So, you’re hunting for Croatia’s best party destinations, huh? You’re not short on choices. This sun-kissed Adriatic country is well known for its lively after-dark scene and range of fantastic party towns. It’s a place where you can settle in for a chilled sunset beer before enjoying an evening of hearty Slavic food, or somewhere to keep dancing to rumbling rock bands until the sun rises. That’s up to you.
This guide will run through a good mix of the very best party towns in Croatia. From the historic streets of Dubrovnik in the warmer south to the gritty venues of the capital up in Zadar, it offers options up and down the spine of the nation.
Some – like Hvar and Split – are true party meccas, offering wild music festivals that go on all day and all night, for weeks on end. Others – Zadar, Pula – are more relaxed and refined, off the beaten track, but nonetheless pretty darn lively. Ready? Let’s get a-going…
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Zadar is for those who are after something a little more chilled than your no-holes-barred Euro party town. The city spills into the Adriatic Sea on the northern end of the Dalmatian Riviera. For many, it’s a sort of pass-through place as they head to the famous islands of the wild Kornati National Park. But there’s definitely enough to make it worth lingering for a night or two if you’ve got your heart set on a party…
Scoot down to the Riva Zadar in the evening. That’s a gorgeous urban promenade lined with plane trees and gravel sidewalks. It’s home to plenty of drinkeries, too, from the shaded café-bar of Brazil to the hole-in-the-wall beer kiosk of Vak’an’za. Any and all of them are top choices for some pre-drinks since they have front-on views of the water and the sunset.
When time ticks on, you can stroll into the Old Town of Zadar. It’s a bustling grid of wide streets that comes gilded with handsome Habsburg architecture and 19th-century mansions. There’s also a pretty fine selection of places to party there. We particularly like The Factory Bar and Ledana Lounge Bar, where you’ll find breezy outdoor drinking areas in a municipal park.
Zagreb is naturally going to be up there with the Croatia best party destinations, mainly because it’s the closest thing this salt-washed country on the edge of the Balkan Peninsula gets to a proper metropolis. The largest town of the lot, it’s home to just over 800,000 people. A large proportion of those will be students in the prestigious University of Zagreb (the biggest in Croatia), while the summertime brings in city breakers from all over to the boot.
Our favorite spot to start a night in Zagreb is the bustling strip of Ivana Tkalčića. It’s the liveliest street in the whole town, which you’ll find cutting right through the historic center between Slavic church spires and cobblestone alleys. There are all sorts on offer there, from casual pubs to elegant cocktail lounges, not to mention plenty of kebab outlets for soaking up the rakija later on.
The locals might also direct you to one of the huge-capacity satellite clubs. These are colossal venues that lurk on the outskirts of the main city and often attract big-name DJs for all-nighter shindigs that include lots of laser lighting and lots of smoke machine use. The best of them is probably Boogaloo, but you could also hit techno-mad Depo Klub.
Split is one of the real poster boys of the Croatian riviera. A gorgeous city of red-tiled roofs and pine-topped hills that’s beset by big castles that were built centuries ago and pebbly coves that glimmer a perfect white under the sun, the whole place is a veritable hubbub in the summer months, when thousands of travelers descend from all over Europe. Some come to see the UNESCO site of Diocletian’s Palace (an old Roman complex in the heart of the city). Others come to party.
Those who come for the latter will often start their evenings in the old center of town. Croatian wine bars like La Bodega await there, while smaller café-bars serve chilled beers and rakija on the Riva promenade by the Adriatic.
Later on, the action switches to the bigger clubs. These are the venues that really put Split on the map of Croatia’s best party destinations. You’ve got a couple to pick from. There’s sprawling Vanilla Club, a huge dance venue with a lane swimming pool and regular live music. There’s quirky Fabrique Pub, a gritty joint in a cavernous depot. There’s also La Playa Beach Bar, a local’s fav that’s just a stone’s throwback from the beach.
Hvar is the summertime blowout destination of choice. Yep, no list of the Croatia best party destinations could possibly be complete without it. Fragmenting off the sun-splashed Dalmatian coast into a crystal-clear Adriatic Sea, the island is pure beauty, touting a backcountry of wild herbs and beaches fringed by Aleppo pines. But you’re not here for the nature, right?
