Your ultimate guide to Croatia

Discover Croatia's best things to do, attractions, restaurants, bars and nightlife

Where is Croatia? The question the rest of the world is asking
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Where is Croatia? The question the rest of the world is asking

Residents of eastern Europe know exactly where Croatia is, as do thousands of holidaymakers who have previously visited its sunny shores. But the rest of the world? It would appear that many have little idea. As previously reported in Time Out Croatia, leading search engine Google have just published their annual end of year search results. And one of the most searched for destination queries has seen thousands asking where Croatia actually is. 2018's top 10 “where is” searches on Google 1. Where is Villanova University2. Where is Croatia3. Where is Parkland Florida4. Where is Hurricane Florence5. Where is Hurricane Michael6. Where is my polling place7. Where is Pyeongchang8. Where is Amazon based9. Where is Paradise California10. Where is Prince from The high ranking of Croatia on this year's list has no doubt been prompted by the Croatian national football teams unprecedented success at the 2018 World Cup. Could this new interest from those previously ignorant to Croatia's location translate into an increase in visitor numbers in 2019? We'll perhaps have to wait and see, but if you hear a lot more American accents here next year, you might be able to explain just why.

"Hats off" to Zagreb artist Lonac for his new murals
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"Hats off" to Zagreb artist Lonac for his new murals

Zagreb artist Lonac has unveiled the two new murals he has painted. The paintings, collectively titled 'hat wearers', appear on walls at the Museum of Contemporary Art, located in the Novi Zagreb area of the Croatian capital. The murals complement the current exhibition of photorealism at the museum, which highlights the contribution made to the genre by Croatian artist Jadranka Fatur. The completed works are available to view now, and fans of Lonac are invited to attend the museum on Tuesday 18 December at 6pm when they will be able to see a film made during the process of the artist constructing the pieces.Zagreb-born Lonac is a recognised name on the art scene of his hometown. Since 2013, he has been a member of the P_3 platform, and since 2016 a member of HDLU. Best known for the huge murals he paints on the side of buildings, his grandiose works and the characters he depicts in them, usually based on people he knows or, in this case, those captured in photograph in his home city, can be seen on walls in Grenoble, France, New York and Nanxian in China. One of Zagreb's most famous contemporary artists, he has a worldwide fanbase.

Gene Wilder retrospective at Zagreb's Kino Kinoteka
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Gene Wilder retrospective at Zagreb's Kino Kinoteka

Feeling down in the dumps because of the cold weather and a lack of sunlight in your life? Luckily, next week offers the opportunity to roll in the aisles with laughter, as Zagreb's Kino Kinoteka begins a showcase of Gene Wilder films that will take place overt two weekends. Gene Wilder was doubtless one of the funniest actors of his generation and one half, alongside Richard Pryor, of the greatest comedy double act to appear in the movies of the '70s and '80s. Gene Wilder's first major film appearance was as Leopold Bloom in Mel Brooks hilarious's 1967 film The Producers, a role which earned Wilder an Oscar nomination. It was the first in a series of collaborations he undertook with writer and director Mel Brooks, this working relationship almost as key to Wilder's legacy as his unforgettable partnerships with Richard Pryor. The Kino Kinoteka retrospective begins on Thursday 20 December with the simply unmissable 'See No Evil, Hear No Evil' in which blind man Wally (Richard Pryor) and his deaf employee (Gene Wilder) are initially assumed to be responsible for a murder to which they are the only witnesses. Mel Brooks parodies the horror genre in his 1974 classic Young Frankenstein. The film, which shows at Kino Kinoteka on Friday 21 December, stars Wilder in the title role and was considered by Brooks to be his finest achievement as a director. On Saturday 22 December, the 1974 cowboy comedy Blazing Saddles is a knockout attack of racism by Mel Brooks. Apart from being hi

Zagreb's Kino Europa pull out all the stops for Grace Jones film premiere
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Zagreb's Kino Europa pull out all the stops for Grace Jones film premiere

Zagreb's Kino Europa will next week host a true event for the Croatian premiere of documentary film 'Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami.' Friday 21 December will see the first screening of the 2017 film in the country and the occasion will be immediately preceded by a presentation by provocative and politically motivated Zagreb drag outfit House Of Flamingo. Androgynous and infamous, model and musician Grace Jones was last year one of the headlining acts at Dimensions Festival in Pula. Jones wowed the crowds with her voice, music, presence and presentation at the concert. A true artist, her multi-faceted talents and personality come under close but respectful scrutiny in this documentary by Sophie Fiennes, who dedicated 12 years to following Jones all over the world for its construction. The film screens at 9pm, with an afterparty until 2am at Pločnik.

Zagreb becomes a winter wonderland this weekend
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Zagreb becomes a winter wonderland this weekend

Those visiting Zagreb this weekend for its award-winning Advent season really couldn't have picked a better time to come to the city, as its flickering Christmas lights, bustling crowds, seasonal street food and entertainments are set to play out before a backdrop of snow. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Обработка фото 📸 Мысли ☀️ (@olechkasdv) on Dec 13, 2018 at 10:59pm PST The city's residents awoke on Friday morning to see a thin white blanket covering the streets, the snowflakes still falling as they made their way into work. Snow has been predicted to fall mildly throughout the day, with temperatures plateauing at around zero degrees for the next 24 hours. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ruška Puška (@ruskapuska) on Dec 14, 2018 at 1:35am PST That may sound cold to those used to Croatia's dependably warm summers, but conditions are actually quite mild; there's little wind to brace yourself against and sensible clothing is all that's required to enjoy the seasonal treat on the city's streets. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Robbie (@robbiio) on Dec 14, 2018 at 2:08am PST Winter clothing will be essential over the weekend as temperatures are expected to plummet to around -7 degrees over Saturday and Sunday, with the snowfall predicted to continue sporadically over the next 48 hours. A break in the cloud cover on Sunday should see the sun break through, but not to the e

The best of Croatia

40 great things to do in Croatia
Things to do

40 great things to do in Croatia

When it comes to things to do in Croatia, the varied landscapes of the country host 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 in Croatia.

20 great things to do in Dubrovnik
Things to do

20 great things to do in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is a one-town tourist industry on its own, with endless things to do all year round. As stunning as the clear blue sea around it, the former centre of the independent Republic of Ragusa invites superlatives and attracts the lion's share of Croatia's visitors. Read on for our insider's guide to the best things to do in Dubrovnik.

20 great things to do in Split
Things to do

20 great things to do in Split

There are plenty of things to do in Split now that – thankfully – its days as a departure point to the nearby islands are gone. Brimming with recently opened high-quality bistros, antiquities aplenty and the best bar scene on the Adriatic coast, Croatia’s main ferry port is also the country’s most promising all-round city-break destination. Our local experts pick the best things to do in Split.

20 great things to do in Zagreb
Things to do

20 great things to do in Zagreb

There are countless cultural things to do in Zagreb, and its compact size makes it easy for first time visitors to navigate. Attractions range from historic sights and fascinating galleries, complemented by destination restaurants, clusters of busy bars and numerous live music venues. Discover the very best things to do in Zagreb with our list of unmissable activities.

20 great things to do in Rijeka
Things to do

20 great things to do in Rijeka

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.

Popular destinations in Croatia

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Croatia city guides

Zagreb
Things to do

Zagreb

Split
Things to do

Split

Dubrovnik
Things to do

Dubrovnik

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.

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.

Discover culture and art highlights

LGBT+ guide to Zagreb
LGBT

LGBT+ guide to Zagreb

The rainbow flag doesn't flutter quite as brilliantly in Zagreb as in nearby European capitals, but that's not to say Croatia's capital hasn't got a characterful queer scene of its own. Although compact, a range of organisations and queer-friendly venues work hard to make sure the city's LGBT+ scene is as inclusive and buzzing as possible. Read on for the best gay bars and queer spaces in Zagreb.

