Difference between revisions of "Croatia"
Revision as of 10:57, 24 June 2013
Croatia  (Croatian: Hrvatska) is a country situated in Central Europe. It is to the east side of the Adriatic Sea, to the east of Italy. It is bordered by Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the north, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Serbia in the east, and Montenegro to the south.
Northern Croatia has a temperate continental climate whereas the central and upland regions have a mountainous climate. The entire Adriatic coast has a pleasant Mediterranean climate. Spring and autumn are mild along the coast, while winter is cold and snowy in central and northern regions. The average temperature inland in January ranges from -10 to 5°C, August 19 to 39°C. The average temperature at the seaside is higher: January 6 to 11°C, August 21 to 39°C.
Geographically diverse; flat agricultural plains along the Hungarian border (Central European area), low mountains and highlands near the Adriatic coastline and islands. There are 1,246 islands; the largest ones are Krk and Cres. The highest point is Dinara, at 1,830 m.
The Croats settled in the region in the early 7th century and formed two principalities: Croatia and Pannonia. The establishment of the Trpimirović dynasty ca 850 brought strengthening to the Dalmatian Croat Duchy, which together with the Pannonian principality became a kingdom in 925 under King Tomislav.
In 1102, Croatia entered into a personal union with the Hungarian Kingdom. After the 1526 Battle of Mohács the "reliquiae reliquiarum" (remnants of the remnants) of Croatia became a part of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1527. Croatian lands were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the latter's dissolution at the end of World War I. In 1918, the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes formed a kingdom known after 1929 as Yugoslavia. Following World War II, Yugoslavia became an independent communist republic under the strong hand of Marshal Tito. Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Four years of bloody war followed involving local Serbs who sought recognition of the territories they held, a Croatian offensive in 1995 ended the Serb administration of the larger section whilst through UN supervision, the last Serb-held enclave in eastern Slavonia was returned to Croatia in 1998. The operations resulted in a mass exodus of Croatian Serbs (into Bosnia and Serbia) who had previously inhabited the lands. Prior to the war of independence, Croatia's Serbian minority made up around 11% of the overall population.
Visitors now to Croatia's more popular towns would see little physical evidence of this violence and relations between Croats and Serbs are gradually improving. Croatia's coastal areas are especially stunning, and have the hybrid charm of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.
There are three distinct areas of Croatia: Lowland Croatia (cr: Nizinska Hrvatska), Littoral Croatia (Primorska Hrvatska) and Mountainish Croatia (Gorska Hrvatska) and these can be neatly split into five travel regions:
Many Croatians speak English as their second language, but German and Italian are very popular too (largely because of the large annual influx of German and Italian tourists). People in the tourist industry most often speak English quite well, as do the younger generation, especially in the tourist areas of Istria, along the coast down to Dubrovnik, and in the capital, Zagreb. Elder people will rarely speak English, but you shouldn't have any problems if you switch to German or Italian. If you know Polish or Czech, you can try it as well, as Polish, Czech and Croatian are partially mutually intelligible (but some words are very different) and in many places, Croatian people are used to large number of Polish and Czech tourists.
EU, EEA, Swiss, Andorran, Bosnian and Herzegovinian, Monégasque, San Marinese and Vatican City citizens can enter Croatia visa-free for up to 90 days with either a passport or a national identity card.
Foreign nationals of the following countries/territories can enter Croatia visa-free for up to 90 days with a passport: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan (Republic of China), Turkey, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.
Holders of valid travel documents for refugees or stateless persons issued by an EU member state, Andorra, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, the United States or the Vatican City can enter Croatia visa-free for up to 90 days.
Further, as of the 1st of January 2013, holders of any of the following are exempt from the visa requirement:
More information about visa exemptions and the visa application procedure is available at the website of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs .
Currently, the only non-European flights to Croatia are to Qatar and Tel Aviv. There are occasional charter flights from Tokyo and Seoul. If coming from North America, you will have to transfer at a hub such as London or Frankfurt. From Asia, Africa or Australasia, transferring in Doha or Istanbul will be quicker than back-tracking through the main European hubs.
The rail network connects all major Croatian cities, except Dubrovnik (you can take a train to Split then take one of the frequent buses or the more scenic ferry to Dubrovnik, the train station is at the pier). There are direct lines from Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Greece. There are indirect lines from almost all other European countries.
Tourists coming from or going to neighboring countries should note the following EuroCity and InterCity railway lines:
NB: While Croatia (paired with Slovenia) is covered on some Eurail passes, staff at domestic ticket windows will tend to have no idea about validating the pass on the first day of use. There are recorded instances of staff saying that the conductor would validate the pass, and the conductor simply treating it as a regular ticket. Fortunately, the international ticket staff (particularly in Zagreb) are aware of how to validate the pass, and have been known to validate it retroactively where necessary. They even ask for the details of the domestic ticket seller who gave the wrong information.
The traveller is therefore recommended to have already validated their Eurail pass on arrival in Croatia, or to have it validated at an international window even if the first trip on it will be domestic.
To enter Croatia, a driver's license, an automobile registration card and vehicle insurance documents are required. If you need road assistance, you should dial 987. The following speeds are permitted:
Hrvatski Auto Klub  is the Croatian Automobile Club dedicated to assisting drivers and promoting greater traffic security. Its site offers minute-by-minute updates, status of national traffic, weather, numerous maps and webcams located all over Croatia. Content is available in Croatian, English, German and Italian.
Very good network of buses once in the country - cheap and regular.
If you are coming from Italy there are two buses daily from Venice leaving at 11AM and 1:45PM going to Istria, with a final stop in Pula. These are operated by two different bus companies, but you can buy tickets for both buses at the A.T.V.O bus office at the Venice bus station. The office is in the bus station, but located outside on the ground level across from where all the buses park. Both buses pick up at spot b15. It is roughly a 5 hour bus ride, with stops in Trieste and Rovinj. You can also pick up the bus at the bus station in Mestre, fifteen minutes after the scheduled bus leaves Venice. Coming in from Trieste, Italy is popular among Europeans, for Trieste is a Ryanair destination. You cross the Italian-Slovenian border first, followed by the Slovenian-Croatian border, but they are very close to one another.
Dubrovnik and Split are the main destinations of international buses from Bosnia and Hercegovina or Montenegro, with daily buses traveling to cities such as Sarajevo, Mostar and Kotor (some lines such as Split-Mostar operate every few hours). Seasonal lines also extend through to Skopje from Dubrovnik. Border formalities on the buses are extremely efficient, and do not involve leaving the bus (previous services from Dubrovnik to Kotor involved changing buses at the Croatian border).
Osijek is a very big bus hub for international travel to Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia in addition to its local buses, and the station is located conveniently next to the railway station. Many buses heading from Zagreb north into Hungary or Austria will pass through Varaždin.
Ferries are cheap and go regularly between various places by the coast. Although not the fastest, they are probably the best way to see the beautiful Croatian islands of the Adriatic Sea.
Jadrolinija  is the main Croatian passenger shipping line that maintains the largest number of regular international and domestic ferry and shipping lines. The following international lines are serviced by car ferries:
Blue Line International  also covers the international line:
National airline company Croatia Airlines  connects major cities in Croatia to each other and foreign destinations. Due to the comparatively short distances and relatively high hassle of air travel - especially when you travel with luggage - domestic air travel is used mostly for getting to end points - e.g., Zagreb to Dubrovnik (see map) and vice-versa. There is a daily link between Pula and Zadar (continuing to Zagreb) - the 20 minute flight saves a long road journey, though has very awkward flight times.
Another popular flight (available in the summer months only) is between Split and Osijek, saving a long trip back through Croatia, or alternatively through the middle of Bosnia.
Train travel is definitely improving in Croatia, with money being spent on updating the aging infrastructure and vehicles. Trains are clean and mostly on time.
Croatia's rail network connects all major Croatian cities, except Dubrovnik. If you want to visit Dubrovnik, you will have to travel by train to Split, and then go on the bus for Dubrovnik. Trains to Pula are actually connected via Slovenia due to historical accident, though there are designated connecting buses from Rijeka.
Rail is still the cheapest connection between inland and coast, though not the most frequent. As of 2004, the new 160kph "tilting trains" that connect Zagreb with Split and other major cities in Croatia such as Rijeka and Osijek have been progressively introduced, resulting in higher levels of comfort and significantly faster journeys between cities (Zagreb-Split is now 5.5h from 9, Osijek is now 3 when other trains take around 4.5h). If you make a reservation early enough you can get a substantial discount, or if you are a holder of an ISIC card etc.
