From the first moment we set foot in the country, we have counted Croatia among our favorite places to visit in the world. With each trip, we seem to not only check off a few more items from our list of the best places to visit in Croatia, find a few unexpected corners, and fall a little further in love with the country–we also seem to consistently leave with a bigger bucket list than we started with!
Planning a trip to this stunning country on the Adriatic and ready to start brainstorming where to go in Croatia?
From towns boasting endless terracotta rooftops along the sparkling Dalmatian coast to the waterfalls of Croatia’s national parks to the unexpected charm of its capital, here are some of the most beautiful places in Croatia to visit!
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Beautiful Cities + Towns to Visit in Croatia
From Trijit of Budget Travel Buff
Located in southern Croatia, Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Croatia. This historical city is popular for its medieval old town, surrounding city-walls, and stunning landscapes.
Dubrovnik is not a big city but you will find a lot of things to do and several outdoor activities that will keep you busy. Walking along the top of the city’s walls is the most popular tourist activity in Dubrovnik. It will take around two hours to complete the full circuit. Undoubtedly the path is beautiful but it can be crowded during the summer months.
I recommend starting early to avoid the crowd and get the best view of the city. It is also popular for Game of Thrones shooting locations. You can easily recognize King’s Landing from the top of the walls.
After your wall tour, explore the narrow streets of the Old Town which are filled with restaurants and small shops. You will notice that almost all the buildings share the same design that makes it a picturesque place.
Looking for some adventure activities? Then you must go for a sunset tour by kayak. Enjoy the views of the great walls from a different angle and a shimmering sunset from your kayak at the Adriatic Sea.
From Michael of The World Was Here First
One of the best places to visit in Croatia is the country’s second-largest city of Split. Located on the Dalmatian Coast, Split not only makes a fantastic base to explore the surrounding towns but is also packed with interesting things to do and places to see in the city itself. Travelers can easily spend a few days in Split exploring the highlights!
One of the best things to do in the city itself is to explore the Diocletian’s Palace area which is filled with interesting sites such as Jupiter’s Temple and the Cathedral of St. Domnius, where visitors can climb the bell tower for spectacular views of the city.
There is also a fish market nearby which makes for great people-watching. Close by, the Split Promenade area is also fantastic for strolling and a drink!
Outside of Split, there are a number of interesting towns that can be visited as half or full-day trips. Trogir and Omis both make for excellent half-day trips, as do a number of nearby beaches.
If you want to venture a bit further, Krka National Park and the town of Sibenik make for a fantastic day out from Split.
From Emily of Wander-Lush
Sitting at the southernmost tip of the Istrian Peninsula, the city of Pula is one of Croatia’s loveliest Adriatic destinations.
Pula has a different feel to the more-popular Dalmatian Coast, but a similar history that includes chapters under Roman, Ostrogoth, and of course Venetian rule.
The city is best-known for the Pula Arena, one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters anywhere on earth. Constructed from limestone between 27BC and 68AD, it stands an impressive 98 feet tall on a hill in the center of the city. There is a small museum inside the complex – but it’s equally nice just to walk around the perimeter of the ruins and admire the archways.
There are a number of other important ruins scattered around Pula, especially near the seafront, below the castle. The Temple of Augustus, Arch of Sergeii, and Roman floor mosaics are all worth seeing. Other things to do in Pula include visiting the Istrian Olive Oil Museum, climbing up to the Fortress Kastel, and eating fresh seafood at a restaurant overlooking the main plaza.
Pula is a summertime destination that is very quiet in the offseason. For a day trip, you can easily travel from Rovinj to Pula by bus or car – the two cities are less than an hour’s drive apart.
From Lori of Travlin Mad
If you like your Croatia island-hopping with a side of Old World Venice, then you should add the Venetian city of Rovinj to your Croatia itinerary. This coastal town on the Istrian peninsula was long a part of the Venetian empire and has a lovely Italian flair.
