The Croatian people have a rich and fascinating history and culture. While the country's claim to fame is the sun and surf along its long coastline on the Adriatic Sea, Croatian culture is vibrant and very much alive and accessible today! Here’s our ever-growing collection of pieces featuring local Croatian people sharing their insights into Croatian culture. Check out these stories and interviews to find the best off-the-beaten-path cultural experiences!
With more than a thousand islands off its shores, Croatia has a well-deserved reputation as a sailor's paradise. But the country has many fascinating regions other than the Dalmatian coast, like Istria, Međimurje, Lika, Zagorje and Slavonia—and they each have their own cultural tradition and identity because different areas were settled by people who came from different places. Croatians cherish their rich cultural heritage; many of the folk customs were kept alive as "acts of defiance" during the Croatian War of Independence, during which the Croatian people were the target of ethnic cleansing.
Explore some of the best experiences of Croatian culture through stories below from local Croatian people who are proud to share their amazing heritage.
Croatia’s Heritage as Cultural Crossroads
Croatian history has long been considered a cultural crossroads, given its location at the junction of Western, Central and Southeastern Europe. Because of a geographic position that encompasses important sea channels north and south, and river routes between the east and west, Croatian culture represents a blend of four different civilizations. Croatian heritage is an intersection of influences from the Western Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire—as well as a meeting point of the Middle European and Mediterranean cultures.
Moreška Sword Dance
Croatian culture encompasses traditions that are easily accessible and powerful to witness and appreciate. Thrill to the high energy “Batman meets ballet” performance of the Moreska Sword Dance on the island of Korcula, a tradition that dates to the 16th century.
Colorful Traditions Cherished in Slavonia Region
Immerse yourself in the Brodsko kolo, Croatia’s largest and oldest traditional dance and song festival, where Croatian people carry on ancient Croatian traditions in lavish costumes, performing songs and dances that tell stories about love, hard-working village life, and rituals of the seasons.
Unique Traditions in Konavle Valley
In the small village of Cilipi, about a half-hour from Dubrovnik, learn about the historic silk production and the incredible artistry and “language” of the Konavle Valley textile traditions.
Distinct 20th Century Art on Display in Zagreb
Croatia's traditions are continually evolving and the country has produced pioneers in the Naïve or primitive art genre, a distinct segment of 20th century art. The Croatian Naïve Art Museum is in the country’s capital of Zagreb and is directed by Mira Francetić Malčić who explains this modern art movement. In Croatia, naïve art was first connected with the works of peasants and working men, ordinary people; the most successful of these became professional artists. Painters of the Naïve art genre are more or less self-taught, with no formal art training, but have achieved their own creative style and a high level of art. In Croatia, Naïve art is also seen as a democratic movement, as it proves anyone can create worthwhile art regardless of formal training.