Croatia is one of the ecologically best preserved parts of Europe. It is a land where the hues of the sunny and warm Mediterranean happily blend with the tranquility and freshness of mountains and the gentle sway of the golden plains of Pannonia. It is a land of truly divine inspiration that has delighted many of the world’s prominent men of letters. A rare European landscape which boasts as many as eight national parks in so small an area!
Hit the beach or take in some sailing, or grab a ride to the one of many, like island of Hvar, where old fortifications and five-star hotels sit side by side. Thanks to its location along the Adriatic Sea, Central Dalmatia is an attraction for sun and culture lovers alike. There are so many fantastic choices and we will bring them to you.
The locals refer to Croatia as a tiny little country, a relatively valid assessment: the boomerang shaped land takes up only 56,542 km2, a size just smaller than West Virginia. It shares a border with Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro.
There are an amazing 1,185 island that make up the Croatian Coast, 47 of them inhabited by humans. The coast is the main tourist attraction and happily retains an undiscovered quality. The prevalence of camera toting Westerners is not so widespread yet and the coastline, often more awe-inspiring than in other, better know vacation destinations, is much less expensive. Tourists in Zagreb, at least at this point in time, are often simply passing through on their way to the pristine green-blue waters.
The river that covers the greatest distance of Croatian soil is the Sava at 562km. It cuts right through the heart of Zagreb immediately south of Glavni kolodvor. The Drava covers a distance of 505km and the far-reaching Danube (2,857km) spans 188km through the country.
Temperatures in Zagreb (2000)
Annual average temperature +12.7°C
Maximum High +38.5°C
Maximum Low -18.1°C
Average Monthly Temperatures (2000)
Jan -1.6°C Feb +4.6°C Mar +7.9°C April +14.2°C May +17.5°C June +21.6°C July +20.9°C Aug +23°C Sep +16.6°C Oct +13.3°C Nov +9.2°C Dec +°C
Sun & Rain in Croatia (2000)
Annual amount of sunshine 2314.8 hours
Mean precipitation 712.1mm
Average Humidity 71%
Croatia (April 2011): 4,290;612 Zagreb (April 2011): 792,875
(April 2001): 89.63% Croats, 4.54% Serbs, 5.83% other.
The highest peak is the Dinara Mountain at 1,831m above sea level.
Croatia is part of the Central European Time Zone (GMT+1), so when it is noon in Zagreb it is 12:00 in Berlin, 11:00 in London, 06:00 in New York, 14:00 in Moscow, 21:00 in Sydney and 03:00 in Nothing (Arizona).
Daylight-Savings Time is valid from the end of March to the end of October (CET + 1 hour)
2014: Sunday, 30th March to Sunday, 26th October
2015: Sunday, 29th March t0 Sunday, 25th October
Little is clear-cut about Croatia’s history -- uncertain origins and crisscrossing allegiances abound. Even today, many details of Croatia’s emergence as a nation are still shrouded in mystery. For example, historians disagree on the genesis of the earliest tribes of Croats. Were they really Slavic and, if so, how closely related to other Slavic groups? How did they come to occupy the land that we now call Croatia? Further down the timeline, Croatian history becomes an even more complicated algorithm of shifting ethnic and national identities. Admitting these uncertainties, there are still a few key developments to keep in mind when trying to make sense of Croatia’s past.
From about 11 B.C. to about the 5th century A.D., Romans ruled the roost. During this era, the territory of what is now Croatia was organized into the coastal area called Dalmatia (yes, this is the provenance of the cute spotted dog) and the northern area known as Pannonia. The Romans, in their conquering heyday, built a network of roads that linked the Dalmatian coast with the Aegean and Black seas and the Danube, making the region their land of plenty. One only has to sit amid the remnants of Emperor Diocletian’s palace in Split, the greatest Roman ruins in Eastern Europe, to get a taste of Rome’s former glory in the region. While the remains of the Roman Empire in Solin, the town that was once the Roman capital of Salona, are not significant, the still-standing amphitheater in Pula feels like a grand cousin of the Coliseum in Rome.
In Come the Croat Tribes
While the Roman Empire was first thriving and then imploding, Croats and other Slavic tribes were eking out an existence in what some historians think may have been the marshlands of modern-day Ukraine. They were variably forming communities and then migrating and warring upon each other. Historians argue that by the middle of the 7th century, Croat tribes moved into Pannonia and Dalmatia, and powerful clans and rulers emerged.
In 800 A.D., the Frankish emperor Charles the Great, the ruler of Western Europe and first real superpower since the fall of Rome, conquered Dalmatia and, some historians say, swiftly launched a campaign to convert Croat rulers to Christianity. After Charles’s death in 814 A.D., the Byzantine Empire controlled most of Dalmatia, while the Pannonia Croats remained under Frankish rule. The spread of Christianity, however, encouraged cultural ties with Rome, which proved to be a unifying factor in forging a future national identity. Today, a large majority of Croats (about 90%) are Catholic.
