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Ever wondered what fuels the passion of Croatia?

It’s not just their stunning coastline and picturesque cities!

While soccer is undoubtedly popular, other sports hold a special place in Croatian hearts.

Let’s unveil the 11 most popular sports in Croatia that keep the nation cheering.

Most Popular Sports in Croatia:

  1. Soccer
  2. Basketball
  3. Handball
  4. Water Polo
  5. Tennis
  6. Athletics
  7. Shooting
  8. Sailing
  9. Rowing
  10. Gymnastics
  11. Swimming

#1 Soccer

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Croatia: Early 1900s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Player from Croatia: Luka Modriฤ‡ (Croatian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Croatia: 90,000

Soccer is the undisputed favorite sport in Croatia, capturing the hearts and passion of its citizens. The sport is known for its camaraderie, skill, and excitement, making it a focal point of Croatian sports culture.

The Croatian First Football League, also known as Prva HNL, is the nation’s top-tier competition, with clubs fiercely battling for supremacy. Luka Modriฤ‡, a midfield maestro and 2018 Ballon d’Or winner, is the nation’s crown jewel.

Croatia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup runner-up achievement firmly etched their reputation on the global stage, elevating the sport’s impact in the country.

#2 Basketball

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Croatia: 1940s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Player from Croatia: Draลพen Petroviฤ‡ (Croatian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Croatia: 45,000

Basketball holds a special place in Croatian sports, witnessing a strong following and generating national pride. The sport emphasizes teamwork, skill, and athleticism, all of which resonate with the Croatian spirit.

The Croatian Basketball League (Premijer liga) showcases the country’s top talent, with competitive games pulling audiences in. The late Draลพen Petroviฤ‡, the “Mozart of Basketball,” remains an iconic figure in the sport.

Croatia’s national team success, especially their 1992 Olympic silver medal, highlights the nation’s basketball prowess and cements its status as a major sport in the country.

#3 Handball

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Croatia: 1940s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Player from Croatia: Ivano Baliฤ‡ (Croatian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Croatia: 20,000

Handball is widely celebrated in Croatia, with an enthusiastic fan base and highly competitive leagues. The sport combines speed, power, and tactics, making it a thrilling spectacle for spectators.

The Croatian First League is the premier handball competition, where clubs across the country engage in high-intensity encounters. Ivano Baliฤ‡, a living handball legend and multiple-time World Player of the Year, encapsulates the nation’s love for handball.

Croatia’s impressive rรฉsumรฉ, including double Olympic gold (1996, 2004) and a World Championship title (2003), reinforces the sport’s significance and popularity in the country.

#4 Water Polo

Water Polo
  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Croatia: 1920s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Player from Croatia: Josip Paviฤ‡ (Croatian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Croatia: 5,000

Water polo enjoys a rich legacy in Croatia thanks to its picturesque coastline, ample infrastructure, and talented athletes. The sport demands strength, agility, and precision, making for captivating matches and fervent fan support.

The Croatian Water Polo Championship serves as a mainstay on the national sports calendar, featuring clubs vying for dominance. Josip Paviฤ‡, 2012 Olympic gold medalist and outstanding goalkeeper, reflects the nation’s water polo passion.

Croatia’s numerous international accomplishments, such as their Olympic and World Championship successes, solidify water polo’s relevance and standing within the nation’s sporting fabric.

#5 Tennis

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Croatia: Early 1900s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Player from Croatia: Goran Ivaniลกeviฤ‡ (Croatian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Players in Croatia: 40,000

Tennis is a beloved sport in Croatia, with an impressive history and fervent support among the population. Known for its elegance, intensity, and skill, tennis has become a cultural staple in the country.

While there’s no major domestic league, Croats eagerly watch ATP and WTA tournaments featuring their favorite players. Goran Ivaniลกeviฤ‡, the 2001 Wimbledon champion, is a prime example of Croatia’s outstanding talent in the sport.

Croatia’s 2005 and 2018 Davis Cup victories stand as memorable moments, further bolstering the nation’s passion and pride in tennis and its remarkable athletes.

#6 Athletics

Cross-Country running
  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Croatia: Early 1900s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Athlete from Croatia: Blanka Vlaลกiฤ‡ (Croatian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Athletics Enthusiasts in Croatia: 15,000

Athletics occupies a significant place in Croatian sports history, featuring world-class competitors who excel across various disciplines. The sport offers excitement, diversity, and showcases Croatia’s strength and agility.

Croatians closely follow various international athletics events, such as the European and World Championships and the Olympics. High jumper Blanka Vlaลกiฤ‡ is a household name, proudly representing the nation with her impressive record and accolades.

