Croatia is a hot European spot for tourists and digital nomads. It’s located in Southeastern Europe and borders Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and the Adriatic Sea. Zagreb is Croatia’s capital and the most populous city, with about 790,000 inhabitants.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Visa application
- 2 Cost of living and cost of living arbitrage
- 3 Accommodation for digital nomads
- 4 Blockchain and cryptocurrencies
- 5 Digital nomad communities
- 6 The Expat population
- 7 Popular recreational activities and fun spots
- 8 Transportation
- 9 Is Zagreb a safe city?
- 10 Air pollution in Zagreb
- 11 Religious composition
- 12 Tradition and cultural norms
- 13 Political and economic stability
- 14 Language and language barriers
- 15 Healthcare in Zagreb
- 16 Vaccinations
- 17 The electronic standards
- 18 Payment services and infrastructure
- 19 Telephone and Internet plans
- 20 How to buy a sim card in Zagreb
- 21 Currency and exchange rate
- 22 Zagreb Climate and Weather
- 23 Common cuisine in Zagreb
- 24 Common concerns
It is a vibrant and culturally rich city with a mix of historic architecture and modern amenities. Zagreb is also a relatively affordable destination for digital nomads, with a fairly low cost of living compared to other European cities. The city has a good selection of co-working spaces and cafes with free Wi-Fi that provide good places to work from.
Additionally, it has a well-developed public transportation system and a wide range of leisure options, including parks, museums, and nightlife. Overall, Zagreb can be a good destination for digital nomads looking for a European city with a unique culture and a lower cost of living.
Croatia, famous for its picturesque beaches and as a filming location for the hit series Games of Thrones, offers a wealth of opportunities for digital nomads. According to Nomad List, 11% of Zagreb’s visiting nomads return, putting it within the range of cities with high visitor return rates like Istanbul, Bangkok, and others.
Let’s dig in to discover more about this Croatian capital.
The Visa application
Beginning January 1st, 2023, Croatia was enlisted as a Schengen member state to become the latest European country to join the area. This means it is issuing Schengen Visas while fully utilizing the Schengen Information System.
Who requires a Schengen Visa to enter Croatia?
Based on the common rules governing visa issuance in the Schengen Zone, you need a visa to enter Croatia if you are a national of a third-world country that hasn’t struck a visa liberalization agreement with the European Union. If your country has reached a visa free agreement with the Schengen states, you may still have to apply for a visa if your application has been rejected before.
Visa options for digital nomads
- The Croatia Tourist Visa: It is ideal for individuals looking to vacation in Croatia. You may also use it for digital nomad purposes because of the loose nature of freelance work.
- The Croatia Visitor Visa: This one is designed for foreigners who wish to visit family members or friends in Croatia. It may be a limited option but ideal for digital nomads who qualify for it.
- The Digital Nomad Visa: After much deliberation, the government finally introduced it in early 2021 to address the concerns of remote workers interested in entering Croatia.
These three visa categories fall under short-term Croatian Schengen visas.
Requirements for a short-term Croatian Schengen Visa
When applying for a short-term visa to Croatia, these documents must be submitted to the Croatian embassy/consulate:
A fully completed and signed Croatia visa application form
- Your passport should have at least two blank pages to accommodate the Croatian visa sticker. Check to ensure it is valid for at least three months beyond the date you leave Croatia. It must be under ten years old.
- Two recent photographs (taken within the last three months) that meet Croatia visa photo requirements
- Proof of accommodation (hotel reservation for the entire stay)
- Proof of adequate financial means for the duration of stay in Croatia (€95 per day for hotel accommodation, €45 for other types)
- Proof of civil status (marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc.)
- Schengen Travel Insurance with a minimum coverage of €30,000 for medical emergencies and repatriation in case of death.
- A cover letter detailing the purpose of the trip and additional information
- Round-trip flight itinerary with entry and exit dates from Croatia.
- Language Preference form to specify your preferred language for application processing. You can choose the German, French, or Dutch languages. If you prefer to complete your application in English, select the “no preference option.”
The Digital Nomad Visa
Croatia introduced its digital nomad visa in January 2021, a year before joining the Schengen area. In Croatia, the terms digital nomad visa and temporary stay permit may be used interchangeably. However, it would be more accurate to call it a “digital nomad residence permit” owing to the length of time it allows you to stay in the country. Croatian visas typically cover short-stays, but the digital nomad document is valid for up to 12 months.
To apply for it, you must fulfill the following requirements;
- You must not be a national of an EU or EEA country
- Show that your monthly income is around € 2300.
- Work remotely, meaning your company must be outside of Croatia.
- Have a valid passport (it must be valid for three months after the expiry of your digital nomad visa)
- Valid health insurance
- Have a certificate of good conduct (by your country’s police department)
- Proof of secured accommodation in Croatia is required. Submit a confirmed booking or a rental agreement.
How do you apply for a Croatian Digital Nomad Visa?
You may apply for a Croatian Digital Nomad visa in two ways,
- Fill out and submit application forms at a Croatian embassy or consulate’s office
- Apply online In this case, go to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs website and fill in the relevant form
- Your application must be made in either English or Croatian languages.
The Digital Nomad Visa application process
There are two approaches to it.
