{{ message }}

Croatia

Croatia (Croatian: Hrvatska) is a Mediterranean country that bridges Central Europe and the Balkans. It is on the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea, across from Italy on the western side. It is bordered by Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the north, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Serbia in the east, and Montenegro to the south.

Regions

There are three distinct areas of Croatia: Lowland Croatia (cr: Nizinska Hrvatska), Littoral Croatia (Primorska Hrvatska) and Mountainous Croatia (Gorska Hrvatska) and these can be neatly split into five travel regions:

Cities

  • Zagreb - the capital and largest city
  • Dubrovnik - historic coastal city and UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Split - ancient port city with Roman ruins
  • Pula - biggest town in Istria with the Roman amphitheater (commonly called Arena)
  • Osijek - capital of Slavonia and an important city
  • Sisak - largest river port, city on three rivers and a city that has stopped the spread of the Turks in Europe in 1593, formerly Siscia
  • Slavonski Brod - a once important star-fort on the Ottoman defensive line
  • Rijeka - Croatia's largest and main port
  • Varaždin - Croatia's former Baroque capital
  • Zadar - biggest city of north-central Dalmatia with rich history

Other destinations

  • Krka National Park – river valley near Šibenik
  • Island of Cres
  • Island of Hvar
  • Island of Bra?
  • Island of Krk
  • Island of Šolta
  • Makarska on the Makarska Riviera
  • Plitvice National Park
  • Žumberak – mountainous region that spans the border between Slovenia and Croatia

Understand

Climate

Northern Croatia has a temperate continental climate, while the central and upland regions have a mountainous climate. The entire Adriatic coast has a pleasant Mediterranean climate. Spring and autumn are mild along the coast, while winter is cold and snowy in central and northern regions. The average temperature inland in January ranges from -10°C to 5°C; August 19°C to 39°C. The average temperature at the seaside is higher: January 6°C to 11°C; August 21°C to 39°C.

Terrain

It is geographically diverse with flat agricultural plains along the Hungarian border (Central European area), low mountains and highlands near the Adriatic coastline, and islands. There are 1,246 islands; the largest ones are Krk and Cres. The highest point is Dinara at 1,830 m.

History

The Croats settled in the region in the early 7th century and formed two principalities: Croatia and Pannonia. The establishment of the Trpimirovi? dynasty ca 850 brought strengthening to the Dalmatian Croat Duchy, which together with the Pannonian principality became a kingdom in 925 under King Tomislav. Independent Croatian kingdom lasted until 1102 when Croatia, after a series of dynastic struggles entered into a personal union with Hungary, with a Hungarian king ruling over both countries. In 1526, after the Battle of Mohács, where Hungary suffered a catastrophic defeat against Ottoman Turks, Croatia severed it's relationship with Hungary and its parliament (Sabor) voted to form a new personal union with the Habsburg Monarchy. Croatia remained an autonomous kingdom within the Hapsburg state (and later Austria-Hungary) until the empire's dissolution following defeat in World War I.

In 1918, a short-lived State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (carved out of south Slavic parts of Austria-Hungary) joined the Kingdom of Serbia to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. The new state was unitarist in character, erasing all historical borders within its new territorial division, which resulted in a strong movement for more autonomy for Croatia. This was achieved in 1939, only days before the start of World War II, when Croatia was granted broad autonomy within Yugoslavia as Banovina of Croatia. When Germany and Italy attacked Yugoslavia in 1941, the state was dissolved, parts of it annexed to Germany and Italy, and puppet governments installed in Croatia and Serbia. Almost immediately, a strong resistance movement was formed, led by communist leader Josip Broz "Tito" (an ethnic Croat), which gained broad popular support. After the end of World War II, a new, communist Yugoslavia was formed with Tito becoming "president for life". Tito ruled with a strong hand, using political repression and secret police to quell any separatist sentiments, with the official motto of the new country being "Brotherhood and Union". Still, because Yugoslavia didn't belong to the Warsaw Pact, having broken off political ties with the USSR in 1948, it was by far the most open socialist country in Europe and its citizens enjoyed more civil liberties and a higher living standard than the rest of the Communist bloc. After Tito's death in 1980, the weakening of political repression led to a period of political instability. Faced with the rise of nationalist sentiment, a decade-long recession, and the weakening of communist grip on power on the eve of the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the first free elections were held in Yugoslavia in almost 45 years. In these elections, nationalist options won power in all Yugoslav republics, which led to a rise in inter-ethnic tensions, culminating when Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. This led to open war in newly independent Croatia and later in Bosnia and Herzegovina which declared its independence in 1992. The wars ended four years later, in 1995, with a decisive Croatian victory in operation Storm, bringing peace to both countries. The anniversary of operation Storm is celebrated as Thanksgiving Day in Croatia every August 5.

After a period of accelerated economic growth in the late 1990s and 2000s Croatia joined NATO in 2009 and the European Union in 2013. Croatia today is a functioning liberal democracy, with a free market system and a robust welfare state.

Holidays

  • January 1: New Year's Day
  • January 6: Epiphany
  • Easter (according to the Gregorian calendar)
  • Corpus Christi (60 days after Easter)
  • May 1: International Workers' Day
  • June 22: Anti-Fascist Struggle Day
  • June 25: Statehood Day
  • August 5: Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian defenders
  • August 15: Assumption of Mary
  • October 8: Independence Day
  • December 25: Christmas

Get in

Entry requirements

Croatia is committed to implementing the Schengen Agreement although it hasn't yet done so. For citizens of the European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Area (EFTA) (i.e. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), an officially approved ID card (or a passport) is sufficient for entry. Other nationalities will generally require a passport for entry.

Travel to/from any other country (Schengen or not) from/to Croatia will (as of now) result in the normal immigration checks, although customs checks will be waived when travelling to/from another EU country.

Inquire with your travel agent or with the local embassy or consulate of Croatia.

Any person not covered by a visa exemption will need to apply for a visa at a Croatian embassy or consulate in advance. The application fee for a short stay Croatian visa is €35.

More information about visa exemptions and the visa application procedure is available at the website of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs [1].

By plane

The only flights from outside Europe are from Tel Aviv and Doha, and the occasional charter flight from Tokyo and Seoul. If coming from North America, you will have to transfer at a hub such as London or Frankfurt airport.

  • Croatia Airlines, the national carrier and member of Star Alliance, flies to Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Paris, Prague, Tel Aviv, Rome, Sarajevo, Skopje, Vienna, Zürich and - during the tourist season - Manchester.
  • Adria Airways - Slovenian national carrier flies from Ljubljana to Split and Dubrovnik (note: there are no flights from Ljubljana to Zagreb as the two are located close together and are around 2 hours by car/train/bus)
  • Aer Lingus Dublin - Dubrovnik
  • Air Serbia flies from Belgrade to DubrovnikPula and Split in the summer
  • Austrian Airlines flies from Vienna to ZagrebSplit and Dubrovnik
  • Alitalia flies from Milan Malpensa to Zagreb and Split.
  • British Airways flies from London Gatwick to Dubrovnik
  • CSA Czech Airlines - SkyTeam member; flies from Prague to Zagreb all the year, and to Split during summer.
  • Darwin Airline flies between Geneva and Dubrovnik (Thursdays and Sundays) as well as Zürich and Dubrovnik (Saturdays).
  • EasyJet has flights to the following destinations in Croatia:
  • Nordica is flying from Tallinn to Dubrovnik.
  • FlyBe operates routes between Dubrovnik and two UK destinations Exeter and Birmingham.
  • GermanWings - cheap connection from Berlin, Cologne, Stuttgart and Hamburg, to ZagrebSplitZadar and Dubrovnik
  • KLM connects Amsterdam with Zagreb
  • Norwegian connects Oslo with RijekaSplit and Dubrovnik
  • Ryanair flies from Dublin and Karlsruhe-Baden to Zadar.
  • Scandjet is a Scandinavian low fare airline that connects Sweden, Norway and Denmark with Croatia. It flies from:
  • TAP Portugal is flying from Zagreb to Lisbon via Bologna three times a week (Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays).
  • Vueling, a Spanish low-cost carrier flies between Dubrovnik and Barcelona.
  • Wizz Air flies between Zagreb and London (Luton Airport)
  • Additionally you can use airports in neighboring countries which are within few hours of reach from Zagreb and Rijeka (apart from some of the listed options in Italy):
    • Ljubljana (for EasyJet flights to London Stansted or other Adria Airways flights)
    • Graz and Klagenfurt (for Ryanair flights from London Stansted)
    • Trieste (for Ryanair flights from London Stansted). You can also use Venice Marco Polo (for British Airways flights from the UK) or Venice Treviso (Ryanair from Stanstead). Ancona is also an option (Ryanair from Stansted) for those who want to take ferry [2] or hydrofoil [3] to Zadar and Split. Ryanair also flies to Pescara which is a short drive away from Ancona.
    • Some may decide to use Tivat Airport (in Montenegro) which is within easy reach from Dubrovnik.

By train

The rail network connects all major Croatian cities, except Dubrovnik (you can take a train to Split then take one of the frequent buses or the more scenic ferry to Dubrovnik, the train station is at the pier). There are direct lines from Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary (suspended due to immigrant crisis), Slovenia, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. There are indirect lines from almost all other European countries.

Tourists coming from or going to neighboring countries should note the following EuroCity and InterCity as well as EuroNight railway lines:

  • EC "Mimara": Frankfurt - Munich - Salzburg - Ljubljana - Zagreb
  • IC "Croatia": Vienna - Maribor - Zagreb, also by EuroNight train
  • EN 414: Zurich - Zagreb - Beograd (can be booked online with SBB or any other railway agency by phone)
  • IC "Adria": Budapest - Zagreb - Split (suspended due to immigrant crisis, direct connection to Split only during summer)

The German Railways (Deutsche Bahn) has a Europe Special/Croatia, where they sell Munchen-Zagreb starting at €39.

Note: While Croatia is covered on some Eurail passes, staff at domestic ticket windows tend to have no idea about validating the pass on the first day of use. There are recorded instances of staff saying that the conductor would validate the pass, and the conductor simply treating it as a regular ticket. Fortunately, the international ticket staff (particularly in Zagreb) are aware of how to validate the pass, and have been known to validate it retroactively where necessary. They even ask for the details of the domestic ticket seller who gave the wrong information. The traveller is therefore recommended to have already validated their Eurail pass on arrival in Croatia, or to have it validated at an international window even if the first trip on it will be domestic.

By car

To enter Croatia, a driver's license, an automobile registration card and vehicle insurance documents are required. If you need road assistance, you should dial 1987. The following speeds are permitted:

  • 50 km/h - within built-up areas
  • 90 km/h - outside built-up areas
  • 110 km/h - on major motor routes
  • 130 km/h - on motorways
  • 80 km/h - for motor vehicles with a caravan trailer
  • 80 km/h - for buses and buses with a light trailer

When driving in the rain, you should adjust speed to conditions on wet roads. Driving with headlights is not obligatory during the day (during Daylight Savings Time; it is obligatory during winter months). Use of mobile phones while driving is not permitted. Maximum permitted amount of alcohol in blood is 0.05% (matching neighboring Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina) although this has varied and was down to 0% until that was found to not be tenable in the country. Use of seat belts is obligatory.

Hrvatski Auto Klub [4] is the Croatian Automobile Club dedicated to assisting drivers and promoting greater traffic security. Its site offers minute-by-minute updates, status of national traffic, weather, numerous maps and webcams located all over Croatia. Content is available in Croatian, English, German and Italian.

By bus

Very good network of buses once in the country - cheap and regular.

If you are coming from Italy there are two buses daily from Venice leaving at 11AM and 1:45PM going to Istria, with a final stop in Pula. These are operated by two different bus companies, but you can buy tickets for both buses at the A.T.V.O bus office at the Venice bus station. The office is in the bus station, but located outside on the ground level across from where all the buses park. Both buses pick up at spot b15. It is roughly a 5 hour bus ride, with stops in Trieste and Rovinj. You can also pick up the bus at the bus station in Mestre, fifteen minutes after the scheduled bus leaves Venice. Coming in from Trieste, Italy is popular among Europeans, for Trieste is a Ryanair destination. You cross the Italian-Slovenian border first, followed by the Slovenian-Croatian border, but they are very close to one another.

Dubrovnik and Split are the main destinations of international buses from Bosnia and Hercegovina or Montenegro, with daily buses traveling to cities such as Sarajevo, Mostar and Kotor (some lines such as Split-Mostar operate every few hours). Seasonal lines also extend through to Skopje from Dubrovnik. Border formalities on the buses are extremely efficient, and do not involve leaving the bus (previous services from Dubrovnik to Kotor involved changing buses at the Croatian border).

Osijek is a very big bus hub for international travel to Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia in addition to its local buses, and the station is located conveniently next to the railway station. Many buses heading from Zagreb north into Hungary or Austria will pass through Varaždin.

