Top 10 Very Best Things to Do in Croatia

by | Nov 23, 2022

Dotted with scenic pebbled beaches and dazzling islands, Croatia is a beautiful country bordered by four countries – Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia, and Hungary.

The southern tip touches Montenegro and the body of its crescent shape forms a long coastline with the Adriatic Sea.

This small yet geographically diverse Mediterranean country is a travel hotspot that offers everything from serene & postcard-worthy national parks to UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Stunning waterfalls, gorgeous beaches, hiking trails, and rich history – Croatia has so much to offer that one trip will fail to satiate you.

Strangely Croatia was never on my bucket list, but after just a few days exploring this fabulous country I can’t wait to go back!

Here are my top 10 things to do in Croatia including the places I visited and the ones I want to see!

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Top 10 Very Best Things To Do In Croatia: TL;DR

 

  1. Old Town Of Dubrovnik
  2. Blue Cave on Bisevo Island
  3. Mljet National Park
  4. Plitvice Lakes National Park
  5. Krka National Park
  6. Zagreb Museum
  7. Zlatni Rat Beach
  8. Diocletian’s Palace
  9. Road Trip Around Istria
  10. Ancient Ruins of Pula & Rovinj

Top 10 Very Best Things To Do In Croatia

1. Wander in the Old Town of Dubrovnik

old-town-city-halls-dubrovnik

With its iconic red-roofed houses and meandering alleys, the Old Town of Dubrovnik is one of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations. It has earned the moniker ‘Pearl of the Adriatic.’

Dubrovnik offers a rich history to explore but the true attraction is the colossal City Walls of the Old Town which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Stretching for approximately 1.25 miles or 2 km around the Old Town, the City Walls or the Town Walls gives a sweeping view of the Adriatic and the Lokrum Island. A sunrise tour will give you a breathtaking view of the sun-drenched terracotta roofs that look nothing short of a fairy tale.

Also, if you are a fan of Game of Thrones, you will immediately recognize King’s Landing, and I will recommend you go for a Game of Thrones tour, which is one of the fun things to do in Croatia.

2. Marvel at the Blue Cave on Bisevo Island

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Image Credit: dronepicr via Flickr

Perfect for a day trip from Split or Hvar town, you cannot miss the awe-inspiring Blue Cave on Biševo Island along Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. Lit by a brilliant blue light, the brightly shining water and the shimmering silvery rocks make a perfect setup for a romantic tale.

Because of its popularity, you may find it overcrowded, and hence, it is better that you consider an off-season tour. Remember, it can be accessed only through a guided tour!

If you are in Split, my best recommendation is to take a Blue Cave Tour that will allow you to go for a guided island hopping tour that covers Hvar and 5 other islands and of course, the Blue Cave.

3. Enjoy Coastal Hiking at Mljet National Park

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Image Credit: Jaganjac, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Croatia has a lot to offer for adrenaline junkies. From mountain climbing to the inland canyon, forest & hill hiking. If you want to stretch your legs and experience coastal hiking, Mljet National Park on Mljet Island is the best.

However, the Mljet National Park has much more to offer including the Illyrian period which remains evident in Greek tombs and fortifications.

Among the many points of interest is the Odysseus Cave on Mljet Island which offers an epic hiking experience.

The Babino Polje town is where the hike starts, and it takes about an hour to complete and reach the edge. From there, the only way to reach the cave is to jump into the water and swim to the cave.

I will suggest you take a lifejacket if you aren’t a great swimmer or if you don’t know swimming.

4. Enjoy a Dreamy Experience at the Plitvice National Park

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Plitvice Lakes National Park or simply the Plitvice National Park is Croatia’s largest national park that spreads over an area of 7,400 acres. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site housing 16 mesmerizing turquoise lakes and a whopping 90 waterfalls!

Nestled at the Dinaric Alps’ foot, it is a preserved sanctuary for a wide range of flora and fauna, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers. It is one of the eight parks that Croatia has to offer.

