Traveling to Croatia: Where to go off the beaten path

With its stunning coastline, historic cities, and beautiful national parks, Croatia has become an increasingly popular tourist destination.

While places like Dubrovnik, Split, and Plitvice Lakes National Park are undoubtedly worth a visit, there’s much more to explore beyond the well-trodden tourist path. 

Dubrovnik, for example, is a city that has become one of the world’s most famous European travel destinations. In 2019, the city welcomed 1.5 million tourists. Remarkably, that is nearly 36 holidaymakers per Dubrovnik citizen. While Dubrovnik and the other major destinations in Croatia are fantastic for a holiday, there is so much more to visit. 

If you’re looking for a unique and authentic Croatian experience, consider venturing off the beaten path to discover hidden gems and lesser-known destinations. However, you may need to study before going. 

To truly connect with the local culture and people in these off-the-beaten-path destinations, consider learning Croatian. While English is often spoken in tourist areas, speaking a bit of the local language can enhance your travel experience and create deeper connections with the friendly locals.

Here are some fantastic off-the-beaten-path places to explore in Croatia.

Rovinj, Istria

Located in the Istria region of Croatia, Rovinj is often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor, Pula. This charming coastal town boasts cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and a picturesque harbor.

Explore the Old Town, climb to the top of St. Euphemia’s Basilica for panoramic views, and savor fresh seafood at local restaurants. Rovinj offers a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere compared to larger cities on the Adriatic coast. You will get the same great Adriatic weather but with fewer crowds.


While Dubrovnik and Split steal the spotlight, Šibenik is a hidden gem on the Dalmatian coast. The town’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site featuring stunning architecture, including the impressive St. James’ Cathedral. Šibenik is also a gateway to Krka National Park, known for its waterfalls and pristine nature. Visit the park and take a refreshing swim in its crystal-clear waters.

Korčula Island

Often overshadowed by more famous Croatian islands like Hvar and Brac, Korčula Island offers a more tranquil and authentic island experience. Explore the medieval town of Korčula, believed to be Marco Polo’s birthplace, and enjoy the island’s vineyards, olive groves, and beautiful beaches.

Zagorje Region

Croatia’s Zagorje region, located to the north of Zagreb, is a hidden treasure for nature lovers and history enthusiasts. Explore the picturesque Trakošćan Castle and Veliki Tabor Castle, both set against the backdrop of lush green hills. The region is also known for its thermal spas and wellness resorts, making it an ideal destination for relaxation.

Cres Island

Cres is one of Croatia’s largest islands but remains relatively undiscovered by tourists. Its rugged landscapes, charming villages, and pristine beaches offer a peaceful escape from the crowds. Be sure to visit Lubenice, a medieval hilltop village with stunning views of the Adriatic.

Paklenica National Park

Paklenica National Park is a paradise for hikers and climbers, tucked away in the Velebit mountain range. It offers a dramatic backdrop of rugged canyons, towering peaks, and dense forests. The park’s trails range from leisurely strolls to challenging hikes, catering to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts.


Located in eastern Croatia, Osijek is a city steeped in history and culture. Explore its well-preserved Baroque architecture, visit the medieval fortress of Tvrđa, and take a leisurely stroll along the Drava River. Osijek is an excellent place to experience traditional Slavonian cuisine and hospitality.

Velebit Mountain

Velebit Mountain, part of the Velebit Mountain Range, offers nature enthusiasts a rugged and wild experience. It’s a less-visited destination that offers excellent hiking and trekking opportunities. The Northern Velebit National Park is a highlight known for its diverse flora and fauna.

Motovun, Istria

Perched on a hilltop, Motovun is a charming medieval town in the Istria region. It’s famous for its truffle delicacies and stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Explore its winding streets, enjoy Istrian wines, and immerse yourself in the laid-back atmosphere of this hill town.

Motovun and the surrounding region are known for their truffle-rich forests. Truffle hunting is a traditional activity in the area, and you can join guided truffle-hunting tours to learn about these prized culinary delights.

Croatia is a country filled with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. By venturing off the beaten path, you can explore the country’s rich history, stunning landscapes, and unique local culture while avoiding the crowds. So, pack your bags and set off on an adventure to explore the lesser-known gems of Croatia.