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Croatia has become one of the top destinations in Europe, and you’ll have plenty of options when it come to planning your vacation to the Balkans.
What Are the Top Things to Do in Croatia?
- Get to Know Fascinating Zagreb
- Camp in the Most Beautiful Adriatic Campsites
- Experience Wine Tours in Dalmatia and Istria
- Visit Roman Ruins in Pula
- Explore Diocletian’s Palace in Split
- Find Out Why Zadar Is One of the Most Impressive Coastal Towns in Croatia
- Discover the Beauties of the Krka National Park
- Visit Dubrovnik, the Place Where the Game of Thrones was Filmed
- See the Incredible Beauty of the Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Rent a Boat and Start an Unforgettable Sailing Adventure
- Book This Trip
Choosing what to see and do in Croatia is not an easy task. Croatia offers interesting museums and galleries, centuries-old stone buildings and harbor towns, along with top-quality wines, exciting nightlife and sparkling waters of the Adriatic Sea.
Its 1,777-kilometer (1,104-mile)-long mainland Adriatic coast is enchanting with its beautiful coastal towns and bays. Another 1,200-plus islands boast excellent conditions for kayaking, diving, sailing and other water sports.
If you just want to relax, you will be charmed by the beautiful beaches such as Zlatni rat (Golden horn) on the island of Brac or one of the 30 wonderful sandy beaches on the island of Rab. On the island of Bisevo in the Dalmatian archipelago, you can see Blue Cave, a unique natural beauty.
To get to know Croatian cuisine, we recommend taking wine tours in the famous vineyards of Dalmatia and Istria. You can enjoy excellent Croatian wines along with local specialties. Many clubs, bars and restaurants on the coast guarantee you the good nightlife.
In many places in Kvarner and Istria, such as Rovinj and Porec, you will see Italian heritage in the form of specific Venetian architecture. Some places, such as Pula, Split and Dubrovnik, preserve a rich historical heritage from the Roman period and the Middle Ages.
Croatia, located in the Western Balkan, somehow found itself on the crossroad between Central and Southeast Europe and the Adriatic Sea. Neighboring countries Slovenia, Italy and Montenegro also have access to the Adriatic Sea, but their coastline is not nearly as exciting.
We start our Croatia travel tour from the capital Zagreb. Join us in discovering sightseeing options and find out what are the top things to do in amazing Croatia.
Get to Know Fascinating Zagreb
The Croatian capital is a modern city with a rich cultural and historical heritage. With its 800,000 inhabitants, the city itself is not too big, so most of the attractions can be visited on foot.
The architecture of the Upper Town (also called Gornji Grad in Croatian) will certainly fascinate visitors. First of all, in order to get there, you can use a cable car lift. In contrast to the vibrant modern city, the atmosphere here is intimate, featuring winding, narrow streets.
St. Mark’s Church from the 13th century with its picturesque roof is the main attraction. Visit the Zagreb Cathedral with high bell towers and Dolac, the famous farmer’s market in the city center.
Zagreb is also a city of exciting museums. The most interesting is the Museum of Broken Relationships, featuring heartbreak stories and symbolic objects. Other museums include the Museum of Illusions, the Technical Museum and the Zagreb City Museum, where you can learn more about the history of the Croatian capital.
Several green oases make Zagreb a stroll-friendly place. Take a walk in Maksimir Park or around Lake Jarun, a great place for recreation, running and cycling. If you are in good shape, climb Sljeme, the top of the mountain Medvednica at 1,035 meters (3,395 feet) above sea level. Numerous trails lead from the city to this hiking paradise, visited by a million people every year.
If you have accommodation in Zagreb, you can go on a day trip to neighboring Slovenia. Ljubljana is only a 2-hour drive from Zagreb, and if you decide to take this road trip, don’t forget to stop by the beautiful Lake Bled.
The Croatian capital is also very interesting in winter. Every December, Zagreb turns into a wonderful, magical place. At that time, Advent, the best European Christmas market, awaits you on Zagreb’s squares.
Camp in the Most Beautiful Adriatic Campsites
Croatia is one of the favorite camping destinations in Europe. The main reason is simple: the Mediterranean climate, the Adriatic Sea, beautiful islands, charming coastal towns and hundreds of camps along the coast.
Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia are the most famous camping regions. The camps are of various sizes, from small family ones for 100 people to large mini-cities with a capacity of up to 5,000 people.
