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The best short breaks in Croatia

Got a few days to spare? Grab your weekend bag and jump on a plane to one of these wonderful short break destinations

© Vanda Vucicevic/Time Out

Croatia, to many, is the place for long summer breaks. But there's also plenty of opportunity for brilliant short trips. Croatia's cities are reasonably small, meaning that - even in capital Zagreb - you can get a real sense of the place in just a couple of days. The generally relaxed pace of life will let you come away feeling rested, but the country's varied and historic architecture provides plenty to see. Here are the best short breaks in Croatia.

Recommended: more great destinations in Croatia 

1
Zagreb

Zagreb

The EU's newest capital, this attractive, Habsburg-era city is just the right size for a long weekend. It combines a Mediterranean lifestyle – think al fresco cafes and street markets – with a healthy dollop of Balkan attitude and hedonism at night. Cutting-edge modern art, wonderful boutique shopping and sightseeing opportunities aplenty complete the winning mix, while its gridded layout and concentrated city centre mean it's not overwhelming. 

Read our full guide to Zagreb

2
Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, Croatia's most photographed city, is so visually stunning that you needn't do much more than spend a weekend gazing at the views. But if you are after some sight-seeing, almost everything is located in the compact Old Town. The majestic city walls, the cobbled old town, and a host of top quality restaurants make for a delightful weekend break. 

Read our full guide to Dubrovnik

3
Zadar

Zadar

This formerly frumpy seaside town has recently been revamped: with new 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, Zadar is now a creatively-edged coastal destination. There's enough ecclesiastical architecture to keep you awe-struck for the whole break, and the nightlife keeps getting better and better. 

Read our full guide to Zadar 

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4
Sibenik

Sibenik

After a long period of playing second fiddle to more glamorous neighbours Split and Zadar, the small city of Šibenik is swiftly turning into central Dalmatia’s surprise package. In the picturesque Old Town, Historic churches and atmospheric squares are tucked around almost every corner. The busy seafront Riva, overlooked by the ancient network of crumbling fortresses atop the city, is lined with bustling bars and restaurants.

Read our full guide to Sibenik

5
Split

Split

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

Read our full guide to Split

6
Pula

Pula

A city airport and great bus connections make Pula extremely easy to get to. Known for its bustling shopping district, the small city is Istria's commercial centre, making it a lively destination for a short break. There's plenty of attractions to keep you occupied; new ones include the spectacularly renovated former church of Sveta Srca, and the ramshackle but promising Museum of Contemporary Art of Istria. Its famous Roman amphitheatre, meanwhile, remains its magnificent crown jewel. 

Read our full guide to Pula

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7
Rijeka

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 weekend’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.

Read our full guide to Rijeka

8
Rovinj

Rovinj

Rovinj is Istria’s showpiece. It maintains a meticulously cared-for old quarter and extensive tourist amenities without feeling fake or overdone. The natural setting is stunning, and you can while away a day just gazing out from the harbour. 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. This charming mini-Dubrovnik makes for a calming weekend away. 

Read our full guide to Rovinj

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