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Croatia (Hrvatska)

Danijela Knezevic & Tony Polzer (Tony da Roma)

As Joshua Levine said in his article The Next Riviera, "Who needs France? Croatia's sun is warm, its seas azure, its hills scented with rosemary and its real estate cheap."

Full of natural beauty and rich with history, Croatia offers something for everyone. It has a very good way of making up for its size (only 89,810 square km) with its beauty, so you can easily spend a lot of time exploring nature (8 national parks, 10 nature resorts and 1,185 islands) as well as its' old buildings which are hiding in almost every town.

Brief History

As early as 400 BC, Greece had colonized islands in the Adriatic Sea and the Romans had the east coast under their rule. To this day we can still find traces of both of their cultures.

Since 600 AD, when the first tribe of Croats inhabited this area, they were never independent. In 1102, after a short period of 500 years of Croatian kings, the continental region of Croatia entered a union with Hungary. Until 1918 (fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) Croatia was fighting to be a full partner rather than a colony (which it never was) in this empire.

At the same time the coastal region of Croatia was under Venetian rule, while the Republic of Dubrovnik was the only independent part of Croatia. In 1815, after Napoleon had already managed to put a stop to Venetian rule and to the Dubrovnik independence, almost the entire territory of Croatia fell to the Habsburg Monarchy.

It wasn't until 1847 that Croatia won the fight to change the official language from Latin to Croatian. In 1918 Croatia became a part of the Kingdom of Serbians, Croats and Slovenians, which later changed its name to Yugoslavia, within which Croatia was a Republic.

Yugoslavia was under communist rule and we all know what that means - "everything belongs to everyone" (yeah, right!!!). Not to go into details of the problems that existed at that time, but Croatia was exploited and all of its resources and riches were exported. In addition, it stayed extremely underdeveloped and much neglected. No need to say that the people were not too happy about that and when it decided to split from Yugoslavia in 1991, war broke out. A lot of its heritage was destroyed, the economy collapsed and there was a big problem with refugees.

Croatia finally regained its independence in 1992, but its territory was not fully united until 1998 and today it is still recovering from all the damage the war caused. Its current effort is to enter the EU (European Union). This would mean the end of long struggle for its independence and a final acceptance in the society of Western Europe where it feels it belongs.

Under Roman, Greek, Venetian, Hungarian, Austrian, and Turkish rule, Croatian culture and language was influenced and slowly changed. Therefore, it has very rich heritage of old buildings, historic documents and traditions.

Geography

Croatia is divided into 3 geographic areas: Pannonia (meadow area), Lika and Gorski Kotar (mountain area) and Adriatic Sea (coastal area).

  • Eastern and north-western Croatia is in meadow area (Pannonia) with hills no higher than 500m. The east is very rural and most of its area is used for agriculture, but the north-west area is closer to the capital (Zagreb) and it has a more industrial economy.
  • Lika and Gorski Kotar, which separates Pannonia and the coast, is a highly undeveloped area due to the mountains. In the future it should develop due to the important role it plays in transit for the coastal region and for winter tourism as well.
  • The Adriatic Coast is 5,835 km long, and has 1,185 islands of which only 66 are inhabited (some have only 2 people living there). Most of the area is used only in the summer for tourism, but it is still not developed to its full capacity.

Climate

In the east and north-west, hot summers and cold winters are the norm. In the mountain area the summers are mild and the winters are very cold. Lastly, the coast has mild winters and hot summers. The Adriatic coast, with about 110 sunny days in the year, is the sunniest coast in Mediterranean with sea temperatures averaging 25˚C - 27˚C in the summer.

To Croatia by Air

Main airports

Brač: www.airport-brac.hr

Dubrovnik: www.airport-dubrovnik.hr

Pula: www.airport-pula.com

Split: www.split-airport.hr

Zadar: www.zadar-airport.hr

Zagreb: www.zagreb-airport.hr

Cheap flights

German Wings flies direct from Cologne to Zagreb and Split. Other cheap airlines fly to Italy, Austria, Hungary and Slovenia from which you can take a bus, train or ferry to Croatia.

German Wings: www.germanwings.com

Ryan Air: www.ryanair.com

Volare: www.volareweb.com

Sky Europe: www.skyeurope.com

To Croatia by Bus

Our advice:

  • When coming from Italy, take a bus to Croatia only from Trieste and only for the cities listed below. Anything further is too long and painful.
  • For traveling in-between cities in Croatia, it is best to take a bus because roads are better connected than railways. However, during the summer check the train schedule and if you have a direct connection take the train (roads can be too busy).