Centuries of geological activities have transformed this travertine landscape into a dreamscape of shallow lakes and waterways reflecting every imaginable shade of blue and green.

Take the footpaths (some of which are raised wooden walkways) to arrive at Kozjak Lake where you can take electric boat trips to sail atop glass-like water.

Pro tip: Select a guided tour to visit Plitvice Lakes for guaranteed hassle-free return transportation.

If you are staying in Zadar or Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park will be one of the most memorable day trips you will enjoy in this amazing country.

5. Explore the Krka National Park

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Quite similar to the Plitvice National Park, the Krka National Park is one of the most impressive national parks dotted with spectacular waterfalls. It is a perfect day trip from Split.

I will suggest you start at Skardin and hire a boat service to sail through the Krka River and soak in nature’s beauty as you pass one breathtaking waterfall after another.

Acres of lush greenery, serene lakes, and scenic boardwalks give you enough reasons to spend days exploring everything that nature has to offer.

Just like Plitvice, Krka National Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions for photographers, geologists, and nature lovers visiting Croatia.

6. Visit the Museum of Broken Relationship

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Image Credit: Prosopee, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you plan to visit Croatia, keep the Zagreb Museum on your list. Also popular by the name Museum of Broken Relationships, it opened in 2010.

The idea was to showcase personal items demonstrating broken relationships irrespective of whether they were familial, friendly, or romantic.

It was initially a traveling collection, but soon it found a permanent residency in Zagreb. But before you step in, prep yourself for an emotional rollercoaster, especially if you have some forlorn memories.

All the items in the museum depict love and loss. There’s enough in that museum to bring tears, and if you are a bit emotional, you can feel the sadness descend upon you.

But you can drink or eat your feelings away at the Brokenships Bistro or step into the gift shop to grab something that will ease your pain.

7. Praise Nature’s Architectural Brilliance at Zlatni Rat Beach

Zlatni-Rat-Beach
Image Credit: dronepicr via Flickr

It’s picture-perfect! Also known as the Golden Horn or Golden Cape, The Zlatni Rat Beach features a long golden pebble tip.

It is a geomorphological monument that has earned the protection of the Croatian government. The sheer beauty of aquamarine pools fading into navy blue waters will captivate you.

From afar, the beach looks like a normal stretch of sand, but it is a strand of pebbles capable of hosting up to 10,000 people at once.

You can decide to sunbathe and let the lazy waves kiss your feet, or if you want, you can engage in windsurfing, kayaking, boating, or diving.

8. Wander Through the Diocletian’s Palace

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Diocletian’s Palace is an ancient palace that was built as a residence of the Roman emperor Diocletian in the 4th century CE.

Wandering through the palace is one of the top things to do in Croatia. The palace makes up half of the Old Town of Split. By the Middle Ages, the palace was colonized by shops and apartments.

The sprawling palace spread over 30,000 square meters that once housed emperor Diocletian and his posse along with a whole military garrison is now home to approximately 3,000 people and many cafes, shops, entertainers, and restaurants.

Split will not give you Old Town Walls to walk around like Dubrovnik, but the Old Town has a few more attractions other than Diocletian’s Palace. The Saint Domnius Cathedral is one of them.

Beyond the Old Town, is the beautiful Marjan Forest Park where you can explore the natural beauty away from the bustling city life.

9. Road Trip Around Istria

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The peninsula of Istria in northwest Croatia is where you can enjoy high-quality wines, rich olive oil, luxurious white truffles, and smooth goat cheese. It is food heaven!

The best way to explore the area is to hire a car or an RV. Yes, buses are there but they can be infrequent and never go to smaller areas.

The only way to enjoy all the attractions is to embark on a road trip with a rental car.

From the vivid coastline of the Adriatic Sea to the ancient ruins and medieval towns, from pristine sandy beaches to Venetian houses, Istria has a lot to offer.

