Croatian Culture

Croatian Culture

Age-old vineyards strecthing out into the horizon, a laid-back way of life bolstered by the Dalmatian spirit, and a turbulent history… This is the essence of what makes Croatian culture eclectic. Partly Balkan and partly Mediterranean, Croatia has redefined every concept common in the world cultures, from hospitality to manner and etiquette. Although interactions between a variety of ethnic groups may sometimes cause tension, the social scene in Croatia is far from chaotic. The dynamics are based on collectivism, which means that you will blend in almost immediately.

Croatians have a very solid concept of nationhood, and it is the thing that keeps the scenes in this fragrant country romantic and interesting. Keep an eye open for any display of folklore or story being told while you are in Croatia. Pre- and post-independence cultures best manifest themselves through tales that travel from mind to mind. As you explore this unique patchwork of cultures, remember that Croatians value diversity, community, and comfort above all.

Croatian culture
Croatian culture

Eating & Drinking

“Incredible tastes right from the Dalmatian sea, and spick-and-span agriproducts from some of the most fertile lands of the Mediterranean…Excellent food is the heart of Croatian culture.”

Every region has its own culinary way. The Dalmatians like it fresh from the sea and dressed in whatever spices the season offers. In the inner parts such as Zagreb, root veggies and simplicity is valued, similar to the rest of Central Europe. The Slavonia region diverges from the main palette, replacing fish with some juicy pork meat. The best part of taking a trip to the Dalmatian is that you will find all kinds of restaurants bringing together recipes from around the country. Most of the fresh vegetables come from family-run farms, which has had a significant role in the Croatian culture of food. If you are looking for the most authentic food experience in Croatia, go to the konobas, often family-owned cozy tavernas that serve the best appetizers.

Risotto with seafood and exquisite olive oil, farm-made cheese accompanied with seasonal spices, and a sip of award-winning wines… This is how your usual meal starts in Croatia. Bread is a table staple, often coming in different varieties based on the dish you order. Even breakfasts have their own selection of aperitives. The true star of Croatian cuisine is fish, or anything that comes from the Dalmatian sea. Oysters are a specialty along the coast, so you must engage in that iconic oyster-tasting ritual with some local white wine. Between breakfast and lunch, experience the light and joyful Marenda. Some may say this is basically brunch, and they are wrong! Marenda is as traditional and authentic as it gets, hailing good quality dry meat and cheese.

There are four signature tastes of Croatia, truffles, the local white grape (and of course its wine), seasalt, and oysters. Try these wherever you are visiting, and you will also get to experience their great varieties. Visit a winery or an oyster farm if you can, or learn about the local tradition of truffle hunting in the Mediterranean scrubs. Don’t hesitate to get to the bottom of Croatian culture with these activities.

Unique Crafts & Shopping

A sensuous crafts scene awaits in Croatia, from traditional to modern and authentic to trendy. In the hip stretches of the small towns, you will find designer boutiques tucked away in cobbled alleys. More mainstream choices await on the main streets of tourist hubs like Split. Some local handcrafts are handmade leather shoes that come in a funny but equally pretty shape, nautical bracelets, and the iconic Croatian cravat. But what truly reflects Croatian culture are the fresh products of the Dalmatian, including honey, olive oil, and some of the best lavender you can find in the Mediterranean.

When in Dubrovnik, go for some classical items that make the best souvenirs. Dubrovnik’s world-famous ramparts, its appearance in Game of Thrones, and its unique customs result in a plethora of objects to buy. The best place to find them all is Stradun, the main street of its old town. If you are looking for truly old-fashioned stuff, Shopping Minčeta is your address. Split has more to offer when it comes to luxury goods. You will find global brands lined up on the main pedestrian road. Also, don’t leave without buying some locally produced chocolate—the oldest recipes of Croatian culture. Where to buy the best censed Dalmatian wine? Your answer is the blissful Makarska. This is where you will get to go on a wine-tasting spree and buy some to take home.

