How to Not Look Like a Tourist in Croatia (Blend in Guide)

Picture of the tourists and text "how to blend in croatia, fool the locals that you are one of them"

Walking around Croatia with a big backpack, a suitcase on wheels and a camera is an obvious sign someone is a tourist.

However, many other factors will tell Croatians you are a tourist, and if you want to blend in in an accurate spy manner, you’ll need to acknowledge a few things.

My mission today is to tell you what those things are, so let’s explore what are the common signs you are a tourist in Croatia and how to fool every local into thinking you are one of them.

1. Dress Like a Local

When you’re visiting Croatia, one of the easiest and most effective ways to avoid looking like a tourist is to dress like the locals. Croatians tend to favor a casual and comfortable style. Opting for stylish yet understated outfits can help you blend in seamlessly with the local crowd.

Croatians, especially those along the coast, typically dress in a way that reflects their Mediterranean lifestyle. This means embracing clothing that is both fashionable and relaxed. Leave behind the flashy and overly formal attire and instead go for a more laid-back and casual appearance.

Avoid wearing clothing that screams “tourist.” Instead, choose outfits with neutral colors and lightweight fabrics. Neutrals such as whites, blues, and earthy tones are your best allies in blending in. They not only keep you comfortable in the Mediterranean climate but also help you look more like a local.

Comfortable Footwear – No socks with sandals!

Another key aspect of dressing like a local in Croatia is the choice of footwear. Leave your socks in the drawer when you wear sandals, as it’s not a common sight in Croatia and might make you stand out as a tourist. Opt for comfortable, open-toed shoes for warm weather, and practical, closed-toe shoes for exploring the rugged terrains if you’re heading inland.

2. Learn Basic Croatian Phrases

While English is widely spoken in Croatia, making the effort to learn some basic Croatian phrases can make your visit more enjoyable and show respect for the local culture. Simple greetings and expressions can go a long way in fostering connections with the locals and making your trip more immersive.

Simple Greetings

Start with the basics: “Bok” (hello) and “Hvala” (thank you), Molim” (please), and “Doviđenja” (goodbye). These words are not only easy to remember but are appreciated by Croatians when used by tourists. A friendly “Bok” as you enter a local shop or greet a passerby can lead to warm exchanges and a sense of camaraderie.

Connecting with Locals

Croatians are known for their hospitality, and making an effort to communicate in their language can be a bridge to deeper connections. Attempting to speak Croatian, even if just a few phrases, shows that you respect their culture and are interested in engaging with the local way of life.

Don’t hesitate to engage in a conversation or say a simple hello when you see someone!

While Croatian isn’t the easiest language to learn and accents are hard to catch, this is the beginning of you mastering Croatian and everybody will find your foreign accent quite interesting and joyful!

Once you know Croatian, you’ll be able to blend everywhere from Serbia to Bosnia as their languages are so similar.

3. Explore Beyond the Tourist Hotspots

Croatia is not just about the well-known tourist destinations. To truly experience the country and avoid the crowds of tourists, it’s essential to venture off the beaten path and explore lesser-known areas. This approach allows you to discover the authentic beauty of Croatia.

Discover Hidden Gems

Croatia is a treasure trove of hidden gems, from charming coastal towns to serene islands and picturesque villages nestled in the mountains. Seek recommendations from locals or research to find these less-traveled destinations on our humble website.

You’ll be rewarded with unique experiences and a deeper understanding of the local culture compared to the tourists who only visit the popular destinations represented in the media.

Avoiding Tourist Crowds

Popular tourist hotspots like Dubrovnik and Split are undoubtedly stunning, but they can get crowded during the peak travel seasons.

Consider visiting these places during off-peak times such as in the autumn or spending more time in less crowded regions.

This way, you can enjoy the beauty of Croatia without the rush and noise of large tourist groups.

The authentic beauty of Croatia often lies in the unexplored corners of the country. These are the places where you can witness daily life, interact with locals, and truly immerse yourself in Croatian culture.

Whether it’s hidden coves, local markets, or small family-run restaurants, you’ll discover a side of Croatia that most tourists miss.

By exploring beyond the usual tourist hotspots, you’ll not only have a more genuine and unique travel experience but also significantly reduce the risk of standing out as a tourist.

4. Be Cautious with Photography

While capturing the beauty of Croatia is natural and tempting, it’s important to be mindful of how you use your camera to avoid being an intrusive tourist. Respect for the local environment and people is key when taking photos.

Respect Privacy

When photographing, be considerate of people’s privacy. Avoid blocking pathways or views with your camera, and don’t be intrusive by taking countless selfies in crowded public spaces.

Ensure that your photography doesn’t interfere with the daily lives of the locals or other tourists.

There’s nothing wrong with that and you are free to take photos in public by the law, but it screams “I am a tourist”!

