Top 50 Sites in Croatia
The beauty of Croatia’s cultural and historical heritage has been attracting many tourists over the years. According to official numbers provided by the Croatian National Tourist Board, around 20 million tourists visit Croatia for holidays every year.
But how to decide which places in Croatia visit and where to travel?
No worry, because GetByBus is here with the ultimate list of 50 best places to visit in Croatia! Our list will provide you with must see destinations for your holidays in Croatia.
How we did it?
Being a native Croatian, it was relatively easy to get all the needed data for the research of the sights in Croatia. Most of the places were visited personally either by me or my colleagues. However, to get the exact or at least an approximate number of visitors for each sight, we helped ourselves with statistics provided from:
- official websites (e.g. National parks and Nature parks)
- statistical data provided from Croatian Bureau of Statistics
For some attractions, we had to dig deeper and find other relevant sources. Therefore, we got in direct contact with local tourist boards and other institutions which gave us a more precise number of visitors. Note that the number of visitors for each Croatian attraction does not indicate that’s the “best place” to visit, since that’s a subjective impression. However, this number can point you in the right direction as to where in Croatia to go. The list is compiled of National parks, UNESCO sites, lakes and overall cities in Croatia. Regardless of your travel preferences, this list has something for everyone. Without further ado – here we go!
50) Augustus Temple Pula
Number of visitors: 24 166
As we have already come to a conclusion that Pula Arena is basically like a mini-version of the Colosseum, we present you the mini-version of the Pantheon! The Temple of Augustus is a classic Roman temple, situated in Pula Old Town. It is believed the temple was built somewhere between 27 BC and 14 AD, during the emperor Augustus’s lifetime. Although this temple is not the largest temple you will see (it has only 6 columns, as opposed to Pantheon’s 12), but it is most certainly one of the best preserved Roman monuments outside Italy. Even though it’s last on our list, the Temple is definitely a must-see place in Croatia.
49) Medvednica Nature Park and Medvedgrad Fortress
Number of visitors: 30 000
A place near Zagreb also found its place among the best places in Croatia. Medvednica Nature Park gets quite a lot of visitors, especially over weekends. Although the mountain is not that large in size, it has a great number of walking paths. Visitors need to have in mind that at least three hours are needed for any of the hiking routes.
Also, it is advisable to get a map of Medvednica at the Bliznec park entrance because the mountain is heavily wooded. Therefore, if you are not a mountaineering expert, there’s a higher chance of getting lost.
But, don’t get discouraged – it is all worth of effort once you get to the amazing Medvedgrad Fortress. Medvedgrad was once a fortified medieval town built for defensive purposes. Nowadays, it is a popular Croatian attraction since it gives spectacular panoramic views of the city from an altitude of over 500 meters.
48) Trsteno Arboretum
Number of visitors: 35 000
A small fishing village near Dubrovnik was never of great importance until the arrival of the noble Gozze family which brought exotic seeds and plants from their travels. That’s when the famous Arboretum, the oldest Renaissance garden in Dalmatia, was born. Some of the plants that can be found in Arboretum gardens include Japanese banana trees, cacti and almost 500-year old plane trees. Tragically, during the Croatian Independence War, the gardens were damaged and ¾ of the vegetation was burnt down. Despite that, Arboretum impressed the producers of the Game of Thrones series and several (important!) scenes were shot precisely in the gardens. Time to binge-watch again!
47) Kopacki Rit Nature Park
Number of visitors: 40 000
The greenest of sights in eastern Croatia is Kopacki rit Nature Park. The park covers an area of 177 square kilometers, making it one of the largest natural wetlands in Europe. Visitors can easily reach the park by car from Osijek (12 km), the fourth largest city in Croatia. Kopacki rit has quite rich fauna and flora – to be precise, there are over 300 different species of birds, more than 40 species of fish and 140 species of plants. But that’s not all, the visitors can also encounter animals such as red deer, weasel, otter, etc. And since Kopacki rit lies on the confluence of Danube and Drava rivers, you can enjoy the view on the park sailing through Danube on the eastern side of Kopacki rit.
46) Zumberak Samoborsko Gorje Nature Park
Number of visitors: 50 000
The Zumberak Mountains are the massif situated near the border between Croatia and Slovenia. Together with the Samobor Hills (cro. Samoborsko Gorje) the mountains make a protected nature park, established in 1999. The nature park consists of the cultivated countryside area, educational hiking and cycling trails. On top of that, visitors can go horse riding (in Koretici) or paragliding (in Japetic and Plesivica villages). Those who prefer extreme activities can test their climbing skills in Okic inside the borders of the park and Terihaji.
45) Ivan Mestrovic Museums
Number of visitors: 51 840
If you are not familiar with the name, Ivan Mestrovic was one of the most successful sculptors of the 20th century. Although born in Croatia, his work was extremely appreciated and acknowledged internationally.
For example, you might come across his The Bowman and The Spearman in Chicago or St Jerome the Priest in Washington D.C.
Some of his works in the region include: Gregory of Nin in Split, Njegos Mausoleum in Lovcen National Park and Josip Juraj Strossmayer in Zagreb. There are 4 museums dedicated to Mestrovic’s work: Mestrovic Gallery, Mestrovic Crikvine, Atelier Mestrovic and the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer in Otavice. The latter is actually the resting place of the sculptor and his family members.
44) Walls of Ston
Number of visitors: 56 000
Known as the “European Great Wall of China”, Ston Walls can be described as a series of 5.5 km long walls surrounding the town of Ston, connecting it to the neighboring Mali Ston. The construction of the walls began in the mid 14th century. However, it was completed in the 15th century along with 40 smaller towers and 5 fortresses.
Ston is one of those places in Croatia which are a great destination for food lovers – the best oysters in the region are cultivated in Mali Ston Bay!
43) Visovac Monastery
Number of visitors: 60 000
One more islet that is part of the best places in Croatia is also a part of Krka National Park. Visovac Monastery is situated on an islet, 6 kilometers from Skradin. This tiny island has only 17 meters of coastline and it is reachable only by excursion boat. Augustinian monks established the monastery in the 14th century. It was later on adapted by the Franciscans. The monastery housed quite a large collection of Christian books and manuscripts, some of them dating from the 15th century, such as a rare print of Aesop’s fables.
42) Biokovo Nature Park
Number of visitors: 65 000
One of the most popular places in Croatia is a paradise for hikers and mountaineers, and that is certainly Biokovo Nature Park. Established in 1981, Biokovo boasts its biological diversity and stunning viewpoints such as Vosac (1492 m) and St Jure (1762 m).
On an extremely sunny day, visitors can even see the mountains of the neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina and Italian Mount Gargano. Kotisina village hosts a botanical garden, an integral part of the park so visitors have a wide choice of hiking trails on their disposal, ranging from easy (2 hours) to hard ones (6+ hours). The bravest can try paragliding from takeoff points Przinovac and Miletin bor. It’s highly advised to wear proper clothing and footwear and plenty of water since Biokovo has no tap or spring water.
41) Fortress Mirabela, Omis
Number of visitors: 69 658
Fort Mirabela, also known as Peovica, is situated above Omis Old Town at an altitude of more than 200 meters. Built in the 16th century, this fortress served as an observing tower to spot the enemies more easily.
The fortress consists of 4 floors and it has an exit at the top which gives spectacular views of Omis and surrounding area.
Legend has it that during the Turkish invasions, the locals would shout and fire shots from the summit of Mirabela so loud towards the Cetina canyon that the echo made the Turks believe there were more defenders on the fortress than in reality. Mirabela is easily accessible from the Old Town, it takes only a 15-20 minute walk to reach the top.
40) Vis Island
Number of visitors: ~70 000*
The fact that Vis is the farthest inhabited island in Croatia probably justifies the relatively low number of visitors per year (compared to other islands such as Hvar or Brac). But the island still managed to rank on the list of top visited places in Croatia. Nevertheless, those who do visit Vis Island will definitely not regret doing so. The Vis Town and Komiza are the two largest settlements on the island and also the most visited places.
Vis Town is the first place you’ll see when arriving by ferry or catamaran to Vis. Some of the most important historical sights can be found in Vis Town, such as Fort of St George and the ruins of the ancient Greek town of Issa. On the other side of the island “hides” the charming Komiza village with beautiful quiet beaches with an amazingly crystal clear sea.
One of the most popular among them would be Stiniva beach, a gem secluded between two high cliffs.
*The number of visitors is estimated according to the number of arrivals in Vis Town and Komiza.
39) Vrana Lake
Number of visitors: 75 000
With the surface of almost 31 square kilometers, Vrana Lake boasts the title of the largest natural lake in Croatia. Besides that, Vrana is also a rare example of cryptodepression, meaning that its deepest point is actually deeper than the mean sea level.
The lake is also a nature park belonging to both Zadar and Sibenik-Knin County. Vrana Lake is special due to the almost intact natural habitats of water birds and for being an area of peculiar specificity, biodiversity and springs of drinking water. The dominant feature of the park, however, is the Ornithological Reserve. Due to its conservation of the great reeds in the northwestern part of the lake, its exceptional scientific and ecological value, Vrana Lake was included in the list of Important Bird Areas in Europe already in 1983.
38) Rogoznica (Dragon’s Eye Lake)
Number of visitors: 78 070
Dragon’s Eye is a hydrogeomorphological phenomenon situated on the Gradina peninsula near Rogoznica. High cliffs surround the lake while the surface area of the lake covers almost 10 000 square meters.
