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.
Favored for the clear blue waters that have made it a desirable getaway vacation destination, Croatia should not be passed up on. Whether you desire a new vacation spot to tan on the beach and dip in refreshing clear waters or you simply want to learn more about ancient history, Croatia is the best place to do them all.
There are plenty of tourist attractions in Croatia that are enticing for history buffs, nature lovers, and active outdoor goers. From walking the sturdy Walls of Dubrovnik that protected the town of Dubrovnik for centuries to watching a live gladiator fight at Pula Arena, Croatia is full of rewarding things to do and adventures to take on!
In this post, we'll cover:
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and living museum, Trogir is a town full of history waiting to be adventured. Considering the best preserved medieval town in central Europe, this historic town is scattered with structures featuring a blend of Baroque, Romanesque, and Renaissance-style architecture and art.
First, visit the Cathedral of St. Lawrence, built in the 13th century, and its impressive bell tower that stands as the tallest structure in Trogir. Next, take on Trogir Central Square, where local artists play local folk music, and locals and tourists come to sip coffee and enjoy gelato. Finally, admire Cipiko Palace, a 15th-century palace featuring Gothic art designs.
The town was also used as a filming location in the famous HBO series, Game of Thrones. When Daenerys Targaryen lands in Quarth to build her army, the scene was filmed at Trogir Harbour, when she first comes to Quarth.
16. Sea Organ
The Sea Organ in Zadar is a viral masterpiece. This architectural sound object was initially designed as an experimental musical instrument that has become a permanent attraction in Zadar.
As sea waves crash into the Sea Organ, the water enters the tubes underneath the marble steps to produce natural music. The organ pipes, or tubes, range in size and length. These organ pipes produce the sounds created by the waves continuously changing as the wave’s movements result in various sounds and enter the various-sized organ pipes.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Zadar
Swimming, strolling, or sitting by the Sea Organ are all popular activities done by locals and tourists alike who wish to experience the serenity of sound created by nature.
15. Biokovo Skywalk
The Biokovo Skywalk is a thrill-inducing glass-floored viewing deck located on a mountain ridge offering 360-degree scenery of the oceanside. As the first skywalk in the country, walking the Biokovo Skywalk is one of the most scariest things to do in Croatia and has left thousands impressed by its perfect pick for a location.
Visitors can stop by to take in the outstanding views of Mount Biokovo and read up on fun educational facts on the geological time chart, description of the rocks and their ages, and how the mountain was formed between admiring the view!
14. Ston City Walls
The Walls of Ston are a series of stone walls surrounding the city, designed to protect and guard the city against enemies.
The walls were built in 1333 when the city of Ston joined the Republic of Dubrovnik. The purpose of the walls was to protect the charming town from intruders, defend the Republic, and guard the peninsula. The structure consists of the Walls of Ston, the Big Wall and its three forts, and the Mali Ston city walls.
This sturdy defensive layout was used to defend the city until the 19th century and has since transitioned to being admired for its historical, cultural, and architectural value. Walking the walls is a favored activity of those visiting Ston. And from above, views of the Peljesac Peninsula, Saint Ilija Peak, and the alluring town of Ston can be admired.
13. Zlatni Rat
Referred to as the Golden Horn or the Golden Cape, Zlatni Rat is a spit of land located near the harbor town of Bol on the island of Brac.
Zlatni Rat homes one of Croatia’s most stunning beaches. Thanks to its spectacular appeal, it has been featured in renowned names like National Geographic and Lonely Planet.
People travel from all over the world to come vacation at Zlatni Rat. Though many simply enjoy bathing in the sun and swimming in the waters that transition from turquoise to dark blues within 10 meters from the shoreline, others can be found strolling through the century-old pine forest for relief from the sun’s rays. There’s also a cafe to refresh and re-energize for the day’s events!
12. Hvar Town
The island of Hvar is known for its yacht parties and the swathes of land covered in rich purples of lavender. On this stunning island is Hvar Town, set in a picturesque natural bay, with the Pakleni island chain protecting it to the south.
