Tourism in Croatia

Tourism is a major industry in Croatia. In 2018, Croatia had 19.7 million tourist visitors who made 110.275 million overnight stays. The history of tourism in Croatia dates back to the middle of the 19th century in the period around 1850. It has been developing successfully ever since. Today, Croatia is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Mediterranean.

Dubrovnik is one of Croatia's most popular tourist destinations.
A castle in the old town of Varaždin in the northern part of the country
Map of Croatia

Tourism in Croatia is concentrated in the areas along the Adriatic coast and is strongly seasonal, peaking in July and August.[1]

Eight areas in the country have been designated national parks, and the landscape in these areas is afforded extra protection from development. Currently, there are ten sites in Croatia inscribed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites and 15 sites on the tentative list.

Lonely Planet named Croatia as the top pick destination for 2005,[2] while National Geographic Adventure Magazine named Croatia as Destination of the Year in 2006.[3]


Croatia has a rich historical and cultural heritage, and natural beauty. Its greatest advantage in terms of tourism is its Adriatic Sea coast which, according to the 2010 European Environment Agency's survey, had the second cleanest water in all of Europe. A mild Mediterranean climate with a warm summer and moderately cold winter favor tourism. The tourist offer of Croatia is very diverse and consists of nautical, excursion, diving, congress, cultural, ecological, rural, religious, adventure, hunting or fishing and health tourism.

In 2014, Croatia had 851 registered tourist facilities, of which 605 hotels, 84 campsites, 52 tourist apartments, 41 tourist settlements, 19 apart-hotels and 50 marinas. In all these facilities, there were more than 100,000 accommodation units and about 237,000 permanent beds. In 605 hotels, there were 53,217 accommodation units and 102,430 beds. Out of 605 hotels, 301 had three stars, 192 four, and 29 five stars.[4] is a leading tourist agency providing online booking services on the Adriatic since 2000, they have over 13500 apartments and 500 hotels on offer.


The first tourist object in Croatia, considered the first Croatian hotel, is Villa Angiolina that was built in Opatija in 1844. In 1868 on the island of Hvar, a hygienic society was founded, and this year is considered to be the year of the beginning of organized tourism on the island. Hotel Kvarner was opened in Opatija in 1884, Hotel Therapia in 1894 in Crikvenica, and Hotel Imperial in 1896 in Dubrovnik. As early as 1914, Opatija recorded over half a million overnight stays, and tourists spent 20 days on average in the city.

Social benefits of tourism have gradually begun to be recognized so the legislation in tourism and catering was introduced. The hotel capacities of the time between the two world wars were mainly owned by foreigners, and 80% of foreign traffic was made by tourists from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

In 1926, over one million overnight stays were recorded for the first time, and in 1929 there were more foreign guests visiting Croatia than local tourists (52% vs 48%). The Decree on the Improvement of Tourism and the Decree on Conditions for the Proclamation of Tourist Areas were enacted in 1936. The record tourist season in this period was in 1938 when 399,608 visitors made 2,719,939 overnight stays.

Significant development of tourism in Croatia began in 1952, but although the overall number of tourist was growing, Croatia lagged behind its competition in terms of profit, and the quality of services decreased. After WWII, Croatia was a federal constitute of SFR Yugoslavia so the overall tourist offer was rated as unfavorable according to the "value for money" criteria. Educated people were leaving the country for better-paid jobs overseas, and under such conditions, small private renters developed, and the Croatian coast become a destination for mass tourism, which was particularly evident in the 1980s. The expansion of tourism capacity building lasted until 1975, at a growth rate of 11.4% for basic capacities and 9.7% for complementary capacities. In that period, 69% of the basic and 72% of complementary capacities that were offered by Croatia on the tourism market in 1990 were built. 68.2 million overnight stays were recorded in 1986, while in 1987 there were 10,5 million visitors, representing the largest number of overnight stays and visitors up until Croatia's independence from SFR Yugoslavia in 1990. In that period, Croatia accounted for about 75% of foreign tourist revenues of Yugoslavia.

During the Croatian War of Independence (1991–1995), tourism stagnated in Istria, while in much of Dalmatia and the areas affected by the war drastically fell. Between 1990 and 1995, the number of tourist arrivals was lower by as much as 69.3 percent, while the number of overnight stays fell by 75 percent, so the numbers were close to those recorded in the 1960s.

