Things to do in Croatia

Croatia's popularity as a European holiday destination has grown rapidly over the last few decades. There is much to see and do along its magnificent coastline, boasting over 1,000 islands, islets and reefs. Most visitors come to Croatia for the cruises, boating and beaches, but the country also boasts cultural attractions and plenty of ancient history.

Many of Croatia's cities are built on the sites of Greek and Roman settlements dating from as far back as 400 BC. Visitors are encouraged to explore the Roman ruins in Zagreb and Split, stroll through the cobblestone streets of fairytale medieval villages or simply take in the local cuisine and history. The Croatian History Museum in Zagreb features an impressive display of Neanderthal remains, while culture vultures will enjoy a trip to the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.

Dubrovnik is one of Croatia's top holiday destinations, boasting a picturesque Old Town and exquisite beaches along a rugged coastline. The breathtakingly beautiful Split is a great base for exploring the Dalmation Coast and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also boasts such gems as the city of Trogir and Brac Island just off shore.

Spring and autumn are good seasons to visit as milder weather, fewer crowds and lower prices mean travellers can discover the country more freely. But summer (June to August) is the peak season because it's the best time to enjoy Croatia's stunning beaches.

Travelling by bus is economical, while ferries and catamarans are the only mode of transport to the islands, and a way of life on the coast. For a more relaxed but slightly more expensive option, hiring a car allows visitors to get off the beaten track and discover this Balkan gem at their own leisure.

Diocletian's Palace photo

Diocletian's Palace

The building housing the Croatian National Theatre (or HNK Zagreb) is as much a national treasure as the world-class theatre, opera, music and ballet productions that take place on…

Diocletian's Palace

The building housing the Croatian National Theatre (or HNK Zagreb) is as much a national treasure as the world-class theatre, opera, music and ballet productions that take place on its stage. Construction began on the theatre building in 1894, with Croatian artist Vlaho Bukovac painting the ceremonial curtain while Viennese artist Alexander Goltz decorated the ceiling of the auditorium. At the entrance to the theatre, visitors can see the large ornate fountain called 'The Well of Life', designed by Croatian artist Ivan Meštrovic in 1905. The Croatian National Theatre has hosted famous artists and performers from all over the world, and culture enthusiasts shouldn't miss a show.

Mljet Island photo

Mljet Island

Covered by small villages, forests and vineyards, Mljet is famous for its national park. Main attractions include the two saltwater lakes of Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero, as well …

Mljet Island

Covered by small villages, forests and vineyards, Mljet is famous for its national park. Main attractions include the two saltwater lakes of Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero, as well as a 12th-century Benedictine monastery. Mljet is said to be Croatia's greenest island, the beauty of the unspoiled oasis attracting nature lovers and those in search of peace and tranquillity. It's popular with couples because of the pristine natural beauty and lack of crowds, making it ideal for romantic getaways. It is also a great option for those who enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and kayaking.

Website www.mljet.hr

Hvar Island photo

Hvar Island

Off the coast of Split is the island of Hvar, which abounds with Romanesque and Renaissance buildings and a true Mediterranean atmosphere. Hvar has been inhabited since ancient tim…

Hvar Island

Off the coast of Split is the island of Hvar, which abounds with Romanesque and Renaissance buildings and a true Mediterranean atmosphere. Hvar has been inhabited since ancient times;in fact, archaeologists have found evidence dating back to 3500 BC. It's now mainly a wine-growing area, with the main towns of Vrboska and Jelsa famed for their Dalmatian vintages. Hvar is dotted with picturesque rural villages, many fairly untouched by time and tourism. Must-see attractions in Hvar include the incredible Hvar Fortress, reached by a fairly strenuous climb, but with the reward of exquisite views of the whole town and harbour. No visit to Hvar would be complete without a visit to Dubovica Beach, so often delightfully free of crowds.

