Locals in your host country will likely be understanding and not take offense at social blunders, provided they arise from ignorance rather than malice, however you will be far more comfortable and welcomed if you acquaint yourself with local ways of doing things. It’s important to remember that as a guest in your host country you must adapt to the customs and social behavior of the region – not the other way round.
- Most Croatians speak some English, however making an effort to learn some Croatian words and phrases is much appreciated.
- Croatia takes pride in their coffee culture and many meet friends or colleagues over leisurely cups of coffee. Coffee to go is rare. Some cafes might offer coffee only, and no food (however bringing your own snack to enjoy with your coffee is acceptable).
- Coffee shops are prevalent, however you will not find commercial coffee chains.
- Be aware that some places in Croatia may only accept cash, particularly in cafés, bars, and small restaurants.
- The concept of siesta is very much a part of the elder generation’s daily routine. Between 2pm and 5pm, avoid making too much noise or phoning a local, as this is national naptime, particularly on the coast. Although more rare today, don’t be surprised if some stores close down in the afternoon.
- It is common for Croatians to speak loudly and be animated in conversations. This is assumed to reflect passion and expressiveness rather than anger.
- Generally, Croatians do not touch each other when they speak, especially when encountering someone for the first time. When a relationship has been established, light touching (such as a tap on the shoulder) can be common. Public displays of affection, such as kissing and hugging, are considered to be acceptable.
- Croatians tend to be extremely punctual and expect others to be on time. That being said, punctuality has more importance in a professional setting than in social ones. Friends will forgive tardiness so long as it is not a recurring behavior.
- In public spaces, it is considered rude and inconsiderate to put your feet up on couches, especially tables and the back of other people's seats. It is even more unacceptable to put your feet up while wearing shoes. It is good form to keep your feet off any surfaces than the floor or ground.
- Table manners are relatively casual as people like to eat and chat at meal times.
- With the majority of Croatians being Catholic, it’s customary for some to say prayer or thanks before a meal. So wait, just a little, to be sure you’re not digging in too early.
- Croatian hospitality requires the host to ensure that you are completely full and happy when having a meal at a friend or relative’s house. There is an emphasis on family, friends and food. Offering drinks, pre-meal snacks, a meal, a second helping, even third helping, cake, coffee, and then more drink to guests is a must. As a guest, you should not decline, as saying no would be considered rude. Instead, take a small first serving, which will allow you to accept a second helping.
- It is considered rude to place one’s hands below the table. Rather, Croatians tend to keep their hands above the table.
- In Croatia, lunch is considered to be the main meal of the day and may consist of multiple courses.
- It is very common for a glass of wine to accompany the meal and it is common for people to toast. They will raise their glasses and say ‘živjeli’.
- If eating in a restaurant or cafe and your Croatian counterpart insists on paying, let them pay. However, don’t take advantage of their hospitality and make sure you are picking up the tab sometimes as well.
- Tipping your server in a restaurant is standard practice – 5%-10% on your bill is typical. There’s no rule that you have to tip, but it’s considered good etiquette if you do. If you are paying with a credit card, leave the tip in cash.
- When purchasing food items, keep in mind that the price/quantity ratios are much different than in the U.S. Food prices may be similar, but the package size may be smaller.
- Relations between the U.S. and Croatia are very strong. The U.S. established diplomatic relations with Croatia in 1992.
- Travelling in Croatia is generally safe and is highly rated for its safety index. Visitors of Croatia seldom face any serious threat during their stay in the country, however, pickpocketing, petty thefts, bag snatching and ATM scams do happen so it is important to be aware of your surroundings.
- If you tend to venture off the beaten path, beware of unexploded minefields in inland or remote areas. There will be warning signs in place for areas where caution should be exercised. It is extremely important to respect the signs. Up to 2 million mines were laid during the war of the early ’90s, and Croatia is not yet mine-free.
- The constitution of Croatia defines all religious communities as equal by law and separate from the state, and the country has no official religion.
- Christianity is the dominant religion in Croatia, with 91% of citizens identifying as Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant Christians
- The Catholic Church plays a large role in Croatian society with public holidays related to Catholic religious festivals such as Epiphany, Easter Monday, Corpus Christi Day, Assumption Day, All Saints' Day, Christmas, and St. Stephen's Day celebrated.
- Wearing swimwear around town or walking around shirtless may incur fines.
- You should bring one set of business clothes for in-class presentations, Career Education Day and other slightly more formal events.
Meeting & Greeting
- Greetings on initial meetings will tend to be formal and reserved.
- In some cases, men and women will give each other a kiss on each cheek, which is a sign of a good friendship. Wait until the Croatian initiates this form of greeting.
- Address people with their titles plus surname. Only close friends and family members tend to use first names. Never jump to first names terms without being invited to.
- Croatians usually only point their index finger when in an argument or when intending to belittle someone. If someone needs to point towards a person or object, the polite manner is to use the whole hand or nod with one’s head.
- Bending the middle and ring finger with the index and pinkie finger extended is considered rude.
Topics To Avoid
- Comparisons to anything Serbian can still be a touchy subject for some.
- Do not refer to Croatia as Yugoslavia or to a Croatian as ‘Yugoslavian’. As a nation, Croatia has endured many difficulties in asserting their identity as independent from surrounding countries and cultures.
- Discussing national politics with Croatians is can be sensitive because of widespread nationalistic views. Discussing other ethnicities of Yugoslavia, as well as religious issues in casual conversation are considered taboo.
- Croatia has a long and eventful history. For many centuries, Croatia was alternately ruled by Hungary, Venice, Napoleon and Austria. After WWI, Croatia became part of Yugoslavia along with Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia. Croatia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, and was immediately thrust into the devastating Bosnian War from 1991-1995. Post war recovery led to improved economic conditions, the rebuilding of infrastructure, and acceptance into the European Union. Today Croatia is a vibrant country with a bustling economy, natural beauty and is known for being a popular tourist destination.
- The climate of Croatia is classified as a warm temperate Mediterranean climate with dry, warm summers and moderate, wet winters.
- The summer months of July and August are typically hot and ideal water temperatures for swimming.
- Winters are cooler and wetter though still pleasant enough. Interior parts of the country may experience snow during the colder months.
Dubrovnik 70-80 Degrees
Zagreb 65-82 Degrees
Dubrovnik 40-50 degrees
Zagreb 32-47 degrees