After the war, tourism began to recover and in 1996 there was a slight increase in relation to the 1994 season. Gradually, foreign tourists returned. With the return of tourists, the interest of foreign investors in Croatia was growing steadily, with the introduction of foreign capital increasing the role of destination management and marketing efforts to promote Croatia as a whole and unique destination. The increase in tourist arrivals and overnight stays also generated large revenue which increased their share in the country's GDP, so that it rose from 7.2 percent in 1995 to 17 percent in 2002.

Dalmatia is one of the most popular tourist areas in Croatia.

Since 2000, a number of tourist overnight stays has been rising continuously (downfall was recorded only in 2008 due to the global financial crisis). The record tourist season with the best results in Croatia's history was recorded in 2017 when Croatia was visited by 17,400,000 tourists who had 86,200,000 overnight stays. That same year Croatia's tourism revenues amounted 9.5 billion. In 2013, Croatia joined the European Union. Since 2012, the year before Croatia joined the EU, the number of annual tourist arrivals increased by nearly 6 million.[5] Economists argue that Croatia's joining the EU made them a more desirable tourist location due to reinvestment in their economy, more open trade barriers, and lessened customs control.[6][7]

Tourism is fairly well-developed in Croatia but has room to develop further. Only 15% of the coast, the main tourist attraction in Croatia, is urbanized, and many plans are in progress to gradually develop Croatia's tourism sector even more.[8] The Croatian Tourism Development Strategy has a goal to make Croatia a globally recognized tourist destination for all seasons, and is working towards that goal by making more luxury accommodations, including hotels and tourist services, or renovating older ones.[8] Croatia also has one of the UNWTO's Sustainable Tourism Observatories, part of the organization's International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO). The observatory is considered a commitment to monitoring and building sustainable tourism.[9]

Tourism statisticsEdit

Year Total tourist arrivals[10] Total tourist nights[10] Change in tourist nights Notes
1985 10,125,000 67,665,000  
1986 10,151,000 68,216,000   551,000
1987 10,487,000 68,160,000   58,000
1988 10,354,000 67,298,000   862,000
1989 9,670,000 61,849,000   5,449,000
1990 8,497,000 52,523,000   9,326,000 First democratic elections
Early Log Revolution-related incidents
1991 2,297,000 10,471,000   42,052,000 Croatian War of Independence begins
Siege of Dubrovnik
1992 2,135,000 11,005,000   534,000
1993 2,514,000 13,208,000   2,203,000
1994 3,655,000 20,377,000   7,169,000
1995 2,610,000 13,151,000   7,226,000 End of Croatian War of Independence
1996 4,186,000 21,860,000   8,709,000
1997 5,585,000 30,775,000   8,915,000
1998 5,852,000 31,852,000   1,077,000
1999 5,127,000 27,126,000   4,726,000 NATO bombing of neighbouring FR Yugoslavia
2000 7,137,000 39,183,000   12,057,000
2001 7,860,000 43,404,000   4,221,000
2002 8,320,000 44,692,000   1,288,000
2003 8,878,000 46,635,000   1,943,000
2004 9,412,000 47,797,000   1,162,000
2005 9,995,000 51,421,000   3,624,000
2006 10,385,000 53,007,000   1,586,000
2007 11,162,000 56,005,000   2,998,000
2008 11,261,000 57,103,000   1,098,000
2009 10,935,000 56,301,000   802,000 Global financial crisis
2010 10,604,116 56,416,379   115,379
2011[11] 11,455,677 60,354,275   3,937,896
2012[11] 11,835,160 62,743,463   2,389,188
2013[12] 12,433,727 64,818,115   2,074,652
2014[12] 13,128,416 66,483,948   1,665,833
2015[13] 14,343,323 71,605,315   5,121,367
2016[14] 15,594,157 78,049,852   6,444,537
2017[15] 17,430,580 86,200,261   8,150,409
2018[16] 18,666,580 89,651,789   3,451,528
2019[17] 19,566,146 91,242,931   1,591,142
2020[18] 7,800,000 54,400,000   36,842,931 COVID-19 pandemic

Arrivals by countryEdit

Most visitors arriving to Croatia on short term basis were from the following countries of nationality:

Rank Country 2019[17] 2018[16] 2017[15]
1   Germany 2,881,284 2,783,513 2,617,378
2   Slovenia 1,426,246 1,364,252 1,298,501
3   Austria 1,385,004 1,369,709 1,237,969
4   Italy 1,175,069 1,148,078 1,119,932
5   Poland 932,678 929,184 757,523
6   United Kingdom 859,189 821,114 596,444
7   Czech Republic 742,248 755,104 688,953
8   France 629,231 583,130 494,698
9   United States 626,035 558,751 337,464
10   Hungary 617,391 598,975 486,448
11   Netherlands 484,317 486,349 389,510
12   Slovakia 439,538 430,882 389,806
13   Bosnia and Herzegovina 433,467 395,469 333,039
14   South Korea 403,613 408,110 377,779
15   Spain 308,704 285,501 222,523
16   Sweden 289,699 297,081 256,612
17   China 279,118 233,630 159,301
18    Switzerland 268,206 264,865 235,037
19   Australia 217,190 217,341 149,829
20   Belgium 211,155 210,193 182,556
Total 17,353,488 16,644,871 15,592,899

Tourist regionsEdit

The Croatian National Tourist Board has divided Croatia into six distinct tourist regions.


The amphitheater in Pula.

The west coast of the peninsula of Istria has several historical towns dating from Roman times, such as the city of Umag, which hosts the yearly Croatia Open ATP tennis tournament on clay courts.[19]

The city of Poreč is known for the UNESCO-protected Euphrasian Basilica, which includes 6th-century mosaics depicting Byzantine art.[20] The city plan still shows the ancient Roman Castrum structure with main streets Decumanus and Cardo Maximus still preserved in their original forms. Marafor is a Roman square with two temples attached. One of them, erected in the 1st century, is dedicated to the Roman god Neptune.[21] Originally a Gothic Franciscan church built in the 13th century, the 'Dieta Istriana' hall was remodeled in the Baroque style in the 18th century.

The region's largest city Pula has one of the best preserved amphitheatres in the world, which is still used for festivals and events. It is surrounded by hotel complexes, resorts, camps, and sports facilities. Nearby is Brijuni national park, formerly the summer residence of late Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito.[22] Roman villas and temples still lie buried among farm fields and along the shoreline of surrounding fishing and farming villages. The coastal waters offer beaches, fishing, wreck dives to ancient Roman galleys and World War I warships, cliff diving, and sailing.[23] Pula is the end point of the EuroVelo 9 cycle route that runs from Gdańsk on the Baltic Sea through Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.

Coastal view of Rovinj.

The town of Rovinj contains well-indented coastal areas with a number of small bays hidden within dense vegetation, open to naturists. Although the beaches are not specified as naturist, naturists frequent them.[24]

The interior is green and wooded, with small stone towns on hills, such as Motovun. The river Mirna flows below the hill. On the other side of the river lies Motovun forest, an area of about 10 square kilometres in the valley of the river Mirna, of which 280 hectares (2.8 km2) is specially protected. This area differs not only from the nearby forests, but also from those of the entire surrounding karst region because of its wildlife, moist soil, and truffles (Tuber magnatum) that grow there. Since 1999, Motovun has hosted the international Motovun Film Festival for independent films from the U.S. and Europe.[25] Groznjan, another hill town, hosts a three-week jazz festival every July.

Kvarner and HighlandsEdit

The seaside town Opatija.

One of the most varying regions, the entire Kvarner gulf provides striking scenery, with tall mountains overlooking large islands in the sea. Opatija is the oldest tourist resort in Croatia, its tradition of tourism ranging from the 19th century.[26]

The former Venetian island towns of Rab and Lošinj are popular tourist destinations. The island of Rab is rich in cultural heritage and cultural-historical monuments. Rab is also known as a pioneer of naturism after the visit of King Edward VIII and Mrs Wallis Simpson.[27] The island offers nature, beaches, heritage, and events such as the Rab arbalest tournament and the Rab Medieval festival – Rapska Fjera. With around 2600 hours of sunshine a year, the island of Lošinj is a tourist destination for Slovenians, Italians, and Germans in the summer months. Average air humidity is 70%, and the average summer temperature is 24 °C (75 °F) and 7 °C (45 °F) during the winter.[28]

The Eurasian lynx can be found in the highlands.

The interior regions Gorski kotar, Velebit and Lika have mountain peaks, forests and fields, many animal species including bears, and the national parks of Risnjak and Plitvice Lakes. The Plitvice Lakes National Park lies in the Plitvice plateau which is surrounded by three mountains part of the Dinaric Alps: Plješevica mountain (Gornja Plješevica peak 1,640 m), Mala Kapela mountain (Seliški Vrh peak at 1,280 m), and Medveđak (884 m).[29] The national Park is underlain by karstic rock, mainly dolomite and limestone with associated lakes and caves, this has given rise to the most distinctive feature of its lakes. The lakes are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae, and bacteria. The encrusted plants and bacteria accumulate on top of each other, forming travertine barriers which grow at the rate of about 1 cm per year. The sixteen lakes are separated into an upper and lower cluster formed by runoff from the mountains, descending from an altitude of 636 to 503 m (2,087 to 1,650 ft) over a distance of some eight km, aligned in a south-north direction.

The Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most popular park in Croatia.

The lakes collectively cover an area of about two square kilometers, with the water exiting from the lowest lake to form the Korana River. The lakes are divided into the 12 Upper Lakes (Gornja jezera) and the four Lower Lakes (Donja jezera):[30] Under the travertine waterfalls Cratoneuron moss sometimes grows, the moss gets encrusted with travertine and fresh moss grows further out, first a crag is formed but later a cave roof forms under the crag. If the water continues flowing the cave becomes progressively bigger. Limestone caves are present as well. The area is also home to an extremely wide variety of animal and bird species. Rare fauna such as the European brown bear, wolf, eagle, owl, lynx, wild cat, and capercaillie can be found there, along with many more common species. At least 126 species of birds have been recorded there, of which 70 have been recorded as breeding.



Front detail on the Cathedral of St. Anastasia in Zadar.

This region caters to yachting and leisure travel. The Kornati National Park has hundreds of mostly uninhabited islands. Kornat, the biggest of the islands with a total area of 32,525,315 m2 (350,099,577 sq ft), comprises two-thirds of the park's land area. Although the island is 25.2 km long, it is no wider than 2.5 km.[31] The park is managed from the town of Murter, on the island of Murter, and is connected to the mainland by a drawbridge.

Zadar, the largest city in the region, gained its urban structure in Roman times; during the time of Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus, the town was fortified and the city walls with towers and gates were built. On the western side of the town were the forum, the basilica and the temple, while outside the town were the amphitheatre and cemeteries. The aqueduct which supplied the town with water is partially preserved. Inside the ancient town, a medieval town had developed with a series of churches and monasteries being built.[32]

Boating around the island of Pag.
The Great Gorge of Paklenica (Velika Paklenica) is a popular rock climbing destination.

The interior has mixed plains and mountains, with the Paklenica canyon as the main attraction. Paklenica National Park is the most visited climbing site in Croatia, and the largest in Southeast Europe. The close proximity of seawater allows tourists to combine climbing, hiking and water sports. There are over 360 equipped and improved routes of various difficulty levels and lengths within Paklenica's climbing sites.[33] The main climbing season begins in spring and ends in late autumn. The Park area contains 150–200 km of trails and paths intended either for tourists or mountaineers. The trails in the Park are marked with boards and mountaineering signs.

The island of Pag has one of the biggest party zones in Europe in the town of Novalja and Zrće. These beaches have all-hours discotheques and beach bars operating during summer months.[34]

Zadar is connected by land with two exits from the main highway, and by sea with regular line with Ancona, Italy, and by air mostly with Ryanair and Croatia Airlines. Many tourist agencies and tourist service providers such as offer group plans. Most tours are offered by local private owners and small local companies.


The Cathedral of St James is renowned for its architecture.

This is another yachting region, dotted with islands, and centered on Šibenik and the Cathedral of St James, a UNESCO World Heritage site.[35] Several fortresses, remnants of the Renaissance era (which includes St. Nicholas Fortress) surround the city.

The interior has the Krka National Park with waterfalls and religious monasteries.[36] Skradinski Buk has attractions and facilities available among various footpaths, sightseeing tours and presentations, boat trips, restaurants and a museum. Roški Slap, located near Miljevci, is the second most popular attraction of the Krka National Park in terms of numbers of visitors, and whose cascades can be visited throughout the year. Roški Slap may be reached by excursion boat operated by the Krka National Park, although the falls can also be reached with a public road. Inside the park is the island of Visovac which was founded during the reign of Louis I of Hungary, home to the Roman Catholic Visovac Monastery founded by the Franciscans in 1445 near Miljevci village.[37] The island can be visited by a boat tour from Skradinski Buk. The park also includes the Serbian Orthodox Monastery Krka founded in 1345.

Waterfalls at Krka National Park.

