If there’s one nation that made me fall in love with gradual journey, it’s Croatia. Since my first go to, an unforgettable late spring journey the place I travelled with a tent somewhat than a plan, it’s firmly cemented in my coronary heart. Crossing from Dubrovnik within the south to neighbouring Slovenia within the north utilizing buses, ferries, trails and trains, I discovered myself not simply falling in love with the nation however extending my journey day by day. Certainly, it’s a vacation spot that deserves to be explored slowly — making the contenders for finest locations to go to in Croatia virtually so long as the nation itself.
From the (over)touristed walled metropolis of Dubrovnik, famed for its attractive mediaeval fortified Previous City, to the laid-back islands — round 50 are inhabited, whereas the islets stretch into triple figures — very best for lazy days swimming, sunbathing, and snorkelling, Croatia guarantees a kaleidoscopic mixture of experiences. Certain, it’s among the finest seaside locations in Europe, however inland, you’ll discover nationwide parks peppered with gushing waterfalls, whereas the historic cities that when guarded the coast simply make for stand-alone metropolis breaks.
Whether or not you’re visiting Europe in winter to try to search a spot of low season solar or planning a summer season island-hopping escape, I’m positive you’ll additionally fall in love with a minimum of a number of of my favorite locations to go to in Croatia.
Because of bus and ferry delays, I almost skipped Korčula. However fortunately, I made a decision to proceed with my detour, as this good-looking verdant island ended up being certainly one of my favorite locations to go to in Croatia.
For essentially the most half, the principle motive to go to is Korčula City, a small, fortified settlement on a peninsula, usually in comparison with Dubrovnik in miniature. However as I used to be tenting a bit additional away, I noticed simply how particular the island is past the labyrinth of slender old-world streets. There are some attractive seashores, quiet swimming spots, peaceable pine forests to walk by, and the island’s vineyards pump out scrumptious white wines that style even higher at sundown.
Solely a brief hop from Orebic (additionally somewhat fairly) or a number of hours by public ferry from Dubrovnik or Cut up, Korčula can be fairly straightforward to entry by yourself. Nevertheless, if you wish to expertise the Adriatic correctly and discover a number of islands, comparable to historic Vis or party-centric Pag, you’ll wish to ebook a cruise or private gulet charter somewhat than depend on ferries; you’ll maximise on time, and it makes for a extra leisurely journey, particularly to the extra remoted isles.
Pula & Rovinj (Istria)
The Istrian peninsula is likely one of the finest locations to go to in Croatia if you wish to expertise one other facet of the nation. As soon as below Italian management, there are many Roman sights to see. Plus, in comparison with the Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian coast, it’s nonetheless one thing of a European hidden gem.
In coastal Pula, you’re by no means removed from a beautiful Adriatic seaside, however you’ve additionally acquired magnificent sights to discover, such because the Pula Area — a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre — and the two-thousand-year-old Temple of Augustus.
Postcard-perfect Rovinj is one other must-visit in Istria, though it could actually get somewhat busy given its dimension. Right here, jutting out into the calm waters, the cluster of vibrant homes adorn an online of slender streets, whereas a set of small islands is finest explored on a lazy boat day journey.
Lengthy a bolthole for the wealthy and well-known, Hvar established itself as a vacation hotspot and among the finest locations to go to in Croatia some fifty years in the past, frequently rising in reputation ever since.
Based by the traditional Greeks and formed by the Venetians, there’s some attractive structure right here to admire alongside the equally stunning views, with Fortica Fortress, a mediaeval fort excessive above the Previous City, combining the perfect of the 2.
Be warned, although, Hvar comes with a little bit of a price ticket in comparison with among the different islands. There are many upscale bars and eating places right here — the island has 5 listings (not stars) within the Michelin Information — and among the most attractive and luxe villas in Croatia are tucked away within the island’s prettiest corners. Nonetheless, whereas I used to be doubtful about visiting, pondering it will break my finances, there are a number of inexpensive offers and native eating places to get pleasure from; you’ll simply often must sacrifice the ocean views.
Cut up (and Trogir)
The history of Split is likely one of the most fascinating in Croatia, and it spills out throughout the streets of the historic Previous City, centred on a former Roman emperor’s palace, the Diocletian’s Palace.
Mighty and mesmerising, this palace is certainly one of Croatia’s finest locations to go to. Slip into the magnificent Saint Domnius Cathedral, go to the underground cellars, after which get away from the crowds contained in the partitions to stroll the Cut up Riva esplanade. Proceed a bit additional, and also you’ll discover the steps climbing as much as forested Marjan, the place epic viewpoints await.
You must also depart a while to take a day journey to close by Trogir (a 30-minute drive), a UNESCO-listed city filled with architectural wonders.
Plitvice Lakes Nationwide Park
Probably the greatest locations to go to in Croatia’s inside is the UNESCO-listed Plitvice Lakes National Park, however be warned, in summer season, it’s going to be crowded.