Interesting phenomenon the lake once had is the “boiling of the lake”, which would occur due to the layer of hydrogen sulfide at the bottom.
This eventually led the locals to believe in different legends, such as the one about the two brothers. Another legend tells the tale about a dragon named Murin which died in the pit of Dragon’s Eye Lake. According to the legend, if two people who are in love take a swim in the Dragon’s Eye, their love will be eternal and both of them will have a happy marriage.
37) Mimara Museum
Number of visitors: 81 080
Another museum among the best places in Croatia is fully named the Art Collection of Ante and Wiltrud Topić Mimara. This museum is the main art museum located in Zagreb. It counts over 3,700 different works of art while more than 1,500 exhibits are permanent holdings. Some of the works which can be found in Mimara include works by famous painters like Rubens, Velázquez, Renoir, Degas and many others. The building itself was constructed at the verge of the 19th century, however, the establishment of the museum happened a century after, in 1987.
36) Trakoscan Castle
Number of visitors: 87 370
A castle on the lake? You can find it in Northern Croatia, 40 kilometers from Varazdin. Although the castle was built in the 13th century, it was not until 1953 when the castle became a property of the Republic of Croatia.
That year also marks the installation of the first permanent museum display in the castle. Trakoscan is definitely more than a castle, its entire surrounding area gives the vibe of a fairy tale.
Visitors can go for a romantic walk around the lake and through the forest park. It is recommended to set aside at least 4 to 5 hours to fully enjoy this experience. In addition, free audio guides for the castle are available in Croatian and English.
35) Salona Ruins
Number of visitors: 90 000
Only 15 minutes by car from Split and you’ll find yourself in the ancient city from the times of the Roman Empire. Salona deserved a a place among the top places in Croatia as one of the largest archaeological sites of the Roman Empire, also used to be one of the largest cities of the Roman Empire. The archaeological park nowadays belongs to the Archaeological Museum of Split and it consists of several sites: Amphitheatre, Thermae Salonae, Manastirine Necropolis and Tusculum Museum. The visitors can buy the entrance ticket at the Tusculum Museum and get a visitors map available in several different languages.
34) Kamerlengo Fortress
Number of visitors: 90 000
To get the best photos of Trogir, visitors should definitely climb the Kamerlengo Fortress. The castle was built at the end of the Middle Ages by the famous Trogir builder and stones man Marin Radoj.
Entrance to the fortress costs somewhere around €3.5 and inside the fortress the visitors can test their archery skills. During summer months, Kamerlengo mostly serves as a festival or concert venue, among which the most famous is Moondance Festival. Definitely a must-visit place in Croatia!
33) Place of Remembrance – Vukovar Hospital
Number of visitors: 98 198
The basement rooms of Vukovar hospital portray the shocking life of several hundred patients in the autumn of 1991. It was the time of the Croatian War of Independence and the war was in its beginnings. Vukovar was under the 87-day-long siege of Yugoslav People’s Army, supported by paramilitary forces from Serbia.
The attacks on Vukovar began in June, but during August, shells fired from long-range artillery began to fall on the town. By the end of August, 15,000 civilians had left Vukovar. Those who had stayed were placed in Vukovar Hospital. At the very entrance of the museum, visitors can watch a video of the hospital’s suffering during the War.
The former bomb shelter depicts the wounded patients in beds and newborns in incubators. The whole recreated atmosphere is accompanied by audio and visual effects. Vukovar is definitely among those sights in Croatia that will introduce you with country’s difficult past.
32) Museum of Broken Relationships
Number of visitors: 110 400
Imagine breaking up with your girlfriend or boyfriend only to open together a museum after the breakup? It’s possible in Zagreb! A unique museum was an idea of a former couple from Zagreb, Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić who decided to open a museum dedicated to failed relationships.
The museum was firstly a “traveling collection” which went on a world tour in the period between 2006 and 2010, visiting many countries. The Museum of Broken Relationships is currently divided into three parts: material remains layout (object like photographs and letters), virtual web museum (allows potential donors to upload their images and documents) and confessional (interactive part of museum).
31) Telascica Nature Park
Number of visitors: 115 000
Telascica Nature Park is one of the most beautiful nature parks, as well as sights in Croatia.
It is situated in the southeastern part of the Dugi Otok island and surrounded by 13 islands and islets outside the bay and 6 islets inside it. Telascica was proclaimed a nature park in 1988 due to its exceptional flora and fauna, rich sea life and geological phenomena.
There are three main phenomena of the park – the bay with 25 small and quiet beaches, high cliffs that surround the bay and the salt Lake Mir. The peculiarity of Lake Mir is its above average salinity, and one part of it contains medicinal mud.
30) Paklenica National Park
Number of visitors: 120 000
At this point it is no wonder that even the least visited national parks in Croatia are still quite popular places. National Park Paklenica is situated 47 kilometers northeast of Zadar and is one of two national parks in the Velebit mountain range.
