Croatia, a Mediterranean Gem
Welcome to Croatia, a Mediterranean gem that captivates travelers with its endless wonders.
Nestled along the stunning Adriatic coast, Croatia is an enchanting country offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture.
From the magnificent walled city of Dubrovnik to the picturesque Plitvice Lakes National Park. There is no shortage of breathtaking sights to explore in Croatia.
Discover charming coastal cities and towns like Split and Hvar with their ancient architecture and vibrant waterfront promenades.
Explore the rugged beauty of the Dinaric Alps or embark on a sailing expedition along the stunning Adriatic coastline. Dive into crystal-clear waters and discover vibrant marine life, or simply unwind on pristine beaches surrounded by turquoise waters.
Immerse yourself in Croatia’s rich cultural heritage by visiting historic sites such as Diocletian’s Palace in Split or the iconic St. Mark’s Church in Zagreb.
Indulge in delicious local cuisine that combines Mediterranean flavors with unique regional specialties like fresh seafood and truffle-infused dishes.
Did You Know?
Arijana, one of the two writers of this travel blog, is from Croatia! Having worked on the filming of a documentary in some of Croatia’s best places, she is a great source of information about things to explore in the country.
Croatia Travel Tips
Before we jump into the top things to do in Croatia, let’s cover the travel essentials. These tips will help you have a more fun, enjoyable, and safer trip to this incredible country.
Stay connected with an eSIM
Instantly connect to the internet on your arrival in Croatia by buying an eSIM package in advance.
- eSIM packages on Airalo (get $3 off the first purchase with code MATEJ1033)
- eSIM packages on Holafly (get 5% off your purchases with code SHIPPEDAWAY)
- eSIM packages on SimOptions (Europe, Orange, Bouygues, O2)
Book trusted tours
Get travel insurance
While Croatia is a safe destination, we recommend getting travel insurance for any trip outside your country. We highly recommend an insurance package from Heymondo. And as our reader, you get 5% off the price.
We have compiled a Croatia Bucket List Travel Map, which you can check out to get a better idea of where what is located in Croatia.
Top things to do in Croatia
Whether you’re seeking adventure in nature, exploring historical sites, or indulging in mouthwatering dishes, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Let’s delve into the beauty and wonders of this charming country and discover the top things to do in Croatia.
1. Plitvice Lakes National Park
The Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of Croatia’s most breathtaking destinations, offering visitors a chance to explore the stunning natural beauty. It’s renowned for mesmerizing lakes, waterfalls, and lush greenery.
One of the main attractions of the Plitvice Lakes National Park is its series of interconnected lakes, known for their vibrant turquoise and emerald colors. Hiking trails and wooden pathways wind through the park, so you can easily take in panoramic views of these lakes.
Not only does the park have many lakes, but it’s also home to numerous cascading waterfalls.
The most famous waterfall in Plitvice Lakes National Park is Veliki Slap, meaning Great Waterfall, at approximately 78 meters in height.
Plitvice Lakes is perfect for those seeking longer hiking trails and those simply seeking a peaceful retreat amidst nature.
From capturing stunning photographs to enjoying tranquil moments surrounded by cascading waterfalls, the Plitvice Lakes natural gem is an awe-inspiring beauty and a top thing to do in Croatia.
2. Krka National Park
Krka National Park is a must-visit destination in Croatia for nature enthusiasts.
Known as one of the best national parks in the country, Krka National Park is home to several stunning cascades, including the famous Skradinski Buk waterfall.
At the national park, you can observe the crystal-clear water of the Krka River as it cascades down the limestone rocks. And since the park also houses an Ethno village, you can also learn more about the culture and traditions of the area on your visit. Don’t skip that part!
Walking along Krka National Park’s well-maintained trails, you can witness the park’s rich biodiversity up close.
You can also go on a Krka National Park E-Bike Tour, to explore it in a better way.
There’s plenty to do in and around Krka National Park. From hiking and cycling to kayaking and swimming, there are plenty of opportunities to get active and explore the area.
3. Dubrovnik Old Town and City Walls
One of the top things to do in Croatia is to visit the Old Town of Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Enclosed within ancient city walls, this well-preserved medieval town showcases impressive Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture.
Dubrovnik, a historic city located on the Adriatic coast of Croatia, is a must-visit destination in Croatia for history enthusiasts and Game of Thrones fans alike.
With its stunning architecture, rich cultural heritage, and picturesque landscapes, Dubrovnik offers a unique travel experience.