Most camps are well-equipped and have restaurants, cafes, shops, sports courts and private beaches. There are also swimming pools, aqua parks and other cool activities for a great family vacation.
Bungalows, wooden houses, tents, caravans and campers are available for accommodation. Perhaps campers are the best option for your vacation in Croatia because you can rent them and then visit various campsites and places along the entire Adriatic coast.
Some of the best camps in Croatia are Bijela Uvala and Park Umag. There are also luxury camps that offer a glamping holiday service, such as Arena One 99, Krk Premium Camping Resort and Zaton Holiday Resort.
Experience Wine Tours in Dalmatia and Istria
Dalmatia and Istria are the most-famous wine regions in Croatia. The island of Korcula in Dalmatia stands out with top-quality white wines, from the autochthonous grape variety Posip.
Istria also boasts quality white wine. It is Malvasia, known for its light yellow to golden color and citrus aroma. And if you enjoy a luxurious lifestyle, don’t forget that Istria is also a truffle hotspot.
Plavac Mali is the most-famous Croatian red wine. It contains a high percentage of alcohol and it’s most prevalent on the Peljesac peninsula.
Croatia has more than 1,600 wine producers and as many as 60 domestic grape species. It is best to combine them with fish and local cheeses since wine and cheese make a delicious pair. On wine tours, you can visit specific wine regions with guides, try different types of wines and learn more background stories about their production. You can also buy those wines straight from producers.
We recommend checking out the 3 Wines Tasting and Traditional Finger Food Tasting, one of the top-rated wine tours of the Dalmatia region. Book your tour here and sample the local flavors inside the beautiful Diocletian palace.
Visit Roman Ruins in Pula
There are about 200 Roman amphitheaters in the world, and the Arena in Pula is the sixth-largest with walls 32 meters (105 feet) high.
This amphitheater was built by the Romans in the 1st century. It used to host fights in front of 20,000 spectators. Today, it is used for concerts and film festivals, and the capacity has been reduced to 5,000 spectators.
Even after 20 centuries, the six Corinthian pillars still hold the Temple of Augustus and resist the ravages of time, as part of the former Roman Forum. In Pula, you can also see the remains of a small Roman theater, as well as the Arch of the Sergii, part of the old city walls that were destroyed during the 18th century.
Pula is a lovely, coastal Istrian town. You will love the squares, the promenade and the buildings with renaissance details, and there are also several beautifully landscaped beaches. Try seafood specialties in one of the many restaurants on the coast and enjoy the view of the Brijuni National Park.
Explore Diocletian’s Palace in Split
Split is the second-largest city in Croatia, located on the Adriatic coast. It is also the place where Roman emperor Diocletian built the palace in the 3rd century.
Inside the Diocletian’s Palace, you can see the oldest cathedral in the world, an Egyptian sphinx and well-preserved cellars below the palace. You will also be enchanted by the Peristil Square, one of the most beautiful in Croatia.
Marjan is a peninsula west of the Diocletian’s Palace. This park-forest is a popular place where the people of Split often stroll. Also located there is the Mestrovic Gallery, where you can see the works of the famous sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, whose artworks marked the Yugoslav architecture of the 20th century.
Walk along the Riva, the main city promenade. You will enjoy this easy walk by the sea and palm trees. You can take a break in one of the many cafes and restaurants. Be sure to visit the beaches of Split: Bacvice, Bene and Kasjuni, which are among the most beautiful ones.
Find Out Why Zadar Is One of the Most Impressive Coastal Towns in Croatia
There are five national parks in the vicinity of Zadar. This town on the Adriatic coast also has a marina with berths for yachts and boats. It is a great place for an active vacation – cycling, horseback riding, diving and other activities.
The main attractions of Zadar are two modern architectural works: the Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun. The Sea Organ is an installation that includes a stone staircase on the seashore 70 meters (229 feet) wide and a system of pipes below it. Due to the impact of the waves, the pipes create music of different sounds, which is truly a unique experience.
Nearby, the Greeting to the Sun is the circular installation of glass panels, 22 meters (72 feet) in diameter, which has impressive lighting effects that will surely mesmerize you. The best time to visit this amazing place is during sunset.
Zadar also has a rich history. You can see the 3-kilometer-long (9,842 feet) city walls from the 16th century, which were used for defense against the Turks. There is also the Church of St. Donatus from the 9th century, the Roman Forum and the Archaeological Museum, where you can learn more about the period of Roman rule in this area. Visit the Duke’s Palace, a place where concerts, exhibitions and other cultural events are organized.
