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31 Croatia Hidden Gems + Secret Spots (Local’s Guide)

Searching for Croatia hidden gems? Keep reading for the most epic list of secret spots in Croatia curated by a local.

Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Plitvice Lakes are often considered the holy trinity of any Croatia trip. While each of these destinations are indeed worth visiting, the beauty of Croatia extends far beyond its tourist hot spots. If you truly want to get off the beaten path on your trip to Croatia, you need to add some of these must-see hidden gems to your itinerary.

I’ve been living in Croatia since 2014 and have thoroughly explored all that this gorgeous country has to offer. During my adventures, I’ve come across some pretty amazing secret places in Croatia that are mostly only known to locals. So if you were hoping to visit some incredible, yet relatively unknown locations in Croatia, you’re in the right place!

I’ve gathered the best hidden gems and secret spots in Croatia that I’ve personally visited and put them into this blog post to help you experience a more authentic side of country. Not only will you get to go beyond the well-trodden tourist itinerary, but you’ll also get a chance to learn more about Croatian culture and history.

On this list, you’ll get my exclusive insight into breathtaking waterfalls, stunning panoramic views, untouched villages and secluded beaches that you would likely not be able to find on your own.

Adding these secret places to your itinerary will give you a unique insight into the country and its diverse landscapes. So if you’re ready to get away from the crowds and discover some truly unforgettable locations, let’s dive into the hidden gems of Croatia.

View from the lookout point over the beautiful Zrmanja Canyon in Croatia

31 Croatia Hidden Gems + Secret Spots

1) Island of Čiovo

Near the town of Trogir, and just 20 minutes away from Split, lies the island of Čiovo. This island is well-known for its abundance of lavender, immortelle flowers, rosemary, and olive trees. If the Mediterranean had a perfume, it would surely smell of Čiovo.

While the northern side of the island has become quite popular with tourists, the southern side provides a tranquil escape. There are three locations worth visiting on Čiovo’s southern side. The first is the beach, Duboka Uvala (or Deep Cove). This pebbled cove has the most crystal clear water you’ll ever dip your toes in and is perfect for a relaxing day at the beach.

There is a campsite (Labadusa) just above the beach with a fantastic cafe and restaurant. I recommend grabbing lunch at the restaurant as the prices are reasonable and the portions are fairly large. When I’m in the mood for pasta, my go to is the shrimp pasta with green noodles. As for meat, you can’t go wrong with their mixed meat platter and french fries. Don’t forget to order a side of grilled veggetables too – they are to die for!

Just a short walk away from Duboka Uvala lies Duga Uvala (Long Cove). This gorgeous beach has a slightly more rugged feel due to the large, natural stones that line the shore. Right above the beach is another restaurant that serves local Dalmatian delicacies for lunch – Konoba Django. It has equally delicious food as Labadusa but slightly better views.

The third location worth visiting on Čiovo is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Prizidnica. Near the village of Slatine, this small sanctuary sits high above the sea on the cliffs of Čiovo. There is a pathway carved out that leads to a tiny church and old convent built in 1546. However, the real showstopper is the view overlooking the islands of Šolta and Brač!

The only way to reach all of these lesser-known locations on Čiovo is to rent a car. I always recommend using Discover Cars as they check both domestic and international rates to ensure you always get the best price.

2) Lastovo

Imagine an island that is almost entirely covered by a lush Mediterranean forest, where waters sparkle in the beaming sun, and pollution and destruction of nature have yet to make an appearance.

That’s Lastovo.

Lastovo is one of the most remote islands off the coast of Croatia. For many years, it was closed off to foreigners as it served as an army base under Yugoslavia. For this reason, and due to the amount of traveling needed to get there, Lastovo remains off the beaten track and one of the best hidden places in Croatia.

So if you’re looking for a place where you definitely won’t encounter hoards of vacation-goers, then Lastovo is the choice for you.

This enclave is part of a stunning archipelago of 13 islands that are officially recognized as a Croatian Nature Park, with forests making up 70% of the land. In addition to the dense forests, you can expect to swim in some of the clearest waters, enjoy sandy bays all to yourself, and experience authentic Croatian island life.

The easiest way to reach Lastovo is to take a day trip from Korcula. If you want to make the most out of your visit, I’d recommend a guided tour like this one. You’ll learn about the island, discover hidden spots that you can only get to with a guide, and have plenty of time for swimming and snorkeling.

Houses crowded on a hillside on the remote island of Lastovo.

3) Mljet

Similar to Lastovo, Mljet Island is overflowing with an abundance of greenery. It’s actually considered to be one of the most beautiful Croatian islands!

With its single main road, two saltwater lakes, and a national park that drapes over half of the island’s landscape, Mljet is an incredibly unique destination in Dalmatia. It holds bragging rights as Croatia’s greenest isle due to its lush Mediterranean vegetation, pristine sea and sandy beaches; it truly lives up to being one of Croatia’s most attractive islands.

It’s even said that Odysseus, King of Ithaca, came to this lush island, and stayed for seven years! The island even has a cave named after him, Odysseus Cave, where the Greek hero was nursed back to health by Calypso!

This island stands apart from the other, more touristy Dalmatian islands with its undeveloped beauty and secluded atmosphere – a true hidden paradise. There are a number of exciting things to do on Mljet like diving, swimming in caves, cycling, hiking, kayaking, and more. It’s particularly ideal for those seeking a fun-filled holiday outdoors topped off with plenty of time to sunbathe and relax on the island’s pristine beaches.

If you’re staying in Dubrovnik, experience the island of Mljet on an adventurous day tour that picks you up from the Gruz Port. You’ll have your own guide and visit Mljet along with two other nearby islands for a day filled with biking, snorkeling, kayaking, cliff jumping, and more.

A woman in an orange swimsuit reclining on a makeshift wooden bench under a shade sail, with a rustic stone hut beside her, all set against the clear blue waters of the Adriatic Sea near Mljet, creating a serene and secluded getaway ambiance.

4) Bale

The sweet town of Bale (or Valle, in Italian) lies halfway between Rovinj and Pula. Like many towns in Istria that were, at one time, under the influence of Italy, Bale officially has two languages: Croatian and Italian.

This historic village is located 140m above sea level on a hill surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. The narrow and cobblestoned streets of the town wind around a 15th-century castle, once owned by the Bembo Family.

Peer around nearly any picturesque corner in this small town, and you’ll find ateliers selling beautifully handcrafted wares. You will also stumble upon a shop or two offering locally made olive oil, and you might even score a tasting! Be sure to stop into Bembo to sample some of their award-winning olive oils.

In addition to olive oil, the Istria region also produces some of the best wine in Croatia! No trip to the Istrian peninsula is complete without sampling the local wine. There are two wineries close to Bale, San Tomasso Winery and Meneghetti Winery, that I would highly recommend visiting for a wine tasting!

If you prefer a guided tour and want to taste some of the best olive oil in the world, add this olive oil tasting tour from Pula to your itinerary.

5) Hum

When it comes to secret Croatia destinations, no list would be complete without Hum. Boasting a total of 30 inhabitants, Hum is formally recognized as the smallest town in the world and is a fantastic stop on an Istria itinerary.

This tiny village is only 100 meters long and 30 meters wide, but holds an incredible amount of history. Legend has it that this miniature town was created by accident! The giants that built Istria happened to have a few stones left over, and decided to use them to build Hum!

Hum is the perfect place for admiring Istrian cultural heritage, with its stone streets, squares, church, and beautifully preserved fortress walls. Walking through the town will take you only about 5 minutes, but you can stop into the Aura shop to try some wines and spirits made in the region. Their Terranino, a red wine liquer, is my favorite and makes for a great souvenir! 😉

Girl sitting on a stone wall in the tiny town of Hum, Croatia. Her back is turned to the camera and she is holding a straw hat on her head.

6) Vis

Vis is arguably one of the most beautiful islands off the Dalmatian coast. It is also one of the most fascinating ones as it spent much of its history as a military base for the Yugoslavian army.

Cut off from foreigners and visitors from 1950 to 1989, Vis was underpopulated for many years, leaving its natural beauty almost completely untouched. For this reason, it has become a top choice for visitors searching for a glimpse of Croatia as it once was – before being overrun by tourists.

Vis remains far out from the major tourist destinations, therefore, it has been successful in preserving its authenticity. While visiting the island, you can expect to plenty of unspoiled nature, beautiful beaches, gourmet delicacies, and peace and quiet.

If you want to learn more about Vis’ mysterious past and want to explore hidden locations and underground military bases, you’ll definitely want to book this military tour.

Fun Fact: “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” was filmed on the island of Vis!

7) Ston

Just about an hour’s drive from Dubrovnik lie the two towns of Ston and Mali Ston (literally “little” Ston). However, the main attraction is not the towns themselves, but rather the 4.5 kilometer-long wall that connects them – the Ston Walls! Complete with 3 fortresses and 31 towers, these walls are one of the longest fortification systems in Europe.

In fact, they are the second-longest defensive walls in the world, after the Great Wall of China!

The Ston Walls were last used for defense in the 19th century. Today, they serve as a magnificent monument that visitors come to marvel at. For a small entrance fee, you can climb the walls and enjoy breathtaking views of the valley, salt pans, and Adriatic Sea.

The Ston Walls are a great destination for foodies as well and the area is particularly well known for their fresh oysters. If you’re staying in Dubrovnik, I highly suggest taking a day trip to Ston like this one where you’ll get to visit an oyster farm and have an oyster tasting paired with local wines!

