Regardless of whether you want to unwind on your holiday in Croatia or explore medieval cities, and nature, the country offers numerous insider tips. It enchants with its more than 1.200 islands, picturesque fishing villages, breathtaking waterfalls, beautiful bays, and the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic.
The Plitvice Lakes National Park and the Stari Grad Plain on the island of Hvar are just as much a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the old town of Dubrovnik and the Diocletian’s Palace in Split. If you like to be in and on the water, you will get your money’s worth when taking a sailing cruise, going kayaking, snorkeling, diving, or deep-sea fishing. The list of things you can do in Croatia seems to be endless, but in this blog article, some of my fellow travel bloggers provide you with their insider tips for Croatia.
Islands of Croatia
The Croatian islands are located off the entire coast of Croatia. In the following, my travel blogger colleagues will introduce you to the island of Rab in the Kvarner Bay region and the Dalmatian islands of Hvar, Lokrum, and the Pakleni islands.
The island world of Croatia is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Crystal clear water and hundreds of different islands are scattered off the coast. In my youth, our family used to travel the Adriatic by sailing boat every year.
So I am happy to return to the Croatian Adriatic many years later. The island of Rab is our destination. It is one of the larger islands. In contrast to many karst islands, which mainly consist of stones and a few barren plants, Rab is forested. Holm oaks, olive trees, and pines invite you to take long walks in their shade. In between, there are always breathtaking views of the blue shimmering sea and the mighty peaks of the Velebit Mountains on the coast.
The capital of the island is also called Rab and is located on an elongated ridge. Four different church towers rise almost in a row over the length of the place. They are the symbol of Rab and are often compared to the masts of a large sailing ship.
The city is worth exploring. You can stroll relaxedly through secluded alleys. Small shops with pretty things tempt you to shop. Bars, cafés, and restaurants are perfect for a short break.
Last but not least, water sports are very important on the island. We decided to take a sea kayak course. With the slim, long kayaks we dart across the calm waters of the sheltered bay. The advanced paddlers dare to venture out into the lively waves of the Adriatic. Afterwards, the local specialties taste all the better in the evening.
On their blog 2 on the go, Gina and Marcus write about individual trips. Their website is particularly aimed at middle-aged people. In addition to their blog posts about their trip around the world, they provide blog articles on long-distance trips, short trips, hiking, van life, and lots of tips on the subject of travel.
The island of Hvar is a real highlight in Croatia, and the visit to this island pearl was a great experience for us! Often referred to as the St. Tropez of Croatia, Hvar has become a real scene island. A unique flair, countless dream beaches, wonderful nature, romantic coastal cities, and a wide range of leisure activities await you on a vacation. Enough to stay longer…
Hvar is located in the Dalmatia region and, thanks to its central location, the island can easily be reached by ferry from the city of Split or from the neighboring islands! in our opinion, the historic old town of Hvar is really worth seeing, which impresses with its Dalmatian stone houses and romantic cobblestone streets. Here you go on a journey through time and you will find an ambiance like from a postcard.
But not only Hvar town is splendid, the rest of the island with the small fishing villages and the beautiful landscapes is also fantastic! Real highlights, however, are the countless dream beaches that invite you to unforgettable summer days by the sea. Croatia connoisseurs even count these among the most beautiful bathing bays in the country.
For us, the small, romantic villages such as Stari Grad, Vrboska, and Jelsa in the north of the island were also very interesting. They are less touristy and therefore promise a quiet atmosphere. Here you can also buy delicious local wines that are grown on this part of the island.
Without a question, the island of Hvar is breathtaking and a top recommendation for a vacation in Croatia!
Martina and Jürgen from PlacesofJuma love adventure- as well as luxury trips, unusual hotels, and cool road trips, but sometimes they just travel as backpackers with their backpacks.
Hidden amongst the Game of Thrones film spots and historical ruins of Dubrovnik lies one of the best islands in Croatia. Lokrum, located just off the coast of Dubrovnik, is a hidden gem that offers stunning beaches, native wildlife, and incredible vistas.
Unlike the city of Dubrovnik that’s overrun with tourists, Lokrum is rarely visited, offering serenity for travellers looking to escape the packed tourist sites.
Visit Lokrum Island, Dubrovnik’s best-kept secret, to float in Croatia’s only Dead Sea, wander historical botanical gardens, and relax on a boulder beach without a thousand tourists. You can hike the island in an hour, giving you plenty of time for exploring the native wildlife, like the peacocks that roam the island. Pack a lunch so you can relax on the beach for hours, swimming in the crystal-clear water. Bring your snorkel to spot some local fish!
