With 1,244 islands, islets and crags to be exact, and every one of them surrounded by crystal clear waters, it’s time to come aboard! Island hopping is undoubtedly the best way to discover the Croatian coast from a truly dazzling perspective.
From Zagreb, it’s capital city of old-world charm and surrounding regions of quaint towns and castles, down along the magnificent coastline of Istria, Kvarner, Dalmatia to Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic, there are countless activities to consider all along the way. Each region has its own unique offering of historic and cultural sites, churches and cathedrals, old Roman ruins and vast expansive National and Nature Parks to explore. For those who love the sea, the coastline of 1.244 islands, some of which are still unexplored can be the ultimate sailing adventure, while foodies can revel in the rolling hills of Istria where truffle hunting and sampling some of the best olive oils and wines can be experienced, all while exploring the various towns and villages along the way, it all depends on your preference.
Some recommended activities include:
• Sailing along the Adriatic Coast
• Exploring National Parks and UNESCO sites
• Walking Dubrovnik’s Old City Walls
• Kayaking around Dubrovnik and Lokrum Island, also called, “The Island of Love”
• Discovering the glorious old town of Korcula, Marco Polo's alleged house of birth
• Tasting oysters and hand-harvesting sea salt in Ston (Head to the Peljesac Peninsula!)
• Exploring the historical complex of Split, especially the Palace of Diocletian
• Discovering the UNESCO city of Trogir, the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex in Central Europe
• Partying on the island of Hvar, known for its beaches, history and excellent fish restaurants
• Playing in the sun on Croatia’s most popular beach, Zlatni Rat
• Diving for sea sponges around Krapanj Island
• Sailing around the Kornati Islands National Park
• Soaking in the sunset in Zadar
• Discovering the natural beauty of Plitvice Lakes
• Enjoying Opatija, a city with a rich history, vast cultural presence and style
• Relaxing in the many health and wellness offering on Losinj Island, the island of Vitality (Get spiritual!)
• Exploring medieval hilltop towns in Istria (Motovun, Buzet, Groznjan, etc.)
• Be like a gladiator at the Pula Arena, a grand and ancient amphitheater that is still operational today!
• Fall back in love in Rovinj, one of the most romantic city on the Croatian coast
• Get cultural at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb
• Get into the holiday spirit at the Christmas Market in Zagreb
• Live Like a Local, by taking part in grape harvesting and wine producing, fishing with local fisherman, olives picking and production of olive oil, hand harvesting sea salt, oyster farming, hunting for wild asparagus and preparing a delicious risotto or homemade pasta with a local chef, truffle hunting, or simply immersing oneself into Croatian culture and lifestyle.
• Explore Croatia’s exceptional wines through winery tours and tastings
• Truffle hunting in Istria
Croatia, well-known as a land of a thousand islands, should also be known as the land of a thousand castles: medieval feudal fortified castles, castles and curiae. Many located in Northern Croatia built after the wars with the Ottomans in the 17th century,
Renaissance summer houses and rural country-house castles in Southern Dalmatia, especially in the Dubrovnik area. Hrvatsko Zagorje, has the largest density of castles and curiae in Europe, most of which belong to the Baroque period, showing excellent craftsmanship in building and architecture.
Croatia is full of thousand-year old cities whose origins are often related to different legends, such as Zagreb, Rovinj, Pula, Zadar, Nin, Šibenik, Trogir, Split, Hvar, Korcula, Dubrovnik, and many others. These can be traced from the past, especially antiquities, which are still visible in places, starting from the magnificent Roman amphitheater in Pula, to Zadar and its Forum Romanum - the largest excavated forum on the eastern side of the Adriatic, and of course, including the magnificent palace of the Emperor Diocletian in Split. Other monument highlights include: Pre-Romanesque church of St. Domnius in Zadar from 9th century; Romanesque city of Trogir, and the island of Krk and Rab. Gothic monuments can be found in Zagreb, Pazin, or in the town of Ston on the Pelješac peninsula. Discover the Renaissance in Osor on the island of Cres, in the Šibenik Cathedral, on the islands of Hvar and Korcula, and finally, in very unique Dubrovnik. The towns of Varaždin, Bjelovar and Vukovar glow with the splendor of the Baroque period, while the heritage of the 19th century is at its best in Rijeka, Osijek and, of course, in downtown Zagreb. Medieval Istrian cities, situated on naturally protected hilltops, play an important part in cultural heritage. From the outside they appear as fortresses, but inside their walls they nurture medieval towns full of life and intersected with narrow, curvy streets. The centers of city life are its church and the central square.