Stone-paved path leading to the historic main gate of Ston, Croatia, with the Croatian flag flying above. The gate is flanked by lush green trees and a clear blue sky, highlighting the town's ancient architecture and tranquil surroundings.

8) Šolta

Šolta (pronounced “sholta”) is an island that is famous for its olive trees and olive oil tradition.

Just a short ferry ride away from Split, the island of Šolta surprisingly doesn’t get as many tourists as you think it would. This island may be small (only 19 kilometers in length) but its deep blue bays and sheltered coves make it a beautiful destination for a boat outing.

The herbs and woody plants that carpet the island make it ideal for beekeeping pastures, which is why the island is famous for honey. For a truly unforgettable visit, I recommend visiting one of the island’s family-run farms like Tvrdic Honey.

There, you can learn about the fascinating life of bees and how honey is made – you can even book their Wine, Honey & Olive Oil Tasting tour!

While tourism is becoming more developed on Šolta, it is still not nearly as visited as Croatia’s main islands. So if you want to break away from the standard tourist trail for a glimpse into traditional island life, Šolta is a perfect choice!

If you don’t have time to spend a few days on Šolta, you can visit on a day trip. One of my favorites is the blue lagoon and shipwreck tour because you get to experience some of the clearest and most turquoise water you’ll ever see in Croatia. The Shipwreck of Kontesa is an amazing snorkeling spot because the ship is so shallow, you can even stand on parts of it!

Aerial view of an old wooden shipwreck below the clear turquoise water near the island of Solta in Croatia. A woman in a black bathing suit is swimming toward the shipwreck.

9) Brijuni

Brijuni National Park is an archipelago of lush islands that once served as a retreat for the former president of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito. This impressive mix of cultural heritage and rich landscapes is located just off the coast of Pula, not too far from the impressive Hawaiian Beach in Verudela.

The series of islands can easily be reached by ferry, and make a great day trip from southern Istria, especially if you love history. Brijuni is practically an open-air museum thanks to the Roman ruins and ancient artifacts cover the main island – it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the most beautiful national parks in Croatia!

There are even dinosaur footprints on the island, proving their existence on Brijuni millions of years ago. Today, however, hundreds of indigenous, and exotic animals (from Africa, Asia, and South America) roam freely around the island. Many of these species were given to Tito as gifts during his presidency.

The most famous of the flora and fauna on the island is the Old Olive Tree. It is said to be one of the oldest found in the Mediterranean! At 1600 years old, it still produces olives each year for making olive oil.

If it’s your first time visiting, I recommend a guided boat tour like this one that includes a visit to the park, dinner on board the boat, and a chance to see dolphins!

Two ancient Roman columns, one tall and one short, with the Adriatic Sea behind them at Brijuni National Park near Pula, Croatia.

10) Beritnica Beach

Beritnica Beach is truly a unique spot in Croatia that will literally make you feel like you are on another planet.

Beritnica Beach is located on the island of Pag. An island you may have heard of thanks to its famous party beach, Zrće. Despite its popularity among loyal tourists from the region, many parts of Pag still remain untouched.

One of the island’s, and perhaps even Croatia’s, best-kept secret is Beritnica Beach.

To reach the beach, you’ll be required to do a bit of hiking. The trail leading to the beach is not really marked but is still pretty easy to follow. As you walk along the path, the scenery gets quite interesting. Stone towers, a canyon, and even fossils are just a few of the things you can expect to see as you make your descent to the beach.

Right next to Beritnica is Plaza Rucica where you can join a kayak tour to explore the coast’s lunar-like landscapes. I haven’t personally done this tour, but it looks really cool and next time I’m in the area I’m definitely booking it!

Two gigantic rocks jutting out of the sea just off of Beritnica Beach on the island of Pag in Croatia.
A drone view of a few people walking down the stone path toward Beritnica Beach, a Mars-like landscape on the island of Pag. The blue water of the Adriatic Sea can be seen in the distance.

11. Rastoke

Plitvice Lakes National Park is a must-see on any Croatian vacation, but have you ever heard of its darling, lesser-known cousin, Rastoke? Rastoke is a tiny watermill village located on the way from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes.

The village was formed at the point where the waters of the river Sljuncica flow into the Korana River. Here, the rivers naturally formed a series of limestone plateaus and canyons upon which houses were built at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century and Rastoke Village was formed. Today, the village boasts a number of cafes, restaurants serving local cuisine, and even a museum where visitors can get a glimpse into what life was once like in Rastoke.

I highly recommend stopping by Rastoke if you are planning to visit Plitvice. Plan to spend about an hour or two here strolling through the village, enjoying a coffee next to rushing waterfalls, or grabbing a bite to eat at Restoran Ambar, a picturesque restaurant just above Rastoke with a lovely outdoor seating area.