Website www.hvar.hr

Franciscan Monastery photo

Franciscan Monastery

Around 700 years old, the Franciscan church and monastery is enclosed in the walls of medieval Dubrovnik. While enduring many rebuilds and repairs, it still boasts one of the most …

Franciscan Monastery

Around 700 years old, the Franciscan church and monastery is enclosed in the walls of medieval Dubrovnik. While enduring many rebuilds and repairs, it still boasts one of the most beautiful Romanesque cloisters in Dalmatia. There is a working pharmacy, considered the third oldest in the world, which also holds a museum housing medical instruments and books, scales and gilded church relics. Its library is renowned globally by historians for its celebrated inventory of some 30,000 volumes with 1,500 handwritten documents. The monastery proves a great refuge after sightseeing in the heat and city crowds, offering peace and quiet in its tranquil gardens.

Address Placa 2

Dubrovnik City Walls photo

Dubrovnik City Walls

The impressive walls enclosing the ancient city of Dubrovnik were laid out in the 13th century and became an ongoing project for almost two hundred years. The fortified walls are u…

Dubrovnik City Walls

The impressive walls enclosing the ancient city of Dubrovnik were laid out in the 13th century and became an ongoing project for almost two hundred years. The fortified walls are up to 10 feet (3m) thick on the sea side and at least twice as thick on the land side, reaching up to 82 feet (25m) in height. Visitors access the walls via a steep stone stairway and once they reach the top they'll be rewarded with astonishing vistas. A walk around the old city from this fascinating vantage point is a must for visitors to Dubrovnik. The detached sentinel of Lovrijenac Fort to the west of the old city is also worth a visit.

Dubrovnik Riviera photo

Dubrovnik Riviera

In close proximity to the city of Dubrovnik there are lots of picturesque villages and stunning resorts to explore.

Dubrovnik Riviera

In close proximity to the city of Dubrovnik there are lots of picturesque villages and stunning resorts to explore.

About 11 miles (18km) away is the quiet bay of Zaton, with sandy beaches and pine forest. The town has numerous restaurants, a relic of the days when it was the chosen retreat for the aristocrats of the Dubrovnik Republic.

The village of Tristeno features the Arboretum, a Gothic-Renaissance park on the coast. In the centre of this village, visitors are awed by two gigantic sycamore trees which are reputedly 500 years old and standing 197ft (60m) tall.

Even closer to the city, the towns of Kupari, Srebreno, Mlini, Soline and Plat lie along a chain of hills descending to the rim of Zupa Bay, known as one of the most beautiful resorts on the Dubrovnik Riviera.

Here, visitors will find plenty of modern hotels offering a variety of watersports to keep guests entertained. Also close to Dubrovnik is Lapad Beach, a popular getaway with a number of bars and restaurants, and a lovely spot to while away a sunny afternoon.

Croatian National Theatre photo

Croatian National Theatre

The building housing the Croatian National Theatre (or HNK Zagreb) is as much a national treasure as the world-class theatre, opera, music and ballet productions that take place on…

Croatian National Theatre

The building housing the Croatian National Theatre (or HNK Zagreb) is as much a national treasure as the world-class theatre, opera, music and ballet productions that take place on its stage. Construction began on the theatre building in 1894, with Croatian artist Vlaho Bukovac painting the ceremonial curtain while Viennese artist Alexander Goltz decorated the ceiling of the auditorium. At the entrance to the theatre, visitors can see the large ornate fountain called 'The Well of Life', designed by Croatian artist Ivan Meštrovic in 1905. The Croatian National Theatre has hosted famous artists and performers from all over the world, and culture enthusiasts shouldn't miss a show.

Address Trg Marsala Tita 15

Website www.hnk.hr/en

Trakoscan Castle photo

Trakoscan Castle

Trakoscan is a legendary 13th-century Gothic castle that was home to various influential families for centuries before finally falling into disrepair in the second half of the 18th…

Trakoscan Castle

Trakoscan is a legendary 13th-century Gothic castle that was home to various influential families for centuries before finally falling into disrepair in the second half of the 18th century. It now survives as a museum of life in a medieval castle, with visitors exploring three floors, a dungeon and the surrounding parklands. Guests can wander freely through stone corridors, up and down winding staircases and into the various rooms adorned by original furniture and weaponry. It is also a great attraction for children as the castle, lake and forest transport the little ones to a fairytale world.

