Disclosure: There's a good chance this post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through my blog helps me stay on the road! So, thank you!(Last Updated On: June 3, 2019)
And finally, the day has come for my completely comprehensive, totally decked-out, a-bit-too-extensive, tour guide’s guide to where to go in Croatia. As a tour guide I know a quite lot about this country, if I do say so myself ;). So, it’s finally time for me to get everything I know out onto the interwebs to help everyone planning their travels to visit Croatia!
In this Croatia travel guide you will find all possible destinations, adventures, beaches, sailing +ferry info, language and pronunciation info, restaurants, all kinds of tours, islands, cities, sunset spots, and places to visit in Croatia!
So, you’re planning a trip to Croatia! That’s so incredibly exciting; you’re going to love one of the most beautiful countries in the world! 2017 was my fourth summer in a row coming here, and there’s no way I would’ve been back this many times if I didn’t think the absolute world of this country. I’m the luckiest to have been able to work out here! No matter how sleepless or full-on my job has been, I could seriously discover new gems each and every week sailing the Adriatic.
This country guide to Croatia is broken down into lots of subsections, mostly based on different locations and important information. I have a couple more in-depth city guides that I will link to, a guide to festivals in Croatia, and more on the way. But, for now, these are all my best recommendations down in one place. If you are planning a trip to Croatia, feel free to contact me – I am happy to answer any questions and help with Croatia consulting.
Pssssst… This guide to Croatia and all of its satellite guides are over 10k words… why not Pin this image to Pinterest so you’ll be able to go back and read it whenever you want?
A BRIEF HISTORY GUIDE TO CROATIA
(If you don’t care, just skip to the next section! )
Croatia has LOTS of really incredible history – recent and ancient. History is one of the most interesting parts of Croatia and reasons to visit the Balkans in general! The area was inhabited by cavemen for tens of thousands of years, and artifacts from even 20,000 years ago can be found in various archaeological sites around here. You can even find dinosaur footprints in a few places in this country! Fuuuun facts.
Ancient Greek sailors colonized Hvar island in 385BC – the same year Aristotle was born! Lots of Croatia became part of the Ancient Roman empire during the early AD years; namely, Split is the site of some of the most well-preserved ancient Roman ruins in the entire world (more on that later!). At that time it was two provinces, Pannonia (present day northern Croatia) and Dalmatae (modern day Dalmatia – the southern coast!)
The Slavic people came to present day Croatia in the 7th century, and the first King of Croatia, Tomislav, came to power from 925. Croatia became part of the Hungarian empire after a defeat in 1091, keeping its autonomy but being ruled by the Hungarian-Croatian King.
From the late 1300’s to the late 1700’s, all of Croatia was basically constantly sought after by both the Venetian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, with many fortresses built, battles fought, and transfers of power during that time. This is when the current Dubrovnik and Korculan walls reached their present form, and when many fortresses you can visit today were constructed. Dubrovnik, however (known as Ragusa at the time) was the only part of Croatia that was able to maintain its independence during that time (for 450 years) due to the intelligence and diplomacy of its people. They were constantly making deals with other empires and even sold some land to the Ottoman Turks to prevent a Venetian attack (which is why a tiny bit of Bosnian border reaches the coast north of Dubrovnik).
Napoleon and the French army came through and conquered the entire coastline in the early 1800’s (including Ragusa/Dubrovnik), until being defeated by the Austro-Hungarian Empire also in the early 1800’s. This is where Croatia remained until after WW1 when it united with many other Balkan countries to become the communist Yugoslavia.
Long story short, and attempted biases aside, Yugoslavia was a forced union of three very different groups of people – Croats/Slavs, Bosnians/Muslims, and Serbs. The country was kept together very well under leader Marshall Tito until he died in the early 80’s, leading the country into a downward spiral. The power was very imbalanced, with Serbians holding most of it (the capital was Belgrade – the current capital of Serbia). Croats were sick of sending all their hard earned tourism money from the Dalmatian coast to Belgrade and not getting much back. Eventually it became too much for the very proud Croatians, who voted and declared independence in 1991 starting a multi-year civil war. Dubrovnik was one of the places hit the hardest in this war, and was under siege for 8 months in ’91 and ’92 although its old walls had been an UNESCO World Heritage protected site for over 11 years.
Croatia gained its independence in 1992 – just a mere 25 years ago! There is lots of recent history in the whole country, especially Dubrovnik, which I have outlined in my guide below. There is still a lot of tension and even racism between the Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians, which is tough to this day. It’s been independent for 25 years and became part of the EU in 2013, and its tourism has been exponentially increasing each year (which has been pretty crazy for me to witness first hand!).
I have lived in this boat for approximately 11 weeks of my life. No joke.
CURRENCY GUIDE TO CROATIA
Here, they use the ‘kuna.’ General conversions would roughly be about 5 kuna to 1 AUD, 6.3 to 1 USD, 7.4 to 1 EUR, and the GBP keeps changing so would be somewhere mid-8 kuna to one (it was 10.4 when I first started – thanks Brexit!)
SO – if a meal costs 100 kuna… it would be about $20 AUD, $15USD, 13EUR, and 11.5GBP. This is a pretty good basis for conversion as 100kn is a fairly normal (slightly cheap) cost of a basic meal.
Kuna are broken down into 100 lipa, and all the bills are different colors to make it easy for you.
GUIDE TO CROATIA FERRIES
Croatia is very, very well connected by fast ferries – mainly the Jadrolinja line and the Krilo Star line. Timetables and tickets can very easily be found online, and you can purchase tickets online also. Ferries are very affordable, too, and are the best way to get around the islands. You can ask about these in any tourist office. The southern coast ferries mostly run in between Split and Dubrovnik, but there are ferries in the north, too. There are also overnight/10 hour ferries from Split and Dubrovnik to to Ancona and Bari, Italy.
GUIDE TO CROATIA SAILING TOURS
Yep, this is what I worked on! And no, I did not work for The Yacht Week. There are DOZENS of companies that do Croatia sailing! For three summers, I worked for a company called Topdeck Travel that does 7 day boat tours around the islands, for 18-39 year olds. Lucky for you, I actually wrote an ENTIRE GUIDE just to Croatia Sailing Tours, linked here or on the image below!
If you want to sail Croatia but aren’t sure where to start, feel free to contact me. I can help you plan your trip if you need!
Dubrovnik alleyways and side streets! (@kimmconn)
BRIEF GUIDE TO THE CROATIAN ALPHABET
Here’s just a wee lil’ lesson on Croatian letters and pronunciation!
J – pronounced exactly like a “y” in english. Someone named Daria or Mariana would be Darija or Marijana here.
You’ll see lots of ‘carrots’ above letters, like ‘ž’ ‘č’
Š – pronounced like ‘sh’
č – pronounced like ‘ch’
Ž – pronounced like ‘zh’
Ð – like a ‘G’ so here “Georgia” looks like “Ðorđa”
C – pronounced here like ‘tz.’ So Someone whose name is Braco is pronounced like “Bratzo” and the rakija “Medica” is pronounced “Meditza.” So any name in English that would have a ‘c’ would have a ‘k’ here since it’s pronounced differently… like ‘Marco” would be “Marko.”
Let’s put a bunch of them together. In Croatia, a currency exchange is called a “Mjenjačnica.” So, using the rules above, you pronounce it “Myen-yach-neet-zah.”
So, while you’re there, just sound everything out with these rules above and you should be golden!
GUIDE TO CROATIA: CITIES
Here in this guide to Croatia I have outlined pretty much the entire country and all I know about each place. I have specific guides to many of the places, so you will find links to these as well!
Dubrovnik, or as we lovingly call it, Dub City.
Time: 2-4+ days
Where to stay in Dubrovnik: I stayed at Villa Angelina in old town a few years ago, but as I always stay on the boat, I really don’t know too much accom here! However over my years I have definitely heard of a few places.
As far as more affordably hotels go, I know some of my passengers have stayed at Hotel Petka in the port and I stayed a night once at Hotel Adriana in Babin Kuk which was alright. For nicer hotels, the Hilton Imperial has a great location (and pool!) next to Old Town, the Rixos Libertas Hotel is a fancier and more secluded resort, and Hotel Excelsior has one of the best views of Old Town while still being quite close. I always recommend staying closer to town if possible, and booking on Hostelworld or Airbnb.
Getting here from Airport: Shuttles from the Airport to the main Bus Station (which is in port Gruž where the boats dock) are 40 kuna. Taxis from the airport would be about 40 euro (300kn). They now have uber in Croatia which seems to be the cheapest non-bus option.
Busses: 1A, 1B, 1C, and 3 go between the main gate of old town (Pile – pronounced ‘pee-lay’) and the port/main bus station. Other busses can take you to the hospital and other places in town and maps at bus stations should tell you this.
In the guide below: dozens of places to adventure & explore (beaches, museums, cable car, kayaking, GoT Tours, Buggy adventure), best places to watch the sunset, best places to eat, and a complete nightlife guide to Dubrivnik!
Days: 1-3 (Best as a base for day trips)
Where to Stay: Again, I always stay on the boat, so I don’t know massive amounts about accomodation. When I have days off from work I usually stay in an Airbnb so I have some privacy, but there are lots of good hostels and hotels as well. If you want a bit of a party, Booze & Snooze or Fiesta Siesta are the places to go, attached to the only backpacker bar in the city which you can read about in my guide to Split below. As far as the best hotels go, I would check Split hotels on HotelsCombined to compare prices and reviews of all properties.