Old Town Rovinj is meant for strolling and hanging out in cafes, enjoying a Spritz or espresso, or long lunches of pasta or fresh seafood. The plethora of restaurants offers Istrian specialties prepared in a variety of ways, from casual fare to fine dining restaurants on the water. Don’t miss La Puntalina for some of the region’s best foodie experiences in one of the prettiest locations in the city.
When you leave the cafe, browse the local shops for Croatia souvenirs, taste locally produced wines and olive oils, and visit the daily street markets.
Be sure and visit the 16th century Church of St. Euphemia that towers over the historic town or take a boat tour to the small surrounding islands to visit hidden coves and secret beaches. The several waterfront areas in Rovinj are perfect for strolling or bike rides. And when you’re ready to explore outside the city, take a day trip into the surrounding towns, some of the most historic towns in Croatia.
From Josefine and Dominik of Red White Adventures
Are you interested in swimming in some of the bluest water in the world while watching incredible sunsets every evening? Well, that’s Trpanj for you!
This quiet little town is set on an island between Dubrovnik and Split. With historic landmarks and cute little local restaurants, Trpanj is a fantastic getaway if you’re looking for something a bit quieter and peaceful that will just blow you away with its nature and history.
You can enjoy walking around the island and hiking up to the peaks of the mountains if you’re looking for some exceptional views. Trpanj may be the best place to watch the sunset in Dubrovnik–or at least tied with Mt. Srd in Dubrovnik. So be prepared for some magical evenings!
Regarding how to get to and from Trpanj, there is a ferry that runs daily from Ploce and back so it’s very easy to get back to the mainland. Ploce is also a regular bus stop, for all the busses going up and down the coast. So you don’t have to worry about getting to and from Trpanj and getting stuck without any transportation.
From Disha of Disha Discovers
Croatia is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe and there are so many incredible destinations to visit. One bucket-list-worthy city in Croatia is Zagreb. Zagreb is Croatia’s capital and a city that everyone should truly visit at least once.
Tourists tend to overlook Zagreb because it doesn’t have idyllic views of the Adriatic Sea and they think it’s just another big city. However, this city is filled with charm and so many fun things to do. This underrated city has something in store for every traveler.
There are countless reasons to visit Zagreb. It’s easy to navigate with a compact city center. It’s small enough to explore everything on foot, yet it feels grand. You’ll fall in love with the Austro-Hungarian cityscape. The coffee culture here is also serious. You can find a cafe that serves a delicious cup of coffee pretty much anywhere in the city. The food scene is equally incredible with delicious local food and other international foods. Finally, the locals are warm and welcoming and will make you feel right at home.
Some of the best things to do in Zagreb are to visit the Zagreb Cathedral, explore King Tomislav Square, go window shopping along Ilica Street, wander the streets of Old Town Zagreb, try the local craft beer, discover history at Zagreb Mirogoj Cemetery, and so much more.
This tiny village in Slunj is known for exactly one thing: the cascading waterfalls that run literally through the town! Formed by the Slunjčica River, there are 23 waterfalls in all.
And, while the strength of the waterfalls depends on recent rainfall, the village is stunning year-round.
Beautiful and picturesque, Rastoke makes an excellent stop when driving from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Lined with traditional wooden homes, photographers flock to Rastoke for its unique beauty, but it gets a small fraction of the tourists that its neighbor Plitvice Lakes National Park does, making it a delightful, quiet place to stop for a coffee and a great view along the way.
From Dzangir of Dr. Jam Travels
Grožnjan is a small town in inland Istria on the hill surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, within half an hour from Buzet, Novigrad, or Umag. This medieval settlement has a long history, from a Roman time over Venetia and Austria to today’s modern Croatia.
The place is known as a town of artists. In the ’60s artists started squatting at that time empty houses. Today just around 150 people live there with 20 galleries and many festivals. The best time to visit is from May to September when they organize an annual painting festival, the Ex Tempore.
Grožnjan also has an annual jazz festival “Jazz is Back-BP”, held for two or three weeks, in the second half of July. When you have had enough of the coast you should take a short break to this hill. The most remarkable building inside the walls is the Church of St. Vid, Modest, and Krešencije with a 36-meter high bell tower.
