You’ve picked your destination, your itinerary is set, your bags are packed and a fun-filled vacation awaits you in Croatia. Before arriving in paradise, before arriving anywhere really, it’s always useful to get a little insight into the dos and don’ts of a new place; be it to avoid social faux pas, understand local behavior, or just blending in with the crowd. Here are a few Dos and Don’ts for your Croatia travels.
- DO Kiss Twice on the Cheek
In many countries, a kiss on the cheek is form of ritual greeting gesture and this applies in Croatia as well. A kiss on each cheek (two in total) is how close acquaintances say hi and bye; usually between male-to-female and female-to-female encounters, but not commonly male to male. So keep the number of kisses right if you cross the Balkan borders as Croats and Bosniaks do two, and Serbs do three.
- DO Take the Bus
Europe may have an advanced railway network however; this is not the case in Croatia, particularly in the south. Fear not as Croatia has a great intercity bus; they are punctual, air-conditioned and free WiFi on board is becoming standard too! Whilst on the topic of bus transportation, public city busses may be a little run-down and definitely not air-conditioned, but you’ll be happy to know that chitchatting is not frowned upon like in many Western countries. In Dalmatia, you might enjoy listening to a loud conversation between two people sitting in separate ends of the bus.
- DO Bring Along Something for your Hosts
Invited over to a Croat for dinner? A common host gift in many countries is wine or flowers and these are happily accepted in Croatia too. Remember to give an odd number of flowers and not chrysanths, which is for funerals. A traditional host gift is ground coffee for Turkish coffee or a pack of Napolitanka waffles made by Kraš, Croatia’s century old producer of sweets.
- DO Get the Coffee Culture Right
Croatia prides in their coffee culture; going to a café with a friend, slowly stirring in the sugar and folding the foam in your cappuccino is a ritual taken seriously, very seriously. Therefore, coffee to go is rare; a coffee is to be enjoyed slowly and not on the run for the simple purpose of getting a caffeine kick. Try it with a side of pastry from a nearby bakery. Yes, you can bring along your own snack to most cafes as many don’t have their own food offering.
- DO Use Cash
As advised anywhere, don’t carry around a massive wad of cash, making you paranoid so you hug your purse ever so tightly, but be aware that many places in Croatia only accept cash, particularly in cafés, bars, and little food joints. A cool thing is that discounts on cash payments often apply in stores so keep that in mind if you plan to splurge on a shopping spree.
- DON’T Go Topless Everywhere
Croatia has designated nudist beaches marked ‘FKK’ so feel free to drop it all here however, be sensitive towards stripping off your top elsewhere, particular as you head further down to the more conservative south. Also refrain from strolling around towns with your shirts off just because the sun is shining; keep that for the beach, and not for meandering amongst ancient churches and charming townships; in some places you may even get fined for it.
- DON’T Call It Yugoslavia
Croatia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, which spurred a brutal War of Independence. Croatia has seen a heap of invaders through history; Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Yugoslav… Proudly independent today, calling Croats, Yugoslav would almost be considered an insult.
- DON’T Make Noise in the Afternoon
Although not as strictly enforced as just a decade ago, the concept of siesta is very much a part of the elder generation’s daily routine. Between 2pm and 5pm, avoid making too much noise or phoning a local, as this is national naptime, particularly on the coast. Although more rare today, don’t be surprised if some stores closed down in the afternoon, allowing shopkeepers to go home for a family lunch and a powernap.
Have you run in to another thing to note whilst on your trip to Croatia? Share with us!