Travel Tips

Croatia Travel Guide : Where To Go In Croatia ( And What To Do )

Planning a vacation and wondering where to go and what to do in Croatia? You’ve come to the right place! This is the only Croatia travel guide you’ll ever need.

In this article, I will reveal the most beautiful destinations, must-see attractions, activities and everything else Croatia tourism have to offer. Furthermore, you’ll get bonus travel tips from an insider to make your trip even better.

Updated on February 5th, 2019

Where To Go In Croatia

With over thousand islands, 8 national parks, crystal clean sea and picturesque towns rich in history, Croatia is one the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe.

From UNESCO World Heritage sites, beautiful beaches of Dalmatia, great food of Istria, excellent wines, partying on the islands, sailing the Adriatic, Croatia has a lot to offer to its visitors.

Istria & Kvarner Region

Istria is one of my favorite travel destinations in Croatia. It’s a heart-shaped peninsula located in the northern Adriatic, also called Croatian Tuscany. In Istria, you will come across charming small sea-side towns, fishing villages, vineyards and olive groves. Moreover, there are ancient and fortified medieval towns which occupy almost every little hill in the Istrian hinterland; with narrow streets, squares and old churches.

Kvarner region is part of the Primorje – Gorski Kotar County, covering the coastal area of the Kvarner Bay along with numerous islands to explore. It’s a extraordinary combination of sea and mountains, islands and highlands in an exceptionally small space. So we have a saying in Croatia for Kvarner region ; “Step from the sea, two from the snow”. Imagine this, in just one day you can sail by yacht or swim in the sea and then enjoy in the shadow of the near-by woods in the hinterland. Indeed, Kvarner offers the joys of living and health, attractive events and wonderful nature.

Dalmatian Coast

Summers on the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia offer clear blue waters for swimming and snorkeling, stunning sunsets and medieval architecture. It stretches from Zadar in the north to Peljesac peninsula in the south.

In short, in Dalmatia you’ll find rocky mountains, pebbly beaches, hidden coves and bays, breathtaking landscapes, thousands islands and ancient towns. As a result, Dalmatian coast is consider to be the most beautiful shoreline in Europe.

Croatian Islands

Croatia has more than a thousand beautiful islands, islets and reefs. All of them are dotted along the Croatian coast of the Adriatic Sea. However, only a small number of them are inhabited.

Each island is a world for itself, and which one is among the best islands to visit in Croatia depends a lot on you, as a traveler. In other words, some islands offer 24h beach parties and others are perfect family destinations.

Read more here – Top 10 Croatian Islands To Visit And Explore

Continental Croatia

The region forms the continental part of the country. The most populated cities in the region are Zagreb, Osijek, Slavonski Brod, Karlovac, Sisak and Varazdin. Beside Zagreb city, very few tourists visit Continental Croatia. Although, is perfect for those in search of peace and quiet.

In addition, Continental Croatia offers intact natural beauties, historical castles, findings and cultural manifestations.

What To See In Croatia

National parks

Croatia has eight national parks, 11 nature parks, and two strict reserved. Therefore, almost 10% of the country’s territory is protected. National parks of Kornati, Brijuni, and Mljet are located on the islands. The Risnjak, Northern Velebit, and Paklenica national parks cover mountainous area.

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia’s most visited national park, as well as Krka national park, are both famed for its fascinating lakes and waterfalls.

Plitvice lakes Croatia national park travel destination vacation holiday
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia ( image source: Wikimedia )

UNESCO World Heritage sites

Croatia has many cultural and historical sites. As a result, some of them made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.

These sites include: The Euphrasian Basilica in Porec ( Istria ), St. James Cathedral in Sibenik, historic city of Trogir, Diocletian Palace in Split, medieval Old Town of Dubrovnik, Stari Grad Plain on the island of Hvar, and Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Split Croatia Diocletian's Palace Peristyle Travel Vacation Culture
Diocletian’s Palace Peristyle central square – Split, Croatia ( image source : Flickr )

Marine Protected Sites

There are seven marine protected areas in Croatia: Brijuni islands and the Lim canal in Istria, Kornati and Telašica in the Zadar archipelago, Island of Lastovo, Bay of Mali Ston and Mljet in southern Dalmatia.

Kornati Islands Croatia national park nature sea Croatian vacation holiday
Kornati Islands, Croatia ( image source : Max pixel )

To decide on where to go on holiday in Croatia depends on a type of traveler you are, do you travel solo or with kids, time you plan to spend in in the country, and your budget.

Popular Destinations In Croatia

Currently, the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia are islands Hvar and Pag, Split, Rovinj, Dubrovnik and Zagreb city, capital of Croatia.

Split city Croatia travel blog holiday vacation sea summer ultra
City of Split, Croatia ( image source: pixabay )

I’ve written the full post here : BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN CROATIA

What To Do In Croatia

Croatia offers a lot of activities for visitors of all ages. The country is rich in history, natural beauty, historical towns, wonderful architecture, beautiful beaches and breath-taking mountains.

Foodies will enjoy exploring local restaurants in Croatia. A visit to a winery is a must, particularly in Istria and Dalmatia.

Dubrovnik Croatia D'vino wine bar croatian food drink holiday
Dubrovnik wine bar, Croatia ( image source : Flickr )

Zrce ( pronounced Zrche ) beach in Novalja on the island Pag and the town of Hvar offer 24 h partying for young and restless.