By boat

Ferries are cheap and go regularly between various places by the coast. Although not the fastest, they are probably the best way to see the beautiful Croatian islands of the Adriatic Sea.

Jadrolinija [6] is the main Croatian passenger shipping line that maintains the largest number of regular international and domestic ferry and shipping lines. The following international lines are serviced by car ferries:

Blue Line International [7] also covers the international line:

Venezia Lines [8] has regular catamaran lines between Venice and the Croatian cities of Pore?, PulaRovinj and Rabac.

Get around

By plane

National airline company Croatia Airlines connects major cities in Croatia to each other and foreign destinations. Due to the comparatively short distances and relatively high hassle of air travel - especially when you travel with luggage - domestic air travel is used mostly for getting to end points - e.g., Zagreb to Dubrovnik (see map) and vice-versa.

Another popular flight (available in the summer months only) is between Split and Osijek, saving a long trip back through Croatia, or alternatively through the middle of Bosnia.

By train

Train travel is definitely improving in Croatia, with money being spent on updating the aging infrastructure and vehicles. Trains are clean and mostly on time.

Croatia's rail network connects all major Croatian cities, except Dubrovnik. If you want to visit Dubrovnik, you will have to travel by train to Split, and then go on the bus for Dubrovnik. Trains to Pula are actually connected via Slovenia due to historical accident, though there are designated connecting buses from Rijeka.

Rail is still the cheapest connection between inland and coast, though not the most frequent. 160km/h "tilting trains" that connect Zagreb with Split and other major cities in Croatia such as Rijeka and Osijek have been introduced, resulting in higher levels of comfort and significantly faster journeys between cities (Zagreb-Split is now 5.5h from 9, Osijek is now 3 when other trains take around 4.5h). If you make a reservation early enough you can get a substantial discount, or if you are a holder of an ISIC card etc.

Information for the trains can be found on the Hrvatske željeznice - Croatian Railways [9] site in Croatian and English has timetable and prices.

Tickets are not usually sold on board, except if you happen to get on the train on one of the few stations/stops without ticket sales. However, only local trains stop on such stations. In all other cases, a ticket bought on the train will cost considerably more than the one bought outside the train.

By bus

A very comprehensive coach network connects all parts of the country. Bus service between major cities (intercity lines) is quite frequent, as well as regional services. The most frequent bus terminal in Croatia is Bus Terminal Zagreb (in Croatian "Autobusni kolodvor Zagreb"). Despite the recent improvements in the railway network, buses are faster than trains for inter-city travel. See Bus travel in the former Yugoslavia for more information.

  • Autobusni kolodvor Zagreb - Bus Terminal Zagreb, timetable information, content in Croatian, English
  • CroatiaBus - bus company - timetable information, prices, content in Croatian and English.
  • Autotrans Rijeka - bus company - timetable information, prices, content in Croatian and English.
  • Autobusni promet Varaždin - bus company - timetable information, prices, content in Croatian, English and German.
  • Contus - bus company - timetable information, prices, content in Croatian and English.
  • Libertas Dubrovnik - bus terminal and company information in Dubrovnik, with international and domestic information. Content mostly in Croatian.

By boat

Croatia is endowed with a beautiful coastline which is best explored by ferry to access the hundreds of islands.

In many instances, the only way to get to the islands is by ferry or catamaran. If you plan on using either you should check these web sites because they have the regular ferry and catamaran information.

  • Jadrolinija [10] - Jadrolinija is the Croatian National ferry company, and as well as routes operating from the major cities to the islands, operate a ferry along the Adriatic Coast from Rijeka to Dubrovnik (and then across to Bari, Italy) calling at SplitHvar, Mljet and Kor?ula. Check timetables [11] as the schedules are seasonal. The boats are large and have sleeping facilities as the Rijeka-Split leg goes overnight.
  • SNAV is an Italian company connecting Split with Ancona and Pescara. Check timetables [12] as the schedules are seasonal.
  • Azzura lines, is an Italian operator connecting Dubrovnik with Bari Check timetables [13] as the schedules are seasonal.
  • Split Hvar taxi boat Taxi boat service that works from 0-24H and can take you anywhere you want.
  • Yacht Charter in Croatia, a charter company with one of the largest fleets, situated in Split ACI Marina.
  • A Yacht Charter Croatia offers a variety of sailing yachts, gulets and catamarans.
  • Antlos offers a selection of skippered yacht holidays in Croatia, including SplitHvar, Brac and the whole of the Dalmatian Coast.
  • Navis Yacht Charter services are intended for those who want to explore coast and hidden bays by sea for one week or more.
  • Europe Yachts Charter Europe Yachts Charter offers you chartering services in Croatia and some other Mediterranean countries.
  • Croatia Cruise Cabin Charter Discover a completely new cruising experience that gives you the freedom to sail individually or in smaller groups.
  • Crewed Yacht Charter in CroatiaLion Queen charter offers Gulet Cruises Croatia as one of the main specialist in this area.
  • If traveling as an individual or small group tour operators like Med Experience offer individual spots on a yacht trip down the coast.
  • Map with Croatian yachting marinas There are 6 main regions where you can charter a yacht: Istria, Kvarner gulf, Zadar region, Sibenik region, Split region and Dubrovnik. All of them all well-communicated with Croatian airports.
  • Globe Yacht Charter is specialized for organizing cruises around Croatian islands. They offer all inclusive yacht charter.

Outside the summer months it is often difficult or impossible to make a day trip to the more remote islands. This is because ferry schedules are made to suit commuters who live on islands and travel to the mainland, not vice versa.

By car

Roads in Croatia are usually well maintained, but usually very narrow and full of curves. Some local roads in Istria have been worn down to a smooth surface from regular wear and tear, and can be extremely slippery when wet. It's difficult to find a true highway with more than one lane per direction, the only exceptions being the ones connecting RijekaZagrebOsijekZadar and Split. Speed limits are thus low (60–90 km/h), and it's not recommended to drive faster (although most locals do), especially at night. Be aware of animals crossing the road. In case you want to overtake a slow vehicle on a narrow road, often the drivers in front of you will set the right yellow turning lights, and drive on the very right side, to sign the drivers behind, that it is ok to overtake. But on your own risk.

Renting a car is around the same price as in the EU (from around €40). Almost all cars have a manual transmission. Most rental agencies in the Balkans allow you to rent a car in one country and drive in the neighboring countries however try to avoid a renting a car in Serbia and driving it into Croatia (or vice versa) in order to avoid negative attention from nationalists.

On Croatian Motorways [14] toll fees apply (and may be paid in either kuna or euros). The A6 motorway between Zagreb and Rijeka was finished at the end of 2008, while the main motorway A1 from Zagreb to Dubrovnik is still under construction (the current ending point is in Vrgorac, which is 70 km from Dubrovnik). Note that to reach southern Dalmatia including Dubrovnik, you need to cross a short portion of Bosnia-Herzegovina, so check if you need a visa or other special requirements for entry into Bosnia (EU and US citizens don't need a visa). Another major motorway is the A3, linking the Slovenian border (not far from Zagreb) with eastern Croatia and the Serbian border (120 km from Belgrade). The general speed limit on motorways is 130 km/h (81 mph). You will probably encounter cars driving much faster, but following their example is of course highly unsafe.

When exiting a toll motorway, ask the receipt at toll booth if it is not given to you to be sure you do not get overcharged (you could receive along with the receipt some unexpected change compared with the price you were given verbally)

If an unknown person flashes their car lights at you it may be a sign that they've recently passed a police unit doing speed limit checks. Ensure you are in compliance with all the traffic rules and regulations to avoid being stopped and fined.

Trying to find a parking space near Croatia's coastal old towns in the summer can be an exercise in futility. Even though prices range from the merely expensive 7 kn in Split to the extortionate 30 kn per hour in Dubrovnik, the spaces fill up very quickly. However, away from the old towns, parking is convenient and often free at shopping malls and large supermarkets, sports venues, near residential tower blocks and at restaurants (free for guests).

By taxi

You can use a taxi service by calling 970, or sometimes another number for a private company – check individual city articles. The taxi usually comes within 10 to 15 minutes from the call except in the busy summer season where it depends on how much business they have. Croatian taxis are generally rather expensive.

You can also book the transportation in advance which is great when you are in a hurry or have a larger number of people in need of transportation, or you just want everything organized in advance.

You can also prearrange a taxi service by E-mail in advance to have even more comfort and to save money since this taxi operators are cheaper than the regular taxi service. [15]

By thumb

Hitchhiking is generally good. If you can get to a highway toll stop simply ask people to take you with them as they open their windows to pay the toll. The toll collectors usually won't mind. The tricky part, of course, is to get to the toll stop. If you are in Zagreb and you are, like most people, heading south, take the bus 111 from the Savski most station in Zagreb and ask the bus driver where to get off to get to the toll stop. Next best place to ask people to pick you up are gas stations. And finally, just using the good old thumb will work too if everything else fails. On some roads, hitchhiking is not permitted. Roads on which you cannot hitchhike are usually denoted by a sign with the word 'autostop' crossed out ('autostop' is Croatian for 'hitchhiking').

Talk

See also: Croatian phrasebook

The main language is Croatian, that is a Slavic language which is very similar to Serbian and Bosnian .

Many Croatians can speak English to some level, but German and Italian are also very popular too (largely because of the large annual influx of German and Italian tourists). Elderly people will rarely speak English, although they may be able to converse in German or Italian. If you know Polish or Czech then these languages have some similarities to Croatian. Some people might also speak French or Russian. Many older people can speak Russian, but this has largely been supplanted by English among the younger generations.

See

Croatia has an impressive history, a fact that is best explained through the vast array of sites worth visiting. Most towns have an historical centre with its typical architecture. There are differences between the coast and the continental part, so both areas are a must. The most famous town is probably Dubrovnik, a prime example of the coastal architecture, but by no means the only one worth visiting. Equally important is the capital and largest city, Zagreb, with a population of about 1 million. It is a modern city with all the modern features, yet it has a laid back feel. In the east, in the region of Slavonia with its regional capital Osijek and the war torn Vukovar are awe inspiring. Scattered throughout the region are vineyards and wine cellars, most of which give tours and tastings.

Throughout the country there are numerous cultural venues that are worth seeing. Croatia has 7 UNESCO protected sites, 8 national parks and 10 nature parks. In total, the country has 444 protected areas. Beautiful Adriatic sea stretches along 1,777 km (1,104 mi) of coastline, there are 1,246 islands to be seen making Croatia an attractive nautical destination.

Do

Sailing

Sailing is a good way to see the coastal islands and networks of small archipelagos. Most charters leave from Split or the surrounding area on the North or the South circuit, each offering its own pros and cons. A good way is to book a package with a company at home, although many Croatian companies also offer both bareboat and crewed charters.

Booking of a charter vessel is basically done in two parts. Fifty percent of the charter price is paid right away, after which the booking is confirmed. The other fifty percent of the charter fee is usually paid four weeks before the charter date. Before the first payment of the charter fee you should request to see the charter contract from the agency where you chartered a boat. Pay close attention to cancellation fees because many times if you cancel your charter vacation you could lose the initial fifty percent you already paid when you booked a charter so take a close look at that in the charter contract. After that you are set for a sailing vacation.

When you arrive to marina where your chartered yacht is situated you need to do the check in (usually Saturday around 16:00) and you have to do the shopping for the charter vacation. Don't neglect the groceries shopping because the sea is unpredictable and you don't want to get stuck on the boat without anything to eat or drink.

You can do the shopping in a marina (although the prices are much higher there) or you can order from yacht provisioning services who usually deliver the products to your chartered yacht at no extra fee. This is convenient because it takes the load off you and the things you must do when you arrive at the marina for your sailing holiday.

Naturist resorts

Croatia was the first country in Europe to start with the concept of commercial naturist resorts. According to some estimates about 15% of all tourists that visit the country are naturists or nudists (more than one million each year). There are more than 20 official naturist resorts as well as a very large number of the so-called free beaches which are unofficial naturist beaches, sometimes controlled and maintained by local tourist authorities. In fact, you are likely to find nudists on any beach outside of town centres. Naturist beaches in Croatia are marked as "FKK".

The most popular nudist destinations are PulaHvar and island Rab.

Medical tourism

Increasingly Croatia is becoming a popular place for health tourism. A number of dental surgeries have experience in treating short term visitors to Croatia. Croatian dentists study for 5 years in Zagreb or Rijeka. Harmonization of training with EU standards has begun, in preparation for Croatia's accession.

Croatia for the disabled

Facilities for the disabled are not as developed as elsewhere, but there are exceptions to this and certain hotels, camp sites and beaches have facilities for the disabled and wheelchair access.

Lighthouses

One of Croatia's more "wild" holiday offers are the lighthouses. Most of them are situated on a deserted coastline or in the open sea. The speciality of this is that you are able to cut yourself off from the rest of the world and take the time to "smell the roses". Sometimes the best way to relax is to take part in a Robinson Crusoe style holiday.

