Best Things to do in Croatia
Croatia has so much to offer, whether it’s strolling through medieval towns, swimming in the crystalline sea, or witnessing powerful waterfalls amidst lush scenery. No matter where you go, you’ll find amazing places, activities, and landscapes to see. Here are some of the best things to do in Croatia.
In the heart of Croatia, surrounded by lush forests, grasslands, and limestone rock, lies the country’s oldest and largest national park: Plitvice Lakes. With 16 lakes, ranging from bright turquoise to dark navy colored, powerful falls, and gorgeous greenery, it’s a must-visit in the country.
Pass through the natural habitat of countless species as you embark on one of the many hiking trails. Here, you’ll make your way across wooden pathways and paddle through the calm waters, soaking up the beautiful sights of the UNESCO-protected park. Don’t forget to stop at the upper and lower lakes, as well as the stunning 78-meter-high Veliki Slap waterfall by the entrance.
From the stunningly blue lakes surrounded by vibrant greenery to its plummeting falls, Plitvice Lakes National Park has many gems and is one of the most beautiful natural places we’ve ever seen in Europe.
Entrance Fee Plitvice Lakes National Park
The stunning park is open year-round, though hours differ per season. To visit Plitvice Lakes, you have to order your tickets online via the park’s e-ticket system. Only a limited number of people are allowed into the park to preserve nature.
2. Diocletian’s Palace, Split
Right in the center of Split’s quaint Old Town, you’ll find Diocletian’s Palace, the city’s most important landmark. This complex of impressive buildings stands as a reminder of a long-forgotten Roman past. It was built back in the 4th century as the residence of the Roman Emporer, with different living quarters and housing for armed troops.
Explore the different areas, such as the beautiful main courtyard and the palace cellars. Unsurprisingly, this impressive structure was used as one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones in Croatia. Back in the day, these cellars were where food and wine were stored. Now, there’s just the construction, giving it an eerie atmosphere perfect for the show!
3. Pula Amphitheatre
In the northern countryside along the seashores lies the off-the-beaten-path Pula, full of local farmer’s markets and beautiful old streets. To this day, this previous Roman colony has some of the most impressive intact Roman architecture to marvel at. One of these historical remnants is the famous Pula Arena.
The stone structure is the best thing to do and is one of the most iconic landmarks in the country. Comparable to the Colosseum in Rome, the arena is one of the biggest amphitheaters in the world! The Romans built it back in 1 AD as a place for gladiator and animal fighting. These days, the site houses festivals and concerts, including the famous Pula Film Festival.
4. Dubrovnik Walls
Look out onto the cobbled streets and red-roofed stone houses of Dubrovnik’s Old Town as you make your way across the city walls. From up here, it’s easy to see why it doubles as the iconic ‘King’s Landing’ in Game of Thrones, Croatia. Get a glimpse into the little hidden gardens and courtyards, and soak up the spectacular views over the stunning Adriatic Sea.
There are two entrance points to get on top of the wall: Pile Gate and Ploce Gate. You can choose to do a half loop and get off at one of these gates or walk across the entire walls. The whole route takes about 90 minutes. Take in the jaw-dropping views of the coast on the south side, or climb Fort Minčeta on the north. Walking the walls of Dubrovnik is one of the best things to do in Croatia!
Opening Times & Entry Fee: Tickets are 35 EUR per person (this is included in the Dubrovnik Pass). Opening times vary throughout the year, but in general, the walls open at 8 AM and close around 7 PM.
Krka National Park is home to a colorful landscape of turquoise blue pools, vibrant flowers, and luscious greenery. Make your way through the park across wooden boards, listening to the relaxing sounds of birdsong and rushing waterfalls. Stop along the way to admire the streams, swooping eagles, and colorful fish swimming in the clear waters.
Krka National Park is perhaps Croatia’s finest jewel, with lots of natural beauty to soak up. It’s home to many hiking trails between the luscious flora and one of the popular things to do from Split or Sibenik. Visit the famous Skradinksi Buk waterfall, boat across the waters, and admire the nearby plummeting Roski Slap.
6. Go Island Hopping
Take a break from the mainland and set out for a day at sea! The coast of Croatia is home to many islands, lagoons, and caves, each as stunning as the next. Whether it’s off the coast of Zadar or one of the stunning Dalmatian islands closeby to Split, there’s so much to discover in the Adriatic Sea.
