Most people go to Croatia for one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines with crystal clear waters. But there’s more to offer – breweries, galleries, street markets, tiny traditional villages, delicious local produce, and eight national parks! A holiday in Croatia is perfect combination of relaxed days on beautiful beaches and visits to medieval cities with amazing history.
With so many visit-worthy places in Croatia to choose from, it can be hard to decide where to go. Here are, in our opinion, the best places to visit in Croatia. It really is an amazing country to explore and one that will probably take several trips to fully discover – so whether it’s your first time or fiftieth time, we guarantee there’ll still be some of the best places left to experience.
Dubrovnik is Croatia’s most visited city, and for good reason. The old town is a UNESCO world heritage site, surrounded by old walls and filled with cobblestone streets, beautiful churches and historic palaces. This walled city was actually shelled in the 1990s during Croatia’s Homeland War, but the walls, towers, monastries, churches, square and residential quarters have all stood the test of time.
Of course, you can’t mention Dubrovnik without mentioning Game of Thrones – a lot of it was filmed here and tours of filming spots are incredibly popular. This does bring floods of tourists to the city, but since it’s rise in popularity it has become a bit of a tourist trap. In our opinion, it’s definitely worth a visit, especially on your first time in Croatia, but the business can make it difficult to enjoy fully.
The city is full of history dating back to the 7th century, and is a hub of history, art and food. Take time to walk along the streets and take in the architecture, then head to Lapad beach for sunbathing and water sports. For the best views of the city, take the cable car up Mount Srd. You can also take a ferry over to the beautiful Lokrum island, where there is a botanical garden, beaches and a stunning monastry.
2. Mljet Island
Head to Mljet Island for a relaxed escape to nature. It can easily be reached by ferry from Dubrovnik, and is home to small towns, the Mljet Island National Park, bright blue saltwater lakes and a rocky coastline. The entire West of the island holds the national park where you’ll find the beautiful lakes, a monastry and the port of Pomena. The East has beautiful bays, beaches and lovely restaurants. Spend your time hiking the Odysseus cave trail and gorging on the world’s best seafood, wine, cheese and olives.
3. Vis Island
Closed to tourists until 1989, this beautiful island is mostly untouched. There are two towns here on the northern and western coasts, but the south and the east are pure coves and beaches. One of these in Stiniva beach; a beautiful cove with a narrow opening to the clear turquoise sea. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was filmed here making it a since popular location for boat tours, so get here early to avoid the crowds. There are many traditional taverns covering the island in it’s villages and beaches, serving up delicious meals using the island’s fresh produce and fish.
4. Korcula Island
Known as Croatia’s Emerald Isle, Korcula is based between Mljet and Hvar islands. It’s one of the most beautiful places you’ll visit in Croatia and can be easily reached by ferry. Its namesake comes from its huge forest and miles of vineyards, covering the island in greenery. The old town is picture perfect, with medieval towers and stunning streets. Take time to explore the medieval-era old town, which is similar to Dubrovnik without the crowds. Highlights here include St. Mark’s Cathedral, the Town Museum, Bishop’s Treasury, and Arneri Palace.
Walking around should only take you about an hour, leaving plenty of time to relax at Vela Pržina beach — 400m of soft sand and clear blue waters. Or, if you fancy exploring the greenery, head for a meal at a village konoba in the forest. Specialties here include lamb, cured ham and of course, fresh seafood. The island can be reached by ferries from both Split and Dubrovnik.
Lopud makes a perfect day trip by ferry from Dubrovnik, and is covered in beautiful crumbling churches and monastries. There is a lovely harbour area to explore, as well as a beautiful beach in Sunj that makes a great city getaway. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset.
6. Hvar Island
A short ferry ride from Mljet is Hvar Island, known for its parties, yachts, lavender fields, and beaches. Spend your time here partying in beach clubs, swimming, and wandering through the picturesque towns. Hvar town is the main one, known for the Spanjola Fortress, marble stone streets, and 13th-century walls. But, there’s also Stari Grad and Vrboska to explore, which give a more laid back vibe. When you’re bored of the towns, head to a hiking trail or beach on the nearby Pakleni Islands. For a luxury trip, stay in Hvar town which is full of stylish hotels.
The harbour is the perfect place to spend your evening yacht-watching at a cocktail bar or classy restaurant. Overall, the island has something for everyone – beautiful natural landscapes, luxury hotels and restaurants, all-night dance bars and some of the best beaches in Croatia.
Just south of Split is Omis, the Croatian hotspot for adventure activities. Originally home to pirates in the 13th venture, now you can spend your time here rafting, parasailing, mountain biking and scuba diving.
Split is Croatia’s second largest city and a coastal hub. The buildings here are living history, built around remains of Roman ruins, so you’ll see crumbling walls right next to the chic boutiques and bustling squares. Here we would recommend hiking through Parka Suma Marjan, exploring UNESCO World Heritage Site Diocletian’s Palace, climbing the bell tower and enjoying the top-tier restaurants and bars. The beaches here are a must-visit too, so take time to stroll down the seaside promenade. There is also a great nightlife scene for the younger generations. Split is the main gateway the Brac, Hvar and Vis islands so you’ll see a lot of passengers here killing time before hopping on ferries. It gets quieter at 4pm, so definitely stay a night or two here to experience the magic of the streets.
Off the beaten path you’ll find Brac, know for its hiking and beaches. In particular Zlatni Rat – the most iconic and picturesque beach in Croatia. It gets busy here in the Summer and the prices are high. The island is also home to the tallest peak in the Adriatic, and it’s harbor town is popular with windsurfers between April and October. This is a true resort island – you’ll find your pick in Bol, Supertar and Milna which all have beaches and resort life to enjoy.
