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Since the War of Independence in the 90s which almost devastated the country, Croatia has managed to become one of the most popular tourist destinations of Europe. Like many countries in the Old Continent, Croatia is famous for its natural attractions, historic relics, and medieval cities.
Looking for where to go in Croatia on your next vacation? Check out these 7 stunning places:
One wouldn’t be wrong to think of Zagreb as the Prague of the Balkans. The heart of Croatian culture, this sprawling European metropolis dates back to the 11th century.
With its great restaurants, vibrant nightlife, numerous landmarks, and full events calendar, Zagreb is an ideal stop for those who are on their way to the Croatian coastline.
There are plenty of museums and galleries to visit in the Lower Town of Zagreb, while the Upper Town is home to Lotrščak Tower, St, Mark’s Church and the city’s monumental Gothic Cathedral—the largest building in Croatia.
Whether you’re looking to stay in a budget hostel or 5* hotel, Zagreb has plenty of accommodation. You can rest assured you’ll find something that fits the bill.
With its astonishing flora and fauna, as well as 16 interconnecting waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most beautiful natural wonders in all of Europe.
From green to blue and turquoise, the lakes have a breathtaking range of distinct colors.
You can easily spend a couple of days exploring the lakes, the surrounding lush forest, and its various trails and wooden walkways.
If hiking around is not your thing, there’s a shuttle bus that runs regularly, as well as a boat tour within the park.
There are also many accommodation options right by the park. Many tourists use Plitvice as a stop-off point on their way from the country’s capital Zagreb to the Dalmatian coast.
Istria is one of the few places in Croatia that was unscathed by the war. Unlike most other Croatian holiday destinations on the list, Istria is an entire peninsula filled with summer resorts, historic landmarks, and charming harbors.
Pula is perhaps Istria’s biggest treasure. The city is home to an ancient Roman amphitheater.
The Pula Arena is the best-preserved ancient monument in the country and one of the world’s 6 largest surviving Roman arenas. During summer, many festivals and concerts take place within its historic, limestone walls.
The wonderful harbor of Rovinj is also a must-see in Istria. If camping, sunbathing, and water sports are your thing, Poreč, a popular summer resort town is the right place for you.
All around Istria, there are a number of sights that will delight every history buff. However, for some, the best thing about the peninsula may be the dozens of beautiful inland, hilltop villages that are still largely undiscovered by tourists.
Hvar is an island off the Croatian coastline that’s famed for its natural beauty and the port town Hvar. The island’s landscapes of lush vineyards, lavender fields, and spectacular beaches will leave no one unimpressed.
Hvar is known for its boho-chic seafood eateries and minimalist design hotels. The natural beauty of the island offers visitors a chance to enjoy plenty of fun outdoor activities, from swimming in secluded coves to hiking in the cliffs.
This mesmerizing island is the sunniest place in Croatia as it has the highest annual average hours of sun in the country.
Although there are many beautiful beaches close to Hvar Town, it may be best to get on a local boat and head to Pakleni Otoci, a nearby group of islands opposite the Hvar harbor, and explore its deserted lagoons, hidden beaches, and crystal-clear waters.
No holiday in Croatia would be complete without a visit to Dubrovnik, also known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” The city’s history dates back to the 7th century. Recently, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Dubrovnik was one of the prominent filming locations of the epic fantasy drama series—Game of Thrones.
The city is filled with stunning churches, cobblestone streets, old defensive walls, and many other gorgeous places; it’s no wonder the showrunners considered it to be the perfect setting for “King’s Landing.”
Even though it can get crowded during the holiday seasons, putting up with crowds is well worth it. If you get tired of sightseeing, you can go bask in the sun at one of the city’s popular beaches, such as Lapad and Banje, located just outside the Old Town.
For more recommendations, check out our guide to 22 Best Things to do in Dubrovnik.
If the crowds of Dubrovnik are a bit too much for you, but you still like its sunny, medieval vibes, then Korcula is the place for you.
The town was nicknamed “Mini-Dubrovnik” for its colorful markets and Venetian Renaissance architecture. Aside from the historic Old Town, there are plenty of other sights that will keep you busy.
If you’re visiting the island, going on a tour of Korcula’s bays and coves is a must. There are catamaran services connecting the island with Mljet, Split, Hvar, and even Dubrovnik, so you can see for yourself whether the nickname is warranted.
If you talk to the locals they will try to convince you that Korcula is the birthplace of Marco Polo and take you to see his alleged house of birth (just go along with it).
Vis is a laid back island located in the western part of Croatia. It used to be known as the “forbidden island” as it was a Yugoslavian navy base for 50 years, so no visitors were allowed until 1989.
Because of its unique history, tourism in Vis is different from that of other Croatian islands. Even though it became more popular in recent years, Vis is great for those who want to sample Croatian life without the huge crowds.
Vis has retained much of its rural charm. It is primarily an island of wine growers and fishermen.
However, since the island was the main filming location for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, more and more ABBA pilgrims are keeping them company.
The island’s two largest settlements are Komiža and Vis. is a picturesque gaggle of brightly-painted fishing boats and stone houses, while Vis is a quaint mishmash of Baroque, Greek and Roman architecture.
Whether you like your beaches empty or packed, close to town or remote, pebbly or sandy, Vis has them all.
If this is your first time traveling internationally, be sure to read our recommendations on 8 International Travel Tips for First-Timers.
Rebecca is a translator and an avid traveler, a book worm and horror flick enthusiast. Her job has given her the amazing opportunity to travel to dozens of countries around the world, and writing on Rough Draft gives me a chance to try to showcase some of them.
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We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.