40 great things to do in Croatia
When it comes to things to do in Croatia, The varied landscapes of Croatia lend themselves to an impressive range of activities; from horse-riding in Istria, to sipping wine Kutjevo, and diving into dramatic caves in Biševo, Croatia really does have it all. Time Out's local experts sort through the best things to do.
Essential Zagreb attractions
Zagreb attractions number plenty of stately icons among their ranks, owing to the city's status as a former Habsburg hub and capital of a new nation. Towering cathedrals, a venerable zoo and a stately cemetery all provide plenty of things to do in Zagreb. Our experts pick out the best.
The best Dubrovnik restaurants
Dubrovnik restaurants are beginning to offer the culinary quality and variety that should be expected of such a luxury destination. And dining in Dubrovnik needn't cost an arm and a leg: many places offers simple, wholesome dishes at wallet-friendly prices.
Split shopping guide
Though no mecca for contemporary fashion, Croatia's second city is gradually embracing the design revolution that has already swept the capital. Split shopping encompasses anything from funky local design to revered Croatian and international designer brands. Around town, you'll also find independent outlets for locally produced preserves, and for fresh local produce, Split market opens from early doors alongside Diocletian's Palace. Our team of local experts show you where to go shopping in Split.
Croatia national park guide
As well as beaches, festivals and seafood, Croatia offers some of Europe’s most diverse wildlife. In total, more than 400 areas of the country are protected, including ten nature parks and eight National Parks. Read on for our guide to the five best. Do you agree with this top 5? Think we've missed anything out? Facebook or tweet us your thoughts.
What's happening in your city
What’s on in Croatia • Events, exhibitions and more
Northern Iberians: Life, Death and Ritual on the other side of the Pyrenees • Zagreb
There’s nothing quite like a picture of a smashed-up human skull to send you scurrying to an exhibition about some prehistoric culture you’ve never heard of before. The stark poster advertising ‘Northern Iberians: Life, Death and Ritual on the Other Side of the Pyrenees’, a travelling exhibition created by the Archeological Museum of Catalonia, certainly does the trick. It focuses our attention on the darker rituals of the ancient Iberians – who lived in north-eastern Spain in the immediate centuries before and after Christ. The poster image refers to some of their odder practices, such as cutting off their enemies’ heads and nailing them to poles in the middle of the street. However there was more to Iberian culture than this, as the fine ceramics and jewellery in this exhibition attests. The Iberians also had a written language, although it was supplanted by Latin in the second century AD and has no known descendants. However it’s in Iberian sculpture that this shadowy culture comes alive, with figures of goddesses, sphinx-like beasts and armoured horsemen revealing a compelling, part-classical part-primitive beauty. If you’ve never come across the ancient Iberians before, this is a great opportunity to make their acquaintance.
Summer Cinema on Gradec
Open-air screenings of art films and festival winners in the Upper Town. Crowded, fun, and free.
World Literature Festival
Big names from Croatia, the Balkans and beyond take part in readings and round-table discussions. Events featuring English-language writers will be in spoken in English.
The Kontejner curatorial team’s slightly barmy Device Art triennial rolls on into autumn 2015, continuing their fascination with artists who work through gadgets, machines, high technology and low technology to comment on our increasing reliance on the world of the device. This year the event is co-curated by the Kapelica Gallery in Ljubljana, the Video Pool Media Arts Centre in Winnipeg and Eastern Bloc in Montreal.
Festivals happening in Croatia
Croatia festival guide
The Croatia festival scene in 2015 is as exciting as ever. Here's where to make the most of a vintage season at the seaside...
Outlook Festival 2015
Now in its 8th year, Outlook is a firm favourite on the underground dance, garage, dub step, hip hop and reggae scene. Fort Punta Christo is brought alive with resounding bass, lasers, bars and live acts and the party spreads all the way to nearby camps. Set to astound again this year is a prestigious line-up the likes of which fans have come to expect from Outlook: Jurassic 5, Beenie Man, Roni Size and Madlib included. The nearby city of Pula is home also to an ancient Roman amphitheatre as well as numerous clubs, pubs, restaurants and attractions, so take some time off during the day to explore and you won't be disappointed.
Sonus Festival 2015
Renowned beach playground Zrce and its two most renowned clubs, Papaya and Kalypso, are home to Sonus Festival, a relatively new face on the ever-growing Croatian festival scene. Chris Liebing, Meat, Loco Dice and many more will be taking to the open-air stages this year to impress the young and excitable crowds hungry for all kinds of beats; partygoers dance on sand and in sea, and the atmosphere's an elated one. Those who want to make the absolute most of their festival will want to purchase boat party tickets, and there's always a pre- or post-party going on somewhere, so if you can't bear to waste a minute of your time just basking in the sun or playing in the sea, you can literally go all day and all night.
Soundwave Festival 2015
Set in legendary festival destination Garden Tisno, boutique festival Soundwave is now in its 7th year. This is a perfect place to relax and sightsee as well as party until the sun comes up; it's an easy hop by boat to the nearby Kornati islands, a short walk to the pretty fishing village of Tisno and the beach itself is clean, the water cool and clear. Jay Electronica heads up this year's eclectic and exciting line-up, whilst other acts (Mr Scruff, Mala) are returning for the second or third time; there are some relatively new faces too, so there's a chance you'll hear something you've not yet heard. A live art and film programme has been added to this year's festival, making this something of an all-rounder.
Where to stay in Croatia
Recommended Dubrovnik hotels
It's hard to keep track of the ever-rising number of high-end Dubrovnik hotels, but the city also packs some impressive hostel and B&B options. As is common in Dalmatia, high-season prices are significantly higher than in spring or autumn, and some venues close at some point in the winter – though this policy is changing as Dubrovnik becomes a more year-round destination. Read on for your guide to the best hotels in Dubrovnik.
The best Zagreb hotels
The problem with Zagreb hotels in the past was the dearth of venues between the bunk-bed and smoking-jacket ends of the spectrum. This is no longer the case, given attractive range of options available. As Zagreb continues to spread its wings as a destination in its own right – rather than a spot to lay over before the coast – hotel options continue to grow. Here are the best.
Hotel Kornati • Biograd
Inspired by the nearby Kornati National Park, Hotel Kornati actually has a view from some rooms of the southern islands. This hotel has access to both a sandy and pebbly beach, and has its own marina: boats and dinghies are available to rent and can be arranged through the hotel for those wishing to explore the nearby archipelago. The hotel offers entertainment programs, wellness, tennis courts and a buffet restaurant. Wifi and parking are extra.
Hotel Adriatic • Orebić
This handsome stone building on the shoreline path, previously owned by the church and then a school, was transformed into an intimate boutique hotel two years ago. The six rooms feature rich fabrics and exposed stone; the terrace of the hotel’s Stari Kapetan restaurant has an enviable position perched right on the shore. Views across the water to Korčula are superb. This hotel is adults only.
Hotel Excelsior • Dubrovnik
A €22-million refit of Dubrovnik’s most prestigious hotel was followed by a grand reopening in 2008. Built in 1913 as a private villa, it became the Hotel Excelsior in 1930. Royals, writers, movie stars, they all stayed here. Acquired by Adriatic Luxury Hotels group in 2000, it now features four restaurants, three pools, a piano bar and spa. The adjoining Villa Rustica also contains luxury lodging for six. The Satu sushi bar and the luxuriant wellness centre endow the hotel with additional kudos.