21 Best Places to Visit in Croatia You Must See in 2024

March 11, 2024

Croatia is a very popular destination among both European and American tourists. Every year, millions of travelers visit the best places in Croatia, and during the summer, Croatian beaches are full of tourists. This is not without reason, as despite its size, Croatia offers many attractions.

Croatia is not only known for its clear blue seas, but also for its beautiful islands, bays, and other natural beauty spots. With its Mediterranean-style coastal cities along the Adriatic Sea, breathtaking rocky beaches, stunning mountains, enchanting national parks, numerous beautiful lakes, and waterfalls, Croatia has a lot to offer.

Moreover, Croatia has an impressive history. Among the best places to visit in Croatia, you can find ancient Roman ruins, medieval castles, and traces of the recent major historical event, the Yugoslav Wars.

Therefore, we have compiled a list of 21 must-see attractions if you are visiting Croatia in 2024. At the bottom of the article, we also provide other useful information about Croatia if you are planning a trip there.

So, let’s see the list of the 21 best places to visit in Croatia.

List of the 15 best places to visit in Croatia

1. Plitvice Lakes National Park

Croatia’s most famous attraction is undoubtedly the Plitvice Lakes, known for their waterfalls. The park (Plitvička jezera in Croatian) is visited by thousands of tourists every day of the year. The national park connects several lakes and waterfalls, creating a seemingly endless network of waterfalls. The Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The beautiful Plitvice Lakes are famous for their unique colors, ranging from emerald green to turquoise. The area around the lakes is home to a particularly rich variety of animal and bird species. Among many other species, rare animals such as the European brown bear, wolf, eagle, owl and lynx can be found here.

The Plitvice Lakes can be visited almost all year round, but expect limited access in winter. Parking and transportation within the park are well-managed with hiking trails, boats, and buses.

Plitvice Lakes is one of our personal favorites and one of the best places in Croatia, where we have visited multiple times. We believe that spring, around May, is the most beautiful time to visit when the water flow is at its highest, and the plants are colorful.

For more information, read our special article about Plitvice Lakes by clicking here.

Where to stay near Plitvice Lakes

We recommend these accommodations near the Plitvice Lakes:

2. Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, along the Dalmatian coast, is also one of the most popular destinations in Croatia, known for its breathtaking views and rich history. As the most famous Croatian coastal city, it attracts visitors from all over the world.

Dubrovnik’s highlight is undoubtedly its impressive city walls, offering panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea and the old town below. A walk along the walls provides a unique view of the city and its surrounding beauty.

Another must-see attraction in Dubrovnik is the iconic Stradun, the main street lined with elegant palaces, shops, cafes, and restaurants. This bustling pedestrian street is the heart of Dubrovnik’s social and cultural life, perfect for leisurely strolls.

If you’re in Dubrovnik, don’t miss exploring its rich cultural heritage by visiting landmarks such as the Rector’s Palace, the Cathedral of the Assumption, and the Lovrijenac fortress. These historic sites offer insight into Dubrovnik’s fascinating history.

Dubrovnik’s natural beauty is equally stunning: beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush greenery surround the city. The nearby Lokrum Island is also worth a visit, if you have more time in the area.

Pro tips: For the best view, take the cable car or drive up Mount Srd, where you can enjoy not only breathtaking views but also dine at the Panorama restaurant with a view. Additionally, there are adventure sports opportunities up there, like the Panorama Zipline Dubrovnik.

Overall, Dubrovnik offers a perfect mix of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it one of the best places to visit in Croatia. Whether you’re wandering its ancient streets, relaxing on its beaches, or enjoying its panoramic views, Dubrovnik is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Where to stay in Dubrovnik

We recommend these places to stay in Dubrovnik:

3. Zagreb

Zagreb is the capital and largest city of Croatia. The city is located at the southern end of the Medvednica Mountains, along important transport routes, between the Dinaric Mountains and the Alps.

