CROATIA Hidden Gems: Highlights & Insider Tips

Croatia Hidden Gems & Insider tips? The country on the Adriatic Sea is already such a popular tourist destination that all the things to do and highlights are well known… You think! Croatia has much more to offer than world famous city break destinations like Dubrovnik, Split or Rovinj. If you’re planning a trip to Croatia, you’ll probably Google a phrase like “Croatia highlights” or “Croatia sightseeing” and keep coming across fairly similar recommendations. But that’s why the team at JOURNICATION decided to create a list of unusual places in Croatia that will allow you to experience the life of the locals in full swing and definitely see extraordinary attractions!

What are you learning in this article?

BIG5 Croatia Hidden Gems

Find out here why a trip to Croatia is worthwhile. We present Croatia in the Speed Date and have summarized the most important questions as BIG5 for you:

BIG5 Croatia Hidden Gems – Speed Date

Outstanding:

Croatia has breathtakingly beautiful destinations , architecture and nature, the locals are known for their hospitality and culinary finesse

Sucks:

In the summer months, Croatia can seem a bit crowded, as it has become one of the most visited tourist destinations in Europe

DO:

Croatia is a beautiful coastal country, so you should definitely explore the diverse coastal regions on the Adriatic Sea

DO NOT:

Don’t expect to be able to pay in euros – Croatia uses the Croatian Kuna, not the euro, even though Croatia is in the European Union. This is a common misconception, so you will be reminded quite often in Croatia not to take Euros with you.

Don’t tell your mom:

Croatians like to party and drink. You’ll definitely come across young, boozy groups who are enjoying their vacation to the fullest

BIG5 Croatia Hidden Gems – Rapid Fire Q&A

  • How long should you spend in Croatia to experience a lot? – Croatia really has a lot to offer, whether you want to explore historical cities or nature. A stay of minimum 7 days is absolutely recommended!
  • Croatia vacation – rather in summer or in winter? – Croatia is more of a summer destination! Although Croatia also offers many winter destinations, the warm and crystal blue sea is a highlight!
  • Do I need a car for the Croatia trip? – The recommendation is to go to Croatia with a car or to take a rental car on the spot, because it allows you to visit several cities along the coast conveniently at once.
  • What is the weather like in Croatia? – In the summer months, the weather in Croatia is quite hot and dry, but for a stay in winter an umbrella is a must-have.
  • Is it necessary to know Croatian? – No, Croatians usually speak at least English and the more advanced ones even German or Italian.Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

BIG5 Croatia Hidden Gems – Orga

Best time to visit Croatia

You will have good, warm weather in the coastal regions of Croatia from April to October. In July & August, however, it can also be very hot.

Arrival & Departure to Croatia

Visa: Check here if you need a visa for Croatia with your passport

  • Flight: Dubrovnik has its own airport (IATA: DBV). Possibly cheaper: Arrival via the airport Tivat / Montenegro (TIV).
  • Flight: Split Airport (IATA: SPU) is a fairly large and well connected airport, less than an hour’s drive from Šibenik.
  • Flight: Zadar Airport (IATA: ZAD) is another airport close to Šibenik and a good choice if you are looking for budget airlines like EasyJet or Ryanair.
  • Bus: For Dubrovnik: From / to Saravejo via Mostar (several times daily; ~ 6:30 hours; 13-19 euros). If possible, avoid going via Neum (Bosnia), otherwise you will have 3 border crossings in one bus trip.
  • Bus: From / to Montenegro, e.g. Herceg Novi, Kotor or Budva (several times daily; 2 hours from Kotor, 6-18 Euro)
  • Bus: The bus station in Šibenik is well connected with the surrounding towns and all major Croatian cities.
  • Car: A modern highway connects Šibenik with the rest of Croatia. It is a convenient and fast way to travel if you arrive by car. A big plus is that this way you can quickly get to places like Zadar and Split….Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Next we go to …. to the Bay of Kotor, to the Montenegro coast orMostar / Bosnia and Herzegovina

Price level in Croatia

In Croatia you pay in Kuna (HRK)

Withdraw money: There are many ATMs throughout the city.

Beer indicator: Between two and four euros per 0.5 liters in an average restaurant. Bring smaller beers (0.33 l) are correspondingly cheaper.

Cost of a cab: For the first five kilometers, a cab costs 20 to 25 kuna (~ 3 EUR), which is quite enough to get from point A to point B

BIG5 Croatia Hidden Gems – Culinary

  • Fish / seafood – obligatory for a coastal town! For example, at Gradska Kavanva right on the harbor. For those who like to experiment: black squid risotto.
  • Dalmatinski pršut – lightly smoked regional raw ham
  • Dagnje na buzaru – The area around Šibenik is famous for shellfish farming. Try “dagnje na buzaru”, an exceptionally tasty mussel stew, in the town.
  • Local Dalmatian wine – a dream after a long day
  • Grilled specialties – like everywhere in the Balkans! For those who can’t make up their mind: Just order mixed grill platter

BIG5 Croatia Hidden Gems – Communication

In Croatia, you speak Croatian.

  • Thank you – Hvala
  • Yes – Da
  • No – Ne
  • Hello / Good day – Bok!
  • Bye / Good bye! – Zdravo!

BIG5 Croatia Hidden Gems – Helpful Websites / Links

More BIG5 summaries and city guides from JOURNICATION:

BIG5 Croatia Hidden Gems – overview map for your travel planning

Where exactly are the Croatia secret tips I have summarized for you for better orientation in addition to the BIG5 in an overview map:

Click on the icon in the upper left corner to use the full range of map options!

Primošten_1_Croatia Hidden Gems_Kroatien Geheimtipps_Insider Tips

BIG5 Croatia Hidden Gems: Travel inspiration for insider tips

Croatia is known for its breathtakingly beautiful nature, historic UNESCO World Heritage cities and delicious cuisine.

The country on the Adriatic Sea is also home to Kings Landing from the world famous series Game of Thrones, the runners-up of 2018 World Cup soccer, the home of Nikola Tesla and the future of electric cars with Mate Rimac.

Although Croatia is becoming more and more popular with travelers from all over the world and many places are becoming more and more famous and crowded, there are still some Croatia insider tips to discover:

Museum of Broken Relations – Zagreb

When you end a relationship of many years, you surely think the first step would be to get rid of everything that reminds you of the failed love. Not for Zagreb-based artists Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić. Their relationship died, but a great idea was born: What if they started a museum to do something with all the memories and belongings they share? And so the Museum of Broken Relationships was founded.

Although this art project has grown far beyond the borders of Croatia and around the world to commemorate the funny, heartbreaking and annoying things that can be shared in past love, Zagreb will forever be home to this strange museum and an indispensable hidden gem for all visitors to the capital.

The Museum of Broken Relationships is located in the Upper Town of Zagreb – the older, quieter part of the city that consists of beautiful narrow, winding streets. You can even explore the historic part of Zagreb here on a 66-meter-long cable car, also known as the world’s shortest cable car for public transport.

 

 

A museum full of nice things and stories

It won’t spoil your fun in the museum: As a preview, here’s an example of an item you’re sure to see there: an unassuming plastic Frisbee that a child would play with. The anonymous donor added this description:

“A silly Frisbee bought at a thrift store was my ex-boyfriend’s brilliant idea – as a second anniversary gift. The moral, apparently, was that the next time he came up with such a fantastic idea, he should be hit right in the face with it. Now that the relationship is prefaced with the word “ex,” the Frisbee remains in the museum as a fond memory and displaces negative energy. Feel free to borrow it if you like. PS Honey, if you ever get the ridiculous idea of entering a cultural institution like a museum for the first time in your life, you’ll remember me. At least have a good laugh (the only thing you can do on your own).”

Statue of Our Lady of Loreto – Primošten

If you search for sights in Croatia along the beautiful Dalmatian coast, you may find most articles and recommendations for Šibenik or Trogir, without even casually mentioning the activities along the way. However, there is one hidden gem that is definitely worth a stop: the massive statue of Our Lady of Loreto in Primošten.

At 17 meters tall, it is the largest statue of a standing Mother of God in the world; its imposing white facade is visible on a clear day even from Italy across the Adriatic. Regardless of faith or denomination, anyone who visits this statue of the religious icon cannot help but marvel at the size and the many details of this monument. The body of the statue is made of seven stacked rings with intricate mosaic symbolism as well as accents of gold, silver and stained glass.

Despite the tranquility and devotion embodied by the statue, this stop may not be everyone’s cup of tea, as getting to the statue also involves a bit of a hike. Visitors have to make a long steep walk uphill to reach it. There is no road leading directly to the statue.

Hike for great views & sunset spots

If the statue is THE reason you are traveling to this region, then definitely be sure to allow enough time as well. The view is simply outstanding – literally! Your way to the top will be rewarded with one of the best views in the region, a beautiful panorama of the famous Dalmatian coast and many islands as far as the eye can see. A great photo spot for your travel album and Instagram profile.

As an additional reward for your visit, you should try to be there during the sunset. This way you’ll get a deep impression of this beautiful view. You will probably take some of the best photos here that you can take while visiting Croatia.

Croatia Insider Tips Hidden Gems Highlights: The massive statue of Our Lady of Loreto in Croatia

Hum: The smallest city in the world – Bizet

Imagine you are a giant. You cut through the landscape with a plow for the bed of the Mirna River in Istria. You build cities like Roč by throwing huge boulders with your hands to fit one another. But afterwards there are just too many extra small stones left… what to do? Build a small little city out of them, of course!

This is the legend of the beginnings of the smallest city in the world, Hum.

Nestled in the picturesque wonderland of central Istria, Hum with its two small streets and three rows of houses is unofficially the smallest town in the world, inhabited by just 30 people in 2011. Whether you prefer stories of giants or just want to enjoy the history of this tiny, unique place with hundreds of years of Croatian culture: Hum is a true hidden gem amidst the rolling hills of the region and worth a visit for anyone planning a trip to Istria.

 

 

In the surroundings of Hum, you can take a longer day trip by visiting the nearby hill towns of Draguc or Motovun or the beautiful village of Kotli, each unique and picturesque in its own way.

