8 things to see and do in Croatia

From Roman ruins and medieval walled cities to crystal-clear seas and lush islands, Croatia is a traveller’s paradise just waiting to be discovered. But where should you go? Here's our guide to the top places to visit in Croatia.

By Saga team

Published 8 May 2024

Old fort in Klis, Croatia - AV212

The historic city of Dubrovnik is a delight to experience. The town comes to life as the sun goes down, particularly during the month-long Summer Festival of arts, including music and theatre.

Although medieval Dubrovnik was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1667, much of the original architecture remains, including a pharmacy dating back to 1317, one of the oldest in Europe.

Lord Byron was not overstating the matter when he proclaimed Dubrovnik ‘The pearl of the Adriatic,’ and in 1979 the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Fans of HBO/Sky Atlantic's Game of Thrones will recognise Dubrovnik as King's Landing, the seat of power in Westeros and home to the Iron Throne itself, and there are plenty of options when it comes to tours of some of the most recognisable locations, and some, including the Game of Thrones Walking Tour, are included in the price of the Dubrovnik Card.

The mountainous Croatian coastline boasts some of the highest peaks in the Mediterranean. From these lofty heights, you can appreciate just how crystal clear the turquoise waters of the Adriatic really are. It’s no wonder that the sea around Croatia was the favourite haunt of Jacques Cousteau, as it is today for many underwater explorers. The Dalmatian Coast is reminiscent of the Italian cafe culture, with a slow pace of life and afternoon siestas, so don’t expect anything to happen in a hurry here. If this sounds like your kind of holiday, then there is a wide range of small ship cruises taking in the sights of the Dalmatian Coast, including the picturesque fishing village of Hvar and Brac.

The Makarska Riviera is one of the most famous and picturesque tourist locations along the Croatian coast with countless sandy beaches, pine tree forests, sparkling waters and peaceful bays.

The area is also well-known for Biokovo Mountain which overlooks the coastal area. Makarska is the centre of the Makarska Riviera and has a rich cultural and historical heritage. The city is noted for its palm-fringed promenade where fashionable cafés, bars and boutiques overlook the charming harbour.

Strolling through ancient Split reveals centuries of history, from the 3rd-century Diocletian’s Palace, to the Cathedral of St Domnius – originally the Emperor Diocletian’s mausoleum, it houses a granite sphinx that was brought back from Egypt by the emperor.

Admire the Golden and Silver Gates and Jupiter’s Temple, once a Roman temple and now a baptistery to St John – it too has a guardian sphinx, albeit a headless one!

Then enjoy a visit to the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments, which houses a collection of medieval stone monuments, as well as various weapons, tools, jewellery and coins.

Alternatively, seek out ancient Salona; once the third largest city in the Roman Empire, it boasts incredible Roman archaeological sights.

Istria's natural beauty, stunning shoreline and continental climate are perfect for a sophisticated holiday.

Emerald-blue waters and secluded pebble shores sit effortlessly beside historic cities and natural wonders. Further inland, romantic hill-top towns rich in culture and hospitality warmly embrace visitors with home-cooked cuisine - offering rustic retreats ideal for rest and relaxation.

Sveti Lovrec is a remote village in the heart of Istria and close to Porec and Rovinj. Inhabited since prehistoric times, the current layout of the town dates back to the construction of the church of Sveti Martin in the 8th century. There are a few shops and restaurants in the vicinity and the village makes a great base from where to explore this fascinating area of Istria.

In Dubrovnik you can visit the Franciscan Monastery and Cloister, which dates from 1317. The collonaded cloister garden is a world away from the busy main street, a place of contemplation and tranquillity.

It has a wide central walk with stone benches and an ornamental well at one end. Master sculptor Mihoje Brajkov created elegant Romanesque twin columns with capitals carved with plant and animal motifs here. Then, in 1435, he added a pierced stone balustrade with fantastical carved monsters.

The original plants were oranges, laurels and vegetables, but in the 19th century, palms and flowering shrubs including crêpe myrtle replaced them.

Established in 1985, Croatia’s Krka National Park is of astounding natural beauty.

Skradinski buk and Roski slap are the two main waterfalls in the park, the first with a drop of 46m. There are also several archeological remains of unpreserved fortresses in the park’s vicinity dating back as far as the Roman times.

Explore the spectacular waterfalls on a full-day optional excursion on Saga’s highly commended tour, Adriatic Coastal Explorer.

There’s no better way to get close to the picturesque coastal villages and dramatic scenery of Makarska than following the coastal paths connecting Makarska with Brela and Tucepi on foot.

From the village of Simici in the Makarska Riviera you can follow the path to Gornja (Upper) Podgora, located at the foot of the Biokovo Mountain.

In 1962 a massive earthquake devastated this village, leaving behind the ruins of churches and a large keep. Following the earthquake, almost the entire population of Gornja Podgora moved to the coast, creating the port and resort of Podgora as it is today.

Overlooking the port you can see a monument known as the ‘Wings of a Seagull’ built in remembrance of the partisan navy formed here during World War II. From Podgora you can then make your way to the seaside resort of Tucepi, four kilometres south-east of Makarska, via the beautiful Osejava peninsula nature park.

Discover the beautiful country of Croatia for yourself. Find out more about our holidays to Croatia.

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