Croatia is a small country with a very safe and relaxed vibe. It has sublime beaches spread over 6000 km of coastline, wonderfully warm seas, and gorgeous countryside. Croatia also has over 1000 islands along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, most of which are tiny with no inhabitants; in fact there are only 15 with an area larger than 50 km2.
The landscapes of Croatia are really something else; while in the country you’ll have the opportunity to explore 8 national parks and 11 nature parks, and 7 world heritage sites. In Croatia you can experience amazing cuisine and wine, world-class parties and festivals, sailing, climbing, and so much more. There are so many enchanting villages to explore. You’ll never run out of things to do, so you may as well make your stay a long one!
Getting around Croatia
It is easiest to move around Croatia by rental car, as the country isn’t so large that you’ll spend hours and hours on the road. Having said that, the roads are well maintained and most routes are scenic, so time in the car shouldn’t be an issue.
Some people prefer to take buses around Croatia. The buses and timetables are efficient, frequent and comfortable. You can use GetByBus to find out about bus routes, schedules and tickets. Alternatively, you can take affordable taxis if you shop around for the cheaper companies – prices do vary. Uber is another popular option, as it’s cheaper than general taxis.
When traveling to the islands, you’ll probably need to take a ferry. You can find ferry ports in Rijeka, Zadar, and Split, and some of the coastal towns.
Where to go in Croatia
Split is a great choice for many reasons. Firstly, it’s cheaper than some of the other areas, but it also has plenty of attractions. While in Split, it would be a shame not to spend a few hours relaxing on the seafront promenade, Riva. It’s a busy place with great people watching opportunities, and plenty of inviting cafes offering quality coffee and beers.
There’s also a huge 1700 year-old Diocletian Palace, which is one of the 7 world heritage sites. See the ancient red granite columns from the Roman times, an Egyptian sphinx, a cathedral, and the Temple of Jupiter. Check out the four gates that divide the palace into four quarters, and meander around the maze of alleys and pretty cobbled streets of Split’s old town, immersing yourself in the local history and peaceful vibes.
For more architecture, climb the bell tower of the church of St. Dominus, which dates back to the 13th century. It’s worth the climb for the epic views! When you’re hungry, stop by Kadena for a taste of Croatia’s finest food in elegant surroundings; sit on the terrace and look out across the sea at this popular local restaurant.
Zagreb is Croatia’s busy capital city. Exploring the upper town here will give you insight into the history of the place, and a trip downtown makes for excellent sightseeing opportunities. Despite being the largest city, Zagreb is still small enough to explore on foot.
Things to put on your list might be a visit to Tkalčićeva Street, which used to be creek. It has famously tiny houses and abundance of bars at which you can stop for a chilled beer. Other places worth visiting would be the atmospheric Dolac farmers market behind the main square, Zagreb’s cathedral, and the Mirogoj cemetery, which is another heritage site; it is fascinating to see the amazing architecture in the form of arcades, pavilions and tombs.
One more heritage site well worth checking out is Plitvice Lakes National Park in the Lika region – it’s one of the most popular sites in the country. While in Zagreb, grab yourself a portion of Zagrebacki strukli (cottage cheese strudel), which is the city’s signature dish. You might also like to try out a pasta dish with duck, known as mlinci, or orehnjača, a traditional walnut roll. La Struk is a great restaurant to start with.
Dubrovnik is Croatia’s southernmost town, and arguably the country’s most popular one. It is incredibly beautiful, which may be why it was granted the UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1979. The pristine old town is dotted with jaw-dropping architecture, from palaces in Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque styles, to beautiful monasteries and churches.
Note that Dubrovnik is heaving with visitors throughout the summer, so it might be challenging if you’re not into lively atmospheres. It’s also the more expensive of the towns, so be prepared to put your hand in your pocket – especially during peak season.
You can’t visit Dubrovnik without taking a stroll through the pedestrian-only old town, taking in the sights while encased in the city walls. You could also visit one of the many museums, some of which will give you in-depth insights into the town’s history. Two to put on your list are the Rupe, the ethnographic museum, and The Foundry Museum, Gornji Ugao tower.
Other activities in Dubrovnik include wine tasting, vineyard exploring, and a half-day tour doing sea kayaking and snorkelling; you’ll go past the city walls and along to a cave-filled beach close to the island of Lokrum.
Where to stay in Croatia
In Croatia you can find great 5 star hotels in Dubrovnik and Zagreb. Another option is to rent an apartment from a local; this is quite common in Croatia, and there are lots of lovely apartments available on Airbnb and Homeaway. This way you’ll spend a little less, and can cook your own food – but that might not be the greatest idea if you want to experience the lovely local cuisine!
It’s also common to rent villas with pools in Croatia. You can generally find these close to the tourist resorts, and they’re perfect for those who want to be away from the bustle and have total privacy in their downtime.
You might also consider camping, if you like to stay in the great outdoors. It’s a normal choice for visitors, as the land is so beautiful and the climate so inviting. Visit Camping.hr for information on campsites and other good spots.
Best time to go to Croatia
Most people travel to Croatia between July and August, so if you want to avoid the crowds, this isn’t the best time. Between June and September it’s a little quieter, so you won’t be subject to hiked prices, long queues and traffic jams, but the weather is still excellent. You can expect glorious sunshine and warm waters.
The bottom line is that it’s way too easy to fall in love with Croatia. It’s rare to hear stories to the contrary! Enjoy your time in this beautiful country.