Getting here from the Airport: There is an airport bus that takes you directly to the bus station (which is at the end of the port) for 33 kuna. A taxi would be a bit more pricey, around 2-300kn.
Split is the second largest city in Croatia (after the Capital, Zagreb) and the largest on the coast. But don’t let that deceive you; it’s large in size, but is mostly suburbs without thaaaat much to do, honestly! It’s got great food and nightlife but is not overflowing in the activity department, but that can easily be solved by heading to the beach and having a swim or doing a ton of day trips I have a post on below.
As I’m sure you can imagine, I have so much to say about Split that I had to split (ha… get it) it off into it’s own guide.
In this guide: All I have to say about the places to swim, look at views, learn about history, party, and mostly EAT amazing food in Split.
SPLIT DAY TRIPS:
As you will see in the guide above, , Split is awesome but there is not as much to do as other Croatian cities. This is why I always say Split is a great home base for day trips in Croatia. There are some smaller islands and national parks that are all accessible as day trips from Split, often on an organized bus/minibus tour.
I think day tours are some of the easiest ways to access different points of interest from Split, so much so that – you guessed it – they deserve their own post! I have briefly listed some possible day trips from Split below, but is you want more in-depth descriptions, click the headline or image below.
Day Trips from Split:
Click Here or on the Image Below to Read About 12 Great Day Trips From Split.
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If you want to hear a situation that describes my dumb competitive personality perfectly, continue reading. . . So we docked early in Omiš, the place we send passengers to Zipline. I had never actually explored the town and I knew there was a big hike to a fortress, but we only had an hour and a half. . . I decided I would walk into town, explore, and maybe locate the hiking path so I could try it another week. A few minutes into town I saw a sign with an arrow saying 'Fortica.' I decided I would suss out the path for next time, maybe walk up a bit because I like to hike. . . So I walked up for 5-10 minutes and found the marked trail. I then thought maybe I could walk 30 minutes up and then turn around, and get however high I could in that time so I could get an idea of how long the whole thing would take. . . After about 20 minutes I had made amazing distance, and that stupid competitive devil in my head wouldn't stop telling me I could totally go all the way. So I sped up. . . Huffing and puffing, I got to a sign that said the fortress was 15 minutes away. I decided I could make it in half that time at my speed. Lunch on the boat was in about an hour. All the way at the bottom. (See that tiny dock down there?!🔫) So I went for it. . . At this point I wouldn't let myself off without touching the actual fortress. So I did. I got there and ran around it with my @gopro and @sandmarc pole snapping quick shots all over the place before turning quickly around back down the mountain, overlooking Omiš and the mouth of the Cetina River. . . . And I was 15 minutes early for lunch.🙃 #competitivespirit #annoying #mylegsareshaking #thatVIEWthough . . . #gopro #sandmarc #goprogirl #omis #croatiafulloflife #croatia #goprotravel #competitive #view #water #peoplewhodofunstuff #inspiredbyyou #outdoorwomen #hiking_official #earthfocus #outside_project #theoutbound #earthdaily #dirtbarbieadventures #earthgirllifestyle #femmetravel #girlgetoutside #travelstoke #adventureculture #passionpassport
Days: Day Tours from Split or Makarska/ 1-2 Days
Getting There: Omiš is about 45 minutes from Split (and about the same from Makarska) if traffic cooperates, and you can get there by bus or with a transfer if you sign up for an adventure tour from Split. Many sailing tours also stop here for adventure activities.
A lot of adventure tours from Split actually take place in Omiš – zip lining, rock climbing, and river rafting are the main ones. Omiš is where the Cetina river empties out in the the channel between the mainland and Brac island. Omiš was actually owned by a family of pirates in the 12 and 1300’s who were so powerful that the Venetian and Ottoman conquerors would pay them a ransom to pass by their territories. The pirates would attack any ship that sailed by and would actually retreat into the Cetina River to hide!
Today Omiš is an adorable little town at the base of this river and the massive rocky mountains behind it. You can find lots of souvenir shops, alleyway restaurants and cafe’s, homemade flavored rakijas and spirits, great hiking, and other adventures.
Ziplining in Omiš is a must for anyone visiting Croatia, honestly. I’ve done a fair bit of zip lining in my lifetime and this is the best by far. I have had hundreds of my passengers do this optional activity on my tours and have not had a single one say it wasn’t worth it or didn’t love it.
Reserve a space on your own zipline tour today, it’s one of the best adventures in the country.