Here you can walk around cobbled and narrow streets, visit one of the galleries, enjoy some music or have a drink and fritule. The best photo option is from Parenzana (ex railroad), there is a beautiful view of this town on a hill.
From Diana of Travels in Poland
A beautiful coastal town in the northern part of Croatia, Zadar is a not to be missed city. With fewer crowds than some of Croatia’s more popular destinations such as Split and Dubrovnik, Zadar is a gem that showcases Croatia’s beauty but also provides a small-town feel without the bustle of too many tourists.
There are so many fantastic things to see in Zadar that are not seen anywhere else in Europe. The sea organ is the perfect example. Carved into the stone of the coastline are hollowed out chambers. When the sea laps into them, they create a vibration that sounds like a beautiful organ. This can be heard when you are right next to the organ. The natural sounds are peaceful and you can sit atop the stone to listen to the music.
Closeby to the organ is the Sun Salutation installation. Made up of glass plates, the light show that occurs at night is the result of the sun rays being absorbed by the glass. The popular tourist attraction is quite beautiful and the light show is a true marvel in the evening.
Zadar has quite a few Roman ruins throughout the center of the city, with old tombs and ruins from churches scattered in one location. Zadar’s downtown area is easily walkable and there are plenty of great restaurants to choose from. The city also has a variety of boat rentals that can take visitors to the nearby islands for day trips.
From Dhara of It’s Not About the Miles
Located on the Drava River in northern Croatia, the beautiful baroque town of Varazdin is one of the easiest and best day trips from Zagreb you can do. The striking architecture and history of Varazdin is dramatically different from the beach towns of coastal Croatia and is a facet of the country you must not miss!
Start with a tour of Stari Grad, the beautiful white castle at the edge of the town. The castle now houses the Varazdin City Museum, but wandering around the old castle is fun in itself.
Next, wander the streets of the town, taking in the beautiful architecture on every street. In particular, don’t miss the stunning 17th-century Sermage Palace, a rococo dream. Today it houses an art museum, with international and Croatian masters on display.
The main square houses several beautiful buildings as well, including the Town Hall. The square is a great place to relax with a drink or an ice cream and people watch. Varazdin also has some beautiful churches to view, and its cemetery, a short walk outside the town is a beautiful serene place with lots of statuary.
To get to Varazdin from Zagreb, you can of course drive if you have a car. Otherwise, the bus is an easy way to get to the town from the main bus station in Zagreb and back. Service is frequent, and you can buy a return ticket on the day of your visit.
From Coni of Experiencing the Globe
Croatia’s capital of adventure, Omiš, is full of amazing things to see and do, both for the thrill-seekers and for those looking for a chilled time. Only 20 km southeast of Split, nested in the canyons of the Cetina river, the city rewards its visitors with magnificent views from every angle.
The Old Town is a typical terracotta-roofed Dalmatian settlement, with a strong influence of Venetian architecture. It’s crowned by the fortress of Mirabella, a 13th-century tower used by pirates to watch over the Channel of Brač for passing merchants. For the more athletic ones, there’s another fortress, Fortica, on the top of the hill overlooking Omiš, that provides stunning vistas of Brač, Hvar and Šolta islands, the river canyon, and the mountains that surround the area.
While beachgoers will have a great time in the sun-blessed seaside of Omiš, the surroundings of the city are an open invitation for adrenaline chasers. You can fill your days with rafting, ziplining, hiking, snorkeling, canyoning, windsurfing, and rock climbing.
There are many Croatia travel tips to take into account while planning your visit, but for Omiš don’t forget water and hiking shoes to be fully prepared for your adventure.
From Lyndsay of The Purposely Lost
If you’re interested in finding the best places to visit in Croatia, you need to check out Šibenik. Before being occupied at various times by the Venetians, the Byzantines, and the Hungarians, Šibenik was initially created by the Croats and even operated as the home of the Croatian king at one time. Located in Split-Dalmatia County, there are so many things to do in Šibenik that you need to check out.