Direct application (Embassy or Consulate)
- Download the application form 1a from your nearest Croatian Embassy website
- Have all the required documents together
- Make an appointment with the embassy or consulate and ensure to submit completed forms and documents in good time. You can find all the Croatian embassies listed here.
- You should receive a phone call or an envelope once your application has been approved.
The online application
Many applicants go with the online option because it is more convenient. If this is your preference, observe the following steps;
- Go to the website and fill out this form.
- After submitting, your application will be forwarded to the relevant authorities (The Croatian police administration) for authentication and approval. Please note that they may request additional documents.
- Once the authorities approve your application, you will receive an e-mail to that effect.
Upon entering Croatia, ensure to register your temporary residence within three days.
The digital nomad visa fees
If applying through a diplomatic mission or consular post, here are the estimated costs (as of Jan 2023)
- Temporary stay – €55.74
- The long-term visa D – €93.00 (Tendering your application through the VFS visa center will attract additional charges)
- The biometric residence card – €41.14
The following amounts apply if you apply through the police administration.
- Temporary stay- €46.45
- Biometric residence permits admin fees – €9.29
- Biometric residence card – €31.85
- If you wish issuance of the biometric residence card to be accelerated, you will have to pay €59.73
Cost of living and cost of living arbitrage
According to the Numbeo survey, a single person’s monthly costs are estimated at $1258, including rent. However, Nomad List puts a digital nomad’s estimated monthly cost at $2684. The discrepancy can largely be explained by the lifestyle choices of the survey participants, among other factors.
If you are a New York City digital nomad keen on cost arbitrage, you would have to spend about €2925 ($3180) in Zagreb to maintain a lifestyle that costs you $9100 in New York City. This estimate assumes you rent in both cities.
Zagreb generally offers a significantly lower cost of living compared to New York. According to recent Numbeo data, consumer prices in Zagreb are 47.5% lower than in New York, and the cost of living, including rent, is 65.1% lower.
One major contributing factor to the lower cost of living in Zagreb is the price of rent, which is 84% lower than in New York. This makes Zagreb an attractive destination for people keen on saving.
Something else contributing to the lower cost of living in Zagreb is the price of groceries, which is 56.1% lower than in New York. This, combined with the lower prices at restaurants (52.8% lower), makes it possible for a digital nomad to enjoy a high quality of life without spending off their limits.
The Table below compares commodity prices between the two cities.
|Items||New York, NY||Zagreb||Difference|
|Meal (inexpensive restaurant)||$25.00 (€23.33)||$10.67 (€9.95)||-57.3%|
|McMeal at McDonalds||$10.55 (€9.85)||$7.12 (€6.64)||-32.5%|
|Domestic beer (0.5 liter draught)||$8.00 (€7.47)||$2.84 (€2.65)||-64.5%|
|Milk (1 liter)||$1.24 (€1.16)||$1.24 (€1.16)||0|
|Fresh white bread (500g)||$4.24 (€3.96)||$1.18 (€1.11)||-72.1%|
|Beef round (1kg)||$21.05 (€19.64)||$12.60 (€11.76)||-40.1%|
|Tomato (1kg)||$6.15 (€5.74)||$2.42 (€2.26)||-60.6%|
|Fitness club (monthly fee for one adult)||$98.26 (€91.69)||$45.33 (€42.30)||-53.9%|
|1 pair of jeans (e.g., Levis 501)||$64.29 (€60.00)||$87.61 (€81.76)||+36.3%|
|1 pair of Nike running shoes (mid-range)||$95.46 (€89.07)||$89.73 (€83.73)||-6.0%|
Accommodation for digital nomads
Digital nomads entering Zagreb have several options for accommodation. Like other major cities, you can find accommodation in hotels, hostels, apartments, and co-living spaces.
Hotel accommodation: According to Nomad List, the median price for a hotel stay is $52 per night, with a monthly rate of $1,119. If you’re looking for a rental option, a 1-bedroom studio in the city center can be found for $1,037 per month. You can find a hotel that befits your budget by visiting real estate platforms, including booking.com, expedia.com, and hotels.com.
Hostels: Although hostels are associated more with students’ life, they are a good option for digital nomads, especially those on a mission to spend less and save more. These facilities offer cheaper accommodation with shared rooms, common areas for socializing, and other basic amenities. Some popular hostels for digital nomads in Zagreb include;
- HI Hostel Zagreb (about $37 per night)
- Hostel Swanky Mint (about $42 per night)
- Chillout Hostel (about $50 per night).
You can find more options on platforms like Hostelworld.
Apartments: Renting an apartment is a good option for those needing more privacy and space. Owing to the time allocated to digital nomads to stay in Croatia (12 months), many will prefer settling in apartments. If this is your preference, you may check out Airbnb and Booking.com, as they offer a wide range of apartments in Zagreb. These range from budget-friendly to luxury apartments. Some apartments that may interest you include;
Co-living spaces: Co-living spaces in Zagreb, as is the case in other cities, offer an affordable and convenient alternative to traditional rental apartments. They are especially popular among students, young professionals, and travelers. Many digital nomads also prefer these facilities. You can discover these spaces by joining lively digital nomad communities like Cocohub, Zagreb.
