Croatia has so much to offer. There are a lot of beautiful beaches to get a tan and swim in the Adriatic Sea. There are a lot of medieval cities which make up a great travel destination. You have the 8 national parks of Croatia. Those national parks offer you turquoise water, waterfalls, mountains… Croatia also has 718 islands to be discovered. In this article, we’ll select the top 10 destinations in Croatia for you.
In recent years Croatia is gaining a lot of attention as a tourist destination. The countless options, the good weather conditions, and the cheaper prices compared to the rest of Europe make Croatia a good choice for your holidays. Tourism makes up 20% of the economy of Croatia, so it’s really important for the country.
While it’s hard to tell which destinations are the top destinations, we did attempt to create a top 10 destinations in Croatia! These top 10 destinations in Croatia are based on our visits to Croatia, mixed with the most popular destinations according to the tourism figures. If you feel we missed something, feel free to make a comment!
Make sure to also check out the full guide on traveling to Croatia. Here you’ll find more details on destinations in Croatia as well as some example itineraries for your road trip.
Top 1 – 5 Destinations in Croatia
While we don’t want to put a number to the top 10 destinations in Croatia, we decided to group them in our top 5 destinations. Secondly, we’ll then list the other 5 destinations (number 6 to 10). So we’ll start off with our ⭐ favorite 5!
Plitvice Lakes National Park
We visited Plitvice Lakes National Park during our Croatian road trip in 2017. Plitvice Lakes (Plitvička Jezera) is our favorite national park in Croatia. The park is just full of different colored lakes (turquoise, azure blue…) and there are a lot of cascades and waterfalls. Plitvice is one of the UNESCO world heritage.
To discover Plitvice Lakes, you can hike around the park, take the boat across the lake and take the electrical train (all included in ticket price). When hiking you’ll walk on wooden boardwalks across the many lakes and waterfalls. You’ll be really close to the waterfalls and be able to take some great pictures. Check out our guide to Plitvice Lakes National Park to learn more about the park and to plan your visit.
Island Brač and Zlatni Rat Beach
The Croatian island Brač is another popular tourist destination. The island has a lot of beaches, Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn or Golden Cape) is the most famous one. This beach, located in the town of Bol, is a pebble beach with turquoise water. If you hike the mountain Vidova Gora (or drive there), you have a great view of Zlatni Rat beach and the Adriatic Sea.
Another beautiful beach is Lovrecina Bay beach (Uvala Lovrečina), located on the north of the island Brač. This is a sandy beach with shallow water and great views of the Croatian mainland. For a full overview, check out our guide to visiting the island Brač.
Krka National Park
Krka National Park is located along the Krka river between Split and Sibenik. The park is less visited than the famous Plitvice Lakes but definitely worth your time. In this park, there are a lot of waterfalls and in the watermills, you can learn how people used to live. There are different park entrances and you can take boat excursions between the regions and to Visovac Island.
When we visited, we visited the two main areas of the park: Skradinski Buk and Roški Slap. Those are also the easiest to reach and the most developed areas of the park. At Skradinski Buk you have a hiking trail around the area. After your hike, you can go for a refreshing swim at the waterfall with the same name. For us, this was our favorite area of the park.
Roški Slap is less visited. If you have time left, this is worth a stop. You can hike around the area and visit the Oziđana pećina cave. To learn more about the park, visit our Krka National Park Guide.
Zagreb – The Capital of Croatia
Zagreb is the capital of Croatia. The city is the largest city in Croatia and is located more towards the north of the country. The city Zagreb exists out of 17 districts, one of them being the Upper Town (Gornji Grad). This part of the city is located in the center of Zagreb, has a lot of historic buildings, and is located on a small hill.
Apart from historical buildings, Zagreb also has a lot of museums. During our visit to Zagreb, we visited the Museum of Broken Relationships. In this museum, you find objects that are a memory of broken relationships. Another museum we visited is the Museum of Illusions (Muzej iluzija). In this museum, there are a lot of optical illusions to discover.
For more details on Zagreb, check out our guide to visiting Zagreb for more information.
