50 Things to Do in Croatia That You'll Never, Ever Forget

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A European destination that’s rapidly growing in popularity with international travelers, Croatia hasn’t quite reached the tourism level of Italy and Greece—at least, not yet. Which is all the more reason to soak in the natural beauty, culture and seaside glamor before the crowds start to resemble that of its uber-famous neighbors. 

No doubt, island hopping and walking the walls of Dubrovnik deserve a spot on any Croatia itinerary. There are also rugged mountains, dramatic waterfalls and miles of coastline to explore. While the all-too-often-overlooked Istrian peninsula wows with its enchanting hilltop villages and wineries. Of course, you can’t pack an entire country into just one trip. But our list of 50 incredible things to do in Croatia should, at the very least, help guide the planning process. 


Young man facing away floating in a pink flamingo float in the clear blue waters.
NurPhoto/Getty Images

1. Swim in the Adriatic Sea

Few bodies of water in the world compare to the highly saline and stunningly beautiful expanse that separates Italy from the Balkan Peninsula. Take every available opportunity to swim in the Adriatic Sea.  

2. Travel By Ferry

Jadrolinija, the main ferry company, operates regular routes between the mainland and dazzling islands. It’s your best—and, in some cases, only—bet to reach gems like Brač and Vis.

3. Fill Up on Seafood

Fried calamari. Grilled sea bream. Mussels buzara. Squid-ink risotto. Monkfish stew. Octopus salad. Fresh-caught seafood is always the move in Croatia.

4. Peruse Local Markets

Virtually every town has a local market that’s brimming with fresh fruit, flowers and olive oil. It’s a great place to experience the culture.

Aerial view of Zlatni beach in Croatia—a sandy outlet dotted with beachgoers surrounded by aquamarine blue waters.
Goran Safarek/EyeEm/Getty Images

5. Laze on Pebble Shores of Zlatni Rat

Images of Zlatni Rat appear on postcards and vacation brochures for good reason. The iconic and uniquely shaped pebble beach extends into the glistening sea like a golden horn. 

6. Spend the Day Sailing

As you've likely discerned by now, much of Croatia borders water. So, it’s a breeze to find (reputable) full-day sailing excursions on TripAdvisor.

7. Cathart at the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb

Zagreb has a quirky side. Case in point: the Museum of Broken Relationships, which displays memorabilia from ex-lovers.

8. Go Island Hopping

If you summer in Croatia and don't go island hopping, were you even really there? (Here's my personal guide for island hopping in Croatia.)

Aerial view of footbridge leading throguh several waterfalls in aquamarine water.
James Ronan/Getty Images

9. Score Tickets to Plitvice Lakes National Park

Stunning waterfalls, turquoise pools, natural limestone dams—no wonder Plitvice Lakes National Park attracted 1.7 million people last year. Thanks to a new online system, visitors can check availability and buy e-tickets in advance.

10. Rent a Boat

Test your nautical abilities by renting a boat and cruising the open seas at your leisure.

11. Charter a Catamaran

Not ready to play captain? Charter a catamaran and have a licensed skipper handle the heavy lifting, while you catch rays on the sun deck.

12. Seek Out Sandy Beaches

Rajska Plaza in Lopar and Sakarun Beach, on the northwest coast of Dugi Otok, appeal to travelers longing to build sandcastles.

13. Chow Down on Truffles

The charming hilltop village of Motovun is ground zero for truffles. Shops stock all sorts of the hog-dug-up delicacy. It’s also a fixture on restaurant menus all over Istria.

14. Marvel at Diocletian's Palace

The most prized of Croatia’s ancient ruins, Diocletian's Palace was built for the eponymous Roman emperor at the turn of the fourth century and designated a world heritage site in 1979.

Aerial View of Sunset Scene of Pula City and The Pula Arena is a Roman amphitheater located in Pula, Croatia
Ratnakorn Piyasirisorost/Getty Images

15. Admire Pula Arena

Pula boasts a bunch of impressively preserved Roman monuments, too. Interested in history? It’s worth the drive to peep Pula Arena, the sixth largest surviving Roman amphitheater.

16. Sample Homemade Rakija

Croatians concoct Rakija (fruit brandy aged in oak barrels) out of anything—grapes, plums, pears, apricots. When presented this high-octane spirit, reply “da.” Bottoms up!

17. Slather on Mud

There’s a beach called Soline Bay on the island of Krk where you can rub yourself down with mineral-rich mud. Impromptu spa session? Surely. 

18. Eat Gelato

We understand gelato is a treat of Italian origin, but it’s a big deal in Croatia, which shares a maritime border with its boot-shaped neighbor. Ice cream shops scoop classic flavors and contemporary creations like Kinder.

19. Hike the Highest Peak in the Adriatic

Vidova Gora sits at an altitude of 2,552 feet. The reward for trekking to the top? Breathtaking panoramas and the satisfaction of knowing you conquered the highest peak in the Adriatic.

20. Grub on Street Corn

Hot grilled corn on the cob with a sprinkle of salt from a street cart? Yes! It’s a hugely popular snack in Zagreb. 

Beautiful view of rocks, forest and blue sky in Paklenica National park, Velebit mountains, Croatia. Mountain road in the forest. Scenic mountain landscape. Rocky mountains picturesque nature.
Maria Vonotna/Getty Images

21. Rock Climb in Paklenica National Park

Craving adrenaline-pumping action? Paklenica National Park is touted as the best rock climbing site in all of Croatia.

22. Snorkel Around a Shipwreck

As the story goes, in 1984 a merchant abandoned his wooden vessel in Necujam Bay. Today, you can snorkel around the shipwreck. 

23. Grab a Mojito

Before leaving Necujam Bay, flag down the “mojito man” and enjoy a real-deal Cuban highball, mixed up right in front of your eyes by an Italian gentleman on a boat in Croatia. 

24. Devour Pršut

Spain and Italy aren’t the only countries with dry-cured meat credit. Istrian ham (pršut) is pretty darn delicious, too.

A woman in a red swimsuit jumps off a cliff into blue watersLate summer in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Alisha Bube/Getty Images

25. Jump Off a Cliff

Croatia provides picture-perfect cliff jumping terrain. For the truly brave, nothing beats the rush of leaping off rocks into turquoise tides.

26. Stay at a Sweet Home Rental

From pool-side family-friendly houses to a majestic stone tower palace in the country, Croatia has so many awesome (and affordable) listings.

27. Or Splurge on a 5-Star Hotel

It’s worth shelling out the extra kuna to snooze in style at the luxurious new Palace Elisabeth in Hvar or Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik.

28. Venture to Kornati National Park

Hailed a "nautical paradise,” Kornati National Park comprises 89 islands, secluded coves, islets and reefs. 

29. Hone Your Kitesurfing Skills

Bol is a favored spot for kitesurfing. Never done it before? No worries. Take an intro class at one of the aquatic activities huts.

The Blue Cave, also known as the Blue Grotto (Modra špilja), is a stunning natural treasure located on the island Biševo, five kilometres south of Vis Island.
Dado Daniella/Getty Images

30. Explore Sea Caves

Book a speed boat tour to the Blue Cave, Green Cave and Monk Seal Cave. It's a photographer's dream!

31. Kayak from Dubrovnik to Lokrum

If you’re in decent shape and have a couple hours to spare, skip the ferry and consider kayaking from Dubrovnik to Lokrum. It’s a wonderful way to soak in the scenery and get some exercise.

32. Journey to the Blue Lagoon

As its name would suggest, this crystal clear lagoon is a beautiful blue playground for snorkeling and swimming.

33. Shop for Straw Hats

You’ll notice stalls selling straw hats clustered outside key tourist attractions and lining promenades everywhere in Dalmatia.