Beginning with the crowning of King Tomislav in 925, Croatia the Kingdom was born. Tomislav united Dalmatia and Pannonia into a single kingdom, and under his rule Croatia became one of the most powerful forces in the Balkans, although the exact geographical extent of Tomislav’s kingdom is unknown and still controversial. After his death, his royal successors continued to rule the kingdom until the latter part of the 11th century, when Hungary stepped in.
Mergers and Acquisitions
How and why exactly Croatia merged with Hungary are points of debate among historians, but according to research by the US Library of Congress, King Ladislaus of Hungary became the new ruler of Croatia in 1091, after the death of the last Croatian king; however, separate institutions of Croatian statehood, like the assembly of nobles known as the Sabor, upheld a system of Croatian leadership. In the 1400s, when the Ottoman Empire was attempting to take over the Balkans, Croatia was stuck in battles between the Turks and the Hungarians. After years of strenuous bashing from the Ottomans, Croatia succeeded in resisting them and joined the Hapsburgs. Croatia would eventually be incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Yugoslavia as Kingdom
In 1918, after the end of World War I and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Croatia’s loyalties were once again up in the air. A Croatian delegation decided to align forces with the Serbs, forming the “Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.” This “Kingdom of Yugoslavia” was a quick failure, declining into uprising and civil war, with one rebel Croat group, the Ustase, waging a brutal terrorist campaign to exterminate all Serbs and Jews. An opposition group, the Chetniks, fought back, but they, too, resorted to terrorism and massacred Croats. However, another group, the Partisans, led by Josip Broz, or Tito, gained wide support, and after World War II, Tito became the leader of Yugoslavia.
Under Tito’s leadership, Yugoslavia, which included Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia, adopted a type of planned market socialism, and privately owned factories and estates were nationalized. Tito transformed Yugoslavia from a largely agricultural nation into an industrialized one. After Tito’s death in 1980, however, cracks in the Yugoslav system grew wider. The economy was weak, Slobodan Milosevic was stirring up divisive Serbian nationalism, and the unity of the Yugoslav government was tenuous. Finally, Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991, a day that is now celebrated as “Statehood Day.” At that same time, Serbs living in the Croatian territory of Krajina proclaimed their independence from Croatia. Civil war was imminent.
War and Peace
The Bosnian War, from 1992 to 1995, was a territorial battle among Serbs, Croats and Bosnians that is characterized as the bloodiest event in Europe since World War II. Approximately 100,000 people died, a large number of them civilians, and horrific war crimes were rampant. Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and his soldiers attempted to ethnically cleanse parts of the former Yugoslavia of Croats, Bosnians and Muslims, with the aim of creating what Milosevic called “The Greater Serbia.” When NATO finally intervened with airstrikes in 1995, opposing parties were forced to come to the table. The Dayton Peace Accords were signed on Dec. 14, 1995, officially ending the war.
Now, almost 2 decades since the end of the war, Croatia is well established as a safe, independent and tourist-friendly country. With a strong economy and stable government, Croatia has entered the European Union in the middle of 2013.
The obligatory assortment of colored rectangles featuring older gentlemen with varied outcroppings of facial hair design is the order of the day around here. The Croatian currency is the Kuna, established in 1993. One Kuna is worth 100 lipa. Kuna ‘notes’ come in 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 denominations. Coins are delivered in 25 (akin to a US$2 bill in its prevalence), 5, 2 and 1kn amounts and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 lipa amounts. And hey, before you start using the 1 lipa coin as a kind of landscaping agent on the base of your fish aquarium please remember, once you collect nine of those babies you’ve got yourself just over one US penny! Zagreb doesn’t deviate from standards all over the world as they apply to the use of credit cards. MasterCard and Visa are accepted practically everywhere, and your Diner’s Club and American Express cards can be utilized in a fair number of establishments too.
Banking Hours (General)
Monday/ Friday: 9am to 12:30pm & 2:30pm to 7pm
Saturday: 9am to 12:30pm
ATM's are widely used in Croatia and are called "Bankomat". You will find outdoor venues at most branches of Croatian banks. Please check with your local bank if your bank card is equipped with the necessary codes. A four-digit PIN is also required to access an ATM.
The respective exchange rate (purchase or sales rate) is valid for all other foreign currencies. National and foreign currencies can be imported and exported in unlimited amounts.
Travelers entering or leaving any EU member state carrying any sum equal to or exceeding €10,000 (or its equivalent in other currencies or easily convertible assets such as cheques drawn on a third party) must make a declaration to the customs authorities. Customs authorities are empowered under this regulation (signed by the European Parliament and Council on 26 October 2005 and entered into force on 15 December 2005) to undertake controls on natural persons, their baggage and their means of transport and detain cash that has not been declared.
