Top 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Croatia that are not to be missed in 2021!

COVID-19 has been the main topic of every discussion for a long time, but don’t you think that it would be nice to forget for a moment about it and all the problems it has caused us? We hope and believe that in these first months of the new year the situation will calm down and that we will be able to enjoy all the benefits that certain destinations provide us.

We can’t wait to go on some trip for a couple of days, and so do you, I guess.

All these suitcases can’t wait to be at airports
Photo credit: cselfors / Unsplash

Yet we are lucky to have been born in Croatia, in Split, so even in these difficult times, we were able to enjoy paradise on Earth. And now it’s your turn, so start planning your next vacation!

As you probably already know, Croatia is one of the destinations that really has a lot to offer. But did you know the fact that it has 1 244 beautiful islands, islets, cliffs and reefs with crystal clear seas, 8 national parks, 12 nature parks, and even 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it?

Even though it’s a small country with a population of only 4 million people, there are so many natural, cultural and historical treasures! Because of that Croatia is among the top tourist destinations in Europe.

Sea, hill, forest, modern city and old houses – all in one
Photo credit: tz-primosten.hr

The status of a top tourist destination has certainly been strengthened with the already mentioned 10 UNESCO protected sites. I mean, that really should mean something, all those places are certainly not unreasonably protected, right? Croatia became a member of the UNESCO in 1992, shortly after independence, and has been contributing sites ever since.

I guess you may not have that much time to visit every 10 sites during your stay in Croatia, or maybe you don’t have a will to do so, I will make it easier for you and list my top 5 sites. Since all these protected places are a must-see, here are 5 must-must-see, all easily accessible from Split!

1. Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian

As the locals love to say, Split is “the most beautiful city in the world”. Much lies behind these words, but huge credit, without any doubt, goes to Diocletian’s palace.

Photo credit: spencerdavis / Unsplash

At the end of the ancient third century, the emperor ordered the construction of the palace near his hometown of Salona, where he would enjoy after retirement. The construction of the palace took 10 years after which the emperor settled inside. After his death, the life of the palace did not end – it went through various stages and eventually became the core around which the city of Split was built.

Diocletian’s Palace became a World Heritage Site in 1979, just a year after the UNESCO list was created. At that time the Republic of Croatia did not even exist, neither did Split.

What is interesting is that the Diocletian’s Palace is not exactly what the very notion of a palace implies. I guess you’re wondering now “What does that mean”…

Okay, so when someone says palace you think of a large royal residence, mostly converted into some kind of museum if the family no longer lives inside, which has a specific entrance where the guards are and you have to pay a ticket to see it. 

Diocletian’s Palace is not like that.

It often happens that people look for a palace within itself, not realizing that they have passed through gates and walked already through the “corridors”. Maybe it will happen to you too, but don’t worry, you are surely not the only one! That happens because the palace has large entrances where there is no one to charge you a ticket, and once you pass them, the corridors you walk through are actually typical narrow Mediterranean streets where you will notice shops, restaurants, cafes, or inhabited houses. 

Photo credit: rachelenroute.com
Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

That’s Diocletian’s Palace – a part of everyday life in Split, its beating heart.

Its center is surely Perystile with the mausoleum and Cathedral of St. Dujam which is the oldest cathedral in the world. Don’t miss the view from the top of it! Maybe the stairs aren’t the most fabulous, but it will pay off when you see a beautiful Split from a bird’s perspective – surrounded by the sea on one side and the mountains and hill on the other. The ticket costs about 15 Croatian kunas (2 EUR).

Do you know what else can be found inside the walls of the Palace? Go Adventure sales point! So also don’t miss to stop by and to say hello 🙂 

This UNESCO protected place is truly worth a visit and admiration. It is one of the best preserved monuments of Roman architecture in the world, and at the same time a part of the modern city with an urban rhythm of life. And that’s what makes Split so great – both as a place of living, or a destination to visit. 

Of course, besides the Palace, there are many other things you can visit in Split, and it is a great connection to other cities and islands of Dalmatia due to its great location.

2. Historic City of Trogir

Only 30 kilometers from Split is another wonder of old Roman architecturethe city of Trogir. Many people call it the Little Venice of Dalmatia or The Stone Beauty. The whole town is listed as a World Heritage, we can even say it’s a city-museum.

Photo credit: KatarzynaTyl / Pixabay

The main thing to visit there is the Cathedral of St Lawrence, one of the best architectural examples in Croatia. Its tower is the highest point in the town so it would be nice to climb up and see the beauty of the city from the above, as well as the neighboring island Čiovo with which Trogir is connected by a bridge. So if you decide to take a trip and visit this city, be sure to go for a swim on the island, since it offers beautiful beaches.

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Given that Trogir is a small place and you really don’t need much time to visit it, another option to extend your one-day trip is to visit the nearby Blue Lagoon. It’s a very amazing and popular place where you can experience exactly what Croatia is famous for – beautiful, crystal clear blue sea.

But let’s go back to Trogir.

Except the church, one of the most notable symbols of Trogir is Kamerlengo Fortress (at the end of the city waterfront) from the 15th century which was a governor’s palace during the rule of Venetians. Nowadays it’s a unique location for different events, such as festivals or concerts during the summertime.

Going to Trogir is also a perfect refuge from the big crowd, an escape to a quieter place where you can unwind in peace. Many tourists skip Trogir thinking “It’s a small town, it’s not worth it” or “We saw the historic city of Split, we don’t need both, it’s the same”. Trust me, they think wrong – it’s worth it and it’s not the same. But better for you – the fewer people, the nicer the experience. So pray that this blog is not read by a lot of people 😂.

3. The Cathedral of St James in Šibenik

Although not as old as the one in Split, the Cathedral of Saint James in Šibenik got its place among World Heritage sites for many other reasons. 

