Are you in the mood for an unforgettable city break? Croatia’s historic cities are all stunning! These are the most beautiful cities in Croatia.
Exploring Croatia’s cities
In enchanting Croatia, a new discovery lurks behind every bend of the Adriatic coastline. The cities here exude history, culture, and an unmistakable Mediterranean charisma. As you lose yourself in the cobblestone alleys and look out over the glistening azure waters, it is easy to realize that each city tells its own story. Many of the cities are great for an enjoyable city break or weekend getaway. In addition, you can also combine several cities into an unforgettable vacation.
In this article, I’ll virtually take you to Croatia and share an overview of the most enchanting cities this country has to offer. From the romantic splendor of Dubrovnik to the historic grandeur of Split, immerse yourself in the beauty of Croatia’s most beautiful cities.
Most beautiful cities in Croatia
Are you ready? These are the most beautiful cities in Croatia.
Dubrovnik, also known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” is perhaps the most famous city in Croatia. The imposing medieval city walls embrace a wealth of architectural masterpieces, cobbled streets, and terracotta roofs that come together in an enchanting whole. The city was set as “Kings Landing” in the famous series Game of Thrones and it is a picture to behold.
The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the city walls, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the azure-blue Adriatic Sea. Its marble streets, rich culture, and vibrant atmosphere make Dubrovnik an unforgettable destination, where you can wander endlessly through its ancient alleys.
- Where to stay: Bota Palace (4⭐) is a cozy and luxurious B&B in Dubrovnik’s old town.
- Fun thing to do: Join a kayaking tour for unique views of the city.
- Travel Guide: Eyewitness Top 10 Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian Coast
Read more: 15 Tips for an amazing Dubrovnik vacation
Located at the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula, Pula offers an intriguing journey through Croatia’s history. The striking Roman amphitheater, one of the best preserved in the world, dominates the city and is a reminder of its ancient past. This imposing structure hosts numerous events and concerts.
As you wander through the city, you will discover more Roman ruins, medieval buildings and cozy squares. Outside the city center you will find several beautiful beaches, where you can take a rewarding fresh dip on hot days.
- Where to stay: Boutique Hotel Oasi (4⭐) is located in a quiet bay outside the city center. Rooms are nicely decorated and there is an outdoor pool and wellness center.
- Fun thing to do: Join a sea kayaking trip in transparent kayaks at night and explore the beautiful caves along the coast.
Rovinj, like Pula, is located in Istria and it is a picturesque town with a Mediterranean atmosphere. This enchanting city is characterized by narrow cobblestone streets, pastel-colored houses and a romantic harbor.
St. Euphemia’s Church, with its striking bell tower, dominates the skyline and offers a magnificent view of the city and the sea. Rovinj is an artistic haven, where you can find many galleries and art studios in addition to cozy cafes and seafood restaurants. Stroll through the beautiful Park Zlatni Rt, enjoy the smell of the sea and taste the freshly caught fish. Rovinj is a great town to visit if you like a relaxed atmosphere.
- Where to stay: Casa Amando Boutique House (3⭐) is a cozy and colorful B&B in a beautiful location in the city center.
- Fun thing to do: Join a boat tour during sunset. You might even see dolphins!
Split is the second largest city in Croatia after Zagreb, and this fantastic city is steeped in history. The highlight is the imposing Palace of Diocletian, an impressive structure that has stood here for nearly 2,000 years.
Also take a stroll along the waterfront on the Riva promenade, a place where locals and tourists alike gather to enjoy the view of the harbor and sample local cuisine in one of the many restaurants. Climb up Marjan Hill for tranquility in green surroundings and panoramic views of the city and the sea.
- Where to stay: Grgur Ninski Rooms (4⭐) is a small B&B that is located within the walls of the magnificent Palace of Diocletian. A unique place to spend the night.
- Fun thing to do: Take a city tour with a local guide and discover the most beautiful places in Split’s historic city center.
Read more: 16 fun Split attractions
Poreč is a charming town on the west coast of Istria, and here you will experience Croatia’s rich history with a modern twist. The Euphrasius Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (yes, they have a lot of those in Croatia!), shines as a masterpiece of Byzantine art and architecture.
It is wonderful to explore the narrow streets and squares in the old town, as there is a pleasant atmosphere. Poreč’s coastline is characterized by crystal clear waters and beautiful beaches, making it a popular destination for history buffs and sun seekers alike.
- Where to stay: Minella Residence (3⭐) is a great beachfront hotel. It is only a 10-minute walk to the historic center of Poreč.
- Fun thing to do: Panoramic morning cruise among 20 islands. The tour includes drinks.
Korčula, with only 6,000 inhabitants, is one of the smallest towns on this list. It is the capital of the island of the same name Korčula which lies in the Adriatic Sea. According to legend, this is the birthplace of Marco Polo.
The city is surrounded by magnificent city walls and towers, and St. Mark’s Cathedral is one of the most remarkable highlights. Located on the edge of the azure sea, the city is an attractive mix of cultural heritage and relaxation. It is therefore a greatbase from which to explore the rest of the island.
