If I should think of a romantic country but avoid the usual clichés like Paris, Rome or Venice, I’d choose Croatia. It has wonderful beaches and islands, fairy tale old towns, amazing scenery, welcoming locals. It offers tons of options for both a lazy, sentimental romantic holiday and an active, adventurously romantic one.
And now I’m done with the pep talk, let’s see all the actual things to do. 13 things exactly, just to get lucky.
Eat in a restaurant with sea views on the Makarska Riviera
Seaside promenades are our favorites for a romantic stroll. (Let’s ignore the fact that we spent those strolls mostly chasing our enthusiastic little toddler around on our last Croatian trip.) Makarska has one of the longest and nicest promenades starting from the harbor and continuing along the Main Beach and further. But other, smaller towns of the Makarska Riviera – like Brela or Tučepi – also have charming promenades.
Restaurants and bars are lined up along the promenade, especially in Makarska, offering cosy chairs or sofas with sea views. And what’s more romantic than sitting out in one of those restaurants, eating, drinking, talking and laughing while watching a sea sunset together? (Or proposing your significant other?)
Walk on the city walls of the Old Town of Dubrovnik (outside of high season!)
The medieval Old Town of Dubrovnik is the romantic fairy tale itself – well, if you meet one condition: visit it outside of high season (before June or after August). Because in the summer it’s almost unbearably crowded. Otherwise, the best thing to do is walk on the city walls that run around the Old Towns and reward you with fantastic views of the orange roofs, pretty church towers, the harbor and the Adriatic Sea.
Walk on as many cobbled streets as you can
Speaking of old towns, Croatia has many more of them than Dubrovnik, and each is built exactly for couples to walk on their cobblestone streets hand in hand, stunned and dreaming about their happy lives (of course, not, but still, you’ll be stunned – and do dream!).
We got to visit lots of these coastal old towns, and we fell for each of them. Rovinj and Split impressed us just as much as Dubrovnik, and Zadar and Šibenik exceeded our expectations. There’s no wrong choice, that’s what I want to say. Just visit any of them and fall in love…
Have a full day boat excursion to Kornati Islands National Park
With about 140 islands, most of them uninhabited, Kornati Islands National Park does offer solitude, unspoilt beauty and countless hidden coves and beaches. The main hardship is accessing them if you don’t have a boat of your own. In that case, you can rent one or sign up for an excursion – lots of them are organized, mainly from the port of Zadar, and mainly during summer.
Explore the rugged coastline and the salt lakes of Mljet National Park
Mljet is one of our favorite islands, and it’ll be the same for any nature lover. Its lush green Mediterranean forests and rugged coastline is full of secret spots waiting to be explored! We enjoyed hiking along the coastline in Mljet National Park, jumping into hidden coves where no one else was in sight.
Have a crush on Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes are romantic! Just imagine 16 crystal clear terraced lakes joined by waterfalls – and you can see them up close from a boardwalk that sometimes runs through lakes. You’ll get drowned in romance here. 😛 But just like in the case of Dubrovnik, you’d better visit before or after the summer to avoid the crowds.
Hike to a lesser-known beach
Everyone knows how romantic beaches are – that if they’re not so crowded you can barely walk there. While I can’t promise you’ll ever find a beach you won’t share with anyone else in Croatia, at least not when the weather is suitable to fully enjoy it, you can find some which very few people know about. If you arrive early enough in the morning, you might have it for yourselves for a few hours. Especially if the beach can’t be accessed by car, only on foot.
Our favorite lesser-known beaches all require short hikes, but the trails are nice and easy, and the beaches are well worth the effort, anyway. Like Oprna Bay on the rocky southern part of Krk Island, Crvenka Beach on Vir Island or Beriknica Beach on Pag Island. We enjoyed Makarska’s two hidden bays, too: Nugal Beach and Ramova Beach. In unspoilt and out-of-the-way Cape Kamenjak Nature Park in Istria, our favorites were Plovanije and Radovica Beaches – both requiring a short walk on narrow, somewhat steep trails.
Find hidden treasures on the Stinjan peninsula just north of Pula
Now this one is a lonely place – well, as lonely as anything on the Adriatic coast can be (nudists seemed to like it very much, and it means it’s not well-known and out-of-the-way enough). Stinjan peninsula is only 15 minutes drive from Pula to the north. But we found ourselves in the middle of a Mediterranean forest where we bumped into the ruins of abandoned Fort Monte Grosso among the trees. Trees and bushes growing out of old stone walls had a special charm, don’t they? We also liked the views of the coast from the top of the fort.
Then we discovered countless cute and tiny pebbly bays on our hike along the edge of the peninsula.
Hike up to the Starigrad Fortress of Omiš for amazing views
Omiš is for adventure lovers. One of our favorite things to do there was climbing up to Starigrad Fortress, also called Fortica. It’s about an hour long hike on a steep path, but the views from the 15th century fortress are amazing: views of Omiš from high above, views of the Cetina River and the Omiška Dinara Mountains, and views of the coastline. We watched the sunset there, and then hurried back on the trail so that we didn’t need to hike it in pitch darkness.
If you’d like adrenaline to bond you two together even more, try ziplining in the Cetina canyon or rafting on the Cetina River. You can sign up to them in Omiš.
Get lost in a wild, white mountainous landscape
The coastal mountains of Croatia look as white as if they have snow on the top. But they don’t (not anytime near the summer, at least), it’s the bare landscape with white limestone that looks like snow from a distance. You can hike up to those majestic cliffs, explore the wild, untouched landscapes and have fabulous coastal views. We enjoyed hiking in Biokovo Nature Park above Makarska, in the Omiška Dinara Mountains above Omiš, on the southern coast of Krk island or in whimsical and chilly Northern Velebit National Park.
Hike to Croatia’s prettiest river
As sentimental as the beauties of the Adriatic coast can make you, it’s not the only place with that capability. One that’s much lesser known is the source of River Kupa in Risnjak National Park. It’s an easy half day hike to get to the source of Kupa from the village of Razloge, and then hike along River Kupa for a while. A rushing stream, a lush green forest, flowers and chirping birds – take that trail if this sounds like the ideal setting for your date.
Watch the sea sunset together
We know that you all know this, but how can we miss it? Of course, you have to watch the sea sunset together!
Where? Most of the coastline faces west. Our most spectacular sunset memories are from the seaside promenade in the Old Town of Zadar, from Makarska’s Sveti Petar Peninsula, from the trails of Omiška Dinara and by the iconic tree of Punta Rata Beach in Brela. Watching the sunset alone from Velika Duba Beach (just outside of Živogošće on the Makarska Riviera) and Ramova Beach (Makarska) were also special.
Visit the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb 🙂
Finally, here’s a fun one: visit the Museum of Broken Relationships in the Croatian capital. Yes, it’s the real name of this museum, and the exhibits showcase things and stories that are all memories of broken relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but parent-child relationships and friendships, too. Some of them are sweet. Some are funny. Some are bitter. Some are terrible. Though this museum is small and an hour is enough to visit it, it will definitely make you think about a whole lot of things for a while.
Buy a romantic experience as a gift
Thinking about giving a romantic experience to your significant other as a Valentine Days’ gift? Have you heard about Tinggly? They offer hundreds of awesome experience packages in various countries, and their packages are extremely flexible. You can search specifically for romantic experiences here.
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