Look for the quaint, family-owned little shops in destinations like Omis and Korcula. The highest quality fish, olive, and vine products make an appearance in these hidden stores. Last but not least, the large farmer’s markets that meet customers on certain days in large plazas will raise your expectations. These are not only perfect for buying some local produce, but also at the forefront of Croatian culture.

  • Takeaway: No matter which city you are visiting, high fashion is on the shopping streets, while bohemian and authentic crafts await in the narrow alleys of the old towns. Fresh produce is too good to pass up. Art is among the most popular buyable items in Croatia, so make sure you check some art stores and galleries.
Croatian culture
Croatian culture

Religion & Etiquette

Croatia’s religious portrait is far from diverse. Over 90% of the population define themselves as Catholics, while the remaining Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and Atheists. Catholicism is one of the defining elements of Croatian culture. It was a driving force for independence, and today it is one of the core constituents of customs and etiquette. A blend of Western values and religious faith results in an open-minded society that likes to practice traditionalism in some matters. To practice some common courtesy, the best things to keep in mind are to avoid talking about the war, not questioning independence and keep unusual comments about Catholicism to yourself.

You will see religion practiced in different ways across the country, and the reason for this is ethnic diversity. Regional varieties of Croatian culture are a delight to experience. Slovenians, Dalmatians, and other ethnicities from the neighboring regions make up the ethnic palette. Never assume that they are the same in terms of culture and way of life. Croatians value their individualism very much. However, there are certain customs that have become the fabric of life here. Everyone in Croatia gives importance to dressing neatly, and often stylishly. Refusing offerings and refreshments in smaller restaurants may be perceived as rude, but Croatians are relatively tolerant towards travelers.

When walking on the street, don’t be so surprised if you receive a few sincere greetings from strangers. It is common in street culture. Also part of the contemporary scene is the cozy coffeehouses scattered all across the Dalmatian. These are the best places in Croatia for people-watching and making some local acquaintances.

Festivals & Events

“That breezy vibe of the Dalmatian is what makes Croatian festivals the ultimate cultural occasion you will experience during your visit.”

The spirit of Croatian culture is as frisky as the heart of a child. It best manifests itself in the myriad festivals and carnivals celebrated across the country in every season. We bet you haven’t seen joy and tradition honored in such a vigorous way before. Wait till you come across a cultural event in Croatia. The most famous and arguably the best one is the Rijeka Carnival. Almost equal to Rio Carnival or Mardi Gras when it comes to immense dynamism, Rijeka Carnival is traditional and modern at once. If you are traveling in the winter months, you will find yourself in the hectic parades where masked men in costumes chase away evil spirits.

A truly traditional one is the Korcula Sword Dance Festival, held every June in the island paradise. This is where different dance and folk groups come together to keep one of the oldest traditions of Croatia alive. Originally performed to protest the Moorish occupation, the Sword Dance is an eye-pleasing spectacle reflecting Croatian culture and tradition today. Another joyous event also held in June is the Half New Year’s Eve. An unusual celebration indeed, it is when people take to the streets to enjoy the halfway to the New Year. Essentially, it is a cheeky excuse for local folk to party it out.

If your trip doesn’t coincide with an annual festival, no worries. There are plenty of cultural exhibitions throughout the year that will fill your agenda. All across Dubrovnik, Split, and other highlight destinations, you will find the exuberant mojo of Croatia unraveled through light shows, folk celebrations, and art spectacles.

Croatian culture
Croatian culture

Croatia Food Guide

Check out our Croatia Food Guide for the tasty local dishes and drinks you must try.

Croatian culture

Croatia Travel Advice

Everything you need to know about traveling to Croatia is in our Croatia Travel Advice guide.

Croatian culture

Solo Travels

Are you traveling alone? Check out our Solo Travels page for detail.

Tours visiting Croatia

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Premium Boat

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