Croatia wedding venues and locations are endlessly diverse. It would be a futile attempt to try and list them all, so we’ll talk about the ones that have a special place in our hearts, with a focus on Dalmatian coast. Here they are, in no particular order…
– Dubrovnik Old Town
Dubrovnik is the pearl among Croatia wedding locations, but saying you’re getting married in Dubrovnik is like saying you’re getting married in Europe. Dubrovnik may be small, but it’s so diverse and filled with potential wedding venues that we’ll just have to write a separate article to do it justice. Still, for completeness’s sake, let’s give you a sneak peek of its diversity and how a wedding in Dubrovnik might look.
– Fort Lovrijenac (above in foreground)
Let’s start on a high note — with Fort Lovrijenac, probably the most prestigious venue in all of Dubrovnik. It’s unique in many ways, beginning with its centuries old stone walls and an absolutely stunning view of Old Town.
To get married there you need to book the whole fort which can get expensive: not only will they completely close it down for visitors and privatize it just for you, giving you exclusive access away from all the hustle and bustle of the Old Town, it’s also positioned on a huge rock and anything you may need there (from furniture to food and drinks) has to be carried up some 200 stairs. It may sound daunting, but the experience there will be well worth the effort!
The contest may be tight, but Dubrovnik is home to probably the most popular Croatia wedding venues. Its iconic stone city walls are seductive and brimming with inviting terraces, mysterious alleys, ornate and beautifully preserved churches and shiny stone streets, polished by centuries and generations of citizens and visitors, including one of the most recognizable of all – Stradun, the main street of Old Town.
– Secluded atrium of the Dominican monastery
If you’re looking for a religious ceremony venue, you’re in luck as there are at least 6 churches just inside the Old Town. They’re all stunning, ancient, beautifully preserved — and most importantly, still living and breathing. However, there are plenty of even more interesting choices for civil and symbolic ceremonies.
Sponza palace is a remarkable choice for ceremonies. Built in a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance style in early 16th century, it used to be the official coin mint of Dubrovnik Republic. It’s an impressive towering stone structure with multiple floors ornamented with stone arches and pillars with an atrium in the middle of it. It’s in the heart of the Old Town and simply breathtaking. If you want something even more exclusive, consider Rector’s palace, a favorite place for summer classical music concerts and a very classy spot.
– Decorated Sponza palace, bride entering the ceremony
– Rector’s palace atrium (below)
Let’s now touch upon beach weddings. Two most popular pebble-beach choices are Banje beach (below left) with its excellent restaurant, and hotel President beach (below right) featuring a great view of Daksa and Elaphiti islands.
If you want a sea view with a feel of green lawn under your feet and shade of olive trees above, Sunset Beach of Uvala Lapad is the place to be. If you’re after a pine forest and the sound of sea waves crashing on the rocks, consider the nearby Lokrum island instead.
– Sunset Beach Lapad (above), hotel Palace VIP beach (below)
Venturing further away from the Old Town, you can find hotel Palace with its rocky beach for a pool-side and sea-side dinner, but you can also pick the viewpoint above the hotel for an intimate ceremony with a wide vista of the Adriatic sea, under the shade of pine trees.
– hotel Palace viewpoint (above), dinner reception setup on the Musem of Modern Art terrace (below)
Circling back to the Old Town, one of the best venues for a dinner with direct view of the eastern part of the Old Town is the Musem of Modern Art terrace.
If you want a fancy heritage dining experience for a small number of guests with a stunning rooftop view of the Old Town, Prijeko Palace may be perfect for you (below left). It’s a renovated luxury house squeezed among the orange tiled roofs of the Old Town which on its three floors houses more modern art than almost any other place in Dubrovnik. It will definitely make for some really interesting conversations over fine-dining experience of Stara Loza restaurant.
– Prijeko Palace restaurant (above left), MoMA terrace (above right), sunset sessions around Old Town (below)
Dubrovnik has another ace up its sleeve — ancient wooden boat replicas Karaka and Tirena. You can get them for a cruise, dinner, transport to an island or a full wedding, whichever you prefer.
