A small gift can make a big impression

When preparing for the visit it’s always a good idea to remember to bring a small gift for the family you're visiting. No one will get angry if you don’t bring anything, but Croatians love these kinds of tokens of appreciation.

If you’re not sure what to get:

  • Coffee (kava), chocolate (čokolada) or wine (vino) are always great options
  • If the family you’re visiting has kids, don’t forget to get something small for them as well :-)

Hug me, I'm Croatian!

Croatians are generally an open and expressive people, so be prepared to be greeted with an enthusiastic hug (zagrljaj), a kiss (pusa) on the cheek and a pat on the back when you arrive at someone’s house in Croatia!

Strukli, a traditional Croatian dish from ZagorjeStrukli are a traditional Croatian dish from Zagorje

Arriving late and talking small

It’s common for guests to arrive a little late (e.g. 15 minutes), so if you have a habit of not turning up on time in general, you’ll fit in well :-)

When you arrive it’s common to take your shoes off, and you might be offered some slippers (papuče) to politely prevent you from ruining their carpet or wooden floors.

Conversation during your visit often starts with comments about the ride there and traffic, followed by small talk about family members, usually about their health. After that, people talk about different topics, but there will always a liberal dose of gossip :-)

We've also written about learning to make small talk in Croatian!

Arrive on an empty stomach!

As for food, usually there will usually be something to eat like cold starters with prosciutto and cheese (meza, pršut, sir), schnapps (rakija) that is often home-made spritzer (gemišt) or beer (pivo) and coffee (kava).

Learn Croatian Insider Tip

As a warning: this is the least you should expect, and if you’re arriving around lunchtime you may well be welcomed by a 4-5 course meal. Hence, our urgent advice: arrive on an empty stomach! :-)

Bear in mind that - when you are offered food - you should half-heartedly sa "no" at least twice before you accept it. On the other hand, it is not polite to turn anything down.

Accepting a second helping is a sign that you are enjoying the food, it is not polite to eat little so don't leave a lot of food on the plate. The host will think that the food wasn't good.

It is always a good idea to compliment the food prolifically, especially if it is homemade - the host will always emphasise when something is homemade.

Here's another post about Croatian food, cuisine and cooking.

How long should you expect to stay?How long should you expect to stay?

How long should you stay?

People in Croatia often have a feeling that, the longer a guest stays, the better the visit was, so prepare to stay at least 4 hours.

You’ll need to announce that you plan to leave at least an hour before you actually want to leave because the host will try to stop you … most likely with one of the following phrases:

– (Leaving) so quickly?
– What’s the rush (in leaving)?
– One more (drink) for the road?

How to leave politely

When you finally spot a window of opportunity to get up from the table and you’re ready to leave, be prepared to chat at the door for at least another 15 minutes ...

... so plan any other obligations that day accordingly or better still, don’t organise any other activities that day besides the visit. :)

Some useful Croatian words and phrases

– coffee
– chocolate
– wine
– hug
– kiss
– slippers
– cold starters

– cheese
– schnapps
– spritzer
– beer
– (Leaving) so quickly?
– What’s the rush (in leaving)?
– One more for the road!