Croatia is more than Dubrovnik, and today I want to share the top 8 hidden gems in the country – destinations you should definitely put on your “to visit” list if you’re planning a summer holiday here.
Croatia has so many amazing spots to offer that you could literally be exploring the country for years and still not have enough time to see them all.
But you don’t have to, especially now that you are reading this article. So if you’re wondering how to find the right destination in Croatia for you and your family or friends, I’m here to help.
Best part? We’ll skip the overhyped, “you know them already” type of destinations like Dubrovnik or Hvar. Don’t get me wrong – these are perfectly fine places, but there are plenty of other options too.
Without further ado, here are the top 8 lesser known Croatian destinations for a perfect summer holiday!
Best Summer 2024 Destinations in Croatia
Secluded beaches, amazing views, and truly spectacular water – these are just some of the things that make my recommendations below so amazing. Let’s jump straight in!
1. Losinj Island
We’ll start with the island of Losinj, which is part of the Kvarner bay islands. The island is a popular destination in Croatia, offering a lot for the money – from more secluded places for relaxation to more active ways of spending your stay.
Here is a list of reasons that make Losinj a great choice:
- Mild climate, clear sea and the amazing Mediterranean nature make it an ideal place for everybody, including those who have respiratory problems.
- The island is ideal for fans of active holidays, offering more than 280 kilometers of cycling and walking routes, as well as various sports and water sports spots.
- It is Croatia’s only island where you can watch dolphins – some 200 of them are known to be swimming in the area.
- It was called the “Island of Vitality” by the Food Wine and Travel Magazine which considered it the second best travel destination for 2018.
I wrote an article detailing the best beaches in Losinj, so make sure to check that one out also to explore your options.
2. Solta Island
My next recommendation for a perfect summer in Croatia is this small island near Split (which has some amazing beaches too!).
It also got some nice awards, including being ranked first among 50 best travel destinations throughout the years by various publications.
Just like Losinj above (and the other recommended places below) it is always ranked as a top summer destination in Europe on a yearly basis.
Here, you will be greeted by pristine nature, amazing turquoise waters, lush greenery and beautiful pebble beaches.
To round things up nicely, medieval villages, local vineyards and family-run olive oil farms are ready to offer unique experiences.
The island of Solta is an ideal destination for a peaceful summer holiday in combination with relaxing activities:
- Explore the bays of island on foot, by bike or boat.
- Enjoy swimming in numerous amazing beaches and bays.
- Taste the native olives called Levatinka.
- Try the local rosemary honey called Olintio.
- Visit local winery Dobricic and taste their red wine made from the autochthonous Dobricic grapes.
If you want to get more in depth with the options here, check out my full guide to Solta Island.
3. Pag Island
If sunbathing and swimming is not the only thing you are interested in, then Pag island is a great place for you.
This is where parties happen more often than not, making it a popular destination for a younger audience.
One of the main attractions in the area is the Zrce party beach in Novalja. This is Croatia’s only beach that gives you that Ibiza feeling thanks to the parties and the overall feel of the place.
Zrce is a long, stretched, white pebbled beach with crystal clear waters. The beach has numerous facilities and three popular open-air clubs offering entertainment until early in the morning if no other restrictions are in place.
If you ask someone what makes this island famous, it is certain that the response will be related to four nouns – lamb, salt, cheese and lace. Or ask the younger visitors and they’ll definitely recommend it for the parties and the open-minded atmosphere.
Learn more about this party island in my guide to Pag here.
4. Lastovo island
This is definitely not one of those places that you see on all lists – but you’re not here to see the things that everybody recommends.
You’re here for the opinions of somebody who knows the country well and doesn’t base recommendations on online research only.
And trust me when I say that you will absolutely love Lastovo island – even if you’ve never heard of it until today.
The island is considered one of the lost paradises of the Mediterranean region. It offers some truly amazing raw, unspoiled nature and a unique habitat that is rich in marine life and plant diversity.
This is definitely away from the regular touristy tracks, making it even more amazing. It’s far away from city noise and pollution, crowded beaches or heavy traffic.
It’s a place where you will most likely have to opt for private accommodation and skip on most social nightlife.
So while it’s definitely not the perfect destination for all travelers, none really is. But if you’re looking for raw nature and unspoiled beauty, you will love it!
5. Makarska Riviera
If you prefer the Adriatic coast, Makarska Riviera is my only recommendation in the area – but you don’t need more than it!
The truth is that the Makarska Riviera beaches are considered the most beautiful pebble beaches along the Adriatic coast, so you know that you’re in for a treat.
And the best part is that the place is still not extremely popular, as most visitors go straight to the islands, therefore neglecting the Makarska Riviera. This means that you have more for yourself!
6. Murter Island
Known as the gate to Kornati islands, Croatia’s nautical paradise of 89 islands, islets and cliffs, Murter is a place you will surely love due to its amazing position and natural, traditional charm.
There are four settlements on the island: Murter, Tisno, Beting and Jezera. The first town is the most popular one, while the last one is the most secluded.
You have various accommodation options and secluded beaches on the island, so you can really opt for a unique holiday here.
Also, due to its vicinity to the Kornati national park, it becomes one of the most important nautical bases on the Croatian coast. An ideal summer destination for lovers of boating holidays.
If this sounds like the right place for you, click here to read an in-depth article about this island.
7. Brijuni Islands
Brijuni Islands are truly a hidden treasure off Croatia’s coast that I already recommended visiting in my Istria itinerary.
The islands offer an amazing blend of natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere – but without losing a single bit in the beauty department. It’s just that they’re not as popular as other destinations, but they still offer a lot.
The Brijuni archipelago is made of 14 islands, were you have a national park, archeological sites dating back to the Roman times and, of course, plenty of secluded or popular coves, beaches and placed to enjoy both the nature and the Adriatic sea. And, of course, plenty of sun.
The Brijuni Islands may not be the go-to choice for most travelers, but that’s exactly what makes them special and worthy on a place on my list.
They offer a slice of unspoiled paradise for those who seek an off the beaten path destination where they can find a bit of history, a bit of tranquility and charming beaches.
8. Mljet Island
Mljet Island, Croatia’s green oasis, is less crowded, but still a great choice for travelers who wish to mix a beautiful, raw natural paradise with more traditional summer destinations on the Adriatic’s coast.
The island’s standout feature is its two saltwater lakes, Veliko and Malo Jezero, which are a must visit. Read more about what the island offers in my full travel guide to Mljet Island.
For those who appreciate nature, history, and tranquility, Mljet is an ideal destination where the crowds are never overwhelming. It’s a place where you can disconnect from the rush of everyday life and reconnect with nature – on a budget!
I could definitely recommend 10 or 15 amazing summer destinations in Croatia this year. Probably even more.
But for today, I wanted to give you some additional options to the “classic” ones that everybody talks about.
I’m not saying that Dubrovnik isn’t worth visiting (on the contrary!), but you have amazing options outside the city as well. And I am sure you will enjoy them all!
Let us all know which are your favorite off-the-beaten-path destinations in Croatia.