Information for the trains can be found on the Hrvatske željeznice - Croatian Railways  site in Croatian and English has timetable and prices.
Tickets are not usually sold on-board, except if you happen to get on the train on one of the few stations/stops without ticket sales. However, only local trains stop on such stations. In all other cases, a ticket bought on the train will cost considerably more than the one bought outside the train.
A very comprehensive coach network connects all parts of the country. Bus service between major cities (intercity lines) is quite frequent, as well as regional services. The most frequent bus terminal in Croatia is Bus Terminal Zagreb (in Croatian "Autobusni kolodvor Zagreb"). Despite the recent improvements in the railway network, buses are faster than trains for inter-city travel. See Bus travel in the former Yugoslavia for more information.
Croatia is blessed with a beautiful coastline which is best explored by ferry to access the hundreds of islands.
In many instances, the only way to get to the islands is by ferry or catamaran. If you plan on using either you should check these web sites because they have the regular ferry and catamaran information.
Outside the summer months it is often difficult or impossible to make a day trip to the more remote islands. This is because ferry schedules are made to suit commuters who live on islands and travel to the mainland, not vice versa.
Roads in Croatia are usually well maintained, but usually very narrow and full of curves. Some local roads in Istria have been worn down to a smooth surface from regular wear and tear, and can be extremely slippery when wet. It's difficult to find a true highway with more than one way per direction, the only exceptions being the ones connecting Rijeka, Zagreb, Zadar and Split. Speed limits are thus low (60 - 90 kmh), and it's not recommended to drive faster (although most locals do), especially at night. Be aware of animals crossing the road.
Renting a car is around the same price as in the EU (from around €40). Almost all cars have a manual transmission. Most rental agencies in the Balkans allow you to rent a car in one country and drive in the neighboring countries however try to avoid a renting a car in Serbia and driving it into Croatia (or vice versa) in order to avoid negative attention from nationalists.
On the recently built Croatian Motorways  toll fees apply (and may be paid in either HRK or EUR), the motorway A6 between Zagreb and Rijeka was finished end of 2008, the main motorway A1 from Zagreb to Dubrovnik is still under construction the current ending point is in Ravča, which is 140 km from Dubrovnik. Notice that to reach south Dalmatia including Dubrovnik, you need to cross a short portion of Bosnia-Herzegovina, so check if you need a visa or other special requirements for entry into Bosnia.
When exiting a toll motorway, ask the receipt at toll booth if it is not given to you to be sure you do not get overcharged (you could receive along with the receipt some unexpected change compared with the price you were given verbally)
If an unknown person flashes their car lights at you it may be a sign that they've recently passed a police unit doing speed limit checks. Ensure you are on compliance with all the traffic rules and regulations to ensure that you are not stopped.
Be advised that reckless endangerment of traffic (e.g. driving > 50km/h over the posted speed limit, driving under the influence of a blood alcohol content > 0.15) may, under some circumstances, be prosecuted as a felony offense punishable by upto 3 years of incarceration.
You can use a taxi service by calling 970. The taxi usually comes within 10 to 15 minutes from the call except in the busy summer season where it depends on how much business they have. Croatian taxis are generally rather expensive.
You can also book the transportation in advance which is great when you are in a hurry or have a larger number of people in need of transportation, or you just want everything organized in advance.
You can also prearrange a taxi service by E-mail in advance to have even more comfort and to save money since this taxi operators are cheaper than the regular taxi service. 
Hitchhiking is generally good. If you can get to a highway toll stop simply ask people to take you with them as they open their windows to pay the toll. The toll collectors usually won't mind. The tricky part, of course, is to get to the toll stop. If you are in Zagreb and you are, like most people, heading south, take the bus 111 from the Savski most station in Zagreb and ask the bus driver where to get off to get to the toll stop. Next best place to ask people to pick you up are gas stations. And finally, just using the good old thumb will work too if everything else fails.
