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Now is the time to go to Croatia! Check out our best deals

Croatia: Endless holiday possibilities with year-round sun and sea

A holiday in Croatia is always memorable, whether you stay on the mainland to visit vibrant places like Dubrovnik, Split, Istria, Zadar and Zagreb, or hop on a boat, where more than 1,000 islands are waiting to be explored.

In fact, there’s so much to explore in Croatia that you’ll never get bored. Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover or simply looking for fun or relaxation on a beautiful beach, Croatia's diversity means there's something for everyone. Whatever type of holiday you end up choosing, Croatia is a bucket list destination that always delivers. And because Croatia is a year-round destination, there’s no wrong time to visit! 

We've rounded up all the best Croatia holiday deals here, from the most exciting city breaks to the hottest beach getaways. And if you're not quite sure where to go, read on to find out more about the best places to visit in Croatia.

[Beach Podrače, Brela, photo: Shutterstock]

Getting to Croatia

Getting to Croatia couldn't be any easier; you can catch the quick two-hour flight from numerous UK airports, which means that you'll be soaking up Croatia's breathtaking landscapes in no time at all. This makes Croatia a good option for both a shorter weekend trip or for a longer family holiday.

For those flying into Zagreb, this city offers art galleries, Viennese architecture, an exciting craft beer scene and plenty of green spaces where you can relax. Zagreb is a great starting point for exploring Croatia's interior, the best-kept secret of this Mediterranean country. Slavonia and Baranja, the easternmost parts of Croatia, can offer a very different experience, without the usual tourist crowds, but with the same amount of sunshine and unique landscapes as the more popular coastal area.

If you're after a beach holiday, Croatia's seemingly endless coastline awaits you with the wonderful cities of Dubrovnik, Hvar and Split. Just keep in mind that flights to these destinations take a little longer, usually under three hours.

As a tourist, you can travel without a visa to Croatia (which is now in the Schengen area) for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

How to get around Croatia

Your best option for getting around in Croatia is by bus. The buses are comfortable and serve most Croatian destinations on a regular schedule. What’s more, they are very affordable and give you a chance to savour every glimpse of the passing countryside.

On the other hand, renting a car on your Croatian holiday gives you the freedom to explore every corner of the country according to your own schedule. If you are travelling with your partner or friends, this might be a great option to share costs and driving time. Put on your top songs and enjoy a summer road trip with your favourite people.

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The best time to visit Croatia

First of all, there's no wrong time to visit Croatia. We find that spring in Croatia is particularly beautiful and an ideal time to visit. Temperatures rise to over 20°C by the end of April. This is when the flowers begin to bloom and the countryside is lush.

Whereas Istria stays moderately warm even in summer, southern Croatia can get very hot in July and August, with average daily temps around 28°C. From the end of October, the north of Croatia becomes cool and rainy.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: If you aren't too bothered about the weather and are more keen on good food, wine and activities, you can save a lot of money by travelling in the low season, from October to April. Remember to bring a jacket, though, as it can get chilly!

[Hvar Island. Photo: Julien Duval/CNTB]

Accommodation in Croatia

If you are travelling to Croatia as a family, it may be worth staying in one of the many apartments available; these will give you more flexibility and space than hotels or B&Bs. You might enjoy the add-on of a private kitchen and laundry facilities. For those looking for a more comfortable stay, Croatia has hotels to suit every budget and taste, while a wide range of luxurious five-star facilities will impress even the most discerning.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: It is completely possible to travel to Croatia on a budget. And while Dubrovnik and Split are often more expensive than some of Croatia's other cities, they will in no way break the bank for a stay there. For these destinations, look to book during spring or autumn for better prices. Smaller B&Bs or apartments outside the city centres will have better rates, as well.

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[Dubrovnik, photo: Julien Duval/CNTB]

Dubrovnik, otherwise known as King's Landing

Nicknamed the 'Pearl of the Adriatic', this 7th-century city in southern Croatia will enchant you with its vibrant colours. Dubrovnik’s orange roofs are an iconic symbol of the Mediterranean city. You can catch the best view of the contrasting orange of the town and blue of the sea from the peak of nearby Mount Srđ, which you can easily reach by cable car.

The city’s Old Town is stunning, filled with impressive historic architecture, formidable city walls and fortresses as well as the Rector’s Palace. For the Game of Thrones fans amongst us: you'll be delighted to hear that Dubrovnik is King’s Landing, with many iconic scenes being filmed here.

Dubrovnik’s main beach, Banje, is a popular spot for anyone looking to top up their tan. If you'd prefer a beach that's less busy, take a short bus trip or a 20-minute walk to the stunning and spacious Sveti Jakov Beach, where you can snorkel, swim or simply enjoy the sunset.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: The summer months (June-August) are Croatia's peak travel season and it can get pretty crowded. To avoid the crowds, travel in May or September, when you'll still be able to enjoy warm weather!

