Croatia has become one of the trendiest travel destinations on the planet in recent years. As strange as it sounds, this is largely thanks to the HBO drama Game Of Thrones. The extraordinarily popular show has famously used Croatia as a foundation for many of its most impressive sets, and this has called the world’s attention to the beauty and history of Croatia.
Specifically, the Game Of Thrones phenomenon has brought an even higher volume of visitors to the already-beloved city of Dubrovnik. A gorgeous city on the Adriatic Coast, Dubrovnik has long been famous for its charming Old Town, as well as for representing a type of ideal Mediterranean environment. Now, however, while it remains an impressive place to visit, it’s becoming better known for its crowds. Tourism to the country had a record-breaking start to 2018, and there’s talk now of the government attempting to limit the influx of visitors in one way or another. Look up “Dubrovnik Tourism” now and you’ll likely see a handful of guides about how to avoid the crowds on your visit.
This is not to suggest that you shouldn’t visit the city. But with Dubrovnik somewhat overrun by crowds these days, it’s a great time to look at all of the other beautiful and entertaining destinations the country has to offer. The following are just a few you might consider for your travel itinerary.
Hvar is actually an island just off the Dalmatian Coast, and it may be the most idyllic Croatian getaway aside from Dubvronik. In fact, the two are sometimes compared, with one travel guide suggesting that Hvar is the perfect place to visit “once you’re tired of the crowds” in Dubrovnik. Rather than seeking out a specific attraction, visitors to Hear can enjoy relaxing beaches, vineyards and lavender fields that look like the set of some film set in the ancient world, and the historic Hvar Town. The town itself is full of very old ruins and walls, as well as a thoroughly charming town square, meaning it ultimately offers much of the same appeal of Dubrovnik without the same crowd (though it is a popular destination itself as well).
Another island-like destination (though technically a peninsula), Istria is a little bit more of a resort and entertainment spot. It’s known for its luxury hotels and nightlife, as well as for a fairly active casino scene that might take you by surprise. Indeed, a list of casinos to visit in 2018 put together by a gaming site based in Ireland singled out Casino Hotel Mulino on Istria. The article noted the establishment’s classy European décor, and a casino and spa that has “echoes of a James Bond mission.” It’s not the only such place on the island, but that should give you an idea of why some love to visit Istria.
Plitvice National Park
Croatia’s beauty is typically defined by its towns, historical ruins, and coastline. But there are also some fairly incredible parks that make for great destinations in and of themselves. One is Plitvice National Park, which is essentially a vibrantly forested natural expanse that contains a famous series of connected lakes. These lakes are in some cases tiered and in others separated by natural dams, and they make for breathtaking sights. On your visit, you can stay near the park and do some natural sightseeing at your leisure.
Korcula is another area that’s a nice alternative to Dubrovnik if you want similar visuals but a more relaxed environment. Frankly it could be described much like Hvar, with beautiful forests and vineyards mixing with pristine coastline to make for terrific natural surroundings. Korcula Town is another historic city in Croatia that’s packed with remnants of past eras. The additional allure of Korcula for lovers of history, however, is that it’s actually the birthplace of the famous explorer Marco Polo.
Krka National Park
Krka National Park is in some ways not unlike Plitvice, though it’s known more for its waterfalls than for its lakes. This park revolves around the Krka River, and includes both hiking trails and opportunities for boating, such that you can really get in among the natural surroundings. Krka and Plitvice are often compared, but the truth is that if you want to experience the natural wonders of mainland Croatia, either makes for a dream-like stop.