If you’re planning your visit to Croatia, you may want to know how much money to take. Is Croatia expensive? What about alcoholic spirits? Is alcohol cheap in Croatia?
- Croatia has the average European price of alcohol (or just slightly above average). That is good news to most Scandinavians, Irish and the British. Bad news for Romanians. And Croatians likewise!
- Croatians love their cafes despite the prices
- When in Croatia, try some traditional Croatian drinks. They also make great, authentic gifts to take back with you.
You probably expected alcohol to be cheap in Croatia, right? Well, read on and find out reasons why Croatia isn’t too cheap and how to make the best out of what Croatia has to offer.
Croatia – A Member Of The EU With Average European Prices Of Alcohol
Croatia joined the EU in 2013. From that year on, the prices have constantly been on the rise.
BTW, the abbreviation HR on Croatian licence plates stands for HRVATSKA, which is Croatia in Croatian language.
Speaking about drinking and driving, if you’re an experienced driver, in Croatia you are allowed to have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine and drive (0,5 per mille)
In 2019, the price of alcoholic drinks across the European Union was more than twice as high in the most expensive Member State than in the cheapest one.
When price levels in countries are compared with the EU average price level index of 100, the results show that in 2019, the price of alcoholic drinks (spirits, wine and beer) was highest in Finland (with a price level index of 191), followed by Ireland (182) and Sweden (156).
However, when you take into account THE PURCHASING POWER ADJUSTED GNP PER CAPITA, you will understand that although Luxembourg has prices of alcohol BELOW the European average, they are 4 times richer than Croatia!
With an GNP being more than 30 percent lower than the average, Croatians, in fact, pay for alcohol relatively more than many others in the EU.
Alcohol in Croatia is not just relatively, but also absolutely more expensive than in Germany, Italy and France.
Why is alcohol (and food in general) relatively expensive in Croatia? One of the reasons might be the systematic infestation with a particular kind of parasites, called uhljebi. In order to feed these parasites, taxes need to be super high. High taxes = high prices of alcohol. I wrote more on uhljebi in this article.
So does this mean that Croatians despair at home? Quite the contrary!
Cafes As The Important Element Of Croatian Lifestyle
There was an article in a local newspaper about a young Croatian woman who moved to Chile, South America. This is what she wrote about what she misses most from Croatia: the CAFES!
And no, I’m not kidding. I usually only drink water and tea, but since I moved to Santiago I miss the scent of coffee every step of the way, so that I started ordering it … Here all the cafes always serve food, so they always look at me weird when I just order coffee and sit two hours, especially when I’m alone. They don’t understand how they can sit for so long.Andrea Anković, Croatian woman who moved to Chile
To be honest, I cannot understand how you can sit in a cafe for hours. But I assume there is a benefit in it.
Croatians like to be surrounded by other people. The more – the better. Cafes are ideal places where you can be with others, watch them, let them watch you… Talk.. or not talk (especially in Dalmatia, talking is not too popular).
Since it’s not that cheap, you prolong the moment as much as you can.
Btw, more than 70 percent of people in cafes are there for coffee. Next on the list is BEER, of course. What are the prices of these and other beverages in Croatian cafes?
- Espresso: 9 kn (1.2 euros)
- Macchiato: 12 kn (1.6 euros)
- Cappuccino: 15 kn (2 euros)
- Sodas (Coke, Fanta, Sprite): 19 kn (2.5 euros)
- Natural orange juice: 24 kn (3.2 euros)
- Draught beer, 0.3 litres: 18 kn (2.4 euros)
- Draught beer, 0.5 litres: 23 kn (3 euros)
- Bottled beer: 16 – 30 kn (2 – 4 euros)
- Red wine, 0.2 litres: 25 kn (3.33 euros)
- White wine, 0.2 litres: 24 kn (3.2 euros)
- Alcoholic spirits, 0.03 litres: 14 kn (1.9 euros)
Actually, Turkish coffee is THE coffee for most Croatians. This is what they brew each morning or after lunch. The sludge and all.
There is a certain bliss when you drink coffee. Croatians can savour that moment for hours, even at working hours. This may be the other reason why Croatian economy in not doing great (apart from the uhljebi).
Authentic Croatian Alcoholic Drinks And Spirits To Try And Take Home
Croatian alcoholic drinks may not be to cheap. But some of them are really unique and worth tasting and buying. These would also make perfect souvenirs to take home, capturing Croatian atmosphere and spirit.
