FOLLOW US

World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Croatia

Croatia travel guide

About Croatia

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.

Key facts

Area:

56,542 sq km (21,831 sq miles).

Population:

4,218,584 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

79 per sq km.

Capital:

Zagreb.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Zoran Milanović since 2020.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković since 2016.

Travel Advice

Before you travel 

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Travel insurance 

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. 

About FCDO travel advice

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.

Follow and contact FCDO travel on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications for Croatia when this advice is updated.

This information is for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK. It is based on the UK government’s understanding of the current rules 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 the UK

COVID-19 rules 

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Croatia. 

Passport validity requirements 

Croatia follows Schengen area rules. Your passport must:

  • have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive – if you renewed your passport before 1 October 2018, it may have a date of issue that is more than 10 years ago
  • have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave the Schengen area

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. 

Visa requirements 

You can travel without a visa to the Schengen area, which includes 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

The requirements for working in Croatia are different.

If you’re travelling to other Schengen countries make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day visa-free limit. Visits to Schengen countries in the 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days. 

Make sure you get your passport stamped on entry and exit. 

If you’re a visitor, border guards will look at your entry and exit stamps to check you have not overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for the Schengen area.

If your passport is missing a stamp, 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.

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

Staying longer than 90 days in a 180-day period 

To stay longer, you must meet the Croatian government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa or work permit you need with the Croatian Embassy in the UK. See the Croatian Ministry of the Interior’s guidance on work permits.

If you’re in Croatia with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit. 

Read about passport stamping if you live in Croatia.

Croatia-Slovenia border crossings 

There are checks at Slovenia’s borders with Croatia, which are expected to be in place until at least October 2024. If you are travelling from Croatia to Slovenia, check travel advice for Slovenia

Vaccine requirements 

For details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Croatia guide.

Registering 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 form obrazac 16a (PDF). You must hand in the completed form at a police station. Alternatively, you should go to the nearest police station with the owner of the accommodation to register your address in Croatia. 

Customs rules 

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 into Croatia 

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions such as powdered baby milk, baby food and special foods or pet feed required for medical reasons.

Taking money into Croatia

Declare cash or travellers cheques if the value is 10,000 euros or more. You will get a certified declaration to show you brought it in with you. If you do not, your money could be seized when you leave.

Terrorism 

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. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times. 

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 

Crime levels are low and violent crime is rare. 

Protecting yourself and your belongings 

Tourists have been overcharged at certain ‘gentlemen’s clubs’, sometimes by thousands of euros, and threatened with violence if they refuse to pay. 

Pickpockets operate in tourist areas. Avoid carrying large sums of cash, do not leave valuables unattended and use hotel safes if possible. 

Attacks and sexual assaults in taxis

There have been reports of sexual assaults in taxis in Croatia. To reduce risk and help prevent potential assaults:

  • take a photo of the inside, where the number of the taxi is visible, and send it to a friend or someone else
  • share your ride status on the taxi app
  • make a call while in the taxi telling someone which taxi it is and where you are going

Laws and cultural differences 

Personal ID 

Always carry your passport or, if you’re a resident, your Croatian ID card. Keep a copy of your passport’s photo page in a safe place.

Antisocial behaviour 

In some Croatian town centres, including tourist destinations like Split and Dubrovnik, you can get on-the-spot fines for behaviour seen as inappropriate, including: 

  • drinking alcohol or using drugs in public spaces
  • 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 4,000 euros for public order disturbances, including: 

  • fighting
  • verbal abuse such as shouting or arguing
  • drunken behaviour
  • belittling or insulting police officers or other public officials

Illegal drugs and prison sentences 

Drug offences are punished with fines and prison sentences. 

Unexploded mines  

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) 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, get local advice. 

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

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. Temperatures can get very low overnight.

There is a risk 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. 

Transport risks 

Road travel 

If you’re planning to drive in Croatia, see information on driving abroad and check the rules of the road in RAC’s Croatia guide. The guide lists driving regulations and other legal requirements you need to be aware of, such as:

  • having your headlights on and dipped when driving a car from 1 November until 31 March, even during daytime
  • driving with dipped headlights year-round on scooters and motorcycles
  • using winter tyres between 15 November and 15 April
  • carrying a fluorescent vest in the car, not in the boot – you must wear the vest while attending to a breakdown

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in Croatia for up to one year. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the correct version of the international driving permit (IDP) as well.

The Croatian Automobile Association lists current traffic hazards

Drink-driving is a serious offence in Croatia. If you’re found with more than 0.05% of alcohol in your blood (in England it’s 0.08%) you will get a fine, and you may lose your licence and get a prison sentence. The alcohol limit is zero for drivers under the age of 24.

Sea travel 

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. 

You must sail by the most direct route to a port of entry when entering Croatian 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 Croatia.  

If you are in Croatia, including on a boat, your presence in Croatia must be registered with the police. If you’re travelling with a tour operator, they should do this for you. Otherwise, you must fill in and print form obrazac 16a (PDF) and hand it in at a police station.    

All captains must have an International Certificate of Competence

Extreme weather and natural disasters 

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards

Wildfires

Wildfires 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 2,000 to 20,000 euros, or even given a prison sentence. 

You could 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 

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 loss of life. Heavily damaged buildings, which are not always signposted, may be unstable. 

Small tremors also happen several times a month throughout the year. Most pass without consequence. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency website has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake

Floods  

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 Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service 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 quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

Vaccine recommendations and health risks 

At least 8 weeks before your trip: 

See what health risks you’ll face in Croatia, including:

  • dengue
  • biting insects and ticks

Medication 

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. 

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro

Healthcare in Croatia 

FCDO has a list of medical facilities in Croatia, where some staff will speak English. 

Health insurance cards 

To get medically necessary state healthcare in Croatia, you need a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

The NHS’s getting healthcare abroad webpage has details about:

  • how to apply for a GHIC
  • how to get temporary cover if you lose your card or it does not arrive in time
  • who qualifies for a new EHIC instead of a GHIC
  • what treatment counts as medically necessary

A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. In Croatia there is always a charge for treatment, which can be up to 530 euros. You may have other costs your GHIC or EHIC does not cover, including: 

  • changes to travel and accommodation bookings
  • additional standard costs for treatment
  • medical repatriation to the UK
  • treatment that is ruled non-urgent
  • private healthcare
  • private clinics

There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Croatia.

Travel and mental health 

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

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: 

Contacting FCDO 

Follow and contact FCDO travel on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated. 

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency 

If you are in Croatia and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Zagreb

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)

Find out about call charges 

Risk information for British companies 

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating in Croatia on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

Book a Hotel