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20 Best Places To Visit In Croatia & Things to Do

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Croatia is one of the most magical countries in Europe. Croatia is a spectacular destination with majestic national parks, warm sandy beaches, and quaint towns. This European gem is incredible to visit whether you’re a solo traveler looking to party, a couple on the hunt for a romantic escape, or a family looking for a big adventure.

Many Croatian destinations are famous for their gorgeous scenery and exciting outdoor activities. Since the country was once part of the prolific Roman Empire, there’s also a lot of history and ancient ruins to learn about. The country is also made up of over a thousand islands, all stunning in their unique ways.

With its incredible diversity in natural beauty and historical landmarks, tourists from all across the globe have come to love the Land of A Thousand Islands. While I can go on and on about all the amazing places to visit in Croatia, I’ll keep it brief and just hit the highlights.

TL;DR

Category Our Pick
Most significant landmark The Walled Town of Dubrovnik
Park Plitvice Lakes National Park
Free activity Diocletian’s Palace
Activity for kids Snorkeling in Rovinj
Activity for adults Jeep Tour of Brač Island
Food Split Old Town
Nightlife Carpe Diem (Hvar Town)
Place to stay Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort

Best Places To Visit In Croatia & Things to Do

1. Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

There’s a ton of natural beauty to behold in Croatia, but my absolute favorite place to be immersed in nature here is Plitvice Lakes National Park. This sprawling UNESCO World Heritage Site is around two hours from Zadar and 2.5 hours from Split. It is the oldest and largest national park in Croatia.

The park is comprised of 16 lakes as well as countless smaller lakes. Between the lakes are rivers and waterfalls that showcase a stunning display of nature at work. Visitors can take seven different routes through the park using a system of walking paths, hiking trails, boats, and buses.

Plitvice Lakes National Park is open year-round, though hours vary depending on the season. Admission prices also vary based on the time of year.

Click here to purchase tickets. I highly recommend wearing layers and comfortable walking shoes. Some spots may be muddy or wet, so wear something you don’t mind getting dirty.

2. Zagreb

View from the Upper Town in Zagreb, Croatia
Woodrow Matthews / ViaTravelers

Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, is a vibrant city in the country’s northwestern part, not far from the Slovenian border. Unlike the country’s coastal towns, you won’t find swarms of tourists here. Instead, Zagreb is great if you’d like to learn more about the country’s rich history.

The town center is divided into the Upper Town and the Lower Town. Upper Town has a lot more to see and do.

The main landmarks in the Upper Town are the Zagreb Cathedral, St. Mark’s Church, and the Zagreb City Museum. Zagreb’s funicular train, the shortest funicular in the world, connects the Upper and Lower Town areas.

Stroll through the Dolac Market and Ban Josip Jelačić Square in the Lower Town. If you want to explore this charming old town while learning about its hidden gems and history, I highly recommend walking with a local guide.

When my husband and I visited Zagreb, we stayed at The Westin Zagreb. It’s beautiful and conveniently located close to the historic old town.

3. Krka National Park

Skradinski buk waterfall in Krka National Park in Croatia
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

Located in Central Dalmatia, Krka National Park is another of Croatia’s most majestic national parks. Krka is just over an hour from both Split and Zadar.

The park surrounds the Krka River and covers 67 square miles. Krka National Park is home to over 1,800 unique plant species and many reptiles, amphibians, birds, and fish.

Krka features 29 miles of walking paths and nearly 300 mountain biking trails. Visitors can admire the park’s seven major waterfalls and countless offshoots. The largest waterfall is called Skradinski Buk, one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever seen.

Krka National Park should be on the list of every traveler heading to Croatia. The paths are well-maintained and easy to navigate, so it’s accessible for travelers of any age. The best views in Krka are all wheelchair-accessible, too!

See Related: ViaTravelers Staff Picks: Hidden Gems in Europe

4. Hvar Island

Bay of Hvar, Croatia
rustamank / Adobe Stock

Croatia includes many islands located off the coast of Split in the Adriatic Sea. One of the largest islands is Hvar. You can take a fifty-minute Split ferry to this beautiful island.

The ferry port in Hvar is near Stari Grad, which translates to “old town.” This postcard-perfect old town has lots to see and do, but many visitors choose to stay in Hvar Town, known for its marble stone streets and Gothic architecture.

Hvar is known both for its incredible scenery and lively nightlife scene. It’s the Mykonos of Croatia. During the day, visitors can enjoy incredible beaches, snorkeling, cruises, boat tours, and ATV tours around the island. Various old landmarks, particularly in Stari Grad, are fantastic for learning about Croatian culture and history.

