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 Zoran Milanović since 2020.
Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković since 2016.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:
- advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
- information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Croatia set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Croatian Embassy in London.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Croatia.
Passport validity requirements
To travel to Croatia, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.
To enter Croatia (and all Schengen countries) your passport must:
- have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive. Passports issued after 1 October 2018 are now valid for only 10 years, but for passports issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added if you renewed a passport early
- have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave
Contact the Croatian embassy in the UK if your passport does not meet both these requirements.
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document, or try to use a passport that has been lost or stolen.
Checks at border control
Border checks have been introduced at Slovenia’s borders with Croatia and will be in place for 6 months. If travelling from Croatia, to Slovenia, consult our travel advice for Slovenia.
Make sure you get your passport stamped.
If you’re a visitor, your passport must be stamped when you enter or leave the Schengen area (which includes Croatia). Border guards will use passport stamps to check you haven’t overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for stays in the Schengen area. If your passport was not stamped, border guards will presume you have overstayed the visa-free limit.
If your passport was not stamped, show evidence of when and where you entered or left the Schengen area (for example, boarding passes or tickets) and ask the border guards to add the date and location in your passport.
Read about passport stamping if you live in Croatia.
At Croatian border control, you may also need to:
- show proof of your accommodation, for example, a hotel booking confirmation or proof of address for a second home
- show proof of your travel insurance
- show a return or onward ticket
- prove that you have enough money for your stay – the amount varies depending on your accommodation
You can travel without a visa to the Schengen area (including Croatia) for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. This applies if you travel:
- as a tourist
- to visit family or friends
- to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events
- for short-term studies or training
If you’re travelling to Croatia and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries in the 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.
To stay longer (to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons), you must meet the Croatian government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa or work permit you need with the Croatian embassy in UK.
If you stay in Croatia with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Croatia guide.
Registration with the police
Your accommodation provider must register your arrival in Croatia with the police within 48 hours. Your hotel will normally register you. If your accommodation provider is unable to do this for you, fill in and print out the form obrazac 16a. The completed form must be handed in at the police station. Alternatively you should go to the nearest police station with the owner of the accommodation to register your address in Croatia.
There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Croatia. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
Taking food and drink into Croatia
You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Croatia
Terrorist attacks in Croatia cannot be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
Crime levels are low and violent crime is rare.
Protecting yourself and your belongings
Tourists have been overcharged at bars and clubs (‘gentlemen’s clubs’), sometimes by thousands of Euros, and threatened with violence if they will not pay.
Pickpockets operate in tourist areas. Avoid carrying large sums of cash, do not leave valuables unattended and use hotel safes if possible.
Laws and cultural differences
Always carry your passport or, if you’re a resident, your Croatian ID card. Keep a photocopy of your passport’s photo page in a safe place. If your passport is lost or stolen, report it to the police and get a police report.
In some Croatian town centres, for example in popular coastal tourist destinations such as Split and Dubrovnik, you can get on-the-spot fines for behaviour seen as inappropriate, including:
- drinking alcohol or using drugs in public spaces (drugs are illegal)
- sleeping in public spaces
- urinating or vomiting in public spaces
- walking through towns shirtless or in swimwear
- wearing clothing that promotes drug use
- climbing on monuments
You can also be fined up to 4000 euros for public order disturbances, including:
- verbal abuse (shouting, arguing)
- drunken behaviour
- belittling or insulting police officers or other public officials
Illegal drugs and prison sentences
Drug offences are punished with fines and jail sentences.
If you travel outside the tourist resorts, beware of unexploded mines in previously war-affected areas, including:
- Eastern Slavonia
- Brod-Posavina County
- Karlovac County
- areas around Zadar County
- more remote areas of the Plitvice Lakes National Park
For more information about mine-affected areas, visit the Civil Protection website (in Croatian only) or contact the Civil Protection offices.
If you’re travelling in these areas, do not walk on uncultivated land or step off the marked paths. If in doubt, seek local advice.
