Thursday, 18 February 2021

People Also Ask Google: What is a Typical Croatian Breakfast?

February 18,  2021 - Google knows what people are searching for, and there are clues in the 'People Also Ask' prompt. So let's start answering - what is a typical Croatian breakfast?

Having grown up in the US, I love breakfast. Not only is it the most important meal of the day, but it tastes good at any time of the day - and I've certainly had my fair share during lunch, dinner, and dessert. From pancakes, crispy bacon, home fries, and scrambled eggs at divey diners to eggs benedict brunch extravaganzas, breakfast is one meal America does right. 

So, what do Croatians eat for breakfast?

Experiencing the breakfasts of my homeland, however, turned out to be a harsh reality I discovered on my first trip to Croatia in 1996. 

Not yet six years old, I remember sitting in the kitchen of my grandparent's home in Kosa, a small village 15 minutes from Metković. My mother, the oldest of seven siblings, was back in the kitchen where she was raised before moving to Split at 16.

"Mama, I'm hungry," I said, familiar with mornings that included a variety of sugary cereals, chocolate milk, fresh-squeezed orange juice, or french toast. 

A chewy loaf of white bread was presented before me, along with butter, pašteta, and rosehip jam. At least I had options. 

Visiting Croatia as I grew older, and especially in my later teen years when indulging in Hvar town nightlife was a rite of passage among my paternal cousins; that soft loaf of bread, while nostalgic, wasn't going to cut it. We'd often find ourselves looking for anywhere that had a sign outside with the word 'omelet' (even though only cheese or ham was ever an option) and would beg for a morning order of fries on the side if only to desperately mimic the hangover breakfasts back home. 

And if there was no omelet to be found? We'd hunt for the greasiest burek in town. 

But that was well over a decade ago. While some Croatian breakfast staples have been maintained, many citizens (and restaurants) have evolved their morning routine to cater to breakfasts reminiscent of our western friends. 

What is a traditional Croatian breakfast?

“Turkish coffee and a cigarette.” 

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While it may be one of the most popular breakfasts among some Croatians, there are quite a few other traditional morning meals.

Like I mentioned above, Dalmatians are partial to cold cuts, cheese, pašteta, and bread. Some on the coast prefer to keep it light and will opt for anchovies instead. 

It’s not unusual to find slimy pancetta or lard spread on bread in continental Croatia, pork-fat inspired dishes in northern Croatia, while the Istria region is famous for its asparagus and truffle frittata

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Your breakfast cold cuts may even be served with pickled onions or gherkins, a box of Napolitanke, Jadro, or holiday cookies defrosting from the freezer, but only one thing is certain - there is no breakfast in Croatia without coffee. Consider eating is a bonus. 

What are Croatian breakfast pastries?

While we more or less covered some traditional breakfast items in Croatia, others may have never been intended for breakfast but are now enjoyed in the morning by both locals and tourists in Croatia.  

Burek (with cheese) is by far the most famous. This Croatian classic is usually made with phyllo dough and cheese, while other fillings such as meat, potato, and spinach can also be found. A staple at most bakeries across the country, this cheap to-go treat can also be enjoyed with yogurt to ensure a hearty breakfast meal. 

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Unlike burek, bučnica is a strudel-like pastry containing pumpkin, cheese, butter, and eggs. Served with sour cream, bučnica is Croatian comfort food that even ticks off a few of the food groups! 

Croissants, strudels, and various other Croatian cookies and pastries have made their way into our mornings and are often found for a few kunas at bakeries like Bobis, Dubravica, and the like. 

What do Croatians eat on holidays? Croatian Easter breakfast 

The holiday breakfast in Croatia that stands out the most is certainly Easter. Easter is a holiday with many breakfast traditions around the country, like cooked ham, boiled eggs, spring onions, radishes, and the sweet star of the show - sirnica (or pinca), a fluffy Croatian Easter bread topped with crushed sugar. 

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Easter in Sinj -  Foto Žižić

Traditionally from Dalmatia, sirnica is a trademark of Croatian Easter tables today, so much so that bakeries around the country begin selling the bread months before the holiday - and some year-round! 

 

What is a typical Croatian breakfast today?

It's 2021, so it's no surprise that Croatia's breakfast eaters have adapted to today's trends. Many children will have yogurt and a banana before school; others may enjoy a bowl of Chocolino cereal, while eggs have become much more commonplace on today's breakfast tables. Especially since so many have the luxury of fresh eggs from their farm or local farmer's market. 

Restaurants around the country have matured as well, with many offering English breakfasts, eggs benedict, or poached eggs on avocado toast. 

