Croatia has a stunning landscape, ranging from rugged coastlines to beautiful waterfalls to cobbled streets. The historical old towns of Croatia are ripe for exploration, stopping to sample their delicious delicacies and low-priced beers. Under the beautiful sunshine, you’ll be spoiled for things to do and see in Croatia. Don’t believe us? Read on for the 13 reasons to go visit Croatia immediately.
#1 The Magical Dubrovnik
The beauty of the old town will shock even the most experienced traveller, and walking the city’s limestones streets through baroque buildings will take you back in time. Gaze at the ancient city walls that once protected the capital of a sophisticated republic for centuries, and visit many other Croatia tourist attractions. Marvel at the architecture of the Franciscan Monastery and Museum, learning more about this 14th century landmark. Visit the War Photo Limited, an immensely powerful experience consisting of a gallery filled with exhibitions of New Zealand photojournalist, Wade Goddard. Goddard worked in the Balkans in the 1990s and aimed to show the effects of war on innocents and combatants alike. If you’re wondering where to stay in Croatia the longest, Dubrovnik will certainly keep you entertained and well-fed, and still provide a stunning view of the Adriatic.
#2 The Amazing Waterfalls of Plitvice
Founded in 1949, Plitvice is one of the oldest national parks in Southeast Europe. It differs from many other national parks in how it is well connected to the rest of the country by roads. This makes trips to this UNESCO World Heritage Site easy and a fun day trip from wherever you’re staying. The national parks best feature is its sixteen lakes, interconnected by a series of waterfalls. They are set in deep woodland, which is populated by a wide variety of wildlife - including deer, bears, wolves and rare bird species. The National park covers a total area of 300 square kilometres, which will make for a full day of hiking and enjoying this beautiful scenery.
#3 The Breathtaking Coast of Cavtat
In Croatia, there are destinations you simply can’t miss, and Cavtat is definitely one of them. It is situated only 20 km south of Dubrovnik and 22 km from the border with Montenegro, making it easy to fit into your Croatian road trip. It is a popular tourist destination given its history which dates back to the 6th century BC, when it was founded by the Ancient Greeks. Here you can visit the House of Vlaho Bukovac, a museum dedicated to the renowned Croatian painter born in Cavtat. Cavtat is located in the region of Konavle, providing a rich cultural history. You’ll see plenty of folk costumes, embroidery and traditional dances. To ensure you see it, you can visit the village of Cilipi on a Sunday morning, where locals in traditional costume gather in the main square to sign and dance.
#4 The Best Beaches in Europe
Croatia is simply covered in wonderful beaches, which some consider to be the best beaches in Europe. Whilst we at Goboony do not feel comfortable making such a decisive statement, we will say that they are incredible! For example, Spiaza is a beach situated on the tiny island of Susak. Whilst it takes time to reach this beach through ferry, it seems to only add to the connoisseur appeal of Susak. It is a majestic moon-grey crescent stretching out, with a bay so shallow that you need to wade for almost half a kilometre to find sea deep enough to swim in. This makes it great for children and those not wishing to get their hair wet! If you enjoy entertainment with your beach, then Nin is the beach for you. Located 15 km from Zadar, Nin is a long strip with plenty of beach bars along it. It has mesmerising views of the Velebit mountains across the water. There is also a reedy area there which is rich in peloid mud, an effective natural treatment for sore joints and muscles - so don’t be alarmed to see your fellow bathers coating themselves in sludge!
#5 The Peninsula Rovinj
Once owned by the Venetians, this peninsula is more than just another beautiful seaside town. Originally settled as an island, Rovinj joined to the mainland in the 18th century, so you can even drive there - in a motorhome perhaps? The charm of Rovinj has seduced generations of visitors, and made it the most visited tourist destination in Croatia. It is known as where to stay in Croatia, with accommodation ranging from hotels to campings to resorts. There is also the Naturist Camp of Valalta if that is more your style. A highlight of the peninsula is the Forest Park Punta corrente, which is located in the southern part of it. Here you’ll be able to enjoy walking, running, cycle and swimming in the centennial park, all with the beautiful view of the shimmering waters!
#6 The Historic Pula
Set alongside the glittering Adriatic Sea, Pula is a place full of things to do and places to see. It is famed for having the best preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. It was an important provincial centre during the later period of the Roman empire, and its legacy of public buildings from this period are some of the most impressive in all of Europe. The highlight is the Arena, which was constructed between 27 BC - 68 AD. It is the only Roman amphitheatre in the world with a complete circle wall and was built to hold 20,000 spectators. It is still used today as an outdoor cinema and for other varied events - such as ice hockey, food markets and even Tom Jones concerts! Another impressive construction is the Temple of Augustus, which was bombed during WWII and painstakingly rebuilt. It now houses the Pula Museum of Archaeology. Pula hosts the best of the Croatia tourist attractions, as it also a hub for festivals during the summer and is home to the world’s best malvasia wine and most unusual rakija. The cuisine of Pula is also fascinating, as since Istria was part of Italy until 1947, the influence of Italian cuisine is still apparent in Pula. Pizza, pasta and gelato are staples that you’ll find on every street.
