Best things to do in Croatia
· ·

19 best things to do in Croatia

Planning a trip to Croatia and want to make sure you tick off all the best things to do? Having travelled a lot of the country and working there remotely, I’m well equipped to share the best things to do in Croatia to add to your list.

I fell in love with Croatia back in 2015 when I visited the first time, and that feeling has never really gone away. Last year, I was lucky enough to spend several weeks slow travelling around the country while taking my work with me. I found a flight for just £7 (unbelievable, right?!) to Zadar, and from there I toured around, eventually winding up in Croatia’s equally beautiful neighbour, Montenegro. Whether you’re drawn to the historic charm of Dubrovnik, the sun-soaked beaches lining the Adriatic, or the hidden wonders of its national parks, Croatia has a lot to offer for everyone lucky enough to visit. Here’s my guide to the best things to do in Croatia.

Quick tips for visiting Croatia

Don’t miss: a tour of Plitvice Lakes National Park from Zagreb. Discover the magic of the park and its stunning waterfalls and 16 incredible lakes. The park is now Croatia’s #1 natural attraction, and for good reason.

Bucket list experience: go on a unique guided sea kayaking tour at night with a clear kayak. Look through the bottom of the transparent kayak lighted with LED lights to admire the nocturnal marine life of the Adriatic. A truly magical and one-of-a-kind experience!

Flights: find the cheapest flights to Croatia with Skyscanner.

The best things to do in Croatia

Explore Dubrovnik’s Old Town

Let’s start with an obvious draw, right out of the gate: Dubrovnik. I recommend beginning your Croatian adventure by stepping into the historical tapestry of Dubrovnik’s Old Town. I love just how iconic the city is with its orange rooftops, clifftop bars, and shiny paving slabs. Wander through ancient streets, marvel at medieval architecture, and walk along the storied city walls.

Dubrovnik’s medieval and Roman walls follow the old town around for over a mile. They offer the most gorgeous views of the sparkling Adriatic and the iconic orange rooftops – arguably some of the most iconic views you’ll find in south Europe. I highly recommend visiting early in the morning to enjoy the best of the city, without the crowds. I couldn’t believe just how busy it was when I visited last year.

Visit the Game of Thrones filming locations

I feel like I can’t really talk about Dubrovnik without mentioning one of the best things to do in Croatia for many. For fans of the epic series Game of Thrones, Croatia offers a chance to step into the iconic filming locations. Dubrovnik’s middle-aged architecture and fascinating natural landscapes were prominently featured in pop-culture modern classic Game of Thrones, providing stunning backdrops for key locations in the epic series.

This has made it even more popular than it already was amongst tourists, naturally! Dubrovnik, with its imposing city walls, became King’s Landing, and the ancient city of Split provided the backdrop for Meereen. If Game of Thrones is your thing and you want to learn more, I really recommend taking a guided tour to relive the fantasy world of Westeros.

Island-Hop on the Adriatic

Now this is my personal favourite thing to do in Croatia, and luckily enough, Yet more incredible destinations can be found off Croatia’s coast, on one of the thousand-plus islands that stipple the shallower parts of the western Adriatic, each with its own unique charm. You could choose to do what I did and spend time figuring out the ferry timetables and explore the islands on your own, or if you’re looking to get the very most out of coastal Croatia, there’s little alternative to confirming a yacht charter and coasting from isle to isle.

Embark on a sailing adventure to explore islands like Hvar, Brač, and Vis. You’ll discover secluded coves, indulge in local cuisine, and witness breathtaking sunsets against the backdrop of the azure Adriatic Sea. My favourite islands were Hvar, Dugi otok, and Brač.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Admire the waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes National Park

Sixteen lakes and countless waterfalls make walking through Plitvice Lakes National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site) a dreamy experience. It’s one of the most distinct memories I have from visiting Croatia the first time around, marvelling at the bright blue of the lakes. Over centuries, this travertine landscape has created a vivid world of shallow lakes and waterways shaded by beech forests, with every shade of blue and green reflected in its mesmerisingly clear waters.

Follow the footpaths – many of them on raised wooden walkways – until you reach Kozjak Lake, where an electric boat awaits to take you across the glass-like water. Immerse yourself in a fairytale landscape of cascading waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, and lush greenery. Plitvice Lakes National Park is now Croatia’s #1 natural attraction.

Relax on Croatia’s beautiful beaches

Of course, you can’t visit such a beautiful country that has so much coastline without seeing a beach or two. Croatia’s coast is unavoidably one of its biggest selling points; the entirety of Croatia’s coastline faces the Adriatic Sea, on the other side of which Italy’s east coast can be found in parallel – meaning it enjoys a great deal of the same Mediterranean weather. It’s also one of Europe’s longer beaches, stretching out over 1000 miles thanks to its many inlets, bays, and coves. 

Croatia’s beaches are unparalleled, home to calm sunny days, avid water-sports, and cultural events alike. While most of Croatia’s beaches are pebbly, I’d recommend heading to Sakarun Beach on Dugi otok near Zadar, a rare sandy beach and party hub in the summer months. Zlatni Rat Beach (or the Golden Horn) on the island of Brač is truly stunning too, and known globally for its unique shape that changes with the waves. It’s a real-life paradise of golden sands and turquoise waters, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

Go hiking in Mljet National Park

The perfect day trip from either Dubrovnik or Korčula, Mljet is a beautiful national park that is perfect for cycling, swimming, or hiking. There are two saltwater lakes – Malo jezero (Small Lake) and Veliko jezero (Big Lake) that take up a large part of the island, all surrounded by trails and swimming stops. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can choose to hike to the top of Montokuc at 256m for incredible views across the area. The climb takes around 45 minutes.

I loved swimming in the gorgeous turquoise waters. We also took a picnic, and found a little spot along the paths to enjoy it with a view. I recommend taking a snorkel too to see what you can see in the beautiful water around Mljet.

Discover Diocletian’s Palace in Split

In the coastal city of Split, explore the grandeur of Diocletian’s Palace. This well-preserved Roman complex seamlessly blends history with modern life, hosting vibrant markets, charming cafes, and ancient landmarks. I remember feeling truly amazed that I could sip wine in a palace that dates back to the 2nd century, but the Roman palace continues to be an integral part of Split’s modern times.

In fact, it’s even possible to stay in an apartment in the heart of the UNESCO-listed Diocletian’s Palace. Climb to the top of the bell tower for panoramic views of Split and the Adriatic. Although it can be hard work climbing the many steps, the views more than make up for it.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Day trip on the tiny island of Lokrum

Just a short boat ride from Dubrovnik’s Old Port, you can reach the beautiful, historic island of Lokrum. Despite its small size, there’s plenty to do here. As well as being lush, green island, you can also discover a Benedictine monastery, a Napoleonic fort, a botanical garden, bars, restaurants, and several beaches. I highly recommend taking a picnic or some snacks with you, and enjoying them with the beautiful views that the island offers.

You can explore the monastery, wander the botanical gardens, and even check out Lokrum’s Dead Sea (Mrtvo More) on the perfect day trip from Dubrovnik. It’s a small, saltwater lake connected to the Adriatic where you can enjoy a swim in the calming atmosphere. Game of Thrones fans can wander the scenes of the city of Qarth, and I highly recommend climbing to the top of Maximilian’s Tower for panoramic views of the island and the Adriatic Sea. See if you can spot a peacock or two, too.

Swim among the waterfalls at Krka National Park

While similar to Plitvice Lakes National Park, I absolutely loved Krka National Park. There’s nothing quite like the impressive forest landscape and the trails that take you up close to the waterfalls. You can’t miss a swim at the iconic Skradinski buk Falls. They’re a collection of seventeen mini waterfalls that stretch over 500m long, cascading down limestone rocks.

My favourite thing to do at Krka National Park was to swim among the falls, looking out over the forests. Once you’re done swimming, you can head up to the impressive viewpoint at the boat landing to see the waterfalls in all their glory. You can also head to tiny Visovac island to see its Franciscan monastery, which dates back to the 15th century.

Explore Pula’s Roman ampitheatre

One of the best things to do in Croatia is visit Pula’s incredible Roman ampitheatre. It’s exciting because it’s the sixth largest surviving ampitheatre in the world, and is well placed to rival Rome’s Colosseum. Built back at the end of the 1st century BC, it has space for a whopping 22,000 spectators. It’s beautifully preserved, and you can even head into the lower chambers to learn about Istria’s Roman-era winemaking traditions.

I highly recommend planning your trip to Pula around events at the ampitheatre. You might fancy visiting during Pula Film Festival in the summer to experience the best of one of Croatia’s most atmosphere concert venues. Equally, if you’re in Pula between June and September, you might not want to miss the Spectacvla Antiqva, an evening event filled with gladiator fights, and Roman style clothing, food, and drinks.

