Wondering where to go in Croatia? It isn’t easy to pick a favorite place to visit because the Islands have numerous stunning landscapes and beautiful cities. The small European country has become a popular tourist site, and it is amazingly breathtaking.
Croatia’s history started thousands of years ago. Most of the current infrastructure has stood the test of time and preserved as an integral part of its present-day culture. With the vast captivating history and striking architecture, Croatia is one of those few countries that has many unexpected surprises. UNESCO World Heritage has recognized and protected nearly 20 sites.
If you’re planning to visit this glorious country in the Adriatic Sea, begin your vacay with a tour of a few unique UNESCO sites.
This article lists some of the best Heritage sites plus other exotic destinations we feel you will fall in love with.
So here we go.
UNESCO Heritage Sites
As one of the UNESCO World Heritage Locations in Croatia, this limestone and chalk park is huge! Renowned for its striking formations, waterfalls, lakes, and various plants, Plitvice lakes was marked as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1979. Since then, no one can swim or indulge in any watersports activities in the lake to preserve the waters. Visit the striking network of 16 lakes detached by natural dams, with changing colors every season. Besides the paradise landscape, the park is home to rare beautiful birds, giant bears, and wolves.
Historical Complex of Split
Measuring a whopping 38,500 square meters, Split’s Historical Complex comprises Roman archaeological monuments and is marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1979.
Built around 300 A.D., the history of this site spans nearly two thousand years, as the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s retirement residence (palace). It was entirely constructed with stone from Brač island – currently preserved as an open-air museum.
The palace features one of the Croatian currency – the backside of 500 kunas, released in 1993. Take a tour of this gorgeous Roman architecture and experience life in Ancient Rome. Everything inside the palace is articulately preserved, and the whole place is a magnificent sight to see as you relive life from the past.
Split Complex was used as one of the filming locations for the HBO T.V. show ‘Game of Thrones’, the fictional series.
Venetian Works of Defense: Stato da Terra
The Venetian sea defense system was built between the 15th and 17th centuries by the Venice Republic off the shores of the Adriatic Sea. The defense system also includes St Nikola fort in the Island Ljuljevac near Sibenik and the Zadar walls, displaying incredible military architecture.
The Venetian sea defense system is latest addition in Croatia’s list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The site is preserved to protect the crucial sea routes transporting wealth to La Serenissima.
Best Cities to visit in Croatia
1. Slavonia, Krapanj Island – Papuk Nature Park
Slavonia is an underrated Croatian park and a much less visited part of the country. In 2015 it was named as Croatia’s first UNESCO Geopark. Krapanj (sponge town) is the tiniest and the most populated Island in the Šibenik region – known for its processing operation since the 18th century.
Šibenik has plenty of walking and cycling paths to take an afternoon leisurely walk or cycle through the city as you explore the Island.
Visit Mučići village, head to the Pegasus horse riding club, and enjoy watching the horses trot along with the beautiful fields. If you can ride a horse, the better, you get to ride any healthy horse of your choice, and if not, well, maybe hop on a pony for a slower, safe joyride.
Later, you can explore the St. Laurent Oil Factory Museum built-in 1584.
Beach lovers can head to one of the numerous gravel beaches to swim, sunbathe, deep-sea diving, and spearfishing.
The Island has shipwreck sites which you can also visit and learn about the sails of the past.
Where to Stay on Krapanj – 4 Star Hotel Spongiola
Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city, is an enchanting place to visit, especially around Christmas. It’s a favorite place to be during winter for most Europeans.
The town is famous for its fascinating Christmas Markets in Europe, attracting hordes of tourists every year. Accommodations don’t come cheap during peak season, so if you’re not into extravagance, you can skip the season and visit much later when the Christmas fever dies down.
Zagreb is also famed for the magical Museum of Illusions – opened in 2015.
Visit Ban Jelačić Square, an iconic site to visit in the city, mostly visited for the renowned statue of Ban Josip Jelačić dominating the square.
Later you can check out Zagreb Zoo, in Maksimir Park, such a serene, perfect place for nature lovers away from the city crowds.
In the evening, delight yourself in a romantic dinner in one of the restaurants in town, or party hop and dance until dawn in any modern city clubs.
Best places to stay in Zagreb include:
Esplanade Zagreb Hotel
Best Western Premier Hotel Astoria
From the ancient monastery gardens of Šibenik to the delightful, scenic views of Trogir, this charming city, the hilly old town has over two thousand steps that you have to climb to get around.
