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School Group Travel Programs in Croatia & the Balkans

Exploring Croatia

The small nation of Croatia has many treasures packed within its borders. The country’s picturesque architecture gives hints of the various empires that have swept through the region, including Byzantine, Venetian, Roman and Ottoman. This history has led to eight locations in the country being listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites for their historical and cultural relevance. That’s in addition to two other places that are listed for their outstanding natural beauty.

Croatia is packed with crystal clear waters, limestone cliffs and postcard-perfect views along the Adriatic Sea. The relaxing vibe attracts visitors from all corners of the planet.

On top of the sights, there are more than a dozen Croatian traditions that have been named on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. This includes practices ranging from lacemaking to a knight tournament in Sinj that dates back to the 1700s.

At every turn, there’s something to see as you travel through Croatia.

Country Basics

Croatia is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia and has a population of four million people. It borders the countries of Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Slovenia. Its coastline along the Adriatic Sea stretches more than 1100 miles and amidst the water Croatia shares a maritime border with Italy.

Off the mainland, Croatia has more than a 1000 islands and islets but only 48 of them are inhabited. Overall, ten percent of the nation’s land is preserved including eight national parks.

One of the best-known national parks is one you’ll visit – Plitvice Lakes National Park. Its forested land includes 16 emerald lakes, limestone karsts and waterfalls. Outside the parks, the largest city in the country is its capital Zagreb.

Croatia has cemented itself as a tourist destination since the war in Yugoslavia. Amid growing tensions between Croats and Serbs, Croatia declared itself independent from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991, the same day as Slovenia. After the declaration, the Croatian War of Independence and the Bosnian War unfolded.

During the Bosnian War, Croatia took in about 700,000 Bosnian refugees. Following the conflicts, tens of thousands of ethnic Serbs who had fled Croatia also returned. Today these groups live together peacefully in a nation with a constitutional parliamentary democracy.


Croatian is the official language of the country, called Hrvatski by the local people. Before the war ethnic groups in Yugoslavia were encouraged to use a common language, but after the split the differences between languages were emphasized.

The Croatian language, unlike Serbian, uses a Latin alphabet with 30 letters. It does not have the letters q, w, x, and y, but it has these additional letters: č, ć, dž, đ, lj, nj, š, and ž.

The language includes three dialects, which are further divided into sub-dialects. This can make things confusing, but here are a few basic words and phrases that may help.

  • Dobar dan! – Hello!
  • da – yes
  • ne – no
  • Hvala. – Thanks.
  • Žao mi je. – I’m sorry.
  • Kako se Vi zovete? – What’s your name?
  • Ja sam… – I am…
  • Kako si? – How are you?
  • Odlično! – Great!
  • Doviđenja! – Goodbye!
  • nema više – no more (can be used if you’re offered more food but would like to decline)

Many Croatians speak English, so that is helpful to English-speaking travelers.

One interesting factoid about the Croatian language is that like some other older languages it has fewer words for certain colors. Therefore, in Croatia people may use the word for blue hair to describe someone with blonde hair.

Social Norms & Expectations

Croatians are quite hospitable and like to socialize with guests, even ones who are unannounced. To be a gracious guest, here are a few social norms to remember:

  • Avoid overly casual clothes. Croatians dress rather modestly and neatly, so something not in line with that may be considered inappropriate.
  • Greet people. Croatians often acknowledge strangers in public.
  • Be on time. Punctuality is common in Croatia.
  • Accept food or coffee when offered. If you do want a second serving, say nema više.
  • Avoid putting your hands on the table.
  • Pause before eating to see if someone wants to say a prayer of thanks.

In Croatia, lunch is considered the main meal of the day. Therefore, people may go home from school or work for lunch. One interesting cultural note in Croatia is that gift givers bringing flowers will ensure there is an odd number of flowers in the bunch. An even number is reserved for the deceased.


Croatia adopted the euro in January 2023. Exchange rates have been fluctuating. But generally the euro and U.S. dollar are close to a one-to-one exchange rate with the euro being slightly stronger.

Food & Drink

Croatia is known for its food, so travelers often enjoy trying the various cuisine options. Like its culture, the food has a mixture of influences from Italy, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, and Austria.

