The Top 25 Best Places to visit in Croatia


A Guide to the Country’s Top Destinations

Croatia is a country blessed with incredible natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. From the azure waters of the Adriatic Sea to the spellbinding Plitvice Lakes national park, Croatia packs incredible diversity into a relatively small area.

With a stunning coastline dotted with over 1,000 islands, enchanting medieval cities like Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia has long been a favorite Mediterranean destination. Below are the 20 best places to visit to make the most of your Croatian adventure.

1. Dubrovnik

No list of Croatia’s best destinations is complete without the magnificent walled city of Dubrovnik. With its neutral grey stone buildings, terracotta rooftops and the deep blue Adriatic as a backdrop, Dubrovnik looks like something out of a fairytale.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Dubrovnik’s medieval Old Town is surrounded by 2 km long stone walls built between the 12th and 17th century. Walk the walls for sweeping views over the city and coastline.

Inside the walls, marble-paved streets lead to baroque churches and aristocratic palaces housing museums and galleries. Don’t miss visiting the gothic-renaissance Rector’s Palace and 14th century Franciscan Monastery with one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe.

After exploring the Old Town, take the cable car up Mount Srd for breathtaking vistas over Dubrovnik and the Elafiti Islands offshore. Come evening, grab a waterfront table and watch the sunset turn the walls burnt orange as you toast your Dubrovnik visit with a glass of local wine.

2. Split

Croatia’s second largest city, Split is situated on a peninsula on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea. Originally founded as a Greek colony, Split grew into prominence as the Roman Emperor Diocletian made the city his retirement home in 295 AD.

Today, Split’s main draw is Diocletian’s Palace, a vast Roman monumental structure that makes up a large portion of the Old Town. This living part of Split is now crammed with houses, shops, cafes, and restaurants making it a lively place to explore.

Highlights of visiting Diocletian’s Palace include walking the ancient basement halls, viewing the original sphinxes from Egypt in the courtyard, and climbing the Romanesque bell tower of the Cathedral of St. Domnius for panoramic views over the palace.

Nearby, Split boasts some of Croatia’s best beaches like golden sanded Bacvice and quiet secluded Kasjuni. For culture vultures, Split has an impressive array of museums and galleries as well as Roman ruins like Salona just outside the city.

Come evening, see Split’s lively side along the Riva seafront promenade lined with bars and restaurants perfect for sampling Dalmatian cuisine.

3. Plitvice Lakes National Park

No trip to Croatia is complete without visiting the spellbinding beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Located inland in central Croatia, Plitvice Lakes comprises a series of 16 terraced lakes joined by waterfalls that extend into a limestone canyon.

Formed by mineral-rich water flowing over limestone deposits over thousands of years, the lakes range in color from vivid turquoise to azure blue and grey. Walking the wooden pathways and hiking trails give you an opportunity to admire the lakes and waterfalls up close from every angle. Make sure to see the tallest in the park – 78 meter high Veliki Slap.

The most popular section lies between Upper and Lower Lakes where you can take a ferry ride across the turquoise Kozjak Lake and enjoy panoramic views from viewpoints like Veliki Otok. You can see nearly all the lakes in a day, but it’s worth spending a night or two to enjoy tranquility of the area when the crowds depart at sunset.

4. Hvar

The Croatian island of Hvar receives plenty of visits thanks to its gorgeous Mediterranean climate and lively nightlife. But Hvar town has plenty of cultural and historical attractions to justify a stay after the party crowds leave.

Hvar town wraps around a deep bay on the island’s south coast with the Renaissance styled St Stephen’s Cathedral overlooking the harbor. Nearby, climb up the 16th century Spanjola Fortress for sublime sunset views and take a stroll along the waterfront promenade lined with Venetian palaces.

The inland hillsides surrounding Hvar are carpeted in fields of lavender, vineyards and olive groves. Visit historic villages like Stari Grad on the island’s northern shore to see ancient Greek parcels of land that have been cultivated since 400 BC.

For beach lovers, head to the golden sands of Česminica or hike 20 minutes to secluded coves like Dubovica on the island’s southern coast. Nature lovers will enjoy exploring Pakleni Islands off the coast with excellent swimming spots.

