Discover what makes Croatia a standout destination, from beautiful beaches and impressive architecture to delicious local cuisine. Let us be your guide to exploring its charm!
Croatia boasts over 1,200 islands along its Adriatic coast. Towns like Dubrovnik and Split exude old-world Mediterranean charm with cobblestones, terracotta roofs, and historic sites. You can spend days wandering ancient walls, admiring harbor views, and diving into sapphire waters.
Pleasant weather ensures sunny days into October, making Croatia an ideal summer and fall getaway. Seafood lovers will delight in the fresh catch prepared simply with olive oil and herbs. With farm-to-table fare and local wine, Croatia dazzles the senses.
Top Attractions Not to Miss
Dubrovnik’s Impressive Fortified Old Town
Afterward, get lost wandering the marvelous marble-paved streets lined with aristocratic palaces, monasteries, churches, and medieval fountains. See Orlando’s Column, the iconic Stradun Street, and the 15th-century Rector’s Palace with its Gothic courtyard. As an important maritime center and independent republic rivaling Venice, Dubrovnik’s rich history is evident in its diverse architecture.
It’s easy to see why it’s a UNESCO site and nicknamed the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” A Croatian tour would not be complete without visiting Dubrovnik’s awe-inspiring medieval Old Town, surrounded by nearly 2 km of impressive 16th-century walls. Walk the walls for stunning coastal views over terracotta rooftops and shimmering seas, with photo stops at stone turrets and fortresses.
Diocletian’s Palace in Split
Incredibly, modern Split is centered around a Roman palace built for Emperor Diocletian in the 4th century AD. This sprawling complex covers over 170,000 square feet and includes temples, cellars, and a monumental entrance gate.
Marvel at the courtyard lined with carved granite columns where Diocletian addressed subjects. Admire the domed cathedral, originally his mausoleum. Wander the narrow cobblestone streets where medieval houses were built, integrating the palace walls and columns. The unusual blend of Roman, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture provides a fascinating glimpse into Split’s past.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Consisting of a series of 16 terraced lakes connected by waterfalls and set amidst lush green forests, Plitvice Lakes National Park is Croatia’s most popular inland destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The unique turquoise coloring of the crystal-clear waters, caused by dissolved limestone deposits, looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. Enjoy the stunning scenery along the network of wooden footbridges, hiking trails, and boardwalks.
Additional Top Sites
Klis Fortress: This clifftop medieval fortress with sweeping valley views was featured in Game of Thrones. At the crossroads between Split and inland towns, the Klis Fortress was highly coveted and frequently attacked throughout history, giving it an imposing façade.
Zlatni Rat Beach: Often featured on postcards, the “Golden Horn” beach on Brač Island extends like a spit into the Adriatic near Bol town. This unique landform composed of pebbles shifts shape and direction with the tides and winds. Relax on the beach, enjoy water sports, or hike to the top of nearby Vidova Gora Peak for sensational panoramic vistas.
Pula’s Roman Amphitheater: Constructed in the 1st century AD, Pula’s immense Roman amphitheater is one of the largest and best-preserved of its kind outside Italy. Wandering this immense oval arena, it’s easy to envision the spectacles, naval battles, and gladiator fights that once took place here when Pula was an important military port of the Roman Empire.
Ideal Time to Visit Croatia
Peak tourist season runs from July through August, when the weather is hot and sunny and ideal for swimming, sightseeing, and outdoor activities. However, this is also the most crowded and expensive time, especially in popular destinations like Dubrovnik, Split, and the Adriatic islands.
For smaller crowds, lower prices, and pleasant weather, target your trip in May, June, September, or early October. July and August tend to get very busy, with peak crowds in Dubrovnik’s old town, on ferries to the islands, and at attractions like Plitvice Lakes. Some businesses may be closed during the shoulder season, but you’ll be rewarded with a more relaxed local vibe.
Getting Around Croatia
Buses provide connections between major coastal cities like Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, and Rijeka. It’s also possible to travel between Croatia and neighboring countries like Italy, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro via bus or train. Ferries are an essential means of transportation between Croatia’s many islands as well as coastal towns that lack road connections.
Renting a car allows you maximum flexibility to explore Croatia’s winding coastal roads, inland mountain towns, and national parks at your own pace. Navigation and parking in compact old town centers can be tricky, but the freedom to roam makes it worthwhile. Walking and biking are great ways to explore city centers and island towns.
Budgeting and Planning Tips
- Croatia uses the kuna (HRK) currency. Budget rooms start around $30–40 USD per night for a standard double room during shoulder season. Restaurant meals generally cost $10–20 per person at modest establishments, more so in luxury venues. Museums, attractions, and organized day trips average $10–30 per person. Inter-city bus tickets cost around $10–20 one-way, depending on the distance.
- For flexibility in visiting multiple islands, consider buying a local SIM card for mobile data access to research ferry schedules on the fly.
- Pack good walking shoes. Croatia’s historic towns are hilly with lots of cobblestones, stairs, and uneven surfaces.
- Avoid crowds at popular attractions like Dubrovnik’s Walls, Diocletian’s Palace, and Plitvice Lakes by arriving early in the morning or late in the afternoon when tour groups have departed.
- Museums and attractions often offer discounted combination tickets or weekly passes, great for maximizing savings on heavy sightseeing days.
With its blend of beaches, outdoor activities, ancient ruins, and pedestrian-friendly old towns, Croatia offers plenty of family vacation options. Kids will enjoy scrambling over the fascinating Roman ruins in Diocletian’s Palace, the Roman amphitheater in Pula, and medieval forts like Barone and Revelin guarding Dubrovnik.
National parks like Plitvice Lakes, Krka, and Paklenica provide hiking and water-based fun. Beach resort towns have kid-friendly amenities, shallow coves, and watersports. Compact cobblestone old towns like Dubrovnik, Trogir, and Rovinj are ideal for wandering, with pedestrian-only streets and plentiful gelato stops. Don’t miss unique experiences like walking Dubrovnik’s ancient walls, exploring Diocletian’s cellars, and riding the cable car up Srđ Hill for Instagram-worthy views over the Dalmatian islands.
Road Tripping Along the Stunning Dalmatian Coast
A road trip allows you to fully experience Croatia’s sublime Adriatic coastline, dotted with villages, vineyards, and islands.
Split to Dubrovnik: Stop at St. John Fortress, wineries, and medieval Ston. Enjoy seafood in Mali Ston Bay.
Pula to Rovinj: See Pula’s Roman sites, then continue north through charming towns like Rovinj with its scenic old town harbor.
Dubrovnik to Kotor, Montenegro: Discover the fjord-like Bay of Kotor and its fishing villages and medieval charm.
What is the best way to get around Croatia?
Renting a car provides maximum flexibility for exploring winding coastal roads, scenic national parks, and medieval towns in your own time. Buses and ferries also connect major destinations. Walking is ideal within compact old town centers.
When is the best time to visit Croatia?
July-August offers sunny beach weather but heavy crowds. For fewer tourists and lower prices, visit in May–June or September–October. Dubrovnik and Split can be very busy in peak summer.
How expensive is Croatia for travelers on a budget?
Croatia can fit a range of budgets. Private apartments start around $30–40 per night for two people in shoulder season. Meals at inexpensive restaurants run about $10–15 per person. Museums and attractions average $10–20. Inter-city buses cost $10–20 one way.
With glittering seascapes, rich history, and delicious cuisine, Croatia offers the quintessential Mediterranean escape. By planning ahead with these tips, you’re guaranteed an amazing Croatian holiday. Let the adventure begin!