Some restaurants have even introduced breakfast burritos, others opened restaurants dedicated solely to eggs (Eggspress in Zagreb, for example), and bagels have even made their way here in the last couple of years!

And let's not forget about cold-pressed juices, smoothies, and acai bowls that can be found in Croatia's bigger cities, catering especially to Californian and Aussie travelers here on holiday. 

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Brasserie on 7 in Split

And to conclude  -  the best Croatian breakfast memes.

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In the  world vs in Croatia

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Whether you opt for sweet, savory, to something in between, breakfast in Croatia has it all. 

Are there any Croatian breakfast tips and essentials we should add? Send us your info at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To follow the People Also Ask Google about Croatia series, click here

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

People Also Ask Google: How to Get to Istria, Croatia in 2021?

February 17, 2021 – In Google's "People also ask" feature, the hard questions are the ones that start with "how." It is not always easy to find answers how to do something or how to get somewhere. However, in this article, we will try to explain how to get to Istria, the biggest and famous Croatian peninsula.

Located in the most western part of Croatia, Istria is a peninsula known for its rich cultural heritage, as well as it's delicious gastro offer that includes world's best wine, olive oil, and truffles. Last year, Istria was named world's best olive oil region for the sixth consecutive year, which is one more reason why Istria is an unavoidable place to visit when in Croatia.

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Sources: Istria.hr, Pexels, Romulić and Stojčić

We will let you explore the charms of Istria for yourself, but first, we will try to help you how to get to Istria.

How to get to Istria Croatia by car?

Istria is one of the best, if not the best traffic-connected Croatian coastal region. Thanks to its geographical position, it achieves a record number of tourist arrivals and overnight stays every year, and the cities of Poreč and Rovinj are at the very top of Croatian tourist destinations.

The largest number of tourists come to Istria by land, by personal vehicles, from the close countries of Germany, Austria, and Italy. If you're coming to Istria from those countries, or from that direction, you must pass through Slovenia.

There are four main border crossings with Croatia and Slovenia in Istria. The first ones are Plovanija and Dragonja/Kaštel, from the direction of Koper, marked in red on the photo below.

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Screenshot Google Maps

The road to Plovanija goes along the Slovenian shore, and the border crossing Dragonja/Kaštel is on the road E751. After the Croatian border, that road connects with the most famous and most important road in Istria – the so-called Istrian Y, a Y-shaped highway, which connects all parts of Istria.

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On the left: Center of Istrian Y in Kanfanar (Romulić and Stojčić) / On the right: the map of Istrian Y (Wikipedia)

That part of the Istrian Y, marked in red on the photo below, goes along the western shore, and it is a highway A9 from the Slovenian border to Pula. It connects Istrian cities of Umag, Novigrad, Poreč, Rovinj, and Pula. However, the highway itself is a little away from these cities, so you will have to turn to state roads to reach them.

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A9 highway, a part of Istrian Y, marked in red / Wikipedia

The second two important - and also the busiest - border crossings in Istria are Pasjak and Rupa, marked in blue on the first photo. Although they are located in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, they are a gate to Istria County.

As shown on the photo below, the highway E61 goes to Croatia via the Pasjak crossing border from the direction of Trieste in Italy. If coming from the direction of Ljubljana, you must cross the Rupa crossing border. Highway E61 (in Croatian: highway A7) from both Pasjak and Rupa end in Matulji (marked in red) near Rijeka, where it connects with the second part of Istrian Y – highway A8 that goes to Kanfanar, the center point of Istrian Y.

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Screenshot Google Maps

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A8 highway, a another part of Istrian Y, marked in blue / Wikipedia

Remember, once you reach Istrian Y, you can reach any part of Istria. Istrian Y is actually a system of two highways, A8 and A9 – learn more about the Istrian Y.

Other Slovenian-Croatian border crossings are Bregana near Zagreb and Macelj near Krapina, from where you can go to Istria via highways E59 and E65.

How to get to Istria by plane?

The only airport in Istria is the one in Pula, while the other close airports are in Friuli Venezia Giulia Airport in Trieste, Marco Polo Airport in Venice, and Treviso Airport in Italy, Jože Pučnik Airport in Ljubljana in Slovenia (also known as Brnik Airport or Fraport Slovenia), Zagreb Franjo Tuđman Airport and Rijeka Airport in Croatia.

Pula Airport welcomes both charter and scheduled flights. Before many flights were canceled due the pandemic, Pula Airport had a solid tourist traffic. One of the most popular airline in Pula was Ryanair, offering cheap flights to some of the biggest European cities. However, the traffic in Pula Airport dropped by 89.6 percent in 2020, compared to the record 2019.