5. Zagreb

As Croatia’s charming capital city, Zagreb combines quaint neighborhoods with contemporary culture and a buzzing café scene. The city’s main draw is walking the cobblestone streets of the Upper Town lined with 19th century architecture and attractions like St Mark’s Church.

For a dose of culture, visit the neoclassical National Theater and Art Pavilion before discovering Croatia’s excellence in innovation at the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum. The Lower Town has bustling outdoor markets and an array of trendy bistros and coffee shops.

Walk down Tkalčićeva Street to meet locals and try traditional dishes at cozy konobas (taverns). After exploring downtown, head up forested Sljeme Mountain for beautiful views over the city. When the sun goes down, sample Zagreb’s nightlife over craft beers at Garden Brewery.

6. Korčula

With a perfect mix of medieval charm, intriguing history and gorgeous beaches, the island of Korčula is an Idyllic escape just a short ferry ride from Dubrovnik.

Korčula Town captivates from the first sight of its circular shape and towers rising above red rooftops. Inside the medieval walls, landmark sights like the 15th century St Mark’s Cathedral showcase a prosperous Venetian past. Climb the iconic Great Land Gate bell tower for panoramic views over terracotta roofs and out to sea.

Outside the old town, secluded beaches like Pupnatska Luka are ideal for swimming and sunbathing far from crowds. Inland, discover the island’s fascinating wine heritage with vineyard tours and tastings. For stirring sunsets, head to Zakerjan Beach on the western peninsula.

7. Mljet

For tranquil island escapes, the forested jewel of Mljet dazzles visitors with lush green beauty. Much of the island is encompassed by Mljet National Park protecting landscapes blanketed in pine forests, vineyards and orchards.

At the heart of the park are two stunning saltwater lakes – Veliko Jezero (Big Lake) and Malo Jezero (Small Lake) connected by a channel to the sea. Explore on foot or by bike stopping for swims along the way. Don’t miss taking a boat to visit 12th century St Mary’s Monastery on Melita Isle on Big Lake.

Outside the park, pretty villages like Saplunara offer great bases to enjoy Mljet’s quiet beaches lapped by aquamarine waters. Dining on grilled fish and local wines as the waves gently lap the shore completes the island escape.

8. Rovinj

On the Istrian peninsula in Croatia’s north, Rovinj is a charming coastal city beloved for its picturesque old town and superb local wines.

Wander cobblestone streets to candy-colored houses fronting the harbor and St. Euphemia Church, whose towering steeple dominates the skyline. Soak up gorgeous sea views strolling around old town streets and sitting at crowded cafes.

Don’t miss a walk to St. Catherine’s Church and the 19th century Villa Angelo Dubovica displaying artwork. Take a boat to the wooded St. Andrew’s Island just offshore.

Outside the old town, the fishing harbor is lined with excellent seafood restaurants and bars perfect for sundowners. Rovinj’s surroundings offer top wineries, stunning beaches and hilltop medieval towns like Motovun waiting to be explored.

9. Zadar

From spectacular sea-fed lakes to uncrowded beaches, vibrant nightlife and Roman ruins, Zadar on the Dalmatian Coast wows visitors with its diversity.

The pedestrianized old town is perfect for aimless wandering between Romanesque churches, cosmopolitan cafes and museums housing medieval religious art. Don’t miss the 9th century circular Church of St Donatus and the Sea Organ creating music from waves.

Nearby, the stunning turquoise waters of Kolovare Lakes and Zadar’s pristine beaches offer relaxation under sunny skies. Take a quick ferry to car-free Ugljan Island’s picturesque villages and quiet coves for a complete escape.

By evening, grab a table at one of Zadar’s open-air restaurants and enjoy a stunning light show as the sun sets behind the bell tower and illuminates the sea organ.

10. Šibenik

The coastal city of Šibenik is one of Croatia’s most underrated destinations. Yet with a magnificent gothic UNESCO World Heritage cathedral, atmospheric alleyways and beautiful nearby national parks, Šibenik deserves far more attention.

Šibenik’s compact pedestrianized center revolves around the monumental St. James’ Cathedral, constructed entirely from locally quarried stone. Wandering the atmospheric car-free streets, stopping at cozy bars and cute boutiques, reveals Šibenik’s relaxed charms.

