Croatia has recently piqued the interest of curious travellers searching for sunshine, sand and scenery. The chic cities of the glittering Adriatic coast, charming cobblestone towns, UNESCO World Heritage sites and thriving food and wine scene ensure visitors' curiosity is amply rewarded. Like many others, fall in love with the treasures of this Balkan beauty.
Croatia Tours & Travel
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Sail Croatia's beautiful Adriatic coast on this aquatic adventure from Dubrovnik to Trogir. Get a taste of Croatia's...View trip details
Articles on Croatia
Top 10 aquatic adventures
Posted on Fri, 02 Aug 2013 by Sue Elliot
As a holiday destination, we reckon the sea gets a bit of a rough deal. Together with its buddies (lakes, rivers and bays), the ocean makes up 70 percent of [...]Read more
Bad boys at sea in Croatia
Posted on Mon, 22 Jul 2013 by Sue Elliot
Unless your numbers came up in the lottery or your BFF has a VBB (very big boat), chances are you think a yachting holiday is out of reach. Ah but [...]Read more
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there. Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in Croatia, you may find yourself travelling by:
At a glance
- Trips Available:
- Capital city:
- Zagreb (population 930,000)
- 4.4 million
- Time zone:
- (GMT+01:00) Sarajevo, Skopje, Warsaw, Zagreb
- Type C (European 2-pin) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)
- Dialing code:
Best time to visit Croatia
Croatia's peak season runs between July and August, with temperatures in the high 20s or 30s on the coast. But in this region you can expect plenty of sunshine from May to October, which are the best times to visit if you want to take advantage of Croatia's beautiful beaches and islands. The inland areas are also hot in the summer but can get cold in the winter with low temperatures and snowfall. Winter on the coast is milder and frequent rain can be expected.
Culture and customs
Eating and drinking
Intrepid believes that one of the best ways of experiencing a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.
Croatia's location ensures that its food options are phenomenal. With loads of fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables, visitors will be able to taste Greek, Italian and Hungarian influences in many of their meals.
Things to try in Croatia
When in the coastal cities or on the islands, you'll be able to sample fresh seafood at its finest. Prstaci is a good choice for shellfish fans; while brodet is a hearty fish stew you'll be able to find almost everywhere. Octopus, squid, cuttlefish, pilchards and lobster are all easily found too.
2. Local Wine
Croatia's climate is near perfect for vine-growing, so take the chance to try locally-made wines produced from traditional grape varieties. Try Dingac, Plavac, Malmsy and Babic.
Vegetarians may struggle in Croatia as meat is very popular in this part of the world. Those who favour meat will love trying roast lamb, cured ham, spicy pork sausages and grilled skewers of beef and chicken.
For those with expensive tastes, Croatia is a large producer of rare truffles, in particular white truffles. You'll find them in salads and cooked in pasta dishes in Croatia's more upmarket restaurants.
Croatia produces many top-quality artisan cheeses that travellers will be able to find in markets, shops and restaurants all over the country. Paski sir is a sharp, sheep milk cheese from the island of Pag and is the most famous and awarded of Croatia's cheeses.
Geography and environment
History and government
Archaeological evidence suggests that the land now known as Croatia has been occupied by humans since the Stone Age. Croatia's geographical position in Europe allowed a great amount of influence from neighbouring regions, with tribes and people from different cultures and groups making their mark. Over the centuries, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Huns and Goths have all occupied the territory, with Croats arriving by the 7th century. The first Kingdom of Croatia was formed in 925 but by the 12th century Croatia had formed a union with Hungary, with a Hungarian King instated as leader of both territories. During the 15th century, Croatia lost territory to the Ottoman Empire and, in later centuries, once again came under Hungarian rule. Evidence of these many cultural influences can be seen in the architecture, cuisine and archaeological ruins of contemporary Croatia.
Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia formed a union in 1918 to create the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, but the occupation of Axis forces during World War II lead to the creation of the Independent State of Croatia, which only lasted a couple of years during the war. By the end of the war in 1945, Croatia had become a Socialist Republic (within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, together with Bosnia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro), with the constitution of 1963 attempting to alleviate tensions surrounding the balance of power between Serbians and Croats. By 1980, after the death of President Tito (founder of modern Yugoslavia), economic and political difficulties (in addition to regional tensions in other parts of Yugoslavia) resulted in a near collapse of government. What followed was years of conflict, polarity and political turmoil. The referendum of 1991 resulted in an overwhelming vote for independence, with Croatia and Slovenia declaring independence from Yugoslavia in June of the same year. Much armed conflict followed and lasted until 1995, leading to great loss of civilian life and displacement, creating large populations of refugees. The last two decades have been a time of peace and reconciliation for the people of Croatia. Tourism has opened up and the government has focused on ensuring further economic growth for the country. Currently, Croatia is poised to join the European Union by 2013.
Top 10 Historic Buildings of Croatia
1. Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
One of Zagreb’s most visited historic sites, this grand neo-Gothic cathedral has been renovated and reconstructed many times since it was originally built in the 13th century. With massive twin spires, a marble interior and 800-year-old treasury, this is a monumental masterpiece.