Zrce beach novalja Pag island Croatia party Papaya club Zrche
Zrce beach Papaya club, Novalja island Pag, Croatia ( image source: Wikimedia )

An outdoor enthusiasts will love Paklenica, Omis, Medvednica ( near Zagreb ) and Marjan Hill ( Split). They all offer an endless choice of adventures to enjoy.

Croatia has been developing its tourist offer rapidly, and today, regardless whether you are an adventure traveler,  a couple in search of romantic places, or a family traveler, Croatia won’t disappoint you.

Dubrovnik at night Croatia travel Game of Thrones location holiday vacation
Dubrovnik Old Town at night, Croatia ( image source : Flickr )

You’ll find interesting architecture, excellent food and wine, tons of historical, cultural and natural sites, amazing beaches, and loads of activities to do: from sailing, rafting, kayaking, kite-surfing, to zip-lining, para-gliding and rock climbing.

White water rafting in Dalmatia Croatia adventure travel
White water rafting in Dalmatia, Croatia (image source : Flickr )

Croatia Travel Tips

Meet local people

In Croatia, English is spoken widely. Don’t be afraid to interact with local people. They will enrich your travels more than you think.

Observe daily life

Spend a few hours sitting in a park or on in a cafe drinking coffee by yourself, just watching day to day life happen in front of you. Pay close attention to the details around you. Feel the spirit of the place you are visiting. The smells, the colors, human interactions, and sounds. You’ll see a lot of things you never noticed before.

Take photos

You may only see these places and meet these people once in your lifetime. Remember them forever and take lots of photos. They are the ultimate souvenir of your travel experience. No need to carry around your heavy ( and pricey! ) DSLR camera, this Canon power-shoot is a great affordable alternative. It’s lightweight, portable and picture quality is absolutely stunning!

Splurge a little

Although I’m a huge fan of budget travel, it’s nice to go over your budget once in a while. Treat yourself occasionally! Book a few days at a luxury hotel, eat out at a fancy restaurant, rent a yacht for a day or spend a wild night in the town.

Get lost on purpose

If you want to see and feel the real spirit of the town you’re visiting, you need to go off the tourist trail. The best way to do this is on foot — without knowing exactly where you’re going. Just in case, write down the name of your hotel so you can ask locals for direction or catch a taxi back if needed. Wander the streets, enjoy yourself and don’t forget to take a lot of photos!

Eat local food

Do you know what Croatian food tastes like? Trust me, it’s delicious! Try different restaurants, taste different food, write down authentic Croatian recipes. Traditional Croatian cuisine is known as a cuisine of the regions, since every region of Croatia has its own distinct culinary tradition. Reach out and ask local people for recommendations.

Go to the green markets

Almost every Croatian town has a green market, typically held outdoors in a central square. These places gives visitors a real glimpse into the local atmosphere. So it’s no wonder why green markets are becoming popular destination for tourists eager to feel the local spirit. It’s a memorable experience. Visit Dolac market in Zagreb, famous Pazar market in Split or the Gundulic square in Dubrovnik.

Try something new

Spice up you journey and challenge yourself to try something you’ve never done before. Be impulsive and say yes when someone randomly invites you to try a new activity or explore a place you didn’t know existed. These unexpected and unplanned situations always turn into the best stories.

Enjoy every day

What to do in Croatia? There are ton of things to do! Just take the time to explore the place you’re visiting. Live a little. Enjoy yourself. Make new friends. Seek out interesting and unusual things to do. Take day trips to other places.

Below are a few tours I would definitely recommend doing in Croatia. You can also find other options here.

 Croatia Travel FAQ

1. Why is Croatia so popular?

Croatia is popular because of its unspoiled natural beauty, historical cites, crystal clear sea and delicious local food. Many of visitors who travel to Croatia for the first time tend to visit the main touristy towns and attractions, like Zagreb, Split, Plitvice, Hvar and Dubrovnik. However, Croatia is full of hidden gems, charming seaside towns, wonderful natural sites, and beautiful beaches to discover.

2. Is Croatia safe place to visit?

Definitely yes! Croatia is a very safe country for travelers from all over the world. The Institute for Economics & Peace ranks it higher than the U.S. for safety and security. However, as everywhere, take care of your belongings, especially when using public transport.

3. Croatia currency – kuna or euro?

Croatian currency is kuna. Croatia is a member of EU, but not a member of Euro Zone (countries using Euro as a common currency). However, you can also pay many things with Euro, like accommodation, meals in restaurants, pay-tolls on Croatian roads, and gasoline.

4. What is the best time to visit Croatia?

Majority of tourists visit Croatia in July and August. Although, the most of music festivals and events are held during the peak of the season, the busiest time is not always the best time to visit. The best time to visit Croatia is in April, May and September. There are far less people around (definitely no traffic jams and crowded beaches), the weather is still nice and sunny, prices are more affordable and the sea is warm enough to swim in.

5. Do they speak English in Croatia?

In Croatia, English is widely spoken. However, you can learn a few Croatian phrases, just for fun. Read my quick Croatian language course for travelers: Learn Croatian Phrases and Talk Like a Pro

Croatia Travel Guides

Recommended travel guides available on Amazon:

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