The top things to do in Dubrovnik are exploring its narrow cobblestone streets, visiting historical landmarks such as the Rector’s Palace and St. Blaise Church, and enjoying panoramic views from the iconic City Walls that encircle it.
While Dubrovnik’s Old Town is easy to explore on your own, if you’d like to learn more about the history and learn about why and how it was such an important part of this area’s history, check out the Dubrovnik Old Town Walking Tour.
Besides its architectural wonders and Game of Thrones connections, Dubrovnik boasts breathtaking natural beauty. The crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea provide opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and boat excursions to nearby islands like Lokrum or Elafiti Islands.
In conclusion, whether you are interested in exploring historical sites or immersing yourself in fantasy worlds from your favorite TV show, visiting Dubrovnik is the top thing to do in Croatia. Its blend of history, culture, and natural beauty makes it an enchanting destination that should not be missed.
Game of Thrones enthusiasts should know that Dubrovnik was the backdrop for several memorable scenes from the popular TV series. You can go on a Game of Thrones guided tour to discover filming locations such as Lovrijenac Fortress (known as the Red Keep in the show), Pile Gate (one of the entrances to King’s Landing), and Fort Bokar (featured in various battle scenes).
Also, if you want to have a picture of you sitting on the official Iron Throne, you can go to Lokrum Island with a boat from the Old Harbour or on a Lokrum Island Game of Thrones Tour.
GAME OF THRONES IN DUBROVNIK
4. Dalmatian Islands
The Dalmatian Islands, located along the stunning Adriatic coast of Croatia, are renowned for being great vacation spots. With their beautiful beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters, these islands offer an unforgettable seascape experience.
Croatia’s best islands, such as Hvar, Brac, Vis, and Korcula, attract tourists worldwide with their breathtaking landscapes and vibrant local culture. Each island has its own unique charm and attractions.
There are numerous day trips going to the islands, like the Full-Day Catamaran Cruise to Hvar & Pakleni Islands, the Brač and Šolta Island Cruise, or the Blue Lagoon and 3 Islands Tour from Split.
DALMATIAN ISLANDS FROM SPLIT
There’s plenty to do on Croatia’s islands. From swimming in the clear waters, and exploring hidden coves and caves to sailing along the picturesque coastline. Or simply relaxing on the sun-kissed beaches.
The islands are also known for their rich history and cultural heritage. There is much to explore, from ancient ruins to medieval towns with charming architecture.
That’s why the Dalmatian Islands are ideal for both a peaceful retreat and an adventure-filled vacation.
5. Zlatni Rat, Europe’s best beach
Located on the island of Brač, Zlatni Rat is considered Europe’s best beach and one of the top things to see in Croatia.
Its distinctive shape, resembling a horn or tongue that extends into the sea, adds to its allure and makes it instantly recognizable.
You can enjoy swimming along the pebble beach’s long stretch or participate in various activities such as windsurfing and paddleboarding.
Surrounded by greenery and pine forests, Zlatni Rat offers an escape from bustling city life. But with all the convenience of having bars and food stalls and essentials like toilets, showers, and towel rental.
The best way to enjoy Zlatni Rat – Golden Horn Beach the most is by staying on Brač Island. But you can also visit this fabulous beach on a day trip from Makarska or on a day trip from Split (also includes other spots).
ZLATNI RAT TOURS
6. Diocletian’s Palace in Split
A remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best things to do in Croatia is Diocletian’s Palace in the heart of Split. It offers a great glimpse into the city’s rich history and unique beauty.
Built in the 4th century by Roman Emperor Diocletian, this palace complex is a historical monument and a thriving part of Split’s Old Town.
The architecture of Diocletian’s Palace showcases a blend of Roman, Gothic, and Renaissance styles, making it an architectural marvel. Its massive stone walls, intricate carvings, and grand entrances transport visitors back to the era when it was built.
Exploring the palace allows you to wander through its narrow streets and discover hidden courtyards filled with charming shops, cafes, and restaurants. You can do it by yourself, or learn more by joining the Old Town and Diocletian’s Palace Walking Tour.
DIOCLETIAN’S PALACE TOURS
Aside from its architectural splendor, Diocletian’s Palace is home to various interesting attractions. The Cathedral of Saint Domnius stands proudly within the palace walls and boasts stunning medieval artwork. In addition, climbing the impressive bell tower gives you amazing panoramic views of Split.
You can also explore the underground cellars that were once used for storage. They now showcase artifacts from different historical periods. Additionally, visit Peristyle Square, the central gathering place within the palace complex where you can witness live performances or simply soak in the vibrant atmosphere.
Rovinj, one of Croatia’s most charming coastal towns, offers a delightful experience as you wander through its picturesque streets.
