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Countries to Combine Croatia With

While Croatia has lots to discover from its hundreds of islands to ancient seaside cities, if you have the time, consider visiting one or more of its neighboring countries too. It’s easy to combine a trip with nearby destinations and highly recommended, especially if you don’t plan on returning to this region of the world anytime soon. Many visitors book a one-week or longer Croatia cruise, often sailing between Split and Dubrovnik with stops at multiple islands in between. That provides the heart of the vacation, blending the adventure with a trip to other nations that are convenient to reach before or after. If that sounds appealing to you, read on for some of the best countries to combine Croatia with.



One of the most popular countries to visit on a Croatia vacation, Montenegro is just to the southeast with some of its hottest spots within a two-hour drive of Dubrovnik, perfect for a day trip. But to explore beyond destinations like Kotor and Perast, you’ll want more than a day. Kotor is nestled on fjord-like Kotor Bay with a backdrop of dramatic mountains and a UNESCO-listed Old Town home to many impressive historical landmarks. The tiny town of Perast boasts 16 beautifully preserved palaces and a man-made islet with a museum and church, accessed via a short boat ride. 

Other highlights include Budva Riviera, a favorite for sunbathing, swimming, and nightlife, while the stunning Durmitor Mountains are popular for hiking and rafting with the wild Tara River running through. You’ll find the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula here too, Lake Skadar, a breathtaking place of natural beauty with secluded villages, towering mountains, and abundant wildlife which includes the endangered Dalmatian penguin and wolves. Lipa Cave is a karst cave with about 1.5 miles of halls and passageways, unique natural pillars, stalactites, and stalagmites. Well worth a visit, it’s the only one in the country open for public tours.


Fishing village Cinque Terre

There are nearly endless destinations to visit in Italy, one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Venice is one of the closest popular cities to Croatia, accessed by ferry from the ports of Porec, Rovinj, Pula, and Umag between May and early October. In the “Floating City,” you can glide along the Grand Canal in a gondola while serenaded by a gondolier. Or hop on a less expensive vaporetto and avoid the long lines to wind through some of the less-traveled canals lined with traditional Venetian homes. St. Mark’s Square is a must-visit, home to St. Mark’s Cathedral and its bell tower that provides a panoramic view over it all. 

Beyond Venice, perhaps head north to the Italian Lakes District with its five crystal-clear sapphire lakes: Garda, Maggiore, Lugano, Iseo, and Como, renowned for its villas, some of which are owned by celebrities like George Clooney. This is an idyllic region for nature lovers with a wide range of activities that will immerse you in the breathtaking scenery, including swimming, boating, hiking, and biking. Bologna is one of the country’s best-kept secrets with spectacular architecture that includes Renaissance monuments, baroque treasures, and medieval towers. Just a few of the other possibilities include Florence, Rome, Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast, and Sicily.


Lake Bled

Slovenia, bordering Croatia in the north, boasts everything from medieval towns, snow-capped mountains, turquoise rivers, and sapphire lakes to a spectacular coastline with idyllic beaches, all in an area slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey. Ljubljana, its capital, is especially picturesque with a river running through the Old Town crossed by famous bridges like the Dragon Bridge while Ljubljana Castle stands atop Castle Hill. There are historic rooms to explore and it’s also home to a puppet museum and a museum where you can learn about Slovenia’s history. 

Lake Bled is one of the top destinations in Slovenia, with an islet in the middle that hosts Our Lady of the Lake Church. Backed by the soaring peaks of the Julian Alps, it’s the ultimate photo op but you can also rent a small boat to row out to the island and ring the church’s “wishing bell.” Just northwest is Vintgar Gorge where a nature walk reveals magnificent waterfalls, rapids, and pools along the Radovna River. Triglav National Park is also worth a visit as the nation’s only national park. The crown jewel is the nearly 9,400-foot-high Mount Triglav providing a hiker’s paradise with waterfalls, lakes, rivers, forest, and alpine meadows to explore.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Kravice Waterfalls

Located on the Balkan Peninsula bordering Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina is a multifaceted destination that includes the diverse and cosmopolitan capital of Sarajevo. It has an appealing Ottoman quarter with narrow winding streets, mosques, artisan workshops, and cafes, along with a 19th-century Austria-Hungarian quarter. Not only can you explore its rich history that includes fortresses and ancient castle ruins, but you can delve into its thriving nightlife. Learn more about the Sarajevo war at the museum hosted in the Sarajevo tunnel. 

Don’t miss the chance to visit Mostar, closer to the Croatian border, where you can watch locals leap off Stari Most Bridge, one of the country’s most photographed spots. Not far from here along the Trebizat River are the Kravice Waterfalls with swimming holes that are perfect for a refreshingly cool dip during the warm summer months. The sacred Medugorje nearby brings the chance to witness an apparition of the Virgin Mary which has often been reported over the years. The town of Jajce offers some outstanding historical museums and natural sights like a waterfall, river, and forest while Blagaj is known for its ancient Dervish monastery. Wherever you go, you’ll appreciate the friendly, hospitable people.

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