10 Top-Rated Beaches in Croatia

Written by Meagan Drillinger
Updated Jun 23, 2023

If you go to Croatia and skip the beach, did you really go to Croatia at all? The beaches of Croatia are some of the best parts of the country — and many are considered to be among the most beautiful beaches in Europe.

Banje Beach, Dubrovnik
Banje Beach, Dubrovnik | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

What makes Croatia's beaches so special is their extreme, almost unbelievable beauty. Picture gleaming, pearly white-pebble shores contrasted against brilliantly blue water, with endless views of mountains and islands stretching as far as the eye can see.

After driving down the entire Croatian coast, from Istria in the north to Dubrovnik in the south, I can say with certainty that Croatia has such a dramatic landscape and so many beautiful beaches to discover.

The total Croatian coastline is 1,777 kilometers long thanks to its many bays and coves. In fact, it has more bays and coves than almost any other country in Europe. Add to that nearly 100 islands and it's easy to see why Croatia is a premiere beach destination.

If you've been dreaming of beautiful beaches and thinking of visiting a one-of-a-kind destination, consider this your sign to book a ticket. While travel continues to bloom here, this country provides a picturesque and affordable escape in Europe. Here are my picks for the best beaches in Croatia.

1. Zlatni Rat, Brac

Zlatni Rat
Zlatni Rat

Want to go to the fairest, most famous Croatia beach of all? Low and behold Zlatni Rat. With a shoreside that's shaped uniquely and dotted with shiny pebbles, it's often called the Golden Cape or Golden Horn. Here, you'll find endless restaurants and hotels, as well as umbrellas, day chairs, and anything else for rent.

Big enough for families and romantic enough for couples, this beach offers everything you're looking for in a beach day in Brac. Keep an eye out for windsurfers who love the breeze while riding on the Adriatic Sea.

2. Banje Beach, Dubrovnik

Banje Beach, Dubrovnik
Banje Beach, Dubrovnik

One of the most popular beaches in Croatia, if possibly only because of its location in Dubrovnik, is Banje Beach. Game of Thrones fans will instantly know about Dubrovnik, the unofficial home to King's Landing. In addition to this pop culture fame, Dubrovnik also features a fascinating old town and ancient city walls, and places to dip yourself in the ocean and enjoy a day on the beach.

You may want to even base yourself out of the city center, closer to the waves, and consider finding a hotel near Banje Beach.

Banje Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Dubrovnik because it is the closest you can get to the city without being part of it. Make sure to book reservations at one of the few restaurants along the beach for an ideal way to watch the sunset and celebrate your trip. This beach is always busy.

I found the beach to be beautiful and in a great location, but it is definitely not a quiet beach. If you are interested in being part of the scene, with spectacular views of Dubrovnik, Banje Beach is fabulous. But if you're expecting an afternoon of solitude, this is not the beach for that.

Author's Tip: If you want a quieter beach in Dubrovnik, but one with a gorgeous view of Old Town, opt for Sveti Jakov Beach. This beach is located on the opposite end of the bay from Banje Beach. Down a long flight of stairs from the top of a cliff, the beach is a stunning stretch of white stones and glittering turquoise water. But what makes this beach so special is its perfect view of Dubrovnik's Old Town, as well as Lokrum Island.

3. Punta Rata, Brela

Punta Rata
Punta Rata | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Punta Rata is the crown jewel of beaches on the Makarska Riviera. The Makarska Riviera is a meandering stretch of coastline that runs from Split down to Dubrovnik. It is carved with dramatic beaches and spectacular spots, but Punta Rata is by far the best, and definitely my favorite.

Punta Rata is a bigger beach in the area, known for soft sand and clear water. You can expect plenty of tourists, locals, and families. Take your pick of bicycling the unpaved trails or running the coast on foot.

You'll find a restaurant there, too, called Restaurant Punta Rata, which is a very nice spot to sit outside and have something to eat. The prices are a bit higher than you may find elsewhere, but the atmosphere is lovely.

Idyllic Punta Rata
Idyllic Punta Rata

Because of the location, you'll have views of the Biokovo mountain range from Punta Rata, and if you walk long enough, you'll come across the Brela Stone. This is what everyone takes a photo in front of, so get your phone ready to pose with a giant boulder that somehow grows pine trees.

When you arrive in Croatia, you'll likely fly into Split, an hour's drive northwest of Punta Rata.

4. Sakarun Beach, Dugi Island (Dugi Otok)

Aerial view of Sakarun Beach
Aerial view of Sakarun Beach

If you consider yourself a beach fan, but your skin isn't so keen, you'll need a beach with shelter from the intensity of those UV rays. When you're visiting Croatia, this is the right spot for you, since it's surrounded by pine trees. The natural shade makes it ideal for those sensitive to the sunshine or for families with children who need breaks from the heat.

