Discover this Balkan beauty with our guide to Croatia's unmissable destinations
Croatia is a firm holiday favourite – and with good reason, as there’s so much to discover
Its long unspoilt coastline, which hugs the Adriatic, has over 1,000 beautiful islands to explore – leading many visitors compare it with Greece 25 years ago. Elsewhere the country boats some of Europe’s most beautiful cities, such as charming Dubrovnik or the cool capital, Zagreb.
Wondering where to go in Croatia? If you’re planning a trip to this Balkan beauty, here are the best places to visit…
Those in the know are swapping Italy’s Amalfi Coast for what Lord Byron famously called ‘the pearl of the Adriatic’ (Beyoncé and Jay-Z have since holidayed in Dubrovnik). And it isn’t difficult to see the appeal; the winding cliff-hugging roads on the drive from Dubrovnik airport is all terracotta rooftops and lush green hillsides to the left, clear blue, sparkling waters to the right.
This atmospheric medieval walled city is the jewel in Croatia’s glittering crown. It was one of the main film locations for Game of Thrones (fans will recognise it as King’s Landing). It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has plenty of Baroque churches, trickling fountains and elegant stone palazzi to explore in the pedestrian-only old town.
Connected to the mainland by bridge, Primosten is a residential haven with picture perfect, brightly coloured cottages.
A windswept walk around the waterfront should be finished with coffee on the seafront – the perfect spot to take an Instagram-worthy holiday snap.
Krka National Park
Located along the river of the same name, this 142 square kilometre nature reserve is renowned for its series of seven waterfalls, particularly Skradinski Buk, one of the country’s most famous sights.
Pack your swimsuit, as bathing is possible in some locations within the park. There’s also various hiking trails to explore.
The tiny town of Skradin is nestled at the entrance to Krka National Park, and is the place to refuel. Take the cobbled hill up through residential alleys to find Skala restaurant, which provides a stunning view of the port. The fresh octopus salad comes recommended.
This tiny island (it’s just 20 miles by two) is a world away from Croatia’s better-known destinations. Famed for its healing air, wellness and vitality are the order of the day here, so be sure to book into one of the island’s luxury spa hotels.
Getting there is a little trickier – you’ll need to book a private flight from the capital, Zagreb, or else go by bus or train – but you’ll be rewarded with a blissful mix of beaches, culture and mountains. Oh, and there’s also over 2,500 hours of sunshine a year.
It’s known as the golden island for a reason. Almost untouched, the tiny town has banned cars and off peak it’s almost empty. You’ll never feel as relaxed anywhere.
Add in an incredible tuna steak at Konoba Aldura restaurant (mains from £5) at sunset, overlooking the calm sea and you’ll never, ever want to leave.
With a shoreline to rival the Amalfi Coast, visit this coastal town and absorb some Dalmatian culture – with added lively nightlife to boot. To learn more about the incredible architecture, a guided tour (from just £18 per person) is highly recommend.
Visitors to Croatia often stick to the coastline, and although the capital, Zagreb, lacks the Adriatic views, it still offers a charming medieval town, colourful buildings, lots of museums, great food and a vibrant nightlife.
The city’s Christmas market has consistently been voted the best in Europe, making Zagreb a great place to visit in the winter months. If you visit at Christmas, be sure to hit Tkalciceva Street – formerly a river before being converted in the 19th century – lined with cafés, bars and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to warm up with a festive hot chocolate and watch the world go by.
Travellers in the know head to Split, Croatia’s second largest city, which is heaving with restaurants, bars and ancient sites. Must-see sights include the 4th century Diocletian’s Palace, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, whilst terrific hikes and shore-side adventures await at the city’s Marjan Forest Park.
However, the food’s really where it’s at when it comes to Split. The city is a mecca for foodies, and a day spent sampling the finest restaurants the city has to offer is a day well spent indeed.