Croatia offers many sights on the mainland as well as on the coast. This is not surprising for a country that has such a rich history and cultural heritage. Most ports and coastal cities revive the atmosphere of Venetian and Roman times with their typical buildings, narrow and romantic cobbled alleyways.
After some time spent on the sea exploring, it’s by all means worth visiting at least some of these towns and sights. On your sightseeing tour make sure to drop into some local bars and restaurants. These can enhance your experience adding some Mediterranean spice to your day. Considering Croatia’s history doesn’t strike as a surprise that it has extremely diverse gastronomy. Most Croatian dishes and their flavours are similar to the dishes of another country just across the Adriatic Sea: Italy.
In the article you can read about the followings:
- Best place to stay in Croatia: the most stunning cities
- What to see in Croatia: the most picturesque natural attractions
Thanks to the deep historical roots, the town of Trogir has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1977. Trogir lies about 25 kilometres from Split and even its structure and location are unique. The town centre is situated on a tiny island between the mainland and another island Čiovo. Trogir’s historic buildings stand on the island that is surrounded by a town wall and accessible through land and sea gates that date back to the 16th century. You can admire wonderful romantic churches, renaissance and baroque houses and palaces in the old town. There are many picturesque bays near Trogir, among them Seget and Saldun bays for instance.
Split is the second-largest city of Croatia and has a very rich history dating back many, many years. Owing to this colourful historical heritage, Split has become a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005. The city is home to many prominent landmarks, including the remains of Diocletian’s once pompous Palace which was built in 293 as well as many Romanesque churches from the 12th -13th centuries. The versatility is enhanced by medieval fortresses, and buildings and palaces built in Baroque and Renaissance style. The old town itself is encircled by the walls of a majestic palace from the Roman ages. From higher parts of the city, you get a fantastic view to the old town and its palm-fringed, seafront promenade. One of the main attractions, however, is still Diocletian’s Palace, which is so huge that is covers almost half of the old town.
The town of Hvar is on the island that bears the same name, which is also famous for being Croatia’s largest and sunniest island. Besides its rich history and cultural heritage, it is also famous for its beautiful beaches and turquoise bays. The Pakleni archipelago is a constellation of 20 islands, located at the entrance of Hvar bay that hosts amazingly clean beaches with small pebbles. It is one of the most popular destinations among sailors. The most popular and most beautiful bay is Palmizana bay, which is long and attracts visitors with stretches of coast covered both by small pebbles and sand. One of the most beautiful yacht ports of the Adriatic region, Palmizna Marina is also to be found here.
Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist attractions. It has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 1979. The city and its old town, surrounded by walls developed into an important, trading city-state in the 15th -16th century challenging even such established trade centres like Venice. Dubrovnik has many museums and cultural festivals but also offers many beaches for holidaymakers. The fact that some of the greatest movie hits have partly been shot here, for instance, some iconic scenes of Star Wars and Game of Thrones.
Zagreb is Croatia’s capital, as well as the country’s largest and most populous city. The city has a very unique structure. It basically makes you feel like as if two separate cities were forming one. You find large squares, parks and wide avenues in the lower city, while the upper city is just the complete opposite with a homely atmosphere reviving the Middle Ages with pastel colours and narrow streets.
The Saint Mark church of the old town is definitely worth visiting. The church was originally built in the Romanesque style in the 13th century, but eventually got reconstructed in Gothic style in the 14th century. The roof tiles come from Hungary depicting the coats of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia and the city of Zagreb.
Croatia boasts several nature reserves, including 8 national parks, 10 nature parks, 2 strict reserves and 74 particularly protected reserves, 80 natural monuments, 32 protected areas, 36 forests. The 8 National Parks are: Mljet, Kornati, Krka, Brijuni, Paklenica, Plitvice Lakes, Risnjak and the Northern Velebit–or Sjeverni Velebit– National Park, covering 8 per cent of the country’s territory. A few pieces of basic information about the main parks:
Mljet National Park is the oldest one in the Adriatic, expanding over the northwestern third of the island. It’s gained its National Park status thanks to its unique saline lakes, its rich flora and exceptional panorama. The park is a perfect spot to wonder at the magnificent coastline fringed with cliffs and reefs and the surrounding slopes and their evergreen majesty.