Arrange your island hopping boat at the harbors in town, or book your trip in advance online. There are plenty of options for a day full of snorkeling, swimming, and adventure.
Start in Hvar Town, allowing you to explore its vibrant cafes, restaurants, and museums. Then rent a motorbike and discover the charming countryside and paradise rocky beaches.
Getting there: regular ferries leave from Split to Hvar Old Town and Stari Grad, and take around 1-2 hours. It’s best to book your tickets ahead of time during the busy summer season. Alternatively, take a Split-guided tour, including all travel and experiences.
Another must-see island easily accessible from Split is the stunning Brac. This quiet island with perfectly preserved nature lies just under an hour’s ferry ride away. Explore charming fishing villages that line the coast and enjoy the natural trails that weave up to the highest mountain peak. Or, relax on one of Croatia’s most revered spots, Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn beach).
7. Road Trip in Istria
The captivating landscapes of Istria are often compared to Italy’s Tuscany, with small hilltop towns dotted across the region. Popular amongst the food and culture-focused visitors as well as those looking to soak up some of the warm Mediterranean sun, Istria makes a great addition to your Croatia road trip.
Only a stone’s throw away from the renowned Plitvice Lakes lies the mesmerizing town of Slunj. Here, you’ll find the even smaller village of Rastoke, known for its cascading waterfalls and river-top houses. It’s not on the typical Croatia itinerary, making it the perfect surprise visit.
Rastoke is unique because of its powerful rivers that weave right through the heart of the village. Watch as waterfalls plummet over the grass edges and see how the cute stone buildings stand in between, giving it almost a storybook feel. This mini version of the Plitvice Lakes National Park boasts the same natural phenomena as its famous neighbor, from protected tufa formations to the ever-changing cascades.
Take some time to wander through its overwater layout, crossing beautiful bridges and admiring the area’s peacefulness. Due to its small size, you can spend just a few hours here, soaking up the relaxing atmosphere.
9. Hvar Old Town
Don’t miss the atmospheric old town of Hvar, perched along the edges of the island – one of the most beautiful spots in the country. Known for its stone streets and buildings, rocky beaches, and famous party scene, it’s one of the best things to do in Croatia. Even if a night out dancing isn’t on the agenda, you’ll see the town come alive after dark when restaurant terraces open and the street lanterns light up.
Wandering around the town’s scenic streets feels like you could be on a movie set, with colorful shutters and pretty cobblestone terraces. Start your mornings with a coffee at one of the many charming cafes before exploring the colorful alleys, squares, and promenades. For lunch or dinner, grab a bite in one of the tucked-away restaurants with seating along the steps or sea-view terraces.
Getting there: regular ferries leave from Split to Hvar old town and take about 1 – 2 hours. It’s best to book your tickets ahead of time during the busy summer season. Alternatively, take a Split-guided tour, including all travel and experiences.
Tucked between the stunning hills and green fields of Istria lies Motovun, a small hilltop village overlooking the surrounding landscapes. Known for its medieval streets full of history, it looks out over beautiful forests and endless vineyards. While you take in the spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes, delve into the town’s other iconic attribute: its delicious and truffle-rich cuisine.
The old town offers some excellent restaurants and shops that put the earthy mushroom on center stage, as it’s harvested in the surrounding forests. You’ll find them on almost every menu and can smell the scent in the air as you stroll through the town.
11. Old Town Streets of Rovinj
Spend an afternoon browsing the old town streets of Rovinj in the lush Istria region of the country. It’s not as busy as some of the neighboring locations, though you’ll find lots going on in the stunning harbor close to the old center. Its small bars, boutique shops, churches, and beautiful, colorful buildings almost feel like the Cinque Terre in Italy.
Stroll around the Old Town, peeping into the little shops and restaurants that lie tucked away in narrow alleys. You’ll hear many of the locals speak a mix of Croatian and Italian, as the region lies close to the border. Around the old town, you’ll find many small beaches, allowing you to chill on the rocks. This area is closed off for swimmers, so take advantage if the weather is warm!
12. Visit the World’s Smallest Town: Hum
Tucked away between the green hills in Istria, about 40 minutes from Motovun, lies the world’s smallest village, Hum. Its petite charm unfolds in just two streets, each lined with beautiful cobblestones and a few cute shops.
