Croatia Tourism

Your ultimate guide to Croatia 2021

Planning a trip to Croatia, but you are still not sure where to go? Well, you have come to the right place! Here, you will find everything you need to know about Croatia tourism. Welcome to Hrvatska!

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Top destinations

Here is our selection of the best places in Croatia. If you have enough time, make sure to visit it all. You won’t regret it!
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Beautiful nature

Croatia is blessed with stunning nature. While in the country, make sure to visit at least one national park.

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Croatian cuisine

When staying in Croatia, you can be sure you won’t be hungry. Croatian food is as delicious as the country itself is beautiful!

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Weather

Before traveling to Croatia, make sure to check out the weather report. Summer or winter, interior or coast, it all influences your trip!

What to visit in Croatia?

To help you plan your vacation, here is some important information about the main destinations in Croatia.

Zagreb

The capital of Croatia is a lovely town full of parks and cafés. It is a great starting point for those who come from neighboring countries and plan to continue traveling to the south of Croatia. Even though it is the capital of Croatia, Zagreb does not have that feeling of a big city, the atmosphere is very welcoming. It is possible to visit all the main sights in the city center on foot.

While in Zagreb, do what a local does. Sit in a coffee shop and enjoy your coffee for hours, chatting with friends and enjoying the moment. If you have more time in the capital and want to go beyond the center, visit the Maksimir Park and Zoo; the famous Mirogoj Cemetery; and the Sljeme Mountain.

St. Mark's Cathedral in Zagreb with a colorful roof
Church of St. Donatus in Zadar

Zadar

Zadar is internationally known for its beautiful sunset, considered the most beautiful one in the world. Its major attraction is the first and only Sea Organ, a construction that combines architecture, urbanism, and nature. The result is a harmonious melody created by the sea waves. Next to the Sea Organ lies another modern installation called Greeting to the Sun. The installation is made of several colored plates that capture the solar energy during the day and light up during the night, turning the place into a feast of colors. 

Besides these contemporary works, Zadar is also full of history. Make sure to visit the Roman Forum, St. Anastasia Cathedral, and the Church of St. Donatus.

Split

The city of Split is the “capital” of Dalmatia and Croatia’s second-largest city. It is home to one of the most important heritage sites in the country, the Diocletian’s Palace. The Roman Emperor Diocletian built his marvelous palace in the 4th century BC to spend his last years there. Several centuries later, the palace has grown into a city of Spalatum (today’s Split).

Besides the impressive history and valuable architecture, Split has a vibrant atmosphere, as well. It is a city of sport, music, and fashion. The narrow streets of the palace hide a new surprise at every step and every turn – numerous cafés and restaurants, souvenir shops, galleries, etc.

The Split boardwalk by night seen from the sea
The city of Hvar port with a fortress on a hill in the background

Hvar

The island of Hvar is the favorite summer destination of many travelers. The island is belowed by young people thirsting for festivities and fun, as well as by couples or families who seek a vacation on a beach.

With its historic towns, great natural beauty, hidden bays, and clear blue waters, the island of Hvar is always a good choice. It is the perfect destination if you are in search of small towns with unique charm, stone alleyways, and amazing cuisine.

Other islands worth a visit are Korčula, Brač, Mljet, Rab, Krk, and Lošinj.

Dubrovnik

Located on the very south of the Croatian coast, the city of Dubrovnik is known as the Pearl of Adriatic. The centuries-old town unites rich history, unique culture, unbelievably beautiful architecture, lovely nature, and great gastronomy. Whit all that, it’s no wonder the city is a favorite setting for famous series locations. 

To make your visit complete, do not forget to visit the city walls that make Dubrovnik so special. If you have more time to spare, take the cable car to get an extraordinary aerial view of the medieval city, or take a boat ride and see the beauty of Dubrovnik from the sea.

