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.
Last updated: 26 May 2018
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.
There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU, while the UK remains in the EU.
Information on road border crossings and international rail journeys can be found at the Croatian Automobile Association (HAK) website.
Carry your passport with you at all times. You must be able to show some form of identification if required, including when checking into hotels.
Land mines are still a danger in some isolated areas.
Around 765,000 British nationals visited Croatia in 2017. Most visits are trouble-free.
Terrorist attacks in Croatia can’t be ruled out.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
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.
You should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel. If you already have an EHIC, make sure it hasn’t expired.
You should also take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.
Safety and security
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. You can find tips about mountaineering and direct numbers for regional rescue teams on the Croatian Mountain Rescue page here and on Twitter HrvatskaGSS , as well as their maps. 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 have winter tyres on your vehicle between 15 November and 15 April. 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 2016 there were 307 road deaths in Croatia (source: Department for Transport).This equates to 7.3 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2016.
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).
Terrorist attacks in Croatia can’t be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Local laws and customs
We recommend that you carry your passport (or, if a resident your Croatian ID card) at all times. They are the only officially recognised form of identification in Croatia.
Keep a photocopy of the biographical details page in a safe place, including details of your next of kin. If your passport is lost or stolen you should report it to the police and get a police report. You need to do this before applying for an Emergency Travel Document; advice on how to apply can be found here
Walking shirtless or in swimming costumes is frowned upon in some town centres in Croatia. You should take notice of your surroundings including signage and judge what is appropriate. Some towns, such as Dubrovnik, have signage to show that the practice is prohibited by law and offenders will be subject to an on the spot fine.
Drug related offences are punished with fines and jail sentences.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Croatia is an EU member state. You don’t need a visa for tourist and business trips of up to 90 days in any 6 month period. For further information about entry requirements, work permits and residence rules, contact the Croatian Embassy; 21 Conway Street, London, W1T 6BN (tel: 020 7387 1144).
You may be asked to produce evidence of the financial means necessary to cover your stay and return or onward trip.
If you want to extend your stay in Croatia for more than 90 days, seek advice at the local police station.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK ETDs are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Croatia and are a valid ID document in Croatia.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures.
Check the latest country-specific information and advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website or from NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
If you’re visiting Croatia you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC isn’t a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Croatian nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate. The EHIC won’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment, so you should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Small tremors are recorded several times a month throughout the year 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.
Forest fires are very common during Croatia’s hot and dry summers. Take care when visiting or driving through woodland and forest areas. Make sure cigarette ends are properly extinguished, don’t light barbecues and don’t leave any rubbish, particularly empty bottles, behind.
Flash floods can occur with very little warning and can lead to dangerous water flows and disruption to transport and other networks. You should keep a close eye on weather forecasts and follow the advice of local authorities.
Monitor media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities if a forest fire, earthquake, floods or other natural disaster occurs in your area.
Major credit and debit cards are accepted in most banks and hotels. Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are easily exchanged for local currency. There are plenty of ATMs. Only exchange money at reliable places like banks and ATMs.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.