The Lakes of Mljet
The saline lake system is simply astonishing. It’s an extraordinary phenomenon geologically and oceanographically too, unique not only in local circles but all around the world. The Veliko Jezero (Large Lake) and Mao Jezero (Small Lake) have been alluring nature scientists and travellers who appreciate unspoilt nature for decades. One of the most special natural, cultural and touristic feature of the park is the picturesque Sveta Marij–the Island of Saint Mary. The tiny island is home to a church and a Benedictine monastery dating back to the 12th century. Owing to its extraordinary beauty and religious and cultural atmosphere, Saint Mary Island has become the symbol of the National Park.
Mljet is easily accessible by boat, so don’t miss the chance of visiting this charming island if you are sailing nearby.
The natural wonders of Plitvice Lakes National Park are some unique geological and hydrogeological limestone formations. This is the largest, oldest and most-visited national park. The Park is lined with wooded slopes, dotted with 16 small and large lakes with gorgeous turquoise waters. The lakes that are fed by small rivers and streams are connected by natural barrages and cascades.
Here is to be found the highest waterfall of Croatia: Veliki slap, with its 78 metres. The most unique formations of the Park are the naturally formed travertine dams that have emerged approximately 10,000 years ago.
Extensive woodlands, the manifold natural beauty of lakes and cascades, rich flora and fauna, fresh mountain air, the multitude of autumn colours, forest paths, gorgeous wooden footbridges: all elements of this unique natural wonderland. The Park was one of the first to become part of the UNESCO World Heritage in 1979. The Plitvice National Park is overflowing not only with water but with forests as well, giving the home to the 3 large predators of Europe: the brown bear, the lynx and the wolf.
Kornati National Park
The Kornati Islands are situated in the central part of the Croatian Adriatic and are unique in many respects. It boasts extraordinary topography, fascinating geomorphology, a matchlessly divided coastline and a rich marine ecosystem. The Park is brimming over with extraordinary natural and cultural landmarks. Its most prominent natural formations are the so-called ‘crowns’, the mighty, sea-facing cliffs of the Kornati Islands. The underwater world of the Kornati archipelago is simply bewitching.
There are 7 designated diving zones within the National Park, where diving is only allowed in organised, licenced diving groups. The Kornati archipelago is a real nautical paradise; slaloming between 89 islands and islets as well as cliffs will most certainly gift you with unforgettable memories. You can spend the night exclusively on the boat and mooring is only permitted at the 20 designated bays.
Krka National Park
Krka National Park is renowned for its many lakes and waterfalls. Its name stems from the Krka river, running in the Park. The Park is situated on the northeast, only a few kilometres from the historic city of Sibenik.
At the moment Krka River boasts 7 waterfalls cascading from the naturally formed travertine terraces in which their real charm lies. Spring or summer is the best time to visit the Park. Apart from being able to see this natural wonder at its best, visitors can also have a dip in the clear, refreshing water. Apart from the enchanting cascades and waterfalls, visitors can also revel in the 2 fascinating water mill complexes by Visovaci Lake and Skradinski bum.
One if its stunning landmarks is the Island of Visovac in the middle of the lake bearing the identical name. The Franciscans apart from preserving several historical monuments, have looked after the diverse vegetation with devotion. The island is home to some 195 plant species. Similarly to the other national parks, Krka also boasts a rich flora and fauna: 860 plant and 20 fish species, the latter of which counts 10 endemic species making the Park even more special. Owing to the above facts, Krka is one of the most cherished natural wonders and one of Europe’s richest rivers. Krka is easily accessible by boat and is, therefore, a ‘must see’ if you are sailing nearby.
Our article covered some of the most prominent attractions, mainly those that are easily accessible by boat. It is, however, an expansive subject. Our advice is: rent a boat and start exploring this breathtaking, diverse country. HELP ME TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT BOAT