The city has numerous co-living spaces offering varied rates based on room type, length of stay, and demand. Moreover, some co-living spaces may offer additional services, such as cleaning, laundry, and meals, which can impact the overall cost. It’s always best to directly check with the co-living space for the most up-to-date pricing information. Nonetheless, expect to spend an average of $100 per month for a living space.
Neighborhoods that are popular with digital nomads
For any Foreigner, the security of a neighborhood is a high priority, especially when choosing where to rent an apartment. Zagreb is a relatively safe city where you can walk around without fear of the attacks witnessed in some cities.
If you fancy modern apartments, you may look in newly built areas near Jarun, but if pre-socialist era bourgeois apartments comprise your taste, consider the town center areas of Donji Grad, Gornji Grad, or Medvešćak.
Donji Grad is in the lower part of Zagreb. It is a historic neighborhood, home to many of the city’s famous landmarks, such as the Zagreb Cathedral and St. Mark’s Church, and a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and shops.
On the other hand, Gornji Grad comprises the upper town. This is the city’s medieval district and is known for its well-preserved architecture, delightful cobblestone streets, and stunning views over the city.
The city also has lively, well-arranged mid-class neighborhoods around the Novi Zagreb parts like Siget, Sopot, Utrina, Travno, or Sloboština. Novi Zagreb is a trendy neighborhood located on the city’s western side and is known for its green spaces and easy access to public transportation. Most of the buildings here were built during the early socialist era.
Another good Zagreb neighborhood is the area along Ilica street. Ilica Street, at almost 6 km in length, is a highly-trafficked shopping street in Zagreb that appeals to all shopping enthusiasts. Whether you’re looking for a terrace to grab a drink or a place to dine out, this bustling street has it all. From high-end to budget-friendly shops, Ilica has many options for shoppers.
Regardless of where you choose to live, Zagreb is a great place for digital nomads, with its affordable cost of living, good public transportation, and growing co-working scene.
The basic utilities for an 85-square-meter apartment in Zagreb cost approximately 199.06 euros per month. This price range varies between 137 to 293 euros. A minute of prepaid mobile tariff within the local area costs approximately 0.12 euros, ranging between 0.03 to 0.16 euros.
For internet services with a speed of 60 Mbps or higher, unlimited data, and cable/ADSL connection, the cost is estimated to be 24.06 euros per month. It ranges between 20-33 euros.
Being a major digital nomad attraction, Zagreb has introduced many co-working spaces to meet this demand. The price of a hot desk can vary based on the location, amenities, and type of co-working space. However, according to Nomad List, a co-working hot desk can cost about $290 per month.
Here are some specific co-working spaces that may be near you.
HUB 385 – HUB 385 is a modern co-working space covering over 2,500 square meters. It is primarily designed to meet the needs of freelancers, startups, and entrepreneurs. They offer flexible plans covering 25 private offices and over 100 workspaces. The facility also offers a variety of event spaces.
- Address: Petračićeva 6, 10000 Zagreb
- Phone: 091/3007-020
- e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Impact Hub Zagreb – Impact Hub Zagreb is a flexible co-working space located at Bosaričekova 11, Zagreb, Croatia. It nurtures entrepreneurship and social innovation, serving as a network and platform for empowering youth to become responsible change-makers and providing education for individuals who want to make a difference. It also supports small and medium-sized businesses by equipping them with the necessary tools, skills, and knowledge to achieve their desired impact.
- Phone: +385998250999
- E-mail: email@example.com
InstantOffice: InstantOffice provides work desks with attached cabinets for rent and access to a virtual assistant, a shared kitchen, and a lounge. The company is situated on the 5th floor of Zagreb tower.
- Tel. +385 (0)1 5625 700
- Fax. +385 (0)1 5625 701
- E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are the other popular co-working spaces that Zagreb has to offer.
|Impact Hub Zagreb||https://zagreb.impacthub.net/|
In Zagreb, the median download speed of mobile internet is about 81.58 Mbps, which is considered to be a fast speed for mobile internet. This allows for the smooth streaming of high-definition videos and the quick downloading of large files. Additionally, the median upload speed of about 17.21 Mbps is relatively fast, making it convenient to upload large files or videos to the internet. The latency of 20 ms is also considered low. Overall, the mobile internet speeds in Zagreb are good, providing users with a fast and reliable internet experience.
On the other hand, the current median fixed Internet speed for download is about 81.86 Mbps, while the median upload speed is 26.32 Mbps. The latency, or the time it takes for a data packet to travel from the source to the destination and back, is seven milliseconds. This indicates that the fixed Internet in Zagreb provides relatively fast and reliable connectivity, allowing users to stream content smoothly, work remotely, or browse the web.
|Median Internet Speeds||Download Speed (Mbps)||Upload Speed (Mbps)||Latency (ms)|
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies
Blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption in Zagreb is limited but growing. While a few local businesses accept cryptocurrencies as payment, most transactions still occur in traditional fiat currency.
Some individuals and organizations in Zagreb are exploring the potential benefits of blockchain technology, but widespread adoption and understanding are still in the early stages. Efforts to educate the public and promote the use of blockchain and cryptocurrency are ongoing, and most certainly, the industry will continue to grow in the coming years.
