Historic cities and unspoiled nature are some of Croatia's top attractions. The vibrant capital city of Zagreb is home to some of the country's best museums, galleries, restaurants, and shopping. Along the coast, centuries-old harbor towns are packed with Venetian-era stone buildings, while countless pebble beaches offer things to do such as scuba diving, water skiing, and windsurfing.

If your Mediterranean fantasies feature balmy days by sapphire waters in the shade of ancient walled towns, Croatia is the place to turn them into reality. On the Adriatic, Croatia's blissful islands are a haven for yachters and those wanting to simply relax and enjoy the Mediterranean sunshine.

Culture & History

Croatia’s violent early history has much to do with the country’s strategic position on the edge of Europe, sitting precariously between the Ottoman Empire and the great rulers of Austria and Hungary. A permanently independent nation for the first time in 2,000 years, its culture and heritage reflect the diverse influences of the past.

This land has been passed between competing kingdoms, empires, and republics for millennia. If there's an upside to this continual dislocation, it's in the rich cultural legacy that each has left behind. Venetian palaces snuggle up to Napoleonic forts, Roman columns protrude from early Slavic churches, and Viennese mansions face-off with Socialist Realist sculpture. Excellent museums showcase treasures that cover the gamut of European history, from the prehistoric to the post-communist, telling a story that is in equal parts fascinating and horrifying.

The rich culture of Croatia is a mix of traditions seasoned with remnants of the earlier Greek, Roman, and Bronze Age civilizations. Expressed in early times in music, dance, art, and Catholicism’s magnificent architecture, its visual elements were also influenced by the Venetian Renaissance period. Although Croatians show a strong sense of national pride after centuries of conflict, regional cultures are still upheld, characterized by differences in topography, economy, cuisine, folklore, and dialect. Traces of Serbia remain, although most ethnic Serbs have left Croatia for refugee camps in Serbia.


Croatians love their food, and it’s difficult to find a truly bad meal in the country. Eating patterns are different, with breakfast usually skipped and restaurants opening around midday and closing at midnight. Bars, pubs, and clubs in the resort towns are lively and fun, with live rock and pop music nights alternating with Croatian music by local groups. International cuisine is found in all the upscale hotels, along with nightclubs, fashionable bars, and the occasional casino.

Split is the heartland of traditional Croatian cuisine, with international foods hard to come by, but the quality more than makes up for the lack of choice. Eating where the locals go is the rule, with stewed meats, grilled seafood fresh straight from the harbor, and home-made pasta the highlights. Nostromo (next to the Fish Market, Split) is one of the best, set in a plain building enlivened by the presentation of the dishes. Traditional Buffet Fife (Veli Varos, Split) is another unpretentious restaurant with its highlight the delicious, meaty, Pasticada stew.

If you're lucky enough to cross the tourist/guest barrier and be invited into a local's home, you'll soon become acquainted with the refrain 'Jedi! Jedi! Jedi!' (Eat! Eat! Eat!). Sharing food and drink plays a big part in the culture here, which speaks both to the nature of Croatian hospitality and the quality of local produce. Simple, homestyle cooking is a feature of family-run taverns, but increasingly a new breed of chefs is bringing a more adventurous approach to the table. Meanwhile, Croatian wines and olive oils are making their mark on the world stage, garnering top awards.

Urban Experience

Even for visitors keen on total relaxation, the temptation to wander through medieval streets, past great cathedrals, palaces, and mansions, is irresistible. Also unmissable are the many Roman sites here, the picturesque coastal villages set on fishing harbors, and the glorious Adriatic islands with their deserted beaches.

Shopping is fun in the many Croatian street markets, especially when combined with people-watching and leisurely wine lunch in a local eatery. Nightlife is all things to all visitors, from riotous dance clubs to pleasant evenings dining, watching the sunset, and meeting new friends.

Plenty of choice in watering holes at all levels can be found in the beach resorts and larger Croatian cities, from the informal pivnica pubs to popular lounge bars, cafes serving alcohol, and Irish pubs with all the trimmings. Dubrovnik is a hub for trendy nightlife, with jazz fans heading to the Trubador Hard Jazz Café for live performances by talented local musicians.

Outdoors & Adventure

Croatia's extraordinary island-speckled coastline is indisputably its main attraction. The first thing that strikes you is the remarkable clarity of the water. There are long sandy and shingly stretches too, perfect for lazy days spent lounging and devouring trashy holiday novels. If that all sounds too relaxing, there are water-based activities at hand to lure you off your sun lounger: snorkeling, diving, kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing, just for starters.

Shift your gaze for just a moment from the glittering waters and chances are an almighty mountain will loom into view. The Dinaric Range, which stretches from Italy to Albania, hugs much of the coast. The limestone karst has bequeathed a wonderland of craggy peaks, caverns, river canyons, waterfalls, and ridiculously picturesque lakes.

Head further inland and things flatten out again into rolling farmland. Active types will find plenty of chances to get among it on the numerous hiking and biking trails, while the more adventurous can have a go at rock climbing, rafting, and zip-lining.