Experience a Zadar sunset

Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Croatia is to experience a Zadar sunset. In fact, it’s probably one of my favourite places to enjoy a sunset in the world. Even Alfred Hitchcock was impressed. He said ‘Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world’, and rightly so. Not only are sunsets here a beautiful spectacle, but you can also enjoy the soundtrack of the Sea Organ art installation, and light effects courtesy of the Greeting of the Sun, a circle of glittering panels that light up after dark.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Enjoy cafe culture in Zagreb

Croatia’s capital city has a vibrant, inviting cafe culture that is there to be enjoyed. Coffee is king in Zagreb, and many cafes are located in beautiful historic buildings. Thanks to Croatia’s warm climate, you can enjoy a coffee al fresco which makes it perfect for people-watching. Coffee shops in Zagreb are proud of their coffee culture, and you’ll find anything from speciality brews to Turkish coffee.

I was surprised to learn that many cafes in Zagreb are essentially cultural hubs, hosting art exhibitions, live music performances, and literary events. If this tickles your fancy, you should visit on a Saturday between 10am and 2pm, when you can watch špica, when locals dress up to go from cafe to cafe around the main Ban Jelačića Square. Cafe culture in Zagreb extends well into the evening, in case you miss it.

Live it up in Hvar

Hvar is probably my favourite spot in Croatia! I visited back in 2015 and thoroughly enjoyed my time soaking up the glitz and glamour of this stunning island. On Hvar, you’ll find superyachts bobbing in the harbour, glossy marble streets, and gorgeous coves. Arguably the chicest resort in the Adriatic, Hvar Town is the hub of the island, with Renaissance architecture, swanky cocktail bas, and classy restaurants. The island also offers some quieter regions to find the calm in coves and countryside.

For some of the best views in the Adriatic, follow the pathway up to Fortica, the citadel, which dates back to the 13th century when it was built by the Venetians. Although it can be a slightly sweaty climb, the magnificent vistas from the top are well and truly worth it. For some added romance, visit at night when the medieval castle sparkles in the dark.

Visit Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships

Possibly one of the most unusual things to do in Croatia, the Museum of Broken Relationships in Croatia’s capital city is well worth a visit. The perfect blend of wit and philosophy, the exhibition was originally an art installation, becoming a permanent fixture of the city in 2010. You’ll discover various artefacts relating to heartbreak and lost love, from love letters to prosthetic limbs. It’s certainly one of the most weird and wonderful museums you’ll ever visit! Despite the theme of heartbreak, the museum conveys a positive message of resilience and the human capacity to heal.

Kayak the Dalmatian coast

One of the best things to do in Croatia is to experience the beauty of the country from its sparkling waters. In fact, it is often thought that the country’s Dalmatian coast is best enjoyed from the water. And what better way to enjoy it than from a sea kayak?! My friend and I went sea kayaking off the Dubrovnik coast, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Choose your time slot, and hop into your kayak to follow your tour guide in a small flotilla. It’s relatively calm water and offers a new perspective of the show. You can even take a sea kayak over to the neighbouring tiny island of Lokrum.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Discover the unspoilt Kornati Islands

If you fancy somewhere a little more off the beaten track when visiting Croatia, I simply can’t recommend the unspoilt Kornati Islands enough. For a serene atmosphere and untouched beauty, the 89 Kornati Islands are truly gorgeous. Forming one of Croatia’s national parks, these (mostly) uninhabited islands exude the most beautiful palette of colours, and some of the most stunning turquoise waters I’ve seen in the country. While the Kornati Islands are often visited by those on yachts or day-trips, you might fancy visiting these beautiful islands a little longer. Don’t forget your snorkelling gear so you can explore these clear waters to your heart’s content. There’s excellent stargazing to be done at night, too.

Gorge on Croatian food and drink

If there’s one cuisine in this world that I love, it’s Croatian. I love the Italian influences, as well as the focus on fresh, local ingredients. In fact, one of the best things to do in Croatia is to spend a good portion of your time eating and drinking. Here are a few of my recommendations to try during your visit:

  • Pag cheese. Pag is a quiet island with far less people than sheep – perfect for producing the island’s delicacy of Pag cheese. The cheese has a unique taste, that tastes a little like mature cheddar or Parmesan. Part of the flavour comes from the sheep’s diet of herbs. Pag is well worth a visit, if just to sample some of this delicious Croatian cheese.
  • Peka. If a hearty Croatian stew sounds up your street, you need to try peka. Slow-cooked under a metal lid (coincidentally known as a peka), it’s the Croatian way to create delicious meals. Peka is usually a meal made of roasted meat (often lamb or veal), served with vegetables and potatoes.
  • Truffles. If, like me, you have a penchant for truffle, you’ve got to head to the largest peninsula of the Adriatic Sea, Istria. Istria was put on the map thanks to its truffles, discovered in the forests of the north. They’re so good, they’ve been attracting foodies from across the world. For an event with a difference, you can head to Buzet in the middle of September to try some of the world’s largest truffle omelette for yourself.
  • Rakija grape brandy. If you’ve travelled the Balkans, you’ll likely be familiar with rajika. While certainly known to blow your socks off, this spirit is made from grapes. One to warm the cockles, rajika comes in different flavours. Some of the most popular in Croatia include herb-infused rakija, honey brandy, and walnut brandy.

