ViaHero · August 14, 2019
Stretching along the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is characterized by striking mountains, warm islands, and lush green nature. It’s a country with a vibrant culture and incredibly rich history, boasting Roman ruins, red-roofed medieval towns, sunny beaches, and amazing seafood. It’s no wonder that Croatia has become an increasingly popular destination for travelers! If you want to experience it for yourself (and you should!), here are the 20 best places to visit in Croatia.
Don’t take our word for it! After you check out these 20 places to visit in Croatia, connect with a Croatian local to plan your trip—they’ll help you to see the best of their country, including these amazing spots and more.
#1. Dubrovnik’s Old Town: A walk back in time
First up is a UNESCO world heritage site that’s absolutely beloved by travelers and locals alike: Old Town Dubrovnik. The walled city of Dubrovnik has been around since the 7th century, and much of its stunning Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque architecture is still perfectly preserved. It’s so well-preserved, in fact, that Dubrovnik served as one of the main filming locations for Game of Thrones—you can even take a tour of all the important sets while you’re there!
Our advice for seeing old Dubrovnik? Take a cable car for a bird’s eye view of those iconic red roofs and spires.
#2. Pula: A charming town boasting Roman ruins
Pula is the capital of Istria, a peninsula in the north of Croatia near the Italian border. It’s a super charming small town full of beautiful beaches and awesome nightlife. One of Pula’s main attractions is its ancient Roman Amphitheater—much of the structure is still standing, making it as impressive as the famous Roman Colosseum—but without all the crowds!
#3: Zagreb: Croatia’s vibrant capital
Croatia’s capital is a small, artsy city in the north of the country. While it’s not home to any beaches, it is home to an amazing art community, a lively bar-and-restaurant scene, and loads of beautiful architecture—from medieval cathedrals to modern marvels, including Croatia’s tallest building. If you’re traveling to Croatia in December, we recommend stopping through Zagreb for one of the world’s best Christmas markets.
Pro tip: There is a lot to do and see in Zagreb, so connect with a Croatian local to make sure you’re getting the most out of your time there.
#4: Split: An ancient city at the heart of Dalmatia
Split, in the southern region of Dalmatia, is Croatia's second-largest city and a super popular destination for travelers. This ancient city was founded as a Greek settlement thousands of years ago and has come under Roman, Byzantine, and Venetian rule over the centuries (among others).
Split is beautiful, with amazing and varied architecture that reflects its rich history, and a sunny, pebbly coastline. Just as in Dubrovnik, you can also find a ton of Game of Thrones filming locations here. Split has been known to host a celebrity or two, so keep your eyes peeled throughout your visit!
#5: Krka National Park: Stunning lakes and lovely waterfalls
If you’re interested in spending time in some of Croatia’s national parks, Krka definitely has to be high on your list. It’s in the south of the country, not too far from Split (an easy day trip). The park is famous for its series of seven thundering waterfalls and well-preserved natural ecosystems.
You’ll walk through oak and ash forests, flowery grasslands, and green riverbanks—keep an eye out for river otters and tropical birds as you go! It’s a great place for cycling, hiking, or swimming. A walking tour through Krka is also awesome for history buffs, with some striking medieval ruins along the way.
#6: Hvar Island: Beautiful views and amazing parties
Another island off Croatia’s southern Dalmatian coast is Hvar, where you can find an amazing combination of nature and nightlife. Hvar is best known for its rolling purple hills—the lavender fields bloom throughout June and July, with a stunning visual effect. It may be peaceful during the day, but Hvar town is known as Croatia’s town that never sleeps. We definitely recommend stopping by if you want to go out at night and meet other travelers.
#7: Zlatni Rat, Brač: A peninsula of sand and sun
Croatia is known for having some of the best beaches in the world—you definitely have to spend some time in the sun while you’re there! One of the best-loved beaches for travelers is Zlatni Rat, on the island of Brač. The name translates directly to “Golden Horn”—and that’s exactly what it is. The beach extends in a sandy peninsula, just outside the charming town of Bol. This is a popular place, so ask your local about the best times to visit to beat the crowds!
#8: The Kornati Islands: Amazing oceanic exploration
The Kornati archipelago is made up of 140 small islands off the Dalmatian coast. Kornati National Park spans over most of the islands, and the whole chain is mainly uninhabited, with the exception of a few sparse cottages for seasonal agricultural workers. You’ll see tons of rugged cliffs and grottos there—it’s a great place for an adventurous kayaking trip or a day cruise from Split or Zadar. Your local trip planner can help you figure out the best way to get you there.
#9: Plitvice Lakes National Park: Lush green trees and blue lakes
Have you noticed how many national parks are on our list? That’s because Croatia’s natural beauty is unmatched anywhere in the world, and conservationists there work hard to preserve their unspoiled forests and islands. Plitvice is another park travelers love—it’s full of lakes and waterfalls, with clear blue water and diverse wildlife.
#10: The Blue Cave of Biševo: A stunning natural wonder
Up for an adventure? The Blue Cave of Biševo isn’t exactly easy to get to, but it is totally worth the journey. It’s off the eastern coast of Vis, another island not far from Split. The water in the cave appears to glow because of the way sunlight reflects off the limestone floor. It’s a truly incredible sight, but you’ll definitely want to work with a local to figure out the best way to get there.
#11: Zadar: A beautiful coastline with great food
Located on Croatia’s southern coast, Zadar is a unique European city. You’ll get to see the best of Croatia’s pristine coastline and ancient architecture here, without all the crowds that you might find in Split or Dubrovnik. One of the coolest things about the city is the Sea Organ, a giant stone organ that the ocean “plays” like a harmonica! While you’re there, make sure to try some fresh-caught seafood—Zadar is known for its high-end cuisine, packed with restaurants that put a modern twist on traditional Croatian dishes.
#12: Euphrasian Basilica, Poreč: A 6th-century marvel
Poreč is a small coastal town in the northern part of Croatia. The town itself is super charming, with winding stone alleyways and ancient city walls, but the main attraction for travelers is the Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basilica dates back to the sixth century, around the time Christianity first came to the region. It’s a stunning example of Byzantine architecture and a beautiful place to visit.
#13: Brijuni National Park: A warm island without the rush
We know, we know—another national park? Seriously, this one is just as amazing as the last. Brijuni is a string of islands off the coast of Istria, not far from Pula. There are very few cars on the islands, so it’s an awesome place to see unspoiled natural landscapes without any crowds or noise pollution. Main attractions on the islands include a safari park (where you can see zebras, ostriches, and even an elephant), and an archeological tour of ancient Byzantine ruins.
#14: Mljet Island: For unspoiled nature and Croatian culture
There are a lot of islands off the Croatian coast, but travelers like Mljet best for its green, natural scenery and tropical environment. The northwestern part of the island is covered by a stunning national park, with two huge saltwater lakes and plenty of spots for hiking, swimming, and kayaking. The water is crystal clear, and the weather is balmy year-round!
Mljet is the ideal stop for someone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Croatia’s big cities. It’s not a place for partying, but you can experience traditional Croatian culture and cuisine while you’re there—watch local fishermen at work and sample fresh fish, goat, or lamb dishes.
#15: Salona: An ancient Roman capital
Not too far from Split you’ll find Salona, another historical city with some really impressive Roman ruins. Salona, or Solin, was the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia thousands of years ago. You can still see the remains of a grand Roman amphitheater, cemetery, and church there. The ruins are super important to Croatia’s history, so we definitely recommend visiting Salona at least as a day trip from Split or another city.
#16: Stiniva Beach, Vis Island: The best beach in Europe
Vis Island off the Dalmatian coast is a gorgeous natural island, but its main attraction is the pebbly beach that was voted the best beach in Europe back in 2016. High rocky cliffs surround the beach and jut into the ocean, creating a stunning natural cove. The water is clear and bright blue, and it’s a great place to relax if you can beat the crowds. While you’re there, be sure to check out some of the old stone fortresses and great Croatian restaurants on Vis—your local connection can help you pick out some of the most authentic spots.
#17: Korčula Island: Quiet villages and a tropical climate
If you love the look of Croatian islands but hate the crowds, Korčula is the place for you. Croatia’s sixth-largest island is a little harder to get to, especially in the off-season, but that means fewer travelers come to visit so you can really experience the island like a local. In the little village of Blato, for example, you can experience the festival of Kumpanija, which celebrates chivalry with ceremonial “fights”.
With a new port, Korčula is only going to gain in popularity—we recommend taking the opportunity to see it now, while it’s still off the beaten path!
#18: Mali Lošinj: A balmy island that’s good for your health
The last island on our list is in the north of Croatia, and only recently became available for travelers to visit. The natural landscape on the island is totally unspoiled, and a vacation there is even said to improve your health, because the air is so pure. It used to be nearly impossible to get to because there was no airport or main sea lines, but these days you can visit with a quick flight from Zagreb, Split, or Pula. You should definitely get in touch with a local if you are interested in visiting Mali Lošinj, to learn more about the best routes and accommodations.
#19: Trogir: Dalmatia’s “little Venice”
The Dalmatian port town of Trogir is sometimes referred to as the little Venice of Dalmatia for its blue waterways and Renaissance architecture. Its historic old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has a lot of similar features to Dubrovnik’s old town (red brick roofs, old churches with high spires and a charming main square). While you’re there, be sure to try out some of Croatia’s best cuisine—fish, rich cheeses, and pršut (smoked Dalmatian ham) are abundant. Spot some locations where a variety of shows and movies were filmed, and take a walking tour to absorb some of the city’s rich history.
#20: Rovinj: For a sunny, relaxing family vacation
Last but certainly not least on our list is Rovinj, on the Istrian peninsula. This little coastal town has some unique colorful architecture, a historic old town, and a ton of luxury seaside resorts. It’s a great place for exploring with the whole family or just relaxing on the beach—they have some perfect beaches for picnics or sunbathing. If you’re looking for a chill, sunny getaway on your trip to Croatia, Rovinj could be the ideal stop!
For even more places to visit in Croatia—and advice on what to do once you get there—connect with a local to plan your trip. They’ll design a custom itinerary based on your interests and their know-how, which means you’ll see Croatia through the eyes of someone who actually lives there. Basically, it’s like having a Croatian best friend—why see the country any other way? Learn more.
- Connect With a Local to Plan Your Trip
- Croatia Travel FAQ 2019
- Is Croatia Safe for Travel?
- The Top Things to Do in Croatia
- Everything You Need to Know about Transportation in Croatia
- Where to Stay in Croatia in 2019
- Contact Us