#7 Tasting the Adriatic Sea
Speaking of food, another major reason to visit Croatia is their mouthwatering delicacies. Croatian cuisine is known as a cuisine of the regions, as every region within Croatia has its own distinct culinary tradition. This creates such variation, that during your trip around Croatia, you will never tire of the meals as they’re constantly changing! On the mainland, you’ll find the meals to be characterized by their Slavic neighbours, utilizing a lot of paprika and garlic. The coastal regions hold their Greek and Roman influence, as well as of the later Mediterranean cuisine. These regions use a lot of olive oil, rosemary and more in their cooking. Examples of food that is considered truly Croatian include the white truffles from Istria, Croatian style Punjena Paprika (stuffed peppers) and goulash. Given the vast coastal regions of Croatia, it seems only natural that seafood is a major aspect of their diet. During your stay, you will be tasting the glory of the Adriatic Sea in the form of lobster, mackerel and anchovies.
#8 Sunsets in Sibenik
Sibenik is a historic city located in central Dalmatia. It is considered to be a political, educational, industrial and transport hub. It is the oldest native Croatian town on the shores of the sea and has a medieval core. It is an important access point for the Kornati Islands and Krka National Park, making it the ideal road trip stop. Exploring the stone labyrinth of alleys and steep backstreets will keep you entertained, and there is plenty of sites for you to visit. Stroll around St James’ Cathedral and St John’s Church, or get a ticket to the Victory Museum to learn about the anti-fascist struggle in Dalmatia. Sibenik is a beautifully preserved city, and watching the sun set over the Adriatic will be a beautiful site that will be one of the highlights of your entire trip.
#9 The Grand Capital of Zagreb
Zagreb is a truly majestic capital, with architecture that is notable for its heavy Austro-Hungarian influence. The biggest advice for anyone going to Zagreb is to pack sturdy walking shoes, as it is simply made for strolling. You can spend an entire day wandering through the Upper Town’s cobblestoned glory, gazing up at the church spires. When you make your way to the Lower Town, you’ll notice the contrast with the medley of secessionist, neo-baroque and art deco buildings. Zagreb is renowned for its local street artists, whose work can be seen transforming bland concrete walls into colourful murals. Zagreb is considered to have a vibrant cafe culture, furthered by year-round events bringing music, pop-up markets and food stalls to the plazas and parks. Out of all the Croatia destinations, this one is ideal for the more creative among us, or the more relaxed and social holidaymakers.
#10 The Port of Split
Split is Croatia’s second-largest city and is special for its fuse of the ancient and modern. This exuberant city is always buzzing and balances tradition with modernity. Here you can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Diocletian’s Palace, and witness one of the world’s most impressive Roman monuments that was constructed over 1700 years ago. Gaze up at the columned glory of the Cathedral of St Domnius and stroll around the Marjan Forest Park. Days in Split go well into the night, as the dozens of bars, restaurants and shops thrive into the early hours. You’ll be kept on your toes throughout your stay and enjoying all the delicacies Split has to offer.
#11 The Captivating City of Trogir
With over 2300 years of history, this small city is steeped in historical architecture and cozy streets that can only be described as awe inspiring. It is a short drive from Split, making it an easy stop on your trip. This gem on the Adriatic has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007, and will be the tranquil stop of your trip. It is quite shocking that within this extremely cozy small island city, they’ve managed to leave enough room for a football pitch - fancy catching a game?
#12 Best Budget Destination
Croatia is the ideal destination for those on a budget, as it is renowned for having extremely low prices. Croatia uses the Croatian Kuna, and one Pound translates to approximately 7.5 Kuna. Food and drinks are extremely well priced, and a pint of local beer will cost you about 15 Kuna - a round of drinks, anyone? Flights to Croatia are usually well priced, as a lot of budget airlines head there. Transport within Croatia is cheap, with buses and trams costing less than a quarter of what they would in the UK. If you avoid hotel chains, you’re sure to find well priced accommodation. The larger cities are slightly more expensive, but the smaller towns will ensure you spend almost nothing during your trip, and staying there is a great way to save pennies and just engage in day trips. Try eating where the locals do, and you’ll be getting amazing value for your money as well as deliciously traditional meals!
#13 Game of Thrones
Now this reason may not apply to all, but given the popularity of the show it is highly likely that someone reading this is a fan. A lot of the hit HBO series has been filmed around Croatia, and you can visit these during your trip. King’s Landing is set in Dubrovnik, so you can see the fairytale-like building at Bokar Fortress, where battle strategies are often discussed in the show. St Dominika Street is the setting for most Game of Thrones market scenes and City Watch, including episodes of the murders of King Robert’s illegitimate sons. You can also make the same walk of shame that a certain character did naked in season five, but hopefully fully clothed! Lovrijenac Fortress was built by the Croatians to provide the illusion of a huge citadel to avoid attack by the Venetians, and in Game of Thrones it is where King Joffrey’s name day tournament took place. We mentioned Diocletian’s Palace in Split, and this 1700 year old site is home to Daenerys’ throne room. And six hundred metres off Croatia’s mainland you’ll find Lokrum Island, also known as Qarth where Daenerys received a frosty welcome from the Spice King. There are numerous more sites, so why not make this the theme of your trip and try to visit them all?
Hopefully these 13 reasons to visit Croatia have persuaded you, as missing the beauty of this region would be a true shame. There are countless cities and site to visit, and lots of delicious food and cheap beer to be drunk. So make your next holiday to Croatia, and don’t wait a minute more to explore this treasure!