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Pula Airport by Romulić and Stojčić

Airlines operating to Pula Airport in 2021 are Air Serbia, British Airways, Croatia Airlines, EasyJet, Eurowings, Finnair, Jet2.com, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Ryanair, S7 Airlines, TUI, Volotea, and Wizzair.

In 2021, it will be possible to come to Pula, Istria by flights from Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the UK.

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Screenshot Pula Airport

Follow TCN's dedicated page for the newest information about flights to Croatia.

How to get to Istria by bus?

If you come from neighboring countries, the bus may be a good option to get to Istria. Since northern and western Croatia is well-connected with northern Italy, you can get to Istria by bus from Trieste to Buje, Poreč, Rovinj, Pula, along with other places on the way. The bus from Trieste to the western part of Istria, as well as to Rijeka, operates throughout the year.

There are also bus lines from Venice to Pula by the Pula-based bus company FILS, operating the whole year. Another Pula-based bus company Brioni Pula provides bus services from Padova (with stops in Venice and Trieste) to Vodnjan, Rovinj, Buje, and Pula. All the bus lines from Italy to Croatia can be found here (in Croatian).

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Bus routes from Venice, Italy to Pula, Croatia / Buscroatia.com

Istrian bus companies Brioni Pula i FILS also provide bus lines from many Croatian cities, mostly from the capital of Zagreb. If you're coming from continental Croatia, Istria is the closest seaside region to visit. There are many bus lines, especially during summer. You can find them also on the Flixbus and Arriva bus companies' webpages.

How to get to Istria by ferry?

Since Croatia has a sea border with Italy, one way to get to Istria from Italy is ferry. There are two ferry providers from Italy to Istria – Adriatic Lines and Venezia Lines.

Adriatic Lines operates from Venice to Istrian cities of Pula, Rovinj, Poreč, and Umag. Catamaran lines from port San Basilio in Venice to Istrian cities last about two and half hours. One-way ticket price is 65 euros (or 500 kunas) for adults and 32.50 euros (250 kunas) for children. The schedule for 2021 is still unavailable.

Adriatic Lines' catamarans are quite famous, as they are recognizable in Istrian ports. "Prince of Venice," mostly seen in Poreč port, has an attractive and distinctive design, while "Adriatic Jet" is known for its speed and interesting appearance.

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Prince of Venice in Poreč port / Adriatic Lines

During summer, namely from April to October, Venezia Lines have catamaran lines from Venice to Piran, Poreč, Pula, Rovinj, and Umag. Ticket prices range from 59 to 69 euros per person (450 to 520 kunas per person). It takes about three hours and 15-30 minutes to get in one direction, depending on the route. However, the schedule for 2021 has not yet been published.

Ferries from Istria to Italy also allow the transport of pets and bikes.

To find more ferries from Italy to Croatia, check the Istrian Sun webpage.

How to get to Istria by train?

If you decide to come to Istria by train, you can arrive very quickly using the lines from Ljubljana or Zagreb.

The line from Ljubljana can take you to Buzet or Pula every day and it takes four hours. There are no more trains going from Italy to Croatia.

If traveling from the Croatian capital, there are no direct train lines to Istria. However, you can take the train to Rijeka, but then travel by bus from Rijeka to Lupoglav, from where you can continue your train journey through Istria, to Pazin and Pula. The whole journey take four hours. You can book the train tickets on the Croatian Railways webpage.

Six railway stations in Istria are in Pula, Kanfanar (mentioned above as the center of Istrian Y), Vodnjan, Pazin, Buzet, and Lupoglav. Pula and Pazin are the main railway stations in Istria, from where you can quicky come to western Istrian cities of Poreč, Rovinj, and Novigrad.

Fun fact about travelling by train in Istria?

Did you know that Istria is home to the only island on the Adriatic coast connected by train? Its name is Uljanik and is one of the six islands in the Pula bay.

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Pula and Uljanik island seen from above / Wikipedia

The name Uljanik, after which the nearby Pula shipyard was also named, comes from olive trees or, in Croatian, "ulike" that grew on it. Of all the olive trees, only one remained in the center of the island, surrounded by the Uljanik shipyard facilities, whose central plants are located on the island.

Interestingly, the industrial track for the shipyard Uljanik that goes from Pula railway station continues over the bridge, all over to the island of Uljanik. The bridge thus connects the island of Uljanik with the coast, making Uljanik the only Croatian island connected to the mainland by rail.