– Tirena ship leaving the Old Town (above), moments from a Karaka wedding (below)
– Couple admiring a sunset over Old Town before the dinner reception at Victoria Restaurant
Choices are endless, as you’ll soon realize. As far as Adriatic and Croatia wedding venues go, Dubrovnik pretty much has it all! Which brings us to…
– Island of Lokrum in relation to the Old Town Dubrovnik (above), view of Dubrovnik from Lokrum (below)
If you’re longing for untouched nature but still want to be close to the civilization, nice restaurants and great accommodation, Lokrum is your ideal Croatia wedding venue.
– Gardens, pine forests and coast on Lokrum island
Lokrum island is a natural reserve, a 15 min boat ride from the Old Town of Dubrovnik. Its lush green pine forests are surrounded by azure sea and white rocks, their beauty only topped by the ancient arboretum and cultivated gardens of the nearby monastery.
Lokrum has a very old Dominican monastery (photo above) that is just a perfect location for a ceremony (non-religious, as it’s partially in ruins). It has a stunning maze-garden within its walls (photo below) and offers both shade and privacy — it can be closed off for the duration of the ceremony.
– Wild peacocks and rabbits wander freely around Lokrum (below)
– Natural rock formations create an amazing backdrop for epic shots (photos below)
Lokrum is small — you can walk around it in half an hour. However, it’s endlessly diverse, so if photos above didn’t convince you, here’s some more…
– Forests of many plant species are all over the island (above and below)
Of all the Croatia wedding venues, Lokrum is specific because there are no inhabitants and no accommodation on the island (by design, not by chance), so it has this relaxed sunny vibe and as far as weddings go, it’s very much off the beaten path.
– The scenery changes with every step you take
So it’s all positives, right? Well, not quite. Lokrum can get expensive. Anything you need for a wedding must arrive by boat and then be carried to the location. Also, since it’s a natural reserve everyone needs to pay admission tickets, in addition to getting a boat to get all of your guests there (unless you want to take the regular ferry).
In addition to that, all this wild nature comes at a price: you won’t really find paved paths on the island, so those high heels you were eyeing for the ceremony may not be the fully compatible with walking over the island. Luckily you can change as you arrive to the ceremony venue and then switch to something more comfortable for the session around the island later.
Is all of this a deal-breaker? We say: no! Such beauty and diversity in such a small area is absolutely unique!
Now we’re getting into the slightly exotic territory. Island of Vis is not that accessible (i.e. it’s far off the coast), which also means that it’s not overcrowded by visitors and offers a different pace of everyday life. If you’re not after crazy partying night after night and prefer a more meditative and relaxing experience (your wedding night party notwithstanding!), Vis is an amazing choice!
– Town of Vis (above), the island’s diverse coast (below)
After two and a half hour ferry ride from Split, you’ll be greeted by an island of vineyards, sticking out far into the Adriatic. It has a few small towns and a lot of roads, ideal for exploration on a scooter you can rent on practically every corner.
Its separation from mainland is both its weakness and its biggest strength, as it bursts with authenticity. Even local shops with souvenirs lack typical cheap plastic stuff you can find all over the coast and instead feature handmade local artisan creations.
– A few frames from a Vis wedding
Food there is equally par excellance, based in large part on locally sourced seafood. We’ve yet to visit an average restaurant (which in truth might speak more about our ability to find authentic local places, but you get the picture — there are plenty).
– Fort George, with town of Vis in the background
Fort George is the place to get married there — an old British defensive fortress on top of a hill turned into a fine dining restaurant. Pine trees on the main terrace create amazing natural shade, which is very much appreciated during hot summer months.
– Options for the ceremony on Ft. George (above), a dinner setup on main terrace (below)
Fort George also offers ceremony venue in separate part of the fortress, just like a cocktail terrace on the top level with a stunning view of the coast of Vis. This arrangement makes it perfect for bigger wedding parties where you want to have everything ready in advance and seamlessly move from one location to another.
– Sunset shots just outside Ft. George
So it’s basically three venues rolled into one, which is why it’s so popular. It also doesn’t hurt that they’ll transport you up the hill in an authentic old British Land Rover painted army green, left-hand drive and all…
– Dinner on main terrace of Ft. George
– Night party on the fortress
Another place you should definitely consider is the Lola bar, which isn’t a bar at all, but an amazing restaurant near the seafront.