Zagreb gallery guide
Art

Zagreb gallery guide

Zagreb’s many galleries come in many guises – passionate independent venues rub shoulders with venerable institutions. Consider this your essential Zagreb gallery guide.

Essential Zagreb attractions
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.

Croatian culture today
Things to do

Croatian culture today

Croatia may no longer be the new kid on the block as far as Mediterranean tourism is concerned, but it still offers the allure of fresh discoveries. Visitors who already know about Dubrovnik are beginning to grasp why they need to spend more time exploring Pelješac and Korčula; press stories about suave hedonism of Hvar have morphed gently into press stories about the reinvigorating authenticity of the same island. And people who visited Croatian capital Zagreb ten years ago are beginning to realise that the Zagreb of today is a different city entirely.  Croatia’s ongoing status as a perception-challenging destination might be one reason why the Croatian National Tourist Association chose 2015 as the right time to replace its 15-year-old slogan, ‘The Mediterranean As It Once Was’ with the new motto, ‘Croatia: Full of Life’. Local wags were quick to subject the new slogan to a ‘my-child-could-have-thought-that-up’ level of derision, although professionals were equally fast in defending the choice as the most versatile, open-ended and appropriate solution available. The old slogan was very successful in drawing attention to Croatian heritage and unspoiled nature, but probably meant little to a new generation of tourists more interested in music festivals, wine bars, sleek hotels and Adriatic cool. And when Croatia is concerned, cool is far from being an overused word. The Croatian music-festival boom shows no signs of letting up; the legendary, genre-defining Garden Festival

The best Split museums and galleries
Art

The best Split museums and galleries

A bustling hub in Roman times, Split – which is built around an old Roman palace – is full of unique historic and artistic treasures. Split attractions include a number of museums and galleries that make the city a fascinating destination for art aficionados, historians and sightseers alike. Here's where to head.

Dubrovnik art gallery guide
Art

Dubrovnik art gallery guide

Dubrovnik is not all about luxury hotels and destination restaurants. Step inside our Dubrovnik art gallery guide to discover where to catch some of Croatia's best modern and contemporary art, and coolest exhibition programmes.

Croatia's best bars and restaurants

The best Dubrovnik restaurants
Restaurants

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.

The best Zagreb restaurants
Restaurants

The best Zagreb restaurants

This ultimate guide to Zagreb restaurants covers it all: from top-level, splash-out fine dining to street food, traditional wholesome to high-end international, European bistro to east-west fusion. Get stuck in.

The best Split restaurants
Restaurants

The best Split restaurants

The Split restaurant scene's culinary revolution is a recent phenomenon and one that's still booming. Decent and diverse eateries seem to be opening on an almost monthly basis, making Croatia's second city a gastronomic destination equal to almost any in the country. Split is not only a tourist playground – it's a living, breathing, dining-out city for locals too.

The best Zagreb bars
Bars and pubs

The best Zagreb bars

People in Croatia's capital city always give themselves time to linger and socialise over drinks. Whatever the time of year, new Zagreb bars are always raising and lowering their banners across the city centre and beyond, while traditional landmarks stay firm. Time Out's experts discover the best places to sip across town.

The best Dubrovnik bars
Bars and pubs

The best Dubrovnik bars

By day, Dubrovnik and its overcrowded Old Town seem the perfect place for sandal-wearing coffee-sippers. But by night, Dubrovnik bars spring to life, with a number of atmospheric spots serving up anything from fine Dalmatian wines to fancy cocktails. Dip in to our essential drinking guide.

Split bar guide
Bars and pubs

Split bar guide

Local Splićani spend much of their lives in bars. By day, they frequent terrace cafés on the Riva seafront promenade and after dark, the alleyways of the Diocletian’s Palace behind it. Many a Split bar will have its entrance on a parallel street, another will have a doorway in a street with no name at all. On any given night, you’ll find at least one you love, but know you’ll never find again. All the more reason to keep hold of our list of the city's best drinking spots...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.