Trieste bus terminal: 800 915303 or +39 040 425020

Buses depart from the main bus terminal in Trieste, situated in Piazza della Liberta 11 (next to the main railway station).

1. Trieste - Opatija - Rijeka (total 2 - 2.5 hours)
Every day: 8:30, 12:30, 18:00
Tuesday - Saturday: 13:30, 19:15
June 01 - September 16: 10:30

2. Padova - Venice (P.le Roma) - Mestre - Palmanova - Trieste - Rovinj - Vodnjan - Pula (total 6 hours)
Weekdays: 13:00 (Padova), 13:45 (Venice), 14:00 (Mestre), 15:10 (Palmanova), 16:00 (Trieste)

3. Trieste - Buje - Pula (total 3 hours)
Every day: 18:00

4. Trieste - Buje - Poreč - Rovinj - Pula (total 4 hours)
Weekdays: 14:00
May 15 - October 15: 9:00

5. Trieste - Zagreb (total 4 hours)
Tuesday - Sunday: 17:00

Main bus terminal for Zagreb: +385(0)60313333
for international connections: +385(0)16112789
web: www.akz.hr

To Croatia by Train

You can check any train schedule on: www.hznet.hr

To Croatia by Ferry

There are several charter companies that connect the Italian and Croatian coasts:

Adriatica: www.adriatica.it

C/F Azzura: www.agestea.com/azzurra_ita.htm

Jadrolinija: www.jadrolinija.hr

Sanmar: www.sanmar.it

SEM Marina: www.sem.hr

SNAV: www.snav.it

Venezia Lines: www.venezialines.com

Money

Currency

Croatian currency: Kuna (100 Lipas)

Bills: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000

Coins: 0.01, 0.02, 0.05, 0.10, 0.20, 0.50, 1, 2, 5, 25

Click for the Slow Travel Currency Converter.

Domestic currency can be exported only up to 2000 KN, but foreign currencies can be imported and exported with no limits.

Credit Cards

Credit cards (Visa, Euro Card - Master Card, American Express, Diners Club, Maestro...) are accepted almost everywhere.

Money Exchange

If you need to exchange money the best way is to use ATM machines because they give you the best rates at the moment of exchange and they charge you a fee which your home bank charges you. At the same time you are avoiding risk of carrying cash.

If you prefer exchange offices you can easily find them. Most of the exchange offices don't charge an exchange fee. However, during high season that may vary from place to place so make sure to check that they are not ripping you off and take your receipt.

Zagreb

Zagreb is a great example that history can be combined with modern life. After almost 1000 years, Zagreb has developed into a modern city which offers good quality shops, restaurants, recreation and sport facilities, but still shows its history via historical monuments, galleries and museums.
www.zagreb.hr

National Park: Plitvička jezera (Plitvice lakes)

Sixteen little lakes connected with fabulous waterfalls, rich forests, several caves, springs, flower meadows, and numerous animal species are just some of the reasons that make this heavenly place a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site.
www.np-plitvice.com

Istria

Pula

Some people call it "Little Rome" because of its style and architecture, but there is much more to Pula than that. Yes, there is a Roman amphitheatre (which is much better preserved than the more famous Colosseum) and yes, walking down the streets you can see a big influence of Italian culture, but there are artifacts that show that Pula might have originated before the Roman era. Pula could possibly be 3,000 years old. That alone proves that Pula is full of history and amazing monuments to captivate anyone's mind.
www.pula.hr

National Park: Brijuni

Brijuni is a group of two large and twelve small islands protected as a national park. The entire archipelago is an amazing botanical garden with thousands of different plants and a little safari park. It is not famous just for its natural beauty, but for its historical value as well. There are several dinosaur footprints embedded in rocks on the islands, and there are numerous ruins from different eras in history. It had been closed to the public for a long time as the former presidents liked to keep it as their summer residence.
www.np-brijuni.hr

Rovinj

Rovinj was originally an island, but in the 18th century the canal that was separating it from the mainland filled in with earth. It is a small picturesque ancient town which makes you fall in love with its narrow, cobbled streets and stone houses.
www.istra.com/rovinj/

Motovun

Motovun is an extremely small, but amazing town surrounded by city walls in the form of one full ring and two half-rings. Looking down from the city walls, as far as the eye can reach, you can see vineyards and Motovun Forest. Where one just might find a truffle. If you have time for a day trip this little town is something you should put on your "must see list".
www.istrianet.org/istria/towns/motovun/