The main attractions are the historic cities of Pula and Rovinj but don’t miss Grožnjan and Motovun – the charming little towns.

Also, head for Rabac where some postcard-worthy beaches await you. If you have enough time left, visit the Euphrasian Basilica of Poreč.

10. Walk Through the Ancient Remains at Pula & Rovinj

roman-amphitheater

Pula is the largest city in Istria county and is a perfect destination for history buffs. The city is home to historical attractions that include the Roman Amphitheater, the Temple of Augustus (2000 years old), the Arch of Sergii, the Monastery of Saint Francis, and a late 14th-century Romanesque church.

But that’s not all! Some other famous attractions include a triumphal Roman structure that’s more than two millennia old, the Museum of Olive Oil, a history museum, and a fort.

Rovinj is another city on the Istria peninsula that offers a labyrinthine Old Town, and some of the best beaches in Croatia such as Lone Bay, Amarin, & Monte that are perfect for swimming.

Other Places to Visit in Croatia

1. Rijeka Carnival, Rijeka

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Image Credit: Roberta F., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Croatia has some of the most astounding carnival destinations in the world. The best of them is the Rijeka Carnival in Rijeka which is known as the Carnival Capita of Croatia.

The Rijeka Carnival is an international parade that has been around since the Middle Ages. During the Carnival, the Master of the Carnival receives a symbolic key to the city and becomes its mayor during the carnival.

But the Rijeka Carnival isn’t the only one to enjoy. The carnival in Opatija is another notable one and so is the Samobor Fašnik.

2. Wine Tasting on Pelješac Peninsula

pelješac-peninsula
Image Credit: Aradic-es, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Slithering away from the Adriatic coast towards the north of Dubrovnik is the long finger-shaped Pelješac Peninsula where you will witness the stunted hillsides wearing blankets of vineyards.

The area is dotted with signs welcoming you to taste some of the world’s finest wines created by boutique wineries. It is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Croatia, especially for wine lovers.

3. Skywalk in Biokovo Nature Park

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Image Credit: Official Biokovo Skywalk site

For anyone suffering from vertigo, this is not the adventure they should seek. But for the brave hearts, the Skywalk in Biokovo Nature Park is one of the best things to do in Croatia.

Hovering at a height of 4029 feet or 1228 meters, this horseshoe-shaped glass platform provides a sweeping view of the Adriatic islands and looming mountains behind them.

4. Marco Polo House on Korcula Island

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Sitting on the south of the Dalmatian coast is Korcula Island which reflects the Italian heritage in the form of red clay roof architecture. Korcula has centuries-old stone buildings built during the Venetian rule.

It is believed that Korcula is the birthplace of Marco Polo and no wonder, you can visit the Marco Polo House, which remains one of the top tourist attractions of the place. If your heart desires, you can see the old town and city wall.

5. Stay On a Private Island in Obonjan

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Obonjan is one of the very few destinations in the world where you can go glamping on a private island. It is an adult-only destination and you can reach the island by taking a short ferry ride from Šibenik.

Don’t worry! It is quite affordable and you get to enjoy spas and wellness offerings, making it one of the best things to do in Croatia for adult travelers.

6. Quirky Museums of Zagreb

zagreb-city-museum
Image Credit: August Dominus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visiting a national park or soaking in the beauty of the coastal towns of the Adriatic Sea are often the primary choices for those who visit Croatia. However, Zagreb – the Croatian capital with a laid-back vibe has a lot to offer.

It has some of the most quirky museums in Europe. It has the highest number of museums per square meter and the main museums are located at Lenuci Horseshoe.

It is home to two impressive churches – St Mary’s Church and Zagreb Cathedral, but you can find a few more in the Upper Town.

7. Island Hopping in the Kornati Islands

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Kornati is one of eight national parks and is located in Dalmatia’s northern part. Made of 150 karst islands, Kornati is an archipelago where many islands take the shape of a crown.

