Q/A: Is Croatia a good holiday destination for Black People?

Croatia, a small country in the shape of a crescent but very diversified geographically, is situated in the northwest part of the Balkan peninsula with a population of 4 million. Today, Croatia consists of the historic Croatian regions of Croatia-Slavonia, Istria, and Dalmatia, located in the upper, middle, and lower arms of the country, respectively. Nine-tenths of the population is made up of Croatians, while the minority is made up of Serbs. Besides the Croats and the Serbs, there are small communities of Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks), Hungarians, Italians, and Slovenes as well as a few thousand Albanians, Austrians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Germans, and other nationalities. Most of the inhabitants of Croatia speak the Croatian language, a South Slavic language derived from the Indo-European family.

Ban Josip Jelačić Square Photo by Kristijan Arsov on Unsplash
Ban Josip Jelačić Square Photo by Kristijan Arsov on Unsplash

According to the Croatian Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Zagreb, which is its capital, accommodated more than 161,100 tourists in December 2021 which as an increase of 275% compared with December 2020 and a decrease of 36% compared with December 2019. A staggering 15 million visitors visited Croatia from January to August 2022.  These statistics enhance the position of Croatia as the 8th most visited country in Europe. Croatia has gained popularity because of its excellent climate, beautiful cultural towns, photogenic ports, breathtaking nature and islands, making it a perfect holiday destination. 

Map of Zagreb Photo by Eldar Nazarov on Unsplash

Is Croatia a good travel destination for Black People?

Tourism is a key industry for the Croatian economy and contributes a fifth of the country’s GDP. According to the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, Tourist arrivals in Croatia went up to 4,367,765 in June compared to 1,998,605 in May 2022. Europeans account for the vast majority of visitors to Croatia each year, followed by a small minority of Asians, Arabs and Blacks (Africans). Before I give my own opinion on this topic, it is important to note that most people prefer to go to destinations where they think they may feel more welcomed. Just because Croatia has a great influx of white visitors does not make it a bad destination for other racialized and ethnic groups to visit, It simply means that Croatia, which is the heart of Europe, is a destination of choice for people in the European Union due to its proximity. 

Franjo Tuđman Airport, Zagreb Photo by Jacques Le Gall on Unsplash

I’m a Nigerian, and I am used to not having a pleasant experience with immigration officers when I travel because of our temporary tarnished reputation. To my surprise, I experienced no form of discrimination when I passed through immigration at the Franjo Tuđman Airport in Zagreb. The immigration officers were nice to me, and it was a fast and easy process.

I’d like to point out that I was also in the company of two other black people on the plane to Zagreb, they had no problems with immigration officers.

The biggest question raised by most black people is whether Croatia is a safe place for them. In my personal experience, I would say YES. Croatia is an excellent destination for black people. I would like to emphasize that this article is not in any way sponsored by a government institution or a private person, It is an opinion gotten from my experience in Croatia. My opinion might have been different a couple of decades ago, but modern-day Croatia has evolved into a society that accepts anyone, regardless of nationality or race.

I had a wonderful stay in Zagreb and the people were friendly. The food was excellent, and the drinks were inexpensive compared with other parts of Europe. A bottle of beer at a decent bar cost 19 kuna, which can be matched to 3 euros. The only minor issue I had was the constant staring I received from the locals. I figured it was because they weren’t accustomed to seeing my kind. That did not stop me from visiting other tourist destinations in Zagreb such as Jarun lake, the museum of broken relationships, park Maksimir, and the cathedral of Zagreb amongst others. It was then that I found out that there is a community of black people residing in Zagreb.

A picture of me at Jarun lake also called “Zagreb Sea”

To meet more foreign tourists in Zagreb, you must visit Ban Josip Jelacic Square. This square is known for having the well-known statue of a man on a horse holding a sword. It is called the statue of Ban Josip Jelacic, and it is at the heart of Josip Jelacic square, near where you catch a tram. My visit to Jelacic Square was fruitful, as I realized that some hotspots have bars and clubs where you can meet black people from all over the world. I met a couple of Nigerians, Cameroonians, Ugandans, Cubans, British Blacks, African Americans, and a lot more than I can remember right now. Most of them were either professional footballers or students, or they work in Croatia. The conversation I had with every black person I met showed me they were all happy with life in Croatia, and they seemed to integrate easily into Croatian culture, with some very fluent speakers of the language. 

A picture of me at Ban Josip Jelačić Statue

Is Croatia Safe for Black People to Visit?

Considering the dark history between black men and white police officers, I was a little worried about getting stopped and frisked by the police while walking or doing anything outside. However, I was surprised that throughout my stay in Croatia, I was not pulled over or harassed by the police. This made me feel safe in Zagreb, and it was the culmination of my time in Croatia. So, from my experience of my time in Croatia, I would say that black people are certainly safe in Croatia, and the Croatian police seem to take seriously their work in fighting crime and lawlessness. 

A picture of me at Ban Josip Jelačić Square

What bars or clubs can I find black people? 

You can easily find black people at OUT Bunker Nightclub and Confusion Cocktail Bar, which is situated 3 mins from Ban Josip Jelačić Square. Saturday is usually a better day to meet more black people at OUT Bunker nightclub.

Conclusion

Croatia is a 99 percent white-dominated country, and I understand what it’s like to move to an area filled with white people. Honestly, this should not restrict our chances of discovering other regions of the world.

Racism or racists should not be a determining factor in our decision-making. We must focus on the things that make us happy, rather than what other people may feel when they see us. I shall conclude by saying that, having stayed in Croatia for some time, It is certainly a beautiful place with great people and a good destination for black people. Make time to visit Croatia, it is a safe place for all. As always, it’s my opinion.

Sources: Britannica, Croatian Ministry of Tourism and Sports

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