Smoking in Croatia

In croatia, there is a light anti-smoking campaign. Smoking is completely prohibited in all restaurants and all eating areas. Bars can get a green light for smoking if they have good ventilation ( of course every bar has it 🙂 ). Cigarettes can be bought in any store if you are over 18 years old. Pack of 20 cigarettes costs around 2.8€. You can also buy tobacco and papers.

Smoking is widely present in Croatia, with lot of users and coffee/ cigarette culture present in every region. With anti-smoking campaign a lot of spaces are now free of tobacco, but you should be prepared to be surrounded with it in bars and pubs. If you search, you can find tobacco free bars or at least a smoke free area in certain bars.

Vapourisers

Vapourisers are generally allowed everywhere without any special restrictions. You can find liquids in specialized stores ( even some stores that specialises in tobacco related products).

Marihuana

Selling, possession, smoking, smelling and almost any other type of contact with ganja is ILLEGAL in Croatia. But. Of course you can obtain it without much troubles. Current prices are around 13€ ( 100kn) for 1 gram. Caution is advised. Especially if you visit festivals and concerts. Croatian police often practice undercover agents on these events.

In Croatia most popular way of consuming is smoking marihuana in joints. You can buy papers in any newsstand.

 

Dangerous animals in Croatia

Modern Europe is so tamed that a lot of folks forget that there are still places where animals dictate the rules. Croatia is no exception to this fact. Even though 99% of the time you won’t even notice that, Croatia is home to some pretty dangerous animals.

Large animals

Let’s start with the biggest and most obvious one, the bear. Bears are common in the center part of Croatia. Well, you couldn’t say they are common common, but they are out there, trust me. Chances are you will not see one even if you look for them. But if you go hiking or mushroom hunting it’s not a bad idea to take a pepper spray with you, just in case. croatian bobcat Croatia is also home to lynx (bobcat). Croatian and slovenian bobcats are the only remaining lynx in Europe, and in Croatia it is considered a protected species, so hunting is not an option. It inhabits area around “Gorski kotar”, from Plitvice lakes through Risnjak reservat ups to Slovenia.

The black widow

Yes, the infamous spider is a natural dweller along all of the Croatian coastline. It is rarely seen, and bites even rarer. Still it’s a quite dangerous animal that can kill an infant and put adult in a hospital. Yet, despite myths it’s not deadly, infact only 5% of victims die from the bite, mostly the ones that had bad or no treatment, old people and children that suffered from some sort of complication. Black widows love to stay close to the ground often in grass or under rocks. Bites are often not detected for the first couple of hours and leave a small mark. First symptoms include redness and spasms around the bite area. Spasms slowly spread to the rest of the body. black widow spider If you detect those symptoms go immediately to the nearest hospital or call the ambulance. Don’t panic, black widow venom is treated very successfully without the need for an antidote. You should be fine in 3-5 days.

Snakes

There are around 15 species of snake in Croatia, 3 of them are venomous. The Horned viper is the deadliest one. Other 2 are Common European adder and Karst Meadow Viper. Bottom two are almost no threat to people, either because of their nature or due to the fact that their toxin is very weak. most venomous european snake In case of a sneak bite, the most important thing is not to panic or run around. Try to stay as calm as possible and not increase heartbeat to slow down the spread of the toxin. Call 112 and that’s it. Croatian hospitals are equipped with antidotes and prepared for those kind of situations.

You will probably get hurt by…

Sea urchin. Yes, small, slow and non aggressive and almost harmful dweller of the sea causes pain for thousands of Croatian tourists. Shallow water sea urchin There are 2 types of urchins in Adriatic sea, a shallow water variant and a deep water variant. The deep water variant leaves in a depth of at least 4-5 meters, it has thicker spines and you can’t really get hurt from it. Unfortunately the ones that live in shallow waters are super unpleasant. They have thin spines that breaks even on smallest contact , so even if you try to mess with it with hand, even very carefully you will get hurt. The nasty part of urchins is the fact that spines will pierce you, break and get stuck under your skin. And when you try to remove it with, let’s say pincers, they will break again and get even deeper. The best solution is to carefully crawl out of the sea, go home, get a wet towel and wrap your leg in it. The idea here is that after some time the skin will shrink and ripple from water and expose a spine. Then you can, ever so carefully, pull it out with pincers. The trick is not to grab it to hard, or it will break. If you do nothing you will get infection, so carefully, but by any means possible try to remove it.

Other dangerous animals

If you go fishing, beware of the greater weever or spider fish ( as it is called in Croatian). Most often, inexperienced fishers quickly grab the fish as they pull it out of the sea and get stinged. The weever toxin in non-lethal but it hurts like hell. People often tell that they seriously consider to amputate the arm just to stop the pain. The weever poison is destroyed by heat, so it’s best to soak stinged area in hot water. Often people burn the area with cigarette butts. It maybe sounds crazy but I heard that a lot. greater weever croatia In sea there are some other fishes and creatures that could be dangerous. But the encounters are very rare, so I won’t be mentioning them here.