Adventurous souls can kayak across from Dubrovnik’s Old Town. If you’re not up for the workout, opt for the ferry that departs regularly throughout the day.
The island is perfect for a day trip visit. However, you can’t stay the night. The island is said to be cursed, and anyone who stays the night is doomed to never have happiness.
Nina Out and About is a solo female travel blog that empowers women to live their dreams today. Nina makes the world more accessible by sharing her travel triumphs and funny trip-ups along the way. She inspires women to gain the confidence to explore the world on their own terms.
The Pakleni Islands are a group of small islands just off the coast of Hvar. The islands are the perfect day trip from Hvar and we believe everyone should get to enjoy the crystal clear blue waters, beautiful calm bays, vibrant marine life, and great snorkelling at this gorgeous archipelago.
Getting to the Pakleni islands by boat takes only 10-20 minutes from Hvar town, and can be done in three ways. Take the taxi boat, book a private half- or full-day boat tour, or by renting your own boat. The last option definitely gives you the most freedom, as there are plenty of bays to explore and you’re allowed to dock or drop your anchor almost anywhere around the islands.
The most popular destination on the Pakleni islands is by far the famous Palmizana Beach. This is the busiest and most popular bay on the islands and it’s full of beach bars, restaurants, and yachts anchored in the bay. One island over you’ll find Carpe Diem; the most famous beach club on Hvar. It is known for its chill beach vibe and great cocktails during the day and legendary massive parties with world-renowned DJs at night.
But our favourite thing to do on Pakleni Island is to explore the little bays. The ones where you get to enjoy the Mediterranean sun and listen to the birdsong as your boat sways in with the tide. The ones completely packed with marine where you can go snorkelling and find starfish, crabs, sea urchins, shellfish, and even octopus!
Tom & Zi are the creators behind Craving Adventure, a travel blog focusing on offbeat travel, authentic experiences, and adventure. Here you’ll find in-depth and easy-to-follow travel guides & itineraries that include popular highlights as well as authentic and unique experiences and hidden gems.
Croatia Beach and City
Some places in Croatia combine beautiful beaches and interesting cities. Below, you will find insider tips for Dubrovnik, Zadar, Rovinj, Novigrad, Novalja, and Pula.
On our drive from the airport to our accommodation in Dubrovnik, it suddenly lay in front of us. The incomparably beautiful old town of Dubrovnik. Completely surrounded by a mighty city wall and directly located at the sea. An unforgettable sight! It is not for nothing that the entire old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After all, it is also considered to be one of the most beautiful cities throughout the Mediterranean, which we can only confirm.
As soon as we passed the imposing city gate, we felt like we were in bygone times. It is probably precisely because of this special atmosphere that parts of Game of Thrones were filmed here.
We spent the next few days exploring every single corner of Dubrovnik. Among all the wonderful sights, two particularly impressed us:
The tour of the incredibly well-preserved and almost two-kilometer-long city wall is definitely unforgettable. But we were not only fascinated by the wall itself, but also by the view of the unique buildings in the old town.
The second magical place in Dubrovnik is the small city port, which we reached through an archway. Especially when we sat in the restaurant in the evening, we could enjoy this dreamlike setting to the fullest.
Tina and Manfred are the creators of Urlaubsreise.blog who are mainly traveling in Europe and Asia. On their travel blog, they give a lot of inspiration and helpful tips for travel imitations.
Zadar is located in the middle of Croatia’s Dalmatian coastline. While Zadar is not as well known as cities like Split and Dubrovnik, it still sees a fair amount of tourism in peak season. There is a small airport and cruise ship port, though you can also arrive by car or bus.
Zadar’s charming Old Town was mostly built by the Romans and has seen many different rulers over the centuries. Historic sites, coastal scenery, shopping, and famous modern landmarks like the Sea Organ are just a few of the top things to do in the center of Zadar. We highly recommend taking a self-guided walking tour around town.
Zadar is a great base for day trips to places like Plitvice and Krka National Parks, which are famous for their waterfalls. Closer to town, you can hop on a ferry to Ugljan island, bike down the coast, or go wine tasting near Zadar.
Zadar can be a great destination in Croatia for slow travelers and remote workers, as well as those who only have a day or two to visit. There is something for everyone in Zadar!
IntentionalTravelers.com inspires and equips everyday travelers to pursue life-changing experiences around the world. Authors, Michelle and Jedd, are digital nomads who live and work abroad for much of the year and recently enjoyed staying in Zadar for a month.
