Five overlooked corners of Croatia to discover in 2024

Avoid Croatia’s most touristy cities and head to its hidden gems – Alamy Stock Photo

At least 20 million tourists arrived in Croatia in 2023, with British tourists taking eighth place in the ranking. The numbers have virtually surpassed pre-crisis levels, and that’s even with price increases after Croatia joined the eurozone last year, along with rising inflation. People can’t seem to get enough of Croatia’s beach-filled Adriatic coast and historic cities.

But while Dubrovnik, Split and Rovinj have more tourists than they know what to do with, there are many parts of Croatia – even those within reach of the big boys – that have gone unnoticed.

You can go beyond Dubrovnik to enjoy a rural stay in the Konavle region, or bypass Istria to visit the towns and villages of the Kvarner Gulf. Croatia’s interior offers a tempting mix of active adventures in its many natural parks along with cultured cities ideal for weekend getaways.

Whether hiking in pine-covered mountains, swimming in the Adriatic, losing yourself in the baroque beauty of the elegant Habsburg cities or combining all three, you’ll find inspiration for 2024 here.


Just before the Croatian border touches Hungary and Serbia, you reach the majestic capital of Slavonia. Osijek’s history as an Austro-Hungarian stronghold is easy to discover as you stroll through the cobbled, baroque streets of Tvrda, the 18th-century Habsburg fortress. As many of the former military buildings are now used by the university, there is a pleasant bustle on the café terraces.

A floating bar on the Drava RiverA floating bar on the Drava River

A floating bar on the Drava river – Alamy Stock Photo

Things are getting even more lively along the Drava River, where the last 100 meters of a seven-and-a-half-mile riverside walk, the longest in Europe, will be completed this year. It is already a favorite place for cycling, running, walking and swimming.

For a taste of the countryside, drive 15 minutes to Kopački Rit Nature Park and explore this tranquil world of wetlands and marshes.

Where to stay

Boutique Hotel Tvrda is in the heart of the Austrian fort, with beautiful views from its rooftop pool and elegant rooms within a beautiful building. B&B double rooms from £91.

When to go

Osijek is a year-round city and events are held every month, including antique fairs, sports competitions and food festivals. In July and August, enjoy live music, theater and outdoor film screenings during the Osijek Summer of Culture. The Pannonian Challenge, held every June along the river, is a great attraction for BMX and skate fans.


From April 2 you will be able to fly to Dubrovnik with Ryanair from Stansted, providing easier access to the hinterland and the Konavle coastal region. Nestled between the Dinaric Alps and the Adriatic, Konavle is the bucolic antidote to the busy streets of Dubrovnik. As Konavle’s largest town, the immensely beautiful Cavtat, grows in popularity, escape to the inland villages for a taste of rural Dalmatia, among vineyards and olive groves.

Take part in some traditional Croatian folk dances in KonavleTake part in some traditional Croatian folk dances in Konavle

Take part in some traditional Croatian folk dances in Konavle – Alamy Stock Photo

Head into the hills above the village of Dunave to reach Sokol Grad, a medieval fortress that has been carefully restored and offers spectacular views from its walls. If you fancy a swim, follow the narrow, winding road to the modest village of Molunat, which surrounds a rocky bay.

Where to stay

Enjoy sea views from Hotel Cavtat’s rooftop infinity pool, which is located just a few minutes’ walk from Cavtat Beach. B&B doubles from £100.

When to go

The Konavle season runs from April to October, with June and September being the best months to visit. In July and August things can be very busy, especially in Cavtat. The weather remains pleasant in October and even into November.

The Ōumberak and Samobor mountains

Hikers and weekenders from nearby Zagreb regularly head southwest toward the Slovenian border and the forested peaks and waterfalls of the Žumberak and Samobor mountains to hike, cycle, or simply fill their lungs with the clean mountain air. Along the way they will enter the Samobor, a fairy tale, to take a walk through its cobblestone and baroque streets.

The Žumberak Mountains are the perfect place for hikingThe Žumberak Mountains are the perfect place for hiking

The Žumberak Mountains are the perfect place for hiking – Alamy

Wine connoisseurs wander the Plešivica Wine Route in the gentle hills surrounding the town of Jastrebarkso, especially the Korak Winery restaurant and wine estate, which last year earned a Michelin star for its refined but sustainable take on cuisine. local.

Where to stay

Hiking trails and wine trails are just around the corner at Kuća za Odmor Čarolija, a four-bedroom log cabin with a large garden and barbecue area. It is in the foothills of the Samobor Mountains and about a 10-minute drive from Jastrebarsko. Rental from £101 a night.

When to go

Unless you like winter walking and snowshoeing, hike in spring and early summer, when the meadows are carpeted with wildflowers. Samobor hosts a carnival in February and a popular jazz festival and mountain biking weekend in June.

Gačka Valley

The Lika region of inland Croatia offers much more than its most popular attraction, Plitvice Lakes National Park. Escape the crowds along the Gacka River near the town of Otočac to discover how this serene valley surrounded by karst mountains has become one of Croatia’s largest adventure parks.

Transparent kayaks show off the sparkling waters of the Gacka RiverTransparent kayaks show off the sparkling waters of the Gacka River

Clear kayaks show off the crystal clear waters of the Gacka River – Alamy

There is everything you need for an active holiday: kayaking (including clear kayaks to show off Gacka’s crystal clear waters), cycling, fishing, quad biking and hiking. It’s certainly one of the most affordable regions in Croatia, with wonderfully fresh river trout on most restaurant menus for less than you’d pay for a starter in London.

Where to stay

Riverside Apartments, five miles south of Otočac, overlooks Gacka in a quiet, tree-shaded location with a large garden, barbecue and children’s play area. Choose one of four apartments in two wooden houses or rent an entire lot. The owners also offer kayaking, bike rentals and quad biking. Rooms from £83 per night, minimum stay of two nights.

When to go

You might think Lika goes into hibernation during the winter, but its snow-covered landscapes attract visitors seeking a rustic, frozen wonderland. Most outdoor activities (kayaking, cycling, hiking) occur from April to October.

The Opatija Riviera

Croatian tourism began in the 19th century in the favorite holiday spot of the Habsburgs, and the old-world elegance of towns like Opatija and Lovran remains as attractive as ever. This part of the Kvarner Gulf even replaced Italy for period drama series Hotel Portofino, which will return to ITV for a third series later this year.

The old-world elegance of cities like Opatija is as attractive as everThe old-world elegance of cities like Opatija is as attractive as ever

The old-world elegance of cities like Opatija is as attractive as ever – Getty

One of its main delights is the eight-mile Lungomare promenade, which runs from Lovran to the fishing village of Volosko. Along the way, stop for seafood at the Lučica cafe in Ičiči before reaching the wedding cake architecture of Opatija. Walk through Angiolina Park and pass the Wall of Fame, which commemorates famous guests such as Einstein, Mahler, James Joyce and Isadora Duncan.

Where to stay

Until the new Keight Hotel Opatija, Curio Collection by Hilton opens its doors in May, stay at Hotel Excelsior in Lovran, which features fabulous sea views from its rooms, an outdoor pool and a spa. Double B&B from £111.

When to go

Most of the Opatija Riviera remains open all year round. Lovran is in a carnival mood in February, and the Liburnia Jazz Festival in Opatija in July is the largest in Croatia.

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