Croatia is one of the most beautiful countries that you should add to your bucket list. After all, it has more than 1056 miles of coastline, 8 national parks, and several charming villages and towns. In fact, Croatia is a country that has much to offer its locals and tourists alike. They have historical towns, access to the Adriatic Sea, karst mountains, and Dubrovnik. Plus a whole lot more.
10 Best Places to Visit in Croatia
Aside from that, each region in Croatia has its own unique attraction that will suit all kinds of travelers. Regardless of whether you are traveling solo. Or with the whole family, there are plenty of sights to see and things to do. That will make you fall in love with the country. For example, if you are into beautiful buildings, you can find Baroque to Renaissance architecture. Also, there are plenty of sunny beaches. Plus rock climbing sites that you can check out as well.
If you are eager to see what Mediterranean travel looks like, add Croatia to your list of places to visit. After all, there is a wide range of tourist hotspots here that are suitable for solo travelers, families, and couples too. If you want to know more, read on.
What are the Best Places to Visit in Croatia?
There is no shortage of beautiful places to visit in Croatia. In fact, if your idea of a Mediterranean vacation involves staying on sandy beaches beside sapphire-colored waters, then you’ve come to the right place. If you take a closer look at the Adriatic Coast, you will find that there are plenty of sandy beaches here that attract tourists from across the globe.
After you have your fill of the sparkling waters, you will see a towering mountain behind you. The limestone karst mountains hide the beauty of their own too. You should check them out as well. From gorgeous waterfalls to caverns and craggy peaks. You will find plenty of breathtaking views here. That said, it is understandable why many tourists feel a bit overwhelmed with the number of choices here.
But don’t worry, here are the top ten places that you can consider for your Croatia itinerary. These places are just to give you a taste of the beauty that you will find in this country. Let’s take a look.
Dubrovnik is the country’s most popular attraction. This is not surprising since it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Locals refer to it as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”. This is why it is a must-see for any traveler to the country. In fact, it is a historic city that dates back to the 7th century. And because of its long history, you will not run out of activities to do here.
One of the best things that you can do here is to tour its city walls. These defensive walls are the main attraction in this city and with good reason. After all, it spans 1.24 miles (2 km) long and encloses the entire town. Afterward, make your way to the old town where you will find Gothic to Baroque architecture.
Among the highlights of the old town is the Placa, which is the town’s main street, the Rector’s Palace, as well as the Sponza Palace. The latter is where you will find archives of documents that tell the history of Dubrovnik.
What else is there to do here? If you want to get a good view of the town, the best way to do this is to ride the cable car. It starts from downtown Dubrovnik and will climb up all the way to Mount Srd. It will only take you five minutes to reach the top. From here, you can settle down in one of the cafes here while drinking in the stunning views.
Don’t forget to visit the small island of Lokrum. This is a natural reserve that you can swim in. You can go here as part of your day trip. Also, Game of Thrones fans should not miss out on the tour held here. It is not surprising why this is a popular place.
Vis is one of Croatia’s most remote islands. Aside from that, it is also one of the most beautiful places that you can visit in the country. It is a two-hour ferry ride from Split. And the perfect place to get away from the crowd. What makes this island worth visiting are the two towns that add to the historic vibe of the place. You can get from one town to the next on a scooter while breathing fresh air.
As you make your way around this beautiful island, you will come across several viewpoints. These areas give you some of the best views of the island. Of course, the beaches here are exceptional too. After all, they haven’t been developed yet unlike on Hvar Island. You can also go on a boat trip that will take you around the island so you can appreciate its beauty from a different point of view.
If you are planning to spend some time here, you should head to Komiza. Aside from the charming cobblestone streets, the oceanside restaurants are known for their exceptional meals. From here, you can make your way to the tiny island of Biseveo. Among the highlights here are the grottos and the Blue Cave too. You can go here on a day trip not only to see its beauty but also go diving and swimming too.
Vis has much to offer guests who want to leave behind the hustle and bustle of city life. From the traditional taverns that offer dishes made from organic ingredients. All the way to isolated beaches, this is the perfect spot to sit back and relax.