Croatia has an impressive history, a fact that is best explained through the vast array of sites worth visiting. Most towns have a historical center with its typical architecture. There are differences between the coast and the continental part, so both areas are a must. The most famous is Dubrovnik, a prime example of the coastal architecture, but by no means the only one worth visiting. Equally important is the capital and largest city, Zagreb, with a population of about 1 million. It is a modern city with all the modern features, yet it has a laid back feel. In the east, in the region of Slavonija with it's regional capital Osijek and the war torn Vukovar are awe inspiring. Scattered throughout the region are vineyards and wine cellars, most of which give tours and tastings.
Sailing is a good way to see the coastal islands and networks of small archipelagos. Most charters leave from Split or the surrounding area on the North or the South circuit, each offering its own pros and cons. A good way is to book a package with a company at home, but many Croatian companies also offer both bareboat and crewed charters.
Booking of a charter vessel is basically done in two parts. Fifty percent of the charter price is paid right away, after which the booking is confirmed. The other fifty percent of the charter fee is usually paid four weeks before the charter date. Before the first payment of the charter fee you should request to see the charter contract from the agency where you chartered a boat. Pay close attention to cancellation fees because many times if you cancel your charter vacation you could lose the initial fifty percent you already payed when you booked a charter so take a close look at that in the charter contract. After that you are set for a sailing vacation.
When you arrive to marina where your chartered yacht is situated you need to do the check in (usually Saturday around 04:00 PM) and you have to do the shopping for the charter vacation. Don't neglect the groceries shopping because the sea is unpredictable and you don't want to get stuck on the boat without anything to eat or drink.
You can do the shopping in a marina (although the prices are much higher there) or you can order from yacht provisioning services who usually deliver the products to your chartered yacht at no extra fee. This is convenient because it takes the load off you and the things you must do when you arrive at the marina for your sailing holiday.
Croatia was the first country in Europe to start with the concept of commercial naturist resorts. According to some estimates about 15% of all tourists that visit the country are naturists or nudists (more than one million each year). There are more than 20 official naturist resorts as well as a very large number of the so-called free beaches which are unofficial naturist beaches, sometimes controlled and maintained by local tourist authorities. In fact, you are likely to find nudists on any beach outside of town centers. Naturist beaches in Croatia are marked as "FKK". The most popular nudist destinations are Pula, Hvar and island Rab.
Increasingly Croatia is becoming a popular place for health tourism. A number of dental surgeries have experience in treating short term visitors to Croatia. Croatian dentists study for 5 years in Zagreb or Rijeka. Harmonization of training with EU standards has begun, in preparation for Croatia's accession.
Croatia for the disabled
Facilities for the disabled are not as developed as elsewhere, but there are exceptions to this and certain hotels, campsites and beaches have facilities for the disabled and wheelchair access. A more comprehensive guide to Croatia for the disabled, including contact details or various associations, can be found at 
One of Croatia's more "wild" holiday offers are the lighthouses. Most of them are situated on a deserted coastline or in the open sea. The specialty of this is that you are able to cut yourself off from the rest of the world and take the time to "smell the roses". Sometimes the best way to relax is to take part in a Robinson Crusoe style holiday.
Croatia has 11 rent-a-lighthouses along the Adriatic coast: Savudrija, Sv. Ivan, Rt Zub, Porer, Veli Rat, Prisnjak, Sv. Petar, Plocica, Susac, Struga and Palagruza.
Croatia's official currency is the kuna. Although many tourist business owners may accept euros, Euros are not legal tender in Croatia. Any amount of kuna you have left at the end of your stay can be converted to euros at a local bank or exchange office.
Prices are around 10% to 20% lower than most EU countries. Touristic destinations and articles are much more expensive.
As of February, 2013
ATMs (in Croatian bankomat) are readily available throughout Croatia. They will accept various European bank cards, credit cards (Diners Club, Eurocard/Mastercard, Visa, American Express etc.) and debit cards (Cirrus, Maestro, Visa electron etc.). Read the labels/notices on the machine before using.
