Croatia Travel Destinations

Your essential Croatia travel guide. Discover the best destinations, plus great things to do in Croatia, places to stay and more...

Dubrovnik
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Dubrovnik

Split
Things to do

Split

Vis travel guide
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Vis travel guide

Vis island has a special place in the hearts of many Croatians, who consider this a truly unspoiled example of the best of the Dalmatian coast. Its designation as a military base under Tito froze development for more than 40 years, allowing farming and fishing to remain the dominant activities.  Now tourism is taking over this remote spot, one of the farthest islands from the mainland. Vis has become a hot destination among those in the know who want a quiet getaway amid a gorgeous patch of clear sea, which provides great fish, swimming and diving. While the party scene here may not be as raucous as on Hvar, Vis island’s gastronomy can compare with any Dalmatian destination. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Pula travel guide
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Pula travel guide

Pula is as urban as Istria gets. It is indisputably the region’s commercial centre, and is home to almost half its population. The city’s growing status as a happening focus of the arts has been enhanced thanks to two recently opened exhibition spaces: the spectacularly renovated former church of Sveta Srca; and the ramshackle but promising Museum of Contemporary Art of Istria. The Pula Film Festival in July continues to be the biggest show in town, although the city has been catapulted into the music festival premier league with the recent appearance of two major four-day events: Outlook (big names in dubstep and reggae) and Dimensions (the same but with some more cutting-edge DJs). What the town lacks in terms of attractive waterfront it more than makes up for in terms of antiquities. The original Roman Forum remains the major meeting point with cafés offering outdoor tables. Pula’s impressive Roman amphitheatre, or Arena, hosts events all summer. The city’s sprawling waterfront includes a port handling close to one million tons of cargo every year, a marina for yachters, a forested stretch of beach with a promenade and, outside the centre, resorts, built in the 1960s and 1970s in Verudela and neighbouring Medulin.  RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Plitvice travel guide
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Plitvice travel guide

Plitvice Lakes is one of Croatia's most alluring attractions. Just a few hours from capital city Zagreb, and easily reached by road, this remarkable feat of nature is very accessible. Visitors flock here in summer months to gaze at the 16 startlingly clear lakes and heavenly cascades spread over its lush terrain. Carefully protected by the government, Plitvice is not overrun with eateries and hotels, but you can easily find places to dine and doze around the fringes of this natural wonderland.  RECOMMENDED: more great travel destinations in Croatia

Split & Islands

Split
Things to do

Split

Split is more than just a gateway to the islands. Discover great things to do, places to stay, restaurants, bars and more.

Vis travel guide
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Vis travel guide

Vis island has a special place in the hearts of many Croatians, who consider this a truly unspoiled example of the best of the Dalmatian coast. Its designation as a military base under Tito froze development for more than 40 years, allowing farming and fishing to remain the dominant activities.  Now tourism is taking over this remote spot, one of the farthest islands from the mainland. Vis has become a hot destination among those in the know who want a quiet getaway amid a gorgeous patch of clear sea, which provides great fish, swimming and diving. While the party scene here may not be as raucous as on Hvar, Vis island’s gastronomy can compare with any Dalmatian destination. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Hvar travel guide
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Hvar travel guide

Outside of Dubrovnik, Hvar is the epicentre of the Dalmatian travel industry. Holidaymakers come to be around the yachts lining the harbour of the island’s namesake capital and among the revellers forking out more than top dollar (in Croatian terms) to party into the night. A massive overhaul of key hotels here, in the Sunčani Hvar chain, has been followed by a slower stage of development as the town comes to terms with its stardom. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Brač travel guide
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Brač travel guide

Travelling to Brač is easy, yet despite being one of the closest islands to the mainland, less than an hour by ferry – and a prime candidate for the most popular – Brač lets you carouse with the hordes or get lost in solitude. In many ways, it’s Croatia’s ‘everyisland’. And, because Brač is so close to Split, you can do it in a day trip. A ride in a bus or hire car from the northern entry port of Supetar – the other main tourist centre and family-friendly resort with sand-and-pebble beaches and package hotels – goes past pines, olive groves and marble quarries to the southern coast and Bol. When explored, Brač allows travellers to step off the tourist conveyor belt, take a break from the herd and gain a deeper sense of the island and its culture. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Trogir travel guide
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Trogir travel guide

