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Where to go in Croatia: 16 Remarkable Croatian Stops Not to be Missed
The new year is almost upon us. I don’t know about you, but I’m already planning where to go in Croatia. Croatia is a relatively small country but take it from us; it’s diverse, and there is so much more to see beyond the well-trodden paths of Dubrovnik and seaside city of Split. For those of you thinking about where to go in Croatia here are 16 places to visit beyond Croatia’s major attractions.
Where to go in Croatia: Skradin[espro-slider id=19070]
Skradin is a small town in Šibenik Knin County. It’s located at the mouth of the Krka river and the entrance to the Krka National Park. Needless to say, if you want to visit the Krka National Park and specifically the Skradinski Buk and Roski waterfalls, Skradin is the perfect place to stay.
Skradin is a picturesque little town, with a long history – being first settled by the Liburnians followed by the Romans. The town has cobbled-stoned streets and has that small Mediterranean town vibe. You will see men tending to their fishing nets as the scent of Croatian cooking fills the air. And, hey, if it’s good enough for Bill Gates, should be good for you too huh?
What to do in Skradin
- Visit the 14th-century Franciscan monastery that is located on an island in Lake Visovac
- Sail all the way to Skradin from the Adriatic Sea
- Visit Krka National Park and swim in the waterfalls
- Eat Skradinski Rižot, which is cooked for up to 12 hours, making it an epic veal risotto. It was also made famous by Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations
- Visit Bibich Winery for some of Croatia’s best wine and out of this world food.
Where to Stay in Skradin
Situated on a cliff above the Krka Canyon – it’s wow factor x10
Where to go in Croatia: Pag Island[espro-slider id=19073]
Pag Island is in the very north of Dalmatia and is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Once you cross the Pag island bridge, there is a noticeable difference in terrain. Rock and stone dominate the landscape. However, to dismiss this location based on the tree-less landscape would be a mistake. During the summer months of July and August, Novalja, one of the island’s two major towns, transforms into a giant, beach party. Pag town itself is quite charming and let us not forget what Pag is most famous for, Paški sir (Pag Cheese), the production of salt and lace making.
What to do on Pag Island:
- Check out the ancient olive grove of Lun at Pag islands very tip. Some of the trees are 1500 years old!
- Try some Paski Sir at Sirana Gligora or visit one of the local cheese producers.
- Visit the Lace Museum. Did you know that the Pag Lace work is so important to the Croatian culture it was inscribed by UNESCO on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2009?
- If you like to Party, go to one of the Superclubs at Zrce, in Novalja and party the night away.
Where to Stay in Pag
It’s the place Anthony Bourdain stayed!
Where to go in Croatia: Dugi Otok[espro-slider id=19078]
Dugi Otok (long Island) is located west of Zadar in Northern Dalmatia. While the island is easily accessible from Zadar, it doesn’t get hordes of tourists through the summer. Dugi Otok is 45km long and around 5km wide and has many ancient sites, beautiful beaches, and bays.
What to do on Dugi Otok:
- Visit Telašćica Nature Park and have a swim and hang out with the Donkeys.
- Visit the Veli Rat lighthouse
- Go swimming at arguably Croatia’s best beach: Sakarun.
- Check out the amazing Strasna Pec Cave
- Attend the Saljske Uzance, a celebration that takes place the first weekend in August which culminates in the annual Donkey race.
Where to go in Croatia: Omiš[espro-slider id=19074]
Omiš is a town located 25 kms south of Split on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. Omiš is positioned at the mouth of the crystal clear Cetina River and was once a famous pirate town. Omiš town’s economic prosperity was born from piracy. Omiš had excellent seamen who navigated the Adriatic sea, keeping the city wealthy. The pirates of Omiš were fierce and were known to have fast ships, protecting the city for over 400 years. Now that the pirates are long gone, there are loads of things to do in Omiš. Here are a few:
What to do in Omiš:
- Adventure sports like canyoning, rock climbing, trekking up Biokovo Mountain or any of the mountains in the area, paragliding.
- Experience Zip Lining Croatia as we did across the Omiš gorges.8 wires. 65 kms an hour set over 150 meters off the ground. That’s what you call heart-racing fun! You’ll love it.
- Of all the things to do in Omiš, enjoying the foam of the rapids on the Cetina River has to be one of the best ways a family can spend an active day together. Starting at Penšići and finishing at Radmanove Mlinice, rafting the 9 km route on the Cetina is a day to remember.
- Visit Mirabella Fortress and get panoramic views of Omiš.
Where to Stay in Omis
Hotel Villa Dvor
The views from here will amaze
Where to go in Croatia: Zagorje Region[espro-slider id=19079]
The region known as Hrvatsko Zagorje is dotted with castles, thermal springs, vineyards and not to mention some stunning scenery. The area stretches north of Zagreb all the way to the Slovenian border. Taking a drive through the rolling green hills of Zagorje is an enjoyable experience in itself and be sure to try some Traditional Zagorje cuisine.
