Any list of must-see places in Croatia is going to be as notable for what it leaves out as what it puts in — Croatia is an absolute treasure trove of extraordinary things to do and see. With over 2,500 hours of sunlight every year, Croatia offers some of the most glorious (and dependable) weather you can find in Europe. Culture vultures will be spoilt for choice with historical sites sweeping the country, from Roman architecture to medieval town centres. Food-lovers can treat themselves to some of the finest, award-winning produce and cooking found anywhere. And those simply looking to chill out in a beautiful setting can stroll through forests, hop between quiet, pristine islands, and snap pictures of breathtaking landscapes to make all their friends at home jealous. Join us today as we list some of our favourite, must-see spots in Croatia.
And, while you’re here, have a browse of our Dubrovnik Private Boat Tours: our expert local guides take you out onto the azure waters of the Adriatic to uncover the most magical sites around Dubrovnik.
We begin what is undoubtedly one of Europe’s greatest historic cities: Split. The second-largest city in Croatia is home to mesmerising Diocletian’s Place, an ancient palace built for the Roman emperor Diocletian in the fourth century AD. Today, the palace (which is really closer to a village than a traditional palace) has been incorporated into the city centre, with the palace being home to various shops and cafes, and restaurants. Look out for the four imposing gates that lead into the complex and the 3,500-year-old statue of a sphinx found in the Peristyle (central columned courtyard). It is clear why this dramatic ancient site has retained UNESCO World Heritage Site status since the 1970s — a must-visit location on your trip to Croatia. Elsewhere, visit St Domnius Cathedral (which began life as a pagan temple), admire the Renaissance architecture from Split’s time as part of the Venetian Republic, and spend time watching the world go by in one of the city’s many trendy coffee shops. Those who haven’t had their fill of Roman history can take a short bus trip to the site of Salona, the Roman city where Diocletian was born.
Vis and the Blue Grotto
This small island in the Adriatic Sea is the farthest inhabited island off the Croatian mainland. Today the island is home to just over 3,500 but it possesses a lot of charm. Come to Vis for pristine, secluded beaches, stunning Venetian architecture of the 17th century, and top-class seafood. The cuisine here is heavily influenced by the island’s Italian past and you’ll find plenty of choice in the main town of Kut. While in this region, guests should make every effort to take a tour to the nearby Biševo Island, where you will find the famous Blue Grotto, a series of caves, accessible by boat, where a trick of the light causes the waters to brightly glow blue as if they been rendered by the hand of a master painter.
Perhaps, we’re biased, but we think Dubrovnik is Croatia’s greatest city of all. Though the beauty of the place has been recognised for centuries, recent years have seen a boom in tourist interest inspired by the hit TV show Game of Thrones, which was filmed here. The city is any film production’s dream location, with the medieval walls and fortresses giving off a distinctly fairytale atmosphere. Walk in the footsteps of the stars of Game of Thrones and traverse the city’s 7th-century walls for yourself — you’ll enjoy an array of dramatic viewpoints throughout. You can also take a cable car to the top of nearby Mount Srd, for a view over the entire city and out to the Adriatic Sea. And if you’re looking for a truly unforgettable experience, why not consider our Majestic Dubrovnik Sunset Boat Tour: romantic views of the city, from the calm morning waters of the Adriatic.
Krka National Park
Named after the Krka river found within its boundaries, the Krka National Park is an area of astounding natural beauty located in the heart of Dalmatia. Visit the cascading waterfalls of Skradinski Buk, widely considered to be one of Europe’s most picturesque. Walk peaceful forest trails to more stunning waterfalls at Roški Slap, or take a boat tour out to Visovac island, home to a fascinating monastery founded in the 15th century. This is the perfect destination for those wishing to unwind while on holiday.
A site of major strategic significance since ancient times, Pula is one of the best-preserved Roman towns in the world. Be sure to visit Pula Arena, a Roman amphitheatre notable for being the only extant Roman stadium with its four side pillars preserved. Built between 27 BC and 68 AD, the site housed the Roman gladiatorial games until they were banned under the emperor Honorius in the sixth century. Elsewhere in the town, you can visit a Roman temple, theatre, and see the original city gates. Medieval history is preserved in the 14th-century Franciscan church, and there’s a castle dating from the days of the Venetian Republic.
The most popular resort town in Istria, Poreč is the ideal destination for those who want to enjoy the sand and the sea in a charming location. The idyllic town is colourful and friendly, acting as an excellent base where good food and company can be enjoyed after a day on the beach. If you want to explore local culture, the Euphrasian Basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 6th-century Basilica is exceptionally well preserved, exploring its courtyards, rooms, and paintings feels just like stepping back in time. Fun activities in the area include renting bikes to make use of the superior cycling routes in the region and going on a wine tasting tour to experience some of Croatia’s world-renowned wines.
Also known as Croatia’s Emerald Isle, Korčula offers a range of activities no matter what age your travelling party is. Bus and boat excursions from either Dubrovnik or Split will get you to Korčula, where you can enjoy a pleasant day trip or base yourself for a longer stay. Alongside the gorgeous scenery, the island offers an array of sporting activities, whether it’s hiking and biking on land, or partaking in water sports off the island’s coast. The old town is Korčula is nicknamed Little Dubrovnik, due to the similar Venetian-era architecture found there. Indulge in top-notch cuisine and beer surrounded by the romantic, historic architecture. And if you what to engage in some local legends, you can visit the supposed former home of Marco Polo (just don’t tell any Italian friends!).
Our final selection is Mljet, a destination we cover with our Legendary Mljet Boat Tour. This magical island is blanketed in calming forests, is home to scenic saltwater pools, and has some of the most picturesque stretches of coastline you are ever likely to see. It is believed by some that this is the island where Odyssey was stranded in Homer’s epic, The Odyssey. Today, it’s a haven, offering unspoilt bays, sparkling waters, and quaint villages where you’ll be served up mouthwatering food.
This brings a close to our list of must-visit spots in Croatia. We sincerely hope we’ve inspired you to begin planning your next adventure! If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch.