These Are Some of The Top Things to Do in Croatia!
It’s no secret that Croatia is a beautiful country with many top things to do! Whether you are travelling in the busy season of July or the slow season in December, there is never a shortage of Croatian things to do. We lived outside of Split and travelled around Croatia for a few weeks in 2018. We loved that there are lots of great national parks and paid attractions as well as lots of free things to do!
So, we wanted to list off some of the top things to do in Croatia. From Dubrovnik to Pula to Split and the Croatian Islands like Hvar, there are lots of things to do all over Croatia that might grab your attention! So, if you’re ready – let’s explore the top sights in Croatia!
You might be planning a Croatia trip. If you are, be sure to check out our other posts on the country:
Visit the Blue Cave on Bisevo
The Blue Cave on the island of Bisevo is definitely a special sight. It is located approximately 5 km from the Croatian island of Vis and one of the most popular natural beauty spots in the Adriatic.
The Blue Cave, or Blue Grotto as it is sometimes called, got its name because of its signature colour. At certain times throughout the day, it appears to be blue on the inside. This is because the sunlight reflects down through a hole in the rocky side, off the bottom of the sand, and through the water – making the walls of the cave appear aquamarine.
We actually saw the cave as part of our one day Croatia Island Hopping Tour and we’re glad we did. It looks beautiful in photos (or videos) but it is a lot better in person. To give you an idea of what you can expect, watch the beginning of our Island hopping video. To make it easy, we’ve inserted it below for your viewing pleasure!You can’t just enter the cave by yourself. Instead, you have to go with local guides on a small boat since the entrance is tiny!
Since the cave is on an island, you’ll have to take a boat to get there and it can be a little difficult to arrange everything by yourself. One of the easiest ways to visit the Blue Cave is to jump on a tour. If you want to see the cave from the mainland, there are lots of tours leaving from Split/Zadar.
However, we want to give you our honest opinion: Doing a tour JUST to see the Blue cave is, in our opinion, not worth it. If you can connect it with islands (like Hvar or even more like we did) then we think it’s worth it. But since the boat ride from the mainland (in our case Split) is pretty far, to see only the cave for all of 5 minutes isn’t worth the trip.
Stroll Through the Old Town of Trogir
Croatia is full of beautiful Old Towns – one of these can be found in the city of Trogir. This is a small coastal town about 30 minutes north of Split with a population of approximately 13000 people. It is easy to miss among the more popular cities like Split or Dubrovnik, but you should stop by if you get the chance.
What is special about its old town is that it is technically located on its own island in the middle of the city – wedged between the mainland and Čiovo Island. Trogir has a really old history. It was first founded by the Greeks in 3rd century BC and later was under Venetian Rule for over 400 years.
In 1997, it was listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site because it has one of the best-preserved examples of Romanesque-Gothic architecture in Central Europe. There are lots of churches (such as The Church of St. Lawrence) and small alleyways with old buildings waiting to be explored.
We actually visited Trogir on a half day trip from the Kastelas (a number of villages between Split and Trogir) where we stayed for a few weeks. Trogir is a great stop for a road trip and easy to get to as a day trip from Split – just take the Bus Number 37 from the local bus stop in the middle of Split all the way to the end!
Drive the Jadranska Magistrala
One of the most amazing things to do in Croatia is something we didn’t actually realize we had done until we had done it! The Jadranska Magistrala (or Adriatic Highway) is a massive road trip along one of the most beautiful coastal roads. The often curvy road allows for incredible views of the ocean on one side and of the mountains on the other.
The road itself is actually part of the European Road 65. The largest part of the road is in Croatia and Montenegro but a few parts extend into Bosnia and Slovenia. Technically, it starts in Italy and ends in Ulcinj, Montenegro. Since we took the bus along the coast from Split all the way down to Ulcinj (in different bus trips) we accidentally saw most of the best portions of the drive!
Since there are renovations and constructions along the way, we can’t say exactly how long the road is. If we had to approximate, it would be about 1000 km. Of that, 650 km is the Croatian part and has the name of D8. The D8 starts in Rijeka and heads for Dubrovnik – making it a perfect part of a Croatia road trip. That said, don’t forget to make some stops along the way as you’ll be sure to discover some hidden gems!
