The country of Croatia in Southeast Europe has many varied cultural spheres of influence. As such, it’s a thriving area for arts, culture, literature, fine dining, and sports. If you’re thinking about a visit, check out some advice and travel tips for traveling in Croatia to get the most from your trip.

Aerial view of the coast and walls of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

Know which climate you’re getting

There are 2 different climates in Croatia, and important travel tips include making sure you anticipate the climate before going to that region. If you’re going to be taking a coastal vacation in Croatia, you’ll want to prepare for a warmer, more humid Mediterranean. If you’re heading for a vacation inland, you’ll want to prepare for a continental climate with icy cold winters and hot, dry summers. The south of the country tends to experience drier air with more sun than the northern area in the Istria region.

You don’t need a visa

While you’ll need a passport to travel, 1 travel tip is you don’t actually need a visa to visit Croatia from the United States. That being said, if you plan to range abroad, like traveling across the border to Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, or across the Adriatic to Italy, you may still need a visa to visit these areas. Many nations are nearby and with so much to see, it still may be worth holding the necessary visas.

Public transportation is great

People are often afraid to explore the bus systems of foreign countries, but what to know before you go is that it may be better to take the bus than the railway, something you’ll wish you knew if you don’t prepare. While the train does get you to many of the cities, it won’t go to the south and Dubrovnik, among the most popular destinations to tour, isn’t accessible by train. There are 13 different bus routes that can get you there from Split, and it’s just a 4-hour ride, so it’s great for a day trip.

It’s a deceptively large country

When you look at Croatia on a map, it seems like it’s a small country, but know before you go that the various attractions are quite spread apart. If you don’t prepare for this you’ll wish you knew that not only does it take hours to get from one city to another, there are also tons of offshore islands to explore via ferry or even kayak. Be prepared to spend some time on the road or on the ferry, and plan your travel around day trips to see everything.

Research your Game of Thrones tour in advance

Among the most popular reasons people visit Croatia these days is to tour all the real-life locations that stood in for Westeros in the Game of Thrones series on HBO. More of these tours are available than you can count, and it can be a thrilling experience, so be sure that you take the time to research the exact tour you take before signing up. Every one of these tours offers a different experience, from a basic visit to filming locations to guides in full costume and character. Know what you want and be sure you get the best experience.

Don’t discount road trips

While the bus system is a great way to explore, renting a car to drive yourself around can offer the best way to see the countryside, with the most freedom to see and do what you will. A road trip through Croatia allows you to visit all of the local cities, the outlying quaint country villages that offer old-world European charm, and also see the 8 different national parks with stunning green forests and clear turquoise lakes. Just drive with care, and don’t talk on your cell as it’s illegal and strictly enforced!

Aerial view of Salona Ruins in Croatia

Salona Ruins

Check out the wilds

Speaking of the national parks, taking the time to visit the diverse biospheres of the 8 different national parks, 10 nature parks, and 2 nature reserves in the country will provide you the kind of stunning vistas and photo ops you’ll never forget. You can explore everything from rolling hills to plains to the seashore to towering mountain heights, and never leave Croatia. You’ll see streams and rapids, waterfalls, lakes, green meadows, limestone rock formations, and endless forests. You’ll experience marine life, bird watching, hiking, biking, and boating. A nature vacation in Croatia is an outdoor adventurer’s dream.

Wine and dine in Istria

Though best known for its capital of Zagreb and the city of Dubrovnik, don’t forget to spend some time in the peninsula of Istria. This county is famous for its wine and foodie culture. If you’re into seafood, olive oil, or wine, this is definitely the place to go. It’s also famed for its truffles. In addition, it’s quite close to Italy so you’ll find a lot of Italian cultural influence here. The port city of Pula on the southern tip is a great base of operations, with access to tons of beaches, ports, and surrounding towns.

Know the food scene

As you explore the wine region and experience the wide and varied culinary experiences, know what to expect. Your typical Croatian fare will be a unique blend of Hungarian, Turkish, Italian and Austrian in its blend of flavors and ingredients, though food can vary widely in different regions. For example, on the Dalmatian Coast, you’ll find greens, seafood, and olive oil. In Zagreb, food will be central European in flavor. While you’re in the country, be sure to try Crni rižoto, a traditional dish made with squid, clams, shellfish, or mussels.

Fish on display at the fish market in Croatia

Fish market

Respect the culture

Always respect the culture in Croatia and any other country you visit. This area has faced invaders, internal wars, and more than its share of strife. Never refer to it as Yugoslavia, and the language is Croatian, not Serbian, and not Yugoslavian. Religion is also important here, with the vast majority of the population being Catholic. The Virgin Mary is highly regarded throughout the country, and each town has its own patron saint. Respect their cultural traditions and you’ll make the most of your visit.

Ready to plan your vacation?

With this essential information in mind before visiting Croatia, there’s no better time to plan a trip to experience the rich cultural traditions of Croatia. Check out the great local deals you’ll find for Croatia vacations from Expedia for the best deals on your trip.