On your road trip through Istria, spend an afternoon soaking up the details of the village. Decorative bicycles stand out front, contrasting with the beautiful green leaves that climb up the village’s buildings. It only takes 20 minutes to see the whole village, but its quaint medieval atmosphere makes it one of the best things to do in Croatia.
Tip: We recommend grabbing a refreshing drink and lunch (or a little cheese platter) at one of the delicious restaurants.
At the southern tip of Istria lies the stunning Kamenjak National Park. Also known as Cape Kamenjak, this luscious area is covered in ancient woodlands and packed with picturesque bays, coves, and beaches. Besides, the stunningly clear waters and steep cliffs make it the perfect spot to go cliff jumping or snorkeling.
If you’re visiting from the city of Pula, the park makes a great day trip destination. Relax on the rocky beaches, or rent a bike and navigate the scenic landscapes. Spend the late afternoon here, watching the sun slowly sink into the water – gorgeous!
Getting there: It’s a 30-minute drive from Pula to the national park. Alternatively, take the bus to Premantura (30 minutes) and walk the rest of the way on foot (30 – 40 minutes). Note that if you’re driving a car in Croatia, only a certain amount of motorized vehicles can enter the park. Check the price list and book your tickets online.
14. Visit Baredine Cave
For an incredibly unique thing to do in Croatia, head out to explore the Baredine Cave near Pula. Walk down the small opening in the ground to discover incredible stalactites and stalagmites. Don’t miss the creatures that live amongst the rock formations. This mammoth karst cave sits 60 meters under the ground and has five different areas, which you can visit on a guided tour.
The cave stays at an average of 14 degrees all year round, making it the perfect spot to cool off from the warm Mediterranean sun. Explore the different areas, admiring the rock formations and underground lakes, perfectly illuminated.
Entrance to the cave is 11 EUR, and a tour takes about 40 minutes (excluding potential wait time).
15. Mljet National Park
On the isle of Mljet lies a stunning park with plentiful beaches, caves, incredible hiking trails, and two large saltwater lakes. The national park lies unspoiled off of the coast of Dubrovnik, making it a peaceful getaway from the busier side of Croatia. Make your way across the dotted hills that lie scattered in the water, and take in all the gorgeous views.
Right in the middle of the largest lake, you find a smaller island called Melita (St. Mary) that houses a former Benedictine monastery. Now, it’s a restaurant you can easily sail to from both sides of the lake on a little solar-powered boat. This little building is a real surprise, offering some incredible views. The boats also take you to the smaller lake, which is perfect for swimming and hiking.
Getting there: There are frequent ferries that depart to Mljet from Dubrovnik, Split, or one of the neighboring islands like Hvar, Brac, or Korcula. Book your ferry tickets online in advance.
16. Nugal Beach Viewpoint
Located on the central coast of the Adriatic Sea, this stunning point is one of the country’s most picturesque places. From up here, you have panoramic views out over the crystalline waters, lush green vegetation, and high jagged cliffs. Down below, you find Nugal Beach, lined with beautiful pink and white pebbles.
On your route from Split to Dubrovnik, you’ll find this stunning lookout point in Osejava Park, near the town of Makarska. This coastal forest offers a few walking trails, bringing you to the Nugal viewpoint. If you’d like to visit the beach, keep in mind that it’s known as a nudist paradise. It’s here where people comfortably sunbathe without swimsuits, surrounded by impressive scenery.
17. Pasjača Beach
In the southern part of the country lies a beautiful secluded beach with clear waters set below the cliffs. Here, it meets the Adriatic Sea, forming a narrow strip (only 80 meters) of sand and gravel coastline. Pasjaca Beach has previously been voted the most beautiful beach in Croatia, and it’s easy to see why when you walk down its dramatic stepped trail.
Despite its fame, it remains a hidden gem, making it a peaceful escape to relax. Spend a few hours soaking up the atmosphere as you lie below the imposing cliffs, looking out over the shimmering turquoise waters. This spot’s unparalleled beauty is unlike any other in Croatia.
18. Join an Olive Oil Tasting
Embark on an olive-tasting journey in Croatia, where you get to wander through ancient olive groves and try their unique flavors. Along the sun-drenched coast of Istria, as well as in the Dalmatian region, you’ll find beautiful settlements that offer this experience. Savor the rich heritage and delicious taste of Croatian olive oil on a tasting tour.
