During our trip to Croatia, we were just not sure of the rules around drinking in public places like the beach side, at the Riva or moving about the old towns. We got mixed advice from the locals so we decided to research drinking laws and general drinking etiquette in Croatia so that it could help potential travelers like you with clear information.
Croatia has a national law that prohibits drinking alcohol in public The enforcement of the law is driven by local authorities and differs with each city. Enforcement around public drinking is not that strict except in major cities like Split with a large number of visitors, and fines could be imposed on loud noisy groups. Drinking and driving laws are strictly imposed and fines can be hefty. The legal age to purchase and consume liquor in Croatia is 18 years though again enforcement is rare.
We personally ensured to be mindful of these laws but had no issues with enjoying some wine at the beach side. We tried different Croatian beers and liquors in restaurants and found some interesting local brands too, which I have listed here and can be easily bought from local supermarkets . There are some interesting trivia about drinking etiquette in Croatia which will be useful to know before you travelling here.
Can you drink alcohol in public in Croatia?
It is not legal to drink in public in Croatia. However, laws are not strictly enforced outside of major cities. So, you can carry a crate of beer and sit by the seaside as long as your doing it silently.
Croatia officially doesn’t have open container laws. In 2013, Croatia had imposed zero tolerance policies towards purchase and consumption of alcohol in pubic but this was not workable and finally relaxed. You will commonly not find locals and tourists drinking on the streets or public squares but it is a usual sight on beaches.
The enforcement of laws around public drinking is more strict in popular cities like Split and Hvar, and technically you could be fined over 100 EUR and above for public drinking. Though fines are seldom imposed but these could be levied on loud groups exhibiting drunkenness or you are drinking in front of groceries or supermarkets.
We comfortably enjoyed wine and beer across beaches in Croatia without facing any issues. However, we did get to know that few beaches have concessions (usually owned by bar and restaurants operating on the beach) and the staff tries to prevent you from carrying alcohol and other beverages to the beach though it is not legal.
Minimum age to purchase and consume liquor
The minimum age to purchase and consume liquor in Croatia is 18 years. You can easily purchase liquor from most supermarkets, grocery stores and gas stations across Croatia but in some cases you could be asked to produce an identification.
The minimum age to consume liquor is also 18 years but this is seldom imposed. Most bars and restaurants would not ask for an identification unless they fear an inspection. If an ID is asked for and you are not eligible, you could simply be denied service. But in case of a formal inspection (which is usually rare) the restaurant/ bar can be fined heavily but you will not be fined.
The only alcohol you could be served to drink under the age of 18 is Rajika, a fruit brandy preparation famous not only in Croatia but all of Balkans
Drinking and driving laws in Croatia
Croatia has strict laws around drinking driving and enforcement is strict in most parts of the country. The permissible blood alcohol limit is 0.05% for drivers above 25 years of age but zero tolerance i.e. 0% allowable blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers in other categories like professional duty, drivers below 25 years of age.
Authorities can conduct random spot checks for drinking driving using breath tests or medical examination. But in case of a accident or serious violation like speed limit violations, these are tests are conducted mandatory and the penalties can be hefty. As of 2019, regulation was passed around most serious offences to incur a fine of HRK 15,000 (EUR 2000) and HRK 20,000 (EUR 2700).
Can I consume liquor at campsites in Croatia?
While drinking in crowded public spaces is prohibited, we haven’t come across any advice that suggests any prohibition on drinking at designated camping sites . You need to ensure that you are not driving around the campsites after alcohol consumption. Read more details on Camping.hr
Where can I purchase liquor in Croatia?
You can easily purchase packaged alcoholic beverages like beer, wine and local spirits from supermarkets, grocery stores, souvenir shops and even gas stations across Croatia.
What liquor varieties should I try?
Beer drinking is picking up in Croatia and you can try these local brands which are readily available in all supermarkets and bars – Karlovacko (brewed in Karlovac ), Ozujsko and Pan. You could also try local craft beers available across bars and restaurants in most cities. Some of the famous ones are from San Servolo and The Garden Brewery in Zagreb.
While in Croatia, wine drinking should be on your list and you can purchase these easily from supermarkets and grocery stores as well. Plavac Mali is the famous local red wine available all across Croatia, Look out for Malvazija or Traminac if you are keen on trying white wine. There will be a lot of brands selling these varieties under their custom brand names.
If you are interested in trying different indigenous wine varieties, the best places to pick these is from local vineyards or wineries. You can get the best produce at very reasonable price when purchased directly from the producers. In many Croatian cities, you will also find shops with signature varieties of wine local to that region.
If you are looking to plan a winery visit in Istria, read our next post on best wineries to visit in Istria for more information!
You could also look to sample some of the famous local spirits like Rajika which is a famous fruit brandy consumed in most households. There are other variants of fruit brandy like Sljivovica (plum brandy), Travarica (herbal brandy) and many more. These are mostly served in family style restaurants but packaged version of some of these are also available in supermarkets.
Drinking Etiquette and Tipping in Croatia
- ‘Cheers’ in local language is Živjeli!” (pronounced “zhivyelee”)
- Most bars through Croatia are self serve so you can expect to be served only at restaurants or cafes.
- At most bars, don’t expect any bar snacks!
- Smoking is allowed at most bars and night clubs, and even in public places. Most restaurants allow this only in open spaces or terraces.
- Tipping culture is not to big in Croatia but some amount of tip is usually appreciated. At most bars, you can look to tip about 5% or less of the total bill. If you are dining at a small konoba or pizzeria this can be about 5% again but in a fine dining restaurant you should give out about 10%. Tips through credit cards are highly unusual in Croatia.