#3. Hvar Town
If you are heading to Croatia during the summer months, then add Hvar Town to your itinerary. Found on Hvar Island, this town is best known for its party scene, lavender fields, architecture, and of course, its beaches. Right from the start, the red-roofed old town stands out in contrast to the green fields. This is an idyllic town that you will fall in love with at first glance.
The biggest treasure of this island is found in the heart of the town. Here you will find their lavender fields, olive trees, fruit orchards, as well as their vineyards too. You should take advantage of their lavender fields tour to learn more about them. Aside from that, it is also a good idea to explore the small towns and villages on this island.
Also, the beach clubs on the island of Hvar are worth checking out too. Especially during the summer. It seems that there is always a party happening here during these months. You can split your time swimming in the sparkling waters. Or go exploring the town proper, and party at night.
Aside from that, Hvar Town is famous for the Spanjola Fortress. This impressive Spanish fortress is a towering structure that tourists should not miss. Of course, this is not the only point of attraction on the island. In fact, you should make your way to Stari Grad and Vrboska.
The small town of Stari Grad is where you can learn more about the island’s history by visiting their museums. Afterward, explore the cobblestone streets of the Old Town and dine among the restaurants here. If you want to do more water activities, you can book a tour of the nearby Pakleni Islands.
#4. Plitvice Lakes National Park
There are several popular tourist destinations in Croatia and one of them is Plitvice Lakes, National Park. This gem is home to some of the most impressive waterfalls and waterways. Here, you will find several lakes such as the 2.5-mile-long Kozjak. Aside from that, there are several reed-fringed ponds that add to the natural beauty of the place.
This national park has around 90 waterfalls, around 16 terraced lakes divided into the Upper Lakes and Lower Lakes, and several hiking trails. If you prefer to explore a new place on foot, take advantage of the hiking trails here. What’s great about them is that they are suitable for all ages and skill levels. There are a series of short hiking trails as well as longer tracks that wind their way around the park. These paths will give you a great view of the natural landscape in the park.
On the other hand, if you want to explore the lower lakes in full, start your hike on Trail B. Trail E is suitable for those who want to have a quick peek at the upper lakes. Take note, however, that swimming in the lakes is not allowed. After all, they have an ecosystem to protect. That said, make sure that you are wearing your best pair of walking shoes, a hat, and sunscreen if you are visiting for a day.
However, if you really want to immerse yourself in this World Heritage Site, you should spend a day or two in Poljnak. This way, you can come back to the national park to explore its caves and trails while drinking in the amazing views.
#5. Krka National Park
Krka National Park is one of the more popular destinations in Croatia. This is not surprising because this park is home to some of the most stunning waterfalls, hikes, caves, and boardwalks. What’s even better is that you can swim. Which you cannot do in Plitvice. In fact, the best place where you can swim to your heart’s content is at Skradinski Buk.
This waterfall is one of the best calcium carbonate waterfalls in the whole of Europe. No wonder it has been attracting locals and tourists alike. What’s great about it is that there are different viewpoints around it for you to see this gorgeous waterfall. The best part is that at the bottom, you can go and swim in its blue waters.
Take note that this place can get crowded during the high season. After all, no one can resist the cool plunge pool that awaits them. That said, if you are visiting during the peak season, make sure that you arrive here early in the day. This way, you can enjoy the park at a leisurely pace. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit too so you can take advantage of the gorgeous blue waters.
Aside from that, you can set off on foot along the trails and boardwalks in the park. This way, you can follow the route that the famous Krka River takes. You will find plenty of fish darting here and there as well as the majestic trees surrounding it.
#6. Mljet Island
One of the best destinations in Croatia that you should head out to is Mljet Island. Mljet is the greenest island that you will find in the Adriatic Sea. One of the highlights of the island is the Mljet National Park. Where there is an abundance of oak and pine forests, olive groves, and impressive vineyards. In addition, the park is home to two saltwater lakes. Plus pristine beaches that you don’t want to miss.
If you are wondering how this island got its name, it came from the Greek word “Melita”. It means honey. Legends say that this island was Ogygia, where Odysseus stayed for several years. In fact, tourists flock here to explore and swim in Odysseus Cave. This particular cave has become famous for its amazing light effects. For sure, you will come back here because of this impressive cave.
