Located between the Balkan mountains and the mediterranean sea, Croatia offers a plethora of attractions and points of interest. Some most famous landmarks in Croatia are natural landmarks like Plitvice waterfalls and Zlatni Rat beach. Still, there are quite a few important historic landmarks in Croatia, too, like the walls of Dubrovnik and the Pula amphitheater.
In this post, we will explore both natural and human-made landmarks in Croatia, making it a very diverse country. Therefore, we invited a few fellow bloggers to contribute with some of their favorite Croatian landmarks to produce the best information possible.
Famous Landmarks in Croatia – Human-made
The Walls of Dubrovnik
By Coni from Experiencing the Globe
If you have one mental image of Croatia is probably the City Walls of Dubrovnik. This medieval fortress has been the country’s main attraction for decades, but when it was cast as Game of Throne’s King’s Landing, the popularity went to a whole new level.
The formidable ring of defensive walls encloses the historical city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They were built in the 9th century and fortified in the 14th and 15th centuries.
You can walk on top of them, for 2 km, and get the most stunning views of the walls themselves and the city and the Adriatic Sea.
It might get a bit overwhelming to visit with the hordes of tourists that arrive every summer. Hence, a much more enjoyable and sustainable way to visit Dubrovnik is to travel during shoulder season, ideally in May-June or September-October.
You can fly directly to Dubrovnik’s airport, take a ferry from Split or its nearby islands, or take a bus from any city in the country. Note that you’ll need to cross a small strip of Bosnia and Herzegovina if you arrive overland. You won’t need a visa since you’re just transiting, but keep your passport at hand!
By Noel Morata from Oahu Travel Now
One of the off-the-beaten places to visit on the Dalmatian coastline in Croatia is Primosten which has a sleepy vibe and non-touristy appeal. A narrow peninsula that almost juts out like an island and is barely connected to the mainland by a narrow roadway, Primosten is low-key, charming, and truly off the beaten path since it is located mid-way between Split and Zadar on the scenic coastal road in Dalmatia.
It’s fun to explore the small town and walk up to the top of the hill for fantastic views of the town and the ocean below. While you are exploring, check out the dominant church of St. George, built in 1485. If you’re into beaches, check out the beautiful beaches below, which are always noted as some of the 10 best beaches to enjoy in Croatia. Even the vineyards that face Primosten are famous and are planned on being certified as a Unesco Heritage site. But one of the simple joys of being in Primosten is walking along the waterfront areas, checking out the lovely restaurants and having a delicious seafood meal for hours, and enjoying a nice and long meal on the beautiful peninsula.
Less than an hour drive from busy Split, a drive along the coastal highway to Primosten and the joys of a road trip, fantastic meal, and exploring the town is a fun and easy thing to do as a day trip to the town.
Sea organ of Zadar
By Michelle C. from Intentional Travelers
Zadar, centrally located on the Dalmatian Coast and north of Split, has several unique landmarks. However, Zadar’s sea organ is perhaps the most recent addition and the most unique of all.
Located on the edge of historic Old Town, which sits on a small peninsula, the sea organ was added in 2005 to replace a boring concrete wall. Using the waves that lap up against the land, architect Nikola Bašić designed marble steps with tubes inside to create a giant instrument played by the sea!
The experimental instrument is referred to as an “architectural sound art object” and was awarded a European Prize for Urban Public Space in 2006. Next to this landmark is another popular modern marvel, the Greeting to the Sun light installation.
Tourists and locals come to hear the low bellows of the organ, as it’s a very short walk from other attractions in Old Town. The steps make a great spot to watch the sunset and passing sailboats, with views of the sea and Ugljan island. Visiting in the summer brings the most crowds, but people still bundle up for Fall or even Winter trips to see this one-of-a-kind attraction.
St. James Cathedral in Croatia’s Šibenik
By Veronika Primm from Travel Geekery
The St. James Cathedral in Croatia’s Šibenik belongs to the grandest structures you can see in Europe. That’s only one of many reasons why it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List 20 years ago.
Katedrala Svetog Jakova, as it’s known locally, is a real landmark in the city. While you can see it peek in between buildings almost anywhere, the best view comes from any of Sibenik’s three hillside fortresses.
The Cathedral was mostly built in Renaissance style by George the Dalmatian, a local star architect who received his education in Venice. Croatia formed a part of Venice back in the 15th century, and it shows in the Cathedral’s grandeur.