[Korčula, photo: Julien Duval/CNTB]

The best Dubrovnik day trip: A journey to the islands

Although there are many different day trips you can take from Dubrovnik, a visit to the nearby islands is one of the most popular choices, and for good reason!

Many travellers opt for a boat tour to the Elaphiti islands, which are home to 13 islands of different sizes. Most boat tours will include stops at Koločep, Lopud and Šipan, considered to be the three main islands in this archipelago. These tiny islands offer a glimpse into authentic Croatian island life and you'll have a full but relaxing day while making your way around.

Alternatively, a short ferry ride will take you to the island of Lokrum, just 600 metres from Dubrovnik and home to an impressive botanical garden, or experience an authentic Mediterranean lifestyle on the island of Korčula.

[Heritage under the UNESCO protection in Split, photo: Julien Duval/CNTB]

Split, between UNESCO World Heritage Sites and beaches

Split is Croatia’s second-largest city and is well deserving of its nickname: 'Mediterranean Flower'. Located on a peninsula, Split boasts one of Croatia’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Diocletian’s Palace. Evenings in Split offer visitors a dreamy experience, where illuminated walls accompany you as you head to one of the city's many bars or restaurants.

In terms of beaches to visit, Bene Beach is a top choice for those travelling with kids. This quiet beach has a playground and plenty of natural shade provided by pine trees. For something more lively, Bačvice, Split's central beach, provides the perfect setting for meeting new people. If you're looking for more peace and quiet, you won't have to look far. The beaches on the Marjan peninsula offer plenty of relaxation.

The Bikovo Nature Park offers beautiful natural scenery. Hiking and climbing are also possible, as the park has impressive mountains. The peaks reach heights of 1,700 metres.

[Skradinski Buk Waterfall, Krka National Park, photo: Zdenek Matyas/Shutterstock]

The best day trip from Split: Krka National Park

If you're looking to tick off a bucket-list experience in Croatia, a visit to the spectacular Krka National Park is a top day trip from Split. To get there, you can take a tour, rent a car or catch the bus. The journey from Split takes a little over an hour, but you'll be passing through some stunning landscapes before reaching the wilderness of the national park.

Around £34 (prices are lower outside of peak season) gives you access to the park for the entire day. You'll have plenty of time to explore its numerous waterfalls and other attractions, including Visovac monastery. This national park is a great spot for taking photos.

Up until 2021, visitors used to be able to swim in Krka National Park. Please note that swimming is now banned, as park officials are attempting to reduce the effects on the environment here.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: Split's location makes it an ideal base for visiting many of the nearby islands. Brač and Hvar are some of the most famous and most beautiful. The ferry journey takes under an hour, with around 14 departures each day in the high season and nine in the low season.

[Zadar, photo: Julien Duval/CNTB]

Zadar, the gateway to Dalmatia

Where is the best place to start when it comes to Dalmatia? Perhaps with the city of Zadar, which is said to be "older than Rome, more beautiful than Paris and more lively than London".

Zadar is a historic city with a vibrant old town that will immerse you in an exciting 3,000-year history. Cultural highlights include Roman buildings, the old city walls and the Sea Organ.

If you're looking for a beach holiday, Zadar is the place to be. Crystal clear waters wash up on the pebble beaches of Borik and Kolovare. The water is shallow, so even small children can enjoy themselves. The beach at Diklo is also popular, with beautiful holiday homes, hotels and villas.

Hearty dishes such as Dalmatian roast beef can be enjoyed here. Light fish and seafood dishes are also on the menu. Don't miss the beaches of Punta Skala, Uskok and Jadran, which are also on the Zadar Riviera. A taxi boat will take you to the island of Ugljan with its long beaches and charming coves.

[Freeclimbing in Paklenica National Park, photo: Julien Duval/CNTB]

More to explore in nature around Zadar

Hikers and nature lovers can leave Croatia's beaches to explore the region's national parks. 50 kilometres east of Zadar is Paklenica National Park, with its dramatic cliffs, mysterious grottoes and mythical caves. The dense pine forests are home to many species of wildlife. If you're lucky, you might spot a wild cat through your binoculars.

Head to the islands to visit the Kornati National Park, which consists of an archipelago of 89 islands and reefs. There is plenty to explore on land and underwater. Krka National Park can also be easily accessed from Zadar.

[Rovinj, photo:Maja Danica Pečanić/CNTB]

Holidays in Istria: Unique gastronomical phenomenon

Istria is the largest peninsula in Croatia and, along with the Kvarner Bay and Dalmatia, one of the most visited and popular holiday regions in the country. The main reason for this is its unique natural beauty and fantastic gastronomy. In Istria, the traditional Mediterranean cuisine is complemented by rural, rustic dishes, creating a gastronomic phenomenon on a global scale.

