Whilst some of you dear readers are Croatian newbies, currently actively researching your holidays to Croatia and what to see and do in the country, a lot of you may be old hands on visiting Croatia (I mean that phrase in the politest way!). You may have holidayed in the country several times now, or perhaps some of you go year after year – how wonderful! In which case, this post is for you! Here we present some Croatian alternatives for you to consider visiting this year.
Croatian alternatives – What on earth do you mean?
If you’ve been to Croatia before and have always visited the same one or two places, why not try something new this year? So, essentially, instead of going to X, why not try the similar destination Y?
Now, before anyone points this out, most of these alternatives aren’t especially close to the original destination…which is kind of the point. Because if you’re going to try something brand new, why not go the whole hog?
So, without further ado, let’s get started so you can see what new place in Croatia you’ll be holidaying in this year.
Croatian alternatives – Instead of Vis, try Lastovo
Vis is a complete gem of an island, one of Visit Croatia’s absolute favourite spots in Croatia. But if you’ve enjoyed its laidback and tranquil nature you might want to consider moving on…to the island of Lastovo. Both islands, in fact, have a similar history in the sense that both served as military bases in Yugoslavia meaning that they were closed to foreign visitors until the bases closed in the late 1980s. Both islands are the furthest (larger) islands out from the mainland too. That means that both require a longer ferry journey to reach them. (For either island, I would recommend the slower pace of a ferry rather than a catamaran.)
Lastovo, however, is smaller still than Vis with a population of only 1,000 compared to 5,000 and has fewer amenities than Vis. But this may be exactly the kind of thing you’re looking for. There’s only one hotel on the island (private apartments and villas are available, of course) and a handful of restaurants. Really, you’ll spend your days relaxing and enjoying the island’s beaches – and enjoying elements of the Lastovo Islands Nature Park. Oh, and staring up at the sky. As the island has very little in the way of light pollution, it’s one of the best star-gazing places in Europe and is called “the island of bright stars”.
More info: Lastovo Tourist Office
Croatian alternatives – Instead of Zadar, try Sibenik
Zadar is another one of Visit Croatia’s favourites (Visit Croatia has many favourites in Croatia…understandably) and I just love its easy-to-explore Old Town with a fascinating mix of old and modern sights.
But let me present to you Sibenik as an alternative. Sibenik has been getting a lot of press recently as an “off-the-beaten-track” alternative for Split or Dubrovnik, but I think it is better compared to Zadar.
Sibenik is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sights – St James Cathedral and the St Nicholas Fortress (one of several forts here!) and a charming Old Town with an exceedingly charming harbourfront. Ideal for strolling and showing off, or relaxing and people-watching.
And why not treat yourself when in Sibenik with a once-in-a-lifetime meal at Michelin-starred restaurant Pelegrini?
More info: Sibenik Tourist Board
Croatian alternatives – Instead of Dubrovnik, try Opatija
Dubrovnik is a gem of a place, absolutely, and with its magical Old Town and myriad other interesting sights and experiences, it’s a top destination for many.
But why not swap it for the “Grand Dame” of Croatian tourism – somewhere that has welcomed visitors far longer than Dubrovnik?
Super stylish Opatija has a very different feel to Dubrovnik; in fact, it has a different feel to many Croatian coastal towns. But this beautiful town has much to offer from its excellent accommodation options (with a number of very fancy five-star hotels), top dining options, luxe bathing spots and the endless lungomare seaside promenade with gorgeous views. (The lungomare in fact stretches for 12km beyond just Opatija.)
Although popular in its own right, Opatija is less busy than Dubrovnik so some travellers would welcome this change!
More info: Opatija Tourist Board
Croatian alternatives – Instead of the Istrian coastline, try the North Dalmatian coastline
If you’ve holidayed in one (or more than one) of Istria‘s gorgeous towns – Umag, Novigrad, Porec or Rovinj to name just a few – I’m sure you’ve thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful part of Croatia’s coastline. But why not make the journey a little further south along the coastline to North Dalmatia and try its gorgeous towns?
Consider places such as Biograd na moru, Vodice or pretty Primosten which offer the perfect holiday combo of beaches, plenty of amenities (restaurants, cafes), events, sights and experiences. And this part of Croatia has something that Istria is a little lacking – islands!
There are plenty of islands to make day trips to (Pasman, Ugljan, Dugi Otok), and you might even have your heart captured here…for Galesnjak, the heart-shaped island, is located off the coast near Biograd na moru. (It can only be visited by private boat, however.)