Over the years, Gothic features were added. Inside especially, the Cathedral has more of a Gothic feel, aided by humidity, which keeps the walls dark.
There are several unique features in the Cathedral. The most notable is that no cement or connecting material was used in its building! Even the large Dome was created with the pure use of interlocking stone slabs. Only during the reconstruction after the Yugoslav war (1991) some cement had to be added.
Decorative elements include a strip of 74 heads running along the Cathedral’s perimeter. They were modeled after Sibenik inhabitants of the time. None of the busts looks down at the onlooker or each other.
The St. James Cathedral is located in Sibenik’s Old Town on the Trg Republike Hrvatske (Square of Croatian Republic), where George the Dalmatian statue can be found. It’s close to the sea.
Fortica Fortress (Tvrđava Španjola), Hvar Island
By Jürgen & Martina from Places of juma
Fortica Fortress, also known as Tvrđava Španjola, is certainly one of the most impressive landmarks in Croatia. It is located on Hvar Island in Dalmatia, and a climb up the fortress hill is almost a must on every trip. Even the way there, through the old town and past the beautiful gardens, is a real highlight! Once you reach the top, the most spectacular view over the orange roofs of the old town and the deep blue sea awaits you. Even the famous Pakleni Islands can be seen from up here, making the fortress a popular spot for taking photos.
Locals usually call the Fortica fortress Španjola, meaning the Spanish fortress. It was built between 1282 and 1551, during Venetian rule, and served as the city’s most important defensive structure at the time. Thus, during the Turkish attack in 1571, almost all of Hvar’s inhabitants found shelter in this fortress. Unfortunately, in 1579 lightning struck the part of the complex exactly where the gunpowder was. This caused a large explosion, and constant repair work followed until the 19th century.
Today it is one of the most important attractions on the island and can also be visited from the inside. There is also a museum, a restaurant and even a discotheque at the fortress.
St. Mark’s Church in Zagreb
By Emily from Wander-Lush
When it comes to recognizable landmarks in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, it’s hard to top St. Mark’s Church (Crkva sv. Marka). The most distinguishing feature of this humble parish church is its unique roof that bears a twin coat of arms rendered in vibrant tiles.
One of the oldest structures in the city, St. Mark’s, was first built in the 13th century then reconstructed in a Gothic style in the 14th century. The portal on the building’s southern face is considered its most historically important component: 11 niches bearing statues of the Twelve Apostles and St. Mark and the Lion are carved above the door, making this one of the most distinguished doorways of its kind in the Balkan region.
Yet the roof is the thing that draws your eye. The vibrant tiles reveal the old crests for the city of Zagreb and the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia (a political entity within the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Designed by Viennese architect Friedrich Schmidt, they resemble Zsolnay tiles found throughout Budapest.
St. Mark’s is located in the historic Upper Town in a square of the same name. It’s easy to reach by foot from anywhere in the city. Although not a UNESCO Site, it’s an icon of Zagreb and a must-visit.
For the best views of the church, climb to the top of the nearby Lotrščak Tower. The observation deck looks directly onto the roof, giving you a picture-perfect view of the tiles.
By Kamila Napora from My wanderlust
One of the quirkiest things to do in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is riding the local funicular. It’s located in the central part of the city, on Tomić Street / next to the Lotrščak Tower, and connects the Lower and Upper parts of Zagreb’s downtown.
What makes it special is that with the length of 66 meters only, this is one of the shortest and steepest public-transport funiculars in the world. It is also the oldest mode of public transport in the city. The funicular started operating in 1890, and originally a steam engine was used for it, but due to the frequent repairs, it was replaced by the electrical one in 1934. Still, today most of the technical and constructional parts are original, and the funicular didn’t change its look for all these years.
Recently Zagreb funicular was listed among the most beautiful funiculars in the world by European Best Destinations. Even if the ride takes only a few minutes, it is definitely one of the ultimate Zagreb experiences you can’t miss. The funicular operates daily 06:30 and 22:00 and departs every 10 minutes. One-way ticket costs 4 kunas, but the public transport tickets are valid here too.
By Raluca from Travel With a Spin
Nin is a tiny town located in a lagoon just 20 km away from Zadar. Once you cross one of the two stone bridges that connect the historic town to the mainland, you enter Kalelarga, the main street, and feel like walking back in time. Besides its medieval beauty, the old town on an islet will impress you with its history, churches, legends, and atmosphere.
