Somewhere on the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, you will find a small country with a big heart. Croatia is ready to impress its visitors with versatile sights.
From the mesmerising Adriatic Sea to the breathtaking views of the mountainside, this country is full of marvels. It’s easy to be so enchanted by the coastline under the warm Croatian sun that you forget about other attractions. This is why we took a heavy toll of distracting from relaxing by the sea and made a list of things to do in Croatia.
Visit Zagreb’s Museum Of Broken Relationships
Once you get to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, consider paying a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships. We all get sentimental when it comes to ending relationships.
Croatian artists Olinka Vistina and Drazen Grubisic, however, took their break-up a little further. They decided to exhibit all the things that represented their failed relationship!
As the museum gained popularity, people from all over the world started to donate the relics of their lost loves. If you feel like donating your drama, contact the museum. But think twice about giving it all away, maybe you are just on a break.
The museum is located at Ćirilometodska 2, Zagreb. It works every day from 9 AM to 10 PM from June to September and 9 AM to 9 PM from October to May. An adult ticket will cost you $6 while for tickets for students, children, and the elderly cost $4.50.
Dare To Approach St. Nicholas Fortress
In the 16th century, when the Turkish fleet terrorized Croatian land, a clever defence plan was cooked up. A mighty arrowhead fortress of brick and stone was constructed near St. Nicholas beach. It looked so terrifying that no one ever tried to conquer it.
Nowadays, it is one of the iconic sights of Croatian coastline. One can only enter the fortress in two ways: via a narrow sandy passage from the mainland or by the sea. Currently, it’s being renovated, but it is still well worth a visit. For example, where once stood 32 resident cannons, there is now one of the best viewpoints on the surrounding bay.
The closest city to the St. Nicholas Fortress is Šibenik. Currently, you can only visit the fortress with an organized boat tour which will cost you about $18 per person.
Get A Taste Of The Authentic Balkan Spirit With Rakija
Another way to get closer to the local culture is to try a local beverage — Rakija. This Croatian fruit brandy with an alcohol content of 40% or more has a true Balkan spirit. In Croatia, rakija is mostly made of grapes since there are numerous vineyards.
You will find a shot of this drink almost everywhere you go. But hold your horses, Rakija is a strong beverage, and it may give you an unexpected hangover, and you still have so many places to visit!
Snack On Some Dormouse
Who drinks on an empty stomach?! It will definitely save you some money but won’t give much joy. That is why we recommend complementing rakija with a unique Croatian appetiser: edible dormouse.
This traditional local dish came from the Romans who cooked these small animals with honey or stuffed them with a mix of seasoned pork and nuts. This dish is usually served on bread. Although these creatures resemble squirrels and have little meat, Croatians learned to cook them well into a delicious and nourishing dish.
Enjoy The Bizarre Music Of The Sea Organ
Zadar is a seaside resort located in the southwest of the country. Beneath the alluring staircase of the city’s waterfront, there is an unusual wind instrument. The Sea Organ is made of 35 metal tubes placed inside a resonating chamber.
The sea itself acts as the maestro. Crashing waves and howling winds play a bizarre tune resembling whale calls.
As a bonus, near the Sea Organ, there is an art installation called The Greeting to the Sun. The solar panels absorb the sunlight to power a nightly light show: a tribute of the Solar system. You can reach the Sea Organ of Zadar at Obala Kralja Petra Krešimira IV by public transport or by car.
Be Amazed By The Beauty Of Plitvice Lakes
Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the oldest and largest national parks in Croatia. Annually, it welcomes around 1 million visitors. A chain of 16 pristine mountain lakes with crystal clear water and vigorous flora conceal a true natural wonder of Karst stone formations.
Explore lakes, waterfalls, and fascinating tracks that will give you the paradise garden vibes. A bus coursing from Zagreb and Zadar or Split will take you to Plitvice National Park. You can book tickets for the park on their official website.
Take A Break In The Old Marine Town Of Trogir
Charming laguna on the extreme south of the country embraces the city of Trogir. It is full of historic attractions and sights so we recommend spending at least 2-3 days in this city to enjoy its jewels at a steady pace. However, if you are on a tight schedule, make sure to visit the Cathedral of St. Lawrence.
The church itself is a breathtaking example of 13th-century architecture but it also has a bell tower built three centuries later. The tower’s observation deck will present you with a spellbinding city’s panorama. For this charming view, you will have to pay only $3.80 for the entrance to the cathedral. It is located at Trg Ivana Pavla II and you can easily reach this place by public transport.
Dive Into The Buzzing Life On Hvar
To the south of the Dalmatian coast, the sunniest island of Croatia is flanked by the Adriatic Sea. This “sunny feature” of Hvar makes it the most popular leisure destination in Croatia.
Hvar is also famous for being a sweet spot for party lovers. Celebrities from all over the world come here to hang out in local clubs or on yacht decks.
Pirate raids and Ottoman hordes forced Hvar to build many fortifications during the 16th century. Traces of these forts remain scattered around the island and have become a popular attraction.
Španjola Fortress and Franciscan Monastery are the most iconic ones. Save some time to visit Hvar’s popular beaches Malo Zarace Beach and Pokonji Dol with a mesmerizing coastline and pristine flora. To top it all, roam around Stari Grad for a feel of an authentic Old Mediterranean port town and delicious local cuisine.
Go For A Hike At Krka National Park
Only a few kilometres to the northeast of Šibenik there is another oasis of pristine Croatian nature – Krka National Park. The alluring flora of this park makes an unforgettable cascade of interlaced landscapes.
