With beautiful pine forests, ancient fortress cities, and islands scattered along its magnificent coastline, Croatia is the perfect setting for a relaxing sojourn. The most impressive spas in Croatia make good use of their location, providing panoramic views of the Adriatic as well as facials with essential Mediterranean oils and herbs. Many are set in hotels, where a state-of-the-art wellness zone is a prerequisite for any new or recently converted four or five-star hotel.
Relax into the Croatian lifestyle with a spa break by the sea. From secluded cliffside getaways to historical retreats within the walled city of Dubrovnik, discover our guide to the best spa hotels Croatia has to offer, bookable with Culture Trip.
Life here, at the foot of the mountains and butting the Adriatic Sea, has a languidly luxurious tempo. It’s that sense of laid-back luxury that the Ikador in general, but specifically its spa, has become known for. With just eight guest rooms and a suite, the vibe is intimate. Explore the coast and its hidden bays and islands on the resort’s polished wood Riva speedboat, and when you’re done, indulge in a spa session. The treatment menu is extensive, with everything from crystal bowl sound therapy to gold leaf facials to choose from. The outdoor heated swimming pool is another perk, featuring Adriatic seawater and the mysterious spring water of Ika.
Located in the port town of Makarska on the Dalmatian coast, about 60km (37mi) southeast of Split and 140km (87mi) from Dubrovnik, the night sky puts on a dazzling display at the Hotel Ani. This modern and slickly designed beachside spa hotel has a heated outdoor pool so you can soak and stargaze at the same time. Warm up in the sauna or jacuzzi at the wellness centre, which also includes a gym. Spa treatments, including massages, are adapted to individual needs. There’s also a premium organic breakfast and a wide range of gluten-free food to feast upon.
Said to be the sunniest spot in the country, Hvar is where the yachting crowd land to explore the isolated coves of the island’s southern coast by day, and frequent the throbbing beach bars and refined restaurants by night. The Palace Elisabeth, a grande old dame of gleaming white stone, sits on the main square with most rooms looking out to sea. Open only from April to October, this historical landmark is also home to one of the most impressive spas in Croatia, with a glass-walled indoor pool, opening out onto a sun deck of sleek lounge chairs. There are two saunas, dedicated VIP areas and treatments using gemstones including ruby, emerald, amethyst or tourmaline to boost energy, enhance circulation and improve skin elasticity. The scalp treatment comes highly recommended if you’re looking for a post-travel wind-down.
Look out across the ancient town walls of Croatia’s second-largest city, and the distinctive pillared tower of St Domnius cathedral, as you soak in the warm bubbles of your private hot tub. Located just 250m (820ft) from the labyrinth of winding streets that make up the Unesco-listed fortress of the Diocletian’s Palace, and 400m (1,312ft) from the sea, the Cornaro may be in the thick of the city but specialises in helping you take things slow. Once a hospital and post office, the grand stone arches, columns and other handsome original features have been reworked by renowned architects Šverko & Šverko to give a modern city vibe. The hotel’s neat, compact spa includes a steam bath, sauna and jacuzzi, while treatments suited to a quick city break include mini-massages that offer 25 minutes of pampering. If you’ve got more time to spare, opt for the 80-minute escape massage. Or better still, take to the roof. Guests in city view, deluxe rooms or suites can book the private rooftop jacuzzi free of charge.
Wander the quiet streets, olive groves and pine forests of the quiet fishing village of Petrcane, and make your way to the Punta Skala peninsula. It’s here that you’ll find the Falkensteiner Hotel and its multi-award-winning spa. In fact, this sprawling resort hotel, which is surrounded on three sides by the sea, claims to be one of the best spa hotels in Croatia. Fittingly, the facilities are vast. The 6,000sqm (6,4583ft) spa includes a Turkish hammam bath, wellness garden with a dedicated relaxation area, an outdoor whirlpool, a sauna and couple’s treatment spaces. For the sporty, there’s extensive golf, volleyball and other facilities including seven tennis courts. Head to the nearby historic city of Zadar for local culture, just a 15-minute drive away. But be warned, it can get very busy during the summer.
Just a 15-minute walk from Dubrovnik’s 6th-century old town, the boutique Bellevue is a peaceful retreat perched on a cliff. Balconies above the breaking waves give the sensation of being suspended above the Adriatic, while rooms themselves are decked with marble, wood and glass, with earth-toned fixtures. The restful ambience extends to the spa, where a steam room, sauna, indoor pool and jacuzzi await. There’s also a relaxation area of rattan sun loungers. Fittingly, treatments are centred around restoring the body after travel. Be sure to book a post-flight spa comfort package which includes an anti-stress back and leg massage, followed by a fatigue-beating espresso facial to refresh and tighten tired skin.