It is important to know that the first European calendar was found in Croatia. It was drawn on a ceramic pot created between 3000 and 2400 BC in Vucedol near Vukovar. This was a period when the Mesopotamian cuneiform letter and an Egyptian hieroglyphic letter were used.
Whether city beaches like Banje in Dubrovnik, or off-the-beaten track like those of Korcula Island, sandy Lastovo or pebbly beaches like Brela, or even relaxing secluded beaches of Vis Island, or lively party destinations on the island of Pag, or surfing in Brac, Croatia has spectacular beaches, ranging from family- friendly to nudist, and certainly all are unspoiled.
Some are considered to be among the most beautiful in the world, for example Brac Island’s beaches are made up of fine white pebbles, and sandy beaches can be found on Sakarun on the Dugi Otok Island, or Paradise Beach in the Lopar Bay on the Island of Rab.
Croatia has a wealth of different beaches, and the majority have blue-flag status, guaranteeing water quality, safety and services. In fact, 97.96% of the 884 sampled where qualified as excellent for bathing. Whether you want are seeking adventures by sailing, or in search of a romantic hidden beaches, or to relax under the sun with your family, spending time in Croatia is a good time to choose your paradise destination to help you hit the reset button!
Croatia is brimming with cultural happenings, including museums, galleries, churches, architecture, historical sites, and archeological treasures. Thanks to its geographical location, Croatia is known for where four cultural circles meet—West, East, Central European, and Mediterranean.
The crowning jewels of the Country’s unique cultural offerings are undoubtedly the eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, which include:
• The old city of Dubrovnik, designated on UNESCO’s list since 1979, this remarkably intact walled city offers centuries of history and architecture, including Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces, and fountains.
• Diocletian’s Palace in Split, built on the peninsula near the great Roman city of Salona during the Middle Ages, this stunning palace is one the most significant and best preserved works of late-ancient architecture.
• Euphrasian Basilica in Porec, located in Istria, the basilica dates back to the sixth century and is one of the best examples of early Byzantine art and architecture.
• The historical city of Trogir, one of the best preserved Romanesque-Gothic complexes in Central Europe.
• Plitvice Lakes, the Country’s largest National Park is one of the country’s top five most popular attractions, with 16 lakes that cascade one into another and each feature distinctive, vibrant colors.
• The Cathedral of St. James in Šibenik, a must-see site is one of the most important Renaissance-era architectural monuments in the Adriatic region.
• Stari Grad Plain on the island of Hvar, was recognized by UNESCO for its agricultural landscape which has been intact since the ancient Greeks of the fourth century BC used it to grow grapes and olives.
• Stecci Medieval Tombstones and Graveyards, which represents medieval traditions that date between the 12th and 16th centuries. The graveyard is laid out in rows, as was European custom in the Middle Ages with carved tombstones made from limestone that are embellished with intricate motives and inscriptions. Today they are considered priceless artifacts.
Croatia is also home to more than 100 castles and fortifications, the most famous being the Walls of Ston, built to protect the city of Ston and the Republic of Ragusa from conquerors in the 14th and 15th century. Structures include 20 remaining towers (of the original 40) and five fortresses.
In addition to the Walls of Ston, other sites to visit include:
• Korcula’s Medieval Walls
• Lovrijenac Fortress
• Hvar Fortress
• Klis Fortress
• Knin Fortress
• St. Michael's Fortress
• Trakošcan Castle
• Bežanec Castle
• Erdut Castle
• Osijek Fortress
• Odescalchi Castle and Medieval Walls in the Town of Ilok and many more.
