I’m going to be honest with you: ranking the best things to do in Croatia hasn’t been easy. My goal for this post was to give you the absolute perfect, definitive, stop-the-presses list of exactly what to do in Croatia on your vacation (goodness knows we all need a vacation these days, right?).
But I kept getting distracted because the whole exercise of writing this list gave me SO much nostalgia for the more than a month I recently spent on a Croatia road trip exploring all the many activities in Croatia.
So, if you love exploring nature, checking out historic cities, learning about what makes the country tick, and meeting some characters along the way, then this list of the best things to do in Croatia is perfect to add to your Croatia itinerary!
Ready to see the list? The first activity will knock your socks off (just be sure to reserve ahead):
Table of Contents
- 27 Best Things to Do in Croatia
- Blue Cave on Bisevo Island
- Cetina River
- Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Rent a Boat
- Sail Week
- Museum of Broken Relationships
- Odysseus Cave
- Truffle Hunting
- Stari Grad
- Krka National Park
- Old Town of Dubrovnik
- Sea Organ and Sun Salutation
- Game of Thrones Sites
- Lavender Fields
- Spanjola Fortress
- Diocletian’s Palace
- Blue Lagoon
- Tito’s Tunnels
- Party All Night Long
- Wine Tour
- Roman Ruins in Pula
- Road Trip
- Hit the Beach
- Mljet National Park
- What Should I Pack For Croatia Travel?
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27 Best Things to Do in Croatia
Blue Cave on Bisevo Island
Take a tour of this awe-inspiring cavern
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit a cute small cave enveloped in a brilliant blue light? A cave where the water shines bright and the surface shimmers in silver?
Well, that’s exactly what you’ll find at Croatia’s Blue Cave on Bisevo Island. One of the most stunning things to do in Croatia, the Blue Cave is close to the island of Vis, but can easily be visited on a day trip from Hvar town or Split.
👉 Pro tip: The Blue Cave is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Croatia, and the only practical way to reach the cave is via a guided tour. If you’re in Split, then be sure to check out this awesome Blue Cave Tour, which will take you to Hvar, 5 islands, and the Blue Cave all in one fell swoop!
Go rafting on a scenic Croatian river
Rafting on the Cetina River is one of the most popular adventure activities in Croatia. It’s an easy day trip to make from Split, and a must do in my opinion. The river is comprised of both quiet parts and up to third-grade rapids; which makes the entire experience a combo of both relaxation and adventure.
From start to finish, this rafting adventure covers 11,000 meters of distance and 31 meters of altitude. However, due to the danger involved, the only safe way to go rafting on the Cetina River in Croatia is to to go with a guided group.
I always recommend this Cetina River tour from Split because it includes white water rafting, optional cliff jumping, and safety equipment for a pretty reasonable price.
⚠️ Croatia Safety Tip: Accidents can happen anywhere, and they are bad news during a pandemic. Read our guide on whether you need travel insurance for Croatia to protect your trip. We use and love World Nomads, but be sure to compare insurers to get the right one for you.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Chase waterfalls and hike in this postcard-worthy National Park
Another one of the most beautiful things to do in Croatia, Plitvice National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of 16 beautiful turquoise lakes, over 90 waterfalls, and plenty of hiking trails and panoramic views. For a relaxed visit managed by local experts, this Plitvice Lakes National Park tour will give you a boat cruise, a guide, and return transportation.
👉 Pro tip: Can’t decide between Plitvice National Park and Krka National Park (#8 on this list)? Honestly, it really just comes down to personal preference and which of the two makes the most sense for you based on where you’re staying. For example, Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the best day trips if you base yourself in either Zagreb or Zadar.
Rent a Boat
Renting a boat in Croatia is made easy with Sailo
If you haven’t figured it out by now, getting on the water is pretty much the most important thing you can do on your vacation in Croatia. I mean, Croatia’s thousands of miles of coastline are the main attraction, after all. And there’s no way to experience them quite like getting out on a yacht, a boat, a dingy, or whatever vessel you can find!
Luckily, renting a boat in Croatia is actually very affordable if you know where to look. There is a nifty site called Sailo which is just absolutely awesome for finding deals on private boat and yacht rentals. There are a lot of private boats in Croatia, and Sailo is kind of like an “Airbnb” style peer-to-peer rental site.
