Croatia is a land of breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage and captivating cities. These handsome hubs exude history and charm, effortlessly blending natural beauty with architectural splendour. From picturesque coastal towns perched above the sea to Medieval meccas tucked away inland regions, there’s a multitude of magical and trapped-in time places to explore. Whether you’re looking for adventure or a place to relax and seek solace, this enchanting jewel on the Adriatic Coast offers something for everyone. Read on to discover more about the most beautiful cities in Croatia…
- Discover Dubrovnik
- The Sights and Sounds of Split
- Be Amazed by Zagreb
- The Allure of Zadar
- Ramble Around Rovinj
Referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, Dubrovnik is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Croatia. So beautiful, in fact, that this UNESCO World Heritage site on the Dalmatian Coast was chosen as the filming location for King's Landing in Game of Thrones. Fans are sure to recognise the awe-inspiring landscape as they approach the city: dramatic high-rising cliffs and an impressive ancient city wall (aka Blackwater Bay in the popular series) that overlooks the Adriatic Sea. Stari Grad, the walled old town, is home to a host of treasures too. The limestone paved Stradun, the main thoroughfare through this part of the city, is flanked by narrow alleyways and winding streets. Meander along these to find elegant palazzi, Baroque churches and majestic palaces, as well as pretty cafes and charming shops. If you have the time, take the short boat ride to Lokrum: a nearby island that boasts lush vegetation, hidden coves and a medieval monastery.
Image: Ana Kutija
If you like the combination of sea, mountains and Roman architecture, you’re bound to fall in love with Split. At the heart of this mesmerising city lies the magnificent and well-preserved Diocletian's Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was built in the fourth century. This ancient monument forms about half of the old town and you’ll be transported back in time as you wander through its winding streets that now house bustling markets, independent shops and vibrant cafes. Venture outside of these historic walls to the palm tree-lined Riva Promenade, the perfect spot for a bite to eat with a side of people watching by the water. The Marjan Hill hike is another must-do while you’re here if you have the time and energy. It’s a short but fairly steep walk that’ll take you to the top of the 584ft hill, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views across the city and coast.
We couldn’t talk about the most beautiful cities in Croatia without mentioning Zagreb, the country’s thrumming capital. Nestled between the slopes of Mount Medvednica and the fertile plains of the Sava River, this destination offers a seamless blend of ancient charm and modern-day life. Take a stroll through Gornji Grad, the city’s historic core, to discover the iconic St. Mark's Church with its multi-coloured tiled roof that depicts the coat of arms of Zagreb and Croatia. Keep pottering and you’ll find the nearby Stone Gate, one of the city's most sacred sites, that dates back to the 13th century. It holds a small chapel that houses a painting of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus, which is believed to have miraculous powers after surviving a devastating fire in 1731. This significant landmark has now become a place of pilgrimage and devotion for the people of Zagreb and serves as a sanctuary for prayer and reflection for locals and tourists alike.
Zadar is a coastal city located in the region of Dalmatia in the northern part of Croatia. One of its most enchanting features is without a doubt the Sea Organ (Morske orgulje), an architectural masterpiece that uses underwater pipes to create unique and mesmerising melodies as the waves interact with the steps of the promenade. It's a truly magical experience to sit by the sea, soak up the sun and listen to nature’s symphony. Next to the Sea Organ is the Sun Salutation (Pozdrav suncu), another not-to-be-missed highlight of this city that’s designed by the same architect. This huge circular installation consists of 300 multi-layered glass plates that produce a vibrant and interactive light show as the day draws to a close. Head here for sunset to catch the visual display in all its glory.
Image: Olivier Romano
Last on our list of the most beautiful cities in Croatia is Rovinj: a picturesque spot on the on the Istrian Peninsula with a distinct Mediterranean charm. There’s a feel of Italy about the place, which comes as no surprise when you discover its legacy as part of the Venetian empire until the 18th century. One of the most prominent examples of Venetian influence in Rovinj is the imposing St. Euphemia Church, which dominates the town's skyline, and those with a keen eye for detail may notice that the distinctive bell tower of the church resembles the famous St. Mark's Campanile in Venice. Potter around the old town and you’ll notice a delightful blend of cobbled streets, artist studios and pretty cafes. Don’t miss Grisia Street: a narrow street crammed with galleries, studios and art exhibitions. Head to the tranquil harbour at sunset to enjoy a cocktail and admire the warm honeycomb hue that falls across the water and surrounding city.
Header Image: Ana Kutija