Wake early and take the jogging path through the forest, or swim from the quiet beach; you’ll likely have it all to yourself. Sometimes you want to be close to the hustle and bustle, but far enough away to opt out if you want to. The Hotel Dubrovnik Palace is a few minutes’ drive north of the Old Town. But facing out to sea, wedged on a jutting peninsula, backed by a pine forest that clings to the steep hillside, it feels a world away from the city. There are 308 rooms facing the Elafiti Islands, and the natural woods and pale stone that dominate the interiors give a peaceful feel. The sea-view indoor pool at the 10th-floor spa is hard to tear yourself away from, but the warm oil massage is worth it. Time your booking to watch the sunset over the islands from the spa pool.
If it’s good enough for Elizabeth, it’s good enough for us. Which one? Well, the Hotel Excelsior – a former private villa built in 1913 – has hosted both Queen Elizabeth II and Elizabeth Taylor. Now with a modern new extension, the waterfront building looking out towards the Old Town still retains the feel of a luxurious private compound. The spa itself promises “distraction-free relaxation”, with its deep pool, Turkish or Roman baths and Finnish sauna. Treatments are an international affair too, focusing on phyto-aromatic (plant-based) treatments that combine massage rituals from across the world, with local traditions added to the mix. Opt for a hydrating facial, with specialist treatments also available for men.
Five-star Hotel Monte Mulini has a wellness centre to match its fabulous furnishings and bay-side setting. Luxurious facial treatments such as Deep Cleansing Ocean, with an algae and tea tree mask, and the Golden Luxury Face that regenerates the skin with flakes of 24-carat colloidal gold, promise to give your visage a boost. Couples are assured intimacy in the Serail Bath, where the skin is cleansed with sea salt and essential oils in a steam sauna. Guests at the neighbouring and equally impressive Hotel Lone are granted access to its saunas, panoramic pool, hydro-massage beds and chairs in the Sunken Rooms.
A 15-minute boat ride from town, the Island Hotel Istra Rovinj is tranquillity itself. Occupying its own island, this complex of pools and tennis courts features a vast wellness centre divided into zones. The one for face and body treatments contains a stand-up solarium and a Queen’s Bath with hydro-massage jets, aromatherapy and scented candles. Here, massages use Mediterranean herbs, with a heavenly blend of aromas also filling the Finnish saunas in the Zen Spa Zone. You can book a personal trainer in the Activ Spa Zone, with its heated pool and Mediterranean Garden for post-treatment relaxation.
Describing itself as a “sports and wellness oasis”, the Valamar Diamant Hotel is just that – a huge expanse of pools, whirlpools, spas and saunas just outside Poreč. In the wellness zone, you’ll find geysers, waterfalls and counter-current swimming in the warm-water pool, as well as Finnish-crystal saunas, aromatherapy, facials and treatments including body wraps and massages. To hand are a large outdoor pool with water jets, a tennis centre with 18 courts, and a diving school.
Inspired by the Mediterranean sea that stretches out from a beachfront location on the Babin Kuk headland outside Dubrovnik, the spa hotel at the Valamar Collection Dubrovnik President features a garden with a jacuzzi, infrared sauna, Turkish bath and beauty zone where molten-chocolate and ayurvedic treatments are offered. There’s also ultrasound therapy, hot-stone massages and waxing. All this is complemented by two pools and three beaches.
The Valamar Koralj Hotel on Krk is all about couples. Think candlelit dinners, four-poster beds and open-air jacuzzis. Massage treatments à deux are imbued with aromatic oils or fragrant candles, the seawater pool is heated and there’s an infrared sauna to complement the Finnish one and steam bath. Afterwards, you can relax on the panoramic sundeck by the pool or skip down a narrow path to Dražica Beach with its sun loungers. Nearby Tomaževo, accessed by canoe, provides secluded nudist bathing.
The underrated town of Rabac on the lesser-visited east coast of Istria has been crying out for a quality hotel with all the trimmings. Such is the Valamar Sanfior, with far more beauty treatments than most. Exotic options include Thai massage with hot herbs, another with gold, and a Cleopatra treatment with milk and honey. In the same complex, the spa centre comprises an infrared sauna, a Turkish bath and a Finnish sauna. An outdoor pool gazes out over the Kvarner Bay, and the heated indoor one also enjoys sea views. The adjoining beach benefits from natural shade from the nearby pine trees.
Looking to find some zen? Check out Culture Trip’s guide to the best yoga retreats in Croatia.
Peterjon Cresswell contributed additional reporting to this article.
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