(CNN) — With more than 1,600 kilometers of coastline and more than 1,000 islands and islets, Croatia is one of the most beautiful summer destinations in Europe. Until now, however, it has always seemed a bit more attractive than countries like France, Spain and Greece, whose own currency is the kuna.
All that changed on January 1 when Croatia entered the eurozone and replaced its historic kuna with the euro. It is the 20th country to join the currency.
Euro banknotes and coins are already in circulation in the country, and 70% of ATMs dispense euros instead of kunas, according to the European Commission. The rest will be done before January 15.
Kunas can continue to be used until January 15, although those paying in kunas will receive a change in euros. The exchange rate was fixed at 7.53450 kunas per 1 euro.
Have Kunas left over from your last trip? They can be exchanged for euros at any Croatian post office until June 30 and at any Croatian bank until the end of 2023. Bank transfers are free until July 1. The Croatian National Central Bank will exchange kuna banknotes and coins for free until December 2025 until further notice.
“I welcome Croatia to the euro family and to the ECB Governing Council table in Frankfurt,” European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said in a statement.
“Croatia has worked hard to become the 20th member of the euro area and they have succeeded. I congratulate the Croatian people.”
Hrvatska narodna banka, the national central bank of Croatia, is now a member of the Eurosystem, the central banking system of the euro area made up of the European Central Bank and the national central banks of the euro member states.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “Welcome dear Croatian friends to this shared currency,” delivering a two-minute speech.
Dear Croatian friends, dobro došli u euro. Bienvenue, chers amis Croats, dans cette monnaie commune, l’euro ! pic.twitter.com/uQSQ1TCTj2
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 1, 2023
In addition to changing its currency on January 1, Croatia joined the Schengen Area, the 26-nation bloc that has lifted border controls in Europe, the world’s largest borderless zone. It is the 23rd of the 27 EU member states that are part of Schengen. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are part of the space, allowing a total of 27 countries and 420 million European citizens to travel without borders.
On January 1, restrictions were lifted on domestic land and sea borders, and on March 26 on domestic air borders. This means Croatia can now issue Schengen visas.
What does this mean for the audience? Fewer barriers when crossing borders: Previously, lines were longer at the land borders with Slovenia and Hungary and at the sea borders with Italy. But long-term travelers who use the 90-day visa-free period in the Schengen area cannot wait to cross Croatia and return to the area after 90 days.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Blenkovic tweeted that January 1 was a “historic day for Croatia”.
Povijesny and Hrvatsku!
Prava smo drava goja u #Schengen Yo #eurozone Ulasi na isti don. Več danas automobili prolaze bez formalnosti i kontrola, a uvidinjem eura naši citizens i gospodarstvo bit će protectedji od kriza.
— Andrej Plenkovic (@AndrejPlenkovic) January 1, 2023
“We are the first country to enter Schengen and the Eurozone on the same day,” he added.
“With the introduction of the euro, our citizens and economy will be better protected against crises.”