Vacation in Croatia
The Do’s and Don’ts in Croatia
With approximately 1,200 islands, blue waters, and picturesque villages rich in history, Croatia is drawing more and more travelers to its shores. Croatia has been luring travelers with its pristine national parks, adventure sports, and UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the medieval Old Town of Dubrovnik. While travel in Croatia is pretty much a breeze, here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you navigate the country’s diverse offerings more smoothly.
DO drive with care (and don’t talk on your mobile)
While Croatian buses may run well if you want to zip around more freely, rent a car. All of the major rental companies from Avis to Hertz, are represented in Croatia and can be picked up at the Zagreb airport. Don’t drive and talk on your cell phone, it is illegal in Croatia, and strictly enforced. While road signs are easily readable in Croatia, driving sometimes isn’t. Local drivers tend to pass aggressively and although the views on the coastal route from Split to Dubrovnik are breathtaking, keep your eyes glued to the road. The good thing is that you do drive on the right side of the road in Croatia so if you are American, you are in luck.
DON’T walk the walls with the masses
If you plan to travel to Croatia during peak season, you might have to adopt some rules to avoid the crowds. For example, the number one tourist activity in Dubrovnik is to walk atop the famous City Walls that run for over a mile around the Old Town. Take a cue from the locals, however, and stay away from the walls during the middle of the day in summer when it can be very hot and crowded.
DO remember the Patron Saint
According to the last major census, almost 90% of Croatians are Catholic. So keep in mind that each village and town has a patron saint whose feast day will be celebrated with processions and ceremonies and probably a day off from work. Croatians are especially devoted to the Virgin Mary, whom they call “Gospa.” Keep your out for the little shrines built throughout the countryside to honor her.
DON’T call it Yugoslavia
Croatia has long grappled with invading forces and external governments: Hungarian, Habsburg, Ottoman, Venetian, Serbian, and Yugoslav. The country only just gained independence in 1991, and immediately thereafter was thrust into the devastating Bosnian War of the early 1990s. Now, Croatians are truly free, with a well-deserved sense of national pride. Therefore, steer clear of calling them Yugoslav.
DO call it Croatian
Linguists say the Croatian language is almost identical to Serbian, except that Croatian is written in the Roman alphabet, while Serbian is written in Cyrillic. Nonetheless, always call their language “Croatian,” and not “Serbo-Croatian,” as it has sometimes erroneously been called in the past; comparisons to anything Serbian can still be a touchy subject for some.