Dubrovnik streets are well-signposted and reasonably easy to negotiate. The postcode for Dubrovnik is 20000.
The age of consent in Croatia is 18. You must be 18 to smoke or drink alcohol.
Croats are hospitable. If they seem a little abrupt to British visitors, this is just their manner — in a social situation, a Croat is more likely to say ‘Sit!’ than ‘Please take a seat’. Unless you really know what you’re talking about, avoid raising the topic of Croatia’s recent turbulent history. With frequent justification, Croats consider most Westerners ill-informed on such matters — you may find yourself on the receiving end of a long and rambling lecture to set you straight.
Croatia has readily embraced market capitalism. Some of the inefficiencies of the old system remain, but Croats are in fact natural-born capitalists. Personal relationships are important — getting to know each other well over meals or simply coffee goes a long way to ensuring smooth business relations.
In London a good point of first contact is the British Croatian Chamber of Commerce (0208 908 1151, www.britishcroatianchamber.co.uk).
Other sources of information are the subscription-only Croatia Business Report and the book ‘Doing Business with Croatia’ published by Global Market Briefings (www.globalmarketbriefings.com).
Croatians have a very Mediterranean attitude to children and treat them as little grown-ups. They are generally allowed into restaurants and cafés without any fuss.
Customs in Croatia have been harmonised with the European Union. Foreign currency can be taken freely in and out of the country, and local currency up to an amount of 15,000kn. You are permitted 200 cigarettes or cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, and one litre of spirits, two litres of liqueur or dessert or sparkling wine and two litres of table wine.
Valuable professional and technical equipment need to be declared at the border (just to be sure that it leaves with you again and you don’t sell it while you’re in Croatia). Anything that might be considered a cultural artefact, art or an archaeological find, can only be exported with the necessary official approval.
For more information visit the customs website at www.carina.hr.
Croatia is not as enlightened as other countries when it comes to providing facilities for the disabled. That is changing as a result of the large number of people left handicapped by the fighting in the 1990s.
It’s vital that prior to travel you make enquiries with your hotel as to whether it has disabled access and facilities — a number of hotels do, but not all.
Savez organizacija invalida
Hrvatske Savska 3, 10000 Zagreb (01 482 9394, www.soih.hr).
The association of organisations of disabled people of Croatia.
Croatia is a transit point for drug smuggling. Penalties for use, possession and trafficking of drugs are severe. Offenders can expect prison sentences and/or large fines. Since the war, Croatia has had to cope with a significant drugs problem among its youth.
See also below Health.
Croatia uses a 220V, 50Hz voltage and continental two-pin plugs. Visitors from the UK require an adaptor.
Kaptol Centar, Nova Ves 11 (01 48 91 200, www.croatia.embassy.gov.au).
Open 8.30am-4.30pm Mon-Fri.
Ivana Lučića 4 (01 60 09 100, www.ukincroatia.fco.gov.uk).
Open 9am-5pm Mon-Thur; 9am-2pm Fri.
Split: Obala Hrvatskog Narodnog Preporoda 10/III (021 346 007).
Open 7.30am-3.30pm Mon-Thur; 7.30am-2pm Fri.
Prilaz Gjure Deželića 4 (01 48 81 200, www.canadainternational.gc.ca).
Open 10am-noon, 1-3pm Mon-Thur; 10am-1pm Fri.
Irish Honorary Consul
Miramarska 23 (01 63 10 025, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Open 8am-noon, 2-3pm Mon-Fri.
New Zealand Embassy
Vlaska 50A (01 46 12 060, email@example.com).
Ulica Thomas Jeffersona 2 (01 66 12 200, www.zagreb.usembassy.gov).
Open 8am-4.30pm Mon-Fri.
For all emergencies, call 112.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in Croatia in 1977, and it is forbidden to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of their sexuality. However, it’s only in the last few years that gay and lesbian groups have had any sort of profile and begun to make assertions of their rights — and not without opposition.
For information on HIV and AIDS, see also Health.
Croatia has a reciprocal medical agreement with the United Kingdom. UK citizens will be given emergency treatment and any other follow-up care — and will be expected to pay 20 per cent towards costs. If you have travel insurance, this contribution may be borne by your insurance company. Please read your policy carefully. The standard of medical care in Croatia is generally good.
Accident & emergency
See above Emergencies.