What you will not find in Croatia

Firstly, sharks. There are couple of species of sharks in Mediterranean sea, but they are either small or stay in deep waters and are no threat to humans. Sometimes, bigger sharks do come to Adriatic sea following large ships. But last shark encounter was in the 70’s of last century, so chances are very slim you will be so unlucky.  There are also no alligators, dangerous disease transmitting mosquitoes and no blood sucking bats. Even the animals mentioned above are extremely rare, or should I say rare in the places where humans dwell. You should really put some effort to put yourself in a danger.

Olive oil in Croatia

One the the things people love most about Croatia are homemade locally produced organic food. And the prime target is most often extra virgin olive oil. It is grown along all the coastline of Croatia from Istria to Dubrovnik and it’s relatively cheap for a quality it has. And even though it’s quite common to buy it on the street and chance you will get swindled ( e.g. mixed oil) are quite low, you still need to be careful what and where to buy.

The basics

So what does the extra virgin in olive oil stands for? Extra means it is made out of the best olives picked at best time, a quality that is hard to test, and if you are not extra expert in olive oils just don’t pay attention to it. Virgin stands for a type of production. Virgin olive oil is made out by cold pressing of fresh olives. In Croatia that is the only legal method of olive oil production, so all oils are virgin one.

Olives are picked in phases from end of October to December. You can roughly guess when the olives were picked by the bitterness of oil, the bitter the oil in earlier phase it was picked.

Yield is affected by weather and disease. If you can you should find out how good was yield that year and buy accordingly. If yield was bad don’t buy oil if it is cheaper than average, on the other hand you can buy cheap quality oil on a good year ( of course price should be somewhere near average).

And one last note, oil can be filtered and unfiltered. So if you see residue in oil that is OK, but that does affect how long the oil is good. Unfiltered oil has less keep time.

maslinovo ulje production

How to buy

Olive oil is mostly affected by light, air and temperature. So when you see a nice old lady that sells oil in a street and keeps transparent  bottles of it on the sun, you should probably avoid it, at least that bottle. Best oils can be bought from producers that will fill the bottle when you come to them and not before that. Now, chances are that that nice lady has prime oil somewhere in the back, away from sun and heat. So when buying ask her does she have another bottle and keep an eye from where she gets it. But the best solution is to ask locals to point you to a local producer. That way you can be sure that you bought quality homemade oil.

If you have time try buying small bottle from one seller. Olive oil should thicken on low temperatures so you can test seller’s honesty before buying more oil. This way you can also try it out. And whenever you buy ask seller to give you a sample, honest sellers don’t have nothing to hide.

Oldest trees

Kaštel Štifilić 1500 years old olive tree

Kaštel Štifilić 1500 years old olive tree

Oldest olive tree in Croatia is one located in Kaštel Štafilić near Split, it’s over 1600 years old. Another old and famous one is located on islands of Brijuni, with over 1500 years old and still produces olives for oil. One of more interesting locations is Luna forest on island Pag. This olive forest spreads over 400 hectares and contains over 80 000 olive trees. They say that there are trees 2000 years old there and even possible 2500 years old examples.

You can find exact location of this places on our map.

Markets in Zagreb

Whether you just pass through Zagreb or you have a full stay, visit Zagreb’s open markets for a taste of home made products. This is especially for people who are coming from the large cities and love natural and healthy food. On Croatian local markets you can find sausages from small, local butchers, fresh cottage cheese, virgin olive oil or local wild apples. Offer depends on the season, but there is always something interesting to pick from.

Beside food markets there is one flea market and one antique market. Those 2 are opened only on certain days, but they are interested to visit if you are in that kind of things. There you can find vinills, old books, memorabilia and other things of that type.

Timing and general suggestions

zagreb tresnjevacki market

Croatian markets are usually open in the first part of the day. Best time to visit them is between 8AM and 1PM. Then most of the sellers will be there and ready for you. After 1PM sellers will be either out of stock or gone, with only some of them left. Bargaining is acceptable to some extend, they will lower their prices but it’s not like in some countries where you can cut the price in half or more. Also prepare cash. Some sellers have POS machines, but majority do not. Prices on markets range from cheaper than in large stores to higher, depending on what you want and expect. For instance homemade virgin olive oil will cost around 10-13 euros, while in stores you could find industrial virgin olive oil starting for 5 euros. But the difference in quality is immeasurable. Of course like any market you must be cautious and prepared. There are “homemade” products from large stores repacked to look like homemade. It is wise to check what grows when and does it grow in Croatia’s climate. I can assure you that there are no Croatian bananas or winter tomatoes.