First of all, it’s a construction built entirely of white stone, with no wooden supports or any other connecting material. It’s made in a unique Gothic and Renaissance style, adorned with 71 sculptured human heads. The Cathedral is the most significant architectural achievement of the 15th and 16th centuries in the entire country and due to its exceptional value, it was listed as a UNESCO site in 2000.

Photo credit: Zoran Kurelić Rabko / Wikimedia

Although Split became a famous tourist destination even before it served as a filming location for the Game of Thrones series, Šibenik and St James Cathedral gained its popularity after it was shown there as some parts of the city of Braavos.

Apart from the Cathedral, which in itself is a sufficient reason to visit Šibenik, the UNESCO list of protected world heritage sites includes one of the four city fortresses. The beauty of St. Nicholas was built in the middle of the 16th century to defend the city from enemies, and for five centuries it has witnessed the turbulent history of the Šibenik region.

Photo credit: sibenikcard.com

These two sites actually made Šibenik the only city in Croatia that has two monuments on the UNESCO list, and stood side by side with London, Berlin, Beijing and New Delhi. 

The entire city of Šibenik represents a place of rich history and culture and in its surroundings you can find places with beautiful beaches. Also, a full day trip to Šibenik can be combined with a visit to the National Park Krka.

4. Plitvice Lakes National Park

If you love nothing better than getting lost in nature when you’re on holiday, you definitely need to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park, probably the best-known UNESCO World Heritage from Croatia. And even if nature isn’t your number one, you will be sorry to miss it.

Photo credit: mike_swigunski / Unsplash

With its exceptional natural beauty, this area has always attracted nature lovers, and already in 1949 it was proclaimed Croatia’s first national park. 30 years later, Plitvice Lakes are internationally recognized with their inscription onto the UNESCO World Heritage List which came from its unusual geology. 

The main focus of the park’s beauty are sixteen lakes, cascading one into the next and divided into two parts – Upper lakes and Lower Lakes, as well as numerous waterfalls and cascades. But the park is primarily covered in forest vegetation, with smaller areas under grasslands so the most attractive part of the park – the lakes – covers just under 1% of the total park area. The National Park covers a total area of 300 square kilometers, whilst the lakes join together over a distance of eight kilometers.

In the Park you can find maps that show different explorational walks, of varying lengths, so you can choose the path according to how long you want to walk and explore. There’s, of course, stunning scenery everywhere you turn in the Park. You won’t go wrong whichever path you take.

Moreover, I think these pictures speak for themselves.

Photo credit: mike_swigunski / Unsplash 
Photo credit: naadjuuuh / Pixabay

Except for walking, during your visit you can hop on a panoramic electric train to a higher part of the park, as well as take a cruise ride on a boat. What’s great – both are included in the ticket price.

Photo credit: wondercroatia.com

Speaking of the ticket prices, as is usually the case they vary depending on the season. Of course, they are most expensive in the summer during the months of June, July and September, when they cost 300 kuna for adults and 200 kuna for students. During April, May and October the ticket fee is 180 kuna, or 110 if you are a student, while from January to March and in November and December it costs 80 kuna for adults or 50 for students. Children aged 7 to 18 also have cheaper tickets, whilst children under the age of seven go free. 

It’s important to say that during the busy summer period, it is necessary to buy a ticket two days in advance

And one thing more to remember – swimming is not allowed in the Park. I know that seems like a bad decision to you, but to keep Plitvice as beautiful as they are now, it is necessary to protect it from human influence and limit pollution.

5. Old City of Dubrovnik 

Dubrovnik is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea also known as the Pearl of the Adriatic that attracts visitors with its unique architecture and world-famous Walls that surround the city core. It doesn’t matter if you are there for the first time or for the hundredth, you will be enchanted by its beauty every time.

Photo credit: Diego Delso / Wikimedia

Recently well known as the popular Game of Thrones filming location (Kings Landing), Dubrovnik has been one of the historically most important Mediterranean ports since the thirteenth century. Dubrovnik has numerous preserved Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces, and fountains. It did get damaged during the earthquake in 1667, and more recently during the Homeland War, but it still kept its beauty.

It has retained the medieval walls so perfectly and that is the reason why Dubrovnik is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. 

They are exactly the main attraction of the town, as well as the most important feature. They have been protecting the city for centuries – whether that’s from invaders or earthquakes.

From there you can have some pretty fantastic views of the city and the Adriatic Sea. Among the red roofs, the bell towers of the churches beautify the scene, as well as the deep green forests of Lokrum island in the background. 

Photo credit: Tlust’a / Wikimedia

Admission costs 200 kn per person and it’ll be better for you to get there early or late in the day to beat the worst of the crowds and the summer heat.

After walking the walls, enjoy wandering through the stone streets of this amazing town. Stradun is the main one – although relatively short, you will enjoy it to the fullest, as well as every narrow alley you can enter from there and live the Mediterranean. They all have a unique history of hundreds of years old.

It is important to take your time in the Old City to really experience it. 

Stradun
Photo credit: tzdubrovnik.hr

All these locations that I have listed here for you and which are really must-see places for every visitor to Croatia are not just summer destinations. The great thing is that you can visit them all year round and definitely enjoy it!

They are not under UNESCO protection for no reason, and in each of them you can find countless other beauties and enrich your life experience with a wonderful journey.

If you are staying in Split, all destinations are easily accessible from there by public buses so you can organize those daily trips by yourself. 

Write to us how you had a great time! 🙂

Of course, if you need help or just want to relax during your holidays, without checking time tables of the buses or parks, and rushing to be on time, we are here to make it easier for you and to organize your vacation according to your wishes.

Contact us for your private tours!

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