21 Hidden Gems in Croatia – Off-the-beaten-path destinations you need to visit!

Croatia is a very popular destination for travelers from all around the globe. With a collection of stunning beaches, some incredible natural parks and fascinating historical cities, Croatia is one of those places that will instantly make you fall in love with it.

Apart from the famous tourist destinations such as Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar, there are many other off-the-beaten-path destinations in Croatia which are worth discovering.

In this blog post I’ll be focusing on sharing the lesser-known destinations in Croatia. Buckle up because you’re going to discover some unique places!

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hidden gems in Croatia
hidden gems in Croatia
hidden gems in Croatia

Hidden Gems in Croatia

21. Galesnjak Island

Heart Island in Croatia - Galesnjak

The island of Galesnjak is a unique place, famous for its heart-like shape. Without any inhabitants or any other attraction, the Island of Love attracts couples in their honeymoon or people simply in love.

It’s located between the island of Pasman and the town of Turanj on the mainland. It’s privately owned and there are no services on the island, yet people arrive here for its romantic aura and remoteness. It was brought to the attention of the world when it was highlighted by Google Earth in 2009.

20. Varazdin

Varazdin Castle exterior Croatia - hidden gem in Croatia

Among the hidden gems of Croatia, the city of Varazdin is an extraordinary cultural destination, known for its amazing Baroque architecture, an imposing Gothic fortress and inspiring museums (including an unusual World of Insects museum).

One of the main attractions in the city is the beautiful Stari Grad Fortress, built between the 14th and the 19th century. Varazdin is also one of the most charming little towns in Europe, with its youthful and serene atmosphere that captures the heart of any traveler. You can visit Varazdin as a day trip from Zagreb.

Tourist attractions in Varazdin – Stari Grad Fortress, King Tomislav Square, Varazdin Cemetery, Miljenka Stancica Square, Varazdin Town Hall

19. Pag Island

Pag Island Croatia at sunset

Pag is definitely one of the most interesting places in Croatia, a mix of otherworldly landscapes and a vibrant party atmosphere. The island of Pag is one of the biggest in the Adriatic Sea and yet it is unique due to its barren scenery that resembles the surface of the moon.

Lately, the island has become a party destination and one of the top destinations for those who’re backpacking in Croatia. Tourists and locals alike gather at Zrce Beach to party and have fun. The island is also known for its pleasant beaches, small traditional villages and as a producer of cheese, lace, salt and wine. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful islands in Croatia!

Tourist attractions on Pag Island – Lace Museum, Simuni Beach, Olive Gardens of Lun, Caska Beach

18. Sibenik

Sibenik Town at sunset - hidden gem in Croatia

If you’re looking for off-the-beaten-path destinations Croatia, Sibenik is the perfect choice. Known for its beautifully preserved old town, with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a historical legacy that spans millennia, Sibenik is great for those looking for a more laid-back holiday.

Among its attractions, visitors will surely be amazed by the many beautiful fortresses, including one that was featured in the Game of Thrones series – St. John’s Fortress. While in Sibenik, I recommend planning at least a few hours to explore the beaches. One of the most beautiful ones is Banj Beach, offering a spectacular view towards the city.

Tourist attractions in Sibenik – Sibenik Cathedral, Krka National Park, Barone Fortress, Sibenik Promenade, St. Michael’s Fortress

17. Trakošćan Castle

Trakoscan Castle Croatia - off-the-beaten-path

Just like a fairytale come to life, the castle of Trakoscan is a must-see. This romantic place is located near the city of Varazdin in the Hrvatsko Zagorje region.

The castle is located in the middle of a beautiful forest with a lake and it features an interesting museum that includes historical displays and works of art. The surrounding park includes an inspiring 5 km educational path. The good news is that you can visit this castle as a day trip from Zagreb.

Trakošćan Castle opening hours – 9 am – 6 pm (during summer) and 9 am – 4 pm (winter)

Trakošćan Castle entrance fee – 30 kn for adults, 15 kn for children

16. Zaklopatica Bay

Zaklopatica Bay at sunset - hidden gem in Croatia

One of the secret places in Croatia, the bay of Zaklopatica is located in Lastovo and is one of the most unforgettable sights in the area. The charming bay is almost enclosed by a small islet and inside there are beautiful villas and restaurants.

It’s connected to the village of Lastovo and the main port by road. Beside a fish market and wine cellars, visitors can also try diving. Most travelers arrive here by yacht. 

Tourist attractions in Zaklopatica Bay – Lastovo, diving

15. Dvor Veliki Tabor Castle

Dvor Veliki Tabor Castle Croatia

Dating from the middle of the 15th century, this fascinating fortress is one of the most important in the country, located in northwest Croatia. The oldest part of the stronghold is the central pentagonal castle, being surrounded by walls and Renaissance towers.