Here are some menu items you may see while in the country:

  • Peka – meat and vegetable stew
  • Pag Cheese – sheep milk cheese
  • Pašticada – Slow-cooked meat stuffed with garlic, cloves, carrot, and bacon in a red sauce
  • Brodet or Brodetto – Dalmatian fish stew
  • Crni Rižot – Black Risotto
  • Buzara – mussels in a wine broth with garlic and breadcrumbs
  • Truffles
  • Fritule – doughnut-like fried pastries


The weather in Croatia is warm and pleasant from June-August. Here are the average conditions you may expect:

June July August
High Temperature 76.1 F 80.1 F 79.3 F
Low Temperature 55.4 F 58.5 F 57.9 F
Average Daylight 15 hrs. 40 minutes 15 hrs. 19 minutes 14 hrs. 5 minutes
Average Rainfall 3.74 inches 3.03 inches 3.62 inches
Monthly Rainy Days 13.7 days 11.2 days 10.4 days


The breakdown in the country is:

86.3 percent Catholic, 4.4 percent Serbian Orthodox, 1.5 percent Muslim, nearly 4 percent nonreligious with a smaller number of people in other faiths.

Ethnic Groups

About 90-percent of the population are Croats. Serbs are the largest minority group. Other groups include Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks), Slovenes, Hungarians and other nationalities.

Other Fun Facts About Croatia

  • The Games of Thrones was filmed in Split, Dubrovnik and Zadar.
  • The coast is called the Dalmatian coast and the region has been known as Dalmatia since Roman times.
  • Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was set in Dalmatia.
  • Dalmatian dogs are said to have originated in Croatia. There are illustrations of the dogs in the country that date back for centuries.
  • The city of Dubrovnik had one of the first medieval sewer systems in Europe.
  • Dubrovnik also has an ancient drinking fountain – the Onofrio Fountain. It’s supposed to be good luck to drink from its historic spout.
  • Dubrovnik was a trading powerhouse in the 15th and 16th centuries.
  • The largest number of Neanderthal fossil bones in Europe were found in Krapina, Croatia. They represent the remains of about 80 people.
  • Croatia is home to a village that was recognized as the smallest town in the world by the Guinness Book of Records. Hum has a population of less than 20 people and was built on a hilltop.
  • Picigin is a popular game in Croatia. It’s similar to volleyball in the water. During the game, players have to prevent a ball from hitting the water and often use acrobatic moves to add some flair.
  • One of the oldest towns in Europe is in eastern Croatia. Vinkovci has been continuously inhabited for more than 8,000 years.
  • Zadar is known for its beautiful sunset, which Alfred Hitchvook called the most beautiful sunset in the world.
  • Zadar is also home to a sea organ. The architectural sound art object uses the movement of the waves and tubes to make music. These tubes are located under large marble steps.
  • Inventor Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljan, Croatia.
  • In Split the famous Aqueduct of Diocletian was built in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries during the Roman Empire. It was designed to supply water to the palace of Emperor Diocletian.

Travel and Adventure

Traveling through a Mediterranean Paradise

Explore various regions of Croatia, experiencing UNESCO-listed sites, breathtaking natural beauty, and cultural treasures.

Best of Croatia

Experience the breathtaking beauty of Croatia from your home.


The Animated History of Croatia

Learn all about the history of Croatia in this short video.


10 Powerful Books About Croatia

Dive into translated literature, short story collections, and nonfiction works exploring topics such as war, identity, and politics in Croatia. Learn about the country’s history and culture, and the power of friendships.


Traditional Croatian Music

Discover traditional Croatian music, called Tamburica, named after the instrument itself. The national folk string instrument has roots going as far back as the 14th century.

Top 10 Croatian Music Singles

Check out the current top music singles in 2023. A mix of pop, rock, more traditional Tamburica and more. Compare to the top 10 Croatian music singles from 2022!


Croatian Food: 52 Must-Try Croatian Dishes

The northern regions emphasize meat-centric and hearty dishes, while the coastal areas offer a more Mediterranean diet. Throughout history, foreign influences and neighboring countries have shaped the food, resulting in diverse culinary traditions. However, Croatian dishes maintain their unique interpretation and distinct flavors.

What is a Traditional Croatian Breakfast?

Find out what a traditional Croatian breakfast can consist of. Like other Croatian food, each region needs to be looked at individually.


15 Things You’ll Find in Every Croatian Home

This video shows 15 common items found in almost every Croatian household.

Try it Out

Croatian Recipes: Make Zagorski Štrukli

Zagorski Štrukli is one of the most traditional dishes in Croatia. The dish has been honored with a place on the list of intangible cultural heritage curated by Croatia’s ministry of culture. It’s a dish made up of dough and different types of filling, often cheese and can be either cooked or baked.

Learn the Basics: Croatian

Familiarize yourself with some essential words and phrases.