If it seems like everywhere you look someone you know has been to—or is going to—Croatia, you’re not alone. A hotspot for the famed Yacht Week, it’s now one of the top tourist destinations in the world. If you’re wondering why, check out these 10 reasons to see for yourself.
With nearly 3,600 miles of coastline, Croatia offers no shortage of beautiful locales in which to swim, sun, and relax. If you’re looking for a local family beach, you can’t go wrong with Bačvice, located in popular Split. The expansive, shallow bay full of bathers is surrounded by cafés and shops, making it easy to enjoy a full day out. There are scores of picturesque, laid-back options as well: Zlatni Rat, the distinctive horn-shaped coast on the southern tip of the island of Brač, as well as the Pakleni Islands, which are a short boat ride from Hvar—home to its own gorgeous coastline.
Croatia’s climate ranges wide depending on where in the country you are, but on average has dry, warm summers and wet, moderate winters. The Adriatic Coast, specifically, features a Mediterranean climate, so in the summer months you’ll want to stock up on sunscreen and water—and those beachside beverages will have an extra-refreshing effect.
Croatia has a party and nightlife scene for just about everyone. The capital city, Zagreb, itself has a wide range of choices, from the lively pub atmosphere at the Bulldog on Bogoviceva in Lower Town to KSet for live music and DJs with a hip crowd. If you’re in Split, Po Bota in Old Town offers a chill environment for a casual drink while the Vidilica café on Marjan Hill lets you take in stunning views while sipping on a wide range of well-made drinks. In Dubrovnik, you can keep an eye out for the stars while enjoying a drink at 360°, one of the country’s finest restaurants with a cocktail bar that overlooks the beautiful harbor.
Croatia’s culinary revolution has turned it into an international destination for foodies. In Zagreb, Rougemarin is where to go for amazing burgers, while Mundoaka is a street-food paradise that’s worth the bustling crowd it attracts. In Split, an excellent traditional, homemade dinner awaits at the family-run Konoba Hvaranin (provided you book ahead!). In Dubrovnik, you can’t go wrong at the aforementioned 360° or the stunning ambiance and equally-memorable menu offered at Nautika.
Croatia boasts over two millennia worth of history, much of it incredibly well-preserved. In Split, the 1,700-year-old Diocletian’s Palace—essentially the emperor’s (massive!) retirement home—attracts thousands of daily visitors. While Dubrovnik has turned into one of the top modern tourist destinations in the world, you don’t have to strain to see its ancient roots. Constructed in between the 1300 and 1400s, the old City Walls withstood the great earthquake of 1667 and still stand as a time capsule of the city’s rich history. Finally, in Pula stands one of the most well-preserved ancient Roman amphitheaters in the world; it’s still a venue for live shows, and by day is frequented by thousands of history buffs.
Croatia’s coastline is beautiful from above the water, but it’s just as incredible below, and there are ample places to do a little underwater exploring. Some of the clearest water is just off Cape Kamenjak, just south of Pula. For the super adventurous, the underwater caves and corridors offer unforgettable places to go sightseeing. The water off Mljet Island is home to lots of amazing sea life, and the Odysseus Cave is not only great for getting an up-close look below the surface, but leaping off and plunging into the water too.
Game of Thrones
In Dubrovnik, you might find yourself thinking, “I swear I’ve seen this before.” If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?) that’s because you have. The city has been used extensively for scenes in and around King’s Landing. You’ll see famous spots used for everything from the Battle of Blackwater Bay to Lady Olenna’s gardens to the House of the Undying. Tours are available to make sure you get your GOT fix before winter comes.
All throughout the summer the Adriatic Sea off Croatia’s coastline is dotted with amazing yachts. Of course, there’s Yacht Week, now scheduled for multiple periods throughout the summer, which attracts partygoers from around the globe. You can opt to splurge on a private excursion or just look out over the coast from the shore, guessing which celebs and high-rollers are in which stunning boats.
Croatia has fast become one of the can’t-miss wine destinations in the world. Both the coastal and interior boast a “wine country," with wineries and bars that serve the best local offerings. Istria offers a vice and palette very close to neighboring Italy, while Central and South Dalmatia, specifically Kastela, is the birthplace of the zinfandel grape.
Coffee lovers, rejoice. Zagreb is a java paradise, with endless charming and chic spots to get you going. Diva’s café bar is located in an old fashion boutique, and the sidewalk patios at Express Bar are a perfect place to sip on craft offerings of coffee and teas. And the Victory Art Café may momentarily make you think you’ve somehow teleported into Paris.