Croatia’s appreciation for various forms of art is evidenced by the ever-growing number of festivals and events within the country. The wide range of cultural events includes contemporary music festivals, cutting-edge electronica festivals, and art exhibitions, as well as food festivals highlighting Croatian cuisine. In addition to cultural events, Croatia hosts several events focusing on the country’s history, which have been among the country's cultural highlights for decades.
A few notable festivals are:
• Kvarner Riviera Carnival, Rijeka (January/February)
• The Festival of Oysters, Mali Ston, Peljesac (March)
• Zagreb Time Machine, Zagreb (April-October)
• INmusic Festival, Zagreb (June)
• International Children’s Festival, Sibenik (July)
• Cest is d’Best, Zagreb (July)
• Dalmatian Harmony Singing Festival, Omis (July)
• Pula Film Festival, Pula (July)
• Dubrovnik Summer Festival (July/August)
• The Split Summer, Split (July/August)
• Musical Evenings in St. Donatus, Zadar (July/August)
• The Alka of Sinj, Sinj (August)
• Spancirfest Street Festival, Varazdin (August/September)
• Varazdin Baroque Evenings (September)
• Outlook Festival, Pula (September)
• World Theatre Festival, Zagreb (September/October)
• Truffle days in Istria, Livade (October-November)
• Advent in Zagreb (December)
For those seeking action and adventure, Croatia is the ideal destination with its fantastic mix of incredible coastal landscapes, lovely indented coastlines, coves, beaches sheltered by pine woods, and quaint, picturesque coastal towns and villages scattered along the mainland coast and on hundreds of islands and isles. The Croatian coast is a paradise for yachtsmen and divers. The beautifully preserved natural environment is an ideal destination for those who love walking, hiking, mountaineering, and camping. For the more adventurous, the rapids and rivers from Central Croatia to Dalmatia, the heights of the Biokovo Mountain on the mainland, and Vidova Gora in the island of Brac, all provide unparalleled excitement and challenges with activities including rafting, parachuting, and paragliding.
Sailing and water sports are key activities with the 1,244 islands, islets and reefs we mentioned earlier, crystal-clear waters, and an incredible 3,625-mile coastline, Croatia is a paradise for anyone who likes to spend time on, or in the water. Sail in crystal-clear blue waters stretching from Istria to Dubrovnik and explore everything along the way while docking at one of the world-class marinas, or anchored along some of the best beaches in Europe. Marinas can be found in both large towns and on small islands, and many of the country’s best restaurants and wine cellars situated alongside these ports. For those who’d rather get in the water, we’re proud of our numerous diving locations, which feature archeological sites and 576 species of sea life. The most popular sites include those around the Kvarner Gulf, and islands of Vis, Hvar, Brac, Mljet, and Lastovo.
Croatia is the ideal place to enjoy with your family. Take advantage of all the possibilities you will find from our largest cities to smallest towns, beaches, outdoor activities and the great natural diversity of the country, all as you enjoy the experience surrounded by your loved ones.
Enjoy Croatia’s natural diversity with a trip to the National Parks, explore fascinating mountain ranges, canyons, forests and countryside paths. Have fun at water parks, such as Istralandia, Solaris Aquapark or Aquacolors Porec. Ride your bikes through breathtaking landscapes, sleep under the stars by camping at Paklenica National Park or simply enjoy a day at the beach with the whole family.
Children can celebrate their creativity in Šibenik during the months of June and July, as the town becomes a town of children. Enjoy all the artistic forms of their creative drive in the town’s squares in a unique cultural event designed for the whole family. This festival has the support of UNICEF and UNESCO and the permanent sponsorship of the President of Croatia for its concept and its humanitarian aims.
