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List of the most beautiful cities in Croatia to visit


View of Dubrovnik

Croatia is a country full of stunning landscapes, intriguing history, and charming cities that will leave you in awe. With the gorgeous Adriatic Sea, jaw-dropping national parks, historic buildings, beautiful beaches and over 1000 Croatian islands to explore, Croatia will keep any traveler satisfied. When I am asked what my favorite country in Europe is, Croatia always tops the list. In this article I will go over some of the most beautiful cities in Croatia (and maybe a town or two).  Of course, there are so many to choose from. I touch on a few in this article but I am only scratching the surface of amazing places to see in this unforgettable country.

Dubrovnik rooftops

Dubrovnik: 


Dubrovnik Croatia old town

Known as The Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is probably Croatia's most famous city and one of its most popular destinations, and for good reason.  Used as a filming location for Game of Thrones, this is the perfect place to step back in time. Encircled by medieval walls, Dubrovnik's Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting marble streets, baroque buildings, and picturesque squares. Take a walk along the famous city walls for spectacular views of the shimmering sea and terracotta rooftops. As you walk, notice the difference in the colors of the rooftops. The brighter, newer looking roofs were replaced after the war in the 90s when much of Dubrovnik was shelled.


Walking the walls of Dubrovnik

The old town of Dubrovnik, or Stari Grad, is full of ancient architecture and quaint streets.  Don't miss a visit to the majestic Dubrovnik Cathedral or the rector's palace.  The rector's palace was the administrative building for the city from the 14th century to the early 19th century. It housed private chambers, public halls and even a dungeon. Currently it is a museum sometimes hosting concerts and other events. We were lucky enough to be able to attend a gypsy jazz concert when we were there.


Rector's palace Dubrovnik

The iconic Lovrijenac Fortress, which offers stunning vistas of the Adriatic coast, is another must-see. This fortress is dubbed the Gibralter of Croatia. It played an important role in protecting Dubrovnik from the Venetians who were planning to build a fort in the same location. The people of the city constructed a fort in only a few months before the Venetians had a chance to build one, thus saving the city. The fort is now sometimes used as a theater hosting plays and other events. The Croatian leg of the Red Bull cliff diving competition is also held here. 


Walls of Dubrovnik

While in Dubrovnik,  take a cable car up to Srd hill for breathtaking views of the town and sparkling sea. Part of the Dinaric Alps, this low mountain is located just behind Dubrovnik. On top of the hill sits Fort Imperial which was built by the French during the Napoleonic Wars. It now houses a museum commemorating the Siege of Dubrovnik. This battle was one of the fiercest during the war of Independence in the early 1990s. The mountain used to have lush forests of pine trees, but fires during the war almost completely obliterated them. 


Dubrovnik harbour

If you like adventure, Dubrovnik offers many outdoor activities. Water sports such as kayaking, snorkeling or jet skiing are available. There are activities for land lovers as well such as hiking, ATV tours and zip lining.


The city hosts music festivals in the summer and is a popular port for cruise ships and other summer travelers. Because of this, the best time to visit Dubrovnik is in the shoulder season, as it can get extremely busy and hot during the peak season of the summer months. March through June and September through November are ideal times to visit.


There are a number of fabulous day trips available from Dubrovnik. If you are looking for a quieter, slower pace, consider visiting Lokrum Island, Mljet Island or the small island of Lopud. They all provide spectacular scenery and opportunities to enjoy nature.

Bay of Kotor Montenegro

If you would like to explore other towns, a wonderful option is Kotor, Montenegro. With its lush greenery surrounding the stunning bay of Kotor and charming old town, Kotor makes for an unforgettable day.  


Mostar Bosnia

Mostar, Bosnia is another fabulous choice. Mostar has a distinctive middle Eastern feel with Calls to Prayer being heard from the 10 mosques in the city. The streets reminded me of the Turkish bazaar in Istanbul with colorful rugs, glass lanterns and spices being sold. The pointed bridge in the city was destroyed during the war but has since been rebuilt. In recent years it has become a stage for daredevil divers to jump from. If you are waiting so see one of them jump however, be warned. They like to take a long time, working the crowd up with growing anticipation in order to earn more money.