Kvarner and Highlands

Rijeka

Because of its central position and easy access, Rijeka has developed to be the most important port in Croatia as well as the center for business tourism. Therefore, it should be avoided by nature lovers!!! It is a city to see, but not a place to spend your vacation at.
www.grad-rijeka.hr/

National Park: Risnjak

Risnjak was named after its famous inhabitant the lynx (in Croatian called RIS). In this incredibly small area it houses numerous types of forests as well as plant and animal species that make it a perfect place for hiking.
www.risnjak.hr

National Park: North Velebit

The most beautiful mountain in Croatia became a national park only in 1999. Every nature lover can enjoy fabulous mountain forms, botanical gardens and one of the longest caves in the world.
www.np-sjeverni-velebit.hr

Opatija

Since the beginning of the 19th century, Opatija has been a town with a long history in tourism. At the time it was the favorite place for vacation for the aristocracy and till this day it is still considered a high-end place. Due to this standard, it offers high-level entertainment as well: International Yachting Regatta, the Opatija Yachting Cup, Porin (Croatian music award) and it also holds numerous business conventions.
www.opatija.hr

Dalmatia

Zadar

Zadar has something to offer to everyone who visits. Its rich history has left marks in the architecture and ambience of this beautiful city. While at the same time, it still boasts a very modern way of life. The Church of St. Donat, together with numerous museums tell the story of this old city. Not to be missed are the cafes where one can people watch.
www.zadar.hr

Nin

This city is the location of the smallest cathedral in the world (Church of the Holy Cross). Outside of its historical and archeological importance, it also amazes its visitors with natural beauty. Its sea is very shallow and salty which lends way to extremely clean and clear water. The city is surrounded by several lagoons and its connections to the mainland via bridges make it just a spectacular site. It is well known for health tourism because it has the largest deposits of medical mud on the Adriatic Coast.

National Park: Paklenica

In this relatively small area there are several climate zones with rich flora and fauna. The most impressive sights are the two magnificent canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica which are vertically cutting into the mountain.
www.paklenica.hr

Sibenik

Surprisingly, this is almost the only city in this area that wasn't founded by the Greeks or the Romans, which makes it the oldest Slavic city on the Croatian coast. The symbol of Sibenik is the amazing cathedral of St. James built in the 15th century. It was designed by Italian architects, but finished by Croatian sculptor Juraj Dalmatinac.
www.sibenik.hr

National Park: Kornati Islands

George Bernard Shaw once said: "On the last day of Creation God desired to crown His work, and thus created the Kornati islands out of tears, stars and breath." The Kornati archipelago is made of 140 islands in a 300km2 area (114 square miles). It is filled with beautiful little coves and surrounded by crystal clear water.
www.kornati.hr

National Park: Krka

Krka is a river which flows through different kinds of soil creating very narrow and deep canyons, while also flowing over travertine barriers that create fascinating waterfalls. The most visited are two 10 meter high waterfalls: Skradinski Buk and Manojlovac, which used to be used for hydroelectric power.
www.npkrka.hr

Knin

Knin is one of the proudest towns of Croatia, as it was once the throne of the Croatian Kings. Today it commemorates the victory of the recent war (liberated in 1995). The symbol of the town is non-mistakably the Knin fortress, which rises above the centre of the town to offer a magnificent view.

Split

The second biggest city in Croatia with over 1700-years of history also makes it onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. The most famous of its monuments is without a doubt Diocletian's Palace. It is spectacular to see how this city was built inside of, on top off, and around this massive palace. While there, don't miss a little hike up to the Marjan Forest Park which has the most beautiful view of Split and islands close to it. These two items alone would be worth the visit, but Split doesn't stop there. It has a lot to offer and it would be a shame not to see it.
www.split.info/eng

Trogir

Trogir is another UNESCO world heritage site. It was founded by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC, and over time it was ruled by Rome, Venice, and Austria; all of which left their fingerprints on its architecture. We can still see the city walls, city gate and a cathedral which all date to the 13th - 14th century.
www.trogir.org

Island Brac

The most famous thing in this area, from the ancient times till today, is the Brač stone which was used to build a lot of major buildings around the world (including the White House in Washington D.C.).

But, don't think that Brac is a big chunk of stone! It is also famous for its agricultural products such as figs, nectarines, olive oil and wine.