Haven’t done it but this is surely a great place to try!
I haven’t done this personally but from what I hear it’s more of a nice little river paddle/float with mild rapids and stunning views. The rapids are levels 2 and 3 and you go for 12 kilometers through amazing country. I would recommend the zipline over everything but if you have time, definitely try it all!
Book a river rafting experience here!
Omiš has one of my favorite hikes in Croatia for sure. The Omiš Fortica (Oh-meesh Four-teet-zah) it at the top of the rocky mountain overlooking the town. The hike is about an hour and the views are just incredible.
Have you pinned this guide to Croatia to Pinterest yet?!?
Best for: Adventure activities, nightlife, and everything, really!
Getting there: Makarska shouldn’t be much more than an hour and fifteen minutes from Split, and is easily reachable by bus.
People ask me very often what my favorite stop is on my sailing tours, and I honestly have different favorites for different reasons. But I would have to say in this guide to Croatia that Makarska is my overall favorite for the sheer beauty, amount to do, number of adventures, beautiful scenery, and nightlife. It is situated at the base of the tallest mountain on the Croatian coast (Biokovo mountains – Sveti Jure peak is just over 1700m) and the background honestly looks like a fake backdrop. Makarska surely has some of the best shopping, swimming, and scenery in the country.
The entire mountainous stretch of coastline just north and south of Makarska is called the Makarska Riviera, and it’s all simply beautiful! The mountains look like a painting and the colorful towns are wonderful to explore.
Parasailing in Makarska
Parasailing here is a must. Choose the ‘extra high’ option and be blown away by being on the same level as the stunning rocky mountains, gazing down at the little white dot that is the boat you’re attached to!
Makarska Jet skiing
Jet skiing here is also awesome. Again, the backdrop sets it apart.
Makarska is the swimming capital of the coast, with too many amazing spots to count!
- On one side of the port, you have Deep cave bar and an entire cliffy coast full of cliff jumps and mind-blowingly clear water. The jetty near Deep cave bar also has some lovely swim spots.
- On the peninsula between the port and beach, you have similar cliff jumps and secluded swimming spots.
- Beach – If you aren’t the cliff swimming type, you also have the option of a whole 2km of pebbly beach to swim and relax under the shade of the trees.
There are two inflatable ‘wipeout courses’ along Makarska’s beach; you can’t miss them! For just about 50kn you can run along this floating obstacle course with your friends. Honestly, I have never laughed so hard in my life! You will slip and fall in the water every 2 seconds and it’s a hilarious time.
Cliff jumping in Makarska
You can find jumping spots all along the cliffs surrounding Makarska’s protected port. Just be careful and ensure it’s safe before jumping!
Makarska has some of the best markets in Croatia. There’s a big maze of markets just at the beginning of the beach where you can get lost shopping for basically anything you can think of. There are markets all along the rest of the 2km beach as well – the toughest choice will be deciding where to get your souvenirs! Many sailing trips also hold their pirate party here, and you can buy pirate gear in all the markets.
Makarska Cafes and restaurants
Crepes, snacks, bars – Essentially all of Makarska is lined with cafe’s, restaurants, and takeaway food. Along the riva (main beach boardwalk), you can find crepes, all kinds of snacks, restaurants selling all possible Croatian foods, gelato everywhere, and cocktail bars for days. Just take a stroll along the water and see what tickles your fancy!
Similar to the cliff jumping spots, there are hiking trails on either side of Makarska’s protected port. You can hike up through the trees and rocks to discover even more amazing views and swim spots!
Massages on the beach
Yep, that’s right! There are plenty of massage tents right on the main beach where you can enjoy any of about 6 different types of relaxing massages right on the water.
This bar is a bit of a trek from the main port, but if you can make it its a rad beach bar with thatched umbrellas, great cocktails, and a view to-die-for.
I have been here about 23 times and am still not tired of it! Riva is a lovely courtyard restaurant adorned in beautiful vines, and is a perfect setting for a secluded and delicious dinner. Riva prides itself on meat and seafood, and you can get a top-notch steak or select freshly caught seafood straight from a freezer display.
This restaurant is right on the beach and also has great meat and seafood, and also a fantastic burger!
Makarska Nightlife: Bars & Clubs
This is an awesome little bar with great drink deals before you go out.
This bar has great cocktails and is right on the port.
Deep Cave Bar (Cave Rave)
This club has become pretty well known as the ‘cave rave’ on Croatia’s coast and has to be featured in any guide to Croatia. We all dress up like pirates for this night out, right on the water (and yes, it’s an actual cave!). It gets pretty crowded in peak summer season, however, and we usually head to Petar Pan around 12:30 when it gets too packed.
