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Top 5 hidden gems in Croatia

Photo by Katarzyna Tyl from Pixabay

Nestled along the stunning Adriatic coastline, Croatia is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, historic cities, and vibrant culture. While destinations like Dubrovnik and Split often steal the spotlight, Croatia is also home to hidden gems waiting to be discovered by intrepid travellers. In this article, you will find the top five hidden gems in Croatia, from secluded islands to picturesque villages tucked away in the countryside. Get ready to embark on an off-the-beaten-path adventure and uncover the lesser-known treasures that Croatia has to offer.



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Zadar is Croatia’s fifth-largest city and it offers a delightful mix of culture, history, nature, and beautiful beaches, making it an ideal destination for travellers. With plenty to explore in the city and its surroundings within a short drive, Zadar serves as the perfect base for a getaway lasting anywhere from a few days to a week.

The city itself resembles an outdoor museum, where every corner holds a piece of its fascinating history. Protected by UNESCO, the ancient city walls once provided defence against invaders and now offer a scenic promenade enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Zadar also boasts a lively cultural scene, with numerous museums, exhibitions, and frequent shows and concerts to enjoy.

A standout attraction to see in this city is the Morske Orgulje (Sea Organ) on the esplanade, a fascinating invention that spans seventy meters along the shoreline. Built into the steps are pipes that produce enchanting melodies as the waves flow through them – a must-see/hear!

Just a few steps away, you’ll find another fascinating installation called the Salutation to the Sun. This circular solar panel absorbs sunlight during the day and produces enchanting light effects in the evening.


Located a short distance from Makarska Riviera, a well-known coastal town, Brela is a lesser-known treasure in Croatia.

It’s renowned for its breathtaking beaches, with the iconic Punta Rata beach and the striking Brela Stone being major highlights. Beyond the beaches, there’s a wealth of other attractions and fantastic excursion spots waiting to be explored.

The town offers a wide range of water sports and other water activities. You can rent a pedal boat (for a relaxing time on the sea), a speed boat, or even try parasailing and jet skiing.

Brela is just one gem in the stunning region of Makarska Riviera. This whole area is filled with breathtaking landscapes and plenty of places to explore. When you’re done with exploring Brela, don’t forget to check out the other wonders of Makarska Riviera.

Photo by Uliana Poshyvak for The Circular


Tucked away in the Adriatic Sea, Lastovo is a quiet island nestled in the heart of Croatia’s unspoiled beauty. As you step off the ferry, you’ll be greeted by a quaint village adorned with charming houses and ancient churches, offering a glimpse into Lastovo’s rich maritime history.

Embark on a journey through time as you wander the medieval streets, admiring the picturesque stone houses with their distinctive chimneys, known as fumari, which stand as symbols of Lastovo’s architectural heritage. Don’t miss the chance to explore the ruins of the ancient basilica near Ubli, the island’s main port, before making your way to the church of St. Kuzma and Damjan, perched atop Lastovo town.

The climb to the church may require a few breaks, but the breathtaking views from the summit are well worth the effort. Afterwards, treat yourself to some well-deserved relaxation on the pebbly beaches of Skrivena Luka and Zaklopatica, where crystal-clear waters invite you to swim and soak up the sun.


In the northern region of Istria sits the quaint small fishing village of Novigrad. Its location between two larger resort towns means that visitors frequently miss it. For anyone who wants to venture off the main path and experience the serenity and beauty of a true Croatian village, this is the ideal place to go.

Novigrad is really a tiny town – it has less than 4,000 residents. Although it’s not nearly as posh or bustling as its nearby towns, there are plenty of fun things to do and excellent restaurants there.

The town’s centre is small, covering less than a kilometre, but there are plenty of open green areas to explore, whether you’d rather cycle through vineyards and olive trees or just unwind in one of the town’s parks.

Starigrad Paklenica

Paklenica National Park is located in the southern Velebit mountain range, northeast of Zadar. Paklenica is the second-oldest national park in Croatia, behind Plitvice Lakes, so while it may not be as well-known, it’s a hidden treasure just waiting to be discovered. In all, Croatia is home to stunning national parks, all offering something different.

Although Paklenica offers an amazing view, it also offers a peaceful escape from the bustling tourists of Plitvice or Krka. Velika (Big) and Mala (Small) Paklenica’s streams and gorges are ideal for hiking and rock climbing excursions. The highest peaks in Velebit, Vaganski vrh (1,757 m) and Sveto brdo (1,753 m), are also located within the park and provide adventurous hikers with breathtaking views.

The Park is an ideal place to visit for the adventurous – there are several challenging hiking trails, and climbing is also popular here. For those who like things a little more laid-back, there are more gentle walks available too, with just as much to explore.

Starigrad is a port village located close to the Paklenica National Park. The town of Starigrad is home to many archaeological and architectural monuments, such as the Vecka Kula tower – which was built in the 16th century and used as a watchtower to see ships passing through the Podvelebitski Channel.

As you can see, Croatia is full of hidden gems waiting to be explored. From the secluded islands to the charming villages nestled in the mountains, there’s something for every traveler seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure. Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful escape, Croatia has it all. So pack your bags, venture off the tourist trail, and discover the beauty and charm of these hidden treasures for yourself. Croatia awaits with open arms and endless possibilities for unforgettable experiences.

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