The most famous attraction is Skradinski buk, a network of waterfalls flowing into each other with impressive rigour to eventually form a crystal clear lake. The chaotic greenery of the park enhances the feeling that you are about to enter a sacred elven city.
The second most famous sight is Roški Slap which is the waterfall of main river Krka. Hiking and walking trails will take you through the breathtaking wilderness of the park.
Last but definitely not least is Visovac Monastery, a tiny island in the Krka river which acts as a spiritual harbour of Roman Catholicism. Known as the Mother of God Island, it can be reached only by water.
Every sight also features additional activities like boat tours, kayaking, etc. You will also have the chance to swim and sunbathe so don’t forget your swimsuit. There are five entrances to the park depending on where you are travelling from. Ticket price varies a lot depending on the season. We therefore recommend you to check out the official website before you go.
Enjoy The Medieval Old City Of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is a must-visit place in Croatia. Check out the best guide to Dubrovnik at Things To Do In Dubrovnik, Croatia. The Old City of Dubrovnik deserves special mention. An old trading port with towering walls has nowadays become the most preserved medieval city in the world.
Visit the old port, stroll down the narrow streets, and take in the mysterious atmosphere of the times when knighthood was in flower in the Pearl of the Adriatic. Old Town of Dubrovnik is also known as a place of filming for King’s Landing in the famous TV series “Game of Thrones”. If you are a fan, don’t miss out on a chance to walk in your favourite character’s shoes in “Flea’s Bay” or near the “Red Keep”.
Soak With The Divine Atmosphere At The Stations Of The Cross
50 concrete statues depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ stand four meters beneath the waters of the Adriatic Sea. The idea for this exhibition belongs to a diver named Joško Kandija, while statues were made by Valentino Val.
Approx 1.8m tall and weighing about a ton each they form 15 stations of the cross from the condemnation of Jesus by Pontii Pelat to the resurrection of Christ in his tomb. Seeing the Passions of Christ underwater offers a unique, transformative point of view.
You can see this exhibition either via scuba diving or snorkelling. The exhibition is located in Jelinak Valley near Trogir. A snorkelling session will cost you around $40; a diving tour around $72.
Visit Tesla’s Birthplace
In 2006, Croatia decided to immortalise the birthplace of perhaps their most famous citizen.
A truly great mind, Nikola Tesla spent his childhood in a small Croatian city called Smiljan. Nowadays, this museum consists of a whitewashed house, a barn, and the church where Nikola’s father served as a priest. Inside the house, you will find an exhibition dedicated to his famous inventions and his under-appreciated genius.
The most remarkable showpiece is “Tesla’s Egg of Columbus”. It is a demonstration of a rotating magnetic field that looks like an iron egg oscillating on its tip in a metal plate. Opening hours from Tue-Sat are 8 AM to 7 PM and 9 AM to 6 PM on Sundays. The entrance tickets cost $8 for adults and $3 for seniors.
Blast Into The Past At An Abandoned Haludovo Palace Hotel
Another unusual destination is an abandoned hotel on the Krk island. The hotel was a typical Soviet modernist building that embodied luxury and high-end service on one of the most remarkable islands in Yugoslavia.
Shortly after this leisure destination was built in 1971, it became popular with tourists from all over the Eastern Bloc. The investments and promotion by American billionaire Bob Guccione attracted a massive flow of western tourists as well. The resort featured a rich array of entertainment like cocktail bars, high-end restaurants, pools, tennis courts and even hosted a casino.
In 1990, a devastating war in the Yugoslavian region crushed the tourism industry. The hotel was abandoned and later on became a sketchy monument to the late communist era. Halls and furniture, pools, and yards froze in time and were slowly taken over by nature.
To see the Haludovo Palace Hotel, you will need to first take a ferry to the Krk island and then take a short drive. Ferry prices, including vehicle transportation, are located here.
Walk Under The Sad Roots Of The Stone Flower
During WWII, a concentration camp called Jasenovac was built next to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. This camp was run by the Croatian government allied with the Reich. While it is less notorious than other concentration camps in Europe, it is still the final resting place for thousands of murdered people.
The exact number of losses remains unclear although it is said to reach far beyond 800,000. Most of the victims were local Serbs who were sacrificed in the name of “pure” Croatia.
In 1966, the Yugoslavian government decided to commemorate the victims of the WWII atrocities with a monument in the shape of a giant concrete flower. The area in the “roots” of the flower is open for visitors.
There, you can see the names of the victims and pay your respects to the fallen. The Stone Flower is located approximately 100 kilometres from Zagreb, and the most convenient way to get there is by car.
See The Brave The Red Fićo
The Croatian War for Independence had a significant impact on modern Croatian culture. On June 27, 1991, the Yugoslavian army entered the Osijek city with heavy armour to suppress civil unrest.
As the city faced heavy destruction, a man suddenly drove his red Fiat in front of the rolling T-55 tank. He then calmly got out of his car and stepped aside to watch his car being smashed and dragged behind the rushing tank.
This event inspired the monument called The Red Fićo (Fiat). The monument has the small brave red car on top of the tank to symbolise the fearless unbreakable spirit of Croatian people in their struggle for freedom. You will find “The Red Fićo” in the Memorial Park in Osijek, on the street Ul Kneza Trpimira 4.
The ever beautiful and versatile Croatia is the perfect place for a summer vacation. It has so much to offer: a slow pace of beach leisure, long hikes, sightseeing, and sleepless nights of rave. Anytime you come it will greet you with a warm heart, delicious cuisine, mesmerising nature, and dizzying taste of rakija. No matter how long your vacation in Croatia is, you will definitely want to come back for another round.
Enjoy reading about the many activities in Croatia? Feel free to check out our list of ten castles you should visit while in Ireland.