What to do in Zagorje:
- Visit a castle. We recommend Trakošćan or Veliki Tabor Castles
- Try some fabulous Croatian wine at Bolfan Vinski Vrh or Korak winery.
- Visit the Museum of Krapina Neanderthals
- Spend the day at a Thermal Spa like Aquae Vivae in Krapinske Toplice
- Visit Kumrovec, the birthplace of Tito, which is now an open-air museum depicting life in the 19th & early 20th century.
Where to go in Croatia: Zadar[espro-slider id=19081]
Zadar is the second largest city in Dalmatia and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe. It’s situated on the Adriatic coast and is said to have some of the best sunsets in the world. We love just to wander around Zadar immersing ourselves in its ancient atmosphere. The other big plus with Zadar is its perfectly located for day trips to the Kornati Islands, Paklenica National Park and numerous islands in the Zadar Archipelago. And we can’t forget the great beaches in and around Zadar.
What to do in Zadar:
- Those interested in architecture should visit the Saint Donat church in the forum. It is considered to be an excellent example of Byzantium architecture.
- Take a day trip to the Kornati Islands or Paklenica National Park.
- Visit one of the many museums. Our favorites are the Museum of Ancient Glass and the Archaeological Museum.
- And, of course, the haunting sounds of the sea organ….
Where to Stay in Zadar
Bastion Heritage Hotel
Located in the heart of the Old Town
Where to go in Croatia:Poreč
Poreč is a seaside town located on the west coast of Istria. It is most famous for the UNESCO world heritage listed Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica. The basilica is the most complete complex of its type in the world. The Episcopal Complex was built in 313 and is among the best examples of Byzantine architecture and art in the world. Featuring a church, memorial chapel, atrium, baptistry and episcopal palace, it’s most outstanding feature has to be the beautifully tiled mosaic illustrations that glow in the candlelight. The Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica is believed to be one of the founding places of Christianity – now that’s cool. Read more information on the outstanding site of the Episcopal Complex here.
Where to Stay in Porec
5-Star Luxury is right here
Where to go in Croatia: Mljet National Park
The National Park of Mljet is for those who like a little bit of adventure as well as stunning scenery. Situated on Mljet Island, the park takes up the entire northwest of the island. Mljet National Park is bordered by two salt water lakes that are fantastic to swim in as they are a couple of degrees warmer than the sea temperature. You can also go kayaking, hiking and of course just relax and sunbathe. In the middle of the larger Lake (Veliko Jezero), there is a small island, with a former 12th-century Benedictine monastery that is now a café. We rented kayaks and paddled over for a coffee a couple of years back, and that was an awesome experience. If the National Park isn’t enough, go and explore the rest of Mljet.
Where to go in Croatia: Vis Island[espro-slider id=19075]
A couple of years ago my friends and I sailed to Vis from Hvar and spent a couple of days on the island. Vis Island is a little further out into the Adriatic sea and previously served as a military post, isolating the island from tourism development. There are two main towns on Vis Island, Vis town in the north east and Komiza Bay on the western side of the island. If you’re looking for an Adriatic escape without being swamped by tourists, Vis Island is the place for you.
What to do on Vis Island:
- Explore the labyrinth of old military tunnels. As you travel around the island, you will see caves and concrete entrances in hillsides dotted all over the place. These are the military tunnels. We recommend you get a local guide and take a tour.
- Go to one of the many beaches on Vis, try Grandovac, Stonćica or the magnificent Stiniva beach.
- Visit the Blue Cave on the nearby island of Biševo. While on Biševo you should stop in at Porat beach for a swim
- Try some of the local vino. We love Vugava a local grape variety that has been cultivated for a couple of thousand years.
Where to Stay in Vis
Hotel San Giorgio
Just a few steps from the beach
Where to go in Croatia: Zagreb
We’ve been banging on about Zagreb for some time now and with good reason. The capital of Croatia is a great little city, and if you’re planning a trip to Croatia, you absolutely must visit Zagreb. It has remained at the forefront of history and culture of Croatia since Medieval times. There is always something happening in Zagreb. Visitors to the city should certainly find enough to keep them busy, ranging from elegant restaurants, fascinating museums, and a relaxed cafe culture.
We developed this list of things to do in Zagreb, but it is by no means complete. Discover Zagreb for yourself.
Where to Stay in Zagreb
The perfect mix of location and style
Where to go in Croatia: Motovun[espro-slider id=19076]
Perched on top of a hill in central Istria is Motovun. This medieval town overlooks the Mirna river valley and is utterly charming. Motovun is surrounded by vineyards, fields, and truffle rich forest. Artisans sell local wares inside the walled town itself. However, Motovun is not about action packed days but about relaxing and absorbing the serenity.
What to do in Motovun
- Try some Istrian Malvazija wine.
- Wander the cobblestone streets of Motovun.
- Try some fuži with white truffles or go truffle hunting.
- Go to the Motovun Film Festival, which is held at the end of July each year.
- Visit Istarski Toplice spa and relax!
