Places to visit in Croatia

Situated in the Balkans, Croatia has become one of Europe’s top tourist destination since its War of Independence in the late 1990’s. Like much of Europe, Croatia boasts its share of medieval cities and historic ruins, but what makes this country exceptional is its wealth in stunning natural landscapes and gorgeous islands. If you fantasise about warm summer nights, sapphire waters and ancient walled towns – Croatia is a country you have to visit! The country is filled with history because of its location, in which it was conquered by multiple empires and competing kingdoms. Venetian palazzos meet Napoleonic forts, and Roman columns merge with Slavic churches. Croatia is also an ideal place for anyone who loves food like we do, as it plays a big part in the country’s culture; think top notch wines and delicious artisanal olive oil.

We’ve gathered some of the must see cities and parks in this beautiful country.

KRKA NATIONAL PARK

Krka National Park

Located in Central Dalmatia of Croatia, the Krka National Park is a protected area of spectacular natural scenery, wildlife and historic sites. Situated along the Krka River within the Sibinik-Knin County, the national park is well-known for its numerous waterfalls and natural pools of clear blue-green waters. The national park offers walkways and boat excursions for getting around. When travelling to this park don’t forget to put on your trainers as it has many trails leading to and around the waterfalls. The natural landscape presents Instagram worthy settings at every corner. Some of the beautiful falls plunge into natural pools, ideal for swimming. You may get overwhelmed by all the natural sceneries the park has to offer but don’t forget to visit the Krka Monastery. This Orthodox spiritual centre stands on the Krka River bay. The church was built in the Byzantine style and holds ancient Roman catacombs open to visitors. The area is a see-to-believe type of site with an abundance of plants and animal species thanks to the lack of development in the area. To visit the monastery you’ll need to be part of an organised boat excursion which typically last two and a half hours.

ZAGREB

Zagreb

Located in the north-west territory is Croatia’s capital and largest city, Zagreb, a vibrant metropolis from the 11th century filled with historic and modern attractions. Zagreb is a mandatory stop in your Croatia trip as it is the heart of Croatian culture, academics and government. The city is divided into Upper Town and Lower Town. In the Upper Town you will find the historical core, usually where tourists wander down the cobblestone streets and visit medieval buildings. You will of course have to visit the Zagreb Cathedral, St Mark’s Church and the Tower of Lotrscak – all known as the ultimate tourist attractions. However, one of the city’s gems is often overlooked by visitors, the Mirogoj cemetery. Just picture a series of green cupolas that cap ivy covered brick walls, and behind these tiled arcades that house Croatia’s most prominent citizens among 300,000 other people. The site is worth a visit not only because of its architecture but also because of the museum worthy sculptures, headstones and memorials. The entrance is free so why not make a quick detour and take a stroll down this beautiful cemetery?

KORCULA

Korcula

Off into the coast is the city of Korcula, think of lush green forests, vineyards, olive groves, sandy beaches and quaint villages. In Korcula town you will find Venetian Renaissance architecture, vibrant markets and plenty tourist attractions. One of Korcula’s most famous tradition is the Moreska sword dance. The dance can be used to depict a battle that occurred between the White King and the Black King, who had kidnapped the White King’s bride. The two leader armies do this dance battle along with music until the Black King surrenders. This is usually performed during the summer days so keep your eyes peeled as you walk around the city. One landmark you will definitely see as you get off the ferry to the island is the Land Gate, the entrance to the Old Town. The gate is covered by a triumphal arch. Here you can climb up the Revelin Tower and get a scenic view of the town and ocean that surrounds it. If your time is short but you want to get to know both the island and one of its best offerings, we’d recommend you take a Wine Tasting and Island Tour. The tour will consist of visiting multiple wineries that produce local white wine, and throughout the tour you will also get to know the villages and countryside.

