For a relatively small country, Croatia offers a dizzying range of holiday ideas. With its heavily indented Adriatic coastline, 1,244 islands and breathtaking national parks, it can be tough to narrow down where to go on holiday in Croatia.
Where to go in Croatia for island-hopping?
Even though only 48 of Croatia’s islands are inhabited, there’s still a huge choice of places for a holiday. Many are grouped together so you can cover several islands in a day. The Elaphiti islands near Dubrovnik – Šipan, Kolo?ep and Lopud – can be visited in a day, or discovered singly at a more leisurely pace. In the Kvarner Gulf, you can flit between Krk, Cres and Rab before making your way to laid-back Losinj.
|Island hopping is one of the best ways to explore the stunning coastline|
If you’re in Split, the islands of Hvar, Bra? and Kor?ula are short ferry rides away, and fans of Mamma Mia! can travel down to Vis where the sequel was filmed. And Game of Thrones fans in Dubrovnik – itself one of the filming locations – can take the boat to the island of Lokrum and pretend they’re in Qarth.
Where to go in Croatia for beaches?
Croatia’s poster boy for beaches has to be Zlatni Rat, the white V-shaped beach that dangles from Bra?’s southern coast. Most of Croatia’s beaches are pebbly, but if you prefer sand, head to the island of Mljet and flop on Saplunara and its near neighbour Limuni. They’re reachable on day trips from Dubrovnik, as is the sandy Šunj beach on Lopud. Kor?ula, too, has a cluster of sandy beaches near the fishing village of Lumbarda. Though small, Rab island in the Kvarner Gulf has nearly two dozen sandy beaches to choose from.
|Zlatni Rat also known as the "Golden Horn" is one of Europe's most spectacular beaches|
Where to go in Croatia for nightlife?
The island of Hvar has a deserved reputation for lively nightlife in its clubs and bars in Hvar Town. And on the otherwise sleepy island of Pag, music festivals and parties fill Zrce beach every summer. As you would expect in Croatia’s second-largest city, Split offers a varied nightlife along with a packed schedule of summertime festivals.
|The lively town of Hvar is renown for it's bars and restaurants|
Where to go in Croatia for couples?
Dubrovnik’s city walls are a must-see on a holiday to Croatia, offering heavenly views of the Adriatic as well as the old town’s terracotta rooftops. Just north of Split, you can enjoy the relaxed pace and centuries of history in Šibenik, including its Unesco-listed Cathedral of St James and wonderful views from the top of St Michael’s Fortress. It’s also a handy launch pad for visits to islands of Kornati National Park – especially if you enjoy sailing.
Zagreb, the capital, often gets overlooked in the rush to get to the coast. A superb café culture and excellent art galleries make it an appealing choice if you want to combine a city break with the beach during a holiday in Croatia.
|Rovinj offers beautiful green scenery and breathtaking views|
Food and wine lovers have the Istrian peninsula to explore, home of some of Croatia’s best olive oil and truffles. Follow the wine routes that take you to hilltop villages in Istria’s green heart before chilling out in the attractive resorts of Rovinj and Pore?.
Where to go in Croatia for active holidays?
Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of Croatia’s natural wonders – a jaw-dropping collection of turquoise lakes and waterfalls. Follow the wooden walkways that connect the lakes, or strike out on some of the hiking trails in the northern part of the park. More waterfall marvels are in store at Krka National Park, which is easy to reach if you’re staying in Šibenik. Take the boat from Skradin as it meanders along the Krka River past Skradinski Buk waterfall and the monastery island of Visovac.
|The beautiful resort of Sibenik|
Where to go in Croatia for families?
Just south of Split is the Makarska Riviera, a string of family-friendly coastal resorts in the shadow of Biokovo Mountains. This sunny strip goes on for 60km, with long pebbly beaches backed by pine woods. Start in the north in Brela, where pine trees offer welcome shade along the shingle beaches tucked into coves.
|Tucepi offers plenty to keep the little ones entertained|
Next is the Blue Flag beach of Baška Voda before you reach Makarska itself, with a colourful marina and Riva seafront promenade to stroll along. Hop on the ferry here for a quick visit to Sumartin in Bra?. All of these resorts, including Tu?epi to the south, are packed with family facilities – everything from sports and kids’ clubs to pools and spas.
Contribution by award-winning travel writer, Mary Novakovich