Trogir was first settled by Greeks from Vis in 300 BC. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town reflects the influence of subsequent periods of Roman, Hungarian, Venetian, French and Austrian rule. Its walled medieval centre is a warren of narrow cobbled streets, radiating from the cathedral square of Trg Ivana Pavla II, flanked by a wide seafront promenade, the Riva. In summer, the harbour wall is lined with luxury yachts and tripper boats, and the lively summer festival has entertainment on offer most evenings. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Zadar, Šibenik and islands

Zadar travel guide
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Zadar travel guide

There seems to be no stopping Zadar, the main city of northern Dalmatia. This once-Italianate seaside town has in the last few years attracted some of Croatia’s most visionary initiatives: the Garden club and its various festival offshoots; landmark public installations such as the Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun; and the Arsenal, an arts centre in a beautifully restored Venetian armoury. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Šibenik travel guide
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Šibenik travel guide

After a long period of playing second fiddle to more glamorous neighbours Split and Zadar, Šibenik is swiftly turning into Dalmatia’s surprise package. Like Zadar, Šibenik suffered a hammering in the 1991-95 war and is still recovering but change is evident. The industrial suburbs, a reminder of its past and significance as a port, camouflage a delightful Old Town. Alleyways and stone steps threaten to lead nowhere but are full of surprises; historic churches and atmospheric squares are tucked around almost every corner, and the golden globe atop the unmissable Cathedral of St James pops up in the distance when least expected. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Primošten travel guide
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Primošten travel guide

Primošten is an easy hop away from nearby Šibenik. Buses leave every couple of hours and take 25 minutes. Despite its lack of tourist attractions – or tourists – this half-island is a place to unwind. Fragrant pines back pretty beaches, hilltop restaurants offer fresh seafood and great views, and seafront cafés fill with locals. Younger visitors come for the Aurora and similar nightspots within an easy drive.  RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.  

Tisno travel guide
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Tisno travel guide

Tisno is named after the narrow passage that separates the island of Murter from the mainland. A town with rich heritage displayed in its Italianate buildings, Tisno is a pleasant option if you just want to get away from the madness of The Garden nearby. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Kvarner

Rab travel guide
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Rab travel guide

Verdant in the south-west, rocky in the north and east and rocking in the middle, Rab has a lot to offer. It’s known as both the greenest and busiest island in the Kvarner string. Families like the safely shallow, sandy beach in the northern peninsula of Lopar, while nature lovers and naturists hike to the wilder beaches there. Rab town, near the centre of the island, is a bustling tourist destination, with an interesting mix of busy bars and a historic Old Town. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Pag travel guide
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Pag travel guide

Pag is thin and 64 kilometres (40 miles) long, made up of two parallel mountain ranges. Settlements are mainly sleepy fishing villages, with two towns of any size, Novalja and Pag town. Novalja is a resort town that’s become party central. Zrće beach, a short bus ride away, is the biggest club hub in Croatia. By contrast, the administrative and commercial centre of Pag town exudes cultural heritage. Narrow, fortified medieval streets weave beneath a 15th-century Gothic cathedral and the sun beats hard off the white stone pavement as local ladies painstakingly stitch Pag lace in doorways. The flavours on the Pag dinner table are influenced by its arid, saline environment. Inhabited by more sheep than humans, Pag has lamb that is flavoured with the aromatic herbs that browsing sheep consume – as is the trademark Pag cheese. Fish tastes different too, a result of the particularly salty waters. What with the local žutica dry white wine and the stiff digestif of travarica herb brandy, the Pag culinary experience is especially attractive to foodies. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Rijeka travel guide
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Rijeka travel guide

Croatia’s third-largest city with a population of 150,000, Rijeka has a busy port that handles ten million tonnes of cargo and a quarter of a million passengers, many heading to nearby resorts. It’s a nice place for a week’s city break, during which you can enjoy Rijeka’s fascinating history, great restaurants and kicking year-round nightlife. This is not a tourist-oriented city, which is part of its charm: in Rijeka you will be dining, drinking and dancing with locals. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Cres travel guide
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Cres travel guide

