12 Best Places To Visit In Croatia

Croatia is one of the most popular destinations in the Balkans and a great place for travelers to enjoy the mild Mediterranean climate all year round. It might be a bit more expensive than the neighboring Balkan countries but the quality of facilities and services is there, complementing the picturesque medieval towns and gorgeous beaches perfectly. Croatia is the perfect mix of historical architecture and Mediterranean beach-going.


Dubrovnik is the nymph of the Adriatic Sea. Old and rich in history and medieval architecture; its old walled city is one of the best maintained in Europe, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Naturally, like every old city, Dubrovnik is better discovered on foot. The cobbled Stradun Street which connects the city’s main gates is a great starting point for exploration. Around it, you will find a great number of churches like the baroque-style city’s cathedral and St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Among the Daedalian alleys, you’ll discover the gothic palaces of Rector and Sponza, the impressive Dominican monastery, and the old town market. For a great vantage point head to the top of Srd hill for great views of the city and Lokrum island across the blue waters of the Adriatic.


Split is a major coastal city in Croatia, second only to Zagreb. The city will keep you busy for more than a couple of days, so it would be wise to devote the appropriate time. Built around the palace of Diocletian — a Roman emperor who decided to retire there, Split combines an incredible old city with a gorgeous promenade and a modern part with amazing restaurants, interesting museums, and several events and festivals.

Except for Diocletian’s palace, you can visit the cathedral of St. Domnius which used to be the emperor’s mausoleum, go for a swim on one of the nearby beaches, and, why not, hop in a ferry and visit some islands off the coast of Split. As for food, don’t neglect to taste the mouth-watering black risotto with cuttlefish.


The capital of Croatia is not just another city by the sea, actually, it’s not even coastal. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit it though. On the contrary, it’s a tantalizing European capital with a unique character and genuine beauty that only great cities possess. Romantic, with numerous small cafes, charming terraces, hidden yards, and an astonishing culinary scene; Zagreb is the kind of place that you need to explore thoroughly in order to reap its fruits, but if you do, it will be more rewarding than any other place in Croatia.

Compared with other, mostly touristy destinations, Zagreb is more genuine and distinctive. It has an impressive cinephile scene with exquisite movie theatres, an array of street festivals featuring anything from music to pickles, and fascinating small-niche museums like the famous Museum of Broken Relationships. Another trait of Zagreb is the numerous open-air markets around the city, Dolac — the main market between Upper and Lower town, being the most popular.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

This pristine ecosystem consists of 16 lakes which are separated into two groups and interconnected with beautiful waterfalls and cascades. Long wooden walkways allow people to hike from lake to lake and from the lower lakes to the upper ones. Thanks to their impeccable natural beauty, the Plitvice lakes have earned a position in UNESCO’s world heritage sites. The only downside is that with one million visitors a year, it’s one of the most visited sites in the country so, especially during summer, you should be there the moment the gates open to avoid the surge.


This ancient city is the jewel of Istria and one of the most beautiful places in Croatia. A classic roman settlement with a Forum in the center and the rest of the old city built around it, Porec will amaze you with its millennium-old architecture and scenic look, especially around sunset.

The biggest part of the old town is built on a small peninsula surrounded by the blue waters of the Adriatic. Not far from the coast, lies the island of St. Nicolas that used to protect the entrance of the small port. Today it hosts holiday resorts and its pebbled beaches are some of the best around Porec. If you go during summer, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the city’s annual jazz and blues festival that lasts the whole season. Another remarkable choice is one of the concerts taking place in Euphrasius Basilica. On a more natural note, the nearby cave of Baredine with its impressive formations is definitely worth a visit.


Sitting on the Dalmatian coast, allegedly Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world and is better seen from the “Monument to the sun” — a huge artwork depicting the solar system on the floor of a big square by the sea, made from solar panels that light up in the night.

Zadar has everything you would look for in a destination: great architecture, beautiful churches, good restaurants, and above all, a lack of huge crowds. Dalmatian cuisine is simple, healthy, and tasty with grilled sardines being the signature plate of the region, simply delicious.


A city of four fortresses and at least a dozen of churches, Sibenik is a must to visit not only for medieval history buffs and Dark Age architecture aficionados but also for seasoned travelers looking for an interesting but not overcrowded destination to spend at least three to four days.

