While Croatia is a country in Europe it does not yet use the euro. Instead it uses the kuna, a name that dates from medieval times. The word translates into marten, the animal, in the Croatian language. Back in those times people used the pelts of the animal as a form of payment, so the country has used the term to refer to its modern currency today.
The currency is a decimal one and is split into 100 lipa. When you see an amount written down in kuna you will see the letters KN before it; alternatively if the amount is in lipa you will see it as LP before the amount.
There are several coins in use in Croatia at the moment, although the smaller denomination coins are far less frequently seen than other ones. The kuna coins are available in denominations of 1, 2, 5 and 25, while the lipa coins are seen in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50.
There are also banknotes to use, all of which are in kuna denominations. These are the 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 kuna notes. As you can imagine the larger banknotes and the smaller coins are rarely used in practice, although they are still legal tender.
There have been people living in Croatia since the 7th century but it has been part of various kingdoms since that time, depending on where the borders fell in this part of Europe. It only came into its own as a country (or in fact a state) in 1941 during the Second World War. At this point it was newly named the Independent State of Croatia. This saw the need for a new currency that was purely for Croatia and the kuna was born.
However it didn’t stay in use for very long. It disappeared in 1945 and the people of Croatia started using the Yugoslav dinar instead. After this in more recent times the country used the Croatian dinar before finally ushering in the modern Croatian kuna as we know it today. This happened in 1994 although there is uncertainty over how long this will last. The country has recently joined the European Union and there is every chance it will adopt the euro in the coming years as a result.
Getting your kuna is pretty easy but there is a limit to how much you can take into the country (and indeed back out again when you leave). The limit in force is 15,000 kuna, but this should be more than enough to satisfy most travellers. Check the latest exchange rate and you will see what we mean.
You can get some kuna to take with you but it is also quite easy to get hold of the currency once you are there. Cash machines are widespread – just be sure you alert all your card providers to the fact you are going to Croatia and will be using your cards there.
The country is also quite accepting of payments with plastic. You can use both credit and debit cards here depending on your needs and requirements. Don’t forget traveller’s cheques either if it suits you to take them. It is generally best to take them in either pounds sterling or euros, or even in US dollars. This is because the exchange rates will be better for these currencies.
The Croatian kuna is generally quite easy to find on the currency converters you will see online. All you have to do is select your own currency first and the Croatian kuna as the currency you wish to convert your own one into. You can then either enter the specific amount of cash you wish to take as spending money or enter a random amount to see how much it converts into in kuna.
If you want to find out more about Croatia before you go there for a visit, it is wise to check out the official website for the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in the UK. You can find the website at http://uk.mvep.hr/en.
The good news is that Croatia is now a safe and pleasant place to visit. Pickpockets do pop up in tourist areas but they are not a major problem. It is worth keeping a close eye on your money and on your valuables to ensure you don’t run into any problems. Don’t attract attention to them and make sure you aren’t watched or crowded when you use cash machines.
The more you can leave in the hotel safe – if you have one – the better. A money belt is a good idea but if you don’t have one simply split the cash you have into different pockets.
One thing to be aware of is the presence of unexploded mines in the country, owing to the war that took place not so long ago. Tourist areas are generally safe but if you go off the beaten track it is wise to be careful. Find out more about the potential of unexploded mines before visiting a particular area by checking the latest information.
Croatia is rather oddly shaped and is situated in Europe. It is bordered by Slovakia and Hungary on its northern edge and Bosnia and Herzegovina down to the west and south. Much of the border that runs from the north western point down to the southern reaches is shared with the Adriatic Sea and there are plenty of islands along this stretch as well.
Perhaps the most familiar place in Croatia for many people who have yet to visit is its capital, Zagreb. This is in the north of the country away from the coast and it is a good place to visit for those looking for a long city break. Make sure you see Gradec and Kaptol, which are the parts of the city that date back to medieval times. They have many buildings which are worth a look and many modern venues to visit as well. Don’t miss the Dolac Market either as it is one of the finest and most famous farmer’s markets in the country.
Dubrovnik is another famous place to go to on holiday. This city is located far down in the extreme southern reaches of the country, situated on the coast, and provides a great destination for a first trip to Croatia. Indeed many people forgo travelling to the capital and opt for Dubrovnik instead. It is easy to see why, as it has the coastal charm to share with visitors, along with being a walled city. The walls themselves are still there and you can visit them as part of your trip to the city. They date from as long ago as the 7th century.
The main street in Dubrovnik is unlike any you will find in any other city. Stradun, as the street is called, is paved in limestone and has a light airy feel to it. There is a fountain to mark each end of the street and while it is very straight today this was not always the case. An earthquake razed the street to the ground over 300 years ago and when it was all rebuilt it was done so in a more uniform manner.
Do make sure you visit the Old Harbour as well because it is quite stunning and on a sunny day it is the perfect place to relax and watch as the world goes by. There is also a public beach nearby called Banje. This is the main beach in this part of Croatia although there are others as well.
Split is another city a little further up the coastline and it has gone through a chequered history. As recently as the late 1990s it experienced fighting as a result of Croatia declaring independence from Yugoslavia. However it has risen up again to become a major destination for tourists and it has poured a lot of money into this aim. There are museums you can visit in the city, including the Archaeological Museum, which boasts an impressive range of artefacts from various periods in history. The city is also keen on sport, with the Spaladium Arena hosting various sporting events on a regular basis.
If you would prefer to get out of the cities and into the more rural areas, Mount Medvednica is well worth the trip. This translates into Bear Mountain and those with a keen desire to go hiking will enjoy the trip to the highest peak which is Sljeme, a little over a thousand metres above sea level.
Elsewhere you can also visit the Plitvice Lakes. These can be found in the National Park of the same name. There is accommodation nearby so it is quite easy to spend more than a day here – and there is plenty to do. Visiting the lakes and the waterfalls that join them together is the highlight of the trip, but there are plenty of walks and trails that can be explored as well. This is also worth a trip at different times of the year if you have the time – the scenery can change quite dramatically.
Croatia’s position in Europe gives it the unique opportunity to take inspiration from both the eastern and the western types of culinary fare. You’ll no doubt want to spend a few kuna on some food and drink while you explore the country, and there are lots of opportunities to do just that. Try some prsut while you are there and looking for a tasty snack – this is incredibly thin ham that has been dry cured and it is usually served with cheese. For something more robust you can’t do much better than the irresistible dish called pasticada. This is a beef dish where everything is marinated for a day prior to cooking. Think the finest marinated beef stew you could ever imagine and then try pasticada to see just how much better it is.
As you can see there are lots of ways you can spend your kuna while staying in Croatia. Whether you opt for a short break in one of the many cities or go for a longer trip and explore many of the more rural areas, you will definitely find something suitable for your needs in Croatia.