Croatia

With its rocky, indented shore and more than a thousand islands, Croatia boasts one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline that Europe has to offer. In addition, many of Croatia’s coastal towns and cities have a fascinating history and are filled with the historical remains of Roman and Venetian times.

Destination Info:

Best time to go: The best time to visit Croatia really depends on the purpose of your visit. July and August are considered to be peak season, where temperatures are highest and the coast is very popular around this time. Beaches are busy and coastal towns are lively and entertaining. Inland cities and towns tend to be quieter in these months as locals also head for the coast. Peak season also means hotels and attractions can be a harrowing experience as services try to deal with the large number of visitors. June and September can be a more relaxing time to visit with less pressure on local facilities.

Croatia is much quieter over the winter months with many services actually closing. Inland the weather can be very cold and snow is likely. October – May are considered low season however the start of Autumn and Spring can offer decent temperatures without the large numbers of tourists. 

Visa : For stays up to 90 days, visa is not required for New Zealand citizens. A passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay is required for tourists visiting Croatia.

Currency : Croatia has been using the modern kuna currency since 1994. It is subdivided into 100 lipa. However Croatia is planning to move to Euro after joining the EU shortly. This may take a few years to fully implement the change in currenncy.

ATMs can be found in large towns especially in all the tourist areas. If you’ve got MasterCard or Visa/Access, there are plenty of places to withdraw money. Foreign currency can be exchanged for local money in hotels,banks, post offices and exchange offices. They take all the major European currencies, Australian and US dollars.

Health: Croatia does not have any particular health risk. Non-EU nationals are advised to purchase medical insurance. All travellers should be up to date on routine vaccinations when travelling to Croatia. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended while Rabies and Hepatitis B should be considered.

Food and drinks: Croatia has a mix of foods on offer given its geological position and history. Mediterranean Sea provides a range of fish and seafood and Croatia’s history of foreign occupation leading to imported tastes and recipes has influenced its modern cuisine. Breakfast often consists of eggs, pastries, cereals, meat and cheese, served in hotels & cafes. Locally lunch is normally the main meal although eateries have something lighter on offer for tourists. Dinner is usually light with thin crust pizza or platters on offer. Coffee shops and ice cream parlours are a common sight and part of everyday life in Croatia. Tap water is drinkable throughout Croatia.

Clothing: Croatians take pride in their appearance. City wear is usually business casual whereas by the coast the norm is much more relaxed. When visiting churches or museums please cover shoulders and wear trousers at least knee length as a sign of respect.

Language: Croatian is the national official language of Croatia, however most residents of major cities and tourist hotspots speak English so you shouldn’t encounter any issues. Films and TV are usually in English with Croatian subtitles.

Gratuities: A 10-15% tip in upscale restaurants is expected while loose change is acceptable in a café or general restaurant. Taxi drivers, tourist drivers or a hotel staff who helps you with your luggage would normally expect a 10% tip.

Safety & security: Crime levels in Croatia are low and violent crime is rare. Locals are considered helpful and friendly. Take care in busy tourist areas, where pickpockets are known to operate. Travelers are advised to take usual sensible precautions - locking cars and hotel rooms, not leaving valuables unattended. Please use safe deposit in your hotel room or reception to keep your money or valuables including passport.

Airport tax: Generally your international air ticket should include airport tax on international departure. Croatia charges a tourist tax for domestic and foreign guests. Registration for tourist tax is usually done by the hotel or the owner of private accommodation where you are staying, if this is not the case you are required to report yourself for the tourist tax at the nearest police station within 24 hours of arrival. The tourist tax amount depends on where you are staying and the time of year. The current highest charge is 7 kuna per day.

Internet : Internet facilities are available at almost all places. Most hotels have it and internet cafes are commonly found in all major cities and tourist places.

Telephone : Croatia has a dialling code of +385 from New Zealand. Telephone numbers of Hotels arranged by us will be supplied to you in your itinerary .While calling New Zealand from Croatia, you will need to dial +64…Pre-paid calling cards are sold in many shops and kiosks. If you want to call internationally, ask for an international calling card.

Time Difference: Croatia is 12 hours behind New Zealand from April to September and 10 hours from October to March.

Photography : It is normally forbidden to take photographs of government buildings, airports and buildings of military importance. Many museums prohibit photography without a permit; some prohibit only flash or tripod photography.

Electricity: The standard electric current in Croatia is 220V (50Hz) alternating current; round two pin plugs are standard. Few Hotels have adapters available which you could borrow free of charge during your stay but it might be a good idea to carry one from home. 

Postage : Post in Croatia is fairly reliable but very slow. Post boxes are yellow with Posta on the front.
 

Cities of interest

Dubrovnik
Nicknamed the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” the old city of Dubrovnik is one of the prominent tourist destinations of the Mediterranean. Located at the southern tip of Croatia off the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik was established in the 7th century on maritime trade. In spite of constant territorial threats from Venice and the Ottoman Empire, Dubrovnik flourished in the Middle Ages as a center of literature, art, science and education.

