Most Beautiful Cities in Croatia for Your Next Vacation

With islands like Greece and ancient ruins like Italy, it’s no wonder that Croatia is becoming one of the most popular destinations to visit in Europe. The natural beauty of its national parks and remote coastal villages along the stunning blue waters of the Adriatic Sea aren’t to be overlooked. But in all honesty, there are beautiful cities in Croatia dotted along the Adriatic Coast. Here you can sip on a spritz and watch the sunset, or savor a fabulous meal. This guide includes famous and lesser-known beautiful Croatian cities so you can pick the perfect place for your next European vacation.

15 Beautiful Cities in Croatia For Your Next Trip - Groups Are A Trip

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15 of the Most Beautiful Cities in Croatia

There are nine international airports in Croatia’s cities. These offer the best places to visit for easy travel, incredible scenery, rich history, and an unforgettable experience. Make sure at least one of these destinations is on your Croatia itinerary.

1. Zagreb

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and has been molded by centuries of history as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s the most beautiful city in the country for Gothic and Baroque architecture. Here you will find numerous museums, and dozens of ornate small squares and narrow streets to wander. 

Zagreb church

Head to Upper Town to see religious historic buildings like Zagreb Cathedral and the colorfully-tiled St. Mark’s Church which dates back to the 13th century.

Lower Town is the location of the 17th-century main square, Ban Jelačić, the main hub for Christmas Markets and cultural parades.

Stay at The Westin, a surprisingly affordable five-star hotel well-located in the Lower Town. It offers a clean design and suites with panoramic views of the city.

2. Split

As the second-largest city in the country and the largest on the Dalmatian Coast, Split is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Croatia. Thanks to the impressive Roman Diocletian’s Palace at the heart of Split which dates back to the 4th century, the historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This area includes the beautiful Romanesque Saint Domnius Bell Tower (climb for an incredible vista of Split!) and the Renaissance architecture that dominates the narrow alleys and squares, like the 15th-century Old Town Hall.

Diocletians Palace Croatia Split

You can’t visit Split without appreciating its natural beauty. Head to Park Šuma Marjan with views across Split’s many marinas.

We recommend staying in the renovated four-star Splendida Palace. It is a short distance from the main attractions with modern amenities and traditional rustic features.

3. Osijek

Croatia’s inland regions welcome fewer visitors so take advantage of the lower prices and hidden gems that others are missing out on! Many larger cities like Osijek – the fourth biggest in the country – are easy to reach and some of the most beautiful places in Croatia. This city is known for Secessionist architecture, popular throughout Austro-Hungarian regions, and the banks of the River Drava are a great place for an early evening stroll. 

Osijek Croatia Old Town

Check out the 19th-century Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul with frescoes and stained glass windows that would give any church in Italy a run for its money. The four-star Tvrđa Boutique Hotel is a steal considering its prime location, rooftop pool, and cozy yet up-to-date furnishings.

4. Hvar

There are hundreds of idyllic islands, islets, and reefs in the Croatian archipelago with 49 permanently inhabited year-round. Hvar is the main town on Hvar Island, only a short boat ride from Split, Dubrovnik, or Drvenik and home to miles of olive groves, vineyards, forests, and beaches. 

Be sure to spend a few hours on Pokonji Dol Beach, one of the best beaches in the area, and Stari Grad, one of the oldest settlements in Europe. This is one of the best islands to visit in Croatia with kids.

If you’re traveling in a large group then consider splitting the cost to hire a boat and sail around the islands just off Hvar harbor. Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort is a quintessential four-star resort hotel with a stunning pool close to Hvar’s thriving nightlife. 

5. Rovinj

Once a small fishing village, Rovinj is now one of Croatia’s most beautiful coastal cities popular with cruise ships and travelers seeking a slower pace.

Rovinj most beautiful cities in Croatia

Rovinj’s main landmark is the stunning Church of St. Euphemia, an 18th-century Baroque church sitting on a rocky headland. It is worth the hike for vistas of terracotta rooftops and turquoise-blue waters. 

Wake up to the sound of church bells and open blue shutters to see Rovinj’s Old Town at The Melegran. This quirky four-star hotel teams original brick walls with a fun, seaside design. You can even opt for a suite with a lounge and kitchen if you’re traveling with family or friends.