Nin was the first royal town in Croatia. It’s said that seven kings were crowned here. But it was also the seat of the Croatian bishops. The most famous of them is Bishop Gregory of Nin, whose statue welcomes visitors and has become one of the town’s symbols. He was the one that opposed the Pope and introduced the Slavic language in the church. People believe that any wish will come true if you touch the well-polished toe of his statue.
The old town of Nin is also home to some interesting places of worship. The “smallest cathedral in the world” is located in Nin. Its builders made sure that it will be filled with light at each solstice and equinox. Close to it, one can visit the largest Roman temple on the Adriatic coast, a 2nd-century Roman mosaic, and a traditional salt factory. Finally, one shouldn’t leave before tasting the local delicacy, Ninski Sokol, local dry-cured pork meat produced in the region since ancient times.
By Samantha from The Wandering Wanderluster
When you think of Roman colosseums, your mind will immediately think of Rome’s grand monument, one of the seven modern wonders of the world. But would you believe another large Roman Colosseum is located in Pula, one of Croatia’s lesser-visited regions?
Sat in the heart of Pula’s old town, Pula’s Arena dates back to between 27BC-68AD. Despite being slightly older than the colosseum in Rome, Pula’s historical jewel is the only colosseum in the world to have all of its walls still preserved and intact.
While it does not yet hold a UNESCO status, the arena is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in Pula, as it is undoubtedly one of the most treasured landmarks in all of Croatia.
Looking out over the blue Adriatic sea the arena is open to visitors all year round with entrance costing approximately €10 per adult. While it could hold over 20,000 spectators in its heyday watching the gruesome gladiator fights, the arena now hosts regular festivals and theatre shows for up to 5,000 people. However, every week during the summer months, the Arena hosts gladiator fights as part of the historical spectacle “Spectacvla Antiqva”.
Rovinj Old Town
By Yulia Saf from Miss tourist
Rovinj is often called Croatia’s Venice and it’s easy to see why it can be hard not to fall in love with this incredibly photogenic town. The easiest way to get to Rovinj is by flying to Pula Airport, just a 40 minute drive away from this charming old town. In season there are direct flights here from London but from other destinations as well as in other seasons, the closest international airport is actually Venice, Italy. Venice is just a 3 hour drive from Rovinj and in season it is also connected by a ferry.
Since it is so close to Italy, Rovinj is officially bilingual, and many residents speak both Croatian and Italian! You can almost feel the impact of the romance language on this town as you walk through the winding cobbled streets. If the walls could talk, it would definitely be in a seductive italian accent.
Whilst the first evidence of life in Rovinj can be traced back to the bronze age, this medieval town started being developed in the 3rd century. Due to the lack of available space, everything in Old Town Rovinj was built on a miniature scale. The tiny colorful buildings, picturesque squares, and narrow streets built right up to the shoreline alone are a sight to see. Still, the main reason that people flock to visit this adorable spot is to see the unique Venetian Architecture in a very Croatian town that hasn’t given up its authenticity.
There are also many great hotels in Rovinj for every budget, and with much fewer tourists than Venice, it is the perfect place for a romantic getaway. Although the beautiful old town of Rovinj is not yet a UNESCO-listed sight, maybe it should be!
By Helen from Helen on her Holidays
Right at the southern tip of Croatia, between Dubrovnik and the border with Montenegro, you’ll find Cavtat. Cavtat is a small, atmospheric town with a beautiful natural harbor defined by two peninsulas covered in pine trees.
Cavtat’s harbor is still used by a few small fishing boats but these days it’s a favorite mooring spot for superyachts. It’s a beautiful spot; looking out of the harbor you’re looking straight towards Dubrovnik. The sun sets directly between the two peninsulas, and after it goes down you can see the lights of Dubrovnik glittering in the distance.
Cavtat has a lovely promenade that runs behind the harbor and makes a lovely stroll at any time of day but particularly in the evening as the sun sets, the superyachts turn their lights on, and everyone is ready for a cocktail or two at one of the many harbourside bars and restaurants.
During the day, the peninsulas guard the harbor are home to some of Cavtat’s loveliest spots for sunbathing. A trail runs around the edge of the peninsula through the pine trees; little paths lead down to little beach clubs where you can relax in the sun and watch the boats coming in and out of the harbor.
To get to Cavtat, you can take a bus from Dubrovnik, but the best way to arrive is by water taxi into the lovely harbor.