Komiža is a town well worth visiting at the other end of the island, even smaller and beautifully picturesque. Going there on a scooter is a must-have experience: you’ll remember the breeze in your hair and the sight of approaching Komiža from the hills above for a long time.
– Vis at night
If you’re after an experience for you and your guests, starting with a long sail among Croatia islands to all kinds of tasty and authentic experiences, island of Vis is a great pick of your Croatia wedding venue. See more Vis weddings here.
– Town of Hvar
As we venture further to the north, we reach one of the most popular Croatia wedding venues – the island of Hvar. It’s famous for being the sunniest island in the Adriatic, with mean yearly sunshine hours simply off the charts (more than 2.700!).
– Green streets of Hvar
It’s brimming with the mid-Dalmatian island charm, but also trying to cope with more and more tourists during the season. While you should carefully consider your venues during peak-season, if you pick a wedding date in late spring or early autumn, you’ll be rewarded with warmth and sunshine, amazing food, friendly people and beautiful venues.
– Fields of yellow brnistra and lavender
That being said, you’ll probably want to visit Hvar mid-June when its famous lavender fields are in full bloom, colouring the air with the aroma of ripe lavender flowers and the buzz of bees fiesting on the sweet nectar.
Most popular ceremony venues include church of St. Mark’s and the Franciscan monastery — surprisingly, both being secular venues for civil ceremonies as well.
– Franciscan monastery and church of St. Mark’s (above), ceremony at St. Mark’s (below)
If you’re after a private beach wedding (which includes a short boat ride — there’s no road!), you may instantly fall in love with Robinson beach, just like we did (photos below). It’s a secluded cove with a pebble beach, and directly above it there’s an olive grove with a restaurant. We’re in love!
– Tables set for wedding at Robinson (above), beach directly below the restaurant (below)
Of course, you can always get creative and pick unexpected venues, like top of mount St. Nicholas (photo below) or Gališnik island just outside main port of Hvar.
The streets of Hvar just ooze with charm, romance and warmth (both figuratively and literally!) and an experienced photographer will be able to lead you around to find the best spots secluded from the crowds, at just the right time of day, for those amazing session photos.
– Scenes from Hvar streets
Hvar may be tiny, but it offers so much diversity in such a small amount of space. We didn’t go into all possible venues like hotel Park or Fortica fortress above Hvar, and we haven’t even touched upon the beautiful pebble beaches, small islands and islets surrounding Hvar and various excursions and fish picnics on offer.
– Couple leaving the town by speedboat (above) heading to Paklinski islands (below)
Paklinski islands are a popular yacht destination, but they’re just a 10 minute speedboat ride away, so they’re a popular destination for high-end fine dining dinner receptions. Restaurants like Zori (on the Palmižana island) will offer the ultimate dining experience for smaller weddings. And we do mean ultimate — locally sourced food and fish plates directly from the seas around are hard to match!
– scenes from Zori restaurant
Hvar is known for its local delicacies and wine, but also its party and club scene. This makes it the ultimate destination for hedonists and younger crowds who prefer to dance their nights away at one of Hvar’s many beach clubs, which slowly come alive once the sun sets.
In this way, it’s the direct opposite of the islands of Vis and Lopud with their relaxed, slow vibes.
– Bonj les Bains beach club
Places like Bonj les Bains will easily host big wedding parties, with a large dance floor and enough tables to wine and dine everyone. And did we mention that during the whole time you’ll have a beautiful sea view towards the west?
If you have a large wedding, popular spot to put up a lot of your guests is hotel Amfora, conveniently located next door to Bonj Les Bains.
– hotel Amfora (above), Hvar harbor on a summer festival night (below)
If you visit, we recommend visiting the village of Velo Grablje and the abandoned village of Malo Grablje (be sure to try some food there in Stori Komin, the only restaurant in the village — if you can find it!)
– Wild rocky coast of Island of Koločep (above left), island is very close to Dubrovnik (above right, second closest)
Koločep is the first in the series of Elaphiti islands in southern Adriatic, taking around half an hour to reach by boat. It’s a really small island, just big enough for two villages and hundreds of pine and olive trees.