Paklenica is mostly known for its two canyons, Big and Small Paklenica while the highest peak called Vaganski vrh counts the impressive 1757 meters. The park offers a number of trails of different difficulty and length. Therefore, hiking is the best way to explore Paklenica and you can even hike with a professional guide.
Besides hiking, the visitors can also explore Manita Cave which is opened to the public only from April to October.
To get more information about the park, reach the Educational Centre in Mala Paklenica.
29) Kornati National Park
Number of visitors: 120 000
National Park Kornati is an archipelago of 89 uninhabited islands, islets, and reefs and it is the most indented island group in the Mediterranean. The park is situated in the northern part of Dalmatia region, southwest of the city of Zadar and it covers an area of 320 square kilometers.
None of the islands in the national park has permanent residents, however, some fishermen and laborers have built their huts with tools. Many islands in the national park may look like rocky deserts, but they actually have plenty of saliva and rosemary bushes.
The best way to visit Kornati is by organised day trips from one of the nearby coastal towns (Vodice, Sibenik, Zadar, etc.), especially during summer months when the trips are more frequent.
28) Technical Museum Nikola Tesla
Number of visitors: 141 045
Whether you are a fan of science or not, Technical Museum in Zagreb is among those must-visit sights of Croatia! The museum shows the evolution of technology and science since 1954.
Some of the exhibitions include: the display of various steam engines, 20th-century means of transportation in Croatia, astronautics, planetarium and geology department. The museum was named after the famous inventor Nikola Tesla, so you can explore the special department dedicated to one of the greatest inventors in history.
Over the years the museum has collected more than 10 000 items from the industrial era.
Don’t miss the free tram ride to the museum, provided by the museum every Sunday at 9:30 AM, departing from Drazen Petrovic square.
27) Mljet National Park
Number of visitors: 145 751
Mljet National Park comprises the western part of the Mljet Island, Small Lake and Great Lake (cro. Malo jezero and Veliko jezero), Soline Bay and a 500-meter wide sea belt. Isle of St Mary sits in the middle of the Great Lake, along with a Benedictine monastery which nowadays serves as a café/restaurant.
Visitors can visit the islet with a kayak rented at Mali Most or by a shuttle boat which departs from Mali Most. Besides kayaking, visitors can also enjoy swimming in the park, cycling on the marked paths and even hiking up the 200-meter high hill.
26) Northern Velebit National Park
Number of visitors: 165 000
Northern Velebit is what one would call “a paradise for mountain hikers”. This national park covers an area of 109 square kilometers of the northern part of the Velebit mountain range. Naturally, the visitors are restricted only to the marked cycling and hiking trails. The most popular trail would be the Premuzic’s Trail. The trail starts at Zavizan (the highest meteorological station in Croatia) and it takes around 5-6 hours to finish it.
The park has two strict reserves called Hajdučki and Rožanski kukovi. These large stone masses rise over the Velebit mountains. Despite being in the center of the national park, access to them is allowed only to scientific researchers and educational visitors.
25) Blue Cave (Bisevo Island)
Number of visitors: 166 000
Also known as the Blue Grotto, this sea cave has increased its popularity tremendously over the past 10 years becoming a part of the top visited sights in Southern Croatia. The cave is “hidden” on the east side of Bisevo Island, but it is also easily accessible to the visitors by boat tours from Vis and Hvar. Originally, the people could only enter the cave by diving under the rock. Through this opening the sunlight gets in and creates a blue-glowing effect all around the cave.
Depending on the season, the ideal time to visit the cave is between 11 AM and 12 PM. This is when the sunlight reflects through the water giving the cave a unique sapphire-colored light.
24) Brijuni National Park
Number of visitors: 171 794
National Park Brijuni is a group of fourteen small islands situated west off the Istrian peninsula. The largest among them is called Veli Brijun and it lies only 2 kilometers off the coast. The second largest island is Mali Brijun with only 1.07 km² of total area.
The one thing that makes Brijuni stand out among the rest of the national parks in Croatia is its own safari park.
Yes, you read it well – a safari in Europe! The national park gained its popularity during the times of Yugoslavia when Josip Broz Tito was using Brijuni as his summer residence. He had a lot of famous guests bringing him gifts, such as Indira Gandhi who gave him two elephants, named Lanka and Sony.
Today the safari park has many wild animals, such as zebras, deers, zebu and llamas.
23) Trsat Castle, Rijeka
Number of visitors: 172 025
Among the top places in Croatia is also a symbol of Rijeka, the renowned Trsat Castle, situated on a 138-meter high hill above the city. Castle we know today was completely reconstructed in the 19th century but it was first mentioned as the seat of the parish in 1288. It was first mentioned as the seat of the parish in 1288.
This means that Trsat Castle is one of the oldest fortifications in the Croatian Littoral (cro. Hrvatsko primorje).
Nowadays, the castle serves as a venue for various open-air concerts, art exhibitions and fashion shows. The best time to visit the castle is either during summer or Christmas holidays when the entire castle is decorated with 17 kilometers of Christmas lights. Truly spectacular!
22) Museums of Croatian Zagorje
Number of visitors: 234 302
The Museums of Croatian Zagorje were established in 1993 as a collective of five specialized museums of Krapina-Zagorje County. The museums are also the largest museum complex in Croatia, covering an area of 229 000 square meters.
The variety of exhibitions and collections, and especially of the professional staff, gives the museums the specific potential which led them to be one of the most successful museums in the country.
The complex consists of Veliki Tabor Castle, Antun Augustinčić Gallery, Krapina Neanderthal Museum, Peasants’ Revolt Museum and Museum “Old Village” Kumrovec.
21) Varazdin Old Town
Number of visitors: ~300 000*
Even though the majority of visitors love to spend their vacations in coastal cities and towns, Varazdin is one of the best preserved urban complexes in Northern Croatia.
The most iconic symbol of Varazdin is Old Town Keep, situated in the northwestern part of the city center. The keep is an example of Gothic architecture in Croatia, typical for the architecture in continental Croatia.
Visitors can explore the Varazdin City Museum inside the keep. However, the dominant architectural style in the city is definitely Baroque style which can be seen on the entrance of Varazdin Cathedral, National Theatre, Town Hall and numerous palaces.
In September, Varazdin holds a street festival called Špancirfest. The festival is held annually ever since 1971 and it has welcomed many famous artists like Blondie, Flogging Molly and Manu Chao.
*The number of visitors is estimated according to the number of visitors for the Spancirfest Festival. However, the number of tourists that stayed overnight at least for one night is 33 385.
20) Korcula Town (Korcula Island)
Number of visitors: ~300 000
The main town on Korcula Island is the central visiting spot for the majority of tourists who decide to spend their vacation on Korcula. Why? The architecture in the Old Town is influenced by Venetian Renaissance, especially the old palaces.
The central part of the Old Town is St Mark’s Cathedral built in 1407. However, Marco Polo’s House is a popular attraction also found in the Old Town. Namely, it is believed that this notable world traveler and writer was born in Korcula Town and tourists can visit his house. Thanks to the defensive city walls, Korcula Town makes one of the best preserved fortified towns in Croatia.
*The number of visitors is estimated according to the number of arrivals in Korčula Town and other larger settlements on Korčula Island (Blato, Lumbarda, Smokvica, Vela Luka).
19) Mali Losinj (Losinj Island)
Number of visitors: ~350 000
The Croatian island of Losinj is located in the northern Adriatic, more precisely in the Kvarner Gulf. It is a very popular holiday destination making the part of the Cres-Losinj archipelago. The two of the biggest towns on the island are Mali and Veli Losinj.
The Island symbol is the Croatian Apoxyomenos, a statue of an ancient Greece athlete seen in the Mali Lošinj Museum. Some of the finest buildings in the area will certainly catch your attention. One of them is the church of St Martin from the 15th century and the other is the church of St Nicholas.
Garden of Fine Scents is definitely among the must-visit sights of Croatia since it has over 250 species of wild aromatic herbs. Visitors can learn about these plants with the help of a professional guide and even buy authentic souvenirs.
18) Zlatni Rat Beach
Number of visitors: ~400 000
Zlatni rat (or Golden Horn) is probably one of the most recognizable beaches and places in Croatia, as well as Europe, thanks to its distinguishable shape. But it is not only its shape that makes this beach so unique and stunning.
Crystal clear sea and pine trees surrounding the beach certainly add to the distinctive Mediterranean vibe. The beach is situated a little less than 2 km from the town of Bol, connected by a charming promenade under the pine trees shade. One of the common mistakes people have about the beach is that it is a sand beach – it is actually a pebble beach. And if you are lucky enough, you might even find the stone of happiness. It’s believed that whoever finds this small stone that resembles a snail fossil, will have a lifetime of happiness.
Another interesting fact – Zlatni rat beach is 100% natural phenomena, made without any human intervention.
*The number of visitors is estimated according to the number of arrivals in Bol and Supetar.
Number of visitors: ~500 000
Even though Umag has around 13 000 inhabitants, more than half a million tourists visit this Istrian town every year. Why is that so?
Well, if we look at the geographical position of Umag, we can see that Umag is the first coastal town in Croatia when arriving from western part of Europe. That is why this town is convenient for most tourists arriving from Germany, Austria and Italy.
Umag is mostly famous for hosting a worldwide known ATP tennis tournament, but that’s not all this charming little town has to offer. An interesting fact is Umag Old Town once used to be an island surrounded by city walls. Nowadays there are only a few remains left.