In the north, the indigenous Bianchera and Buža olives yield velvety oils with subtle notes of green apple and almond. Whereas in Dalmatia, such as on the island of Brac, they grow the robust Oblica and Leccino olives, which have a distinct flavor due to the salty Adriatic breeze. Learning about the process of a century-old practice and the unique olives of the country is a must-do on your Croatia itinerary.
19. Zlatni Rat Beach, Brac
Zlatni Rat, also known as Golden Horn, is one of the most famous beaches in Croatia, and it’s easy to see why. This impressive V-shaped pebble beach on Brac Island lies beside some of the clearest waters, which slowly transition into a beautiful dark blue. It’s the perfect spot to sunbathe and swim for a couple of hours, and with the backdrop of trees, you’ve also got plenty of shade for when you need a break from the heat.
Rent a sunbed and relax with a delicious drink in hand, soaking up the warm summer sun. Sunloungers cost 5 EUR (5.60 USD) per hour or 20 EUR (22.50 USD) for the full day and are spread across the sand. You can grab some drinks at the small shops, restaurants, or beach club, making a lovely spot to watch the windsurfers out on the stunning waters, too.
20. Go Wine Tasting
Just like olive oil, wine is another product of unmatched character and essence in this Mediterranean gem. For nearly 2000 years, since the days of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius brought the first vine to the country, vineyards have thrived here, producing wines of exquisite flavors.
While you look out over Istria’s undulating landscapes, try some crisp whites like Muscat wine. Or, when you’re on one of the sun-kissed terraces of Dalmatia, enjoy a robust red. With historic cellars, scenic vistas, and passionate winemakers, discovering the country’s wine scene is one of the best things to do in Croatia.
21. Visit the Old Town of Trogir
Croatia’s somewhat hidden gem has got to be the enchanting old town of Trogir. Nestled between the mainland and Ciovo Island, this seaside location offers a refreshing alternative to the busy Split. Get lost in the historic cobbled streets, passing stunning corners and the grand promenade, where palm trees sway in the sea breeze.
The Old Town is only connected to the mainland by bridges, and most of the streets are pedestrian-only, allowing you to explore the gorgeous Venetian architecture undisturbed. As you walk around, taking photos of all the different corners, it’s as if you’ve stepped into a live fairytale – no wonder this stunning UNESCO town was used as one of the Game of Thrones locations in Croatia.
22. Discover all Game of Thrones Sites
With an incredible plot full of battles, schemes, great characters, and dragons, ‘Game of Thrones’ is one of the most popular medieval fantasy epics. But did you know that many of the show’s scenes were filmed in Croatia? From the cities, towns, and landscapes full of Roman architecture and lush green valleys, lots make up the real-life Westeros.
Explore Sibenik’s beautiful fortress and town, which doubles as the city of Braavos, and walk along King’s Landing (Dubrovnik). Or, head out to the stunning Kliss Fortress, close to Split, which was used as the city of Meereen. If you’re a fan of the show, easily check off some of the best filming locations in Croatia on a road trip.
Our Favorite Accommodations
No matter your budget, there are many incredible accommodation options in Croatia. Stay in exclusive hotels and seaside apartments close to the warm coast, or choose lively hostels or even camping in the lush scenery. Below are some of our favorite stays per location:
- Dubrovnik: Villa Filaus, Guest House 44, Liberty Rooms
- Split: Makarun Heritage Rooms, Apartment Marija, Villa Galla
- Krka National Park: Hotel Bonaca, Studio Apartment Skradin, Illyria Skradin
- Plitvice Lakes: Pansion Danica, Etno Garden, Villa Sumrak
- Hvar: Apartments and Rooms Bonkan Hvar, Apartments Haracic, Novak Guesthouse
- Brac: Megi Apartman, Villa Tereza, Labranda Velaris Village
- Trogir: Narancin, Villa Apartments Art, Trogir Apartments & Rooms
- Pula: Park Plaza Arena, Studio Vita Julija, Casa Dei Fiori
- Motovun: Guest House Valentino, Villa Borgo B&B, Guesthouse Villa Marija
- Rovinj: Mariva Apartment, Spirito Santo, Residence Porta