6. Trogir

If Split is too busy for your liking, Trogir is another of the most beautiful cities in Croatia along the Dalmatian Coast worth visiting. This city’s perfectly preserved old town with a blend of Romanesque, Baroque, and Renaissance architecture spans the mainland and a couple of islands easily accessible by bridge.

Trogir view of waterfront

Some of the best things to do in Trogir are visiting the 13th-century St. Lorenzo Cathedral, exploring the 15th-century Kamerlengo Castle, and enjoying views across the three parts of the city from the Trogir Ciovo viewpoint.

Choose accommodation with views of the Old Town like the gorgeous four-star Brown Beach House Hotel. With several pools, terraces, and plenty of space, it’s the perfect place to return for an afternoon swim after a busy morning exploring the city.

7. Pula

Moving from the southern Dalmatian Coast to the northern Istrian Peninsula, Pula might just be the best city in Croatia to explore incredible Roman ruins and historic buildings. Pula Arena dates back to the 1st century and is the city’s most significant landmark, being one of the six largest surviving Roman amphitheaters. 

Pula Colosseum

The Temple of Augustus and Arch of the Sergii are also structures from Roman times well worth your time in this beautiful city with a calm, secluded natural harbor. There are a lot of gorgeous spots on this pretty small peninsula!

One of the best places to stay in Pula is Hotel Modo, a quirky beach resort-style accommodation in the quieter neighborhood of Stoja.

8. Korčula

Another small city proving that beautiful things come in tiny packages is Korčula. Located on the eastern side of a Croatian island with the same name, Korčula has the most charming old town complete with cobblestone streets, ancient city walls, towers, and gates, with orange rooftops and blue window shutters. 

As the rumored birthplace of Marco Polo, must-dos in Korčula include visiting his Birthplace Museum and the incredible 15th-century St. Mark’s Church and Bell Tower. Rent a bike or scooter and explore the rural parts of the town like the old Church of St. Anthony or beaches like Banje Beach.

Stay in the five-star, full-service luxury apartments at Lesic Dimitri Palace where you can step into the old town from the front door and see the sea outside your window.

9. Zadar

One of the most beautiful cities in Croatia is also on the Dalmatian Coast and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Zadar’s Renaissance Walls, triumphal arch, central passage, and other Venetian arches dating around the 16th century are so beautiful and historic that they are protected construction.

Zadar sunset Croatia
Photo: Kori Agic

Zadar also boasts an attraction called the Sea Organ, an experimental musical instrument mounted on a staircase into the coastline where the waves lapping up the stairs play beautiful music!

This is also one of the closest cities to the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park. This is a good reason (if you need one!) to stay in Zadar and visit the lakes on a day trip.

Stay at the Bastion Heritage Hotel with an excellent location in the heart of Old Town. It is perfect for groups and families.

10. Dubrovnik

Some might say this is the most beautiful city in Croatia, but it’s undeniable that Dubrovnik is the most famous city in Croatia at the very least. Nicknamed the Pearl of the Adriatic, visitors to this incredible city on the Dalmatian Coast have skyrocketed in recent years thanks to the appearance of the Old Town in the Game of Thrones TV show.

Dubrovnik city walls

If you avoid visiting Dubrovnik in peak season, there is a lot of beauty to be found. The city of Dubrovnik’s Old Town is also a UNESCO site thanks to its ancient walls and 14th-century Franciscan Monastery plus the Instagrammable sunsets.

Consider staying at Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik, a stunning boutique property adjacent to the city walls that puts you in the heart of the action.

11. Rijeka

Many visitors treat the port city of Rijeka as a gateway to the islands. However, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Croatia in its own right. Cruise passengers and island hoppers won’t want to miss the Korzo, Rijeka’s stunning port with beautiful baroque buildings dating to the Habsburg Empire along the promenade.

Rijeka marina

Famous artist Gustav Klimt painted the ceilings of the majestic Ivan Zajc Croatian National Theater, built around 1885. Walking up Trsat Hill is worth the strenuous climb to visit the quaint Church of Mary of God of Trsat and witness the sweeping views across Kvarner Bay.