👉 Pro Tip: Don’t know how to sail a boat? Hey, you’re not alone! That’s what is great about Sailo – you can easily sort for boats that come with their own skipper. Check out their Sailo’s Croatia page to see prices (probably cheaper than you’re thinking!).
Visit some of Croatia’s most beautiful islands on this week-long adventure
You may have heard of Croatia’s infamous Yacht Week, but have you ever heard of Sail Week? While Yacht Week is mostly known for being a boozy party experience for 20 somethings who want a wild experience, Sail Week is a more unique way to explore Croatia, and it does things a little differently.
Under the guidance of a trained skipper, Sail Week will have you hitting the seas much like Yacht Week, but with more of an adventure twist. Trade in the benders and hangovers for kayaking, hiking on islands, visiting some historical attractions, and SUPing.
That’s not to say there isn’t any partying on Sail Week, but it’s for a more relaxed crowd. Plus, you’ll learn how to sail in Croatia!
👉 Pro Tip: Planning to drive in Croatia? Be aware that there is currently a global rental car shortage, so be sure to book your rental car as soon as you book your flights! We always suggest using the fantastic site Discover Cars, which is a search engine that will let you search and compare all the major rental car agencies in Croatia.
Museum of Broken Relationships
Visit this world-renowned Zagreb museum
If you’re looking for a truly unique museum experience in Croatia, then look no further than the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb. First opened in 2010, the museum was conceived from an idea to showcase personal items that demonstrate failed relationships – whether they were romantic, friendly, or familial.
The museum originally opened as a traveling collection of donated items, but quickly found a permanent home in Zagreb once the founders realized just how popular of an idea it was going to be.
While the Museum of Broken Relationships is one of the best things to do in Croatia, it’s best to know what you’re getting yourself into. I recommend you brace yourself for an emotional rollercoaster while visiting this museum — there’s a lot to see!
❓ Want Local Help Planning Your Croatia Trip? Meet Katja and Primož – two local guides who can help you (remotely) plan your perfect Croatia adventure.
Hike to one of Croatia’s most legend-worthy caves
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Croatia and are up for an epic hike, then look no further than Odysseus Cave.
It’s thought that Odysseus Cave on Mljet Island was the basis for Homer’s epic novel “The Odyssey” (well, the jury’s out if it’s this cave or one in Greece), and it’s easy to see why. The hike, the cave, and the surrounding landscapes are absolutely gorgeous.
The hike takes about an hour and starts from the town of Babino Polje. Expect rocky terrain and steep cliff edges. I’d recommend this for at least medium-level hikers.
Once you hike to the cliff edge, the only way to reach the cave is to jump into the water and swim. When I did this, I found that the salty sea helped with buoyancy, but if you’re not a strong swimmer, then I would highly recommend a lifejacket.
Book a tour and search for these delectable fungi
A subterranean fungus that grows around oak trees, truffles are a top Croatian delicacy. While they can be found all over the world, Croatia (especially the Istria region) is a hotspot for truffles, and you’ll be able to find them prepared in a variety of dishes. In fact, I had a truffle mac and cheese at one point that was to die for!
So, why not take a tour to see how truffles are harvested? This truffle hunting tour from Motovun will take you out in the woods of Croatia and teach you all about the aromas truffles give off, how specially trained dogs find them, and how the truffle hunters dig them up.
Visit one of the oldest towns in Europe, located on Hvar Island
If you’re not up for Hvar Town’s party scene, but still want to visit the pristine island, then make your way over to the town of Stari Grad.
Stari Grad is often skipped by tourists, but as one of the oldest towns in Europe, there’s tons to see and do. While here, take a stroll along the Riva (promenade), bike along the Stari Grad Plain, and visit the Dominican Monastery.
Stari Grad is where I stayed during my trip to Hvar, and found it to have a more local-vibe than Hvar Town.
Krka National Park
Hike, boat, and walk along scenic boardwalks in this gorgeous National park
Whether you’re staying in Split, Hvar, Zadar, or Dubrovnik, definitely make a point to take a day trip out of the city and into Krka National Park. Located an hour and a half inland from Split, Krka National Park is characterized by its multi-sized waterfalls, acres of luscious greenery, beautiful lakes, and boardwalks that’ll take you on scenic hikes through the park.
You could easily spend a few days traversing all that Krka has to offer, but even if you just have a day, it’s one of the best sites to visit in Croatia.
👉 Pro Tip: Swimming is no longer allowed due to the new regulation on the protection and preservation of Krka National Park.
Take to the skies and get a view of Croatia like none-other
Getting out on the water is one of the quintessential things to do in Croatia, and parasailing is a great way to get some great views of Croatia’s Adriatic coast while you do it. For those not in the know, parasailing is essentially when you’re suspended in the air by a giant balloon while a boat pulls you along with a rope.
It sounds scary, but it’s totally safe and exhilarating. Personally, I took a sunset parasailing ride in Cavtat (just south of Dubrovnik), and it was spectacular. The company took us out for an extra-long ride, gave us some champagne, and even took photos for us.
Old Town of Dubrovnik
Visit one of the most famous walled towns in the world
While it appears on every “things to do in Croatia” list, visiting the Old Town of Dubrovnik is one of the top Croatia activities, and for good reason. The city of Dubrovnik is simply stunning – there are so many museums, alleyways, and restaurants to check out, and there is so much history here to uncover. The buildings in the old city are made of white limestone that shines bright against the terracotta roofs of the Old Town and the deep blue of the Adriatic Sea below.
No wonder Dubrovnik was the setting for many scenes from HBO’s Game of Thrones. There are even several popular tours that take you to the filming locations (the one by Get Your Guide Originals gets especially good reviews).
Another activity you definitely want to do is to walk the walls that surround Dubrovnik’s Old Town. These once-defensive stone walls were constructed between the 12th and 17th centuries and run 1,940 meters in length. They do cost money to stroll along, but it’s worth it for the views and experience — plus, they’re a UNESCO world heritage site. The Dubrovnik old city walls are also reinforced by towers, bastions, and a fortress, so you’ll have lots to check out while you’re up there.
Sea Organ and Sun Salutation
Check out these intriguing art installations in Zadar
Artistic installations, Zadar’s Sea Organ and Sun Salutation are together one of the most popular attractions in Croatia. The Sea Organ is a musical instrument that emits sounds generated by sea waves.
It consists of 35 organ pipes of different lengths and sizes built beneath a set of marble steps. When water from the sea flows into the pipes, it creates a myriad of tuned sounds.
Meanwhile, the Sun Salutation is a 22-meter round solar panel made from 300 layered glass panels. During the day, the panels absorb the energy from the sun and convert that energy into light at night. In addition to creating its own beautiful spectacle, the Sun Salutation produces enough energy to light Zadar’s entire waterfront once the sun sets.
Game of Thrones Sites
Visit some of the Game of Thrones filming locations in Croatia
If you’re a hardcore Game of Thrones fan, then you probably know that multiple scenes of the show were filmed in Croatia — Dubrovnik, Split, and Lokrum Island being a few of the more famous locations.
Most people do this as part of a Dubrovnik Game of Thrones tour, but for true fans of the show there are also tours that will take you around the country to all of the major Game of Thrones filming sites (many of which just happen to coincide with the best places to visit in Croatia).
Walk amongst picturesque rows of lavender
Did you know that Croatia is one of the most prolific countries in the world when it comes to producing, refining, and exporting lavender? Well, it’s true, visiting a lavender farm is a great way to learn all about one of Croatia’s finest harvests.
While lavender grows throughout much of the coast, it’s particularly abundant on the island of Hvar. Here, especially in July and August when the flowers are in full bloom, you can expect to see fields of endless purple blossoms.
Oh, and the smell? It’s out of this world!
You can also purchase lavender as a souvenir in Croatia – it comes in a few forms such as decorative, oil, minced, and as a food additive.
Climb to the top of this historical Hvar structure
📍 Google Maps | Phone: +385 21 718 336 | Hours: 9 am – 9 pm daily
If you’re looking to do one of the best activities in Croatia that will give you a workout, get you awesome views, and give you a dose of history all at the same time, then climb to Spanjola Fortress on the island of Hvar, along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast.
Constructed in the 16th century when Hvar was under Venetian rule, Spanjola Fortress was once a system of defense for the country. Today, the fortress is home to exhibits and antiques that will give you a great glimpse into what life was like for people living in the area from thousands of years ago to today.
It’s set high atop a cliff, meaning you’ll need to stretch your legs a little to get there (or take a car, but hiking is more fun). And the views you’ll get of Hvar and the surrounding islands of Croatia will be unbeatable.
Wander through the Roman Emperor’s old digs in Split
📍 Google Maps | Phone: +385 97 779 0719 | Hours: 24 Hours daily
What is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the entire old town of Split, Croatia, Diocletian’s Palace was built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 4th century. Stroll through the town and soak in the many beautiful points of interest.
Back in the day, this Split palace was huge – roughly 30, 000 square meters – and housed Diocletian, his posse, and an entire military garrison. Today, Diocletian’s palace is where you’ll find tons of shops, restaurants, apartments, entertainers, and cafes. The complex houses roughly 3000 people, and exploring it really is one of the best things to do in Croatia.
📚 Related Reading: Can’t decide between Split or Dubrovnik? Check out that article to decide!
Take a tour to this gorgeous spot
Located 15 minutes from the heritage city of Trogir in Croatia, the Blue Lagoon is a scenic stop that offers kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling. The waters range from a deep blue to light turquoise and are perfectly crystal clear.
To get to the Blue Lagoon, you’ll have to take a speed boat tour. This Blue Lagoon Tour from Split offers up lunch, a speedboat, and a tour of Trogir.
Learn about Croatian history on Vis Island
There’s a bit of a Croatia history lesson associated with this one, so bear with me. Around the time the second world war ended and the cold war started, the Croatian island of Vis (which was then part of Yugoslavia), was taken over by a guy named Josip Broz Tito, a member of the communist army.
At the time, Tito was establishing strategically-placed military fortifications in the area and used Vis as one of his bases. He closed the island off to visitors (and it remained that way until 1989) and established a network of underground caves and tunnels all over Vis.
Well, once the island once again opened up to visitors, Vis capitalized on these unique tunnels and turned it into one of the top tourist attractions in Croatia. This makes for a great lesson in another chapter of Croatian history and you’ll get a whole new perspective on Vis as an island.
👉 First Time in Croatia? Don’t miss all my best Croatia travel tips!
Party All Night Long
Check out the Croatian party scene at a festivals, clubs, or bars
I’m going to level with you about something here …
Croatia is a great country for getting your party on.
This is a country where the clubs go all night, the drinks flow heavily, and there is a scene no matter your age or interest.
I realize this kind of thing isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in hitting the town while in Croatia, then consider traveling to Pag Island, Split, Murter Island, Hvar, Dubrovnik, or Brac’s Zlatni Rat beach – they’re all famous for their nightclubs and music festivals.
Or, consider going on Yacht Week!
However, as always, be sure to be respectful to the locals during your escapades. These islands all welcome tourism, but it’s important to remember that there are real families living here and showing respect for their homes will go a long way.
Visit vineyards and learn the 2500-year history of Croatian winemaking
You don’t have to be a certified sommelier to appreciate this one – but Croatia is one of the leading destinations in the world for wine lovers and going on a tour is one of the top things to do in Croatia.
Croatia is one of the most renowned producers in the world for wine, and the vino history in the country dates back at least 2500 years.
In particular, the Istria and Dalmatia regions are known for their wine production, as they both have great climates for growing grapes of different varieties.
To fully experience the wine of Croatia in all of its glory and learn about what makes it so unique, this wine tour from Dubrovnik will take you to two regional wineries, and teach you all about the production process.
Roman Ruins in Pula
Visit well-preserved ruins dating back to 177BCE
Like a lot of the Croatian region of Istria, the city of Pula was under the rule of various countries over the course of time, but when it fell under Roman rule in 177BCE, it became an important city for the area. Today it is one of the most popular attractions in Croatia.
The Romans constructed plenty of buildings in Croatia along the coast during their reign, many of which are still in excellent shape; making this a great place to come if you’re into Roman Architecture.
In particular, you’ll be able to visit the Roman Amphitheater, Temple of Augustus, Arch of the Sergii, Porta Gemina, and Hercules Gate.
Spend a night (or several) in unique Croatian accommodation
To begin, I should mention that there are endless options for accommodation in Croatia – no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll be able to find some great hostels, hotels, campgrounds, and Airbnbs.