Dip into the waters for a swim, or rent a boat to cruise along the waters to explore more of Hvar Town’s beachfront. After working up an appetite, get a taste of the local cuisine and delicious signature dishes of Hvar, like gregada, a stew made with olive oil, fish, onions, garlic, and potatoes.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Hvar
There are other activities and things to do in Hvar Town. Visit the Stari Grad Museum to learn about Croatia’s first civilization. Sail to the Pakleni Islands to swim, snorkel, and sail around hidden coves. Stroll through lavender fields to soak in the rejuvenating fresh scents native to the area.
Join the locals and fellow tourists in the heart of Hvar Town, Saint Stephen’s Square, often called Pjaca. This social hub is full of breathtaking historical architecture, like the Cathedral of St. Stephen, along with cafes and other local small businesses.
11. Krka National Park
Popularly known for Skradinski Buk, its series of seven waterfalls, Krka National Park is home to more waterfalls, historic sites, and scenic landscapes.
One of Croatia’s most visited and beloved national parks, it’s not hard to find picturesque views that inspire awe here. Many visitors come to Krka National Park to bask in the views of the impressive network that includes 17 waterfalls that drop into pools of emerald water. Others enjoy strolling through the park’s trails to bask in refreshing views of nature.
The park’s ethno village allows guests to learn about local history and culture and see water mills from the 17th and 18th centuries. In addition, there are often demonstrations of how wheat is milled into flour, along with other demos that include fabric weaving, blacksmithing, and more!
10. Kornati Islands
Also known as the Stomorski Islands or the Kornatic archipelago of Croatia, the Kornati Islands can be found in the northern section of Dalmatia.
The Kornati Islands are a collection of 140 uninhabited islands, reefs, and islets. It is the largest and densest archipelago in the Adriatic. Of the islands, 89 are part of the Kornati National Park, with the largest of these islands being Kornat, where the park obtained its name.
A trip to the island offers various activities like snorkeling, diving, swimming, hiking, recreational fishing, and wildlife watching. Some other notable landmarks found on the Kornati Islands include the Dry Stone Walls, created as a memorial to the victims of the Kornati tragedy when 12 firefighters died trying to save the national park from burning to the ground. Another is the ancient Fortress Tureta which has stood firm since the Byzantine period, and the Church of Our Lady Of Tarac, dating back to the Middle Ages.
9. Gornji Grad in Zagreb
A district in the town of Zagreb, Gornji Grad is a historical district found on the city’s hillside (the name translates as Upper Town). The district features medieval architecture and significant attractions like Lotrscak Tower, St. Mark Church, Zagreb Cathedral, and the Croatian Parliament.
Lotrscak Tower dates back to the 13th century. It was used to protect the south city gate. Visitors can climb to the top to bask in panoramic views of Zagreb. Zagreb Cathedral is the second tallest building in Croatia and the largest sacral building established in the Gothic style to be found southeast of the Alps. These are only some of Gornji Grad’s interesting historical attractions!
A favorite of the district is Tkalciceva, a famous pedestrian cafe street. The vibrant street is lined with boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and shops. Before WW2, almost every house that lined Tkalciceva was a brothel, making Zagreb one of the first cities in Europe to have a red-light district. Today, Tkalciceva welcomes locals and tourists to visit Zagreb craftsmen and traders, eat traditional foods and shop for local goods.
8. Euphrasian Basilica in Porec
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.
Within the Euphrasian Basilica is the baptistery, atrium, bishop’s palace, mosaics, and remains of sacral buildings dated back to the 3rd to 4th centuries. The mosaics personify Byzantine art, produced during the Middle Ages, and can be found throughout the church.
Visiting the Euphrasian Basilica, you’ll first walk through the open-air atrium featuring columns imported from Constantinople. Next, you’ll head to the baptistery constructed in the 5th century with a baptismal pool in the center. Then, is the bell tower. This structure was built in 1522 when bell towers began trending in the Middle Ages. The bell tower offers scenic views across Porec and the coastline.