Much of the ancient Old Town was built of stone, such as the Cathedral, St. James’s Church, which has now been transformed back into its Middle Ages glory, and many other buildings throughout the Old Town. Since Šibenik sits right on the coast, go for a stroll along the Riva or explore one of the city’s three former fortresses.
There are many ferry options accessible from the Riva, which will take you to several different locations, like any of the stunning islands just off the mainland’s coasts.
Šibenik is also a great home-base due to its accessibility to several of Croatia’s national parks. It would be best to make the city your home base and schedule any day tours to places like Krka National Park and Plitvice Lakes National Park from here.
From Kamila of My Wanderlust
Vukovar isn’t a very popular place to visit in Croatia but it surely is among the most important ones in the country’s history.
The town of around 27 thousand inhabitants is located in the eastern part of the country near Osijek, right on the border with Serbia.
The whole world learned about the place in 1991 when the dramatic battle of Vukovar, the first episode of the cruel Yugoslav Wars, took place here. The city was under siege for 87 days and eventually, it was captured by the Yugoslav Army in November 1991. 99% of the city was destroyed, thousands of people lost their lives and today Vukovar has the title of Croatian heroic-city.
The worst events took place in the local hospital where you can now see the memorial space telling the story of the 1991 tragedy and showing how the institution used to work at that time. The symbol of the town, the destroyed water tower, was left intact after the war to remind about the resistance of Vukovar.
Most of the buildings are now renovated and Vukovar is a really pleasant place to visit with the lovely center, the Baroque Eltz Manor from the 18th century that hosts the city museum (you can see the palace on the 20 kuna banknote) and the Franciscan monastery with St Philip and Jacob Church (the third-largest church in Croatia).
The Danube river that flows through the city offers plenty of activities too, especially in the summertime. Even if Vukovar isn’t the most obvious choice for travelers it’s still worth visiting the place to learn about Croatia’s recent history and to enjoy this fine town.
Croatian Islands + Beaches to Explore
As one of the most popular places to visit in Croatia–not to mention the home of one of the most iconic views in the country–it’s no surprise that Hvar can struggle with crowds during the popular summer months. Look away from the party scene, though, and you’ll still find plenty of reasons to visit this gorgeous island.
Hvar Town, where you’ll find St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Spanish Fortress (which is home to the impressive view in the below photo), a charming Venetian loggia and clocktower, and a quiet Franciscan Monastery, is the center of tourism on the island. From here, you can jump off to the Pakleni Islands, the blue and green caves, or any manner of other day trips.
Other corners of Hvar, like Jelsa, are quieter, but also well worth a visit if you’re looking to kick back and relax.
Hvar is known for its lavender fields, and while they take a bit of effort to find, if you happen to be visiting during the summer, it’s worth tracking them down!
From Ilse of Digital Travel Couple
A trip to Croatia wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of its islands, and Brac is the perfect one to have on top of your list of places to see in Croatia!
Brac is famous for its stonemasonry, olives, and wine, and during any visit; it’s easy to check out all of these must-dos. The main town, Bol, is pretty and also worth a visit with a pretty waterfront area. It’s also home to Stina Winery so there is no reason not to try the local drop. Muzej uja or the Olive Oil Museum is also a place to visit to learn more about their traditional methods of producing olive oil and to have a tasting.
Being an island, there are also many beaches and its prime attraction is Zlatni Rat, often listed as one of Europe’s best beaches. This title is deserved – it’s located on a spit of land that stretches into the Hvar Channel with beaches on both sides and a pine grove. It’s very pretty.
This gorgeous island is close to Split and easily accessible by ferry. There is a great view on the way in of this mountainous island which also means lots of views while exploring.
One of the loveliest places to visit in Croatia is Kolocep, one of the six Elaphiti Islands near Dubrovnik. A 40-minute ferry crossing from Gruz Harbour will take you to the small bay on Kolocep where you can start to discover the island’s charm.
Kolocep is not particularly geared up for tourism as it only has a couple of tavernas, a general store, three restaurants, a few Airbnbs, and one chain hotel. But it is when you head away from the pebble beach and harbor and start exploring Kolocep’s hiking trails which criss-cross the island through its pine forest, that you understand why it is such a magical place.
