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Holidays in Croatia

Understanding Croatia

Climate

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

Terrain

Geographically diverse; flat agricultural plains along the Hungarian border, 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

History

The Croats settled in the Balkans in the early 7th century and formed two principalities: Dalmatia 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 state under the strong hand of Marshal Tito When Croatia declared independence in 1991 it took four years of sporadic but bloody war before Yugoslav army left Croatia Under UN supervision the last Serb-held enclave in eastern Slavonia was returned to Croatia in 1998 The conflict resulted in a mass exodus of the native Serbian minority to Bosnia and Serbia which had inhabited portions of Croatia for centuries 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 Croatia's coastal areas are especially stunning, and have the hybrid charm of Eastern European and the Mediterranean

Talking in Croatia

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

Croatian is not an easy language to learn, but the people like when foreign travelers use it for basic things such as greeting and thanking

What to do in Croatia

Cultural heritage

Croatia has an impressive history, a fact that is best explained through the vast array of sites worth visiting Most towns have an 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

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 of you and the things you must do when you arrive at the marina for your sailing holiday

Naturist resorts

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

Health tourism

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

Lighthouses

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

Buying stuff in Croatia

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

ATMs

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

Tax-free shopping

If you buy goods worth more than 500 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

Food and eating in Croatia

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 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

Drinking in Croatia

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! 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

Accommodation in Croatia

In Croatia there are 4 major types of accommodation:

  • Apartments
  • Small private hotels
  • Two- and three-star hotel resorts, for typical mass tourism
  • Five-star luxury hotels

Working in Croatia

Volunteering

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

  • Essential Croatia 44
  • ISV Croatia 45
  • Volunteers Centre Zagreb 46

Cities in Croatia

beli manastir  biograd na moru  bjelovar  buje  cakovec  dubrovnik  gospic  gracac  karlovac  knin  koprivnica  korcula  krapina  krizevci  krk  kutina  makarska  metkovic  nasice  nova gradiska  novska  ogulin  omis  opatija  osijek  pag  petrinja  porec  pozega  pula  rab  rijeka  rovinj  senj  sesvete  sibenik  sinj  sisak  slatina  slavonski brod  solin  split  trogir  varazdin  velika gorica  vinkovci  virovitica  vukovar  zadar  zagreb  zapresic  zupanja  

What do you think about Croatia?

How expensive is Croatia?
(1 HRK = 0.15 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant44.1 HRK
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)220.2 HRK
McDonalds meal38.54 HRK
Local beer (0.5 draft)11.83 HRK
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 14.25 HRK
Cappuccino9.35 HRK
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)13.41 HRK
Water (0.33 bottle)9.47 HRK
Milk (1l)6.78 HRK
Fresh bread (500g)6.94 HRK
White Rice (1kg)9.58 HRK
Eggs (12) 16.97 HRK
Local Cheese (1kg) 52.69 HRK
Chicken Breast (1kg) 48.31 HRK
Apples (1kg) 8.76 HRK
Oranges (1kg) 9.03 HRK
Tomato (1kg) 10.57 HRK
Potato (1kg) 5.32 HRK
Lettuce (1 head) 5.07 HRK
Water (1.5l)5.76 HRK
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 38.75 HRK
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)7.71 HRK
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 10.33 HRK
Cigarettes27.6 HRK
One way local bus ticket11.04 HRK
Monthly pass for bus342.55 HRK
Taxi start13.95 HRK
Taxi 1km4.6 HRK
Taxi 1hour waiting44.08 HRK
Gasoline (1 liter) 9.85 HRK
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 55.57 HRK
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