This June Prisoners Abroad is looking at Croatia, a scenic corner of Eastern Europe; home to an extensive Mediterranean coastline and balmy weather. Croatia is becoming a more popular tourist destination by the moment, now visited by around 600,000 British nationals per year. However, as with all foreign countries, some laws and customs differ from the UK. For a safe, hassle-free trip, make sure to respect Croatian law and be #TravelAware.

Summer in Croatia lasts from May-October, with temperatures ranging from mid-20s°C along the 1700km coastline and islands, to a sweltering mid-30s°C further inland. The country offers something for every kind of holiday-maker: azure oceans and white sands are perfect for beach bums, walkers will love the lush national parks and forests, and fans of history and culture can explore the ancient cities of Dubrovnik and Split. Croatia is home to many newer attractions too—TV buffs will know that many scenes from the popular fantasy series Game of Thrones were filmed on location here, and ravers from all over the world flock to the country’s best music festivals.

Whilst the majority of British travellers to Croatia experience no problems, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with visiting this country. Croatian law differs in some ways from UK law, and breaking it may lead to arrest, and punishment such as fines or even imprisonment.

In particular, you should be aware that:

  • Walking around shirtless or in a swimming costume is prohibited in some town centres, and can be punishable by an on-the-spot fine of over €100. Make sure to observe your environment to judge what is appropriate.
  • Penalties for drug-related offences can be severe. Possession of small amounts of prohibited substances is punishable by a fine of €650-€2600, whereas illegal production, trafficking or selling of drugs may lead to a prison sentence of up to 12 years or more.
  • Croatia has a zero-tolerance policy on operating a boat or yacht whilst drunk. It is also illegal to drive with more than 0.05% blood alcohol.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) recommends that travellers keep a copy of their passports with them at all times, in the unlikely event that they are stopped by the police.

Croatian prisons are often overcrowded, with generally basic toilet and shower conditions. Although there are opportunities for prisoners to work and study whilst in detention, these activities are not conducted in English, so foreign nationals without knowledge of the Croatian language will not be able to participate.

Prisoners Abroad help to overcome the social isolation of not understanding the local language by providing prisoners with Croatian dictionaries, English-language books, and contact to the outside world. In the past 5 years, we have supported 12 British citizens detained in Croatia, offering moral and financial support. We also help prisoners’ families deal with the difficulties of separation and arranging prison visits, and support returning ex-prisoners to resettle in the UK.

For more advice from the FCO to ensure a safe trip to Croatia this festival season, click here.

For more travel tips and advice, discover other countries in Prisoners Abroad’s #TravelAware campaign.