Croatia travel guide
Occupying a stunning stretch of the Adriatic coastline, Croatia is one of Europe’s top seaside destinations. Boasting more than 1,100 islands, the country is renowned for its limpid waters and picture-perfect scenery.
But Croatia is much more than sea and sunshine – it’s home to historic walled cities and spectacular Roman ruins, as well as imposing castles and unspoiled national parks. The fantastic cuisine, including seafood on the coast and truffles in Istria, fine wines and buzzing café culture add to the appeal.
The capital, Zagreb, can be called quintessentially Central European. Everything from the architecture to the hearty cuisine reflects the region’s centuries-old ties with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city also makes a good base from which to explore the historic castles and vineyards of Zagorje.
One thing that has changed greatly in the last decade in Croatia is tourism. The coast was once an undiscovered, undeveloped natural wonder as beautiful as Italy’s, but without the fanfare. Now tourists from Britain, Germany and beyond flock to the Dalmatian region, and many have snapped up holiday homes.
The gorgeous seaside cities of Split and Dubrovnik still maintain their charm, but tend to be crowded with tourists during the day. The evenings in these coastal hubs tend to be much quieter, and there are often classical music concerts and other events in the city centres.
Beyond the tourist zones, Croatia is full of isolated places where you can discover more traditional, local life. Head to Plitvice for its amazing, lake-strewn national park, or explore the rugged mountain ranges of Velebit and Gorski Kotar, havens for hiking.
Back on the Adriatic, Croatia offers ideal sailing conditions, scuba diving and sea kayaking. And of course, those in search of a more restful holiday can enjoy hours of sunshine on the beach. As Europe’s top naturist destination, Croatia is also a place where you can even get that all-over tan.
Clothing is advised if you’re planning to explore the country’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, world-class museums and festivals, which come thick and fast throughout the summer.
56,542 sq km (21,831 sq miles).
4,218,584 (UN estimate 2016).
79 per sq km.
President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović since 2015.
Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković since 2016.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. European plugs with two round pins are standard.
Last updated: 13 March 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime levels are low and violent crime is rare.
Some tourists have been the victims of overcharging in so-called ‘Gentlemen’s Clubs’, sometimes amounting to thousands of Euros. Victims can be threatened with violence if they refuse to pay.
Take care in busy tourist areas, where pickpockets are known to operate. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Don’t leave valuables unattended, particularly on the beach. Use a hotel safe if possible.
Report all incidents of crime to the local police station and get a police report.
If you are planning to travel outside the normal tourist resorts beware of unexploded mines in war-affected areas like Eastern Slavonia, Brodsko-Posavska County, Karlovac County, areas around Zadar County and in more remote areas of the Plitvice Lakes National Park. For more information about mine-affected areas visit the Croatian Mine Action Center’s website.
If you are travelling in these areas avoid leaving cultivated land or marked paths. If in doubt seek local advice.
If you are hiking in the mountains seek expert advice from local guides, however tame the mountain might seem to you. The weather in the Croatian mountains can change quickly, even in summer and temperatures can get very low overnight. There have been reports of hikers getting lost in the mountains when they have gone out alone and left marked paths. If you get into trouble, call the emergency number 112 and the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service will help you as best they can.
You can drive using a UK driving licence. If you bring your own or rented vehicle into the country you may need to provide proof of ownership by presenting a V5 log book. If you fail to produce this when asked you will be refused entry and the car might be impounded until you can prove ownership.
Contact the Croatian Embassy in London if you have more detailed questions about bringing a vehicle in to the country. The British Embassy is unable to help individuals attempting to bring vehicles into Croatia who do not have the correct documents at the border.
You don’t need a Green Card to drive in Croatia, but if you are driving to or through Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the 20km strip of coastline at Neum on the Dalmatian coastal highway, make sure that you have a Green Card that includes cover for Bosnia and Herzegovina. You can’t buy insurance for Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Neum border crossing.
Take care when overtaking and be wary of other road users unexpectedly overtaking in slower traffic. Minor roads are usually unlit at night.
It is illegal to drive with more than 0.05% of alcohol in the blood system.
You must drive with dipped headlights from the last weekend in October until last weekend in March, even during the daytime. You must not use a mobile phone whilst driving.
It’s obligatory to carry a fluorescent vest in your car whilst driving in Croatia. You must keep the vest in the car and not in the boot. You should wear the vest while attending to a breakdown. All passengers must wear seat belts and special seats are required for infants. Children under the age of 12 may not sit in the front seat.
In 2015 there were 348 road deaths in Croatia (source: Department for Transport).This equates to 8.2 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2015.
Emergency road help (HAK) may be reached by dialling (385 1) 1987. This service is staffed by English speaking operators. Traffic information in English is available on 98.5FM during the tourist season only.
Take care to guard valuables, especially at night.
There is zero tolerance on alcohol consumption if you are in charge of a yacht or boat. The penalties for being caught drunk in charge of a boat are heavy. Yacht/boat skippers have been arrested for entering a non-designated entry port without informing the authorities. If you are sailing to Croatia enter only at a designated port/harbour. If this is not possible, contact the local harbour master or the police before entering.
The Croatian Government requires all skippers to have an International Certificate of Competence (ICC).