Pharmacists are usually able to help with minor complaints, but for proper medical care your best bet is to go to the local hospital or emergency unit where a duty doctor can have a look at you. There's a hospital at Roka Misetica 2 (020 431 777).
You will need to pay for optical care.
Pharmacies are usually open from 8am to 7pm during the week, and until 2pm on Saturdays. In larger towns there will normally be some pharmacies that are open 24hrs. Prescriptions need to be paid for. There's a pharmacy in the Old Town (Kod Zvonika, Stradun 2, 020 321 133; open 7am-8pm Mon-Fri; 7.30am-3pm Sat).
STDs, HIV & AIDS
Croatia has one of the lowest rates of HIV/AIDS in Europe. Contact the Ministry of Health (01 46 07 502, www.mzss.hr) for details of a testing facility in Dubrovnik.
Although it’s unlikely that you will ever be asked to show it, you are supposed to carry some form of picture ID on your person while in Croatia. Rather than carry around your passport and risk losing it, UK residents are recommended to get the credit-card style photo driving licence.
Travellers should take out comprehensive travel insurance, especially if they are going to indulge in any risky sports: climbing, skiing, mountain biking. They should check the small print first to see if such activities are covered by their policy. If taking expensive equipment, make sure that it’s also covered. In the event that you need to claim, make sure you get all the relevant paperwork from medical staff or the police.
See also Health.
Dubrovnik has a handful of internet cafés and rates are usually reasonable. Wi-Fi is available at most hotels.
Many hotels offer internet access, some from your own room — and an increasing number of public spaces are setting themselves up as WiFi hotspots.
Prijeko 21 (020 321 025, www.netcafe.hr). Open Summer 9am-1am daily. Winter 9am-midnight daily.
Friendly and convenient spot for emailing.
There are left luggage facilities at the main bus station in Gruž.
If you get in trouble with the authorities you should get in touch immediately with your local embassy.
See above Embassies & consulates.
There are no lost and found offices at stations or airports.
Newspapers & magazines
Croatian newspapers and magazines are available from kiosks. The best-selling national daily paper is Večernji List followed by Jutarnji List. Both are European-owned and follow the line of their publishers. Sportske Novosti is the main sports daily, carrying the football results from across Europe including the top two divisions in England. Croatia also has a number of weeklies. The most significant are Nacional and Globus. Most major British and European newspapers and magazines are available from Tisak kiosks, usually one, sometimes two days late.
There are some 200 licensed radio stations in Croatia. Of the three main state-run stations, HR1 and HR2 broadcast politics, documentaries, entertainment music and sport. HR3 has a cultural and spiritual agenda. HR1 also carries occasional English-language broadcasts. Some of these are also available on Glas Hrvatske, HRT’s external service. There are plenty of commercial alternatives.
There are four main TV stations. HRT1 and HRT2 are state-run and screen news, drama, documentaries and sports programmes. There are also a number of local TV stations. Croatian TV shows a lot of imported TV series and films from the US and Britain. These are subtitled rather than dubbed.
The Croatian kuna (kn) is divided into 100 lipa. Coins are issued in denominations of 20 and 50 lipa, and 1, 2 and 5kn. Notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000kn. Euros are accepted in the posher hotels, airport bars and some restaurants but the currency in everyday use is the kuna. Prices in Croatia can roughly be compared to Western Europe. Local goods and those from neighbouring states are a little cheaper; those imported from the West are more expensive. Public transport, cinema and drinking and dining in local places generally cost less here than in the West. Foreign currency may be exchanged in banks, post offices, most tourist agencies, bureaux de change and at some hotels.
ATMs are easy enough to find around the city centre. Instructions appear in English.
Banks are usually open 7am-7pm Monday to Friday.
Most hotels, shops and restaurants accept Eurocard, MasterCard, Diners Club, American Express and Visa, as well as debit cards.
There are mosquitoes in Croatia, so it’s a good idea to pack repellent.
Public sector offices and most businesses usually work from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday. Post offices are open from 7am to 7pm, and generally close at weekends. Shops open from 8am to 8pm weekdays and until 2 or 3pm on Saturdays, although in summer some stay open much longer.
Stamps are available from post offices, and from newspaper and tobacco kiosks. Mail across Europe takes less than a week; to the US it’s about seven to ten days.
Main Post Office
Put republike 32 (020 413 960). Open 7am-8pm Mon-Fri; 8am-4pm Sat; 8am-noon Sun.
