The currency used in Croatia is the Croatian kuna and not the euro, as many tourists believe. Even though the country joined the European Union in 2013, it has not yet adopted the official currency of the eurozone and it will be at least another few years before it does. The Croatian National Bank, which issues the kuna, uses the euro as its main reference and keeps the kuna exchange rate fixed and tied to the EU currency.
The kuna was introduced as the official currency of Croatia in 1994, replacing the Croatian dinar, the transitional currency introduced after the country’s declaration of independence from Yugoslavia. The word “kuna” itself means “marten” and is a nod to medieval times, when marten pelts were used as units of value in trade. The etymology goes way back to Roman times, when taxes were collected in marten skins, which were highly priced for their fur.
Different regions in Croatia used a number of different monetary systems over the centuries: copper and silver coins minted by early Greek cities on the Adriatic coast, Roman coins during the rule of the Roman Empire, and a number of different currencies – Byzantine, Frankish, Frizah, Venetian, Austrian and Hungarian – leading up to the Renaissance period.
Dubrovnik, which was known as the Republic of Ragusa from 1358 to 1808, started minting its own money in 1337 and used its own currencies in a variety of systems. The early monetary system was a combination of those used in Venice and the Byzantine Empire, and the coins forged in the Dubrovnik Republic typically carried the image of St. Blaise, the city’s patron saint.
The local currencies, which continually changed weight, shape and value over the centuries, included Artiluc, the Ragusan Perpera, the Ducat and the Libertine. Artiluc was a silver coin used in the 17th century, while Perpera, also made of silver, was issued from 1683 to 1803. Ducat was a gold and silver coin commonly used in trade in Europe from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century, and the Libertine, a silver coin named after the Dubrovnik Republic’s motto, Libertas, was forged and used between 1791 and 1795.
A collection of old Dubrovnik coins is part of the permanent exhibition at the Cultural History Museum, housed in the Rector’s Palace, which served as the seat of the Dubrovnik government until 1808.
Travel money options
While the euro is the best foreign currency to use in Croatia and street souvenir shops will generally accept it, Croatia officially uses only the domestic currency, the kuna, in transactions. Even though prices are often quoted in euros for reference, tourists need some cash in local currency for restaurants, bars, ice-cream and coffee shops. In other places, such as supermarkets and general stores, it is best to use credit cards to avoid having to change back a large amount of cash to the domestic currency when leaving Croatia. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are usually the safest choices.
The easiest way to get cash in Croatia is to simply withdraw it from a local ATM instead of looking for a bank or an exchange office. Exchange offices generally do not like to deal with coins in other currencies and the ATMs are easy to find and usually offer a decent exchange rate. To find information on exchange rates, tourists can use the ISO code HRK for the Croatian kuna.
Planning a family trip to Dubrovnik this summer? For a tranquil, relaxing holiday, book your stay at Astarea Hotel, located in a small Mediterranean village not far from the city. In addition to sandy beaches and spacious, comfortable rooms with balconies overlooking the Dubrovnik Riviera, the hotel offers a wellness package for all those looking to escape the stresses of everyday life and experience the unique scents and sights of the Adriatic coastline.