1. Pelinkovac – One Of The Most Popular Alcoholic Spirits In Croatia.
Pelinkovac has long been known as “herbal medicinal liqueur”. It is recognizable by the noticeable bitter taste of wormwood, from which it is produced, with the addition of 26 different medicinal plants that enrich it with a specific and pleasant aroma.
The liqueur contains up to 35% alcohol. It is drunk chilled without ice, as an aperitif before and a digestive after a meal.
Pelinkovac is, in fact, Croatian version of absinthe.
The debate over whether it produces effects on the human mind in addition to those of alcohol has not been resolved conclusively. The effects of absinthe have been described by some as mind opening. The most commonly reported experience is a “clear-headed” feeling of inebriation—a form of “lucid drunkenness”. (No wonder it’s so popular in Croatia!)
Chemist, historian and absinthe distiller Ted Breaux has claimed that the alleged secondary effects of absinthe may be because some of the herbal compounds in the drink act as stimulants, while others act as sedatives, creating an overall lucid effect of awakening.
The average price of a bottle of Pelinkovac in Croatian shops is around 100 kunas (14 euros).
2. Maraschino – The Famous Dalmatian Sour Cherry Liqueur
In my childhood, we would put this liqueur into our fruit salad (Yes, it is not uncommon for children to drink small amounts of alcohol in Croatia).
Only later did I find out how unique this drink is.
Maraschino began to be produced by Dominican monks in the 16th century, and was originally mainly used as a medicine. Later, Maraschino became one of the most famous Zadar and Croatian products, which has remained recognised to this day as an excellent liqueur obtained from the indigenous Dalmatian type of cherry, Maraschino cherry.
Photo: Toni~hrwiki – own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40914601
Through 5 centuries of Maraschino production tradition in the city of Zadar, this unique liqueur has undergone a miraculous transformation. From family and manufacturing in the very beginning, to the largest industry in the then Zadar, which was the basis of economic activity. In its most propulsive period, in the 19th century, the Zadar liqueur industry produced over 400,000 bottles of liqueur per year, of which as much as two thirds fell on the Zadar Maraschino.
This Zadar liqueur was then exported with great success to Vienna, Paris, St. Petersburg, London, Berlin, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Naples, Genoa, Milan, Istanbul and the cities of Switzerland, France and Belgium. It was later exported to the United States, Canada, Australia and many other countries.
1840 Francesco Drioli introduces a special technique of hand-knitting maraschino bottles, which has remained in its original form to this day, and creates a special visual identity of the product, unique in the world.
1871 Queen Victoria withdraws English warships from the Mediterranean to embark Maraschino for the British court
In 1887, the Zadar liqueur factory was visited by the British heir to the throne, the Prince of Wales (later King George V), where he left a large order of maraschino, in his words “the king of all liqueurs”.
Maraschino got famous worldwide. Its taste and aromas have been enjoyed by many celebrities: Alfred Hitchcock, G. B. Shaw, Charles Baudelaire, Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin and many others. The stock list of the Titanic included a large quantity of Maraschino.
Cocktails containing Maraschino
Maraschino is a very special and notable ingredient in cocktails. Many recipes before prohibition called for Maraschino, it was one of most used and most important ingredients. In last few years, with the growth of the craft cocktail movement, Maraschino is regaining its former status.
BTW, the average price of a litre of Maraschino in a shop is around 130 kunas (18 euros).
3. Dingač – Finest Croatian Red Wine
Dingač is a wine growing region on the Pelješac Peninsula in the Dalmatian region of Croatia, a highly regarded area for growing the unique Croatian red wine grape, Plavac Mali. The wine named DINGAČ is probably the most famous Croatian red wine.
Like the neighboring Postup region, the land is very rugged karst with little top soil. This attribute, in addition to the level of sunlight (2800 hours annually), 45 degree slope, and weather make for ideal red wines growing conditions which are planted from sea level up to 300 m.
Dingač wine is all about locality! Brown carbonate soil on calcium carbonate dunes. Insolation is triple, directly from the sun, combined with the reflections from the sea and the rocks. It is resistant to drought, only manure is added, reinforcement is not placed, downy mildew is almost non-existent, the depth of the roots reaches up to ten meters, the vine needs one sulphur treatment.
With an average of 15 percent alcohol, Dingač ferments with natural yeasts, and has cherry yeasts that only some Portuguese wines have. The production is completely ecological, it is full of iron, fragrant, dark ruby in colour, pure elixir.
An average price of this wine in shops is 20 euros. It’s worth every penny.