34. Drink Croatian Wine

We absolutely love Žlahtina, a crisp white wine only produced on Krk. Partial to a full-bodied red? Plavac Mali is similar to zinfandel.

Illuminated city skyline at dusk, Hvar Island, Croatia
Jeremy Woodhouse

35. Party in Hvar

With legendary late-night clubs (hello, Carpe Diem), it’s easy to see why people call Hvar “the town that never sleeps." The fun doesn’t just happen in the evening. Chill at swanky waterfront hangouts like Bonj Les Bains and Laganini Lounge Bar & Fish House during the day. Then head to Hula Hula or Falko for sunset festivities.

36. Walk the Walls of Dubrovnik

Walking along the stone walls that surround Dubrovnik is certainly a bucket-list activity. Wake up early and aim to be there by 8 a.m. to beat the crowds.

37. Guzzle Karlovačko

You know you’re in Croatia when the Karlovačko logo starts popping up on every restaurant umbrella and tables of locals are tossing back bottles of this ubiquitous beer.

38. Stroll Along Stradun

It would be silly to say “don’t miss Stradun,” because you literally can’t. Stretching from the Pile Gate to the port, the limestone-paved street acts as the main pedestrian thoroughfare in Dubrovnik Old Town.

39. Learn About Zlarin Coral Legends

Zlarin, a tiny island accessible by ferry from Sibenik, is an unassuming coral capital. Diving traditions and the lore surrounding this Adriatic treasure dates back to the 14th century.

Aerial of the famous staircase waterfalls at the beautiful Krka National Park, Croatia.
4FR/Getty Images

40. Chase Waterfalls in Krka National Park

Get your waterfall fix at Krka National Park. Besides stunning cascades, you’ll witness gushing rivers and glimmering lakes. PSA: bring your bathing suit!

41. Taste Maraschino Liqeuer

Distilled from marasca cherries, Maraschino punches up classic cocktails such as the Aviation. This aromatic liqueur from Zadar also makes a stellar digestif.

42. Pre-Order Peka

Peka is a beloved Dalmatian dish with meat, vegetables, olive oil and spices that’s baked under a bell-shaped dome for hours. BTW, because of how long it requires to prepare, you need to order it the night before. 

43. Buy Brac Stone

Brač stone was used to construct Diocletian's Palace and the White House! Vendors on the island marketing souvenirs (e.g., plates, bracelets, necklaces, statues) crafted from this precious material.

44. Visit Trogir

With its historic harbor, enchanting architecture and intact medieval walls, the UNESCO-protected town of Trogir deserves a day trip.

Wide landscape shot of a dark blue lake surrounded by pines with a medieval castle on hill in the top right.
Zarko Piljak/Getty Images

45. Check Out Trakošćan Castle

The Drašković family manor house turned museum, Trakošćan Castle showcases a valuable collection of antique weapons, baroque furniture and paintings, plus gorgeous Romanticist gardens.

46. Dine at Konobas

A konoba refers to a traditional restaurant that serves simple, authentic recipes. Think of it as the Croatian equivalent of a Greek taverna.

47. Swig Prošek

The perfect ending to a delicious dinner? Prošek, a sweet dessert wine from the southern part of Dalmatia.

48. Do a Sup Glow Tour

Paddling across calm seas at night on a board equipped with colorful LED lights? Sign us up!

49. Embark on a Scenic Bike Ride

Whether you’re planning a cycling getaway or prefer a leisurely bike ride, Croatia offers many superb places to pedal.

50. Book a Sunset Cruise in Rovinj

Rovinj is famed for its spectacular sunsets. Sip bubbly while floating around the historic city and neighboring islands. With any luck, you might glimpse dolphins!

I Spent a Month in Croatia—Here’s Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Lindsay Cohn is a travel writer and serial trip planner who has visited 46 countries across six continents (and counting). When not globetrotting, she’s most likely either doing...