Croatian alternatives – Instead of Brac, try Losinj
If you like holidaying on an island, Brac may be a tried and tested favourite for you. Whilst there are plenty of alternatives in Dalmatia, consider instead of the islands off the Kvarner coastline…and our top suggestion for you would be the island of Losinj.
Losinj is famous for its lush green vegetation and is also cementing its position as something of a wellness isle. (Much of the Kvarner region has a long association with health and vitality tourism stretching back to the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.) So it’s the perfect place for a relaxing holiday where you can also enjoy plenty of pampering after a hard day’s hike around the paths of Losinj (or, more likely, a gentle stroll!) and then an excellent, top-quality dinner. The Hotel Bellevue would be excellent for such as holiday.
More info: Losinj Tourist Board
Croatian alternatives – Instead of Plitvice, try Kopacki Rit
The Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most popular spots to visit in Croatia, and rightfully so. But as one of the most popular places to visit, it may be a little hard to be “at one with nature” in peak season with all the other visitors there too.
Head instead to one of Croatia’s other national parks (there are eight in total) or – better still – one of its twelve nature parks. My top pick to suggest to you would be Kopacki Rit Nature Park in Eastern Croatia which is in an area of one of the largest, best-preserved wetlands in Europe. The stunningly beautiful area is home to assorted wildlife (deer, in particular, and it’s a great place for bird-watching) and is probably best explored on one of the boat tours.
Kopacki Rit is very close to Osijek, so visiting this nature park would also be a great way of exploring that city and this lesser-visited region of Croatia on one trip.
More info: Kopacki Rit Nature Park
Croatian alternatives – Instead of a festival in Tisno or Zrce Beach, try one of the lesser-known events
Perhaps Croatia for you is all about partying it up at one of the many festivals that take place in Tisno (such as Hospitality on the Beach, Love International or Outlook Origins) or in the clubs of Zrce Beach on the island of Pag (such as Hideout, Barrakud or Sonus).
Why not try something else this year, and head to one of the smaller festivals in a completely different – oftentimes quite unusual – location? Consider psychedelic raving in the forest in Lika at Mo:Dem; bass culture in Sibenik at Membrain; stoner rock at the Bearstone Festival; a party and a retreat all in one at the cosy, week-long Mystic Mountain; or an intimate EDM party on the island of Ugljan at Flows Festival.
Sure, some of these events may be a different vibe than what you’re used to (not to mention the music style may be not what you normally go for), but the experience will be something else. And you can tell all your friends “you were there first”!
Or go the other way – head to the INmusic Festival in Zagreb in late June which is Croatia’s largest open-air rock festival. It’s the perfect way of combining a festival with a city break as INmusic is held on Lake Jarun in the city.
Croatian alternatives – Instead of Zagreb, try Rijeka
I keep raving about how amazing Croatia’s capital city Zagreb is, so I’ll keep it to a minimum here. (But do hop on over to Visit Croatia’s guide to Zagreb if you’d like to read more about it.) Zagreb has so much to offer, and it’s a very interesting and fun place to visit any time of year. But the one thing it doesn’t have? The Adriatic Sea! So let us present to you the Zagreb alternative with the sea – Rijeka!
Rijeka is the third largest city in Croatia (behind Zagreb, of course, and Split) and home to the largest port in Croatia. It’s a city with excellent transport connections (bus, train, ferry/catamaran and even its own airport…on the nearby island of Krk) which means it is a breeze to reach.
Rijeka may have been a bit maligned in the past as a transit point for travellers to pass through on their way to holidaying somewhere else. But these days there’s plenty of things to interest visitors here. You can’t beat a stroll down the Korzo (the main pedestrianised thoroughfare), admiring some of the grand old buildings and structures such as the City Tower. There are some excellent museums here, from the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art to the Peek & Poke Computer Museum. And no sightseeing visit to this city would be complete without visiting Trsat Castle above the city. (What views!) There are also plenty of little side trips too – Opatija is just 15km away.
Of course, plenty of places to enjoy for eating and enjoying a night out, and some truly excellent accommodation choices too
More info: Visit Rijeka Tourist Board offers up plenty of information on what to see and do here.
Croatian alternatives…or complements?
Hear us out with this…but to make a proper comparison between the places mentioned, why not consider combining both in one holiday? That you truly can compare your usual spot with its alternative!