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Uljanik shipyard's main plants on the island of Uljanik / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

To follow the People Also Ask Google about Croatia series, click here

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

People Also Ask Google: Why is Croatia Split in Two Parts?

February 16, 2021 - Continuing the new TCN series answering the questions posed by Google's 'People Also Ask' feature, why is Croatia split in two parts between Split and Dubrovnik? 

Why is Croatia split in two?

Wait? What?!? What do you mean you have to leave the EU, enter another country and reenter the EU if you want to go between the two Croatian hotspots of Split and Dubrovnik? How can that make any sense?

And yet - for now - it is true. For many years, my shallow understanding of the reason why was that Croatia had ceded territory to Bosnia and Hercegovina in the border realignment following the breakup of former Yugoslavia and the subsequent regional war which ended in 1995. I had always thought that Neum was included in the newly independent BiH to give the country access to the sea. But it turns out that the roots of the answer to the question why is Croatia split in two lies - as many things in this region do - in history.  

The Bosnian riviera - a look back in history

Dubrovnik may be one of the world's most famous cities today, either in its own right or through its Game of Thrones alter ego, Kings Landing, but it was once better known as Ragusa, the name of the Dubrovnik Republic. Though tiny, the Dubrovnik Republic punched above its weight on the world stage, becoming a major trading and diplomatic centre. And a very progressive one. Slavery was abolished in Ragusa in 1416.  

Dubrovnik's misfortune/opportunity was being stuck between two great powers - Venice and the Ottoman Empire. During the Great Turkish War in the late 17th century, Dubrovnik sided with the Turks, who ended up on the losing side. At the 1699 Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699, the victorious Hapsburg Empire and Venice were given large tracts of Ottoman lands. In order to buffer itself from Venetian attack, Dubrovnik gave away a small strip of land at its northern tip. This resulted in that land (including the modern-day town of Neum) becoming part of the province of Bosnia and Hercegovina in the Ottoman provinces.

That decision centuries ago would come into play once more in 1995, as post-Yugoslav borders were finalised. 

This video gives a lot more detail on the historical aspects, as well as some useful maps over the centuries.

The Neum Corridor had been born. 

And it has been terrorising and panicking tourists ever since. 

Driving from Split to Dubrovnik through Bosnia and Hercegovina

SO many people have contacted me in a total panic over the years when they realise that they have to leave Croatia to get from Split to Dubrovnik and vice versa. If I had a euro for every email... 

In practice there is no problem at all, provided your documents are in order and you have a valid passport (Croatians can travel with the ID card). The border crossing used to be very lax, with border police often waving vehicles though without checking documents, but July 1, 2013 changed all that. On that day, Croatia joined the EU, and the Neum corridor became home to not one but two external EU borders. 

Driving through Neum takes about 11 minutes. You are advised to stick to the speed limits, as the Bosnian police occasionally see an opportunity to add to the State finances from their temporary visitors.  

Rental cars and the Neum corridor

Do you need insurance to cross this slither of non-EU territory. Technically yes, and you must have a green card when travelling around BiH (you can buy at the border), but in practice nobody checks. Rental cars will be covered with a green card, but make sure you double check.  

Transiting Bosnia from Split to Dubrovnik in COVID-19 times

Travel advice changes daily at the moment due to the pandemic. At time of writing (Feb 16, 2021), travellers can transit Bosnia, including the Neum corridor, without the need for a PCR test. Please be advised that you have a maximum of 12 hours to enter and exit. And they DO time you. And they WILL fine you if you overstay. This shouldn't be a problem transiting Neum - the journey takes about 11 minutes.   

For the latest advice, check out the TCN Daily Travel Update. If you have a question, the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community can help you solve it (you will need to download the Viber app).

What are the border waiting times and procedures crossing Neum from Split to Dubrovnik?

The border has been upgraded significantly due to Croatia's EU status. Passports are usually (but not always) scanned. Out of season, a wait of more than 5 minutes is rare. During the season (at least a normal season), waits can be significant - up to two hours. Not every day, but it does happen.  

What is there to see and do in Neum?

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Neum represents the Bosnian Riviera, the only coast the country possesses. As such, it is not surprising that there are many apartments crammed into the small area of coast. If you are looking for a beach resort, either side in Croatia will give you a much more pleasant experience, although the prices in Neum are cheaper. 

A lot of people take a break in Neum (particularly coaches), and there are several restaurants which cater to them (Orka is my one of choice - on the far side of the town from Split, on the way to Dubrovnik. You will see the mussel farms in the bay, a popular local dish. 

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A lot of people also stop to shop. Food, drink and those beloved cigarettes are all cheaper than in Croatia, as is fuel, so a good idea to tank up. 

