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To answer the question; yes. Croatia has blown-up as a mega destination for a reason. With turquoise blue Mediterranean waters, accommodating locals, and some ‘Game of Thrones’ appeal thrown in, Croatia is going to be on top of bucket lists for a long time. While it may be drawing a large number of tourists, because of its recent emergence not many people known much about the country and are naturally curious about the safety of a new vacation location. To put those fears aside, let’s say firstly that Croatia is safe — but to understand more about the specifics, and maybe a couple of things to keep an eye out for, read on.
From the inland capital of Zagreb, all the way down to Dubrovnik on the Southern coast, Croatia is tourist-friendly. Likely the biggest threat to travelers is pickpockets, and while they aren’t rampant, any country with as much tourist traffic as Croatia (over 15 million per year) is likely to have active petty theft. Tourists may not be targets, but the country does have some issues to perhaps be aware of to better understand locals and tread carefully with national sensitivities.
Croatia’s independence is comparatively new; having become its own nation in 1991, the war for sovereignty as well as the other conflicts that afflicted the Balkan region are fresh in some peoples’ minds and are a subject often avoided or cause grief. In its current youth, Croatia still disputes some of its borders with neighbors like Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, although these are non-violent. Currently, Croatia is experiencing the same European-wide backlash to high levels of immigration/emigration, which has seen a rise in extreme right-wing nationalist anger. Some tourists, notably from the USA, have recently expressed anxiety over terrorist attacks within the European Union; however, Croatia is not a known target and is less likely to experience this compared to other EU countries.
Rare Issues to be Aware of
Most of these next issues are more targeted towards travelers really wanting to get off the beaten path, but are nonetheless good for everyone to know. First, while scamming does happen, usually in the form of overcharging, taxi drivers have also been known to take tourists, who ask for recommendations, to restaurants or bars that will rip off foreign guests. Those trekking into the countryside should watch for warning signs indicating fields with land mines from past conflicts, but any area with any remote threat of landmine presence will be well marked. Also, according to safety guidance website SafeAround, it is highly recommended to avoid strip clubs in the country, especially in Zagreb; odds are tourists will be forced to pay for drinks and/or “services” they did not receive.
Female Travelers and LGBTQ Travel
Currently, there are no explicit threats to female travelers and Croatia is known to be a safe destination for solo travelers. Homosexuality is legal in Croatia, but some gay couples, especially those displaying affection in public, can sometimes be met with disdain. Having said that, Zagreb has a number of gay venues, a significant Pride celebration, and dating apps that are functional in the capital. Coastal towns are less active in the gay community but will sometimes have beaches specifically for gay visitors.
Conclusion: Is Croatia Safe?
Yes, it is. Travel to Croatia, full speed ahead, before everyone else does. But before you to travel, make sure to be prepared not to do anything stupid. If you rent a car, drive on the right side of the road, if you go to a national park, bring a map and don’t get lost, and don’t play Frisbee with your credit card, easy enough. Enjoy the trip!