Five Beautiful Croatian Cities to Visit (If You’ve Done Dubrovnik)

Move over Dubrovnik: we’ve tracked down some of Croatia’s other must-visit cities. From Zadar’s culture-rich streets to Pula’s hidden coves, these are the lesser-trodden destinations that should be on your radar.

Oh, Croatia - sun-drenched land of white-sand beaches, pine-covered forests and colourful streetscapes - we have a major crush on you. Home to more than 1,000 idyllic islands, Croatia is fast becoming the destination of choice for stylish jet-setters seeking a dose of summer hedonism. While we're not here to deny Dubrovnik of its remarkable beauty, or Split from its lively spirit, there are plenty of other culture-rich cities on the Dalmation Coast to explore - ones that don't feel like constant crowd surfing. Tag along with us as we wander through crumbling old-town squares, feast in family-run eateries and swim through deserted bays.

A love letter to Croatia: five beautiful cities to bookmark

Zadar, Croatia


Despite ranking as Croatia's oldest continuously inhabited city, Zadar is a place most people would struggle to place on a map. A destination bursting with history, jaw-dropping beauty and a surprisingly flourishing creative scene, life here may date back to the ninth century, but there is absolutely nothing dated or dull about Zadar - picture a beautifully modern streetscape that marries traditional heritage with a free-spirited, urban vibe. Start your day navigating narrow passageways and wandering alongside the Unesco-listed fortified walls, before visiting the crumbling ruins of the famous Roman Forum. Then, while away the afternoon dipping in and out of charming cafés, independent galleries and parasol-shaded bars. Come sunset, skip along to The Garden Lounge, where sea-facing cabanas and live DJ sets draw a techno-loving crowd.

Where to stay: Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel

Sibenik, Croatia


Just an hour's drive away from Split, the city of Šibenik marks as the gateway to the Kornati islands. Despite having a full-time population of 32,000 residents, there is an intensely go-slow vibe here among the red roofed houses - which may work in your favour if you're seeking a quiet daycation or long, lazy weekend. Make the design-driven Armerun Heritage Hotel your base; that way you can enjoy sun-worshipping from your own private rooftop terrace before slipping into town in the evening. Fill your days by tasting the many flavours of the city, with seafood platters plucked straight from the Adriatic - our favourite spot is the sea-facing Bounty.

Where to stay: Armerun Heritage Hotel

Rijeka, Croatia


Rijeka was long considered nothing more than an industrial hub, thanks to its historic port, but that couldn't be further from the city today. Crowned 2020's European Capital of Culture, the city is a charming tapestry of Anglo-Hungarian architecture fringed by white-sand beaches like breathtaking Kostanj Bay. Creatives seeking inspiration should bookmark this place for the ultimate gallery-hopping adventure - The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and Peek & Poke are at the top of our list.

Where to stay: Ikador

Pula, Croatia


Pula, known worldwide for its wine production, is a city that seamlessly blends rustic charm with an urban edge. Located at the tip of the Istrian Peninsula, this place ranks as Croatia's seventh-largest city but feels more akin to a small village than a buzzy metropolis. Here rolling fields of lavender and striped vineyards marry a circular, labyrinthe streetscape, and historical jewels can be found across every inch of its landscape. Start by touring the first-century Roman amphitheatre, before checking out the Temple of August, then cool off with a splash in one of the sultry coves that lap the city's edge.

Where to stay: Hotel Valsabbion

The coastal city of Rovinj in Croatia


Sitting pretty on Croatia's northwestern coast, the fishing port of Rovinj makes for a slower and more secluded escape, think: a gritty promenade lined with colourful, rustic villas. While its remote location leaves this destination largely under the tourist radar, a contagious warmth is found woven through its restaurants, cafés and bars. For a multi-sensory feast swing by Monte, a delicious dining spot that was the recipient, in 2017, of Croatia's first Michelin star (we reckon order the cuttlefish or don't bother visiting at all). Further inland, the rolling hills and bountiful forests are a source of some of the world's finest olive oil and cured meats, among other local specialities. We're pegging this as the next big culinary destination.

Where to stay: The Melegran

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