Dubrovnik – Pearl of the Adriatic
The city of Dubrovnik is located in the south of Croatia. The city is famous for its Old Town, which was used as Kings Landing in Game of Thrones. The old town is from the 16th century and is well preserved. Dubrovnik is also called the Pearl of the Adriatic. It’s located next to the sea and with the fascinating Old Town, it’s just magnificent.
Dubrovnik is one of the locations on our bucket list, but we didn’t manage to go there yet. To reach Dubrovnik, you have to drive through Bosnia and Herzegovina for a short while. When we first visited Croatia, we weren’t allowed to go to Dubrovnik with our rental car. Our second visit was during the times of Covid-19, and there were a lot of cases in this area, so we skipped it again. But Dubrovnik is on our travel plans for 2021. So fingers crossed 🤞 we’ll get there this time!
Top 6 – 10 Destinations in Croatia
After checking our top 5 destinations in Croatia, you can check out five other of our favorite locations. Together, those places make up our top 10 destinations in Croatia.
Split and the Diocletian’s Palace
Split is the second-largest city in Croatia. The city is located in Split-Dalmatia County on a peninsula. Split is nicknamed the Mediterranean Flower. From the park Marjan Hill you have a panoramic view over the harbor of Split and the Adriatic Sea.
The most famous place in Split is the Diocletian’s Palace. This historic palace is a small town on its own. The Diocletian’s Palace was built for the Roman Emperor in AD 305. The town has a lot of small streets and historic buildings. Now you can find a lot of small coffee shops, market stalls, and restaurants in the old historic buildings.
Interested in visiting Split? Check out the itinerary of our visit to Split. Also nearby you’ll find Klis Fortress, used as Game of Thrones filming location for Meereen.
Hvar Island and Hvar City
Hvar island is located under the island of Brač. The island Hvar is said to be the island with the best weather in the entire country. The climate is mild year-round. The island is well known for the countless small picturesque beaches. The island also has vineyards and olive gardens.
The largest city on the island is Hvar. The port of the city Hvar connects the town with multiple islands nearby where you can go to explore unspoiled nature and secluded beaches. Hvar is an old city with walls of the 13th century and narrow streets. The city offers a lot of dining opportunities and has numerous nightlife options.
Krk Island – Kvarner Gulf
The island Krk is located in the Kvarner Gulf of Croatia. The island has a lot of beaches. Some are well developed and close to towns, but also many of them are quite remote. Many of those remote beaches can only be reached by boat or by hiking.
We visited Krk island on our honeymoon in Croatia in 2020. During our 3 days on the island, we spent a lot of time exploring the beaches of Krk and were truly amazed by some of the beaches. An example is Oprna Bay beach, the beach in the photo above. The beach hosts straw umbrellas, beautiful colored blue and green water, and mountains in the back. It’s just an amazing holiday feeling. And that’s just one of them. Find out all our favorite beaches on Krk island.
Rovinj – Old Fishing Town
Rovinj is a Croatian city located in Istria County but deserves to be mentioned separately. The fishing post Rovinj is one of the main tourist destinations in Istria. The town has a beautiful old town located on a small island on the Adriatic Sea. The town’s streets are narrow but this makes the town very cozy and charming.
In the south of the city, you have Park šuma Zlatni Rt with the pebble beach Lone Bay. Lone Bay and the park are great places to escape the city to relax. Apart from the beach, you can also go to this park for hiking, cycling…
Rovinj is located in a central position in Istria, making it a great place to stay when discovering the rest of Istria County.
Istria County is located in the northwest corner of Croatia, on the border with Slovenia. The peninsula Istria is mainly visited for the countless beaches, but also offers many other opportunities to travelers. The city Pula, with beaches and Roman ruins is as well a popular tourist attraction. Close to Pula is Brijuni National Park, where you can see dinosaur footprints and visit the safari park.
Istria offers many hiking opportunities. Close to the town of Buzet, you can hike the Minjera route or do the trail of the 7 waterfalls. And close to Poreč, you can hike around the lagoons. During our trip, we stayed at the town Labin close to the Adriatic Sea. From there you can hike to Duga Luka beach (see picture above). Also worth a visit are the beaches of Rabac and Koromačno beach.
For more information on Istria County, check out our article Istria County Croatia – Travel Guide.
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