Explore the Best of Croatia: A Guide to the Top Islands and Destinations


Croatia is a popular summer destination among travellers, especially for Europeans. However, there are many cities, regions and islands within this country, so how can one make a decision on where to visit first? Read on to find out more about this wonderful Mediterranean country.

A view of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic sea from the top of Mount Srđ on the Dalmatian coast in Croatia

Croatia is a Balkan country located in Southeast Europe, bordered by Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. It is known for its stunning coast, which is bordered by the Adriatic Sea and includes more than a thousand islands, islets and reefs.

In addition of the crystal-clear waters and secluded beaches – which make Croatia a highly desired summer vacation spot – the country offers picturesque towns, national parks, rolling hills, and delicious cuisine. Croatia can be the perfect destination for any kind of holiday!

The coast line and bay in the small harbour of Rabac in the Istria region, Croatia

Rabac, Istria

Croatia has a rich history, with influences from the Roman Empire, the Venetian Republic and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Croatia is known for its stunning natural beauty, with the Plitvice Lakes National Park, and the ancient city of Dubrovnik – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – among its most popular tourist attractions.

First-time visitors may find it challenging to decide on a specific destination, particularly if they have limited time available. This guide will take you through the top islands and destinations in this Mediterranean gem, ensuring that you make the most of your upcoming trip!

1. Split

One of Croatia’s most popular spots is the Split, a coastal town filled with living history through the remaining Roman ruins. This is certainly the place to visit if you are looking to immerse yourself in culture and have a front row to the past.

Split is a popular stop for those taking ferries to nearby Croatian islands as the town’s port serves as a departure point. It is a walkable destination, making it easy to explore by foot. The town has a variety of dining options, including traditional Croatian taverns and trendy coffee shops. Just outside of town, the café and restaurant Dvor offers delicious food and breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea.

2. Vis

Vis is an island town known for its picturesque landscapes, crystal clear waters, and charming villages. If you are a fan of the film “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”, you will already be familiar with the views of the beaches on Vis. If your main holiday goal is to enjoy the sun and relax whilst you lay on the beach, then consider visiting this destination. You will have an incredible view of the cliffs and very calm water for a relaxing swim. You can also enjoy a boat tour that will take you exploring the Vis’s coast with wild coves awaiting to be discovered.

3. Rovinj

Rovinj is a charming coastal town located in the Istria region of Croatia. It is situated on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula, overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Rovinj’s Old Town is a maze of cobbled streets lined with colorful buildings and charming squares, making it one of the most picturesque towns in Croatia. The town’s main attraction is the Church of St. Euphemia, which sits on a hill overlooking the town and offers panoramic views of the coast. Visitors can also take a boat trip to the nearby islands, swim in the crystal-clear sea, or explore the local markets. Rovinj is also known for its seafood and truffles, making it a gastronomic destination as well.

Landscape of the old town of Rovinj surrounded by Adriatic Sea in the Istria region of Croatia

4. Pag

Pag is another Croatian island for its long sandy beaches, traditional lace-making industry and delicious cheese production. Many young travellers look for outdoor experiences and to have fun and what is the best way to have fun whilst making friends in a new country? Partying and meeting new people is easy in Pag, usually quiet town… until summer arrives! From June to September, as the warm sun glistens, Pag is home to some of the best beach parties, resembling the very popular ones in Ibiza. This is the perfect place to sip a cocktail and dance at the beach. It will certainly be a night you will remember for the rest of your life.

5. Zagreb

Zagreb is Croatia’s largest and capital city and you can visit it at any time of the year. Thanks to its versatility, this amazing destination offers several things to do and see for any travel lover. During summer, there is plenty of outdoor entertainment, including music stages and food stands so that you can experience the local culture through music and food. During winter, Zagreb takes Christmas decorations very seriously, making for one of the most beautiful picturesque holiday markets.

6. Plitvice

If you are ever in Zagreb, as discussed above, you will have the opportunity to indulge in tours that will take you on a magical journey to other parts of Croatia. You can get to the Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb in only a couple of hours. You may think you are able to get there on your own, however, having a professional take you there will leave you worry-free whilst guiding you through the history of the country. Plitvice is the largest national park in the country and these lakes are one of the most popular attractions in the area, with hundreds of tourists visiting. The wildlife diversity will leave you euphoric.

7. Korcula

All wine lovers will love to visit this location, which is also filled with sapphire-coloured sea and sunny beaches. You also have the opportunity to visit the local vineyards Bire and Zure, which serve free tastings of dry white wine. Even though you may not want to spend all of your holiday sipping on wine, it certainly is an activity that can fill one of your days, and one that you will certainly not regret. Korčula is also  known for its well-preserved medieval Old Town, historic architecture, and of course its beautiful beaches.

8. Telašćica

If your focus is discovering more about the natural landscape of Croatia, then make sure to add the beautiful Telašćica Nature Park to your bucket list. While plenty of tourists sunbathe on the beach in Zadar, they don’t realise what lies nearby – the protected marine life of Telašćica in the Kornati archipelago. The area comprises about 150 islands, islets, and rocks. The island of Dugi Otok, with its deep bay Telašćica, is located in close proximity northwest of the archipelago, and together with the Kornati islands, forms a unique natural and cultural entity. You can get to this nature park by ferry from Zadar to the port of Sali (the travel time is around 45 minutes). You will be glad you took a couple of hours of your time to experience this!

The island of Dugi Otok with its deep bay Telašćica is situated in the immediate vicinity, northwest of the Kornati archipelago, Croatia

Photo by Victoria Paar

9. Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is certainly a location worth visiting if you are planning to visit Croatia. This destination overlooks the Adriatic sea and it has a reputation for being sophisticated, refined, and cultured. The sunsets are mesmerizing and you will get to experience most of the local culture right here. If you do not have much time on your holiday and want to make the most of it, you can visit Dubrovnik to chill by the water, or take a stroll on the streets of the old town. There is also plenty of nature to explore as well as stunning architecture.

Old town walled city of Dubrovnik in Croatia

There are plenty of places you can visit in Croatia. Hopefully, this page will help you make a final decision. Also, remember to look at your budget before deciding where to go and remember to enjoy yourself to the max!

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