A city of fortresses, Šibenik, has a rich history and once served as the Croatian King’s official town.
Visit the ancient St. James Cathedral, built in the 15th-century. The vast church is located right in the heart of the town, and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Later you can go to the Medieval Mediterranean Garden, a lovely small garden with unusual plants and trees, that’s stunning. Sit at the cozy café and enjoy your drinks as you relish the beautiful scenery.
Šibenik is not for the faint-hearted, it has several fortresses, but the best one is the Barone Fortress. Located at the peak of the town, you’ll have to take an exhausting arduous hike, but once you get to the fortress, it’s worth the climb. Begin by exploring the exquisite museum and later enjoy the city’s breathtaking sights below and the sprawling Adriatic Sea.
Zadar is a large city and arguably one of the most stunning cities on the Adriatic coast.
Everything about Zadar is breathtaking, starting your tour with Land Gate and explore the city’s old town. You cannot miss the sun and Sea Organ monuments created by Nikola Bašić’s – the Sun Organ is a massive LED light connection that plays around with the natural elements through light.
The Sea Organ is a collection of installed tubes hidden under steps that incline into the sea. The monument communicates with nature by picking up sounds from the wind and the waves. As you approach the Sea monument, you can hear pleasant, soothing sounds from a distance which is truly a magical moment to experience!
One other fantastic scenery in Zadar include the St. James Cathedral, and St. Donatus church – a colossal church by the seaside boulevard that dominates the entire seaside with its glorious presence.
Visit Biograd na Moru in northern Dalmatia, a small town right in the middle of the Adriatic Sea. It’s a famous town known for its marine tourism; check out the large Kornati Marina – a marine harbor west of the town. It has 15 docks fortified with 750 berths.
Biograd na Moru hosts more than 10,000 sailors each year from around the world. The town was once a crown municipal of the Croatian kings and has received tourists since 1920, leading to the first hotel built-in 1935.
Other things to do around the harbor include sporting activities such as water skiing, surfing, beach ball activities, tennis, swimming, and so much more.
You can also visit one of the parks;
Paklenica National Park
Kornati National Park
Telašćica Nature Park
Vrana Lake Nature Park for relaxing moments
Places to stay include:
Falkensteiner Club Funimation Borik
Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa Iadera
Heritage Hotel Bastion
The town of Korčula is often labeled as a favorite town in Croatia. It’s also a famous city with huge crowds and lively nightlife. If you love the site of a bustling city full of tourists and wild reveling, this is the best place to be. It’s charming and has this gigantic town gate that draws you in with a hearty welcome as you enter the city.
Korčula is famous for the legendary traveler tales of Marco Polo. Legend has it that this was his birthplace, and so you’ll find all manner of souvenirs in his name. There’s also a museum in his memory, filled with his items.
As you walk around the city, you’ll also notice other souvenir shops selling unique gifts to carry back home.
This is a laid-back town, so the only activities here are enjoying the beautiful scenery, pop in the cafes and restaurants, and exploring the different local cuisines.
Perhaps the most amazing heavenly landscape is the Pelješac peninsula, viewed from a strategic point in any of the cafes close to the city walls.
You can choose any of these hotels to stay.
Trogir is no doubt a hidden gem. You won’t find it in any tourist itinerary or any tourist companies scheduled to visit this lovely small town. Located between mainland Croatia and Čiovo, Trogir is a tiny island connected to two cities with massive bridges.
You could call it your happy place or a peaceful sanctuary to run away to. Spend the day strolling on the narrow alleys, visit the public park and take in the pleasant views of the Adriatic Sea.
Visit St. Lawrence Cathedral at the Centre of the city square. Tall buildings within the square rather hide it, so you’ll have to walk right at the location for a better view.
Another scenic view in Trogir is the Tower of Kamerlengo – a 15th-century castle with amazingly stunning views of the entire city and the scenic harbor. The Tower makes a perfect vantage point to capture beautiful photos of the entire Island.
Places to stay in Trogir include:
Hotel Trogir Palace
Our Final Word
Croatia is a lovely place to visit throughout the year. Most cities are linked by highway, so it is faster to get to your destination by road. You can rent a car if staying for a week or more. It’s such a heavenly serene destination for those looking to take a relaxing vacation without much activity. The country is relatively small, so you can quickly get by on your own. Just rent a cab and pre-book all your holiday stays, and you’ll be fine.