The best way to visit both Rastoke and Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb is to join a small group tour like this one. You’ll be able to visit without having to worry about driving or parking, stroll through the village of Rastoke, and enjoy a guided walking tour through the national park.

Waterfalls rushing beside old stone and wooden houses built on the edge of. a cliffside in Rastoke, a hidden village in Croatia near Plitvice Lakes

12. Cavtat

When it comes to Dubrovnik hidden gems, the tiny town of Cavtat should be on your radar. Located just 21.6 km (13.4 miles) south of Dubrovnik, Cavtat is a picturesque coastal village surrounded by mountains and lush pine forests. It is an ideal spot to explore southern Croatia without the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik.

Cavtat’s waterfront promenade is lined with palm trees and fishing boats – perfect for a leisurely stroll. It’s narrow winding streets are filled with artisan shops, delicious restaurants, and laid-back cafes. The locals here are warm and welcoming, with many happy to share their stories and recommend places to visit in the area. Up for a swim? There are several beautiful beaches around Cavtat that are perfect for a refreshing dip.

This hidden gem also makes a fantastic jumping off point for visiting Dubrovnik and the nearby Elafiti Islands. One huge perk of staying in Cavtat is that many tourists only visit Cavtat on a day trip from Dubrovnik, so the mornings and evenings remain quite calm and peaceful. If you want to experience a more relaxed and local vibe in Croatia, Cavtat makes an idyllic spot for a romantic getaway or family vacation.

If you want to spend the night, stay at Vacation House Cavtat instead of the other hotels. The property will give youmuch more of a local experience. I stayed there with my husband and dog (yes, they’re pet friendly) and had a wonderful vacation!

The location of the house is perfection. You’re literally footsteps away from a path that leads you through a beautiful pine forest to the beach, and just a 5-minute walk away from town.

The picturesque town of Cavtat at sunset on a summer's day in June

13. Pasjaca Beach

Pasjaca Plaza, located just 29 kilometers south of Dubrovnik in the southwestern corner of Croatia, is a true hidden gem! Tucked beneath a towering 200-foot cliffside, Pasjaca Beach offers complete seclusion with three sides of cliffs that provide a truly unique beach experience for all travelers.

Despite being highly acclaimed and beloved by locals and tourists alike, this beach does not attract as many visitors compared to other Croatian beaches. This is because it can be quite difficult to get to and is not easily accessible by public transportation. However, the gorgeous shoreline of small pebbles and sand combined with delightfully shallow waters for swimming make it worth the trek down its winding trails.

Although this beach can be exposed to larger waves at times due to its open access to the Adriatic, it is a haven for those who seek crystal-clear waters. Its more remote position safeguards it from boat traffic between the islands and ensures the water remains immaculate.

It’s worth noting that the only way to reach this beach is to rent a car. My go-to is always Discover Cars because they check both foreign and domestic companies to ensure you get the best rate.

A view of Pasjaca Beach, a beautiful strand of pebbles and sand nestled into the giant orange-hued cliffs south of Dubrovnik. The Adriatic Sea sparkles in 50 shades of blue to the right of the beach.

14. Neretva Valley

Step into a realm of beauty and wonder, with sun-soaked sand, rippling rivers, and glistening seas. Welcome to the Neretva Valley – the unofficial California of Croatia. This gem of the Croatian south is considered by some locals to be heaven on earth.

The Neretva River is one of the longest and most beautiful rivers in this part of Europe. Originating from a source deep in the neighboring country of Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Neretva River flows through Croatian territory for only about 20 kilometers. However, this last stretch of the river is particularly stunning, forming an incredibly lush and fertile delta that produces some of Croatia’s juiciest oranges, clementines, and nectarines.

While driving through the Neretva Valley, you’ll see fresh produce stands dotting both sides of the road – these are totally worth stopping at and picking up some locally grown fruit!

During the summer, there’s no better way to escape from the sweltering heat of the coast than by visiting Neretva Valley. Visitors are always surprised by the Neretva’s unbelievably pristine drinking water and majestic natural backdrop along its lush riverbanks. Not only is it a favorite spot for sightseeing, but also offers many recreational activities such as rowing, swimming, walking and cycling!

A view over the lush green Neretva Valley in Croatia with mountains in the background.

15. Klis Fortress

On the hunt for hidden gems in Split? When you need a break from the crowds, head just 20-minutes north of Split to explore the medieval fortress of Klis (Tvrđava Klis).

Perched majestically atop the limestone bluffs of Split, lies Klis Fortress, one of the most architecturally complete fortification systems in Croatia. Once an impenetrable stronghold between the Mediterranean and Balkans regions, it held residence to many Croatian kings. Nowadays however, this grand fortress is widely recognized for its role in the hit television show Game of Thrones; most notably as Meereen – a fictional city.

