Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to make a purchase.
Looking for a vacation destination with a little bit of everything? We have the perfect destination for you: Croatia!
You’ll find Croatia on the Balkan Peninsula, right across from Italy. Thanks to its Mediterranean location, visitors enjoy gorgeous weather pretty much year-round. And though it’s relatively small, this country along the Adriatic Sea is geographically diverse, offering visitors a mix of forests, beaches, mountains, islands, and historic cities to explore!
So what are the best places to visit in this gorgeous country? Check out our list below to find out!
1. Plitvice National Park
For lovers of forests and waterfalls, the stunning views of Plitvice National Park in central Croatia are a must! This spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site has 16 interconnecting lakes that turn into breathtaking waterfalls as they tumble down into each other. Plus, the lakes range in color from blue to turquoise to gray, creating a beautiful aquatic rainbow down the Dinarides mountainside.
Additionally, the surrounding forests in the park’s 74,000 acres boast ancient trees and a spectacular mix of wildlife from lynx to bears!
You’ll find Dubrovnik perched at the southern tip of Croatia, right on the Adriatic Sea. While you may have to fight some fellow tourists as you explore, you’ll quickly see why Dubrovnik is nicknamed “The Pearl of the Adriatic”. This medieval town has preserved much of its original 7th-century charm with cobblestone streets, massive walls, and fortified city gates. Add in the iconic orange rooftops, and the city is picture-perfect.
Visitors can enjoy many local activities, including Banje and Lapad beaches, historic Old Towne, Onofrio Fountain, and the impregnable Fort Lovrijenac (pictured in Game of Thrones). There is also a Franciscan Monastery near the Pile Gate, which has the oldest operating pharmacy in Europe!
Get a taste of Croatian island life on the 20-mile-long island of Korcula. Although it’s small, Korcula has an array of beautiful towns and smaller villages to explore, many of which offer a secluded experience among the dense forests, vineyards, and olive groves.
This tiny island is most popular in the summer months when festivals and dances occur every week, and visitors can catch frequent ferries from Split and Dubrovnik. However, you can enjoy the architecture year-round, and each town offers something unique. Blato has baroque churches, Lambarda has ruins from Greek and Roman times, and Korcula Town has medieval architecture similar to Dubrovnik.
4. Krka National Park
Another must-visit spot for nature lovers is Krka National Park in the foothills of Dinara Mountain. This vast park features stunning, blue-green waters and a system of 7 waterfalls that cascade down the rock faces in wide rivulets.
The park also has a fantastic walkway system that allows guests to stroll right across the vast pool at the base of the famous Skradinski Buk falls. But the best way to explore the park is through a boat ride up and down the river, which is conveniently included with the entrance fee. And for those with an adventurous spirit, it’s even possible to swim beneath some of the waterfalls!
For sunbathing, wine, and lavender enthusiasts, Hvar is the island to visit! This lush island off the Dalmatian Coast offers a variety of relaxing activities and thriving nightlife scenes to fit every visitor’s style.
The quaint towns of Stari Grad and Jelsa offer quiet, rustic settings to explore. Alternatively, Hvar Town is an upscale hotspot for partygoers. However, all the island’s cities have unique elements to take in, from cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings to bright red roofs and Gothic architecture.
For those seeking peace and quiet, head outside the city walls to relish in the scent of massive lavender fields or taste local wine from one of the long-established vineyards. Then, soak in the sun on one of the island’s sandy beaches or take a boat excursion to the nearby Palenki Islands.
If you’re a fan of ancient Roman architecture, Pula offers a unique setting to experience it! This lovely seaside city on the Istrian Peninsula features one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in existence, right next to the gorgeous harbor.
Other notable historic sites include the Kastel fortress, a Byzantine Basilica, and the Temple of Augustus, which was dedicated to Rome’s first emperor.
Pula also offers many seaside cafes, a unique crane art installation called Lighting Giants, a WWII tunnel system, and an aquarium inside a 130-year-old fort!
No matter what type of adventure you love best, Croatia has it! And because this incredible country is less than half the size of Florida, you can easily visit many different sites on one trip. So next time you’re in the mood for a diverse range of activities and landscapes, head to Croatia and do it all!