Are cryptocurrencies legal in Croatia?
In Croatia, like many other parts of the world, cryptocurrencies are not considered legal tender, but they are not illegal either. The Croatian National Bank undoubtedly recognizes the potential benefits of cryptocurrencies but also raises concerns about their potential risks, such as security and money laundering. On several occasions, the Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency has warned consumers about the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies and the lack of protection offered by the government. At the moment, cryptocurrency exchanges are not regulated, but the government is monitoring developments in the industry and may take regulatory action as soon as possible.
Purchasing, selling, and trading cryptocurrencies is lawful in this European nation. The government enacted a law in 2017 that classifies cryptocurrencies as financial assets and requires them to be taxed. This law mandates that cryptocurrency trading complies with the Croatian capital market laws, which means utilizing a secure exchange that follows strict Anti-Money Laundering regulations.
In Croatia, capital gains from cryptocurrency sales are subject to personal income tax. Consequently, Zagreb residents are taxed at a rate of 18%, while those residing in other parts of the country only give 12%.
5 Blockchain startups in Zagreb
Zagreb has a thriving startup ecosystem, with many young and innovative companies leveraging new technologies, including blockchain. Some of the most prominent blockchain startups in the city include:
- NodeFactory– This is a blockchain consulting firm that helps companies integrate blockchain into their existing services. They provide expert guidance on the complex questions surrounding blockchain and work to develop the necessary tooling and protocols to build robust Web3 infrastructure.
- Dream Factory– A development and consultancy agency that provides scalable and reliable solutions to its clients. With a focus on backend technologies, the company delivers cutting-edge solutions across various domains. Their portfolio includes a range of scalable solutions, including high-traffic marketing applications, highly available microservices, enterprise database sync middleware, and satellite relay systems.
- Definition8– Specializes in creating exceptional experiences in the emerging Metaverse. They work with brands and companies worldwide and offer a full range of services to cover the entire lifecycle of projects. With their extensive knowledge and expertise, Definition8 leads the way in developing AR, ML, and Web3 solutions.
- ShardLabs– Helps businesses transition into the new era of collaboration through Web3 technology. They support businesses in their journey to utilize the benefits of blockchain technology, such as reliable data exchange and workflow automation. The company comprises an agile team of experts, including consultants and developers, who can provide all the necessary components for successful project execution. From strategy and concept development to implementation, ShardLabs is equipped to help businesses achieve their goals and stay abreast with the ever-evolving world of technology.
- Meliorate– This is a full-service marketing, design, web 3, and technology company. The company’s experienced team offers expertise in applying blockchain technology to businesses and helps organizations understand how this cutting-edge technology can be leveraged to drive success. Moreover, they provide a wide range of marketing solutions, including digital design, to help businesses establish and enhance their online presence. With a focus on innovative technologies and creative marketing strategies, the startup is committed to helping clients achieve their goals and stay ahead of the curve.
These startups are at the forefront of developing innovative solutions to impact the blockchain space. They are a testament to Zagreb’s growing startup scene and its commitment to fostering a supportive environment for tech entrepreneurs.
Businesses that accept crypto payments
Croatia is increasingly becoming a crypto-friendly nation, with several businesses accepting cryptocurrencies as payment. For example, one of the largest supermarket chains in the country, Konzum, in late 2021, started accepting payments in cryptocurrency.
Since then, Konzum has been accepting payment with nine cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), EOS, DAI, Ripple (XRP), Stellar Lumen (XLM), Tether (USDT), and USDC. These cryptocurrencies can be used to pay for over 12,000 products offered by Konzum. This payment option was introduced in partnership with Electrocoin, a Croatian fintech company, and its PayCek system, the first cryptocurrency payment processor, locally.
Konzum’s move is likely to inspire several other businesses to follow suit. Soon, you will be able to pay using cryptocurrencies in many other outlets, thanks to Electrocoin’s PayCek system. These include hotels, Tifon gas stations, Greyp electric bikes, media outlets, car dealerships, and the largest Croatian webshop bazaar.hr.
Digital nomad communities
Zagreb has a thriving digital nomad community, offering several co-working and co-living spaces such as The Corner Office and Mydesk Co-working. The city also has Facebook and Meetup groups, including Zagreb Digital Nomads and Zagreb Freelancers Meetup, for the digital nomad community to connect.
Cocohub, Zagreb, is another platform comprising a vibrant digital nomad community. Furthermore, Zagreb’s thriving start-up scene and the increasing number of events and networking opportunities make it an ideal destination for remote workers and freelancers seeking to network and work with similar individuals.
The Expat population
There are many ex-pats in Zagreb and Croatia as a whole. While accessing the stats of those in Zagreb is tricky, activity in ex-pat forums and social media groups can hint at the city’s ex-pat population. InterNations is one such platform with several expat forums. Facebook groups like Expat in Croatia may also give valuable insights into ex-pat activity in the country.
Popular recreational activities and fun spots
Park Maksimir: If you are a nature-loving outdoor person, Park Maksimir is a place to consider while in Zagreb. This is one of the largest and oldest parks in the city and a popular recreational area for locals and tourists. It features a variety of attractions, including walking paths, sports facilities, a lake, a zoo, and a museum. The facility is known for its diverse vegetation and lush green spaces, making it a lovely place to spend time outdoors.
