Croatia is quickly becoming one of the most popular holiday destinations not only in Eastern Europe but in the world. Known for its astounding natural beauty, rich heritage, fascinating history, and diverse culture, it truly is a magnificent place to vacation.
But, one of the most difficult things to do when planning a vacation is deciding what you want to see and do during the limited time you have. My greatest fear as a holidaymaker in a new location is to miss out on incredible sights and attractions while wasting my time on things that simply aren’t worth it, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way!
Well, to ensure that you don’t make these mistakes in Croatia, I’ve put together a list of 10 things that were absolutely worth doing along with one that simply wasn’t worth the effort.
1. Diocletian’s Palace in Split
Built in the third century AD, the Diocletian’s Palace was built for the ancient Roman emperor, Diocletian, and today, it takes up about half of the old town of Split, Croatia. In reality, it’s more of a giant fortress than a palace, but the history of the building is incredible.
It was deemed a World Heritage Site towards the end of the 20th century, and today, tourists can go inside – you can wander around the palace, check out the buildings and its mysterious basements, and visit the museums too. It’s a fascinating place, and the immense history is palpable.
2. Pula Arena
Pula Arena is an absolute must-visit in Croatia – in fact, many people refer to it as the slightly quieter and less touristy version of the Colosseum in Rome. It’s slightly smaller than the Colosseum, but Pula Arena is another ancient Roman amphitheater, and it was constructed between 27 BC and AD 68. It’s the only Roman amphitheater that has four completely preserved and intact walls still standing, and today, you can wander around and have a proper look – it’s incredible!
3. Dubrovnik’s Old Town
Easily one of the best-preserved medieval cities in all of Europe, Dubrovnik’s Old Town is full of old cobbled streets, beautiful old fountains, palaces, monasteries, and Baroque-style churches. Located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, it’s also absolutely beautiful, boasting incredible views of the sea and surrounding scenery. Walking around the Old Town of Dubrovnik is spectacular, and it feels like you’re stepping back in time!
A historic harbor town on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, Trogir is full of Baroque and Romanesque buildings – in fact, the town has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its incredible architecture. It’s a beautiful little town to walk around – due to the buildings, monuments, and scenery – and it’s only about 30 minutes from Split by car, making it totally worth the visit.
5. Krka National Park
Croatia is largely known for its absolutely exquisite natural scenery, and Krka National Park proves why. It’s beautifully green and full of delightful fauna, flora, and roaring waterfalls. It covers 109 square kilometers, and visiting (and swimming in) the waterfalls is a bucket list experience. There’s even a monastery located within the park!
6. Hvar Island
Just off the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, Hvar Island strikes the perfect balance between natural, scenic beauty and awe-inspiring historical architecture. The island is home to a 13th-century hilltop fortress and a Renaissance cathedral, as well as pristine beaches and coves, and picture-perfect lavender fields.
Rovinj is known for being a popular destination for summertime getaways, and for good reason! It lies just west of the Istrian Peninsula, and it’s surrounded by a gorgeous archipelago of little islands. There’s loads to do, from enjoying the beaches and outdoor attractions to visiting monuments, and famous buildings, and perusing the farmers’ markets. Rovinj is the second most visited destination in Croatia, and I totally see why.
A trip to this 295-square-kilometer forest reserve is sure to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. You’ll find lakes, waterfalls, canyons, and an overwhelming amount of greenery, making it the perfect place to hike and explore, enjoying the Croatian countryside.
9. Cavtat Old Town
Cavtat Old Town, only 19 kilometers from Dubrovnik, is a beautiful, old little Croatian town on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, but it’s not quite like all the other nearby towns. Full of gorgeous old churches, Cavtat is far quieter than the other famous old towns nearby, and if you really want some peace and quiet, enjoy a walk along the peninsula.
10. Lokrum Island
Lokrum Island is an awesome spot to visit while you’re in Dubrovnik, and it’s also really quick and easy to get there from the mainland – about 10 minutes via ferry. It’s absolutely beautiful, and on the island, you’ll find botanical gardens as well as a monastery that dates back to the days of Austrian Archduke Maximillion. Today, one of the most popular things to do here is have a swim (although there isn’t a lot of beach area, so you’ll have to wander a bit) and have a drink.
One Thing In Croatia That I Would Skip Next Time: Makarska
Makarska is a seaside town on the Dalmatian Coast, and there’s no doubt about it – it’s beautiful. The scenery is gorgeous and there are loads of restaurants, bars, and nightlife. But overall, it’s just way too busy, and that takes away from the experience.
If you’re there at peak season, it’s absolutely heaving, and you’ll just be surrounded by foreigners and everything will be full and expensive. And, if you go during the off-season, the weather will be terrible and everything will be closed. My suggestion? Skip it altogether and pick another coastal town!
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