Asking Permission for Portraits

Talking about taking photos and showing your tourist side is welcomed, but if you wish to take portraits of locals, especially in more personal or intimate settings, always ask for permission. It’s a sign of respect for their privacy and cultural sensitivity.

Many Croatians are happy to be part of your travel memories, but asking first is courteous and ensures you’re not seen as a pushy tourist.

In Croatia, all you have to do is to ask, and you might not only get a perfect photo on a fisherman’s ship but also get an invitation to a dinner or wine toasting!

5. Try Local Cuisine

Croatian cuisine is a delightful experience you don’t want to miss, and making an effort to indulge in it is a sure way to feel like a local. Here are some tips to savor the rich flavors of the country while avoiding tourist traps.

Savoring Croatian Dishes

Croatian cuisine is diverse, with a blend of Mediterranean, Italian, and Eastern European influences. Try local dishes like “ćevapi” (grilled minced meat), “pljeskavica” (similar to a burger), or “crni rižot” (black risotto). Explore the regional specialties to get a taste of authentic Croatian flavors.

Avoiding Chain Restaurants

To truly immerse yourself in the culinary culture, steer clear of international chain restaurants. Instead, opt for local eateries, taverns, or “konobe” where you can relish traditional dishes prepared with care and passion. These are places where you’re more likely to dine among the locals.

6. Public Transportation

When it comes to getting around Croatia, using public transportation can be a cost-effective and immersive option that allows you to experience the country like a local. Here are some reasons to consider this mode of travel.

Cost-Effective Travel

Public transportation, including buses and trams, is often more economical than renting a car or relying on tourist buses. This budget-friendly approach not only saves you money but also provides a genuine local experience.

Using public transportation allows you to observe daily life in Croatia. You’ll share your journey with locals going about their day, providing insights into the culture and routines of the region. This interaction can lead to unexpected and memorable experiences.

7. Respect the Dress Code

Croatians take their dress code seriously, especially when visiting religious sites or participating in formal occasions. Respecting local customs in this regard is crucial to avoid standing out as a disrespectful tourist.

Modesty in Religious Sites

When visiting churches, monasteries, or other religious places, ensure that your clothing is modest. Both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees.

It’s a sign of respect for the sacredness of these places and the beliefs of the locals.

Carrying a lightweight scarf or shawl to cover up when needed is a practical idea.

Avoiding Disrespectful Attire

Wearing crop tops and shorts or beach attire in religious and formal settings can be considered disrespectful. To show that you appreciate the cultural and religious significance of these places, it’s best to dress conservatively.

Moreover, wearing beach attire is not welcomed anywhere outside the beaches, and while some may tolerate it, avoid showing up in the town and restaurants in a bikini or without a shirt.

This doesn’t apply to the beach bars though!

Additionally, keep in mind that some sites may have specific dress code requirements, so it’s wise to check in advance.

8. Enjoy the Slow Pace

Croatia’s relaxed pace of life is something to embrace during your visit as there’s no better way to blend in as a local than by taking it easy and ignoring the rushing.

Rushing from one tourist attraction to another can make you appear like, well, a tourist. Instead, prioritize quality over quantity. Spend more time in a particular area, explore hidden corners, and genuinely appreciate the beauty of the country.

Instead of rushing from one tourist attraction to another, take the time to savor your surroundings, enjoy tranquil moments, and appreciate the laid-back lifestyle.

Embracing Relaxed Lifestyle

Croatia is known for its unhurried way of life. It’s a place where taking the time to appreciate the simple joys, like sipping coffee at a café or enjoying a leisurely meal, is valued. Embrace this slower pace, and you’ll fit in with the local rhythm.

For instance, we Croatians never hurry to finish a coffee but rather see it as a harmonic ritual that lasts at least a good hour or so.

On other days, when we are not slowly indulging in coffee rituals, we like to get a beer and enjoy it by the sea or plan a BBQ in the forests and mountains.

By embracing the slow pace of life in Croatia, you not only fit in with the local culture but also create a more immersive and memorable travel experience.

Genetics can give you away

Sorry to break it to you, but this is not something you can control, locals will spot a tourist by simply observing their genetics.

Croatian men and women are among the tallest nations in the world, and this especially applies to people born in Dalmatia and around the mountain of Velebit.

While the average for a man is 5 foot 11 inches, in some areas, every second man is 6.3 feet tall, while women are on average 5.7 feet tall.

Moreover, Croats are leaning toward paler skin, but during the summer season, plenty of Croatians get dark almost like their Italian neighbors.

If you don’t have Slavic genes people might assume you are not a local, but there are plenty of different Croatians, ranging from blue to brown eyes and blonde to dark hair, so you may get away!

Jokes aside, who cares if you look like you are not from Croatia, people are welcoming and will respect you as long as you are not urinating in front of their home in the old town after a few beers too many or jellying in the middle of the night!


Dino is a local who has spent 27 years of his life in Croatia. He's here to provide you with useful information and some local guidance.

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