Split: 


Gate of Split Croatia

Split is the second largest city in Croatia. It is a vibrant city located on the Dalmatian coast. At its heart lies Diocletian's Palace, a sprawling complex built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 4th century as a retirement home. About half of it was used for Diocletian's personal use and the other half was used to house a military garrison. This is the main attraction of the town as today, the city center is built in and around the beautiful architecture of these Roman ruins. The people first started moving into the palace in the 7th century. The Avars and Slavs destroyed the nearby city of Salona and the refugees fled to the palace finding shelter within its walls. A new city began to be formed. Since then, the palace has been continuously occupied. The people began building homes and shops within its basement and walls and eventually in the open spaces as well. Today the old town of Split is full of labyrinthine streets, bustling cafes, shops, and hidden treasures. It is considered the world's most complete remains of a Roman palace.


The bell tower of St. Domnius Cathedral is worth the climb for panoramic views of the city and nearby islands. This church, consecrated in the early 7th century, is considered to be the oldest Catholic church in the world that remains in use in its original form. While the bell tower dates to the 12th century, the church was built in 305 AD. It was constructed as the mausoleum of Diocletian.


Split Croatia

One hidden treasure I love in Split is St. Martin's chapel. It is a tiny chapel built between two walls of the city. There is usually a nun keeping watch over the chapel as it is currently in the care of the Dominican sisters who have a Monastery next door. The space was originally a corridor used as a guardhouse but was converted into a chapel in the 6th century.


St. Martin's chapel Split Croatia

The main square of Split, or peristyle, is the perfect place to end the night because there is usually live music. It feels like the whole community gathers to listen to the music while sitting on the steps of the ancient temples.


Peristyle Split Croatia

Marjan hill is just a short walk from the city center. It is known as the lungs of the city because it is covered in lush greenery and forests. There are many hiking and biking trails and the top offers wonderful panoramic views. This is a wonderful place to get out of the busyness of the city and enjoy some time in nature.


The Riva promenade, lined with palm trees and overlooking the bright blue waters of the Adriatic, is a boulevard just outside the palace and stretches along the waterfront. It has shopping and dining for you to enjoy, or you can just have a relaxing stroll while you people watch.

Hvar, Croatia

A great place to go for a day trip from Split is Hvar Island. One of the many idyllic islands in Croatia, Hvar is an easy boat ride from Split. Renowned for its crystal-clear waters, lavender fields, and vibrant nightlife, the town of Hvar, with its elegant Venetian architecture and bustling harbor, is a playground for the rich and famous. Take a stroll along the picturesque waterfront promenade lined with palm trees and chic cafes, or explore the winding alleys of the Old Town, where medieval architecture meets trendy boutiques and art galleries. Don't miss a visit to the historic Hvar Fortress, perched atop a hill overlooking the town, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding islands and Adriatic Sea. For those seeking relaxation, indulge in a day of sunbathing on one of Hvar's pristine beaches or charter a boat to explore hidden coves and secluded bays.


Although you could spend the whole day in Hvar town, I would suggest exploring the surrounding area. We loved renting scooters and exploring the island for an afternoon. Drive by small villages with stone houses and grandmas selling lavender at roadside stands.


Village on Hvar

Another great place to go for a day trip when you are in Split is Krka national park, with its stunning Skradinski Buk and Roski slap waterfalls. Visovac Island, containing a Franciscan Monastery, is another must see when you are visiting Krka national park. The natural beauty in this national park is really unbelievable. It is well worth your time to spend a day there.


Brac Island Croatia

Brac island is another great day trip from Split and. It has easy access with boat trips departing regularly from Split.  Known for its gorgeous Zlatni rat beach (otherwise known as golden horn beach), Brac is one of the best places to relax and unwind. 


Zagreb: 


Zagreb church Croatia

Zagreb is the vibrant capital of Croatia. It is the largest city in the country, but one of the youngest European capitals only earning its status in 1991. Located between the slopes of Mount Medvednica and the banks of the Sava River, Zagreb is a city of contrasts, where historic landmarks blend seamlessly with modern attractions. Its name means "to scoop" or "dig". This references the legend that a Croatian king dug a trench to keep invaders out. It is divided into upper and lower towns with the world's shortest funicular connecting the two.  The ride takes only 55 seconds. Ban Jelacic square is the main square and is surrounded by cafes and shops. It is a great meeting place or hang out spot.  Upper Town, or Gornji grad, is the historic center and home to the iconic St. Mark's Church. This church is famous for its colorfully tiled roof that depicts the coat of arms from Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia.


