The Best 10 Places to Visit in Croatia

Croatia has one of the most beautiful coastlines I’ve ever seen. If that wasn’t enough to tempt you, then the stunning National Parks and ancient cities full of history surely are.

Here are the best 10 places to visit throughout Croatia

 

1. Plitvice Lakes

This National Park contains some of the most beautiful natural scenery I’ve ever beheld. The water is crystal clear, incredibly green and woven with wooden paths to explore the network of lakes.

For more photos and information on visiting the lakes as an independent day tour, see this post.

Emerald green color of Plitvice Lakes

Tourists walking across duckboards at Plitvice Lakes

 

2. Dubrovnik

Famed as the set of King’s Landing from Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik has an amazing yet touristy old town. To walk the length of the town walls you’ll need to fork out around 30€. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones or of enchanting old towns, then the high ticket price is worth it. Otherwise I’d recommend exploring the less busy parts of the town.

A (free) highlight for me was finding a small gate in the southern wall of the city near Svetog Petra. This led a rocky area outside the city walls with stunning views of the bay below and towers of the wall. You can grab a drink at the cliff-side bar or clamber onto the rocky cliff and watch the sun set with you own drinks. 

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A bar nestles into the cliff of Dubrovnik's Old Town

 

3. Korcula

Known as ‘mini Dubrovnik’ the old town of this island truly did feel like a smaller, quieter version of Dubrovnik. The beaches are also stunning and you can take water taxis to other nearby islands.

Crystal clear water of one of Korcula's beachesA boat bobs in a clear blue bay of the island of Korcula

 

 

4. Vis

Vis is the oldest town in Croatia, dating back to the 4th century BC. While not much remains of that period, the island is a beautiful and peaceful break from busier islands and the mainland.

There are two main towns; Vis town and Komiza, both with a relaxed feel and a charming combination of beautiful old buildings and crystal clear water. The island is also dotted with local vineyards, open for tastings and lunch. Hire a pushbike, car or boat to explore.

A church across the water on the island of Vis at sunset

 

 

5. Split

With the perfect mix of authentic local atmosphere, interesting old town, local beaches and great day trips options, Split was one of my favorite places in Croatia.

The heart of the tourist area is the beautiful waterfront promenade, lined with restaurants and leading into an ancient underground bazaar- full of local art, crafts and trinkets.

The old town of Split at night

 

 

6. Zagreb

Croatia’s capital is full of beautiful gardens, interesting museums (don’t miss the Museum of Broken Relationships) and much local history and culture to soak up. For the best places to explore Zagreb, see this post.

Vines climb the stone walls of Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb

 

7. Pula

Famous for the ancient Roman amphitheater and ruins, Pula also has a great camping ground and beautiful poppy-lined beaches. For activities on offer in Pula, see this post.

Ancient Roman ruins in Pula

Red poppies line the foreshore of a rocky beach in Pula

 

8. Rovinj

An extremely picturesque town on the north coast of Croatia, Rovinj is also unfortunately quite expensive. I recommend staying in nearby Pula and visiting for the day.

Stone cobbled ancient streets of Rovinj

 

9. Krka National Park

An easy day tour from Split, this National Park is a must-visit for any nature lover. I found it a tiny bit less enchanting than Plitvice, but the upside is that you can swim in the lower lake.

Emerald green lakes and waterfalls of Krka National Park

 

10. Hvar

This was simultaneously the biggest ‘party island’ and the most upmarket habour I visited in Croatia. There are some nice beaches a 30 minute walk from the main port as well as plenty of boat trips on offer.

Busy Hvar beach wit clear green water and rocky edges

Pula: top 5 things to do in Croatia’s ancient beach town

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The town of Pula is over three millennia old, and the history of the place is evident everywhere you look. From the wonderfully preserved Roman Amphitheater and Temple of Augustus to the Arch of the Sergii and 17th-century baroque castle, the old town is the perfect place for a lazy stroll.

As Pula is also a coastal town, there are beautiful swimming spots nearby. In summer this means the town becomes incredibly busy with tourists, so I’d definitely recommend visiting in shoulder season (late April to May) when the weather is lovely and the crowds are yet to arrive.