One of the largest but least developed of Croatia’s islands, the relatively untouched gem of Cres contains 400 square kilometres (155 square miles) of rugged wilderness, an estimated 80 breeding pairs of the rare griffon vultures and only 3,000 full-time human residents. There are a couple of resort settlements, but not much else in the way of luxury vacations. For more sophistication, take a room in ancient Cres town; for wilderness, get a campsite in the hills. Either way, you can expect a simpler and quieter time than at many of Kvarner’s other resorts.  RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Krk travel guide
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Krk travel guide

As you cross the high-altitude bridge connecting the Rijeka motorway to Krk island, the sea looks huge, but the tall rocky cliffs that swallow the road ahead are even more imposing. By the time you reach Croatia’s largest and most populous island, the mainland feels miles away. A widely varied group of attractive resort towns awaits. Heavily touristed Krk town has bustling bars, naff souvenir stands and fancy gift shops, arranged in and around ancient buildings. Near Krk island’s southern tip is another busy resort, Baška, with a famous Blue Flag sandy beach: at nearly two kilometres, it’s one of the longest of its kind on the coast. Malinska, with perhaps the island’s best concentration of good restaurants, is less hectic, though it does boast a destination late-night club. Vrbnik is a quieter place to go for gastronomic delights. Omišalj, one of the towns closest to the mainland bridge, is the home of Rijeka’s airport.   RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Istria

Rovinj travel guide
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Rovinj travel guide

Rovinj is Istria’s showpiece, its answer to Dalmatia’s Dubrovnik, with far fewer crowds and a more realistic view of itself. It maintains a meticulously cared-for old quarter and extensive tourist amenities without feeling fake or overdone. The natural setting is stunning: a harbour nicknamed ‘the cradle of the sea’ by ancient mariners because the archipelago of islands, stretching from here to Vrsar, ensured calm, untroubled waters. The man-made structures in the Old Town are also attractive: tightly clustered houses, painted in cheery Venetian reds and Habsburg pastels, connected by cobbled streets barely wider than a footpath. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Pula travel guide
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Pula travel guide

Pula is as urban as Istria gets. It is indisputably the region’s commercial centre, and is home to almost half its population. The city’s growing status as a happening focus of the arts has been enhanced thanks to two recently opened exhibition spaces: the spectacularly renovated former church of Sveta Srca; and the ramshackle but promising Museum of Contemporary Art of Istria. The Pula Film Festival in July continues to be the biggest show in town, although the city has been catapulted into the music festival premier league with the recent appearance of two major four-day events: Outlook (big names in dubstep and reggae) and Dimensions (the same but with some more cutting-edge DJs). What the town lacks in terms of attractive waterfront it more than makes up for in terms of antiquities. The original Roman Forum remains the major meeting point with cafés offering outdoor tables. Pula’s impressive Roman amphitheatre, or Arena, hosts events all summer. The city’s sprawling waterfront includes a port handling close to one million tons of cargo every year, a marina for yachters, a forested stretch of beach with a promenade and, outside the centre, resorts, built in the 1960s and 1970s in Verudela and neighbouring Medulin.  RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Poreč travel guide
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Poreč travel guide

Poreč is something of a cross between Pula and Rovinj, although neither as street-smart nor as bohemian. It can be hard at first to recognise its true value. Hoards of visitors fill the treasured sixth-century Euphrasian Basilica, the ancient square built by Romans and the scores of restaurants, cafés and package hotels. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Motovun travel guide
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Motovun travel guide

Motovun – Montona to the Romans – is one of the most beautiful and best preserved of Istria’s medieval hilltop settlements. These days it’s best known for its film festival, which transforms this otherwise sleepy town into a cultural and party hub for one week every summer. It’s on the summit of a277-metre (910-foot) hill in the middle of the Mirna Valley, surrounded by truffle-rich forest. When the prehistoric settlement was founded, it would have been surrounded by water. The estuary stretched right up to the ‘Gates of Buzet’ at the head of the valley. It was down this inlet that Jason and his Argonauts are supposed to have fled after capturing the Golden Fleece. From its strategic position, Motovun controlled the merchant routes across the valley floor on the way to the coast. Although depopulated after the Italian exodus in 1945, a new wave of inhabitants, including artists and writers, set up home here. The result is the Motovun Film Festival, started in 1999. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Novigrad travel guide
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Novigrad travel guide

