Everyone loves a little city break in Europe at any time of year, don’t we? Croatia may not always be thought of as a city break kind of place – it’s considered much more of a summer holiday destination (of course, rightly so!) – but that’s something that is surely changing. With year-round flights from the UK to Zagreb and extended-season flights to other Croatian cities, Croatia is absolutely the place to go for a city break
Let’s take a look at some of the options for a city break in Croatia.
City Break in Croatia – Zagreb
There’s no denying it – Zagreb is the best option for a city break in Croatia!
What to See and Do
But what to do in Zagreb on a city break? Well, there’s plenty to do! With excellent museums and galleries – from historic ones such as the Museum of Contemporary Art to quirky ones such as the famous Museum of Broken Relationships or the Zagreb 80s Museum – you will absolutely be able to get your cultural fix here. But make the most of this relatively compact city but walking around its core, enjoying the main sights – especially around the Ban Jelacic main square area and in the Upper and Lower Towns.
Zagreb isn’t especially well known for its skyline, but there are also wonderful opportunities to see the city from up high. Head up the funicular railway to the Upper Town for a glimpse from the Strossmayer Promenade. Consider the Zagreb Eye observation deck which gives fantastic views over the main square.
Despite being in one of Europe’s capital cities, you might want to experience some nature too. These days, it’s easier than ever with the Zagreb Cable Car taking you up to Sljeme on the top of Mount Medvednica. And when you’re here you can get another view from up high by going up the Sljeme 360 TV tower.
And then, finally, do as the locals do and sit yourself down in a local cafe for a rest and to people-watch!
Take a look at our Sightseeing in Zagreb guide for more information on what to see.
There’s a truly excellent choice for accommodation in Zagreb, with something for all budgets and tastes – a truly mind-boggling array of hotels, an excellent range of hostels and (increasingly) private apartment options too.
When to Go
The beauty of Zagreb is that it really is a bustling, vibrant and busy city year-round.
Whilst many visitors would perhaps shy away from Croatia in the winter months, December is perhaps one of the best times of year to visit. The Advent in Zagreb Christmas celebration takes place over the whole of December (and into early January too) with multiple locations across the city offering something fun – from Christmas markets selling trinkets and treats to ice skating to beautiful Christmas decorations and lights to plenty of live music. You may even get some real snow to complete the effect!
Spring and autumn time are also excellent times of year to visit. Zagreb plays host to all sorts of events all year round (see our Events in Zagreb page) from concerts to food and wine festivals, film festivals, sporting events, cultural events and more. There’s practically always something on in Croatia’s capital. And with Zagreb being such a walkable city, exploring away from the peak heat is one of the best ways of seeing the city.
Early summer is another ideal time – with Zagreb generally enjoying pretty pleasant sunny and warm weather indeed, there’s an excellent vibe in the city as its residents look forward to the peak summer months.
But what about those peak summer months? Well, there’s no denying it – Zagreb gets HOT. Whilst there’s nothing bad about visiting during July and August, we would imagine you’d probably prefer to be somewhere on the coastline with the Adriatic Sea and a pool!
There are year-round flights from the UK to Zagreb; Ryanair operates daily flights from London Stansted, year-round flights from Dublin and extended season flights from Manchester. British Airways also operates year-round flights to Zagreb from London Heathrow, as does Croatia Airlines.
Check out our Getting to Zagreb page for full details of reaching Croatia’s capital city.
City Break in Croatia – Dubrovnik
We would consider beautiful Dubrovnik as the second best place in Croatia for a city break. The main core of the city, the Old Town of course, is easy to explore on foot and contains enough sights and attractions for an interesting yet relaxing city break.
What to See and Do
The Old Town will take up most of your time on this city break – walk the Old Town walls, explore the fortresses and then get down onto ground level to stroll the streets. There are then sights such as the Franciscan Monastery, the Rector’s Palace the Old Town Harbour and Pile and Ploce Gates too. (In fact, a stroll around the outside of the Old Town – on the land side, of course – is also a great experience.