Sibenik might be a small town but the fact that it has two UNESCO heritage sites (St. Nicholas Fortress and St. James Cathedral) and a Michelin star restaurant (Peligrini) says a lot. A great variety of hotels and apartments make Sibenik the perfect retreat, as for the prices, they’re just right. 

Hvar Island

Hvar is considered one of the most popular islands in the world and rightfully so. This island on the Adriatic Sea has much to offer from clear blue waters to purple lavender fields, and from astonishing sunsets to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

The homonymous isle’s capital is built on a small slope by the sea and features an imposing Spanish fortress on top of it. Strolling the narrow alleys of this port town is the way to go. Taste amazing seafood in small traditional restaurants and if you feel adventurous, hop to one or more of the isles of Pakleni archipelago and discover their small secluded bays and amazing sandy beaches.

Elafiti Islands

Translating as the islands of deer, this complex a few miles off the coast of Dubrovnik has 13 islands and islets of which only three are inhabited: Kolocep, Sipan, and Lopud. Visiting them is the perfect single day escape from the bustling Dubrovnik especially if you are in the search for better beaches which you will find in Lopud. There, except for sun tanning and snorkeling, you can visit the intriguing ruins of Fort Spanjol and the old Franciscan monastery that is now an art exhibition space.

Sipan is the biggest island and a perfect spot to enjoy a meal next to the sea and the nearby Kolocep island is amazing for a walk in its lush forest and a swim in the mesmerizing waters of the famous blue cave in the south.


Roman cities are not a rarity in Croatia, but then again most of them do not feature a full-size Roman arena which is the story with Pula — the biggest city of Istria. It’s quite surprising; as you walk on the peaceful and narrow streets of the city center among small single and two-story buildings (some reminding of Athenian neoclassical houses) you suddenly come across a majestic limestone amphitheater.

And, the surprises don’t stop there; a few blocks to the southeast is the fortress of Kastel, a star fort built by the Venetians, and another of Pula’s icons. Today it houses the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria. Overall, it’s a beautiful city, well-balanced with many touristic sights but without being touristy itself making it a great place to visit.

Paklenica National Park

Paklenica is the outdoor playground of Croatia with almost 200 kilometers of trails and the biggest number of climbing routes in the country. The park’s most popular trail is in Velika Paklenica gorge from Starigrad village to Planinarski Dom mountain hut and takes a couple of hours to hike. On the way, you can stop at Manita pec cave and admire some amazing chambers with impressive formations.

If you are really into hiking you can go for the loop of Velika and Mala Paklenica which is a bit more than 17km long and will take you around 8 hours to accomplish. The gorge of Mala Paklenica is much wilder with fewer trail signs and even fewer people. Bear in mind that after autumn the water level rises significantly, making the gorge inaccessible. The biggest points of interest for climbers and mountaineers are the wall of Anica kuk and the peaks of Mt. Velebit to the north respectively.

Varazdin & Trakoscan Castle

The town of Varazdin is a small baroque masterpiece breaking the monotony of Croatia’s coastal cities with some Central European allure. Built by the river Drava, Varazdin exudes wealth on every corner. The eccentric palace of Sermage with its exceptional patterns, the colorful buildings of the old town, the fairytale town hall, and the simple but beautiful cathedral, all weave the mosaic of a city whose charms will win even the most critical of travelers.

A few kilometers outside Varazdin, being as underrated as the city itself, the Castle of Trakoscan composes one of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe. The loss of people who visit Croatia but skip Varazdin can be your gain for there is no better place than a gorgeous city without the buzz of big tourist groups. If you’re looking for an amazing place without crowds,  definitely look into Varazdin.

One of the most Beautiful Destinations in the Mediterranean

Croatia used to be underrated but not anymore. With truly amazing cities by the sea, rich history, amazing architecture, and an impressive number of UNESCO sites for its size, the country, without a doubt, has something for everyone. The prices are a tad higher than what they used to be but remain low for European standards and the quality of services is on par with all the major tourism players in the region. Croatia is a country that you have to visit at least once in a lifetime.

About the Author: Chrisostomos Kamberis

A travel writer by profession and an adventurer at heart, Chris loves hiking long trails and climbing mountains as much as exploring metropolises and tasting street food in some of the most obscure places in the world.

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