But if you want to have one of the coolest and most memorable accommodation experiences that Croatia has to offer, then I’d have to recommend glamping in one of Croatia’s many national parks.
Glamping is awesome because you’ll technically still be out in nature while staying in rustic accommodation, but you’ll also get the swanky treatment and amenities of a boutique hotel.
Arena One 99 Glamping is a four-star accommodation is just 10km from the town of Pula, is located right on the beach, has air-conditioning, and even features a restaurant and spa!
Oh, and it has free-wifi. Very important.
Rent a car and drive to Croatia’s most incredible sites
So how exactly do you get between all the incredible destinations in Croatia, do you ask?
How about a road trip?!
Taking a Croatia road trip is the premier way to get around the country. Yes, Croatia has an extensive bus system, but there’s really nothing like the freedom that renting a car or RV will bring you.
More than just a way to get around, renting a car in Croatia will also be one of the more memorable things to do in Croatia.
📚 Related Reading: The Perfect 7 Day Croatia Road Trip
Hit the Beach
Relax on Croatia’s best pebbly and sandy beaches
Any beach bum worth their salt knows that the beaches of Croatia’s Adriatic coast are reason enough to travel to the country. A Croatia island hopping trip should be at the top of any traveler’s bucketlist.
With the islands included, Croatia has almost 6,000km of coastline, much of which boasts some pretty great beaches to enjoy.
Some of the best beaches in Croatia are Uvala Lapad Beach (Dubrovnik), Vela Przina (Korcula), Mlaska (Hvar), and Saldun Bay (Trogir).
So slather up the SPF, pop open a book, and relax on the beautiful sandy beaches.
👉 Safety in Croatia: While it is generally an extremely safe country for tourists, things can always go wrong during travel (especially these days). Read our full guide on getting trip insurance for Croatia to learn how you can protect your trip.
Mljet National Park
Relax in this lesser-known, but just as gorgeous, island National Park
You didn’t think I was going to end this list without squeezing in another one of Croatia’s beautiful national parks, did you?
Located on the island of the same name, Mljet National Park covers roughly a third of the entire island of Mljet and is made up of dense woods, turquoise lakes, great beaches, and plenty of trails.
This national park in Croatia may not have the waterfalls or extreme views that Krka and Plitvice have, but it makes up for it in way fewer tourists, beautifully kept grounds, unique islands, and pristine waters.
Of all the best things to do in Croatia, I have to say that exploring Mljet will be one of the most peaceful.
In the park, I highly recommend visiting the Isle of Saint Mary (which is set inside a saltwater lake and is home to a 12th century Benedictine Monastery), renting a bike and pedaling around the 9km loop trail, or renting a kayak and hitting the water.
Explore this off-the-beaten-path seaside town
If you’re the kind of traveler who hates going where everyone else is going, consider getting off the beaten path and exploring the seaside town of Rovinj.
Instagram-worthy Rovinj is a delight for the eyes from every angle and is the star attraction of the up-and-coming Istria region, which The Guardian recently called the “new Tuscany.”
In fact, Rovinj even captured the hearts of the judges for the annual Travel Lemming Emerging Destination Awards and was named one of the top places to travel in 2020 if you want to avoid overtourism!
What Should I Pack For Croatia Travel?
While a general packing list will work for most travel in Croatia, there are a few specific items that you should remember to bring along:
If you’re going to be doing any activities in Croatia that involve the Adriatic Sea or lakes, then I recommend bringing water shoes. A lot of beaches are rocky and sea urchins are everywhere.
No matter how long you plan to explore Croatia — whether it’s a day or a month — a backpack is a must. The Tortuga Setout Backpack has been tried and tested for a travel backpack – it’s lightweight, water-resistant, durable, and comes in two sizing options.
And, for all of your daypack needs, the Osprey Daylite is perfect.
Check out our travel backpack for Europe comparisons article for more information.
You don’t want to turn into a lobster during your Croatia travel adventure, and the sun (especially in June and July) can be really strong.
That’s it for our list of the best things to do in Croatia, Europe! Croatia is truly one of the most diverse and action-packed countries to visit in the world, and no matter what you choose to do there, I’m sure you’ll have a blast.
While you’re here, check out our Backpacking Europe Guide and these 33 Best Things to Do in Budapest (+What Not to Do).
Have a blast checking out all the attractions in Croatia!
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