After the bell tower, you will be led to the bishop’s palace, a large building located on the edge of the water where the bishop once accepted guests. It is currently used as a museum space featuring intriguing artifacts.
7. Korcula Town
Known for having some of the best beaches in Croatia, Korcula is a small island with spectacular Mediterranean scenery surrounded by medieval architecture. On this island is Korcula Town, renowned for being the birthplace of the famous world explorer Marco Polo.
And the town’s reputation doesn’t end there. Korcula Town is a reputable wine town featuring local wine that makes for a unique touch when visiting this vibrant town and is favored for its country foods and Moreška dance performances.
Stop by this town full of treasures. Enjoy Michelin-starred meals, traditional knoboa, and local wine. Feel the thrill of the traditional sword dance of Korcula Town, the Moreška. Stroll through vineyards seaside. Or lay back and bask in the views on the beach.
6. Rovinj Old Town
A popular summer getaway destination, 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.
Surrounded by sparkling blue waters and lined with cobblestone, Rovinj is full of art galleries, unique shops, restaurants, a seafront bar and boisterous town squares. In addition, you can find some of the best gelato and seafood in this small lively town.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Rovinj
One of Rovinji’s notable landmarks is the St. Euphemia Church. Located on the top of the hill, the church has established itself as the town’s symbol. The old town offers a range of activities, like rock climbing at Punta Corrente Forest Park, romantic Batana rides on the water, scuba diving to visit famous shipwrecks like the Baron Gautsch, and seeing the many local shops and cafes for a unique experience.
5. Mljet National Park
The greenest island in Croatia, Mljet homes thriving vegetation, clear blue waters, and abundant wildlife. Mljet National Park is situated on the island’s northwest side, bordering Veliko and Malo Jezero, two saltwater lakes. On the Melita, a small island located in the middle of Veliko Jezero, is a former 12th-century Benedictine monastery that has been transformed into a popular restaurant.
There are plenty of fun activities to explore in Mljet National Park. From swimming and sunbathing to kayaking and hiking, tourists and locals enjoy the rejuvenating scenery of the Mljet coastline, surrounded by thriving nature.
4. Diocletian’s Palace
An ancient palace established for the Roman emperor Diocletian, Diocletian’s Palace makes up half the town of Split in Croatia.
Built in the fourth century AD, initially as an imperial residence that eventually added a military fortress and town, the palace is a stunning well-preserved Roman-age structure that should not be missed during your visit to Croatia. Diocletian had marble imported from Greece and Italy, as well as 12 sphinxes and columns from Egypt, used to construct the enigmatic palace.
Today, shops, restaurants, and apartments make up the ancient palace that is free to visit, though some buildings inside may require an entry fee. And for Game of Thrones fans, the palace’s substructure is where Daenerys Targaryen kept her dragons while in Meereen!
3. Pula Arena
The Pula Arena is one of the six largest Roman amphitheaters still standing and the only Roman amphitheater with all four side towers preserved. 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 for history buffs, engineers, and architects.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Pula
There are many things to do at this preserved Roman amphitheater. Peer at the real preserved clothes and weapons used by gladiators in the subterranean gallery—Tour the underground Pula Arena, where beasts were kept before battles. Buy tickets for world-class concerts from stars like Sting and Elton John or experience the thrill of a live gladiator battle.
2. Plitvice Lakes
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.
1. Walls of Dubrovnik
An impressive line of defensive stone walls, the Walls of Dubrovnik surround the city of Dubrovnik, part of southern Croatia, along the seashore.
The city became known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic” thanks to the sturdy walls that shielded the city from attacks. The Walls of Dubrovnik date back to the Middle Ages. They proved their worth many times, including in the 9th century when the city was besieged for 15 months.
See also: Where to Stay in Dubrovnik
Today, the Walls of Dubrovnik are a popular tourist attraction and filming location of big-name movies and shows like Game of Thrones. Therefore, many travelers visit to climb and walk the Walls of Dubrovnik, which takes around an hour or two to complete, to bask in the spectacular views of the sea and city of Dubrovnik from above.