Where should you travel in Croatia?

by Gigi Griffis
Opatija Croatia

Planning a trip to Croatia and not sure where to travel? After five visits and more than 12 cumulative months in the country, I’ve got some suggestions…

As always, not every suggestion is for every person. If you love city energy, go to Zagreb or Split. If you get bored in small towns, don’t take my fishing village recommendation. If you already have your heart set on a place, don’t let me stop you!

But if you are on the fence and looking for ideas, here you go:

For fishing village charm…

Volosko! This adorable fishing village is tucked up beside Opatija, just a 20-minute walk along the coast. Stay here for pretty coastal walks, wind surfing, rocky ocean coves, and a charming village with an excellent bakery (kaokakao), some good restaurants (Valle Losca is the favorite), and a lot of pretty villas and cute alleyways.

For relaxation, spas, and seaside walks…

Opatija! Combine pretty coastal walking paths, sweeping views from the hillside, a well-kept main street full of boutiques and restaurants, and spas galore, and what you’ll get is Opatija. Expect an older, quieter crowd (though we did certainly see some families with kids enjoying the waterfront) and higher prices. This is a former Austro-Hungarian spa town and that legacy lives on.

For hilltop towns…

Istria! If hilltop towns are your goal, Istria is your place. Keep in mind that you’ll need a car because public transport around here is dismal. Popular hilltop towns include Labin (where you’ll find the best pizza in Croatia), Motovun (VIEWS, baby), and Grožnjan. 

For abandoned places…

Cavtat! The abandoned hotels of Kupari are an urban explorer’s dream, but I’d stay in nearby Cavtat instead of Kupari itself. In Cavtat, enjoy a stunning cove, the best restaurant I’ve experienced in all of Croatia, and cute seaside walks. Dubrovnik is a short boat ride away if you want to experience the old town (if you do, I recommend visiting in winter; otherwise the crowds are overwhelming). 

For lively coastal vibes and island excursions…

Split! This ancient Dalmatian city has a gorgeous stone old town, a huge sea-view park, a promenade lined with cafes and restaurants, and a very lived-in, lively vibe, even in winter. Enjoy regular ferry service to the many islands off shore and good bus connections to cute coastal spots like Omis. Plus, the small, intimate-feeling old town is connected to a much larger city where you’ll find anything you might need.

For stunning natural landscapes…

Plitvice! Just as gorgeous as advertised, this national park and its dozens of waterfalls is the place for nature lovers. It gets crowded in summer, so plan your trip in shoulder season for the best experience. And you’ll probably want a car, as bus service is infrequent and there are only a couple restaurants walking distance from the park.

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Katie September 27, 2021 - 11:19 am

Love the descriptions! Opatija / Volosko sounds like my jam! There are some stunning places on Airbnb, but wondering if there are any local Croatian sites you’ve found to search for longer term furnished rentals?

gigigriffis September 27, 2021 - 11:30 am

There are some local sites, but I didn’t have luck on any of them; https://www.njuskalo.hr/ seems to be most popular.

Paula Elliott September 28, 2021 - 3:47 pm

Fantastic information, as always, Gigi.


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