7 Places in Croatia You Havent Heard Of

Croatia has become a popular tourist destination. The first 8 months of 2017 saw a 14% increase in tourists (a record number of 15 million tourists came to the country), making many popular attractions overcrowded, and left the locals feeling disgruntled and angry.

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Photo © iStock/IrinaSen

This doesn’t need to be the case. Go beyond Dubrovnik and Split to explore lesser-known Croatian towns, where the locals won’t be so frustrated by visitors, and you’ll get to see a whole new side to the country.

Zadar

Zadar is Croatia’s fifth largest city, which was heavily influenced throughout history – evidence of this can be seen on Venetian and Roman ruins all around.

The city is divided into traditional architecture of the walled ‘Old Town’ and the modern industrial city. The Old Town comes alive with small streets, intricately crafted buildings, Roman columns, historic churches and buildings.

In Zadar, the promenade contains a unique treasure, the Morske Orgulje (Sea Organ), which was created by placing 35 organ pipes under the promenade. When the waves pass over the pipes, you’ll hear the Sea Organ produce a uniquely wonderful sound – a must see/hear!

Fosa harbor in Zadar, Croatia. Photo credit: iStock

6mi (10km) to the south-east of Zadar, you’ll find Sukosan. This ancient village has a number of coves to swim in, pebbly beaches, campsites and vineyards. Definitely worth a day trip if you’re looking for somewhere with less foot traffic – Sukosan is home to just over 4,000 people!

Sibenik

Sibenik is one of Croatia’s oldest traditional oceanfront towns, full of medieval architecture, culture, friendly locals, town squares, and beaches. You’ll no doubt have to pass through if you’re on your way to Krka National Park or the Kornati Islands.

Sibenik is a great place to discover Croatian history and explore over 150 islands. Sibenik is filled with museums, galleries, beaches, and street singing. Be sure to see Cathedral St James, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 1400s.

Did you know? Season 5 of Game of Thrones was filmed in parts of Sibenik, which became a double for the city of Braavos. Funnily enough, Bravoosi are skilled sailors and swordsmen – just like the people of Sibenik.

Sibenik, Croatia. Photo credit: iStock

Starigrad, Paklencia

Starigrad is a port village located 25mi (40km) from Zadar, close to the Paklencia National Park backed by the Velebit mountains. Paklencia National Park has over 93mi (150km) of hiking trails, over 6mi (10km) of cycling routes, and over 360 climbing routes.

The town of Starigrad is home to many archaeological and architectural monuments, such as Vecka Kula tower – which was built in the 16th century and used as a watchtower to see ships passing through the Podvelebitski Channel.

A hiking trail in the Velebit mountains. Photo credit: iStock

Pag

Pag is the fifth largest Croatian island, with a National Park, two resort towns – Pag Town and Novalja – and a number of smaller towns. Explore the pebble and sand beaches surrounding the coast, and its barren, moonlike landscape to see why this is one of Croatia’s up-and-coming islands.

Novalja is a famous party town for Croatians, where they flock to Outlook festival in September each year. When the festival isn't on, the town is filled with locals, carnivals, and dances. The beautiful architecture, beaches, and deserted coves of the town have been likened to an Italian film set.

See how the Romans lived by walking through the narrow, underground Roman aqueduct, known locally as the Talijanova buza (the Italian hole), which once supplied the Romans with water.

The city of Pag. Photo credit: iStock

Senj

Senj is located at the bottom of the Velebit and Male Kapela mountains (a two-hour drive from Zadar). Here, you’ll learn about local history inside its museums and see the symbol of the city – a medieval fortress called Nehaj.

Surrounding the town set out to find beaches with clear water, secret coves, fishing spots, picturesque buildings, and a gothic town hall.

Nehaj fortress overlooking the sea. Photo credit: iStock

Rijeka

Rijeka, a 20th-century port town, is Croatia’s third largest city that’s filled with charm, culture, festivals and colorful carnivals. It’s home to the Trsat castle which was built in 1288 and is one of the country's oldest coastal forts.

Around the city, discover Our Lady of Trsat Sanctuary, Rijeka Central Market, a National history museum, beaches, and leafy-green parks for some fresh air.

If you’re in town on the last Sunday before Shrove Tuesday, be sure to join in the biggest carnival celebrations in Croatia. See a parade of carnival floats and fancy-dress costumes, including young men dressed in animal skins who shake enormous cowbells to drive away evil spirits.

Rijeka Carnival, men dressed in animal skins ringing cowbells. Photo credit: iStock

Pula

Pula was built by the Illyrians 3,000 years ago, and contains the world's sixth-largest Roman Amphitheatre. The city has a forum, main square, city hall (built in the 10th century), beaches, coves, and historic buildings to explore.

Pula is one of Croatia’s top diving destinations with caves, reefs, and sunken shipwrecks to discover.

An aerial view of the amphitheater in Pula. Photo credit: iStock
Want to know more about Croatia? Check out our podcast. Are we loving places to death? How a bathtub saved travelers from Hurricane Irma and the ultimate gap year travel guide.

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3 Comments

  • Carrie CARPENTER said

    Fantastic travel advice.
    Croatia is on my “soon to do travel list”
    Thanks for the inside view.

  • Adriana said

    Now I have to see Zadar. :) I've been only to Crikvienica, nice coastal town and I was surprised by how easy it was to hitchhike in the area!

  • Marko said

    You've basically numbered another list of places in Croatia on the coast like there's nothing else to Croatia beside the beach. A bit more homework would be appreciated

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