Jarun Lake – Jarun Lake provides an excellent chance for water lovers to customize fun to their preferences. This is an artificial lake located in the southwestern part of Zagreb. It is a popular recreational area for locals and tourists, offering various activities such as swimming, boating, and fishing. The lake is surrounded by parks and beaches, making it a popular destination for picnics, jogging, and cycling.
Tkalčićeva Street- If venturing out at night is your way of having fun, then Tkalčićeva Street is the place to be. This popular street is known for its lively atmosphere and is lined with various bars, cafes, and restaurants. The street is located in the heart of the city’s historic center and is considered one of Zagreb’s main hubs for social and nightlife activities.
Medvednica Nature Park: This park is a protected natural area near Zagreb. It covers an area of about 63 square kilometers and is home to diverse flora and fauna, as well as historical and cultural sites. Some popular activities in the park include hiking, skiing, picnicking, and viewing and visiting the medieval fort of Medvedgrad.
Ban Jelačić Square: Ban Jelačić Square is a central square named after Ban Josip Jelačić, a 19th-century Croatian governor and national hero. The square is a popular gathering place and the site of many cultural events and festivals. It is surrounded by historic buildings, cafes, and shops, making it a popular tourist destination.
Dolac Market: This Market lies at the heart of Zagreb. It is a popular indoor market known for its variety of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and other local products. Moreover, it is a popular tourist destination and a hub of local activity, offering a unique glimpse into Zagreb’s daily life and culture. Visitors can sample local delicacies, purchase souvenirs, and interact with friendly vendors.
The Zagreb Zoo: The Zagreb Zoo was founded in 1925 and is one of the city’s oldest and most popular tourist attractions. The facility is home to various animals, including primates, big cats, birds, reptiles, and more. It also features several exhibitions and attractions, such as a petting zoo, a playground, and a restaurant. The Zagreb Zoo is dedicated to conserving endangered species and educating the public about wildlife conservation.
Zagreb has well-developed air, rail, and bus transportation systems for locals and visitors to travel within and to other destinations.
Zagreb International Airport, officially named Franjo Tuđman Airport after the first president of Croatia, is the main airport serving Zagreb. It is located approximately 17 km from the city center and handles domestic and international flights to various European destinations and beyond. The airport has one terminal building with modern facilities and services for passengers, including shops, restaurants, currency exchange, and car rental services. The facility is well connected to the city center by bus and taxi, and plans are underway for a railway connection.
The railway network
The Zagreb passenger rail network is the most active aspect of the city’s railway infrastructure. It includes local and regional trains connecting Zagreb with other cities and towns in the country. The network is operated by the Croatian Railways, Hrvatske Željeznice, the national railway company.
Complementing this network are several railway stations, including the Zagreb Glavni Kolod Train Station, the largest and busiest railway station in Croatia. It connects to other cities and towns within the country and to international destinations such as Slovenia, Hungary, and Austria.
Zagreb’s railway infrastructure is well-developed, providing a reliable and efficient mode of transportation for local commuters and tourists. The trains are modern, equipped with air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, and comfortable seating. Moreover, the railway tracks are electrified, reducing emissions and enhancing energy efficiency.
Zagreb has a well-developed bus transport infrastructure. The city is served by several bus lines operated by the Zagreb Electric Tramway (ZET), the main public transport provider in the city.
Buses here run from early morning until late at night and cover a large network of routes that traverse the city, connecting its various neighborhoods and suburbs. The buses are equipped with modern amenities such as air conditioning and electronic ticketing systems, and most of them are low-floor, making them accessible to people with disabilities.
Fares for bus rides in Zagreb are reasonably priced and can be paid with various tickets, including single-ride, daily, and multi-day tickets. These tickets can be purchased from ZET ticket offices, vending machines, or on the bus.
Overall, Zagreb’s bus transportation system is a reliable and efficient way to travel around the city, offering you a convenient alternative to private vehicles or taxis.
The city has many taxi service providers that offer convenient transportation options. Some popular taxi companies in Zagreb include Radio Taxi Zagreb, Taxi Cammeo, and Eko taxi. These companies offer 24/7 service, online booking options, and competitive rates. Most taxis in Zagreb are modern, clean, and equipped with GPS navigation systems for efficient and safe transportation.
Additionally, taxis are regulated by the city government and operate under strict rules and regulations to ensure the safety of passengers. You can hail one on the street, call for a pick-up, or book through a mobile app to get a taxi. Confirming the fare before starting the trip, especially when using traditional taxis, is advisable to ensure understanding.
Several app-based taxi services in the city allow users to hail a taxi through their smartphones. These services use GPS technology to match passengers with nearby drivers and allow payment and tips to be handled digitally. Some popular app-based taxi services in Zagreb include Bolt (formerly Taxify), Uber, and Glovo. These services provide a convenient and efficient way to get around the city.
Is Zagreb a safe city?
