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How To Act Like a Local in Croatia

I remember when I first traveled to London. As a native Croatian, I couldn’t help but find some things quite different in the way people act and spend their days here. I now live in London and every day I come to discover more differences between the culture I come from and the one I live in. This made me somewhat a richer person – I can now combine both and get the best out of it.

Even though you’re maybe traveling to Croatia for only 7 or 10 days, you will notice a lot of differences, especially when comes to lifestyle. So here are some highlights:

1. Eating Out


Okay, this isn’t always the case in the UK, but sometimes you get to go to those places where you’re expected to eat your food as soon as possible, pay and go, as there are loads of other people waiting for a table. This doesn’t happen in Croatia. So don’t think it’s strange when a group of people spends 3-4 hours in a restaurant. Of course, they wouldn’t just sit there at an empty table after they’re finished eating, they would order a dessert of a coffee, or both. But the point is, eating out isn’t primarily about eating – you can do it at home for a lot lower price. It is about chatting and socializing, and if you’re at some place really nice, you want to enjoy the ambient. One more useful tip – no matter what kind of restaurant you’re at, the waiter will always take your order. You don’t have to do it yourself.

2. Coffee Culture


Very similar to the previous point, coffee drinking isn’t about coffee. Most of the time, when Croats say “let’s go for a coffee”, they don’t drink coffee at all, but maybe beer or juice. By going for a coffee, you’re letting the person you’re with know that you’re at her/his disposal for at least an hour if not longer, as the coffee drinking act means socializing. Brits, on the other hand, shocked me once by slurping their coffee quickly as if it’s a shot of tequila, and leaving the coffee place within 20 minutes. Whaaaaaaaaat? There’s no point going for a coffee if you’re only going to stay for 20 minutes.

You’ll find all coffee places in Croatia full of people, and nobody will be alone at the table (unless waiting for someone). If you want to be like a local, find a nice table in the sun, order a cup of coffee with milk (and a glass of water to go with it), and stay for AT LEAST an hour. Note: smoking is allowed in almost all cafes in Croatia.

3. Having Guests Over


Croatians love having guests over and they’re always fully prepared, even when they’re not. How? My mum, for example, would send me to the nearest shop to get some cake and juice as soon as she spots unannounced guests coming. Unannounced? Yes, that’s normal. They may give you half an hour notice. For example, if your friend is just passing by your house and feels like coming for a coffee, he’ll just come by. And bring his wife and kids over.

The host’s job is to serve drinks (coffee, cappuccino, tea, juice, beer, wine, rakija…) and some food if the guests are staying longer. That’s why Croatian mums always have a bit of that cake they baked last weekend in the freezer. Just in case.

4. Staying For The Night


Even if you don’t know each other that closely, but are only acquaintances, Croatian family won’t let you pay for a hotel if you’re coming to their town. They will kindly offer you to stay with them for as long as you need. If you’re a relative or a really close friend, they won’t let you eat at expensive restaurants either. Instead, you’ll be served breakfast, lunch and dinner with them, because you’re their guest and they want to take care of you.

5. Weird Food Combinations


I love English food, I really do. I also like American and Indian and Chinese, I’m not picky. But one thing I noticed is that Brits will only eat food in proper combinations. For example, in Croatia it’s normal to grill the burgers and serve them with potatoes or rice and salad. I find it a very quick and affordable meal. I once cooked it for my boyfriend here, and he was looking at me as if I lost my mind. Burgers with rice??? You know what to do with burgers! He got a burger bun and ate it in a proper way, ignoring my rice and salad. The only problem was, there was no chips – and you don’t eat a burger without chips!

Bottom line is – you can see us eating a lot of different combinations that don’t seem to go together. Give it a go and try, break the habit and it won’t be that bad!

6. Nightlife


If you want to go out to a bar or club, don’t bother getting out of the house before 10 pm, specially in the summer. Croatians don’t start their night out at 7. You might go earlier if you plan to go for a dinner first, and then continue to a bar for a few drinks. After that, you go to a club, as serious clubbing doesn’t start before 1-2 am. Clothing tip: pack your nicest clothes when going to Croatia for holidays. It’s sometimes hard to walk in heels across London, where you have to take a tube to get to and from your destination. Places you’ll go in Croatia will be a lot smaller and if you’re lucky enough to stay in the centre, the nearest bar will be just few minutes away. So if you like dressing up, this is where you need to go!