Just outside the city, the breathtaking waterfalls and trails of Krka National Park and Kornati Islands National Park archipelago promise tranquility and amazing nature. Back in the city, Šibenik also has impressive fortresses, a Medieval garden and arguably Croatia’s best city beach, Banj.

11. Trogir

On a small islet just off the Dalmatian Coast, the beautifully preserved town of Trogir charms with its labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets edged by 15th century Venetian palaces and romanesque churches.

Encircled by medieval walls, the pedestrianized stone streets of the old town are a delight to wander aimlessly stopping for long lazy lunches at al fresco restaurants around every corner.

The intimate scale of Trogir means it can be fully seen in a day trip from Split. Must see sights include the magnificent Romanesque-Gothic Trogir Cathedral and Kamerlengo Castle on the waterfront.

Outside town, blissful beaches with crystal clear waters like Okrug Gornji are perfect for whiling away lazy days soaking up the sun.

12. Pula

On the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula, Pula has an amazingly well preserved collection of Roman ruins that make the city a fascinating stop in northern Croatia.

Most famous is the magnificent 1st century amphitheater that hosts events during the summer months. But Pula has several other fascinating Roman complexes like temple ruins, elaborate Arch of the Sergii and a Roman floor mosaic.

Beyond the Roman sights, Pula also has Venetian influenced architecture in the old town, an Austro-Hungarian fort and some of Istria’s best beaches just minutes away making the city a great base.

13. Brač

Famed for having one of the world’s most iconic beaches, the sunny island of Brač has plenty more natural beauty and historic attractions to captivate visitors.

The famous beach is Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn) near Bol town whose shimmering pebble promontory stretches 500 meters into the sea changing shape with the ocean currents. Excellent windsurfing and watersport conditions make it extremely popular.

Away from Zlatni Rat, Brač has many quieter pebble and stone beaches often accessible only by boat or trail like Lovrečina Bay. Inland, ancient olive groves and scenic hilltop villages like Škrip are perfect for scenic hikes. Don’t miss the impressive megalithic walls of the Stonemasonry School in Pučišća town.

14. Istria

Croatia’s heart-shaped peninsula of Istria contains some of the country’s best scenery from fairytale-like hill towns and gourmet cuisine to vineyards and olive groves.

Base yourself in Poreč with its UNESCO basilica or the atmospheric artist colony of Grožnjan to explore Istria’s interior and coastline. Top stops include romantic medieval hill towns like Motovun, the rich Roman ruins of Pula and Rovinj‘s stunning old town.

Inland, truffle-rich forests and scenic vineyards producing Croatia’s best wine make Istria a foodie paradise. Work up an appetite cycling quiet country roads between traditional villages before rewarding yourself at boutique wineries and family-run konobas.

15. Kornati Islands

For serene island-hopping and sailing in the central Dalmatian region, look no further than Kornati Islands National Park. Comprising nearly 150 mostly uninhabited islands, islets and reefs, Kornati voyage opportunities are endless.

Boat tours usually make stops at the larger islands of Žut and Piškera which have postcard-perfect white limestone cliffs and secluded coves. Experienced sailors with their own yachts often island hop for days only running into a few other boats.

The minimal development and strict environmental protections in the park make the Kornati islands a paradise for nature lovers. Look for rare bird species and admire brilliant starry skies at night far from light pollution.

16. Krka National Park

Stretching along the Krka River near Šibenik, the karst wonderland of Krka National Park protects a series of dramatic waterfalls including Croatia’s second largest.

Walking the extensive boardwalk system takes visitors right up to the base of amazing waterfalls like Skradinski Buk which cascades an incredible 17 terraces. Downriver, small islands create perfect spots for swimming in the crystalline waters of Krka.

Other highlights of Krka National Park include touring the 15th century fortresses that once guarded Šibenik and taking boat rides along the river and across Visovac Lake to visit a tranquil monastery on a tiny island. The park has numerous hiking trails for enjoying the unspoiled nature.

17. Pelješac Peninsula

Famed for its Plavac Mali vineyards and oyster beds, Croatia’s second largest peninsula Pelješac has captivated visitors for centuries with its rugged natural beauty.

Jutting into the Adriatic Sea across from Korčula, the Pelješac Peninsula offers enough unspoiled coastline, gourmet local cuisine and small fishing villages for weeks of exploration. Base yourself in medieval Ston with its famous stone walls or lively port town Orebić.

