Ideally situated on the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is continually stunning visitors with its white sand beaches that define the country’s 1,000-mile coastline. Amongst Croatia’s white sand beaches are vast national parks with endless natural beauty, guaranteed to take your breath away.
Dubrovnik, Croatia, is reminiscent of medieval times, a city whose gargantuan walls act as a fortress and home to all of the action and culture the city has to offer. It’s no wonder Game of Thrones made Dubrovnik one of its primary filming locations.
If you’re headed to Europe in summer or early autumn, consider a trip to Croatia, and keep the following 11 things to see and do in mind!
Running uninterrupted for 6,365 feet, the Walls of Dubrovnik encircle the city and are its main attraction. It is said that Dubrovnik’s city walls are the sole reason it’s called the “Pearl of the Adriatic.”
The Walls of Dubrovnik were originally built during the Middle Ages to protect the city, during a time when fears of foreign attacks on the Dubrovnik Republic were heightened.
Today, City Walls Walking Tours takes guests on a journey along the walls, all while providing interesting stories and historical facts. Learn about Dubrovnik’s earliest days until the fall of the Republic, and discover how Dubrovnik molded into the city it is today.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik without having to travel too far, take the 15-minute ferry ride from Old Town Port to Lokrum, an island getaway that sits less than 2,000 feet from the edge of Dubrovnik.
Lokrum is like it’s own little town, a tiny island with a couple of cafes and plenty of spots for some good R&R. Austrian archduke Maximilian once had a holiday home on the island, and a monastery and botanical garden still survive from this era.
During high season (Jun.-Aug.), ferries run from Dubrovnik’s Old Town Part to Lokrum 20 times a day.
Stradun is the main street of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, the site where all of the action happens in the city.
Picturesque boutiques, endless restaurants, ice cream shops, street entertainers, and outdoor live music are just a few things you’ll find when walking up and down Stradun.
If you’re looking to sit and have a coffee or a good local Croatian beer, Stradun is the place to be. It’s also ideal for people-watching and soaking up the sun during Dubrovnik’s warm summer months.
Islands & Beaches
Hvar is one of Croatia’s top summer resort destinations, characterized by its 13th-century walls, hilltop fortress, and Renaissance-era Hvar Cathedral.
Set up by ancient Greek colonists in the 4th century B.C., Stari Grad Plain, a UNESO World Heritage Site, is a vast landscape and prominent agricultural region that’s still generally in its original form.
Travelers heading to Hvar have quick and easy access by boat to the Paklinski Islands, sometimes referred to as Pakleni, a scenic chain of 16 islands, all offering opportunities for boating, diving, and water sports. Other popular islands and beaches within and near Hvar that travelers should make sure to visit are Scedro and Dubovica.
Korcula doubles as the second most populous Adriatic island and the most populous Croatian island not connected to the mainland by bridge. Korcula is comprised almost entirely of ethnic Croats, providing its infrequent visitors an authentic feel for Croatia, something that may be hard to come by in other popular cities like Dubrovnik.
In Korcula, visitors can visit the island’s many remarkable beaches, including Badija, Proizd, and Vela Przina. The island’s Old Town is a medieval walled city positioned on an oval-shaped swelling of land aimed toward the Peljesac Channel.
To indulge in a bit of history during your trip to Korcula, head to Vela Spila, an out-of-the-ordinary archeological cave site that’s alleged to have been occupied since the Stone Age.
Situated along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, Split is one of the country’s most popular destinations, known for its extraordinary beaches, its white stone, fortresslike walls, and Diocletian’s Palace, an enormous palace of a former Roman emperor.
Bacvice Beach has a sandy shore and shallow waters that, despite the beach’s small size, draw large crowds of swimmers and sunbathers during high season.
Split is decorated with some of the most interesting architecture throughout Eastern Europe, such as Saint Domnius Cathedral and the previously mentioned Diocletian’s Palace. Saint Domnius Cathedral was built in 305 C.E., is dedicated to the city’s patron saint, and serves as the seat of the Archdiocese of Split-Makarska. Diocletian’s Palace is renowned for being one of the best preserved monuments of the Roman Empire, extending more than 300,000 square feet.
Art aficionados will love a visit to Mestrovic Gallery, an art museum dedicated to the work of the 20th-century sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic.
In 1949, Plitvice Lakes National Park was named Croatia’s first national park, a site teeming with endless natural beauty that has been attracting nature lovers from around the world for decades. The creation of Plitvice Lakes resulted from the process of tufa formation, and these majestic lakes have even been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
An area of exceptional biological and geological biodiversity, Plitvice Lakes National Park welcomes more than 1 million visitors per year, with ample opportunity for walking, hiking, skiing, sledding, and lake gazing.
Unlike Plitvice where swimming is strictly forbidden, Krka National Park is a must-do during Croatia’s high season, with seven waterfalls along the Krka River open for swimming to the public. The park lies within Sibenik-Knin county, covering a total area of 42 square miles with breathtaking sections of both the Krka and Cikola Rivers.
Krka National Park is a vast and untouched area with multiple preserved ecosystems. The park’s primary mission is to serve science, culture, education, and recreation, while also becoming a popular spot for tourism activities.
In April, May, and Oct., entrance to Krka National Park costs around $15 USD, while entrance during high season from June through September costs $30 USD. For the park’s working hours, click here.
Last but certainly not least, Paklenica National Park is a protected area in Starigrad, known for its two dramatic canyons, Velika and Mala Paklenica. Karst rock formations and black-pine forests abound at Paklenica, with the park’s Manita Pec cave featuring stalagmites, stalactites, and several bat species.
Paklenica National Park is situated just south of the Velebit mountain range, the largest in Croatia. The park contains a variety of walking and hiking trails, all with different difficulty levels and lengths.
For thrill seekers, climbing is a popular activity throughout the park, attracting climbers throughout the country and from across the globe.
Only in Croatia
10. Edivo Vina
An activity that surely won’t be found anywhere else on the planet, Edivo Vina is an underwater winery that lets you dive for your own bottle of vino.
Situated in the Peljesac peninsula, Edivo Vina ages its wine in the Adriatic Sea, and staff at the winery will accompany travelers in going down under and retrieving their very own bottle of wine.
Edivo Vina stores its wine in the depths of the sea for more than 700 days, with waters providing steady temperatures and leaving the wine with a pine wood aroma.
Click here for more details on exclusive scuba diving tours at Edivo Vina.
11. Blue Grotto
Like nothing your eyes have ever seen before, Croatia’s Blue Grotto, or Blue Cave, is a water-logged sea cave nestled in the small bay of Balun, on the central Dalmatian archipelago.
Entering the Blue Grotto is like entering another dimension, with crystal clear luminescent blue waters that won’t even appear to be real. Also referred to as Modra Spilja, the Blue Grotto is arguably the best known site of natural beauty throughout the entire Adriatic.
The cave’s famous glowing blue lights can only be seen during certain times of the day, so book a cave tour to guarantee your opportunity to witness this awe-inspiring phenomenon.