A detailed list of the best tourist attractions in Croatia for first-timers and those looking for itinerary inspiration.
Turquoise waters, Mediterranean climate, ancient history, and excellent food – four attributes to sum up your perfect vacations in Croatia. The European country has become a very popular tourist destination in recent years. Thanks to a lot of post-war efforts but certainly also due to popular TV series like Game of Thrones.
As the country is so diverse I felt like putting together a list of the best things to do in Croatia to give you a good overview and help you plan your itinerary.
For me, Croatia has always been a place to spend the perfect summer vacations with family and friends. And in fact, that’s what I recommend you to do. Rent a house/apartment near the ocean and just celebrate ennui with a day trip sprinkled in here and there for good measure. At least that’s how we spent a lot of summers during my childhood!
Anyways here is my list of the best places to see in Croatia:
Dubrovnik, for some more commonly referred to as King’s Landing (*lol*), is an ancient coastal fortress town you absolutely have to see. The city is just so picture-perfect. Walk through the medieval alleys, sample the food and explore the long history of the town. And don’t forget to take the cable car up to the mountain behind Dubrovnik and enjoy the beyond fantastic view of the whole bay area.
The best part about your visit to Dubrovnik: Any local will attest that the waters and beaches in Dalmatia are the best of the country, which means you should certainly stay a day or two longer to enjoy it to the fullest.
2. Plitvice Lakes
Continental Croatia actually has a lot to offer, though it is not as popular among tourists. One place you cannot miss is the Plitvice Lakes National Park. It’s basically one big natural water park with crystal clear water and abundance of waterfalls.
Sadly, you cannot go bathing inside the many little lakes and pools of the UNESCO World Heritage site – you may only take photos. If you stay in the area, though, you could go wild water rafting in the nearby rivers of the Krka National Park.
Croatia doesn’t have (natural) sand beaches. In a lot of places you have a very rocky surf, and sometimes pebbles. But that doesn’t mean the beaches are not worth a visit. Quite the opposite, in fact. Places like Brac will convince you very quickly of the sheer beauty of the Croatian coast. Zlatni Rat is probably the most famous beach.
Personally speaking, Split is my favorite place in Croatia. Here, an ancient Roman palace survived the ages virtually unscathed. I had Latin in school, and back then it all seemed pretty much dead and dull. But when I first set my foot into the fabled Diocletian Palace in Split it suddenly all came alive.
Pula is the heart of Istria. It’s most prominent landmark is certainly the ancient Roman arena, but truth be told, the whole town is quite lovely as well. The Istrian peninsula is very close to the middle of Europe. So Austria, Italy, and Germany are only a couple of hours drive away. Perfect if you plan a road trip around Europe. Even a day trips to Slovenia are possible.
Zadar is a lovely little coastal city more or less in the middle of the Croatian coast. Again, there is quite some Roman architecture to be explored (and a beautiful old town), but Zadar is also particularly famous for its beautiful sunsets. Make sure to drop by near the harbor, where an organ powered by the sea is continuously emitting it’s strangely eerie sound.
6. Korčula Island
You haven’t been to Croatia if you haven’t visited at least one of its many many beautiful islands. Korčula is still an insider tip as it is not as crowded as some others and keeps an authentic charm that is hard to escape. Korčula is only accessible by ferry.
Motovun is a beautiful hilltop town you would normally only expect in Italy. And truth be told, the town has not always been Croatian. But it is this diverse history (and obviously the lovely setting) that makes Motovun more than worth a visit.
A list of the top things to do in Croatia can’t leave out Zagreb. The capital of the country has long been shunned by tourists. And truth be told, there is not that much to explore. But in recent years Zagreb really is experiencing some sort of renaissance. With a lot of older people returning after the war and a lot of younger people starting to study there, the city is a beautiful mixture of everything new and old.
If the concept of a picturesque Mediterranean harbor town had a name, I am sure it would be called Rovinj. I’ve been there many times and loved exploring all the little restaurants, konobas, and cafes. It’s a quiet town, but particularly lovely in the evening, close before sunset. Definitely put it on your list of things to do in Croatia
Hvar is a very popular island among the locals, or rather the rich locals. Still, it is so for a reason. The rather green island with its many little bays and beaches is the ideal place to dock your private yacht. Sounds fun? Well, there are many tourist agencies offering that experience for a rather moderate price. So, why not put it on your list of things to do in Croatia?
Other things to do in Croatia
Long and illustrious as this list of things to see in Croatia might be, there are in fact so many other beautiful landmarks and tourist attractions. Especially the continental part of Croatia is, so far, almost totally devoid of international tourists. Yet this is the perfect place for outdoor activities like hiking, rafting, biking, and motocross.
Also, never forget that Croatia is the perfect spot to let your soul relax. Don’t overstuff your itinerary and rather enjoy the beach, the local food and the pleasant heat that seems to slow down almost everything to a totally stress-free way of living.
Probably the best way to explore Croatia is by boat. Many of my friends are Croatian and they always keep on telling me how the islands are the real Croatia. Drive around the many national parks around the Dalmatian coast at day, and eat & sleep in a lovely little harbor town at night.
So, that’s it. This was my list of the 10 best things to do in Croatia. Got any questions? Feel to leave a comment. And don’t forget to pin this travel guide to your Pinterest board if you liked it!