Croatia has 11 rent-a-lighthouses along the Adriatic coast: Savudrija, Sv. Ivan, Rt Zub, Porer, Veli Rat, Prisnjak, Sv. Petar, Plo?ica, Sušac, Struga and Palagruža.

Buy

Money

Croatia's official currency is the kuna, denoted by the symbol "kn" (ISO code: HRK). Although many tourist business owners may accept euros, they are not legal tender in Croatia. Any amount of kuna you have left at the end of your stay can be converted to euros at a local bank or exchange office.

Prices are around 10% to 20% lower than most other EU countries. Tourist destinations and articles are much more expensive.

ATMs

ATMs (in Croatian bankomat) are readily available throughout Croatia. They will accept various European bank cards, credit cards (Diners Club, Eurocard/MasterCard, Visa, American Express etc.) and debit cards (Cirrus, Maestro, Visa electron etc.). Read the labels/notices on the machine before using.

Tipping

Tipping is not particularly common, although it may occur in restaurants and bars. Prices are usually already adjusted upwards, and labour laws ensure a minimum wage for all workers, therefore tipping is usually not expected.

Taxi drivers and hairdressers are often given tips by rounding up the displayed price to the nearest multiple of 5 or 10 kuna.

A unique practice of tipping exists among the pensioners who receive their pension via mail in rural settlements. They may leave any coinage to the postman who delivers it as a sign of appreciation.

Tax-free shopping

If you buy goods worth more than 740 kuna you are entitled to a PDV (VAT) tax return when leaving the country. Note that this applies to all goods except petroleum products. At point of purchase ask the sales person for a PDV-P form. Fill it out and have it stamped on the spot. On leaving Croatia the receipt will be verified by the Croatian Customs service. A PDV refund in Kunas can be obtained within six months, either at the same shop where you bought the goods (in that case the tax will be refunded to you immediately), or by posting the verified receipt back to the shop, together with the account number into which the refund should be paid. In this case the refund is dealt with within 15 days of receipt of the claim. There is another, much easier way to receive the refund. Buy your goods in shops with a "CROATIA TAX-FREE SHOPPING" label. This label is displayed on the shop's entrance, usually next to the labels of credit and debit cards this particular shop accepts. Using an international coupon, refund is possible in all countries-members of the TAX-FREE international chain. In this case the service charge is deducted from the tax refund amount.

Croatia now uses the Global Blue system. They will do the refund and take a commission. You can do this at the airport or post it once you get home.

Natural cosmetics

The ingredients used (herbs, olive oil, etc.) are grown in Croatia. In comparison to some world famous beauty products, Croatian natural cosmetics present real value for the money.

Ulola manufacturers soaps, bath salts, body butters and more. It's all natural and comes in combinations like: orange and cinnamon, goats milk and almond oil, etc.

S-Atea manufacturers soaps, shower gels, body butter and more. Seaweed, olive oil, rosemary and lavender are some of their main ingredients.

Brac fini sapuni (Brac quality soaps) manufacturers a wide range of natural soaps, the latest addition to their bath line is Aurum Croaticum made from virgin olive oil and thin leafs of 23 carat gold!

Croatian clothing designers

There are many Croatian designers and clothing specialists.

Etnobutik "Mara" (designs by Vesna Milkovi?) offers a range of really unique clothing and accessories inscribed with "glagoljica" (glagolitic script; old Slavic alphabet). Some of her designs are protected as Authentic Croatian produce.

I-gle Fashion Studio by two female designers Nataša Mihalj?išin i Martina Vrdoljak-Ranilovi?. Their clothing is sold in Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge (London).;

Nebo ("Sky") is a fashion house that makes really nice, funky clothes and shoes.

Nit ("Thread") is definitely not widely known even among Croats but is definitely worth visiting as they have some "funky and arty but serious" clothing items that are "value for money".

Borovo is a well-priced and stylish shoe company which makes everything from flip-flops to desert boots and high heels.

Eat

Croatian cuisine is quite diverse so it is hard to say what meal is most typically Croatian. In the eastern continental regions (Slavonija and Baranja) spicy sausage such as kulen or kulenova seka is a must-try. ?obanac ("shepherd's stew") is a mixture of several different kinds of meat with a lot of red spicy paprika. In Hrvatsko Zagorje and Central Croatia pasta filled with cheese called štrukli is a famous delicacy (it is said that the best štrukli in Croatia is served in the Esplanade Hotel restaurant in Zagreb), as is purica s mlincima (baked turkey with a special kind of pastry). Sir i vrhnje (sour cream with cottage cheese) can be bought fresh on the Zagreb main market Dolac. Croats love a bit of oil and you will find plenty of it in piroška. In mountainous regions of Lika and Gorski Kotar meals made of mushrooms, wild berries and wild meat are very popular. One of typical dishes in Lika is police (oven-baked potatoes covered with bacon) and several kinds of cheese (smoked cheese and škripavac).

The coastal region is well known for truffle delicacies and soup maneštra od bobi? (Istria), Dalmatian pršut and paški sir (Pag-island cheese). Dishes made of fresh fish and other products of the sea (calamari, octopus, crabs, scampi) shouldn't be given a miss! Many places serve fish delivered from the local fisherman the night before - find out which ones!

Croatian cuisine has yet to come up with a Croatian fast food representative. The market is dominated by globally ubiquitous hamburgers and pizzas but you will also find "burek" and "?evap?i?i" imported from the medieval Ottoman empire which stretched from Turkey to neighboring Bosnia. The latter two dishes are widely popular in the entire South and Eastern Europe. Burek is a type of cheese-pastry whereas ?evap?i?i are seasoned minced meat shaped in finger-size portions served in bread and often covered with onions. Although definitely not a fast meal (takes several hours to prepare) also foreign in origin is the so-called sarma or sauerkraut rolls filled with minced meat and rice. For those coming back from nightclubs at 4 or 5AM as is common in Croatia, it is popular to go to the local bakery and get fresh bread, burek or krafne (Croatian chocolate filled donuts) straight out of the oven. Delicious! As far as fast food goes, who needs it when you can buy delicious prsut during the day and warm bread at night to compliment it. Most Croatians generally look down at fast food.

Desserts: What it lacks in the fast food department Croatia makes up with a myriad of desserts. Probably the most famous is its delicious creamy cake called kremšnite but different kinds of gibanica, štrudla and pita (similar to strudel and pie) such as orehnja?a (walnut), makovnja?a (poppy) or bu?nica (pumpkin and cheese) are also highly recommended. Dubrova?ka torta od skorupa is delicious but hard to find. Paprenjaci (pepper cookies) are said to reflect the Croatian tumultuous history because they combine the harshness of the war periods (pepper) with the natural beauties (honey). They can be bought in most souvenir shops though fresh-made are always a better choice. Rapska torta (The Rab island cake) is made with almonds and locally famous cherry liquor Maraschino. It should be noted that this is hardly an exhaustive list and even a casual glimpse in any Croatian cookbook is likely to be worth the effort. Chocolate candy "Bajadera" is available throughout shops in the country and along with "Griotte" is one of the most famous products of the Croatian chocolate industry.

An unavoidable ingredient in many meals prepared in Croatia is "Vegeta". It is a spice produced by "Podravka".

Olives: a lot of people claim that Croatian olives and their olive oil are the best in the world, which is not even well known in Croatia and less worldwide. Many brands exist and some of them have several world awards. Try to buy olive oil from Istra (although oil from Dalmatia is also excellent) and choose only Croatian brands for olives (most notable sms, few times awarded as the world's best!). Try to read the declaration before buying to ensure you are buying Croatian olives and oil, since there are a lot of imports (usually cheap products from Greece). All of this can be found in most of the supermarkets, but you should be really aware of the imports, most of the Croatian people aren't experts and prefer cheaper products, so they dominate. The olive oil is an irreplaceable "ingredient" in the coastal cuisine, but you should be aware of the use of cheaper, not Croatian, oil in restaurants because most of the tourists don't notice the difference so the restaurants don't find it profitable to use excellent oil; they rather use cheaper Spanish or Greek. Usually, asking the waiter for a better oil (and looking like an expert) helps, and soon he gets you a first-class oil from a hidden place.

Drink

Alcoholic: Rakija, a type of brandy which can be made of plum (šljivovica), grapes (loza), figs (smokova?a), honey (medica) and many other types of fruit and aromatic herbs, is the main distilled beverage served in Croatia. Pelinkovac is a bitter herbal liquor popular in Central Croatia, but is said to resemble cough-medicine in flavor. Famous Maraschino, a liquer flavored with Marasca cherries, which are grown around Zadar, Dalmatia.

Croatia also produces a broad palette of high quality wines (up to 700 wines with protected geographic origin), beers and mineral water. On the coast people usually serve "bevanda" with meals. Bevanda is heavy, richly flavored red wine mixed with plain water. Its counterpart in northern parts of Croatia is "gemišt". This term designates dry, flavored white wines mixed with mineral water.

Two popular domestic beers are "Karlova?ko" and "Ožujsko", but "Velebitsko" and "Tomislav pivo" have received a semi-cult status in the recent years. It is served only in some places in Zagreb and Croatia. Many well-known European brands (Stella Artois, Beck's, Carling, Heineken and others) are made under license in Croatia.

Non-alcoholic: Mineral water, fruit juices, coffee (espresso, Turkish or instant), tea, Cedevita (instant multivitamin drink), and drinkable yogurt. Sometimes although very rarely you may find "sok od bazge" (elderflower juice) in the continental region. Worth trying! Also, in Istria there is a drink called "pašareta" and it is a sparkling red drink with herbal extracts. Very sweet and refreshing! In some parts of Istria (especially south) in local basements, you can try 'smrikva' - a non alcoholic refreshing drink made out of berries which grow on one sort of pine tree. The taste is a bit sour but very refreshing.

Alcoholic drinks can't be sold or served to anyone under 18, though this rule isn't strictly enforced.

Sleep

In Croatia there are 6 major types of accommodation:

  • Apartments
  • Small private hotels
  • Two- and three-star hotel resorts, for typical mass tourism
  • Five-star luxury hotels
  • Lighthouses
  • Private islands

Learn

European Union citizens have the same status as Croatian citizens when applying to Croatian universities. Full English-language courses in computer science and medicine are available in Zagreb and Split.

Work

Volunteering

Croatia is the destination of many worldwide volunteer organizations that send groups of volunteers throughout the year to help with agriculture, community development, education, animal welfare, and more. These programs are put together by nonprofits, community groups and volunteers to help locals improve their economy and way of life. With rich cultural history and stunning coastline, Croatia is truly is the jewel of eastern Europe. If you would like to travel to Croatia as a volunteer, visit these websites for volunteer programs, accommodations, travel dates, and tours.

  • Essential Croatia
  • ISV Croatia
  • Volunteers Centre Zagreb

Stay safe

During summer make sure you use adequate SPF to protect yourself from sunburn. There are no ozone holes over Croatia but it's fairly easy to burn in the sun. If this happens make sure you get out of the sun, drink plenty of fluids and rehydrate your skin. The locals will often advise covering the burnt spot with cold yogurt bought from the supermarket.

In case of an emergency you can dial 112 - responsible for dispatching all emergency services such as fire departments, police, emergency medical assistance and mountain rescue.

Since the hostilities ended in 1995, there remain an estimated 46.317 landmines in Croatia. However these are not to be found in areas visited by tourists. If you plan to hike consult locals before you go. The mine suspected areas are marked with 13.274 mine warning signs. Although mine are still problem for Croatia, it is highly unlikely you will spot any minefields in Croatia today.

If you find yourself in area that can be potential contaminated with mines, do not stray from marked roads or known safe areas. For further advice refer to Wikivoyage's war zone safety section.

Watch out for bura wind danger signs. The bura can be particularly strong in the Velebit area, where it can blow up to 200 km/h and overturn lorries. However, if the wind is strong enough to pose a significant danger to all traffic on a road section, that section will be closed. During strong bura wind, avoid any activity on the sea. Accidents caused by wind occurs every year and claim tourists lives in Croatia. From sailing accidents to drownings due to high water.

Avoid strip clubs at all costs. They are often run by very shady characters, and often overcharge their guests. Recent cases include foreigners who were charged 2000 euros for a bottle of champagne. These clubs overcharge their customers to the extreme, and their bouncers will not have any mercy if you tell them you can't pay. You will soon find yourself in a local hospital. Using common sense is essential, but due to the nature of the clubs this may be in short supply, and you may be better advised simply to steer well clear of these clubs.

Abuse of LGBT people is possible in Croatia, so travelers should avoid public displays of same-sex affection.

Stay healthy

No vaccinations are required when going to Croatia.

If you're going camping or hiking in continental Croatia during summer, you should be aware of ticks and tick-carrying diseases such as encephalitis and lyme disease. Approximately 3 ticks in 1000 carry the virus.

In Eastern Slavonia (particularly around the Kopa?ki Rit near Osijek) wear long sleeves and take insect repellent.

