Thursday, 3 November 2022

Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life - Valentina Šimak's Holiday Home

November 3, 2022 – November is always a difficult month in Vukovar. The feelings are a mix of pride and gratitude, sadness and hope. All further aggravated by the sudden interest in what goes on. And while the city often only gets one weekend of attention, people here live, work, and thrive every day. Just another example of that is a young lady called Valentina, who not only decided to take the plunge and start a business with her partner but was brave enough to do that in tourism. Yes, in Vukovar. In the beautiful area of Vučedol.

Could you tell us about yourself and your project?

I'm Valentina, I'm 28 years old, and I grew up in Vukovar and lived here all my life. I studied public administration, and I graduated in 2020. I worked various jobs until I found one in the profession; now I work as a school secretary. I often go to holiday homes with my friends to take a break from work and the hustle and bustle of the city or to escape from everyday life. The cottage, located 3 kilometers from the town of Vukovar, in the forest of Vučedol, has become our oasis of peace and a corner where all worries disappear. I thought it would be good for other people who visit our city to have their own oasis of peace, so I decided to open a vacation house called "Vučedolska Golubica" (The Vučedol Dove). Just as the dove symbolises peace, our home also exudes peace due to its location in beautiful nature.

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What inspired you to start something of your own?

Thinking about my hometown, my fellow citizens, visitors, and tourists who come from different parts of the world, I realised that our holiday home is all they need to spend quality time resting and relaxing. From there, they can take a short walk to the Vučedol Culture Museum, the beautiful Danube, and the island that can be seen from the shore, the wonderful wine road. People who enjoy walking and cycling will love the proximity and accessibility of all the sights and amenities.

What were the main challenges of starting such a business?

Every beginning is complex, and so was ours. I was always thinking about how to start a business, how to advertise, how to do marketing, and how to show people all the great things they could experience here... Really, there were a lot of challenges because I didn't know where to start. After we took the first step, though, all my worries disappeared. The visitors who came rated us very well and gave us the strength and motivation to be even better and more persistent in our goal. We strive to be better every day.

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How does your location in the east of Croatia affect the development of your business?

Vukovar is located in the very east of the Republic of Croatia, in our beautiful Slavonia. Our city has a lot of historical stories and events that every individual should learn about to experience Vukovar as we, the people of Vukovar, share it. For us, the city of Vukovar, a hero city, is our strength.

Our location is challenging since we are not at the coast. Visitors do believe that it is much better to go to the sea, but I can convince them with photo evidence that we also have our sea, our beautiful Danube. In summer, free boat transportation to the island (Vukovar's Ada) is organised. And it boasts a diverse world of content for all ages and desires. 

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Are you happy with your progress so far?

I am satisfied with what we have done so far, even though we are at the very beginning. The house has two floors, a kitchen, two bathrooms, and a bedroom with panoramic windows upstairs, while downstairs, there is a large living room and dining room. We are planning to build a children's playground on the property, as well as a swimming pool. We currently have a jacuzzi, an area for barbecuing, and a fire pit for outdoor cooking.

What is the situation with this type of tourism in Vukovar?

Most of our visitors come to Vukovar from Croatia. The reason is that few foreigners know our city's history and what it has to offer. I recommend everyone who hasn't been to visit us and see all the cultural sights of our city and take a break from everyday life in beautiful nature. Indeed,we are surrounded by fantastic nature and have wonderful things to offer.

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Are you connected with other similar businesses in Vukovar?

In the city, there are many renters, but we are unfortunately not connected. I want to connect with others to reach a place where everyone would present their suggestions and criticism so that together we can keep up with the times and take off into new business ventures.

What is it like to live in Vukovar, and what is unique about the area of Vučedol?

I would describe life in Vukovar as a priceless gift. Most of us from Vukovar know what the city experienced in its past and how it rose and became a wonderful, peaceful, small town over time. Next to Vukovar, which exudes uniqueness because of everything it has experienced, you can find Vučedol. This area is a peaceful natural oasis where our holiday home has found its place, adorned with untouched nature and the beautiful wild coast of the Danube, which is incredibly charming for fishermen. Of course, cyclists won't be disappointed either because a cycling route through Vučedol goes all the way to Ilok, following one of the most beautiful cycling routes in Europe.

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Why should people visit your holiday home?

After all, it can be concluded that our vacation home exudes uniqueness and peace, and gives you a touch of home. It's a place where you feel like it's your home. Why? Because it provides peace, security, and a sense of freedom. Visit us, come to us, and see how you can get immense quality, warmth, and acceptance for a small price. We will be at your disposal throughout your stay, ready for any questions and always helpful.

How can they reach you?

Book your stay on Whatsapp or Viber at +385989532320 and follow us on Facebook at Kuća za odmor Vučedolska golubica.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

Croatian Dalekovod to Engage in Big Job For Norwegian Client

November the 3rd, 2022 - The Croatian Dalekovod company is set to engage in a new job for a large Norwegian client - Statnett, which chose Dalekovod's offer during a tender as the best.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the latest job that Dalekovod has got its hands on, with the proviso that the contract will be concluded after the final confirmation, concerns the construction of a new 420 kV transmission line over in Norway, more specifically on the Aurland - Sogndal section, spanning a total length of 41 kilometres.

After an evaluation process in accordance with the tender criteria, the Norwegian client Statnett chose the Croatian Dalekovod company's offer, and the intention to conclude a contract was quickly expressed. At this moment in time, the appeal period is still running, and if there are no surprises or bumps in the road, Dalekovod's Management can peacefully wait for the conclusion of this important contract on the execution of works for this well-known partner.

They are just finishing the construction project of a new 420 kV transmission line between the substations Skillemoen and Skaidi for the aforementioned Norwegian client, which spans a total length of 89 kilometres and is specific given its geographical position in the far north of Norway. Because of that, it was built in arctic weather conditions.

Approximately 70 to 80 percent of the Croatian Dalekovod company's business revenues are generated on foreign markets. About 80% of that is realised in Scandinavia, which means that on an annual level, 50% of Dalekovod's income is generated by jobs carried out over o the Scandinavian market.

