Croatia is a prime spot for history buffs, with numerous cultural influences from centuries of various rulers and empires. In Zagreb, enjoy "mini Vienna" with grand Austro-Hungarian architecture and museums depicting life from the Bronze Age to the time of Yugoslavia. Head west to Istria for true Italian vibes, or venture south along the coast and visit some of Europe's most historical relics, including Diocletian's Palace in Split and the walled city of Dubrovnik. Even the islands host an abundance of unique rural history!

Getting Oriented

The marbled streets of Diocletian's Palace.

From north to south, east to west, Croatia is a historical haven. Some of the country's most popular destinations are also some of Europe's most prized, including the 4th-century Diocletian's Palace in Split and the 16th-century walls surrounding Dubrovnik's cherished Old Town. In addition, Croatia hosts several medieval towns and several cultural influences from former leaders and empires, including the Roman Empire, Slavic tribes, Croatian kings and queens, the Hungarians, the Habsburgs, and Yugoslavia.

Because of this unique and diverse history, Croatia doesn't get old for the history buff! Although small, its culture and history dramatically shift depending on which region you visit. From different cuisine to unique off-the-beaten-path sites, enjoy exploring everything from Roman ruins to memorials of the Croatian War of Independence. 

Historic Cities

Croatia is well-known for its abundance of charming and historic cities, many tucked away in the countryside or featuring white-washed stone from centuries soaked in Adriatic seaspray and sunshine. They're the perfect starting point for any history lesson.

Walk Through Dubrovnik's Old Town & City Walls

Views of Lovrijenac Fortress from Dubrovnik's walls. 

Explore the historic streets of Dubrovnik's Old Town, a walled city steeped in local legends, stories, and curious ways of life. With roots back to the 7th century CE and a wealthy rise as an independent republic in the Middle Ages, there's much to see and do in the marbled Old Town. Highlights include Onofrio's Fountain, Rector's Palace, Luza Square, and the café-lined Brsalje Street, plus Lovrijenac Fortress and Dubrovnik's defense walls (the second-largest in the world). Read More

Visit Cavtat & Sokol Tower

The historic seaside town of Cavtat.

About 30 minutes south of Dubrovnik is the scenic seaside hamlet of Cavtat, a small village with a unique history. Founded 7th century, it was a haven for ancient Greek Epidaurum refugees. Enjoy your time lounging by the beach or strolling the waterfront promenade, learning all about the town's past. Before or after, take a quick detour to Sokol grad, a 14th-century defense tower worth the stop for the incredible (and somewhat dizzying!) views and archeological artifacts. Read More

Discover Ancient History in Trogir, Klis, & Solin

The Roman amphitheater of Salona.

Discover some of the most interesting historical remains in the country with a day trip to Trogir, Klis Fortress, and the Roman settlement of Solin (Salona). You can start in Trogir, a small and historic seaside village set on an island. Highlights include the Riva, the 13th-century Romanesque Portal, and the 15th-century Kamerlengo Fortress. Then head to the 2,000-year-old Klis, which offers incredible views over Split. On your way down, stop at Salona, one of the largest cities of the Roman Empire. Read More

Palaces & Castles

No history-centered trip is complete without exploring palaces and castles! Luckily, Croatia is filled with them, most notably Diocletian's Palace in Split and the castles of Zagorje. 

Explore Diocletian's Palace

Golden Gate of Diocletian's Palace in Split.

The Old Town of Split fits nicely into the old walls of Diocletian's Palace, a grand mansion originally built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 4th century. Inside, you can meander the marbled streets that twist and turn through the palace, stopping to admire sites such as Jupiter's Temple, the Old Town Hall, Golden Gate, and Saint Domnius Belltower. Don't miss the underground cellars, which still resemble the original style and size. Read More

Enjoy the Scenic Castles of the Zagorje Region

Trakošćan Castle is reflected in its scenic lake.

Not far from Zagreb is the picturesque Zagorje region, known for its vineyards, castles, and quaint villages. Explore the area by visiting two of its most famous fortresses, starting with 14th-century Trakošćan Castle, which sits poetically on a reflective lake. Then head to the 16th-century Veliki Tabor Castle, originally built to defend against Turkish invaders. If you'd like to see some villages, consider a stop in Kumrovec, known for its 19th-century peasant houses and as the hometown of Tito. Read More

Nature & History Combined

Besides its historic towns, Croatia is also famous for its vibrant nature. Combine the country's natural beauty with a history lesson on its beautiful islands. 

Hike The Lost Villages of Hvar Island

The old village of Brusje on Hvar Island.

Hvar is one of the most popular Dalmatian Islands in Croatia, which means it can get a little crowded. Get off the beaten path with this unique exploration of the island's hidden villages. You'll start in Hvar Town and walk along the old trail used as the main route during the Middle Ages. As you make your way toward Malo Grablje, you'll stop in quaint villages, absorb incredible views, learn about Hvar's history, and enjoy a traditional peka meal. Read More

Sea Kayak to Goli Otok Prison near Rab Island

Remnants of the old prison Goli Otok.

Discover the remains of Croatia's most notorious prison, Goli Otok, often referred to as "Tito's Gulag." Many Stalinists, Communist party members, and Soviet Union sympathizers were imprisoned when the country was part of Yugoslavia. To get to the prison, you will kayak along the scenic coast of Rab Island. Upon arrival, enjoy an educational tour and learn about Tito and his infamous regime. Read More

Crafting the Perfect Historical Itinerary in Croatia

The historic Onofrio's Fountain in Dubrovnik.

You'll find plenty of history in every corner of the country, which means any itinerary can easily include historical activities. However, Croatia's unique shape makes planning a trip a little challenging. Although it's a relatively small country, driving from north to south can take up to 10 hours. So to make the most out of your time, consider flying into Zagreb in the north and out from Dubrovnik in the south (or vice versa). Then, you won't need to backtrack across the country!

How many days to spend in Croatia? That depends on what you want to see and how many regions you want to visit. If you want to stick to one area, such as the Dalmatian coast or northern Croatia, give yourself at least 5 or 6 days. If you'd like to combine the two or add visits to some of the islands, plan for at least one or two weeks

Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries featuring historical experiences in Croatia: