Croatia is a renowned tourist destination for a plethora of reasons: its diverse landscape, rich history and culture, and Mediterranean atmosphere. The country’s coastline along the Adriatic Sea is dotted with thousands of islands and islets, making it a paradise for sailors and sun-seekers alike. And while the coastline is certainly one of Croatia’s main attractions, there is much more to see and do in this beautiful country.
From its vibrant capital city of Zagreb to the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park, you’re sure to find plenty of things to keep you occupied. And in this article, I’ll explore 20 of the best things to do in Croatia, including both popular tourist attractions and some lesser-known gems.
1. Tour the Dubrovnik Old Town Walls
From the outside looking in, Dubrovnik’s Old Town is an impenetrable fortress. But venture inside, and you’ll find a beautiful and well-preserved medieval city that’s been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The best way to see Dubrovnik’s Old Town is to walk the walls that surround it. The walls are 1,940 meters (6,360 feet) long and date back to the 13th century. They’re thick enough (between four to six meters) and strong enough that they’ve never been breached. Today, they are among the most popular Croatia tourist attractions that draw people from all over the world.
There are three entrances to the Old Town walls: Pile Gate, Ploce Gate, and Buza Gate. You can walk the entire length of the walls, which takes about two hours, or you can enter at any one of the gates and explore a section of the walls at your own pace.
Once you’re inside the Old Town, be sure to visit some of its most famous landmarks, including Stradun, Dubrovnik’s pedestrian main street; Orlando’s Column, a monument to a medieval hero; Rector’s Palace, a beautiful Renaissance-style building that now houses a museum; and Lovrijenac Fortress, a towering fortification that sits atop a 37-meter (121-foot) cliff.
As you can see, Dubrovnik is home to some of the most famous tourist attractions in Croatia. And best of all, because it’s located on the coast, you can easily combine a visit to Dubrovnik with a beach vacation.
2. Stroll Through Zagreb’s Gornji Grad
Gornji Grad (Upper Town) is the best-preserved medieval city center in Central Europe. It’s a living, breathing museum where you can stroll down ancient streets, explore atmospheric churches and experience the everyday life of Croatian locals.
Gornji Grad is located on a hill above Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb. The best way to get there is by taking the funicular (a short railway) from Tomiceva Street in the lower town. Once you’re at the top, you can explore Gornji Grad on foot. Start with a visit to St. Mark’s Church, which is best known for its multicolored tiled roof. Then, stroll down the cobbled streets and alleyways lined with medieval houses, art galleries, and museums.
Next, head to Dolac Market, the city’s central market, to browse stalls selling everything from fresh produce to handmade goods. After working up an appetite, stop for a bite to eat at one of the many cafes and restaurants in Gornji Grad. And be sure to save some time for people watching. Gornji Grad is one of the best places in Croatia to do it!
3. Explore Croatia’s Islands
One of the best things to do in Croatia is to go island hopping. With over 1,000 islands dotting the Adriatic Sea, there’s no shortage of islands to explore. And whether you’re looking for a quiet and secluded getaway or a lively island party scene, you’ll find it in Croatia.
One of the best places to go island hopping is Hvar, an island off the coast of Split that’s become a popular tourist destination in recent years. Hvar is known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear water, and Mediterranean climate. It’s also home to some of Croatia’s best nightlife, with a number of bars and clubs that stay open until the Sun comes up.
Another popular island for island hopping is Korcula. This Island is known for its medieval Old Town, which is enclosed by walls and accessible only by foot. The Island is also home to a number of vineyards and olive groves, making it a perfect destination for wine lovers and foodies.
Other popular islands in Croatia include Brac, Vis Mljet, and Pag. No matter which islands you decide to visit, island hopping is one of the best ways to experience all that Croatia has to offer.
4. Visit Plitvice Lakes National Park
One of Croatia’s most popular tourist attractions is also one of its best-kept secrets: Plitvice Lakes National Park. This gorgeous park is home to 16 interlocking lakes, waterfalls, forests, and hiking trails. In 1979, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The best way to explore Plitvice Lakes National Park is on foot. There are a number of trails that wind through the park, past waterfalls, forests, and lakes. The Upper Lakes trail is the most popular and takes about four hours to complete. This trail will take you to some of the best views in the park, including a lookout point over the Great Waterfall (Veliki Slap), the tallest waterfall in Plitvice Lakes National Park.
If you want to explore the park but don’t want to hike, you can take a boat or bus tour. These tours allow you to see the highlights of the park without having to walk.
5. Take a Dip in the Blue Grotto
The Blue Grotto is a sea cave on the coast of Croatia that gets its name from the sunlight that filters through the water and casts a blue hue on the cave’s interior. This attraction is located on the Island of Bisevo, which is a short boat ride from the town of Vis.
The best way to experience the Blue Grotto is to take a boat tour. These tours take you on a short ride around the Island before entering the cave. Once inside, you’ll be able to swim in the crystal-clear water or simply enjoy the view.
Bisevo is a small island, so there’s not much to do besides visiting the Blue Grotto. But Vis, the jumping-off point for boat tours to Bisevo, is a great place to spend a few days.
6. Explore the Diocletian Palace
Located in Split, the Diocletian Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Croatia. The palace was built in the 4th century by Roman Emperor Diocletian and served as his retirement home.
Today, the palace is a well-preserved ruin that’s open to the public. Visitors can explore the palace’s rooms and courtyards, and also visit the Cathedral of St. Domnius, which is located inside the palace.
In addition to its historical significance, the Diocletian Palace is also a popular spot for shopping, dining, and nightlife. The palace is home to a number of shops, restaurants, and bars, and it’s also the site of the annual Ultra Music Festival, one of the world’s largest electronic music festivals.
7. Soak in the Sun at Zlatni Rat Beach
No list of the best things to do in Croatia would be complete without mentioning Zlatni Rat Beach. This world-famous beach is located on the Island of Brac, just a short ferry ride from Split.
Zlatni Rat is best known for its unique shape, which resembles a horn or a tooth. The beach is also famous for its beautiful clear water and stunning views. It’s the perfect place to relax and soak up the Croatian Sun.
Zlatni Rat is more than just a pretty face. The beach is also great for swimming, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and other water sports. And when you’ve had your fill of Sun and sand, you can explore the Island of Brac, which is home to some of the best hiking trails in Croatia.
Read More: 9 Top-Rated Beaches in Croatia
8. Explore the Hvar Island
Hvar is one of the Dalmatian islands and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia. The Island is best known for its Mediterranean climate, stunning beaches, and picturesque villages.
There’s plenty to see and do on Hvar, but some of the Island’s most popular tourist attractions include the Franciscan Monastery, a beautiful monastery that houses a museum and art gallery; and the Spanjola Fortress, a fortress that was built in the 16th century.
In addition to its many historical landmarks, Hvar is also home to some of the best beaches in Croatia. Popular beaches include Dubovica, a secluded beach perfect for swimming and sunbathing, and Pokonji dol, a beach known for its dramatic cliffs. This Island is also known for its nightlife, with a number of bars and nightclubs that stay open until the Sun comes up.
9. Sail Around Kornati National Park
Kornati National Park is a group of 89 islands, islets, and reefs in the Adriatic Sea. It’s located off the coast of Dalmatia in southern Croatia, and it’s best seen by boat.
The best way to explore Kornati National Park is on a day trip or overnight excursion from one of the nearby coastal towns, such as Zadar, Sibenik, or Biograd na Moru. You can also stay on one of the park’s 12 uninhabited islands, which offer primitive camping facilities.
Kornati National Park is best known for its natural beauty, including its rugged landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and diverse marine life. But the park is also home to a number of historic sites, such as the 16th-century Church of Our Lady of Tarac and the ruins of a Roman villa.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day on the water or an adventure-filled excursion, Kornati National Park is one of the most famous places to visit in Croatia that will not disappoint.
10. Explore the Pula Arena
You can’t say you’ve been to Croatia without a tour of the Pula Arena, one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. The Pula Arena is the sixth largest amphitheater of its kind and was built in the 1st century AD. It could seat up to 23,000 people in its 44 rows of seats. Today, it’s a popular venue for concerts, cultural events, and other performances.
The best way to experience the Pula Arena is to take a guided tour. Tours are available in Croatian, English, Italian, and German and last about 45 minutes. Guided tours include a visit to the arena’s underground chambers, which were used to house animals and gladiators before they entered the ring. You’ll also learn about the history of the amphitheater and how it has been used over the centuries.
And being one of the must-see Croatia tourist attractions, the Pula Arena is conveniently located just a short walk from many of Pula’s best beaches, hotels, restaurants, and bars. And if you’re visiting during summer, be sure to check the arena’s event calendar. The amphitheater hosts a number of events throughout the year, including the Pula Film Festival, an annual outdoor film festival that screens films from all over the world.
11. Tour Krka National Park
A visit to Krka National Park is one of the best things to do in Croatia if you want to see some of the country’s most stunning scenery. This park, which is located in central Croatia, not far from the city of Split, is best known for its waterfalls. In fact, it has sixteen waterfalls, the most famous of which is the Skradinski Buk.
But Krka National Park is more than just waterfalls. It’s also home to the Krka River, which flows through a deep gorge that’s ideal for swimming, as well as hiking and biking trails, and caves. What’s more? The park is also home to archeological sites, medieval ruins, historic monasteries, and much more.
There are also picnic areas and a restaurant in the park where you can take a break, enjoy a meal and soak up the incredible views.
12. Visit Trogir
Are you looking for a Croatia vacation that combines history, culture, and natural beauty? If yes, then you need to add the town of Trogir to your travel itinerary.
Trogir is located in the mountainous region of Dalmatia, known for its rich history that dates back to its time as part of the Venetian Empire. Today, Trogir is best known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, which includes the Church of St. Lawrence, a beautiful Venetian-style building that dates back to the 13th century; and Cipiko Palace, a Venetian-style mansion that now houses a museum; and the Trogir Castle.
But Trogir isn’t just a town frozen in time. Today, it’s a lively Croatian town with a thriving culture and enough tourist attractions to keep you busy for days. You can explore the town’s many beaches, shops, and art galleries, enjoy the local cuisine, and participate in the many festivals and events held throughout the year.
13. Tour Zadar’s Romanesque Churches
The city of Zadar is located on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, about midway between Split and Dubrovnik. It’s a popular tourist destination thanks to its well-preserved Old Town, its many Roman and Venetian ruins, and its beautiful setting on the Adriatic Sea.
Zadar’s Old Town is a great place to start your sightseeing adventure. The best way to see the Old Town is to take a walking tour and explore its many Romanesque churches. Highlights include the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, the Church of St. Donatus, and the Church of St. Mary.
Another must-see sight in Zadar is the Sea Organ, a unique musical instrument that’s built into the city’s seafront promenade. The Sea Organ is played by the waves of the Adriatic Sea and produces a haunting and ethereal sound that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.
Last but not least, be sure to visit the Greeting to the Sun, where there are large solar panels powered by the Sun’s rays. The Greeting to the Sun is located on Zadar’s seafront promenade and is best seen at sunset when it comes to life with a dazzling light show.
These are just a few of the top Croatian tourist attractions that Zadar has to offer. So if you’re looking for a place to visit that’s rich in history and culture, be sure to add Zadar to your list.
14. Explore Rovinj
If there’s one town in Croatia that will make you feel as though you’ve stepped into a postcard, it’s Rovinj. This picturesque fishing village on the Istrian Peninsula is known for its Venetian-style architecture, winding cobbled streets, and pastel-colored houses.
Rovinj’s old town is located on a small island that’s connected to the mainland by a bridge. The best way to explore the old town is simply to wander its narrow streets and alleyways, taking in the architecture and soaking up the atmosphere. Highlights include the Church of St. Euphemia, which towers over the old town; Balbi’s Arch, a Venetian-style gate; and Grisia, a street lined with art galleries.
When you’re ready to take a break from sightseeing, head to one of Rovinj’s beaches. The most popular beach is Monte Beach, which is located just a short walk from the old town. This beach is well-equipped with sun loungers, parasols, and a bar, making it the perfect place to relax and soak up the Mediterranean sun. Other beaches in Rovinj include Mulini Beach and Lone Bay.
Rovinj is one of the paradisical destinations in Croatia, so it’s best to visit outside of the peak summer season if you want to avoid crowds. Spring and fall are ideal times to visit, as the weather is still pleasant, but the town is much quieter.
15. Indulge in Gastronomic Delights
Croatia is a food lover’s paradise. The country’s cuisine is a delicious blend of Mediterranean, Central European, and Balkan influences.
Fresh seafood is a specialty in Croatia, particularly in Dalmatia, where the Adriatic Sea provides an abundant supply of fish and shellfish. Some of the most popular seafood dishes include brodetto (a fish stew), crni rizot (squid risotto), and skampi na buzaru (baked shrimp in a garlic and tomato sauce).
Meat lovers will find plenty to satisfy their appetites as well. Popular meat dishes include peka (a dish of slow-roasted meat and vegetables cooked in a sealed clay pot), spit-roasted lamb, and veal cutlets. Croatia is also a paradise for vegetarians and vegans. The country’s cuisine includes many meat-free dishes, such as stuffed peppers, roasted potatoes, and a variety of salads.
