What To Do and The Best Places to Stay in Croatia
Croatia may have been one of Central Europe’s best kept secrets, but today it’s quickly becoming a popular destination for tourism. The Game of Thrones filming location won Reader’s Digest Destination of the Year in 2016—and we can see why!
Gorgeous beaches make up Croatia’s coastline, while its extraordinary national parks are filled with lakes and waterfalls that will make your jaw drop. Solo travelers love the safe nature of its historic cities, good infrastructure for getting around, and reliable public transportation.
Wondering what to do in Croatia? Not sure where to stay or which attractions simply can’t be missed? We’re going over all of that and more with the best recs and must-sees for when you visit Croatia!
Where is Croatia?
The Republic of Croatia is part of the Balkan Peninsula and located in South Central Europe on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, opposite Italy. The crescent-shaped country shares borders with Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The main points of entry in Croatia are the capital city of Zagreb and the smaller but equally enchanting cities of Dubrovnik and Split. Once you arrive in the country it’s easy to get around by train, bus, or ferry to see all the sights.
Average Travel Time to Croatia From:
- California: ~14 hours flight time
- New York: ~11 hours flight time
- England: ~2 1/2 hours flight time
- Australia: ~24 hours flights time
Best Things To Do in Croatia
Other than being the filming location for Game of Thrones, Croatia is famous for its gorgeous landscapes, mouth watering cuisine, ancient Roman ruins, and endless outdoor activities.
Hike through astonishing national parks. Cycle between wineries and olive groves and sample local Pag (goat’s milk cheese). Visit the Dalmatian Coast and its famous beaches, and get your booty on a boat tour to visit Hvar Island. Sunbathe at a private beach on the quiet, small island of Brac Island or Korcula Island. In Croatia, you have access to it all!
- Visit the Istrian Countryside. This region is known for some of the best wine and food in Croatia, especially its famous truffles. Gorgeous natural landscapes and charming villages make the perfect destination for spring and autumn to experience true Croatian culture, just a stone’s throw from its major cities. To get to Istria, your best option is an overnight bus or train from Split. Flying is faster, but of course a bit more pricey.
- Sea Kayak in Kornati National Park. Known as the nautical paradise of the Croatian islands, Kornati National Park includes rugged, mostly uninhabited islands perfect for snorkeling, scuba diving, boat trips, and other watersports. Visiting in spring and fall instead of the hot summer season is recommended. The park and its nearby islands can only be accessed by boat, usually departing from the small town of Murter which can be reached by bus from other major Croatian cities.
- Hike the Trails Around Plitvice Lakes National Park. Croatia’s first national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice Lakes National Park is made up of a series of sixteen beautiful lakes, caves, and waterfalls. New waterfalls are constantly forming in this unique ecosystem. The park is known for its winding paths and wooden plank hiking trails among the different lakes, especially the park loop trail.
- Visit the Secluded Beaches of Vis Island. Just a catamaran or ferry ride from the walled city of Split is the less-traveled Vis Island, known for its relaxed atmosphere, friendly locals, and absolutely stunning private beaches. You’ll fall in love with the winding pebbly beaches and secluded coves of the tiny island, which has amazing weather most of the spring, summer, and fall. Do the cobbled streets of the picturesque town centre look familiar? The rom-com musical Mama Mia was filmed here! Yeah, talk about charming.
Best Places to Stay in Croatia
Popular coastal cities like Zagreb, Dubrovnik, and Split boast impressive beach resorts with dreamy modern facilities and features like indoor and outdoor pools, fine restaurants, and luxurious European spa treatments.
See our recommendations on a map! Get our map here.
Where to Stay for the Beaches
Croatia doesn’t boast your typical sandy beaches, but more striking rocky, pebbly beaches with unique formations and hidden sea caves. The waters aren’t muddied by sandy sediment and remain crystal clear and incredibly clean.
Dubrovnik is the place to be if you’re looking for a stunning sea view. Enclosed in medieval walls, Dubrovnik’s old town is something out of a movie… kind of. It’s actually out of Game of Thrones and the film location of King’s Landing.
Hotel Croatia Cavtat
Address: Frankopanska ul., 20210, Cavtat, Croatia
Phone: +385 20 300 300
Website: Hotel Croatia Cavtat
Relax by the outdoor swimming pool surrounded by trees and stay in luxurious suites offering private balconies with stunning sea views and access to beautiful beaches and the hotel’s exclusive beach club. This is one of the most popular hotels in Croatia, with five places to dine and enjoy unique Croatian cuisine, including a rooftop bar and terrace restaurant.
Where to Stay for Hiking
Hiking in Croatia is one way to experience the incredible natural beauty of the country, and explore its diverse landscapes. The awe-striking parks of Croatia provide some of the best hiking views, with award-winning trails and easy access from major cities.
Thanks to its proximity to the surrounding mountains, Zagreb is a great place to take a day trip to hike nearby trails with epic views. Whether you walk the Strossmayer Promenade for views of the old city below or venture out of town to one of the many trails tucked in the surrounding mountains, Zagreb is the best place for hikers and nature lovers alike.
Esplanade Zagreb Hotel
Address: Ul. Antuna Mihanovića 1, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
Phone: +385 1 4566 666
Website: Esplanade Zagreb Hotel
Sip cocktails at the best hotel in the old town overlooking the Upper Town and winding cobbled streets after a long day on the trail. Enjoy first-class service and facilities with modern tennis courts and a state-of-the-art fitness center. The luxury hotel’s business center makes this location perfect for a working vacation with a quick day trip to the mountains in between.
If you’re starting in Zagreb, then make a road trip down to Plitvička Jezera for the second most talked about hiking region of Croatia: Plitvice Lakes and Paklenica National Parks. In fact, we love it so much that we spend two days there before heading to Kornati National Park on the Dalmatian Coast of the Adriatic Sea.
Address: Josipa Jovića 19, 53231, Plitvička Jezera, Croatia
Phone: +385 53 751 400
Website: Hotel Jezero
The Hotel Jezero is centrally located in the Lika Region, an outdoor lover’s paradise and home to Plitvice Lakes and Paklenica National Parks. Relax in the hotel’s indoor pool after hiking, wind down in their Finnish sauna, and enjoy a meal at the hotel restaurant with spectacular views. The friendly and exceptional facilities make this hotel perfect for a few days of hiking on a solo trip or an outdoorsy family holiday.
Ready to Get Hiking?
Are you longing to get yourself to those dreamy beaches we keep mentioning? Want to find your adventure in the mountains of Croatia? We’ve done the leg work of planning so you can simply sign up and ENJOY!
Our Croatia Hiking and National Parks MultiSport Adventure will have you ready to move to Europe. You’ll get amongst it with your fellow female travel buddies and expert Explorer Chick guides doing awesome outdoor activities every day. Ride e-bikes and sip wine in the Istrian Countryside, enjoy epic hikes in Croatia’s national parks, and top it off with a speed boat ride and sea kayaking off the Adriatic Coast! Join the Explorer Chick Facebook Group to connect with other adventurous babes and get news, updates, and more trip info!
Meet the Writer
April is an adventure lover and freelance writer based in New England, with a passion for public lands, wild places, and all things outdoors. She loves camping in any form and spends as many weekends as she can hiking New Hampshire’s highest peaks, or road-tripping with her sweet dog Marley. If not in the mountains, you can find her planning her next expedition or caring for one of her far-too-many-houseplants.
Favorite outdoor adventure: National Parks Hiking and Road Trips!
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