The castle has been completely restored and now houses an interesting museum about the history of the place, as well as various events, such as medieval fairs and workshops. If you want to visit this castle with a guided tour, click here.

Dvor Veliki Tabor Castle opening hoursclick here

Dvor Veliki Tabor Castle entrance fee – 25 kn for adults, 15 kn for children and students

14. Porec

Porec Town rooftops - hidden gem in Croatia

Considered to be one of the most interesting places in Croatia, Porec is a small town and seaside resort in the region of Istria. While in Porec, make sure to visit the two idyllic bays called the Green and Blue Lagoon, the small island of Sveti Nikola and the surrounding historical heritage sites.

The most important one and a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Euphrasian Basilica dating from the 6th century and featuring superb mosaics. Porec is the perfect destination for those who’re looking for a beautiful destination, full of history and culture.

Tourist attractions in Porec – wine tasting, Aquacolors Waterpark, Baredine Cave, Euphrasian Basilica, Marafor Square, Temple of Neptune, Val Marea Beach

13. Pazin

Pazin Castle in Croatia - secret places in Croatia

The administrative capital of the Istria Region is a charming little town with a nice atmosphere. It can be a very interesting destination, as well as a base to explore the region. Its main attraction is the impressive Pazin Castle that sits above a spectacular abyss known as “Pazin Chasm” and a natural pit that delves over 130 meters between cliffs to the river below.

The castle is the largest and best-preserved in the region, housing two museums. The town also has an event called the Days of Jules Verne, celebrating the author who used the castle and town in one of his books.

Tourist attractions in Pazin – Pazin Castle, Pazin Abyss, Pazin Cave, Pazin City Museum

12. Rabac

Rabac Town Croatia - off-the-beaten-path

Rabac is of the hidden gems in Croatia that you should add to your itinerary. Once a small fisherman village, the modern seaside resort of Rabac is one of the most beautiful destinations in the country.

Located in the Kvarner Bay close to Labin, this charming town is home to gorgeous pebble beaches and stunning villas and hotels scattered on the nearby hills. The nearby town of Labin is also worth exploring for its rich cultural and architectural heritage. Also, don’t skip the Old Town area, with its laidback atmosphere.

Tourist attractions in Rabac – Maslinica Beach, Lanterna Beach, hike from Rabac to Labin, diving

11. Kotli Waterfall

One of the must-see places in Croatia is the Kotli Waterfall and the village with the same name. The lovely Mirna River passes through some canyons and creates a series of breathtaking waterfalls.

The landscape is further embellished by the handful of stone and wooden houses and mills on the banks of the river. There is also a trail called the “Seven Waterfall Trail” starting in Buzet that connects the most beautiful sights in the area. Tourists can stay in the renovated houses of Kotli village for an authentic experience. 

10. Primosten

Primosten Town - hidden gem in Croatia

Located between Split and Sibenik, the small town of Primosten is one of the lesser-known destinations of the Croatian coast. The old town of Primosten occupies a small island that is connected to the mainland and features impressive medieval architecture.

While in Primosten, you have to visit the beaches. With almost 20 kilometers of pleasant pebbly beaches, including some small bays that offer privacy, here you’ll find some incredibly beautiful oases. Primosten is also famous for its old vineyards so if you like wine, this might be the perfect place for you.

Tourist attractions in Primosten – Our Lady of Loreto Statue, Church of St. George, explore the old town, Garbina Beach, day trip to Krka National Park, day trip to Split

9. Trsteno

Trsteno Arboretum - hidden gem in Croatia

Located just 19 km northwest of the spectacular city of Dubrovnik, the small village of Trsteno is one of the most interesting places in Croatia. The highlight of this destination is the Arboretum and Botanical Garden, with some of the oldest and most valuable tree species in the region.

The village also has some medieval architecture and is gaining fame for being the set for some of the scenes in the Game of Thrones TV series. Make sure to add Trsteno to your Croatia itinerary.

Tourist attractions in Trsteno – Trsteno Arboretum, day trip to Lopud Island, day trip to Kolocep Island

8. Sakarun Beach

Sakarun Beach aerial view Croatia

One of the most beautiful beaches in all of Croatia is still a well-kept secret. Sakarun Beach is located on the northwest side of the Dugi Otok Island and is often referred to as a piece of the Caribbean in the Adriatic.

The fine white sand and clear turquoise water make it an idyllic destination. The shallow water and the shade offered by a pine tree forest makes it an extremely popular destination for families too.

7. Motovun

Motovun Town Croatia on a hill

The small town of Motovun is one of the hidden places in Croatia, a picturesque hilltop settlement that reminds me of the towns in Tuscany. Located in the province of Istria, it’s mostly known for the Film Festival that takes place each summer and brings the town to life.

The architecture and superb location atop a small hill overlooking the nearby valleys and forests are part of the charm. While in Motovun, you can explore the small cobblestone streets and the nearby forests known for their truffles. You can also sample some delicious truffles in the local restaurants. To get to Motovun, you can choose a day trip from either Pula or Rijeka.