If you visit Zagreb, don’t miss these sights:

  • Zagreb Cathedral: With its striking Gothic architecture and towering spires, it’s a landmark not to be missed.
  • Jelacic Square: The vibrant main square boasts cafés, shops, and restaurants, with a statue of Ban Josip Jelacic as its centerpiece.
  • Lotrscak Tower: Located in the Upper Town, it offers amazing views of the city.
  • Dolac Market: A bustling open-air market near Jelacic Square, where you can sample local produce.
  • Maksimir Park: Zagreb’s largest park, offering interesting pathways, bridges, and ponds, with the added attraction of the Zagreb Zoo.

Where to stay in Zagreb

In Zagreb, the following are the best accommodation options to book:

4. Rovinj

Rovinj is a small town on the Istrian peninsula and a real picturesque gem of Croatia. Although it may seem remote, it is in fact visited by crowds of tourists in the summer.

Another thing to know is that it is often confused with Piran in Slovenia, and photos of Rovinj are published as if it were Piran. The two towns do look similar, but Rovinj has its own charm.

Let’s take a look at what Rovinj has to offer on a pleasant sightseeing walk:

  • Church of St Euphemia: Built in the 18th century, the Church of St Euphemia is the most important symbol of the town. The Baroque church stands high above the town, its tower offering a stunning view of the town and the Adriatic Sea.
  • Arch of Balbi: One of Rovinj’s most important historical monuments, located in the center of the old town. This Baroque-style arch was built in the 17th century.
  • Zlatni Rt Park Fores: The park is ideal for walking, running or cycling and offers beautiful paths along the coast.

So Rovinj has relatively fewer attractions, but it’s worth spending half a day or a day if you want to explore all the best places in Croatia.

5. Omis

Omis is one of the most picturesque small towns in Croatia, along the Dalmatian coast, close to Split.

Despite its size, Omis offers a lot: an interesting old town, beautiful beaches, and outdoor sports opportunities like hiking, rock climbing, or rafting. The town is located by the mouth of the Cetina River.

In Omis, the historic center is what’s most worth a visit. Its main attraction is the Mirabela Fortress.

The Mirabela Fortress is a 13th-century stronghold with breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea, the town, and the Cetina River. Steps lead up from the historic part of the town, and after paying a few euros for admission, you can continue your journey. However, the stairs aren’t long, and there are plenty of places where you can stop and enjoy the truly stunning view. The fortress at the top and the panorama from the small terraces along the way are worth the effort.

And if you want more, take a walk or swim at Omis’s beaches. Here, you’ll find one of the best sandy beaches called Velika plaza, which is rare in Croatia, as most beaches are rocky or pebbly.

6. Pag Island

The Pag Island is one of the most famous and interesting Croatian islands. It’s located near Zadar and is a popular summer destination because of its natural attractions and great beaches.

The enchanting natural environment plays a prominent role on Pag Island: the crystal-clear sea, picturesque rocks, and spectacular mountain ranges create a harmonious natural setting. The island’s secluded coves and idyllic beaches are perfect spots for a relaxing holiday.

So, if you visit, don’t miss out on Pag Island’s best beaches. While the summer months are ideal for swimming, the beaches are also excellent for seaside walks throughout the rest of the year. For the most relaxing experience, visit Jadra Beach or Rucica Beach.

It’s also worth exploring the island’s cultural and culinary delights. Visit a konoba, a local Croatian restaurant, where you can taste the local cuisine, including the island’s specialty, paski sir (cheese).

There are many konobas on the island, but Konoba Didova Kuća in Simuni and Konoba Bodulo in Pag are highly recommended. In Pag Town, you can see the remains of the preserved city walls with the Skrivanat Tower and the Benedictine Monastery of St. Margaret. Pag and Novalja also have local history museums that showcase the island’s history.

In conclusion, Pag Island offers plenty of opportunities if you’re looking for the best of Croatia.

Where to stay on Pag Island

We recommend these accommodations on the island of Pag:

7. Krka National Park

In Krka National Park, you can find beautiful waterfalls, hiking trails, and interesting buildings. The area is located along the Krka River.

In the park, you can go boating, hiking, picnicking, and even swimming.

The park’s most famous waterfall is Skradinski Buk, which is the most photogenic of them all. Besides the stunning natural environment with unique rock formations, waterfalls, lakes, islands, and diverse plant and animal life, Krka National Park also holds cultural heritage with numerous historically significant buildings, such as the Franciscan monastery and church on the island of Visovac, which resembles the small island of Bled.

Located just a short drive from the Croatian coast, about an hour’s drive from Split or Zadar, this huge park is similar to Plitvice Lakes National Park and serves as an ideal complement to a seaside vacation.

If you’d like to read more about Krka National Park, click the link for additional information.

8. Hvar Island

Hvar Island is one of Croatia’s most beautiful islands. Thanks to its natural charm and stunning beaches, it’s a popular summer destination, whether for an extended stay or a day trip from Split.

The island can only be reached by ferry from Split or Drvenik.

Hvar town offers some historical attractions, including the impressive Fortica fortress, which also provides one of the island’s most beautiful views. Also popular are St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the square in front of it.

Another popular town on the island is Stari Grad, where the main attraction is the Fortress of Petar Hektorovic and Škor Square.

Hvar’s stunning natural landscapes are also breathtaking: the azure sea, rugged coastline, and majestic hills collectively create a picturesque environment. The coastline is dotted with secluded coves and tranquil beaches, providing idyllic spots for peaceful relaxation.

During your visit, don’t miss out on Hvar Island’s best beaches. While summer is perfect for swimming, the beaches are equally appealing for leisurely seaside walks throughout the year. For a truly relaxing experience, visit Dubovica Beach or Palmižana Beach.

Exploring Hvar’s cultural and culinary offerings is also highly recommended. Taste the local cuisine at a konoba, a traditional Croatian restaurant, where you can sample delicacies such as the island’s famous dish, gregada, or try locally produced wines.

Where to stay on Hvar Island

We recommend this hotel on the island of Hvar:

9. Trogir

Trogir is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage-listed town situated on a small island, which is connected by bridges to both the Croatian mainland and the island of Ciovo.

Just a short drive from Split, Trogir’s old town awaits you with its preserved medieval architecture, quaint cobbled streets, and a scenic waterfront.

While exploring Trogir, make sure to visit St. Lawrence’s Cathedral, as well as the Church and Monastery of St. Dominic, located right on the waterfront – undeniably the town’s most photogenic spot.

Trogir’s charm extends beyond its historic center, as the town boasts beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters ideal for swimming and sunbathing. In addition, Trogir offers a vibrant culinary scene with numerous restaurants serving delicious Mediterranean cuisine and fresh seafood dishes.

Whether you’re strolling through the narrow streets of the old town, or enjoying panoramic views from the fortress walls, Trogir offers a memorable experience for visitors seeking the best of Croatia’s coastal beauty and cultural heritage.

10. Split

Split, located on the central Dalmatian coast, is Croatia’s second-largest city and one of its most popular tourist destinations. The city has a rich historical and cultural heritage, symbolized by the Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient palace, a unique example of Roman architecture, houses landmarks like the Cathedral of Saint Domnius and the Temple of Jupiter.

Walking through the city center feels like stepping back in time, with its medieval streets, squares, and historic buildings. Venetian Tower, Narodni trg Square, and Riva Promenade are all must-see places in Split.

If you’re a nature lover or photographer, don’t miss Marjan Forest Park, where you can enjoy pleasant walks under lush trees and take in stunning views of the city and the sea.

Split’s beaches, including the famous Bacvice Beach, attract both locals and tourists for sunbathing and swimming in the sea.

At night, you can experience the vibrant nightlife with cozy restaurants and bars offering delicious Dalmatian cuisine and seafood along the harbor. So, Split offers you a true Mediterranean experience.