Hiking and mountaineering
If you’re hiking in the mountains, get expert advice from local guides, however tame the mountain might seem. Weather in the Croatian mountains can change quickly, even in summer, and temperatures can get very low overnight. Be aware of the risks of getting lost in the mountains when out hiking alone and using unmarked paths. Read the Croatian Mountain Rescue tips on mountaineering, follow their Twitter at Hrvatska GSS, and see their maps. If you get into trouble, call the emergency number 112 for help from the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service.
You can drive in Croatia using your UK driving licence for up to 12 months. You don’t need an International Driving Permit.
The Croatian Automobile Association lists current traffic hazards.
Attacks and sexual assaults in taxis
There have been reports of sexual assaults in taxis or Ubers in Croatia. To reduce risk and help prevent potential assaults you can:
- take a photo of the inside, where the number of the taxi is visible, and send to a friend or someone else
- share your ride status on the Uber app
- make a call while in the taxi telling someone which taxi it is and where you are going
For local information and support, see Getting help
It is illegal to drive with more than 0.05% of alcohol in your blood system.
- have your headlights on and dipped when driving a car from 1 November until 31 March, even during daytime. For scooters and motorcycles, you must drive with dipped headlights year-round
- use winter tyres between 15 November and 15 April
- carry a fluorescent vest kept in the car, not in the boot. Wear the vest while attending to a breakdown
You must not use a mobile phone while driving.
Do not drink alcohol if you’re in charge of a yacht or boat. There are heavy penalties for being caught drunk in charge of a boat and a zero tolerance approach.
It is a requirement that you sail by the most direct route to a port of entry upon entering territorial waters.
Authorities can arrest you for entering a non-designated entry port without telling them. If you cannot use the correct entry port, contact the local harbour master or the police before entering.
Register your presence on a boat in Croatia by filling in a police form obrazac 16a. The completed form must be handed in at a police station.
All captains must have an International Certificate of Competence.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Follow media reports and the advice of local authorities if a forest fire, earthquake, floods or other natural disaster occurs in your area.
Fires are common during Croatia’s hot and dry summers. Take care when visiting or driving through woodland and forest areas. If you see a fire, call the emergency services on 112. If you’re affected, follow the advice of local authorities.
From 1 June to 31 October it is illegal to set outdoor fires and barbecues except in designated areas. Intentionally causing a fire is illegal in Croatia and you could be fined from approximately 2,000 to 20,000 euros, or even imprisoned.
You can also be fined for unintentionally causing a fire. Properly extinguish cigarette ends and do not leave any rubbish behind, particularly empty bottles, as these are known to start fires. Fines in these cases have ranged from 260 to 1,200 euros.
Earthquakes in Croatia can be strong and cause deaths and damage to infrastructure. In recent years, there have been earthquakes in Zagreb and in Petrinja, near Sisak in central Croatia. Both caused extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure and 8 people died. Heavily damaged buildings, which are not always signposted, may be unstable.
There are small tremors several times a month throughout the year. Most pass without consequences. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, visit the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Flash floods can happen with very little warning and lead to dangerous water flows and disruption to transport and other networks. There is the highest risk of flooding in central Croatia, between Karlovac and Slavonski Brod. Monitor weather forecasts and follow the advice of local authorities.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
For more information read guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in Travel HealthPro’s Croatia guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in Croatia
FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Croatia.
COVID-19 healthcare in Croatia
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, contact the nearest specialist clinic – there are contact details on the Croatian government’s COVID-19 website.
The Croatian government provides information about COVID-19 in Croatia.
If you take a COVID-19 test, you should check that the test result can be provided in the format and language that you need.
Health insurance cards
The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Croatian nationals. If you do not have your GHIC or EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team.
It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance, and you should have both before you travel. An GHIC or EHIC does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.
GHIC and EHIC cover state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or private clinic.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Croatia
Telephone: 112 (ambulance, fire, police)
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you’re involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers, funeral directors and translators and interpreters
- dealing with a death in Croatia
- being arrested or imprisoned in Croatia
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
Help abroad in an emergency
If you are in Croatia and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy Zagreb.
You can also contact FCDO online.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)
Risk information for British companies
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.