6 UNESCO World Heritage sites to visit in Croatia

In Croatia, En-Route, Europe, Our Journeys, Road Trips, Trip-Types, Unesco, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Beauty, ancient history, terraced waterfalls and culture, what more could you want?

Croatia was an absolute pleasure to tour around, and with its clear blue seas and beautiful climate, I would do it all again.
Before Gary and I embarked on our Croatian road trip, we browsed the UNESCO World Heritage website. Here we discovered what was nearby in each of the local regions we were visiting.

Looking down from the iconic viewpoint overlooking the historic walled city of Dubrovnik, and its crystal clear deep blue waters.

Birds-eye view of Dubrovnik

Quick Links

A little bit of trivia

Did you know that UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation?

There a couple of locations here that have been quite a hot topic recently, for their number of visitors. However, don’t let this put you off dropping by, as the history and architecture are incredible. You just need to arrive out of high season and if possible, stay overnight, so that the day-trippers have left for the evening.

Looking down on numerous pools, nestled in chalk ravine, linked by walkways, as they flow down the valley creating multiple waterfalls.

Plitvice Lakes Natural Park

Hopefully, there are a couple of locations that you may never have heard of or not visited yet. Leave me a comment if you have some recommendations yourself.

Let's start with one of Croatia’s natural UNESCO wonders, Plitvice Lakes Natural Park. These beautiful lakes and waterfalls have been flowing and cascading for thousands of years. I can’t imagine that in some regions of the park, that they look too much different from today.

At water level overlooking a sizeable opal-coloured pool being fed by waterfalls on all sides.

Cascading waterfalls into the opal lake

When we arrived at Plitvice lakes early on a misty September’s morning, the moist air was hanging low across the stilted boardwalks and almost felt quite ethereal. Plitvice has created its own little microclimate and is quite often unpredictable all year round.

A damp path, constructed of wooden planks, skirts the end of one of Plitvice's many lakes, framed by a tree-covered hill.  A mist hangs over the lake and clings to the hillside.

The misty morning hovers across Plitvice Lakes

We ventured north to south weaving our way through the damp woodlands, passing opal coloured lakes and terraced waterfalls that could enchant you for hours. Incredibly Plitvice Lakes Natural Park in Croatia was inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.
Tempted to visit the captivating Plitvice Lakes for yourself, why not take a day trip with a tour guide from Zadar?

A helpful guide

If you've yet to discover the delights of Croatia you're in for a treat. While planning our road trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books.  I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Croatian road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.

In our opinion

We love embarking on road trips, so our preferred mode of transport is always jumping in a car. We find it’s the best way to discover a country, so why not check out Rental Cars as they search multiple well-known car hire brands for the best deals.

The beautiful little city of Trogir is located just north of Split. In my opinion, I actually preferred staying overnight here than in Split. The Renaissance and Baroque architecture are stunning. Head inside the walls of this historic city and get lost in the ancient winding lanes.

The view of Trogir from the island of Čiovo across the Adriatic sea.    The town shows clear Venetian influences.

UNESCO city of Trogir

Trogir is nestled along the coastline of the Adriatic Sea, and the pedestrian streets just tempt you to delve further into the hidden courtyards. It’s a lovely location to discover day and night, take a stroll along the promenade of an evening and watch the sunset across the magical blue sea.

A small courtyard with cobbled paths, stop steps leading to the buildings made from golden-coloured stone.  Flowerpots decorate the steps and provide the colour in the scene.

Hidden courtyards in Trogir

The top of the Cathedral of St. Lawrence which is clearly built in a Venetian style.

A Venetian style tower

The enchanting walled city of Trogir in Croatia became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. What I really loved about Trogir was the magnificent Venetian architecture. You almost felt like you were in Venice.
If you’d like to find out more about Trogir’s ancient past, why not jump on this reasonably priced 90-minute walking tour?

The city of Dubrovnik has become pretty popular in recent years, and when you arrive, it isn’t too difficult to see why. The old city of Dubrovnik is stunning. Within its ancient walls are enticing little lanes, incredible architecture and so much history, if only the walls could talk.
A view from the old city walls of Dubrovnik across the Adriatic to the harbour where small boats come and go.