If you buy goods worth more than 740 kuna you are entitled to a PDV (VAT) tax return when leaving the country. Note that this applies to all goods except petroleum products. At point of purchase ask the sales person for a PDV-P form. Fill it out and have it stamped on the spot. On leaving Croatia the receipt will be verified by the Croatian Customs service. A PDV refund in Kunas can be obtained within six months, either at the same shop where you bought the goods (in that case the tax will be refunded to you immediately), or by posting the verified receipt back to the shop, together with the account number into which the refund should be paid. In this case the refund is dealt with within 15 days of receipt of the claim. There is another, much easier way to receive the refund. Buy your goods in shops with a "CROATIA TAX-FREE SHOPPING" label. This label is displayed on the shop's entrance, usually next to the labels of credit and debit cards this particular shop accepts. Using an international coupon, refund is possible in all countries-members of the TAX-FREE international chain. In this case the service charge is deducted from the tax refund amount.
Croatia now uses the Global Blue system. They will do the refund and take a commission off the price. You can do this at the airport or post it once you get home.
The ingredients used (herbs, olive oil, etc.) are grown in Croatia. In comparison to some world famous beauty products, Croatian natural cosmetics present real value for the money.
Ulola  manufacturers soaps, bath salts, body butters and more. It's all natural and comes in combinations like: orange and cinnamon, goats milk and almond oil, etc</buy>
S-Atea  manufacturers soaps, shower gels, body butter and more. Seaweed, olive oil, rosemary and lavender are some of their main ingredients.
Brac fini sapuni  (Brac quality soaps) manufacturers a wide range of natural soaps, the lastest addition to their bath line is Aurum Croaticum made from virgin olive oil and thin leafs of 23 carat gold!
Croatian clothing designers
There are many Croatian designers and clothing specialists.
Etnobutik "Mara"  (designs by Vesna Milković) offers a range of really unique clothing and accessories inscribed with "glagoljica" (glagolitic script; old Slavic alphabet). Some of her designs are protected as Authentic Croatian produce.
I-gle Fashion Studio by two female designers Nataša Mihaljčišin i Martina Vrdoljak-Ranilović. Their clothing is sold in Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge (London).;
Nebo ("Sky") is a fashion house that makes really nice, funky clothes and shoes.
Nit ("Thread") is definitely not widely known even among Croats but is definitely worth visiting as they have some "funky and arty but serious" clothing items that are "value for money".
Croatian cuisine is quite diverse so it is hard to say what meal is most typically Croatian. In the eastern continental regions (Slavonija and Baranja) spicy sausage such as kulen or kulenova seka is a must-try. Čobanac ("shepherd's stew") is a mixture of several different kinds of meat with a lot of red spicy paprika. In Hrvatsko Zagorje and Central Croatia pasta filled with cheese called štrukli is a famous delicacy (it is said that the best štrukli in Croatia is served in the Esplanade Hotel restaurant in Zagreb), as is purica s mlincima (baked turkey with a special kind of pastry). Sir i vrhnje (sour cream with cottage cheese) can be bought fresh on the Zagreb main market Dolac. Croats love a bit of oil and you will find plenty of it in piroška. In mountainous regions of Lika and Gorski Kotar meals made of mushrooms, wild berries and wild meat are very popular. One of typical dishes in Lika is police (oven-baked potatoes covered with bacon) and several kinds of cheese (smoked cheese and škripavac).
The coastal region is well known for truffle delicacies and soup maneštra od bobić (Istria), Dalmatian pršut (dry-cured ham) and paški sir (Pag-island cheese). Dishes made of fresh fish and other products of the sea (calamari, octopus, crabs, scampi) shouldn't be given a miss! Many places serve fish delivered from the local fisherman the night before - find out which ones!
Croatian cuisine has yet to come up with a Croatian fast food representative. The market is dominated by globally ubiquitous hamburgers and pizzas but you will also find "burek" and "ćevapčići" imported from the medieval Ottoman empire which stretched from Turkey to neighboring Bosnia. The latter two dishes are widely popular in the entire South and Eastern Europe. Burek is a type of cheese-pastry whereas ćevapčići are seasoned minced meat shaped in finger-size portions served in bread and often covered with onions. Although definitely not a fast meal (takes several hours to prepare) also foreign in origin is the so-called sarma or sauerkraut rolls filled with minced meat and rice. For those coming back from nightclubs at 4 or 5AM as is common in Croatia, it is popular to go to the local bakery and get fresh bread, burek or krafne (Croatian chocolate filled donuts) straight out of the oven. Delicious! As far as fast food goes, who needs it when you can buy delicious prsut during the day and warm bread at night to compliment it. Most Croatians generally look down at fast food.
