Top 10 unusual Croatia holidays

Any travellers looking to escape the crowded beaches and opt for a more unusual holiday in Croatia should consider this top 10 before they head off. We’ve compiled a great collection of holidays that will take you into Croatia’s lesser-known countryside and coastlines. From staying in rural stone cottages surrounded by vineyards to taking the train from London to Zagreb – here’s how you discover a side to Croatia that the cruise ships miss.

1. Sea kayaking around the Adriatic islands

Paddling around Croatia’s Adriatic islands in a kayak is the best way to get to all the out-of-the-way coves and beaches the cruise ships simply can’t reach. Local kayaking guides know all the top places to swim, snorkel and share a picnic, so all you have to do is follow their lead and dive right in. Staying in locally owned guest houses on the islands of Sipan and Lopud gives you plenty of opportunities to meet local people and get a real taste for traditional Croatian cuisine, without the overpriced menus.

Our top selling trip: Sea kayaking holiday in Croatia
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Read more: Sea kayaking in Croatia travel guide

2. Cultural homestay experience

Travelling as part of a small group, you’ll be invited to dine out at family-owned restaurants as well as spending the night in guest rooms that are rented out by local folk during the summer. Wherever you go – Dubrovnik, Korcula, Hvar or Split – getting to know local people is the best way to become immersed in the culture of Croatia.

Our top selling trip: Croatia cultural holiday with homestay
Read more: Croatia travel guide

3. Sailing the secretive Kornati Islands

There’s nothing unusual about sailing holidays in Croatia, but not every sailor will have the chance to explore the little-visited Kornati Islands. Voyaging on a luxury catamaran, you’ll have every opportunity to feel the salty sea breeze on your skin as you island-hop in the waters off Sibenik, where an underappreciated archipelago of over 150 islands lies. There are no permanent residents here; the olive groves and vineyards are looked after by people who live on nearby Murter Island. Your expert guides and skipper will reveal crystal-clear kayaking bays and hideaway beaches only accessible by boat.

Our top selling trip: Kornati sailing adventure
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4. Train adventure

Setting off for Croatia by train from London will appeal to old romantics and responsible travellers alike. This is an opportunity to relive Interrail adventures past as you cross from Paris to Munich, then Austria to Slovenia, before finally arriving in the Croatian capital city of Zagreb. Spending nights off the train helps break up the journey, as well as providing plenty of talking points as you board the train the next morning and continue to ride the rails across Western Europe.

Our top selling trip: London to Croatia by train holiday
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Read more: Balkans by rail travel guide

5. Rural cottage stay in the Konavle Valley

If you want to discover Croatia away from the cruise ship crowds and souvenir stands, book into a rural cottage in the Konavle Valley and you’ll be transported back in time. Surrounded by green fields, vegetable patches and endless vineyards, this stone cottage makes the most of natural resources as well as the peace and tranquillity of rural Croatia.

Our top selling trip: Vineyard cottage in rural Croatia
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6. Self-catering lighthouse outside Dubrovnik

There are island escapes… and then there are island escapes. Grebeni Lighthouse was built in the 19th century, perfectly poised on a rocky islet to warn ships of the reefs and rocks on the approach to Dubrovnik. Its retirement as one of our most unusual holiday villas is a little more sedate. Take your pick of five bedrooms, lounge on the terrace with views over Lapad Bay and the Elpahiti Islands, and take a dip in the sea-view pool. You’ll spy some of the best sunsets and starry skies in Croatia from here.

Our top selling trip: Lighthouse accommodation near Dubrovnik
See all our trips: Dubrovnik holidays
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7. Self guided coastal walks

This wonderful week of walking is just the ticket for any travellers looking to make the most of Croatia at their own pace. B&B accommodation, detailed trip notes, luggage transfers and ferry tickets are all included, so all you have to do is put your best foot forward and explore. From the water mills and green hills of Konavle to the natural island charm of Lopud and Mljet – self guided coastal walks in Croatia are all about enjoying a daily dose of exercise and sea views.

Our top selling trip: Self guided Croatian coast walking tour
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8. Active family holiday on the Split Riviera

Take your family off for a week of adventures in the mountains, lakes and waterfalls of Croatia. Stay on the Split Riviera, and you can try your hand at sea kayaking alongside schools of fish, tubing down rivers deep in the Dalmatia hinterland, and canyoning to the Gubavica waterfall, all under the watchful tutelage of local guides and instructors. An active family holiday in Croatia is a great way to get to know the country’s lesser-visited landscapes – and each other.

Our top selling trip: Croatia activity holiday for families with teenagers
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9. Self guided cycling trip to secluded coastlines

Pedal off into the Croatian countryside and along secluded stretches of coast as you embark on this worthwhile week of self guided cycling. Luggage is transferred ahead as you ride and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get off the saddle and explore the restaurant and beach recommendations in your route notes. This cycling trip covers good distances, riding from Dubrovnik and Konavle Valley on the mainland to the Adriatic islands of Mljet, Sipan and Korkula – but also includes plenty of chances to relax and soak it all in.

Our top selling trip: Croatia self guided biking tour
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10. Exploring Croatia’s national parks

Joining a small group of like-minded travellers is a great way to meet new people and enjoy the protected rivers and mountains of Croatia at the same time. National parks such as Krka and Paklenica are ideal for finding out more about rural Croatia’s cultural heritage. Most people only get the chance to see them on day trips from the cities. Set off on the trail with knowledgeable local guides and stay in cosy but comfy hotels.

Our top selling trip: Small group walking holiday in Croatia
See all our trips: Croatia walking holidays
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Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Anrie Papp] [3. Travel by sea but stay on land: D Smith] [7. Self guided coastal walks: NH53] [10. Walking in Croatia’s national parks: dronepicr]