Elafiti Islands photo

Elafiti Islands

A popular excursion from Dubrovnik is a day trip to the offshore islands of Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan. They are an escape from the mainland crowds, boasting olive groves, orchards, …

Elafiti Islands

A popular excursion from Dubrovnik is a day trip to the offshore islands of Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan. They are an escape from the mainland crowds, boasting olive groves, orchards, sand- and pebble beaches, 15th-century mansions, and several interesting churches and monasteries. The smallest and closest island to Dubrovnik, Kolocep is lush and green. Lopud is the most visited, and famed for the sandy beach at Sunj. Sipan used to be the summer getaway of choice for aristocratic families in Dubrovnik and is fascinating from a historical point of view. Kolocep and Lopud are both car-free islands and easy to navigate on foot.

Korcula Island photo

Korcula Island

Korcula Island is one of the biggest on the Adriatic, boasting verdant vineyards, secluded beaches and olive groves. Korcula Town juts out into the sea, and is typically Dalmatian …

Korcula Island

Korcula Island is one of the biggest on the Adriatic, boasting verdant vineyards, secluded beaches and olive groves. Korcula Town juts out into the sea, and is typically Dalmatian in character, with red-roofed houses and enclosing walls. Some theorise that Marco Polo was born here and his rumoured house is now a museum open to the public. The town is also famous for its 15th-century Moreska sword dance which is performed during summer.

Other towns on the island include Vela Luka and Lumbarda, which are surrounded by vineyards and coves. Korcula is said to have been a favourite Greek holiday spot over 2,000 years ago and since then it hasn't stopped delighting visitors with its culture and green landscapes. Of the 1,000 or so islands in Croatia, Korcula is often ranked most highly as a holiday destination.

Website www.korculainfo.com

Trogir photo

Trogir

Trakoscan is a legendary 13th-century Gothic castle that was home to various influential families for centuries before finally falling into abandoned disrepair in the second half o

Trogir

Trakoscan is a legendary 13th-century Gothic castle that was home to various influential families for centuries before finally falling into abandoned disrepair in the second half of the 18th century, when it belonged to the Draskovic family.

In the 1950s, the castle was taken over by the state and turned into a living museum, reconstructing life in a medieval castle. Visitors can explore four levels, including the dungeon, and finish their tour with a stroll through the surrounding parklands.

Trakoscan Castle is a spectacular journey for the imagination as it feels so authentic. Guests can wander with freedom through the stone corridors, up and down the winding staircases, and into the various rooms. It is also a great attraction for the younger children as the castle, lake, and forest settings transport the little ones to a fairytale world.

The castle features original artefacts from its history, including furniture and weaponry, and displays are informative and well laid out. As wandering through the castle and its beautiful grounds can be somewhat tiring, visitors often stop for a break at the restaurant by the lake.

Brac Island photo

Brac Island

Bol and Supetar are the two main resorts on Brac, with attractive old towns and laid-back charm. Brac is a great destination for a number of watersports, with Bol being the windsur…

Brac Island

Bol and Supetar are the two main resorts on Brac, with attractive old towns and laid-back charm. Brac is a great destination for a number of watersports, with Bol being the windsurfing capital of Croatia. It also boasts a famous strip of beach that stretches out into the ocean, featuring on most Croatian tourist brochures. Like much of Croatia, the beaches on Brac Island are mainly rocky, boasting stunningly clear blue water and calm seas. Those desperate to find a sandy beach should head down to Lovrecina, which has its own beach bar and restaurant. Brac is generally less crowded than Split and other popular areas on Croatia's mainland, but can get busy during the peak summer months.

Website www.bracinfo.com

Sibenik photo

Sibenik

Sibenik is a historic town, located in central Dalmatia. Over the centuries, it has endured many rulers who have claimed it as their own, from Byzantium to the Kingdom of Bosnia. N…

Sibenik

Sibenik is a historic town, located in central Dalmatia. Over the centuries, it has endured many rulers who have claimed it as their own, from Byzantium to the Kingdom of Bosnia. Naturally, it's a product of this complex past, with a diverse tapestry of influences and rich cultural heritage. Sibenik is home to the Cathedral of St Jacob, the crowning glory of the Dalmatian Coast. The beautiful baptistery, domed roof and 71 stone heads on the exterior walls truly make this Renaissance cathedral a thing of divine beauty. The city also makes a good base from which to visit the nearby Krka National Park.

