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CROATIA  (Hrvatska)

An odd shaped country, squeezed by it's neighbours as it heads inland, Croatia is a country of extensive biodeversity and very scenic. This counts for it's high tourism income (20% GDP). Following the fall of the former Jugoslavia, Croatia emerged with most of the countries former coastline. This includes principle coastal resort towns of Pula, Split and Dubrovnik. The Capital Zagreb sits inland, in the shadow of Medvednica mountain. Like the coastal cities of Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik, it has an historical area, as well as many museums and eateries.

I have visited Croatia on three trips, all as a young teenager with my parents, and all when Croatia was part of Jugoslavia. We drove down from the UK to Pula the first time, and then flew to Dubrovnik the second time, and flew to Split for the final holiday. It was my first encounter with pebble beaches, something that dominates the young coastline of Croatia and it's neighbours. I remember it being explained to me that we were in a Communist country, but all around me where tourists. The locals seemed to disappear into the shadows. Most locals didn't drive and used the usual crumbling public transport facilities. I bought a few albums on tape, as they were much cheaper in Jugoslavia than home. They also all seemed to mysteriously have orange labels on the actual tape and vinyl, as if they all came from the same possibly not legit source. It was also here that a quiet love of Jet Ski's started, and along with my brother we constantly nagged our parents for goes on them. They were the stand-up variety, not the boring sit down style that permeates today. We also went for what at the time, as a personal highlight of my travels, the Plitvice lakes and waterfalls.


Essential Information

Language: Croatian

Currency: Kuna (HRK)  100 lipa

Visa: Most Western countries can enter Visa free for up to 90 days

Plug: European two round prongs, 220v


GDP Ranking (IMF): #47 £8,870 (Similar to Chile & Hungary)

Communications: Country code is +385

Health: No vaccinations are needed for Croatia.

When to Visit: Croatia is a Northern Hemisphere country.The summer is hot and dry, as well as busy and thus expensive. It's best in June or September.

Personal Safety: Croatia has a relatively low crime rate, however beware of excessive overcharging (and accompanying violence) in some strip clubs. Also some gangs target those who've broken down in their cars. Croatia still has large amounts of landmines, these are unlikely to effect most visitors. Hikers should enquire locally before setting off. F&CO Advise is here.

Getting Around: Ferries serve the coast and islands. For those in a rush with big pockets, internal flights are there. Rail routes connect all the main towns, except Dubrovnik. Buses routes are plentiful, and run from Split to Dubrovnik where trains don't. Despite upgrades to the rail network, buses are still the fastest inter-city travel.

What to see/do: Croatia is blessed with a long coast line and lots of islands off it. As such, cruises around the islands are very popular during the summer months, outside of this time, some routes are dropped to less popular islands. Trogir and Dubrovnik are UNESCO towns, Zadar is also a town with a lot of history. The waterfalls of Plitvice National Park are surefire highlight. Beach enthusiasts should flock to the Island of Vis, Medulin (a rare sandy beach), Mošćenica and Hvar (famous for it's Venetian architecture too). Split and Dubrovnik are heavily tourist friendly resorts.

Food & Drink: Foods tend to change with the region, so in Istria Maestra, a type of vegeatable and bean soup, and fritaja, a type of vegetable omelette can be tried. As one would expect, along the coast fish, shellfish and squid are popular. Dalmation Brodet  served with is one to look out for, it's stewed mixed fish served with polenta. Slavonian cuisine is spicier than elsewhere, utilising paprika and garlic. Dishes tend to be Hungarian influenced, and Gulaš (goulash) based dishes abound. Karlovačko pivo (beer) is highly rated and Ožujsko pivo is a close contender. The local spirit is Rakkija, various types of brandy, of which Loza (grape) is the most popular.

Other Notes: Naturists rejoice, you will be well catered for in Croatia.