General information about Croatia and Serbia
A holiday in Croatia and Serbia has far more to offer than is widely supposed. The time of war and destruction is past. Many towns are gradually being rebuilt and have acquired new splendor. Over recent years, Croatia or "the pearl of the Adriatic" as this beautiful country in South-East Europe is known not just to its fans, has become one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. The wonderful Adriatic coast is highly reminiscent of the popular Côte d'Azur in France, but offers more in the way of untouched nature and is less visited by tourists. Perfect beaches, breathtaking coasts, charming islands, the extensive sea and plenty of sunshine not only have their own charm and flair, but also create the ideal setting for a unique holiday.
Without a doubt, the highlight of Serbia for tourists is its capital, Belgrade, which has numerous sights. Even if Serbia lacks an attractive coastline, the traveler will not be disappointed, as Serbia has much more to offer. Attractive nature reserves and national parks with thick forests without equal in Europe for originality and density, can be found next to imposing gorges and caves of extraordinary beauty. The many isolated monasteries, in particular, represent an inestimable treasure. The architecture of these is well worth a look and they blend into their natural surroundings. The treasures inside them amaze over and over again with their colorful, moving paintings. These historical fortifications and monasteries are as much a marvel as monuments from 7,000 year-old prehistoric times up to the 20th century.
Croatia and Serbia are part of the Balkan region and border Slovenia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The climate of Croatia is marked by the Dinar Mountains which run through the country from north-west to south-east more or less parallel with the coast. This results in a split, with a continental climate inland characterized by a cold winter, a rainy spring and a hot summer. On the Croatian Adriatic coast with its islands, on the other hand, a Mediterranean climate with low extremes and Mediterranean temperatures dominates.
During the day we recommend that light, functional clothing and comfortable shoes are worn. For the evenings and cooler days, a jacket and sweater are suitable. For sunny days, we recommend a sun hat, sun cream and sunglasses with UV protection.
The Croatian cuisine is highly varied due to a wide range of historical and geographical roots. It includes meat dishes, fish specialties, hearty soups, bacon, cheese, ham and native wine or herb schnapps (travarica). The culinary "landscape" changes from north to south, from east to west and is often called a "cuisine of regions" because of its variety and heterogeneity.
The Serbian cuisine is part of so-called Balkan cuisine. The most striking feature of this rustic style cuisine is the great choice of grilled and meat dishes. Serbian cuisine has been influenced above all by Greek, Hungarian, Italian and Turkish cooking. Although it is true that many variations of dishes such as Serbian bean soup (in Serbian: Pasulj Čorba), cabbage roulade stuffed with sarma, Serbian veal with rice (in Serbian: Đuveč) or suckling pig (in Serbian: Pečeno Prase) can be found all over the Balkans, only seldom do these compare with the "Serbian original".
Cooking habits in Serbia vary by region, so in the eastern part of the country the oriental influence is clearly felt, whereas in the west the Italian influence can be tasted.
Hotels in towns are partly privatized and have been extensively renovated. All categories are available, from luxury to two-star hotels. In the main, however, concessions to comfort have to be made in two-star hotels, especially in the interior of the country.
The currency in Croatia is the kuna (1 kuna = 100 lipa). 1 € ~ 7.25 kuna. Foreign currency can be exchanged in banks, exchange booths, in post offices and in most travel agencies and hotels. In most hotels, restaurants and shops, payment can be made by credit card (American Express, Diners Club, Eurocard/Mastercard and Visa).
The official currency in Serbia is the dinar. 1 € ~ 80 dinars You are recommended to take cash (euros) and to change it in the country. As the euro is no longer an unofficial currency in Serbia, sufficient euros should be changed into dinars at the border. It is essential to declare cash on entering the country. It is not possible to change native currency back into foreign currency. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are currently no longer accepted.
Croatia has one of the most modern telephone networks in Europe (mostly digital), and the bottlenecks and waiting times of several years ago have now been consigned to history. You can telephone from both hotels and mobile telephones. Croatia has built up almost 100% GSM mobile network coverage and already has roaming agreements with most European countries. Mobile phones have to be declared at the border.
There are numerous card telephones in Serbia. Phoning Europe is simple and possible from hotels. The mobile phone network is not yet fully functioning and is only possible to a limited extent.
The international dialing code for Croatia is 00385, for Serbia 00381. To call Germany from Croatia, first dial 0049, and from Serbia 9949. The emergency number is 94 and the police number is 92 in both Croatia and Serbia.
Medical care in Croatia is good and guaranteed across the whole region. In addition to medical centers and hospitals, there are increasing numbers of private ambulances and practices where you will find German or English-speaking doctors. Hospitals (bolnice) have a 24-hour emergency service where you can be medically treated in emergency.
Medical care to German standards is not guaranteed in Serbia. Hospitals are not always adequately equipped and are sometimes unable to provide patients with particular illnesses with appropriate medical care. Only in the capital, Belgrade, is there a range of public and private clinics and practices with satisfactory equipment.
We recommend checking general vaccination protection – diphtheria, tetanus and polio. We further recommend vaccinating against hepatitis A, B and typhoid and possibly also against rabies. If you require certain drugs daily, however, ensure that you have adequate supplies of these with you.
The traveler should obtain information and seek medical advice in good time about preventing infection and vaccinations, as well as about other prophylactic measures. We would refer you in particular to the general information available from health authorities, doctors experienced in travel medicine, doctors of tropical medicine, travel medicine information services or the Federal Centre for Health Education [Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung].
Mains voltage is generally 220 V, frequency 50 Hz.
Customs & excise
Similar quantity restrictions apply to the import of food from Germany to Croatia as for imports into Germany from non-EU states, i.e. 2 l wine, 1 l higher percentage alcohol, 8 cans/bottles beer, 1 l homogenized milk, 1 kg cheese, 200 cigarettes per person. Because of avian flu in Germany, there is currently a ban on importing poultry meat into Croatia or transporting it within the country. It is possible to import up to 1 kg fresh fish, but it has to undergo a veterinary inspection at the border for which a charge is made. The value of imported goods may not exceed 300 kuna per person.
Travel baggage and goods for personal requirements may be temporarily imported into Serbia duty-free, but must be re-exported. To avoid problems on re-exportation, we recommend declaring higher-value articles on entry into the country and requesting a certified importation list from the customs authorities.
Furthermore there are limits on the duty-free import of the following groups of goods into Serbia: alcohol (2 l wine or 1 l spirits over 22 %); tobacco (200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 g smoking tobacco), 1 l perfume or eau de toilette. Radios may only be imported and used with prior permission from the responsible Serbian authorities.
People usually shake hands when greeting and taking leave of one another. Smoking is generally permitted except on public transport and in the majority of state institutions. Clearly marked no-smoking areas have been set up in some restaurants. Service in restaurants is not included in the price. As such, it is appropriate to reward good service, as a rule with 10% of the value of the bill. Monasteries and churches may generally be photographed from the outside, but from the inside only in exceptional circumstances. Care should be taken near military installations and special zones displaying prohibition signs. Please generally ask permission before photographing people.
There is danger from land mines in the areas of Eastern Slovenia, Western Slovenia and the western and south-western border area to Bosnia which were disputed until 1995. You should not, therefore, leave roads and paths in this region.
If this is respected, both Croatia and Serbia are safe countries to travel in. However, to prevent theft, do not leave things lying around unsupervised, keep your valuables on your person and always keep a careful eye on what is happening around you.
Stages in Serbia
This information has been compiled to the best of our knowledge, however this may be subject to change. We are not liable for the accuracy of the stated information.