So whether you’re a foodie or just enjoy good, home-cooked meals, you’ll find plenty to love about Croatia’s gastronomic delights. So be sure to add some of the best restaurants to your list of things to do in Croatia
16. Tour the Brijuni Islands
One of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations is the Brijuni Islands, a group of 14 islands located off the coast of Istria in the Adriatic Sea. The islands are best known for their unspoiled natural beauty, but they also boast a rich history dating back to the Roman era.
The Brijuni Islands are a national park, and as such, only two islands, Veliki Brijuni and Mali Brijuni, are open to the public. A visit to the islands starts with a boat ride from Fazana, a small town on the Istrian mainland. Once you arrive at Veliki Brijuni, you can explore the Island on foot or by bicycle.
There are plenty of things to see and do on the Brijuni Islands. Highlights include the Safari Park, where you can see zebras, elephants, giraffes, and other animals roaming freely; the Roman Ruins, which include the remains of a villa, a theatre, and a basilica; and the Brijuni National Park itself, which is home to a diverse array of plant and animal life.
For a good reason, the Brijuni Islands are one of the famous places to visit in Croatia. They offer something for everyone with their unspoiled natural beauty and rich history.
17. Visit the Cathedral of St. James in Sibenik
The Cathedral of St. James in the Croatian city of Sibenik is one of the country’s most important religious and cultural landmarks. It’s also one of Croatia’s best examples of Gothic-Renaissance architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The cathedral was built over a period of 100 years, from 1431 to 1535. Its most distinguishing feature is its grand portal, adorned with 71 sculpted heads representing prophets, kings, evangelists, sibyls, and other biblical figures.
The cathedral’s interior is just as impressive as its exterior, with beautiful stained glass windows, frescoes by noted Croatian artists, and an altarpiece by Venetian master Titian.
The Cathedral of St. James is located in the heart of Sibenik’s Old Town and is one of the top attractions In Croatia. It’s open daily for guided tours, which are included in the price of admission.
18. Take a Trip to the Pretty Town of Korcula
Another one of the best things to do in Croatia is to take a trip to one of its picturesque towns, Korcula. Its Old Town, which is surrounded by thick medieval walls, looks like it’s been plucked straight out of a fairytale.
Korcula is located on the Adriatic Sea island of the same name. It’s one of Croatia’s larger islands, measuring 297 square kilometers. The Island is best known for its red-roofed houses, sandy beaches, and scenic hiking trails.
Korcula’s Old Town is its most popular tourist attraction. Its main street is lined with medieval buildings, churches, and palaces. Be sure to visit the Marco Polo house, which is rumored to be the birthplace of the famous explorer, and the Korcula Town Museum.
If you’re looking for a beach vacation, Korcula is the perfect place. The Island’s beaches are known for their clear water and pretty pebble shores. Some of the most popular beaches include Vela Przina and Pupnatska Luka.
19. Cruise the Dalmatian Coast
The Dalmatian coast is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia. And it’s no wonder why, as the coast is dotted with charming towns, beautiful beaches, and clear blue waters.
One of the best ways to see the Dalmatian coast is by cruise ship. There are several companies that offer cruises on the coast, and most of them depart from Dubrovnik. The cruises typically last seven days and include stops in towns like Hvar, Korcula, and Vis.
If you prefer to stay on land, you can also explore the Dalmatian coast by car or bus. The best way to do this is to rent a car and drive from town to town. Or, you can take a bus tour of the coast. Either way, you’ll be able to see all of the best Croatia tourist attractions.
20. Pamper Yourself at a Croatian Spa
Croatia is blessed with an abundance of natural hot springs, which have been used for therapeutic purposes since Roman times. Today, there are dozens of spas scattered across the country where you can enjoy a variety of treatments, from mud baths and massages to facials and wraps.
Croatia’s spas are located in some of the most beautiful settings imaginable, from the coastline to the mountains to the forests. And because Croatia has a temperate climate, you can enjoy the spas year-round.
Some of the best-known spas in Croatia include Aquae Iasae, an ancient Roman spa in the town of Iasi Krapinske Toplice; Terme Tuhelj, a modern spa complex in the Croatia Zagorje region; and Spa Crikvenica, a seaside spa town in the Kvarner Gulf.
But there are many other great spas to choose from, so regardless of where you’re staying in Croatia, you’re sure to find one that’s convenient for you. So why not take time out of your busy schedule to relax and rejuvenate at a Croatian spa?
Coming up with this list of the best things to do in Croatia was no easy task. With so much to see and do, it’s hard to know where to start. But if you’re looking for a truly memorable experience, be sure to add these Croatia tourist attractions to your itinerary. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.