The youngest member state of the European Union, a Balkan country cuddled by stunning national parks, phenomenal coastline, and dramatic Dinaric Alps – Croatia is super gorgeous and more! It’s on every traveler’s list. After spending 10 days in Croatia, I can easily see why! Before I lose the point and go on and on about Croatia, let’s discover the 7 best places to visit in Croatia.
And yes, if you are planning to rent a car in Croatia (which you definitely should as it gives the freedom one needs while traveling), read our ultimate guide to renting a car in Europe.
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Best Places to Visit in Croatia
Zagreb, an inland capital and the largest city of Croatia is more often than not the starting point in the Croatia itinerary.
Shaped by two medieval towns – Gradec and Kaptol – Zagreb is like a beautiful and graceful old lady with a youthful heart. She proudly wears her intricate past (ottoman wars, Habsburgs monarchy, Yugoslav wars) on her sleeve and flagrantly embraces the new.
Trg Bana Jelačića in the Lower Town is the core of Zagreb. From here you can take the stairs or ride the world’s shortest funicular to Upper Town (Old Town).
Climb the Lotrščak Tower‘s wooden deck or Napredak Skyscraper for the best views over Zagreb.
One of the most unusual museums I’ve ever been to is in Zagreb – Museum of Broken Relationships dedicated to failed relationships. Intrigued? Add it to your Zagreb itinerary.
Zagreb needs at least two days to explore both Upper and Lower Town. If Upper Town is full of culture and history, Lower Town is a fascinating mix of art and nature.
Recommended Hotel: Esplanade Zagreb Hotel
Not your style? Search more hotels in Zagreb, Croatia
Recommended Tour: Zagreb 2.5-Hour Walking Tour with Funicular Ride
Looking for something else? Search the Best Tours and Activities in Zagreb
Plitvice Lakes National Park
If there’s only one place you’ve to visit in Croatia, let it be Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Wilderness at its best!
The largest national park in Croatia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice Lakes is home to 16 surreal lakes connected by innumerable waterfalls and woodland with amazing wildlife.
It usually takes about 8 hours or so to explore the entire park.
Plitvice can be easily done as a day trip from Zagreb, Split, or Zadar. We strongly recommend you to spend a night in or around the national park to truly enjoy one of the prettiest places in Croatia.
Recommended Hotel: Natura Plitvice Lakes
Not your style: Search more places to stay in and around Plitvice Lakes
Recommended Day Tour: Rastoke and Plitvice Lakes National Park Tour from Zagreb
Looking for something else? Search more Plitvice Lakes National Park day-trips
Rovinj, a fairytale fishing town on the Istria Peninsula easily is one of the most beautiful cities in Croatia.
A Croatian town with a Venetian feel, Rovinj doesn’t feel as swarmed as Dubrovnik or Split even in the summer season. Now you know where to go for a peaceful Croatian vacation.
Things to do in Rovinj? Nothing. Believe you me, it’s a place where you can safely practice the art of doing nothing.
Spend your time strolling its winding cobbled streets or just sit at one of the restaurants near the harbor and admire the views.
Recommended Hotel: Family Hotel Amarin
Not your style: Search other amazing places to stay in Rovinj
Recommended Tour: Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle Tour
Looking for something else? Search more tours and activities in Rovinj
You have to have Zadar on your itinerary for Croatia if:
- you want to feel the pulse of Croatia without the crowds.
- you want to dive into the history and culture of Croatia as Zadar Old Town is the oldest inhabited town in Croatia.
- you want to witness one of the most exquisite sunsets in the world. I did!
- you want to dance on the floor that lights up by the solar power as the sun goes down. Monument to the Sun is an extraordinary experience that can’t be missed when in Croatia.
- you want to listen to the music played by the sea waves. Yes! Sea Organ is another one-of-a-kind attraction in Zadar.
- you are a sea-food fan.
- you are a beach-lover because Zadar has one of the best beaches in Croatia. That’s Sakarun aka Saharun!
I’m sure, you are convinced and already added Zadar to your Croatian adventure. I’m a good convincer 🙂
I loved every second of my stay in Zadar and you’d too. It has an intriguing charm.
Oh! One more thing. Zadar is a perfect base for exploring Krka, Plitvice Lakes, and Paklenica National Parks.
