Fun Facts About Croatia: 30 Things You May Not Know

Croatia, one of Europe’s most beautiful coastal countries has so much to offer visitors. But what do we really know about Croatia? We know it has incredible food, dreamy landscapes, and some of the friendliest people. We know it is one of the most famous film locations and is very well-known for its picturesque red-roof houses and crystal blue waters.

But there is still so much to learn before packing your bags and heading off to the Dalmatian Coast. That’s why we are sharing with you 30 fun facts about Croatia, that you cannot find anywhere else. Whether you have or have not visited this Balkan country, there is so much to discover, that you’ll want to visit again and again.

fun facts about croatia with a view

What is Croatia known for?

Croatia has one of the most fascinating histories, cultures, and environments of all the European countries. With incredible outdoor attractions and historic monuments, it’s important to learn all the interesting and fun facts about Croatia, and more to plan the perfect getaway. Let’s dive in, starting with the history of this Balkan country.

Croatia’s History

Fact 1:  The country of Croatia was inhabited as early as the Paleolithic Age. The Croats then arrived in the 6th century.

Fact 2: On June 7, 879, Croatia was internationally recognized as an independent state. 46 years later, Tomislav became the first king in 925. Croatia thus became a kingdom and maintained its sovereignty for two centuries.

Fact 3: After years under different rules including the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Croatia finally gained its full independence on June 25, 1991.

Fact 4: Zagreb is the capital and largest city in Croatia. It became the capital of the Balkan country in April 1941. and is 247 square miles (641 square kilometers). It is home to a fifth of the country’s population.

Fact 5: Croatia is also home to an original Egyptian sphinx. In 297, twelve sphinxes were brought to Split, Croatia. Currently, only a black granite one remains and is standing at the Peristyle.

Fact 6. The Pula Arena in Pula, Croatia is the only remaining Roman amphitheater in the world to maintain its four side towers. It is one of the remaining three pieces of Roman architecture to keep its architectural integrity.

Did you know any of these fun facts about Croatia?

croatia cathedral in zagreb

Croatian Geography & Cities

Fact 7. Croatia borders five countries. Hungary to the north, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, as well as Serbia to the east, Montenegro to the south, and Slovenia to the west. The Adriatic Sea borders the majority of Croatia’s southwest region. While it does not directly border with Italy, the two countries share a maritime border.

Fact 8. Croatia may be one of Europe’s smaller country’s but it is actually the 127th largest country in the world.

Fact 9. There are nearly as many Croatians living outside of the country as there are living there. The current population is a little over 4 million people. 

Fact 10. Croatia has more than 1,200 islands, islets, and crags off the coast of the mainland. However, only 48 are inhabited. Hvar and Korcula receive the most visitors of all the islands.

Fact 11. The smallest town in the world is in Croatia. The town of “Hum” is so small its population is only between 17 to 23 people.

Fact 12. Vinkovci in eastern Croatia is one of the oldest towns in Europe. It has been continuously inhabited for more than 8,000 years!

Fact 13. Zlatni rat beach changes in shape and color depending on the wind. This beach is in Bol, on the island of Brac. Its nickname is the Golden Horn.

Fact 14. Dubrovnik was the main film location for King’s Landing in the popular HBO show Game of Thrones. The city of Split was also used as one of the film locations.

Were any of these fun facts about Croatia a surprise to you?

dalmatian dog and child in croatia

Croatia’s Culture

Fact 15.  Croatia is the home of the popular dog breed Dalmatians. The breed dates back to the 17th century. The coast is named after the breed.

Fact 16. The Croatian military first wore knotted neckties in the 1600s, thus many historians believe the necktie was invented in Croatia.

Fact 17. Croatia is very well known for its delicious cuisine, including specialties like Peka and Pag Cheese.

Fact 18. There are names of two Croatian’s on the map of the Moon. Scientists J.R. Boskovik and A.Mohorovicic.

Fact 19. Nikola Tesla was born in the northern Adriatic region of Lika.

Fact 20. The world’s first torpedo was constructed by Rijeka native, Ivan Lupis.

Fact 21. Croatian innovator, Slavoljub Penkala, invented the very first mechanical pencil. The name pen comes from his surname.

Fact 22. While the popular film Mamma Mia 2  takes place in the Greek Isles, it was actually filmed on the Croatian Island, Vis.

Fact 23. The main exports of Croatia consist of textiles, transport equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, and fuels.

Fact 24. Croatia has the highest number of UNESCO Intangible Goods of any European Country. In addition to our interesting facts about Croatia, there are also 10 sites in Croatia listed on the UNESCO World Heritage site list. The list includes the Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian, Dubrovnik city, and Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Plitvice Lake National Park Croatia

Croatia’s Great Outdoors

Fact 25. Croatia’s highest mountain is the Dinara peak which over 6,000 feet (1,831 meters).

Fact 26. Croatia is one of the most verdant and green countries in the world. 10% of the country is home to 11 natural parks, 8 national parks, and 2 nature reserves. One of it’s most famous national parks is Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Fact 27. Croatia enjoys 2.715 hours of sunshine a year. That’s more than Sydney, Australia. Hvar Island receives the most with almost 2,800 hours of sunshine. 

Fact 28. Alfred Hitchcock once said that the seaside town, Zadar, has the best sunset in the world.

Fact 29. The national flower of Croatia is the iris.

Fact 30. Croatia has the richest collection of remains of Neanderthal people in the world.