Where to Stay in Motovun
Just try not to love the view
Where to go in Croatia: Pelješac Peninsular[espro-slider id=19077]
Peljesac is a peninsula in southern Croatia, in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, about an hour and a half drive from Dubrovnik. It is around 70 km long and is connected to the Croatian Mainland at Ston. If you are staying in Dubrovnik, Peljesac makes a great day trip – this one has been so popular wth our readers. Peljesac is most famous for the excellent Croatian wines that come from the peninsula, particularly Dingač and Postup. Peljesac has a real impressive landscape all while being almost surrounded, by the azure Adriatic.
What to do in Peljesac
- Try Some Oysters, shellfish and the delicious Croatian cuisine in Ston.
- Check out the great wall of Ston.
- Go wine tasting in Dingač and Postup. Most of the vineyards are open for visitors.
- Go swimming at one of the sandy beaches. Try Trstenica or Prapratno.
- Visit the town of Orebic.
Where to go in Croatia: Brijuni Islands National Park
The Brijuni Archipelago National Park is made up of 14 islands, including Veliki Brijun & Mali Brijun. The Brijuni Islands were made famous by Tito, the Yugoslavian leader who made them into his own personal summer retreat. Tito would entertain heads of state and movie stars all at Bijle Villa (white house) on Beliki Brijun. These days anyone can visit Veliki Brijun and explore the island.
What to do on the Brijuni Islands
- Go to the Safari Park and see some animals that are exotic to Croatia.
- Visit the archaeological sites of Kastrum, Roman villa in Verige Bay, and the 5th century St. Mary’s Church, which is said to have been used by the Knights Templar in the 13th century.
- Visit Tito’s Museum
Where to go in Croatia: Senj
The town of Senj is located at the foothills of the Velebit and Kapela Mountains on the Adriatic coast. It lies between Zadar and Rijeka. It is a great place to stay if you want to spend some time in the North Velebit National Park while still being by the sea.
What to do in Senj
- Visit the Nehaj fortress that was erected in 1558.
- Learn about Senj’s history in the town museum that is housed in the Vukasović palace.
- Go hiking in the North Velebit National Park which is only 50km from Senj and explore one of the world’s longest caves Lukina.
- If an active holiday is more your thing than you can go hiking through the Senj bypass, try cycling one of the many trails, Fishing, sailing, and my favorite personal swimming in the Adriatic
Where to go in Croatia: Varaždin[espro-slider id=19080]
The elegant and charming Varazdin is located an hour from Zagreb in Croatia’s northeast. Varazdin became prominent in Croatia’s history when it became Croatia’s capital in 1756. It remained Croatia’s capital for only 20 years as the city was destroyed. The city was rebuilt, and today that baroque architecture still stands, making it unique in Croatia. These days Varazdin is a city that supports the arts which culminates each year with the Spancirfest.
Things to do in Varazdin
- Attend Spancirfest, the festival that celebrates street theater and performing arts.
- Wander the old town and admire the historic and well preserved public buildings and numerous palaces.
Where to go in Croatia: Rijeka
What to do in Rijeka:
- Trsat Castle is perched on top of the hill above Rijeka and historically served as a lookout. These days Trsat is used to serve the city by hosting different events and performances. Head up the stairs and take a look for yourself.
- Korzo is the main promenade in the city of Rijeka. It’s safe to say it’s the cultural heart of Rijeka and is always alive. Have a coffee or a meal on Korzo and see what Rijeka is all about.
- Go biking. Bike Rijeka Mobile App enables you to search for more than 40 cycling trails shown on Google Maps and provides detailed directions on how to reach them. All trails include descriptions attractions, locations of nearby food and drink venues, service centers, accommodation options and everything else you need to explore new trails during your stay in Rijeka. The app recently won this award.
- Get dressed up and go the Rijeka Carnival. This carnival is huge and loads of fun. It’s listed as one of the most important events in Europe.The carnival will be held from Jan 17 to Feb 10. Get your masks ready and book your flights to Rijeka.
- Why not consider staying in Rijeka’s Botel a unique accommodation experience.
So, tell us where you will be exploring soon? What else should we add to this list of ‘Where to go in Croatia’?
More Ideas For Where to go in Croatia
Are you traveling to Croatia? Great, we’ve got a stack of suggestion – here are just a few:
- A Massive List of Things to do in Croatia
- What to Pack For Croatia: The Ultimate Croatia Packing List
- Top Croatia Travel Guides & Books
- The Ultimate Guide to Croatia
- Best Croatia Travel Deals & How to Get Them
- Car Rental Tips and Deals
- See which tours of Croatia we Recommend
- Best Things to do with Kids in Croatia
We want you to know: Main Photo Credit: Davor Strenja. Photos throughout Mario Fajt, Ivan Coric, Aleksandar Gospic, SailDubrovnik, Ivan Ivankovic, National Tourist Board Archives, Tomislav Mavrovic. We thank you all, as without your photos showing off Croatia would not be anywhere as near as pretty.