal with our ancestors' neighbours.
- Sun Salutation, Zadar Come sunset, tots have a ball racing around this marvellous light display.
- Kumrovec Staro Selo Museum, Zagorje An entertaining slice of traditional village life.
- Istralandia Shoot down the slides and ride the waves in this big water park northeast of Novigrad.
- Museum of Illusion, Zagreb Full of optical illusions, mirrors and holograms.
When to Go
- The coastal city of Šibenik hosts a renowned International Children’s Festival in late June/early July, with craft workshops, music, dance, children’s film and theatre, puppets and parades.
- July and August coincide with the European school holidays, so they tend to have the most laid on for kids.
- If you'd prefer fewer people and lower prices, June and September are the best times, as the sea is warm enough for swimming and the days are sunny.
- Consider renting a private apartment – they're usually cheaper than a hotel room and give you more flexibility. Make sure you ask for specifics about the facilities – whether there’s air-conditioning, a full kitchen and laundry facilities, and how far away the beach is, for example.
- Hotels may have cots, but numbers are usually limited and sometimes there’s a surcharge. Kids under three often stay for free, while those under nine get a considerable discount.
- Most properties in Croatia are family friendly but few are family specialists. Of those, the best are Rovinj's Amarin Family Hotel, Zadar's Club Funimation Borik and Mali Lošinj's Hotel Vespera.
What to Pack
Don't stress too much about the packing as anything you forget can almost always be purchased after you arrive. Beach gear is a must, including sunhats and plastic water shoes to prevent sea-urchin injuries.
Before You Go
- Children under five years old are required to travel in a suitable child seat, so make sure you're very clear with your hire-car company about your needs before you turn up.
- No vaccinations are required for Croatia.
Travellers with Disabilities
Mobility-impaired travellers will find the cobbled streets and endless steps of Croatia's old towns challenging. Most sights aren't well set up for wheelchair users, and specific resources for sight-impaired and hearing-impaired travellers are rare. That said, more attention is being paid to the needs of people with disabilities in Croatia due to the number of wounded war veterans. For further information, get in touch with the Croatian Association for the Physically Disabled.
- Public toilets at bus stations, train stations, airports and large public venues are usually wheelchair-accessible. Large hotels are wheelchair-accessible, but very little private accommodation is.
- Bus and train stations in Zagreb, Zadar, Rijeka, Split and Dubrovnik are wheelchair-accessible, but the ferries are not.
- Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
For short-term volunteering programs, consider the Kuterevo Bear Refuge in the Velebit Range, the Sokolarski Centre for the protection of birds of prey, near Šibenik, and the Lošinj Marine Education Centre on Lošinj Island. These are small organisations and aren't set up for walk-in volunteers, so be sure to contact them well in advance.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures Croatia uses the metric system.
- Most EU citizens can live and work in Croatia, with the exception being those from nations that restrict these rights to Croatians (at the time of research Austria, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the UK). These nationalities can work for up to 90 days with a Work Registration Certificate; if they wish to work for longer, they will need to apply for a residence and work permit.
- Highly qualified people from other nations can apply for an EU Blue Card.
- For all other categories, refer to the website of the Ministery of the Interior (www.mup.hr).