Extra fun fact: Croatia has some of the best vacation rentals and hotels found on CuddlyNest. Plan your dream vacation and check them out here!

Did you learn some interesting, new, and fun facts about Croatia? Now that you know the most interesting and best fun facts about Croatia, it is time to plan your getaway. Let us know what destinations you can’t wait to visit first, and we will help you find the perfect place to stay.

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croatian food

Croatian Food Guide: 5 Traditional Dishes – CuddlyNest

If you’re like us, then some of your all-time favorite travel moments had to involve food. From flavorful Italian pizza and traditional stews to delicious soups and homemade paella, Europe offers some of the most unique cuisines in the world. We like to plan our trip itinerary by filling it with cooking classes and world-class restaurants. After all, they offer some of the best experiences as well. In Croatia, food is a cultural tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation, which is why we want to highlight some of the best cuisines the country has to offer. So before we start planning our getaways, let’s start by digging into CuddlyNest’s Croatian Food Guide.

Croatian food with olive oil

Croatian Cuisine – A Mix of the Best

When visiting Croatia, you will soon realize that the cuisines in the middle of Croatia and the coast are very different, both in preparation and ingredients. The mainland incorporates Slavic tradition and ingredients in its food, including stuffed bell peppers, poppy seed strudel, and other foods that can be found in neighboring countries like Hungary and Turkey. The coastal regions, on the other hand, are known for fusing together Croatian and Italian delights. From fresh seafood to rich salads, cities like Split cater their cuisine to the location and atmosphere that the Adriatic region offers. If you are planning to go to Croatia, we recommend visiting both the coast and the city so you can indulge in them both. Now that you know the geographical differences between the cuisines, let’s dive into some of the best traditional Croatian dishes!

strudel desert foods of croatia

1. A Vegan Delight – Poppy Seed and Almond Strudel

If you think Strudel is for Austrians, think again. Croatian poppy seed-filled strudels fill the air with the sweetest smell you’ll ever experience. The slightly crunchy top, sprinkled with snow-white sugar, and the rich taste of poppy seeds make the strudel a perfect start to the day. Paired with a soy cappuccino from freshly ground coffee beans, nothing can beat this duo for breakfast. Our favorite place in Zagreb for the best pastries in town is Dubravica pekarnica – just make sure to be early enough to get some right out of the oven!

2. Vegetarian Holiday Food – Pag Cheese

If you are a fan of natural, free-range food, Croatian Pag cheese is a must. Made from sheep on Pag island, this treat is hard, salty, and gets more flavorful with age. For cheese lovers, it may remind you of Italian pecorino. One of the peculiarities in this cheese is the strong and distinct taste resulting from the sheep freely grazing the natural herbs, like rosemary. Paški sir, as it is referred to in Croatian, can also be tasted in a variety of food tours, so do not forget to consider checking some out before going to Croatia.

croatian wine

3. Korčula White Wine

Croatian weather and climate are especially good for winemaking. Traditional wineries offer one of the best white wine varieties in the region. In Croatia, Korčula Island is well known for its winemaking tradition. The island is proud of its white sand beaches that offer wine drinking paired with unforgettable views. Make sure to look for the distinctive dry taste, which is produced exclusively in Croatia. Croatia’s Korčula’s forests hide two well-known wine villages, Čara and Smokvica, where the famous pošip grapes are grown. Both wines go well together with seafood, lamb, and even traditional Peka stews. You can also taste the prošek, a sweet dessert wine, to accompany dessert fruits.

croatia octopus salad with olive oil

4. A Speciality – Octopus Salad

Croatian food is said to be similar to Venetian traditional cuisine, due to the abundance and variety of seafood it features. When traveling through the coastal regions of Croatia, you must order seafood. While the best Croatian restaurants offer a wide variety of lobsters, mussels, octopus, even black ink fish foods, and others, one of the best and most distinct traditional Croatian specialties is the octopus salad. Grilled and served with fresh leafy greens, it is the perfect lunch on a hot summer day. Some restaurants even add potatoes and capers, whilst others go for cherry tomatoes. You may want to order a glass of Korčula wine to go along with your meal. This is the best way to experience some of the best food in Croatia during your journey.

croatian food with olive oil

5. The Hearty Dish of Dalamatia – Peka

In the winter, fish stew and hearty vegetable and meat dishes take over Croatian cuisine. One of the specialties and must-tries in case you visit Croatia in the chillier months of the year is Peka. Traditionally sauteed in a metal pot, this stew can include any kind of meat together with root vegetables. Its rich taste and full flavors come from hours of spices, vegetables, and meat simmering over an outdoor open flame. One enjoyable meal, and you’ll be energized to experience everything Croatia has to offer. Be sure to include Peka on your dinner or lunch menu the next time you’re in Dalmatia.

Taste Croatia Your Own Way

After reading our guide there is only one thing left to do. Go and experience the cuisine experience yourself. There is nothing better than tasting Croatian wine in the wineries where it was made, or filling up on a hearty stew straight off the flame. Go to a restaurant, be spontaneous, and keep in mind that every experience counts. Your moonlight swim, beach picnic, breakfast of strudel, and dinner of octopus salad will stay with you long after your vacation ends.

We hope you enjoyed our Croatian Food Guide and get to try these incredible dishes during your next visit!

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CuddlyNest provides all accommodations to all travelers at the best price. Find unlimited travel inspiration on our blog and social media channels