Food markets

Tresnjevacki plac zagreb

If you don’t know what to look for here is a small list of interesting ( at least for me) things that you could find almost all year long.

  • Porcini mushrooms- you can find fresh or dried ones.
  • Olive oil- most of it is really homemade and you can always ask for a sample.
  • Pumpkin oil- if you don’t know what it is you should definitely try it.
  • Sausages- there are number of small butchery shops at every market, explore a bit, ask to smell their product and follow your nose. My personal recommendation is “Slavonska” and “Kulen”.
  • Spices and herbal teas- you can find large varieties of dried local herbs for very cheap price, like oregano and basil.
  • Ajvar- a local variety of relish or chutney. It’s made in hot or normal variant.
  • Honey- and other bee products like propolis.
  • Prosciutto- either dalmatian or istrian, if you find it try both.

There are many food markets in Zagreb, but here I will mention only 3.
Oldest one, located in strict center of Zagreb is “Dolac”. Its not big but it’s the most famous one and there you will find more stuff that are tourist related.
Biggest one is located in a city district called “Trešnjavka” ( pron. Treshnavka). You can get there by foot ( it’s near tram routes) or car.
Last one I will mention is market located in district called “Utrina”. Its not big, but it’s on the way to the airport and it has almost everything that other bigger markets have. So if you are catching a plane ask your taxi driver to stop there.

Other markets

Zagreb has one large flea market called Hrelich. Beside random stuff it is also a used car market and car parts market. Working days are Saturday,Sunday or Wednesday, but it’s best if you can catch Sunday. You will see everything for sell there, from used, chewed up tennis balls to rare collectables, good bicycles, old books, clothes, wigs, guns, you name it. Of course on these type of market you must be extra carefull, what you buy and what you do. You could buy some stolen goods or be duped by some swindler.
If you are looking for antiques, Market on “Britanski trg” is a place for you. It’s a very small market, located in the center of Zagreb near “Ban Jelačić” (pron. Ban Jelachich) square. It works only on some days and it’s divided in 3 themes, one for each day:

  • Thursday from 7AM to 6PM market for porcelain, glass production and jewelry.
  • Friday from 7AM to 6PM old books market
  • Saturday and Sunday from 7AM to 2PM antiques market.

Traveling through Croatia

So you have planed how to get to Croatia, but you have question how to travel through Croatia. Here are some useful information and links.

Airports

airport croatia Croatia has 7 international airports and a lot of companies both normal and low cost that travel to Croatia.

  Of course you will most likely go to an airport that has a flight available closest to your final destination, but if such is not available don’t worry. Croatia is small and even if you take a furthest possible airport it’s not the end of the world. Other thing you should keep in mind is that smaller airports could have smaller taxi and bus fleet. So planning ahead and ordering a transport that will wait you will save you both time and money. Taxi around airport is of course expensive, so ordering a taxi via phone or internet could save you money. Don’t count on services like Uber, its still integrating in Croatia and has problems. Most airports have their own buses that ride to the center of town. They are cheap and fast. But smaller airports could have special schedule, like every 2 hours or couple of hour gaps. If you have a large distance to travel to your final destination, contact us, we can arrange for you either a special taxi ( and we will negotiate special price for you) or find you a cheaper rent-a-car.

Car travel

highway croatia If you decide to visit Croatia by car, plan ahead based on the location of your final destination. For instance if you are planning to stay on some smaller island found out if you can get your car there and how. Smaller island can have a ferry but it could be that it have special schedule ( like once a week). Larger island have regular ferries. In last 10 years Croatia has build modern highways across all country, that are both fast and safe to travel. Highway is a bit expensive ( for Croatian standard), but they are alternative ways. Old road is a bit slower, but it comes packed with extra content. Small restaurants offer local delicacies, locals sell home made cheese or honey, freshly picked porcini mushrooms ( often way cheaper than in the markets), etc. Just watch the road, they have small stands by the road and if you go to fast you could miss them. Best option, when traveling by road, is to combine both old road and the new highway. Avoiding hard parts like mountain crossing with highway and visiting interesting places on the old road. If you plan to travel south take in consideration that Bosnia and Hercegovina has an exit to Adriatic sea and cuts Croatian border ( marked with red dot on our map). So traveling trough that part is considered exiting and reentering Croatia. Due to political reasons passing trough Neum is unreliable, could be open ( no need for passport), could be open just for Croats, could be closed. Having a passport is very recommendable.

Useful numbers and services in Croatia

112 Emergency service +385/1-1987 HAK help on the road HAK traffic info

Croatian traffic law basic

highway croatia sign  top speed 130 croatia highway

motorized road croatia traffic sign top speed 90 croatia road

traffic sign urban area top speed 50 croatia urban

seat belt mandatory croatia traffic sign