Things To Do & See In Sarajevo

Bosnia was once the most western region within the vast Ottoman Empire, Sarajevo being one of its centres. In fact, Ottomans were the ones who invested in this region and built Sarajevo and Mostar. Later on, Austria-Hungary came into possession of Bosnia and Herzegovina, leaving its architectural and cultural mark on this historic city. Thus, Bosnia and Herzegovina is regarded as a true bridge between East and West, with Sarajevo being one of the best examples of that fascinating mixture. Sarajevo is sometimes called the “Jerusalem of the Balkans”, because of its long and complicated, yet rich history of religious and cultural variety. Here Muslims, Jews, Orthodox Christians and Catholics have been living together for centuries.

Once in Sarajevo, there are many places you need to see and even more things you have to try and taste. Oriental fragrances in the streets of Sarajevo Old Town are one of the things that make this city unique and by which people always remember it. Here are the most important things to do & see in Sarajevo:

Visit Baščaršija – Sarajevo Old Town

Sarajevo-BaščaršijaTraditional Bosnian coffee sets; džezva is a term for a coffee pot, required to make a proper Bosnian-style coffee

This is the Ottoman part of the city. Built in the 15th century when the town was founded, Baščaršija was its very centre with the Ottoman bazaar situated here. Baščaršija still is just that – the bazaar – as well as the cultural and historical centre of Sarajevo. The Sebilj Fountain in the centre of Baščaršija was originally built by Ottomans in 18th century, but then relocated a century later to where it stands now. The legend has it that once you drink the water from Sebilj, you’ll definitely come back to Sarajevo. Streets surrounding Sebilj are full of little shops that sell traditional products, always packed with visitors and tourists.

Stroll the main Pedestrian zone – Ferhadija

238535-sarajevo-roseThe Sarajevo rose

Whether you want to go shopping, have a cup of Bosnian coffee, or just take a stroll and see main attractions, this is where you need to go. This is yet a different part of Sarajevo, as it was built during the period of Austro-Hungarian rule. Thus, the architecture is very different from what you can see in the Ottoman part of the city. Strolling down this street, you’ll find yourself in front of the Sarajevo Cathedral, known as the Sacred Heart Cathedral. In front of it, on the floor, is one of the many Sarajevo roses. Those are concrete scars caused by explosions during the Bosnian War, that were later filled with red resin in order to mark the many deaths and loses from this city’s painful history.

Visit the Gazi Husrev-Bey Mosque


This is the central mosque of Sarajevo and of the Islamic Community of Bosnia & Herzegovina. It has been here, in the centre of Sarajevo Old Town, for a long time – ever since the 16th century, when it was built for the Ottoman ruler of Bosnia, Gazi Husrev -Bey. This magnificent mosque is the biggest in the country and is believed to be the biggest in the Balkans.

Enjoy the view from the Yellow Fortress

Minolta DSC

This Fortress was built as a part of defence system in the 18th century, and served as one of the defence points against the Austria-Hungary in the 19th century. After Austria-Hungary finally took over Sarajevo, the Yellow Fortress lost its original function. Today this is a perfect place to enjoy a wonderful view over the city. From this spot, a cannon is fired at sunset during the Islamic month of Ramadan, marking the end of the fast.

Cross the Latin Bridge


In June 1914, a young member of the “Young Bosnia” revolutionary movement assassinated the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. The revolutionist’s name was Gavrilo Princip, and the crime was committed on the Latin Bridge, while Franz Ferdinand was taking a coach ride together with his wife, Sofia. The Latin Bridge has been known for this unfortunate event ever since then, as it was this event that caused the First World War. In fact, it was just an excuse to start a war that seemed inevitable, but it officially started on the 28th of June 1914, with assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife.

Taste ćevapi


Ćevapi is the name for the most popular Bosnian dish, that could easily be regarded the Bosnian national dish. It is a grilled dish of minced meat, shaped into small sausages. Ćevapi are served together with a special flatbread called somun, chopped onions, sour cream or ajvar, which is a type of relish, made from red peppers, with garlic. Ćevapi can be found absolutely everywhere in Sarajevo, especially in many restaurants in the Old Town.


Best Fairs and Festivals in Croatia

Fairs and festivals in Croatia are very popular all year round. If you’re thinking of going for a relaxing city break soon, here are some events taking place this autumn and winter that might interest you:


Truffle Festival in Istria

This is a 7 weeks long festival that takes place in several towns throughout Istria, presenting this region’s best gastro offer: truffles. Okay, and wine and olives to go with it. Istria can easily be reached from Zagreb; you can even join one of our guided 2 days tours to get there. This year, the festival begins on the 20th of September.


