7 Things You Should Know About Croatia

Mirogoj Cemetery Zagreb Croatia

Croatia is quickly becoming a travel hotspot, and with good reason. I enjoyed every moment of my travels through this former Communist country and was just as surprised by what I discovered there. If you’re planning a trip, there are however a few things you should know if you want to be a better informed traveler and maybe even impress the locals.

1. More than Dubrovnik – This coastal city is the most popular tourist spot in Croatia, welcoming millions of people from cruises and via land every year. It’s one of the few places most Americans can readily name and sadly is usually all we know about the country. But there is so much diversity found around the country that while Dubrovnik should absolutely be visited, so should the other cities of Croatia. Zadar, Zagreb, Split, the islands, Istria, Plitvice, all of these and more must be on your travel itinerary.

2. Tesla – Arguably the greatest genius of the 20th century, and the most underrated, Nikola Tesla was born in modern-day Croatia. While he was born of Serbian parents, Tesla is celebrated around the country, from statues to events in his honor. Why? Because he was amazing, as in he might have been an extraterrestrial amazing. He developed the alternating current method of delivering electricity (AC) and power generation systems by which almost all electrical power is still delivered today. Tesla developed the processes that led to the radio as well as other forms of wireless delivery. Neon and fluorescent lighting are all his, as are radar, faxes and countless other ideas far, far, far ahead of his time. He was amazing, he is practically unknown today and Croatia seems alone in recognizing the fact that without him, the modern life we all enjoy today wouldn’t be possible.

3. Great food – I’ve written about this before, but I was honestly shocked by the quality of food in Croatia. Like so many, I had some incredibly misinformed notions about Croatia, and chief among them was that I would find bland, boiled food. Not so! Croatia has a long and proud culinary tradition drawing upon its own natural resources, as well as influences from Italy and across the Mediterranean. The cuisine varies widely, from heavier meat based dishes in the countryside to delicious Italian meals along the coasts. No matter what you decide to try though, I think you’ll be just as surprised as I was by how impressive Croatia’s culinary offerings are.

4. Invented the tie – This is just a fun little fact I thought I’d share, as it turns out Croatia invented the necktie. During the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, the traditional small, knotted neckerchiefs worn by Croatian mercenaries aroused the interest of Parisians who for some reason immediately took to the new fashion accessory. The term for this new trend comes from a commingling of words for Croatians, the French and the Croatian to form the word cravat. Later French aristocracy took an interest in the tie, which of course meant everyone else did as well. Just a random fact, use it as you will.

5. Zagreb is great – It wasn’t until after a colleague congratulated me on mentioning how nice Zagreb is that I understood fully how often people ignore Croatia’s capital. Sure, it may not be as pretty as Dubrovnik or offer the stunning sunsets of Zadar, but Zagreb is a must-include city on your tour of the country. I found the city to be lively and fun, with lots of great restaurants and plenty of sites to keep me busy for days. For a quirky experience, stop by the Museum of Broken Relationships, a touching tribute to love lost. For something a little more uplifting, spend your evening on Tkalciceva street, a pedestrian zone overflowing with cafes, restaurants and bars.

6. In the EU but not on the Euro – On July 1, 2013 Croatia officially joined the European Union, however that is not the same thing as adopting the common currency known as the Euro. The EU is a supranational organization that sets policies along a wide set of issues, from trade to human rights. There are innumerable benefits for nations who choose to seek accession to the group, but not all aspects fall into place at once or even at all. If Croatia wants to join the European Monetary System, they will have go through another approvals process that will take years. EU nations don’t have to participate though, the United Kingdom is perhaps the best example of an opt-out nation. So when you visit leave the Euros at home and instead pick up some kunas, the official currency of Croatia.

7. There’s no war – I can’t believe how many otherwise intelligent people have expressed concerns to me about visiting Croatia because of the war. You know, the one that ended in 1995. Almost 20 years ago. These same people don’t seem mind traveling to Vietnam or Germany, and the same logic should apply. Did Croatia suffer a violent war of independence in the early-mid 1990s? Yes, they did and around the country you can still see the scars of this bitter conflict. But that war is long since over and the only dangerous thing about traveling in Croatia is eating too much Pag cheese. So get over it, the war is over, Croatia is safe and you should go there.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

30 thoughts on “7 Things You Should Know About Croatia”

  1. I completely agree Matt, there is a lot more than Dubrovnik in Croatia. I spent time in other cities such as Split and Zagreb and really enjoyed them. Zagreb was especially nice. The weather during the winter is much nicer on the coast though.