Scandinavia is therefore an important stronghold for this Croatian company, and there is still a significant investment cycle on which Dalekovod is building its plans, although apparently at a reduced intensity. The electricity transmission company Statnett is otherwise the Norwegian counterpart of Croatia's very own HEP.

The Croatian Dalekovod company's cooperation with Statnett started way back in 2007 and then continued with a series of projects in which Norway, due to its geographical shape and terrain configuration, has been successfully connecting the north and the south with a new distribution network for the past fifteen years.

As many as 350 Dalekovod employees have worked there on certain projects, sometimes under extremely demanding conditions. Similarly, only in later dynamics, cooperation was achieved on energy projects in nearby Sweden. Dalekovod's latest contracts concern two Swedish investors, Elevio AB, the owner of the distribution network, and Svenska Kraftnät, the national energy company. The management is also still trying to position the company on the demanding German market, and Dalekovod established a branch in Germany again this year. It is estimated that by 2030, the largest investments in energy will take place there.

Business recovery

The recorded 36% drop in the Group's revenues in the first nine months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021 (when revenues amounted to 705.7 million kuna) was mostly influenced by the stoppage of work on two projects in Ukraine for obvious reasons, and less activity in Scandinavian countries.

Business recovery was noticeable in the third quarter of 2022, in which 264 million kuna of revenue was realised with a net profit of 3.6 million kuna. Dalekovod's management expects these positive trends to continue.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

Peljesac v Neum: How Many Vehicles Have Crossed the New Bridge?

November 3, 2022 - It is just over 3 months since the Peljesac Bridge opened, connecting the two parts of Croatia and bypassing the Neum Corridor. So how is traffic - Peljesac v Neum?

July 26, 2022 was an historic day in the history of Croatia, as the Chinese-made Peljesac Bridge (official name Peljeski Most, the Croatian translation) finally joined Dubrovnik and the south to the rest of Croatia without the need to pass through the so-called Neum Corridor in Bosnia and Hercegovina. It was a day of huge celebration and national pride, and images of Croatia's new showcase infrastructure project went all over the globe. On a personal level, it was a privilege to witness this significant part of Croatian history firsthand and to see how many proud Croats had made the journey to savour this historic moment, as Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic sat in the passenger seat as Mate Rimac drove him over the bridge in his Rimac Nevera, the first vehicle to pass over the bridge after its official opening.

I had been fortunate enough to grab a seat in a press car that crossed over the bridge several hours earlier - above, you can see that journey.  

The new bridge was obviously going to take a lot of traffic away from the Neum Corridor, and so it proved as I reported from the BiH border the following day - not a single car approaching the Neum border, but a steady stream of vehicles over the bridge.

And how many cars have passed over the bridge since that historic day, and how has traffic to Neum been affected? I reached out to the fabulously efficient Croatian Roads spokesperson, Tamara Pajic, this morning, and the answer was soon forthcoming. 

By 09:00 this morning, some 100 days since the opening of the bridge, some 940,406 vehicles had passed over the bridge, almost 10,000 a day. 

By contrast, traffic through Neum was down 70% for the equivalent period in 2019, the last normal traffic year before the pandemic. 

A very solid start. 

While for many, the joy of being able to now drive from Split to Dubrovnik and back without leaving the country is cause for celebration, the bigger benefit - at least in my opinion - is in the improved accessibility of the Peljesac Peninsula itself, as well as the magical island of Korcula.

To give you an idea of how accessibility to Korcula has changed, check out Korcula to Split via Peljesac Bridge: A Heavenly, Speedy Road Trip.

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Thursday, 3 November 2022

200 New Fast Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Croatia by 2030

November 3, 2022 - According to Hrvoje Prpić of Strujni Krug, by 2030, Croatia must have enough electric vehicle charging stations as if 5% of the total 'fleet' was fully electric.

As Poslovni writes, the European Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) has reached a new level that will have significant effects on Croatia as well after the Committee for Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament adopted the regulation proposal for consideration, which is now going to the EU Parliament and the EU Council.

The new regulation established the so-called nationally binding goals that will prescribe how many European Union member states must set up electricity or hydrogen filling stations for light and heavy vehicles and also insists on the unification of payments via bank credit cards.

For example, for member states such as Croatia, which have less than 1% share of electric vehicles in the total fleet of vehicles, it is determined that by 2025 they must install charging stations with a power equivalent of 3kW for each fully electric vehicle and 2kW for each plug-in hybrid vehicle. According to the current situation, Croatia would have to install chargers with a total power of 11,524 kW.

Personal and light delivery vehicles

As explained by Hrvoje Prpić, the president of the Association of Electric Vehicle Drivers - Strujni Krug, Croatia will need to install 100-200 fast charging stations for electric vehicles by 2025, depending on their power, to fulfill this condition.

He adds that by 2027, the infrastructure of charging stations across the country will have to provide the same power as if 3% of the total fleet were fully electric. By 2030, the number of stations will have to increase as if 5% of the total fleet were fully electric. Thus, by 2027, and according to the current situation and the number of the current fleet, Croatia will have to install charging stations with a total power of over 70,000 kW, and by 2030 with a total power of more than 119,000 kW.

"If, for example, ultra-fast charging stations with a power of 150 kW are to be installed, which can charge an average vehicle in 10-25 minutes, Croatia will have to install around 470 such charging stations by 2027, and almost 800 by 2030," says Prpić. There are currently around 2.8 million motor vehicles registered in Croatia, of which 2.2 million are passenger cars. The number of electric vehicles is around 2,000.

The AFIR would set goals for the significant strengthening of the infrastructure on the TEN-T corridor, which connects all the main traffic points in Europe. This means that the number of charging stations for light and heavy electric vehicles on the routes Ljubljana - Zagreb, and Varaždin - Rijeka would be further increased.

For electric passenger and light delivery vehicles, the regulation aims to ensure complete coverage of charging stations along the leading EU network and thus ensure easy travel by electric vehicles throughout the Union.