When you're in Istria, don't miss a chance to visit some of the famous wineries. Istria is full of wine roads that will leave you wanting more.

Must-visit places in Istria include:

  • Brijuni National Park

  • The caves of Baredine

  • Pazin, known for its mediaeval castle

  • The cities of Pula, Rovinj and Poreč

  • Grožnjan, Motovun and Oprtalj, all known for their picturesque streets, charming squares and beautiful views.

If you are on holiday in Croatia and are looking for a little more action in Istria, you can also have a great active holiday here. You can go cycling, trekking, horse riding, diving, surfing, paragliding, tennis or golf.

[Zagreb, photo: Julien Duval/TZGZ]

Zagreb, history in the capital

Croatia's capital is often overlooked by tourists, but this city in the centre of the country offers a unique combination of historic charm, vibrant culture and modern style. With its rich history, Zagreb offers numerous attractions, including the Gornji Grad district with its Baroque and Gothic architecture and the impressive 13th century Zagreb Cathedral.

The historic centre of Zagreb has cobbled streets and picturesque squares with a wide range of shops, restaurants and bars. The Dolac open-air market is another popular place to shop for fresh local produce such as fruit, vegetables and cheese. Zagreb is also an important cultural centre, with numerous art galleries, museums and theatres, including the Croatian National Theatre, one of the oldest national theatres in Europe. It also has a lively nightlife, with bars and nightclubs open until late, and for those who love nature, the city has many green areas, including Maksimir Park, with walking trails and a beautiful lake.

In the Zagreb area, don't miss the fortified town of Medvedgrad, known for its imposing castle and trekking routes; and Samobor, a museum town where you can see the ruins of the medieval village and stroll among pastel-coloured houses, ancient churches and craft workshops.

The secrets of Croatian cuisine

Croatian cuisine is a unique blend of influences from the Mediterranean to Central Europe. It is known for fresh ingredients, simple preparation and strong flavours.

[Scampi on “buzara”, photo: Maja Danica Pečanić/CNTB]

The Mediterranean climate makes Croatia an ideal place for growing fresh fruit and vegetables. This is reflected in the many traditional dishes using locally grown ingredients such as olives, tomatoes and peppers.

Seafood is also an important part of Croatian cuisine, thanks to the abundance and variety of fish and shellfish in the Adriatic. The Kvarner region is particularly famous for its delicious prawn dishes, but meat lovers will also be delighted with the famous lamb from the island of Cres.

Whatever you choose, make sure that your dish of choice is prepared using one of the special cooking methods used in Croatian cuisine. The "peka" method involves cooking food under a traditional clay bell-shaped dome. The other method, "buzara", is used for seafood cooked in white or red sauce with simple, local ingredients.

Bear in mind that Croatia also has a long history of wine production. Some of the most popular are Plavac Mali, a red wine, and Grasevina, a white wine. When it comes to sweets, Croatia offers a variety of desserts such as fritule, a type of fried doughnut, or rozata, a traditional cream-based dessert.

Sustainability in Croatia

Croatia is a country rich in beauty and diversity, where ancient history meets crystal-clear waters, and large pristine parks coexist with enchanting cities. So it's no wonder that sustainable tourism is a key focus in Croatia as a long-term development of tourism and environmental protection.

Croatia offers rural and eco-tourism, where visitors can go glamping, stay in sustainable holiday homes, or visit local family farms.

Croatia also promotes renewable energy, using the sun, wind and water as sources, and the recycling of various types of waste. Visitors and Croatians alike are encouraged to exchange single-use plastics for sustainable alternatives, reduce water consumption, use biodegradable environmental products wherever possible and recycle specific types of waste.

Visit Croatia's World Heritage Sites

As of 2017, Croatia has a total of 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, all of which are dedicated to the sustainable preservation of these areas of beauty for tourism. Some may be better known than others, but all are worth a visit during a holiday in Croatia.

In no particular order, these are Croatia's World Heritage Sites:

  1. Plitvice Lakes National Park

  2. Historical complex of Split (including Diocletian's Palace)

  3. Dubrovnik's Old Town

  4. Early – Christian Euphrasius Basilica complex in Poreč

  5. Historic city of Trogir

  6. St. James Cathedral in Šibenik

  7. Stari Grad Plain, Hvar Island

  8. Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards

  9. Venetian defence works in Zadar and Šibenik

  10. Primeval Beech forests of the Carpathians, National Parks Paklenica and Northern Velebit

[Plitvice National Park, photo: Shutterstock]