What Countries Should I Combine with Croatia?

Croatia covers nearly 22,000 square miles with more than a thousand islands and over 2,500 miles of coastline. You'll find lots to see and do from Dalmatia to the Istrian Peninsula, the Slavonia region, and beyond. If you're fortunate enough to have the time to explore more, there are also multiple countries to combine with Croatia that will allow you to take advantage of it. That includes Montenegro to the southeast, Italy to the west, Slovenia to the north, and Bosnia & Herzegovina to the east. Whether you plan to explore one or more countries before or after a Croatia cruise or as part of an independent Croatia holiday, this guide can help you create the ideal itinerary.
Perast

Montenegro

Montenegro may be a small country but it’s jam-packed with natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage, including everything from sandy beaches and soaring mountains to historic fortresses, monasteries, and churches. It can be easily reached as a day trip from Dubrovnik to visit Kotor, Perast, or Budva, but it’s well worth spending at least a few days here. There are five vastly different national parks preserving some of the most unspoiled, breathtaking scenery, ideal for outdoor adventurers of all types. Lake Skadar is a perfect destination for birdwatchers, inhabited by the endangered Dalmatian penguin and the rare Dalmatian pelican. It also boasts charming historic villages that are fun to explore.

Durmitor National Park is the country’s most famous, home to the Durmitor Mountains which include four dozen peaks towering over 6,500 feet. There’s also an ice cave with stalagmites and stalactites and three magnificent canyons. The Tara River Gorge is Europe’s deepest, with the wild Tara River popular for whitewater rafting trips. Other highlights include the Blue Grotto, a sea cave along the Bay of Kotor with boat tours that are available to bring you inside and even snorkel through the iridescent blue waters.

Venice

Italy

Whilst Italy doesn’t share a border with Croatia, there’s just a small section of land in Slovenia between the two, and it’s right across the Adriatic. That makes it easy to get there by car, train, plane, or ferry. It’s only a 2.5- to 3-hour journey by ferry between Rovinj on the Istrian Peninsula and Venice, making Venice a popular destination to combine with your Croatia holiday. You might begin by exploring St. Mark’s Square, home to St. Mark’s Cathedral with its world-renowned campanile that can be climbed for a panoramic view. Visit the famous Rialto Bridge and Rialto Market, glide across the canals in a gondola, and watch a glorious sunset from one of the many rooftop terraces. 

From Venice, it’s easy to reach many popular destinations, including Florence, just over two hours away by train. The capital of the Tuscan region, it’s renowned for its mouthwatering cuisine, Renaissance art and architecture while surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, and picturesque hilltop villages. Or, you might head north to the Dolomites to immerse yourself in the breathtaking Italian Alps with cascading waterfalls and dramatic, jagged peaks. It’s an outdoor paradise for hiking, parasailing, and many other activities.

Lake Bled

Slovenia

Surprisingly, Slovenia remains off-the-radar for most despite its stunning landscapes at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, the Karst, and the Alps. There are turquoise rivers for rafting, postcard-perfect lakes for rowing and paddling, towering mountains for hiking and climbing, vast caves for exploring, and elegant medieval towns for wandering. Exploring the natural attractions is a must, but don’t miss strolling the cobbled streets of the capital, Ljubljana. It’s topped by Ljubljana Castle on Castle Hill where it’s overlooked the city for more than 900 years. Lake Bled is also a must-visit just a 45-minute drive away. Rent a rowboat to explore the islet in the middle that’s home to Our Lady of the Lake Church. Famous for its bell, legend says ringing it can make your wishes come true. 

Near Lake Bled is Vintgar Gorge, where you can soak up its beauty on a natural walk featuring views of the waterfalls, rapids, and pools. If you have the time, continue beyond to Lake Bohinj with even more jaw-dropping scenery and opportunities for outdoor recreation like swimming, kayaking, and hiking. Predjama Castle, set within the mouth of a cave in the south-central part of the country offers a variety of unique experiences.

Mostar

Bosnia & Herzegovina

For an authentic, less-touristy experience, you won’t find many places like Bosnia & Herzegovina. It has an East meets West feel with everything from unspoiled landscapes home to rushing rivers and soaring mountains to fascinating history revealed in Ottoman Old Towns. Located on the southeast side of Croatia, its cosmopolitan capital of Sarajevo is incredibly charismatic, enjoyable just to wander. Get lost among cobblestone alleyways, sample local eats in traditional restaurants, and put your haggling skills to the test. Throughout the city, you’ll find the creative spirit that Sarajevans fought so hard to preserve, including in artisan workshops. You can even delve into the traditional copper handicraft that has existed here for over 500 years with the chance to create your own souvenir. 

The historic town Mostar is a popular day trip from Croatia, tucked into a deep valley where the Neretva River runs through. One of its most photographed attractions is the Stari Most Bridge where you’ll often see locals leap off into the vibrant emerald-green water. There are picturesque, old Turkish houses and nearby is Kravice waterfall. Set along the Trebizt River, it’s roughly 82 feet high and separated into 20 different falls with calm water below for swimming.

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