The country is almost entirely populated by Roman Catholics - 89.63% in (April 2001). Religion is almost Croatia’s defining feature (see the Croatia through the Ages). Oddly, one of the most prominent features in the main square is the Serbian Orthodox Church… now discuss the significance of its presence amongst yourselves.
An amazingly quiet and well-mannered community, the streets are less active than many a stretch in Antarctica on any given weeknight past 23:00. Crime figures rank Croatia and Zagreb significantly below most of Europe, specifically as they apply to violence. The train stations do not inspire the expected ‘run-for-your-life’ sensation that is so often the case in cities the size of Zagreb. Though Zagreb is a very safe city, the best advice asks you to employ your best common sense.
Bearing in mind that Croatia is very much a pavement-café culture in which people tend to socialize outdoors, it does mean that outdoor tables at eating and drinking establishments are more packed than usual. Recent law amendments give cafes the choice in opting for smoking permits or not, yet it is forbidden in all other enclosed public spaces including restaurants where it has never been easy to find a spare seat at even the most popular eateries if you’re prepared to move inside.
You ‘had to go’ forty-five minutes ago... now your sweat and tear-stained face of utter desperation lets those you pass in the streets know that the situation has moved from bad to worse. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Unfortunately, public toilets or WCs (pronounced ‘vay-say’) are few and far between, and when you find one a standard 3kn charge is tacked onto the privilege. Your best bet: take a seat at a café, order yourself a beverage and then hustle through the appropriate door - gospodin or muški for men, dame or ženski for women.
We’ll be honest with you, there’s not much in the way of the local brew, and what there is does not bare making special note of. The good news: it’s almost always a few Kunas cheaper and found absolutely everywhere. Wine on the other hand, is both a pastime and source of national pride, though the locals express a disgruntled frustration when they speak about it: the white and red fermented grape liquids are definitely on the expensive side. Interestingly it is the term crni, (Croatian for black), which is used to indicate a red wine. Rakija reserves a unique space in the heads and hearts of the locals; the words ‘evil’ and ‘special’ resound alternately and often depending on the person you’re speaking with. This liquid of conflicting opinions takes on numerous forms, the product of fermentation of various natural herbs, grasses and fruits. Its manifestation varies depending on the part of the country you’re in, and you’re advised to sample many.
Since Croatia entered the EU on July 1, there are no longer custom limits between member states or tax return. Legislation for other non-member states is in the process and we recommend you to follow info at www.porezna-uprava.hr.
That especially sturdy and vice-like 220 Volts, AC, 50Hz is the plug of choice in these parts. Bring a converter for those appliances you just can’t leave behind (i.e. crimping irons, soldering guns, strobe-lights, etc.).
For the hopeless Yanks out there (we know that’s not all of you), you (A) walk off the street onto the ground floor of a building and (B) climb the steps up one level, at which point you are standing on the first floor. This fascinating system is in operation all over Europe (essay exams will be handed out at the end of your trip).
Passport & Visa Regulations
Since Croatia has become a new member of the European Union on July 1, 2013, the Croatian visa policy became fully compliant with the European Union visa policy. What does that mean? All citizens of states that need visas to enter other EU member states will need a visa to enter Croatia also. Therefore, make sure to visit the Croatian consulate/embassy in your country of origin, before visiting Croatia.
Driving Regulations in Croatia
Driving in Croatia is uncomplicated and offers the greatest flexibility and freedom: you explore at your own pace. Roads are well maintained, whether you select a superhighway or a meandering byway. However there are a few rules you need to be aware of...
An international driver’s license is required and can easily be obtained from your local auto club. The major U.S. rental companies are represented in Croatia as are a range of European firms. Many credit cards offer free supplemental rental car insurance, which might let you save on optional car insurance. Check with your credit card company.
Mandatory Winter Equipment:
In winter conditions the use of four winter tires or snow chains on at least two tires is now mandatory in Croatia between 1 November and 15 April.
Reflective Safety Vest
Drivers are required to carry a Reflective Safety Vest in their car at all times. This new regulation is required by law and is subject to heavy fines. Please check with your car rental company before entering Austria to ensure a Reflective Safety Vest is located in the car.
Tolls to be paid on all vehicles on Croatia's motorways and highways!
Holidays In Croatia
January 1 New Year's Day
January 6 Epiphany
April 5 Easter Sunday
April 6 Easter Monday
May 1 International Workers' Day
May 30 Corpus Christi
June 22 Anti-Fascist Resistance Day
June 25 Statehood Day
August 5 Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day
August 15 Feast of the Assumption
October 8 Independence Day
November 1 All Saints' Day
December 25 Christmas
December 26 Saint Stephen's Day
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