Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. While some are easy, others will have you pulling at your precious hair follicles with panic. We’d like to think that choosing the best places to visit in Croatia on your upcoming summer holiday has you reacting similarly to the latter. But please, don’t panic.
Fortunately, we’re here to tell you today that choosing the best of Croatia doesn’t have to be all that hard – that is, with a helpful nudge from us and some food for thought.
Croatia is a country with a wealth of treasures, from the glamorous coast to the spellbinding continent. It is a paradise for all types of travelers, with something for everyone from the thrill-seekers and conformists to the pilgrims, pioneers and the genuinely curious.
Where to Go in Croatia
It is a country with a history dating back to the prehistoric period, with remnants of its Neanderthals found in the northern Croatian town of Krapina; while its Greek and Roman rule is reflected in the UNESCO towns dotted along the coast. With reminders of the Ottomans, the Austro-Hungarians, and stark signs of war not too long ago, Croatia is a country of contrast, though its solidarity is unmatched.
Croatia is divided into four historical and cultural regions – Croatia proper (or Central Croatia), Dalmatia, Slavonia, and Istria. Each region, as expected, has its own appeal.
Central Croatia, for example, is the home to the country’s capital – Zagreb. A bustling city filled with stylish socialites, quirky artists, and laid-back coffee connoisseurs, Zagreb is defined by its Austro-Hungarian architecture, vibrant 13th-century St. Mark’s Church, and monumental Gothic-style Roman cathedral. Zagreb’s thriving cafes are the pulse of the city, and the museums that mark every corner educate its sensible citizens; Zagreb does boast more museums per capita than any other city in the world, after all. It is a captivating city for international tourists pursuing a capital with heart – and Zagreb has a million of them.
Croatia’s eastern continental region Slavonia is known for its rivers, golden valleys, majestic mountains, and fertile plains. It is the home to Osijek, Croatia’s fourth largest city, and two of the country’s 11 nature parks. Slavonia prides itself on its spicy local specialties like sausages, stews, and fish soup. It is a region that guards its folklore and Baroque architecture, and boasts 45% of the country’s agricultural land. It is Croatia’s most overlooked region, though it should hardly be passed up on a trip to the country.
Istria, however, is received as the culinary king of Croatia. Known for its tantalizing truffles, world champion olive oil, and Michelin-star restaurant, Istria is a region that indeed has it all. Likened to Tuscany, Istria’s inland region boasts artsy Medieval towns – one of which is officially the smallest in the world – while its coastal parts are adorned with islands and ruins, like one of the best-preserved Roman arenas in the world. Istria is the home to the romantic Rovinj, popular summer resorts like Poreč, and hilltop towns like Motovun. It is a playground for travelers looking to endure all aspects of a holiday, from the glamour to the nitty-gritty.
Croatia’s most famous destination is Dalmatia, and one region we think you know well. With distinguished towns like Dubrovnik, often referred to as the Pearl of the Adriatic or ‘Kings Landing’ to Game of Thrones fans, Dalmatia is no stranger to traveler’s checklists and is easily considered the queen of Croatian tourism. Especially active in the summer months thanks to its sun-kissed climate and salty sea, Dalmatia’s UNESCO cities like Split, Zadar and Šibenik and emerald islands such as Hvar, Brač, and Mljet are the region’s biggest draws. It is a region that embodies the Mediterranean diet, is home to the country’s renowned wine region, and can even brag having the European ‘Great Wall of China’. And let’s not forget that famous explorer Marco Polo hails from these parts, too.
The truth is, if the decision were up to us, we’d tell you to choose all of Croatia’s best destinations. But since there are only so many hours in a day, days in a week, and weeks in a month, consider this a taste and a tease of Croatia’s pride and joy. And remember, there is never a wrong answer when it comes to Croatia.