The area around the city of Knin has medieval fortresses and archeological remains. The recently discovered Roman town Burnum is 18 km far from Knin in direction of Kistanje, which has the ruins of the biggest amphitheater in Dalmatia built in 77 AD, which held 8,000 people, during the rule of Vespasian.[38] The nearby villages Biskupija and Kapitul are archaeological sites from the 10th century where remains of medieval Croatian culture are found including churches, graves, decorations, and epigraphs.[39]


The basement of Diocletian's Palace.

The coastal city of Split is also the second largest city in Croatia, and is known for its unique Roman heritage which includes UNESCO-protected Diocletian's Palace.[40] The city was built around the well-preserved palace, which is one of the most complete architectural and cultural features on the Croatian Adriatic coast. The Split Cathedral stems from the palace.

The Makarska Riviera is a stretch of coastline that offers beaches, clubs, cafes, kayaking, sailing, and hiking along the Biokovo range. Makarska, Brela, Omiš, and Baška Voda are the most popular.

The historic old town of Trogir.

The large islands of this region, include the town of Hvar, known for its fishing and tourism industries. Hvar has a mild Mediterranean climate and Mediterranean vegetation. The island promotes itself as "the sunniest spot in Europe", with over 2715 hours of sunlight in an average year.[41] Cultural and artistic events within the Hvar Summer Festival take place throughout the summer, from late June to late September. These events include classical music concerts performed by national and international artists, and performances by amateur groups from Hvar.[42] The Gallery of Modern Art in Hvar is located in the Arsenal building, in the lobby of the historic Theatre of Hvar. The permanent display contains paintings, sculptures, and prints from the collection, and temporary exhibitions are organised within the Museum project Summer of Fine Arts in Hvar.[43]

The Cathedral of St. Stephen and the Bishop's Palace have a Renaissance-baroque style, and a façade with three-cornered gable and a Renaissance Bell Tower in Romanesque style from the 16th century, created by Venetian artists.[44]

Other notable islands in the region include Brač, Čiovo, Šolta, and Vis.

Mljet island
The most popular view of Dubrovnik's old town.

The old city of Trogir is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains a mixture of influence from the Hellenistic period, Romans, and Venetians with its Greek architecture, Romanesque churches, Renaissance and Baroque buildings.[45] Trogir is the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex in Central Europe. Trogir's medieval core, surrounded by walls, comprises a preserved castle and tower and a series of dwellings and palaces from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. Trogir's grandest building is the Cathedral of St. Lawrence, whose main west portal is a masterpiece by Radovan, and the most significant work of the Romanesque-Gothic style in Croatia. Another notable attraction is the Fortress Kamerlengo.


One of the best-known Croatian tourist sites is the fortified city of Dubrovnik with its Renaissance culture. The highlight is the Sponza Palace which dates from the 16th century and is currently used to house the National Archives.[46] The Rector's Palace is a Gothic-Renaissance structure that now houses a museum.[47][48] Its façade is depicted on the reverse of the Croatian 50 kuna banknote, issued in 1993 and 2002.[49]

The St. Saviour Church is another remnant of the Renaissance period, next to the Franciscan Monastery.[50][51][52] The Franciscan monastery's library possesses 30,000 volumes, 22 incunabula, 1,500 valuable handwritten documents. Exhibits include a 15th-century silver-gilt cross and silver thurible, an 18th-century crucifix from Jerusalem, a martyrology (1541) by Bemardin Gucetic and illuminated Psalters.[50] Dubrovnik's most famous church is St Blaise's church, built in the 18th century in honor of Dubrovnik's patron saint. Dubrovnik's baroque Cathedral houses relics of Saint Blaise. The city's Dominican Monastery resembles a fortress on the outside but the interior contains an art museum and a Gothic-Romanesque church.[53][54] A special treasure of the Dominican monastery is its library with over 220 incunabula, numerous illustrated manuscripts, a rich archive with precious manuscripts and documents and an extensive art collection.[55][56][57] The main feature of Dubrovnik is its walls that run 2 km around the city. The walls run from four to six metres thick on the landward side but are thinner on the seaward side. The system of turrets and towers were intended to protect the city.[58]

An excursion along the coast south of Dubrovnik to the area of Ljuta offers popular daytime cruise excursions with scenic views including water streams, historic water mills and the mountain range east of the coastal plateau.

Just off the coast of Dubrovnik is the forested island of Lokrum. The small island has a castle, a thousand-year-old Benedictine monastery, and a botanical garden initially started by archduke Maximilian in the 19th century. Peacocks and peahens still roam the isle, descended from the original peafowls brought over by Maximilian.

Overview of Korčula.

