Before You Go – Tips on travelling in Croatia
Croatia truly is “Europe’s best kept secret”; defined by blue seas, gorgeous pebble beaches, rolling green hills, golden Renaissance cities and a delightful nature – still with better value and somewhat fewer crowds than most other European hot spots. With more then 1,700km of natural Adriatic coastline, hundreds of little islands and one of the sunniest climates in Europe, Croatia is a stunning place with a fascinating culture and friendly locals. Croatia has several spectacular National Parks, five National Reserves and mesmerising historical architecture including centuries-old castles and about sixty 1,000 year old stone churches. It has vineyards and wineries, olive groves, rolling hills of lavender and flowers, beaches and mountain ranges and restaurants offering traditional Croatian cuisine as well as the world’s best seafood.
Croatians are friendly people and most will be willing to help you out if you have a question. Google Translate is readily available on your phone, so please do make an effort to translate your question into Croatian so that you can more readily be understood.
If you are going on a Cruise on one of our Small Ship Island Hopping Cruises, please click here for more specific information: https://discovercroatia.com.au/before-your-cruise/
If you are going on an Independent Tour on one of our land-based Island Hopping Tours with hotels and ferries, please click here for more specific information: https://discovercroatia.com.au/before-your-island-hopping-tour/
There is a new Ministry of Tourism website that you can pre-fill to help speed up your arrival once you land in Croatia for 2020: https://entercroatia.mup.hr/
Download the GeoSure app for up to date safety information https://geosureglobal.com/. “With a mobile phone or smart watch, you can gauge your personal level of safety at any moment, anywhere in the world.’
Phones / Travel SIM Cards
Travel SIM cards are a great idea so that if you have any questions from the moment you land at the airport, you have a way to call the emergency contact number/s on your Voucher without having to worry about large roaming costs. Alternatively, we’ve personally found that the Vodafone $5 a day roaming plan makes travelling really easy, especially if you’re intending on using mostly free wifi and just want something for emergencies. Regardless of which you choose, please arrange something before you leave home so that you’re not stranded at the airport looking for your transfer driver with no way to contact them.
We always add at least one mobile/cell number to your Voucher so that even if you can’t phone, you can always text someone to ask them to phone you or at least let them know where you are. Please add these numbers into your phone before you leave, in case you lose your printed out Voucher (if you print them to take with you) or don’t have wifi to access the digital copy.
We have WhatsApp as well for emergencies, which you can use to call us or message us for free using the internet. Please install this before you leave and send us a test message if you like.
Our WA number is the same as our office number: +61292121507. You will see our Discover Croatia logo when you add us.
Here’s our shortlink to do so: https://wa.me/61292121507
Citizens of Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the UK, the USA and most continental European countries can enter Croatia for stays of up to 90 days without a visa. However visitors must hold a return/onward ticket, all documents required for next destination and sufficient funds.
IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ENSURE YOU HAVE THE CORRECT VISAS FOR ALL COUNTRIES VISITED ON YOUR HOLIDAY. WE DO NOT ISSUE VISAS.
Please check here to see if you need a Visa: http://www.mvep.hr/en/consular-information/visas/visa-requirements-overview/australia,18.html#p or here: Project Visa – Europe
Visitors from other countries may require a visa that must be arranged well in advance, which might take several weeks for each country you intend to visit so as soon as you have Confirmed your holiday, please arrange your visas immediately. Please check the MVEP website for more information.
Visas are the passenger’s responsibility. We do not issue Visas and you must double-check yourself if you need to apply for one prior to arrival. Your passport must have 6 months validity or more from your date of departure from Croatia.
Currency (Croatian Kuna, Slovenian Euros, Bosnian Marks)
The Croatian currency is the Kuna, which is divided into 100 lipas. The Euro is also used in Croatia, but not in shops/restaurants/bars etc. We suggest you travel with Euros and exchange them at the major banks or at the airport as you arrive into some local currency. You can withdraw cash in the local currency from ATM’s with your credit card if you have a PIN.
Local currency (Croatian KUNA) is to be used in Croatia. Cash may be obtained on arrival at exchange offices, banks or from ATMs. Credit cards are widely accepted in restaurants and hotels, though some smaller stores may only take cash.
Some cruise ships may take EURO cash notes, but most cash payments will need to be made in Croatian KUNA. So please visit the ATM or get some kuna from your bank before you arrive.
Major credit cards are accepted in some of the bigger outlets, but shops and restaurants generally require a minimum purchase amount when using them (so they are not appropriate for incidentals such as ice cream, snacks, etc.). You might consider bringing more than one card, as some outlets may not accept all types. Due to increasing credit card fraud worldwide, be prepared to show identification (i.e. your passport) when making a transaction with your credit card.
ATM cards: For the best available exchange rate, you will find ATM cards indispensable. We recommend you are very careful when using an ATM, as elsewhere. Avoid making withdrawals at night or in the dark areas, always protect your PIN from view, and always refuse any help offered without request from any strangers. Lost or blocked card should be reported to your bank via its 24 – hour emergency number for immediate cancellation/replacement.
Traveller’s cheques are not practical on tours or cruises, and credit cards have limited use, although almost all shops will accept those. US Dollars and EURO bills, if used, should be in good condition (not stained or torn), and recently printed; as banks and exchange offices are very particular.
Slovenia uses the EURO like the rest of Europe, so cash Euros and credit cards are widely accepted. You can withdraw cash Euros from ATMs in Slovenia.
Bosnia uses the Bosnian Mark, you can exchange euros or kuna cash notes in the banks, or withdraw marks from the ATMs or use your credit card to pay for purchases.
Tipping Guidelines: Tips for Tour or Cruise leaders, drivers and crew can be given at the end of the tour or cruise. Appropriate amount per passenger (tipping is not compulsory):
Cruise Manager (cruise coordinator): EUR 4-6 per day Example: EUR 5 per day at the end of an 8-day tour amounts to EUR 40 per passenger for your Cruise Manager.
Cruise Ship crew: EUR 4-6 per passenger per day. Example: EUR 5 per day at the end of an 8-day cruise amounts to 40 EUR per passenger and is distributed to all the crew.
Tour Leader (tour coordinator; may or may not act as a guide): EUR 4-6 daily; for example: EUR 5 daily, at the end of a 8-day tour amounts to EUR 40 per passenger for your Tour Leader
Tour Bus driver (provides chauffeur services and limited assistance with luggage): EUR 2-4 per day
Local guide (offers in-depth information at specific locations; there may be many guides along a tour program): EUR 1-2 per person per half day of sightseeing
Restaurants & Cafes: Restaurants, if not included, tip 10%-15% of the bill, depending on the quality of service (Restaurants in Europe generally include a service charge, but it is customary to give a tip). Cafes you can generally just round up (eg 18 euros, round up to 20 euros), though it is acceptable to pay the exact amount if you wish.
Taxis: Tip up to 10% of the fare (We recommend you book taxis via your hotel reception and pre-negotiate taxi fares to avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the journey)
Tips are also given to hairdressers, beauticians and other places of service
The best place to exchange money is at a commercial bank or official foreign exchange office; please note that a fee is always charged for this service.
You can withdraw cash from ATM’s all over Croatia. Please remember that cash will be in KUNA, not in euros. It is advisable to travel with some EUROS in cash if you cannot arrange some kuna before you arrive, or you cannot reach an ATM on arrival. Please take your usual safety precautions when using ATM’s.
You can withdraw cash from ATM’s all over Europe (Slovenia, Italy, Bosnia, Serbia etc). Please remember that cash will be in the local currency, not always in euros. It is advisable to travel with some EUROS in cash if you cannot arrange some local currency before you arrive, or you cannot reach an ATM on arrival. Please take your usual safety precautions when using ATM’s.
The approximate conversion between the Kuna or Euro and the Australian dollar or numerous other currencies can be found at your local bank or www.xe.com. Usually your bank’s rate probably will be slightly less than the official interbank exchange rate on xe.com.
Most cruises and hotels will have free wi-fi available. Wi-fi is freely available in most businesses in Croatia and Slovenia and surrounding countries.
If you are travelling to remote areas, or you need something more reliable, you can pre-book Croatian mobile wi-fi and get free delivery to your hotel, apartment or cruise ship: https://roamfree.ninja/n/DisCroHols/. RoamFree Ninja is a pocket sized mobile WiFi hotspot (router) that connects your devices to internet. You can carry it around and connect to internet anywhere in Croatia. No setup required. Get it delivered at any hotel, camp, AirBnB rental address, a post office or even some of Croatia’s airports. When you are done, use their prepaid envelope to drop it off at your hotel or a post office.
Here is a useful website for gaining access to SIM cards and internet in all countries.
We have also used the Bon Bon local service. You can buy a SIM card from any of the stores listed.
For your own personal safety, we recommend you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on all your devices when you travel, especially if you are using free wi-fi. We personally use Private Internet Access (PIA) as it’s easy to install on laptop and phone, though there are many more on offer. Just search ‘buy VPN’. We have no affiliation with PIA. You can purchase any VPN service.
