From April to late October, the sun settles over the Adriatic Sea. During the summer months, the days are long and warm and best enjoyed in flip-flops with a glass of something cold. This is the best time to go backpacking in Croatia in Central Europe, and if you do, here's my ultimate guide to the ten best places.
Where To Go In Croatia
Zagreb is the capital of and largest city in Croatia. It's a compact city, with most landmarks, city center, Lower Town, and historic quarters of Gornji Grad (Old Town) and Kaptol all clustered around each other.
Once you've seen the capital city's major attractions, it's a good idea to imitate the locals by finding a cafe and spending the day people-watching.
2. Plitvice Lakes National Park
The Plitvice Lakes National Park, a short day trip from Zagreb, is a set of 16 lakes formed on a regenerative karstic basin.
As stone and water interact, they create a visual spectacle: cascades and waterfalls, natural limestone barriers, pools, underground streams, and caves.
Plitvice National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is spread across two mountain ranges. It's tied together with walkways and stairs, allowing nature lovers to explore one of Croatia's top national parks comfortably.
Rovinj is a sun-tanned pastel town on the Istrian peninsula. Once ruled by the Venetians, it has a definite Italian vibe with a Croatian twist.
After spending some time around town, above town (in the church bell tower), and in the sea, find a summer fiesta to experience local traditions, Croatian food, and the local spirit.
Motovun sits pretty on a hill above the Mirna Valley. This fairytale setting ensures the town's 12th-century walls see many activities, especially during the summer.
There's the Motovun International Film Festival during the high season in August. Screens are set up along the town square as movie buffs gather by the thousands.
Come October, foodies appear out of the woodwork to participate in the “Day of Truffles,” celebrated across the valley.
Groznjan is an artists' colony a short distance from Motovun. This was a ghost town in decay when a group of artists moved in during the mid-sixties and transformed it.
Today, Groznjan is a center for art and culture known for its eclectic artists, studios, galleries, workshops, music schools, and concerts.
It also has a fair share of wine bars and restaurants serving local delicacies.
Related: Croatia's Best Festivals
6. Split and Trogir
Split is Croatia's second city and an important commercial hub. It is also home to one of Croatia's most significant historical sites – the 3rd-century Diocletian's Palace complex.
This historical theme stretches right up to the museum town of Trogir, a few kilometers from Split.
Trogir is packed with landmarks, many encased within the medieval town wall.
Hvar is known locally as “the sunny island” for the many hours of sunshine year-round. We have the Mediterranean climate to thank.
It's also known as the island of good living, with million-dollar yachts and famous personalities a constant feature on the local marina.
This high-profile energy also makes Hvar island the perfect place to party, from high-end clubs to cruises and beach parties; be sure to pack your dressy shoes.
Once you've experienced the fun this island is known for and want to explore the other Croatian islands, you can book a yacht for hassle-free travel. It's also an excellent way to experience sailing in Croatia.
Vis is the furthest island on Croatia's Dalmatian coast. As a Yugoslav army base, it was off-limits to foreigners until the mid-nineties.
Even in recent years, it continues to be free of the summer rush typical to the rest of Croatia.
There's a decent party along the marina now and then, but if it's a quiet break you want, think of ripening vineyards, quiet beaches, and secluded bays – Vis is worth a visit.
The beautiful island of Korchula has always been a popular tourist destination, which is fitting considering a legend that claims Marco Polo was born here.
Its biggest town (and tourist attraction) is the fortified 15th-century Korchula town known as “Little Dubrovnik.”
But the Croatian island is more than just one town; there isn't a minute to spare between vineyards, olive groves, fishing villages, and sandy beaches.
Dubrovnik is Croatia's most famous destination, and for good reason. This 7th-century town is counted amongst the world's most impressive fortified cities. Within the city walls, many worlds thrive.
Ancient towers, defense posts, historic churches, museums, and modern homes stand tall along the same white-stoned streets. And beyond the walls, the blue sea beckons.
Take the cable car for a birdseye view of the Old Town and the sparkling Adriatic Sea.
While this list is limited to my picks for the ten best places to go backpacking in Croatia, there are many more beautiful islands and coastal towns to see.
Wherever you decide to travel along Croatia's Adriatic Coast or interior, I hope you have a great time!