On the surface, Croatia doesn’t have a lot of offer compared to many other European destinations. There’s no Eiffel Tower, no Big Ben, no leaning tower. Why visit Croatia? People asked me when I planned my trip.

Croatia is so often overlooked by most visitors, and it is so undeserved! When I first told people I was visiting Croatia, I got strange looks. Most people were only familiar with the violent history of the Yugoslav War that impacted Croatia. But now it’s an ideal vacation destination, just a short flight from most major cities in Europe. Below are my favorite things about Croatia…

Croatia has a beautiful coastline:

Croatia is actually dotted with hundreds of islands along its coastline, giving you ample opportunities to island hop! The waters along the coastline are gorgeous and are warm enough to take a dip. Be aware though, that Croatia doesn’t really have sand beaches – just pebble beaches, so you might find yourself climbing down into the water from a dock – or cliffside ladder!

Hvar Coastline
Zadar Coastline

Find hotels in Hvar

Visit Croatia if only for the waterfalls:

Ever seen those photos of dozens of waterfalls pouring in to crystal clear lakes? Well, those are pictures of Plitvice Lakes in Croatia! It’s the perfect day trip from Zagreb and is a must-see on your trip to Croatia. Spend the day wandering the wooden walkways snaking through this gorgeous national park.

Plitvice Lakes
Plitvice Lakes
Plitvice Lakes

Croatia has great historical sites and gorgeous architecture:Β 

What I didn’t know before I decided to visit Croatia was how old so many of the cities are. Croatia was part of the Roman Empire – no surprise since it’s only separated from Italy by the Adriatic Sea. Because of this history, Croatian cities look a lot like they could fit right into Italy. I loved wandering the streets of Split which date back to the 4th century and imagining all the things that could have happened across so many centuries in all the places I stood. Dubrovnik, which Game of Thrones fans will recognize, is famous for its Old Town circled by massive stone walls that overlook the sea – the town really is as beautiful as it looks on TV!

Dubrovnik…wow, right?
St. Mark’s Church, Zagreb, which is much more German in architectural style than the coastal cities!
Split, Croatia

See also: What to do in Maui

Croatia has streets made for wandering:

Everywhere we visited in Croatia was picture perfect – small cobble stone streets that spilled down the hills of the cities, lined with cafes, small galleries and of course, the homes of the locals.

Wandering the alleys of Hvar
Stroll through Dubrovnik
Views of Dubrovnik

Croatia is cheap!

Compared to most other European destinations, Croatia is still cheap place to visit. We stayed in AirBnB’s for about €30 per night! On top of that, dining out isn’t too expensive, especially if you look beyond the touristy areas.

You can always afford wine with lunch in Croatia…

Croatia is an easy roadtrip:

Croatia only has one main highway that runs the length of the entire country – so you essentially cannot get lost! The highway is quite new, so expect an easy drive the whole way. It is good to know that if you plan to visit Dubrovnik you will have to drive through Bosnia to get there. Yes, I know this is a bit strange, but have a look at the map. We didn’t visit Dubrovnik the first time we went because we would have had to pay a lot extra for insurance to drive it “out of the country.” Out of the country would have meant a very short drive across 2 borders, but still we didn’t want to pay the extra insurance. We also didn’t visit Dubrovnik the first time we visited because it is actually quite far from the rest of the main tourist sites. Just good for you to know if you plan to do a road trip.

Croatia depends on your tourism:

Part of what I love about staying in AirBnB’s is the opportunity to interact with locals and learn a bit more about their countries. During our stay in Zadar, our AirBnB host told us that Croatia suffers from brain drain. The Bosnian War devastated Croatia’s car manufacturing industry, and with it, many jobs that the country relied on. Nowadays, many educated young people still suffer from a lack of jobs available in the country and look elsewhere in Europe. Still, there are many who choose to stay in Croatia, and many of them are working in tourism, making money via AirBnB like our host was. Croatia is such a beautiful country with friendly people and historical cities. Your tourism there really helps!

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Planning to visit Croatia? I buy the Lonely Planet for every place we visit and use it as inspiration to plan my trips (how’d you think I found about Hvar??)

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