Croatia Fast Facts


Population: 4,475,611

Capital City: Zagreb

Climate: Mediterranean and continental; continental climate predominant with hot summers and cold winters; mild winters, dry summers along coast

Time Zone: GMT+1

Language: Croatian (Official)

Croatia: Sunshine and History on the Adriatic Sea

Life moves at a relaxed pace in Croatia, not only on the islands, but also on much of the mainland. Sailboats glide on the glittering Adriatic Sea and on palm tree-lined promenades, residents sip coffee as lavender and rosemary aromas fill the air.

A member of the European Union since 2013, Croatia lies in southeastern Europe, across the Adriatic from Italy. Part of the former Yugoslavia until 1991, today, it borders Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and Hungary.

Similar in size to West Virginia, but, with a staggering array of landscapes, there is something for every taste in Croatia.

If it’s island living you seek, Croatia boasts more than 1,000 islands (only a few dozen are inhabited). Some, like Hvar, have long been popular with the jet set, while others are virtually unknown to North Americans. On many of the islands, vineyards and olive are ubiquitous. Though lively in the summer, the islands can be especially quiet during the winter months, when tourists go home and some residents head to the mainland. However, many of the islands’ larger communities have year-round ferry connections, offering a lifeline to the rest of the country.

In the northern part of Croatia’s mainland, the Istria region offers coastal communities with Mediterranean flair and hilltop towns reminiscent of Tuscany. In fact, Istria was part of Italy until 1947, so some locals still speak Italian. The region is celebrated for its outstanding truffles, seafood, and olive oil. Biking, hiking, and sailing are popular activities in Istria. Cosmopolitan Venice, Trieste, Ljubljana, and Zagreb are not far away, making them perfect day-trips from Istria.

South of Istria is the famed Dalmatian Coast, home to Croatia’s second largest city, Split, as well as historic Dubrovnik. As you drive the coast, you’ll encounter picturesque towns like Zadar, Primošten, and Makarska, each with a characteristic limestone bell tower punctuating the sky.

The Dalmatians are passionate about food that is domaći — or homemade. At outdoor markets, you’ll find copious amounts of fresh seafood, cheese, olive oil, and organic produce. Many recreational activities revolve around the sea like sailing, swimming, and kayaking. However, for the land-lovers, there are many opportunities for walks in the rugged countryside, or along the seaside.

For those who prefer cosmopolitan city life and cooler winter weather, look no further than Croatia’s capital, Zagreb. The city is situated inland and has a continental climate. Zagreb has the kind of energy you’d expect in a country’s capital, and has an award-winning Christmas market. Elsewhere in continental Croatia you’ll find majestic castles, dense forests, and rich agricultural areas.

While Zagreb offers a dramatic change of seasons, Split’s climate is unabashedly Mediterranean. Split is well-known for its Ancient Roman past. More than 1,700 years ago, Emperor Diocletian had a grand retirement palace built on the edge of the sea. After the fall of the Roman Empire, locals sought shelter within the abandoned palace. Over the course of several centuries they chipped away at the palace walls, eventually constructing buildings within its shell. Today, trendy boutiques, restaurants, and holiday apartments fill the former palace core.

And it wasn’t just the Romans who left behind a cultural legacy in Croatia. In some spots along the Dalmatian Coast, the architecture hints at the country’s Venetian heritage. The symbol of Venice, the Lion of St. Mark, adorns old city walls and water wells. Elegant palaces often flaunt Venetian Gothic flourishes. Croatia was also part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of World War I. You’ll see evidence of this in many of the country’s stately buildings.

Tourism is an integral part of Croatia’s economy, so real estate prices tend to be higher in tourist hot-spots like Dalmatia and Istria. Still, you can find apartments with sea views for less than $125,000, making Croatia an affordable spot for a Mediterranean vacation retreat or a sunshine-filled retirement.


From the Archives of Croatia

An Insider’s Guide to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast

An Insider’s Guide to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast

Deep blue water stretching into the distance. Rocky coastlines where mountains push up against the sea. Terracotta rooftops cascading down bright green hills. Islands silhouetted by fiery sunsets. And fortresses dotted across the landscape, towering above the valleys on a hilltop or settled against the sea with holes in their walls for cannon fire.

I Love the Freedom of Having No Boss and Living Anywhere

I Love the Freedom of Having No Boss and Living Anywhere

By the time I wake up, it's almost noon. I enjoy a lazy breakfast of traditional Croatian meats and cheeses while sitting on my deck. I eat in almost complete peace and quiet, overlooking the undisturbed beach that is mere steps away from my one-bedroom apartment. I slip into my swimsuit and patter down to the sand, where I spend an hour alternating between the warm waters of the Adriatic Sea and the soft, golden sands leading out to them.

5 of Europe’s Best Urban Beach Towns

5 of Europe’s Best Urban Beach Towns

By |
August 19, 2016

Warm, clear blue-green sea lapping long, sandy beaches… Families eating and laughing together over slow, relaxed dinners with lashings of good food and even better wine… Markets packed full of fresh-caught fish, locally made cheeses, and a rainbow of delicious produce… When you live by the beach in Europe, life is simpler, happier, and healthier.

A Mediterranean Adventure For Less Than $3,000 a Month (Per Couple)

A Mediterranean Adventure For Less Than $3,000 a Month (Per Couple)

Daily Postcard
By |
December 10, 2015

A warm, clear blue-green sea lapping long, sandy beaches... Families eating and laughing together over slow, relaxed dinners with lashings of good food and even better wine... If you've ever watched a movie set in the Mediterranean, you might believe the region is solely a playground for the rich—the romping ground of Hollywood starlets like Brigitte Bardot. Scratch the surface and you'll discover that is definitely not the case—an adventure in the Mediterranean could be yours for less than you might think.

Europe’s Most Romantic Train Journeys

Europe’s Most Romantic Train Journeys

And so I nearly always find myself choosing to explore Europe by train, even if it sometimes takes a couple more hours and a few more dollars. I’ve traveled this way for years, both when I lived in the States and visited Europe between jobs, and now that I live here in the Swiss Alps. And I’ve discovered that, even though I love nearly every train ride I’ve taken, a few routes stand a little taller than the rest… they unfold more beautifully and leave attentive passengers more breathless than the average ride through the countryside. This train ride weaves its way along the coastline of Italy and then France, offering striking views of the ocean, the seaside cliffs and candy-colored towns of the Cinque Terre, tiny harbors, and hillside vineyards and olive groves. Towns seem to tumble down cliffsides into the Ligurian Sea where boats bob at anchor. En route watch out for the chiming towers of Riomaggiore and picture the sleek Genoan war galleys that plied this coast 500 years ago.

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