Must-sees in Hvar include the Fortica Fortress, St. Stephens Cathedral, Mekićevica Beach, and Tvrdalj Castle. If you love history, I recommend a guided walking tour.

The nighttime hotspots are Carpe Diem, Ka’lavanda Bar, and Caffe Bar Sidro. The island has many stunning luxury hotels, including Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort, Palace Elisabeth, and Riva Marina Hvar Hotel.

5. Dubrovnik

An aerial view of the walled-in town of Dubrovnik, Croatia
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

One of the most popular places to visit in Croatia is the medieval walled town of Dubrovnik. Many visit Dubrovnik for its unique scenery showcased in Game of Thrones, while others visit simply for its rich history and to walk along its stunning medieval walls. It is one of the major Croatian cities along the coast, with Split and Zadar.

I recommend starting your city tour in the early morning with fewer crowds. In addition to the well-preserved city walls, there are many gorgeous places to visit, including The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Rector’s Palace, and St. Blaise’s Church.

For the best views of this coastal town, I highly recommend taking the Dubrovnik Cable Car directly above the city. If you’re a GoT fan, you’ve definitely got to go on a GoT-themed tour. Outdoor enthusiasts can take an early-morning kayaking trip to the nearby Betina Cave.

6. Split

View of the old town from the port in Split, Croatia
Woodrow Matthews / ViaTravelers

As Croatia’s second-largest city, Split is one of the best places to visit. It’s a gorgeous coastal city that overlooks the Dalmatian Coast. It’s also conveniently located within driving distance of Krka National Park and Plitvice Lakes National Park, making it a great place to base yourself to visit these and other national parks.

One of the biggest tourist attractions in Split is Diocletian’s Palace, which was built in 293 AD for Roman Emperor Diocletian. It is so massive it takes up almost half of the old town! Along the sprawling Split Port, many local restaurants offer fresh fish, grilled meats, and local vegetables. Make sure to have dinner along the port to enjoy the beautiful sunset views.

Split is the perfect place for all types of travelers. There’s tons of history and beautiful beaches nearby, close to Croatia’s most popular national parks. Stay at the Piazza Heritage Hotel, which overlooks the city’s cobblestone streets and an old town square.

See Related: How to Spend 48 Hours in Split: An Itinerary to Copy

7. Mljet Island

Beautiful nature of Mljet island in Croatia
novak.elcic / Shutterstock

Mljet Island is located off the southern coast of Croatia and is one of the largest islands in the country. The western part of the island is part of Mljet National Park. Two large saltwater lakes make up the majority of the park.

In addition to hiking trails and cycling paths, visitors to Mljet National Park can enjoy activities like kayaking, snorkeling, and swimming. Within Veliko Lake is Saint Mary’s Island, one of the most picturesque parts of the park. Another beautiful spot is Odysseus Cave, estimated to be over 3,000 years old.

Mljet Island is great to visit if you love the outdoors and are an adrenaline junkie. While there are a few vacation rentals on the island, many tourists visit the island and the national park on a day trip from Dubrovnik.

8. Kopački Rit Nature Park

A wooden path in Kopački Rit Nature Park
Ilija Ascic / Shutterstock

Kopački Rit Nature Park is located in eastern Croatia, not far from its borders with Hungary and Serbia. The nature park is located along the Danube River and one of its tributaries, Drava. The park comprises wet meadows, floodplain forests, lakes, canals, and ponds.

This nature park is famous for its incredible biodiversity and beautiful landscapes. There are 33 mammals in the park, over 300 species of birds, and 12 amphibian species.

Kopački Rit Nature Park offers a long list of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy, including boat tours, bird watching, angling, and interactive exhibitions. There’s also a castle to visit and a recreation of a fishing village that existed at the park’s site back in the year 1212.

9. Rovinj

Aerial view of the old town of Rovinj, Croatia
xbrchx / Shutterstock

Located on the west coast of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, Rovinj’s colorful fishing port town is a lovely departure from some of the more crowded towns like Split and Dubrovnik. This attractive city is known for its winding, narrow streets and spectacular beaches.

Walk through the old town lined with art galleries and cute cafes before taking in the panoramic views at St. Euphemia Cathedral. I also recommend stopping at the Rovinj Heritage Museum, where you’ll learn about the regional history and Venetian influence through art created by local artists.