Today, Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful cities of Europe, offering fabulous beaches, historic sites and alluring architecture and art works. With orange rooftop houses sitting in contrast to the blue sky, Dubrovnik presents many sightseeing treasures. The historic district, the Old Town, is stuffed with many historic features such as the old, defensive walls, cobblestone streets, magnificent palaces and stunning churches. A must-see is the 15th century engineering marvel, Onofrio’s Fountain. At night, the Old Town is illuminated, giving it a romantic ambiance.

Just outside the Old Town are popular beaches like Banje and Lapad, which offers sunbathing, swimming and water sports. A ferry ride away is the island, Lokrum, with beaches, a monastery and botanic gardens.

Nightlife offers plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants ranging from pizzerias to upscale restaurants. Dubrovnik’s cuisine features fresh seafood and traditional dishes of cabbage and meat.

While the Old Town is pedestrian-only, buses provide transportation around other parts of Dubrovnik.


Hvar
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the Adriatic Sea, Hvar is a beautiful Croatian island off the Dalmatian Coast, favored for its landscapes of spectacular beaches, lavender fields and lush vineyards.

Hvar is reached by car ferries and boat taxis from Split. Once on the island, tourists can get around easily with walking and buses. Hvar’s main city, Hvar Town, is an attractive city, featuring 13th century walls, marble stone streets, Gothic palaces, stunning churches and an imposing old fortress. The town square is one of Croatia’s largest and most beautiful, surrounded by many historic structures like the 17th century Arsenal and the Cathedral of St. Stephen.

The natural beauty of the island offers outdoor recreation and adventure, from hiking in the cliffs to swimming in the secluded coves and beaches. Boat rentals and tours are available for those wishing to explore the nearby Pakleni Islands. Archaeological sites on the island offer views of ancient artifacts and insight into Hvar’s Neolithic history. Grapceva Cave is well worth visiting to see its interesting formations. The charming villages dotting the lush countryside are great for experiencing the local culture.

Tourists to Hvar will find a large variety of restaurants ranging from Croatian to Mediterranean and European. Local specialty dishes include grilled squid with olive oil and rabbit with potatoes cooked in fig and peanut sauce. At night, Hvar Town bursts into activity with parties, bars and night clubs with live music and dancing.


Plitvice National Park
One of the most beautiful natural wonders in Croatia and all of Europe, the Plitvice National Park is best known for its breathtaking lakes, waterfalls and lush forest. Opened year-round and receiving more than a million visitors annually, Plitvice National Park is Croatia’s most visited national park. The park can be reached by buses from Split, Zadar and Zagreb.

The park’s most notable features are the 16 interconnecting lakes that are divided into upper and lower clusters. Formed by natural travertine dams, the lakes range in distinct colors from turquoise to blue, green and gray. Among the lakes are numerous waterfalls varying in size and volume. Visitors can explore the lakes and surrounding area by walking along the assortment of wooden walkways as well as boat transfers.

Besides the breathtaking beauty of the lakes and waterfalls, the park also offers glimpses of wildlife that include many species of birds, butterflies and animals such as wolves, brown bears, wild cats and lynx. Recreational activities include hiking and electric boat rides.

Souvenir and snack shops are located at both the entrance and exit of the park, while a large picnic area with food vendors is situated within the park across from the main lake. There are also several nice hotels near the park’s entrance.


Rovinj
It may appear to be a quiet fishing village on the surface, but Rovinj’s old world charm and surrounding natural beauty make it a leading tourist destination. Located on Croatia’s Istrian peninsula in the Adriatic Sea, Rovinj is an archipelago of 20 islands with its Old Town set on a small peninsula. Historic sites, beautiful landscapes, fabulous dining and modern tourist facilities are just some of Rovinj’s many treasures.

While much of Rovinj can be explored by car, bus and ferries, the Old Town is easily accessed by walking. Narrow streets of cobblestone, stairways, arches and other interesting architecture make the Old Town a sightseeing adventure. Some of the Old Town’s historic gems include seven medieval city gates, the 12th century town clock, the Balbi Arch and St. Euphemia’s Basilica, an imposing baroque church packed with many stunning art works. Also worth seeing are the Valdibora Farmer’s Market, the scenic harbor, Carrera Street with its many shops and art galleries, and Grisia Street, which is lined with artists and souvenir vendors.

Outside the Old Town, Rovinj is surrounded by spectacular landscapes that provide plenty of outdoor recreation. Rovinj’s beaches are regarded as some of Croatia’s most beautiful and romantic. The calm coves present excellent opportunities for swimming and scuba diving, while the outlying islands offer scenic wonders like pristine forests, the Lim Fjord and the Zlatni Rt Forest Park where visitors can enjoy hiking, cycling, rock climbing and more.

Rovinj’s culture is a delightful attraction all in itself with lively annual festivals like Rovinj’s Night, Photodays and Night of St. Lawrence. Food here is impressive with a variety of restaurants and cuisines including traditional dishes of fresh seafood, wild asparagus, pizza, pasta and Istrian cured ham.