From either town, scenic hiking trails lead to vineyards with wine tastings or to hidden pebble beaches and coastal caves. Don’t miss the sweeping sand beach of Prapratno and impressive 15th century Franciscan monastery.

18. Pag

Lapped by the azure waters of the Adriatic, the slender island of Pag features a striking bare limestone landscape and Croatia’s famous lace making tradition.

Pag Town charms with its historic churches and open squares framed by chic cafes. But Pag’s main draw is its exceptional beaches. Grab a lounger at party-centric Zrće or spread your towel at the quieter northern end’s DINJA beach.

Inland on Pag, stark white hills covered in wild herbs and flowers stretch for miles. Sample tangy sheep’s cheese, a local specialty, and tour salt pans harvesting flaky crystals along Pag Bay.

As the sun sets, grab drinks in Novalja before dancing ’til dawn at legendary Zrće beach clubs like Papaya or Kalypso.

19. Paklenica National Park

In Northern Dalmatia’s Velebit Mountains, Paklenica National Park offers superb rock climbing and hiking along steeplimestone gorges etched by streams.

Two stunning canyons, Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica, cut deep into the rocky cliffs. Follow trails to panoramic viewpoints high above the canyons for breathtaking vistas. Over 150 established climbing routes scale the surrounding cliffs.

The park also has extensive forested areas with excellent wildlife watching and walks to caves and centuries old fortresses. Spend a few peaceful nights at the campground to best experience beautiful sunrises lighting up the canyons and night skies full of twinkling stars.

20. Vis

The furthest island from the mainland, Vis spent decades as a Yugoslav military base cut off from tourists until the 1990s. This isolation allowed Vis to retain its tranquil charm and has made it an under-the-radar favorite.

With less than 4,000 inhabitants, Vis island feels wonderfully peaceful and uncrowded even in summer. Base yourself in Vis Town to try the island’s famous seafood, explore British-built war tunnels and boats to small nearby islands.

On the north coast, villages like charming Komiza offer local guesthouses, quiet beaches and departure points for diving the many WWII shipwrecks sunk offshore. With so much unspoiled beauty, it’s no wonder many say Vis is Croatia’s most captivating island.

21. Brijuni Islands

An oasis of natural beauty and ancient history, the 14 island archipelago of Brijuni Islands makes for a fascinating day trip from Pula on the Istrian Coast. Designated a national park, the islands have both cultivated areas and wild stretches with rich wildlife.

Visit on an organized tour to see archaeological ruins like a Byzantine fort and Roman summer villa. Bike or take a miniature train tour to explore Veliki Brijun, the largest island. Stop for a swim at picturesque rocky beaches and admire exotic plants in ancient olive groves. Keep an eye out for ostrich and zebras from Brijuni’s historic safari park.

22. Samobor

For an easy escape into nature from Zagreb, head to the charming town of Samobor just west of the capital. Surrounded by the green Samobor Hills, the town is renowned for its carnival celebrations and tradition of making custard cream cakes called kremšnite.

Wander Samobor’s main square and relax by the gurgling Gradna River that runs through town. Hike up Tepec Hill through fragrant pine forest and visit the striking white chapel on the summit. Nearby, tour pretty villages like Orešje and hike to waterfalls including Vodenica. Sample kremšnite and enjoy the laidback vibe.

23. Opatija

As Croatia’s most famous seaside resort, Opatija has been attracting sun seekers to its grand hotels and inviting beaches since 1844. Enjoy a leisurely promenade along the Lungomare waterfront walkway admiring elegant villas.

Visit Opatija’s stately churches and fountains decorated with stunning marble stonework. Take the coastal path east to Volosko village, home to some of Croatia’s best restaurants focusing on gourmet local fare.

Just offshore, sail or take excursions boats to little islands like Sv. Nikola with pebble beaches perfect for swimming. For incredible sea views, ride the very scenic funicular up Mt. Učka behind Opatija.

24. Poreč

On the Istrian Peninsula, the charming town of Poreč makes an excellent base with its UNESCO world heritage basilica, quaint old town and long waterfront promenade. Wander the narrow stone streets and check out ancient Roman mosaics at the Euphrasian Basilica.