Historic moments like Sandra Perkoviฤ‡’s discus throw Olympic golds (2012, 2016) instill a sense of national pride, solidifying athletics’ integral role in Croatian sports culture.

#7 Shooting

Trap Shooting
  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Croatia: 1940s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Shooter from Croatia: Giovanni Cernogoraz (Croatian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Shooting Enthusiasts in Croatia: 10,000

Shooting sports enjoy a strong following in Croatia due to the country’s commitment to precision, marksmanship, and competitive spirit. Croatia has produced numerous top shooters who have represented the nation in international competitions.

The sport’s popularity mainly revolves around Olympic disciplines, including rifle, pistol, and shotgun. Giovanni Cernogoraz, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in trap shooting, exemplifies the highest level of Croatian talent in the sport.

Croatia’s growing list of shooting achievements only strengthens the sport’s position as a significant and respected contender in the country’s sports framework.

#8 Sailing

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Popularity Surge in Croatia: 1960s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Sailor from Croatia: ล ime Fantela (Croatian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Sailing Enthusiasts in Croatia: 50,000

Thanks to its picturesque coastlines and ideal sailing conditions, Croatia has a deep-rooted connection with sailing. The sport highlights both competition and adventure, making it a natural fit for Croatia’s love of the sea.

Croatians follow various international sailing events, including the Olympic sailing competitions and the prestigious America’s Cup. Sailors like ล ime Fantela, an Olympic gold medalist in the 470 class, showcase Croatia’s skill and competitive edge in the sailing world.

Whether in local regattas or global competitions, sailing’s significance and allure remain strong within Croatia’s cultural identity.

#9 Rowing

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Croatia: 1900s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Rower from Croatia: Valent Sinkoviฤ‡ (Croatian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Rowing Enthusiasts in Croatia: 12,000

Rowing enjoys a strong presence in Croatia, thanks to the nation’s picturesque waterways and storied history in the sport. As a combination of endurance, teamwork, and synchronicity, rowing competitions are engaging and inspiring for both participants and spectators.

Croatian clubs and national teams compete in FISA World Rowing Championships and European Rowing Championships, as well as the Olympics. Valent Sinkoviฤ‡, a decorated Olympic and World Champion, symbolizes Croatia’s rowing prowess.

Significant achievements in rowing, such as the Sinkoviฤ‡ brothers’ multiple world titles, cement the sport’s esteemed place in Croatia’s rich sports culture.

#10 Gymnastics

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Croatia: Early 1900s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Gymnast from Croatia: Tina Erceg (Croatian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Gymnastics Enthusiasts in Croatia: 10,000

Gymnastics boasts a significant following in Croatia, largely due to its emphasis on grace, strength, and technical skill. The sport has produced exceptional athletes who have represented Croatia on the world stage.

Croatians follow gymnastics competitions ranging from local and national championships to global events such as the European and World Championships, as well as the Olympics. Tina Erceg, a multiple national champion and European Championships medalist, is a shining example of Croatian talent.

Through historic moments and world-class performances, gymnastics holds a cherished spot in Croatia’s sport.

#11 Swimming

  • ๐Ÿ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in Croatia: Early 1900s
  • ๐ŸŒŸMost Famous Swimmer from Croatia: Duje Draganja (Croatian)
  • ๐ŸŒ Estimated Number of Swimming Enthusiasts in Croatia: 100,000

Swimming is both a popular sport and recreational activity in Croatia, thanks to the country’s beautiful coastlines and numerous swimming facilities. The sport highlights physical prowess, endurance, and a competitive spirit that resonates with Croatians.

Croatian swimmers participate in various competitions, including the European and World Championships, as well as the Olympics. Duje Draganja, an Olympic silver medalist and world-class competitor, reflects the nation’s passion for swimming.

The sport’s prominence in Croatia is boosted by strong international performances and a commitment to fostering aquatic talent, solidifying swimming’s importance in the nation’s athletic landscape.


What is the most popular sport in Croatia?

Soccer, also known as football, stands as the most popular sport in Croatia, enjoying widespread support, passionate fans, and a deep connection to the country’s culture, with numerous players excelling on the world stage.

What is the national sport of Croatia?

The national sport of Croatia is soccer (football), holding a prominent position in the nation’s cultural and sporting identity, and garnering immense popularity and enthusiasm among its population.

What are the most watched sports in Croatia?

The most watched sports in Croatia include soccer (football), basketball, handball, water polo, tennis, athletics, shooting, sailing, rowing, gymnastics, and swimming, each drawing considerable attention and fan support throughout the country.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning โ€˜realโ€™ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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