Things to do - general

Croatia is a Central European and Mediterranean country, bordering Slovenia in the west, Hungary in the north, Serbia in the east and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south; the country also has a long maritime border with Italy in the Adriatic Sea. These borders total 2,028 km altogether. Croatia has an unusual shape (similar to a croissant) that is unlike any other country in the world, which comes as a result of five centuries of expansion by the Ottoman (Turkish) empire towards Central Europe (although Croatia was never conquered by the Turks).
Croatia covers a land area of 56,691 square kilometres and has a population of about 4.29 million people (2011 census). Almost 90% of the population is Croat (the majority of whom are Roman Catholics), but there are also Serbian, Bosnian, Hungarian and Italian minorities. The main population centres are Zagreb, the capital (with a population of just under 800,000), Osijek in the northeast (population: 107,000), and the ports of Rijeka (population: 128,000) on the northern part of the coastline, and Split (population: 178,000) towards the south. Other well known towns include Dubrovnik, Makarska, Porec, Rovinj, Opatija, Zadar and Sibenik.

The official language is Croatian, which is written in the Latin script. The Croatian alphabet has 30 letters – all the letters of the English language, minus the q, w, x, and y but with the addition of č, ć, dž, đ, lj, nj, š and ž. See our Croatian for Travellers guide for a more detailed guide and an introduction to the Croatian language!

Croatia has an amazing 5,835km of coastline, 4,057km of which belongs to islands, cliffs and reefs. There are 1,185 islands in the Adriatic, but only about 50 are populated. The largest island is Krk (near Rijeka) which has a land area of 462 square km, whilst the country’s other well known islands include Hvar, Brac, Korcula and Pag.

The climate is Mediterranean along the Adriatic coast, meaning warm dry summers and mild winters, with 2,600 hours of sunlight on average yearly – it is one of the sunniest coastlines in Europe! The interior of the country has a continental climate with hot summers and cold, snowy winters.


Country Croatia
Languages spokenCroatian, using the Latin alphabet
Currency usedHRK, Croatian Kuna
Area (km2)56,691

Sports & nature

Aside from being a popular tourist destination, one of the main ways that many people know of Croatia is because of the country’s famous sportsmen and women. For such a small country, a remarkable number of top-class athletes have emerged. Whether you’re a fan of football, tennis, skiing or are a avid follower of the Olympics, you’re bound to have seen some Croatian sports stars participating…and winning!

  • Croatian Football
    Read all about Croatia’s success as an international team in the 1990s, as well as their performance at recent tournaments – and information on the domestic football leagues.
  • Croatian Tennis
    Croatia has had some real tennis greats over the years, the most famous of which is 2001 Wimbledon Champion Goran Ivanisevic.
  • Croatia at the 2012 Olympics
    Croatia had their best ever result at the London 2012 Olympic Games!

Croatian Sports – Skiing
Croatia’s most famous skiier is Janica Kostelic. This outstanding skier won a number of World Cup titles, and gold and silver medals at the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics – rather amazing when you consider that Croatia doesn’t really have substantial ski training facilities or opportunities.

Janica won the overall skiing World Cup title in 2001, 2003 and 2006. She also won three gold medals and one silver at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and one gold medal and one silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

Janica retired from competitive skiing in 2007, after suffering from persistent injuries.

Janica’s older brother Ivica is also a professional skier and certainly no less talented! Ivica won one silver medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics, two in the 2010 Winter Olympics (in the slalom and combined events) and one in the 2014 Winter Olympics (combined), as well as a World Championship gold medal in 2003 in the slalom. Ivica’s best achievement was winning the overall FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in 2011, winning a total of 7 World Cup races during the year.

Read more about the Kostelic siblings on their official websites: Janica Kostelic and Ivica Kostelic.

Here’s also a couple of nice articles on Ivica (and his father, Ante) from during Sochi 2014: Father Creates Slalom Course His Son, Ivica Kostelic, Will Try to Conquer (New York Times, 13th February 2014) and Ivica Kostelic ‘motivated’ to boost family’s medal haul (NBC Sports, 14th February 2014).
Croatian Sports – Athletics
One of Croatia’s most well-known current athletes is high-jumper Blanka Vlasic, who hails from Split. Very successful in her field, Blanka has won a number of medals, including golds at the World Athletics Final, World Indoor Championships and World Championships, and a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. She sadly missed the 2012 Olympic Games in London due to injury, although was surely one of the favourites for her event.

She set her personal best of 2.08 metres in August 2009, the second highest jump height ever achieved in the sport. She was named the IAAF World Athlete of the Year in 2010.

See the website of Blanka Vlasic for more information about her, and the Croatian Athletics Federation website for details about Croatian athletics.

Sandra Perkovic is another well known track and field athlete, competing in the discus event. Sandra’s personal best throw is 69.11 metres, which is also a Croatian record – and the gold-medal winning throw at the 2012 Olympic Games! Sandra has also won gold medals at the 2010 and 2012 European Championships, and at the 2013 World Championships.
Croatian Sports – Basketball
A number of Croatian basketball players are relatively famous (if you like your basketball!), having played for some top teams in Europe and the U.S. over the years. These players include ’90s greats such as Toni Kukoc (who played for the Chicago Bulls), Dino Radja (Boston Celtics) and Drazen Petrovic (NJ Nets), who sadly died in a car accident in 1993 at the age of only 28. Croatia won a silver medal for basketball in their first Olympic Games in 1992 (losing to the mighty U.S. team in the final), a remarkable and uplifting achievement for a country suffering from the terrible effects of war at the time.
Croatian Sports – Handball
As in much of Eastern Europe, handball is a popular sport in Croatia. There are handball leagues in the country which attract a large following and which have good attendance figures.

Croatia has won gold in men’s handball in both the 1996 and 2004 Olympic Games. They also won the gold in the 2003 World Championships, and have been runners-up three times – including at the 2009 Championships, which were held in Croatia.


Culture and history info

The history of Croatia – or the general area of where the country is located today – can be traced back to prehistoric times, although there isn’t a large amount of evidence to suggest any particularly big settlements or tribes from that time. Remains of Neanderthals have been found in Croatia, which are estimated to be over 30,000 years old – if you’re interested in finding out more about this, pay the modern and highly respected Krapina Neanderthal Museum (located north of Zagreb) a visit when in the country.

If we fast-forward a little, to around 1000 BC, a number of Illyrian tribes settled in areas to which they eventually gave their name – these include the Histri (in Istria) and the Delmati (in Dalmatia) on the mainland and on some of the inlands.

The Greeks then conquered parts of present-day Croatia in the 4th century BC, although not to the extent one might imagine, given their power elsewhere. Their main colonies included the island of Issa (which is Vis) and Tragurion (present-day Trogir).
The Romans followed the Greeks, and ruled areas of Croatia in a much more emphatic fashion. Parts of what is today Croatia, especially the areas along the coast and Dalmatia in particular, became part of the Roman Empire around 9 AD. The major Roman settlements included Pola (Pula), Jader (Zadar), Salona (Solin, which is near Split) and Epidaurum (Cavtat). Emperor Diocletian (who ruled from 284 AD to 286 AD) was born in Salona/Solin and had his palace in Split – elements of which are very well preserved and an absolute must-see – built in 305 AD. Another famous sight from the Roman period – the Arena in Pula – was built between 27 BC to 68 AD.

Around the early part of the 7th century AD, Croatian tribes (arriving from present day Poland) settled across various parts of the area that is present-day Croatia in both the northern and southern regions. The Croats accepted Christianity around 800 AD, and soon established their own state ruled by princes or dukes.

The first prominent ruler in Croatia was Branimir, who was a duke of Dalmatia from 872 to 879. It was King Tomislav, however, who united the Croats in Dalmatia and Pannonia (northern Croatia) into one Kingdom in 925. The Croatia of this time was a reasonably strong country within Europe. Tomislav was succeeded by the Kings Kresimir and Zvonimir.