Put on the party hat and hit Hvar Town. It’s the hub of the nightlife scene. The Riva roadway that runs through the middle is positively brimming with bars that spill onto the ancient flagstones outside. There’s even a Hvar Pub Crawl that comes with 90 minutes of all-you-can-drink fun in a local jazz joint followed by access to the rollicking legend that is Kiva Bar.
Hvar also excels in beach clubs. You’ll notice they get populated when the yachters sail over and drop anchor. There’s all sorts, from the Tiki-inspired Hula Hula to uber-chilled Calma Beach Bar, wedged into its own swimming cove a touch to the north of the main town. Uber-chic Carpe Diem Hvar also deserves a special mention because it’s arguably the most famous cocktail joint on the island.
Pula might not have the same reputation as the other major resorts down on the Makarska Riviera or Dalmatian coast, but boy is it a stunner of a city. It caps off the end of the Istrian Peninsula with its timeless Roman ruins (some of the best outside of Italy, they say) and enchanting old town. There are olive-covered hills all around it, and some of the best rocky shoreline on the Adriatic.
Pula is also pretty downright hedonistic. It’s close enough to Zagreb to draw in revelers from the capital. On top of that, it has its own university that’s linked to the EU-wide Erasmus program, so you get folk from all over the continent heading down to hit the bars once lectures are over. And it’s a pretty big holiday destination to boot, attracting oodles of domestic Croatian travelers keen to skip the places that are better known to the Brits and Germans.
The result is a town that thrums to a very local beat. You’ll start in the beach bars of the Verudela Peninsula. That juts out of the south side of town to offer all sorts of tiny coves with cocktail bars tucked into the crevices. Stick around the beach until sunset and then hitch a bus ride back to the center. The forum area is the liveliest part of town, offering homey Croat konoba (taverns) galore. Later on, check out Uljanik, a no-holes-barred rock club with countless rooms and a huge al fresco courtyard where live bands rattle the stages.
Don’t ignore Dubrovnik if you’re hunting for Croatia best party destinations. This city might be most famed for its role in HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones and those soaring medieval castles that rise from the edge of the Adriatic, but there’s lots of dancing and drinking to be done once the sun has set.
The focus isn’t so much on an overload of clubs. It’s more on having a few that really get lively. The late-night places also aren’t necessarily going to be in the heart of the old city. To find them, you’ll need to stray beyond the centuries-old walls and into the new town or even out to the beaches. We’d say the crème-de-la-crème are Copacabana Beach (a very pretty cove with its own deluxe beach bar a la Ibiza), Revelin Culture Club (a huge disco in a fortress built in the 1500s), and Lazareti (an ad hoc place for pretty big DJ names to perform).
Of course, Dubrovnik also offers the charm of its historic center. That’s a maze-like district where alleys lead off this way and that and the squares open onto beautiful Baroque churches. Bars are everywhere. Like, everywhere. There’s even an open-air cinema tucked in the midst of it all if you’re not too keen on glugging back the rakija until the early hours.
Pag has risen and risen in popularity in recent years to become one of the most popular destinations for Croatian domestic travelers. It’s now entering the mainstream too, and there’s a pretty hefty cohort of returnee European holidaymakers coming back each season. That’s added to the vibes here, and the whole island is now positively pumping in the high-summer months between June and August.
But there’s one positively legendary spot that stands out from the crowds on Pag: Zrce Beach. Also known as Festival Beach, it’s got a massive arena bar that pokes out over the Adriatic on a pier. Inside, you’ll join thousands of other revelers in an all-night shindig that’s fueled by endless EDM tunes and techno. The beach is also the site of Kalypso Club, which can rival even Ibiza for the box-office DJs that it brings in.
There are also other, more relaxed, spots on Pag where the nightlife is better suited to couples and families. For that, head to the wave-lapped town of Caska for bistros on the shoreline. Or hit the old naval port of Novalja, which offers pubs by the quaysides and lots of boat watching.
Croatia best party destinations – the conclusion
There are a couple of towns that really stand out from the crowd when it comes to partying in Croatia. We’d say Split and the island resort of Hvar are by far the best of the lot, followed by the uber-famous castle city of Dubrovnik, though the scene there really is driven by tourism. You won’t want to miss a night out in the capital if you do happen to be passing Zagreb’s way. Then you have the smaller town of Pula, the island of Pag, and more chilled seaside resorts like Zadar, which offer something a touch more local and different.