– Villa Rose entrance and sunset
It’s home to a beautiful venue of Villa Rose (Vila Ruža in Croatian), which can accommodate both a civil ceremony and a fine-dining evening reception. As it’s looking west, there are great chances of getting rewarded with a spectacular sunset at the end of the day. It also features its own pier so your boat can directly dock there upon arrival.
– Ceremony at Villa Rose east terrace
While it’s inhabited, it doesn’t have any roads, which will probably help you get a picture of it — it’s small, quaint and quiet. There are amazing walking paths through its makija bushes and pine trees leading to some spectacular places like Bezdanj (or ‘abyss’), a natural cave connecting open sea with a small pool amongst the rocks. There’s also a hotel, if you want to spend the night there.
– Dinner reception on Villa Rose west terrace (above), wedding session on its rocky beach (below)
Second of the Elaphiti islands, Lopud is another hidden gem among Croatia wedding venues, taking around 1h to reach by boat. It’s still close enough to be practical, yet far enough that most of the tourist crowds won’t bother to reach it.
– Dawn over southeast part of Lopud
Lopud has a single village and no traffic, except a few golf carts for getting stuff and people around. It’s mostly just untouched nature and walking paths, narrow alleys, stone houses and lush gardens. If you want to recharge your batteries while getting ready for your wedding, it’s very hard to find a better place in Croatia!
– View of Lopud village (above), one of many churches in the village (below)
Since Lopud is very much off the beaten path, you can get access to amazing and unique venues — but sometimes it takes some masterful negotiations as most locals value peace above money. Of course, this is exactly what helps make Lopud so special in the first place!
One of the examples are the church gardens (photo directly below) or the private luxury villa shown further below. It’s best to let your planner handle these and start negotiating early. If you can afford it and if you can pull it off, it will be worth it!
– Churches and chapels above rocks on Lopud
Since it’s a bit further away from the mainstream itineraries, it has a slower and more relaxed vibe. This, combined with amazing natural beauty you can find all around the island, makes it an unique and one of a kind choice for a wedding. And we haven’t even gotten into the tasty, locally sourced food and fish yet!
– Views from wild streets of Lopud in early summer when everything is in bloom (above and below)
There aren’t many places where you can prepare a dinner reception so close to the sea that a wave could splash you during the evening, in peace and with absolutely no traffic in 20 kilometre radius… and there are even fewer where you can choose to get married in botanical gardens!
– Ceremony setup in Arboretum on Lopud
– Arboretum wedding (above) and engagement session in the village (below left) and on Šunj beach (below right)
Lopud has a few heritage luxury villas (photos below) which are tasteful and authentic from the outside, yet luxurious inside. You get comfort with all the amenities you can imagine while also ensuring amazing photos. However, they can be difficult to find and arrange, so ask your wedding planner for help.
– Dinner setup in one of Lopud’s luxury heritage villas
– Civil ceremony on a terrace of a luxury villa (above), seaside dinner and cocktails setup in Lafodia hotel (below)
As for dinner receptions, there are more options to choose from. If you have too many guests for a private chef in a villa, for a mid-size wedding you can choose to enjoy your dinner with the sound of waves splashing on terrace of konoba Mandrač. For even larger weddings, consider hotel Lafodia.
– Seaside dinner reception at konoba Mandrač
Hotel Lafodia is our favourite hotel in Southern Croatia and has left a great impression on us with its spacey, bright and non-rectangular rooms. It has a capacity for a large number of guests, so it can host your dinner reception on its seaside terrace and the late-night party inside its club.
– Night scenes from dinner receptions: Lafodia (above left), view from konoba Mandrač (below left)
We have a special thing for Lopud because it’s very much untouched by mass tourism and still has the olden Dalmatian island vibe to it. It’s also very diverse, so just wandering around looking for beautiful shots and good light is always a great idea.
– Old Town of Korčula
Island of Korčula is one of those lesser known Croatia wedding locations that rightly deserves the title of the hidden gem of Adriatic. However, it’s quite big for a hidden gem. Settled from the times of ancient Greeks, known back then as Korkyra, it still retains a reasonable number of visitors despite its magical allure. (Greeks seemed to have a thing for islands, as they provided much more peaceful harbors than mainland towns which kept being overrun by various non-seafaring barbarians.)
– Scenes from the serene alleys of Korčula
It’s hard to put your finger on what it is exactly that’s so seductive about Korčula, but there’s plenty even if we can’t articulate it into words — it’s among our favorite Croatia wedding venues. It certainly falls into more alternative destinations, which means it’s still (somewhat) undiscovered by crowds.
You won’t find loud night clubs here, but sometimes that’s exactly what you’re looking for. It’s moderately accessible: nearest international airport is in Dubrovnik. From there it’s either an hour and a half drive plus a quick ferry, or a direct catamaran ride.
– Some of the scenes we found shooting around Korčula Old Town
Korčula is the home of high-end olive oil and wine in Croatia, which goes hand in hand with its fish-based cuisine, all of which are guarantees of an unforgettable wedding dinner. (The best meal we’ve ever tasted in Croatia was in Korčula’s Lešić-Dimitri Palace)
As its towns are very small and quaint, Korčula isn’t really compatible with big wedding parties. But if you manage to keep the number of your guests down to a reasonable number, you’ll be rewarded with access to many stunning family-run establishments all across the island.
– Islets of Vela Stupa and Mala Stupa
What’s more, Korčula has a number of smaller islands very near it, if you really want to get away and have an island just for yourselves. Prime examples are islet of Vela Stupa (on the eastern side of the island) and island of Proizd (just off the west coast of Korcula). Both islands have good restaurants serving traditional fish-based food, and not much else (e.g. tap water is… salty).
Islet of Vela Stupa is home to the famous Moro beach bar. It’s really tiny so all you need to do is get in touch and rent the island for a day to make sure you’re alone there all day. Restaurant serves local delicacies and drinks which will keep you and your guests happy throughout the day (and night).
– Scenes from a wedding on islet of Vela Stupa (above), home to Moro beach (below)
Proizd island effectively turns into a private island after dark, when the last official boat returns to main island — all you need is a private boat to take you back after you’re done partying in the island’s only restaurant and it’s yours for the taking, long into the night.
– Couple arriving on a beach for ceremony on Proizd island (above and below)
– Split’s peristyle
Ancient Roman emperors loved Split, which means that the Split’s old town is actually an ancient Roman palace that’s been integrated in the wider city — in this case, Diocletian’s palace. And even that was built upon the ancient Greek’s town of Spalathos.
So yes, the history is bursting out anywhere you look, which you’ll soon start realizing on your drive from the airport when you notice the huge Roman aqueduct. Thing are only going to get better, though…
– Centre of Split is inside the walls of Diocletian’s palace, along with charming little alleys
It’s quite amazing to see a city the size of Split having the heart of ancient Rome, complete with peristyle, imposing stone columns and city walls. This is actually typical of many Dalmatian old towns which are living and breathing, in contrast to many other ancient monuments in other countries which have been abandoned and preserved.
For the best experience of a session in the Diocletian’s palace, we’d definitely recommend going there at dawn, before all the hustle and bustle, when you’d have the place practically for yourselves!
– Vestibul is in the heart of the historic centre, near the ancient cathedral of St. Duje (above).
– There’s plenty of amazingly photogenic places, like Prokurative square
Okay, now you’ve got the feel for the ancient Roman historical centre of Split, but Split is pretty big — second biggest town in Croatia in fact. It’s easy for travelling in, as it has an international airport within half an hour’s drive of city’s centre, but it’s also beautifully green. Whether it’s the huge Marjan peninsula with its pine forests, Sustipan park or one of the numerous villas, there’s plenty of places for beautiful backdrops.
– Sustipan park (above and below)
As far as Croatia wedding venues go, Solit can get quite busy during peak season, comparable only to Dubrovnik and Hvar. The solution is to find refuge in its many hidden venues that are off the beaten path, like Marjan park with its perfectly positioned Va Bene restaurant, hiding under the pine trees on the western seafront.
There are also small wineries and konobas (traditional Dalmatian cellar based restaurants) on the surrounding hills, like Putalj winery or Konoba Bajso.