PULA

Pula
The city of Pula has been attracting tourists since ancient Roman times, as many tourists travelled here in order to watch gladiator fights at the amphitheatre. Since Pula has been ruled by various governments, it reflects a mix of Roman ruins and other cultures, making it a historically rich city. One of the must-see sites is the Roman Amphitheatre, and if you have time we recommend you catch an open air performance, although the summer is quite a busy season. Additionally, there is a subterranean gallery that is used as an exhibition space for objects and tools from life in Roman Pula. It is open for visits daily from 9 am to nightfall. During the summer, gladiator fights are regularly staged so we’d recommend catching a quick show, and after make sure to grab dinner at one of the city’s most recommended restaurants – Konoba Batelina. This family run tavern is located in the Banjole village, south of Pula, and the owner is a fisherman and chef who managed to create one of the top seafood menus Pula offers. Keep in mind the restaurant can get very busy so its best to reserve ahead. The restaurant’s menu changes regularly according to the daily seafood catches, so keep an open and be adventurous with your meal. It will be well worth it!

SPLIT

Split
Located on a peninsula off the Dalmatian Coast is the second largest city in Croatia, Split, also called the Mediterranean Flower. Its main attraction is its beautiful Gothic and Renaissance architecture, most importantly the Diocletian Palace. The palace dates back to 305 A.D. when it used to be home to a Roman Emperor. More than a home, it was a small city by itself, containing shops, cafes and bars. Other than historic sites, the city offers plenty of activities such as walking down the promenade, shopping at the Green Market and of course swimming at the Bacvice beach. There is one tour that is very recommended by local hotels if you’d like to be guided through the city. This tour takes you through the historical centre of Split, from the Roman Imperial palace to the thermal baths. The tour includes entrance fee to historical landmarks, a 4 course dinner, local guides and the walking tour itself. This is a great way to get to know the city in one go if you are running on a tight schedule.

PLITVICE NATIONAL PARK

Plitvice National Park
Recognised as one of the most beautiful natural wonders in Croatia and all of Europe, the Plitvice National Park consists of breathtaking lakes, waterfalls and vibrant green forests. The park features 16 interconnecting lakes that are divided into upper and lower clusters. Formed by natural travertine dams, the lakes range in colour – turquoise, blue, green and grey. Visitors can explore the lakes and surrounding area by walking along the assortment of wooden walkways and even by boat. To get to the park you have to take a ferry, so we’d recommend you spend the entire day exploring the area as everything within the park is absolutely breathtaking. It takes around six hours to explore the lakes on foot but you can cut down your hours by taking advantage of the park’s free boats and buses. Rowboats can be hired from the shores of Lake Kozjak near Entrance 2 and from there you can also catch a boat that will take you to the lower lakes if you don’t trust your own navigation skills. Unfortunately you may want to leave your swimsuit at home as you cannot swim in any of these lakes.

DUBROVNIK

Dubrovnik
We can’t forget the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, the old and beautiful city of Dubrovnik. A top destination in the Mediterranean located at the southern tip of Croatia off the Adriatic Sea. Having been established as a maritime trade centre, Dubrovnik  presents many sightseeing treasures. The historic district, called the Old Town, is packed with historical landmarks such as the old defensive walls, incredible palaces and stunning churches. Right outside Old Town you will find popular beaches like Banje and Lapad, while the nearby island of Lokrum offers even more beaches. One interesting way of exploring the city is by taking the cable car. The trip is usually under four minutes but the view is quite breathtaking. At the end of the line you get a high perspective of the city as you get to see the terracotta tiled rooftops of the old town. However, no visit to Dubrovnik would be complete without taking a walk around the city walls. The first set of walls to enclose the city were built in the 9th century and got reinforced every few years, which came in handy when the city suffered attacks from the Turks in the 15th century. There are multiple entrances through the walls but the Pile Gate entrance tends to be the busiest. One tip would be to enter through the Ploce Gate, so you get the steepest climb out of the way. Don’t underestimate how strenuous the wall walk can be, especially on a hot day. There’s very little shade nearby and if you’d like to buy a bottle of water be prepared to encounter overpriced sellers. Make sure to pack some sunscreen and wear your comfiest trainers as you will get the workout of your life going up and down the hills visiting the famous walls.As you can see, Croatia has multiple cities worth visiting regardless of how small the country is. We recommend you visit more than just Dubrovnik or the capital, Zagreb. Take advantage of your trip and try to see as many of the towns as you can because each one will show you many different cultural influences that shaped Croatia to what it is today. From beaches to unbelievable parks and ancient landmarks, Croatia has many things to offer every type of tourist.

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