Tap water in Croatia is perfectly safe, and in some areas considered the best in the world. However, you can still choose from several brands of excellent bottled water (Jamnica being the most popular, and Jana, several times awarded as the world's best bottled water).

Though the water may be some of the best in the world, avoid drinking the home-made wine sold in refilled plastic jugs in many local farmers' markets as it may cause intestinal distress.

Respect

Keep in mind that the 1990s were marked by ethnic conflict and the bloody and brutal war in Croatia is still a painful subject, but generally there should be no problem if you approach that topic with respect. Visitors will find that domestic politics and European affairs are everyday conversation subjects in Croatia.

Visitors should avoid describing Croatia as a Balkan country, as Croats prefer to think of their country as Mediterranean and Central European, and some will take offence at the word "Balkan." Geographically, southern and coastal Croatia is part of the Balkans, while areas north of the Sava and Kupa rivers are not.

Socially, displays of affection among the younger generation are the same as Western European standards, but the older generation (over 65) are still quite conservative.

When driving on rural roads, particularly when a driver has to pull in to allow you to pass, it is customary to wave a thanks to the other driver by raising your hand from the steering wheel.

Most Croats will respond to "thank you" with something along the lines of "It was nothing" or "not at all" which is equivalent to the English "Don't mention it".

Connect

Telephone

Croatia uses the GSM 900/1800 system for mobile phones. There are three providers, T-Mobile (also operates the Bonbon prepaid brand), Vip (also operates the Tomato prepaid brand) and Tele2. Over 98% of the country's area is covered. Since 2006 UMTS (3G) is available as well, and as of 2013 also HSDPA and LTE. If you have an unlocked phone, you can buy a prepaid SIM card for 20 kn. There have been promotions in which SIM cards were given avay for free with newspapers (7 kn) and sometimes even literally handed out on the street. GSM phones bundled with T-Mobile or Vip prepaid SIM cards can be found in post offices, grocery stores and kiosks at varying prices.

An alternative to using a mobile phone is Calling Cards which can be found in postal offices and kiosks, there are two providers, Dencall and Hitme. You can buy cards from 25 kn.

Area Codes: When calling between cities (actually between counties) or from a mobile phone, you must dial specific area codes: (area code)+(phone number)

Zagreb (01) Split (021) Rijeka (051) Dubrovnik (020) Šibenik/Knin (022) Zadar (023) Osijek (031) Vukovar (032) Virovitica (033) Požega (034) Slavonski Brod (035) ?akovec (040) Varaždin (042) Bjelovar (043) Sisak (044) Karlovac (047) Koprivnica (048) Krapina (049) Istria (052) Lika/Senj (053) Mobile phones (091) (092) (095) (097) (098) or (099)

Internet

ADSL is common in Croatia. A 4 Mbit connection with unlimited downloads costs 178 kn (€24) per month via T-Com and just 99 kn with some other providers like Metronet or Iskon. Cable internet is available from B.net with a wide range of speeds and prices.

Internet cafés are available in all major cities. They are relatively cheap and reliable. A free Wi-Fi signal can be found virtually in every city (cafés, restaurants, hotels, some libraries, schools, colleges). Private unsecured networks have become uncommon.

Postal service

Croatia's postal service is generally reliable, even if sometimes a bit slow. Every city and town has a post office. Here you can find their exact locations, and here is the price list (the prices change often).

Television, radio and printed media

HRT, the public television broadcaster, operates four channels, while the commercial networks RTL and Nova TV have two channels each. Foreign films and series are shown with sound in the original language (English, Turkish, German, Italian...) and Croatian subtitles. Only children's programming is dubbed. Many hotels and private apartments have some channels from other European countries (mostly from Germany).

Radio stations that feature English-language pop/rock music are HRT-HR 2, Otvoreni and Totalni. They all have occasional traffic reports, but only HR 2 translates them into English, German and Italian during the summer. Other nationwide stations are HRT-HR 1 (news/features), HRT-HR 3 (mostly classical music), Narodni (Croatian pop) and HKR (Catholic radio).

Newspapers and magazines from Germany, Austria, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, Slovenia, Serbia and other countries are available in Croatia. In Zagreb and the northern coastal areas some foreign newspapers arrive on the cover date, elsewhere they are late.

We’d never heard of Oundle when we agreed to spend five weeks housesitting here; in fact, we didn’t even know how to pronounce its name. A quick Google search revealed that it’s a town of five thousand people, not too far from Peterborough and about 130km north of London; a map search showed it in the middle of nowhere. We imagined long days of work uninterrupted by any events at all except the twice-daily dog walk. We were wrong.

Well, not too wrong. We’ve been able to get into a pretty good work routine, and we do take the dog for a walk twice a day. But we’ve also gone on a surprising amount of excursions and spent a lot of time with people.

Wine and beer

On our second day in town the local wine merchants hosted a tasting of South African wines, which we attended with pleasure, and a week later our friendly neighbours Jules and Dan took us to a beer festival in a town called Old. We’ve also walked to the villages of Cotterstock, Ashton and Glapthorn as well as visiting the city of Stamford for an afternoon.

Craig on a bridge in Stamford UK.Craig on a bridge in Stamford.

A highlight of our first week was the guided walking tour we went on, which was run by the local library and guided by a woman called Barbara Matthews. She gave us a historical overview of the town and left us in the centre, where the weekly market was taking place, and where we bought some delicious cheese.

Free walking tour of Oundle UKWe really enjoyed our walking tour of Oundle.

A visitor!

The homeowner, Fiona, had kindly said that we could have guests if we liked, so Janine took advantage of that permission and came to visit for a few days. She was studying for a sailing course in Croatia and Craig and I were both working, so it wasn’t the most exciting of visits, but it was still great to see her.

That weekend I headed south to attend BlogStock, a festival for bloggers that was held in Aldenham Country Park, near London. Craig had suggested I go but it was all looking too difficult until our friend Helen said I could share her tent and agreed to pick me up from Northampton. Two days outside during a chilly autumn weekend left me cold for days afterwards, but I really enjoyed the event. It was great to spend time with Helen and other friends like Dylan, Paul, and Terry and Sarah, as well as meet some bloggers I’d known for ages but just never coincided with, like Julie, Samuel, and Audrey.

Blogstock festival near London UKThe BlogStock festival was cold but fun.

Homebodies

We’d been spending a fair amount of time in the local library and a cafe in the centre of town because the Internet at home was sporadic at best. During our third week in Oundle, though, school started up again and we’ve noticed a significant improvement in speed and latency, so we’ve been at home a lot more. In the evenings we’ve been enjoying Netflix, we’re wondering how much more of The Good Wife we can get though before we leave.

What’s next?

We’ve still got two more weeks here in Oundle, then we’ll be in London for a day before flying to… Moldova! We are ridiculously excited about this, we’ve been planning to go to their annual wine festival for about eight years and it’s finally happening. If you have any advice for what we should do while we’re there, let us know!

Hear about travel to Croatia as the Amateur Traveler talks to Jay Ternavan of JaywayTravel.com about this country on the coast of the Adriatic.

Jay says, "for me Croatia has everything you could look for in a travel experience"

Kate at the Pyramid, Tirana Albania

The Balkans are my favorite region in the world. I’ve now visited four summers in a row: Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro in 2012; Macedonia and Kosovo in 2013, Croatia and Slovenia in 2014; and finally Albania, Montenegro, and Serbia in 2015.

Oh, Albania. This country is probably the most interesting place I visited in 2015. And Albania is chock full of my favorite things about the Balkans: astounding natural beauty, a less-developed tourism infrastructure with fewer foreigners, rich UNESCO World Heritage Sites, cheap prices, beautiful mountains, cafe culture, and a wacky capital city.

Tirana was my final destination in Albania, and I wasn’t quite as excited for it as I was for Saranda and the Riviera. But that quickly faded away when I realized what a cool place Tirana was! I wouldn’t quite call Tirana the weirdest city in the region — that honor belongs to Skopje — but I’ll gladly award it second place.

Laundry Tirana Albania

I arrived in Tirana from Berat on an aged bus that seemed to be held together with duct tape and prayers. Dropped off on a random street corner, I hopped into a cab with a driver who spoke about as much English as I spoke Albanian. We communicated entirely in Italian, him pointing out the landmarks as we entered the tree-lined streets of Blloku.

My heart began to beat fast. I had never seen a city like this before — elegant and riotous, drab and rainbow.

Tirana Albania

A City in Color

Like many Eastern European cities, Tirana is filled with ugly Communist-era architecture. These buildings are usually eyesores, and while many cities have charming old towns, central Tirana is instead full of cement block structures.

Unlike other Eastern European cities, though, you’ll find several of these buildings awash in color. Mayor Edi Rama, who was elected in 2000, began a campaign to bring color to Tirana. Some of the buildings have stripes across them; others are painted bright contrasting colors.

Rama did a TEDx talk about campaign to fill Tirana with color. You can view it here.

Yellow Building Tirana AlbaniaTirana AlbaniaTirana Albania

For the Love of Blloku

More than anything, it was Tirana’s ritziest neighborhood, Blloku, that made me fall in love with the city.

I walked around, whispering to myself, This is Tirana?! Not what I had pictured at all. It looked so…fancy.

Tirana AlbaniaTirana AlbaniaTirana AlbaniaLake Tirana Albania

For about 40 years, Blloku was restricted to the political elite of Albania. Ordinary people were not allowed in. When communism fell in 1991, Blloku began its transformation into a neighborhood for all.

Blloku is where you’ll find the fanciest bars, restaurants, and cafes in Tirana. And those CAFES! They’re piled on top of each other!

You might recall that Albanian food was very hit or miss for me, so I indulged in international food here, especially Italian food. A three-course meal with wine will set you back around $12!

Pyramid Tirana Albania

Climbing the Pyramid

In the middle of Tirana sits an enormous derelict pyramid. It was originally constructed in 1988 as a museum to honor dictator Enver Hoxha; by 1991, it had become a conference center, then it became a NATO command center during the war in Kosovo.

Today, it’s mostly abandoned, looking like something out of a horror movie.

And it begs to be climbed.

Pyramid Tirana Albania

So I did just that.

Pyramid Tirana AlbaniaView from the Pyramid Tirana AlbaniaPyramid Tirana AlbaniaKate at the Pyramid, Tirana Albania

I think climbing the pyramid was my favorite experience in Tirana! More than anything, it represented the city’s beauty and weird factor.

Kids Pyramid Tirana Albania

Local kids climbed and slid, climbed and slid. (My friend Erisa, a Tirana native, later told me that she used to do this as a kid as well, sliding down on cardboard!)

If you’re interested in climbing the pyramid, I have some advice:

1. Be okay with making a fool of yourself. Locals see this as an activity for kids; only occasional tourists join in.

2. Wear decent shoes. I wore flip flops and was sweating so much my feet kept sliding out of them as I neared the top.

3. Wear sunscreen. There is no protection from the sun up there.

4. Prepare to slide down on your butt. Unlike the kids, it took me about 15 minutes. I could have torn up my shorts if I hadn’t been so careful.

Tirana a href=

Sunset Cocktails

In most places I visit, I like to climb a tall building to look over the landscape. One of the tallest building in Tirana, the Sky Tower, is home to the Panoramic Bar and Restaurant on top.

I’ll let the sunset views speak for themselves.

Tirana AlbaniaTirana a href=

I had a glass of prosecco, of course. You all know why! The cost? 350 lek. That’s a mere $2.83.

I so love this country.

Tirana Albania

Shopping Galore

I’m usually not much of a shopper, but I went absolutely crazy in Albania. First of all, everything was so cute and cheap and funky. Secondly, I was about to attend a music festival for the first time ever and had NOTHING TO WEAR.

Balkan women tend to be very thin, so keep that in mind while shopping. Sizes above 10 more or less do not exist, and sometimes you’ll struggle to find anything larger than an 8.

Some of the items I bought included:

Kate at Sea Dance

How festival-y is this outfit? I basically lived in this at Sea Dance in Montenegro.

Kate in Castanea, Sicily

This dress, worn in Sicily, is now referred to as my Albania Dress. It works just as well with leggings, boots, and a blazer as it does with flip-flops.

Kate at Albanian Victoria's Secret

This I definitely did not buy — a business shirt attached to a lacy thong! (I thought this was hilarious. It was one of the most popular photos I shared on Facebook all summer.)

But seriously, the Albanian version of Victoria’s Secret is insane. It’s basically all of the brightest, wildest, trashiest lingerie that they couldn’t sell elsewhere. I had to buy myself a crazy bra — a melange of neon purple satin and black lace, with the power to push your boobs up into the stratosphere.

Best souvenir ever.

Lake Tirana Albania

Endless Quirks

It seemed like everywhere I turned in Tirana, I would find something that made me smile.

Bunker Tirana Albania

There was a bunker on display in central Blloku. (There are thousands of these spaceship-like structures dotting the Albanian countryside.) Behind it is a chunk of the Berlin Wall.

Red Bull Ice Cream Tirana Albania

Red Bull-flavored ice cream. Be still, my heart.

Rottweiler Dog in Tirana Albania

A Rottweiler roughly the size of a horse.

Tirana Opera House Flag

And, of course, the blood-red Albanian flag proudly displayed everywhere.

Tirana a href=

The Takeaway

I really want to return to Tirana! Albania is such a cool emerging country, and still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.

While at the rooftop bar, I chatted with a few Swiss girls who were in Tirana for their second trip. Like me, they had come on a whim and had been unexpectedly blown away. I feel that other frequent travelers would feel the same way.

When I return, one other aspect of Tirana that I want to explore more is the nightlife. I only saw a tiny part of the scene, and I can tell there is a lot more to discover.

Essential Info: I stayed at Propaganda Hostel, which is ideally located in the Blloku neighborhood. I had a private ensuite room for 25 euros ($28) per night. (Some places in Albania charge in euros instead of lek, but you can usually pay in lek.) This was a terrific hostel and I recommend it, especially for its location. That weird Victoria’s Secret is on the block.

For shopping, I recommend perusing the streets of Blloku and the TEG mall just outside the city. (Take a cab from anywhere or a bus from the Skanderbeg Square, the central square in Tirana.)

Tirana is one of few world capitals without a central bus station. Plan on getting dropped off on a random street corner and grabbing a cab! If departing by bus, ask your accommodation where and when to get a bus to your next destination.

If you’re coming to or from Montenegro, I highly recommend the Montenegro Hostel shuttle which runs back and forth between Tirana and Kotor, Budva, and Podgorica. It cost me 40 euros ($45) for a one-way ride to Budva and took five hours. It was a comfortable, air-conditioned journey and I highly recommend it, as the alternative is taking several public buses of dubious quality. They also stop for a photo op at beautiful Sveti Stefan.

What’s your favorite weird city?The Funk Factor of Tirana, Albania

Laptop in Malta

There’s a question that I’ve been asked more and more often lately:

“There are so many travel blogs out there today. If I start, I’m going to be so far behind. Do I have any chance of making it a career? Is it even possible?”

A lot of people would say no — but I disagree.

I think now is actually a good time to start a travel blog. There’s more money to be had in the industry. Blogs and personalities become popular much faster. New social networks becoming progressively more prominent. In short, you’re open to a lot of opportunities that I didn’t have.

 

RELATED: How to Start a Travel Blog The Right Way

 

Here are a few tips from 2016 that did not apply to the space until fairly recently.

Chiang Mai Travel Bloggers

Know you don’t have to be the biggest travel blogger of all.

Just a few years ago, only the top tier of bloggers were making a full-time living from their blog, and only a few were making enough money to live anywhere more expensive than Southeast Asia.

That has changed. More people are making decent livings. You still see plenty of bloggers living in Southeast Asia, but an increasing number are living in pricey cities in North America and Europe.

A lot of new bloggers start with the goal of being one of the biggest travel bloggers of all. (Quite frankly, that was my motivation in the early days.) If you do that, you’re going to be chasing it forever. But if you don’t let fame motivate you — if you instead want to have a quality working career — you can absolutely make it happen.

Think of it this way: every TV actor dreams of having Viola Davis or Kerry Washington’s career, headlining a popular Thursday night drama. But you could also be a working actor appearing in small guest roles on everything from Law & Order to Brooklyn Nine-Nine to random commercials and the latest Judd Apatow flick, the kind of person where people say, “I know that face! What’s she been in?”

Those actors still make money from their craft. Many of them have a pretty good work/life balance as well. That’s something to keep in mind.

Kate Quaker Oats Murder

That said — most of the big names have slowed down their travels.

There was a time when the people behind the biggest travel blogs were on the road at least 80% of the time. That’s not the case anymore. We’re very tired.

I’m not going to name names because some people are keeping it quieter than others, but a great many popular travel bloggers have chosen to get year-round apartments with leases and travel far less often. (Most of you know that I am one of these bloggers, having moved to New York seven weeks ago.)

That means that if you have the opportunity to travel long-term, you’re going to be doing so in a way that not a lot of others are doing at the moment. That’s especially good for real-time platforms like Snapchat. More on Snapchat below.

Kate in Albania

Niche is good; personality plus specialty is better.

Niche is always a big discussion — people always talk about how important it is to HAVE A NICHE. You need to open that proverbial fly-fishing blog!

But in this day and age, I see it differently. I think the most important thing is to have a well-developed voice and personality along with a few specialties on which you can become an expert.

Alex in Wanderland, for example, has a specialty in diving.

Young Adventuress has a specialty in New Zealand travel.

Flora the Explorer has a specialty in sustainable volunteering.

These specialties are not the only subjects that these bloggers write about, so I wouldn’t go so far as to call them their niches. But they are areas that differentiate them and give them expertise and credibility. If I needed help with any of those subjects, I would go to their sites in a heartbeat. (Also, it’s worth adding that Liz didn’t even visit New Zealand until she had already been blogging, so yes, it is possible to develop a specialty on the road!)

This is especially important for all the women trying to differentiate themselves as a solo female travel blogger. There are a million of you now, ladies. Work on diversifying.

The most difficult part is developing your voice and personality, and that can only be done by writing, writing, writing.

Smartphone Challenge

Social media is more important than ever.

We’ve entered a time where social media can often eclipse the value of your blog. That was never the case early in my blogging years, but I’m seeing it more and more today, especially with Instagram.

At this point in time, Instagram is by far the most important social network. It’s widely consumed by “real people,” it’s prioritized by brands (translation: this is where the money is), and it allows you to show your strengths. A company may be more interested in advertising on Instagram than anywhere on your blog.

But this means you’re going to throw a lot of time and effort into creating a beautiful, engaging Instagram profile.

Snapchat is another big network on which I recommend getting started. It’s huge among “real people” and it’s still early enough that you can be an early adopter, like me.

Another place that can become a game-changer is Pinterest. Pinterest now regularly drives traffic to lots of my pages that don’t necessarily do well in search.

Other social networks are important. Some people swear by Facebook (and I do quite a bit with it); others live and die by Twitter. And by all means, yes, work on growing your Facebook audience in particular. But if I were you, I’d throw your time and resources into focusing on Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

Kate and Brenna in Koh Lanta

The time to get into video is now. Or yesterday.

Video is projected to grow more and more — a year and a half ago, Mark Zuckerberg said that he expected video to be the dominant content on Facebook within five years. I’ve said before that not doing enough on YouTube keeps me up at night. I just feel like I haven’t had to learn all the skills.

There is plenty of room to grow on YouTube — I’d argue that you can grow faster and far more effectively as a travel YouTuber than as a travel blogger. The time is definitely now.

FYI — Travel Blog Success is having a sale on their videography course this week. It’s 35% off. See below for more.

I actually bought the course last year but I need to make creating better videos a priority for this summer.

Angkor Wat at Dawn

I still mean it — get out of Southeast Asia.

This is one of the most controversial pieces of advice I’ve given, and I stand by it. Southeast Asia is tremendously oversaturated in the travel blogosphere at this point in time.

Is it possible to focus on Southeast Asia and still become a prominent travel blogger? Of course it is. You can stand out if you consistently create genuinely original content.

But most people who spend time in Southeast Asia don’t do that. They write “this is what it’s like to cruise Halong Bay” and “here are photos from my day at Angkor Wat” and “the best things to do in Ubud are these” and “this is how awesome Koh Lanta is.”

It’s good stuff, sure, and it will be useful to your readers who aren’t familiar with those destinations, but posts like those will not allow you to gain traction as a travel blogger. Major influencers will not be sharing these posts because they’ve been seen a thousand times before.

If you want to spend extended time in a cheap region, consider parts of Mexico and Central America (inland Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, inland Nicaragua), parts of South America (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia), parts of Central and Eastern Europe (Balkans excluding Croatia and Slovenia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, former USSR), and/or parts of South Asia (India, Nepal, Sri Lanka).

Because while plenty of people have written about those destinations, they are nowhere near the saturation level of Southeast Asia.

Bloghouse Mentors: Kate, Lisa, Cailin, Mike, Steph

Travel Blog Success Will Help You Grow Fast, Well, and Efficiently.

I push Travel Blog Success because it’s the best product out there. Why?

  1. The course will teach you so much at a fast rate. If you read the materials and put the work in, you won’t make the mistakes that the majority of bloggers make.
  2. The course comes with discounts and perks. Savings on premium plugins, hosting, design products, conference tickets, and more.
  3. The Facebook community is the best travel blogging group on the web. Forget the giant groups on Facebook — the private Travel Blog Success group is the only place where I give out advice to bloggers publicly, and lots of other experts do, too.

And yes, I earn an affiliate commission if you purchase through that link. 26% on the main course, 15% on the others. But I only link to products that I actually use, like, and recommend. Always have, always will.

What do I always tell people? Wait until the course on sale. Because even though that means I’ll be making a much smaller commission, I’d still rather have you get the maximum discount.

Well, it’s on sale now. 35% off all courses. And since I last wrote about it, more courses have been added in addition to the main Travel Blog Success course:

  • Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards — A course on getting partnerships, both comped and paid
  • Bloggers to Bylines — A course on becoming a freelance travel writer.
  • Videography for Travel Bloggers — A course on becoming a travel videographer or YouTuber.

The sale ends Friday, March 25, 2016, at 11:00 PM ET.

San Juan del Sur Sunset

Because yes: It’s still possible to make it if you start today.

I know some people will disagree with me, but I think that in many ways, it’s a lot easier to get started now than it was when I did in 2010. The market may be crowded, but there is always — always — room for excellent content.

And whether you’re watching a brilliant sunset on a beach in Nicaragua or sitting on your purple couch in your Harlem apartment (which I may be as I write this), the life of a travel blogger is incredibly rewarding. Each day, I feel so grateful that this is what I do for a living.

Note: the links to Travel Blog Success are affiliate links. I only use affiliate links on products that I actually use, like, and recommend. This course is worth every penny and then some!I think now is actually a good time to start a travel blog. There's more money to be had in the industry. Blogs and personalities become popular much faster. New social networks becoming progressively more prominent. In short, you're open to a lot of opportunities that I didn't have.

HERE ARE 35 places around the world to strap on your GoPro, do some underwater exploring, and come back with amazingly clear imagery.

1

Linapacan Island, Palawan, Philippines

MatadorU Photography faculty member Scott Sporleder shares this image from Palawan, the Philippines' most remote province and home to many beaches with super clear water.Photo: Scott Sporleder

2

The Maldives

The 26 atolls that make up the Maldives sit in the Indian Ocean about 400km southwest of the tip of the subcontinent. Abundant reef wildlife (including whale sharks) + incredibly clear waters bring in a lot of tourists. It's also one of Matador's 9 places to experience now before they literally vanish.Photo: Rishwan (Richy)

3

Dog Island, San Blas, Panama

Another from Scott Sporleder, here is a shot from one of Panama's San Blas Islands, the largest of the politically autonomous reservations of the Kuna Indians.Photo: Scott Sporleder

Intermission 181

35 places to swim in the world’s clearest water

by Hal Amen

25 places we’re dying to explore right now

by Matador Team
35

How to: Independently trek Nepal’s Annapurna sanctuary

by Matt Huntington
4

Cayo Coco, Cuba

A resort island on Cuba's north coast, Cayo Coco is linked to the mainland by a 27km causeway. The adjacent reef and clear waters have earned international recognition as a dive destination.Photo: O.Taillon

5

Cala Macarelleta, Menorca, Spain

At the south end of the Mediterranean island of Menorca, the beach at Cala Macarelleta can only be reached on foot or by boat -- probably one of the least-crowded beaches you'll find in Spain.Photo: visualpanic

6

Sua Trench, Samoa

We sent MatadorU student Abhimanyu Sabnis on a photojournalism assignment to Samoa. He came back with this insane gallery.Photo: Abhimanyu Sabnis

7

Crater Lake, Oregon

Visibility in Crater Lake has been measured at 43.3m -- among the highest in the world. Photographer Rhett Lawrence adds this note about swimming here: "[It's] allowed, but there's only one access point down to the lake -- a steep, mile-long trail (it's easy enough on the way down, but my then-4-year-old daughter did not appreciate the climb back up). Since that's the only access point, you've got to really want to jump in the lake to do it -- especially since it's so damn cold -- but it is permitted by the Park Service."Photo: Grant Montgomery

8

Bak Bak Beach, Borneo

A shot from the northern tip of Sabah, Malaysia, near Kudat Town. From the photographer: "It takes 3 to 3 1/2 hours' drive from Kota Kinabalu city. I wanted to shoot a longer exposure but I had a difficulty judging the light or maybe because I was lazy ? kidding. I had to go further the beach, thigh deep and very clear water. Stacked 2 Cokin GND filter P121s, manual exposure 0.25sec, F13."Photo: Nora Carol

9

Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan, China

In the north of Sichuan province, the Jiuzhaigou Valley is a national park, nature reserve, and UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to several crystal-clear lakes, it's a region of multi-tiered waterfalls and snowy mountains. Tourism arrived late but is growing strong, and while swimming isn't allowed...there's always night-time skinny dipping.Photo: Who is taking pictures?