The nearby islands include the historical island of Korčula. The Catholic inhabitants of Korčula keep alive old folk church ceremonies and a weapon dance, the Moreška, which dates back to the middle ages.[59] Originally danced only on special occasions, in modern times there are performances twice a week for tourists.[60] The main town's historic sites include the central Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral of St Mark (built from 1301 to 1806), the 15th-century Franciscan monastery with Venetian Gothic cloister, the civic council chambers, the palace of the former Venetian governors, grand 15th and 16th-century palaces of the local merchant nobles, and the city fortifications.

Further along the Adriatic are the forests of Mljet island. Over 72% of the island of 98.01 square kilometres (37.84 sq mi) is forest. Its geological structure consists of limestone and dolomite forming ridges, crests and slopes. A few depressions on the island of Mljet are below sea level and are known as blatine ("mud-lakes") or slatine ("salt-lakes"). During the rain seasons all blatine are filled with water and turn to brackish during dry seasons.

Central and Northern CroatiaEdit

Trakošćan castle in northwestern Croatia

The northern part, with the hilly area of Zagorje and Međimurje, is dotted with castles and spas, and the old city of Varaždin. In Međimurje there are spas and facilities for recreation in Vučkovec and around Sveti Martin na Muri, both in the northern part of the county and near the Mura. There are also more than 200 clubs for various sporting and recreational activities such as mountaineering, fishing, bowling, CB radio, parachuting and flying small aircraft, including unpowered gliders and powered hang gliders. Hunting also attracts numerous hunters in low game and birds.

In Čakovec Castle there is a Međimurje County Museum and an art gallery. In Šenkovec, in the chapel of Sveta Jelena and in the church of Sveti Jeronim in Štrigova, there are Baroque frescoes of Ivan Ranger dating between 1776 and 1786. Prelog is home to the beautiful church of Sveti Jakob, built in 1761.

Varaždin, with its monuments and artistic heritage, represents the best preserved and richest urban complex in continental Croatia. The Varaždin Old Town (fortress) is a medieval defensive building. Construction began in the 14th century, and in the following century the rounded towers, typical of Gothic architecture in Croatia, were added. Varaždin's Cathedral, a former Jesuit church, was built in 1647, has a baroque entrance, 18th-century altar, and paintings.[61] Among festivals, the annual Špancir Fest begins at the end of August and ends in September (lasts for 10 days).[62] At this time the city welcomes artists, street performers, musicians and vendors for what is called 'the street walking festival'. Varaždin is also the host of the "Radar festival", which hosts concerts at the end of summer.[63] It has already hosted musical stars such as Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, The Animals, Manic Street Preachers, Solomon Burke among others.

Altar of the Marija Bistrica basilica.

The Marian shrine of Marija Bistrica is the country's largest pilgrimage spot. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit the site every year where the 14th-century church has stood. The church is known for the statue known as the "Black Madonna with Child," dating to the Turkish invasion in the 16th century when the statue was hidden in the church and then lost for decades until its discovery. Behind the church is the process of "The Way of the Cross", in which pilgrims begin the trek that leads to Calvary Hill. Pope John Paul II visited the site in 1998 in his second tour of Croatia.[64]

Central Croatia has some natural highlights, such as the nature park Lonjsko polje. The southwest area is known for its forests and wilderness. Baroque churches are found throughout the area, along with other cultural architecture.


Tourism in this region is just developing, mostly with spas. The area of Baranja has the national park of Kopački rit, a large swamp with a variety of fauna and birds. It is one of the largest and most attractive preserved intact wetlands in Europe, hosting about 260 various bird species such as wild geese and ducks, great white egret, white stork, black stork, white-tailed eagle, crows, Eurasian coot, gulls, terns, common kingfisher, and European green woodpecker. Guided tourist visits by panoramic ships, boats, team of horses or on foot are available, with some packages offering the possibility of photographing or video-recording animals and birds.[65]

Slavonian smoked meat served on a platter.

The cultural center is the historical city of Osijek, with its baroque style buildings, such as the Church of St. Peter and Paul, a neo-Gothic structure with the second highest tower in Croatia after the Zagreb Cathedral.

The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Đakovo is the town of Đakovo's primary landmark and sacral object throughout the region of Slavonia.