Split
1700-year-old city of Split is definitely one of Croatia’s must see places. There’s no doubt both you and your kids will be amazed by a mere fact that you can idly walk down two millennium old streets of Diocletian’s Palace, bumping every now and then into a Roman soldier. There’s yet another benefit to Split as a family destination – it features a great, kid-friendly beach practically in the center of the city – Bačvice Beach with long sandy stretch of shallow water, perfect for snorkeling and building sandcastles. Moreover, Split is the main hub for some of Croatia’s most beautiful islands so you can easily make day trips to Hvar, Brač or Šolta.

Nicknamed the “Mediterranean Flower,” Croatia’s second-largest city, Split, is located on a peninsula off the Dalmatian Coast. Its old Roman architecture and orange-roofed houses create a striking contrast with the turquoise sea and dramatic coastal mountains. Abundant sunshine, impressive sights, shopping, dining and nightlife all make Split a popular tourist destination. What’s more, the buzzing city serves as a transportation hub to many of the Adriatic islands.

While buses are available, Split is easily explored by walking. The city’s main attraction is its historic core of beautiful Gothic and Renaissance architecture of which the Diocletian’s Palace is the crown jewel. Built between 298 and 305 AD, this Roman Emperor palace complex is more like a small city itself with a maze of marble walkways and buildings containing shops, cafes and bars. Surrounding the palace are many other striking structures like St. Duje’s Cathedral, Jupiter’s Temple, Peristil Square and two original Egyptian sphinx monuments.

Outside the historic center, tourists will find plenty to see and do including strolling along the seaside promenade, shopping at the lively Green Market, swimming at Bacvice beach, hiking and cycling on the scenic Marjan hill and watching football at the Poljud Stadium. In addition to many museums and art galleries, there is a wide selection of restaurants with cuisines ranging from Croatian to Italian, Mexican and more. Nightlife in Split is exuberant with an abundance of bars and clubs.

 

Zadar
A three thousand-year old city situated on a beautiful coastline rich in history is sure to draw tourists. Such a city is Zadar, located on Croatia’s northern Dalmatian Coast. Zadar could be called the ideal tourist getaway because it offers plenty to see and do without all the crowds of other popular destinations.

Zadar is easy to get around in with buses and taxis. At the heart of the city is its Old Town, which can be explored by foot. The historic district offers fantastic sightseeing attractions including Roman ruins, medieval architecture, numerous old churches, museums, shops and restaurants. Some of the city’s most popular sites are the Roman Forum, the circular St. Donat’s Church, 12th century St. Anastasia Cathedral, the Archaeological Museum and the University of Zadar, which is one of the oldest in Europe.

Besides the Old Town, tourists will find a string of beautiful beaches all along Zadar’s coastline where they can sunbathe, swim and enjoy a variety of water sports. Two unique attractions that are not to be missed in Zadar are the Sea Organ and the Sun Salutation, man-made marvels that use nature to create impressive light and sound experiences. Situated on Zadar’s beautiful seaside promenade, the Sea Organ allows the sea to make its own music as waves push air through 35 underground pipes. After absorbing energy from the sun all day, the Sun Salutation produces a colorful light show at night.

There are plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants in Zadar where tourists can enjoy a range of traditional home-style dishes, pizza, fresh seafood and maraschino, a cherry-flavored alcoholic drink.
 

Pula
Located at the southern tip of the Istria peninsula in the Adriatic Sea, Pula is a popular destination that has been attracting tourists as far back as ancient Roman times when fans flocked the city’s amphitheater to watch gladiator fights. Having been ruled by various government powers over the centuries, Pula today belongs to Croatia, and is best known for its wealth of Roman ruins and mix of cultures.

Pula is a vibrant city offering plenty to see and do. The city’s star attraction is the 1st century Roman amphitheater. Known as the Arena, the amphitheater is one of the largest and best-preserved of its kind in the world. Every July, the Arena is host to the Pula Film Festival. Other significant historic structures include the old city gates, arches, monasteries, a Byzantine chapel, a Venetian fortress and the Forum, the city’s main square, which is surrounded by Roman architecture and temples.

Pula also presents a variety of modern attractions from museums to art galleries, souvenir shops and Croatia’s largest aquarium, which showcases marine life from the Adriatic Sea.

Pula’s natural beauty of rolling countryside and sun-kissed beaches offer outdoor fun and adventure. The nearby Brijuni National Park and farming villages are teeming in the ruins of Roman settlements, while the turquoise coastal waters and sandy beaches offer fishing, sailing, swimming, snorkeling and diving among ancient vessels and World War I warships.

Thanks to Mediterranean and Italian influences, Pula’s cuisine features delicious, fresh seafood, pasta and pizza. There is a good selection of pizzerias, cafes and restaurants in the city as well as dessert and ice cream shops. Pula’s nightlife offers varied choices of bars and night clubs.

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