The walled city of Dubrovnik seen from the sea
An old roman arena made of stone

Pula

Pula is one of the great attractions of Istria, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. Istria is also known as “Croatian Italy”. The resemblance is such that the city even has its own Colosseum, the Arena of Pula, one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. The Arena offers guided visits, a permanent exhibition, and also houses concerts and other cultural events. The atmosphere of the place is incredible. Besides the Arena, there are many other Roman monuments in the city.

If you wish to see more of Istria, visit one of its many acropolis towns. Motovun, Hum, Grožnjan, Višnjan – all these are beautiful little towns built on the hills across the peninsula.

islands

km os coastline

national parks

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Beautiful nature

Croatia is widely known for its lush natural parks and waterfalls. The country has eight national parks, eleven natural parks, and two nature reserves. The most famous park is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, followed by Krka NP and Brijuni NP.

waterfalls surrounded by trees falling into a river with people bathing in it
mountain tops elevating above the sea with island in the background
narrow wooden path winding across the lake with trees around it
the remains of two ancient pillars on a field by the sea

Krka National Park

Krka National Park, located in the region of Dalmatia, is a real natural phenomenon. The park area covers the flow of the Krka and Čikola rivers, the incredible lakes that they form on their way to the sea, and seven waterfalls. It offers 22 walking trails and 3 boat tours. Each one covers a part of the national park and can also be combined with others. The biggest attraction of the park is the Skradinski buk waterfall. Unlike the Plitvice Lakes National Park, Krka National Park allows swimming in specific areas. During the summer months, park visitors can cool off on the Krka River and enjoy this breathtaking beauty in an unforgettable way!

Paklenica National Park

Paklenica National Park is located on Velebit Mountain, the largest, most challenging, and the most symbolic mountain in Croatia, which extends 150 kilometers along the Adriatic Coast and separates the Dalmatian region from the interior of the country. Paklenica is a perfect place for climbers and adventurers. The national park covers about 95 square kilometers and “houses” several gorges, towering rocks, high peaks, caves, and forests. There are several trails that visitors can choose from, which are suitable for both for beginners and experienced climbers.

Plitvice Lakes

The Plitvice Lakes National Park is certainly the most beautiful park in Croatia and one of the obligatory points for those who visit the country. The park is on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1979. What attracts most visitors is its natural formation in waterfalls. There are 16 lakes – 12 upper and 4 lower lakes, which are interconnected over many waterfalls. Open year-round, the park is as beautiful in winter as it is in summer.  Whoever visits the park during the winter has a chance to see it almost completely frozen! The largest waterfall in the park (Veliki Slap) is 78 meters high; the second-largest (Galovački Buk) is 25 meters high.

Brijuni National Park

In the region of Istria, in the north of the Adriatic Sea, lies the Brijuni National Park. The Brijuni Islands are a group of fourteen small islands with the largest island, Veliki Brijun Island, of 5,6 square kilometers. Famous for their scenic beauty, the islands are a popular vacation destination and also a national park. There are several archaeological and cultural sites on the islands. Park’s attractions include the villa of Josip Broz Tito, the president of the former Yugoslavia, his Cadillac, safari park, and a talking cockatoo!

 

About Croatia

Croatia is part of the European continent, located in the region considered as Eastern Europe, or the Balkans. The country borders with Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. It also has a maritime border with Italy on the Adriatic Sea.

The country is part of the European Union since 2013. However, Croatia is not yet part of the Schengen zone, so passports are required when passing the border with another country. 

Croatia has around 4 million inhabitants. Zagreb, the capital of the country, has approximately 800.000 inhabitants and is the largest Croatian city. Split, located in the region of the Dalmatia, is the second-largest city in the country with half of the capital’s population. The dominant religion in Croatia is Catholicism.

Tourism is so relevant to Croatia that it represents no less than 14% of the national GDP. So, the infrastructure that the region offers to visitors is significant and only tends to improve. Hundreds of hotels, award-winning restaurants, protected nature, wineries, etc., are waiting for you! Another point for Croatia is that most Croats are fluent in English. Service providers in the hospitality industry usually speak other languages as well, mostly German and Italian. 