Some gorgeous beaches nearby include Cuvi Beach, Škaraba Beach, and Lone Bay. Visitors can enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, and kayaking. End the day off on a romantic sunset boat trip on the Adriatic Sea.

See Related: Best Ways to Find Cheap Flights to Europe

10. Pag Island

Old town with a stone bridge on Pag Island in Croatia
Ilija Ascic / Shutterstock

Pag Island is one of the more unique places to visit in Croatia, with its moon-like, nearly barren landscape. The island sits on the northern Dalmatian Coast of the country and is not far from the city of Zadar. Pag is easily accessible from mainland Croatia as there is a bridge between the two and a ferry.

This island is perfect for beach bums to lay on expansive sandy beaches. If you love to go to the beach and party, Zrće Festival Beach is the place for you. If you’re looking for something a bit more quiet, Plaža Čista and Plaža Šimuni are great options.

Uniquely explore this unique island by going on a nighttime hiking tour or a nighttime kayak around the island. In addition to its gorgeous beaches, Pag is also known for its lace production and Pag cheese, a variety of hard sheep milk cheese.

11. Brač Island

Aerial View of the Coast of Brač Island
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you’re looking for a vacation spot full of picturesque towns, fascinating archaeological remains, and stunning beaches, Brač Island is a fantastic choice. This island is just a fifty-minute ferry ride from Split, and while it can definitely be visited on a day trip, you can also spend a few days just exploring this island.

The most visited spot on the island is Zlatni Rat Beach, also known as Golden Horn Beach. It is stunning and boasts some of the clearest water in the Adriatic Sea. To see all that this incredible island has to offer, I recommend going on an all-day Jeep tour.

In terms of historical sites, Brač isn’t lacking there, either. Make a stop at the Blanca Hermitage and the Dominican Monastery, which have been on the island for hundreds of years. If you’d like to stay here for a few days, Bluesun Holiday Village Bonaca is a fun and family-friendly hotel on the island’s southern coast.

12. Pula

Aerial view of the Roman amphitheater at sunset in Pula, Croatia
trabantos / Shutterstock

The seafront city of Pula is steeped in Roman history. The most eye-catching landmark in the city is the Pula Arena, the only Roman amphitheater in the world that still has all four of its side towers intact. It is one of the largest surviving Roman arenas around today.

Other historic sites and examples of Roman architecture that you can visit in Pula include the Temple of Augustus, the Arch of the Segrii, and the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Visitors to Pula can also enjoy easy access to Brijuni National Park on a day trip to the island.

The biggest event in Pula is the Pula Film Festival, held every summer at the Pula Arena. Pula is a great place to be based and explore northwestern Croatia. The seafront Grand Hotel Brioni Pula is a gorgeous place to return to after a long day of exploring Pula.

See Related: Ultimate Backpacking Through Europe Itinerary

13. Zadar

Three boats lined up in the port of Zadar, Croatia
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

While a less popular place to visit compared to Split and Dubrovnik, Zadar has its own merits that set it apart. This laidback seaside city is a great base from which to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park and Krka National Park, but it is also quite beautiful in its own right.

My favorite landmark in Zadar is the sea organ, which plays music using the sea waves. I highly recommend watching the sunset from this spot.

Another great place to visit is the Roman ruins, right in the heart of the old town. There’s a Roman Forum, the Church of St. Donatus, and an archaeological museum.

Many visitors to Zadar come to enjoy the beautiful nearby beaches and other fun aquatic activities, like kayaking through the nearby Zrmanja River. Zadar is great for all visitors who want to enjoy various outdoor activities. Miramare Hotel is located in town but not far from Kolovare Beach, the most beautiful beach.

14. Trogir

Trogir, Croatia Scenery
GISTEL / Adobe Stock

Trogir is a quaint coastal town located just to the west of Split. It is notable for its old walled town, much of which is still well-preserved today. Trogir is an awesome spot for history buffs to visit.

The main points of interest in this historic city are St. Lawrence’s Cathedral and Kamerlengo Castle. The Venetians built the castle and its fortress between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries and primarily used it as a naval base.

Due to its location, you can also find many day trips and guided tours to explore the nearby islands. This all-day boat tour takes you to many nearby islands, like Hvar and Vis, and many famous sites, including the Blue Cave and Stiniva Cave.

15. Omiš

Aerial view of Omis, Croatia and the Cetina River at sunset
Andrew Mayovskyy / Shutterstock

Omiš is the ultimate destination for adventure and thrill seekers. This town is between the sea and the Cetina River, so you can find many water-based activities to indulge in.

