There are so many things to do in Croatia, it can be hard to choose. Our guide covers what to see in the best cities and islands, and everything in between.
Croatia: The Ultimate Guide
There are plenty of things to do in Croatia for every type of traveller. From a family trip down the Dalmatian Coast, to a beachside pitstop on a Central European backpacking tour, there’s something for everyone in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Croatia travel essentials
- The capital city is Zagreb, with a population of approximately 687,000 citizens.
- The official language spoken in Croatia is Croatian.
- The Croatian Kuna (HRK) is the official currency of Croatia. The exchange rate is roughly 5kn for every Canadian dollar.
- Croatia is a member of the European Union. However, it is not part of the Schengen area. That means you will need your passport to cross into other countries.
- Time zone is Central European Time (GMT/UTC plus one hour).
Popular Things to Do in Croatia
From island hopping in the Adriatic Sea to reenacting scenes from Game of Thrones, these are some of the best things to do in Croatia.
Go island hopping
Most people associate island hopping with Greece, but Croatia has more than 1,244 islands and islets to explore. Near Istria, the Brijuni Islands are home to Roman villa remains, a safari park, and the Ulysses Theatre, which puts on productions every summer. Take a ferry from Zadar to Dugi Otok island to explore its hilltop hamlets and fishing villages. Lopud, Mljet, Korčula are great options if you’ve run out of things to do in Dubrovnik. Meanwhile, Brač, Lastovo, and Vis are good choices near Split.
Visit a museum
Croatia may be best known for its outdoor activities, but there are many indoor adventures and things to do when it’s raining, too. One of your best bets may be to visit a museum on your trip, and there are several quirky galleries across the country with affordable admission prices. Consider visiting Tesla’s Birthplace Museum in Gospić or the Ivan Meštrović Gallery in Split. For an offbeat experience, the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb showcases a series of heartbreaking mementos.
Hike in a National Park
Croatia is home to eight National Parks, and Plitvice Lakes National Park, near Zagreb, is by far the most popular. Known for its terraced lakes, alpine forests, legendary caves, and cascading waterfalls, there’s at least a day’s worth to see and do. There are buses and ferries that transport travellers from Zagreb to the park. Plan on leaving as early as possible, as it gets crowded here! Some accommodation is available at the park if you’re planning to spend an overnight. Krka National Park is another popular option with its series of seven waterfalls and hiking trails built over ancient Roman catacombs. Also, a boat trip down the river or dip into the lagoon are a refreshing way to enjoy the park’s natural treasures.
Visit a Game of Thrones location
Game of Thrones may have wrapped, but that shouldn’t stop you from paying a quixotic visit to one of its filming locations. There’s a reason why producers chose Dubrovnik and Split and surrounding areas to film the hit TV show, and it has something to do with Croatia being one of the most beautiful places in the world. Diocletian’s Palace, Klis Fortress and a quarry in Žrnovnica, just northeast of Split, appear in Season Four. There’s even a recently opened Game of Thrones museum in Split, and tours can be booked here. Meanwhile, Dubrovnik’s West Harbour doubles as Blackwater Bay and Kings Landing’s harbour in the show.
Tour Croatia’s wine country
The Croatian countryside is scattered with wineries and vineyards. Rent a car or join a tour to explore the local wines Croatia’s unique climate has to offer. The Istrian peninsula, especially, has earned a reputation its culinary specialties. Visit Coronica Winery, located south of Umag, to sample vintages made from indigenous grapes. Clai Winery, in Krasica, produces natural wines made from native Malvasia, Refosco, and Muscat varietals.
Sunbathe on a seaside beach
One of the most popular things to do in Croatia is kickback on a beach. With the Adriatic Sea as its western border, there are countless beaches, lidos, and coves to choose from along the coast or on an island. Nicknamed the “golden cape,” Zlatni Rat on Brač island stretches into a pointy, pebble-lined triangle. Meanwhile, Punta Rata in Brela offers a dip with the Biokovo mountain range in view. Or head to Sovinje Beach on Pašman island where clothing is optional.
Things to Do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
It’s worth setting aside a few days to explore all that Dubrovnik, Croatia, has to offer. Known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” the terracotta-rooftop city’s Old Town is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque churches and palaces.
Surrounded by an ancient city wall and the blue Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik’s seaside vistas have made the city a popular filming location for Game of Thrones and Star Wars, among others. Among the top things to do and see in the city include a trip on the Cablecar, a visit to the 14th-century Franciscan Monastery and its historic pharmacy, and explore the Rector’s Palace.
Things to Do in Split, Croatia
A visit to Diocletian’s Palace remains one of the most popular things to do in Split, Croatia. Constructed in the 4th century, the colossal fortress of Roman emperor Diocletian is one of the best-preserved sites on the Adriatic coast. The octagonal Cathedral of St. Domnius is another important historical site as well. Additionally, spend some time visiting one of Split’s many museums, from the Museum of Senses to the Archaeological Museum. When you’re done exploring, hunker down in a tavern for the day’s catch and a local pint.
Things to Do in Zagreb, Croatia
As the capital of Croatia, Zagreb is in many ways the epicentre of urban Croatian culture. Walk the pedestrian-friendly Tkalčićeva Street through the Upper Town and stop in at the double-spired Zagreb Cathedral and the medieval St. Mark’s Church. Afterwards, take the funicular down to the more modern Lower Town to visit the Grič Tunnel WIII bomb shelter, visit the open-air Dolac Market, and take in the city’s nightlife.
Getting Around Croatia
Renting a car is an easy way to explore the many things to do in Croatia. Drivers are required to carry an International Driving Permit. As in Canada, the use of a cell phone is not permitted when driving, and penalties for drinking and driving are severe. Also, be sure to note that right turns at red lights are not allowed.
While the train network is not that extensive, it’s an affordable option that showcases stunning views of the countryside and coast. A trip from Zagreb to Split will take approximately six hours, and cost between 165–181 kn ($34-$36.50). So if you plan to do If Croatia is just one stop of many on a tour of Central Europe, it may be worthwhile to purchase a Eurail Pass.
Depending on which islands you plan to visit, there are many ferries that can be boarded from the ports of most cities. Check the Croatia map at Croatiaferries.com to find ferry port sites, timetables, and ticket prices.
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