Rovinj is a beautiful, off the beaten path destination in Europe in the Istria region of Croatia. It features the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea and many other small towns nearby in the Istria region are amazing to see such as Hum, Motovun, and Groznjan. For the best view in town be sure to climb the Church of St. Euphemia located in the city center. Afterwards, you can shop on Grisia Street, one of the most famous streets in the town. The most beautiful spot for a photo is by a boutique called Atelier Charm – there is a table by the sea and it looks so peaceful and serene.
The Istrian region is also known for truffles and one of the best restaurants to end your day at is La Puntulina where you can try some dishes with truffles. After dinner, you may want to have a nice drink outdoors at Trevisol.
Rovinj is located close to the Italian border, in fact, you can even take a 3-hour ferry directly to Venice. Otherwise, you can arrive in Rovinj by flying into the local airport and getting to the city quite fast from there.
Jackie is an American expat living in London. She runs the travel blog Jou Jou Travels which combines her passion for solo travel & hidden gems. She loves to find undiscovered places with pretty architecture and pops of color. She travels so much that she doesn’t let finding someone to go with stop her and her goal is to inspire her audience to do the same.
In spring we spend almost a week in the cute little town “Cittanova” in northern Istria not far from the Slovenian border. The city itself is located directly at the sea on a small island that wasn’t connected to the mainland until the 18th century. Besides the parish church, the war museum, and the lapidarium, the very well-preserved city wall is an absolute highlight!
We stroll through the cobblestone streets, eat ice cream at the picturesque harbor or swim in the turquoise blue sea. Novigrad also has a lot to offer in culinary terms. We become regulars in the Laco restaurant that offers authentic and down-to-earth dishes. But we also like the beach bar Amore right between the city wall, the harbor and the bar Punto Mare by the sea. Once we borrow bicycles from the “Extremus” rental shop and use them to explore the surrounding beaches. Novigrad has everything to offer for a nice stay in Istria!
Tatjana is a trained travel agent, social media manager, and passionate globetrotter! She tries to combine the “having arrived” with house and children and the “always wanting to leave” and is happy! On her travel blog Lieblingsspot, everything revolves around her favorite places with that certain something and about traveling with kids individually and in style!
By now, you already know what a beautiful place Croatia is and all the stunning places to visit. Novalja in Croatia is no different. Located in Pag, on the Adriatic part of the Croatian Sea, it makes a perfect beach holiday. However, what makes Novaljia so popular is the nearby Zrce beach.
Zcre beach, like most others in Croatia, is a pebble beach stretching around 2km long. However, this is no ordinary beach. In the peak summer season, Zcre beach is the place to be to party. Home to three superclubs; Aquarius, Kalypso, and Papaya, you can see why the place is so popular. Even special music events with international DJs play at this beach drawing in revellers from all over the world. So, if you’re looking for relaxation, this beach is one to avoid, but there are several others nearby.
Novalja itself is a pretty town with many shops, bars, and restaurants. Many of the best things to do here are water-related. Take to the waves by jet ski, a catamaran ride, sea kayaking or you can even go sailing. If you want to stay on the land, there are beautiful olive gardens you can tour, as well as hikes that provide brilliant vantage points over the coastline.
Deep-sea fishing in Pula
I love the sea and I love fish! So the trip to deep-sea fishing in Pula was the absolute highlight of my holidays in Istria so far. It starts at 4 AM – so that’s not for late risers. While the last people stumble out of the bars after the party, we get ready for big game fishing in the Mediterranean off the coast of Pula.
We drove about 100 kilometres out to sea and experienced a beautiful sunrise. I was enormously fascinated by what was going on out there. Several small boats, like ours, and huge fishing trawlers casting their large nets in search of a good catch. We cast our lines for the first time near a large fishing trawler because tuna like to romp around where the sardines are caught.
We also cast sardines as bait for the big fish and hoped that we would be lucky enough to be anglers. The men are in top form on this excursion. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the spectacle and the sun on the upper deck.
Even for non-fishers like me, deep-sea fishing is an experience that everyone should do once. In almost every port city, fishermen advertise their tours. Grab the one that suits you best and start a fascinating day off the coast of Croatia.
Melanie likes to travel to distant countries, is an avowed Italy and Morocco fan, and especially loves her home country Austria. Since she is employed herself, she shows you on her travel blog Urlaubsgeschichten.at that you can gain unique experiences even on short trips. Vacations that suit you!
Croatia Inland Travel Tips
But not only the coastal regions also the inland of Croatia offers some sights that you should definitely visit. My travel blogger colleagues give you tips for Zagreb, the Plitvice Lakes National Park, and Hum, the smallest city in the world.
The capital of Croatia is an unexpectedly fantastic place to visit and can hold its own with any of the big European city break destinations. It’s got everything; great sights, buzzing city life, awesome restaurants, and quirky things to do.
Start your trip to Zagreb in Ban Jelačić Square, the central square in Zagreb, and a transport hub (although you won’t really be needing Zagreb’s excellent tram system as everything is so close by). A few minutes northwest of the square, you’ll reach Zagreb’s astonishing Gothic cathedral – its twin spires make it the tallest building in Croatia, although both are missing their tips at the moment following a powerful earthquake in March 2020.
Wander through Zagreb’s luscious food market towards Tkalčićeva Street. This pretty and surprisingly village-like street is lined with interesting shops, pavement cafes, and restaurants, including Indian, Turkish, Lebanese, and Sri Lankan eateries.
Uphill from Tkalčićeva Street, you’ll come to the Stone Gate, the Eastern entrance to the Medieval upper town, Gradec. The gate holds a shrine where local people come to pray and light candles. A few steps further on is St Mark’s Square and St Mark’s church with its brightly coloured roof tiles.
One of the most interesting and emotive things to do in Zagreb is to visit the Museum of Broken Relationships. Each piece in the museum has been donated and is representative of a break-up. Make sure you read the sometimes funny, sometimes, sad, sometimes wistful descriptions that accompany each piece.
Helen from Helen on her Holidays is a travel blogger from Manchester, UK. She has a full-time job, so she’s always trying to make the most of her annual leave. In 2019 she completed her goal of visiting all the European Union capitals.
Zagreb is the beautiful capital of Croatia – but nobody goes there. Classic Croatia vacationers go to the sea and miss the many attractions in the big city.
The highlights in the city center include the pretty cathedral, the lively Dolac market square and the main square Ban Jelačić with an equestrian statue, the stone gate, and the Lotrščak tower with a daily cannon shot. Zagreb definitely has a lot of stories to tell, as you can see very quickly when visiting a city.
The free walking tour is also highly recommended. Everything you have to see in Zagreb (and much more) is shown by a dedicated guide in about two hours.
On top, the guide gives tips for further activities and restaurants. There is also a lot on offer here in terms of culinary delights. Everyone should have tried a spicy version of štrukli (curd cheese strudel) at least once.
Numerous viewpoints, which are located directly in the center, offer a view of the city. In the vicinity of the old town, there are also accessible cave systems that provide interesting insights into the underworld.
Regarding getting there, Zagreb can be reached by car – or very comfortably by train or long-distance bus. It takes about three hours to get to the city center of Zagreb from Graz and Ljubljana.
Janine and Stefan from Gepackt & Los love hiking in nature and like to leave the beaten tourist paths. On their travels, they don’t only visit the classic sights, but also try to find out what else the respective travel destination has to offer. In 2019, they traveled through Central America, Asia, and Europe for nine months.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Europe. Because of its natural features, tourism started here 150 years ago. One of the big acknowledgments is putting it on UNSECO natural heritage list 42 years ago. This 300 square kilometers big park is located in inland Croatia on karst hills that morphed limestone soil by the water into lakes with many cascades made from tufa deposits.
It is located half an hour from Bihač in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2 hours from Rijeka or Zagreb, and 2,5 hours from Split. From the parking lot, you will enter the park for an entry fee from 80 HRK up to 200 HRK (11-27 €), depending on the season when you are visiting the park.
Here you will find 16 blue-green lakes, 12 upper (Prošćansko Lake, Ciganovac, Okrugljak, Batinovac, Veliko jezero, Malo jezero, Vir, Golovac, Milino jezero, Jezerce, Burgeti and Kozjak) and 4 lower lakes (Milanovac, Gavanovac, Kuleđerovac and Novakovića Brod). The park ends with the Great Waterfall, which is 78 m high. You can choose different paths with (from 2 to 10 hours) different ways of movement (walking, boat, or train ride). As for trivia, back in 1965, the Vinetou movie was filmed there.
On his travel blog Dr. Jam Travels, Džangir writes about the last 20 years of his trips to around 70 countries. Also, you can find some other experience as movies, concerts, restaurants, …
Hum – the smallest city in the world
If you are in Croatia in Istria, you should definitely pay a visit to Hum. With its 30 inhabitants, the town has made it into the Guinness Book of Records – as the smallest city in the world. Hum exudes a very special flair that casts its visitors under its spell. In addition, tradition is very important here. Even the age-old custom, in which the municipal council has been elected once a year in June since the 16th century, was revived in 1997 and is still celebrated today. Hum is located in the heart of Istria, 14 kilometres from Buzet. It is only a one-hour drive from popular holiday destinations such as Umag, Rovinj, Porec, and Pula.