Croatia has a low crime rate. Even so, don’t be too showy with expensive possessions and don’t wander around poorly lit city areas. Follow the same rules that you would at home and you’ll be OK.
Landmines are a problem in the countryside. Look out for signs bearing a skull and crossbones and stay well clear. If you're scaling Mount Srdj, do not stray from the marked footpath.
Many Croats smoke and it is a far more socially acceptable habit than in the UK or US. No smoking is permitted in public buildings and cinemas, and on public transport. The law concerning restaurants, cafés and bars has been changed of late — most venues should have a no-smoking area. Cigarettes are bought from kiosks marked ‘Duhan’ (tobacco). Most of the major Western brands are available.
If you are looking to study Croatian, there are a handful of courses in Dubrovnk. See www.studyabroad.com for details.
The dialling code for Croatia is +385. The code for Dubrovnik is 020; leave off the first digit when calling from overseas. When calling overseas from Croatia, the prefix 00 is the international access code.
Croatia relies on the mobile. Roaming agreements exist with foreign companies and if you have a roaming facility on your mobile, the only problem should be the expense. You may purchase a local SIM card with a pre-paid subscription; you can usually buy a card with some starter airtime, although you should make sure your mobile is unlocked. A Simpa (T-Mobile) SIM card costs 120kn including 100kn worth of free airtime, although this is added at 20kn after your first call and then 10kn for the next ten months. If you’re only in Croatia for a short while, you may need to buy top-up vouchers at a cost of 50kn or 100kn. For further details visit www.t-mobile.hr.
Public telephones use cards bought from post offices and kiosks. They come in units (‘impulsa’) from 25 to 500. Units run down fast calling internationally and you need a card of at least 50 impulsa, which should cost about 50kn. It may be more convenient to place a call from a booth set up at most post offices.
See Postal services.
Croatia is an hour ahead of GMT and six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. The clocks go forward an hour in spring and back an hour in autumn.
Tipping is expected by taxi drivers and waiters. Round up bills to the next 10kn-20kn, or by about 10 per cent. You don’t need to tip in pubs and cafés, unless you have received special service and have been there for a while.
Most cafés and bars have toilets — although the staff would probably prefer it if you bought a drink before or after using them. Toilets in train stations, airports and other public areas will sometimes have a lady stationed at the door to collect a user fee of around 2kn — keep a few coins handy on long bus journeys. Universal signs will be placed on the toilet doors to indicate men’s and ladies’, or look out for M (men’s) and Ž (ladies’).
Dubrovnik Tourist Office
Brsalje 5 (020 312 011/www.tzdubrovnik.hr). Open 8am-8pm Mon-Sat; 8am-4pm Sun.
New office near the Pile Gate with friendly, multi-lingual staff.
Visitors from the European Union, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand do not need a visa if staying in Croatia for less than 90 days.
See above Embassies & consulates.
Croatia uses the metric system.
Croatia is a highly desirable place to live and an increasing number of people are settling here and setting up businesses. Aside from tourism, in which you will find a number of expats in sailing and diving clubs, there’s also the property sector and the old stand-by of English-language teaching — but bear in mind many Croats speak near perfect English.
See the website www.moj-posao.net for further opportunities. Although it’s aimed primarily at Croats, it’s worth a look as you will find bilingual job opportunities posted from international employers.
Working in Croatia requires a work or business permit. To work without one is illegal and can result in a fine or even deportation. To obtain a permit the first port of call is the Croatian Embassy, which in the UK is at 21 Conway Street, London W1T 6BN (020 7387 1144).
A temporary residence permit is required for anyone staying in Croatia for more than three months, whether for work or any other reasons. If you’re a long-term tourist, the solution to this might be to nip over the border, have your passport stamped and come back. If you have a work permit then the temporary residence is available to British citizens for whatever the length of duration of the work permit. Permanent residence can be applied for once you’ve been in Croatia for five years. To apply for residence you need a copy of your birth certificate issued within the last three months. The certificate must bear an apostille stamp, which you can only get at the Foreign Office’s Legalisation office in London: call 020 7008 1111 for more information. Applicants also need proof of health insurance and a letter confirming that you don’t have a criminal record. For more information you can contact the British Embassy in Zagreb (see Embassies & consulates) or the local department for foreigners at the Croatian Ministry of the Interior.
When to go