16) Dubrovnik Cable Car to Srd
Number of visitors: ~575 000
Beside the stunning Old Town and City Walls, tourists also very much appreciate Dubrovnik Cable Car, ranked on the 16th place of most visited sights in Croatia, with over 575 000 sold tickets annually.
The cable car Srđ was built back in 1969 and it connected the settlement Ploce (not to be confused with the town of Ploce) with the hill and it was the first and only cable car on Adriatic coast back at that time.
The hill is equipped with a cafe bar with a beautiful terrace overlooking Dubrovnik. Although a bit pricey (around 20€ for a round trip), it is certainly a unique experience.
15) Pula Amphitheater
Number of visitors: 575 856
The sixth-largest surviving Roman amphitheater found its place in Pula, Istria, becoming one of the most visited cities in Croatia. How well preserved Pula Arena is the fact it’s the only remaining Roman amphitheater to have four side towers with all three Roman architectural orders.
Once a gladiator arena and the site of knights tournaments, nowadays is the venue for many different events such as Pula Film Festival, concerts and sports competition. Gladiator fights are still quite popular, as a tourist attraction of course. Every week during the summer season, Pula Arena hosts gladiator fights as part of the historical and entertainment spectacle called Spectacvla Antiqva.
The amphitheater is located 200 meters northeast outside the city walls of Pula and it is part of the Archaeological Museum of Istria.
Number of visitors: ~600 000
Opatija is what one would call “a true lady” among the coastal towns in Croatia. Known as “the pearl of the Kvarner Gulf”, Opatija started with its tourism in 1844 when Iginio Scarpa, a merchant from Rijeka, built in Opatija a villa dedicated it to his deceased wife Angiolina.
Scarpa also built 60 ornamental fields with over 150 plant species. Nowadays, the villa is part of the Croatian Museum of Tourism which displays material and non-material tourist heritage.
One of the most distinctive plants is the Japanese camellia, a symbol of Opatija’s tourism. The famous 12 km long Opatija promenade (Lungomare) along which the visitors can enjoy the view on the luxurious villas.
The promenade built in 1911 stretches from Volosko to Lovran, connecting the towns of the Opatija Riviera.
Number of visitors: 693 000
Rovinj or Rovigno in Italian, is a typical Istrian coastal town with strong influence of the Republic of Venice. Built mostly with pale limestone, the Old Town makes you feel as if you were in some Italian town. What characterizes this town are its narrow cobbled streets and alleys passing under archways.
The main square is dominated by 17th century St Euphemia church built by the Venetians. Some say the bell tower very much resembles the one of St Mark’s basilica in Venice. Impressive, right?
The town port is the place where visitors will find many traditional restaurants and cafes right on the waterfront. Whether because of its small-town charm or picturesque houses, one thing is for sure – Rovinj is one of those unforgettable places of Croatia!
12) Hvar Town
Number of visitors: ~700 000
Known as the sunniest island in Croatia, no wonder Hvar has so many visitors every year, up to 20 000 a day during summertime.
Although Hvar has 4 towns and 19 settlements, the most popular among them is by far Hvar Town. Why? Nicknamed “St Tropez of the Adriatic”, Hvar offers 24/7 parties all summer long with Carpe Diem club being the center of a party scene.
Off-season, Hvar Town quiets down considerably so visitors have a perfect opportunity to explore the town. The Old Town is dominated by St Stephen’s Cathedral and its 17th-century bell tower. To get the best view of the city, visitors should explore Fortica Fortress. Locally known as Španjola, Fortica is situated on the 100 meter-high hill above the town. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from the town up to the fort.
*The number of visitors is estimated according to the number of arrivals in Hvar Town and other larger settlements on Hvar Island (Stari grad, Jelsa, Sućuraj).
11) Makarska Riviera
Number of visitors: ~800 000
The Makarska Riviera is a name for a microregion in the southeastern part of the Croatian coast. It comprises the town of Makarska and its neighbouring 5 municipalities: Brela, Baska Voda, Tucepi, Podgora and Gradac).
Makarska Riviera has all the characteristics of the Mediterranean climate: hot and dry summers and mild winters with rainy days. Area has over 2,700 hours of sunshine annually, which boosts the development of tourism, the dominant industry in Croatia.
It is a 60 kilometer long area with some of the most beautiful pebble beaches, the most popular being the one in Brela, called Punta Rata.
*The number of visitors is estimated according to the number of arrivals in Makarska and its surrounding area (Tucepi, Baska Voda, Brela, Podgora).
10) Zagreb Cathedral
Number of visitors: ~1 000 000
Among the must-see places in Croatia is not only the tallest building in Croatia, but also a cathedral belonging to the most respectable Gothic style buildings in this part of Europe.
Zagreb Cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and kings Saint Stephen and Saint Ladislaus. It has two spires, both 108 meters tall visible from almost any part of the city.