Explore the Old Town of Split (Diocletian’s Palace)
The old town of Split is quite beautiful. If you want to get a quick idea of what it looks like, watch the short video that we filmed one morning when we got up super early. There would have been WAY too many people around if we were any later in the day!
One of the highlights in the old town of Split is Diocletian’s Palace. As the name suggests, Diocletian’s Palace was built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian. The palace is one of the best-preserved monuments of Roman architecture worldwide. Having been built in the 4th century AD, the palace was intended to be both a summer house as well as a military camp! Because if its age and significance, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
The Palace itself is quite big – approx. 215 m x 180 m and has four towers at the corners. Over time, the inside and outside of the palace changed so it looks quite different now than it did originally but you can still see the outlines of the old Palace.
Today, you can wander through the Palace since it is part of the old town. There are no ticket gates or anything – actually you might not even know that where you’re walking was part of the old Palace!
To enter, there are four main gates: Golden, Silver, Iron, and Bronze. Inside Diocletian’s Palace, there are a few attractions worth mentioning: one of the most popular ones is the Cathedral of Saint Domnius. Originally, it was a mausoleum but over time has been converted into a church. You can climb up the bell tower and enjoy a panoramic view over the old town of Split!
You can learn more about the history of the Old Town here or from the official Visit Split website. If you want to learn more about the history for yourself while visiting Split, you can consider doing a walking tour through the Palace and Old Town.
Wander Through Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitivice Lakes National Park is one of the – if not the – most popular national parks in Croatia. The Park is located approximately 2.5 hours from Split making it a perfect day trip. Unlike Krka, you can’t swim in the lakes but the nature is definitely worth seeing. The national park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Plitvice is actually the oldest and biggest national park in Croatia with 16 lakes and lots of waterfalls.
The park can get very busy during the high season. At times, they close the park in the middle of the day to make sure that not too many people enter. So, it’s best to plan ahead and arrive early to ensure you get in. Alternatively, consider travelling to Croatia in the off-season and not in the summertime. The crowd sizes will be smaller!
Besides the vast hiking trails, the park offers ziplining which sounds pretty cool! But remember: it can be difficult to get to the park by local buses so we’d advise for the use of a rental car and make it a stop on your Croatia road trip adventure! You can check out the official website for Plitvice Lakes here.
Discover the Old Town of Dubrovnik
It would be hard to go to Croatia without considering to check out one of the most famous cities – Dubrovnik. Rising to popularity for a number of reasons, the Old Town of Dubrovnik is often considered one of the most beautiful places in all of Croatia. If the historic walls, churches, and alleyways weren’t enough to bring people in, the Old Town was used as a filming site for the show Game of Thrones. This has made it the Old Town even more popular as a destination.
Today, the city of Dubrovnik (and the historic Old Town) swells with tourists eager to check it out each season. It’s also a popular cruise port, with many cruise ships making their stops through. As a result, tourism is actually becoming a problem for the city.
Having said that, the city is still very beautiful and we think it’s worth a visit if you are in the area. There are lots of awesome things to do in Dubrovnik. You can walk the medieval town walls all the way around and get stunning photos – but you have to pay for it.
Besides that, the harbour areas are quite nice and just wandering around inside the Old Town down side alleys away from the crowds can be a cool experience. If you plan on staying overnight, there are plenty of amazing accommodations in Dubrovnik. In general, however, we would not recommend visiting in the summertime if you can help it!
Explore the Kvarner Bay/Gulf
There is a lot to say about Kvarner Bay so we’ll just sum it up for you! Close to the Istria peninsula, the Kvarner Bay is one of the most popular areas of Croatia that most who are visiting the area wouldn’t be aware that they are visiting! The Bay is home to the northern islands in the Adriatic like Cres, Krk, Lošinj, and Rab.
Here, the water is beautiful and clear – with many coastal towns and cities benefiting from the natural beauty of the area. The most popular destinations in the area are towns like Rijeka (a port town in the heart of the Kvarner) and Opatija (a coastal town famous of its 12 km long seaside promenade). If the coastline isn’t your draw to the area, perhaps nature is? You can check out the hiking trails at both Učka Nature Park and Risnjak National Park!
