In 1995, after decades of Communist rule and ensuing bloody wars, Croatia emerged from the shadows into the travel spotlight—a nearly undiscovered corner of Europe. Today, visitors continue to arrive in record numbers to explore the country’s medieval cities and villages, eight national parks, 11 nature preserves, and more than 1,200 islands along the Adriatic coast. The dramatic Dalmatia region gets most of the spotlight, with summer crowds flocking to hot spots like the historic walled city of Dubrovnik, the bustling town of Split, and the glamorous island of Hvar. Lesser-known but equally impressive are the heart-shaped Istria (the peninsula at the northern end of Croatia’s coastline) and Kvarner (the gulf just to the south of Istria). The star of Croatia’s inland region is the buzzy capital, Zagreb, which, in recent years, has become a must-visit destination for its quirky museums, colorful markets, and innovative food scene.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Photo by Brendan Van Son/Shutterstock


When’s the best time to go to Croatia?

The peak tourist season along Croatia’s coast runs from July through August. It can be hot, crowded, and expensive, but several festivals and events still make it a fun time to visit. For a bit of breathing room and lower prices, try the shoulder seasons—May through June and September are particularly lovely times of year. Winter used to be the quietest period for tourism, but that has changed in the last two years with Zagreb’s Advent festivals bringing in thousands of visitors for Christmastime merriment.

How to get around Croatia

Croatia has seven international airports, with the swanky Franjo Tuđman Airport (also known as Zagreb Airport) being the largest and busiest, as well as the main hub for the national carrier, Croatia Airlines. Other popular ports of entry, especially if you’re heading for the Dalmatian Coast, are Split, Dubrovnik, and Zadar; Pula is a major entryway if you’re Istria-bound.

The bus network in Croatia is extensive and reliable—and a good way to travel if you don’t have your own wheels. There are also regular ferries from the mainland to the islands, with more routes added during the busy high season.

Food and drink to try in Croatia

Croatian cuisine is a melting pot of regional specialties made with high-quality ingredients, from fresh seafood and spicy, paprika-rich fish stew to hand-rolled pasta with just-picked truffles. Don’t miss a meal of juicy meat or octopus, slow-cooked under peka (a dome-like baking lid). And be sure to wash it down with homemade wine or rakija, the local spirit made from fermented fruit.

Culture in Croatia

Croatians love to socialize over coffee and meals, but they also love to party, which makes it easy to see why the country has become one of Europe’s hottest festival destinations. On the other end of the spectrum, the majority of the population is Christian, and a visit to church on Sundays is an important aspect of local culture. As in many parts of Europe, soccer is the other dominant religion. You’ll make fast friends if you cheer for the home team while watching a match.

Can’t miss things to do in Croatia

Croatia delivers a heady mix of culture and nature, from its bustling cities and string of UNESCO World Heritage sites to its eight national parks that protect gorgeous stretches of wilderness. You can’t miss Dubrovnik’s walled Old Town, with its ancient ramparts and sweeping views, or the harbor city of Split, home to Diocletian’s Palace (the most complete Roman palace in the world). Sailing in Croatia—or at least visiting an island or two, like Hvar or Vis—is also essential. If you only have time for one national park, make it the lake-filled wonderland of Plitvice. And try to get to Zagreb, Croatia’s charming capital that has recently blossomed into a major destination.

Practical Information

Croatia is part of the European Union, so E.U. visa regulations apply. While Croatian is the official language, you’ll find that English is widely understood and spoken. The local currency is the euro. Electricity is 230 volts and plugs are types C and F (the standard European kind, with round prongs).

Guide Editor

Born and raised in Croatia, Anja Mutić is an award-winning travel writer who splits her time between Brooklyn and Zagreb.

Updated August 2023.

Read Before You Go
Resources to help plan your trip
The southern city of Dubrovnik in Croatia is the most visited city in the country, and with good reason. As one of the last remaining walled towns in the world, a walk through town is a walk through time and along with the views and weather, Dubrovnik is truly an amazing travel destination.
While Dalmatia often gets the spotlight, the heart-shaped peninsula of Istria (on the northern end of Croatia’s Adriatic coast) is also worthy of exploration. Food lovers in particular flock to the region for its award-winning cuisine and abundance of fresh ingredients—Istria is home to Croatia’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, Monte, as well as some of the country’s best wineries. Those willing to dive even deeper will find UNESCO World Heritage sites, spectacular parks, postcard-worthy coastal towns, medieval hilltop settlements, and a cobalt sea full of Adriatic dolphins.
With its sparkling sapphire waters and ancient walled towns, Croatia draws curious travelers from around the world. It’s a beguiling country; and if you sail on Azamara’s 7-night Croatia Intensive itinerary, you’ll experience the chance to go beyond the surface beauty and learn about its long history –Greeks, Romans, and Venetians all passed through here before you. Azamara gives you the time you need to explore the country in depth.
Splurge on cutting-edge fashion from an up-and-coming Croatian designer, or jewelry made from deep-red Adriatic coral – or simply pick up a bottle of the Dalmatian Coast’s finest olive oil.
The historic heart of Zagreb may be small and compact, but it’s jam-packed with things to do, from a historic funicular and quirky museum to a buzzy market and several verdant escapes. Beyond the city center, there are even more appealing attractions, including Croatia’s largest contemporary art museum. Pair it all with some of Zagreb’s best food, coffee, and drinks and you have the makings of a perfect day.
Split, a stunning walled city on the Adriatic Sea, is best known for the splendid palace erected by the Roman emperor Diocletian, and is well-loved for its traditions of easy living and great food. We’ve created a list of some of our favorite ways to spend the days here.
A visit to Dubrovnik can give you a glimpse of an older Europe, one with ancient Roman sites and medieval stone walls, with charming cobbled streets and sunny market squares and the blue Adriatic Sea glittering beyond. Savor your time here by walking the city walls, toasting the sunset from a terrace bar, shopping for local crafts and delicacies, and falling in love with the “Pearl of the Adriatic.”
Croatia’s sixth-largest island—once known as Melaina Korkyra (Black Korkyra) because its vast oak forests reminded Greek settlers of Corfu—is covered in pine trees, olive groves, and vineyards. Korčula Old Town is the island’s treasured highlight and a UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate. Its stone architecture and historic ambiance reflect almost four centuries of Venetian rule, with towered gates, lion statues, magnificent palazzos, and elaborate stonework peppering the charming streets. Venturing out of the Old Town, you will encounter historic villages, picturesque bays, waterfront promenades, and welcoming locals. Korčula is one of the last places on earth where knightly games like the Moreška dances are still regularly performed and where medieval fraternities still keep up their centuries-old traditions. The island truly is a treasure trove of history, nature and serenity.
Waking up to find oneself on the craggy, spectacular Dalmatian Coast is already a good thing, but when you rise in a royal palace, or villa, or grand old hotel, the thrill can transform a holiday into a trip-of-a-lifetime. Whether you want to stay near the picturesque Zlatni Rat beach, on the glittery island of Hvar, or in the historic city of Dubrovnik (known as the Pearl of the Adriatic), there’s a hotel for you in this magical region. Though you may be tempted to stay in your room and enjoy the views, be sure to make time for sightseeing, island hopping, and exploring in nearby national parks.
Of Croatia’s 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the most fascinating range from the famed Old Town of Dubrovnik and Diocletian’s Palace in Split, to the historic core of Trogir, the Euphrasian Basilica in Istria, and the masterful Cathedral of St. James in Šibenik. On the nature front, there’s Plitvice Lakes National Park, a wonder so stunning it simply can’t be skipped.
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