The cathedral holds a treasury which includes various metal vessels, liturgical vestments and books collected during various periods of its history.
Fun fact, Zagreb Cathedral isn’t the original cathedral built in Zagreb. Allegedly, king Ladislaus had it built during his reign in the 11th century. However, there are no official records to prove this statement. There is no admission fee to enter Zagreb Cathedral.
Number of visitors: ~1 000 000*
Porec is a town situated on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula, known for the Euphrasian Basilica, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Croatia. Almost 2000 years old, this town counts around 12 000 inhabitants.
The popularity of Porec is not recent, as tourist have been present ever since the 1970s. Town is fairly close to the neighbouring Slovenia and Italy, but surprisingly the major part of the visitors make Germans and Austrians. Porec boasts many 13th-century palaces, the best preserved being the Romanesque house and the House of Two Saints.
City is also famous for the Baredine Cave which carries the title of the first speleological locality and tourist cave in Istria.
*The number of visitors is estimated according to the number of arrivals in Porec and its surrounding area. The number of arrivals to Porec is 551 000 and the rest visit Porec as a part of a day trip.
8) Trogir Old Town
Number of visitors: ~1 000 000*
Whether you prefer the title Little Venice of Dalmatia or the Stone Beauty, the truth is – Trogir is all of the mentioned. Trogir Old Town is one of the places in Croatia added to UNESCO List in 1997 thanks to high concentration of palaces, churches and towers on such a small islet. Its Medieval core includes a well-preserved castle and tower.
There is also a series of houses and palaces from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. The St Lawrence Cathedral is the city’s symbol, thanks to Master Radovan’s work on the cathedral’s main west portal. Its masterpiece is often regarded as the most significant work of the Romanesque-Gothic style in Croatia.
Other important sights in the Old Town include the city core with 10 churches and numerous buildings from the 13th century, City Gate and City Walls, The Kamerlengo Fortress, The Duke’s Palace, Cipiko palaces and the city loggia.
The Kamerlengo Fortress
Number of visitors: 90 000
- A castle built in the mid-15th century by Marin Radoj. Nowadays, it is mostly used as a location for performances during the summer season.
- See more under 34) The Kamerlengo Fortress.
*The number of visitors has been estimated according to the number of arrivals in Trogir and its surrounding area (Kaštela, Okrug County, Seget).
7) Sibenik Old Town
Number of visitors: ~1 200 000*
A typical Mediterranean Medieval city is one of the favorites during the tourist season. Sibenik’s historical core is divided into three parts: Grad (or Town), Gorica and Dolac. The Old Town is dominated by the Cathedral of Saint James, one of the UNESCO sites in Croatia.
A large open square known as the Poljana is the “entrance” to the Old Town. “Greasy Street”, one of Old Town’s main streets was the focal point of the commercial, artisan and catering life of Sibenik. It has always attracted the people of Sibenik, but also people from the surrounding area.
St. Michael’s Fortress is another iconic sight in Sibenik, situated on a steep hill above the old historic center. It is considered to be the birthplace of Sibenik.
*The number of visitors is estimated according to the number of arrivals in Šibenik and its surrounding area (Primosten, Skradin and Vodice).
6) Krka National Park
Number of visitors/sold tickets: 1 354 802
Located along the middle-lower course of the Krka River, Krka National Park is widely known for its seven mesmerizing waterfalls. The most popular among them is Skradinski Buk which is not actually one waterfall but a series of cascades. The highest single drop is the one in the swimming area, 12 meters high.
The best thing is, tourists are able to swim in front of the waterfall during the summer season – a unique experience indeed!
From Skradinski Buk visitors can easily get on the excursion boats for Visovac Island and Roski slap, another two amazing parts of the national park. However, this is possible only during the summer.
Number of visitors: 60 000
- A part of Krka National Park situated on an islet, 6 kilometers from Skradin.
- See more under 43) Visovac Monastery
5) Plitvice National Park
Number of visitors/sold tickets: 1 799 903
The oldest and the largest national park in Croatia is among the most popular places in Croatia. Plitvice National Park is primarily covered in forest vegetation, with smaller areas under grasslands.
Interestingly, the lakes, which are the biggest attraction of the park, cover only 1% of the total park area. The lake system consists of 16 individual lakes, cascading one into another. Due to the geological substrate and hydrogeological conditions, the lake system has been divided into the Upper and Lower lakes.
Besides lakes, visitors can enjoy seven different touring routes and four hiking trails. A day trip to Plitvice is a perfect way to start your Croatia holiday!
4) Zadar Old Town
Number of visitors: ~1 800 000*
Voted as European Best Destination for 2016, no wonder Zadar got ranked as the fourth most visited sight in Croatia. Even Alfred Hitchcock claimed that Zadar has “the most beautiful sunset in the world” in 1964 when he visited the city.
