Have you ever dreamed of walking along the sun-warmed stones of city walls that have stood for centuries above charming medieval streets and the sapphire-colored sea? Do you want to explore some of the world’s most spectacular terraced lakes or visit unique museums? The best cities in Croatia offer all of these things and more, and you can visit them on our tours of Croatia. From Roman ruins to contemporary art installations, you’ll discover something new in each city.
Not sure which Croatian cities to choose? You can visit all of the locales on this list on one unforgettable tour, A Week in Croatia: Zagreb, Split & Dubrovnik. “This trip has a little bit of everything the country offers,” said traveler Annalise after returning from the tour. “It’s not too slow nor too fast-paced. We went in May, and it was perfect and just before the height of the summer tourism season. We had a great guide, bus driver, wonderful hotels, and excellent included dinners. We learned so much about this beautiful country and look forward to being able to go back someday.” Read on to learn about some of the best cities to visit in Croatia and what makes them so iconic and unique.
1. Zagreb: Croatia’s bustling capital city
The downtown area of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, can be divided into two sections: the historic Upper Town and the modern Lower Town. On our A Week in Croatia: Zagreb, Split & Dubrovnik tour, take the world’s shortest funicular ride between the two neighborhoods (or just take the stairs) and visit the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art—a museum full of art made exclusively by artists with no formal training.
If you can’t get enough of quirky and innovative museums, take a tip from our insider’s guide to Zagreb, Croatia, and head down the street in your free time to visit the Museum of Broken Relationships. It’s dedicated to the often complex emotions that follow heartbreak. Fun fact: The museum is run by a pair of former lovers!
2. Kumrovec: a quaint historical village
The charming, riverside village of Kumrovec is nestled along the Croatia-Slovenia border. The village’s Staro Selo, or Old World Museum, features more than 30 restored buildings that provide a glimpse into what life was like in the region more than a hundred years ago.
Add the Kumrovec & Medieval Tabor with Dinner excursion on our A Week in Croatia: Zagreb, Split & Dubrovnik tour to explore the whitewashed homes and gardens displaying scenes of rural life in the area. Wander through a blacksmith’s shop, pottery, linen, and candlemaking craft shops, and a traditional wedding setup so you’re almost transported through time.
3. Plitvice: a nature lover’s paradise
Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the best places to visit in Croatia for its astonishing natural landscapes. The terraced lakes of this UNESCO-listed site are so stunning it’s hard to believe that they were formed organically. The 16 lakes are created by natural dams of travertine stone and are connected by cascading waterfalls. The color of the water varies from lake to lake and changes throughout the day, creating a landscape that feels like something out of a fantasy.
After returning from our Croatia & Slovenia: The Old-World Adriatic tour, traveler Nancy Lee reported, “A highlight was Plitvice National Park, which had breathtaking views.” And if you need another reason to visit Plitvice Lakes? The park is also home to Veliki Slap, the tallest waterfall in Croatia.
4. Zadar: home of the one-of-a-kind Sea Organ
The vibrant town of Zadar lies on Croatia’s jewel-toned Dalmatian coast. As in many of the cities of Croatia, here you’ll find charming cafes and businesses cozied up with ancient architecture. Stroll through Zadar’s Roman Forum, which is the largest in Croatia and dates back to the first century BC, and see the foundations of shops and temples that were the center of Roman life in the city.
Later, relax by the town’s remarkable Sea Organ, one of the best places to visit in Croatia. Waves flow into underground pipes, buried beneath steps leading into the sea, creating ethereal, otherworldly music. “I could have sat there for much of the afternoon,” said traveler Sharon of the Sea Organ after returning from our Croatia & Slovenia: The Old-World Adriatic tour.
5. Sibenik: the oldest Slavic Croatian coastal city
Sibenik is a lesser-known destination, despite being one of the major cities in Croatia. It also happens to be one of the most breathtaking Croatian coastal cities. Its terracotta-roofed buildings are tucked between a series of hilltop fortresses and tumble right up to the city’s white sand beaches.
Sibenik is the oldest Slavic town on the Croatian coast and on our A Week in Croatia: Zagreb, Split & Dubrovnik tour, you’ll admire the city’s crown jewel, the Cathedral of St. James. This gleaming cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is constructed entirely out of limestone and marble. You might even recognize it as the Iron Bank of Braavos from Game of Thrones.
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6. Split: the ancient home of a Roman emperor
Split is one of the biggest cities in Croatia, a place where tradition and modernity intertwine to create an atmosphere that’s at once energetic and relaxed. Like many Croatian cities, Split was ruled in turn by the ancient Greeks, Romans, Venetians, and Hapsburgs. Visit on a tour of Croatia and wander through the ruins of the third-century Diocletian’s Palace, an ancient complex built for a Roman emperor.