In addition, it has the most famous and beautiful beach in Croatia. Zlatni Rat is the only beach in the world that stretches vertically from the coast and its tip is always changing form from one side to another due to winds and waves.
www.otok-brac.info

Island Hvar

If you visit Hvar remember that its hoteliers are so proud of their beautiful weather that if it rains for more than four hours a day you get a discount for your stay, and if it snows your stay for that day is free of charge! No need to say that it is one of the islands with the largest number of sunny days in the year which (except for attracting tourists) also helps the growth of lavender, rosemary, sage and marjoram.
www.hvar.hr

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is another one of the Croatian riches that has been included on the List of World Heritage Cities by UNESCO and it is one of the most attractive cities in this part of Europe. Dubrovnik has a very rich and impressive history. Although it is very small, it stood alone and held its independence for 700 years until Napoleon abolished it in 1806. It had great relations with Turkey, India and Africa, and in the middle ages it even had diplomatic relations with the English court!

Often called a jewel of Croatian heritage, Dubrovnik was built as a fortress and behind its walls there are narrow streets, tiny squares and beautiful monuments. Do not miss it!!!
www.tzdubrovnik.hr

Island Korcula

Main places to visit on this island are the towns Korcula, Vela Luka and Lumbarda which are small but very charming towns full of tradition and every day life. One of the most interesting attractions for tourists is the fisherman singing folk songs in the evening hours. An interesting fact (not too many people are aware of) is that Marco Polo, the famous adventurer, was born in Korčula and his house is still preserved
www.korcula.net

National Park: Island of Mljet

Mljet is another extraordinary island which is characterized by two big salt water lakes whose level is actually above the sea level (the Great Lake and the Small Lake). It is for sure one of the most impressive sites.
www.np-mljet.hr

Important numbers and addresses

Tourist boards:

Croatian National Tourist Office, UK
2 The Lanchesters, 162-164 Fulham Palace Road, London W6 9ER
Tel: 020 8563 7979, Fax: 020 8563 2616
Email: info@cnto.freeserve.co.uk

Croatian National Tourist Office, USA
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 4003, New York 10118, USA
Tel: (00 1) 212 279 8672, Fax: (00 1) 212 279 8683
Email: cntony@earthlink.net

Croatian National Tourist Office, Zagreb
Iblerov trg 10/IV, 10000 Zagreb
Tel: (00 385) 1 4556 455, Fax: (00 385) 1 4557 827
Email: info@htz.hr

Croatian National Tourist Office, Vienna
Am Hof 13, 1010 Wien, Osterreich
Tel: (00 43) 1 585 38 84, Fax: (00 43) 1 585 38 84 20
Email: office@kroatien.at

Croatian National Tourist Office, Frankfurt
Kaiserstrasse 23, 60311 Frankfurt, Deutschland
Tel: (00 49) 238 5350, Fax: (00 49) 69 2385 3520
Email: kroatien-info@gmx.de

Croatian National Tourist Office, Paris
48 Avenue Victor Hugo, 75116 Paris, France
Tel: (00 33) 1 45 00 99 55, Fax: (00 33) 1 45 00 99 56
Email: croatie.ot@wanadoo.fr

Croatian National Tourist Office, Rome
Via Umbria 15, Rome, Italy
Tel: (00 39) 06 42 010 525, Fax: (00 39) 06 42 010 639

Croatian National Tourist Office, Milan
Piazzetta Pattari 1/3, 20122 Milano, Italia
Tel: (00 39) 02 86 45 44 97, Fax: (00 39) 02 86 45 45 74
Email: enteturismocroato@eubia.it

Croatian National Tourist Office, Netherlands
Hoge Gouwe 93, 2801 LD Gouda, Netherlands
Tel: 0900 20 22 102
Email: info@htz.nl

Croatian National Tourist Office, Brussels
Vieille Halle aux Bles 38, 1000 Brussels
Tel: (00 32) 2 550 1888, Fax: (00 32) 2 513 8160

British Embassy, Zagreb
Vlaska 121/III Floor
PO Box 454 10000 Zagreb
Tel: (00 385) 1 455 5310, Fax: (00 385) 1 455 1685
Email: british-embassy@zg.tel.hr

US Embassy, Zagreb
Tel: (00 385) 1 455 5500, Fax: (00 385) 1 455 8585
Website: www.usembassy.hr

British Consulate, Split
Obala Hrvatskog Narodnog Preporoda 10/III
21000 Split
Tel: (00 385) 21 341 464, Fax: (00 385) 21 362 905

British Consulate, Dubrovnik
Atlas Pile 1
20000 Dubrovnik
Tel/Fax: (00 385) 20 412 916


Danijela is a full fledged Croatian who now takes up residency in Rome. Tony, an American, loves to travel with Danijela back to her home country as often as possible. Together, they run 3 Millennia Tours in Rome, Italy. www.threemillennia.com

© Danijela Knezevic & Tony Polzer, 2004

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