15 Best Destinations in Croatia to Visit [in 2023]
Home to ancient towns, some of the world’s best natural sites, and over 700 islands, picking the best Croatia destinations to visit requires a bit of research.
Luckily for you, I’ve done a ton of on-the-ground exploration in Croatia and I’m here to spill my best secrets. Not only have I spent over a month here, but I’ve also made a point to check out the very best places to visit in Croatia.
Ready? Let’s start adding some amazing places to visit to your Croatia itinerary:
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Croatia Destinations & Places to Visit
- FAQs About Places to Visit in Croatia
15 Best Croatia Destinations & Places to Visit
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An enchanting city famed for its walled Old Town
📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Hotels in Dubrovnik on Booking
With a history that dates back to the 7th century, Dubrovnik is a historic city on the Dalmatian coast and one of the best places to visit in Croatia.
A hub of all things history, art, food, and adventure, I recommend walking along the old city walls (they’re a UNESCO world heritage site), taking a Lokrum Island day tour, riding the cable car up Mount Srd, trying out a few restaurants, talking a walking tour, or hitting up Uvala Lapad Beach.
🗡️ Game of Thrones fan? Then taking a Dubrovnik Game of Thrones Tour is a must. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the show and a cool perspective on Dubrovnik.
A relaxed island perfect for escaping into nature
📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Hotels on Mljet Island on Booking
Mljet Island is one of the best places to visit in Croatia if you’re looking for a laid-back nature escape in Europe.
Easily reached via ferry from Dubrovnik, Mljet is a small island home to quaint towns, Mljet Island National Park, beautiful saltwater lakes, and a craggy coastline.
While on Mljet Island, I recommend hiking (and swimming) the Odysseus Cave trail, taking a road trip from Pomena to Limoni Beach, visiting St. Mary’s Island in Mljet National Park, and indulging in all the seafood.
🚗 Croatia Road Trip anyone? Croatia is perfect for road trips, but you’ll need wheels from a trusted provider. I recommend renting a car with Discover Cars. They’ll outfit you with the best vehicle for your needs and help you with Croatia travel insurance too.
A densely-forested island known for wine production and beaches
📍 Google Maps | Korcula Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Korcula on Booking
Known as Croatia’s Emerald Isle, Korcula is located smack dab between Mljet and Hvar islands and is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Croatia. Easily accessible by ferry, the island is well known for its dense forest, the photogenic Vela Spila Cave, miles of vineyards, and is even where Marco Polo is presumed to have been born.
If I had to pick a favorite thing to do on the island, it would have to be exploring Korcula’s medieval-era old town. The historic old town is much like that of Dubrovnik, as it’s up against the coastline and is outlined by fortified walls, but much smaller and less crowded.
In the old town, you’ll want to visit St. Mark’s Cathedral, the Town Museum, Bishop’s Treasury, and Arneri Palace.
🎒 First time backpacking Europe? Check out our articles detailing the best backpacks for European travel and the best places to backpack in Europe.
A lively island renowned for its party scene
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Just a short ferry ride from Mljet is Hvar Island — a Croatian island known for parties, lavender fields, architecture (the Spanjola Fortress is incredible), and beaches.
A top destination that truly has something for everyone, I recommend taking a Hvar Island lavender fields tour, hitting up some of the beach clubs (during Croatia’s summer travel season, you’ll find a party no matter the time of day), spending your days in the water, and wandering through the towns.
Speaking of which, while Hvar town is known for Spanjola Fortress and the parties, I also recommend visiting the towns of Stari Grad and Vrboska. Where Hvar Town is more bustling, the other towns on the islands are decidedly more laid-back. I stayed in Stari Grad during my time on the island and loved how charming it was.
A hub of Croatian adventure activities
📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Hotels in Omis on Booking
Located just south of Split, Omis’s main feature is being the place where the Adriatic Sea meets the Cetina River and is one of the premier Croatia destinations for all kinds of adventure activities.
Think rafting, ziplining, parasailing, canyoning, mountain biking, rock climbing, and scuba diving!
There are so many great adventures to have here, but if you want to go do some water sports then taking a tour is the way to go. This Omis tour from Split will take you white water rafting on the Cetina River and provide all the safety gear you need.
📚 Related Reading: Be sure to save my posts on the best Croatia activities and must-read Croatia travel tips for more trip-planning inspo!
Croatia’s second-largest city
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A half-hour drive from Omis, Split is Croatia’s second-largest city and a mainland hub along the coast. Split is cheaper than Dubrovnik, plus it has a ton of tourist attractions for every kind of traveler.
In particular, I recommend hiking through Parka Suma Marjan, taking a Diocletian’s Palace tour (a tour is 100% worth the history lesson – Diocletian’s Palace is incredible!), climbing Split’s bell tower, indulging in one of the many top-tier restaurants, and having drinks along the promenade.
Home to some of the best beaches in Croatia
📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Hotels in Brac on Booking
Though a little more off-the-beaten-path than other popular Croatian destinations like Hvar and Dubrovnik, the island of Brac is one of the best places to visit in Croatia if you’re into hiking and gorgeous beaches.
Specifically, Brac is home to Zlatni Rat (also known as the Golden Horn) — one of the most picturesque beaches in Croatia. With its white sand and crystal clear water it’s totally worth the trip. Additionally, the island lays claim to the tallest peak in the Adriatic, Vidova Gora, if you’re up for a trek.
👉 Pro tip: While Brac is a great standalone place to visit in Croatia, you can also check it out as a day trip from Split. This Brac tour from Split will take you to both Zlatni Rat Beach and to Hvar.
Krka National Park
A stunning park with great swimming spots
📍 Google Maps | Krka National Park Website | 👉 Browse Hotels near Krka National Park on Booking
One of Croatia’s most notable tourist attractions, Krka National Park is full of out-of-this-world waterfalls, caves, hikes, and boardwalks.
Unlike other national parks in Croatia (namely, the more popular Plitvice Lakes), swimming in Krka is allowed. In particular, the swimming spot at Skradinski Buk is amazing, so be sure to bring your swimsuit. About an hour-long bus ride from Split, Krka can be seen on a day trip, although if you want to get the full experience, you can book overnight stays within the park itself.
🚌 Wondering how to visit Krka? This Krka National Park tour will cover transportation, entrance fees, and take you to the park’s most notable sites.
A coastal city known for its Roman ruins
📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Hotels in Zadar on Booking
A 2-hour drive from Split, Zadar is a little more off the tourist trail than the other major Croatian cities and is a great place to visit for experiencing Croatian culture at its finest.
Zadar is a city filled with Roman ruins, a charming old town, museums, beaches, mountains (it sits at the base of the Velebit mountain range), hiking trails, and some of the best sunsets in the world.
Most notably, Zadar is home to the famous Sea Organ and Sun Salutation – sound and light spectacles that are world-renowned and truly one of a kind.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Come for the sky-high waterfalls, stay for the miles of hikes
📍 Google Maps | Plitvice Lakes Website | 👉 Browse Hotels Near Plitvice Lakes on Booking
With towering waterfalls, miles of boardwalks, and ethereal colors, Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most popular places to visit in Croatia.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is home to over 90 waterfalls, 16 terraced lakes (split into the Upper Lakes and Lower Lakes), and hiking trails for every skill level. In particular, I recommend hiking Trail B for a full tour of the Lower Lakes and Trail E for a quick tour of the upper lakes.
It should be noted that because of the ecosystem protections in the park, swimming isn’t allowed, no matter how enticing it may be. Because of this, I recommend you bring a daypack, sunscreen, water, and a hat so you can keep nice and cool while you explore.
When I visited Plitvice Lakes, I took the bus from Zagreb. That said, this tour from Zagreb is highly rated!
Croatia’s eclectic capital city
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Both the capital and largest city of Croatia, Zagreb is located inland and is known for its Austro-Hungarian architecture, fun museums, and outdoor markets.
While in Zagreb, I recommend visiting the Museum of Broken Relationships (it’s a heart-wrencher), Dolac Market in the main square, the Museum of Illusions, the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, and strolling the Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and Gradec neighborhoods.
Conveniently, Zagreb is also home to an international airport, making the city a great hub to fly into or out of.
📚 Related Reading: Keep planning your trip by checking out my Croatia Itinerary Guide. It walks you through how to plan your itinerary, step-by-step.
Kopački Rit Nature Park
A zoological reserve great for wildlife spotting
📍 Google Maps | Kopački Rit Nature Park Website | 👉 Browse Hotels near Kopački Rit Nature Park on Booking
The largest wetland area in Europe, Kopacki Rit Nature Park is located between the Drava and Danube Rivers in eastern Croatia. The wetlands (aka the pearl of the Drava), are 177 square kilometers in size and are home to more than 265 species of birds, 40 kinds of fish, and plenty of other kinds of wildlife.
The park has boardwalks and awesome tours, making exploring for a day a great outdoorsy choice.
An ancient fortress and village in Istria
📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Hotels near Motovun on Booking
If you google photos of Croatia, chances are the picturesque town of Motovun will be one of the first places to pop up. An ancient fortress and village situated atop a hill, Motovun is famed for photographers and history-lovers.
Featuring a blend of Croatian and Italian cultures, Motovun is also one of the best foodie destinations in Croatia and is the place to go if you love truffles and wine. While here, I highly recommend taking either an Istrian truffle-hunting tour or visiting one of the many vineyards that the area is known for.
Home to one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters
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Located on the tip of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, Pula is about an hour’s drive from Motovun and also ranks as one of the best foodie destinations in the country. Once a quiet destination mostly sheltered from tourists, Pula has been making waves recently as travelers use it as a base to explore more of the peninsula.
While the indisputably most popular thing to do in Pula is to visit the amphitheater (it’s the 6th-largest Roman Colosseum in the world), some other great sites are the Temple of Augustus, the Cathedral of the Assumption, the waterfront, and the vineyards.
👉 Pro Tip: Getting a guide is the best way to see the Roman ruins. This Pula Roman Heritage Tour is two hours and will give you a great crash course.
A town full of gorgeous architecture and sea views
📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Hotels near Trogir on Booking
Just 28 kilometers from Split, Trogir is a town blended with Renaissance, Baroque, and Romanesque architecture and is the perfect spot to explore with your camera.
The entire old town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 (so you should definitely add it to your itinerary), but some more specific things to do include visiting the Renaissance Chapel of St. John, checking out Kamerlango Castle, lazing on Okrug Beach, and taking a stroll along the Riva embankment.
FAQs About Places to Visit in Croatia
What is the best holiday resort in Croatia?
Three of the highest rated holiday resorts in Croatia are: Sun Gardens (Dubrovnik), Radisson Blu Resort & Spa (Split), Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort (Hvar).
What are the best beaches in Croatia?
The most spectacular beaches in Croatia are Lojena Beach in the Kornati Islands, Mlaska Beach (Hvar), Vela Przina (Korcula), Uvala Lapad Beach (Dubrovnik), and Saharun (Dugi Otok). Croatia is full of beautiful beach destinations, both rocky and soft-sand.
What’s the best time of year to visit Croatia?
Croatia can be visited year round, but the best time to visit Croatia is during its shoulder-season, from May to June and again from September to October. Croatia gets absolutely packed with tourists in July and August. Meanwhile, so few tourists visit in winter that many of the major tours and accommodations shut down.
Where is the nicest place in Croatia?
The nicest places in Croatia are Dubrovnik, Mljet Island, Korcula Island, Hvar Island, Omis, Split, Krka National Park, Zadar, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and Zagreb.
Is Croatia cheaper than Greece?
Generally, Greece is more expensive than Croatia. Certain places in Croatia, like Dubrovnik can get very expensive during high season, but overall most destinations in Croatia are cheaper than their counterparts in Greece.
Where should I go in Croatia for a week?
In one week in Croatia, you have time to visit Dubrovnik, Hvar Island, Split, and Krka National Park. See our full 7 day itinerary for more details on where to go in Croatia.
Is Croatia cheap to visit?
Costs of travel in Croatia are generally less expensive than most other Western European destinations, but Croatia’s rising popularity is driving prices up. If you are on a backpacker budget, it is possible to visit Croatia on a budget of 50 to 75 euros per day.
That’s it for my top 15 best Croatia destinations! I hope this gave you a ton of inspiration for where to go on your next trip to Croatia, a country filled to the brim with amazing tourist destinations and must-see attractions to add to your bucket list.
For more information on Croatia and European travel, check out my list of 24 epic things to do in Croatia and my guide to how to go backpacking in Europe.
Have fun exploring Croatia destinations!
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