If you've always had Croatia on your European travel bucket list, the country just became easier to visit for tourists in 2023 — though repeat visitors might be in for a rude surprise when they first arrive.
The Eastern European nation officially moved closer to the European Union on January 1, when it rolled out a bunch of EU-related changes to its borders and its currency.
Some of those changes are already in effect, while Croatia is taking a few weeks to roll out others.
So if you're planning on visiting Croatia in 2023 — or you're going back for another visit — here are the things that have changed.
Is Croatia in the European Union?
Croatia joined the European Union in July of 2013. However, it didn't meet all the requirements to become a fully-integrated member at the time, meaning that it wasn't allowed to adopt the euro and it had to keep many border checkpoints in place.
Is Croatia part of the EU Schengen zone?
Croatia officially joined the Schengen area on January 1, 2023. The area includes more than two dozen European countries, and Schengen visa holders can visit any of these nations passport-free for up to 90 days. Most members are part of the EU, although it includes a few non-EU nations as well.
Why is Croatia switching to euro?
Croatia officially adopted the euro as its currency on January 1, making it the 20th EU nation to do so.
"With the introduction of the euro, our citizens and the economy will be better protected from crises," Croatian president Andrej Plenkovic tweeted on Sunday.
Croatia's old currency, the kuna, is being phased out over the next several days. Euros have already started circulating in Croatia and most ATMs are giving them out instead of kuna, according to the European Commission.
However, if you've got old kunas floating around at home, don't worry: you can still exchange them for euros at a Croatian bank. Coins can be exchanged until the end of 2025 and banknotes have no time limit for exchange, the EC says.
Why is Croatia famous for Game of Thrones?
If you're planning a trip to Croatia, chances are that you've already heard about its connection to Game Of Thrones.
The hit HBO series used Croatia as the backdrop for many of its fantasy locations, and there are many Game Of Thrones-related tours and cruises you can take to see some of those spots in person.
Perhaps the No. 1 GOT-related city to visit in Croatia is Dubrovnik, the former medieval city on the water that doubles for parts of King's Landing in the show. The city of Split is also home to many shooting locations from Game Of Thrones.
Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.