Stari Grad, Croatia - Photo Credit: Andrija Carli

3 Overlooked Cities in Croatia to Visit

Croatia’s calling. Croatia keeps calling. In nearly three years of full-time travel, we’ve followed a path that has led us back to Croatia five times. We’ve swam in the sea along the Dalmatian Coast, sampled culinary treasures in Istria, gazed at the waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes, felt the buzz of urban city life in Zagreb and ventured into the less-visited terrain of Osijek-Baranja in the Slavonia region. 

Stari Grad, Croatia photo by Rafael Janic Photograhy

Stari Grad, Croatia – Photo Credit: Rafael Janic Photography

We’ve seen more of Croatia than most tourists, yet we continue to be lured back to the country by the diverse and picturesque landscapes we have yet to discover and the warm and welcoming people we know we’ll meet there.  In 2017, we’ve zeroed in on three cities in Croatia to visit: Stari Grad, Makarska and Ston.

3 Cities in Croatia to Visit

#1 Stari Grad on Hvar Island

Photo Credit: Left – Rafael Janic | Right – Andrija Carli

We’ve been to Hvar, twice. But, both times we docked in Hvar Town on the southwest end of the island…and never left the immediate area. However, Stari Grad on Hvar Island has recently made it onto our radar. In 2016, Stari Grad celebrated 2,400 years since the city was founded, making it the oldest city in Croatia. And, in 2017, Stari Grad has been nominated as best European destination by European Best Destinations (an honor bestowed on Croatian city, Zadar, in 2016). The city is tucked into a bay on the north side of the island; the strategic location, fertile soil and fresh water sources make it an ideal territory to settle.

Photo Credit: Andrija Carli

The city boasts narrow lanes, stone houses, historic churches and a massive fortress. The nearby Stari Grad Plain, a UNESCO Heritage Site for its Outstanding Universal Value, is a preserved agricultural system that dates to the 4th century B.C. The land is still used today to produce olives and grapes – as it always has been.

For more information, visit the Stari Grad Tourist Board site.

 

#2 Makarska

Makarska, Croatia

Makarska, Croatia – Photo Credit: Damir Fabijanic

Makarska is located on the Dalmatian coast between Split and Dubrovnik at the foothills of the Biokovo Mountain. We’ve traversed between the two cities on several occasions, but have traveled via boat or have detoured into Bosnia and Herzegovina rather than following the coastline, thus completely missing Makarska.

Makarska isn’t only known for its long, sandy beaches and walkways lined with towering evergreen trees, but also for its historical sights, nature reserves and traditional gastronomy. Some of the highlights include a 500-year-old monastery, hiking trails that lead up the mountain and a variety of cuisine – from seafood to sweets – that can be sampled at cafes and restaurants that ring the main square.

For more information, visit the Makarska Tourist Board site.

 

#3 Ston

Ston, Croatia

Ston, Croatia – Photo Credit: Daniel Pavlinovic

Ston is positioned on the base of the Peljesac Peninsula where the landmass meets the mainland. Back in 2011, we breezed through the village on our way to Dubrovnik, but we didn’t make a stop for a proper look at Ston.  

Rushing to get to Dubrovnik, we missed two impressive features of Ston: defensive walls and saltpans. The 14th century city walls are the second largest in the world after the Great Wall of China. The walls were constructed to protect the town’s salt industry, which still operates today using traditional methods. The Peljesac Peninsula is one of Croatia’s well-known wine regions with several small-production and family-owned wineries accessible via the one main road on the peninsula…making Ston a fantastic starting point for wine exploration.

For more information, visit the Ston Tourist Board site.

 

Map of Croatia

3 Cities in Croatia to visit Stari Grad, Makarska, Ston

We can practically feel the sunshine on our skin and the sea breeze in our hair. We’re dreaming of the tantilizing taste of fresh seafood and local wine. These three cities in Croatia to visit – Stari Grad, Makarska and Ston – are located on a stretch of the Dalmatian Coast that has eluded us as we have explored other parts of Croatia. We have yet to see it all; on each trip to the country, our list of cities in Croatia to visit grows…and we wonder, after this trip, where Croatia will be calling us next. 

For more information about Croatia, visit the Croatia Tourist Board site

 

We want to know: Where are your travels taking you in 2017? Do your plans include cities in Croatia to visit? Are Stari Grad, Makarska or Ston on your list, too? Tell us in the comments! 

 

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3 cities in Croatia to visit

23 thoughts on “3 Overlooked Cities in Croatia to Visit

  1. Stari Grad looks like my kind of place, I’ve yet to make it to Croatia but reading this post has definitely nudged it up a few places on my list of places to visit. It looks and sounds a great country to visit for a good amount of time.

  2. Nice post! I really want to visit Croatia this year and go a little further than the typical tourist spots, so this was helpful. Thanks for the pointers. I also loved the photos! By the way, I spotted a typo: “European Best Destinataions”.

  3. All three cities in Croatia has its own charm. I have been dreaming of visiting this country. Now after this post , it made me craving for it more. I personally liked Ston because of its breathtaking landscape and history. Great post.

  4. I too was surprised you were not heading to Mali Ston for the oysters. We’ve stopped there a couple of times on our trips in Croatia just to have another dozen! We also spent a week in Starigrad during our seven week trip there. You will love it. Much quieter than Hvar but with its own charm. What a great time you will have!

  5. Jon Dunn

    First time I can recall seeing Ston (or Mali Ston) mentioned – without a single reference to oysters and / or mussels!
    Like you, I passed through on a coach from Korčula to Dubrovnik, pausing briefly to let someone get off…but long enough to whet my appetite to explore the walls and salt pans.
    Can I recommend Šibenik for the next time you get Croatian wanderlust – or have you already been there?
    Happy Croatian travels in 2017 – to a beautiful, friendly and diverse country <3

    • Hi Jon! Great tips about the oysters and mussels in Ston ~ we can’t wait to try them!!
      We have been to Sibenik, but only on a day trip from Zadar, so not long enough 😉 We hope to return for a longer stay in the future. Do you have any travel plans for 2017?

  6. Dan

    I love Croatia and like yourself have been a number of times from Australia in the last 10 years. I really recommend you visit the following hidden treasures. Pucisca on the island of Brac, Island Murter and the town of Betina together with the Kornati archipelago, Mali Losinj on the Island Losinj. Oh and the island of Vis with Stiniva cove is a gem.

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