- Where to stay: Aminess Korcula Heritage Hotel (4⭐) is a beautiful hotel near the harbor. In some rooms, you have a beautiful view of the sea.
- Fun thing to do: Learn more about Korčula’s culture and history on a private walking tour led by a local guide.
Zadar is a city that brings together modern art and history. The city is famous for its innovative modern art installations, including the unique Sea Organ and the mesmerizing Greeting to the Sun. The contrast with the city’s historic center is huge as it feels like you’re taking a journey through history as you wander the narrow streets. And did you know that the ancient city walls surrounding the city are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List?
The view of the spectacular sunsets from the coastal promenade is an experience not to be missed. Zadar remains both traditional and contemporary, and it is this fusion that makes it an indispensable destination if you want to get to know the diversity of Croatia.
- Where to stay: Art Hotel Kalelarga (4⭐) is located within the old city walls in the heart of Zadar. Each room has a unique (beige) décor, the same color as the street and many of the buildings.
- Fun thing to do: Join a day tour to the beautiful Kornati National Park aboard a traditional wooden sailboat.
Read more: 16 awesome things to do in Zadar
Opatija is a luxury resort town and is located on Kvarner Bay. Along the beautiful promenade, you will find stately villas and lush gardens that bear witness to the glory days of the Belle Époque. Along the coast is a beautiful walking path and from here you can enjoy beautiful views of the sea.
This is another city steeped in history, with historic buildings such as the Church of St. James located by the sea. Also fun to visit are the colorful Angiolina Gardens
- Where to stay: Amadria Park Hotel Sveti Jakov (5⭐) is one of many luxury hotels in Opatija. This one is so special because it is housed in an Austro-Hungarian villa from 1886 and set in a beautiful park on the coast.
I still regret that I had to skip Makarska during my tour of Croatia, as it seemed like a wonderful place to spend a few days. Makarska lies at the foot of the impressive Biokovo Mountains on the Adriatic Sea.
Here you will find elongated beaches, making it a perfect city for sunbathers and water sports enthusiasts. You can also very easily take a ferry from here to the beautiful island of Brač, it is only an hour’s boat ride away.
In addition, you can stroll along the promenade and explore the attractive old town. St. Mark’s Church and the Franciscan Monastery highlight the historical side of Makarska.
- Where to stay: Heritage Hotel Porin Makarska (4⭐) is housed in a former noble palace and is in a beautiful location in the old town center.
- Fun thing to do: Visit Biokovo Nature Park on a tour and enjoy the fantastic views.
I personally found Zagreb, the bustling capital of Croatia, to be a really nice surprise. The historic upper town (Gornji Grad) reveals medieval streets, Baroque buildings, and the majestic St. Mark’s Church with its unique roof pattern.
In the lower town, you will find the modern vibrancy of stores, restaurants, and cozy squares. Tkalciceva Street is a hotspot for social gatherings, and the Dolac Market offers a variety of fresh produce and artisanal goods. In addition, Zagreb has many impressive art galleries and museums, including the Mimara Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.
- Where to stay: Bed & Breakfast Sky City Center (4⭐) is a cozy B&B overlooking the main Ban Jelacic Square. From here you can reach almost all the sights on foot.
- Fun thing to do: Join a bike tour and visit the city’s highlights in 2.5 hours.
Read more: 14 fun things to do in Zagreb
Rijeka is a bustling port city and, like Opatija, is located on the Kvarner Bay. The city has a rich cultural scene with numerous festivals and events, including the annual Rijeka Carnival, the largest carnival in Croatia.
For a fun workout and a great view, climb to Trsat Castle, one of the main attractions in Rijeka. In addition, it is a delight to walk along the beautiful Korzo Street. Here you will find several colorful buildings from the nineteenth century, in addition, it is bursting with quaint stores and restaurants.
- Where to stay: Old Town Inn (4⭐) is a comfortable hotel in a nice location in the old town.
- Fun thing to do: Join a day tour and explore the amazing Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle.
It’s time for a somewhat lesser-known city in Croatia! Varaždin is a town in northern Croatia and is surprisingly beautiful with its baroque grandeur and lush green landscapes. The well-preserved 18th-century architecture, with colorful facades and beautiful squares, sets the stage for a fun exploration of the city.
The old castle of Varaždin, surrounded by a picturesque park, gives a glimpse into its rich history and is an absolute must-see.
- Where to stay: Park Boutique Hotel (4⭐) has a great design and is located in the city center in a park.
Šibenik, a city on the Dalmatian coast, stands out with its unique charm and historical splendor. The highlight of the city is the majestic Cathedral of St. James, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This imposing structure was an important filming location for the famous series Game of Thrones.
Šibenik’s old town is steeped in narrow alleys where you can get lost and discover new places all the time. The lively waterfront promenade offers views of the sea and hilly countryside. In addition, Šibenik is a good place to stay if you want to visit the nearby Krka National Park.