While in Croatia, make sure to take a guided tour in some of the cities you plan to visit. That way you will get all the insights, learn the history of a place, understand the culture of its people, maybe learn a word or two of the Croatian language. But, what is just as important, you will get to know all the best spots and souvenir shops!

Although being a small country, Croatia is a very diverse one. Traveling from the interior to the coast, you will see the seasons shifting, the landscape transforming, the smells, flavors, and architecture changing. Croatia is a place of long history and tradition, and great natural beauty. There are 10 UNESCO Heritage Sites in Croatia, and much more protected intangible cultural heritage. When it comes to preserving nature, Croatia counts with 8 national parks, 11 nature parks and  several other protected areas. 

 

Itinerary suggestions

A basic itinerary, including all the top destinations, the most visited national park and several UNESCO sites, would be as follows:

Day 1     Arrival to Zagreb
Day 2    Zagreb (city tour or free day)
Day 3    Zagreb – Plitvice Lakes – Zadar
Day 4    Zadar (city tour or free day)
Day 5    Zadar – Šibenik – Split
Day 6    Split (city tour or free day)
Day 7    Split – Mali Ston – Dubrovnik
Day 8    Dubrovnik (city tour or free day)
Day 9    Departure from Dubrovnik

If you are visiting Croatia during high season, consider adding a few days more to get to know the islands:

Day 1     Arrival in Zagreb
Day 2    Zagreb (city tour or free day)
Day 3    Zagreb – Plitvice Lakes – Zadar
Day 4    Zadar (city tour or free day)
Day 5    Zadar – Šibenik – Split
Day 6    Split (city tour or free day)
Day 7    Split – Hvar (catamaran)
Day 8    Hvar (free day)
Day 9    Hvar (boat trip)
Day 10   Hvar – Dubrovnik (catamaran)
Day 11    Dubrovnik (city tour or free day)
Day 12   Departure from Dubrovnik

Red rooftops and church bell towers
Acropolis town on the top of a green hill, surrounded by forest
Beautiful church on the top of the stairs
Colorful houses on a sea

Croatian food

A very interesting aspect when traveling in Europe are the differences (and similarities) in local food and drink. Due to its location, Croatia has received influence from different sides of the world and different countries. The interior of Croatia has always been under German and Hungarian influence, while the coast has been influenced by Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. The whole Balkan peninsula has several traditional meals in common, and it mixes with all the influences that come from abroad, such as Turkey, for example, since the Ottoman Turks were in the region many years ago.

Croats are very proud of the local cuisine and beverages. Despite the similarities in the region, Croatia has a number of specific food and drinks that are considered protected cultural goods. The Mediterranean diet was inscribed in the UNESCO list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013. The countries that were recognized as the representatives are Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Morroco, and Croatia.

Along the coast, from Istria all the way to Dubrovnik, the cuisine is based on olive oil, wine, pasta, seafood, and fish. But Istrian and Dalmatian cuisine also includes a lot of red meat (pork, veal, beef, and lamb), as well as a variety of vegetables. Each meal is enriched with aromatic herbs that grow in the region, such as rosemary, lavender, sage, basil or capers. Some of the local specialties are pašticada (a spicy dish of braised beef stuffed with dried plums and bacon, served with gnocchi), brudet (a cooked dish of spiced fish, served with polenta), octopus or lamb roasted under the bell (originally called peka), grilled fish served with mangel and potato, black risotto, tuna steak, oyster soup, octopus salad, different kinds of pasta, truffels, Istrian prosciutto, sheep milk cheeses, etc.

Interior of Croatia is mostly influenced by Austro-Hungarian cuisine and has many similarities with central European countries. Traditional dishes include meat dishes with potatoes or rice, minced meat dishes, mushroom dishes, sausages with cabbage, vegetable and meat stews, freshwater fish, cottage cheese, kulen (smoked spicy sausage), štrukli (pastry filled with cottage cheese and sour cream), sarma (ground beef and cooked rice; rolled inside a cabbage leaf and served with lots of sauce), etc.