The goal is that by 2025 there will be a station every 60 km with charging stations with a total power of at least 600 kW and at least one charging station of 300 kW. By 2030, the mentioned charging stations at the stops should be upgraded to 900 kW, and at least two charging stations should have a power of 350 kW.

Upgrading the rest stops

On the other hand, AFIR requires that, by 2025, for heavy delivery and passenger vehicles on the TEN-T corridor, charging stations with a minimum power of 2000 kW must be installed every 60 km, of which at least two will have a power of 800 kW. By 2030, these stations should be upgraded with charging stations with a total power of 5,000 kW, of which at least four will have a capacity of 800 kW.

Additionally, on all roads connected to the TEN-T corridor, member states must provide a network of charging stations every 100 km by 2025, which will have a total power of 2000 kW and at least one charging station with a capacity of 800 kW. By 2035, the charging stations will have to be upgraded to a total power of 5000 kW with at least two charging stations with a capacity of 800 kW.

Additionally, each urban junction on the mentioned roads will have to have a minimum of 1400 kW of power by the end of 2025, which will be distributed to four 350 kW charging stations, and by 2030 the total capacity will have to increase to 3500 kW.

Additional rest areas/parking lots will have to provide at least two charging stations with a minimum power of 100 kW with V2G technology by 2027 or at least four such charging stations by 2030.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

Dinamo Eliminated from Europe, Club Earns Over 25m EUR from Champions League

November 3, 2022 -  Dinamo needed a miracle to continue playing in Europe this season, but a loss against Chelsea on Wednesday night in London resulted in a last-place finish in their Champions League group. 

Chelsea beat Dinamo 2-1 in the 6th round of Group E of the Champions League, thus eliminating the Zagreb team from playing in Europe this season. 

Dinamo could have finished 3rd in the standings and continued in the Europa League only by beating Chelsea and if Milan beat RB Salzburg. Milan did beat the Austrian champion 4-0 at home, but Dinamo could not do the same at Stamford Bridge. 

Bruno Petković put Dinamo in the lead in the seventh minute, but Chelsea turned the score around by the end of the first half. Raheem Sterling scored in the 18th minute and Denis Zakaria in the 30th.

Dinamo thus finished the competition with one win, one draw, and four losses.

Chelsea finished first in Group E and Milan in second, advancing to the Champions League round of 16. RB Salzburg will continue playing in the Europa League.

The Croatian champion secured huge earnings this European season, reports Index.hr. Entry into the Champions League group stage brought Dinamo a minimum of 15.64 million euros, and another 2.8 million was received after beating Chelsea at the start of the competition. Furthermore, a draw in the fourth round against Salzburg brought Dinamo another 930,000 euros.

But that's not all. Each participant in the Champions League will receive a share of 600.6 million euros, which UEFA will distribute based on the club's coefficient in the last ten years. This amount will be divided into "coefficient shares," and each share is worth 1,137 million euros.

The best-ranked club in the Champions League will receive 32 of these shares, and according to the club coefficient, the lowest-ranked club will receive one share. There, Dinamo will receive 6.28 million euros.

Money from the marketing pool also goes into this. UEFA has secured an additional 300.3 million euros for Champions League participants, which will be distributed by the proportional value of the market in each club's country. When everything is added up, Dinamo will earn more than 25 million euros in the Champions League this season.

Champions League Round of 16

Group winners: Bayern Munich, Benfica, Chelsea, FC Porto, Manchester City, Napoli, Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur
Group runners-up: AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Club Brugge, Eintracht Frankfurt, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig

Drops into Europa League: Ajax, Barcelona, Bayer Leverkusen, FC Salzburg, Juventus, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sporting CP

Eliminated from Europe: Atletico Madrid, Celtic, FC Copenhagen, Dinamo Zagreb, Maccabi Haifa, Marseille. Rangers, Viktoria Plzen

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Strong Tourist Season in Baranja, More in Store for the Winter

November 2, 2022 - As early as in mid-September, the number of overnight stays in Baranja was equal to the total number of overnight stays achieved in 2019, which means that the record has already been exceeded.

Glas Slavonije reported on the positive trend which this eastern Croatian region has been enjoying. "Judging by the inquiries and planned events, we are expecting a great tourist year", said Matej Perkušić, director of the Baranja Tourist Board, stressing that it is obvious that, above all, domestic guests have acquired a new habit, "to travel and spend nights within Croatia, including Baranja."

He reminds that there is no season or postseason on the "continent", which is confirmed by the numerous visitors to several events in Slavonia-Baranja during the past months. Željka Bagarić-Dumančić from the Baranja Tourist Board claims that guests will have a reason to come to Baranja (but also a bit more).

"Let's start with the events included in the celebration of the Day of Beli Manastir, Martinje. Among the whole series of different and interesting month-long events organised by the City, Beli Manastir associations and institutions, I single out the preparation of traditional Baranja fish dishes, which will be held on November 5 in the Hungarian House of MKU Pelmonostor. On the very Day of Beli Manastir, a concert by the tambura group Fijaker is planned, and the day after a fair of local products with a rich gastronomic offer", said Bagarić-Dumančić.

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Steve Tsentserensky

Many guests will also be attracted by the traditional Karanac Winter Fair and Čvarak Fest on November 26 at the Karanac Field, organised by the Association of Keepers of Old Crafts (Udruga čuvara starih zanata), with the help of Baranjska Kuća and Baranja Tourist Board. This year too, visitors will be welcomed by numerous stands, a rich gastronomic offer and interesting content. This year's novelty is the winter Wine & Walk. So far, only the summer one has been held, and due to numerous inquiries from the participants, the local tourist board, in cooperation with the Baranja Winegrowers Association, decided to organise one during the colder part of the year as well. It will be held on December 10.

