In case you weren’t already aware, I recently had an amazing 11 day road trip in Croatia (which you can read all about here). I’d wanted to visit Croatia for years so to go there, and get to experience so many different sides to the country in one short trip, was a dream come true. Visiting Croatia has definitely been such an amazing experience for me, and is a place with such variety, warmth, and beauty that everyone should visit. Here are my top reasons to visit Croatia:
1. Natural Beauty
The number one reason I wanted to visit Croatia to begin with was due to its abundance of natural beauty. Croatia is home to several national parks – some are more famous, and thus more densely populated with tourists, than others. But all provide a chance to explore some of Croatia’s incredible natural beauty. Of course, the natural landscapes Croatia provides extend beyond the national parks – even driving on the highway, pretty much everywhere you look you see gorgeous waterways, mountains, or hilly green areas. Definitely more exciting visually than the drive down the M25!
Whilst natural beauty is abundant across Croatia, two of the most famous places to witness some of this is Krka National Park, and Plitvice Lakes. Krka is huge and is home to dense forest, waterfalls, and rivers. It’s most famous attraction is the Skradin Buk which is also a popular swimming spot. Plitvice Lakes is like something out of a fairy-tale and was by far my favourite part of the trip. Here you can view an abundance of waterfalls and go on a variety of hiking or walking trails to really make the most of this incredible place.
2. Man-Made Beauty
Even though Croatia is famous for it’s nature, it’s also home to some ridiculously pretty towns and cities, as well as other structures of historic or cultural significance such as forts, museums, palaces and cathedrals.
Most people will already know of Dubrovnik, even if it’s mainly through watching Game of Thrones. This walled ‘red city’ is insanely beautiful, resting on a cliff face overlooking the ocean. It’s a true example of natural beauty and manmade structures colliding into something even more astounding. Dubrovnik was heavily bombed during the Yugoslavian war, but was lovingly restored (with a lot of money injected into the restoration project) to its former glory.
Whilst Dubrovnik is pretty perfect, other walled cities up the coast have a bit more of a rustic charm, yet still are lovely to see and wander around – in fact, this rustic charm makes them feel more ‘real’ than Dubrovnik. Split’s old city really displays this charm, and Sibenik is another must visit, with gorgeous buildings and twisting alleys. These medieval and Roman inspired structures can also be viewed on nearby islands such as Hvar.
As well as the walled coastal cities that Croatia is famed for, there are a lot of standout individual buildings and structures – Zagreb, the capital, is a lot more soviet in it’s architectural nature, but boasts really lovely and impressive buildings such as the Palace. In it’s old town, there is Zagreb’s Cathedral which is just stunning. Further north from the cathedral and well into the old town, all of the buildings which house the surrounding museums and parliament buildings are also really impressive.
2. It’s (relatively) cheap
Don’t get me wrong, Croatia is definitely not as cheap as I’m assuming it used to be – only a few years ago I remember many of my peers would boast at how purse friendly it is as a destination. As it’s gained in popularity, the cost of certain destinations and tourist activities has gone up. Dubrovnik is by far the most expensive destination – it’s surge in tourism has meant prices have skyrocketed to extortionate levels! But as you travel out of Dubrovnik and further north, then Croatia becomes much more cost effective. Zagreb was the cheapest destination we visited – you can catch a tram for less than 50p, and grab 2 large beers for about £4. We had a decent meal of two huge (one veggie) burgers, large fries, two cokes and a bottle of water for just £13.00.
It’s definitely possible to do Croatia on a budget, with plenty of cheap places to eat or drink, travel options, and low cost activities. There are plenty of hostels and also plenty of apartments/air bnbs with fully equipped kitchens.
4. Easy to travel around
Croatia is great for travellers as it’s a really easy country to travel around. We did a road trip and rented a car, which is a popular way to explore the country. All the roads are really well maintained and are usually fairly quiet (it gets busier around city limits). Everything is also really obviously signposted. If you wanted to travel by public transport, this is also really easy to do, and Croatia is a popular destination for backpackers.
Within towns and cities, Croatia is again really easy to get around. A lot of places are really small and easily explored by foot. Uber exists in Croatia and is really cheap so is a great option for longer distances (or just getting back to your accommodation after drinking one too many). Public transport is also widely available – in Zagreb the tram is a popular way to get around, with tickets costing as little as 4 Kuna (about 47p).
5. Amazing coastlines and islands
One thing Croatia is famed for (other than it’s insane national parks) is it’s multitude of islands and picturesque coastline. Whilst Croatia isn’t the sandiest of places (many of it’s beaches are pebble/stone beaches), it makes up for it with it’s beauty. There are countless islands and each one will offer something different. I would love to go back and explore these islands in more detail. Unfortunately the only island I got to see was Hvar on a boat day trip. Yet the islands are a main draw for many people travelling to Croatia – Hvar provides glitz, glamour and nightlife whereas other islands such as Vis will provide a quieter and more rural vibe.
Another famous part of Croatia is the coastline drive from Dubrovnik to Split (or the other way around). This gorgeous drive provides an opportunity to see Croatia’s glistening blue coast in all it’s glory, along with some of Croatia’s vineyards and the Biokovo mountain Range.
Croatia is also a great place to go snorkelling and diving, with a wide array of marine life.
6. Great nightlife
If nightlife is your thing then Croatia is a great place to go to. We didn’t go full on clubbing in Croatia, but you can definitely find clubs around. Split and Hvar seem to be a hub for nightlife, and if you really want to go for it there are plenty of bars and party boats. Croatia is also home to loads of festivals in the summer such as Hideout, Outlook and Ultra.
Even if your not big on the clubbing scene, in Dubrovnik, Split and Zagreb you’ll find plenty of bars and pubs to sit outside and drink at. XIvana Tkalčića Street in Zagreb is a popular place for tourists and locals alike to go to grab food and get drinks.
7. It’s full of culture, art and history
There are so many fantastic museums all over Croatia, as well as important cultural, historical, and religious sites. If you are a culture vulture or intrigued by history, then Croatia will provide.
If you’re particularly interested in museums, then Zagreb is a great place to head. There are countless museums here from art galleries; to history museums, to my absolute fave, The Museum of Broken Relationships.
Many of the cities such as Dubrovnik, Split and Sibenik are also home to forts and cathedrals which tell rich stories of the history of Croatia.
8. there is something for everyone
Above all, Croatia is a destination that has something for everyone, whatever your budget, or travel style, or personality. It’s popular for backpackers, large tours, families, and couples alike. It’s easy to travel on a budget, but also easy to go luxurious and splash the cash. Its many beaches and islands make it a perfect relaxation destination if you just want to chill by the beach or by the pool for a week. On the other side of the coin, it’s great if you’re a fitness fanatic with loads on offer for those who lead a more active lifestyle – go hiking in Plitvice Lakes or Biokovo National Park, or go rock climbing and bouldering in Paklenica National Park. It’s also fantastic for city breaks, with both Zagreb and Dubrovnik providing great shorter city-break options.