If you have a little time, take a left on the main road at the traffic lights as you enter from Split. The historic town of Stolac is one of the most beautiful in the region and will give you a taste of the real Bosnia. It will leave you wanting more.  

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What currency is accepted when you transit the Neum corridor in Bosnia?

Pretty much anything! The town has thrived on its transit traffic for years, and every waiter seems to have various currency exchange rates programmed in his brain. I have used Bosnian Marks, Euro, kuna, US Dollars and British pounds over the years. The exchange rate of the mark is tied to the euro - one euro buys you about 1.95 KM (convertible marks, as they are known from their prior relationship with the Deutschemark).  

Crossing the border from Croatia to Bosnia to Croatia - what about EU and Schengen?

Tourists are often very confused about Croatia's status regarding the EU, Schengen and border crossings. Croatia IS in the EU, but it is NOT YET in Schengen. It is scheduled to enter 'soon' (my favourite unit of time in this beautiful region - you can check the latest in this TCN section).

So if you are passing through Bosnia from Croatia to reenter the country, you have no Schengen issues. You will be leaving and reentering the EU, but in practice, you will be treated as a transit passenger.  

Is it possible to go from Split to Dubrovnik without leaving Croatia?

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(Credit Dubrovnik Online Travel Guide)

Yes. And soon it will be even easier. 

Currently, you can go from Split to Ploce. There is a short regular ferry to Trpanj on the Peljesac peninsula (home of the best Plavac Mali vineyards). At Trpnaj, turn right for the island of Korcula, or turn left and drive through the peninsula to the mainland on the other side of Neum, stopping as you must at Mali Ston, for some of the best oysters in the world. 

But this trip is about to get a lot quicker.

The Peljesac Bridge - what is it and why will it change everything? 

Some 30 years after it got independence, some people wonder why is Croatia split in two. it will not be for much longer. One of the key infrastructure projects for the last 30 years has been the construction of the so-called Peljesac Bridge, a 2.4 kilometre bridge which will connect the Croatian mainland on the Split side to the Peljesac peninsula, connecting both parts of Croatia for the first time. 

The project has been dogged with problems over the years, and it has been something of a political football over the years. BiH objected because it would restrict access to Neum for certain types of shipping, it was claimed. In reality, the bridge will unite the two parts of Croatia and probably change the economy of Neum considerably, as there will be no need to cross the two borders. 

Interestingly, several locals in Croatia have told me that they will continue to use the Neum route, as it will be quicker with less traffic, and those cigarettes ARE cheaper.  I think I will too - I am quite fond of Orka restaurant, for nostalgic reasons. 

When will the Peljesac Bridge be Finished?

How long is a piece of string? The project started back in (I think) 2007, but Chinese contractors were awarded the job a few years ago, and progress has been swift. The latest information is that the middle of 2022 will be the time when Croatia is finally united into one entity.  You can follow the latest in this TCN section.

How is construction progress on the Peljesac Bridge?

Judge for yourself - the situation on February 15, 2021, with accompanying explanatory article.  

Are there many other countries which are split in two?

Oh yes. 

And quite a few, including some famous ones as Alaskans will tell you. Some strange ones such as the Kaliningrad enclave of Russia on the Polish Baltic. And Nackchivan, sandwiched between Iran and Armenia, is not ideally located for access from the rest of Azerbaijan. You can see more non-contiguous countries here.   

Does Bosnia have the shortest coastline in the world?

Almost, apparently. Its 20 precious kilometres is beaten only by the 4.2 km of Monaco for shortness. 

Does Croatia have any other strange border issues?

Oh, boy, does it ever. Enough for another complete article - one like this perhaps... Overview of Croatia’s Border Disputes with BiH, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Liberland. The article was written in 2017, and there may have been some slight developments, particularly with the arbitration in Piran with Slovenia. 

Looking for more answers in our People Also Ask Google series? You can find them all here.

Monday, 15 February 2021

People also ask Google: Do They Speak English in Croatia?

February 15, 2021 - Google knows what people are searching for, and there are clues in the 'People Also Ask' prompt. So let's answer - do they speak English in Croatia?

Do they speak English in Croatia?

Short answer: Yes

The majority of Croatians speak at least one other language. According to polls, 80% of Croatians are multilingual. Within that high percentage of multilingual Croatians, a huge 81% speak English.

The next most popular language spoken by multilingual Croats is German (49%) followed by Italian (24%). English is better spoken in Croatia than in any other country of southern and eastern Europe (except Poland).

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Regional differences: Do they speak English in Croatia on the coast and islands?

