The currency in Croatia is the Kuna (HRK) which is made up of 100 lipa. Notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 Kuna and the coins in use are 1, 2 and 5 Kuna as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 lipa.
The official language spoken in Croatia is Croatian but in larger cities and tourist areas English is also widely spoken.
The northern part of the country has a continental climate while the mountainous has an alpine climate and the Adriatic region enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Winter temperatures range from –1 to 3 degrees Celsius in the continental region, -5 to 0 degrees Celsius in the mountain region and 5 to 10 degrees Celsius in the coastal region and summer temperatures range from 22 to 26 degrees Celsius in the continental region, 15 to 20 degrees Celsius in the mountain region and 26 to 30 degrees Celsius in the coastal region.
Croatia lies one hour ahead of GMT in winter and two hours ahead in summer.
Most of the major shops and department stores are open between 8.00am and 8.00pm from Monday to Friday and between 8.00am and 2.00/3.00pm on Saturday. Some of the smaller ones, however, close between midday and 4.00pm particularly along the coast. Many also open on Sundays, particularly during summer. Public services are usually open between 8.30am and 4.30pm from Monday to Friday while banks open between 9.00am and 5.00pm sometimes closing for lunch. Finally, post offices open between 7.00am and 7.00pm from Monday to Friday and between 7.00am and 1.00pm on Saturdays.
Electricity operates on 220 Volts AC, 50Hz.
Good news for those of you intending to do lots of shopping in Croatia is that anyone who spends over 500 Kuna in any one shop is entitled to a VAT refund or PDV. Basically this means that you will receive a rebate for all the tax which you have paid (usually 18%) on your departure from Croatia. In order to avail of this incentive you will need to get a PDV-P form signed and stamped when making your purchase and provided that you leave within six months you can collect your refund either in the shop where you made the purchase on the day you make it or you can post the receipt back to the shop together with your banking details and you will receive the refund within fifteen days.
The requirements for entry into Croatia have relaxed a great deal in recent years so for most of you, all that is needed is a valid passport. It is also worth noting that you should ensure that it will remain valid for the entire duration of your stay. If you intend staying for a period extending ninety days, however, you will need to get a visa or you can cross the border into Italy or Austria and come back again. South Africans must apply for a ninety day visa in Pretoria.
If you think you may need a visa, however, you should contact the Croatian Embassy in your home country prior to travelling or you can get one at the border while crossing into Croatia from a neighbouring country. All visitors to the country must also register with the police within two days of entering the country. This is routine, however, and your hotel, hostel or camping agency will usually handle this for free. Some may charge a minimal fee but it’s usually only about 8 Kuna.
Most of the major towns and cities will operate an official tourist office or Turisticki Zajednica where you will be able to pick up brochures, maps and city guides where they’re available. In addition they sometimes sell local guidebooks which are incredibly helpful if you intend spending a bit of time in one area. Commercial travel agencies are also a really good place to find information although you probably will have to pay for things like maps. They know all about tours and excursions in the area, however, as well as activities and ferry and bus timetables so they are definitely worth a visit.
If you take foreign currency into Croatia you can change it in any bank, exchange office, post office and in most tourist agencies. While traveller’s cheques are widely accepted in the larger towns and cities, there are some places which will refuse to do so, particularly in more remote parts of the country. Therefore, it is advised that you change them into hard currency before leaving these cities.
All major credit cards are also widely accepted and if you have the PIN you can use these to receive cash in compatible bank machines. The same applies to bankcards which are members of any of the international banking networks or Eurocard.
The country code for Croatia is 385 so if you are calling from abroad you need to dial 00, followed by 371, the local area code and the local number. The same instructions apply when you are making an international call from within the country. You should also note that you need to omit the 0 from the local area code where applicable when dialing abroad.
Public booths can be used only with phone cards which can be purchased in post offices and at newsstands. These come in denominations of 50, 100, 200 and 500 unites and it’s up to 50% more expensive to make a call with a card than it is from the post office. It is also worth noting that if you are making an international call when in Croatia that you should do so in the main post office as it will work out much cheaper. Finally, for those making local and national calls you should try to so between 4.00pm and 10.00pm where they’re between 2 and 5% cheaper or between 10.00pm and 7.00am when they’re 75% cheaper. This discount also applies on calls made on Sundays or public holidays.
Most restaurants include a service charge in the bill so leaving a tip is not compulsory. If the bill doesn’t include a service charge and you feel that it deserves a tip, between 10 and 15% of the total is perfectly acceptable or simply round off the bill to the next multiple of five. Taxi drivers are also usually tipped by rounding off the fare but it is worth noting that at not time is it essential that you tip, it really is at your own discretion.
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In Croatia they take place on January 1st, Easter Monday, May 1st, Corpus Christi, June 22nd and 25th, August 5th and 15th, October 8th, November 5th and December 25th and 26th. Finally, it is a good idea to check the particular area too as certain towns and cities also shut down during special events.