Croatia has a unique and varied history, it has lots of things to see and do and is an all round fascinating country.
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A Country of a thousand islands, as Croatia is sometimes referred to, is situated on the crossroads between East and West, close to the Mediterranean, yet not too far from the Central European region.
The area occupied by Croatia is slightly smaller than the state of West Virginia with a total size of 56,542 sq km. It borders Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
One could easily place two Croatias in terms of population into one London – as London has twice as many inhabitants than the whole Republic of Croatia. Despite its size, Croatia is culturally very interesting and different from the other parts of Europe and the World.
So here are some tips on what to expect and to do when visiting Croatia!
1. No Starbucks here. We have a different coffee drinking style
Though it was supposed to happen in 2010, the popular Starbucks coffee still didn’t get to Croatia. While in most Western countries people go to Starbucks in order to work, read, study or they just get a coffee to go, Croatians go for a coffee in order to meet a friend, partner, relative or colleague.
‘Having a coffee’ in Croatia can actually be translated as ‘seeing someone at the cafe and having a drink while doing it’; coffee thus because a synonym for ANY drink. That means that many Croatians that ‘go for a coffee’ usually end up having a beer instead.
Also, as going to a cafe is more about socialising and talking than about actual coffee drinking, we spend a lot of time at the cafes. Staying at the cafe less than 45 minutes makes no point, as it’s simply too short. That doesn’t mean that we have nothing better to do, but rather that we solve all our issues, make deals, gossip, get a job, ask favors while sitting at the cafe and ‘having a coffee’. Some even do business meetings at cafe bars.
Starbucks serves very delicious coffee but, for Croatian taste, it’s definitely too big (our normal coffee is smaller than the smallest coffee Starbucks serves). It also has the wrong purpose, from Croatian perspective, as it’s used as a fuel to keep you on going through the day, rather than enjoy the taste and relax while talking to a friend.
That’s why we rarely go to the cafe bars alone; we always bring some company. On the other hand, go to any Starbucks and you’ll notice that most people sit alone.
2. When in cafe, bar, pub or any sort of restaurant, a waiter will take your order
You don’t have to bother ordering yourself. Wherever you go, you only need to pick a seat (or ask a waiter for a help) and take an order from him. When comes to this, Croatians are traditional – we like to be served and spend our time on talking rather than carrying drinks to the table on our own. Pay before you leave or when you get what you ordered.
3. The Croatian currency is the Kuna
“Kuna” literally means marten, a weasel-like animal, whose fur Croatians used as payment long time ago. Kuna which is divided into 100 lipas. When listed as a price, Kuna is abbreviated to Kn. With 200 Croatian Kuna (approximately 20 British pounds) you can easily pay for a nice meal for two in a restaurant with a bottle of wine. For a cup of coffee with milk you’ll pay approx. 10-15 Kunas, depending upon where you go.
4. Pizza everywhere!
It’s hard not to notice a huge amount of Italian restaurants in Croatia, both on the coast and in continental parts. We love Italian food so much that we often eat pizza for breakfast. Most bakeries bake pizza and sell it per slice. You can always find Croatian and/or Balkan cuisine restaurants, but they’re not as numerous as pizza places.
5. Croatians love ice cream – you can get it on every corner
Chocolate, strawberry, blueberry, vanilla, lemon, banana, apple, coco, nutella… you can get an ice cream for all sorts of tastes. Everyone likes it – old, young, male, female. Some use it as an excuse to go for a walk and ‘have an ice cream’ on their way home; some have it with their morning coffee. It comes in all combinations and is always delicious!
6. We start clubbing from 11 pm
No point in going to a club earlier. We like dressing up, looking and feeling good. We also dance in the clubs, so make sure you put something comfortable on. Most Croatian girls wear heels, but they take flat shoes in the bag with them and change when their feet start hurting. So if you see them changing at 3 or 4 am, don’t be surprised.
7. Dalmatian ‘pearls’ are well known worldwide
What do Shakespeare and Byron have in common, apart from the fact that they’re English? Shakespeare placed the setting of his Twelfth Night in Dalmatia while visiting Croatia, and Byron described Dubrovnik as ‘a pearl of Adriatic’. More recently, the Game of Thrones series was filmed in both Dubrovnik and Split – so might be worth going to the coast!
8. The beach is where you need to be
Spend a long day on the beach. Croatians like eating, drinking, sleeping and clubbing – all that – on the beach! Most Croatians that visit from continental parts rent apartments near the beach and go there every day. So don’t be surprised if you see whole families carrying or buying food on the beach, sunbathing all day or even sleeping in the shade.
You might as well stay here later in the evening if you feel like partying, as the best nightlife during the summer is always by the sea!
9. Visit Croatia and come again
Although we might seem a bit shy at the beginning, we like having tourists around. Especially if you tell us you’ve already visited Croatia and decided to come again.
Bring a dash of your culture, make friends, teach us something, tell us about your cuisine, we’d love to try it! Where to go and what to see in Croatia?