Yes. Along with the capital city of Zagreb, the coast of Croatia and the islands are where you'll definitely find Croatians speaking English. Tourism in Croatia has been developing since the 1960s. Even when the country was a republic within the federation of Yugoslavia, Croatia was visited by many international tourists.

Young people from all over Croatia travel to the coast to work jobs in hotels, bars and restaurants. Speaking English to a high standard is usually part of the job specification. It is almost impossible to imagine that you would visit any hotel, bar or restaurant on the Croatian coast and find that nobody speaks English. In Zagreb, over 80% of people speak English.

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The rest of Croatia - do Croatia speak English?

Proficiency in speaking other languages varies by region. It is true to say that the further you travel from the most popular tourist trails in Croatia, the likelihood of you coming across people who don't speak English (or who don't speak English well) increases. But, that's not to say they are not multilingual.

In Istria, northwest Croatia, a full 95% of the population speaks another language. Many young people in Istria can speak English, Croatian and Italian.

Over the course of its history, Croatia has existed under the influence of invading or occupying empires. You'll find Turkish words in the language used in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia, left over from the time the Ottomans were here. Italy once occupied much of Istria and Kvarner in the country's northwest and, here, you'll find Italian being spoken.

Similarly, Croatia is influenced by its neighbours. But, not all parts of Croatia have the same neighbours. Different neighbouring countries have had an effect on Croatia's different dialects and on the second language Croatians in these regions speak.

In Slavonia, eastern Croatia, and in other, more rural parts of the country's continental regions, you would traditionally find fewer people who speak English. This is because these regions weren't always visited by tourists. But, things are changing. Continental Croatia is opening up to tourism more and more. As a result, more and more people there are speaking or learning to speak English.

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Age differences: Younger and older – Can Croatians Speak English?

Well, yes and no. 95% of Croatians between the ages of 15 and 34 speak at least one foreign language. Bravo! English is by far the most common second language of Croatians in this age group. These days, Croatian children learn the English language continuously over an average of 8 years while at school. They also improve their fluency by playing online games with international players, listening to English language music and watching English language television and movies. Unlike Germany, where TV series and films are dubbed into German for broadcast on national television, in Croatia, British and American films and programmes are shown in their original language, with subtitles underneath in Croatian.

Do they speak English in Croatia if they are above the age of 34? Yes, many Croatians above the age of 34 do speak English, particularly those who have been educated since Croatia gained independence and those who work in tourism-related activities or bigger city businesses. With Croatians who were educated prior to independence, their second language may depend on just how old they are and in which geographical region they live and have worked. In the country's northwest, Italian is the most common second language of the oldest multilingual Croats. Elsewhere, German is predominantly the second language of people in this age range. Some Croatians, depending on their age and education, may even have learned Russian (although you are much more likely to encounter Russian as the second most commonly spoken language if you instead visit Montenegro).

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Two very important things to remember if you're asking “Do they speak English in Croatia?”

If you're asking the question “Do they speak English in Croatia?”, it's probably because you're thinking of visiting the country. Or, you might be thinking about doing business here. If so, here are two handy tips.

1) Don't be put off from going anywhere in Croatia for fear they don't speak English

Often, the further away from the tourist trail you travel, the more authentically Croatian your experience will be in Croatia. Croatia's less well-known regions are a goldmine of incredible gastronomy, breathtaking landscapes and fascinating culture, traditions, arts & crafts.

If you're heading to a less well-travelled region, people may show slightly more surprise in hearing English spoken because they're not used to it. A small percentage of younger people in continental Croatia may take a little persuasion, patience and kindness in speaking English with you. This is probably because they are shy or not confident about their spoken English. The teaching of English in Croatia is generally very good, but there are some educators who prioritise grammar and pronunciation above the general understanding that is more important to you as a visitor. Perfect grammar and pronunciation don't come easily to every single student of English, which is why you may encounter reticence to speak English from a very small minority of young Croatians. But, almost all will have learned English and will speak the language to some degree (usually, to a much better standard than they believe they do!)

2) Politeness goes a long way – if you're in Croatia, you're a guest in someone else's country

The high level of multilingualism in Croatia and the widespread ability to speak English is indicative of efforts by Croatians to welcome and accommodate visitors. Any reciprocal efforts made by visitors to engage with Croatians in their own language will be met impressively, with surprise and with warmth. You'll endear yourself to Croatians by learning some basic words (maybe even a couple of phrases) before you visit. Dobar dan (Good day), Molim (Please/Excuse me), Hvala (Thank you), Dobro Jutro (Good morning), Imate li... (Do you have...?), Može (May I/Can I/You may/You can/Can do!) are easy, obvious and useful places to start. Do they speak English in Croatia could easily be answered with "Well, do you speak Croatian in Croatia?"