Visit the Baredine Cave
If you haven’t had enough caves for one list, here’s another one! The Baredine Cave is a geomorphologic monument of nature on the Istria peninsula. It’s close to Poreč – making it one of the highest attraction in Croatia before you head into Slovenia!
The first exploration of the cave (that we know of) was at the beginning of the 20th century – and the cave has been open to the public since 1995. If you want, can do a tour of the cave and visit 5 chambers. Although the cave is 132 m deep at the deepest point, it is actually not as cold as you might expect! On the official website for Baredine Cave, it says it’s a pleasant 14 degrees Celsius down there!
Discover the Island of Hvar
If you want to do some island hopping, Hvar is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) island there is! Located a few nautical miles from Split, Hvar is full of things to do and see. One of the main centres, Hvar Town, is a hub for nightlife and those looking to get away for a romantic evening of dinner and drinks. It should come as no surprise that Hvar has amazing seafood!
The rest of the island is full of rocky shorelines, lavender fields, and many wineries that you can visit. There is even an old fortress you can explore and get AMAZING views from. There honestly is a topic or an attraction to suit all tastes on Hvar. This makes it a top destination. Getting to Hvar can be tricky with the ferries but since it’s a major stop there are a few lines that run the route from the mainland and other islands. You can read more about visiting Hvar town in our post on the top things to do in Hvar!
Swim at Krka National Park
Krka National Park has been one of the highlights of our time in Croatia. It is a beautiful park that is based on the ecosystems of the Krka River and the Čikola River. There are so many waterfalls we didn’t even try to count them.
For more information about Krka National Park, including how to get there from Zadar and Split, read our full Krka National Park Guide. We went into detail to make sure we had a really good guide since we loved Krka and want other to visit, too!
One of the highlights was taking the boat (paid for with entrance ticket price) from Skradin into the park. You can hike in and out of that entrance but definitely try the boat for a unique experience on the water!
Explore the Island of Brač (Golden Horn Beach)
If you liked what we said about Hvar, then you might want to see Brač as well! Next to Hvar, Brač is another beautiful Croatian island. It is actually the biggest island of the Dalmatian islands – and less crowded than Hvar. Brač is a great place to visit if you like nature, hiking and beaches. In fact, one of the most popular beaches is Zlatni Rat, also known as Golden Horn since that is exactly what it looks like. It is often considered one of Croatia’s best beaches!
The highest peak of the island is Vidova Gora with 778 m which is also the highest peak on any Croatian island. The island is known for its white building stone which was used in the Diocletian’s Palace in Split.
If you want to explore towns, the main town on the island is Supetar, which is a cute little harbour village. Besides that, another small village is Bol which is close to Golden Horn Beach. To get there, there are multiple ferry lines that run from smaller ports to Brac. One of the main lines runs from the mainland at Split to the harbour port of Supetar.
Visit the Roman Amphitheatre in Pula
Last – but certainly not least – we come to Pula. Pula is the biggest city on the Istria peninsula in the northern part of Croatia. This is where you will find the Arena of Pula. Built in the 1st century under the rule of Emperor Vespasian, the Amphitheatre has an elliptical shape. In fact, is SO large that it doesn’t even fit inside the old city walls!
The Amphitheatre is world-renowned because of its size. It’s one of the biggest Amphitheatres in the world and had a capacity of over 20,000 people! In the past, gladiator flights and knight tournaments (during the Middle Ages) occurred there. Today, it is used for concerts and other events.
That said, during the summer there are actually gladiator fights every weekend as part of a historical spectacle. If this interests you, you can buy tickets at the ticket booth at the amphitheatre entrance.
And there you have it – 12 of the top attractions in all of Croatia! Of course, this list isn’t totally complete. There are so many amazing smaller towns and other cities – like Zagreb – that we knowingly left out. There’s so much to do and explore, you could spend months in the country. We loved Croatia (and the surrounding Balkan countries) and we’ll continue to write about them so you get the best information for planning your perfect trip. What do you think? How many have you visited? Get in touch and let us know!
As always, Happy Top Croatia Sight Waddlin’,