Traditional Croatian desserts include fritule (round fried pastries ), krafne (doughnuts), rožata (caramel flan), orahnjača (nut roll), makovnjača (poppy seed roll), as well as different types of pies and strudels.

 

Two bottles and four glasses on a table
Four salted sardines served on a plate
Man slicing prosciutto ham on a stick
Risotto in a bowl
Several black truffles on a plate
Roasted lamb and potatoes served on a white plate
Plate with ham, cheese, olives, and other appetizers
Bowl of octopus salad

Croatian drinks

Rakija is a national alcoholic beverage, similar to Russian vodka or Brazilian cachaça. Rakija is made through the distillation of fermented fruits, for example grapes, plums, pears, apples, apricots or figs. The most typical rakija in the interior of Croatia is šljivovica (from plums). Another common type, mainly on the coast of the country is lozovača (from grapes).

Liquor is a common alcoholic drink throughout the world, but here, in Croatia, the liquor is made from rakija. The most famous liquor in Croatia is Pelinkovac, recognized by the bitter taste of absinthe, from which it is made. In Dalmatia, the most widely known is the Maraschino liqueur (made of marasca cherry that only grows in Croatia).

Wine production also has a long tradition in Croatia. Vineyards and wineries are widespread in all parts of the country. Therefore, in Croatian restaurants, local wine is always served. White wines are mostly grown in the continental region, while red wines predominate in the coastal region. In the continental part, the most common white wine is graševina (Riesling). Other well-known white wines are traminac and pinot, while the most praised red wines are frankovka and portugizac. In Istria, the best known are malvazija, a white wine, and teran, a red wine. Despite having many good quality wines, Croatians still like to mix and dissolve the wine. The most common beverages you’ll get by mixing wine are gemišt (white wine and sparkling water), bambus (red wine and Coca Cola), and bevanda (red wine and water).

Stone stairs leading up with lilac tree on each side
A boardwalk with palm trees next to the marina with sailing boats
A park with colorful trees in autumn
An old white castle covered in snow

Weather in Croatia

Make sure to choose a right time for traveling to Croatia. The timing is important, and it not only depends on the season, but also on the places you wish to visit, because the climate changes as you travel across Croatia.

The seasons of the year in Croatia are well defined. During winter the temperatures are very low and the cold is intense. But during the summer, temperatures tend to get very high in the entire country.

The summer begins in June and gets very intense in July and August. September still has pleasant temperatures. October is a bit colder, especially in the north of Croatia. In November, the temperatures are low in the whole country. So, from November to the end of March the cold is intense. In spring (April and May), the weather is usually nice, with plenty of sun and mild temperatures.

Useful information

 

Visa regime in Croatia:
Information about the visa regime between Croatia and other countries is available on the page of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

Transportation:
Croatian Railways
Zagreb Bus Station
Zagreb Airport

Currency:
Croatian Kuna (HRK)

Money can be exchanged at exchange offices, banks, post offices, and hotels (1 EUR = +/- 7,5 HRK).
Most restaurants, hotels, and shops accept credit cards.

Official language:
Croatian

Local time:
GMT +1 hour

Electricity supply:
220V, 50Hz
Standard European two-pin plug

National holidays:
1 January – New Year’s Day
6 January – Epiphany
Easter (moveable feast)
Easter Monday (moveable feast)
1 May – Labour Day
30 May – Statehood Day
Corpus Christi (moveable feast)
22 June – Anti-Fascist Resistance Day
5 August – Homeland Thanksgiving Day
15 August – The Assumption of Mary
1 November – All Saints’ Day
18 November – Remembrance Day
25 December – Christmas
26 December – St Stephen’s Day

Important telephone numbers:
112 General Emergency
192 Police
193 Fire Department
194 Ambulance
195 Sea Rescue
11802 International Information

Country code +385

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Croatia tourism – Your ultimate guide to Croatia 2019 was last modified: May 21st, 2020 by Marilia Oliveira

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