Croatia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean, attracting over 17.3 million international tourists at its peak. Popular tourist locations within Croatia include Dalmatia, a region on the east shore of the Adriatic Sea.
Dalmatia is popular for its amazing beaches and beautiful natural environment. The untouched nature makes it one of the most serene travel locations in the world. Here are the top 10 Dalmatia attractions.
Zlatni Rat Beach
Also known as the Golden Horn or Golden Cape Beach, Zlatni Rat Beach in Dalmatia is one of Europe’s most popular beaches. The beach changes its shape depending on currents and winds. Its summit will bend to the east, to the west, or sometimes a small pool will appear. Consequently, the Croatian government protects the beach as a geomorphological monument.
The Zlatni Rat Beach is golden in color, but that isn’t why it’s called the Golden Cape. The rich fish population near the beach supports the local community and earned it the name. The Zlatni Rat Beach is also interestingly one of the few Croatian beaches that snows, turning from golden to white on snow days.
Diocletian’s Palace in Split is an ancient Roman structure, built at the turn of the fourth century AD for Diocletian, the Roman emperor. This was Diocletian’s retirement palace, where he lived until he died in 316 AD. The ancient palace covers about half of Dalmatian’s old town and is the historical core of Split Dalmatia.
Diocletian’s Palace was listed in 1979 as a UNESCO world heritage site. For history and architecture buffs alike, add this spot to your must-visit list. A trip to the palace is a chance to experience the best preserved and largest example of half Greek and half Byzantine construction, which formed an important aspect of Roman palatial architecture.
The Cathedral of St James in Šibenik
The Cathedral of St James in Šibenik is found on the Dalmatian coast. The Cathedral is one of Dalmatia’s five UNESCO world heritage sites, and is one of Croatia’s most beautiful architectural collaborations. It’s a spectacle and proof of the marvel of harmonious exchange of art between Dalmatia, Northern Italy, and Tuscany.
The Cathedral was built by three architects who succeeded each other and built a unique structure that successfully merged Renaissance and Gothic art. Visit the Cathedral to see 71 remarkably sculptured faces of children, women, and men.
Blue Cave/ Blue Grotto on Bisevo Island
Still have some space on your itinerary? What about a visit to the waterlogged sea cave, the Blue Cave? Out of 10 caves along Bizevo’s coast, the Blue Grotto stands out. The best time to visit is on a sunny day, between 11 am and 1 pm, when the sun’s rays radiate through an underwater opening and irradiate the cave with luminous blue light.
The phenomenon attracts droves of tourists, who can wait for up to 3 hours in line to experience the blue illumination for five minutes. That might deter you, or it might serve as evidence of just how worthwhile this attraction can be.
Klis Fortress has a rich history spanning over 2,000 years. It was first used by the Illyrian tribe called Dalmatae as a stronghold before Romans took it over. The fortress later became a seat for several Croatian kings after the fall of the Roman empire. The rocky ridge and hillside location compliment the fortress’s duties by offering a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area.
Klis Fortress was instrumental in the 1500s, defending the Balkans against the Mongolian siege. This historical marvel comes with killer views, and both hobbyist and professional photographers will want to carve out some time to capture this location.
Krka National Park
Krka National Park is located in southern Croatia, along the Krka River. The park has seven waterfalls, dropping about 242 meters. The park has a rich natural heritage, and is home to several plants such as grassy bells that are only found in the coastal areas of the Dinaric mountain range, the scorpion senna, as well as thick and lush forests and savanna.
Krka National Park is also home to beautiful animals, including the olm, Balkan whip snake, otter, cave pseudoscorpion, and the Dalmatian minnow. As if that’s not enough, a rich cultural and historical heritage is contained within, including medieval fortresses.
Paklinski Islands is a group of islands off the southwest coast of the island of Hvar, off the Dalmatian coast. The islands offer the best snorkeling experience in Croatia, entertaining beach clubs, and spectacular beaches.
The Paklinski Islands are a great stop for couples who want to have a good time, partying, swimming, and making new friends. Nudists can meet their needs here, thanks to Jeroim Island, a nudist beach. Marinkovac Island offers the best family experience. If you wanted to island hop, consider renting a boat for the day.
Art lovers enjoy the Meštrović Gallery. It displays detailed, well-organized works of art by Ivan Meštrović, a Croatian architect, writer, and sculptor. He’s the most famous Croatian modern sculptor, prominently known for his boldly cut figurative monuments.
The Meštrović Gallery was built by Meštrović as his retirement home in the 1930s, but he didn’t retire there after all. He instead emigrated to the United States after World War II, and his retirement home became the Meštrović Gallery.
The Sea Organ in Zadar on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is a musical and architectural marvel. It plays music using sea waves and tubes placed underneath the large marble steps. The Sea Organ has been operational since April 2005. It was designed by architect Nikola Basic, who placed 35 polyethylene pipes into perforated stone stairs up to 70 meters along the coast. The seven steps produce a sound that brings to life the thoughts and feelings of the sea.
Salona was founded in the third century BC but was destroyed when Croats and Avars invaded in the seventh century AD. It is the ancient Roman Province of Dalmatia, only 5 km from Diocletian palace. Although Salona is currently in ruins, it offers fascinating history and stories.
The base of the Salon amphitheater is still visible and is assumed to have accommodated up to 20,000 spectators. Venetians destroyed the amphitheater in the 17th century, who feared that Turks would have used it as a stronghold if they returned. Salona also hosts the Salona Hollow Church from the 11th century. It’s believed that Zvonimir’s coronation as Croatian king happened at this church in 1075.
Dalmatia Is a Must-Visit
If you weren’t sure before, hopefully we’ve convinced you that Dalmatia has earned its place as one of the most the popular tourist destinations in Croatia. With breathtaking beaches, national parks, art museums, and ancient ruins, Dalmatia offers a stunning array of leisure and fun for solo travelers, groups, and families.
Bonus Tip: Wherever you are on the Dalmatian Coast, take time to watch the sunset. It’s glorious everywhere along the coastline, but perhaps nowhere more so than Zadar, a sunset Alfred Hitchcock named the best in the world.