One of the most famous city attractions is the Sea Organ, an award-winning art installation located at the waterfront. The organ “music” is actually a product of sea waves hitting the organ.
The Greeting to the Sun is another art installation on the promenade, dedicated to the Sun and solar system. The monument made of multi-layered glass plates turns on at night and produces a light show.
Let’s not forget the old Roman Forum and St Donatus Church, the symbols of Zadar. Fun fact – St Donatus is used as the concert venue for the annual International Festival of Classical Music due to the great acoustics of the interior of the church.
*The number of visitors is estimated according to the number of arrivals in Zadar and its surrounding area (Nin, Obrovac and Biograd na Moru).
3) Dubrovnik Old Town & Walls
Number of visitors in Dubrovnik: ~2 000 000
Number of sold tickets for the Walls: 1 302 000
Dubrovnik’s ever-growing popularity for being among the top cities in Croatia in the past 10 years owes a lot to the Game of Thrones TV series. It brought life to fictional city King’s Landing inside Dubrovnik Old Town Walls. These defensive stone walls remain almost intact ever since the Middle Ages.
In 1979, Dubrovnik Old Town joins the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Inside the Old Town visitors can see various historical sights, like Rector’s Palace, Stradun, St Blaise’s Church, Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and Sponza Palace.
Outside the Walls stands the iconic St. Lawrence Fortress – the symbol of Croatian defense during the Croatian War of Independence. Many visitors come from the cruise ships, which causes the city’s problems with overcrowding.
Dubrovnik Cable Car to Srđ
Number of visitors: 575 000
- Dubrovnik Cable Car ranks as the 16th most visited sight in Croatia, with over 575 000 sold tickets.
- See more under 16) Dubrovnik Cable Car to Srđ
*The number of visitors is estimated according to the number of arrivals in Dubrovnik and its surrounding area (Konavle, Župa dubrovačka, Ston) and number of sold tickets for Dubrovnik Walls and Cable car to Srđ.
2) Zagreb Upper & Lower Town
Number of visitors: ~3 000 000*
Capital and largest city in Croatia was bound to be a part of the list of best places in Croatia. Zagreb’s rich history, cultural scene, the Tale of Two Towns and other interesting attractions bring millions of visitors each year.
Zagreb Upper Town is known as the “old part” of Zagreb. Its most iconic sight would be St Mark’s Church and square. Square is often featured on Croatia’s postcards and stamps due to its famous roof representing the arms of Zagreb and the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia.
Number of visitors: ~1 000 000*
- Also known as the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary, officially the tallest building in Croatia.
- See more under 10) Zagreb Cathedral.
Technical Museum Nikola Tesla
Number of visitors: 141 045
- The museum of technology and science, named after the famous inventor Nikola Tesla.
- See more under 28) Technical Museum Nikola Tesla
Museum of Broken Relationships
Number of visitors: 110 400
- A museum dedicated to failed love relationships. Exhibits include personal objects left over from former lovers, accompanied by brief descriptions.
- See more under 32) Museum of Broken Relationships.
On the other side, Zagreb Lower Town is more focused on business.
It is more lively and has many spacious parks for a perfect daily dose of recreation.
A more modern part of Zagreb includes the famous Ban Jelacic Square and the longest street in Zagreb, Ilica.
The Lower Town also has important monuments and buildings such as Croatian National Theatre, Strossmayer Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Museum of Arts and Crafts, the Archaeological Museum, the Botanic Garden, the State Archive, the Academy of Sciences, and the renowned Mimara Museum — one of the most wonderful art galleries in Europe, as well as places in Croatia.
Number of visitors: 81 080
- The Mimara Museum is an art museum situated on Roosevelt Square, housing the collection by Wiltrud and Ante Topić Mimara.
- See more under 37) Mimara Museum.
*The number of visitors is estimated according to the number of arrivals in Zagreb and its surrounding area (Zaprešić, Velika Gorica, Samobor and Dugo Selo).
1) Diocletian’s Palace
Number of visitors: ~3 000 000 – 3 500 000*
The winner among all these stunning sights in Croatia is the most fascinating attraction in Split. This ancient palace built for the Roman emperor Diocletian is the bait for all travel enthusiasts, history lovers and everyone who loves to explore and wander through tiny, narrow streets.
Although the Palace isn’t what it used to be 1715 years ago, its remains are still well kept and that’s why it was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The central part of the Diocletian’s Palace is Peristyle square. Saint Domnius Cathedral, World’s oldest Catholic Cathedral dominates the square.
In the Palace, visitors can find museums such as the City Museum of Split, Ethnographic Museum and the recently opened Game of Thrones Museum, dedicated to the popular HBO TV series.
*The number of visitors is estimated according to the number of arrivals in Split and its surrounding area (Solin, Kaštela, Trogir, Dugopolje). There is no entrance fee to Diocletian’s Palace
Map of Croatia Attractions