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Destination Guide: Croatia

Istria, Croatia
Allianz - Istria, Croatia

Dreaming of Dubrovnik, but daunted by the summer crowds? Winter is your season to see the beauty of Croatia.

Wander through twinkling Christmas markets. Hike silent, snowy trails. Cozy up in a local tavern. Watch the sunset from the beach. Or just enjoy having Croatia’s Roman ruins, medieval towns, and other attractions all to yourself. Another bonus: significant discounts on hotels and admission tickets during the winter months.

Ready to go? We have a few tips for the best things to do, see and taste in Croatia in winter.

3 reasons to buy travel insurance for Croatia

  1. Emergency medical benefits are crucial in Croatia. If you have a medical emergency while visiting Croatia, prepare to pay cash upfront for any care you receive. U.S. health insurance cards are not accepted, and your credit card may not be accepted either.1 A travel insurance plan with emergency medical benefits can advance payment and/or reimburse the cost of covered medical care.
  2. Emergency medical transportation benefits are a must-have, too. According to the U.S. Department of State, ambulance services in Croatia “are not widely available, and training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards.” Local medical facilities, especially in rural areas, may not be able to deliver adequate care.2 If you experience a serious covered medical emergency, your emergency transportation benefits can cover the cost of taking you to a hospital where you can receive high-quality care.
  3. Travel insurance protects you in case of trip cancellations or interruptions. Anytime you’re traveling internationally, it’s wise to protect your travel investment. That’s especially true for Croatia—once considered a budget destination, prices have skyrocketed with increased tourism and the adoption of the euro in 2023.3 Travel insurance with trip cancellation/trip interruption benefits can reimburse you for nonrefundable, prepaid trip costs if you must cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason (up to the limit specified in your plan).

3 of the best travel insurance plans for Croatia

  1. OneTrip Prime is always a great choice for international vacations. You get generous emergency medical benefits plus all the benefits you need for overseas travel. Kids 17 and under are covered for free when they’re traveling with a parent or grandparent!
  2. OneTrip Basic fits nicely into any travel budget. It includes all the essentials: up to $10,000 in emergency medical benefits, up to $10,000 in trip cancellation/interruption benefits, and more.
  3. Planning a few more trips after your Croatian adventure? Consider getting an annual travel insurance plan such as AllTrips Premier. You get protection for all the trips you take in 365 days, with four options for trip cancellation/interruption benefit limits.

Discover why more than 70 million American travelers each year trust Allianz Travel Insurance to protect them. See all our plan options and get a quote for your next trip.

3 of the best things to do in Croatia in winter

  1. Visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. In the summer, this park is jam-packed with tourists. In the winter, you’ll have it all to yourself. Admire frozen waterfalls and the shimmering blue-green lakes. Hike the snowy canyon trails. Take a boat ride across Lake Kozjak. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a gray wolf or a lynx.
  2. Stroll the Christmas markets of Zagreb. The Croatian capital is famous for the holiday markets that appear in the Advent season (the four weeks leading up to Christmas). Sip mulled wine or rakija, a popular Croatian brandy, as you browse the wares. You’ll find beautifully made foods and artisan crafts, such as wooden toys from Hrvatsko Zagorje that are painted in brilliant red, blue and yellow.4
  3. Eat your way through Istria. This peninsula in the north of Croatia is “an inviting mix of Roman history, vineyard-draped hill towns, and pastel seaside villages with a whiff of Venetian flair,” as travel writer Rick Steves eloquently puts it.5 As Istria’s white truffle season runs from autumn through January, winter is an ideal time to try Istrian fuži s tartufima: a delectable pasta with a butter-truffle sauce.

3 of the best boutique hotels in Zagreb

While all of Croatia’s towns and cities have their own unique charms, we’ll recommend Zagreb as one of the best winter destinations. You’re close to ski resorts, the weather tends to be dry, and the holiday festivities will make you feel like a kid again. So where should you stay in Zagreb?

The Hotel Capital Zagreb is a stunner. A grand example of Art Deco opulence, many of the rooms boast high ceilings, wood paneling, chandeliers and fireplaces. You can easily walk to Ban Jelačić Square, Maksimir Park, and several museums. Guests say the breakfast is “amazing,” “incomparable,” and “over the top.”

If you’ve ever fantasized about spending the night in a museum, the Hotel Puntijar is for you. This boutique hotel in Zagreb is full of antiques and artwork, and the adjacent Museum of Gastronomy is home to thousands of vintage cookbooks. Sample century-old family recipes in the on-site restaurant.

On a budget? Guests really adore the Sundial Boutique Hotel’s spacious rooms, a charming garden, and a splendid breakfast spread. While the Sundial isn’t within walking distance of city center, it’s easy to get where you need to go. 

3 of the best restaurants in Zagreb

Begin your evening by tasting the best of Croatia’s wines in Bornstein, a wine bar in a 200-year-old vaulted cellar. Enjoy a tasting tour of the Adriatic coast or the Zagreb hills while sampling local olive oil, bread and cheese. Then, pick up a few of your favorite bottles to take home at the on-site shop.

At ManO2, Chef Hrvoje Kroflin takes inspiration from forgotten Croatian dishes and turns them into something new. On the menu, you might find cold smoked beef tartare, Adriatic shrimp risotto, or lamb cooked over an open fire. The intimate, cozy dining room and excellent wine list make ManO2 the perfect choice for a romantic night out.

Stari Fijaker is considered one of the best restaurants in Zagreb for traditional local food. New to Croatian cuisine? The restaurant recommends the punjeka paprika (stuffed peppers), sarma (cabbage rolls), and  štrukli (“cooked cheese-filled pastry, unlike anything you’ve had before, but this is the quintessential Croatian comfort food that you will want to have again and again”).

What do I need to travel to Croatia?

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Oct 06, 2023