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Steve Tsentserensky

"We expect between 200 and 300 participants. On the nine-kilometer-long trail through Suza and Zmajevac, the famous wine meccas of Baranja, participants will be welcomed at numerous locations by Baranja winemakers and restaurants with top-quality wines and snacks. We will provide the walkers with a map, a wine glass and a winter hat, and the participants will need to make sure they wear comfortable clothes and shoes and a good mood", explains Bagarić-Dumančić, adding that the wineries Pinkert, Kovač, Kolar, Horvat, Gerštmajer, Svijetli dvori, Zlatno brdo, Kalazić, Josić, Szabo and Kusić will be waiting for the walkers. The energy will be taken care of (also) by the Kovač Čarda restaurant, the Oaza Mira vacation house, the "Tako je to nekad bilo" (As It Once Was) association, the Borarium Vinarium, and the Kusić cellars. The registration fee is HRK 300. The afterparty is in Katolički Surduk. Finally, let us not forget the Baranja Advent (Christmas markets) in Kneževi Vinogradi and Beli Manastir.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Zagorje, Međimurje, Samobor and More - The Northwestern Kajkavian Dialect

November the 2nd, 2022 - Iva Lukezic, an expert in the Croatian language and in dialects, states that what's known as the Zagorje-Međimurje dialect or the Northwestern Kajkavian dialect is one of the main dialects of the wider Kajkavian dialect. This manner of speaking is primarily characterised by the preservation of what's known as ''basic Kajkavian accentuation''.

We've looked into enough dialects and subdialects of the Croatian language to realise there's much more to the language spoken in this country than what's now known as standard Croatian. From the Dubrovnik subdialect with its Florentine and Venetian roots, and learning about Kajkavian and Chakavian, to old Dalmatian which is sadly dying with the last generations to speak it, the regional way of speaking across Croatia is extremely varied for such a small country.

Did you know that in some cases it gets a bit more complicated than the three ''main ways'' of speaking (Kajkavian, Chakavian and Shtokavian)? There of course regionalities and variations within each of those, too, and let's not even get started on the words only spoken on certain islands. Let's take a look at the Northwestern Kajkavian dialect, which encompasses several areas of modern Croatian territory.

It is spoken in the border areas of Croatia from Slovenia and Hungary (around Kotoriba below Nagykanizsa and in Prekodravlje) all the way to the City of Zagreb. The Northwestern Kajkavian dialect can be divided into several sub-dialects; spoken in Samobor, Međimurje, Varaždin-Ludbreš, Bednjan-Zagorje and Gornjosutlan. There are some linguists and other experts in the Croatian language and in dialects who consider each of the ways of speaking in the aforementioned locations to be dialects in their own right, and not merely subdialects.

Veering off to be even more specific for a second, it's worth mentioning that the local Bednja(n) dialect is considered to actually be the oldest form of the Kajkavian proto-dialect. 

The Bednjan dialect is spoken by the inhabitants of the municipality of Bednja, which, in addition to Bednja itself, encompasses the areas of Pleš, Šaša, Vrbno, Trakošćan (which you'll likely know of thanks to its stunning castle), Benkovec, Rinkovec, Prebukovje, and so on. The Bednjan dialect isn't completely isolated, and most of its main features are also found in certain neighbouring areas like Lepoglava, Kamenica, and especially in Jesenje.

In scientific circles, Bednja speech is unfairly neglected, which makes it all the more important to mention the professor and dialectologist Josip Jedvaj, born in Šaša, who published the most precise and comprehensive study on the Bednjan speech so far in the Croatian Dialectological Collection, which is considered one of the best descriptions of one of the organic forms of speech of this part of the country. The people of the municipality of Bednja named a district school in Vrbno and a street in Bednja after him as a thank you for his efforts to preserve the Bednja language and not let it be lost to the often cruel hands of time, as has been the case for many words spoken in old Dalmatian.

Given the fact that the Northwestern Kajkavian dialect encompasses a fair few places, some (if not most) of which will have variations in their own locally spoken words, we'll look at some more standard words used in this dialect, some of which are still used, and some of which might well be being forgotten in areas like Međimurje and beyond. Some can still be heard in Zagreb, even. I'll provide their standard Croatian and English translations.

Astal - table/stol

Bajka - a thick winter coat/deblji zimski kaput

Cafuta - a prostitute/prostitutka (kurva)

De - where/gdje

Eroplan - plane/avion

Fajna - good looking or pretty/lijepa, fina ili zgodna

Gda - when/kad(a)

Harijada - when something is busy, unorganised or overcrowded/guzva, nered ili cirkus

Jagar - hunter/lovac

Kalamper (kalampir) - potato/krumpir

Laboda - ball/lopta

Marelo - umbrella/kisobran

Nemorut - someone who is useless, lazy or good for nothing/beskoristan ili lijen

Ober - above/iznad

Palamuditi - to talk shit or say stupid things/pricati gluposti

Raca - duck/patka

Senje or senji - dreams/snovi

Tolvaj - thief/lopov

Untik dosta - more than enough/vise nego dovoljno

Venodjati - to have sex or make love/voditi ljubav

Zajtrak (sometimes zajtrek or zojtrak) - breakfast/dorucak

 

For more on the Croatian language, from learning how to swear in Croatian to learning about the various dialects, subdialects and history of the language, make sure to keep up with our language articles in our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

How to Croatia - Navigating The World of Croatian Health Insurance

November the 2nd, 2022 - For foreigners and even those with Croatian citizenship who are moving here, the stress of navigating the sometimes needlessly complicated world of Croatian health insurance tends to come as a surprise...

Nobody wants to think of themselves becoming unwell, developing a hernia or breaking a bone, but it happens. You might eat one too many oysters and need to be in extremely close proximity to a very well functioning toilet, you could jump off a rugged Adriatic cliff and land in a less than ideal position in the sea below, or you might step on the notorious ‘jež’. The jež, or sea hedgehog, isn’t some sort of mythical Croatian monster from times gone by, it is a mere black sea urchin, there are loads of them and they do nothing but sit around all day, but they don’t half pack a punch (or stab, which is more accurate) if you accidentally step on one. 

Health insurance in Croatia is regulated by HZZO, or in English, the Croatian Health Insurance Fund. Much like the rest of Europe, Croatia has a universal healthcare system with private options available too. This doesn’t mean that healthcare is free in Croatia, it isn’t, we all need to do our bit and pay into it to ensure we can all be cared for should we need to be.