Located north towards Italy, its compact centre attracting day trippers from over the border, Novigrad can seem like a humble resort town by Istrian standards. It’s neither as posh as Rovinj nor as packed as Poreč, but that’s precisely why this can be a charming location for a relaxing time by the sea. Instead of being crammed with tourist businesses, the seaward tip of Novigrad’s Old Town peninsula has a shaded park and a waterside walkway. Still, for a community of fewer than 4,000 people, Novigrad finds room for a surprising number of decent bars, hotels and restaurants. The more modern part of town stretches less than 1 kilometre east, to the bus station and a small hotel complex.  RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Korcula & Pelješac Peninsula

Korčula island travel guide
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Korčula island travel guide

As you travel to Korčula from the mainland nearby, the crowded little houses on the edge of the island seem to be pushing each other out of the way to see if you are friend or foe. Holding them in, stern medieval walls centrepieced by the slim belltower of St Mark’s Cathedral stand guard over the narrow Pelješac Channel, protecting the riches contained on the sixth largest island in the Croatian Adriatic. So lush with dark pine forests, vineyards and olive groves the ancient Greek settlers called it Korkyra Melaina (‘Black Corfu’), Korčula has managed to avoid the tourist trap tendencies of its original Greek namesake to the south. No longer fought over by Turk or Venetian, by French or Austrian, by Partisan or German, Korčula is one of Dalmatia’s most relaxing getaways. The main town of the same name, set on the north-eastern tip of the island opposite the Pelješac peninsula, has one of the best-preserved medieval centres in the Adriatic. Historic Korčula is therefore the most popular south-Dalmatian destination after the more crowded Dubrovnik, with which it is often compared. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Korčula town travel guide
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Korčula town travel guide

Abound with rustic charm, the medieval settlement of Korčula town has a year-round appeal. The palm-lined streets and ancient surrounding walls regularly invite comparisons with nearby Dubrovnik. And it's not hard to see why - but Korčula town tends to remain unbothered by the droves of tourists swarming the maritime capital over the summer months. All the better for the locals, and in-the-know vistors, who revel in its laidback, Mediterranean lifestyle. Read on for our insider's travel guide to Korčula town. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Pelješac travel guide
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Pelješac travel guide

With its sprawling coasts, rich fisheries and a major wine-growing industry, Pelješac is generating a buzz as a less-discovered alternative to Dubrovnik. Indeed, many pass over this peninsula, making their beeline straight for the ancient walled city. All the better for the locals who are drawn to Pelješac for its very lack of tourists, fine wines, long shingle beaches and the best mussels and oysters in Croatia. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Dubrovnik-Neretva County

Neretva Valley travel guide
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Neretva Valley travel guide

Croatia's Neretva Valley is verdant, untouristified, and looks pretty much as it did in the 1960s, when early excavations began to reveal the Roman and Illyrian treasures embedded in its lush soil. Unlike in nearby Dubrovnik, here global hotel chains haven’t rushed to reap rewards from the summer tourist deluge and cosmopolitan chefs aren’t creating fusion cuisine. Simple, comfortable accommodation is the norm, frog, eel and fresh peppers on the menu at the rustic restaurants that line the delta. And this is just how a certain type of tourist – a birdwatcher, say, or anyone happy to take a boat trip round the Neretva’s many lakes and canals – likes it. Also the gateway to Bosnia, the Neretva has created a significant historic attraction from those rare ancient finds, the Narona Archaeological Museum. RECOMMENDED: more great travel destinations in Croatia. 

Mljet travel guide
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Mljet travel guide

Mljet is Dalmatia’s most southerly, most verdant and, some would argue, most beautiful isle. More than 70 per cent of this thin, one-road idyll is covered in pine forest. A third of it is national park. For complete silence, rest and relaxation, get the catamaran or ferry from Dubrovnik and leave the world behind. Between the ferry port of Sobra, on the north-east coast, and catamaran terminal of Polače, on the western tip, is the main ticket office for the national park at Goveđari. RECOMMENDED: more great travel destinations in Croatia 

Lastovo travel guide
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Lastovo travel guide

The small island of Lastovo, located far out in the Adriatic, is a harsh but worthwhile destination. Declared a National Nature Park in 2006, sparse, barren Lastovo warmly welcomes visitors who arrive by ferry from Split, Hvar and Vela Luka to its port of Ubli. At the other end of the island, the craggy main village of Lastovo houses a small scattering of outlets catering to tourists. RECOMMENDED: more great travel destinations in Croatia