Home to four million people, Croatia is not like anywhere else in Europe. Croatia has a colourful past, stable present and promising future, making it an increasingly more attractive destination for tourism and business travel.
Described normally as part of Southeast Europe, Croatia’s twenty thousand square miles landmass is confined by borders with Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. In the east, the country borders the Adriatic Sea, which provides a home for over one thousand Croatian islands. Mainland Croatia’s topography is diverse. Generally, the country is divided into three geographic zones, the Pannonian plains, the central mountainous region and the Adriatic coast. In the north though is the country’s capital Zagreb, the administrative and cultural hub of Croatia, contributing most to the over fifteen million tourists that visit the country each year. Dubrovnik and Rovinj are also popular cities for overnight stays, offering business travellers a relaxing coastal, serviced apartment living experience.
The Balkan state of Croatia has a complex history, embedded within a busy timeline of Central European past. Succeeding a period of Neanderthal inhabitance and Roman, Slavic and Frankish invasions, Croatia’s first king was crowned in 925. Despite this, the Croatians rarely had control of the country. The Austrian Habsburgs, Hungarians, Italians, Ottomans and Napoleonic Empire all laid claim to Croatian territory up until the early twentieth century. Throughout the World Wars, fearing further occupation from other colonies, Croatia committed itself to two different Yugoslavia federations. Turns out though Yugoslavian countries could not be trusted either. It was not until after fighting a war of separation from Yugoslavia that the country’s independence declaration in 1991 was truly fulfilled. Since though, international tensions have reduced, and now the country is part of NATO and EU, as well as striving to economic autonomy.
Following a period of struggle after leaving Yugoslavia on bad terms and joining the EU late, Croatia is prioritising its return to economic prosperity. Although dependent on foreign relations, it has many productive relationships. Foreign trade amounts to 100% of the national GDP, whilst the tourist sector is flourishing, welcoming more than 18 million arrivals in a record year in 2017. Its geographic location is also unique, incorporating associations with all sides of Europe and the Mediterranean like no other. Access to a worldwide consumer market is simple in Croatia, with cultural diversity flooding the country. With that considered, the country is fairly accepting of foreign currencies, particularly the Euro. It is worth having some of the national currency, the Croatian Kuna (HRK), to hand though so you can freely fund your trip. For current Kuna exchange rates, visit www.xe.com.
Currently, economic diversification is limited so investment is encouraged. The government has been on the right path towards enabling easy foreign investment in Croatia, establishing organisation such as AIK and HAMAG Bicro. Both agencies promote tax and labour incentives and provide foreign investments with support for start-ups. Low administration fees are one of these incentives. Equal treatment compared with domestic companies is also endorsed. For example, no law or another legal document shall reduce the rights granted to a foreign investor at the time of investment in Croatia. There is also an assurance of good transportation facilities in the country, with ever-improving business infrastructure enabling easy internal and external Croatian travel. Major cities such as Zagreb are benefitting from these improvements the most, where also the highest concentrations of Croatian serviced apartments are based.
Citizens of the U.K, EU countries, the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not need visas to visit Croatia. They can also stay for up to ninety days within a one-hundred and eighty day period. If you are not a resident of these countries though, it is worth visiting the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs‘ website or contacting your home country Croatian Embassy.
Compared to other countries around the world, Croatia is proudly one of the safest countries to stay in and boasts a good quality of life ranking. The people are mostly very friendly, both political or social disturbances are minimal. This can all apply to your trip to Croatia, belong as you respect the culture and social customs. For example, this may include dressing appropriately in public places. Something to also be aware of that is commonly mentioned by Croatian tourists is to beware of unexploded mines in war-affected regions, particularly along the coast. This hazard is easily avoidable though if you do not travel anywhere too precariously.
Driving in Croatia has a reputation for being smooth and satisfying. Recent years has seen the addition of new roads, development of old ones, and increased popularity of scenic routes, such as the Jadranska Magistrala Adriatic coastal road. All you need to know is that Croats drive on the right-hand side, and all valid driving licenses are valid for driving and car rental. Other than being prepared for big city congestion and hazardous terrain along the coast, driving in Croatia can be a pleasant way to travel around the country. Alternatively, you could just travel via taxis, which are similarly priced to the rest of Europe. Cars range from standard (1-3 passengers) to Minibus 2 (8-15 passengers) and can be booked easiest from www.croatia-taxi.hr.
Croatia’s major cities contribute, in their own individual ways, to the overall sense of nationalism in the country. Zagreb stands out as the top destination for cultural and historic remnants, and the medieval district Gornji Grad exemplifies this. Here you can find the popular Museum of Broken relationships, the thirteenth century Tower of Lotrščak the Croatian parliament building. Another old town exists in Dubrovnik, but this one is a world heritage site. Surrounded by medieval defensive walls, the amazing fortresses and settlements within take you back in time. Also overlooking the Adriatic Sea is Croatia’s second biggest city, Split. Forming half the city, the ancient Roman Diocletian Palace showcases true Croatian heritage through beautiful structures and a spectacular courtyard. Major cities contain endless symbols of Croatian past, but their accompanying strong business climates make them ideal for serviced apartment living.
It is not always about big city life in Croatia though. For instance, Croatia’s most visited inland attraction is the Plitvice National Park. Exploring this magnificent is easy with help of the charming footpaths, leading to a wealth of emerald-blue lakes and their complementing waterfalls. The Park is home to a vast number of wild animals, so preservation of this incredible site is top of the agenda. Off the eastern coast though are the beautiful islands of Mljet and Kornati. Whilst Kornati’s national park is often described as a ‘paradise’, Mljet island is a nature lover’s dream. Staying in serviced apartments just off the Croatian coast can put you within touching distance of these truly staggering, natural islands.
Within Croatia’s turbulent history, the country would not be where is today, one of the most popular places to visit in Europe. With many business opportunities, a progressing economy and abundance of beautiful attractions, Croatia is understandably a hotspot for corporate accommodation.
Serving the country’s capital, Zagreb airport is both the largest and busiest airport in Croatia, handling over three million people each year.
This airport is conveniently located only around ten kilometres away from Zagreb city centre. This journey can be facilitated by the several bus services and taxi operators that function out of the airport. Other significant airports in Croatia include Split Airport and Dubrovnik Airport, ranking second and third respectively in terms of capacity and passenger arrivals.
Although Croatia’s railway network is not particularly vast, it still enables railway transport across the country. The only major city that is not connected by trains is Dubrovnik.
You can visit www.hzpp.hr for Croatian train information, schedules and ticket prices. Holders of European InterRail passes can travel through Croatia free of charge.
Buses are arguably the most popular mode of travel throughout Croatia, offering both intercity and international services. The main bus hubs are in Dubrovnik, Split and Zagreb, but bus stations can be found in most Croatian cities and towns.
The buses are relatively modern, and the fares are reasonably cheap. With so many borders though, have your passport ready for international trips.