Where to stay in Split

We recommend these hotels in Split:

  • Hotel Ambasador: a five-star hotel with one of the best views of the city. If you can afford it, this is the best choice
  • AC Hotel by Marriott Split: a modern four-star hotel a little further from the old town with fantastic views of the city
  • Lanterna Rooms: four-star guest house in the heart of the old town, with very cozy interiors
  • Luxury Rooms Floramye: affordable guest house close to the old town and the beach

11. Cetina River Spring

The source of the Cetina River is one of the most beautiful karst springs in Croatia.

The lake-like formation is located near the town of Cetina, north of the town of Vrlika. The eyelid-shaped limestone cavity has a depth of at least 150 meters and its crystal-clear water makes it a spectacular sight. The area is made up of high mountains and river valleys, making it a recommended stop on a Croatia road trip.

The village of Cetina, where the spring is located, is a quite hidden place, accessible only by car and difficult to get to. So plan your trip well and leave enough time for it.

The Cetina River Spring has been getting more and more fame on social media in recent years. Although there are several photos on social media of people swimming in the water, it is otherwise highly not recommended because of the water temperature.

12. Zadar

Zadar is the second-largest city in the Dalmatia region and the fifth-largest city in Croatia. It’s a significant city along the Croatian coast, boasting a charming old town with many interesting sights and lovely beaches nearby.

If you’re visiting Zadar, make sure to see its old town, walk along the beach promenade, and experience the Sea Organ, which turns the sound of waves into music.

The city offers some unique attractions like the Greeting to the Sun, a solar-powered installation that creates a mesmerizing light show at sunset. You can also explore the Roman Forum, an ancient site preserving Roman ruins, and the Church of St. Donatus, a circular church from the 9th century.

If you have extra time, don’t miss the chance to visit Zadar’s best beaches or explore nearby natural wonders like the Zrmanja River canyon and the beautiful island of Pag. Zadar provides a delightful mix of history, nature, and relaxation for all visitors.

Where to stay in Zadar

We recommend the following accommodations in Zadar:

  • Dedaj Resort – Villa Tina: 5-star apartment hotel with a stunning pool overlooking the sea, stylish interiors, right next to Borik Beach, an ideal choice for families
  • Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa Iadera: 5-star hotel in Petrčane, north of Zadar, with wonderful swimming pools, spa, sports fields and terrace with sea view
  • La Vista Suites: 4-star apartment hotel near Kolovare Beach, with a wonderful rooftop pool and sea views
  • Art Hotel Kalelarga: Elegant 4-star hotel in the old town of Zadar, close to the main attractions
  • Apartments & Rooms Mareta Exclusive: 4-star apartments at affordable prices, in the old town of Zadar, close to the main attractions
  • Hotel A’mare: Affordable 3-star hotel in the center of Zadar

13. Zrmanja Canyon

Zrmanja Canyon is a breathtaking canyon carved by the Zrmanja River, located near the city of Zadar. This destination is a fantastic option for those looking to further immerse themselves in the unique natural wonders of Croatia.

The canyon features stunning blue-green waters, contrasting beautifully with the surrounding reddish rocks and untouched nature, creating a photogenic setting perfect for both capturing memorable moments and relaxing.

Although there are several lookouts in the canyon, for the best views we recommend Parizevacka glavica. Accessible from the A1 highway with a short detour, it is only necessary to drive or walk the last part of the way on a more difficult, rocky section.

Zrmanja Canyon is also one of Croatia’s less frequented tourist destinations, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle.

For those seeking more adventurous activities, some stretches of the Zrmanja River provide opportunities for boat tours, rafting, and kayaking, ensuring a thrilling experience amidst the stunning natural beauty of the area.

14. Rijeka

In Rijeka, a city located on the northern coast of the Adriatic Sea, you can discover historical landmarks, cultural attractions, and picturesque views. As one of Croatia’s largest cities, Rijeka offers plenty of experiences to enjoy.