Zagreb has a very low level of crime, with a score of 15.81 on a scale of 100. This is according to a survey involving 494 contributors by numbeo.com. This means residents of Zagreb do not have to worry much about their safety and security. The city has very high safety for walking alone during daylight and at night, with these two aspects scoring 92.28 and 78.81, respectively.
The same survey shows that the increase in crime over the past three years is moderate, with a score of 43.31, but the chances of falling victim to a home break-in, mugging, or robbery remain very low, with scores ranging from 14.16 to 19.15. Similarly, the chances of having a car stolen or items taken from a car are also low, with scores of 15.32 and 20.36, respectively.
If you just left a city where you were physically attacked based on skin color, ethnicity, gender, or religion, expect better treatment in Zagreb. According to this survey, the city registered only 16.7% of such cases.
Many cities grapple with the problem of drug use and dealing and property crimes like vandalism and theft. Not so with Zagreb, as these areas registered 25.37 and 27.81 (respectively) in this recent survey.
Unfortunately, the city’s sterling record is suddenly tainted by its corruption and bribery index, which scores a worrying high of 68.04.
Despite Zagreb’s good safety report, it is still important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, especially at night and in tourist areas. Petty crimes, such as pickpocketing, can occur, so it is recommended to keep valuables secure and remain vigilant in crowded places.
Air pollution in Zagreb
Zagreb has a moderate level of PM10 air pollution at 36 micrograms per cubic meter. The PM2.5 level, which measures fine particulate matter, is 21 micrograms per cubic meter. According to the World Health Organization, both PM10 and PM2.5 levels should be kept below 20 micrograms per cubic meter to maintain good air quality.
Croatia has a diverse religious composition, with Roman Catholicism being the dominant religion. The Roman Catholic population comprises (about 86.3%), followed by Orthodox Christians (about 4.5%) and Muslims (about 1.5%). There is also a small community of Protestant Christians and Jews. Other religious groups include Buddhists, Hindus, and followers of New Age spirituality. Atheists account for about 3.8% of the Croatian community. The religious diversity in the country and Zagreb, in particular, is reflected in numerous religious institutions, such as churches, mosques, and synagogues, throughout the city.
Tradition and cultural norms
Zagreb has a rich cultural heritage that reflects the country’s history and its Slavic, Catholic, and Austro-Hungarian influences. Some of the traditions and cultural norms in Zagreb include:
- Celebrating Saint Nicholas (Sv. Nikola) as the patron saint of the city
- Celebrating Christmas and Easter according to the Christian Orthodox tradition
- Folk dance and music, including kolo, a traditional circular dance that is popular at festivals and celebrations
- Traditional food such as turkey with mlinci, pasticada, and strukli
- Respect for elders and the importance of family
- A strong coffee culture, with coffee shops serving as gathering places for friends and family
- A love for sports, particularly soccer, and handball.
These traditions and cultural norms are still widely observed and celebrated in Zagreb today and provide a glimpse into the city’s history and cultural identity.
Cultural do’s and don’ts
Zagreb has a rich cultural heritage and a unique blend of traditional and modern elements. As a digital nomad visiting this city, it’s important to be aware of and respect the cultural do’s and don’ts to have a positive and memorable experience. Here are a few things to remember:
- Greet people with a friendly smile and a polite “Dobar dan” (good day)
- Dress appropriately for religious sites and special events
- Try local cuisine, such as ćevapi, a traditional dish of grilled minced meat
- Enter some houses without shoes
- Respect the country’s traditions, history, and monuments.
- Litter or cause damage to public property
- Take photos without permission in sensitive areas or of people who are uncomfortable being photographed.
- Leave a small tip in restaurants. It is not customary in Croatia
- Smoke in public places, as it is prohibited
- Use loud or offensive language in public.
By following these cultural guidelines, you can have a wonderful time exploring Zagreb and its cultural offerings while showing respect for the local people and customs.
Political and economic stability
Croatia has achieved political and economic stability since gaining independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. However, like many countries in transition, it has faced challenges in these areas.
Politically, Croatia is a parliamentary democracy with a multi-party system and a president serving as the head of state. While the country has had a peaceful transfer of power and regular elections, issues like integrity remain a subject of public concern.
Economically, the country has made significant strides in recent years. Since joining the European Union (EU), on January 1st, 2023, there are clear signs that the tourism industry will grow by leaps and bounds and impact other sectors positively. However, it still faces challenges, including high public debt and a need for structural reforms to improve competitiveness.
Croatia’s political stability and absence of violence/terrorism measures score of 0.70787 in 2021, as reported by the World Bank, highlights a relatively stable and secure political environment in the country.
The score of 0.70787 indicates that the likelihood of political instability or politically-motivated violence, including terrorism, is relatively low in the country. This is positive news for digital nomads and businesses in Croatia, as a stable and secure environment is crucial for growth and development.
Language and language barriers
Croatian is the main language in Zagreb. However, many people also speak English, as it is widely taught in schools and commonly used as a second language in the business and tourism industries. English is also widely used as a common language between speakers of different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds in Zagreb.
Croatia ranks 11th globally and 10th in Europe in terms of English proficiency, according to EF’s English Proficiency Index (EPI). The country’s EPI score of 612 is higher than the global average of 502. Overall, Croatia’s English proficiency is rated as “Very High. “The prevalence of English points to a low language barrier for expats and nomads doing business in the city. Besides Croatian and English, some people speak German and other minority languages, including Italian, Hungarian, Czech, and Serbian.