It will take about an hour to reach the first island, but then you can reach the others quickly.

Many of these beautiful islands are privately owned, and hence, only a few will welcome you and allow you some beach time. Levrnaka and Mana are two popular stops where you can find delicious food.

8. Explore Hvar Island

hvar-island

Hvar is a beautiful island with gorgeous beaches, a charming Old Town center, and breathtaking natural landscapes.

The Spanish Fortress is one of the main attractions of Hvar Island and it gives an incredible view of Hvar town.

If you want, you can enjoy the lively nightlife and music festivals or relax at one of the many hidden beaches.

9. Discover Kupari

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A day trip from Dubrovnik, Kupari should be on your bucket list when you visit Croatia. Exploring the abandoned hotels of Kupari Bay is one of the best things to do in Croatia.

It was once one of the top holiday destinations but during the Yugoslav War, the hotel complex was heavily targeted. Since then, the hotels stand there in silence waiting for tourists to explore the remains.

Kupari may not be as beautiful as a national park or as ancient as the Diocletian’s Palace in Split or the Town Walls in Dubrovnik, but it still remains one of the most famous attractions. If you manage to reach the rooftop, you will be greeted with a spectacular view of the bay.

10. Canyoning in the Cetina Canyon

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Image Credit: AdventureDalmatia.com

No Town Walls, no Town Hall – Cetina Canyon is all about the rugged natural side of Croatia. Between the Cetina Canyon’s steep cliffs is the meandering Cetina River with turquoise waters, making it an ideal place for white water rafting, kayaking, and climbing.

For any adrenaline junkie planning to visit Croatia, Canyoning in Cetina Canyon must be on the bucket list.

Best Time to Visit Croatia

People say that the best time to visit Croatia is the High or Peak season from June to August because that’s when the party vibe sets in. But that’s when you will pay premium prices and find a large crowd.

I recommend the Shoulder season (March to May or September to November) because that’s when it is usually quiet, making it a great time for watersports and hiking. Because many tourists will have returned home, you can enjoy lower prices for flights and accommodation.

If you want to enjoy Croatia’s festivals and culture, the Low season during the winter months of December to February will be the best option.

things to do in croatia - split harbor

Where to Stay in Croatia?

There is no shortage of hotels, hostels, or Airbnb in Croatia, so it completely depends on your requirements and budget.

I use booking.com as my preferred hotel booking app. I have tried many over the years and booking.com consistently offers me the best deals.

If however, you’re looking for super budget accommodation try hostelworld.com.

Here are the best budget places to stay in Split & Dubrovnik:

I Love Split Apartment: $ 68/night

Spacious and well-decorated 1-bedroom apartment with one queen bed and one sofa bed, it is perfect if you are looking for a budget stay in Split. It came with a private kitchenette, free Wi-Fi, a private bathroom, and a flat-screen TV.

Templar Residence Apartments: $90/night

A spacious apartment with a private kitchenette, free Wi-Fi, a balcony, a private bathroom, and a flat-screen TV, this was a perfect choice for our two-person trip.

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Recommended Tours & Trips

There is no shortage of trips and tours to make the best use of your time in this beautiful country. However, here are some suggested trips I recommend you explore further.