Rock climbing, ziplining, and river rafting are fun-filled adventures visitors can enjoy here. For a relaxing beach day, head to Velika Plaža or Plaža Golubinka.

Omiš can be easily combined with a longer trip to Split, but I highly recommend spending at least one night in Omiš to enjoy all this town’s outdoor fun. Hotel Saint Hildegard is on the beach and features an amazing on-site restaurant.

See Related: Best Party Cities in Europe

16. Krk Island

Breathtaking evening cityscape of Vrbnik town on Krk, Croatia
Andrew Mayovskyy / Adobe Stock

Krk is Croatia’s largest and most populated island. This gorgeous spot is connected to the mainland by a bridge and is located in the country’s northwestern part. It’s also not far from Italy and Slovenia.

This Croatian island is known for its centuries-old churches and incredible natural beauty. Depending on your interests, you can tour the hidden gems of the old town that have stood the test of time or go on a swimming tour of Krk’s Golden Bay.

Other natural wonders include Biserujka Cave, which is believed to be an old pirate hiding spot, and Meline Beach, which has clay that is believed to hold healing properties. Back in the old town, stop by Volsonis, a club and bar in an ancient underground tunnel.

17. Korčula Island

View of the old town from the water on Korkula island in Croatia
nicbarthel / Adobe Stock

Korčula has the second largest population of Croatia’s islands and is known for its endless olive groves and stunning Baroque churches. The island is also home to several wineries and many beautiful beaches. The island is perfect for beach bums and island lovers.

To see all the best that Korčula has to offer, I highly recommend taking a guided tour. This private tour will take you to beaches around the island and includes a wine tasting in Smovika. There is also a hop-on hop-off boat that will take you to the smaller surrounding islands, including Vrnik and Stupe.

While Korčula is a popular tourist destination, it’s also a large island, so visitors are more spread out than cities like Dubrovnik. Aminess Lume Hotel features an amazing sun terrace with direct access to the water, and all guest rooms have an ocean view.

18. Motovun

Scenic view to the town of Motovun, Istria, Croatia
e_polischuk / Adobe Stock

For a destination that is off the beaten path, consider visiting Motovun. This hilltop village was once home to Celts and Illyrians, who built massive fortresses. It is located in central Istria to the north of Pula.

The area surrounding Motovun comprises picturesque rolling hills and sprawling vineyards, the perfect quiet escape for couples looking to reconnect. Motovun is also known as a fantastic place to find truffles, which are showcased on many menus of the town’s restaurants.

Cyclists can enjoy a ride through the Parenzana, an old railway revived as a walking and biking path. Those looking for more R&R can indulge in a spa day at the romantic Boutique Hotel Kaštel.

See Related: Best Times to Buy Flights to Europe (Backed by Data)

19. Vis Island

Vis, Croatia Island Scenery
xbrchx / Adobe Stock

Vis Island is fantastic if you just can’t get enough of Croatia’s crystal-clear waters. The island is just off the coast of Split and is full of medieval Roman ruins.

All of the most popular beaches in Vis are located near Vis town. While many require hiking to get down to the beach, one of the easiest beaches is Stončica. The water is clear and shallow, making it a top pick for families with young children.

If the island of Vis looks familiar, it might be because it was actually the filming location for Mamma Mia 2! Since the movie came out, the island has enjoyed skyrocketing popularity from those looking to live their best Mamma Mia life.

20. Rab Island

Aerial view of Rab Island, Croatia
Nikola / Adobe Stock

The colorful island of Rab is a fabulous destination for visitors who want a good mix of historical sites and laidback beaches. The island is most famous for its old town, including several Roman churches dating back centuries.

One of the most stunning places to visit on Rab is Kalifront, a nature preserve located on the western part of the island. It is home to the Dundo Forest, one of the last remaining Mediterranean Oak forests.

Many of the island’s best beaches, such as Pudarica, are in the south. Here, you’ll find clear, calm waters and golden sand.

FAQs

What is the nicest part of Croatia to visit?

Please don’t make me choose! Croatia is known for its coastal destinations and many islands. The most popular choices include Split, Dubrovnik, Hvar Island, and Brač Island.

Is Croatia a cheap place to vacation?

Compared to other large European countries, Croatia is quite affordable to visit. A decent lunch or dinner can cost under 15 euros per person, even in Croatia’s large cities.

Activities like kayaking, snorkeling, and tours are also possible, even on a tight budget. Luxury exploits like chartering yachts are also considerably cheaper than places like Italy or Greece.

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