You'll also find calm, shallow waters for teeny-tiny splashers. During the peak travel season, lots of restaurants open their doors, but be aware that they operate only seasonally.

5. Betina Cave, Dubrovnik

Betina Cave
Betina Cave

Imagine, if you will, a beach you can only get to if you know the secret trail. You'll need a kayak or you can call for a water taxi to take you to this sea-access-only beach, located under a natural cave and ideal for romantic honeymoon escapes.

With little vitamin D pouring in, you'll save yourself from the heat, and if you go at the start or end of the day, you won't have to battle other twosomes with the same idea. Consider yourself warned, there isn't much here-merely some sand-so you'll want to bring your own blankets, snacks, and drinks.

6. Nugal Beach

Nugal Beach
Nugal Beach

Pros of this beach: a beautiful, impressive nine-meter waterfall that floods from the nearby Mount Biokovo. Con: if you visit Croatia during the off-season, you can look at this natural wonder, but you can't swim in its wake.

Most people who visit Nugal Beach will come for a handful of reasons: to go hiking and detox on the shore, or to um, wear their birthday suit. Because of its location and seclusion within Forest Park Osejava, it's a popular area for nude bathing. When you have multiple days to have fun-in-the-sun, make sure to add this beach to your schedule.

7. Kamenjak National Park, Istria

Kamenjak National Park
Kamenjak National Park

This national park is a landmark, an attraction, and an institution for Croatia, located on the southernmost tip of Istria. Travelers will come here to explore this mostly underdeveloped area, renowned for the peninsula that stretches six kilometers into the sea with 21-meter cliffs. Its history is said to date to prehistoric times, and dinosaur fossils have been discovered.

When you're hiking here, make sure you walk along the appropriately-named Dinosaur Path, where you can still see footprints in the limestone! The beach here is small and pebbly, but what you'll really take away is a new appreciation for this country, and Mother Nature herself.

Read More: Best Places to Visit in Istria

8. Sunj Beach, Lopud

Sunj Beach
Sunj Beach

Truth be told, most of the beaches you'll find in Croatia will have pebble stones instead of sand. For those used to feeling sand between their toes, the Adriatic Sea is known for this shoreside feature. The rare exception is Sunj Beach, just west of Dubrovnik.

When you find an area on this usually crowded space, glance to your left and right, where you'll see bright green hills rolling in the distance. You won't find any cars on the whole island, since golf carts and bicycles are the preferred method of transportation. When you aren't racking up the freckles, you can explore the many monasteries, villas, forts, and palaces of this area in Croatia, too.

9. Zrce Beach Novalja, Pag Island

Zrce Beach
Zrce Beach | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Though sometimes you're in the mood for serenity and quiet, other times, you want to add some excitement. For when the mood strikes, head to Zrce Beach, renowned as a lively destination for Croatia. Locals, tourists, and happenin' DJs frequent the beach, thanks to the many open-air restaurants. Most of these come complete with pools, Jacuzzis, and hot tubs, and you're welcome to come straight from the white-pebbled beach into the establishments.

Zrce Beach
Zrce Beach

Zrce Beach is also known for its live music festivals and concerts, which take place throughout the summer. Pinning your visit to one of these events could be a really unique way to visit Croatia and meet people from all over the world. When I visited Zrce Beach, they were just in the process of setting up the stage for the summer and the excitement was palpable.

10. Solta Island

Beautiful Beach on Solta Island
Beautiful Beach on Solta Island

To escape the crowds but still get an island experience in central Dalmatia, check out the rugged island of Solta. Less touristy than nearby Hvar and Brač, it is home to some beautiful beaches, including Stračinska. The secluded pebble beach on the island's southern shore sits on a clear turquoise bay surrounded by bleached white rocks and a few homes (some of which can be rented). It is a great spot for swimming, as the water gets deep.

The beach is easiest to access if you have a boat, although you can also get here via a walking and biking trail from GornjeSelo. Arriving on foot makes an impressive first impression: you'll emerge from thick pine woods at the top of a hill and enjoy a majestic view before descending down to the sea.

You can also walk from Stračinska to other nearby beaches on the same bay. To the left is Maložalo and to the right is Veložalo, which are white-pebble beaches that are usually mostly void of people.

Map of Beaches in Croatia

More Popular Beach Destinations in Croatia

If you're visiting the coast of Croatia during the summer months, chances are, you'll want to find a beach. Many of the towns and cities along the coast have beautiful beaches, even if they did not make the list above. Here are some of our most popular articles on other places you can find great beaches and swimming areas: