Travel to Croatia is getting easier

Dec 12, 2021

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It’s been a long time coming, but the Council of the European Union has invited Croatia to join the Schengen Area. That’s a huge step for Croatia, which has been angling for that invitation for years.

What is the Schengen Area and why is it such a big deal?

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Ban Jelacic Square in Zagreb at night
Zagreb at night. (Photo by Razvan Ionut Dragomirescu / Shutterstock.com)

Schengen is a much-vaunted “passport-free” zone comprised of 26 European countries. Those countries, known as Schengen states, are located across the continent and form the world’s largest free movement area. Travel between Schengen states is essentially borderless.

Schengen is not the same as the European Union, but most Schengen states are also members of the EU.

Related: The cheapest ways to get to Croatia using points and miles

Although Croatia became an EU member in 2013, concerns over its border management have kept it from earning a coveted seat at the Schengen table until now.

That’s good news, considering Croatia’s popularity as a travel destination.

One of Europe’s hidden gems for decades, the production there of TV series such as “Game of Thrones” thrust it into the visitor limelight in recent years. Pre-pandemic, crowd control and other growth limitations had to be established for the UNESCO World Heritage city of Dubrovnik. Still, the fact that the country wasn’t part of the Schengen Area could put a damper on the notion of a quick jaunt to nearby countries. No longer.

Related: Second cities: Destinations to add on to a trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia

Boats docked in Dubrovnik
You can fly nonstop from New York City to Dubrovnik with United Airlines. (Photo by Dawid Rojek / Shutterstock.com)

Although it is not clear exactly when Croatia will join the Schengen Area, the benefits it will reap on the tourism front are not in doubt. Seamless border travel along the Adriatic coast is something we can all look forward to now.

Vienna to Budapest by train without those annoying passport checks? Sounds great. Or perhaps a side excursion to Italy for a few days from a Croatian home base. Borderless travel between Croatia and its neighbors in the Schengen zone will definitely make a visit to the country more attractive.

Featured image by stocklapse/Getty Images.

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