 

Here are five unmissable things to do in Pula

 

1. Swim at Uvala Valovine and Cyclon’s Beach

Perfectly clear blue/green water accessed by large rocks or pebble beaches. There’s also a camping ground here and shops with ice cream, bakery items and a seafood restaurant.

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2. Sunset Drinks at the Amphitheater

There’s a perfect little local bar on the northern side of the amphitheater that serves local Istra Bitters for 1.5€ and has outdoor seats looking out to the ruins and sea beyond.

3. Walk the Foreshore and Explore Abandoned Areas

To the north-west of the train station a patchwork bridge leads over the river to a path along the foreshore where abandoned buildings, jetties and boats abound. My favourite kind of place to explore.

4. Enjoy a Seafood Dinner in the Old Town

For 20€ at one of the many restaurants near the Forum area of the old town you can get a whole grilled fish with vegetables, a glass of wine, delicious tiramisu and espresso to finish off the meal.

5. Take a Day Trip or Evening Cruise to Brijun National Park

In the end I didn’t visit this island but it’s something I’d love to do on a return trip. You can take a local bus to Fazana for around 2€ and then a boat to the island (around 20€ for the boat and entrance fee) or take one of the many excursion boats directly from Pula. I saw a 3 hour evening cruise around the national park from 5-8pm where they point out the main sites and hope to see dolphins. The cruise is around 25€ including all the wine and beer you can drink in 3 hours.

Travel Budgeting: Croatia- Zagreb, Pula & Rovinji

Coming from Vienna, Croatia was a welcome return to budget travel. Here is what you can expect to pay in shoulder season (late April/early May).

City: Zagreb, Pula and Rovinj

Travel Style: Budget

Currency: Croatian Kuna (Kn): 1€ = 7.5Kn

Daily Spend: 43.5€ / 320Kn

 

Cost Breakdown

Accommodation:

11 nights = 145€

12€ per night for one nights a 8 bed dorm at World Wide Hostel. This place is amazing if you’re in your early 20s and still love to play beer pong every night. If not then head to Swanky Mint or similar.

15€ per night for three nights a 8 bed dorm at the Swanky Mint in Zagreb. This hostel is touted as the best in Croatia and while the bar, common areas and bedroom facilities definitely lived up to that, I had the worst night sleep during my stay because of noise out the courtyard window and squeaky wooden beds.

11€ per night for six nights a 6 bed dorm room at Riva Hostel in Pula. This hostel is in a great location, a little run down but good value for money and run by a local with a big heart. Romano has recently bought the place and plans to renovate it soon.

22€ for one night in a 4 bed dorm at Roubdabout Hostel in Rovinji. This was the cheapest option I could find but also highly recommended.

Transport:

11 days = 63.5€ 

-Flexibus from Vienna to Zagreb: 15€

-Tram to the centre: a ticket is cheap but in Zagreb tourists can often get away with not having one- unlike Budapest!!

-Walking around Zagreb- it’s small and manageable by foot

-Flixbus from Zagreb to Pula: 21€

-Pula is also small and you can walk. To get to the beach is around an hour walk from the old town, bikes can be rented for around 13€ a day. A local bus in the region costs around 2€.

-Flixbus from Pula to Rovinj: 4.5€

-Again walking around Rovinj is the way to go.

-Flixbus from Rovinj to Venice: 23€

Food & Drink:

11 days = 260€ / 23.6 day

Breakfast: 15kn (2€) for a cappuccino and large savory pastry at a local bakery

Lunch: 10Kn (1.3€) for a huge salad roll

Ice cream: 8kn (1€)

Dinner: 130Kn (18€) for whole grilled fish with vegetables, glass of white wine, amazing tiramisu and espresso at a restaurant near the Forum.

Aperitif: 10kn (1.3€) for the local Istra Bitters at the outdoor bar overlooking the Amphitheater

Activities:

11€

7€ (50kn) entrance to the amphitheater

4€ ticket to the local cinema

 

Total spent:

497.5€ / 11 nights = 43.5€ per day