Health insurance in Croatia is compulsory, which means everyone resident on the territory of Croatia should have a regulated compulsory health insurance status. That isn’t saying that we all do, many of us don’t, and much like many other ‘mandatory’ things in Croatia… well… the use of the term is a little skewed. That said, you should have it, if for no other reason than for your own peace of mind. 

So, who technically needs to be insured in Croatia?

Long story short - Everyone. Short story long - There are more complications to this than there needs to be, and there are 59 different categories of insured persons!

Let’s start with the basics. In Croatia, there are three types of healthcare coverage. One is obvezno (mandatory), the others are dodatno and dopunsko, which act as additional coverage on top of your obvezno insurance. Think of it in levels; 1) Obvezno 2) Dopunsko 3) Dodatno.

Universal healthcare coverage is the norm all over Europe, with the British NHS being a not perfect but absolutely enviable tax-based model where nothing is paid at all at the point of use regardless of what needs to be done. Croatia’s socialised health insurance system is similar in the sense that it is based entirely on the principles of solidarity, meaning that all residents of Croatia, be they foreign or Croatian, are expected to contribute to the fund according to their respective abilities to pay for it. Everyone is paying for everyone else, and for the system to exist, and in turn they receive healthcare services according to their needs, from the prescribing of antibiotics for that pesky trachea infection that makes you sound like a chain smoker to open heart surgery that you need because you quite literally are a chain smoker.

You don’t need to pay if you’re under 18 years of age, you’re incapable of living an independent life, if you’re a disabled member of the Croatian Armed Forces, or if you’re the direct family member of a missing or dead member of the Croatian Armed Forces.

There are some other exceptions with more detailed explanations, but assuming you’re a foreign resident, you’re highly unlikely to be any of the above, so I’ll move on and offer a brief look at what the different types of Croatian health insurance mean and include.

Obvezno zdravstveno osiguranje is the most basic of the basic must-haves in Croatia. It’s the one everyone living in Croatia is meant to have from HZZO. You don’t need it if you’re an EEA citizen or permanent EEA resident who is covered by national health insurance in another EEA member state. This goes back to what I mentioned previously about not being allowed to be insured in two EEA member states at the same time.

Dopunsko zdravstveno osiguranje is a bit like a beefed up version of obvezno. It’s supplemental and totally optional, and you can take out a policy either as a public or private health insurance policy. You can get it from either HZZO or even from a bank or independent insurer. It eliminates most copayments for medication prescriptions, visits to the doctor, diagnostic workups, tests, and hospital stays should you need hospitalisation for any reason. If you’re someone who is, for example, diabetic, or suffers from some other sort of chronic condition such as hypertension which needs constant medication and frequent monitoring, this would be a good option. Copayments in Croatia are small, but why pay them if you can avoid it?

Dodatno zdravstveno osiguranje is the top of the range when it comes to Croatian health insurance. It covers absolutely everything and isn’t on offer from HZZO but from independent insurers and banks. This policy covers preventive care, visits (as many as you need) to all kinds of specialists, additional treatments, any laboratory test you can imagine, and extended hospital visits should you (God forbid) need that. You won’t need to pay anything out of pocket whatsoever if this is your policy of choice, and once again, it’s great if you’re someone who does suffer from some sort of chronic ailment that needs medicating and/or a watchful eye kept on it.

Now we’ve covered that, you might be wondering how you enrol into HZZO

First, you need to find the HZZO office for your area of residence, a full list can be obtained by accessing hzzo.hr and selecting ‘English’ in the top right corner. Alternatively, you can ask at MUP during your residence procedure.

Once there, you’ll need to explain that you’re a resident in Croatia and you’d like to enrol for obvezno health insurance.

If you’re a citizen or permanent resident of the EEA and as such you have an EHIC, you technically do not need to enrol in HZZO because you shouldn’t be publicly insured in two EEA member states at the same time. You absolutely can enrol in HZZO should you so wish, but you’ll need to provide proof that you’re no longer insured by the other EEA country in question. This is where things can get tricky.

When Britain was part of the EEA, many, many British residents of Croatia had endless issues trying to enrol into the Croatian healthcare system because the NHS is not health insurance but a right automatically afforded to people born and living in the UK, and because the document HZZO wants (proof of no longer being insured in the UK) seems to be as elusive as the abominable snowman. Many people have never heard of such a document and have absolutely no idea what is being sought. Now the UK is no longer an EEA member state, that awkward problem is hopefully a thing of the past.

It’s technically HZZO which needs to seek this document, not you. If they ask you for it, let them know that you're not the one who needs to be chasing it, they are.

If you manage to bypass this requirement, or you’re simply not asked, and you’re an EEA citizen or permanent resident, you can be enrolled into the Croatian health insurance system. Your first step is filling in the form to sign up which will be given to you or be made readily available at the office. 

A back payment, for a year in which you weren’t even in Croatia…

This might sound utterly preposterous, and to many people it does appear quite ridiculous, but there’s logic here, so hear me out. Some people (such as those who aren’t being signed up to HZZO) by their employers, need to pay ‘back pay’ to HZZO for the previous year. So this is 12 months of premiums, all in one go. But I wasn’t even here?! I hear you cry. I know, it seems like a complete con, but the reason behind it is this: what if you turned up, enrolled for free, got hit by a bus on your way home and then needed major surgery? What if you have a chronic health condition you failed to mention and started eating the system out of house and home as it were? Insulin, blood thinners, inhalers, statins, the works! That wouldn’t be fair on the people paying into the system, while you’ve paid nothing and yet you’re reaping the rewards of a socialised medical system.

Of course, one sincerely hopes that they will never be hit by a bus, struck by lightning, attacked by a shark, be knocked unconscious by a falling brick or anything else of the sort, but these are things we unfortunately cannot predict, and nor can HZZO. If you have a chronic health condition which will require the use of the system for prescription medication and therapies, you should also be paying your part into the system in order to be on a level playing field with everyone else paying their contributions.