On its cliff-top location, Klis Fortress commands breathtaking views of Split and the surrounding areas including the stunning mountains. You should be warned that there are a lot of steps and steep areas throughout the fortress to navigate, but it is worth the effort, particularly if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones.

It is possible to visit the fortress on your own, or take a guided tour from Split to learn more about the history and get a behind the scenes look into the filming of Game of Thrones.

View over Split and the Adriatic Sea from a stone window inside Klis Fortress

16. Motovun

Step inside the dreamy Motovun, a hilltop village renowned for its enchanting beauty and fortified with grand medieval walls. As you wander down the town’s perimeter pathway, take in stunning views of rolling vineyards, the Mirna River and truffle-rich forests that have earned Istria countless awards over time. With centuries old cobbled streets and an air of antiquity surrounding it all – this is one magical place that won’t soon be forgotten!

Surrounding the town of Motovun are some of Croatia’s best wineries that produce outstanding and world-renowned vinos. Additionally, since the region of Istria is particularly well-known for truffles, you can partake in truffle hunting in the dense Motovun forests.

If you’re staying in Pula and haven’t rented a car, you can still visit Motovun and see other highlights of the Istrian peninsula with a day tour. This tour combines all the best things to do in Istria in one day, including a visit to Motovun and a truffle tasting with amazing views from the city walls.

Motovun perched at the top of a green hill in Istria, Croatia

17. Parenzana Trail

Anyone who loves cycling just as much as they love the great outdoors needs to check out the Parenzana Trail while in Croatia. This 80 mile (129 km) cycling route runs from the town of Muggia in Italy to Poreč, Croatia and follows the route of a former railway that operated between the two towns from 1902 to 1935.

The trail incorporates old railway tunnels and bridges that were once used by the line. It passes through the rolling hills of Istria, covered in verdant forests, lush vineyards, and endless olive groves. The inland portion of the trail will take you through Istria’s fairytale hilltop towns like Motovun and Grožnjan that are worth stopping at for a coffee, tasty local lunch, or just a stroll through the villages.

The best time to visit? September is the most ideal season for a perfect combination of enjoyable biking weather and fewer crowds.

If you plan to cycle the Parenzana Trail or any other biking trail in Istria, it’s important to have travel insurance that can cover you in an unexpected event. My travel insurance of choice is SafetyWing because they are affordable, have great coverage, excellent customer service, and their plans are super flexible.

A bird's eye view of a bridge crossing through the forests of Central Istria. The stone bridge is part of the former railroad that makes up the Parenzana Trail.

18. Pijana Pruga

While on the topic of old railway lines in Istria, an interesting and totally unique spot to stop at if you are on a Croatia road trip is Pijana Pruga which translates to “Drunk Railroad”.

This 50-kilometer-long (31 miles) historic railway line once connected the towns of Lupoglav and Stalije and was nicknamed the Siberian Railway by locals due to the cold winds that blow in the area. The last train to ride over the tracks was in December of 2009, and it has since been abandoned. Today, parts of the railroad have collapsed due to the sloping of the terrain and sections of it go up and down like a roller coaster, which is how it got its name the Drunk Railroad.

The Drunk Railroad is now a place that mostly locals go to walk, enjoy the scenery, or watch the sunset from the tracks. It makes a pretty cool place for pictures too! Here’s one I snapped during my visit:

19. Buzet

There is no shortage of hidden gem attractions in Buzet

Home to the world-renowned truffles, Buzet is an enchanting little town that allows you to immerse yourself into Istria’s rich history. From its 15th Century streets to the historic distillery of Aura, it is a must-visit for anyone looking for a unique and unforgettable experience!

For those seeking a taste of Istria, Aura is the go-to distillery. Their acclaimed products include biska (traditional brandy) and terranino (sweet red wine liqueur). But that’s not all; they also produce award-winning gin, along with an array of local jams and chocolates to sweeten any occasion.

Also in Buzet, about a twenty-minute drive from the Aura Distillery is Karlic Truffles, a must-visit when you are in the area. Buzet is the gateway to the truffle-rich region, so there is no better place than Buzet to sample the freshest truffles and most unique truffle products.

Woman sitting on a terrace in a beautiful garden holding a glass with traditional Istrian liqueur inside.
Enjoying a glass of Aura’s special gin tonic recipe made with their signature Terranino.

20. Labin

Labin is a sweet and colorful town perched on a 320-meter high hill overlooking the Gulf of Kvarner. Despite the town’s picturesquely restored pastel houses, Labin was once the largest coal-mining center in Croatia. The intensity of mining eventually caused parts of the hilltop to begin collapsing some 40 years ago.

Fortunately, Labin is now fully repaired and celebrates its history at the Town Museum featuring a model of an actual mine that visitors can enter to get a glimpse of what it was like to be a miner.