Groups looking for a prime location and fun experience in a luxurious resort should stay at the Hilton Rijeka Costabella Resort and Spa. The property has a MICHELIN-starred fine dining restaurant, a kids’ club, and rooms with beautiful views overlooking the bay.

12. Cavtat

Cavtat is a coastal city with the quiet, relaxed feel of a small town known for its secluded, palm tree-lined harbor and beautiful beaches. Plaža Cavtat and Beach Rat (it’s prettier than its name suggests!) are more natural, rocky beaches with clear water perfect for swimming and Beach Žal is a long stretch of sand, ideal for families and large groups with watersport rentals and activities.

While the natural beauty of Cavtat makes it worth visiting (there are hiking trails too!), the buildings and history also play a role. There are no fewer than six churches along the waterfront with a mix of architectural styles from the Baroque Church of St. Nicholas to Renaissance structures and more.

Hotel Supetar Cavtat is a 1920s private villa built on the remains of the ancient settlement of Epidaurum. The property has recently undergone a massive renovation and is one of the best boutique hotels in Cavtat. There are 16 spacious rooms, an outdoor pool, on-site restaurant, and wine bar so you never have to leave the property.

13. Vis

Vis is one of the most beautiful cities in Croatia on the dreamiest small island of the same name off the coast of Split. Many visitors make the extra effort to visit Vis above nearby islands because they know it has miles of lush green vineyards, otherworldly caves, and more beaches than you could hope to lounge on in a lifetime.

Hire bikes (it’s easy to find a rental shop in the city) and cycle to Vis’s best vineyards and rustic wine cellars like Vinarija Lipanović and Fields of Grace Vineyards. Visit popular beaches like Prirovo Beach and less-visited coves like Plaža Stenjalo – and don’t forget to take a group picture on Vis Harbor which was featured in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

Book a stay in the four-star Hotel San Giorgio which has the perfect balance of rustic features with a hidden fauna-filled courtyard, stone walls, and stylish modern decor.

14. Šibenik

Many travelers use Šibenik as a gateway city to enjoy the picturesque scenery of Krka National Park or take a boat trip to the Kornati Islands, but this city on the Dalmatian Coast is beautiful in its own right.

Šibenik dates back to the 10th century but was under Venetian rule in the 15th century, which led to the building of The Cathedral of St. James. This domed, limestone church is the best, most magnificent piece of Renaissance architecture in Croatia; no wonder it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Sibenik window view

Although Šibenik is a coastal city, it’s nestled behind two headlands making it a prime military stronghold so there are many historic forts on high headlands and hills. Check out the medieval St. Nicholas and St. Michael’s Fortresses for panoramic city and sea views.

Sibenik Palace is a centrally-located boutique property with parking, a rooftop terrace, and spacious rooms making it an ideal place to stay.

15. Makarska

Let’s round off the most beautiful cities in Croatia with Makarska, another unbelievably stunning city on the Dalmatian Coast. It is the gateway city to Brač island and its world-famous Golden Horn Beach, a top water sports spot in the Golden Cape area, but the city of Makarska itself has its own personality distinct from the islands nearby.

Makarska city view

The city’s lively beach clubs have a Riviera vibe. Visitors sunbathe on the Makarska Beach and Beach Biloševac during the day and party along the promenade at night.

If you’re visiting Makarska strictly for its beauty, the hiking trails and scenery at St. Peter Forest Park and Mount Biokovo (head to the Skywalk to see if you can spot eagles!) will pique your interest.

Thanks to its popularity as a summer resort destination, there are tons of spacious four-star beachfront hotels like Heritage Hotel Porin offering modern and comfortable suites.

Visit the Most Beautiful Cities in Croatia on Your Next Vacation

Your idea of a gorgeous city might rest on a coastline with white-sand beaches, dreamy pink sunsets, and palm trees lining the promenade. The best cities for you might be historic towns with centuries-old cathedrals, city walls, and other fortifications dating back to ancient times. Or, you might want to visit an island locale covered in farmland with opportunities for water sports.

 Whatever your idea of a beautiful city break destination, Croatia can deliver! Hopefully, this list of the most beautiful cities in Croatia has inspired you to plan a trip to this picturesque country so you can enjoy the scenic views for yourself!