Are you running out of ideas for your next vacation? Or do you maybe have a feeling that you already saw everything popular vacation spots have to offer? No worries, we are here to inspire you with 5 hidden gems in Croatia!
If you’re tired of a famous tourist destination with too many people (let’s say the stunning city of Dubrovnik), try some less-known Croatian destinations that will allow you to discover something new while avoiding crowds and big-city murmur.
With the clear blue Adriatic sea nearby and countless picturesque cities, Croatia has been at the top spot on many travelers’ lists for years, and it’s quickly becoming one of the top destinations in Europe. However, there is a lot more to discover in Croatia aside from frequently recommended spots you often see on social media.
To help you get some new vacation ideas and enjoy your holidays in Croatia to the max, we created a list of some of the most beautiful hidden spots Croatia offers, with a few suggestions on what to see and experience while there.
Even though Croatia is one of the safest European destinations, we added some advice on staying safe on your trip, including what tech necessities you should bring. Talking about safety, don’t forget to buy travel insurance. We have been using SafetyWing for years, and really like how easy it is to buy it and to make a claim.
Hidden gems in Croatia you have to visit
Croatia is often called “the land of thousand islands,” which makes it immensely challenging to pick only one island to visit. However, the island of Pag should definitely be on your list. Often referred to as “the Moonrock,” one side of the island resembles the barren and rocky Moon surface, which makes it an excellent movie-set location. Plus the beaches with turquoise waters are an invitation to relax, not to mention the sunsets that are stunning.
If you are a party person, you might have already heard of this not-so-hidden gem in Croatia. Pag is one of the best party islands in Croatia.
What to see in Pag?
Those on the quest for crazy parties should visit Zrće beach in Novalja. It turns into a Croatian partying Mecca during the summer, and it’s guaranteed to give you the time of your life.
On the other hand, if you favor less intense vacation activities, you should visit Pag’s salt production plant. The Croatian island of Pag is known for its centuries-old salt production tradition, so seeing the factory will be a unique experience. Novalja, the historic town on the island, is also worth visiting.
What to try in Pag?
Alongside magnificent olive oil and fish, Pag is known for its complex, deep-flavored sheep milk cheese you simply must try! For more local cuisine tips, read our guide about the best islands in Croatia for food lovers.
Since temperatures in Pag can reach up to 30 degrees Celsius, remember to bring sunblock. Also, if you plan to visit some of the festivals on Zrće beach, bring a portable charger to power your devices.
Located in the Istria region, Motovun is a small picturesque village at the top of the hill. You can climb up to the ancient City Walls and get an overview of the whole area. It resembles those small villages in Tuscany, and the food is just as good.
What to see in Motovun?
If you’re visiting in July or early August, aside from the beautiful countryside, you can attend the Motovun Film Festival and enjoy some fantastic independent films, concerts, and shows.
What to try in Motovun?
Despite being one of the hidden gems in Croatia for tourism, Motovun is world-famous for its truffles and fantastic wines. We suggest enjoying a glass of Malvazija wine with fuži pasta in a creamy truffle sauce. Another good option is to go for a wine tasting experience.
If you visit forests around Motovun or go on a truffle hunt, always wear long trousers and sturdy shoes to avoid any unpleasant encounters with a venomous horned viper which is very common in Istria.
If you have always wanted to see Plitvice Lakes National Park but can’t stand the crowd during peak season, consider taking a trip to Rastoke waterfalls instead because it’s got similar beautiful scenery without as many tourists.
What to see in Rastoke?
Aside from enjoying the beautiful waterfalls, and strolling around the village, don’t miss charming watermill spoons and Rastoke Village Museum.
What to try in Rastoke?
Freshly caught trout with crispy potato slices and a glass of white wine will make your mouth water. Add a beautiful view overlooking the river to the equation, and you will have a perfect dinner date experience.
Make sure to bring a mosquito repellent and invest in a sturdy waterproof case for your tech if you plan to see the waterfalls.
Trakošćan Castle, Zagorje
Some of the best hidden gems in Croatia are located in the central part of the country. Think of breathtaking castles and fortresses. So if you happen to find yourself around Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, taking an hour-long drive to visit one of their most preserved castles is definitely worth the effort.
What to see in Trakošćan Castle?
Alongside scenic views, you can peek into the lives of the castle’s former residents. You can find a museum within the castle walls with an impressive collection of objects dating from the 15th to 19th centuries. After that, you can enjoy a relaxing walk around the nearby lake and get the authentic experience of living like a 15th-century royal. Fancy yourself a fairytale-style wedding? You can actually book a chapel and some of the rooms in the castle for your nuptials!
What to try at Trakošćan Castle?
The Zagorje region is known for štrukli, a soft pillowy dough stuffed with sweet or savory fillings, most commonly cottage cheese. A true comfort food!
Since Trakošćan castle is built on a hill, you’ll need a good pair of shoes to climb up, especially on rainy days.
Remember the beautiful gardens of King’s Landing that appeared in the third and fourth seasons of Game of Thrones? Well, Arboretum Trsteno was where it was filmed.
Dubrovnik was always a popular tourist destination, but GoT turned it into one of the most visited destinations in Croatia. However, while Dubrovnik city is often flooded with tourists, Arboretum Trsteno remains a much quieter spot for those who want to enjoy beautiful scenery and nature.
What to see at the Arboretum Trsteno?
The noble Gučetić family started tending a beautiful garden back in the 15th century, and to this day, it has stayed one of the most magnificent examples of renaissance garden horticulture. Visiting the famous pergola that frequently appeared in the Game of Thrones series, the superb Neptune fountain, and old plant species that are at least a few hundred years old are just some of the reasons to visit this hidden gem in Croatia.
And if you are a Game of Thrones fan, then you must visit Girona in Spain. This hidden gem in the Catalonia region was also a filming location for many episodes and seasons of GoT.
What to try at Arboretum Trsteno?
The Dubrovnik area is heaven for those who like fresh and locally produced food. Enjoy fresh fish, superb olive oil, fine wine, and cheese. If you have a sweet tooth, try traditional Ston cake from a nearby village of Ston. It’s a pastry stuffed with penne pasta, chocolate, nuts, butter, cinnamon, and eggs. It’s a pastry filled with pasta and chocolate – you can’t go wrong with that.
Since the nursery is further out of the town, and there aren’t any shops nearby, remember to bring water. Long walks under the sun can lead to sunstroke. Also, keep your money, tech, and other valuables close because any area with a higher number of people is an excellent opportunity for pickpockets to try their luck.
Croatia’s hidden gems wrap up!
If this is your first time visiting Croatia, be aware that there is much to see and enjoy there. From popular destinations like Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar Island to unique hidden gems on Croatia’s coast and countryside.
Croatia is known for its beautiful nature, architecture, and magnificent cuisine. We truly enjoyed the trip and can’t wait to revisit it. It’s a perfect destination for a weekend getaway or a Summer holiday.