I truly understand that it might seem like an absolute con and a half to be asked for a document that nobody seems to have ever heard of, such as ‘release from health insurance in another EEA country’, and then once you’ve fought that battle, be asked to pay for the health insurance you would have needed to pay for had you been here over the past 12 months, but you didn’t and couldn’t have, because you were not here… Yeah, I’ll give you that, it seems a bit like someone is taking the Michael, as they say in England, but hopefully the above explanation makes it seem a bit more rational.

I’ve been hired by a Croatian company, do I need to go and enrol at HZZO?

No. Your employer is obliged by law to do this for you using what’s known as a T-2 application form. You don’t have anything to do with this process.

Getting a health insurance card

As soon as you finish enrolling at the HZZO office, or as soon as your employer is finished enrolling you, you’re insured. You’ll be given paper confirmation of that fact by the clerk, and you can use this if you do need medical help as proof of you being insured by HZZO. You will get a proper plastic card attesting to that fact in the mail eventually, this can take weeks to months to arrive, so don’t panic if it doesn’t turn up for a while, you’re insured regardless and it will.

How do I find a GP?

Got a cough that just won’t go? Eaten one too many seafood platters and become best mates with the toilet? Found a weird rash you can’t leave alone? Your GP needs to be your first port of call unless it is an emergency, in which case, well, the emergency room needs to be your first port of call. 

From ear infections to ingrown toenails and everything in between, GPs, or as they’re called in Croatia ‘family doctors’ (doktor opće medicine/obiteljski liječnik) are the ones who will prescribe the antibiotics, sprays, prescription ointments and so on. 

Most people have a GP, a paediatrician for their kids if they have them, a gynaecologist if you’re a woman, and of course, the one who tells you off for eating too many sweets - a dentist. 

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves with all of the different doctors. Here’s how to find and get registered as a new patient with a GP

HZZO’s website (hzzo.hr) has a list of GPs. You’ll need to go through the list of those in your area and call them to ask them if they’re taking on new patients. Alternatively, you can use word of mouth, which is worth its weight in gold in Croatia for just about everything. GPs can’t turn you down if they are taking on patients, which is good news. But be aware, they might not pick up the phone when you call, and the GPs with a great reputation among the local bakas (grandmothers) will likely not be able to take you on.

Once you find a GP and are accepted as a new patient, you’ll fill in a form which you’ll get from the doctor’s office, and then you’ll need to give it to the doctor. They then fill in their part, and send it off to HZZO. That’s it, you’re done.

Your GP will be the one you visit first with your health complaints which aren’t medical emergencies. They are qualified to run certain tests, and also to make a decision as to whether you need to be referred for more tests, scans, and/or to a specialist at a polyclinic or a hospital. If you do need to see a specialist for further diagnostics and tests, you’ll be given what’s called an uputnica (a referral). This used to be a slip of paper and it’s now digital (yes, Croatia is actually catching up, believe it or not), and is called an e-Uputnica.

How do I find an English speaking doctor?

English is very widely spoken in Croatia, and most educated people speak it excellently. Most doctors speak some degree of English, some with complete fluency. In smaller areas, especially down on the coast or in the Dalmatian hinterland, you might come across doctors who speak very little to no English, however. The British Government’s website (GOV.UK) and its Croatia page has a handy tool you can use to find the names of English speaking doctors, as does the US Embassy’s website.

In case of emergency

As stated, if you’re experiencing a medical emergency, go straight to the nearest hospital with your health insurance card or the piece of paper HZZO gave to you after you enrolled, don’t wait on your GP. If you’re a mere tourist with no intention of becoming a resident, take your passport and your EHIC. This is now a GHIC if you’re British.

Things to be aware of

Everyone resident in Croatia is supposed to have a GP. Does everyone have one? No. Can everyone get hold of theirs on the phone or via email if they do? Also no. 

Obvezno (mandatory health insurance) does not cover birth control, cosmetic surgery, abortion, or the expenses of medical treatment sought because of some sort of religious conviction or personal preference that isn’t deemed medically necessary.

Unless you have dodatno health insurance (or dopunsko, in a wide array of cases), you may need to pay a small copayment for certain medications, procedures or hospital stays. This is usually a symbolic sum.

Contraception and abortion in Croatia

Contraceptives

Condoms are available in all kinds of stores, from Lidl to newsagents, and even in Tisak kiosks. There are various brands on offer just like all over the world.

I mentioned above that contraceptives aren’t covered by obvezno health insurance in Croatia. Some brands of contraceptive pills, however, are covered if you have taken out a dopunsko policy, but generally you need to pay out of pocket for them and you’ll also need a gynaecologist to give you the green light (and a prescription) following a pelvic examination and a few general health questions to check all is well. The gynaecologist can be a state healthcare provider or a private one, it doesn’t matter at all.

When it comes to intrauterine devices (IUD), you also need to pay. You can get certain types at certain pharmacies and gynaecology practices. Following the purchase, a gynaecologist needs to perform the procedure and insert the IUD into your uterus following the ‘green light examination’ I mentioned above. They may want to examine you again and ask some questions before beginning the procedure to double check.

Plan B and C

Levonorgestrel, more commonly referred to as the morning after pill (Plan B) is available to purchase at all pharmacies (a pharmacy is called a ljekarna in Croatian). Health insurance doesn’t come into this. You can just go and purchase it. It prevents pregnancy in an impressive 95% of cases if taken within 24 hours, and you don’t need to speak to a doctor, nor do you need a prescription.

Mifepristone is a drug often used in combination with another drug called misoprostol to induce a medical abortion and manage early miscarriage. This is known as Plan C, you need a prescription and it can be used until the 10th week of pregnancy in Croatia. Once the prescription is taken to a pharmacy, they aim to have it within one to two days, after which you must take it for a period of four days. After that, you’ll need to go back to the gynaecologist who will perform another pelvic examination to make sure the termination is complete.

Abortion

This is still a touchy subject in Croatia, but abortion is legal and has been for a very long time. If you’re determined to have an abortion and you’ve passed the 10 weeks of pregnancy mark, you need to be absolutely certain of your decision, and while you don’t need any counselling like you do in certain other countries, even the more liberal ones, you do need to convince your doctor you’re 100% sure, as well. 