Croatia is a unique destination because so many cultures intersect here, which also means it has become a destination for food and wine lovers. Modern Croatian cuisine is influenced by proto-Slavic and ancient times, blending a variety of ingredients and traditional preparations from both coastal and continental areas. Recent contact with Hungarian, Viennese, and Turkish cuisines also influence flavors and preparations.
Aperitifs such as the world famous Maraschino of Zadar, starters such as cheese from Pag, ham and kulenova seka of Slavonia, oysters and mussels from Ston, delicious grilled fish, salted anchovies, delicacies such as eels and frogs from the Neretva Valley, turkey with mlinci, pašticada from Split, and desserts like puddings, Kotonjata, kroštule or fritule are among the many dishes in an unforgettable menu that will conquer your senses. Not only is Croatia’s charming romantic towns connected by vineyards, but its old ancient olive oil routes. Some of Croatia’s olive oil are award-winning and an exceptional addition to any meal. The Istria region is also known for its black and white truffles, with one of the largest white truffles ever discovered still holding the Guinness Book of World Records!
Croatian wines have gained notable buzz globally and the region is quickly becoming the destination for modern winemaking. Stemming from ancient times, at least 2500 years ago, the vineyards have developed their type and sort and has adapted to the specific climate and soil from which they originated – all the way up to current day. Croatia is the homeland of the grape variety that Americans call Zinfandel and the Italians Primitivo, but is actually the Croatian variety Tribidrag, (aka Crljenak). This was proven by Professor Dr. Carole Meredith from the University of California Davis in a scientific paper published in 2002. After decades of searching for the identity of this exceptionally popular variety, Croatia has finally established its place in history as being its homeland, where it has been at present and as early as the 15th century, and is related to numerous other local varieties.
Some of Croatia’s cultural attractions are the oldest in the world and absolutely worth a visit. Here are five (pre-) historical artefacts that culture vultures should not miss!
Apoxyomenos on the island of Lošinj - Apoxyomenos is an ancient Greek bronze statue from the 2nd or 1st century BC, a Hellenistic copy from the 4th century. The 192 cm tall artifact represents an athlete cleaning his body with a scraping tool (the Greek word “Apoxyomenos” translates to “the scraper.”) Although it is believed that this particular artistic motif was not uncommon, there are only eight statues left in the world, and none is better preserved than the one that was found on Lošinj. The statue was discovered by a tourist on the bottom of the sea near the island of Lošinj. How did the statue get to the bottom of the sea? Well, presumably it was thrown overboard by a ship crew during bad weather to prevent the ship from sinking. After its recovery in 1999, it underwent a seven year restoration process. Today, Apoxyomenos has its own museum on Lošinj.
Danse Macabre in Beram - The Church of St. Mary of the Rocks, located in the woods near the town of Beram, may be small and isolated, but this remoteness has turned out to be a stroke of luck for culture lovers as it has left the valuable late-gothic frescos inside the chapel’s walls largely intact. Most of the paintings, which were all made by Vincent of Kastav, show scenes from the lives of Mary and Jesus. The biggest and most impressive, however, is a version of the “Danse Macabre,” a medieval allegory on the universality of death. In this masterpiece, we see merchants, knights, noblemen and even the pope dance with death. The procession is led by a skeleton playing bagpipe. Danse Macabre paintings were meant to remind people of the fragility of life. The painting at St. Mary of the Rocks is from the 1470s, making it one of the earliest recorded examples of the Danse Macabre!
Vucedol Dove & the oldest European calendar at Vukovar City Museum - The archeological location Vucedol is situated on the banks of the Danube River, about 5 km downstream of Vukovar. It is one of the most important archeological sites of the Eneolithic culture. The settlement flourished between 3000 and 2400 BC and therefore is consistent with the Sumerian period in Mesopotamia, the Old Kingdom in Egypt and the first settlements of Troy. The material culture, especially the production of ceramics, suggests a highly developed civilization due to its extraordinary technological quality and perfect harmony of form and ornamentation. Perhaps the culture’s most famous legacy is the Vucedol Dove, a 20 cm high, richly decorated cult vessel shaped like a bird. Another famous artefact is the Vucedol Orion, a ceramic pot with a decorative pattern, considered to be the oldest calendar in Europe. Both the Vucedol Dove and Orion are kept at the Vukovar City Museum, along with other important findings and fascinating background information on the Vucedol culture.