Plitvice Lakes National Park photo

Plitvice Lakes National Park

The Plitvice Lakes have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the national park enclosing them is the oldest in Southeast Europe. Thousands flock every year to the unbelie…

Plitvice Lakes National Park

The Plitvice Lakes have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the national park enclosing them is the oldest in Southeast Europe. Thousands flock every year to the unbelievable beauty of these 16 green and turquoise lakes, linked by waterfalls and surrounded by forest. Wooden walkways meander around and across the water, formed by mineral deposits that create terraces within the constantly changing limestone landscape. Visitors can cover the 11 miles (18km) of walkways on foot, but buses and ferries do service certain sections. The surrounding forests boast an extremely diverse variety of flora and fauna.

Website www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en

Dubrovnik Port photo

Dubrovnik Port

Found next to the picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old Town and lined with palm trees, Dubrovnik's Old Port is unforgettable. Known as the 'Jewel of the Adriatic', it …

Dubrovnik Port

Found next to the picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old Town and lined with palm trees, Dubrovnik's Old Port is unforgettable. Known as the 'Jewel of the Adriatic', it boasts fantastic sightseeing opportunities and intriguing, small markets along its tiny cobblestoned streets. The rich history and quaint shops of the Old Port make Dubrovnik a popular cruise port, with liners anchoring at the modern Port of Gruz less than two miles (2,5km) from the Old Town. Many different kinds of boat tours are operated from the harbour, offering a wonderful chance to explore the stunning coastline. Many will point out attractions and landmarks, providing insights into the port's past and Dubrovnik in general.

Makarska photo

Makarska

Fringed by the two green peninsulas of Osejava and St Peter, Makarska's cobblestoned streets and natural harbour nestle in the shadow of Mount Biokovo. This beautiful town offers s…

Makarska

Fringed by the two green peninsulas of Osejava and St Peter, Makarska's cobblestoned streets and natural harbour nestle in the shadow of Mount Biokovo. This beautiful town offers secluded beaches washed by an azure sea and lies at the heart of the Makarska Riviera, characterised by pine forests and a string of white pebble beaches. Makarska spans occupations by the Venetians, Turks, French and Austrians, all leaving imprints of their own culture and tradition. The town boasts a 16th century Franciscan monastery, a Venetian fountain, several churches and Baroque palaces. The main tourist district is lined with fashionable boutiques, cafes and bars, all a stone's throw away from the yachts and catamarans docked in the harbour.

Rijeka photo

Rijeka

The commercial capital of the idyllic Adriatic Coast is the cultural city and holiday destination of Rijeka, with its international harbour lending it a cosmopolitan flair. Rijeka …

Rijeka

The commercial capital of the idyllic Adriatic Coast is the cultural city and holiday destination of Rijeka, with its international harbour lending it a cosmopolitan flair. Rijeka is not only the gateway to the beautiful coastal island resorts, but a tourist's delight in itself, with its charming historic buildings and street cafes. It hosts an annual carnival with lively music and dancing, providing a glimpse into ancient Slavic folklore and mythology. Revellers don masks to scare away evil forces and there are numerous events, concerts and parades. There's also the remarkable Trsat Castle, which is reached by some formidable stone steps but well worth the climb.

Krk Island photo

Krk Island

The largest island in the Croation Archipelago, Krk is a haven of sparkling beaches and lovely holiday towns. It enjoys a laid-back Mediterranean atmosphere, with Krk Town being th…

Krk Island

The largest island in the Croation Archipelago, Krk is a haven of sparkling beaches and lovely holiday towns. It enjoys a laid-back Mediterranean atmosphere, with Krk Town being the main tourist hub with its many restaurants, shops and bars found in the Old Town area. Nicknamed the 'Golden Island', getting to Krk from the mainland is made easy by an imposing 4,500 foot (1,4km) bridge.

The best beaches are found in Baska, with more than 30 of them connected by a promenade, while other beach towns on Krk include Njivice and the sandy coastline of Klimno Bay. Vrbnik is home to vineyards that produce some of the best white wines in Croatia, while the folk festival in Dobrinj draws crowds from all over.

Krk Island is popular for weekend excursions from the mainland. Visitors can easily spend a week exploring the winding streets and hidden corners of the island. A haven for watersports, bird watching and hiking, there is lots to see and do on Krk for just about anyone.