12 Beautiful Towns to Visit in Croatia

28th January 2020

Croatia is one of those tiny Balkan countries that everybody has heard about, but no one knows much about. Croatia is extremely diverse when it comes to geography, culture, and traditions. The continental part features endless green fields and hills, while the coast is known for its soaring peaks, turquoise waters, and stunning archipelago.

Did you know that that the Croatian archipelago has more than 1,200 islands you can explore? The best way to immerse yourself in the culture and deeply experience the country is by visiting the beautiful and diverse Croatian towns that tell the story for itself.

Here are our favorite and best towns in Croatia.

#1- Zagreb

Zagreb, the cultural and economic center of Croatia, is a historical capital that serves as a great base once you land in the country. The city has a long and interesting history: two towns decided to combine strengths and form the capital city that we know today.

Nowadays, Zagreb is a vibrant cultural hub featuring a historic Old Town, pumping nightlife, colorful coffee culture, majestic squares, diverse architecture, various hiking trails, and much more.

Awesome things to do in Zagreb:

  • Meet local students from Secret Zagreb Walks who are eager to show you around the city
  • Boost your caffeine levels at Tkalciceva street
  • Explore colorful local markets around the Upper town
  • Wander around Maksimir park
  • Take one of the hiking trails to Medvednica. We suggest hitting Puntijarka, which features a tiny castle and a stunning view of the city
  • Enjoy the vibe around Jelacic square and Zagreb Cathedral

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#2- Split

One of the best towns in Croatia for travelers who are into history will love exploring Split. The city is widely known by its 1,700-year-old palace, named after the famous Roman Emperor, Diocletian. The entire old town revolves around the palace, and you’ll have plenty of chances to experience the vibe during your stay.

Split, as the biggest coastal city of Croatia, is reminiscent of the Italian culture, architecture, and way of life. Old squares, narrow stone pedestrian walkways and houses, relaxed people, world-class beaches, and delicious seafood are just a few things that will keep visitors occupied.

Awesome things to do in Split:

  • Wander around the Diocletian Palace and its historical surroundings
  • Get active and climb untouched Marjan hill
  • Climb to the bell tower of St. Duje Cathedral, where you can get stunning views over the city and neighboring islands
  • Relax on Riva and enjoy a delicious coffee with views of the sea
  • Touch the golden thumb of Grgur Ninski and make a wish
  • Play ‘picigin’ at Bacvice beach
  • Watch a football game at Poljud stadium

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Related reading:
Check out our 12 best day trips from Split
And our guide on Where to stay in Split, Croatia – The Best Areas

#3- Zadar

If you’re not from Croatia, there’s a good chance that you’ve never heard about the second-largest Dalmatian city of Zadar. People usually visit southern Dalmatia while completely avoiding the hidden gems of the central coast. Zadar has a stunning ancient city core, which features Donat’s Church, archeological museums, historical gates, unique sea organs, and the widely known Greetings to the Sun.

Zadar also serves as the perfect jumping-off point to surrounding islands and national parks. You can visit Paklenica, Kornati, Dugi Otok, and various other islands and old towns not too far from the city center.

Awesome things to do in Zadar:

  • Sit and enjoy the music of the sea at the sea organs. Did you know that every sound you hear is produced by the waves?
  • Watch a beautiful sunset over the surrounding islands from ‘Greetings to the Sun,’ which features a solar-powered light show
  • Walk around St. Donat’s Church and Forum
  • Explore the Archeological Museum in the heart of the city and learn about history and culture
  • Take a day trip to Kornati National Park or a short ferry ride to Ugljan
  • Check out the local delicacies at Zadar’s market and try the iconic Pag cheese

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#4- Varaždin

The tiny student town of Varaždin radiates with a unique vibe and certainly has a soul. Varaždin was once the Croatian capital, but a massive fire wiped out the city. If you’re looking for vibrant and diverse nightlife and lots of things to do, then this is one of the best towns in Croatia for you.

The town itself accommodates an Old Town featuring colorful baroque architecture, countless churches, an old castle, and a few museums. You can explore the whole town in one afternoon, which gives you many options when it comes to day trips.

Awesome things to do in Varaždin:

  • Walk around the Old Town and take some colorful photos
  • Wander around the castle and educate yourself about the history inside the tiny castle’s museum
  • Take a day trip to Trakoscan castle
  • Hike to Ravna Gora and enjoy the incredible sunset

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#5- Pula

Pula is the largest city of the Istria region, with a population of just over 50,000 people. The city is known for its historical amphitheater, similar to those found in Rome. If you’re into history, you’ll instantly fall in love with Pula, as it was one of the most important Roman cities during the reign of the Roman Empire.

Istria and Pula are known for quality red wine, endless vineyards, and crystal clear waters. Did you know that Pula is a great entry point to Croatia? Pula is one of the best towns to visit in Croatia for budget travelers as its airport hosts low-budget company Ryanair.

Awesome things to do in Pula:

  • Wander around Pula Arena
  • Walk through Arch Sergius
  • Try out some of the best red wines in Croatia
  • Explore the surrounding forests and find traditional truffles
  • Enroll in a cooking class and learn more about the cuisine and culture

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#6- Osijek

Osijek is one of the major Croatia cities of the eastern region known as Slavonia, which is situated just next to the Serbian and Hungarian borders. The city contains very interesting architecture, because three different empires ruled the city, including the mighty Turks, Habsburgs, and Romans.

