Of the 22 countries that I’ve visited (so far), Croatia ranks among my favorites. And although European vacationers have been coming here for a long time, Croatia has recently become an increasingly popular travel destination among American travelers. But there’s much more to this amazing country than meets the eye.
Here are ten interesting facts about Croatia that you may not have heard before:
#1. The Dalmatian dog breed originated in Croatia
Today, these spotted pups are more commonly recognized as firehouse mascots or Disney characters, but the ancestry of the breed is traced back to 17th century Croatia.
#2. Croats are responsible for several modern inventions
For example, the origins of the modern necktie can be traced back to the 17th century, when they were first worn by Croatian mercenaries serving with the French in the Thirty Years War. Other notable Croatian inventions include the mechanical pencil, dactylography (the method of using fingerprints for identification), the parachute, the torpedo, and the speedometer. Perhaps Croatia’s most famous inventor was Nikola Tesla, who was born in Smiljan in 1856.
#3. George Bernard Shaw was a big fan
The famous Irish playwright once said, “Those who are looking for paradise on Earth should come and see Dubrovnik”. Upon visiting, it’s pretty clear to see why the city is nicknamed “The Pearl of the Adriatic”.
And speaking of Dubrovnik…
#4. Dubrovnik might look familiar to movie buffs
Fans of the HBO series Game of Thrones may recognize Dubrovnik as the setting for King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. According to IMDb, the city has been used as a filming location in more than 80 productions, most recently including Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
#5. Zadar is home to the world’s first “sea organ”
The remarkable Sea Organ, created by the architect Nikola Bašić, is part art installation, part musical instrument, part architectural project, and part engineering experiment. Underneath a set of stone steps that descend into the water, thirty-five pipes interact with the waves to create a continuous concert of unpredictable, harmonic sounds.
Click Play below to listen to the Sea Organ in action:
#6. Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night was set in Dalmatia
Specifically, the play takes place in the Republic of Ragusa, a city-state that existed in the ancient region of Illyria during the classical period. The city of Ragusa later became modern-day Dubrovnik.
#7. Hello Sunshine!
On average, Croatia’s Dalmatian coast soaks up 2,600 hours of sunshine each year— catching more rays than Barcelona, Houston, Milan, or Sydney. This southern Adriatic region enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and absolutely glorious weather from April through October.
#8. Compared to the rest of Europe, Croatia is actually quite affordable
Dubrovnik tends to be a bit more expensive than the rest of the country, but even so, WikiTravel estimates that average prices in Croatia are around 10-20% lower than most other EU countries.
|What things cost in Croatia|
|Double room in a hotel||450–800 kn||Cappuccino||12 kn|
|3-course meal in a decent restaurant||150 kn||Half-liter beer||20 kn|
|Meal in a local tavern||60 kn||A city tour by bike||175 kn|
|Pizza||50–80 kn||Short taxi trip||
The prices listed above are examples from Lonely Planet and Frommers. The exchange rate for Croatian kuna is approximately 7 kn = $1 USD. Visit xe.com to convert into US dollars based on current exchange rates.
#9. Croatia has more vineyards and wineries than Napa Valley
Croatia has a long history of wine-making that dates back to the 5th century. In 2014, Croatia ranked #32 worldwide in wine production, with 59,000 acres of vineyards providing grapes to more than 800 wineries. The majority of Croatian wine is white (around 67%), but the Dalmatian coast is known for its reds.
#10. Croatia is often called “the land of a thousand islands”
A more accurate nickname might be “the land of 1,246 islands, islets, and reefs”– but that’s just not quite as catchy. Of the 1,000+ islands, only 48 are populated.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s go!