Croatia is a country renowned for its rich history, breathtaking beauty and endless servings of fun, adventure and excitement. Millions of tourists flock to the country annually to relish in its extravagant offerings. Most of them end up in popular destinations like Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Zadar and Split. Although such destinations offer a wealth of tourist attractions, they are just a tip of the iceberg. There are lots of other hidden gems, most of which rarely feature on standard travel brochures. These gems are fantastic destinations ready to be unearthed by curious tourists. Some of Croatia’s hidden gems are the following:
image credit: Mezmacko Deviantart
At a mere 7.22 square miles, Murter is one of the tiniest inhabited islands in the Adriatic Sea. The island has been inhabited for over two millennia with Romans, Ottomans and Illyrians among the people whose settlements have been found on the island. Murter is strategically located at the periphery of the Sibenik archipelago as well as the Konarti Islands. It is attached to the mainland by a drawbridge, and is home to some of the most idyllic beaches in the Adriatic. The island also has ancient Roman settlements, as well as medieval churches like St. Michael’s Church, St. Rock’s Chapel and Our Lady of Gradina. Murter also has a rich culinary tradition, as well as a rich tradition of producing olive oil. The island’s town of Jezera is home to the Adriatic Nautical Academy (ANA). Each summer, the ANA runs a sailing school featuring both theoretical and practical sessions. Murter’s proximity to Konarti and Sibenik makes it a prime attraction for yachting and sailing enthusiasts.
image credit: Skyscraper City
This beautiful island is perhaps best known as the birthplace of modern nudism. According to nudist lore, the practice was born in 1936 when King Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson were permitted to swim naked at the Kandarola Beach. To date, ardent nudists still throng the Kandarola to revel in the delights of nudism. However, Rab has much more than just nudism to offer. The island has a rich history stretching back to 360 BC. As such, it is populated with historical treasures such as ancient bell towers, Romanesque churches and lots of medieval buildings. The city’s rich history is celebrated in a colorful festival called Rapska Fjera. This 3 day annual event was first held in 1364 and features music, dancing, storytelling and artistic displays of crafts and skills which reflect Rab’s rich heritage. Rab is also boasts of a beautiful scenery, magnificent beaches, and one of the last oak forests of the Mediterranean.
image credit: Orvas Yachting
In a nutshell, those are some of Croatia’s hidden gems. Each of these destinations offers unique, exciting and memorable tourist experiences. The best thing about these destinations is that visiting them is relatively easy. Biograd and Samobor can be accessed by bus or taxi from Zagreb. The islands (as well as Biograd) can best be visited by boat. A number of companies organize cruises which make stopovers to the islands. Unfortunately, these cruises seldom make stopovers to little-known islands like Murter, and when they do, the stopover is so brief that visitors don’t get enough time to explore the island’s treasures. The best way to explore the islands is by hiring a boat or yacht and setting out on an adventurous excursion. There are numerous charter companies which offer boat/yacht hire services at very affordable rates. A would-be tourist can utilize these charter companies to unearth Croatia’s hidden gems.
Biograd na Moru
image credit: Val Tours
Located a mere 30km to the south of Zagreb, Biograd Na Moru (often shortened as “Biograd”) is the epitome of elegance and serenity. The city is located on a picturesque peninsula, surrounded by two idyllic bays i.e. Soline and Bosana. Biograd has a rich history stretching back to the 10th Century, a great part of which it spent as the capital of the Croatian Kingdom. This historical heritage is evidenced by its cobbled streets, ancient palaces and medieval cathedrals. The city has been a tourist destination since the 1930s. It is renowned for its breathtaking promenades, beautiful bays and pristine beaches. Visitors can enjoy endless excitements like scuba diving, snorkeling, horse riding, nature walks, camping and partying on popular beaches at the Ilirija Resort. They can also enjoy excursions into top destinations like Šibenik and Konarti National Park.
image credit: Panoramio
Located 20km to the west of the Croatian capital Zagreb, Samobor is one of Croatia’s best kept secrets. This quaint little town is perched between the Samboor hills and the foot of the Zumberak Mountain. This idyllic location means that the town is surrounded by a beautiful natural environment. Samobor is renowned for its serene environs composed of rugged hills, lush forests and spectacular mountainsides. Zagrebians use Samobor as the perfect destination for a quick break from the noise of the city. The town also has a medieval aura with cobbled streets, two storey buildings and a petite stream flowing through it. Samobor is renowned for its rich culinary tradition and vintage. It is the home of the iconic Croatian cake – the kremšnite, as well as popular vintages like the Samobor Mustard and Bermet. It is also home to the colorful Samabor Carnival – one of Croatia’s most popular festivals. The town’s surroundings also offer endless opportunities for mountaineering, hiking, cycling and picnicking.