A guide to things to do in Croatia

Croatia might be small in size, but when it comes to holidays, it’s a force to be reckoned with. Inhabited since around the 7th century, Croatia is heavy on ancient architecture and has a huge list of UNESCO World Heritage spots and national parks. Plus it has shores that consistently top lists of the world’s best beaches. Here are a few of the best things to do in Croatia to whet your appetite no matter who you’re travelling with.

Top things to do in Croatia

Discover the museums

Croatia is bursting with history and so many museums are available to teach you all about it. Zagreb is the place for museums, and they’re in a class of their own. The Archaeological Museum is home to almost half a million artefacts and monuments from the prehistoric era to the mediaeval ages – that’s 2.5 million years!

Where else outside of California in the USA can you visit the Museum of Broken Relationships? It’s a collection of items, from trinkets to handmade dolls, each with a story of lost love to tell, from the profound to the comical. This isn’t quite illustrating the history of Croatia but is still super fascinating to have a browse, and closer to home than California.

For art lovers, the Croatian Museum of Naive Art is another museum in Zagreb and it’s the first museum to display this kind of art. Simply put, naive artists are those who are self taught or didn’t go to any form of art school. It started out as showcasing art of the working class and was founded as the Peasant Art Gallery but in response to criticism has since been renamed as the Museum of Naive Art. 

Beach days and watersports

Zlatni Rat Beach is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world, and is certainly one of the biggest attractions for holidays in Croatia. It’s an odd-looking stretch of beach, sometimes referred to as the ‘Golden Cape’ or ‘Golden Horn’, as, from above, the white pebbles are V-shaped and cut by a similarly-shaped grove of trees. The shape changes, however, based on the tide. Back into the trees, you’ll find the remnants of a Roman ‘villa rustica’, a large countryside estate leftover from ancient times.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for that classic tourist spot with all the facilities, Bacvice Beach in Split will attract you. Awarded Blue Flag status for cleanliness, you can enjoy beach days with sun beds and parasols, as well as nearby bars and restaurants for refreshments and snacks. Bacvice is also the original home of the beach game known as picigin, which is still frequently played on the shores today. The object of the game is to keep a small ball from touching the water, but the trick is, like volleyball, players bounce the ball in their hands instead of catching it – you’ll have to give it a try!

Things to do with kids in Croatia

Aquacolors Water Park

If you’re travelling to Croatia with kids, Aquacolors Water park certainly deserves a place on your itinerary – whether you’re travelling with small children or teenagers. With something for everyone, this waterpark guarantees a great day out for all. If you’re super adventurous, head for the Looping Rockets and get your adrenaline pumping straight away, or if you like to ride with company, the Family Rafting slide allows you to sit together (up to 3 persons) as you whoosh through down the slide. 

If you have little ones, they’ll enjoy the kids playground where you’ll find their favourite park activities like climbing frames and slides. There’s also several pools onsite, including a wave pool, a mini splash park, and even a relaxing wellness pool. There’s several options for food and drink throughout the day, including burgers, hot dogs and pizza, as well as cocktails and soft drinks.

Go back in time

Often kids love to explore and find new, cool things and where  better to do this than in Croatia? The Barone Fortress in Sibenik is from the 17th Century and is super kid-friendly with a visitor’s centre that will teach them all about the fortress’ history through augmented reality! You can stroll around the site while following the virtual guide that will explain everything you’re seeing using video and sound.

Another fascinating sight for all is the Morosini-Grimani Castle in Istria. It was built in the 13th Century, and later preserved in the 15th so its appeal today is hugely thanks to its Venetian makeover. The castle becomes one huge escape room in the summer where visitors explore all paths, hidden chambers and dungeons to solve the puzzle and find the castle’s secret. It’s a great day out full of educational moments, a sense of competition and fascinating sights – something you can all get involved in together.

Things to do as a couple in Croatia

Explore Dubrovnik Old Town

Dubrovnik‘s Old Town is no ordinary ancient city. Its stone buildings, craggy walls and terracotta roofs all combine to make a dazzling UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Dubrovnik became a full-blown hotspot on the Mediterranean in the 13th century. Most recently, it was used as a backdrop for hit television show ‘Game of Thrones’, and is today a makeshift living museum. Bordered by the Adriatic Sea, within the Old Town are beautifully-preserved Renaissance and Baroque churches, palaces, five forts and 16 castle towers, all of which are right at your fingertips.

Stroll through the streets, along the cobblestone promenade and check out all the sights. There’s plenty of markets, restaurants and cafes along the way so you can take a break and watch the world go by. The rugged limestone mountains create a stunning backdrop wherever you look.

There’s also a cable car which extends more than 700 metres into the hillside surrounding the city. At the top, you’ll find a restaurant and will get unparalleled views of the Old Town and the Elaphiti Islands.

Hit the water

Because large portions of Dubrovnik are surrounded by the Adriatic Sea, there are a number of boating excursions that’ll take you around the city’s waterfront perimeter, offering a whole new view of the Old Town. You can charter a yacht and cruise around in style or rent a kayak and break a sweat. There are also group trips that’ll get you paddling through the sea and stopping at caves hidden away in the coastline, where you can hop out and do a stint of snorkelling.

Things to do for free in Croatia

Hike through Plitvice Lakes National Park

The tropical greenery, waterfalls and turquoise lakes of the Plitvice Lakes National Park are almost too earth shatteringly-beautiful to be real. The park encompasses a cluster of 16 lakes of varying shades of bright blues and greens, mountains, endemic plant species, rare animals like brown bears, wolves and eagles, and waterfalls that tower over 75 metres high. The best way to explore is on foot because you’ll be seeing the sights first hand – plus, it’s free, but you can hop on a boat for a tour.

Diocletian Palace

One of the best free things to do in Croatia is visit Diocletian Palace. You may have seen this in Game of Thrones, but it is the ancient residence of the Roman Emperor and is one of the biggest appeals to Split. Nowadays, its original architecture, columns and square have been preserved, though made a little more modern with shops and restaurants hidden within. Because of the thick stone used to build the palace, it’s always cool on the inside so it makes the perfect place to spend an afternoon to cool off.