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Tiny Croatia Villages and Towns You Gotta See
There is so much to Croatia beyond the major tourist destinations. Of course, those popular places are popular for a reason. From the majestic City Walls of Dubrovnik to the coastal towns of Istria, the stunning waterfalls of Plitvice National Park, and the historic heart of Split, Croatia’s star attractions are well-known.
However, we strongly encourage you to get off the beaten path and visit some of the smaller places in this fascinating country. Below, you will find an overview of tiny Croatian villages and Towns—sometimes impossibly small—that you should consider putting on your itinerary.
They offer a different view on life in Croatia, and visitors can experience a more authentic lifestyle often undisturbed by tourism. Conscious travelers shouldn’t limit themselves to the star attractions. It’s these less-explored, untouched, tiny places that offer the most memorable experiences. A comprehensive perspective of any country, especially a historical place like Croatia, consists of all types of landscapes, every kind of urban environment, and as many human interactions as possible.
This is why we recommend that you visit at least one of these teeny-tiny places in Croatia:
Despite reading (and hearing) over and over that Hum is listed as the Guinness Book of Records holder for being the world’s smallest town, I can not find proof. Nor can I find any other town in the world so small. Either way. I introduce to you the teeny tiny town of Hum.
Hum (pronounced who-m) is located in central Istria, approximately 2.5 hours drive from Croatia’s capital Zagreb. When I last wrote about this medieval hilltop town, I thought it had 21 inhabitants (2011 census), but it seems that between 2011, and 2016 there has been a baby boom. There are now 27 people who call Hum home – including four little ones.
I always shout about how safe Croatia is for kids and how we love that part of our life here. But this little town must be the quietest and safest town to live with children. That is if you discount the cobblestone streets. Of which there are just two. Yes, only two streets.
While Hvar Island may be one of the most-visited islands in Dalmatia, you can still escape the crowds. This tiny town is located in the middle of the island’s north coast, neighbored by the two highest mountains on the island—Hum and St. Nikola. Surrounded entirely by hills and pine forests, this sheltered—almost hidden—coastal town features a welcoming atmosphere and oozes historic charm.
Although there may not be any impressive Renaissance architecture like in the town of Hvar, it makes up for that with its cozy squares, lush parks, and narrow alleyways. Nearby, a number of sweet swimming spots offer refuge from the hot summer sun.
Konavle Near Dubrovnik
Located south of the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik’s is Konavle. This area is a popular holiday destination among many travelers due to the pristine Adriatic Seas and the mighty Snijeznica Mountain of the Konvale Valley.
Wondering where to visit in Croatia beyond the major cities like Zagreb, Split, Rovinj, and Dubrovnik? Consider Konavle! It attracts thousands of day-trippers who visit the local wineries and other cultural sites.
Some of the smaller towns in Croatia can be just as interesting as their bigger brothers but don’t get the plaudits they deserve. This is true of the small town of Komin, located in the Dubrovnik-Neretva country area.
This town may be small, but it is famous for being the site where a huge number of old Roman coins were found back in the early 19th century. Aside from that, we’re talking about a charming town, but one area within the town which is famous for other reasons is Usce.
Kite-boarders flock to Usce during the summer months, because the conditions here are legendary. Located at the mouth of the Neretva River, the combination of shallow and flat waters, with the mild temperatures, means that you can kiteboard here to your heart’s content. Don’t know how? That’s okay; there is a kite-boarding school here so you can have a great time learning!
When visiting popular destinations in Croatia, it’s easy to merely focus on the capital and on the coastal cities, full of summer fun, but what about the other Croatians towns to visit in this beautiful country?
Vukovar is situated in eastern Croatia, and is known for several things. First, it is the country’s largest river port and sits where the Danube River and Vuka River meet, and second, is the site of a bloody battle in 1991, known as the Battle of Vukovar. Third and I think the most amazing, the Vučedol Dove!
The Vučedol Dove is the most significant individual archaeological finding from Croatia. It was found in 1938 in Vučedol near Vukovar and made between 2,800 and 2,400. BC. It is a ceramic model of a bird on three legs, made of baked clay, 19.5 cm high. It is dark in color, decorated with white ornaments in the form of a bow, necklace, and wavy zigzag lines on the wings. Just a note, though, the original Dove can be found at the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb.
The confluence of these two rivers means natural beauty in abundance, and if you’re a wine lover, there are loads of wineries a short drive away. This all makes Vukomar one of the absolute best places to go in Croatia if you’re looking for Croatia destinations away from the coast and major cities.
One of Istria’s hidden gems, the photogenic hilltop town of Labin lies just inland from the resort town of Rabac and the rest of the Kvarner Gulf. Only three kilometers from the Adriatic Sea and perched 325 meters atop of a hill, it beautifully overlooks the coast.
Founded as a Roman settlement in the 3rd century AD, then known as Albona, which means “town on a hill,” Labin used to be encircled by fortified walls. Only short sections of these ancient walls survive to this day. Labin is an overwhelmingly charming town, characterized by winding, narrow streets, cobbled alleyways, several art galleries and museums, and pastel-colored buildings. It’s everything you expect from an Istrian town—essentially a perfect mix of Rovinj and Motovun, two of the most popular tourist towns on the Istrian peninsula.
Other highlights include the Mining Museum, exhibiting Labin’s long history as a mining town, and the Fortica Fortress, which offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding rolling countryside and sea in the distance.