Far reaching views across the Adriatic Sea from Dubrovnik

You must take a stroll around the undulating ramparts to get a bird’s-eye view over the terracotta rooftops. From these ancient walls, you’ll also be able to enjoy the warm breeze brushing over you as you admire the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic Sea below.

The old city of Dubrovnik from the city walls, across the orange tiled roofs leading to the deep blue waters of the Adriatic.

Old City of Dubrovnik from the ancient ramparts

The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ has such a beautiful mixture of architecture. This is just one of the reasons why Dubrovnik in Croatia has been inscribed on the UNESCO List since 1979.
There’s so much more to Dubrovnik than meets the eye, find out more of its ancient history on this 90-minute guided walking tour?

In short, the Euphrasian Basilica. This is a beautiful complex of ancient buildings that reveals so much ancient history. Incredibly this Byzantine Basilica in Poreč can trace its Christian roots back to as early as the 4th century.
The intricate and striking mosaic detail within the Basilica is exquisite.

The courtyard of the Euphrasian Basilica with columns topped with ornate capitals and a beautiful blue sky, dappled with the occasional white fluffy clouds.

The inner courtyard the Euphrasian Basilica

Within the basilica garden, which is lovingly preserved, you can still see traces of the original mosaic flooring. The historic complex of buildings also includes the atrium, octagonal baptistery and the archbishop’s palace. Make sure you also climb the Bell Tower; the views across Poreč’s rooftops are wonderful.

The ornately decorated nave of Poreč’s Euphrasian Basilica with gold highlights making the scene glimmer as the light catches it.

Intricate detail inside the Euphrasian Basilica

Looking up inside the bell tower to the wooden floor of the bell chamber.

The view up to the bell tower

The ancient Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč on the shores of the Adriatic sea in Croatia was inscribed on to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

Tempted with Croatia?

Take a peek at our other posts from our Croatian road trip These include Rovinj, Pula and some Croatian Culinary Delights.

Last and by no means least is the historic city of Split, and it’s unbelievable Diocletian Palace. There is history around every little turn in Split, it’s one of those places that you just don’t mind getting lost in its lanes.

The sun bursting over the dome of the 4th century Roman Cathedral of Saint Domnius in Split.

4th century Roman Cathedral of Saint Domnius

However, what will stop you in your tracks is the incredible Diocletian Palace. You almost feel like you’ve wandered onto a movie set and amazingly it’s free to stroll around.

Inside the Diocletian Palace in Split looking up at the Roman Peristyle against bright blue skies.

The Roman Peristyle in Split

The vestibule in Split would once have had a dome, now it's entirely open for the elements, you can now see the top of the Peristyle.

The vestibule

Centuries of ancient structures in various state of preservation are all around you. Once again, the Venetian influences are so clear to see. It was the sunken Roman Peristyle in front of the Diocletian quarters that I loved. Also, the 4th-century Roman Cathedral of Saint Domnius which stands so proud and dominates the skyline.
Although Split can get busy it really is a must to visit, the historical complex and Diocletian Palace were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.
You won’t want to miss Split’s historical sites, so join a 2-hour walking tour and find out all there is to know about this ancient city.

Šibenik is located along the beautiful Dalmatian coast just south of Zadar and north of Split. So, it’s easy to visit for a day trip. If you’d love to incorporate this with a visit to Krka National Park take a look at this full-day tour which picks you up from Split or Trogir.

Looking up at the ornate facade of the Cathedral of St James in Šibenik.

Outside the Cathedral of St James, Šibenik

The Cathedral of St James in Šibenik was constructed between 1431 and 1535.

It’s extremely unique as it is built entirely of stone.

It’s incredible to look up at the roof from the inside.

You can see the enormous stone slabs which were used to construct the barrel roof.

Inside the Cathedral of St James in Šibenik looking towards the nave, and you can clearly see the stone roof of the building.

The stone roof

The Renaissance cathedral was inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000. Take a wander throughout the historic city of Šibenik in Croatia, as it has some lovely squares and a magnificent coastline to promenade along.

Where to next?

We only managed to visit six of Croatia’s UNESCO sites, these are the other four we need to add to our list.

Want to discover more?

Take a peek at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites that we visited when we embarked on our road trips around Portugal, France and Spain.

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

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