Intermission 445

10 volunteer opportunities for free travel

by Matt Scott
10

Your top 20 bucket list trips

by Joshywashington
2

Banff and Lake Louise might be the most gorgeous places to ski on the planet. Here’s proof.

by Ailsa Ross
10

Sabah, Malaysia

Another one from the remote Malaysian state, which covers the northern portion of Borneo and is ringed by reef-rich islands. This photo was taken near Semporna, which is a hub for people who come to dive Malaysian Borneo.Photo: Zahriel

11

Jenny Lake, Wyoming

Jenny Lake sits right below the peak of Grand Teton and is a landmark for many hiking trails, backcountry trails, and climbing routes. Despite the fact that motorboats are allowed on the lake, its waters are still considered "pristine."Photo: Jeff Clow

12

Rio Sucuri, Brazil

Located in the Pantanal region of Brazil, Rio Sucuri is a spring-fed river that has some of the measurably clearest water on Earth. Multiple tour outfits run trips that let you snorkel the river.Photo: Luiz Felipe Sahd

13

Calanque de Sormiou, France

Calanques are steep-walled coves, and there's a series of them along the 20km stretch of coast between Marseille and Cassis. Sormiou is one of the largest of these, and it's popular for its nearby climbing routes as well as its beach.Photo: Paspog

14

Panari Island, Okinawa, Japan

Panari, also called Aragusuku, is one of the Yaeyama Islands, the most remote area of Japan. The photographer notes: "The islands are also known as one of the world's best diving destinations, having a number of coral species and marine lives as large as those in the Great Barrier Reef. (Over 400 types of corals, 5 types of sea turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and all kinds of tropical fish species all live around Okinawa.)"Photo: ippei + janine

15

Puerto Ayora, Galapagos

The most populous town in the Galapagos still sits right up next to some amazingly clear ocean water. Even here in Academy Bay, you can see pelicans, iguanas, sea lions, herons, rays, and other iconic wildlife.Photo: Bill Bouton

Intermission 1K+

20 awesomely untranslatable words from around the world

by Jason Wire
3

9 places to visit before they change forever

by Morgane Croissant
4

20 charming illustrations of Christmas traditions from around the world

by Ailsa Ross
16

Lake Tahoe, Nevada

The photo above was taken in the Bonsai Rock area, on the east shore of the lake, which apparently flies under the radar. Says the photographer: "30 years in Tahoe, and until this winter I'd never heard of it."Photo: SteveD.

17

Cayos Cochinos, Honduras

Rounding out the Sporleder collection, this one comes from the central Caribbean coast of Honduras. For more images, check out the full photo essay.Photo: Scott Sporleder

18

Primosten, Croatia

On the Adriatic Coast north of SplitPrimosten is most famous for its vineyards, in addition to beaches that have been voted the best in the country.Photo: Mike Le Gray Photography. See more at his website.

19

St. George, Bermuda

The oldest continuously inhabited English settlement in the New World features many historic forts, like the small Gates Fort pictured above. Also: some damn clear water.Photo: JoshuaDavisPhotography

20

Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

Visit on a weekend during high season and you'll be surrounded by busloads. If you can get it on a slow day with clear conditions, though, it's some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii.Photo: ThomasOfNorway

21

Pupu Springs, New Zealand

At the very top of the South Island, on Golden Bay, the photographer says: "14000 liters of crystal clear water comes out of these springs per second!"Photo: pie4dan

22

Calanque d'En-Vau, France

Another calanque on the southern coast of France, d'En-Vau has a narrower, steeper channel than Sormiou, giving a real feeling of seclusion and emphasizing the clarity of the water in this cove.Photo: afer92 (on and off)

23

Rio Azul, Argentina

Put in to the Confluence section of the Rio Azul near El Bolsón, Patagonia, Argentina. Matador Senior Editor David Miller notes, "This was the first river I've ever paddled, played, and swam in where the water was clean enough to drink. The entire Rio Azul watershed is born in the glaciers and snowfields of the Andes and the water is incredibly clear and pure."Photo: David Miller

24

Corfu, Greece

Corfu sits in the Ionian Sea, off the northwest coast of Greece. Prior to the 1900s, most of the tourists that visited were European royalty. Today, its clear waters draw a lot of package-tour-style action.Photo: smlp.co.uk

25

Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Matador Co-Founder Ross Borden visited the Cook Islands for a week and came back with images and video of epicly clear water.Photo: Ross Borden

26

Koh Phi Phi Don, Thailand

Made famous when its smaller neighbor, Koh Phi Phi Leh, was used as the filming location for The Beach, the main island sees a lot of traffic from both backpackers and luxury travelers these days. Water like this is a big part of the draw.Photo: mynameisharsha

27

Playa Blanca, Colombia

This is a 45-minute boat ride from Cartagena and well worth the trip. In between swims in that crystal-clear blue water, be sure to snag some fresh ceviche from one of the vendors walking up and down the beach.Photo: Ross Borden

28

Blue Lake, New Zealand

One of many bodies of water in this list that someone or other has claimed has the clearest water in the world, Blue Lake is located in Nelson Lakes National Park, in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.Photo: Kathrin & Stefan

29

Königssee, Germany?

This one's made the rounds on the internet, but no one really seems to know where it was taken, or by whom. The best guess I found was the Königssee, a lake in southern Bavaria, near the border with Austria. If you have any info, clue us in.Photo: ??

30

Valle Verzasca, Switzerland

The clear waters of the Verzasca River run for 30km through this rocky valley in southern Switzerland. A dam of the same name, featured in the James Bond movie GoldenEye, blocks the river's flow and forms Lago di Vogorno. Just downstream from it, the river empties into Lake Maggiore.Photo: http://i.imgur.com/ukgxS.jpg

31

Tioman Island, Malaysia

This photo comes from the town of Kampung Genting on Tioman Island, off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. Away from its beaches, there's significant rainforest terrain in the interior, where you can see the endemic soft-shelled turtle and the Tioman walking catfish.Photo: Chang'r

32

Belo Sur Mer, Madagascar

Ross Borden explains: "I started in Moronvada, on the west coast of Madagascar and hired a boat and driver to take me down the coast to Belo Sur Mer, a super-isolated section of coastline known for diving, fishing and the fact that almost no one makes the trip down there. Belo Sur Mer is amazing on its own, but when the owner of the eco-lodge there told me about a string of uninhabited islands 80km off the coast, we jumped back in the boat and pointed it west, towards Mozambique and mainland Africa. What we found was four uninhabited gorgeous islands and one that had a tribe of "sea gypsies" living on it. These fascinating and hospitable people live off the rich fishing stocks of the Mozambique channel. We camped and lived with them for two days and they even took me along on an all-night fishing expedition in one of their sailboats in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It was one of the most amazing travel experiences of my life. During the day I would go snorkeling. Shoving off these tiny islands the water gets several hundreds of feet deep very quickly; I was out there with massive schools of deep ocean fish."Photo: Ross Borden

33

Lake Marjorie, California

From the photographer: "Lakes in the High Sierra come in a number of colors. Lake Marjorie, at 11,132' has an aquamarine "swimming pool" tint. Crater Mountain dominates the skyline, with Pinchot Pass to the south. I was happy to see clouds at dawn, but by noon a fast moving storm was spitting hail, thunder, and lightning as we cleared Mather Pass. Damn, this spot is gorgeous."Photo: SteveD.

34

Bodrum, Turkey

Along the southern coast of the peninsula of the same name, Bodrum has an ancient history and was the site of one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World (the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus). It also has some amazingly clear water. From the photographer: "[It's] so clear at certain places that boats appear to be floating in mid-air! It reminded me of Luke's Landspeeder from Star Wars."Photo: Oky - Space Ranger

35

Mystery spot

Another unidentified location. Anyone have an idea?Photo: Imgur

Photo: The Digital Way

Travelers often opt for the same paths of Europe; France, Spain, and Italy. If you’re looking for an great nightlife, quieter beaches and dramatic scenery combined with fascinating history, arts and culture, Eastern Europe has it all. Travelsupermarket has put together an infographic of 5 road trips around the region. We’ve selected 3 of the routes here to inspire you.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

Vienna – Vienna

Vienna — Ljubljana — Zagreb — Budapest — Krakow — Wroclaw — Prague — Vienna

Total days: 12 Distance: 2,370 KM Best time to go: From May to September

Highlights

  • Explore the Sigmund Fraud Museum in Vienna
  • Enjoy the scenery around Lake Blend
  • Visit Museum of Broken Relationships Zagreb
  • Relax in Budapest’s thermal baths
  • Step back in time at the 900-year-old Spis Castle
  • Taste Vodka in Kazimierz at night
  • Fish in the Labska Dam in the Kroknose Moutain Range
  • Tour the prestigious wineries of Krasna Hora

Vienna, Austria

 AlbertinaVienna, AustriaMuseum browsing with my favourites, from Picasso to Monet

Ljubljana, Slovenia

 Kavarna TromostovjeLjubljana, Slovenia#coffee

Zagreb, Croatia

 Hostel Swanky MintZagreb, CroatiaBest hostel in Zagreb! Fabulous place to meet people. Happy hour at the sweet bar downstairs is fairly lively every night. Superb breakfast and well-designed hostel. So clean with friendly staff! Would most definitely stay here again as I wish I could have stayed longer before. #hostels #zagreb #croatia #food #casual #free-wifi

Budapest, Hungary

 Castle HillBudapest, HungaryBudapest’s Castle Hill is a traveler’s dream, an architectural mecca, a cultural hub. It’s truly a one-stop-shop that perfectly bundles up the city’s historical essence into one lovely stroll. Start at the Buda Castle and enter from its less-visited southern side. Walk its historical grounds and soak in the city views before sauntering towards Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion, where the ‘ooh’s’ and ‘ahh’s’ won’t stop. Polish your promenade off with a loop around the residential area for even more expansive views into the Buda side of the city. #budapest #europe #travel #history #architecture #churches #viewpoints #free

Kraków, Poland

 plac NowyKraków, PolandIt’s nighttime, you’re hungry, you’re in Kraków. Remedy: street food at plac Nowy. This area will be buzzing with young energy, each patron attempting to satisfy the same late-night craving. The zapiekanka is its best seller: a long toasted baguette topped with mushrooms, cheese, sauce, and your choice of meats or other veggies. Nearly all the stands feature the famous snack, so pick the longest line (the locals know best) and enjoy. #krakow #poland #streetfood #kazimierz #food #travel #casual #cheap-eats #europe

Prague, Czech Republic

 John Lennon WallPrague, Czech RepublicIf you’re looking to leave your “tag” in Prague, the John Lennon wall is probably the best place to do it. The mural-turned-graffiti wall is a gorgeous site to see and makes for some really great selfies too. Wear black to stand out.

PolandEstonia

Warsaw — Krutynia River — Vilnius — Riga — Parnu — Tallinn

Total days: 8 Distance: 1,130 KM Best time to go: From May to July

Highlights

  • Taste traditional Polish food in Warsaw’s Old Town
  • Kayak down the Krutynua River
  • Experience interrogration by retired KGB agents in Vilnius
  • Enjoy traditional drinks and Lativian folk music in Riga
  • Take a romantic stroll along the Sea Wall at Parnu
  • Sing Estonian songs with a choir of 30,000 in Tallinn

Warsaw, Poland

 Supreme Court of PolandWarszawa, PolandSurprise photo opportunity

Olsztyn, Poland

 Marii Curie-SkłodowskiejOlsztyn, Poland#narrowstreet #walk #architecture #history

Vilnius, Lithuania

 Gediminas TowerVilnius, LithuaniaFantastic views, especially at sunset, from the hill above Cathedral Square in Vilnius old town. You can pay to go up the tower when it’s open, but the hilltop is free. The views reward the steep walk up there.