One of the must-see attractions in Rovinj is the St. Euphemia Church, a stunning landmark that dominates the town’s skyline.
Perched on top of a hill, St. Euphemia Church offers breathtaking views of Rovinj and the Adriatic Sea. Not only that, it also houses an impressive collection of religious art and artifacts. All in an interior decorated with intricate frescoes and sculptures. Also, climbing to the top of its bell tower will give you great panoramic views.
As you explore Rovinj’s Old Town, you’ll be captivated by its narrow cobblestone streets with colorful buildings and charming shops. The Old Town is a maze of alleyways that leads to hidden squares, quaint cafes, and local artisan boutiques.
Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting traditional fisherman’s houses turned into art galleries. Or sample delicious seafood dishes at waterfront restaurants. And don’t forget to stroll along the harbor promenade, where you can admire fishing boats bobbing in the crystal-clear waters.
If you’re looking for a more organized time in Rovinj and want to learn more about its history and significance, join the Rovinj Guided Walking Tour.
8. Istrian Hilltop Towns
Nestled in the heart of the Istrian peninsula, the hilltop towns of Istria offer a charming and picturesque escape for travelers seeking a taste of small-town charm.
Often called the “small Tuscany,” these towns boast stunning views, rich history, delicious food, and great wine. Their well-preserved medieval architecture adds to their allure, transporting visitors back in time. Cobblestone streets wind through narrow alleyways, leading to hidden squares adorned with charming cafes and shops.
The hilltop towns are known for their delectable traditional dishes that showcase fresh local ingredients. From truffle-infused pasta to hearty stews and seafood delicacies, food lovers will find themselves indulging in a culinary adventure.
To complement the gastronomic delights, Istria is also home to exceptional wines. The region’s mild climate and fertile soil create ideal conditions for grape cultivation. You can explore local wineries and vineyards nestled within these hilltop towns. And sample award-winning wines made from indigenous grape varieties.
CENTRAL ISTRIA TOURS
9. Hum, the Smallest Town in the World
Nestled in the picturesque countryside of Croatia’s Istria, Hum holds the title of being the smallest town in the world.
With a population of just 30 people, Hum has a unique appeal, as it offers an authentic glimpse into traditional continental Istrian life.
Despite its tiny size, Hum boasts several notable attractions. The town’s medieval architecture is well-preserved, with stone houses and narrow cobblestone streets. You can explore the Church of St. Jerome, which dates back to the 12th century, or admire the ancient city walls that once protected this tiny enclave.
Hum is also famous for its local specialty known as “biska,” a herbal brandy made from mistletoe. This traditional beverage has been produced in Hum for centuries and is considered a symbol of hospitality and friendship.
Visiting Hum promises to be an interesting experience that showcases that beauty can be found within even the smallest corners of our world.
Did You Know?
Croatia is almost 3 times as big as its neighbor Slovenia. Going between Split and Dubrovnik (not a big part of Croatia) is the same as going from one side of Slovenia to another.
There’s a running joke in Croatia: if someone in Maribor, its second-biggest city, opens an umbrella, they poke someone in Ljubljana, the capital, in the eye.
Pula, Croatia, is a captivating city in the Istrian Peninsula, known for its rich historical heritage.
The most famous attraction is the well-preserved Roman amphitheater, Arena Pula, which dates back to the 1st century AD. This impressive structure hosts various events and concerts throughout the year. It’s a truly remarkable setting and something unique.
But what’s Pula truly known for are the dolphin-watching cruises, sea caves and cliff kayaking adventures. Also, boat trips from Pula to nearby Brijuni National Park, Cape Kamenjak, and Medulin Archipelago offer a great day out on the water.
Croatia offers a wide variety of cycling trails and biking paths. So it’s no wonder it’s quite a popular destination for cyclists of all levels.
From coastal routes with stunning views of the Adriatic Sea to inland trails that wind through lush forests and villages. There’s something for everyone.
In addition to the natural beauty and varied terrain, Croatia also offers excellent infrastructure for cyclists. Many cities have dedicated bike lanes and paths, ensuring safe and enjoyable rides throughout the country.
CROATIA CYCLING TOURS
For those seeking more advanced cycling experiences, Croatia has plenty to offer as well. The country boasts several mountain ranges, such as Velebit and Biokovo, which provide thrilling off-road biking opportunities. These trails cater to experienced riders looking for an adrenaline rush and a chance to test their skills.
On the islands of Hvar and Brač, there are great cycling trails all around the islands. And especially on their south coasts, with the trails passing by many beautiful bays and beaches.
Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, is known for its rich history and vibrant culture. This bustling city offers a perfect blend of old-world charm and modern amenities.
One of the highlights of why Zagreb is a top thing to do in Croatia is its remarkable old architecture showcasing various architectural styles, including Gothic, Baroque, and Art Nouveau. Observe it in the iconic Zagreb Cathedral, the historic Upper Town, and its cobblestone streets and charming squares.
Zagreb is also home to many great museums like the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum and unique museums like the Museum of Broken Relationships, the Museum of Illusions, and the one-of-a-kind Museum of Hangovers.
Food enthusiasts will find themselves in a gastronomic heaven in Zagreb, a city that experienced its culinary scene exploding. You can find traditional Croatian restaurants serving Ćevapi (grilled minced meat), Peka (slow-cooked meat or fish), and štrukli (cheese-filled pastry). And all kinds of international ones like Japanese, Middle-Eastern, and, of course, Indian and Italian.
Zagreb is also famous for its abundance of cafes. The city has a strong café culture where locals and visitors alike gather to socialize, relax, or indulge in people-watching. From cozy coffee shops tucked away in narrow streets to trendy cafes with outdoor seating in bustling squares. There is no shortage of options to enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of beer or wine while soaking up the vibrant atmosphere.
In conclusion, Zagreb offers an enticing mix of Croatian heritage, remarkable architecture, flavorful cuisine, and a thriving café scene. It’s no wonder that this charming capital city has become an increasingly popular destination for travelers seeking an authentic European experience.
One of the absolute best things to do in Croatia is sailing to the Dalmatian islands like Hvar and Brač.
Hvar and Brac, two gems nestled in the Adriatic Sea, are perfect for those seeking a picturesque getaway with stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife.
With ports and marinas of various sizes, they’re great for boats of all sizes. So it’s no wonder they are so popular with boating and sailing.
Hvar Island is renowned for its pristine beaches, drawing visitors from around the world. With crystal-clear turquoise waters and pebble beaches, Hvar’s beaches offer a serene escape. From secluded coves to lively beach clubs, there is something for everyone. Don’t miss the famous Dubovica Beach or the picturesque Palmizana Bay on the nearby Paklinski Islands.
When the sun sets, Hvar town comes alive with its vibrant nightlife. The town boasts an array of trendy bars, clubs, and restaurants that cater to all tastes. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed beachfront cocktail or an energetic night of dancing, Hvar Town has it all.
On neighboring Brac Island lies Zlatni Rat, one of Croatia’s most iconic beaches. Known as the Golden Horn due to its unique shape resembling a horn protruding into the sea, Zlatni Rat is a must-visit destination in Croatia for beach lovers. It’s surrounded by pine trees and offers breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea. And it’s perfect for sunbathing and water sports.
Both Hvar and Brac are two of the best islands in Croatia, offering an idyllic escape filled with natural beauty and unforgettable experiences. So pack your bags and sail away to these stunning islands for an unforgettable vacation in Croatia’s Adriatic paradise.
We sailed for a week with MedSailors on the Croatia Discovery Route and had a fantastic time exploring the islands by boat. The moments we cherish the most are anchoring in a quiet, beautiful bay with crystal-clear water and jumping off the boat for a swim. It doesn’t get better than that! Read our review.
14. Wine tasting
If you’re a wine enthusiast, indulging in wine tasting in Croatia is a must-do thing.
There are thousands of wineries in Croatia, but the most famous ones are the ones in Istria and Dalmatia.
From crisp whites to robust reds, Croatia’s winemakers pride themselves on producing high-quality wines that reflect the unique characteristics of the area.
In addition, exploring the wine routes is another fantastic way to immerse yourself in the world of Croatian wines. These well-marked routes take you through scenic vineyards and charming villages. There you can visit family-owned wineries and taste their signature creations.
Head out from Zagreb on the Plešivica and Samobor Wine Road Day Tour which takes you to the famous Plešivica Wine Road to try wine in exquisite wineries and indulge in delicious traditional cakes in Samobor.
DALMATIA WINE TASTING
From Split, there are numerous wine-tasting tours, like the Krka Waterfalls Food & Wine Tasting Tour.
In Dubrovnik, you can go on the Dubrovnik Gastronomy Food & Wine Tour.
And in Hvar, you can join the Twice the Wine – Two Wineries Tour.
ISTRIA WINE TASTING
In Umag, you can go on the Olive Oil, Wine, and Local Food Tour at a Family Farm.
From Pula, you can do the Cape Kamenjak Wine Tasting & Bike Tour.