There are three major yearly events celebrating folklore in Slavonia and Baranja: Đakovački vezovi, Vinkovačke jeseni and Brodsko kolo.[66] They present traditional folk costumes, folklore dancing and singing groups, customs, with a parade of horses and wedding wagons as a special part of the program. During the Đakovački vezovi, the Đakovo Cathedral hosts choirs, opera artists, and art exhibitions are organized in the exhibition salon, and during the sports program, pure-bred white Lipizzaner horses can be seen on the racecourse. Ilok and the war-torn city of Vukovar are also points of interest in the area.


View of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.

Like Prague or Budapest, Zagreb has a Central European feel to it, with a large and well-preserved old town on the hill and a 19th-century city center. The Croatian capital is also the country's largest cultural center, with many museums and galleries.

The historical part of the city to the north of Ban Jelačić Square is composed of the Gornji Grad and Kaptol, a medieval urban complex of churches, palaces, museums, galleries and government buildings that are popular with tourists on sightseeing tours. The historic district can be reached on foot, starting from Jelačić Square, the center of Zagreb, or by a funicular on nearby Tomićeva Street.

Around thirty collections in museums and galleries comprise more than 3.6 million various exhibits, excluding church and private collections. The Archaeological Museum consists of nearly 400,000 varied artifacts and monuments, have been gathered over the years from many different sources.[67] The most famous are the Egyptian collection, the Zagreb mummy and bandages with the oldest Etruscan inscription in the world (Liber Linteus Zagrabiensis), as well as the numismatic collection. The Croatian Natural History Museum holds one of the world's most important collection of Neanderthal remains found at one site.[68] These are the remains, stone weapons and tools of prehistoric Krapina man. The holdings of the Croatian Natural History Museum comprise more than 250,000 specimens distributed among various different collections.

Orahnjača, a Croatian walnut strudel.

There are about 20 permanent or seasonal theaters and stages. The Croatian National Theater in Zagreb was built in 1895 and opened by emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. The most renowned concert hall is named "Vatroslav Lisinski", after the composer of the first Croatian opera was built in 1973. Animafest, the World Festival of Animated Films, takes place every even-numbered year, and the Music Bienniale, the international festival of avant-garde music, every odd-numbered year. It also hosts the annual ZagrebDox documentary film festival. The Festival of the Zagreb Philharmonic and the flowers exhibition Floraart (end of May or beginning of June), the Old-timer Rally annual events. In the summer, theater performances and concerts, mostly in the Upper Town, are organized either indoors or outdoors. The stage on Opatovina hosts the Zagreb Histrionic Summer theater events. Zagreb is also the host of Zagrebfest, the oldest Croatian pop-music festival, as well as of several traditional international sports events and tournaments. The Day of the City of Zagreb on November 16 is celebrated every year with special festivities, especially on the Jarun lake near the southwestern part of the city.


There are a number of attractions in Croatia, ranging from sites of historic architectural and religious significance to famed ecological points of interest and museums. The sites listed below are just a sample of many tourist sites visited in Croatia.[69]

Primary attractionsEdit

North CroatiaEdit
Trakoscan castle
  • Trakošćan Castle is a castle built in the 13th century atop a hill in Trakošćan. Also known for exhibiting historic furniture, weapons, and paintings.[70]
Central CroatiaEdit
Plitvice Lakes National Park
South CroatiaEdit

Secondary attractionsEdit

North CroatiaEdit
  • St Mark's Church is a 13th-century styled church in Zagreb known for its medieval architecture.[75]
  • Museum of Broken Relationships is an exhibit located in a baroque palace in Zagreb showcasing objects of former couples and sharing their stories.[76]
  • Mimara Museum is an art museum in Zagreb once known for holding many masterpieces but now suspected of being largely fakes.[77]
  • Croatian Museum of Naïve Art is an art museum in Zagreb showcasing pieces in the naïve art style.[78]
Central CroatiaEdit
Pula arena
South CroatiaEdit
Blue Grotto
  • Krka National Park is a national park along the Krka River known for its travertine waterfalls.[81]
  • Ivan Meštrović Gallery is an art museum in Split showcasing the work of Ivan Meštrović.[82]
  • Diocletian's Palace is a ruin from Roman emperor Diocletian located in the city of Split. The remains of the palace and its grounds make up the old town of Split today, housing shops, restaurants, and streets.[83]
  • Cathedral of Saint Domnius is a Catholic cathedral in Split built from a Roman mausoleum and with a bell tower. It is the current seat of the archdiocese of Split-Makarska.[84]
  • Lovrijienac is a 16th-century fortress and theater along the Walls of Dubrovnik.[85]
  • Rector's Palace is a palace built in the Gothic style in Dubrovnik. It also has Renaissance and Baroque elements.[86]
  • War Photo Limited is a gallery in Dubrovnik dedicated to pictures depicting war and conflict taken by renowned photojournalists.[87]
  • Dubrovnik Cathedral is a Catholic cathedral. It is the seat of the diocese of Dubrovnik.[88]
  • Dominican Monastery is a religious complex, Gothic style church, and museum founded in 1225 in Dubrovnik.[89]
  • Trsteno Arboretum is a 15th-century arboretum in Trstneo featuring several exotic plants.[90]
  • Zlatni Rat is a spit of land near the city of Bol known as a top European beach destination.
  • Blue Grotto is a water logged sea cave known as a show cave for its glowing blue light that appears at certain day times.[91]
  • Telašćica is a nature park on the Dugi Otok island known for wildlife.[92]
  • Church of St. Donatus is a church in Zadar constructed in the 9th century known for its Byzantine architecture.[93]
  • Šibenik Cathedral is a Catholic cathedral in Šibenik known for its Renaissance architecture.[94]

