After spending more than two weeks road tripping up and down the Croatian coast in August, I can—now that all impressions and experiences have had sufficient time to sink in—confidently say that Croatia has become one of my favorite countries in the world.
It’s a country filled with history, home to beautiful landscapes and dotted with amazing cities, its coast lined with gorgeous beaches and its weather constantly sunny. What more could you possibly want, right?
Even though we traveled along the coast and hit many, if not all, of the coastal highlights of Croatia, we did have to skip all the islands, which are supposed to be absolutely spectacular as well. All the more reason to go back again!
Because I’ve already covered (almost) all the places we visited in previous blog posts, I’d like to offer you guys an overview of my favorite highlights of Croatia. The following seven Croatian destinations are listed geographically from north to south.
7 Highlights of Croatia
The triangular peninsula of Istria in the northwest of the country is the most “Italian” of all Croatian regions—this is due to its past as a part of Venice. Nowadays, this stunning corner is home to rolling farmlands, hilltop villages, stunning coastal towns, wineries, olive farms and truffle forests. It’s a gorgeous place and I’d suggest spending at least two days there.
Further reading: Rovinj and Motovun – Highlights of Istria
More information: Istria Tourist Board
Zadar is an ideal place to stop on your way from Istria to Dalmatia or vice versa. This old Roman coastal town is set on a beautiful small peninsula and features a number of Roman ruins, an amazing seaside promenade and the remarkable Sea Organ and the Sun Salutation.
More information: Zadar Tourist Board
3. Krka National Park
A surprisingly great national park, Krka National Park lies right next to the north-south highway and a quick drive from both Zadar and Šibenik. The park consists of forests, rivers, lakes and a series of beautiful waterfalls. The main attraction is the natural pool after Skradinski Buk, where it’s allowed to swim.
Further reading: A Morning in Krka National Park
More information: Krka National Park Visitor Website
Although Šibenik may not be the most touristy and popular city on the Croatian coast, a visit is strongly recommended. This is the only city on the coast that was built by the Croats themselves, and not by the Venetian, Romans or other occupying nations. This medieval town is completely made up of stone and home to some beautiful old buildings, including the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Cathedral of St. James.
Further reading: Why You Have to Visit Šibenik
More information: Šibenik Tourist Board
Croatia’s second-largest city originated as a retirement home of Roman Emperor Diocletian. He had an enormous palace built, around which the city grew and developed. Diocletian’s Palace, as it is appropriately known, is still the very heart of this vibrant city—a place where you can enjoy a meal or drink next to millennia-old columns and surrounded by ruins. Diocletian’s Palace is one of the largest complexes of Roman ruins in the world and of such historic importance that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Further reading: Split is Full of Surprises
More information: Split Tourist Board
6. Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park has been called Europe’s most stunning national park and there is certainly truth to that statement. It’s phenomenal. Home to sixteen lakes that flow into one another via a series of spectacular waterfalls, this national park is so unique that it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the absolute highlights of Croatia, a place that is a must-visit.
Further reading: The Sheer Beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park
More information: Plitvice Lakes National Park Visitor Website
No words can describe the beauty of Dubrovnik, located in the far south of the Croatian coast. This phenomenal old city used to be an independent republic and features massive city walls, a UNESCO World Heritage Listed old town, gorgeous beaches, a few islands and amazing food. It has everything a city should have, and more. If you have to pick only one place to visit in Croatia, it simply has to be Dubrovnik.
Further reading: Dubrovnik in 20 Photos
More information: Dubrovnik Tourist Board
For more information about visiting Croatia, I would like to refer to the official website of the Croatia Tourism Board.