In 1091, as Croatia’s lineage of Kings had come to an end, King Ladislaus of Hungary became ruler of Croatia. It was in 1102, however, that an official union with Hungary was established, whereby Croatia retained its existence as a separate Kingdom and could be governed by its own Ban (governor) who would be appointed by the Hungarian King. This union with Hungary, under various guises and rulers, would last until World War I.

Along the coast, a different history was progressing. Of probably the greatest importance, Dubrovnik was established in the 7th century. It then became part of the Byzantine Empire until 1205, after which it was taken over by Venice. In 1358, Dubrovnik gained independence and the Republic of Ragusa, as it was known, prospered for a number of centuries due to shipping and trade.

Both the inland and coastal regions – the latter after the fall of Venice – were swallowed up by the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the early part of the 19th century.

In 1918, following the end of World War I, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was formed (which would later be called Yugoslavia). This first version of Yugoslavia (which lasted from 1918 until 1941) was ruled by the Serbian royal family, Karadjordjevic, which naturally favoured the Serbs and caused enormous resentment in Croatia. Furthermore, parts of coastline (including Istria, Rijeka and Zadar, and some of the islands) had been given to Italy by the 1920 Treaty of Rapallo.

The country was invaded by Nazi Germany in April 1941, which gave Croatia independence under the fascist dictator Ante Pavelic. This regime was known for its harsh rule and for committing numerous atrocities, and therefore many Croats (over 200,000) actively joined the resistance movement under Josip Broz Tito which liberated the country in May 1945. (Winston Churchill was so impressed with the Croatian resistance movement that in 1944 he sent his son Randolph and the writer Evelyn Waugh to Croatia as his personal emissaries.)

In November 1945, the Republic of Yugoslavia was officially created – with Marshal Tito as its leader – which contained Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Hercegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia (as well as the autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo). The country was later renamed the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1963.

Breaking ties with Stalin and the USSR in 1948, Yugoslavia prospered to a certain extent under Tito. A relaxed stance on ties with the West – unlike much of Eastern Europe at the time – meant trade and tourism in the country were allowed to flourish. Tito also did well to quash any resentments between the Yugoslav republics (as well as stifling any nationalistic feelings from these republics) which kept the country more-or-less unified. After his death in 1980, Yugoslavia stumbled on for another ten or so years.

On 25th June 1991, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia (as did Slovenia) prompting Serbian invasion. Croats rose to defend their country under the leadership of its first president, Franjo Tudjman (who died in December 1999), and after four years the country was fully liberated.

Croatia celebrated twenty years of independence in 2011 and, in that time, it has undergone many transitions – not least coping with the effects of the war in the early 1990s. It is a beautiful country and certainly well worth visiting for its scenery, culture, sights, beautiful coastline and more. We’ve given you just a brief history of the country, but we do hope you pay a visit (and use this site to start off your travel planning!) and experience it for yourself!


Excursion to National park Kornati and Nature Park Telašćica  (one-day cruise)

Excursion to National park Kornati and Nature Park Telašćica (one-day cruise)

Zadar, Croatia
We invite you to a splendid one day cruise to the beautiful world of Park of Nature “Telascica More info
Half-day cruise

Half-day cruise

Half-day tour includes journey by boat across channel of Zadar nearby coast of Island Ugljan, passag More info
Panorama cruise

Panorama cruise

Kukljica, Zadar, Croatia
Panorama cruise is journey by boat across Zadar’s Canal and nearby coast of Island Ugljan, panoramic More info
Riviera tour

Riviera tour

Biogad Na Moru, Zadar, Croatia
Riviera tour is intended for organized groups passing Zadar on their way to final destination. It is More info
Sunset Cruise

Sunset Cruise

Zadar, Croatia
Relaxant and romantic cruises through Zadar’s Canal with stop at famous and unique “Sea Organs” and More info
Vila Dalmatina kombi Rental

Vila Dalmatina kombi Rental

Car typeKombi
Max people9
Door count2
Minimum driver age2
Unlimited mileage?No