The rest of the town is an absolute joy to explore, displaying a collection of baroque palaces, Renaissance and Gothic architecture, and Venetian churches. Climb up the winding streets to the Fortica and enjoy panoramic views of Rabac and the nearby island of Cres.

Before you leave Labin, make sure to grab a bite at Pizzeria Rumore. They have the BEST Neapolitan-style pizza, dare I say, in all of Croatia! The crust is made to absolute perfection in a wood fire oven, and their toppings go way beyond the typical ones available at your regular Croatian pizza place. Think: pistachio pesto with bacon, four-cheese pizza topped with toasted hazelnuts, and my favorite, truffle and prosciutto.

I do recommend making a reservation beforehand, especially if you plan to visit over the weekend, because this Croatian pizzeria gets very busy…but it’s worth it!

Woman standing on a balcony in the heart of Labin, a hidden gem in Croatia

21. Stari Grad (Hvar)

Hvar Island is by far one of the most visited islands in Croatia, and most visitors flock to Hvar Town – the island’s hub and busiest destination.

However, if you’re seeking a less crowded and more tranquil experience on Hvar Island, look no further than the enchanting old town of Stari Grad. An enticing deep bay with an abundance of boats greets you as you arrive at this picturesque location.

Lined with stone alleyways and adorned by ancient churches and Renaissance castles, Stari Grad is easily one of the most enchanting summertime spots in Croatia. Some scenes from the town even appear to be frozen in time, like the local crepe stand pictured below.

To make the most out of your visit to Stari Grad, consider going on a private walking tour of the Old Town.

A candid shot of local life in Starigrad, on the island of Hvar in Croatia. One woman is on her bicycle, while a couple sells crepes at a vintage crepe stand on the side of the road.

22. Kopacki Rit Nature Park

Hidden away among the golden fields of Slavonija, Croatia’s still undiscovered eastern region, lies Kopački Rit Nature Park.

Kopački Rit is an enchanting landscape of wetlands formed by the convergence of the Danube and Drava Rivers just 12 km (7.4 miles) northeast of Osijek. Considered to be one of Europe’s most well-preserved floodplains, the meeting of these two rivers creates a mosaic of lakes, canals, ponds and streams, and wet meadows.

The meeting of these two rivers creates a mosaic of lakes, canals, ponds and streams, floodplain forests, reed beds and wet meadows. These wetlands make the perfect environment for wildlife including numerous waterfowl, a population of red deer, and the bald eagle (a symbol of the park).

With a stunning display of wildlife and vivid colors, Kopački Rit is best experienced during the spring and fall. This idyllic destination offers birdwatching tours, educational trails, horseback riding excursions and canoeing adventures that will delight all nature lovers.

An elevated wooden path creating a trail through the wetlands of Kopacki Rit Nature Park in Slavonija.

23. Ilok

Croatia’s easternmost town, Ilok, is perched on top of a hill overlooking the Danube River and surrounded by the slopes of Fruška Gora and vineyards. The town has a long history of interesting cultural contrasts and its medieval core is one of the largest and most important fortifications in the Danube region.

Deeply rooted in its history is the tradition of winemaking, which is evident from the lush vineyards surrounding the town. One local wine producer (Iločki podrumi) has conquered the international wine scene, winning platinum, gold, silver, and bronze medals confirming its originality and elegance. Iločki podrumi (Ilok Cellars) is most well known for their Traminer wine, which was even served at the coronation celebration of Queen Elizabeth II!

A visit to the wine cellars will provide you with a glimpse of the historic wine making process. Complimentary tours of the cellar are provided along with a chance to sample their famous vino. I recommend coming for lunch (be sure to make a reservation because it can get quite busy).

Afterward, drive the short distance to the Principovac Castle & Estate and enjoy coffee (or more wine) on their stunning terrace overlooking the picturesque landscape of Slavonija. Ilok is the eastern-most point in Croatia and quite far to get to, so I recommend spending the night at Principovac.

Historic town of Ilok in Slavonija, Croatia on a bright and sunny day

24. Zrmanja River Canyon

A slice of pure, untouched natural beauty, Zrmanja Canyon is a stunning natural attraction located in Zadar County. This unique landscape might be familiar to you’re a fan of the legendary movie Winnetou which was filmed in this very spot in the 1960s!

It’s not hard to see why this canyon was chosen as a filming location. The viewpoint at Pariževačka Glavica boasts breathtaking views over the Zrmanja River as it cuts through a wild rocky gorge. Zrmanja Canyon makes a wonderful day trip for those staying near Zadar.

If you’re visiting in the spring or autumn and are up for a little adventure, the Zrmanja River offers some pretty impressive landscapes for rafting too. It is particularly exciting after heavy rainfall when the river is full of water.

To turn your visit to the Zrmanja River into an adventurous day trip, book a kayak trip through the canyon to experience waterfalls and rapids as you paddle through the magnificent landscapes.

