If you’re planning a holiday in Croatia this year, I’m sure you’ve noticed that Dubrovnik is on pretty much every itinerary. It’s one of the hottest destinations in the country, especially for luxe travellers.
But if that’s not you, or you simply want more options, I’ve got your back. There are lots of other places you will enjoy in this country, and that aren’t as crowded about as Dubrovnik is. Places that are just as stunning, but a little more peaceful, local and fun to visit.
So, here are the best places in Croatia other than Dubrovnik to see when you’re travelling in Croatia!
- 7 Other Things to Do in Croatia Instead of Dubrovnik
- 1. Live the island life in Hvar
- 2. Hunt down Marco Polo in Korcula
- 3. Be culturally-equipped in Zagreb
- 4. Dig up Roman ruins in Pula
- 5. Escape into Primosten’s peninsulas
- 6. Bask in Plitvice Lakes’ beauty
- 7. Learn Croatia’s history in Split
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7 Other Things to Do in Croatia Instead of Dubrovnik
1. Live the island life in Hvar
If you still want the luxe experience, Hvar is as good a town as any to visit. The town is located on Hvar island, which is a hot summer destination. Book a hotel in Hvar town if you want the luxe treatment – fancy resorts, seafood restaurants and private beaches. And head to any other town or village on the island to get away from the crowds and have some privacy.
That’s the one thing you will love about Hvar island – it has so many small, secluded beaches. Most of them are in bays or lagoons, and they are surrounded by trees, bushes and sometimes olive fields. Reaching them is an adventure in its own – often times you’ll have to drive on unpaved roads, hike downhill or rent a boat.
But there are also plenty of beaches where you can lie down on a lounger and be spoiled in the sun. Perhaps the most exclusive place there is are the Islands, which are just a 10-minute boat ride away from Hvar town. Rent a cabana or a bed on the beach and lounge in the sun, while waiters spoil you with ice-cold cocktails.
2. Hunt down Marco Polo in Korcula
Korcula Town comes pretty close to Dubrovnik, in terms of the luxe experience. With countless fancy restaurants, a port that boasts yachts and a cocktail bar on top of one of the turrets, it’s definitely a worthy alternative to Dubrovnik.
The Old Town is where all the magic happens. It is the hottest spot on the island, mostly because it is entirely surrounded by walls and towers. The inner part of Old Town consists of cobblestone alleys that are full of shops, galleries and hidden wineries. And the outer part of Old Town is a circular stretch of restaurants and bars with views of the sea and neighbouring Peljesac peninsula. If you’re lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of the Orebic submarine.
This is the rumoured birthplace of Marco Polo. Although there’s no solid evidence to support that claim, Marco Polo souvenir shops still thrive in the town, as does the Marco Polo house (museum), where the famous explorer was allegedly born in.
Korcula town is just one small part of this lovely island. There are lots of other villages you can stay in, where you will be away from the crowds, but still able to enjoy the calm, crystal clear azure blue sea. Lumbarda is a personal favourite, and perfect if you prefer quaint to crowded.
3. Be culturally-equipped in Zagreb
Zagreb is the capital city of Croatia, and full of interesting places. Yet, it still doesn’t beat Dubrovnik as the first place to see in the country. If you really want to understand the cultural identity of Croatia, Zagreb is the best place to be.
Some of the most popular spots in the city are the Museum of Illusions and the Museum of Broken Relationships. The latter is rather unique, especially in this area.
The exhibitions inside consist of letters, photographs and objects from past relationships of actual people. If you’re just getting over someone, it might be the perfect spot for you, to get you back in the right mindset.
There’s also the Lotrscak Tower, which provides the best panoramic views of the city. Don’t miss the daily cannon blasts that happens around noon.
Zagreb has one of the best Christmas Markets in entire Europe. Because of that, I highly recommend visiting the city in December. Stroll around the city that’s covered with fairy lights and decorations, while sipping on mulled wine and picking out the best gingerbread cookie. If you want to have some fun, pick up a pair of ice skates and enjoy the open-air ring in the city centre.