Recommended Hotel: Bastion Heritage Hotel – Relais & Châteaux
Not your style? Search more places to stay in Zadar
Recommended Tour: 2-Hour Sunset Walking Tour of Zadar
Looking for something else? Search more tours and activities in Zadar
Dalmatian Coast’s heart, Split is not only the gateway to gorgeous Croatian islands like Hvar, Vis, Biševo, Brač, Šolta, Čiovo, and Drvenik Veli but also a great base for those who want to explore the little Croatian towns of Solin, Trogir, Makarska, Baska Voda, and Sibenik.
Split itself is a delight for history and culture lovers. It takes pride in possessing one of the most beautifully preserved Roman ruins outside of Rome, Diocletian’s Palace.
In fact, the town of Split is largely built into and around the palace. You’ll be spending a larger chunk of your time in Split here.
Outside the city walls, Riva Promenade and Marjan Hill are the top attractions in Split, Croatia.
30 minutes out of Split, Klis Fortress in the village of Klis remains famous among GOT fans.
Recommended Hotel: Villa Split Heritage Hotel
Not your style? Search more hotels in Split
Recommended Tour: Private Walking Tour with Diocletian’s Palace Visit
Looking for something else? Search more tours and activities in Split
Just a little over five minutes into the balmy, enticing, and super-photogenic harbor, Vis evoked oohs and ahhs from me and other travelers out of the Jadrolinija ferry.
Driving the curvy road to our Airbnb in Komiža; looking out of the car window with tired eyes at the effortlessly and impossibly gorgeous views over Vis; I fell hard and fast for this tiny Croatian island.
With jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches, 17th-century architecture, Mamma-Mia shooting locations, and, great seafood restaurants, Vis deserves all your attention.
About 9 km from Komiža in Vis, mesmerizing Blue Cave (Modra špilja) on the island of Biševo is another reason (as if you need one) to visit Vis.
Spend at least 2 to 3 days on the island to get its vibe. Despite its sleepy feel, the island has enough sights for restless travelers.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel San Giorgio
Not your style: Search more stay options in Vis
Recommended Tour: Blue Cave Tour with Alternatura Day Tours
Looking for something else? Search more tour options in Vis, Croatia
The illustrious historic walled city overlooking the calm deep blue Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is a treat for senses. I’d like to add – If visited in the shoulder season to my previous sentence because it feels mobbed in summer or peak season.
Start your day by walking a full stretch of the Dubrovnik City Walls. It takes a little over an hour to walk the entire circuit.
Later in the day, stroll along Stradun aka Placa, the limestone-paved pedestrian thoroughfare through Dubrovnic Old Town and enjoy a cup of coffee with snacks at one of its many cafes and restaurants.
Culture and history connoisseurs might find the Cultural History Museum and Maritime Museum fascinating.
Hop on a ferry to the Elafiti islands from Gruž port for some real beach fun or take a cable car to Mount Srdj for incredible views.
Whatever you do, take time to taste the best ice-cream at Gianni’s.
GOT fans can rejoice in touring dreamy Game of Thrones locations.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel More
Not your style? Get the best deals on hotels in Dubrovnik
Recommended Tour: Dubrovnik Game of Thrones Tour with Outer Wall Ticket
Looking for something else? Book tours in Dubrovnik
Croatia Travel Tips
Visa for Croatia
Find out if you need a visa for Croatia or not. Read visa requirements for Croatia here. As an EU member, Croatia allows the multiple entry Schengen Visa holders to visit without requiring an additional visa. If you are traveling to two or more European countries, you’ll require a Schengen Visa. Read our complete guide to applying for Schengen Visa.
You can’t leave your house before you have travel insurance. Period. We use and recommend World Nomads for all your travel insurance needs. Get your quote here.
Lonely Planet Travel Guide
Pick your copy of Lonely Planet’s Croatia Guide for the most relevant and up to date recommendations on what to do and what not. It has been our trusted travel friend for years now.
More about Croatia travel on our blog:
- 5 Coolest Things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
- The Blue Cave in Croatia
- The Island of Vis in Croatia
- Best Things to do in Split, Croatia
- Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
- Zagreb, Croatia
Europe travel guides and itineraries on our blog:
- Top 5 Things to do in Montenegro
- Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia
- Lake Bled, Slovenia
- Kranj, Slovenia
- Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Bratislava, Slovakia
- Vienna, Austria
- Wachau Valley, Austria
- Hallstatt, Austria
- Salzburg, Austria
- Driving the Epic Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse
- Undredal – a Fjord Village in Aurland, Norway
- Oslo, Norway
- Finnish Lapland in Summer
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Dragør, Denmark
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