This open-air club is only open in the peak months of summer, but has fun DJ’s and lots more space than Deep on a hot July evening.
Best for: relaxing, best swim spots, nature
Time: 1-2 days
Getting Here: You can take a direct ferry to various ports on Mljet island from Dubrovnik. You can also take a Day trip from Dubrovnik.
Mljet is a super chilled out, GORGEOUS, wooded island just north of Dubrovnik. More than half the island is taken up by a national park characterized by two salt water lakes, the Malo Jezero (small lake) and the Veliko Jezero (big lake). Creative names, right?!
There’s a little island in the middle of the big lake, called Sveti (saint) Marija (maria) island, and on it is a benedictine monastery that was constructed in the 1190’s. These monks are the reason for the saltwater lakes, which is a rare phenomenon in this day and age. See, the lakes used to be fresh water, until these monks dug a channel between the big lake and the small lake to the ocean. Why? To harness the power of the tide! Smart monks, they were! These lakes are connected to each other by a small bridge (mali most) and a little channel. Because they’re connected to the sea, the saltwater lakes are tidal. This means that you can float through the little channel with the tide when it’s moving in or out. Pretty cool! Just watch out for sea urchins 😛
The best things to do in Mljet are to hike around the lakes or rent a bike or kayak. You can rent bikes from Pomena or Polače (the main ports around the National Park) but I recommend walking into the park and renting them from Mali Most to avoid having to ride up big hills.
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Saying hello to little sea urchins🦀 My insta story may look absolutely ideal but in reality I have been to the hospital 4 times in the past weekish, police station a few times too, and gotten about 14 hours of sleep in 5 days. Tour guide life out here in Croatia brings the highest highs and the lowest lows but I wouldn't change it for the world!! Getting to see places like this makes it so worth all the ridiculousness💙🌎 #GoPro #Croatia #seaurchin
Kayak – kayak out into the big lake to get a view of Sveti Marija island – it’s stunning!
Bike – You can actually ride an entire loop around the big lake now; last year they constructed a beautiful round bridge (Veliki most) to connect each side at its thinnest point. However, if you can, ride past this bridge out as far as you can go toward the open ocean. On one side (my favorite side, the north side) you can find a hiking trail, and on the other a simply stunning view! Both sides are amazing for swimming and honestly one of my favorite places in this whole world.
Ferry – Your entrance fee to the national park comes with an optional ferry to Sveti Marija island if you would like to check out the monastery and little cafe yourself. But, I always say that the view is better from afar!
Odysseus Cave – if you can get your hands on a scooter or rent a car, you can check out the impressive Odysseus cave on the other side of the island. You can climb down a precarious rock trail to enter the cave from above, or you can jump in the water and swim into it where it connects to the sea! Either way, it’s an amazing cave with, again, some of the clearest water i have seen.
Other Rental Car/Scooter Adventures – If you can get your hands on a car, you can visit any of a few other amazing places on Mljet island. Sobra is a fairytale-like little town in the middle of the island, and if you make it all the way to the other side (I don’t even know if the town has a name!) you can find a very rare sandy beach!
Best for: Nightlife. Hvar Town has a crazy nightlife and people come specifically for this. The rest of the island is more serene with wineries, lavender farms, hills, and coves.
Days: Maybe 1-3 nights… however long you can party, really! Or, take a trip to other POI’s on the island like Stari Grad, which is stunning.
Getting there: Hvar is about one hour’s catamaran ferry ride from Split. Some ferries are slower.
Where to Stay: Again, I always stay on the boats I work on while in Croatia, but I have stayed in some pretty amazing Airbnb’s in Hvar during time off, and recommended some luxurious hotels I have visited in my guide below.
VIEW MY IN-DEPTH SUPER GUIDE TO HVAR BY CLICKING HERE OR THE IMAGE BELOW:
In this guide you can learn about all sorts of adventures and places to see on Hvar island, the best places to watch the sunset, lots of suggestions for dinner & food, and a complete nightlife guide!
Best For: Relaxing, stone, wine
Number of days: Day stopover – 1 day
Getting here: There are lots of ferries from Split that stop on Brač. You can also take a Catamaran cruise from Split that takes you to Supetar, Bol, and some secluded bays all in one day.
Brač is the largest island in Dalmatia, located on the southern coast of Croatia. It is famous because white limestone is quarried here that is used in most Croatian old towns (you’ll notice the smooth light stone that pretty much EVERYTHING is made out of) and is also shipped all over the world. Brač stone has been used in the houses of Parliament in Budapest and Vienna, the palace in Stockholm, and even the White House in the USA! Oh, I love fun facts. You can buy lots of souvenirs of white Brač stone – earrings, bracelets, other jewelry, and other home decor like clocks and candle holders.