4. Dig up Roman ruins in Pula
The town of Pula is located on the Istrian peninsula in the north-western part of the country. The entire peninsula is very popular with tourists, and especially those with deep pockets. Because there are many luxury resorts here, it’s a great alternative to the luxe lifestyle of Dubrovnik.
Pula is perhaps most famous for its iconic Roman amphitheatre, a true sight for the lovers of architecture.
Other famous landmarks include the Temple of Augustus and the Arch of Sergii, both of which are remains of Roman ruins that date back to BCE. If you can’t get enough of the ancient architecture, the town also boasts several other fortresses.
Even though the tourism here is mostly aimed at the wealthy, what with all the luxury beachside resorts, there are still lots of alternatives for travellers on a budget, like the beachside youth hostel, HI Hostel Pula.
Pula appeals to different types of tourists. There’s a golf course for those who really want to enjoy themselves, and also an outdoor adventure park for the adrenaline junkies. That’s in addition to the many ports, shopping malls, auto camps and hiking trails. Whatever it is you desire, you’ll find it in this charming port town.
5. Escape into Primosten’s peninsulas
Primosten is a lesser known port town/ village in Croatia, but one which deserves much more attention than it gets. It has something to offer to all kinds of travellers – from tennis courts and luxury resorts, to auto camps and hiking trails.
Two tiny peninsulas are part of the town – one is smaller, and is pretty much a town centre with the hottest restaurants, apartments and views. The larger peninsula is covered in pine forest, with a fancy hotel, some apartments, and a diving centre hidden between the trees, along with pebble beaches all around.
The views from both peninsulas are like something out of a postcard, especially if you’re staying in a seaside hotel. Just imagine waking up and seeing nothing but mile-long stretches of azure blue sea. Breathtaking!
Then there’s the rest of the town on mainland Croatia. The main town area gets pretty crowded in the summer, but just a couple of miles north you can find a little seaside oasis where no one will bother you.
If you’re a hiker, head south from the main town area. Make your way through the forest fields to the Our Lady Of Loretto Statue – a sight definitely worth your time, especially at night.
6. Bask in Plitvice Lakes’ beauty
Plitvice Lakes are the oldest and largest national park in Croatia. If you’re a nature lover or love photography, this might just be the best destination for you. The national park is the perfect spot to bust out your camera and create some amazing landscape photographs.
This is also the best spot for hikers and adventurers. There are multiple different hiking trails, some of which are suitable for beginners, while others require you to have a bit more experience. Regardless, your efforts will be rewarded with scenic views of the lakes, forests and fresh air all around.
Apart from the lakes and forests, the national park also boasts caves, waterfalls, tufa barriers and a diverse fauna, including indigenous breeds of sheep.
My only recommendation would be to avoid peak season (June through September), because the tickets are about 4 times more expensive than in early spring or late fall. Even going there on the last day of May, it’s about 60% cheaper than the first day of June – a very useful tip for travellers on a budget!
And in case you would actually like to visit the Park in the winter, you’ll be happy to know that there are ski trails close by. The Lakes are a destination that definitely have something to offer all year round.
7. Learn Croatia’s history in Split
Split has quite a rich history, which is why it’s a really popular tourist destination in Croatia. The main attraction of the town is the Diocletian’s Palace, which is actually the town itself.
Several centuries ago, the emperor Diocletian decided to build a palace in this Croatian seaside town, where he would spend the last years of his life. Over time, the palace was transformed into the Old Town of Split.
The walls of the palace today encircle both the old and the new – museums, restaurants and hotels, but also gates, courtyards and towers from the original Palace.
Perhaps one of the best spots here are the Diocletian’s Cellars. They are very well preserved, and you can still admire their original architecture even today.
Take home a little something from one of the many souvenir shops in the cellars. Oh, and did I mention that they filmed Game of Thrones here?
The Palace is a historically important part of the town, but it’s just one part of it, after all. Split also boasts a lovely promenade that many Croatian artists sing about, as well as the Marjan Forest Park where you can go jogging and hiking while being surrounded by trees. Not to mention that this is one of the largest port town in Croatia, which connects mainland Croatia to all its nearby islands.
Anna was born to travel the world having studied languages all her life. Although she has travelled the world, she now calls Switzerland home and spends her time writing about her experiences on on her travel blog with her husband.