Here are some must-see attractions for a visit to Rijeka:

  • Korzo: Rijeka’s main pedestrian street, Korzo, is lined with charming cafés, shops, and restaurants. Take a leisurely stroll along this bustling street and soak up the lively atmosphere of the city while sampling regional dishes.
  • City Clock Tower: While walking along Korzo, be sure not to miss the iconic city clock tower, a beloved landmark that adds to Rijeka’s scenic skyline.
  • Trsat Castle: Perched on a hill overlooking the city, Trsat Castle offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Although it’s a bit of a distance from the city center, a visit to this historic fortress is well worth it.

Rijeka also boasts a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums and galleries awaiting visitors. The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and the Maritime and History Museum provide fascinating insights into the city’s rich heritage.

Additionally, Rijeka hosts Croatia’s largest carnival every February, attracting visitors from near and far.

15. Pula

In Pula, situated on the Istrian Peninsula, you’ll find a bustling city known for its rich history and stunning coastal scenery. As the largest city in Istria, it offers a blend of ancient Roman ruins, picturesque beaches, and interesting cultural attractions.

The main attractions in Pula are:

  • Pula Arena: You can explore this huge and impressively preserved Roman amphitheater, which hosts numerous cultural events, concerts, and festivals.
  • Pula Citadel: This historic fortress offers a wonderful view of the city and the surrounding sea.
  • Temple of Augustus: A Roman temple dedicated to the Emperor Augustus, located in Forum Square.
  • Arch of the Sergii: Built in honor of the Sergii family in the 1st century BC, this Roman monument showcases Roman architectural style and decoration.
  • Aquarium Pula: An interactive marine aquarium located in the city’s 19th-century fortress, where you can learn about marine life from the Mediterranean and tropical seas.

While exploring Pula, you’ll also come across other ancient monuments, arches, statues, parks, and colorful buildings. If you have time, take a walk along the coast or go for a swim at one of the nearby beaches.

If you want to read more about the city, you can find a complete Pula travel guide by clicking on the link.

Where to stay in Pula

We recommend these accommodations in Pula:

16. Korcula

On the scenic island of Korcula in Croatia, you can immerse yourself in a world of history, culture, and natural beauty. Famous for its medieval old town, stunning beaches, and cultural heritage, Korcula promises an unforgettable experience for you.

Here are some must-see attractions on the island:

  • Old Town Korcula: Wander through the narrow cobblestone streets and marvel at the medieval architecture of Korcula’s old town.
  • Marco Polo Center: Step inside the alleged birth house of Marco Polo and learn about the life and adventures of this renowned traveler.
  • St. Mark’s Church: Take in the impressive Gothic and Renaissance architecture of St. Mark’s Church, located in the heart of Korcula’s old town.
  • Moreska Sword Dance: Experience the traditional Moreska Sword Dance, a captivating performance that showcases Korcula’s rich cultural heritage and history.
  • Beaches of Korcula: Relax on the beautiful beaches of the island, where you can swim in the crystal-clear waters.

With its rich history, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant culture, Korcula offers you a unique and unforgettable island getaway in Croatia.

17. Brac

If you’re still curious about Croatia’s most beautiful islands, consider visiting Brac Island too. It’s accessible by ferry from Split and Makarska, making it perfect for a day trip while traveling in Croatia.

Here are some highlights for you to discover:

  • Zlatni Rat Beach: Enjoy the famous Zlatni Rat Beach known for its unique shape and clear waters, ideal for sunbathing and swimming.
  • Vidova Gora: Hike to Vidova Gora, the highest peak in the Adriatic islands, offering panoramic views of the island and the sea.
  • Bol Old Town: Stroll through Bol’s historic old town with its charming streets, stone houses, and landmarks like the Dominican Monastery and Bol Fortress.
  • Blaca Hermitage: Visit the remote Blaca Hermitage, a 16th-century monastery tucked amidst cliffs, showcasing a slice of island history.
  • Olive Oil Museum: Learn about olive oil production at the Olive Oil Museum in Skrip, showcasing the island’s agricultural heritage.