Riga, Lativa

 Āgenskalns free tour RigaRīga, Latvia#free #walkingtour An inspiring walk through the non-touristic areas of Riga with a local guide. Awesome

Soomaa National Park, Parnu, Estonia

 Soomaa.comPärnu maakond, EstoniaCanoe trips on the rivers of Soomaa National Park #estonia #canoe #canoeing #soomaa #kayaking #kayak

Tallinn, Estonia

 Kadriorg PalaceTallinn, EstoniaNice museum in a beautiful palace. Good collection

Old town Tallinn, Estonia

 Von Krahli AedTallinn, EstoniaA beautiful, cosy restaurant in the heart of old town Tallinn. Amazing fresh, local ingredients. Artful and quirky preparations of traditional Estonian fare. This was one of the best meals we had during our year of travel. #fine-dining #food

MontenegroSlovenia

Bay of Kotor —  Dubrovnik — Split — Zadar — Ljubljana

Total days: 7 Distance: 820 KM Best time to go: From May to August

Highlights

  • Relax beside the idyllic Bay of Kotor in Montenegro
  • Enjoy incredible views from Dubrovnik’s City Walls
  • Swim in the Adriatic Sea at Bacvice Beach in Split
  • Explore the waterfalls in Krka National Park
  • Listen to the waves play the Sea Organ at Zadar
  • See a concert in Ljubljana

Kotor, Montenegro

 Kampana TowerKotor, Montenegro#hiking

Dubrovnik, Croatia

 Dubrovnik City WallsDubrovnik, CroatiaAmazing view of Dubrovnik from the city walls

Split, Croatia

 Park Šuma MarjanSplit, CroatiaFor a breathtaking panorama of Split and the neighboring islands, as well as inland mountain ranges, make the trek up Marjan. A mere ten minutes gets you to your first viewpoint, but keep going. This park is a forest and trail-filled peninsula with ruins, vistas, and beaches, and with nearly no crowds. You could easily spend hours meandering, so bring a snack and make a morning or afternoon out of it! #hiking #croatia #split #sea #europe

Ljubljana, Slovenia

 Kavarna TromostovjeLjubljana, Slovenia#coffee

Ljubljana, Slovenia

 Koseze PondLjubljana, SloveniaAmazing sunset over Koseze pond in Ljubljana, Slovenia. #ljubljana #slovenia #adventureslovenia

[Daily Dispatch] The world’s longest direct flight and the language capital of the world

Photo: Ivan Wong Rodenas

Get yourself a neck pillow, this is going to be a long flight.

Starting in March 2018, Australian airline Qantas will be flying direct from London, England to Perth, Australia. The journey is expected to take around 17 hours in the 787-9 Dreamliner. [World Economic Forum]

News from the borders.

US travelers may soon need visas to travel to Europe.

On March 2nd, the European Parliament voted a resolution that would refuse US citizens visa-free access to the EU within two months. This move from the European Parliament is in response to American visa rules denying citizens from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania visa-free access to the US, while American citizens can travel to these countries without a visa. Because of its reciprocity policy, the EU Commission had to suspend the visa waiver for US nationals; however, the move could be seen as a diplomatic faux pas. [Forbes]

Immigrants crossing illegally from the US to Canada are safe.

This winter, hundreds of people have defied extreme winter conditions and walked across the Canadian border to flee Donald Trump’s planned immigration clampdown. Despite the unusual flow of asylum seeker crossing illegally from the US into Canada, Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said that Canada will not tighten its border to deter migrants. When Donald Trump, signed the travel ban in January, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded with the tweet below and sent a message of hope to all of those seeking a better future, wherever they may be. [Reuters]

To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) 28 janvier 2017

The language capital of the world: Queens, NY.

According to the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA), There are 800 languages spoken in New York City, but Queens, one of the five boroughs of NYC, is the capital language of the world. Below is a map of the linguistic diversity of the area. [World Economic Forum]

Queens language capital of the world

Here is a close-up:

Queens language capital of the world

eu-visa

Photo by Mike

VISA-FREE TRAVEL is kind of like having a great partner — you don’t fully realize how lucky you are until the other party ends it. The recent developments between the European Parliament and the United States in the visa reciprocity issue puts us in this exact scenario.

On March 3rd, the EU Parliament announced that due to the US Government’s refusal to grant visa-free entry for people from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania, the EU will impose travel visas on US citizens. Reactions on the web have been mixed, ranging from sympathy and understanding to annoyance and criticism of the EU.

Those against the new European restrictions might argue that any law that limits the free travel between people isn’t a good thing. This is a fair point, but as a Bulgarian citizen who has spent a third of her life in the US and I’ll tell you why I think the move by the EU is fair.

The ability to travel has changed our lives.

Having broken free from the Soviet Union in 1991, Bulgaria looked towards the West and finally joined the European Union in 2007. Bulgarian Millennials will argue that this is the greatest day in our recent history. Establishing free movement within the European countries has been an absolute game changer for us.

If you follow travel photographers on Instagram, it’s worth noting that a lot of the Bulgarian and other Eastern European accounts are fairly recent. Why? It’s because only recently we were allowed to pack a backpack and hop on a plane to Germany, Spain or Holland without having to go through a torturous process of visa interviews and screenings. Thanks to our entry in the EU, we can now study and work abroad, rubbing shoulders with people from diverse cultures from all over the globe (and explain how yogurt is actually Bulgarian, not Greek).

Though we were granted this freedom ten years ago, we still feel like second-class citizens. A huge contributing factor to that is the treatment we have been and continue to receive from superpowers like the United States.

What we have to do to come to the US

I moved to the US in 2009 to go to school and ended up staying for 7 years of study and work. I’ve since left and settled in Europe, but I naturally feel a draw to go back to my old home and visit my college friends. The problem is that entering the United States on a Bulgarian passport is very complicated because of visa regulations.

This is what I have to do in order to board a plane to the United States (even if I wish to visit for a day):

I have to fill out a form on the US embassy website, accompanied by a photo with specific quality and dimensions. I have to schedule an appointment at the US Embassy (I either have to fly home to Bulgaria, or go to Madrid, since I now live in Spain). I have to pay a fee of $160, nonrefundable. I have to show up for an in-person interview, but it doesn’t end there.

At the interview, I have to present a body of evidence proving that I don’t aim to immigrate to the United States, but only want to have a good vacation and eat chicken wings in LA’s Chinatown, like any other traveler would. This “evidence” includes my work contract, my apartment lease, an invite from whoever I am visiting in the US with his/her address and a document that proves his/her status in the country (Good luck visiting a non-citizen). I have to specify where I will be staying, how long and provide a phone number where I can be reached at all times.

Hopefully, this would grant me a visa, but the embassy officials have the right to decline without providing any explanation. So this is the process I have to go through in order to board a plane to the United States as a Bulgarian citizen. In comparison, if my friend from Los Angeles wants to visit me, all he needs to do is hop on a plane and get his passport stamped upon arrival in Spain.

Openness to other cultures has to go both ways

Americans might be justifiably annoyed at losing easy access to so much of the world, but this is what we have to go through every time we want to visit you. That was the whole point of the 2014 reciprocity agreement. It’s a great idea which makes everyone’s life easier. The only issue is that both the EU and US have to abide by the agreement.

To my pleasant surprise, most of the comments on the articles announcing this change which have been circulating over the past week have been positive. The vast majority of those who can travel free of visas sympathize with us who still need to be thoroughly screened and questioned just to go on a road trip, which demonstrates international solidarity.

Though the implementation of these measures will not be immediate, the European Union’s decision to finally stand up for Bulgaria and the other four countries affected comes as a reminder that at a time when world politics resemble a circus with the potential for a catastrophic ending, we can still manage to unite.

Fellow travelers from the US, thank you for understanding. Don’t let this situation deter you from visiting Europe. You are still very welcome, we just want to feel the same way.

Photo: skeeze

Going on a cruise is a culture in itself. Some cruisers make it their goal to experience every ship and port out there. Cruising provides a diverse itinerary and smaller coastal towns offer local culture and charm but without the crowds. Here’s a list of ports and nearby destinations that are worth visiting before they become too popular.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

1. Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

The oldest city in North America, St. John’s is the kind of place where you can stand on Signal Hill watching icebergs drift past The Narrows. Houses of every color line almost every street, centuries-old buildings of brick sit on the waterfront, and the funky urban exterior of The Rooms Art Gallery & Museum dominates the skyline. Just like the province it belongs to, St. John’s is where old world meets new in a wonderful clash.

St Martins Sea Caves

 St Martins Sea CavesBay View, CanadaAt low tide you can explore these sea caves, but watch the tide! There’s also some yummy seafood chowder to be eaten here…

2. Haines, Alaska

Haines is arguably the adventure capital of Alaska. It is in the northern part of the Alaska Panhandle, near Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The fishing town has mountain energy and vibrancy and is one of the best places in the world for heli-skiing.

 Southeast Alaska Backcountry AdventuresHaines, United StatesBest Heli Skiing in SE Alaska!

3. Kuşadasi, Turkey

Kuşadasi is a popular destination and, as the coastal gateway to Ephesus, Turkey’s busiest cruise port. That said, is it a jumping-off point for visiting the classical ruins at nearby Ephesus, an ancient city with remains that reflect centuries of history, from classical Greece to the Roman Empire.

Acarlar Köyü

 EphesusAcarlar Köyü, TurkeyWent to Turkey this October and I couldn’t believe my eyes! This is a photo of the Grand Theater at Ephesus and during the whole tour, I was imagining what it would’ve been like living back then. I mean, this theater is pretty awesome!

4. Santos Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala

Also known as Matías de Gálvez, Santos Tomas de Castilla is a port in Izabal Department, Guatemala. Escape the busy port and take a short bus ride to the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Mayan ruins of Quiriguá.

Alta Verapaz

 Monumento Natural Semuc ChampeyAlta Verapaz, GuatemalaThe definition of a hidden gem: Semuc Champey pools in #Guatemala. 🏅

Santa Cruz on Lake Atitlan

 Santa Cruz la Laguna, Lake AtitlanGuatemala, GuatemalaThe village of Santa Cruz on Lake Atitlan is one of the most naturally serene and enchanting places I’ve been to. You need to catch a “lancha”, or local boat, to get to most of the villages on the lake. There are lots of little paths to explore and get lost on. #lagoatitlán #serenity

5. Kralendijk, Bonaire

Kralendijk is the chief town of Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles. The island is known for its beaches, golfing, snorkeling, skin diving, and pink flamingos.

 Old Slave HutsKralendijk, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and SabaI did a little circuit around the island and made a stop here. The buildings look colorful and cheery until you remember they housed slaves. They were built in the 1850s to house men who worked in the salt ponds nearby.

 Treasure By The Sea BonaireKralendijk, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and SabaBeautiful walk along the water every night! #kaiventures

 Bachelor’s BeachKralendijk, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and SabaBest beach in Bonaire. More people under the water than above! #kaiventures

6. Kotor, Montenegro

Montenegro has the beauty of Croatia, minus the crowds. The waters are cleaner, the beaches less crowded, and it is significantly cheaper. Kotor is a fortified medieval town on the Adriatic Coast, Sveti Stefan, a small islet surrounded by crystalline waters, as well as some of the villages in the south near Ulcinj.

 Kampana TowerKotor, Montenegro#hiking

 Entrance of Old Town KotorKotor, MontenegroThis is the city center of Kotor. Far less crowded than Dubrovnik but this could change fast. Get lost in its narrow cobblestone streets! #free #history #balkans #montenegro

 Kotor FortressOpština Kotor, MontenegroKotor’s perfectly preserved medieval Old Town is situated at the base of a breathtaking trek along historic brick walls. 1000+ steps will switchback past churches, jaw dropping mountain peaks, and panoramic vistas of the dazzling bay below until you reach St. John’s Fortress. The higher you climb, the better the view. Start your hike early to beat the summer heat and the crowds. Let your curiosity lead you, and perhaps you too will find the local farmer selling fresh cheese and pomegranate juice behind the fortress walls. #kotor #montenegro #castles #oldtown #medieval #europe #balkans #churches #hiking #history

7. Progreso, Mexico

Progreso is a port city in the Mexican state of Yucatán, located on the Gulf of Mexico, is a 30-minute drive from the state capital Mérida. Generally, Progreso has a very relaxed beach-town vibe. It has the longest pier (6.5km) in Mexico. It’s a super place to be based if you want to explore Yucatán.

Santa Clara

 La LagunitaSanta Clara, MexicoSanta Clara is a tiny beach town, mostly used as a vacation spot for folks from the nearby pueblo of Dzidzantun. Other than during vacations, the beach is abandoned by everything except the boats of the past. The place is excellent for photography & strolling along the raw beach in search for big conch shells. #photography #beach #yucatan

Mérida

 EL CARDENAL CANTINAMérida, Mexico#cantina #cheap-eats #botanas #bar #beer #cerveza #music

Chuburná

 Chuburna PuertoChuburná, Mexico#playa #beachtown #beach #travelphotography #Yucatan

I have two kids in elementary school. Here's why it’s the ideal time to travel with them.

Photo by Tim Gouw

Outside of Bad Reichenhall, Germany, my nine-year-old son, Anders, and I climbed a mountain. This wasn’t a stroll around a nature trail; this was a serious 3,000-foot ascent. What started as a steep trail led to cables and metal bridges over sheer rock. We used hands and feet to cross snowfields. And when we reached the top, we were thrilled with our accomplishment. This is not something we could have done a couple years ago.

Traveling with my husband and two boys, now eight and ten years old, means we can do things like climb mountains and visit museums, but we still cuddle up together at night to read or watch movies. In my experience, kids in middle childhood still genuinely like hanging out with their parents, are excited to try new things (most of the time), and are very capable.