Conclusion: Do they speak English in Croatia?

Yes. They do speak English in Croatia. Most places you will go in Croatia, you will be met by people who can speak English. The vast majority of these speak English extremely well.

If you have any suggestions to add to this resource, please send a mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject: English speaking in Croatia. 

To follow the People Also Ask Google about Croatia series, click here

Sunday, 14 February 2021

People Also Ask Google: Is it Dangerous to Travel to Croatia in 2021?

February 14, 2021 - Google knows what people are searching for, and there are clues in the 'People Also Ask' prompt. So let's start answering - is it dangerous to travel to Croatia?

One of the challenges for a blogger after a number of years is to come up with engaging content to entertain one's readers. After ten years of writing about Croatia, I still feel that there is still SO much to write about, but some days inspiration can be lacking. Fortunately these days, there are plenty of tools available to help with ideas. 

Among them, I noticed last night as I searched for the latest news from Croatia, is the 'People Also Ask' prompt from Google. If anyone knows what people are looking for, it is surely Google. So why not start a series answering the questions about Croatia that people are searching for?

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Here is the first list of questions that Google prompted, all of which TCN writers can answer. And we shall, on a daily basis, in a new feature called People Also Ask Google, which you will be able to follow as it unfolds in one dedicated category on TCN here. So, let's start at the top...

Is it dangerous to visit Croatia?

Not long after I moved to Hvar back in 2003, there was an article in the local regional newspaper about the theft of 50 litres of olive oil from an outbuilding on the island. I laughed to myself. I had just come from a job as an aid worker with armed guard wherever I went in eastern Somalia; if the theft of olive oil was making the regional news, life in Croatia would be safe indeed. 

Along with Japan, Croatia is the safest country I have ever lived in. As with everywhere else, you should always keep your wits about you regarding petty theft, but the biggest crime issue I have had to deal with personally was the theft of a fresh fish and my daughter's bag with her swimming stuff from an unlocked car in Hvar Town. So indignant was my six-year-old that she insisted on calling the police. The Hvar police were very helpful and promised to look into it, and asked her to tell Dad to lock his car in future. So it was all my fault. 

For many years, I - like most people on the island - did not lock the house when I left. In fact, I never had a key on me at all. It really was that safe. It still is, but a couple of spates of petty theft mean that I lock things these days.

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How safe is Croatia? Official advice from the British Embassy.

You can read the complete British Embassy advice (which is constantly updated) here. Regarding crime, this is what they have to say:

Crime levels are low and violent crime is rare.

Some tourists have been the victims of overcharging in so-called ‘Gentlemen’s Clubs’, sometimes amounting to thousands of Euros. Victims can be threatened with violence if they refuse to pay.

Take care in busy tourist areas, where pickpockets are known to operate. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Don’t leave valuables unattended, particularly on the beach. Use a hotel safe if possible.

Report all incidents of crime to the local police station and get a police report.

I would just like to emphasise the police report. Croatia loves its bureaucracy, and things will go a lot smoother with a police report if you are the victim of crime.

Is it safe to visit Croatian now with COVID-19?

The decision of whether or not you should be travelling at all during the pandemic is one that you will have invariably taken already, and I am certainly would not be so presumptuous as to tell you what to do. Croatia is currently closed for tourism (although tourists are still able to come), and a negative PCR test is required at the border, no more than 48 hours old, or a period of quarantine. Additonal requirements are in force for travellers from the UK, Brazil and South Africa. The situation changes rapidly as you know, and the latest information can be found on the daily TCN daily travel update. If you have a question you would like answered in real time, the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community and chatbot has helped hundreds of people over the last few months. You can find them here (you will need to download the Viber app).

Croatia has had a more relaxed approach to lockdowns than other countries. Indeed, it was the only EU country to allow non-EU/EEA travellers to enter for much of last year. Measures are in please for everyone's safety. Please respect them - you can get the latest from the TCN daily travel update (it is also available in 24 other languages). 

Is Croatia dangerous for tourists? Comparing murder rates (which are VERY low here)

Just as non-violent crime is still comparatively rare in Croatia, so too violent crime. Murders and knife crime are very much the exception rather than the rule, and in the 2021 murder by country rankings, Croatia was thankfully very close to the bottom. 

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With an average of 1.04 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, Croatia lies below Sweden, Cyprus, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Germany and the UK - and far below poor El Salvador, which tops the rankings with 82.84 homicides per 100k people. 

