Those planning holidays in Croatia usually want to go to the sea or discover the untouched nature in the hinterland. But Croatia also has a lot to offer in terms of architecture, history and culture. Here are our 10 cities that you should not miss on your holiday in Croatia!
Croatia is by no means just a hiking or beach holiday! Croatia also scores with art, culture and architecture. In our 10 most beautiful cities in Croatia you will find charming old town centres, historically valuable monuments, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and unique sights.
Table of contents
Dubrovnik - Open Air Museum on the Adriatic Sea
"Pearl of the Adriatic", "Croatia's Athens", "Museum City" - the nicknames of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Dubrovnik already hint at its enormous historical significance. The entire old town is a protected monument and offers a wealth of imposing architectural monuments in addition to the beach and the sea.
Around the city centre of Dubrovnik, the 2-kilometre-long city wall offers an optimal tour around the old town. The Old Harbour promises the perfect holiday atmosphere with bars, restaurants and fishing boats and is the gateway to the historic centre.
In the picturesque old town of Dubrovnik, the following buildings are particularly worth seeing:
- The impressive Rector's Palace with the Museum of Cultural History
- Dubrovnik Cathedral, donated by Richard the Lionheart, with the most valuable church treasure in the Adriatic Sea
- The Venetian-Baroque church of Sveti Vlaho, dedicated to the patron saint of Dubrovnik
- The richly decorated Sponza Palace with the City Archives
Article: Old Town of Dubrovnik
Photo gallery: Old Town of Dubrovnik
Split - Emperor Diocletian's Legacy
The charming old town of Split is hardly inferior in beauty to the famous Dubrovnik. Illyrians, Greeks and Romans left their architectural traces here. In the "heart of Dalmatia", the gigantic Diocletian's Palace, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is particularly impressive.
The magnificent palace was built as the retirement residence of the Roman emperor and occupies almost half of the entire old town of Split. Also of extremely high historical significance is the Sveti Duje Cathedral. The former mausoleum of Diocletian, the persecutor of Christians, is considered the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world.
Article: Old Town of Split
Photo gallery: Old Town of Split
Trogir - In the footsteps of the last 500 years
In Trogir's old town, 25 kilometres west of Split, you'll find Eastern Europe's best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since Trogir was never fought over, its quiet streets are still lined with original buildings from the 15th century. The last new buildings were built in the 17th century - also due to lack of space. Hardly anything has been changed since then.
Trogir's wonderful old town is like an open-air museum, and the following highlights are not to be missed:
- The Kamerlango Fortress, mighty bulwark by the sea
- Trg Ivana Pavla II with the town hall, town loggia, clock tower and Čipico Palace
- The Sveti Lovro Cathedral, whose west portal is considered the highlight of Croatian Romanesque sculptural art
- The Garagnin Palace with the Civic Museum and ancient excavations
Article: Old Town of Trogir
Photo gallery: Old Town of Trogir
Zagreb - capital and largest city of Croatia
Without UNESCO World Heritage Sites and beaches, the Croatian capital is often somewhat off the beaten track in terms of tourism. But it is worthwhile to go on a voyage of discovery through Zagreb 's imperial and royal past and enjoy art and culture in museums and theatres. A tour of the historic centre of Zagreb is best started at Ban Jelačić Square, the connection between the Upperand Lower Towns.
Visit the 1000-year-old Zagreb Cathedral or the colourful St Mark's Church, marvel at the masterpieces in the Art Pavilion or Mimara Museum, stroll through the world's unique Museum of Broken Relationships and relax in the freely accessible Botanical Garden or the over 300-hectare Maksimir Park.
Article: The top 10 sights of Zagreb
Photo Gallery: The Top Shots of Zagreb
Pula - Let the games begin
Pula is the largest town on the Istrian peninsula and impresses with its architectural mix worth seeing. Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Austrians and Italians have left their traces in Pula throughout the ages.
The most impressive testimony of past times is the Pula Amphitheatreone of the largest in the world. The Roman Forum and the Triumphal Arch of the Sergians make Pula Croatia's city of Roman antiquities.
Also worth seeing are the Venetian town hall from the 13th century and the imposing Castle of Pula. Thanks to modern skyscrapers and luxurious hotels, a walk through the old town of Pula is like a journey through time.
Article: Old Town of Pula
Photo gallery: Old Town of Pula
Rovinj - The "healthy town
Picturesque Rovinj is also located on the Istrian coast and is one of the most photographed places in Croatia. Despite its popularity, the coastal town has retained its charm and scores with a wonderful "healthy" climate, Mediterranean flair and an enchanting old town.
From the picturesque waterfront promenade between sleek yachts and pastel-coloured houses, the view already falls on the church of Sveti Eufemija in the centre of the medieval town. From its 60-metre-high bell tower, there is a wonderful view over Rovinj and the sea.
In the winding alleys, you should also visit Trg maršala Tita with its Venetian clock tower, the town museum and the Rovinj market.
Photo gallery: Rovinj
Porec - Greeting of the Romans and Venetians
Porec is the third town in the group of the most visited places in Istria. The heart of the Istrian Riviera attracts visitors with its cosy atmosphere amidst imposing buildings.
The best way to visit the historic centre of Porec is on foot. It takes about an hour to walk around the peninsula. The walls and defence towers that have surrounded the city for centuries are particularly impressive.
Also longstanding is Porec's 2000-year-old main street, the so-called Decumanus. It leads through Venetian buildings to the Roman Forum and to the harbour street with the famous Euphrasius Basilica. With its artistic mosaics, it is the most important cultural monument in Istria and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Article: Old town of Porec
Photo gallery: Old Town of Porec
Zadar - treasure trove of history, science and culture
The foundation of Zadar by the Illyrians dates back to the 4th century, and 200 years later the Romans helped the city to its heyday. Traces of this are still visible in the old town of Zadar today. The Venetians, Austrians and French also left their mark on the small town on the Mediterranean.
The mix of styles is something to behold! Behind the four historic city gates you can discover many an architectural treasure! In Zadar, you can stroll across a Roman forum, let yourself be enchanted by the flair of the Men's Square, look up to the largest church in Dalmatia, enjoy the magnificent view from the bastion, listen to the unique sea organ and greet the sun on the harbour promenade.
Article: Old Town of Zadar
Photo gallery: Old Town of Zadar
Šibenik - Oldest town in Croatia
Like Zadar, Šibenik is also located in the north of Dalmatia. The pretty town with its picturesque waterfront promenade was first mentioned in a document in 1066. Imposing fortresses, churches, monasteries and squares make Šibenik much more than just a seaside holiday destination in Croatia.
The cultural and historical sights all nestle on the slopes of a hill on which the fortress of Sveti Mihovil towers unmistakably. It offers a breathtaking view of Šibenik, the offshore islands and the Mediterranean Sea and is used as an open-air stage in summer.
Also worth mentioning is the Cathedral of St. Jacob. The ornate place of worship was modelled on the church in Trogir, but was intended to be even larger and more magnificent. The project succeeded so well that the impressive sacred building was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Tip: The idyllic Krka National Park is only a 15-minute drive from Šibenik.
Photo gallery: Šibenik
Island towns with that certain something
We have been puzzling for a long time over which island town to include in our list of the 10 most beautiful towns in Croatia. The choice was extremely difficult, so we would like to recommend both Krk Town and Rab Town to you.
The main town on the island of Krk will enchant you with its mighty Frankopan fort and bastion-like town walls, the complex of faith consisting of two churches worth seeing and several chapels, the quiet monastery quarter and a cosy waterfront promenade with an incredibly clean town beach.
Article: Historical centre of Krk town
Photo gallery: Historical centre of Krk Town
The largely car-free Rab Town impresses you as soon as you arrive with the famous view of its four towers. The highest of them belongs to the church of Marija Velika and is considered one of the most beautiful bell towers in the entire Mediterranean.
Also worth seeing are the Rector's Palace, Gornja Ulica and the historic palaces in the two promenade streets Donja Ulica and Srednja Ulica.
Article: Rab town on the island of Rab
Photo gallery: Rab town on the island of Rab