Although Mljet is a small island, there are plenty of outdoor activities to do here. You can go hiking, boating, or exploring the numerous trails here. Aside from that, you can also head to the Great and Little Lake. Where you can swim or rent a kayak. See the Roman palace here and marvel at the Roman architecture. Also, head to the Benedictine monastery too which is on the islet of Santa Maria.
Meanwhile, go on a road trip from Pomena all the way to Limoni Beach to swim in the sparkling waters. Afterward, grab some food and drinks from one of the several restaurants on the island. For sure the fresh seafood and tasty homemade meals will fill your belly. It won’t come as a surprise if you want to extend your stay here. Just like Odysseus.
Just half an hour away from Omis, Split is one of the tourist hotspots that you will find in Central Dalmatia. Aside from being the second-largest city in the country, it also functions as a mainland hub from the coast. If you are looking for a budget-friendly place to travel to in Croatia, this is it. It is cheaper compared to Dubrovnik. This is why many backpackers make their way here.
What makes this beautiful city worth visiting is its Roman ruins. Their ancient walls and medieval streets are among the reasons why this is a great base to start your adventure. Exploring them will give you a glimpse of Roman times. No wonder they filmed parts of the hit TV series, Game of Thrones, here.
Split may be a small city. But you will not run out of things to see and do here. For starters, you can head to the Diocletian Palace. It is a World Heritage Site. It was built to be the retirement home of Roman Emperor Diocletian. From here, you can explore the cobblestone streets and narrow passageways of the historic Old Town. This is what makes up the center of the city. Fortunately, the area is small enough so you won’t get lost. Make sure that you drop by People’s Square which is the main square of the city. Here you will find plenty of cafes and restaurants to dine in.
However, if you want to get the best view of the city, you should make your way to the Bell Tower of St. Dominus Cathedral. Take note that there is a fee to climb up the Bell Tower. Also, you will need to have a good head for heights. The steep stairs give way to flimsy metal ones. But the view from above is priceless.
Like it was mentioned before, Zagreb is the capital of Croatia. Although you might think that tourists will flock here on their vacation, think again. Most prefer to make their way to the beautiful beaches on the coastline. However, if you are a fan of beautiful architecture, this is the place to be. In fact, this is one of the most liveable places that you will find in the Balkan regions.
The capital has two parts: the Upper Town and Lower Town. If you are wondering what to do here, you should visit St. Mark’s Parish Church. Aside from that, the nearby St. Catherine’s is a good example of Baroque architecture. Of course, the Museum of Broken Relationships is a must-see here. However, prepare yourself for some heart-wrenching stories. The items that you see here were donated by those whose relationships failed.
If you are looking for medieval towns to visit, then make your way to the Upper Town. From the medieval city gate to the remaining structures here, you will feel like you have stepped back in time. Aside from that, the museums here are worth seeing as they showcase historical artifacts. The Upper Town is perfect for those who want to skip the hustle and bustle of the lower town.
#9. Brac Island
Brac is the third-largest island that you will find in Croatia. Although it is close to Split, it doesn’t see many tourists on its shores. This is why, if you are into hiking and swimming on gorgeous beaches, you should add this to your itinerary.
What’s amazing about this island is that there are plenty of pine trees and olive groves that you’ll see here. Exploring the dense forest is ideal for nature lovers. Also, you can see the nearby islands from its coastline. On the other hand, you should try their olive oil here because it is one of the best that you will ever taste.
Aside from that, the island of Brac is also home to Zlatni Rat Beach or Golden Horn. This is a popular spot for windsurfers because of the maestral. The strong, steady winds help push windsurfers along the waters. If this is your first time windsurfing, come here early in the day. This is the best time because the winds pick up slowly so you can learn the ropes. However, by the time the afternoon rolls in, the winds are stronger.
On the other hand, if you prefer to go hiking, you can make your way to the highest peak on the island. The Vidova Gora is the highest peak that you will find on the Adriatic islands.
Brac is well-known for its white building stone. Unfortunately, it has been exploited by the Romans. In fact, this is what they used to build the Diocletian Palace! Nowadays, they still use these stones as far as North America and Europe.
Zadar is on the Dalmatian Coast and is about 300 km from Croatia’s capital. Although it is not as popular as Zagreb and Dubrovnik, it is still a great place to head out to. Considered to be one of the historic cities in Croatia, Zadar is home to ancient ruins that you should see. In fact, one of these is the Roman Forum.