“If you were to just walk through this limestone palace on your own, you wouldn’t think it’s anything special, but luckily we had the most incredible local guide who made the history of this place come to life,” said staffer Emily. “Plus, scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed here, and I definitely geeked out about that.”
7. Salona: the Roman capital of Dalmatia
Just outside the modern town of Solin, you’ll find the ancient ruins of Salona, once one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire. You can explore the sprawling ruins on our Trogir & Croatian Wine Tasting excursion. It’s offered on our A Week in Croatia: Zagreb, Split & Dubrovnik tour.
Wander past the city’s first-century aqueduct, an ancient necropolis, and the ruins of shops and thermal baths before spending some time in Salona’s massive amphitheater, which once held gladiator fights attended by thousands of spectators.
8. Trogir: a tiny island town with stunning architectural heritage
One of the most captivating cities of Croatia, Trogir is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an architecture lover’s dream. The tiny historic center of Trogir sits on an island where it was founded by ancient Greek settlers. Visit Trogir on our Trogir & Croatian Wine Tasting excursion or the Adriatic Trogir excursion offered on our Croatia tours and explore the city’s many pedestrian-only cobblestone streets. You’ll see Baroque, Gothic, and Romanesque architecture, sometimes in the same building, as is the case with the triple-naved Trogir Cathedral.
Trogir is also one of the best cities in Croatia to sample Croatian wine. After your walk, head to a vineyard outside the city to sip some local wine. For a long time, Croatian wine was hard to find outside of the country. It has since gained traction and is becoming massively popular with those in the know, but we know that the best specialty wines are still found close to their birthplace. Take a tip from our Croatia Travel Guide and pair some white wine with local seafood for a real treat!
9. Ston: the oyster capital of Croatia
The tiny seaside town of Ston is best known for its impressive city walls, which are some of the longest in Europe. It also happens to be one of the best cities to visit in Croatia if you like oysters—they even host an oyster festival every March!
“One of our special stops between Dubrovnik and Split was in Ston, which is renowned for its great wall (second to China’s) and salt mines, but also for its mussels and oysters,” said traveler Sharon after returning from our Croatia & Slovenia: The Old-World Adriatic tour. “While some chose to climb the wall, we headed to Sorgo, a local restaurant, to taste their oysters and mussels. They were amazing!”
10. Dubrovnik: a romantic, walled city by the sea
Known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik is one of the must-visit cities in Croatia. From ornate cathedrals to medieval monasteries and some of the most iconic Game of Thrones filming locations, you’ll find astonishing sites around every turn. However, one of our favorite reasons to visit Dubrovnik is simply for the opportunity to meander along the towering city walls and take in the spectacular views. “Some of my favorite memories from Croatia came from exploring the old city of Dubrovnik,” said staffer Priscilla. “The highlights were walking the Dubrovnik walls, as well as taking a cable car and getting to soak in breathtaking views of the city and coast.”
Another of our favorite reasons to visit Dubrovnik? The city has some of the best beaches in Europe to visit for glorious sunsets, and our Scenic Dubrovnik Coast Cruise & Dinner excursion is one of our favorite ways to take advantage of them. “I highly recommend adding the Scenic Dubrovnik Coast Cruise & Dinner excursion to enjoy a private boat ride past the city walls and over to St. Jacob’s Beach, where you’ll be treated to a three-course dinner on the shores of the beach,” said staffer Emily. “I couldn’t have picked a more perfect backdrop to enjoy fresh-cooked seafood and watch the sunset.”
11. Cavtat: a delightful seaside retreat
The charming resort town of Cavtat is one of the prettiest cities in Croatia. Set against a backdrop of craggy mountains, the city’s lush greenery and sun-soaked rooftops encircle a glittering, horseshoe-shaped harbor. It’s one of the best places to visit in Croatia for a relaxing afternoon. “Exploring Croatia’s coastal towns felt like finding hidden medieval gems. I loved walking along the water, admiring all the boats and soaking in the coastal views, as well as wandering through the cobblestone streets of the city,” said staffer Priscilla.
Spend some free time exploring on our Konavle Wine Tasting & Lunch excursion. It’s offered on the Dubrovnik extension of our A Week in Croatia: Zagreb, Split & Dubrovnik tour. Then, head outside the city to visit a family-owned agriturismo. Here you’ll have the opportunity to sample wines and liquors made from fruit and flowers grown on the farm—we can’t think of a more relaxing way to cap off your week in Croatia!