- Where to stay: Heritage Hotel Life Palace (4⭐) is housed in a beautiful historic building in the center of town.
- Fun thing to do: Šibenik is even more impressive after dark. Therefore, it is great fun to take a night walk through the medieval streets with a local guide.
Read more: Fun things to do in Šibenik
Ilok is the easternmost in the country and lies against the border with Serbia. It is a picturesque town and it lies on the banks of the Danube River. The city has a rich wine tradition, with many wineries and vineyards producing some of the best Croatian wines. A fun place to visit is the Odescalchi Castle and you can also take a nice walk along the old city walls.
Fun fact: the Croatian Long Distance Trail (a long distance hike of about 2,100 kilometers across Croatia) starts in Ilok.
- Where to stay: Hotel Dunav (4⭐) is a beautiful hotel right on the banks of the Danube.
Osijek is also located in northern Croatia, on the banks of the Drau River. The city has a rich history and impressive architecture, such as the Tvrđa, a well-preserved Baroque fortress that forms the historic heart of the city.
Along the river, you can take super beautiful walks. Osijek is a very green city, full of parks such as the large Kraljica Jelena park. With its unique blend of history, nature, and a relaxed atmosphere, Osijek offers a glimpse into a less-discovered part of Croatia.
- Where to stay: Hotel Waldinger (4⭐) is a comfortable hotel in the city center.
Trogir, a town on an island in the Adriatic Sea, seems to have come straight out of a fairy tale. Its narrow cobblestone streets, surrounded by well-preserved Venetian architecture, take you on a journey back in time. The entire city center of Trogir is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightly so!
What you absolutely must do in Trogir is get lost endlessly in the (car-free) streets. There is so much beauty to discover! Climb the tower of the basilica for a picturesque view of the city. Need a rest and feel like taking a refreshing dip? Then head to nearby Okrug Gornji Beach.
Tip! Trogir is an excellent destination for a day trip from Split. You can travel between the two cities either by bus or by boat.
- Where to stay: Dimora Picco Bello is a cozy B&B with nicely decorated rooms. It is located in the old city center of Trogir.
- Fun thing to do: Join a fun boat tour and visit 3 islands and the Blue Lagoon.
Read more: The best things to do in Trogir
Crikvenica is a lively seaside resort on the Adriatic coast, near the island of Krk. This is a perfect city to visit for those who like sun, sea, and relaxation. The extensive beaches along the crystal clear waters make it a popular destination for beach lovers and families.
The bustling promenade offers an array of restaurants, cafes, and entertainment, while the surrounding nature trails and parks invite more active activities. Crikvenica’s historical roots are visible in its ancient architecture, such as the Church of St. Anthony, which contrasts with the modern tourist offerings.
- Where to stay: Villa Olivetta heritage residence (4⭐) has luxurious and comfortable rooms. It is in a prime downtown location.
Hvar is a town on the island of the same name in the Adriatic Sea with a lively atmosphere. The city is dominated by the Fortica fortress on top of the hill, which offers panoramic views of the city and the sea. The old town is a maze of narrow streets, cozy squares, and historic churches, such as the Cathedral. Hvar also has a vibrant nightlife, attracting a mostly young crowd.
Nearby you can enjoy beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters, so be sure to bring your beach towel and snorkel set.
- Where to stay: Heritage Hotel Park Hvar (4⭐) is beautifully situated in a garden full of palm trees. It is in the middle of the old city center and from some rooms you have a nice view of the sea.
- Fun thing to do: Sailboat trip to the Pakleni Islands and the iconic Red Rocks.
Book your trip to Croatia
Do you feel like visiting these cities and other beautiful places in Croatia? Book your trip now!
✈️ Plane tickets – Several Croatian cities, such as Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Pula, and Zadar have international airports. Check WayAway to find the best deals and get cashback on plane tickets.
🚆 Train tickets – Although the Croatian Railways are not as good as in other European countries, it is possible to reach and travel in Croatia by train. I did this myself and took the train from my home in Groningen (The Netherlands) to Zagreb (with a stopover in Salzburg). It was a fun ride! If you’re interested in train travel, make sure to check out Rail Europe.
🚘 Rental Car – Croatia is a great country for an epic road trip. Check Rental Cars to find the best deals.
🛏️ Places to stay – In each city in this list, you will find a recommendation for a great place to spend the night. Of course, you can also choose a nice spot yourself! Check out Booking.com for more hotels and apartments and Hostelworld if you’d like to stay in (more affordable) hostels.
🎡 Tours & activities – Are you looking for fun tours and activities in Croatia? Check Get Your Guide.
Read more about Croatia
After reading this article, do you feel like exploring Croatia and want to read more about this beautiful country? Make sure to get one of these travel guides.
In addition, you can read more about traveling in Croatia on this website. Check out these articles as well:
- Awesome 3-week Croatia itinerary
- The most beautiful places in Croatia | Bucket List
- How expensive is Croatia? | Travel Budget
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