Food & Drink
There are plenty of restaurants, konobas (Croatian pubs), cafes and bars in every town in Croatia. Your Tour or Cruise Director are happy to make recommendations, but you are also free to wander around and find somewhere by yourself. Many restaurants have their menus on stands outside, so you can look at a few and decide before committing to anything. Many restaurants have outside dining areas.
Smoking is still permitted in most outside (and some inside, but mostly inside is smoke-free) dining areas in Croatia, so please be aware and ask your concierge to seat you somewhere smoke-free if this is a problem.
Croatian cuisine is known as “the cuisine of regions” so wherever you go ask for the local delicacies.
Fresh seafood is a particular specialty all along the Croatian coastline. Fish, squid, shrimp, mussels, oysters are all readily available. Like in many European countries pizza, pasta and meat dishes are common in restaurants everywhere. Try cevapi for the Croatian variation of the humble sausage. Desserts are also something to try… check for the local version of ‘creme caramel’.
Croatian beers (pivo) are of a high quality. Try Zagreb’s Ožujsko, Laško or Karlovačko (our personal favourite, but harder to find than the others).
For the wine lovers, virtually every region produces its own exquisite varieties of wine. Croatian food and produce is what we would consider as organic food, being mainly home grown and farm fresh.
Tap water is also clean and drinkable, though some cruise ships will recommend you drink bottled water. Please check your cruise info for specific details for your ship, or check with the Cruise Director.
The average cost of a meal out is around $8-15, whilst beer is around $3-5. If you budget for the equivalent of Australian prices, then you should be well covered.
Timeout has a great list of Croatian restaurants to start you off: https://www.timeout.com/croatia/restaurants
Vegan / Vegetarian/ Gluten-free / Allergies etc: We have a separate page here with more information on food in Croatia, with a growing list of restaurants and shops for those with food intolerances or who are vegan/vegetarian. https://discovercroatia.com.au/food-intolerances-in-croatia/
If you have food requirements such as gluten-free, vegan etc, please inform your Cruise or Tour Director the moment you join the cruise or tour and check that your information has been passed on correctly. You need to take some responsibility and ensure that it doesn’t get forgotten in these busy environments.
Croatia is indeed unique, not only for its crystal clear blue sea, but also for more than a thousand years of heritage. All around are elements of the country’s inheritance. Some cities maintain their medieval charm and the buildings still exude charisma of old European living.
Croatia is also a land of art. Twentieth century sculptor Ivan Mestrovic is the pride and joy of Croatia. His work can be seen in town squares throughout the country. He has also designed several imposing buildings, including the Croatian History Museum in Zagreb.
Croatian folk music is a hotchpotch of styles. The kolo, a lively Slavic round dance, is accompanied by Roma-style violinists and players of the tambura, a Croatian mandolin. While Dalmatia’s gentle guitar and accordion bands have a distinctly Italian flavour.
Whilst most of Croatia (like the rest of Europe) still allows smoking in almost all outdoor areas (including restaurants), the cruise ships have allocated certain areas as ‘smoking areas’ and smoking is not permitted in cabins, the restaurant, the outdoor salon or usually on the sundeck. The smoking section is usually at the back of the ship on the Main Deck near the swimming platform. We do ask that clients refrain from smoking here whilst other guests are using the swimming platform out of courtesy. Some ships have more than one smoking area, please check with the crew.
If you’re particularly sensitive, you can take a mask such as a VogMask or something similar to help. There are loads of brands out there.
When to Go
April to September are the best months to visit Croatia weather-wise. The high season, July and August, is the hottest part of the year. In April, May and October the hotel prices decrease a little and the crowds thin out. In April and October it may be too cool for camping, but the weather is usually fine along the coast. You can swim in the sea from mid-June to late September, or at other times if you don’t mind a little cold water.
Along the coast line the climate is Mediterranean, meaning warm dry summers and mild winters, with 2,600 hours of sunlight on average yearly making it one of the sunniest coastlines in Europe! In the centre of the country, the climate is continental with hot summers and cold, snowy winters.
Croatia’s main tourist attraction has always been its beaches. The country has an incredible 1778km of coastline; 5790km if you count the islands. The country’s islands are amongst the most beautiful in the world with over 1100 of them uninhabited.
Croatia has several excellent national parks. Brijuni, near Pula, is the most carefully cultivated, with well-preserved Mediterranean Holm oak forests. Mountainous Risnjak National Park is home to lynx, while the dense forest of Paklenica National Park harbours insects, reptiles and birds. At Plitvice Lakes National Park bears, wolves and deer live among the 16 terraced lakes.