Desserts: What it lacks in the fast food department Croatia makes up with a myriad of desserts. Probably the most famous is its delicious creamy cake called kremšnite but different kinds of gibanica, štrudla and pita (similar to strudel and pie) such as orehnjača (walnut), makovnjača (poppy) or bučnica (pumpkin and cheese) are also highly recommended. Dubrovačka torta od skorupa is delicious but hard to find. Paprenjaci (pepper cookies) are said to reflect the Croatian tumultuous history because they combine the harshness of the war periods (pepper) with the natural beauties (honey). They can be bought in most souvenir shops though fresh-made are always a better choice. Rapska torta (The Rab island cake) is made with almonds and locally famous cherry liquor Maraschino. It should be noted that this is hardly an exhaustive list and even a casual glimpse in any Croatian cookbook is likely to be worth the effort. Chocolate candy "Bajadera" is available throughout shops in the country and along with "Griotte" is one of the most famous products of the Croatian chocolate industry.
An unavoidable ingredient in many meals prepared in Croatia is "Vegeta". It is a spice produced by "Podravka".
Olives: a lot of people claim that Croatian olives and their olive oil are the best in the world, which is not even well known in Croatia and less worldwide. Many brands exist and some of them have several world awards. Try to buy olive oil from Istra (although oil from Dalmatia is also excellent) and choose only Croatian brands for olives (most notable sms, few times awarded as the world's best!). Try to read the declaration before buying to ensure you are buying Croatian olives and oil, since there are a lot of imports (usually cheap products from Greece). All of this can be found in most of the supermarkets, but you should be really aware of the imports, most of the Croatian people aren't experts and prefer cheaper products, so they dominate. The olive oil is a irreaplaceable "ingredient" in the coastal cuisine, but you should be aware of the use of cheaper, not Croatian, oil in restaurants because most of the tourists don't notice the difference so the restaurants don't find it profitable to use excellent oil; they rather use cheaper Spanish or Greek. Usually, asking the waiter for a better oil (and looking like an expert) helps, and soon he gets you a first-class oil from a hidden place.
Alcoholic: Try many different kinds of wines. Also worth trying is rakija, a type of brandy which can be made of plum (šljivovica), grapes (loza), figs (smokovača) and many other types of fruit and aromatic herbs. Pelinkovac is a bitter herbal liquor popular in Central Croatia, but is said to resemble cough-medicine in flavor. Famous Maraschino, a liquer flavored with Marasca cherries, which are grown around Zadar, Dalmatia. Non-alcoholic: Sometimes although very rarely you may find "sok od bazge" (elderflower juice) in the continental region. Worth trying! Also, in Istria there is a drink called "pašareta" and it is a sparkling red drink with herbal extracts. Very sweet and refreshing! In some parts of Istria (especially south) in local basements, you can try 'smrikva' - a non alcoholic refreshing drink made out of berries which grow on one sort of pine tree. The taste is a bit sour but very refreshing.
On a more general note, Croatia produces a broad palette of high quality wines (up to 700 wines with protected geographic origin) and brandies, fruit juices, beers and mineral water. On the coast people usually serve "bevanda" with meals. Bevanda is heavy, richly flavored red wine mixed with plain water. Its counter-part in northern parts of Croatia is "gemisht". This term designates dry, flavored wines mixed with mineral water.
Two most popular beers are "Karlovačko" and "Ožujsko", but "Velebitsko" and "Tomislav pivo" have received a semi-cult status in the recent years. It is served only in some places in Zagreb and Croatia.
Officially, alcoholic drinks can't be sold or served to anyone under 18. However, this rule is almost never enforced.
In Croatia there are 4 major types of accommodation:
Croatia is the destination of many worldwide volunteer organizations that send groups of volunteers throughout the year to help with agriculture, community development, education, animal welfare, and more. These programs are put together by nonprofits, community groups and volunteers to help locals improve their economy and way of life. With rich cultural history and stunning coastline, Croatia is truly is the jewel of eastern Europe. If you would like to travel to Croatia as a volunteer, visit these websites for volunteer programs, accommodations, travel dates, and tours.