  2. I love Croatia! Zagreb especially is worth the visit, not just the cities on the coast. The nugget about the tie is interesting, I didn’t know that one.

  3. Can I add something else people should know before heading to Croatia – not all the beaches are sandy. I don’t think this is a bad thing, the water tends to be clearer without the sand, but can be a bit of a shock for anybody expecting the Croatian coastline to be full of soft sand beaches!
    I was surprised how good the food is there as well. Not knowing much about the history of the country (parts were once part of Italy) I hadn’t realised how much of an influence Italian cuisine would be on the food there.

  4. Dear all,

    I am proud of reading so good opinions about Croatia and my hometown Zagreb. I hope we’ll do even more to make our country worth visiting.

  5. I is a nice picture, but for me Croatia is much more, 8. Love and 9. Freedom. Life without 8 and 9 is almost in vain. My dream is that every Croat prepare himself/herself through pray and learning to live so. Everybody who visit Croatia could recognize it and the whole world will follow it.
    Can we try to learn live love and freedom?
    I do believe, YES, We Can!

  6. I remember going through Croatia several years ago and seeing bullet holes in a lot of homes. It was strange and shockingly real. I had never come face to face with a reminder of war before, war that ended not so long ago.. It was quite a powerful moment for me. We were told that when Serbia attacked Croatia, the Croatian people did not have any real army or weapons and were literally fighting with anything they could find, from clubs to shot guns. I cannot help but feel a great sympathy for this country and its people who are very passionate about everything they do, not Italian crazy passionate but rather determined and full of pure energy. I love the fact that almost every other person grows grapes in the backyard and then makes his own wine, which is fully organic of course.

  7. This is all true but one thing when you visit croatia be sure to check city of Vukovar in wich stand hand full of monuments for fallen soldiers and victims of genocid.Love to see People tk good about our country

  8. Great post! I have been to Croatia on holidays my whole life and even I did not know all the things that you describe in your post

  9. Hey Matt,

    I realize this is an older post, but so glad that in the world of Landlopers it is as easy to find as the latest and greatest. This was a really cool overview and some super fun tidbits. Thanks!

  10. When I visited Croatia a few weeks ago,I just found out all the influences they had: Italian,Austrian,Hungarian and a bits of Turkish.

  11. I’m very happy that so many people likes Croatia, because I live there, in Zagreb. Croatia truly is very small, and yet beautiful country.

    1. Looking to visit Croatia in June, 2017 – what is there to do, what cities to visit, what is weather like in June, what to buy there, from the posts – a wide variety of food – Italian, Hungarian, Austrian, where to stay…………….

  12. Hi, I’m visiting Croatia in July 2017 i never thought about getting out of my comfort zone, but my friend told me how beautiful it’s and the old monuments and waterfall scenes are breath taking. She also told me about the acapella competition during this time of the year. I’m really looking forward to this! I have no idea what am i doing traveling so far away, but I should be ok!

    1. Antonio Buljubašić

      Of course you’ll be ok. One thing is not mentioned in post. Safety. It’s safe to walk thru the city late at night. Nobody will attack you or try to rob you. You can go anywhere without fear or looking over your shoulder.
      Welcome :)

  13. I was born in a small farm town called Sokolovac ( in the former Yogoslavia) have you got any information ?

  14. I am planning a trip to croatia my grandfather is from croatia but i have no idea where to start. Toni Matijosivich.

    1. I am planning to visit Croatia, what does Croatia demand when u want to stay there and how free will y be as foreigner,plz someone should give me genuine information for me nt to fall a victm for nothing, it’s urgent.

  15. Honey i started loving crotia because of 2018 world cup. i’m highly impressed with the team and the rule they played. Secondly, i’m so elated with Crotian President, she absolutely won my heart, the way she loved everyone, the way demonstrate her passion and stands firm in the midst of heavy rain, the warmly hug regardless of color…

  16. I had my first visit today at a pain clinic and the Dr. was Croatian. Very nice, knowledgeable and caring. I hope he can help me. Oh and smelled delicious and was very good looking btw. LOL

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