One awesome thing about Dubrovnik is that if you want a Dalmatian island experience, you won’t have far to travel! It’s a short hop over to Lokrum (only about 15 minutes by boat from the Old Town harbour) to experience some beautiful nature.
Of course, it would be a shame to miss out on some beach time since you’re in Dubrovnik! You can either enjoy sunbathing on a private spot on Lokrum or head to one of the city beaches such as Banje Beach which is a short walk from the Old Town.
A trip up Dubrovnik’s Cable Car to the top of Mount Srd is also a must for stunning views over this amazing city.
Our Sightseeing in Dubrovnik page provides a full guide to what to see and do here.
As with Zagreb, there is a truly excellent choice for accommodation in Dubrovnik. There are some truly stunning 5-star hotels here but also a wide range of hotels at other star ratings.
To make the most of your time, you may like to stay within the Old Town itself – which is a pretty magical experience! There are only two hotels located here but there is a good amount of private apartments. Take a look at our Accommodation in Dubrovnik Old Town page for more details.
When to Go
You will be somewhat restricted to certain months of the year as there are no longer year-round flights from the UK to Dubrovnik. However, Dubrovnik in peak summer gets very busy indeed – so we suggest avoiding July and August to avoid both the crowds and the inflated summer prices.
The shoulder months of June and September are gorgeous but still attract a fair amount of visitors – so how about May or October? Both should offer excellent weather (and you will still be able to swim in the sea in October) but there will be far fewer crowds.
There are loads of flights from the UK to Dubrovnik!
British Airways operates flights from London Heathrow and London Gatwick from the end of March through to the end of October each year, whilst Easyjet have flights from London Gatwick beginning early March through to the end of October. Their flights from Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh airports start operating each year at the end of March/early April.
Our Getting to Dubrovnik page provides a full guide on flights to Dubrovnik from the UK, Ireland, Europe and beyond.
Dalmatia’s main city is another fine place for a city break in Croatia. Come here for a on a short trip to experience a bustling, lively city that’s on the gorgeous Adriatic coast!
What to See and Do
Base yourself in the Diocletian’s Palace area and explore on foot to get the most of Split. There are some amazing sights here including the core part of what was the Roman Emperor’s Palace. Make sure to climb the bell tower of the Cathedral of Saint Domnius for stunning views over Split’s rooftops.
Once you’ve walked the central part of Split, head a little further afield to the western part of Split to spend a few hours walking up and around Marjan Hill for glorious views over Split and out over the Adriatic Sea.
If you’re after more of a walking tour, we would then suggest you spend some time walking eastwards along the coast. You’ll come to Split’s famous Bacvice Beach; some downtime here would be great, or continue walking along the coastline for a peaceful and relaxing time, perhaps broken up by a coffee or a cold drink at one of the seaside cafes.
For a short city break a day trip out to somewhere such as Krka National Park may be a bit on the tiring side. However, the short hop (by boat or by bus) over to gorgeous Trogir is easily doable…not to mention, recommended!
Take a look at our Sightseeing in Split page for a full guide to what to see and do.
As befitting a city of this size, accommodation in Split is plentiful. There’s a wide range of hotels, hostels, apartments and more. Again, stay as central as possible to make the most of your time in the city. The Hotel Peristil and the Kastel 1700 Boutique Hotel are both excellently located mid-range options, whilst the Piazza Heritage Hotel would be a fine choice if you want to splurge.
When to Go
Our advice here is much like for Dubrovnik – avoid the peak summer months as Split can be both truly sweltering and practically filled to the brim with holiday crowds. May, June, September and October are the best months to visit, we would say.
For a different kind of festive experience, why not come to Split during the Christmas or New Year period? (If you can make it to Split relatively easily, that is.) Celebrate the end of the year in true Dalmatian style on the Adriatic coast!
Again, plenty of flights from the UK to Split! Take a look at our Getting to Split page for full details.
As of 2023, Croatia Airlines flies once a week from London Heathrow to Split year-round. They also fly from London Gatwick in summer.
City Break in Croatia – Other destinations
The above three options aren’t the only places for a city break in Croatia…but they are perhaps the easiest to organise!