15 of the most beautiful villages in Croatia
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Croatia is one of the dreamiest holiday destinations, known for its gorgeous islands, the rushing waters of the Plitvice National Park and the famous walled city of Dubrovnik, which you’ve probably always wanting to visit — at least if you’re a Game of Thrones fan. But the country has so much to offer beyond just its most well-known tourist attractions, from the bustling Christmas markets of Zagreb to the under-the-radar coastline of the Istrian Peninsula.
For those that want to experience local Croatian culture and cuisine in a small town ambiance, these are some of the most beautiful villages in Croatia.
Before we dig into the most beautiful villages in Croatia, the first order of business is getting there. Some of the most popular airports in Croatia include Dubrovnik (DBV), Split (SPU), Pula (PUY) and Zagreb (ZAG).
Fly nonstop on low-cost carriers from London to Dubrovnik on airlines like Jet2, Tui, EasyJet and British Airways — summer roundtrip rates start as low as £80. Or, fly roundtrip between London and Zagreb on carriers like Ryanair, British Airways and Croatia Airlines starting at just £35 this summer.
If it’s Split you’d like to visit, fly roundtrip from London on EasyJet, Wizz Air, British Airways or Croatia Airlines for as low as £45 this summer. EasyJet, Ryanair and British Airways also fly to the Pula (PUY) airport for those that want to visit the Istrian Peninsula, and summer prices start at about £50.
If you have a stash of Avios to burn, fly British Airways to Dubrovnik, Split, Pula or Zagreb. Rates start at 11,750 Avios one-way for off-peak Euro Traveller and 12,750 for peak Euro Traveller (plus taxes and fees). If it’s Club Europe you want to fly, expect to fork over 20,000 Avios on off-peak dates and 22,250 Avios on peak dates (plus taxes and fees) one-way. There’s still award availability left for summer dates, though they are select.
The most beautiful villages in Croatia
Expect red-roofed buildings, verdant foliage and magnificent sea views from these tiny Croatian towns.
This tiny coastal wonder was once an island connected to the mainland by a Medieval wooden bridge. Today, wander the island‘s winding streets, dip into its shallow, crystal clear waters and visit sites like the 15th-century Saint George Church, the San Roque Chapel and the Primosten Pier. A one-hour day trip from Split, it’s easy to access by car or bus.
One of the Istria region’s most popular towns, Porec is the perfect summer getaway thanks to its waterfront promenade and nearby pebbly beaches like Plava Laguna. But the real wonder to to see in Porec is the UNESCO-recognized 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica, complete with intricate mosaics and a bell tower. Shop and dine along Porec’s main drag Decumanus Street and central square, Trg. Slobode.
An easy, 30-minute drive from Dubrovnik, a visit to Cavtat is an easy way to escape the tourist crowds and enjoy an easy, relaxing day. Whether it’s sightseeing at the Konavle County Museum, viewing artwork from local painter Vlaho Bukovac or checking out one of the village’s summer events (concerts, exhibitions and more during July and August), Cavtat is the perfect seaside escape.
This charming fishing village is one of the most famous spots to visit on the Istrian Peninsula. From its colourful homes to the hilltop Saint Euphemia Church and grounds, the village manages to feel sleepy yet lively at the same time. When you get tired of sightseeing, stroll the village port, sunbathe on one of Rovinj’s beaches or cycle around one of the area’s many bike paths.
Another Istrian gem, the bright hilltop village of Labin is more hilly than beachy, but visitors but head to the nearby town of Rabac if they need a beach day. Full of shops, cafes and galleries, spending a day here just walking around is pleasant, but if you want to get some sightseeing in, stroll along the village’s medieval walls and gate and stop at the Labin Museum, which offers some insight into the town’s mining history.
If you can’t get enough of Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes, head to the village and watermill settlement of Rastoke to explore watermills, waterfalls and rivers and a taste of true Croatian small-town living. Tour the village, dine on local river trout overlooking the crashing waters or take in the fairytale scenery up close by kayaking or canoeing down the Slunjcica River.
Brsec’s red-roofed buildings are nestled among verdant cliffs overlooking the Kvarner Gulf on the Istrian Peninsula. Home to a castle, olive mill and gate to enter the old town, Brsec has all the elements of a historical Medieval Town and incredible coastal views overlooking the glittering sea.
One of the most popular seaside villages along the Makarska Riviera, Brela is the first stop of the 60-kilometre along this coastal area. You can stroll around town and check out the Kamen Brela rock, but the real call to the area is the seven-kilometre seaside promenade and surrounding beaches, the most famous one being the pebbly Punta Rata.
A quick day trip south of Split (less than 30 minutes driving), Omis is the point where the Cetina River flows into the Adriatic Sea. The village was a favoured destination for pirates back in the 13th and 14th centuries, but nowadays, Omis is perfect for active visitors — they can climb up to the Romanesque Mirabella Fortress, raft, kayak or canoe in the river and hike the surrounding hills.
Part of the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park in northern Croatia, Cigoc’s main inhabitants are actually storks. The village is known for its traditional wooden houses in which many stork families have built nests and made their homes. The best time to see the storks is during their nesting period from April to October.
The hills of Istria are just as beautiful as the region’s coastline. Motovun is just one of the many hilltop villages in the area, complete with what seems to be a Croatian village prerequisite of medieval walls and stunning views. Normally tranquil and calm, the village becomes lively with visitors during its yearly film festival, which occurs each summer.
Yet another Istrian village, Bale features attractions such as churches, local wineries and even dinosaur fossils at the village museum. The town, where almost all the buildings have red roofs and streets are weaving and cobbled, transports you back to medieval times with its traditional architecture and charm.
A walled city set on the Peljesac Peninsula, Ston is about an hour away from Dubrovnik by car. The 14th-century walls are often referred to the ‘European Walls of China,’ thanks to their appearance, which resembles the famed Chinese stone walls. Besides walking the walls, visitors can also check out both mussel and salt farms in Ston.
Hum claims to be the smallest village in the world, according to Croatian locals, with its population hovering around 27 or so inhabitants. The town consists of a few buildings, two churches, a restaurant, a couple shops, a cemetery and of course, a medieval town wall — just enough for a quick visit.
The village of Rab is located on the island of Rab — one of Croatia’s 1000+ islands. Swimming in the sea just off the old town offers gorgeous views of Rab village’s red-roofed buildings, and walking along the town’s seaside promenade is one of the best ways to enjoy the immense beauty of the island.
Featured image of Cavtat by Goran Safarek/EyeEm/Getty Images.
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