What violent crime there is tends to be related to local power struggles and grievances, which should not affect visitors in any way. 

Is Croatia safe to visit for single women?

One of the things I hear a lot from foreigners or diaspora who have taken the lifestyle choice to move to Croatia is just how safe it is for their families, and that this was a key factor in the decision to move. Many of them remark on the wonder of seeing single women walking home late at night in cities, without any problem, something that would not be the case back home. 

As anywhere, it is wise to take normal precautions, but I would say that Croatia is as safe as anywhere in Europe for the solo female travellor. 

Will black tourists have any problems visiting Croatia?

Having lived in Africa, Asia and all over Europe after starting out life in multicultural Manchester, moving to Croatia felt a little different, but I couldn't put my finger on the reason why (apart from it being 100 times more beautiful than Manchester, obviously). One day, I had an African client meeting on the square in Jelsa, and then I realised what it was - I was surrounded only by white people. This was not a criticism, far from it, more of an observation. Only a year before, i had been working in Somalia and previously as an aid worker in Rwanda, but seeing this black person was something exotic. I can only imagine how things looked to the local islanders. 

Although there are obviously exceptions, and it is somewhat of a generalisation, I don't think Croatians are racist, and I think sometimes curiosity is mistaken for something more sinister. A few years ago, I did some research and found that there were less than 30,000 registered foreigners in all Croatia, so the country is 99.3% Croatian. Add to that the fact that most of those non-Croatians are also white, and it is little wonder that other ethnicities are treated with more curiosity than perhaps they would be back home. 

As I am white, it would perhaps best to leave the final word on the subject with a black African lady living in Zagreb, who wrote an excellent piece on her experiences - What is It Like for Black People Living in Croatia?

Is Croatia safe to visit for LGBT tourists?

Croatia is a relatively conservative and very Catholic country. Attitudes to the gay community in certain parts of the country (rural Dalmatia, in particular) are particularly entrenched, but that conservatism is offset by much more liberal attitudes in places like Rijeka. 

The overall situation has improved greatly in the time since I moved here in 2003, and I think tourism has played a part in that. Gay Pride parades are now much more mainstream, for example, after a violent episode at Split Pride a decade ago. The coast and major tourist spots are much more accepting of gay tourists than a decade ago in my opinion, and I can't recall any major incidents in recent years. I would advise caution in overt expressions of affection in more conservative areas, where traditional positions are much entrenched, in particular the area of Imotski, whose burning of a gay effigy at last year's Carnival sent a message around the world that is not representative of other parts of Croatia by any means. If you would like more information, the Zagreb Pride website is an excellent place to start. 

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Driving in Croatia - is it safe?

From the British Embassy website:

In 2019 there were 297 road deaths in the Croatia (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 7.3 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.

Having survived Ethiopia, where the Italians taught the locals to drive in Russian Ladas, anywhere feels safe to me. Some of the local driving leaves a little to be desired, and there tends to be a relaxed approach to driving with alcohol, particularly in more rural places, although the police have recently introduced draconian fines for those caught. 

Road safety

Take care when overtaking and be wary of other road users unexpectedly overtaking in slower traffic. Minor roads are usually unlit at night.

Emergency road help (HAK) may be reached by dialling (385 1) 1987. This service is staffed by English speaking operators. Traffic information in English is available on 98.5FM during the tourist season only.

Driving regulations

It is illegal to drive with more than 0.05% of alcohol in the blood system.

You must drive with dipped headlights from the last weekend in October until last weekend in March, even during the daytime. You must have winter tyres on your vehicle between 15 November and 15 April. You must not use a mobile phone whilst driving.

It’s obligatory to carry a fluorescent vest in your car whilst driving in Croatia. You must keep the vest in the car and not in the boot. You should wear the vest while attending to a breakdown. All passengers must wear seat belts and special seats are required for infants. Children under the age of 12 must not sit in the front seat.

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Conclusion: Is it dangerous to visit Croatia?

Did you know that the man who discovered fingerprinting was a policeman in Argentina who was born on Hvar? Or that Croatia has an island called Baljenac, which is strikingly similar to a fingerprint? With these facts, how could Croatia be anything but safe?

Croatia is as safe as any country in Europe, and that safety is one of its largely untapped marketing gems, along with its lifestyle and amazing authentic experiences. Have you booked your holiday to Croatia, Your Safe, Authentic Lifestyle Destination yet?

If you have any suggestions to add to this resource, please send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Safe. 

To follow the People Also Ask Google about Croatia series, click here

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