Most probably you have already heard something about this country or at least seen it’s recognizable checkered flag somewhere… it has drawn your interest and now you can’t stop thinking about whether to spend your next vacation in this boomerang shaped country or not.
But what is this new hot summer destination really about? Let me give you some basic facts before you decide:
With approximately 1.200 islands (we don’t know for sure as there is a battle ongoing on what is considered an island) – Croatia is drawing more and more interest among tourists (you are reading this blog, aren’t you?). Up until a couple of years ago, not many people recognized the small Central Eastern European country as an amazing summer holiday destination. Now however, with every approaching holiday season, we see the “where to go and what to see in Croatia” ranked high in Google.
So, what are the most important things you need to know about Croatia?
On the one hand, if measured only by land (56.594 km2), it is a relatively small country: Germany could consist of 7 Croatias!
With around 4 million habitants it is barely able to compete with some European cities. It’s capital is Zagreb. Located in the mainland area, the last time we counted, about 800.000 people lived there (2011 status).
On the other hand, however, what is abundant in Croatia is its coastline. To be more accurate – all 6.278km of it.
On an area of 31.479km2 of coastal waters, over 1.200 islands are distributed perfectly for sailing, island hopping and finding exquisite corners of the coast seemingly tailored just for you.
Now with the size out of the way, let me get to the more important stuff ! Croatia is one of Europe’s sunniest spots, which is perfectly highlighted in a quote from the Croatian Tourist Board:
visitors should expect 12 hours of sunshine a day in May and June, on average, and 13 in July and August. That’s more than Provence in France (8 in May, 10 in June and August, 11 in July) or Corfu in Greece (10 in May, 12 in June, 13 in July and 11 in August).
What to do in Croatia.
But enough about the numbers. Make sure you take into account that summers can get really hot in Croatia (30-35 Celsius). That means if you’re into swimming, water sports, sunbathing, beach partying and hopping-around-the-islands-on-a-boat type of a holiday – the summer season is for you. You will find that Croatia’s coast starts buzzing with excitement about the summer already at the end of May. The summer season is peaking at the end of July/beginning of August (especially for festivals and beach parties).
If you are more into adventure on land, history and sightseeing – April to June or September to November will fit your plans perfectly as well. There is little chance you will like the sea temperature in those months, but there is an abundance of other activities awaiting. From roaming through old stone villages, enjoying food and wine to hiking or paragliding. Also, in those months you can easily avoid big tourist crowds.
Language and currency.
The official language in Croatia is Croatian (who would have guessed haha). Most of the people in Croatia (especially the ones working in tourism) speak at least basic English. German and Italian are also not uncommon as many Croatians lived abroad at one point in their lives. Additionally, since 2012, Croatia is a member of the EU. So, if you’re travelling from one of the EU countries – you’re good to go with your ID only. For the rest, check here visa/passport requirements.
Although in the EU, we haven’t join the euro zone until now… lucky for the rest of Europe if you ask me. However, this means you’ll still have to do some math in terms of currency conversions during your vacation. The national currency is kuna [k u:na] (this is actually the name of a local animal, the European pine marten) with 100kn amounting to around 14eur/15usd/12gbp. Almost all places at the coast have an ATM/bank/currency exchange office.
Before dealing with the money issue though, you should consider to check the current exchange rate. Also, there might be potential fees for withdrawing money abroad. The majority of shops and restaurants accept card payments. However, in case you plan to visit smaller islands, family restaurants or simply venture off the beaten path, make sure to have some cash on hand.
After reading this basics you should be good to go and are officially allowed to book your first Croatian vacation 🙂