If you’re looking for an active trip, walking around the stunning Drava or exploring the biodiversity of Kopacki Rit are just a few exciting activities. Keep in mind that Osijek is a vibrant university city boasting various pubs, clubs, and coffee shops, where you can meet friendly people and enjoy the local wines or the trademark drink known as Rakija.

Awesome things to do in Osijek:

  • Explore the biodiversity of the National Park Kopacki Rit
  • Walk around the Drava river and enjoy the surrounding nature
  • Wander around the city center and learn about the history
  • Explore Osijek cathedral
  • Drink local wines, Osječko beer, and try a delicious ‘Slavonska’ pizza

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#7- Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is called the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic.’ It’s one of the most touristic and best places in Croatia, especially since popular TV series Game of Thrones was filmed in the Old Town. Once you set your feet on the ancient streets, you’ll feel the vibe of a city that once had huge historical importance. Dubrovnik really is the top of Croatia highlights and is not to be missed!

The Srd mountains surround the city. This area is the perfect place for a short hike that will provide you with unforgettable views over the city, turquoise waters, and surrounding islands.

Awesome things to do in Dubrovnik:

  • Wander around the historic Old Town
  • Take a stunning cable car that leads to the top of Srd mountain
  • Book a popular Game of Thrones tour
  • Enjoy the surrounding beaches and do some cliff jumping
  • Visit Daksa island that is believed to be full of ghosts

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#8- Šibenik

Šibenik is a historical city situated between Zadar and Split that is increasingly popular with tourists. Šibenik’s Old Town is surrounded by stone walls. Inside, you can explore the beautiful medieval cathedral, the Town Hall, and the fortress on top of the hill.

The best way to truly admire the beauty of the medieval city is to climb to St. Michael’s fortress and enjoy the stunning views of turquoise waters, surrounding islands, and diverse architectural styles.

Awesome things to do in Šibenik:

  • Visit St. Nicholas’ fortress
  • Learn about history in the city museum
  • Enjoy a morning coffee near the Town Hall
  • Take a day trip to stunning Krka National Park
  • Explore St. James’ Cathedral

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#9- Poreč

Poreč is located in the heart of the Istria region and features the remains of a powerful Roman empire. The city boasts ancient Roman architecture, including the Euphrasian Basilica, Round Tower, and iconic Old Town that contains many history lessons. Did you know that Poreč is known as one of the best towns in Croatia for wine?

Awesome things to do in Poreč:

  • Wine tasting at Agrolaguna winery
  • Sunbathing at local beaches
  • Enjoy a weekend in Aquacolors Waterpark
  • Take a look at the majestic Baredine Cave
  • Learn about history in the Old Town

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#10- Rijeka

Rijeka is the third-largest Croatian city. Because there are many major companies here, as well as a major port, it’s the economic powerhouse of Croatia. The mixture of the old Austro-Hungarian and modern architecture is amazing and gives a vibrant soul to this city. Since Rijeka is the biggest Kvarner city, it serves as a major gateway to beautiful islands such as Krk, Pag, and Cres.

Awesome things to do in Rijeka:

  • Drink coffee at the main pedestrian street of Korzo
  • Take a stroll to the Governor’s Palace
  • Climb to Trsat Castle and enjoy the views of the city and surrounding islands
  • Visit the Museum of Modern Art
  • Take day trips to the islands

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#11- Vukovar

Vukovar, one of the most historical cities for Croatians, sits on the banks of the Danube River, just next to the Serbian border. During the ‘War for Independence,’ Vukovar was one of the main strategic cities, and you can feel it while wandering around the streets.

Nowadays, Vukovar is the city of museums and history lessons, so if you’re a history lover, you can’t miss this sleepy but one of the best cities in Croatia.

Awesome things to do in Vukovar:

  • Try delicious and spicy traditional ‘kulen’
  • Swim at Ada beach, located on the Danube river
  • Visit the Vukovar Water Tower and learn about recent Croatian history
  • Enjoy the talent at Vukovar’s Film Festival
  • Book a Danube River cruise and enjoy the stunning nature

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#12- Korčula

Korčula is one of the southern islands and features untouched natural beauty, turquoise waters, Roman architecture, delicious traditional food, and many other attractions. This Adriatic gem is truly a place where you can get away from the tourist crowds and have paradise all to yourself. Did you know that the iconic explorer Marco Polo was from Korčula? It’s the last on our list of best places to visit in Croatia. 

Awesome things to do in Korčula:

  • Explore the historic Old Town that’s often called ‘Little Dubrovnik’
  • Wander around Marco Polo’s house
  • Try tasty seafood delicacies combined with award-winning wine
  • Bicycle around the island
  • Explore hidden beaches and bays
  • Book your ferry tickets here

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As you can see, Croatia is an incredibly diverse country when it comes to culture, traditional food, people, and geography. You definitely won’t be short of travel ideas once you land in Croatia, especially if you consider the more than 1,200 explorable islands. We hope our list of the best towns in Croatia gave you some awesome travel ideas for your upcoming trip. What’s your favorite place in Croatia?

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With so many stunning towns and cities to choose from, how do you decide on the best place to stay in Croatia? By reading our best towns in Croatia list!

With so many stunning towns and cities to choose from, how do you decide on the best place to stay in Croatia? By reading our best towns in Croatia list!

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