Ever wanted to go ziplining across a 2km wide ravine, white water rafting through towering gorges, sea kayaking alongside the walls of an ancient Roman city, island-hopping among traffic free Mediterranean islands, or hiking through vast national parks? Whatever you have planned for your next adventure holiday, you are bound to find it in Croatia.
As if this wasn’t enough, this Balkan state also offers a rich and fascinating history, with 10 UNESCO world heritage sites, as well as mouth-watering cuisine and excellent wines.
From Dubrovnik far down in the south, to the Istrian peninsula in the north west, and east towards Zagreb, there is so much to see and do here that you will want to make more than one trip.
Here is our adventure guide to Croatia and our top tips for where to go and what to do.
Dubrovnik and the Elafiti islands
Best for: sightseers and beach bums
Starting from Dubrovnik down in the south, probably the most popular destination in Croatia, this Mediterranean city with its characteristic red tiled rooves and curved harbour (familiar to Game of Thrones fans as King’s Landing) has become a magnet for tourists over the last few years. Take a walk along the city walls for stunning views of the city and harbour or take the cable car up to Mount Srd to enjoy sweeping views along the coast.
While a visit to the city should be near the top of your list during your stay in the area, if the throngs of tourists spilling off cruise ships into the gorgeous cobbled streets of the old town put you off, then take a trip to the Elafiti (or Elaphite) islands just off the coast. Here you can relax and explore the traffic free islands on foot, or the coastline by kayak or catamaran, then enjoy spectacular sunsets from the terrace of one of the cosy fish restaurants. There are many day trips to the islands from the mainland, but if you are looking for a relaxed beach holiday with a few activities thrown in then you can stay on one of the 3 inhabited islands of Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan. Read more about the Elafiti islands here
Split and Omis
Best for: history buffs, watersports and adrenaline highs
Moving on up the coast, the next city you come to is Split, the second largest in Croatia, famous for its Roman heritage – a huge chunk of the beautifully preserved old town is occupied by the UNESCO site Diocletian's Palace. If you don’t want to spend the day exploring this huge site, then Sea Kayaking excursions are popular here, tours hug the coastline from the port, past the palace and city walls to the rocky coastline just outside the city.
Around 30 mins south of Split is the town of Omis, set on the mouth of the Cetina river, at the edge of its towering canyon. An increasingly popular adventure sports destination, you can sail across the 2km wide canyon on a zip-line, go white water rafting, canyoning, kayaking or canoeing, river tubing, as well as mountain biking, hiking and climbing. There is also a sandy beach where you can enjoy some down time and a number of cafes, bars and restaurants around the old town where you can eat mouthwatering fresh seafood.
From here you can also take excursions to Brac and the other islands close to the shore.
Short adventure holiday on the Croatian coast - One of our bestsellers!
Zip-lining across the Cetina Gorge in Omis
Sibenik and the Kornati and Krka national parks
Best for kayaking and hiking
Just a little further on up the coast lies the small harbour town of Sibenik, less glamourous than its more famous southern neighbours, its medieval old town is nonetheless a joy to explore and it offers some pretty pebble beaches.
The area is an excellent starting point for a watersports holiday exploring the archipelago and Kornati national park by sea kayak. Paddle around the islands of Prvic, Zlarin and Kaprije close to Sibenik, or head up to the Kornati national park, a collection of uninhabited islands with striking karst rock formations.
The nearby village of Skradin is the perfect base to visit Krka national park. Head to the Skradinski Buk waterfall just outside the village to enter the park, which offers wooden walkways over more travertine waterfalls as well as beautiful rock formations. The Skradinski Buk even has a swimming area, though it can become crowded in high season.
Best for hiking and cycling
While we couldn’t leave out Istria when writing a post about the best places for an adventure holiday in Croatia (it’s fantastic for hikers and bikers) we have already covered it in more detail in a recent post.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
One of the largest national parks in Croatia, and perhaps the most visited, Plitivice is a UNESCO world heritage site and is most famous for its vibrantly hued travertine waterfalls and series of interconnected lakes ranging in shade from light blue to dark green. There are numerous marked trails for hikers and lots of opportunities for kayaking and rafting in and around the park. Though a popular destination it never seems busy due to its size, so you can spend a pleasant few days exploring without feeling like you are one of the crowd.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Zagreb and the countryside
Best for hiking
Zagreb is the country’s capital and has a more central European feel to it, making it more similar to somewhere like Prague than the coastal cities of Split and Dubrovnik. Its vibrant cultural scene is also an attraction, though if you escape to the countryside near Karlovac there are some beautiful spots off the main tourist trail for hiking and exploring the small towns and villages in the area, as well as white water rafting, horse riding and an adventure park for kids (big and small!).
Short multi-activity holiday in the heart of Croatia - as featured in The Guardian's '20 of the best activity holidays in Europe'
So there you have it, lots of ideas and inspiration for your adventure holiday in Croatia. If you’re still not sure of where to go or can’t decide between all these great options, drop us a line for some help planning your trip.
Anything to add? Let us know in the comments.