Nonetheless, it’s completely price making the journey from Zadar (two hours) or Cut up (2.5 hours) to see this protected park of great waterfalls and lakes shrouded by forest. The waters are crystal clear, and as you cross the picket walkways that weave by the park, you aren’t simply admiring nature from afar, however you are feeling such as you’re a part of it.
Probably the most spectacular factors are the place the terraced lakes tumble from a excessive contained in the limestone canyon, however there’s additionally an underground world of caves contained in the canyons which might be price exploring.
Many individuals instructed me that Zadar wasn’t price spending a lot time in, but it surely really ended up being certainly one of my favorite locations to go to in Croatia. Maybe it’s as a result of it’s extra of an underrated European metropolis in comparison with Croatia’s large hitters, however I loved that there have been fewer vacationers, and it felt a bit extra ‘native’. That stated, I’m assuming it is perhaps a distinct story if you happen to’re right here on a day a cruise ship docks.
Like lots of Croatia’s best cities, most consideration goes to the Previous City, which has a couple of thousand years of historical past. The Roman Discussion board, numerous spiritual buildings, and the archaeological museum will hold you busy for a minimum of a complete day, whereas the quirky ‘Sea Organ’ – an instrument constructed into the promenade that creates sounds from the waves – makes for some wonderful sundown leisure.
Whereas Dubrovnik is taken into account one of many high locations to go to in Croatia, I’ve acquired to confess it’s turn out to be tougher to get pleasure from since Sport of Thrones got here out. On my first journey, it was a delight to stroll round, however after I returned a number of years in the past after a journey throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, I couldn’t consider simply how busy and unsightly the expertise was: pushing and shoving an Previous City dedicated to memento retailers, and significantly overpriced and poor meals.
That’s to not put you off visiting; there’s a motive for all these crowds, in any case. However simply be ready, particularly on the busiest summer season and cruise days, that it is perhaps a bit overwhelming.
Nonetheless, mass tourism apart, Croatia’s exclave is an unimaginable vacation spot, with the mighty Previous City Partitions (do stroll atop them) and views from excessive above by way of the cable automobile two of my highlights.
You may additionally wish to think about staying exterior the previous city if you would like somewhat extra peace (I lodged close to Lozica), although usually the late evenings are the perfect time to stroll across the metropolis, as day-trippers and cruise ships are lengthy gone.
Krka Nationwide Park
Should you’re exploring Croatia’s coast and desire a barely quicker-to-reach various to Plitvice, Krka Nationwide Park is a good various. Whereas Krka doesn’t have the identical quantity (or magnificence) of waterfalls that Plitvice has, it does have a few spectacular cascades, and the water is equally as enchanting. One more reason I cherished Krka is you can swim in among the waterfalls right here, however sadly, a few years in the past, it was banned, bringing it in keeping with the foundations of Plitvice.
Krka can be not removed from Šibenik, one other of my favorite locations in Croatia and a very good place to spend an evening or two whereas visiting the park. Once more, it’s a beautiful millennia-old metropolis, but it surely doesn’t fairly see as many vacationers because the extra well-known locations.
Of all of the locations to go to in Croatia, Zagreb is commonly criminally skipped or rushed as individuals take a fast tour earlier than exploring extra of the nation. However I’d recommend staying for a few nights to get to know the biggest metropolis in Croatia higher.
There may be an abundance of museums that can assist you get to know the nation higher, such because the Zagreb Ethnographic Museum, and in addition some considerably quirky spots just like the now-infamous Museum of Damaged Relationships.
Then there are the extra typical expectations of any European capital: Cathedrals, S. Mark’s Church, and grand squares to get pleasure from a drink. Sure, it’s acquired a distinct look to the south of the nation because of the Austro-Hungarian structure, however I discovered the environment to be actually welcoming, and there are some excellent wine bars across the mediaeval Higher City.
Bosnia & Herzegovina or Slovenia
Rounding off my listing of favorite locations to go to in Croatia, I’m really crossing into two different nations. Each of my large journeys to the nation have both began or led to a neighbouring nation, and given the benefit of mixing Croatia with Slovenia or Bosnia & Herzegovina, I’d urge you to contemplate doing the identical if time permits.
To the north, Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is well reached in round three hours from Zagreb. Right here, in certainly one of Europe’s greenest capital cities, you may sip wine alongside the river, take a day journey to Lake Bled, or discover the unimaginable winery area of the Vipava Valley.
In the meantime, if you happen to’re heading to Dubrovnik, then you definitely may wish to think about touring among the finest sights in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Whereas the previous and weird double border-crossing bus journey by Neum — Bosnia & Herzegovina’s tiny spot of shoreline — has turn out to be much less engaging for the reason that bridge connecting Croatia’s exclave and the majority of the nation was constructed, there are nonetheless loads of day journeys or extra prolonged choices which may very well be taken. Mostar, finest identified for its attractive Previous City and history-defining Stari Most Bridge, may very well be mixed with Blagja.
Nevertheless you determine to spend your time exploring Croatia’s finest cities, cities and coastal hotspots, I’m fairly sure you’re going to like it — this can be a nation that actually leaves an enduring impression.