Wander the Riviera of Rovinj

The gorgeous, Italianate port town of Rovinj attracts visitors for good reason. One of the best things to do in Croatia, exploring beautiful Rovinj means wandering along the Riviera while spotting relics from the past. Famous for its Venetian style houses and iconic piazza, Rovinj is said to be the most Italian of Istria’s coastal towns, and you might even be surprised to discover the road signs are bilingual. Unsurprisingly, the town has attracted artists for decades, and there’s an open-air art exhibition held each August.

Discover the Elaphite Islands

Just a short ferry ride from Dubrovnik’s Gruž harbour, the verdant Elaphite Islands are the perfect way to experience the more serene side of Croatia’s beautiful Adriatic coast. Translating to the ‘Deer Islands’, only three of the islands are inhabited (Koločep, Šipan and Lopud). What is great about visiting the Elaphite Islands is that they are still relatively undiscovered, and there are virtually no cars on the islands. As well as contributing to the peaceful nature of the islands, it also gives a sense of going back in time. I highly recommend visiting at least one of the Elaphite Islands for a few days when heading to Dubrovnik.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Best things to do in Croatia – FAQs

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions I’m asked about planning a trip to Croatia, and the best things to do in the country.

What is the nicest part of Croatia to visit?

Croatia offers so many beautiful destinations, each with its own unique charm. Although subjective, here are some of my favourite parts of Croatia to visit:

  • The Dalmatian Coast – head to cities like Split and Dubrovnik, well known for their historic architecture, clear Adriatic waters, and vibrant culture.
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park – experience the stunning cascading waterfalls, turquoise lakes, and lush greenery of this national park for a tranquil escape.
  • Kornati Islands – easily reachable from Zadar, these islands offer beautiful landscapes across the tiny islands, and the most spectacular clear waters.
  • Hvar – I love Hvar for its glamorous vibes, lavender fields, and gorgeous beaches. Spend your days at the beach club before heading out for chic cocktails and dinner along the harbour. The nightlife on Hvar really lives up to its reputation too.

What part of Croatia is the most beautiful?

This is another subjective question, but I really do love Hvar for its natural beauty and sparkle. Nestled in the Adriatic Sea, I think Hvar is one of Croatia’s most enchanting destinations. Blessed with natural beauty, the island captivates visitors with its crystal-clear waters, hidden coves, and verdant landscapes, including iconic lavender fields and vineyards. The island’s Mediterranean climate provides the perfect backdrop for enjoying its stunning beaches, indulging in exquisite local cuisine, and sipping on exceptional wines.

What is Croatia best known for?

Here are a few of the things I’d say Croatia is most famous for:

  • Its stunning coastline – Croatia is renowned for its breathtaking coastline along the Adriatic Sea, featuring crystal-clear waters, picturesque islands, and charming coastal towns.
  • Historic cities – the country boasts historic cities with well-preserved architecture, such as Dubrovnik and Split, which showcase a rich cultural heritage and medieval charm.
  • Its beautiful islands – Croatia’s numerous islands, including Hvar, Korčula, and Brač, are known for their beauty, cultural richness, and opportunities for sailing and relaxation.
  • Delicious cuisine – Croatian cuisine is celebrated for its diverse and delicious offerings, featuring fresh seafood, olive oils, wines, and traditional dishes influenced by Mediterranean, Italian, and Balkan flavours.
  • Friendliness and hospitality – Croatians are known for their warm hospitality and friendliness, creating a welcoming atmosphere for visitors.

Is 7 days in Croatia enough?

Although I’d always encourage spending longer in Croatia, spending 7 days in the country can absolutely provide a delightful introduction to the country. With a well-planned itinerary, you can explore iconic cities like Dubrovnik and Split, bask in the natural wonders of Plitvice Lakes National Park, and unwind on the stunning islands of Hvar or Korčula. Considering Croatia’s extensive coastline, historic sites, and cultural depth, however, a longer stay would allow for a more leisurely exploration.

That’s my guide on the best things to do in Croatia! Is there anything else you’ve done which you’d recommend to my readers? Let me know in the comments below.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.