If you are looking for picturesque towns, you will find that Zadar fits the description. After all, there are cobblestone streets, fountains, and pretty squares that add to the old-world charm of the city. What’s more, there is a tower here that you can climb up to see great views of the town below.
Aside from that, there are other attractions that you can visit here. Among these are Kalelarga, City Walls, as well as People Square. Of course, you should also take the time to see Queen Jelena Madije Park which is the oldest green space that you will find in the country.
However, the real attraction of Zadar is its Sea Organ. In fact, this is one of the favorite places that locals head to every day. What makes it unique is that it is the sea that plays this massive musical instrument. No wonder you will see throngs of people flocking the seafront. The waves that flow through the pipes are the ones responsible for the enchanting music played here.
You should also see the Greeting to the Sun art installation here. As the name suggests, it is a huge panel that gathers energy from the sun. This helps power the lights on the seafront at night.
An Overview of Croatia Regions
If this is your first time visiting Croatia, learning a thing or two about its regions is useful. Like it was mentioned before, each region has its own special attraction that you don’t want to miss. This way, you will be able to plan your trip better. Let’s take a look at these regions below.
Istria & Rijeka
This small peninsula is the most visited region in the country. And with good reason. It is a heart-shaped peninsula in the northern Adriatic. Aside from that, the Istrian Peninsula is home to impressive rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves, as well as gorgeous coastal towns. The best part is that it is the perfect place for foodies to head out to. You should add Pula arena to your list of places to visit here. It is a good place to start your search for ancient structures in Croatia.
The Croatian side of the Adriatic Sea is home to numerous islands, islets, as well as reefs. However, only a handful of these have people in them. Aside from that, these inhabited islands are home to small villages, secluded beaches, and fishing boats to name a few. Some of these islands are great as family destinations. Ahile others are suitable for younger travelers.
The Dalmatian Coast starts from Zadar to the north and ends at the Peljesac Peninsula to the south. It boasts of hidden coves and bays, rugged mountains, and ancient towns. Aside from that, you will find several UNESCO World Heritage Sites here as well. This is the most popular spot that you can visit on the Croatian coast.
If you want to immerse yourself in the rich history of the country, you should start here in Dubrovnik Riviera. In fact, it is here where you will find a preserved coast, salt pans, stunning beaches, and fresh seafood just to name a few.
Gorski Kotar & Lika
Meanwhile, tourists who are looking for some peace and quiet will find these two regions suitable for them. Gorski Kotar & Lika are home to large mountains and green pastures. In addition, it is here where you will find Plitvice as well as Risnjak.
Zagreb & Surrounding Area
Zagreb is not only the capital but it is also the largest city in Croatia. Aside from that, it is the country’s economic and administrative center too. It is here where you will find the river Sava, clubs and bars, lovely restaurants, and more.
Slavonia & Baranja
Only a handful of tourists visit this region called Slavonia & Baranja. Which is not surprising. After all, it still lacks tourism infrastructure. However, this does not mean that there is nothing to see here. In fact, if you prefer to be away from your favorite tourist hotspots, you should make your way here. The golden plains here as well as its centuries-old forests give this region a mystical and dreamy vibe to it.
Wrapping Up Croatia
Croatia is a fantastic country that you will find on the Adriatic Sea. It has seen its fair share of history. Which you can get a glimpse of from the ruins left behind. Aside from that, the islands that make up this country offer various gems to locals and tourists alike. In fact, islands like Vis, Brac, and Mljet are just a few of those places that you don’t want to miss.
Tourists often flock to Croatia during the summer season. After all, this is the best time to fully appreciate the gorgeous blue waters that surround it. Depending on which beach you head out to, the shores can either be pebbly or sandy. Also, each beach has its own important feature. And be sure to check it. However, expect that there will be large crowds. Especially in popular tourist areas during this season.
Croatia is a mixed bag of tourist attractions, beaches, and food. You will need to spend more time here to fully appreciate its beauty. From Roman palaces to churches to ancient walls, it is hard not to fall in love with this place. What’s more, the crystal clear waters that invite you to do various water sports are just icing on the cake. No wonder many travel blogs consider this country as one of the best places to visit.
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