The Euphrasian Basilica
By Lara from The Best Travel Gifts
The Euphrasian Basilica is a beautiful cathedral located in the small town of Porec in Istria. Its importance and beauty have also been recognized by UNESCO who included the basilica on the World Heritage list back in 1997.
The original cathedral was built in the Roman style and dates back to the fourth century. However, the only part that remains from this period is the mosaic floor which can still be admired in the garden.
The cathedral as you can admire today was built in the sixth century. As the cathedral was built during the period of Bishop Euphrasius, it was named the Euprhasian Basilica. The basilica was dedicated to Mary, hence the cathedral’s second name: Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Mary.
It’s the completeness and unique features of the early Christian episcopal monument, which made the Euphrasian Basilica earn its place on the world heritage list. Yet, it’s the beauty and the history of the building that make it an interesting site to visit today.
The easiest way to access the church is to head to Porec and explore the old city center on foot. It’s a small town, and you will find the cathedral right in the city center. The church is open for visitors every day except Sundays and holidays.
By Mayuri from 2 day Itinerary
Diocletian’s palace is located in Split in the Dalmatia Region. It is one of the most popular landmarks in Croatia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This structure was built in the 4th century and was originally meant to serve as a residence for the Roman Emperor Diocletian, as well as a military garrison.
The entire complex of the Diocletian’s Palace is massive and is usually crowded with tourists and tour guides. At a quick glance at the structure, it looks more like a fort than a beautiful palace.
There are 4 entrances to the palace and can be easily accessed from the Riva or the promenade in Split. The Emperor’s apartments is located along the seafront, with an exterior square and circular floor plan, with a dome.
Just like most palaces, there are remains of cellars, a dome hall, two halls with apses, and an octagonal dining room.
Diocletian’s Palace is the largest and best-preserved example of Roman palatial architecture, representing a transitional style half Greek and half Byzantine.
It is completely free to check out Diocletian’s palace. When you are at the Split downtown, you will see the Palace gates following you around. Most walking tours in Split will include a stop at the Diocletian’s palace.
There are excavations and exhibits located in the basement of the Palace, and to visit there is an entrance fee of 6 euros.
Famous Landmarks in Croatia – Natural
Plitvice Lakes National Park
By Sinead Camplin from Map Made Memories
Plitvice Lakes National Park in northern Croatia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and when you visit Plitvice, it is easy to see why it achieved this status.
The 73,000-acre park lies in a forested, limestone canyon and is famous for its sixteen, uniquely colored, mineral-rich lakes that were formed by waterfalls falling over travertine dams. The Lower Lakes is the most visited section of the park and the paths get very busy during peak season so try to visit first thing in the morning or late afternoon after the hordes of tourist buses have departed.
Unfenced wooden boardwalks wind around the picturesque lakes culminating in Veliki Slap, which, at 78 meters high, is Croatia’s highest waterfall. The Upper Lakes section is less visited and offers tranquil woodland walks, lakeside trails, and several waterfalls. There are 22 kilometers of trail inside the park so there are walks available to suit everyone.
The two sections are linked by a road train, or visitors can traverse the park using the more scenic passenger boat crossing on Lake Kozjak. The park can be reached by public bus or by tour bus from Split but is best reached by self-driving. Allocate plenty of time to visit Plitvice Lakes; a slow visit at quieter times will help you to fully appreciate the natural beauty of this outstanding national park.
Mljet National Park
By Martha from May Cause Wanderlust
In Mljet National Park, there is a unique fairytale island within an island.
The park is at the western end of Mljet Island, and the main attractions in the park are two serene lakes, Malo Jezero and Veliko Jezero. Within the larger of the two lakes is a tiny, romantic-looking islet called Sveta Marija. And on this islet is a former Benedictine monastery.
The monastery was originally built in the 12th century, making it amongst the oldest in the Adriatic, though the plot has been added to over the centuries. These days there is a restaurant on the island called Melita.
You can get to the lakes and the island via the town of Pomena on Mljet. There’s an entrance fee of 125 Kuna to get into the park, and you can take a footpath around the first lake, Malo Jezero, where the water is a gorgeous bright turquoise color. The two lakes join in a narrow channel at Mali Most, where you can get a boat that will take you to Sveta Marija. The boat takes around 25 minutes, and the scenery on Veliko Jezero is calm and peaceful.
On the island, other than getting refreshments in the restaurant, you can wander the grounds of the monastery and enjoy the views across the crystal-clear water of the lake. It’s a perfect stop for a day if you are sailing on the Dalmatian Coast.
By Ella Moore from Many More Maps
Visiting the Blue Lagoon is one of the highlights of any island hopping experience in Croatia! Tucked between the Dalmatian islands of Krknjasi and Veliki, the unbelievably blue and clear waters of the Blue Lagoon is a place travelers can’t get enough of!
The main reason to visit the Blue Lagoon is to swim and snorkel in the cool water, sunbathe on the nearby island of Veli Drvenik, and snap photos. Since the Blue Lagoon is quite a distance from populated islands and far from the mainland, getting there independently can be expensive and difficult.
For this reason, the easiest and most popular way to get there is on a boat tour from Split. The Blue Lagoon is on the itinerary of both the 3 island and 5 tours, so it’s a top-rated stop. If you are confident about steering a boat, you could hire one and visit by yourself.
When choosing a boat tour, look out for ones that have a speedboat. It will get you to the Blue Lagoon much quicker, and will also act as the ideal springboard for you to use to jump into the water from once you’ve arrived at the lagoon.
The Blue Grotto
In Balun, on the eastern side of the island of Biševo in Dalmatia, you’ll find the Blue Grotto or Modra špilja. The cave is a narrow opening between the rocks which originally could only be accessed by diving under the rock wall in a certain spot. In the late 19th Century, dynamite was used to create a small opening in the rock. This new entrance allows small boats to pass between the rocks, making the wonders of the cave accessible to many more people.
To see the magic of the cave, be sure to visit just before noon on a sunny day. At this time, the cave is illuminated with a blue light, caused by sunlight reflecting through the water from the limestone floor of the cave. Seeing the blue light fill the cave is a slightly unearthly experience and one of the highlights of coastal Croatia. You need to join a tour to visit the cave as private boats aren’t allowed. The most convenient places to take a tour are the islands of Vis and Biševo. There are also tours leaving from Split, however it’s a long way to travel for a relatively short visit to the cave.
Zlatni rat Beach
By Utkarsh Yadav from Journeys from Heart
Zlatni rat is one the most popular beaches on the Brac island and also the most popular amongst tourists in Croatia. Zlatni rat which means ‘a golden horn’ is a triangular-shaped beach around 3 Km from Bol town. The beach is beautiful with white sands and pebbles and a Mediterranean pine grove slowly transitioning into the Adriatic sea. The peculiar V shape of the beach has made it so popular that it has become a national tourism symbol of Croatia. One can easily see the shape of the beach from the road that descends to Bol.
The V-shaped beach is subjected to strong currents from the Hvar channel which makes it perfect for many activities like swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, Wakeboarding, Jet Skiing, and Sea kayaking. The beach has many cafés, resorts, eating points, sunbeds, toilets(paid), and many other amenities.
It is around 2.4 Km from Bol, and one chose to walk or commute by car. A tourist boat and train also depart from Bol port which can take you there. Some prominent accommodation would be Villa Giardino Heritage(2 Km from the beach), Bluesun Hotel Borak (1.1 Km from the beach), and BRETANIDE Sport & Wellness Resort(0.4Km from the beach). It is also known as the beach that changes shape. Because of strong wind and sea currents, the V shape keeps changing its shape slightly, mostly tilting towards the east.
By Tracy from Tracy’s Travels in Time
The Krka waterfalls are located in Krka National Park in southern Croatia a few kilometers northeast of the historic Croatian city of Sibenik. The park and waterfalls are best reached by organized day tours from Split. Many tours combine the day trip with a visit to Sibenik.
A series of 7 waterfalls make up the Krka falls with the spectacular Skradinski Buk the largest and most famous waterfall (Buk is Croatian for waterfall)
To get to Skradinski Buk it is necessary to follow a boardwalk trail for about one hour. If you arrive via a tour the coach will enter the park via the Lozovac Krka National Park entrance and drop you off at the beginning of the trail. Otherwise, there are local buses available from the Lozovac entrance to the falls.
If you visit in summer, don’t forget to wear a swimming costume and take a towel with you as Krka Waterfalls is the only national park in Croatia where swimming is allowed. The waters at the base of the falls are crystal clear, but you will need to protect your feet with water shoes.
If you don’t want to swim, don’t worry, as you can view the falls from various platforms along the boardwalk. The waterfalls are surrounded by natural beautiful landscapes, lush vegetation, and wildlife.
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