The region also has a lot to offer in terms of culinary delights: Besides the usual Istrian truffles, you should also indulge in Biska, the popular traditional Istrian liquor made according to a 2,000-year-old recipe.

The island of love – Galešnjak

If your trip to Hum, i.e. “the smallest city in the world”, brings you to see more of the unique record holders in Croatia, about halfway down the Dalmatian coast you will find the largest heart-shaped island in the world – called Galešnjak by the locals, or simply the Island of Love.

This perfectly shaped island of love is only 400 meters wide and currently uninhabited, but its heart shape has made it world famous in recent years for Valentine’s Day boat tours and aerial flyovers. Galešnjak is a truly charming addition to the unique sights in Croatia.

As part of a day trip to the small island is worth visiting the city of Zadar, here especially the sea organ art installation and greeting the sun.

Galešnjak - The island of love

The second longest wall in the world – Ston

Inspired by the successful TV series Game of Thrones, millions of visitors have flocked to Dubrovnik in recent years to experience the fantastic King’s Landing and its wonderful architecture. The buildings and thick walls make you believe that they can even stop a dragon, just like in the series. But all those who only fly directly to the “Pearl of the Adriatic” and never venture out of Dubrovnik miss an even more impressive sight: the walls in Ston.

Originally 7 kilometers long, the walls of Ston and the fortifications adjacent to them were built as early as 1333. Today they are still the longest wall system in Europe and the second longest wall system in the world. Only the famous Great Wall of China extends further. The original purpose was to protect both the cities of Ston and Mali Ston and their valuable salt pans. These were a traditional source of labor and trade for the locals and coveted by invading Ottomans in the past.

 

 

Although the wall has suffered many attacks and earthquakes over the years and its length has shrunk to “only” 5 kilometers, we highly recommend this stop! Here you can take unique photos of the wall and the great view. Learn more about the exciting history of this hard-fought region. Not only will you go back almost 700 years to learn about the construction of the wall. The town of Ston itself is considered prehistoric and was discovered and conquered by the Romans when Dubrovnik was still known as the Republic of Ragusa.

Discover untouched nature – Vis

Vis is probably one of the most beautiful islands off the Dalmatian coast. It is also one of the most fascinating islands, as for much of its history it served as a military base – for the Yugoslav army, among others.

Cut off from foreigners and visitors from 1950 to 1989, Vis was sparsely populated for many years, leaving its natural beauty almost completely untouched. For this reason, it has become a top destination for visitors seeking a glimpse of Croatia as it once was – before it was flooded with tourists.

Vis remains far away from the major tourist destinations even today. Therefore, it has managed to preserve its authenticity. When visiting Vis, you can expect unspoiled nature, beautiful beaches, gourmet delicacies and, above all, one thing: tranquility, a rare commodity today on Croatia’s often crowded coastline.

 

 

Rastoke – Natural beauty far from the crowds

If you want to escape from the sea with the crowded coast, Rastoke could be a good choice. In this picturesque village the rivers Korana and Slunjčica meet, which leads to enchanting waterfalls.

 

Croatia insider tips insider tips highlights: Waterfalls of Rastoke, Croatia at sunrise

 

This place was typical of many mills in the 17th century, so here you can experience a symbiosis of nature and technological progress from some earlier phases of human existence – an exciting interaction and certainly extremely educational.

Nature lovers can enjoy the canyon, the caves and the magnificent views. Rastoke is often compared to the Plitvice Lakes, located about 33 km to the south. However, Rastoke is much less known than the famous national park and therefore a true Croatia insider tip.

The beautiful waterfalls of Rastoke

Korčula – a true island jewel of Croatia

The island of Korčula is one of many beautiful islands in Croatia, and the town of Korčula is the most visited tourist destination on the island. A sight of Korčula visible from afar are the many houses with terracotta roofs. No less beautiful are the medieval walls and towers overlooking the Pelješac Channel.

Given this, it is no wonder that this place is often compared to Dubrovnik. During your stay in Korcula, visit the Cathedral of St. Mark, the town museum and Marco Polo’s house.

 

Croatia Hidden Gems: The red terracotta roofs of Korčula - an absolute insider tip in Croatia

 

The island is also famous for its wines. So take the opportunity to taste some of Croatia’s best wines like Grk and Pošip.

Even though Croatia has many insider tips and there is really a lot to see, we would also like to advise you to relax on one of the most beautiful beaches of this breathtaking landscape. The entire Adriatic coast has amazing and luxurious beach villas where you will definitely find enough rest and relaxation.

More travel tips and city trips in Croatia

Still have more time for the sights & highlights of Croatia? Continue reading here at JOURNICATION’s BIG5 Summaries and City Guides:

All the BIG5 highlights of Dubrovnik at a glance? Here you go:

 

Other great destinations in Croatia include the UNESCO World Heritage cities of Split and Šibenik.

 

Are you interested in a Balkan road trip? Check here:Balkans Road trip – Itinerary, Travel Guide & Tips

 

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Croatia Hidden Gems Insider Tips_Travel Inspiration_Things to do_Highlights

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