18. Varazdin

Varazdin, located in the northern part of Croatia, is a great choice if you’re looking for Croatian destinations in the north.

In Varazdin, explore the historic Old Town, which is home to the iconic Varazdin Castle and the Varazdin City Museum inside it. Take a stroll through the picturesque streets and squares, such as Trg kralja Tomislava and Franjevacki trg, and admire the historical buildings.

If you want to take a stroll in nature, head to the Drava Forest, which offers relaxation along the Drava River.

Varazdin makes for a pleasant day trip destination in northern Croatia, so if you’re in the area, consider spending a few hours there.

19. Makarska

Makarska, located in southern Croatia, is a charming coastal town nestled between the Biokovo mountain range and the Adriatic Sea. Offering stunning beaches, a bustling waterfront promenade, and historical attractions, Makarska is a delightful destination.

Here are some key attractions in Makarska:

  • Coastal promenade: Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade lined with palm trees, cafes, and shops, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of this seaside town.
  • Makarska beaches: Relax on the picturesque pebble beaches, known for their crystal-clear waters and breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea.
  • Biokovo: Hike in the Biokovo mountains, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramas of the beautiful coastline and the surrounding islands.
  • Cathedral of St. Mark: Visit the beautiful church located in the heart of Makarska’s old town, renowned for its architecture.

Makarska is an ideal destination for lovers of the seaside, nature, and history, offering a diverse range of attractions and activities.

Where to stay in Makarska

We recommend this hotel in Makarska:

  • Hotel Antonio: Modern four-star hotel near Makarska, close to the coast

20. Blue Lake, Imotski

In Imotski, Croatia’s southwestern region, you’ll find the Blue Lake, a stunning natural wonder known for its striking blue color and the dramatic cliffs surrounding its shores. This lake originated within a sinkhole, contributing to its distinct terrain.

You can reach the lake via a gravel path from the center of Imotski, or you can enjoy a view from a lookout point nearby. If you’re in the area, don’t miss visiting this lake, as well as the nearby Red Lake, which offers a similar experience.

21. Paklenica National Park

Paklenica National Park is a picturesque natural reserve located in Croatia’s coastal region. It is renowned for its rugged karst landscapes, deep canyons, and diverse flora and fauna.

The park offers numerous hiking trails that wind through its stunning terrain, providing visitors with opportunities to explore its scenic beauty up close. Some of the park’s most notable attractions include the Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica canyons, which are popular among rock climbers and hikers alike.

With its striking landscapes and rich biodiversity, Paklenica National Park is a great destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike.

Map of the most beautiful places in Croatia

Frequently asked questions for a trip to Croatia

Best time to visit Croatia

Your perfect time to visit depends on your plans.

  • For city sightseeing: spring or fall.
  • For beach holiday: summer, though it’s busy with huge crowds
  • For a bit of everything without the heat and the crowds: June or September.

How long to spend in Croatia

If you want to see all the best places we’ve listed, we recommend at least a two-week Croatia road trip.

If you only want to see a few of the places on the list, a few days or 7–8 days may be enough, depending on the destinations.

Other beautiful places to go in Croatia

If you want more from Croatia, consider visiting these places:

  • Sibenik
  • Vis Island
  • Mljet Island
  • Osijek

So, that was the list of the best places to visit in Croatia. We’ve presented 21 places around Croatia that you shouldn’t miss when traveling in the country.

Our article showed how diverse Croatia is and how many beautiful places are worth visiting. From interesting old towns to stunning national parks to the top beaches, Croatia offers plenty of places to enjoy as a tourist.

We hope our list provided enough inspiration for your next holiday in Croatia, and that you’ve gathered ideas on where to travel in this breathtaking country.

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