The five major regions of Croatia are the Mainland, Dalmatia, Kvarner, Istria, Slavonia. These are all diverse regions and different from one another. One of the hardest decisions to make when visiting Croatia is what regions to visit, so consider this guide as a bit of a cheat sheet for Croatia’s five major regions.
There is no one uniform Croatian culture, heritage, or history. Croatia can be divided into five large and diverse regions. Each region comes with its own different foods, entertainment, drinks, adventures, and experiences. When visiting Croatia, one must keep in mind the different regions and what they have to offer, this guide will give you all the most important info on each of Croatia main regions.
Top City: Zagreb
Things to do: Go hiking, see a play, go to a museum, sightseeing, enjoy the nightlife, skiing, advent.
Best season to visit: Winter
St. Mark’s Square, the seat of government of Croatia in Zagreb. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Mainland Croatia is one of the nation’s most popular regions, which is mostly due to the fact that the capital city of Croatia, Zagreb, is located in that region. Traveling in Zagreb is incredibly rewarding because the city has so much to offer, ranging from nightlife, to fine dining, to some of the best museums in all of Europe. Additionally, Zagreb has one of the best winter festivals in Europe, known as advent, which is a truly magical experience.
While Zagreb is a great city, there are many other places worthy of a visit in mainland Croatia. When visiting this region, the city of Varazdin is not to be missed. One of Croatia’s architectural gems, with its baroque style and inspired buildings, the city is a magnificent Central European wonderland. Additionally, Karlovac is a beautiful town that produces one of Croatia’s most famous beers. The Karlovac brewery produces Croatia’s second most popular beer, while also seeing many craft options that make for quite the tasting experience.
Top City: Osijek
Things to do: Wine tasting, traditional music festivals, listen to traditional Croatian tambura, try classic dried meats.
Best season to visit: Autumn
Beautiful aerial shot of the Slavonian landscapes. Flickr/Nick Savchenko.
Slavonia is by far Croatia’s most underrated region. Being the focal point of the wine industry in the country, the cultural birthplace of Tambura music, and a gastronomical paradise, Slavonia has so much to offer for travelers of all types. Wine lovers will rejoice in the Kutjevo region, which offers some of the greatest wine tasting tours in all of Croatia.
Fans of festivals will love the Vinkovci Autumns festival, which offers traditional Slavonian food, music, and drinks. Those who travel to dine will find this region to offer one of the most unique and diverse cuisines in Croatia, with fish paprikas being its most interesting and unique dish. Slavonia is a region on the rise
Top city: Rijeka
Things to do: See Croatia’s most unique city, visit the birthplace of Croatian tourism, go island hopping, camp out on a beach.
Best season to visit: Summer
The city of Rijeka. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Kvarner, like any other coastal region of Croatia, has much to offer. However, Kvarner is especially unique for two reasons: Rijeka and Opatija. Rijeka is the most unique city in all of Croatia, the massive port town has a very distinct feel and culture, unlike anywhere else in Croatia. The town is worth visiting just to see and feel a city that is unlike any other in the world, Rijeka is so unique in fact, that it was selected to be the European Capital of Culture for 2020.
Another interesting town to visit in the Kvarner region is Opatija. This town should hold a special place in the hearts of all travelers, as it is the birthplace of Croatian tourism. In the 19th century the town was visited by eager Austrians, specifically those from Vienna, to travel and enjoy new experiences, much like the adventurers that come to Croatia today.
Top city: Pula
Things to do: Visit the best preserved Roman amphitheater in the world, see some of Croatia’s most stunning beaches, try Istrian wine, see the most popular travel destination in Croatia, go to truffle hunting.
Best season to visit: Summer
Pula Ampitheatre. Flickr/Carole Raddato.
The region of Istria is since the 1970’s the most popular travel region in all of Croatia. This is for very good reason, the region is a combination of history and beauty, to become one of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring travel destinations in the world. There are countless things to do, and countless sites to see. Perhaps most notably is the Pula Amphitheater, which is the best preserved Roman amphitheater in the world, and the best preserved ancient site in all of Croatia.
If history doesn’t appeal to you, there are many other things to do in the small Istria region. The region produces its own unique wine and has its own distinctive food, most notably fuzi with truffles.
You can even go truffle hunting with a canine companion. Istria is unique, and a well-established travel hotspot, it is guaranteed to be worthwhile and unforgettable.
Top city: Dubrovnik
Things to do: Enjoy the best beaches in Croatia, enjoy Dalmatian cuisine, try Dalmatian wine, visit important historical sites, have Prsut with Pag Cheese
Best season to visit: Summer
Dubrovnik. Unsplash/Jonathan Chng.
While Istria is Croatia’s most visited travel region, Dalmatia is the fastest growing, and arguably the most famous. Dalmatia contains countless wonders for the eye to behold. Ranging from UNESCO world heritage sites, to some of the greatest beaches in the Adriatic Sea, Dalmatia will surely please you.
Dubrovnik has become the most famous city in Croatia in the recent years. This is because of its UNESCO heritage site walls, which were one of the greatest medieval defense systems of all time, its historical old town, and its divine beaches. Some of the greatest visual and aesthetic wonders in Croatia can be experienced in Dubrovnik. There is no way to describe the beauty, you must simply see it for yourself.
In addition to Dubrovnik, Dalmatia has many more gorgeous cities that also have plenty of experiences to offer. Pag has some of the most unique geographical features in all of Croatia, described as like being on another planet without leaving earth. Split offers Diocletian’s palace, the retirement site of one of Rome’s greatest emperors. And the hinterland Sinj, offers Croatia’s greatest knights tournament, Sinjska Alka.
These great places combined with the beautiful beaches, extensive gastronomy, and exquisite wine, make Dalmatia a travel wonder.
The best travel recommendations come from locals. Check out these Wanderguides from Croatia by locals sharing their travel tips and hidden gems.