My tours only stop in Milna, on the first night of one of our tours. We use that day to get to know each other because it’s a tiny little village on the northwest of Brač island without much else to do! There’s a cute little place you can taste homemade olive oil, wine, prosek, and grapa, a few cafe’s, a pizzeria, and two bars. That’s it. They have live music sometimes but this isn’t the most fantastic place in Croatia.
Bol – This is a famous v-shaped beach that changes shape with the currents. I actually haven’t been here either, but it’s a very popular place for tourists and a lot of day tours from Split or Makarska will do trips to Bol.
Supetar – One of the biggest towns on Brač bordering the channel between Brač and Omis.
The view from Fort George, Vis.
Best for: quiet time and renting a scooter and exploring old war areas (and parties in amazing venues if you catch the right night!)
Time: 1-2 Days
Getting There: Vis is a stop on many ferries running from Split, Hvar, etc. It is also a stop on many boat tours. You can also visit Vis and the Blue Caves as a day tour from Split.
This tour with well-established Providenca Charters visits Komiža, Hvar, the Blue Caves, the Green Cave, and the incredible Stiniva Cove (Pictured below) in one day. Great value for people without much time!
Vis is the tenth largest Adriatic island, and is home to many peaceful getaways. Vis was only opened to tourism in 1990 after being a military base for former Yugoslavia and a submarine base and hideaway for Marshall Tito during WW2!
View my Super-Guide to Vis Island by clicking here or on the image below! Like many of these places, there is so much to do that it needs its own guide.
Best for: History, relaxing with amazing views + wine, and some enjoyable nightlife as well.
Time: 1-2 days
Getting There: Korčula is about the mid-way point on a ferry trip between Split and Dubrovnik. You can also visit the island as a day tour from Dubrovnik along with some other wine regions.
In this guide: The best places to explore, adventure sports, sunset spots, places to eat, and nightlife in Korčula.
I mention these much more in my Dubrovnik Guide, but these islands are just off the coast of Dubrovnik and are stunning. If you have extra time in Dubrovnik I highly recommend checking out the caves, blue cave, and serene little towns of these islands. Šipan also has a stunning fortress hike – the one in the feature photo of this post! The Elaphite islands are best visited as a day tour of boat rental from Dubrovnik.
Book a day tour from Dubrovnik visiting three amazing islands!
The Blue Cave on Koločep, one of the Elaphite Islands!
NORTH OF SPLIT
My boat tours only run between Split and Dubrovnik, in the places mentioned above. But, I have done a fair amount of travel in the rest of Croatia, so here is my best effort to write little blurbs on other Croatian points of interest in this guide to Croatia!
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Can you BELIEVE that when I came here to Krka National park 4 years ago, I got a photo of myself in the water with NO ONE in the background?!?😱 (if you look far enough back in my feed you will find it!) Croatia's tourism has boomed SO much in the past four years and it has been crazy/exciting/depressing to see it escalate with my own eyes. I was the first of people I know to visit Croatia and now I feel that everyone I know has been! It's good for the country but not when there's so many people you can't move (like Krka was this day!) I honestly didn't recognize a thing from Krka, it had changed so much in 4 years. #krka #krkanationalpark #croatia
KRKA NATIONAL PARK
Krka is one of two well-known waterfall parks in the country. This is the one you can swim in. Krka is a beautiful National park with different levels of waterfalls and forest trails to explore. Krka is the closest to Split so would be a good day trip from Split! Day tours usually take you to the waterfalls and a few other viewpoints annd points of interest, and will include an amazing included homemade lunch (depending on which company you use).
My tour to Krka also stopped in Šibenik for an hour or so. Šibenik is another scenic coastal town characterized by a quaint stone old town full of alleyways and cafes, along a port full of boats looking out to the Adriatic.
PLITVICE LAKES NP
This is the other well-known waterfall park in Croatia, perhaps more well-known than Krka. You cannot swim in this one, but it is much larger than Krka and has pathways and trails that you could walk around all day! There are dozens upon dozens of beautiful waterfalls stop the clearest and most turquoise water you can imagine (are you seeing a theme in this country?!). It’s very, very overrun with tourists, though, and is borderline unsafely crowded in high season. My pro guide to Croatia tip? Go before or after peak season, in May/June or September/October.
Tisno is not too far from Šibenik and plays host to many of Croatia’s sunny summer music festivals. Love International, Electric Elephant, Beats Beer and Boogaloo, and Suncebeat are all held here. Soon I’ll have to write a festival guide to Croatia!