Tourist attractions in Motovun – Motovun Cultural Education Center, Truffle hunting tour, explore the old town and the old town walls

6. Omis

Omis Town Croatia view

The stunning town and port of Omis is truly spectacular, located at the mouth of the Cetina River and about 25 km south of Split. Long ago, this was a favorite hideout for local pirates but today Omis is one of the hidden gems in Croatia.

What makes Omis unique is the spectacular landscape surrounding it. The town sits at the base of majestic mountains, being divided by Centina River. While in Omis, explore the fortresses and churches and take a walk along the river at sunset. Especially during the summer, visitors can join cruises that go up the turquoise Cetina River to impressive canyons. The most adventurous ones can try rafting.

Tourist attractions in Omis – St. Michael’s Square, Celtina River rafting, Mirabella Fortress, Fortica Fortress, Dalmatian Klapa Singing Festival

5. Rastoke

Rastoke Waterfall Croatia - hidden gem in Croatia

The little village of Rastoke is located on the outskirts of Slunj Town and very close to the world-famous Plitvice National Park and its spectacular series of waterfalls. Most travelers overlook this wonderful village that has so much to offer!

Rastoke sits on two rivers and includes several impressive waterfalls right next to the old houses and streets. In this beautiful village you’ll find some interesting traditional water mills made of stone and wood, two of them being renovated and preserved. Rastoke is definitely one of the unique places you should visit in Croatia.

4. Milna

Milna Town - hidden gem in Croatia

A little village located on the western side of Brac Island, Milna used to be called the “bay of a thousand ships” by the Venetians in the past. To this day, it’s considered one of the most beautiful harbours on the island and the Adriatic Coast of Croatia, with safe bays and beautiful waterfront houses.

The village also features a splendid Baroque church with Venetian artwork, as well as plenty of opportunities to try water sports activities, including scuba-diving, fishing or sailing. There are also several other enchanting beaches, bays and little islands nearby.

Tourist attractions in Milna – Milna harbour, Milna Old Town

3. Vrbnik

Vrbnik Town and boat - hidden gem in Croatia

Situated at about 50 meters above the sea level, on the edge of a cliff, Vrbnik is a unique destination in Croatia known for its beautiful architecture and delicious wine.

While in Vrbnik, head to Potovosce beach, one of the most famous beaches in the area. Since there is no natural shade, you’ll have to rent a sunbed and a parasol but the view is worth it!

Tourist attractions in Vrbnik – Klancic – the narrowest street in the world, Nuluk Beach, Zgribnica Beach, the city walls and towers, the Bell Tower

2. Medulin

Medulin Town bay Croatia

Dating back to ancient times, Medulin is a lesser-known destination in Croatia, Istria region. Once a little fisherman village, it’s now a resort town with beautiful beaches like those of Bijeka and Skrape.

Perfectly equipped to receive tourists, Medulin also has several interesting landmarks, including Roman ruins, a couple of windmills and a nice church with two bell towers. It is also very close to the amazing city of Pula, famous for its historical heritage.

Tourist attractions in Medulin – Beijeca Beach, St. Peter’s Hill, Saint Agne’s Church, Vizules Archaeological Site, take a day trip to Pula

1. Splitska

Splitska Town Croatia - off-the-beaten-path

Located on Brac Island, one of the most beautiful islands in Croatia, Splitska is a small village with a population of only 368 residents. If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination in Croatia, this might be the right place for you.

Even though there are no hotels in Splitska, you can rent private rooms and apartments. Head to the beach and enjoy a relaxing holiday in this secluded destination in Croatia.

Tourist attractions in SplitskaPanorama Restaurant, Splitska Church, take a walk on Riva

Final thoughts

Croatia is full of popular tourist destinations but if you’re looking for a quiet holiday, away from the crowds there are a few places suitable for your needs. I hope that these 21 hidden gems in Croatia have inspired you to plan an unforgettable trip to this beautiful country.

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments section below.

May the travel bug bite you!

Disclosure: Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend companies and products that I trust and the income goes to keeping this website running. Thanks!
Aurelia Teslaru
Aurelia Teslaru

Aurelia Teslaru is a professional travel blogger and the writer behind Daily Travel Pill. With a 4-year experience as a travel writer and photographer, Aurelia only shares travel guides about destinations that she visited.

She has been to more than 40 countries during the past 10 years and aims to explore 50 countries before turning 30 years old. Aurelia is a digital nomad who transformed her passion for travel into a lifestyle. Read more about her here.

To follow her adventures, check out her Instagram and Facebook pages!

1 Comment

  1. monica
    October 8, 2020 / 12:30 pm

    Very informative, didn’t heard the name of any of these places before ,view is breathtaking will definitely plan my visit post covid .

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