Nearby, the wooded Karst hills and pleasant climate have been perfect for cultivating grapes since Roman times. Tour vineyards and sample velvety Istrian malvazija whites and teran reds.

With a beautiful waterfront location, beaches Minutes from downtown draw sunbathers and watersport fans to cushy lounger setups or pebble shores. Out on the azure Adriatic, sail boats depart for the idyllic coves of uninhabited Sv. Nikola island.

25. Varaždin

Northern Croatia’s best preserved baroque town, Varaždin charms visitors with its pedestrian streets lined by colorful 18th century buildings. Once the capital of Croatia, Varaždin still has an elegant refinement including manicured city parks and a striking castle.

The Old Town is centered around baroque Trg Kralja Tomislava, St. Mary’s Church and the historic town hall. Pop into boutique shops, museums and galleries housed in aristocratic mansions and visit the hilltop medieval fortress.

The city also holds year-round events from Špancirfest street festival to the acclaimed Varaždin Baroque Evenings music festival each September.

That covers the 25 top places to visit in magnificent Croatia for unforgettable Mediterranean experiences. With breathtaking natural sites, captivating old towns, island-hopping adventures and relaxing beaches, Croatia delivers visual splendor and vivid memories.


With its sun-drenched coastline dotted with medieval seaside towns and pristine offshore islands, Croatia stakes its claim as one of Europe’s top beach destinations. But look inland and you’ll find the country’s rugged beauty extends to forested mountains, rolling hills blanketed in vineyards, and tranquil lakes.

Centuries of varied influence from Mediterranean cultures have left Croatia with a fascinating blend of historical attractions. Walk the same stoned streets and grand piazzas where ancient Greeks and Romans once gathered. Explore masterful Roman engineering that still stands tall like Pula’s immense arena.

Marvel at the soaring cathedrals, aristocratic palaces and defensive towers left behind by powerful Venetian rule. In Croatia’s interior, discover grand baroque architecture fit for long lost Habsburg royalty.

Beyond history and scenery, Croatia is a hub for outdoors enthusiasts with craggy peaks to climb, rushing rivers to raft and over a thousand islands to sail between. Plentiful hiking, biking, kayaking and windsurfing opportunities range from relaxing day trips to multi-day adventures. If that all sounds too active, Croatia’s idyllic beaches also cater perfectly to languid days lounging seaside and swimming in azure waters.

The variety of natural settings, historic cities and activities make Croatia an ideal destination for all travelers. Couples can stroll hand in hand down ancient alleyways before toasting sunsets from a cozy restaurant terrace. Outdoor lovers have endless options to stay active and enjoy nature’s majesty. Families will appreciate kid friendly beaches, islands ideal for exploring, and interactive museums bringing history to life.

Traveling between Croatia’s most fascinating destinations is easy via an excellent highway system or by fast ferries connecting offshore islands and mainland towns. Base yourself in a charming coastal city like Rovinj or Split and take scenic day trips to nearby national parks, islands, historic hill towns and wineries. With a convenient location in southern Europe, Croatia is easily accessible with short flights available from major European cities.

Visiting Croatia offers insight into the country’s turbulent history struggling for identity under foreign rule before finally gaining independence in the 1990s following the breakup of Yugoslavia. You’ll find a people proud of their heritage and country who have warmly welcomed foreign visitors flocking to experience Croatia’s beauty.

In recent years, Croatia has rapidly established itself as one of the Mediterranean’s most coveted travel destinations. Yet there remain many under-the-radar towns and natural areas waiting to be discovered beyond hotspots like Dubrovnik and Hvar. Visiting Croatia now allows travelers to experience the country’s captivating blend of chic European culture and unspoiled natural charm before the secret is out.

Whether you’re looking for a sunny beach getaway, an active outdoor escape, or to immerse yourself in centuries of alluring history and culture, Croatia delivers sublime experiences. From its glistening coastline, to cascading waterfalls hidden in ancient forests, to terracotta-roofed towns etched into rocky hillsides, Croatia mesmerizes. Add in superb local seafood and wines and welcoming Croatian hospitality, and it’s easy to understand why Croatia has become such a sought after destination. A visit to Croatia will undoubtedly become an unforgettable adventure into breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture.

Share This Article
Leave a comment