With its rocky, indented shore and more than a thousand islands, Croatia boasts one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline that Europe has to offer. In addition, many of Croatia’s coastal towns and cities have a fascinating history and are filled with the historical remains of Roman and Venetian times. A list of the top tourist attractions in Croatia.
Gornji Grad is the medieval core of Zagreb and translates as Upper Town. It developed as two separate towns, Kaptol, the seat of the Bishop, and Gradec, the free town where tradesmen and artisans lived. The towns merged in the 1770s to form the northern section of historic Zagreb. The focal point of Gornji Grad is the square around St. Mark’s Church, the parish church of Old Zagreb.
The 6th century Euphrasian Basilica is the top attraction of Poreč, a 2,000 year old town in Istria. It is one of the best examples of early Byzantine architecture in the Mediterranean region and, for the most part, has retained its original shape, though accidents, fires and earthquakes have altered a few details. The present basilica was built on the site of an older basilica during the period of Bishop Euphrasius. The wall mosaics were executed by Byzantian masters and the floor mosaics by local experts.
The island of Mljet is one of the larger islands off the coast of Southern Croatia. With 72% of the island covered by forests and the rest dotted by fields, vineyards and small villages, Mljet is a perfect place to relax. The island contains two salt lakes, Veliko and Malo Jezero, that are located at the western end of the island. In the middle of Veliko Jezero, there is a small island with an old Benedictine monastery.
Diocletian’s Palace in Split was built by the Roman emperor Diocletian in preparation for his retirement. He lived out his retirement in his palace tending to his vegetable gardens. After the Romans abandoned the site, the Palace remained empty for several centuries. In the 7th century nearby residents fled to the walled palace to escape invading barbarians. Since then the palace has been occupied, with residents making their homes and businesses within the palace basement and directly in its walls. Today many restaurants and shops, and some homes, can still be found within the walls.
The amphitheater in Pula is the sixth largest surviving Roman arena and one of the best preserved Roman monuments in Croatia. The Pula Arena was built around the 1st century AD and could seat over 26,000 spectators. In the 15th century many stones were taken from the amphitheater to build houses and other structures around Pula, but fortunately this practice was stopped before the whole structure was destroyed. Today it is a popular Croatia attraction and used to host a variety of festivals and performances during the summer months.
The sixth largest Croatian island, Korcula is separated from the mainland by a narrow strait. The island’s capital is also called Korcula. Nicknamed”Little Dubrovnik”, this ancient city is among the most beautiful towns on the Croatian coast and is known for its unique architecture. One of the main attractions is the alleged house of birth of Marco Polo. The biggest and the most beautiful building of Korcula is the Cathedral of St. Marco, built in Gothic-Renaissance style and completed in the 15th century.
Rovinj is one of the most picturesque towns in the Mediterranean. With its pastel-colored houses clustered together on steep winding streets it is a great place to wonder around. Rovinj is still an active fishing port and visitors can take a boat to the lovely offshore islands. The area around Rovinj has been described as an “outstanding scenic wonder” because of the pristine beauty of the indented coastline and its forests.
Island Hvar and especially Hvar town is one of the most popular attractions in Croatia. Olive groves, fruit orchards, and lavender fields make up a large part of the agricultural landscape. Hvar town, set in a picturesque natural bay, with the Pakleni island chain protecting it to the south, is a popular port for yachts sailing around the Adriatic, especially in the summer months. Starigrad, the oldest village on the island, and Jelsa, as well as a smattering of small villages, dotting the coast or nestled in the lush interior are also well worth a visit.
The Plitvice Lakes are considered to be one of the most beautiful natural destinations in Europe. Due to its natural beauty and significance, this system of 16 interlinked lakes and a large forest complex around it were set aside as a national park in 1949. The beautiful Plitvice Lakes are famous for their unique colors, including azure, green, blue, and gray. The area around the lakes is home to an extremely wide variety of animal and bird species. Rare fauna such as the European brown bear, wolf, eagle, owl, and lynx can be found here, along with many more common species.
Nicknamed “Pearl of the Adriatic”, Dubrovnik is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in Croatia and the Mediterranean. The walled city was built on maritime trade. In the Middle Ages it became the only city-state in the Adriatic to rival Venice and achieved a remarkable level of development during the 15th and 16th centuries. Dubrovnik is steeped in stunning architecture and sculptural detail, and boasts spectacular churches, monasteries, museums, fountains and the famous walls that surround the old city.
More Croatia tourist attractions and travel information can be found in the Explore Croatia page.