The picturesque Lotrščak Tower is a great place for views of the city. Built in the 13th century to protect the South City gate, a cannon is shot from the tower everyday at noon. This tradition has been going on for 100 years.


Dolac Market Zagreb

The lively Dolac Market, where locals gather to buy fresh produce and traditional delicacies, is an open air market located near Ban Jelacic square. You will find all sorts of artisinal goods and delicacies to try, all housed in colorful stalls under a sea of red umbrellas.


The Museum of Broken Relationships is a unique and one-of-a-kind museum dedicated to failed relationships and the stories behind them. There are poignant exhibits each telling of love and loss.


Plitvice national park Croatia

Plitvice lakes national park is a perfect day trip from Zagreb. It is one of the most beautiful places I have seen with cascading waterfalls, bright, turquoise water and miles of boardwalk to take you through the park. One of the interesting things about this park is it was where the first shots of the Balkan war were fired. It is hard to imagine violence in such a serene and gorgeous place. 


Rovinj: 


Rovinj, Croatia

Rovinj is a charming coastal town on the Istrian Peninsula, which is the chunk of land that sticks out in Northern Croatia. The Istrian peninsula has a large Italian influence as it has changed hands throughout its history. Rovinj old town is built on a circular piece of land almost surrounded by the sea. With its narrow cobblestone streets, pastel-colored houses, and Venetian-style architecture, Rovinj exudes old-world charm and romance. Climb to the top of the bell tower of St. Euphemia's Church for panoramic views of the town and surrounding islands, or wander through the bustling harbor, where fishing boats bob gently in the crystal-clear waters. For a taste of local cuisine, indulge in fresh seafood at one of the many waterfront restaurants. The Istrian peninsula is famous for its truffles. Make sure to sample a dish that features them or, even better, go out for a truffle hunt and find your own.


Motovun Croatia

There are many historic hill towns within an easy drive from Rovijn. Groznan, for example, is a picturesque village known for attracting artists. Motovun is another hilltop small town with gorgeous views of the olive groves and vineyards in the area. Motovun also has a famous Klapa choir. Klapa is the traditional music of Croatia sung a capella. Klapa Motovun is the name of the choir. See if they have a concert when you are in the area.


Šibenik: 


Šibenik Croatia

Another of the Croatian cities worth visiting is Šibenik, a charming coastal city located at the mouth of the Krka River. Šibenik is a treasure trove of history and culture, with its UNESCO-listed St. James Cathedral. Building began for this church in 1402. It boasts intricate stone carvings and a unique architectural style. It is the only cathedral in Croatia constructed entirely of stone.


The main square of Sibinik is called the Square of the Republic of Croatia and is a delightful place to spend some time. The cathedral, city hall and city guard are all located on the square. Just off of the square is the Prince's palace which was the seat of government during the Venetian rule and now houses the Sibinik city museum.


Sibinik Croatia

Wander through the narrow streets of the Old Town, lined with ancient buildings and lively squares. The 4 wells square was actually a city cistern built in 1453 when the town was struggling to have enough water. The medieval St. Michael's fortress, offering panoramic views of the city and surrounding islands is worth a stop. It's location has been mostly occupied since the Iron Age. The fort has been destroyed and rebuilt many times throughout the years. Most of the fort's structures dates back to the 15th century, with adaptations and updates occurring in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. There are two cisterns that provided the fortress with water that are still preserved today. The fortress is the second most visited fort in Croatia.


town square Croatia

Croatia is a country that captivates visitors with its natural beauty, intriguing history, and charming cities and towns. From the ancient streets of Dubrovnik to the romantic charm of Rovinj, each city offers something unique. They each show a glimpse into Croatia's diverse offerings. Whether you're exploring historic landmarks, soaking up the sun on pristine beaches, or indulging in delicious cuisine, Croatia is sure to leave a lasting impression on your heart. This 'list of the most beautiful cities in Croatia to visit' is a good start to exploring this gorgeous country but there is so much more. You will want to come back again and again.


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