Healthcare in Zagreb
Croatia has a rich history of medical research and innovation, having developed drugs such as Azithromycin in the 1980s and, more recently, a new incision-less Gamma Knife for radiation therapy at the University Hospital Center Zagreb. The country has also made advances in dentistry, setting the standard for new technologies and devices.
Zagreb city offers various health care options for its residents and visitors. The city has several public and private hospitals that provide various medical services, including general practitioners, specialists, and emergency care.
Some of the most well-known public hospitals in Zagreb include
- Address: Zajčeva ul. 19, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
- Phone: +385 1 2431 390
- Address: Kišpatićeva ul. 12, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
- Phone: +385 1 2388 888
Address: Vinogradska cesta 29, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
These hospitals provide various medical services, including diagnostic services, surgical procedures, and rehabilitation.
Healthcare for foreigners
As an expatriate living and working in the country, it is mandatory to enroll in the national health insurance program known as HZZO. This insurance is required for all citizens and long-term residents in Croatia. Obtaining a supplementary international health insurance policy from a reputable provider is also advisable. These include;
You can use international insurance companies, such as Now Health International.
Croatian healthcare is exceptional and affordable. The low cost of living and government support allows physicians to provide a high standard of care, making the country a popular destination for medical tourists seeking affordable, high-quality procedures. In fact, reports indicate that the cost of renowned medical care in Croatia is 70% less compared to other leading countries. Many famous individuals, such as Russian Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov and several athletes, have sought medical treatment in Croatia.
State of healthcare based on a recent survey
Legit survey firm Numbeo.com did research (February 2023) involving 224 participants to establish the Croatian city’s state of healthcare.
Let’s do a brief analysis of the published results.
The healthcare in Zagreb, Croatia, is rated as having a high level of skill and competency among medical staff. With a score of 70.14, patients can expect a high standard of medical care and attention from knowledgeable and capable professionals.
In terms of speed of completion of examinations and reports Zagreb is moderate as it scored slightly below 50%. While not the quickest, the medical staff in Zagreb are thorough and precise, ensuring that patients receive a high level of care. Diagnosis and treatment equipment emerged with an impressive score of 65.88%. This indicates that the medical institutions in Zagreb are equipped with modern and advanced equipment to provide accurate diagnoses and effective treatments.
Accuracy and completeness in filling out reports are also excellent, scoring 65.50% in this survey. Therefore, Patients can feel confident that their medical records are properly documented and maintained. The staff in Zagreb medical institutions are rated as friendly and courteous, settling for an encouraging 62.44%. This creates a welcoming and positive patient environment, making one’s medical experience more pleasant.
However, satisfaction with responsiveness (waitings) in medical institutions is rated low, scoring a meager 34.12%. This suggests that patients may have to wait longer before being seen by a doctor or receiving medical treatment.
On the other hand, satisfaction with the cost is rated high, at 74.89%. In short, patients are pleased with the affordability of healthcare in Zagreb, making it accessible to a wider range of people. Finally, the convenience of location for patients registered a high score of 76.79%. In other words, medical institutions in Zagreb are located conveniently, making it easy for patients to access the medical care they need.
Overall, the healthcare in Zagreb is rated highly in most areas. However, the low satisfaction with responsiveness (waitings) is a wake-up call for the city’s health division to do better.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends taking several vaccines before landing in Zagreb.
- Flu (influenza)
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
- Chickenpox (Varicella)
Others include COVID-19, Hepatitis A & B, Measles, Rabies, and Tick-borne Encephalitis.
The electronic standards
Croatia’s standard voltage is 220 volts AC (alternating current) at 50 Hz. This is the same voltage standard used in many countries globally. Some electrical devices, particularly those designed for use in North America, may differ from the 220V standard used in Croatia. Therefore, these devices may need a voltage converter or transformer to work properly.
Payment services and infrastructure
Zagreb has a well-developed payment services infrastructure. This infrastructure provides various options for individuals and businesses to make and receive payments.
For individuals, the most common forms of payment include cash, debit and credit cards, and online payment services. Major debit and credit cards, such as Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, are widely accepted in Zagreb, making it easy for tourists and visitors to withdraw cash and make purchases from ATMs.
A survey by Statista shows that the number of card transactions in Croatia experienced a substantial increase from 2013 to 2020, totaling over 410 million by the end of 2020. The lowest recorded number of card transactions was in 2013, with over 202.5 million. Despite this, cash payments remain crucial in Croatia, making up 73% of all payments in 2019.
Additionally, many local and international online payment services, such as PayPal and Klik, are popular and widely used in the city.
Mobile payments have become increasingly popular in Zagreb, Croatia, as more people adopt digital solutions for their financial transactions. With the growth of smartphones and other mobile devices, Zagreb residents can now pay for goods and services with just a few taps on their screens.
A 2020 survey by Master index revealed that an overwhelming majority of Croatian citizens, 90%, now use contactless cards for making payments for goods and services. Additionally, 70% of respondents reported paying through mobile phones, and 85% expressed satisfaction with digital payment services.
