Croatia, situated on the Adriatic Sea in Eastern Europe, is called the land of a thousand islands and the beauty of those islands is one of the main reason Croatia is such a popular vacation destination. It’s a Mediterranean paradise steeped in history, with dozens of picturesque villages and deep azure waters to explore and enjoy. You’ll find UNESCO World Heritage sites like the old town of Dubrovnik and Roman ruins in Pula, high culture and fashion in ever evolving Zagreb and swanky yachts and nightlife in Hvar. Wherever you go, you’ll surely fall in love with Croatia and it’s never-ending beauty.

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READ About Croatia

When to go

The best months to visit Croatia are between April and September. Beginning in April, the weather starts to clear up and become sunny, and the prices are lower due to it being the shoulder season. You’ll find good deals on hotels and attractions will be less crowded. May-June starts to pick up a bit, and the weather is getting warmer, so swimming on the coast is tolerable.

From July to August, the high season is in full swing, with European travelers flocking to the coastline in droves. Prices are highest during this time, but you’ll experience some of the best weather Croatia has to offer. Since this is high season, tours and transportation options are in full swing, so there will be more options, which may make scheduling your itinerary easier. September is probably the best month to go to Croatia as the crowds have begun to die down, the prices recede a bit and the weather starts to cool off.

If you choose to travel to Croatia in summer, check out these 9 must-sees for a summer road trip in Croatia.

Where to go

Zagreb

Zagreb has many museums and art galleries, along with great restaurants and outdoor cafes where you can sit and sip a coffee while people watching.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik’s main attraction is the old city where you can walk along the shiny cobblestone streets, or stroll above the city on the old wall.

Split

In Split, the beach reigns supreme. Activities include soaking up the sun, swimming in the Adriatic and visiting smaller islands like Hvar, Brac or Vis.

Pula Amphitheater

Pula

Pula and the rest of the Istrian Peninsula have a lot to offer tourists looking to enjoy the incredible historic and cultural offerings of Croatia.

The main places to visit in Croatia are Zagreb, a very busy capital city located in the center of the country, the dramatic Dalmatian coastal towns of Split and Dubrovnik, Istria, and any of the hundreds of islands off the coast. For your first trip to Croatia, I would recommend these three locations. It’s easy to get between them with a domestic flight or a drive down the coast, so if you’re okay with moving around during your vacation, spending a couple of days in each location will give you the best overview of the country. Then on return trips, you can delve into the smaller cities and islands of the region (or take a cruise along the coast, stopping at some of the more remote spots).

Many visitors skip Zagreb and head straight for the coast, but Zagreb offers a different view of Croatia that shouldn’t be missed. As the hub of government and culture in Croatia. It’s worth it to fly into Zagreb for a few days before heading on to the coast. Domestic flights are available, but may be expensive and infrequent, especially outside of high season.

You can fly directly into Split and spend the bulk of your time in that area, including trips to nearby islands such as Hvar, Brac and Vis.

Dubrovnik is known as the Pearl of the Adriatic and has a medieval feel — you can walk the perimeter of the old city on the old city wall, which is quite enchanting — while also captivating hearts and minds with dramatic Dalmatian coast views from luxury resorts lining the crescent bay.

What to do

WHERE TO STAY



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Many visitors skip Zagreb and head straight for the coast, but Zagreb offers a different view of Croatia that shouldn’t be missed. As the hub of government and culture in Croatia. It’s worth it to fly into Zagreb for a few days before heading on to the coast. Domestic flights are available, but may be expensive and infrequent, especially outside of high season.

Our hotel recommendations in Zagreb:

You can fly directly into Split and spend the bulk of your time in that area, including trips to nearby islands such as Hvar, Brac and Vis.

Our hotel recommendations in Split:

Dubrovnik is known as the Pearl of the Adriatic and has a medieval feel — you can walk the perimeter of the old city on the old city wall, which is quite enchanting — while also captivating hearts and minds with dramatic Dalmatian coast views from luxury resorts lining the crescent bay.

Our hotel recommendations in Dubrovnik:

WHAT TO EAT

Calamari and Cuttlefish Risotto from Croatia

The cuisine of Croatia is highly influenced by Italy — pizza and pasta — and the Mediterranean — olives, salami and olive oil. As you can imagine, there is also a lot of seafood — oysters, mussels and fresh fish can be found in most restaurants on the coast.

In Zagreb, you’re more likely to find traditional dishes like Grenadir marša, which is pasta with onion and cheese and Zagorski Štrukli, which is a cheese-based dish with a layer of pastry, drizzled in cream and baked. Pašticada is a traditional meat dish usually served with beef that’s been marinated in wine with onions, garlic and herbs and served with gnocchi.

For dessert, try Kajzeršmarn which is similar to a pancake, and fritule, deep fried dough balls like donuts that are dressed up with a variety of toppings. Don’t miss the fresh cream and Paški sir cheese from Pag.

WHAT TO DRINK

Croatia has a vibrant wine industry with a good number of wineries and you’ll find wine bars in most towns in which to try the wine. While it’s still a developing industry, the quality and drinkability of the wine in Croatia is vastly improving. Wines are often mixed with other things like sparkling water and cola. A bambus is red wine mixed with cola — try it, it’s not as strange as it sounds. And in the winter, you’ll find spiced wine served at festivals and street fairs in the city.

Most of the popular beers (Pivo in Croatian) are lagers, such as Karlovacko, Ozujsko and Pan. I drank mostly Karlovacko because it was the easiest to find on bars and pubs. There is also a wide range of spirits made in Croatia, from plum brandy to homemade Rakia, made with fruit that can reach as high as 80% ABV. A sip of the strong stuff will have you retreating back to a cold bottle of Karlovacko.

Croatia's Istrian vineyards