Things to Do in Croatia – Tips for Digital Nomads or Long Term Travelers

  1. The best way to get around Croatia is a car or RV. Yes, there are buses available, but they can be irregular. Taxis are also available however, this won’t be cost-effective in the long run. I recommend discovercars.com and their pricing starts at $11 a day. However, they are not the only providers. Check a few other options. For island hopping, you can rent private boats from Sailo. Pricing will vary depending on the type of boat you are looking for.
  2. Wi-Fi connection was pretty good almost everywhere in Croatia, but remember there will be places like Cetina Canyon and Kupari where you will face issues.
  3. Croatia’s currency is the Croatian Kuna and you need to pay in their local currency. Carry plenty of cash in HRK. Some places will accept credit cards, but make sure that your card allows transactions in HRK.
  4. Depending on how long you’re staying and the kind of phone contract you’re on, it might be worth getting a local SIM when you get there. Most times when I travel, a local sim is the cheapest option. An e-SIM in Croatia will cost around $15 for 5GB of data for 30 days. It’s worth checking roaming fees with your phone company before traveling.
  5. If taking money out of an ATM, always choose the ‘convert from your own bank’ option, rather than the convert from the ATM option. This is a golden rule worldwide. I have tried multiple ATM’s in multiple countries and the bank conversion is always without fail cheaper than a local ATM conversion.
  6. Also when paying with your travel credit or debit card, always choose local currency. If you choose your own currency, the conversion will be done then and there by their bank. When choosing local currency, the conversion is done by your bank and will be cheaper. Not by much, but every little helps!

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Booking/Trip Resources

It’s tough when organizing your travels to know which companies offer the best deals and can be trusted with your credit card details!

The following resources are companies I have consistently used over my 11 years of travels and who I believe are the best in the business. I’m constantly updating this list as I find new and improved services.

Rome2Rio – a fantastic app which will show you the best routes to get from city to city or country to country. Simply enter where you’re traveling from and too, and they’ll show you how to get there via planes, trains and automobiles!

Skyscanner.net – always my first port of call when looking for the best flights. Easy to use and consistently highlights flights I can’t find anywhere else, they’re the best flight resource there is. Plus an easy to use app.

Flight Aware – a free, handy app showing flights around the world. I use this to track family or friends when they’re flying, to check whether my flight has left on time on previous days so I can be prepared for delays etc, and just to double check my own flight details as and when I’m traveling.

Trainline (for Europe) – I used to use this just for UK trains, but nowadays you can book trains all over Europe using their services. Cheap, reliable and with a great refund policy for canceled or delayed trains, they’re highly recommended.

Booking.com – I have tried all the other hotel booking sites and without doubt booking.com has consistently offered the best deals. One caveat to this, is always to just check the hotel website directly before finalizing your booking as sometimes they’ll have specialized deals.

Getyourguide.com – the easiest and most reliable activity booking agent. I haven’t had a bad trip to date with them. Plus an easy to use app which tracks all your bookings and includes the meeting point, trip details and everything else you need to ensure your activity goes smoothly.

Discovercars.com – Easy to use website to find rental cars in over 145 countries around the world. Pick up from one location, drop off in another. Find the best deals with the best reviews.

Safetywing – quite simply the best insurance for digital nomads and long term travelers. See my Safetywing insurance review for more details, but with cheap monthly plans and an easy to use claims process, you won’t find better on the market.

Light Packing Guide

I’m generally a very light packer and on this trip my backpack was unusually heavy as I was returning to Phuket, Thailand from a 3 month stint in the UK via a trip around Europe!

However, for a summer trip here is what I would usually pack, with a maximum weight of 7 KG;

Clothes

Swimming costume or bikini
Light Beach dress
2 x pairs of shorts
2 x summer skirts
3 x t-shirts
1 x ‘going out’ dress
2 x night shorts & tee
14 x underwear (I always take a lot as I hate washing underwear in hotel sinks)
1 skin color plunge bra (can wear under black or white, and with posh dress or t-shirts)
1 x flip flops or thongs or sandals (depending where you’re from in the world)
1 x trainers/sneakers (which I generally wear when traveling from place to place or hang off the back of my bag
3 x trainer socks
1 x leggings
1 x light cardigan

Toiletries

Travel size all in one Shampoo/Conditioner (sacrilege to some women, but hey I want to travel light)
Travel size shower gel
Mascara
Bronzer
Makeup wipes
Small battery powered toothbrush (with cap)
50ml toothpaste
Travel size sun lotion
50SPF lip balm
Hairbrush
Travel size body moisturiser
Deodorant
Hair scrunchies