Discover the Beauties of the Krka National Park
The second-oldest hydroelectric power plant in the world is located on the river Krka. Only the one at Niagara Falls is older — by just three days.
The Krka River waterfalls are a trademark of the Krka National Park. There are a total of seven waterfalls, the most famous of which are Skradinski Buk, 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide, and Roski waterfall. The highest waterfall is Manojlovac, with almost 60 meters (196 feet) in height. There are also many caves and caverns, canyons, gorges and river lakes. During the summer season, rafting on the river Krka is the main attraction.
Several important religious buildings are located in the Krka National Park. You can see the monastery of Krka from the 14th century, as well as the monastery of Visovac, which is located on a small island in the middle of a river lake. There is also the ancient town of Burnum and several medieval fortifications that are worth seeing.
Visit Dubrovnik, the Place Where the Game of Thrones was Filmed
The city of Dubrovnik is located in the very south of Croatia, near Montenegro. It has always been an important trading port on the Adriatic Sea. The turbulent history of Dubrovnik was written by various conquerors. The fortresses of Minceta, Lovrijenac and Bokar were part of the fortification system that served to defend the city. But today it offers extraordinary lookouts.
Dubrovnik’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its narrow streets are an ideal place to explore medieval architecture. If you are a fan of the Game of Thrones series, you can recognize the locations where scenes from the fictional city of King’s Landing were filmed.
Take a walk along the main city promenade Stradun, where you will meet many tourists from all over the world. You can see street entertainers and various artists, as well as souvenir shops, numerous cafes and restaurants.
See the Incredible Beauty of the Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park is located in the region of Lika. It is mostly covered with lush forest, but the real magic is hidden in the part where Plitvice Lakes are located. The Korana River formed 20 lakes, which are divided by high cliffs into Upper and Lower Lakes.
The upper lakes are larger, quieter and surrounded by forest. The lower lakes are located below 70 meters (229 feet) high cliffs and surrounded by lower vegetation. Plitvice waterfalls will leave you breathless with their incredible beauty and impressive colors.
During different seasons, Plitvice Lakes look completely different and special. As many as 50 species of butterflies live in the Plitvice National Park. The park also has deer, wolves and bears, numerous bird species as well as endemic plant species.
Due to all this, Plitvice has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979. There are numerous walking paths around the lake, beautifully landscaped, with wooden bridges. Visit Barac’s cave, as well as the adrenaline park with a zip line above the canyon of the river Korana.
Rent a Boat and Start an Unforgettable Sailing Adventure
Croatia is one of the best sailing destinations in Europe. Good weather conditions and constant winds provide excellent conditions, so the sailing season lasts from May to October.
You can enjoy unique sailing holidays in Croatia, thanks to the fact that Croatia has more than 1,000 km (621 miles) of coastline, more than 1,200 islands and many marinas, ports and bays. Along the way, you can visit the picturesque cities of the Dalmatian coast like Zadar, Sibenik, Trogir, Split and Dubrovnik. In your island-hopping itinerary, you can add the amazing islands of Vis, Hvar, Brac, Mljet and Korcula.
Since the islands and cities are at a short distance, you can sail for 2-3 hours a day and then spend the rest of the day exploring amazing places on the mainland. Near the sea, there are national parks Velebit, Paklenica and Brijuni.
Charter a sailboat in Split, or other popular Croatian towns on the sea coast. You can rent a motorboat that you can control yourself, as well as larger boats with a skipper, or a kayak. A more luxurious variant is also available – Gulet Cruise. A four-member crew will take you to the most beautiful places and the best beaches on the Croatian coast, with excursions to local attractions on land.
Book This Trip
Start planning your Balkan escape to Croatia today. Get prepared with information on how to get around, hotel and VRBO reservations, local restaurant reviews and more through TripAdvisor and Travelocity. When you are ready to pick travel dates, check out CheapOair for the best flight options and exclusive promo deals.
Find expert-guided activities, educational tours, food and beer events and more in Croatia through GetYourGuide. Be sure to reserve some tours ahead of time here with the option to cancel anytime up to 24 hours before for a full refund, so that you can plan for anything.
Author Bio: Based in Serbia in Europe, Marija Stojanovic Petkovski worked as a journalist but realized writing about the most beautiful places in the world is something that inspires her. She is sure that a pint of good craft beer perfectly accompanies a tasty homemade lasagna. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her children and spending time outdoors with her family.