The history of the town goes back to the 11th century when the fortress and the first houses were built. You should definitely visit the baroque church of the Assumption of Mary, the Romanesque cemetery church of St. Jerome, and the old stone table in the loggia at the town hall. Hum has only one restaurant, the Humska Konoba. In addition to Croatian specialties, you can also try Biska here, which you should definitely do. The exact recipe for this pomace brandy, consisting of mistletoe and four herbs, is top secret.
On her travel blog Immer auf Reisen, Kathleen writes about small and large adventures, hikes, and discoveries. Because you can actually always be on the move.
Croatia off the Beaten Path
You will experience Croatia far away from mass tourism on lesser-known Croatian islands such as Vis, Mjlet, and Šipan. You can also experience the country away from the tourist crowds by opting for a different type of travel. Experience Croatia in a traditional way on a sailing cruise with a small sailing boat and visit popular islands like Hvar and Brač but also some lesser-known islands.
Sailing in Croatia
Sailing is a very relaxed way to discover Croatia. This is how my boyfriend and I explored the country at the end of July 2021. Guided by a local Croatian skipper, we sailed along the Dalmatian coast from Split to Dubrovnik together with five fellow travellers from five different countries. During this eight-day sailing cruise on a 15-meter-long sailing yacht, we moored on six different islands and stayed overnight on our boat in the ports of those islands.
We had enough time and opportunities to discover the islands. We wandered through small fishing villages on the islands of Brać, Vis, and Šipan. On Hvar island, we visited the old town of Hvar town as well as the Stari Grad plain. I was particularly impressed by the beautiful old town on the island of Korčula, which is surrounded by walls. On Mjlet island we visited the national park of the same name and took a boat trip on one of the lakes in this unique nature reserve.
Once or twice a day we anchored in bays and had the opportunity to go swimming from the boat. In the morning and at noon we did self-catering on the boat, in the evening we went out for dinner in the respective destinations.
Since we booked our flights to Croatia independently of the sailing cruise, my boyfriend and I spent two extra days in Split before the tour and two days in Dubrovnik at the end of the trip. In this way, we had the opportunity to explore these two beautiful cities as well as Lokrum island near Dubrovnik.
On her bilingual travel blog The Traveling Colognian, Vanessa writes in German and English about travelling off the beaten path, adventure travels, and solo female travelling. She lived in Beijing for six months and two months each in Costa Rica and Chile. She was particularly impressed by the Chinese part of the Silk Road, by Iran, the countries of Central Asia, and Jordan.
Croatia Food and Drink
Probably the best-known Croatian dish is cevapcici, grilled minced meat rolls that originally used to be made from lamb, but are nowadays mostly made from beef. In general, Croatian food consists of meat and fish dishes, seafood, hearty stews and soups, cheese, ham, and bacon. They also like to drink local wines, beer (Pivo), and herbal schnapps. But even if Croatia’s cuisine may seem very meat-heavy, you will also get your money’s worth as a vegetarian.
We’ll show you which three dishes you shouldn’t miss on your Croatia vacation!
Grilling and BBQ are very important in Croatia, almost a national sport! Many therefore limit themselves to grilled meat such as cevapcici. But wait: don’t forget to try Pasticada! This particular dish is very typical of Dalmatia. A roast beef, which can also be cut into small pieces with gnocchi, is waiting for you. Both are doused with a goulash-like sauce, a delicious feast!
Svinjedina/Janjedina na razu
If these difficult-to-pronounce words appear on your menu, hit it because it’s suckling pig and lamb on a spit. Especially when you drive along the coastal road, you will see huge grill boxes at regular intervals, which usually greet you with smoke. Either pork, lamb, or both are grilled here with constant rotation. The result is juicy meat wrapped in an incredibly tasty and crispy rind. The best thing to do is to order it with Duved rice, fried potatoes, or just bread!
Girice / Ribice
You’ll spot these fishes all over the menu! You will hardly believe it but these sea animals are not grilled. In this case, the Croatians prefer the deep fryer. But don’t worry, they are not fried to death, just a little bit so that they are crispy on the outside and stay juicy soft on the inside. Perfect as a snack at the beach bar, which can also degenerate into a main course that is unbeatably cheap!
Nicole and Markus from einmal mit alles are on a trip around the world since December 2018. Because they both love to cook, they reveal on their travel blog which sights and restaurants you should definitely visit. They also tell you which dishes are typical for the respective travel destination.
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