– Va Bene lounge and restaurant set up for dinner reception by the sea (above)
– Reception at Va Bene restaurant on Marjan peninsula (above left), Konoba Bajso on hills near Split (above right)
If you want to go for an iconic venue and get a whole huge villa just for your ceremony or reception, be sure to check out Villa Dalmatia. It’s ex-Yugoslavia’s ruler’s personal villa located at a prime spot on Marjan peninsula. See a taste of it below.
– Scenes from Villa Dalmatia’s private seafront (above)
– Atrium of the Villa Dalmatia, a perfect surrounding for your dinner reception
Villa Dalmatia, known locally as ‘vila Dalmacija’, is private, it’s surrounded by pine trees, has a stunning sea view, private park, dock and beach… and if you bring along a DJ, you can party as much as you want!
– Pine wood park of Villa Dalmatia (above), night scene from the villa (below)
– Zadar Old Town
Zadar is is the oldest continuously inhabited Croatian city. Yet, as far as mainland towns go, it is still among less-frequented by visitors. It, too, features a beautifully preserved old city core on a small peninsula, complete with stone streets, houses, churches and parks.
– Scenes from an engagement session around Zadar
We enjoyed exploring its small streets and seeing what we’ll find inside atriums of the old town. And, we do tend to find a lot! Amazing stone courts between houses, rose bushes, rustic gardens, ornamented balconies and remains of the old stone city walls…
– Parks, monuments and alleys of Zadar
Zadar is famous for three things. It is said to have the most beautiful sunsets in Europe. It features the oddly appealing and somewhat confusing Monument to the Sun (artistic installation built into the stone), and finally, it’s perpetually bathed in the sounds of the sea organ which the incoming waves randomly play, creating a cacophony of notes that varies with the weather and winds. (Both the sea organ and Monument to the Sun are shown on the tip of Zadar peninsula in the leading photo)
– Sunset scenes from Zadar waterfront
From the Croatia wedding venues point of view, we were amazed by one of the most monumental venues of all — Zadar’s Arsenal. It’s the old armoury converted into a reception venue/museum, being huge and beautiful at the same time.
– The monumental Arsenal venue in Zadar
– Party after dinner reception in Arsenal
When we say monumental, we really mean it — the ceiling is so high you may lose sight of it as you dance the night away. It can fit huge wedding parties and not break a sweat, while also offering a ceremony venue on its terrace outside.
– Old Town Rab (above), seductive boutique heritage hotel Arbiana (below)
As we continue up north, we arrive to Kvarner part of Adriatic. Island of Rab is large and elongated, quite close to Velebit mountain and hence very accessible from the mainland via a short ferry ride.
Town of Rab is known among its residents as the “small Dubrovnik”, with a bit of city walls creating a barrier on the small peninsula it’s situated on. What it lacks in extensive city walls, it more than makes up with the beautiful shallow turquoise waters and long walking trails along the sea. The whole island is relaxed and slow paced.
Rab is famous for its four bell-towers and it’s a motif you’ll find weaving around the whole town. They give a beautiful backdrop to photos and if you can gain access to one of them (and actually manage to climb all the way up!), you’ll be rewarded by very unique and beautiful vistas.
– Wedding session near and on one of the bell-towers.
Old Town Rab also features an ancient and beautiful cathedral, second oldest on Croatian coast. After just a few minutes inside you will begin noticing its history on display everywhere, in a kind of unique mosaic which reveals different historical eras that left their marks in different places.
– Rab cathedral exterior (above), and a ceremony inside (below).
The crown jewel in Rab is the Arbiana boutique hotel. Situated on the very top of a small peninsula in Rab, it occupies a 1924 noble villa and retains much of its original charm, with beautifully ornamented stone exterior (having a whiff of oriental style) and retro decor inside. As it’s elevated, it also commands a stunning view of surrounding waters and islets.
– Hotel Arbiana after dusk
The hotel owner also owns a winery, so in addition to great food, it may just awaken your inner sommelier. We were thoroughly impressed with the weddings we shot there, so if travelling to the very south of Croatia is too much for you, do check out this amazing venue! Also, see a full Rab wedding here.
We hope you found this excursion into Croatia’s diversity useful and inspiring. If you’d like to read more from us, check out our wedding advice for your wedding day!