During summer make sure you use adequate SPF to protect yourself from sunburn. There are no ozone holes over Croatia but it's fairly easy to burn in the sun. If this happens make sure you get out of the sun, drink plenty of fluids and rehydrate your skin. The locals will often advise covering the burnt spot with cold yogurt bought from the supermarket.
In case of an emergency you can dial 112 - responsible for dispatching all emergency services such as fire departments, police, emergency medical assistance and mountain rescue.
Since the hostilities ended in 1995, there remain an estimated 90,000 landmines in Croatia. However these are not to be found in areas visited by tourists. If you plan to hike consult locals before you go. The mine suspected areas are marked with 16.000 mine warning signs.
Do not stray from marked roads or known safe areas. For further advice refer to Wikitravel's war zone safety section.
Watch out for Bura wind danger signs. Bura is known in Velebit area, can blow up to 200 km/h and is known to have thrown lorries on the sides.
Avoid strip clubs at all costs. They are often run by very shady characters, and often overcharge their guests. Recent cases include foreigners that were charged 2000 euros for a bottle of champagne. These clubs overcharge their customers to the extreme, and their bouncers will not have any mercy if you tell them you are unable to pay. You will soon find yourself in a local hospital. Using common sense is essential, but due to the nature of the clubs this may be in short supply, and you may be better advised simply to steer well clear of these clubs.
There are no vaccination required to enter Croatia.
If you're going camping or hiking in continental Croatia during summer, you should be aware of ticks and tick-carrying diseases such as encephalitis and lyme-disease. Approximately 3 ticks in 1000 carry the virus.
In Eastern Slavonia (particularly around the Kopacki Rit near Osijek) wear long sleeves and take insect repellent.
Tap water in Croatia is perfectly safe, and in some areas considered the best in the world. However, you can still choose from several brands of excellent bottled water (Jamnica being the most popular, and Jana, several times awarded as the world's best bottled water).
Keep in mind that 1990s marked with expulsion of Serbian minority and Croatian-Serbian bloody and brutal war is still a painful subject, but generally there should be no problem if you approach that topic with respect. Do not mention WWII holocaust, Jasenovac concentration camp or Croatian nazi past. Visitors will find that domestic politics and European affairs are everyday conversation subjects in Croatia.
Socially, displays of affection among the younger generation are the same as Western European standards, but the older generation (over 65) still are quite conservative.
When driving on rural roads, particularly where a driver has to pull in to allow you to pass, it is customary to wave a thanks to the other driver, by raising your hand from the steering wheel.
Most Croats will respond to "thank you" with something along the lines of "It was nothing" or "not at all" which is equivalent to English "Don't mention it".
Croatia uses the GSM 900/1800 system for mobile phones. There are three providers, T-Mobile (also operates the Bonbon and MultiPlus Mobile prepaid brand), Vip (also operates the Tomato prepaid brand) and Tele2. Over 98% of the country's area is covered. Since 2006 UMTS (3G) is available as well. If you have an unlocked phone, you can buy a Tele2 prepaid SIM card for 25 kn. GSM phones (Nokia 1200, Nokia 2610, Motorola F3, LG KG130 or Samsung C170) bundled with T-Mobile or Vip prepaid SIM cards can be found in post offices, grocery stores and kiosks at prices between 50 and 200 kn.
Alternative to use of mobile phone is Calling Cards which can be found in postal offices and kiosks, there are two providers Dencall and Hitme. You can buy cards from 25 kn.
Zagreb (01) Split (021) Rijeka (051) Dubrovnik (020) Sibenik/Knin (022) Zadar (023) Osijek (031) Vukovar (032) Varazdin (042) Bjelovar (043) Sisak (044) Karlovac (047) Koprivnica (048) Krapina (049) Istria (052) Lika/Senj (053)
ADSL is common in Croatia. A 4 Mbit connection with unlimited downloads costs 178 kn (€24) per month via T-Com and just 99 kn with some other providers like Metronet or Iskon.
Internet cafés are available in all major cities. They are relatively cheap and reliable. A free Wi-Fi signal can be found virtually in every city (cafés, hotels, private unsecured networks...)no:Kroatia