Sunset at the Sea Organ
Zadar is a popular city to visit on the mid-coast of Croatia. Its town center is set on ancient ruins along the water – an Ottoman fortress with some ancient Roman ruins scattered around as well. Like fairly everywhere else, there are lots of cool bars, cafe’s, and shops in the alleys of old town, and some open-air clubs as well. Check out this Zadar Travel Guide for more info!
Zadar is perhaps most famous for its ‘sea organ.’ This is a little pier with holes drilled in at different widths and lengths so that when the waves crash up against it they play different notes. It’s quite amazing really, and a must-see in Croatia.
Adventure Guide to Zadar
Kayaking to Dugi Otok
Like every major Croatian city, Zadar offers some amazing kayaking tours. Zadar is enclosed by different islands off its coast, namely Dugi Otok. This kayaking tour will take you through beautiful sea caves and cliff jumps – an adventurer’s dream!
Book your kayaking and sea caves tour with Kayak & Bike Adventures
Or try a sunset kayak tour if you’re a sunset lover like me!
River Canoe Safari
Zadar is lucky enough to be close to the Zramanja River, home to some fun rapids, canyons, and swimming spots.
This top-rated tour takes you canoeing and adventuring right from Zadar.
Yep, you heard that correctly! You can skydive over Zadar and the beautiful, moon-like islands of Croatia’s north. If you are an adrenaline junkie, get on it! I know I will next time I am there.
Adventure lovers, try Skydiving Zadar!
Explore Surrounding islands and Nature Parks
Zadar has its own archipelago off the coast, and is scattered with tiny and large islands alike. There’s even a National Park, Kornati, located on an island not too far away. You can also visit the gorgeous Telašćica Nature Park and swim in the secluded bays nearby.
Spend a day sailing and exploring the beautiful Telašćica Nature park and Dugo Otok (Dugi island)!
Day Tours to Krka and Plitvice
Like Split and Zagreb, you can take a day tour to both Plitvice and Krka National Parks from Zadar.
Looking out from a viewpoint on Pag Island
PAG ISLAND / ZRCE BEACH
If the south wasn’t enough of a party, Zrće (pronounced zur-chay) takes care of the rest of Croatia’s party reputation. Many say the northern islands of Croatia look like the moon, in that they are white and hilly and mostly devoid of vegetation. Pag island is no exception, and one of its calm bays houses one of the best party venues in all of Europe – Zrće beach.
Zrće is like Vegas meets Ibiza on the coast of Croatia, and is absolute insanity. In summary, Zrće has 5 super-clubs right on the water, with all sorts of restaurants, convenience stores, bars, and activities all in one place. On normal nights you would need to purchase tickets to any one of the clubs, but when Zrće holds festivals, 3-5 of the clubs take part and a ticket will come with free movement between all involved clubs. Some festivals here to check out are Hidout, Black Sheep, and Sonus.
To read more about Zrće than this guide to Croatia can tell, check out my Review + Guide to Hideout Festival that takes place up there each June.
Novalja is one of the main towns on Pag island (besides the actual town of Pag) and is the main base of all festivals and parties at Zrce beach. Festival boat parties will leave from here, there are many hostels to stay in, and it actually has some of the best shopping I have come across in Croatia.
I stayed at Moon Rocks Hostel, which was a tiny bit farther out from town (still walking distance, though) and had a pretty sweet pool area and community vibe.
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This is how the @beatstravellers do… exploring hidden gems by day and partying by night! This stunning beach is not too far away from where @Sonusestival was held on Zrce beach, but was totally secluded👌🏼 and like a lot of the northern islands, is totally devoid of vegetation and looks like the moon!🌕 . . Speaking of hidden gems, I have just touched down in Greece to help out hosting the first ever @sailbeats tour – a boutique music & sailing experience touring around the Greek islands. We have our own DJ's taking over exclusive day & night Sailbeats parties at amazing island venues the whole week! It will be a lot of work and planning but I can't wait to see how the week turns out. Stay tuned to my story for live updates on my Greek adventures!!🐬 #pag #beach #Croatia
Pag Island – Other than Partying
There’s absolutely nothing else to do. Just kidding, there a couple things. Pag is actually well-known for its cheese of the same name, and you can take some food + wine tours that taste and appreciate Pag’s production. Pag is also home to one of the only naturally occurring olive groves in the world, which you can visit for a small fee.
Book a food + wine tour of Pag from Zadar, visiting vineyards, a dairy, and different sights on the island
Yes, really. In the off-season you can observe rare birds on the island migrating from Europe to Africa, and take a private tour to do so.
There are nice places to lay out all over the island, but Ručica Beach definitely takes the cake (pictured above). This may be one of my favorite beaches in the world! A white pebbly beach looks out over the moon-like landscape and clear blue water, and it’s like something out of a dream.
You guessed it – Kayaking.
