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In all the main cities banks are open weekdays 7 am–7 pm without breaks and on Saturday 7 am–11 am. In smaller towns, banks have shorter hours and are often closed duringIn Zagreb, shops and department stores are open weekdays 8 am–8 pm without breaks, and on Saturday 8 am–1 pm. Along the coast, most shops are open weekdays 8 am–1 pm and 5–8 pm, and Saturday 8 am–1 pm. On the islands hours vary greatly from place to place, but usually at least one general store will be open Monday–Saturday for essentials.
Croatia became a member of the EU in July 2013, but it still uses its own currency, the kuna. Euros may be accepted in tourist destinations, particularly in Dalmatia, and many hotels charge rates in euros, but most local businesses will prefer the use of local currency and will give you an unfavorable exchange rate for the use of euros.
In restaurants, be aware that fresh fish is priced by the kilogram, so prices vary dramatically depending on how big your fish is. Blue fish (tuna, sardines, etc.) are far less expensive than white fish (sea bass, sea bream etc), but do not always feature on the menu. Likewise, house wine, served by the carafe, is cheaper than bottled wine, and is often quite acceptable – ask to taste a little first if you are unsure.
Seafood predominates throughout the region. Restaurants in Dubrovnik are the most expensive, and tend to cater to upmarket international tastes, with expensive white fish topping most menus and multilingual waiters pampering diners.
Lunch is generally eaten between 12:30 and 3 pm, dinner between 7 and 10 pm, though on hot summer nights diners might linger till midnight. Most restaurants close between lunch and dinner, where as a konoba (tavern) might stay open all day and serve meals right through the afternoon. Also worth a mention, merenda is a set-menu “fisherman’s brunch,” unique to Dalmatia and served from 10 am to noon at some informal eateries frequented by locals.
Most restaurants now accept credit cards, though some cheaper places may still accept only cash, particularly beyond the major tourist areas.
In peak season (July and August), the more popular restaurants get very busy, and reservations are recommended. Casual dress is acceptable, but Dalmatians are quite style-conscious, so scruffy clothes should be avoided.
A 10% tip (left on the table, in cash) is much appreciated if you are satisfied with the service.
Traditionally, Dalmatians drink wine with their meals, favoring white wine with seafood and red with meat. Local quality wines to look out for are the white Pošip (from the island of Korčula), and the reds, Dingač (from Pelješac peninsular) and Plavac (from the island of Hvar). Most restaurants also serve house wine by the carafe, while bars serve wine by the glass. Croatian beers include Karlovačko, Ožujsko, Zlatorog, and Pan, which are all light-colored lagers served by the bottle, well-chilled. Regarding spirits, potent rakija (made from distilled grapes) is drunk throughout Croatia, generally as an aperitif.
Croatia offers a wide choice of lodgings: hotels, apartments, rooms in private homes, campsites, and agrotourism (working farms offering accommodation). Hotel prices tend to be on a par with those in Western Europe and are most expensive on the island of Hvar. While you can find some excellent low-season offers, prices skyrocket through July and August with an influx of German and Italian visitors.
Advance reservations are an absolute requirement in summer. In winter, it’s not nearly as difficult to find a hotel room, but some places, especially on the islands, close seasonally.
Visitors to Dalmatia can save money by booking a private apartment rental, which is generally cheaper than a comparable hotel room and offers cooking facilities. Tourist agencies can also help you find rooms in private homes, which is even cheaper. Standards are high, en-suite bathrooms and self-catering facilities being the norm. Host families are generally friendly and hospitable, and many visitors find a place they like, then return year after year.
The country code for Croatia is 385. When dialing from outside the country, drop the initial "0" from the area code. You can make calls from thepošta(post office), where you enter a kiosk and pay when you have finished, or from a public telephone booth on the street, where phone cards are necessary.
Croatian National Tourist Board (Iblerov trg 10/IV, Zagreb, 10000. 01/469-9300. croatia.hr.)