Once you’ve made your intentions clear, you’ll be spoken to about something called the Commission of First Instance, consisting of a gynaecologist, another doctor, and a social worker or registered nurse. The commission then either chooses to approve the abortion if it is medically necessary to save the woman's life or preserve her state of health, whether that threat to her health is present during the pregnancy, or during the delivery itself.

What does that mean?

An abortion after 10 weeks will likely be approved if what will become a baby is likely to, or will definitely be born with a congenital defect or if the unwanted pregnancy is the result of a crime such as incest or rape. The Commission's decision may be appealed to a Commission of Second Instance, whose decision is final. This sounds daunting, but it doesn’t even come into it in situations where the woman's life or health is in immediate danger or the abortion procedure has already begun. 

Once you’ve been given the green light, you’ll be referred for the procedure, which typically lasts around 40 minutes as long as there are no complications or bumps in the road, and is typically carried out at a hospital. The facility set to carry out the abortion must have a obstetrics and gynaecology department.

Abortions aren’t free, and they are typically not covered by HZZO. You’ll need to fork out a few thousand kuna for the gynaecological exam, blood tests, and the procedure itself.

Things to note

Certain types of IUD are free of charge and covered by HZZO entirely if the woman in question suffers from anaemia as a result of blood loss during abnormally heavy periods.

There are numerous types of contraceptive pills available in Croatia, ask the gynaecologist which one is right for you based on your own medical history, possible medical issues, and potential hormonal issues. If you have had issues with a particular brand in the past, make sure to mention it.

Some pharmacies can refuse to sell Plan B (the morning after pill) on religious grounds. It sounds absolutely beyond comprehension, but it can and does unfortunately happen. If this happens to you, go to another pharmacy.

There is something called ‘conscientious objection’ in Croatia, and much like the above case with Plan B and some pharmacists, some doctors use it to refuse to agree to refer a patient for an abortion, or to carry out the procedure. If this does happen to you, don’t waste your time pleading your case, save yourself the energy and seek out another doctor.

The tide appears to be turning when it comes to the issue of abortion in Croatia. Back in the pandemic-dominated year of 2020, the Ipsos Puls agency conducted a poll in which 81% of respondents agreed with the statement that a woman should have a right to choose regarding pregnancies, giving birth or abortions, of which 68% completely agreed and 13% mostly agreed.

On a much lighter note, you can get free tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through HZZO.

If you’re prescribed some medication, you’ll pay a very small copayment when picking it up from the pharmacy. The amount is symbolic.

Additional information in more specific cases, such as cross-border healthcare, can be accessed by visiting HZZO’s National Contact Point page, or emailing them at nc[email protected]

Alright, I’ve found a doctor, how do I go about finding a dentist?

Dentists are those kinds of people you just don’t even think about until you can’t stop thinking about them, either because your tooth has suspiciously just started hurting or because you’ve parted with your hard earned cash, all for a tiny filling you won’t even be able to see and what feels like a smack in the face.

They don’t evoke pleasant thoughts, nor do their whirring tools, but they’re very necessary. 

If you’re a tourist in Croatia, you just quite literally need to find one, see if they have an appointment free for you, pay out of pocket for what you need to be done and then be on your merry way, hopefully never to return again. In all honesty, the same can be done as a resident who has Croatian health insurance. If you’re willing to pay out of pocket, you can’t be bothered to go flicking through the dentists which have contracts with HZZO and you need help right now, you’re free to do as you like and go to whoever will treat you. 

Dental care in Croatia is typically of a very high standard, and the prices are very favourable compared to what many people are used to paying elsewhere. This has become such a trend that Croatian dental (and health in general) tourism has been blossoming, with some polyclinics having earned stellar reputations among locals and foreigners alike, be they coming for necessary work or cosmetic procedures.

Finding a dentist who has a contract with HZZO

If you want to find a dentist who has a contract with HZZO and it isn’t cosmetic work you’re after, you’ll be able to be treated for free, although you might need to pay a very small contribution in participation costs.

Cosmetic dentistry

Croatia is making quite the name for itself in this regard, and there are, as I mentioned a little while ago, numerous polyclinics springing up offering excellent services for very favourable prices. Dentists in Croatia study at the School of Dental Medicine in Croatia, which is the only one of its kind in the country, and the care they provide is of high quality. Foreigners from all over the world come to Croatia to get their dental work done, enjoying stays in hotels, sightseeing and the gastronomic scene (as long as they can eat, of course!) all while completing their treatments. 

Croatian dentistry has an absolutely brilliant reputation internationally, and with very good reason.

 

For more on navigating the practicalities of life in Croatia, make sure to keep up with our How to Croatia articles each week by following our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

CIHT 2022: Croatia's Premier Health Tourism Conference Turns 10 in Style

November 2, 2022 - Kvarner cements its reputation as the de facto capital of the Croatian medical tourism story, as the Crikvenica International Health Tourism (CIHT) conference marks its 10th anniversary jubilee with yet another outstanding conference and list of participants. 

There has been a lot of uncertainty in the world in the last decade, and tourism is no exception. But there is one corner of Croatian tourism, where things have remained fairly constant, growing every year and attracting global excellence from all corners of the planet. 

It is 5 years since I discovered that Croatia even had a medical tourism industry of note, when Ognjen Bagatin introduced me to the excellent Zagreb trio of Poliklinika Bagatin, St Catherine's Specialty Hospital, and Svjetlost Eye Clinic, but while the Croatian capital had an impressive lineup of services, it did not take me long to realise that the centre of medical tourism excellence in Croatia lay on the coast in Kvarner, where a concentration of truly outstanding medical tourism experts - in a variety of fields, were offering some of the best - and most affordable medical tourism services in Europe, ably organised by the umbrella organisation, The Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster. 

