With thousands of miles of seafront and more than a thousand islands, Croatia's coastline is Central Europe's Riviera. Holiday-makers love its pebbly beaches, balmy summer weather, and dramatic mountains. But there's history here as well: from ruined Roman arenas and Byzantine mosaics to Venetian bell towers, Habsburg villas, and even communist concrete, past rulers have left their mark. Most travelers flock to the Dalmatian Coast, where dramatic cliffs rise from the deep and islands are scattered just offshore. But savvy travelers make time for more: the Venetian-flavored Kvarner Gulf and Istrian Peninsula, the stunning waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes, and Zagreb, the nation's engaging capital.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Dubrovnik The "Pearl of the Adriatic": a giant walled Old Town with a scenic wall walk, tons of crowds, great beaches, modest but engaging museums, a stunning mountaintop viewpoint, an epic past and difficult but inspiring recent history, and a well-earned reputation as Croatia's single best destination.
▲▲ Zagreb Croatia's underrated capital city, with interesting museums (the best feature Naive Art and Broken Relationships), lush parks, and a lively urban bustle.
▲▲ Istria Croatia's most Italian-feeling corner, with the romantic, Venetian-flavored coastal town of Rovinj; top Roman ruins in the city of Pula; and a rolling interior of vineyards and picturesque hill towns (including Motovun). Nearby are the genteel Habsburg resort of Opatija and the port city of Rijeka.
▲▲ Split Unofficial capital city and transit hub of the Dalmatian Coast, with a bustling urban vibe, people-filled seaside promenade, and lived-in warren of twisting lanes sprouting out of a massive Roman palace, plus the nearby town of Trogir.
▲▲ Hvar Ritzy island and Old Town known for its jet-set appeal, high prices, rugged interior, seductively relaxing beaches, and easy escapes to nearby islets.
▲▲ Korčula Low-key island and walled peninsular Old Town with a fjord-like backdrop, a lush islandscape, fish-skeleton street plan, and quirky offbeat museums.
Near Dubrovnik Boat excursions from Dubrovnik's Old Port, the art-packed resort village of Cavtat, the nearby Trsteno Arboretum, the walled town of Ston, the vineyard-draped Pelješac Peninsula, and the giant national park at Mljet Island.