The Marunada – Chestnut Festival in Istria

Another Festival in Istria, mostly taking place around the city of Lovran, is devoted to chestnuts. It is all about tasting chestnut delicacies and liquors, followed by many interesting musical, cultural and sports events. The Marunada starts in October.





Zagreb Film Festival

The 13th Zagreb Film Festival will open its doors on the 14th November this year, and will last for a week. From its beginnings this Festival has been focused on the promotion of debut films and new filmmakers, both Croatian and international. The main festival competition has so far included directors like Anton Corbijn, Steve McQueen, Radu Jude, Alexandros Avranas, even George Clooney.  Not a bad reason to visit Zagreb in November, isn’t it?



Dubrovnik Winter Festival

Dubrovnik has shown that it attracts tourists all year round! The first Dubrovnik Winter Festival took place last year, turning this Medieval city into Winter Wonderland. Combing entertainment, culture, art and gastronomy, this festival has something for everyone. Starting in December, it lasts about 40 days.



Advent in Zagreb

The most popular Christmas fair in Croatia is the one taking place in Zagreb. There are many different events in Zagreb city centre that you can enjoy in weeks before Christmas. Buy gifts, gingerbread hearts, cookies, colorful decorations, jewelry and souvenirs made by Zagreb’s craftsmen and artists on traditional Christmas fair or have a cup of mulled wine and watch traditional dance performances at the Ban Jelačić Square. See you there this Advent!

Our Favourite Coffee Places in Zagreb

The Croatian coffee culture is probably one of the first things every tourist notices when coming to this small country. It seems like no one ever works, as the cafes are always full of people. A few years ago it was quite hard to get a coffee-to-go in Croatia, as we don’t usually walk while we drink it and we don’t usually drink it on our own. Why?

The simplest answer would be that a coffee drinking habit in Croatia is actually a social gathering, rather than a necessary fuel intake to get you through a day. A simple “let’s go for a coffee” is actually an invitation for socialising, spending 2-3 hours (yes, we’re talking hours) chatting, gossiping, sharing interests, problems, worries, pieces of advice and so on.

That said, it is no wonder Croatia has so many wonderful cafes to spend your mornings or afternoons in. That is why we’ve listed our favourite coffee places in Zagreb for you:


Knjiga & Kava (K&K)  cafe

Knjiga & Kava, meaning Coffee & Book, is a small lovely place right next to the Zagreb Main Square (the entrance is quite hard to spot – it’s just next to McDonald’s). You can choose from a wide selection of coffees, with chocolate crumbs, coconut, whipped cream, or just go for a plain Croatian coffee with milk.



Melin Cafe Bar

This is one of the best places to relax in the heart of busy Tkalčićeva street. Old fashioned TVs are used as coffee tables on a cozy terrace surrounded by trees. Although it functions as a cafe during the day, Melin turns into a club in the evenings.

Zagreb, 231013. Renato Huljev, uredio je vec 30 kafica, kako u Hrvatskoj, tako i u svijetu, a posljednji u nizu je Melin u Tkalcicevoj ulici. Na fotografiji: Melin. Foto: Neja Markicevic / CROPIX
Zagreb, 231013.
Renato Huljev, uredio je vec 30 kafica, kako u Hrvatskoj, tako i u svijetu, a posljednji u nizu je Melin u Tkalcicevoj ulici.
Na fotografiji: Melin.
Foto: Neja Markicevic / CROPIX


Kava Tava

Located on the popular British Square in the center of Zagreb, Kava Tava is a very charming yet inexpensive place to have a nice meal and a coffee. Not many places offer a proper breakfast in Zagreb, so you might want to try Kava Tava!

kava tava


Bacchus Jazz Bar

Located close to the Main Train Station, this cozy bar and cafe is a perfect place for a morning coffee or evening night out with your friends, especially if you like listening to jazz. Wooden furniture and dim lighting give this place a special intimate atmosphere.


Lemon Bar&Club

Although Lemon is a night club as well, for a good cup of coffee we recommend a visit to their summer terrace, located in the backyard of the Archaeological Museum. This cafe is a stone throw away from the Ban Jelačić Square.



Amelie Cake Shop

Located between the Zagreb Cathedral and Ban Jelačić Square, this small cake shop is a perfect place to start your morning in. Its French-style interior makes this place incredibly charming and cozy and their cafe and cakes are outstanding!