And from Vodnjan you can experience the Teraboto Tour with Wine and Olive Oil Tasting.
15. Truffle hunting
One of Croatia’s most special experiences is Truffle hunting in Istria, a unique experience where you can search for truffles in Istria’s truffle-rich forests.
Istria’s truffles are particularly famous, with the region being home to some of the most sought-after varieties in the world. The two main types found in Istria are the white truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico) and the black truffle (Tuber Melanosporum). These aromatic fungi have a distinct flavor profile that adds depth and richness to various dishes.
Truffle hunting in Istria is an adventure on its own. Trained dogs or sometimes even pigs are used to sniff out these elusive treasures hidden beneath the ground. Accompanied by experienced hunters, visitors can witness firsthand the excitement of searching for truffles amidst beautiful landscapes.
TRUFFLE HUNTING TOURS
Truffle hunting in Croatia’s Istria also provides insight into the local culture and traditions surrounding this delicacy.
And even if you don’t go on a truffle-hunting adventure, make sure to seek out products with truffles while in Istria, like truffle chocolate. It’s not for everyone’s tastebuds, but you might love it!
16. Zadar sunsets and Sea Organ
One must-visit unique attraction in Croatia is the Sea Organ in Zadar, an extraordinary musical instrument that harnesses the power of water. It’s a true architectural marvel.
As waves crash against the coastline, hidden pipes beneath a set of large marble steps create unique and beautiful melodies. It’s an experience like no other, where visitors can sit and listen to the symphony created by the sea.
Another must-see in Zadar is the Roman Forum, an ancient site dating back to Roman times, offering a glimpse into Zadar’s rich past.
Finally, a thing not to be missed while in Zadar is watching a sunset. Zadar’s sunsets are extremely popular and were even regarded as the best in the world by Alfred Hitchcock.
17. Blue Cave
Embark on an unforgettable adventure by taking a boat trip to the breathtaking Blue Cave on Biševo Island. The Blue Cave is a top attraction not only in Dalmatia but in Croatia as a whole.
During your visit to the Blue Cave, you will be captivated by its mesmerizing blue glow caused by sunlight entering through an underwater opening.
To experience the magic of the Blue Cave, you can join a Blue Cave Day Trip from various starting points such as Split, Brač, Trogir, or Vis. Often, tours also include visits to nearby bays like Stiniva and scenic coastal towns like Komiža and Hvar.
BLUE CAVE TOURS
Did You Know?
While the most famous blue cave in Croatia is located on the small Biševo island near Vis island, there are other equally beautiful ones you can visit elsewhere on the coast.
You can go on a Blue Cave Trip from Dubrovnik that visits the Blue Cave on Koločep of the Elafiti Islands.
18. Omiš and Makarska Outdoor Adventures
Whether it’s ziplining over scenic landscapes or embarking on thrilling river adventures like rafting or kayaking, Omiš and Makarska are the best in Croatia for an outdoor adventure. Located only about 1 hour and 1 hour and a half from Split, it’s easy to do the activities from Split as well.
One of the most popular outdoor activities is ziplining in Omiš. With breathtaking views of the Cetina River and surrounding mountains, ziplining in Omiš offers an exhilarating experience as you soar through the air at high speeds. It’s a perfect way to get your heart racing while taking in the natural beauty of the area.
For water-based adventures, rafting on the Cetina River is a must-do activity in Croatia. Navigate through thrilling rapids and enjoy the picturesque scenery along the way.
If you’re seeking a more immersive adventure, canyoning on the Cetina River is an ideal choice. Descend into narrow gorges, slide down natural water slides, and jump into refreshing pools – all while surrounded by breathtaking waterfalls and lush vegetation.
Makarska offers equally exciting outdoor experiences like sea kayaking along the coast, ziplining, rock climbing on rugged cliffs overlooking crystal-clear waters, and hiking on countless trails in the Biokovo region.
In conclusion, Croatia truly stands out as a destination of natural beauty and rich history. From its stunning coastlines with crystal-clear waters and picturesque islands to its historic cities filled with ancient architecture and cultural landmarks.
When planning your trip to Croatia, it is important to consider the best time to visit.
The summer months of June to September are popular due to warm weather and vibrant festivals. However, spring and autumn offer milder temperatures and fewer crowds, making it an ideal time for exploring the country’s attractions.
To discover more about Croatia’s best places and find useful travel tips, we invite you to read our other Croatia Travel Guides. These guides provide valuable insights into known and lesser-known destinations, local cuisine recommendations, best transportation options, and much more.