In addition to these services, many retail stores in Zagreb now accept mobile payments through services like Google Pay and Apple Pay. These services allow users to make purchases with just a few taps on their screen, eliminating the need for physical cash or credit cards.
Telephone and Internet plans
Zagreb offers both telephone and internet services to its residents. Several city telecommunication providers, including Hrvatski Telekom and A1 Hrvatska, offer various telephone and internet service plans. Let’s consider A1 Hrvatska and Hrvatski Telekom plans, for example:
- A1 Hrvatska
- Find prepaid plans here.
- Hrvatski Telekom
- Find T-Mobile plans here.
Although each company issues its unique plans, the differences are slight due to the competition. Therefore, A1 Hrvatska and T-Mobile (Hrvatski Telekom) plans give you a good idea of the plans floated by other service providers.
How to buy a sim card in Zagreb
Buying a SIM card in Zagreb is a relatively simple process. With several telecommunications providers to choose from, including Hrvatski Telekom and A1 Hrvatska, it would help to consider their offers based on the coverage in the areas where you’ll be staying or traveling and the amount of data you need.
Before purchasing a SIM card, checking your device compatibility is crucial. Most Croatian mobile networks use GSM, but it’s best to verify that your device is unlocked and compatible with the network frequencies used in Croatia. You can check your device’s specifications or contact the manufacturer.
Once you’ve determined your device compatibility, you can locate a store belonging to your chosen telecommunications provider. You can find them at the airport and shopping centers or search for them online. Once in the store, choose a plan that suits your needs, including the amount of data, calls, and texts you need.
To purchase the SIM card, you will need to provide a form of identification, such as a passport or ID card, to prove your identity. Next, pay for the SIM card and plan of your choice. The sales representative will then activate the SIM card for you. After activation, follow the instructions to insert the SIM card into your phone.
Some providers may require a Croatian billing address or a Croatian bank account to sign up for a plan, so it’s best to confirm this in advance.
The A1 Tourist 4G SIM card
The ideal SIM card option for a digital nomad is the A1 Tourist 4G SIM card. It’s available at various locations, including newsstands, petrol stations, supermarkets, Hrvatska Pošta post offices, and A1 stores. The cost is roughly 10.62 € (80.00 kn).
This SIM card offers you a week of unlimited internet surfing, 100 minutes of call time and SMS messages within Croatia with no call setup fee, great prices on international calls and SMS messages to your home country, and the convenience of a Plug & Play setup with 4G speeds. You can choose from a standard, micro, or Nano SIM card.
Currency and exchange rate
Zagreb utilizes the Croatian Kuna (HRK) as its currency. As of Feb, 10th 2023, 1 HRK is equivalent to 0.141992 USD. You can exchange foreign currency at various forex bureaus, banks, and post offices. Some forex bureaus offer better exchange rates than others, so it’s advisable to shop around and compare rates before taking action. The Croatian National Bank, which is the central bank of Croatia, determines the exchange rate for the Croatian Kuna.
Zagreb Climate and Weather
Zagreb’s climate is typically continental, with warm summers and cold winters. July is the city’s hottest month, with an average temperature of 70°F (21.2°C), while the coldest month is January, with temperatures of 32°F (0.1°C). November is the wettest month reporting an average of 118 mm of rain. Therefore, the best time to visit is March–April, when it is mildly hot, less crowded, and less expensive.
Here is the annual season breakdown
- Spring – March-May
- Summer – June –August
- Autumn- September – November
- Winter – December – March
Common cuisine in Zagreb
Zagreb is known for its rich and diverse cuisine, reflecting its history, geography, and cultural influences. Here are some of the city’s popular foods you must try;
This is a traditional Balkan dish consisting of grilled minced meat sausages served on pita bread with chopped onions, kajmak (a creamy dairy product), and ajvar (a roasted red pepper spread). Cevapi is a staple food in Zagreb and can be found in almost every traditional restaurant.
Strukli comprises boiled dumplings filled with cottage cheese, sour cream, and sometimes with other ingredients such as potatoes or meat. It is a traditional dish from the northwestern part of Croatia and is considered a specialty of Zagreb
These are crescent-shaped pastries filled with a sweet mixture of walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon. These pastries are popular in Zagreb and are often enjoyed with coffee or tea.
This is a variation of Strukli made with a sweet filling made from cheese, sugar, and sometimes fruits. Zagorski Strukli is a popular dessert in Zagreb, especially during holidays and special events.
If you relish meat, then Pasticada is a recipe you want to try. It is a slow-cooked beef stew made with red wine, prunes, and various spices. It is considered one of the most traditional dishes in Zagreb and is often served with homemade pasta or mashed potatoes.
These are just a few delicious foods you can try in Zagreb. Whether you are a food enthusiast or just looking to try something new, the city’s rich cuisine will leave you satisfied and coming back for more.
- Zagreb can experience heavy traffic during peak hours, and finding a parking spot can be difficult in the city center.
- The city’s air may be highly polluted, especially during the winter when inversion sets in.
- Zagreb can also be noisy, especially in the city center, where traffic and construction noise can be an issue.
- Although the public transport system in Zagreb is extensive, it can be unreliable and overcrowded during peak hours.