Torte i To Cafe

Torte i To, meaning Cakes & That is located inside the Kaptol shopping center in the end of the popular Tkalčićeva street. This small cafe full of comfortable sofas, armchairs and cushions serves the best cheese cake and brownie in town. They have a really nice terrace as well, which is usually packed during hot summer days.

torte i to, kaptol



Our Best Tours in Croatia

TourCroatia offers a lot of tours and packages, but how to choose the best option? In order to help you, we listed our best tours in Croatia, according to their popularity.

  1. Dubrovnik City Break


Dubrovnik is the most popular destination in Croatia, and is visited all year round. Whether you want to visit in autumn or summer, or maybe have a wonderful winter vacation here, this city break is always a good idea. Walk Dubrovnik’s Medieval streets and walls, spend a day on a beach and have a lunch in one of the sea food restaurants.

  1. Stag Party in Zagreb


Your big day is approaching, but you still don’t have a suitable stag party destination? We will take you on a full stag weekend in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. In the last few years Zagreb had become a popular party destination, right next to Prague andBelgrade. The package we offer will enable you to combine Zagreb sightseeing during the day and amazing nightlife in the evening. You’ll be given a first hand advice on where to go and what to do by our guides and will also be taken for a proper bar crawl. Everything you need for a proper vacation with your mates before you enter a new stage of your life!

  1. Zadar City Break (with Kornati Islands)


Zadar is a charming coastal city, popular for a lot of students living and studying there, a lot of interesting things to do and beautiful beaches. This vibrant modern city is in fact very old as it was founded back in Ancient Roman times and flourished in the Middle Ages. Traces of its past you can easily find anywhere you go – the Roman forum remains can be seen in the very centre of Zadar. Apart from Zadar, we’ll also take you to one of the most breath-taking national parks in Croatia – the Kornati Islands. Enjoy the beauty of this wonderful archipelago, counting more than eighty islands, islets and reefs.

  1. Dubrovnik Wine & Gastro Tour


Food and wine tourism is getting more popular all around the world today. This is a one day trip you can fit into any travel arrangement in or around Dubrovnik. We’ll take you on a journey through this region’s delicious specialties and wines, that will delight both amateurs and professionals! So why not treat your taste buds and join? You’ll get a guided tour of Dubrovnik, and learn many stories about life here, as well as Dubrovnik’s food, wine and history.

  1. Adriatic Cruise (Departing from Split on board the Ship Nikola)


This eight days long sailing tour, departing from Split, is tailored-made for those who want experience a truly relaxed vacation. You’ll sail towards most the Island of Hvar, Korčula and Mljet, visit the wonderful Elafiniti Islands and stroll the beautiful streets of Dubrovnik. History, culture, sightseeing, wonderful sceneries and breath-taking beaches are combined together, in order to create this exclusive sailing experience.

  1. Croatian Roman Roads Tour


TourCroatia is very proud of this tour, as it’s among the newest and most original offers we have. This is a carefully planned sightseeing tour for all those who enjoy history, culture and – above all – Ancient Roman ruins. Croatia is full of them, as this small but diverse country was once part of a vast Roman Empire. This tour is actually a plain city break – you’ll book your dates and stay at the hotels arranged by our partners for you. Your itinerary will be a bit different from usual city breaks, as it will take you to Ancient Roman cities in Croatia – Salona (Solin), Spalatum (Split) and Trogir (Tragurium) being some of them. You’ll meet your travel guide at the pre arranged meeting point, and he/she will be at your disposal at all times, taking you to a journey to Ancient Croatia.

  1. UNESCO Croatia Tour


Croatia is full of cities, archaeological sites and national parks that found their place on UNESCO list of protected heritage. This self-drive tour will enable you to explore most of them and be flexible while doing it; change the schedule if you feel like it, have a lunch or a cup of coffee when you feel like it and visit wonderful Dubrovnik, Split or the Plitvice lakes National Park. Take a few days to dip into the sea and sunbathe on one of many Croatian beaches. This tour is a true delight, specially for those travelling with family and children.

Was Marco Polo Born in Croatia?

Marco Polo, a famous Medieval traveller, merchant and writer, was one of the first Europeans to visit China and travel the Silk Road trade route. He did not only travel to China, but he was an honourable guest on mighty Kublai Khan’s court, and had a rare opportunity to experience life in his vast Mongol Empire.

Although Marco was born in Medieval Venice, researchers have found evidence that his family might had originated from the Island of Korčula, in Croatia.