Discover Romanesque churches, a quirky lighthouse, traditional fishing villages, and lots of cats – something quite noticeable in Croatia. And when you want to cool off the azure waters around the island invite you in for a swim. The Blue Cave is on one of the hiking trails and can be entered once you are in the water. Secluded rocks offer private sunbathing spots close to the cave.
A trip to Kolocep can be combined with a visit to another of the other main Elaphiti Islands, Lopud, and Sipan, however, if Kolocep is last on your list make sure to watch the sun go down over the island with a crisp glass of Croatian wine from the local taverna by the ferry port – a perfect end to the day.
Croatia’s Blue & Green Caves
The green and blue caves are one of the most intriguing places for a visitor in Croatia.
While the beaches are gorgeous and the islands beautiful, these caves are far off and offer a different sort of intrigue than partying in Hvar or roaming around in Dubrovnik.
The best way to explore these caves is with a day tour from Hvar which takes you to the green cave first, then to the blue cave as well as some beautiful beaches for lunch. It can only be done as a day tour from Split but it offers much less time as a day trip.
The Green Cave is usually the first one that you’ll. It is an open cave and you will stop inside the cave. The name comes from the color of clean, clear water that appears green and you can see all the way to the bottom of the surface some 16-26 meters deep. A swim here is perfect and if you’re not into swimming, ask for a life vest.
The blue cave is the opposite of the green cave, you will be brought to a beautiful island of Biševo from where you will buy a ticket and wait for your turn to head to the cave. It is a beautiful island and you can relax on the beach which is no less beautiful than any other.
The boats that take you to the blue cave are smaller because of the low entry to the cave and the stay inside isn’t long but it is enough to let your mind boggle about the beauty of the crystal clear blue water which is very still and blue. Dip a hand and it feels like a scene from a fictional movie.
The caves are an intriguing addition to the usual beach itineraries for Croatia and Hvar and a real marvel of nature that is worth exploring when deciding where to go in Croatia.
From Baia of Red Fedora Diary
Often called mini-Dubrovnik, Korcula town is one of the most beautiful places in Croatia to visit in the Dalmatia region.
Encircled with ancient walls, Korcula town is the main city to explore on Korcula Island. Considered as the birthplace of Marco Polo, the town offers various attractions related to world-famous explorer.
The town is relatively small, so there are not that many things to do here. Still, your Korcula itinerary should include visiting Marco Polo’s house and museum to learn more about him and his adventures, wandering through the narrow cobblestone streets, sunbathing on the coast with gorgeous views of the fortified town, touring the magnificent cathedral, and overlooking the town and the shore from its bell tower, indulging in Croatian cuisine and trying local wine called Grk, to name a few.
Getting to Korcula town is relatively easy from any main town of Croatia. Daily ferries are running from Dubrovnik, Split, and nearby islands such as Hvar and Brac. During the high season, these ferries may even right twice daily. However, during the shoulder or low season, it’s advised to check the schedule.
Mljet National Park
From Roxanne of Faraway Worlds
Covered in a forest, with crystal waters and a stunning, if rugged coastline, Mljet National Park is undoubtedly one of the highlights of coastal Croatia. The national park is on the west of the island and covers over 5400 hectares of land and sea, with a range of walking and cycling tracks, two saltwater lakes, and ancient ruins.
The two saltwater lakes are some of the most photogenic in the world. Veliko and Malo Jezero (Large and Small Lake) stretch for almost 4km with a small island in the middle of the large lake.
The island, Sveta Marija, is home to a former Benedict monastery (now a café) which dates from the 12th century. Visiting the island is easy – small boats regularly leave from various points around the lake. Alternately, you can rent a kayak and paddle there in around 40 minutes.
The national park is car-free, so you can rent a bicycle or walk along the shady tracks. To get the best views, walk up the hills, and admire the stunning scenery from above. This is also a great place for swimming and sunbathing.
The water is clear, it’s easy to find an uncrowded spot to swim and the small lake’s water is often warmer than the sea. Just take along beach shoes (especially for children) as the shores can be rocky.
From Nichola of Global Mouse
Krk Island is a wonderful getaway from mainland Croatia with really easy access either from its seasonal airport or to drive over the huge toll bridge that connects it. Once on Croatia’s largest island, there is plenty to do here from visiting the beautiful 5th century Krk Cathedral to the aquarium.
There are some fantastic beaches here, from Vela plaža to the sandy beach at Sveti Marek. Don’t miss Oprna, often considered the most beautiful on the island.
Krk is a great island to explore by boat and the water here really is beautiful and crystal clear. There are a scattering of towns across Krk and the main town, Krk Town is so picturesque for a walkthrough with cobbled streets and flower-covered alleyways. There’s a number of restaurants and shops making it an ideal day trip even if you’re not staying overnight.
Some of the best family resorts in Croatia can be found around Krk giving you the perfect place to make a weekend or longer of a trip to the island.
From Claire of Stoked to Travel
The private island escape of Obonjan is located just a short ferry ride from the town of Šibenik, which is around 2 hours north of Split.
There aren’t many places in the world where you can arrange an affordable stay on a private island, but Obonjan is one of those. It’s a boutique glamping destination, with a wonderful spa, wellness offerings, and occasional weekends where a touring DJ or music act stops by.
The island is open for the long European summer, with guests welcome to arrive as they wish and to stay for any length of time. There’s an array of activities every day, from yoga, stargazing, cookery classes, and guests can get as involved as they like. Or do nothing but relax by the pool or the beach, if they fancy.
The island itself is traffic-free, but there are forest trails crisscrossing the interior which is perfect for walking or running. Interestingly, the island was once a Boy Scouts camp in the 1970s, so the old Olympic size pool has been modernized and transformed with day beds and a DJ booth. There’s still an outdoor gym, which has also been updated and you can round up some friends for a football game on the original pitch too.
In terms of accommodation, there are a few options. There’s the least expensive bell tent option, sharing communal bathroom facilities, then there’s the Forest Lodge which is a far more luxurious tent, with an en-suite and air conditioning. Then there are the newer Sun Lodges which are wooden cabins. There are several camp areas throughout the island, all surrounded by dense forest and near the water. Try and ask for one facing the setting sun, it’s magical to kick back with a drink outside of your tent to watch the sun go down there.
More of the Best Places to Visit in Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park
With its series of 16 sparkling, turquoise lakes, all knitted together by a series of tumbling waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes National Park is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in Croatia (and in Europe overall!).
Come ready to hike over and around the beautiful lakes, to stare in awe of the cascading falls, to take a boat ride across the biggest lake, and to admire this stunning corner of the country from all angles.
Each season at Plitvice Lakes National Park offers something special: while summer is the most popular, the fall foliage and winter snow also offer compelling beauty of their own.
While Plitvice Lakes National Park isn’t the easiest of these best places to visit in Croatia to access–it’s best done by car, and is a few hours worth of driving from the popular coast–it is absolutely worth the effort it takes to add it to your list of where to go in Croatia.
Krka National Park
Recommended by Cosette from KarsTravels.
Krka National Park should be on any Croatia itinerary, it’s so beautiful with its travertine waterfalls. Krka National Park is in between Zadar and Split, in the region Dalmatia.
Visit for the 7 waterfalls, the archeological site of Burnum, Visovac island with a church, an abbey, and a museum. Burnum is an old Roman camp. The most popular and largest waterfall of the 7 is Skradinski Buk.
Skradinski Buk is the largest travertine waterfall system in Europe. Waterfalls drop down in a beautiful pond, which visitors used to be able to swim in (this practice ended in order to conserve the landscape). The waterfall has 17 traps with a height difference of 47 meters. The part at the pond is 100 meters in width and 400 meters in length.
Skradinski Buk is reachable on a circular 1-hour path. It’s the most popular hike in the park and offers stunning views of the waterfall from all sides. This is however not the only trail, there are 22 trails in total. Cycling is also an option in the park with 470 kilometers in bike routes throughout the park.
Finally, go on a boat excursion, there are 3 different ones with a guide.