Zagreb Mummy in the Zagreb Museum of Archaeology - You do not have to travel all the way to Egypt to see a real mummy. In Zagreb’s Museum of Archaeology, you will find the Zagreb Mummy, a true world rarity. The mummy and its wrappings were brought to Zagreb from Egypt in the 1860s. Upon closer inspection, it turned out that the pieces of cloth the mummy was once wrapped in were covered with strange characters, apparently a text in an unknown language. Eventually, scientists Heinrich Brugsch and Richard Burton (not the actor who played Mark Antony in the movie “Cleopatra“) discovered that the mysterious writings were not, as originally assumed, hieroglyphics, but ancient Etruscan. The canvas on which it was written (and which was later used to prepare the mummy) is known today as the “Liber linteus Zagrebiensis” (Linen book of Zagreb). It contains 1,130 words on five subsequent strips and is the longest known text in the Etruscan language. Also, it is the only preserved sample of a linen book from the classical age. However, what the writings actually say and what strips of cloth inscribed with a language by a people of ancient Italy were doing wrapped around a mummy from Egypt, remains a mystery…
Neanderthal remains in the Museum of Neanderthals in Krapina - With a population of only 5,000 people, Krapina is a somewhat tranquil place. However, the small town in the Zagorje region in Northern Croatia is also home to one of the world’s most important archaeological sites regarding Neanderthal man. Dating back to 1899, when the fossil remains of several dozen individuals were found on Hušnjakovo hill in Krapina. The findings turned out to be the largest and richest collection of Neanderthal people collected at a single location. At the discover site, it was incorporated into the surrounding countryside of Hušnjakovo, there is now the state-of-the-art Krapina Neanderthal Museum. With its semi-cave, multimedia presentations and several paths connecting the museum with the excavation site itself, the building resembles the habitat of the Neanderthals and takes the visitors back to prehistoric times.
There are many sites in the country that are so well-preserved, one can consider a visit to be visiting a living museum, and specifically UNESCO designated cities of Trogir and Dubrovnik’s Old Town. However, in a country with such a rich and deep history going back centuries, it is no surprise that some of the best contribution to arts and culture can also be experienced in museums throughout the country.
We have listed some of the most notable museums below:
Museum of Broken Relationships
Croatian Museum of Naive Art
Museum of Illusions
Archaeological Museum and Andautonia Archaeological Park
Zagreb City Museum
The Apoxyomen Museum
Archaeological Museum Zadar
Museum of Ancient Glass
Mausoleum of Ivan Meštrovic
Town Museum of Šibenik
Ivan Meštrovic Gallery
Archaeological Museum Split
City Museum of Split
Museum of Modern Art
Croatia offers a rare range of geographic diversity, with more than 320 protected flora species and 300 protected animal species, including brown bears, griffon vultures, wolves, and lynx.
Croatia has 8 national parks and 11 natural parks that offer endless opportunities for nature lovers to enjoy our European landscape up-close.
The 8 National Parks include:
1. Brijuni Archipelago
2. Kornati Archipelago
3. Krka Waterfalls
4. Mljet Island
5. Northern Velebit
8. Plitvice Lakes
Croatia’s 11 Parks of Nature include:
2. Kopacki rit
3. Lastovo archipelago
4. Lonjsko polje
11. Vransko Lake
Croatia’s long history with gastronomic excellence is rooted in its connection to an abundance of exceptional ingredients from its land and sea. There are exceptional restaurants all over the country, but most notably, one was recently recognized by the Michelin Guide with the country’s first ever Michelin star - Monte, in Rovinj, located in the Istrian region known for its culinary offerings of seafood, truffles and exceptional wines.