1) Drink coffee at least 2 times a day in your local café
One would presume that a lot of cafés would be half empty since there is so many of them. But Croatian cafés are always full, especially the ones in the city center. We have a habit to drink our first morning coffee in a bar chatting with our friends or reading today's newspaper. We always meet our friends, business partners, and lovers in a café.
A café is a sacred place for us where we tell the latest gossips, we complain about our jobs or love life, study, arrange plans for the future, celebrate an important event in our lives. We deal with everything over a cup of coffee.
Our other habit, not too productive for the café owners, is to sit for hours with the same cup of coffee. We always have more to say to our friends and more free time to spend than the time we need to drink one coffee. Maybe we don't want to spend more money on another coffee or we simply had enough for a while. The fact is that we see our coffee time primarily as an opportunity for socialization.
So, if you want to feel like a local, at the beginning of your holiday choose a café that suits you. It can simply be the closest café to your apartment. Take your friends there every day at least 2 times a day. You'll feel like home when the waiters remember you and start to bring your order before you even ordered it.
2) Eat burek with yogurt from your favorite buregdžinica
Burek is a baked pastry filled with meat (there are also bureks filled with cheese or spinach, but many would say that those are pies, not bureks) made of a thin dough. It's a dish that has Anatolian origins, but it's spread all over the Balkans, including Croatia.
You'll find a burek bakery (buregdžinica) or a regular bakery that sells bureks in every Croatian town, including the seaside. Burek is a perfect meal when you wake up at noon with a hangover and you're lazy to cook anything. Just ask somebody from the locals where they make the best burek in town and go grab your lunch. It will cost you 10 kn or a bit more, but you definitely won't stay hungry.
Burek is very greasy so it goes well with a refreshing yogurt. We normally don't order soft drinks with our burek, but instead, we drink a delicious liquid yogurt.
3) Play guitar and relax with 2L of Löwenbräu on the beach
When you're at the sea coast, you logically want to spend as much time as possible by the sea, even when the sun goes down. The most practical option is to buy cheap drinks in a supermarket, take your friends and head to the beach in the evening.
If you don't want to spend much money, the cheapest beer is a 2L plastic bottle of Löwenbräu beer (less than 20 kn in a supermarket) and you can always buy a wine bottle or a box and share it (about 20-30 kn).
Along the Croatian coast, you can find many small asphalted beaches and quays ideal for your evening entertainment. If you have friends who play guitar, bring them along and you definitely won't be bored. We like to sit, play guitar, and sing popular pop-rock songs from the ex-Yugoslavian countries.
Learn to play a few of the most popular songs from bands such as Crvena Jabuka, Bijelo Dugme, Balašević, Bajaga, Oliver Dragojević, Neno Belan, etc. This way, you'll impress the local public and finish the evening surrounded by many new friends.
4) Go clubbing
When you're a poor Croatian student, you're constantly figuring out ways how to party without spending a lot of money. This is why we mostly hit the clubs only after we're drunk enough (from cheap supermarket drinks) to dance without buying an expensive drink in a club.
However, we love to party and stay out in clubs until the morning. The summer holidays are the best time to do it since you don't have any responsibilities for the day after. You can sleep late and then go for a burek. 🙂
5) Go skinny dipping after the club
After a hard and sweaty night in a club, you'll want some refreshment. What's better than to stop at a beach on your way home and jump into the cold seawater? You've forgotten your bathing suit? It doesn't matter, just swim in your underwear or – completely naked.
Your friends will also think that this is a good idea, so you won't be the only one naked among the waves. Don't be ashamed. Everybody has to try it sometimes and there's no better place to do it than on Croatian pebbly or sandy beaches with calm sea. You don't have to be afraid of sharks or dangerous sea animals since they rarely end up on our Adriatic Coast.
We even have a song that describes this summer delight: “Najljepše je u moru biti gol, poslije je s tebe fino papat sol.” (“It's great to be naked in the sea and to eat salt from you later.”)
6) Observe boats and yachts in the harbor
Everybody at some point dreams of owning a yacht and pictures themselves on one of the many boats parked in the port. How it would be nice to sail around the seas, lying and sunbathing on the yacht's deck, sipping a cocktail...
When you go on a romantic walk along the seaside in the evening, stop by in the city harbor and observe boats different shapes and sizes. You can play a game with your friends imagining the owners of the most luxurious yachts, how their holidays looks like and how their lives look like.
You didn't hear it from me, but you can also try to climb on small boats during the night just to feel like a millionaire for one moment. 😛 Don't stay long there and be careful of the owners, of course.
7) Eat a warm bagel in the middle of the night
Croatian specialty are bakeries with all kinds of freshly baked bread and bagels. Some of them are open non-stop. The bakeries can be pretty crowded between 4-6 a.m. when young people go home from the clubs. We are all hungry after the party and the smell of a fresh bread lure us inside the bakeries.
I remember that while I was growing up, I often went with my friends to different concerts in Aurora club in Primošten. My mum used to pick us up on the parking lot afterward with fresh salty bagels (slanci in Croatian) from a local bakery. We were so thankful because it was exactly what we needed after our night in a club.
8) Play cards and drink red wine on your terrace
There is a song about Croatians who emmigrate to the USA in search for better job opportunities. In time, they become homesick and remember all the good things that they've left behind. One of those things is relaxing on a terrace near the seaside, playing cards with their family and drinking bevanda (red wine mixed with water).
Let's suppose that you've had enough parties and you want to spend a calm holiday evening at home. Don't just stare at the television, but instead, invite your friends, sit on your deck chair, pour yourself a drink, and play cards. We like to play classic card games, such as Belote, Mariash, and the most popular Briškula. It's not hard to learn the rules and you'll definitely have more fun socializing with your friends on fresh air.
9) Go to at least one fešta
Summer is the time to relax and have fun. It's the time for feštas, Croatian village festivities. Every village along the Croatian coast has one day during the summer when they celebrate fešta. It's usually the day of a patron saint of the village, the saint after whom is the main church named. Different towns and villages organize smaller feštas (for example, fishermen's festivities), as well.
The main guest of the festivity is some popular Croatian pop singer, who starts singing late in the evening. Until then, a band playing popular Croatian and foreign songs entertains the public. There are stands with food (seafood, meat, sweets, pop-corn, cotton candy, etc.) and drinks everywhere during the fešta. You can also buy some toys or glowing jewelry and balloons for your children.
When I was growing up, we spent our holidays in a village near Šibenik. During the two or three weeks of our stay, I went to at least 3-4 feštas. Every fešta was a special trip to another village, which we got to know walking through the streets in the afternoon. In the evening, we tried different Croatian specialties and danced almost the whole night.
The trip back home after the fešta was the most adventurous part of the event. We didn't have a car and people would stand in lines for taxis. Sometimes we walked home from village to village and once we even went home by my friend's boat. The ride was beautiful – on a calm blue sea far away from the crowds.
Fešta is a Croatian tradition, in which you must participate. You'll eat delicious food, you'll dance and, most of all, you'll have fun. It's an event for the whole family.