Medical

Antihistamines
Paracetamol
Ibuprofen
Tiger Balm – bites, sore muscles, etc.
Plasters
Ear Plugs
Eye mask
Mask
Hand Sanitizer

Technical

Adapter & chargers in a handy cable organizer
Phone – iPhone
Computer – Macbook 12” Notebook
Kindle
FitBit Versa 3

Useful Extras

Ziplock bags – for anything and everything!
Travel Bags – for separating tops/shorts/underwear etc, and also great for laundry
Combination padlock

My husbands bag usually weighs less than mine and he takes;

Clothes

2 x shorts (Both double as swim shorts)
2 x tees
7 x socks
7 x boxers
1 x ‘going out’ shorts & tee
1 x croc flip flops
1 x trainers/sneakers
Travel size shampoo
1 x razor
Toothbrush
Deodorant
Phone
Kindle
Computer

Things to do in Croatia – FAQ’s

Where is Croatia?

Croatia is in southeast Europe and shares a coastline with the Adriatic Sea. It is bordered by Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary, and Montenegro.

Is Croatia Safe?

Croatia is a very safe city even for solo female travelers.

As with all popular tourist destinations you’ll need to watch out for pickpockets and keep your valuables hidden, plus for females, use your common sense and don’t go wandering on your own in the middle of the night plus be careful when drinking in bars/clubs. (Sad but true across the globe).

But on a general scale compared to the rest of the world, for tourists visiting Croatia it would be considered a very safe city, for solos, couples & families alike.

Nevertheless, always ensure you have travel insurance wherever you go as it will protect you against theft, injury, illness, or cancelations. Use the form below to get your personalized quote.

What’s the Currency in Croatia?

The official currency of Croatia is the Croatian Kuna and most restaurants/shops will only accept Kuna. There are some places who will except Euro however, so this is the best backup currency to carry. You can also use international travel credit and debit cards that will allow paying in Croatian Kuna, however I suggest you carry plenty of local currency, because certain remote places and local shops do not accept cards.

What Language is Spoken in Croatia?

Standard Croatian is the official language, however many people speak Bosnian and Serbian, or a mix thereof. Other foreign languages spoken in Croatia include English, Italian, Czech, German, Slovak, Hungarian, and Romani

What Time is it in Croatia?

In the summer Croatia uses CEST (Central European Summer Time) as their time zone, meaning they’re 2 hours ahead of UTC.

In the Winter from 30th Oct to 27th March, they use Central European time, making them only 1 hour ahead of UTC.

Why Visit Croatia?

Other than the breathtaking views of lakes and mountains, the ancient towns and cities steeped in a rich and diverse cultural history, the fantastic Mediterranean food, gorgeous summer weather and friendly local inhabitants, there is so much to do and see in Croatia.

From cycling, island hopping, hiking, kayaking, swimming, sailing, canyoning, wine tasting, sightseeing, exploring art galleries & museums, participating in carnivals and music festivals, or even just simply driving around, this country has something for everyone.

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Top 10 Very Best Things to do in Croatia Summary

Croatia has so much to offer.

Its rich history & cultural heritage, its picture-perfect scenic beauty in the form of well-preserved national parks, and the breathtaking Adriatic coastline will leave anyone yearning for more.

Some places that I visited such as the Old Town, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Krka National Park, etc. have cast a spell on me with their phenomenal beauty and serenity.

For digital nomads and long term travelers it’s the perfect place to work, explore, and learn more about the fascinating culture and history from this part of the world.

I plan to return again, and this time for at least two weeks because I feel the need to explore Croatia more and take in everything that this country has to offer.

For more posts on things to do & places to visit in Croatia please see the following;

Top 10 Very Best Things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Top 10 Very Best Things to Do in Split, Croatia
Top 10 Very Best Things to Do in Zagreb, Croatia

I hope you’ve found this list of things to do in Croatia useful for your travels. Let me know how you go!

Have fun!

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