It’s a great place for families to come for a relaxing holiday, but be warned there’s not much sightseeing or culture, here you’ll get true island life. Reach the island by one of the daily ferries that come from Split all year.
10. Krka National Park
One of Croatia’s main tourist attractions is Krka National Park, mainly due to the Krka river that runs through it. It rushes through canyons, pushes into lakes and pours down waterfalls which lead to natural pools. Swimming is allowed here and is highly recommended as it makes for a truly one of a kind experience. The park is also home to caves, hiking trails, boardwalks, souvenir shops, boat trip, museums and restaurants so you definitely won’t be bored! It’s also incredibly popular for its archaeological remains preserved on-site from Roman times.
One thing not to be missed in the park is Visovac Monastry that’s set on a small island in the middle of a lake. Krka National Park is an hour away from Split, so come for a day trip or book an overnight stay in the park.
A 2-hour drive from Split, Zadar is off the main tourist trail but has characteristics that make it the ideal tourist getaway. There really is something for everyone here, with roman ruins, a beautiful old town, plenty of museums, beaches, mountains, and hiking trails to keep you busy. It’s also home to the unique Sea Organ – a man-made spectacle that allows the sea to make music as waves push air through underground pipes. The city is a perfect mix of historical and modern and is one of the best places to experience Croatian culture.
12. Plitvice Lakes National Park
Yet another stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular places to visit in Croatia, Plitvice Lakes is home to over 90 waterfalls and 16 interconnected lakes. It’s also the oldest and largest national park in the country, with beautiful scenery and 1 million annual visitors. Although the crystal blue waters might look tempting, swimming isn’t allowed here. Explore the cascading lakes, flowing waterfalls and lush greenery through a series of wooden footbridges and hiking trails that run through the park. If you’re visiting in the Summer be sure to bring a backpack with sunscreen, water and a hat to stay cool.
The capital city of Croatia, Zagreb is based inland and is known for it’s architecture, unique museums and outdoor markets. It should only take your a day to explore the essentials: the two old towns, fairytale cathedral and a museum or two. Don’t forget the Dolac market selling local produce, clothing and handicrafts. If you choose to spend more days here, you won’t be bored though. Take time to hike the nearby Medvednica National Park or watch an opera at the National Theatre. This is also the perfect place to get stuck into Croatian food – sparkling wine, octopus, and baked štrukli. There’s a big cafe culture and plenty of bars to enjoy and explore.
Zagreb has an international airport, so it’s a great first or last stop on your Croatian trip. It could also be a nice location for a city break if you’re travelling from the UK, as it’s only 2 hours to reach. Visit in the Winter for their Christmas markets and picturesque scenes, or in the Summer for their park festivals.
Motovun is a picturesque ancient fortress on top of a hill, blending together Croatian and Italian cultures. It’s one of the top destinations for foodies, known for their truffles and wine. Be sure to visit one of the many nearby vineyards that surround the hilltop.
This fishing town has captured the heart of tourists with its pretty streets, beautiful churches, and unique museums. It appears almost like an island out of the sea, brimming with restaurants, bars, and lovely piazzas. Highlights you must see include the Balbi Arch, St Euphemia’s Basilica and the 12th century town clock. There’s also a farmer’s market with local produce, the scenic harbour and plenty of art galleries and boutique shops.
Pula is one of the best food destinations in the country, only about an hour’s drive from Motovun. It’s now one of the more popular places to use as a base to explore, but there’s plenty to do in the city itself. You can’t miss the historic amphitheater but there’s also sites like the Temple of Augustus, Catherdral of the Assumption and vineyards that should get your attention. The amphitheater is now used as a cultural center for the city, hosting events and exhibitions so be sure to check what’s on while you’re there.
Another UNESCO world heritage site, the old town of Trogir is on a small island and is home to some amazing Baroque architecture. Spend your time visiting the churches and castles, and walking along the Riva embankment. Grab lunch at a traditional konobas before relaxing with a creamy cappuccino looking out over the Dalmation Coast.
18. Cape Kamenjak
If you’re looking for rugged beauty, Cape Kamenjak is the place to go. It’s a completely undeveloped nature reserve on Istria’s west cost, and is home to many varieties of plants and wildlife. It’s surrounded by pebble beaches and clear blue sea. The cape does get busy in Summer, but you’ll undoubtedly find an empty beach to escape to.
Tips for the best places to visit in Croatia
Croatia is a country that can be enjoyed year round, but the best time to visit Croatia is during the shoulder season in May/June and September/October. This allows you to enjoy the pleasant weather while avoiding the bigger mass of tourists in July and August.
The best beaches in Croatia can be found on Hvar, Brac, Korcula, Dubrovnik and the Kornati Islands.
If you have only one week in Croatia, it’s best to stick to one main area. We recommend Dubrovnik, Hvar Island, Split and Krka National Park which are all fairly close to each other.
Croatia is a lot cheaper than its neighbouring European country, but it is rising in popularity quickly which is making prices rise. It is possible to manage on a budget of around 50 euros a day.
The best places in Croatia for nightlife are Zagreb, Hvar, Pag Island, Split and Dubrovnik.
Pula and Rovinj are great places to visit as a family, as they have a lot of tours and activities that everyone can enjoy. There’s also the Plitvice Lakes, Split, Hvar, Dubrovnik and Korcula.
The best places for couple in Croatia would be Dubrovnik, Split, Rovinj, Vis, Hvar and Motovun.
So those are the best places to visit in Croatia! Hopefully this list gave you some inspiration and helped you plan your trip. The country is full of amazing destinations to add to your bucket list.