If you like a change of scenery, you want an alternative to the bustling historic cities and pebble beaches of the coast, consider a day trip to Rastoke, the historic core of the town of Slunj. Located along the road that connects Zagreb and Plitvice Lakes National Park,
Rastoke is the ideal place to take a break from driving.
The beauty of this town is its location at the place where the Slunjcica River splits up into many branches, which then flow into the Korana River. This results in a multitude of small waterfalls and cascades, similar to those at Plitvice Lakes National Park, yet smaller and less numerous. Rastoke is sometimes referred to as “the small lakes of Plitvice” for this reason. The difference between the park and the town, however, is that Rastoke consists of a centuries-old village filled with historic watermills.
Combining gorgeous nature with historical buildings, Rastoke is unique. It’s exceptionally picturesque and small enough to visit in a couple of hours at most—truly the perfect stopping point en-route between Plitvice Lakes and Zagreb.
Situated along the Sutla River in the far northwestern corner of Croatia, on the border with Slovenia, Kumrovec village is home to no more than 270 people. The municipality has just under 1,600 residents. It’s a teeny tiny place indeed. So, “what on earth is there to see in Kumrovec?” you may wonder.
Well, the town’s main feature is that it’s the birthplace of Josip Broz Tito, the army commander who later became the founder of communist Yugoslavia. It’s also considered to be the best museum village anywhere in Croatia. The house where Tito was born, nothing fancier than a basic peasant home, was converted into a museum during his lifetime. In the decades after his death, the surrounding buildings were renovated and reconstructed.
Now, the town of Kumrovec is a superb example of what a 20th-century Zagorje village looked like. The Ethnological Museum, as it’s called, encompasses eighteen historic village buildings, with permanent exhibits displaying artifacts and furniture.
The Island of Brac is one of the many stunning Dalmatian islands, and nowhere is the rich culture and long history of the island better visible than in Skrip. This is the oldest village on the entire island, known to have been inhabited since as early as 1,400 BC. It later became a Roman mausoleum.
Skrip lies on the hills on the central, north coast of the island and is surrounded by a landscape of stone, brush, and woods. Once a defensive tower, the Radojkovic Tower now houses a fantastic museum exhibiting the town’s wondrous history. There are Roman tombstones, historical artifacts from various eras, and sea charts.
Some people call Istria the best area to stay in Croatia and that’s lots to support that claim. This northerly peninsula is a part of Croatia that is indeed well-visited, but one part that doesn’t receive the tourist interest that it deserves is Rakalj.
Rakalj is just a small town, but it certainly packs a punch in terms of beauty. Located on the Rasa Bay’s west bank, Rakalj is on the south-eastern coastline of the Istrian region, and handily close to Pula – ideal for a day trip!
Rakalj has an interesting history and is known for its links to traditional pottery and fishing.
Some of the must-visit sites include the 18th-century Baroque church, the ruins of the old castle, the Church of St Agnes which dates back as far as 1495. There are also many walking trails so you can explore the area on foot or perhaps you can visit one of the secluded beaches, where you can chill out in total peace and quiet. If you’re looking into where to go in Croatia for beaches, definitely take a closer look at Rakalj!
In essence, you can find history, scenery, and plenty of outdoor activities in Rakalj, all without the huge numbers of tourists you find in other neighboring Istrian towns.
Often overlooked by travelers on their way from Split to Dubrovnik, the coastal village of Gradac is an old fishing settlement on the southern end of the Makarska Riviera in Dalmatia. Inhabited since Roman times, the area still has many features that showcase its long and rich history, including the Chapel of St. Pasquale.
However, the greatest drawcard of Gradac is its gorgeous pebble beaches, so characteristic of the Dalmatian coast. With its shallow, clear, and calm waters, this is a perfect place to sunbathe if you have small children. It’s ideal as a stopping point on the journey between Split and Dubrovnik, the village being located roughly halfway between both cities.
Situated in the heart of Lonjsko Polje Nature Park, the largest wetland area in Croatia and even in the whole Danube basin, Cigoc may be less-known but is a destination well worth visiting. The wetlands are actually huge floodplains, turning into a lake during winter floods. They provide a habitat for various plants and animals, most notably birds.
What makes Cigoc such an interesting place to visit is the fact that it’s home to a large population of storks. These iconic black-and-white birds like to nest on the roofs and chimneys of the town’s houses, attracting visitors from all over the country. The storks are such an essential part of the town that the EuroNatur Foundation designated Cigoc, the first “village of storks” in Europe.
Home to about a thousand residents, Karlobag is a teeny tiny town on the central Adriatic coast of Croatia. It’s considered to be the northernmost town in Dalmatia. Situated at the foot of the Velebit Mountains and straddled by the waves of the Adriatic, the town is exceptionally scenic.
Sunbathing and swimming options are plentiful, but the main attraction of Karlobag is the mountains behind it. The Velebit Mountains are a World Biosphere Reserve, the only one in Croatia, and offer great opportunities for outdoor adventures. Numerous hiking trails crisscross the landscape while boaters and fishermen have a blast on the area’s rivers. In the evening, you can wind down at the town’s many excellent restaurants and busy bars.
Phew, so many small places to explore – and that’s not even half of them!
Of all of the Croatia villages and towns, which one captured your attention?
Main Photo Credit: Mateusz HromadaShare