View over the beautiful Zrmanja Canyon in Croatia

25. Sakarun Beach

If you were hoping for some Croatia secret beaches on this list, then Sakarun Beach is it! Sakarun is an absolute must-see destination in Croatia and is considered to be one of the best beaches in Zadar county.

With its pristine white sand and clear turquoise waters, this secluded paradise looks like something out of the Caribbean. Located on Dugi Otok island, just 1.5 hours from Zadar, visitors can reach Sakarun beach by ferry. It is one of the most beautiful and rare sandy beaches in all of Croatia.

The tranquil beauty of this beach makes it a true hidden gem, as its remote location deters some visitors from discovering its treasures. Although there are few amenities around, Sakarun beach’s natural beauty is preserved and the lack of crowds makes it the perfect place for a peaceful getaway.

Make the most out of your visit to Zadar and experience Sakarun Beach on a small group boat tour. This tour will take you to explore the best spots on Dugi Otok (Long Island) while having plenty of time for swimming and snorkeling.

One of the rare sandy beaches in all of Croatia, Sakarun is a true paradise on the Adriatic Coast.

26. Kotli

Just a short drive from Hum lies the abandoned mill village of Kotli. Here, nature has truly taken its course and created an enchanting landscape – one that looks strikingly similar to Pamukkale in Turkey!

Formed by the river Mirna, this area is filled with natural crater-like pools which gives it the feel of a tranquil spa nestled away in Istrian countryside. Despite being much smaller than Pamukkale, this hidden gem still boasts tremendous beauty and will leave you breathless.

This beautiful destination is ideal for a swim, yet it’s essential to note that the pools may not have water during summer months. To ensure maximum enjoyment of this paradise, spring and fall are the most recommended times of year due to higher rainfall chances.

Not only can you take pleasure in swimming here; but also relax with drinks at the hillside tavern as you gaze over stunning waterfalls!

Woman sitting on the edge of the water in the village of Kotli in Istria.

27. Vrbnik (Krk Island)

Get ready to really get off the beaten path in Croatia when you visit the enchanting town of Vrbnik. Located on the island of Krk in northern Dalmatia, this island is mostly frequented by locals and tourists from neighboring countries. Hardly any western tourists have ever even heard of it because it is outshined by the islands in southern Dalmatia

However, if you’re after something a bit different, you may want to add Vrbnik to your Croatia itinerary. Formerly a small fishing village, Vrbnik dates all the way back to 1100 when the town was first mentioned in documents.

Today, it is frequented by travelers searching for something truly special and unique, and Vrbnik does not disappoint! The town is one-of-a-kind, boasting an old town perched atop high cliffs overlooking the sea – like a scene out of a fairytale.

When you explore the town center of Vrbnik, you will discover a multitude of captivating attractions and cozy restaurants that welcome guests to enjoy their stay. The village also offers a collection of beautiful beaches ideal for sunbathing and relaxation.

Plus, just up the coast you can explore hidden blue caves and tranquil bays carved into the coast on a paddleboard tour like this one.

Historic town of Vrbnik perched on top of a cliff on the island of Krk in Croatia

28. Omiš

Omis, Croatia is an amazing holiday destination situated between Split and Makarska. This town is home to stunning beaches, lush nature, breathtaking attractions and unique historical sites.

The majestic Starigrad fortress located atop the mountain and the impressive Centina River canyon are two extraordinary spots in Omis that cannot be missed (it’s worth climbing to the top of the Starigrad fortress for the breathaking views!). The old town of Omis is also quite charming, made up of old stone houses, pretty little churches, and magical alleyways lined with souvenir shops and restaurants.

Besides sightseeing, you can use the Omis Riviera as your jumping-off point for other great adventures around this stunning region. The town also offers a wide range of water activities such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, kayaking, and even white water rafting down the Cetina River.

Panorama of the canyon of the river Cetina in Omis, Croatia.

29. Šibenik

The closest major town to Krka National Park, Šibenik makes for a great stop while traveling through Croatia. This coastal city is built on rocks and consists impressive stone architecture, a stunning cathedral, and a maze of stairways connecting its tiny streets.

Additionally, the town boasts not one, but a total of four fortresses! The fortresses are incredibly well preserved and recently modernized to include multimedia and digital content to further enhance visitor experience.

Aside from the town’s distinctive design, Šibenik’s waterfront offers a number of bars, restaurants, and pristine beaches with crystal clear waters. Just northeast of the city is the Krka River that flows over gushing waterfalls, winding through the spectacular natural landscapes all the way until it reaches Šibenik, where it flows into the Adriatic Sea.

Just off the coast of Šibenik lies Kornati National Park. This series of over 80 islands is heaven on earth for diving, sailing, and snorkeling. I’d highly suggest taking a boat tour to experience it while you’re in Šibenik – it will be one of the highlights of your trip!

Woman in jeans and a striped sweater walking into the St. James Cathedral in Sibenik with views of the Adriatic Sea in the distance.

30. Trakošćan Castle

If you’re staying in Zagreb, go beyond the Museum of Broken Relationships and escape to the enchanting Trakošćan Castle for a day. Located just an hour’s drive away, in the rolling hills of Zagorje county, Trakošćan makes for a perfect day trip.

Constructed in the 13th century as a part of northern Croatia’s defensive system, Trakošćan is now a popular destination for visitors exploring Central Croatia and its capital city. The striking exterior of Trakošćan Castle (modeled after the fairytale castles of Bavaria), sprawling gardens, and beautiful man-made lake provide a picturesque location perfect for a summer picnic.

The castle itself houses a museum where you can explore an exhibition on Croatian medieval history and culture. However, the castle and grounds can be visited without paying for entrance to the museum.

I’d recommend walking past the main entrance and heading toward the back of the castle to the lake. Here you’ll find a cafe and restaurant where you can rent paddleboats and soak up some sunshine on the water. Alternatively, you can follow the many walking paths and stroll through the gardens and surrounding forest.

To learn more about the castle and the nearby baroque town of Varazdin, you may want to join a guided Zagreb day trip. Varazdin is very charming, and I definitely recommend combining it with visit to Trakoscan as they both play an important role in the history of the region.

A view of Trakoscan Castle taken from a paddleboat on the lake.

31. Veliki Tabor Castle

Tucked away among the rolling hills of northwest Croatia is the 15th century castle of Veliki Tabor. Dominating the region, Veliki Tabor is on the UNESCO tentative list and boasts some of the best views of Zagorje and nearby Slovenia.

The castle not only houses a museum, but also serves as a venue for various festivals throughout the year. One of the most well-known is the Tabor Film Festival that boasts a rich entertainment program of both foreign and domestic motion pictures.

If you do make it out to Veliki Tabor, there are two other stops you should consider visiting to complete your day trip to Zagorje County. The first is having lunch at Grešna gorica seljački turizam, a fantastic rural restaurant serving up traditional dishes from the area. The second stop, when you’re on your way back to Zagreb should be Vuglec Breg, where you can end the day with a glass of local wine on the most picturesque hillside.

Alternatively, you can combine a visit to several castles of Northern Croatia on a private day trip from Zagreb. You’ll get to relax and enjoy a scenic ride through the hills and villages of Zagorje, with stops at Veliki Tabor, Kumrovec, and Trakoscan Castle.

View of the rolling green hills of Zagorje on a partly cloudy day with blue skies as seen from Veliki Tabor Castle.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I not miss in Croatia?

You shouldn’t miss some off the beaten path destinations in Croatia! Be sure to add some hidden gems to your itinerary like Sakarun Beach, rafting on the Cetina River, or the charming village of Rastoke.

Where is the prettiest place in Croatia?

Some of the prettiest places in Croatia include the fairytale hilltop towns in Istria, the untouched beaches of Mljet, and the lush Neretva River Valley.

What is the nicest part of Croatia to visit?

The Dalmatian coast is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of Croatia, as is the still somewhat undiscovered region of Istria.

What are some hidden gems to stay in Croatia?

For some funky places to stay in Croatia, check out the coolest Airbnbs in Croatia.

Wrap Up: Top 31 Hidden Gems in Croatia

Exploring off-the-beaten-path locations is a great way to get an authentic experience and soak up the local culture. There are plenty of hidden gems in Croatia that are worth visiting, from breathtaking waterfalls and stunning panoramic views to untouched villages and secluded beaches.

No matter where you go in this beautiful country, you’re sure to find something special and unforgettable. So, if you’re looking for an adventure beyond the typical tourist route, these hidden gems in Croatia are a must-see!

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    10000% YES – Seriously, don’t leave home without it. You never know what can happen on the road (like that time I had to go to urgent care in Thailand for a severe case of dehydration). Luckily I had SafetyWing insurance that covered my bill. Their average plan is $42 for 28 days – that’s $1.50 a day to enjoy peace of mind…just get it. Plus you can adjust your length of coverage to your specific dates of travel, so you could be paying even less than that!

    📱 Will my phone work in Croatia?
    Maybe – check with your provider to see if you’ll have service while traveling Croatia. If you don’t have service (or it’s too expensive) I recommend getting an eSIM like Airalo. Airalo allows you to have data while traveling without the high costs of roaming. They have super affordable plans available for 190+ countries, including Croatia. Download the app and get your plan before you leave home so that you have data as soon as you touch down in Croatia!

    🏨 What’s the best way to book my Croatia accommodations?
    For Croatia hotels, Booking is by far the best site.

    🛫 What’s the best site to buy Croatia flights?
    I always use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights.

    🚗  Is it safe to rent a Car in Croatia?
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