This Croatia Map Highlights the Country’s Coolest Spots
The world is finally waking up to the gem that is Croatia, thanks in part to its leading role in the hit series, "Game of Thrones." But even as GoT mania calms down, people can't get enough of this European country's beaches, waterfalls and medieval towns.
This map of Croatia will take you around the best spots in the country. It includes well-known ones along the Adriatic Coast but also some incredible places you've probably never heard about or thought to visit. And we've ranked all 10 from awesome to absolutely must-visit.
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10. Hrvatska Kostajnica
Don't feel bad if you don't recognize Hrvatska Kostajnica by name, as this central Croatian destination is very much off the beaten path. The small town sits along the Una River on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Spend your time visiting the Zrin Fortress and the Church of Saint Nicholas or going fishing and hunting. Don't expect glamour and endless entertainment — this is the true Croatian countryside. But you can expect a refreshing lack of crowds and a chance to witness the country's culture and traditions beyond the tourist trail.
Where to stay: Tradicije Cigoc
9. Trakosan Castle
Inspired by German romantic architecture, Trakosan is Croatia's most charming castle. With a 19th-century exterior and interiors that date back to the 14th century, the structure is surrounded by a large artificial lake and expansive grounds. Learn about life before the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before enjoying a stroll around the gardens.
If one castle isn't enough for you, you can tour the northern Zagorje region to see the 16th-century Miljama and Veliki Tabor castles, Orsic Castle and Bezanec Castle.
Where to stay: Hotel Trakoscan
Too many tourists head straight to Croatia's coast and ignore the country's inland capital. With a strong cafe culture, tree-lined streets and medieval fortress walls, Zagreb is the quintessential European city — without the crowds.
Here, you'll be sharing the street with locals rather than hoards of tourists, and you likely won't have to deal with impossibly long lines when visiting landmarks like the Zagreb Cathedral or the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships.
Where to stay: Esplanade Zagreb Hotel
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Another town most foreigners have never heard of, Ilok sits at the tip of western Croatia, bordering Serbia. This pretty destination boasts a preserved medieval town, which includes a stone fortress from which you can get views of the Danube River.
But to sweeten the deal even more, Ilok is surrounded by numerous vineyards, where you can try Croatian wine.
Where to stay: Hotel Stari Podrum
6. Kopaki Rit Nature Park
Also located in western Croatia is Kopaki Rit Nature Park. As one of Europe's most expansive wetlands, this preserve protects invaluable ecosystems and the numerous species that inhabit them.
Wooden boardwalks let you get deep inside the wetlands, but boat and canoe trips provide an even more intimate experience. Birders will love the chance to see almost 300 species of birds. Foxes, beavers, wild boars and red deer may also appear as you walk through the park's trails.
Where to stay: Hotel Osijek
Moving on to the eastern Adriatic Coast, we find the former fishing town of Rovinj. Located on the Istrian peninsula, it was once part of the Venetian Empire, and it has the architecture to prove it. You'll find St. Euphemia Church at the center of town, surrounded by a labyrinth of small streets filled with boutique shops, restaurants and homes.
Rovinj is also blessed with an archipelago of 14 islands right off its coast, so you'll have your pick of beaches and endless excuses to do short boat excursions.
Where to stay: Villa Segalla
4. Telasica Nature Park
Although Zadar is a popular summer spot, most people who pass through the city ignore the existence of Telasica Nature Park. This piece of heaven on Earth is located on the nearby island of Dugi Otok and can be done as a day trip by boat.
White, rocky cliffs separate the blue of the Adriatic from the emerald-green waters of hidden lagoons. Walk a scenic trail to take in bays and cliffs before cooling off in one of the park's refreshing swimming spots.
Where to stay: Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa Iadera
We couldn't leave Croatia's darling off this list. UNESCO-listed Dubrovnik was a popular destination well before its HBO debut, but it's true that Hollywood encouraged more people to fall in love with its legendary beauty.
The fortified old town is decorated with cobblestone streets, monasteries and several churches. Head out early to walk along the medieval walls, which provide sweeping views over the Adriatic. If Dubrovnik isn't No. 1, it's not because it lacks the charm but because it's maybe too charming. Like Venice, overtourism makes visiting here a bit stressful — but still worth it!
Where to stay: The Pucic Palace
2. Plitvice Lakes National Park
Another spot no self-respecting traveler can miss in Croatia is Plitvice Lakes National Park. The nation's largest nature preserve, it protects 16 lakes connected to each other by waterfalls over tall limestone cliffs. The effect is a visual treat to anyone lucky enough to witness it.
Though water is the star of the show, the park also has forests you can walk through to get different vantage points of the waterfalls. Sadly, you can't swim here anymore, but that's a small price to pay for the conservation of this surreal landscape.
Where to stay: Hotel Jezero
RELATED: Plitvice Lakes National Park Shows Croatia’s Natural Beauty
It's hard to decide on a single place in the Adriatic Coast — let alone the whole of Croatia — that could be named No. 1. Ultimately, no place deserves it as much as Split.
Yes, the city receives a ton of visitors, but it makes up for it with its incredible history and unique set-up. While most touristy European cities follow a similar structure that centers around a medieval old town, Split one-ups all the others by having its old town be the remains of a 4th-century Roman city and Diocletian's Palace.
Besides, Split combines the best attributes of other destinations into one with breathtaking sea views, great nightlife, strong cafe culture and numerous historic landmarks. It also has one of the major airports in the country, so you can easily book a direct flight to it.
Other places just can't compete.
Where to stay: Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Split