We are currently traveling through Europe for a year and Worldschooling Anders and Finn. At these ages they are soaking in the history, culture, and environment of the places we visit. They are old enough to carry a backpack with all of their stuff for a year through customs, on and off trains, and to get to our rented apartments. They have their own ideas, curiosity, opinions, and sense of adventure that enriches travel for all four of us.

Cognitive behaviorists say that decentration is a hallmark of this stage. Our kids should be able to more successfully take another’s point of view and be able to consider more than one dimension simultaneously. This is a handy skill when trying to wrap our heads around how the different cultures we visit operate. We are all forced to take the perspective of someone else, which can only make us better people.

We explored Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions at a hands-on children’s museum in Florence, learned to paint frescos at Palazzo Vecchio, performed most of the 60 experiments at the House of Experiments in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and made friends with locals in Salzburg while playing Pokémon Go! While these outings were ostensibly “for the kids,” my husband and I learned a lot, too.

Even experiences that aren’t specifically for kids, including viewing Botticelli’s Primavera at the Uffizi Gallery and learning about the Third Reich in Munich, deepen when we have the boys with us. I find myself doing more research and gathering more background information for them, which ends up broadening all of our horizons.

And these boys are making me have more fun. We found a high ropes/zipline adventure course outside of Florence, Italy. Without the kids as an excuse to get out and play, my husband and I would have missed out on a really fun day. We wouldn’t have bought sleds to slide down the hill in our backyard in Germany, and we might not have been inspired to jump into the Adriatic Sea in December in Croatia.

I love this age for travel. I’m not carrying anyone or changing diapers, I am having real, interesting conversations, and my kids still want to hug and snuggle first thing in the morning. And it doesn’t hurt that we still get discounted kids tickets at most of the places we visit. More like this: 8 family travel myths debunked

Lonely Planet Croatia (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Croatia is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Sail the island-speckled coastline, marvel at historic forts and mansions or walk Dubrovnik's city walls; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Croatia and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Croatia Travel Guide: Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, cuisine, natural environment, arts, architecture Over 40 maps Covers Zagreb, Zagorje, Slavonia, Istria, Kvarner, Northern Dalmatia, Split & Central Dalmatia, Dubrovnik & Southern Dalmatia and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Croatia , our most comprehensive guide to Croatia, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet Eastern Europe guide.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

Rick Steves Croatia & Slovenia

Rick Steves

You can count on Rick Steves to tell you what you really need to know when traveling to Croatia and Slovenia.With this guide, you'll explore charming towns and undiscovered natural wonders. Stroll atop the walls that encircle romantic Dubrovnik, wander through the Roman ruins in the heart of bustling Split, and set sail to the islands of Korcula and Hvar on the glimmering Adriatic. Feel the spray from the waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes National Park. Drive mountain passes in Slovenia's idyllic Julian Alps. And take side-trips to Montenegro's dramatic Bay of Kotor and the Turkish-flavored city of Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina.Rick's candid, humorous advice will guide you to good-value hotels and restaurants. He'll help you plan where to go and what to see, depending on the length of your trip. You'll get up-to-date recommendations on what's worth your time and money. More than just reviews and directions, a Rick Steves guidebook is a tour guide in your pocket.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Croatia

DK

Explore miles of beaches, clear water, and beautiful castles used on popular television shows in Croatia. See history, art, and more in this special city.

Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Croatia.

   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Detailed city maps include street finder indexes for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Croatia truly shows you this country as no one else can.

Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.

A Traveller's History of Croatia

Benjamin Curtis

Anyone who has glimpsed the long, mountainous, island-studded Dalmatian coast would surely agree that its beauty is little short of divine. Croatia, quite simply, is blessed with some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet, and its history is equally captivating. A Traveller's History of Croatia offers tourists and travellers an inside look at how the country's cultural fusion of Mediterranean, Central European and Balkan influences has given it a tumultuous past. The book's narrative begins with Croatia's astounding Greek and Roman legacy, and then explains how the early blooming of the Croatian state in the 9th century was thwarted by the ambitions of its powerful neighbour, Hungary. In the Middle Ages much of the coast came under the control of Venice, which over centuries left its indelible stamp on many charming, historic towns. Croatia became a battlefield as the Ottoman Turks invaded during the 1500s, until they were finally repulsed by the Habsburgs, who ruled the country right up until the First World War. The twentieth century brought new solutions in the founding of Yugoslavia, problems with Croatian nationalism and the horrors of invasion in World War II. Under Tito a stability came to the region until the battles of the 1990s, which were finally resolved with the international recognition of an independent state in 1992. Croatia today is independent, peaceful, and as beautiful as ever: it has taken its place as one of the world's most coveted travel destinations.

The Rough Guide to Croatia

Rough Guides

The Rough Guide to Croatia is the ultimate travel guide to one of Mediterranean Europe's most beautiful and unspoiled countries.

This full-color guide includes reliable and comprehensive coverage of all the sights and attractions, from walking a circuit of Dubrovnik's city walls to exploring the labyrinthine streets of Split to savoring the food, wine, and breathtaking nature of the Dalmatian islands.

The Rough Guide to Croatia offers practical, informed advice on how to enjoy everything from sea-kayaking and mountain hiking to sunbathing and swimming to the best in contemporary art, culture, and clubbing. Up-to-date listings pinpoint the best cafés, hotels, shops, nightlife, and restaurants for all budgets, ensuring you have the most memorable trip imaginable.

Make the most of your time with The Rough Guide to Croatia.

Series Overview: For more than thirty years, adventurous travelers have turned to Rough Guides for up-to-date and intuitive information from expert authors. With opinionated and lively writing, honest reviews, and a strong cultural background, Rough Guides travel books bring more than 200 destinations to life. Visit RoughGuides.com to learn more.

Lonely Planet Croatia (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Croatia is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Marvel at the turquoise lakes and waterfalls in Plitvice Lakes National Park, see Dubrovnik from its city walls or explore the dreamy interior of Hvar Island all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Croatia and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Croatia Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, cuisine, natural environment, arts, architecture Over 40 maps Covers Zagreb, Zagorje, Slavonia, Istria, Kvarner, Northern Dalmatia, Split & central Dalmatia, Dubrovnik & Southern Dalmatia and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Croatia , our most comprehensive guide to Croatia, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's Mediterranean Europe guide, Eastern Europe guide or Southeastern Europe guide.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Anja Mutic and Peter Dragicevich.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

Croatia: FULL COUNTRY GUIDE by TRAVEL INSIDERS: The Best Travel Tips From A Croat

Dominik Pavlovich

Our travel guides are written only by locals, in this case by a Croat. If you are tired of the travel guides that say only the obvious, then you will enjoy our books. Our only warning is that we don't include maps or photos, since all that is easily available online for free. We try to focus only on things you won't find elsewhere.Our Croatia Travel Guide contains:- Croatian cuisine- Croatian history- Getting around- Where to stay- Where to eat- Where to shop- Covering specially ZagrebSplit, Dalmatia, Rijeka, Istria, Slavonia, Jewels of the Adriatic, etc.- Croatia's most spectacular National Parks- Unique tips and recommendations by a localDownload today!

Croatia (National Geographic Adventure Map)

National Geographic Maps - Adventure

• Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map

Called “the jewel of the Adriatic Sea,” Croatia's medieval cities, turquoise waters, and rugged mountains make this small Mediterranean county big on adventure. National Geographic's Croatia Adventure Map will meet the needs of travelers with its detailed, accurate information. The map includes the locations of exotic places to discover including TrogirDubrovnik, and Mostar, with a user-friendly index, clearly marked road network complete with distances and designations for roads/highways, plus secondary routes for those seeking to explore off the beaten path. With specialty content to include hundreds of diverse and unique recreational, ecological, cultural, and historical destinations, this map is a perfect companion to a guidebook.

Start your adventure in one of Croatia's premier national parks; the waterfalls of Plitvice, the forests of Krka and Mljet, or the mountain caverns of Paklenica. Visit the two most beautiful rivers in Europe, the Zrmanja and Krupa, or kayak your way to one of the Elafiti islands in the Adriatic Sea. Along the way you'll see Diocletian's palace in Split, Biokovo Mountain, and shared borders regions with Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzogovina.

The southern portion of the country from the island of Krk to the border of Montenegro is shown on the front side of the print map. The reverse side details from the Croatian borders with Slovenia and Hungary in the north and Serbia and Bosnia and Herzogovina in the east, and overlaps the front side of the map south to the Dalmatian cities of Zadar and Knin.

Every Adventure Map is printed on durable synthetic paper, making them waterproof, tear-resistant and tough — capable of withstanding the rigors of international travel.

Map Scale = 1:500,000Sheet Size = 37.75" x 25.5"Folded Size = 4.25" x 9.25"

Exercise normal security precautions

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Landmines

Landmines and unexploded ordnance remaining from the 1991-95 war are a serious risk along former front-line areas. Demining operations are expected to continue until at least 2019. You should stay on paved roads and avoid ditches, open fields and the shoulders of roads not clearly marked as being free of mines. While most tourist destinations are not affected, you should contact the Croatian Mine Action Centre (e-mail) regarding the presence of unexploded landmines. 

Crime

Petty crime such as pickpocketing and document theft occurs, especially in busy tourist areas and along the Adriatic coast.

Ethnic tensions exist but rarely become violent.

Be vigilant if you attend soccer matches. The crowd occasionally becomes rowdy and violent.

In certain establishments, it is legal to charge any price for drinks as long as prices are posted. Check prices before placing an order. Some bars and “cabarets” have been known to charge exorbitant prices. Discussions about overcharging may lead to threats of violence and security guards may force you to pay.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations occur periodically and are usually peaceful. Nevertheless, avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, as they have the potential to suddenly turn violent. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

Road travel

Travel by road can be hazardous. Drivers generally have little regard for traffic regulations and do not follow safe driving practices. Many roads are narrow and poorly maintained. In particular, roads along the Adriatic coast are narrow, congested, very slippery when wet, and many lack guard rails. Although highways cover main routes, some highway segments are not yet completed. Expect heavy traffic congestion on major routes on weekends and in the main cities during rush hour.

For road conditions and safety information, consult the Croatia Traffic Info, published by the Croatian automobile association, Hrvatski Autoklub.

Public transportation

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Spiked food and drinks

Never leave your food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

Trekking or rock climbing

Hire an experienced guide and ensure that the company is reputable if you intend to trek or rock climb. Buy travel health insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation.

General safety information

Carry adequate identification, such as your passport, at all times. Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of loss or seizure.

Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure that your personal belongings, passport and travel documents are secure at all times, particularly on public transportation and in railroad stations and airports.

Emergency services

Dial 112 for police, fire fighters or an ambulance.

Dial 1987 for roadside assistance.

These services are available in English.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Tick-borne encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to tick bites (e.g., those spending time outdoors in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Southern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Southern Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Southern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Satisfactory medical care is available but emergency services, especially on the Croatian islands, may be inadequate. Medical services sometimes require immediate cash payment.

Decompression chambers can be found on the Adriatic coast in SplitPulaCrikvenica and Dubrovnik.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Canada and Croatia are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Croatia to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Croatian authorities.

Dual citizenship

Although dual citizenship is formally recognized, the police have been known to ignore a Croatian’s second nationality. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Dual citizens are strongly advised to contact the nearest Croatian embassy or consulate well before departure in order to seek advice on any required administrative procedures. Failure to do so may also subject dual Canadian-Croatian citizens to national obligations, such as taxes. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Driving laws

An International Driving Permit is recommended.

Seat belt use is mandatory, as is the use of car seats for infants. Children under 12 years of age are not allowed to sit in the front passenger seat.

The use of a cellular telephone while driving is prohibited, unless the phone is fitted with a hands-free device.

The use of headlights is required when driving during winter (from the last weekend in October until the last weekend in March)—even during daytime—as well as during fog and other inclement weather.

Motorists must wear a fluorescent vest when attending to a car breakdown along the road.

When driving, a vehicle coming from the right has the right of way, unless otherwise indicated. Right turns at red lights are prohibited. Failure to respect these laws may result in fines.

Penalties for drinking and driving are strict. Police undertake routine spot checks. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines and jail sentences. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05 percent, but there is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol when a motorist or boat operator is involved in an accident. In the event that an accident causes serious injury or death, police will take blood samples to test alcohol levels. You are advised to seek legal counsel immediately if you are charged following an accident.

Money

The currency is the Croatian kuna (HRK).

All major Western currencies are easily exchanged for local currency. Keep receipts to reconvert kuna to foreign currency. Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are accepted by most banks and hotels. Automated banking machines are widely available in urban centres.

When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the European Commission’s Cash controls web page.

Climate

Croatia is located in an active seismic zone.

Heavy rains are frequent in the summer, sometimes resulting in localized flooding. Severe flooding was reported in the eastern Slavonia region of Croatia in June 2013. Exercise caution, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.