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At the centre of those promotional efforts was a conference which started small back in 2013, went online during the pandemic, but last month celebrated its jubilee 10th anniversary firmly established as the leading health tourism conference in the region, with a truly outstanding list of international expert speakers. When I first attended the conference back in 2018, I was impressed by the number of medical tourism superstars with no obvious connection to Croatia who had made the journey to take part. These included Keith Pollard, Editor-in-Chief of the International Medical Travel Journal, and Sherine Azli, CEO of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, voted the best medical tourism country in the world. Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and many other prestigious names have taken part over the years. 

After the turbulence of the pandemic years, medical tourism in Croatia is back on track, largely due to the energy of the movers and shakers from Kvarner. An overview of this year's CIHT 2022 conference below.  You can learn more about CIHT 2022 on the official website.

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The jubilee 10th CIHT confirmed its reputation as a leading regional conference on health tourism

This year's jubilee 10th consecutive CIHT (Crikvenica International Health Tourism) conference, held on October 20 and 21 in a hybrid form, in Hotel Omorika and online, gathered in one place more than 20 lecturers from 7 countries and over 300 participants eager for new knowledge about the position, challenges, future and trends in health tourism. The growing attendance and interest in this conference speaks volumes about the importance of a strategic development plan for health tourism in order to better position Kvarner and Croatia on the map of health tourism destinations in the world.

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"The CIHT conference achieved its goal again this year - it gathered top experts from all over the world in the field of health tourism. About 120 participants gathered in Crikvenica live, and even more online. These two days were very interesting in terms of exchanging information, experiences and knowledge, and we will certainly all leave richer for some new knowledge that we will apply in practice. As for the future of the CIHT conference, we are already planning new ideas, speakers and topics, and I invite everyone to join us at the CIHT conference in 2023", said the director of the Tourist Board of the City of Crikvenica, Marijana Biondić.

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One of the special features of this conference is that it brings experts from different professions such as medicine, tourism, marketing and business, which gives a diverse and comprehensive perspective on this prosperous branch of tourism. The conference ideally connects the experiences of the public and private sectors, experts and representatives of health institutions with practical experience. The covid period was challenging, especially for the health sector and its related sectors, therefore this year's conference was guided by the idea of ​​providing answers to the questions of how to adapt to the changed needs of patients and how to recognize the potential of your destination and harmonize it with market requirements.

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After the workshop, in honor of the 10th anniversary, an award ceremony was held last night for institutions and individuals who, through their successful activities, are responsible for the development of health tourism in Croatia. The following were awarded: Special Hospital Akromion, Special Hospital for Ophthalmology Svjetlost, Polyclinic Glavić, Special Hospital Krapinske Toplice, Special Hospital Stubičke Toplice, Special Hospital Sveta Katarina, Special Hospital for Orthopedics Dr. Nemec, Polyclinic Rident, Thalassotherapia Opatija, Terme Selce, Thalassotherapia Crikvenica, Ognjen Bagatin and Marcel Medak.

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While yesterday the topics of trends in health tourism, investments and development of health tourism were in the center, today's presentations were aimed at identifying the market - who are the patients who use services in health tourism, how to improve the service to meet their needs, how to become an attractive institution and destination for new types of tourists and how to achieve competitiveness and break into new markets.

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The successful edition of the 10th anniversary CIHT conference is the result of the cooperation of four organizations that put Kvarner on the map of world destinations for rest and rehabilitation: the Tourist Board of the City of Crikvenica and the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster as organizers, and Thalassotherapy Crikvenica and Selce Thermal Spa as co-organizers.

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"I think that all participants, and we as organizers, are satisfied with this year's conference. There was a lot of exchange of experiences, agreements, specific joint work, and ideas for the next conference were also obtained with regard to the directions in which health tourism is moving - from the use of digitization, artificial intelligence, regional differences... We are already creating plans and topics for next year , and we also invited some of this year's lecturers to join us", said Assoc. Ph.D. Vladimir Mozetič, MD, president of the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster.

The general sponsor of the 10th CIHT conference is Jadran-galenski laboratorij d.d., a Croatian pharmaceutical company with global success and recognition. The conference is supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, whose support was crucial in the organization of this conference. The conference is also supported by: Ministry of Health, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, Croatian Tourist Board, Kvarner Tourist Board, Croatian Chamber of Commerce and City of Crikvenica. Conference partners are Orto Nova - Dental Medicine Center, AmCham - American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia, Jadran d.d. and Ericsson Nikola Tesla d.d. Media sponsors are Jutarnji list and Lider.

After the worthy celebration of the 10th anniversary, preparations for the 11th edition of the conference will soon follow, again with top experts from respected world institutions, interesting discussions on current topics and numerous news.

For the latest news and features on medical tourism in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

 

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Dubrovnik Winter Flights: 3 National, 3 International Destinations

November 3, 2022 - The new Dubrovnik winter flights timetable is out, reports Croatian Aviation, with improved international connections. 

According to the published winter flight schedule 2022/2023, Dubrovnik should be connected to 3 international and 3 domestic destinations. Croatia Airlines and Trade Air should operate on domestic routes, and Vueling Airlines, Turkish Airlines and British Airways should operate on international routes.

During the entire winter flight schedule, Dubrovnik should be connected by daily flights to Zagreb with the flights of the domestic national carrier. Of course, via Croatia Airlines lines from Zagreb to other European and international destinations.

Among the foreign airlines in Dubrovnik this winter, we should see Vueling Airlines on the route to Barcelona, ​​Turkish Airlines on the route to Istanbul, and British Airways on the route to Gatwick Airport in London. Lines to Barcelona, ​​Istanbul and London (Gatwick) should enable Dubrovnik to have a direct connection with international destinations during the winter, so we hope that the mentioned lines and flights will actually come true.

You can view the entire schedule of the 2022/2023 winter flight schedule at Dubrovnik airport by clicking on this LINK. Of course, this schedule is subject to change, and it is quite certain that the airlines will adapt the flight schedule to their own assessments and needs, so subsequent changes and cancellations should not surprise us too much.

Certainly, we want Dubrovnik airport, just like our other airports, to have as many winter lines and flights as possible!

For the latest flight news to Croatia, check out the dedicated TCN flights section.

****

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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