UNESCO World Heritage SitesEdit

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has included the following Croatian sites on its World Heritage List:

Site Image Location UNESCO data Description Shared with Ref(s)
Plitvice Lakes National Park   Plitvička Jezera 98; 1979; vii, viii, ix (natural) Over time, water has flown over the natural limestone and chalk, creating natural dams which in turn have created a series of connecting lakes, waterfalls and caves. The nearby forests are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species. N/A [95]
Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian   Split 97; 1979; ii, iii, iv (cultural) The palace was built by the Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century AD, and later served as the basis of the city of Split. A cathedral was built in the Middle Ages inside the ancient mausoleum, along with churches, fortifications, Gothic and Renaissance palaces. The Baroque style makes up the rest of the area. N/A [96]
Old City of Dubrovnik   Dubrovnik 95; 1979; i, iii, iv (cultural) Dubrovnik became a prosperous Maritime Republic during the Middle Ages, it became the only eastern Adriatic city-state to rival Venice. Supported by its wealth and skilled diplomacy, the city achieved a remarkable level of development, particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries. N/A [97]
Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Poreč   Poreč 809; 1997; ii, iv (cultural) The episcopal complex, with its striking mosaics dating back to the 6th century, is one of the best examples of early Byzantine art and architecture in the Mediterranean region and the world. It includes the basilica itself, a sacristy, a baptistery and the bell tower of the nearby archbishop's palace. N/A [98]
Historic city of Trogir   Trogir 810; 1997; ii, iv (cultural) Trogir's rich culture was created under the influence of old Greeks, Romans, and Venetians. It is the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex not only in the Adriatic, but in all of Central Europe. Trogir's medieval core, surrounded by walls, comprises a preserved castle and tower and a series of dwellings and palaces from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. N/A [99]
Cathedral of Saint James   Šibenik 963; 2000; i, ii, iv (cultural) The cathedral is a triple-nave basilica with three apses and a dome (32 m high inside) and is also one of the most important Renaissance architectural monuments in the eastern Adriatic. N/A [100]
Stari Grad Plain   Hvar 1240; 2008; ii, iii, v (cultural The Stari Grad Plain is an agricultural landscape that was set up by the ancient Greek colonists in the 4th century BC, and remains in use today. The plain is generally still in its original form. The ancient layout has been preserved by careful maintenance of the stone walls over 24 centuries. N/A [101]
Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards   Dubravka, Cista Velika 1504; 2016; iii, vi (cultural) Stećak or the medieval tombstones are the monolith stone monuments found in the regions of the present Bosnia and Herzegovina, parts of Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. The elementary tombstone groups are the laid and the upright stone monoliths. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia [102]
The Venetian Works of defence between 15th and 17th centuries   Zadar, Šibenik 1533; 2017; iii, iv (cultural) This property consists of 15 components of defence works in Italy, Croatia and Montenegro, spanning more than 1,000 kilometres between the Lombard region of Italy and the eastern Adriatic Coast. The introduction of gunpowder led to significant shifts in military techniques and architecture. Italy, Montenegro [103]
Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe   Paklenica, Northern Velebit National Park 1133; 2017; ix (natural) This transboundary extension of the World Heritage site of the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany (Germany, Slovakia, Ukraine) stretches over 12 countries. This successful expansion is related to the tree's flexibility and tolerance of different climatic, geographical and physical conditions. Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine [104]

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External linksEdit