From 21 March to 4 April, Zagreb snaps its fingers and nods to the groovy tunes of Spring Time Jazz Fever. If you like rhythm, try Zagreb’s International Days of Jazz in mid-October. For something a little slower it’s worth checking out Zagreb’s Summer Festival, from early July to mid-August, where you can hear classical works by Croatian composers. Alternatively experience pop Dalmatian-style at the Split Summer Festival, which goes from mid-July to mid-August. Dubrovnik’s Summer Festival, held in July and August, showcases the country’s dramatic and classical music stars. In July and August, Omis puts on a festival of Acapella vocal music. The Ultra Music Festival is on in Split around the second week of July, so it’s a busy time in Split and Hvar around this time. Please plan carefully.
Gay Friendly Croatia
Click here to see the Guide to Gay Friendly Croatia
Facts for the Traveller
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1 (Central European Time)
English and German are widely spoken
Population: 4.2 Million
Dialling Code: 385 (remember to add the + when dialling from a mobile … +385..)
Electricity: 220- 240V, 50Hz and uses the standard European 2 point round pin plugs.
Weights and Measures: Metric
Croatia tends to favour smaller local shops over giant shopping malls in the towns, though you can find some major shopping malls in the bigger cities. Check out these sites for more info:
Tripadvisor 5 best shopping malls in Croatia
Wikipedia: Shopping malls in Croatia
This is the most common option that travellers take to get around Croatia. This gives you the freedom of seeing all the places you want to see and allows you to enjoy the magic of Croatia as you drive.
Croatia is rapidly improving its road infrastructure. There is a superb motorway from Zagreb to Split, with connections to Zadar and Sibenik. Another major road being built will connect Croatia to the Italian motorway system. If you need road assistance, the Croatian Auto Club Emergency Service will help you. Their telephone number is 987.
We always recommend you get your International Driving Permit for all foreign driving in case you have an accident. The NRMA allows you to get it online if you have 2 weeks to get it posted to you. Click here for NRMA website. You will need to give them your current licence details and upload or provide a passport photo for them to stick on the licence and pay a small fee. You will need to take your Australian licence and your International Permit with you on your travels if you are renting a vehicle.
The bus service is generally reliable and even the smallest villages have some sort of bus connection. There are express buses which cover longer distances and are very comfortable.
See our Buses page for information links.
This is another popular mode of transport in Croatia. There are several trains a day between the major towns and in comparison with Western Europe, tickets are inexpensive. From Zagreb and in the north down to Split there are trains, though from Split to Dubrovnik there are no longer any trains (you can use ferries or buses instead).
You can find some local Croatian train timetables here: Croatia Trains
Train is a great option between Ljubljana and Zagreb (Glavni Kolodvor station) or Ljubljana and Rijeka, it takes around 2.5hrs.
See our Trains page for information links.
Ship (Ferry – International and Domestic)
If you can get where you’re going by ferry, then do it!Cruising among the islands of the Adriatic certainly is anamazing experience. In the tourist season, boats and ferries sail the Adriatic connecting all major ports. The most scenic sailings are the ferries that connect Rijeka and Dubrovnik stopping off at Rab, Split, Hvar and Korcula on the way. There are restaurants aboard many ships and you can either travel on deck, reserve a reclining seat or book your own private cabin.
See our Ferries page for information links.
Croatia also now has regular flights from Rome, Venice, Athens, Vienna, Frankfurt, Paris, London and other European cities, to Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik. There are also regular flights between Zagreb and Dubrovnik, Split, Pula, Rijeka (the airport is on the island of Krk) and Sarajevo in Bosnia. In the summer, there is also a service to the island of Brac.
The easiest way to look for all flights to and from Croatia is Skyscanner: http://skyscanner.discovercroatia.com.au/en-GB/flights
Travel insurance….. just get it! Yes you need it! We don’t sell it, but you can check out some info here
* 1 January – New Year’s Day
* 6 January – Epiphany
* variable date – Easter
* 1st Monday after Easter – Easter Monday
* 1 May – Labour Day
* 60 days after Easter – Corpus Christi
* 22 June – Anti-fascist struggle day
* 25 June – Statehood Day
* 5 August – Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian defenders
* 15 August – Assumption of Mary
* 8 October – Independence Day
* 1 November – All Saint’s Day
* 25 December – Christmas
* 26 December – Saint Stephen
If you are looking for accommodation, you can check out our Accommodation page here
Yacht or Gulet Charter: Once you’ve booked your charter, you can find some more information here on our ‘Before your private charter’ info page.