2. Church of St Donatus
Considered one of the most impressive examples of early Byzantine architecture, this church in Zadar was built way back in the 9th century. With much historical value, its simplistic, circular design is quite unlike other buildings in Croatia, making it a standout, must-see church in a country with so many churches and cathedrals to see.
3. Croatian National Theatre
Built in 1895, this national treasure located in Zagreb is an elegant example of neo-Baroque style architecture. Visitors lucky enough to catch an opera, ballet or classical music concert here will be able to revel in all the fine details, from the luxe furnishings to the excellent acoustics.
4. Diocletian’s Palace
One of Split’s main attractions, this UNESCO World Heritage monument is considered one of the best-preserved Roman palaces in the world. The sprawling complex is home to many fine examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture, so visitors will be able to admire open air courtyards, marble arches, columns, gates and walls from a variety of different periods.
5. Cathedral of St Lovro
This cathedral located 30 minutes from Split is well known for its distinct Romanesque portal crafted by one of Croatia's most celebrated sculptors, Radovan. Mythological creatures and biblical figures all feature heavily, with saints, lions, sirens and centaurs all gracing the spectacular doorways.
6. Rector’s Palace
Also known as Dubrovnik Museum, Rector’s Palace is an impressive building in itself. With soaring arches, period furniture and a dramatic staircase, this structure steals the show from the museum exhibits it holds within.
7. Dubrovnik Synagogue
Reported to be the second oldest synagogue in Europe and the world’s oldest Sefardic synagogue still in use, Dubrovnik’s synagogue is still a place for the local Jewish community to worship on holy days. Sustaining damage from earthquakes and wars, this small but well cared for structure stills stands today due to its historical value and unique design.
8. Marco Polo Tower
While not the most elaborate or opulent building in Croatia, the Marco Polo Tower of Korcula has much historical significance. It is believed that Marco Polo was born in this medieval, walled city and this tower named in his honour rises above the town as a reminder of his legacy. Climb to the top for phenomenal views and panoramic photo opportunities.
9. Franciscan Monastery
Featuring 14th century cloisters, intricately carved columns and a striking, sculptured facade this Dubrovnik wonder is also home to the third oldest pharmacy in Europe, so you can get a prescription filled while seeing the sights.
10. Trakoscan Castle
This lovely castle located in northern Croatia was inhabited from the 13th century right up until the 1940s. Featuring all good things a castle should have - including a dungeon, hunting room and tower - visiting here is like stepping back to a time where castles weren’t just historical monuments, but valid places to live.
Croatia has an interesting mix of quaint outdoor markets, modern malls and hip clothing boutiques. There's plenty of options that make better souvenirs than the usual lurid magnets or tourist t-shirts.
It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.
Things to buy in Croatia
1. Local produce
If you're able to take food products back to your home country, then Croatia's markets are filled with delicious gourmet produce. Honey, olives, cheese, wine and lavender products are good choices which help to support local farmers and the rural economy.
2. Traditional Handicrafts
Embroidered table cloths, handmade dolls and lace from the island of Pag make authentic gifts for friends back home.
3. Natural cosmetics
Croatia has many brands of natural soap, body butter and shower gel derived from ingredients like olive oil, goat's milk, lavender, almond oil and seaweed.
Festivals and Events in Croatia
Dance Week Festival
This celebration of dance and movement hits Zagreb each year. Featuring a diverse range of contemporary and traditional dance from local and international dancers and choreographers, the eclectic program highlights the artistic vision of many coming together to celebrate their love of dance.
Dubrovnik Summer Festival
Classical music, theatre, dance and opera combine to create an enriching program of events performed in open air venues around Dubrovnik. Held every year since 1949, Croatia's temperate summer climate ensures the perfect conditions for outdoor performances.
International Folklore Festival
This important festival held in Zagreb each year helps to preserve cultural diversity by promoting traditional dance, costume, music and handicrafts from all over the world. Visitors can see everything from African drumming performances to traditional Croatian dancing and Bulgarian bands.
FAQs on Croatia
Beer in a pub = 20 HRK
Short bus ride = 20 HRK
Simple, budget meal = 50-80 HRK
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 6 Epiphany
Mar 31 Easter
May 1 Labour Day
May 30 Corpus Christi
Jun 22 Anti-Fascist Resistance Day
Jun 25 Croatian National Day
Aug 5 Victory Day and National Thanksgiving Day
Oct 8 Independence Day
Nov 1 All Saints' Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Croatia/public-holidays
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - Not required
UK: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Croatia Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Croatia
1. Be considerate of Croatia’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.
3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
4. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
5. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
7. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
8. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
|April Fool's Day||Josip Novakovich|
|Zagreb, Exit South||Edo Popovic|
|Croatia: Travels in an Undiscovered Country||Dr Tony Fabijancic|
|Marco Polo's Isle: Sketches from the Dalmatian Island of Korcula||Michael Donley|
|Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh||Slobodan Novak|