Kayak around Pag’s ‘extraterrestrial’ environment by renting one at a beach or taking a tour. This tour by Adventure Driven Vacations (ADV) takes you kayaking, free-climbing, and snorkeling in some of the best spots.
Istrian Peninsula – Pula, Rijeka, etc.
I have not yet been to these places, but they are also, as I have heard and seen in photos, gorgeous. Istria is a hilly peninsula on Croatia’s northern coast, and is most notably home to Pula, an ancient Roman Colosseum where they hold events (Such as Outlook and Dimensions Festivals). You can fly into Pula and tour the amazing area and some serene fishing towns like Rijeka.
This area is best known for its truffles, which you can hunt for yourself or just order with many dishes. Some of the best olive oil in the world is produced here, also. When I finally get the chance, I can’t wait to go (and add all the info to this guide to Croatia)!
Taste olive oil, cheese, and wine in one tour by Pula’s Krug Travel.
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Zagreb. This is Croatia's capital, but oh so different from the Croatia that most of us know – the coastal, island-dotted, clear blue watery croatia that has been on my feed for the last six weeks. What makes Zagreb so different? I like to say Croatia has two 'personalities…' One is warm and beachy, and he other is much more more comparable to Eastern Europe than its coastal counterpart. Check out my new post "Zagreb: Showcasing Croatia's Lesser-Known Personality" to hear a little blurb about this cool capital city. #Zagreb #travelblog #croatia #travel
Zagreb is Croatia’s capital, and as I like to say, the ‘other half’ of Croatian culture. The coast is all about the sun, sea, and mediterranean vibes, but Zagreb is almost like another country! This lovely capital is far more similar to Eastern Europe than the rest of Croatia, and is fascinating to visit and wander the lovely little streets and massive cathedrals and churches. Take a free walking tour here, or try a bike tour of the city.
Around Zagreb there is a lot of wine country and small Croatian villages which are also lovely if you get the chance!
Tours from Zagreb
Plitvice Lakes – as I said above, this is a main starting point for a tour of Plitvice.
Food Tours – there are also many food tours in Zagreb that harness the culture of the Mediterranean-style south, the rich north coast, and the more Eastern-European inland. See if you can see the difference in the food!
Slovenia – You can take a day trip from Zagreb to Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia) and the stunning Lake Bled. I would recommend more time in Slovenia, but if you have a time constraint, a day trip from Zagreb could be the move.
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I remember seeing photos of this place on a blog a few years back, and making a pact with myself to see it one day. It's called Blagaj (pronounced bla-guy) spring, the source of the Buna River in Southwest Bosnia & Herzegovina. They estimate that it's the deepest spring in Europe, and that 43,000 gallons come out of it per second. The surrounding restaurants just use the river water to keep their drinks cold!! The gorgeous white house next to it is the Dervish house – a branch of Islamic religion that is one with nature. I got the vibe that they were the Islamic hippies😝✌🏼️ More on this soon!! #blagaj #dervishes #dervishhouse #spring #bunariver #herzegovina #solotravel #mostar #birthday #nikon_photography_
So, What Next? Where can you go from Croatia?
Depending on where you begin and end, many Eastern European and Balkan countries are easily accessible from Croatia. Here are some ideas, linked to blog posts I have written about them for more info.
If you don’t have much time, you can see Slovenia’s highlights on a day tour from Zagreb.
Montenegro – stunning views, hikes, and nature. (One of the most underrated countries if you ask me!)
Visit Montenegro from Dubrovnik; it’s only a few hours away! There are many Montenegro day tours leaving from Dubrovnik, as you will see in my Dubrovnik guide.
Hungary – Trains can go directly to Budapest from many places in Croatia. The overnight train between Budapest and Split is quite a doozy, though… make sure you bring plenty of food and water and quite possibly some sleeping pills.
Bosnia + Herzegovina – Visit the historic Sarajevo or any of lots of amazing natural wonders in and around Mostar. There are also many tours to Mostar, Pocitelj, Medigorje, Kravice waterfalls, and Blagaj Springs (pictured above) from Dubrovnik – all fantastic natural wonders of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Check my Dubrovnik Guide or an example tour here.
Serbia – Visit lots of historical sites and the former Yugoslav Capital, Belgrade, the current capital of Serbia! Belgrade has an amazing music scene, a stunning countryside, and an amazing neighboring town, Novi Sad.
Need Help Planning Your Trip to Croatia?
Contact me! I have spent over ten months here over four years. I have seen the tourism grow with my own eyes, written over 10k words in this massive and multi-faceted guide to Croatia, and know the in’s and out’s of most of the country. I would love to help plan private tours, sailing trips, or any general Croatia consulting! Pop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help you plan your perfect Croatian getaway!
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