Korčula had been known by many different names throughout history – Greeks called it Korkyra Melaina, Latin speaking inhabitants named it Corcyra Nigra and Italians, in this case Venetians, called it Curzola. Situated in the southern Adriatic, in Croatian region of Dalmatia, the town of Korčula is one of the oldest settlements in Croatia.

In Medieval times, the whole of Dalmatia along with the islands was threatened by the Venetian Republic, that became the most powerful and influential state in the Mediterranean. The Island of Korčula was in great peril. Strategically very well positioned, connecting important maritime trade routes, it was a desirable target to the Venetian Republic. In order to resist Venetian intentions and protect themselves, the Croatian population on the Island of Korčula adopted its communal statute in 13st century, one of the oldest of its kind in Europe. This document protected autonomy of Korčula and enabled its citizens to live in relative prosperity and peace, as well as travel and explore the rest of Europe and world.

Marco Polo was born in 1254 to a wealthy Venetian merchant family. Although it’s generally regarded that Marco was born in Venice, some historical records tell different story: it seems like Marco was born in the Medieval Korčula, and its believed that the Polo family originated from here too. The street where the alleged Marco Polo’s birth house is situated today corresponds with the area that used to belong to the Polo family in Medieval times. There is no scientific consensus on the etymology of the surname; its origin might be Slavic. The “Pol“ is a regional term for a certain bird species in this part of Dalmatia. This theory is supported by the fact that the Polo family’s coat of arms has four of those birds on it.

Marco Polo’s birth house in Korčula, Croatia.

The Polo family is, even today, very respected in Korčula. Over time, this family had produced numerous shipbuilders, smiths, stone-masons, tradesmen, priests, and public notaries. The members of the Polo family were guardians of the walls around the town of Korčula. Marco’s father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo started their business here; but Korčula was only the starting point for their prosperous career. They set off on a trading voyage before Marco’s birth, visiting Constantinople, then the capital of the Latin Empire, built on remains of declining Byzantium.

Marco got a proper education, usual for youngsters descending from noble families of that period. He spoke Italian and French, learned how to keep business books, but he also learned about writers of Ancient world, studied Bible and learned about basic Catholic theology. It is also very probable that Marco spoke Croatian language of that time, at least some of it. These language skills would help him a lot later on his travels.

Together with his father and uncle, Marco embarked on a journey to Asia. Thanks to many adventures he had been through on his travels and everything he saw, Marco was able to describe Orient more closely to the Western world. He experienced Oriental culture, and could provide the West with a clear picture of their customs and tradition. Thus, he and his father and uncle were one of the first people to „open“ this part of the world to then secluded European habitus. Depicting his hardships in Gobi desert, Marco wrote: “This desert is reported to be so long that it would take a year to go from end to end … at the narrowest point it takes a month to cross it. It consists entirely of mountains and sands and valleys. There is nothing at all to eat.”

Marco Polo

After 24 years of travelling, they returned to Venice, and found it at war with Genoa. This was when Marco was imprisoned, sharing the cell with his future biographer, Rustichello da Pisa. Marco told him about his adventures and Rustichello, who happened to be a writer, wrote it down. The book was titled „The Travels of Marco Polo“.

In 2011, a museum dedicated to the Venetian explorer in the Chinese city of Yangzhou was opened not by a former president of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic. This wasn’t very well received by Italians; British Telegraph wrote that „Italians have reacted with fury to an attempt by Croatia to claim the legendary explorer Marco Polo was one of their own“. Whatever proves right in the future, one thing is for sure: when you’re in Korčula, you can pay a visit to Marco’s house. Make sure you don’t miss it!

16 Pictures of The Balkans That Will Take Your Breath Away

1. Mostar Old Town1024px-Mostar_Old_Town_Panorama-compressor

2. Peristyle in Splitsplit

3. Trakoscan-Castle, Zagrebtrakoscan-castle

4. Lovrijenac fort, DubrovnikLovrijenac-fort

 5. Krka National ParkKrka-National-Park

6. St Marks Cathedral, Zagrebst-marks-cathedral-zagreb

7. Ljubljana, Slovenialjubljana

8. Istria, Croatiaistria

9. Pula Arenapula-arean

10. Split, CroatiaSplit

11. Island of Murter , Croatiaisland-murter-turquoise-lagoon-beach-dalmatia-croatia

12. Plitvice National Park, Croatiaplitvice-national-park

13. Split, Croatiasplit-croatia

14. Plitvice National Park, Croatiaplitvice-lakes

15. Velebit Mountain, Croatiavelebit-mountain

16. Island of Hvar, Croatiahvar