11 Things That Surprised Me About Croatia

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This autumn I spent about 10 weeks traveling around Croatia. Something that had been on my bucket list for quite some time. While I did do a little research before my trip, it was in no way a thorough research – so there were a few surprises. These are the 11 things that surprised me the most about Croatia.

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1. Croatia has a whole lot of islands

hvar island!

I was aware that Croatia had quite a few islands, but I had no idea that along the coast of Croatia there are over 1000 islands. 1244 islands to be exact. Most of those islands are small and uninhabited, with only 47 of them being inhabited.

2. Cash is king

In Croatia, you need cash. Croatians love cash, and surprisingly seem to not be to fond of debit and credit cards. This especially goes for the islands and the smaller cities such as Pula, Rovinj, Zadar, Rijeka… In the larger cities debit and credit cards tend to be more widely accepted, but even there, many businesses have a very high minimum spend when paying by card. For someone (me 🙂 ) that is used to pay literally everything by card, I found this incredibly annoying and often found myself in a situation where I wanted to purchase something but I didn’t have any cash 🙂

the old town in dubrovnik! edited with the soft tones preset pack/photo filters, available here

3. Croatians are very friendly

I mean I wasn’t expecting them to be unfriendly, but I found them to be incredibly helpful and friendly. I have heard the same about other Balkan countries, so I guess the same goes for the locals the other Balkan countries.

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4. Just about everyone speaks English

No matter where I went, just about every Croatian I interacted with spoke English. The fact that there was no language barrier just makes everything so much easier. After having a chat with a few locals, I learned that their high level of English is probably due to the fact that Croatia doesn’t dub movies and TV shows to Croatian, but instead show them in their original language with Croatian subtitles.

The only minor language problem I faced was in the supermarkets when trying to read the ingredients lists on products, which are usually only in Croatian and/or other balkan languages. But this was easily solved just by asking locals for help.

one thing that didn’t surprise me about croatia: how many pretty beaches there are :)) // edited with the Travel Blogger preset pack

5. Coffee is a part of daily life

Having a cup of coffee at an outdoor café is part of daily life in Croatia. Judging by the fact that I never had a bad cup of coffee in Croatia, I’m gonna go ahead and assume that coffee in Croatia is pretty good.

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6. Smoking is very common

Just like drinking coffee, smoking is very much a part of daily lives of Croatians. Pretty much everyone smokes, and when it comes to where to smoke, just about everything goes. Smoking inside bars, and sometimes even restaurants, is allowed and socially accepted. Many bigger restaurants have a designated smoking area, allowing those that want to stay clear of it. When going to bars, you can be pretty sure you will smell like an ashtray when you go home :)))

dubrovnik // edited with the Vanilla preset pack

7. Croatian sounds aggressive

As someone that doesn’t understand Croatian, I kept thinking a fight was about to break out when I heard people having a conversation in Croatian. It’s just something about the language that sounds somehow harsh. I used to step back as I didn’t wanna get caught in the middle of it, only to then seeing them hugging and realising it’s just friends catching up :)))

8. There is a “colosseum”

the “colosseum” in Pula

Yes that’s right. In Pula there is a Roman amphitheatre that looks pretty similar to the Colosseum in Rome. It used to be home to gladiator fights, but now it serves as a venue for concerts, sporting events as well as Pula Film Festival.

9. It’s very seasonal

“winter” in Croatia – easy to find empty beaches :)) // edited with the Vanilla preset pack

There is a huge difference between visiting Croatia during high season and low season. From mid-May to early October, Croatia is bustling with life as tourists and locals gather outside to enjoy the warm sunny days. Cafés and restaurants are often packed, especially in popular cities, such as Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik, to name a few. During the low season, however, it’s an entirely different story. As October comes to an end, with more rainy days and less sunshine, the street become quiet, locals seem to go out less and there are hardly any tourists around. Many activities, bars and restaurants close in October and then reopen in April or May, when the tourism season start.

10. Breakfast can be hard to find

I’m not sure why, but finding restaurants that serve food in the morning can be very challenging. Some bars, if you’re lucky, will have croissants – which usually are filled with some type of marmalade, again, not sure why :)))) But the marmalade croissants were often the only food restaurants seemed to be serving before 12pm.

11. It’s not as cheap as you might think

Don’t get me wrong, Croatia isn’t expensive, but it’s not as cheap as you might expect for an Eastern Europe country. I found that prices are more similar to those in Spain and Italy, rather than to other countries in Eastern Europe.

a viewpoint in dubrovnik! edited with the ocean blues preset pack/photo filters, available here

I can’t recommend Croatia enough and hope that this post has perhaps encouraged you to add it to your bucket list, if it wasn’t there already! If you are planning to visit Croatia, you might also want to check out this post about How to get around in Croatia

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