MY IDEAL 10-DAY CROATIA ITINERARY

I knew I wanted to go to Croatia, and I knew I had only 10 days to see the entire country.  That probably isn’t the best philosophy to have, but personally, if I am going somewhere that has been on the bucket list for years, I better see everything there is to see.  That being said, I did lots of research prior to my trip and had difficulty finding a complete itinerary that was less than two weeks long.  There are so many different cities to see in Croatia, transportation isn’t the easiest, and each city is at least two hours away from the other.  So now, about two months after my wonderful trip with my boyfriend, I am creating my ideal itinerary for visiting Croatia in 10 days.  Now, of course, I have an entirely new list of places that I want to visit in Croatia like the city of Rovinj and Krka National Park, both of which I think are perfect spots for a return trip.

 

Day 1

amazing gorgonzola truffle pasta croatiaFly into Zagreb.  Have your hotel or hostel prepare a taxi pickup for you ahead of time.  Visit the city center and have drinks and food on the main thoroughfare named Tkalciceva.  We had the best truffle pasta of the trip on this street so even if its touristy, the food is delicious.  Afterwards, I would suggest a tour of the Museum of Broken Relationships.  It’s small and simple; however, I challenge you to not find one story that doesn’t relate to you in some way.

Read More: Accommodations: Hostels, Hotels, or Airbnb’s?

 

Day 2

plitvice lakes croatia upper lakes Drive to Plitvice Lakes.  I would suggest figuring out a rental car in advance.  Also, while everything else is cheap in Croatia, rental cars are not.  My boyfriend and I rented a stick shift because that was the only car that was reasonably priced.  We probably stalled the car at least 37 times since he had not driven one in 10 years and I, well, never have.  Somehow we made it…yay!  There is ample paid parking at the lakes.  Please refer to TripAdvisor or the Plitvice Lakes website for the route you wish to take.  We chose route C which I thought was the right amount of hiking while still being able to see the park in its entirety.  It was about 4-6 hours and we were able to see a good portion of both the upper and lower lakes.  The routes are determined by which parking lot you are at, many recommend to park at lot 2 as it is supposedly less crowded; however, we parked at lot 1.  If you are going in the offseason, timing shouldn’t be an issue; however, head the warnings for the summer season and make sure you go bright and early!  Afterwards, drive three hours down to the coast and city of Zadar and spend the evening.

 

Day 3

Zadar, CroatiaSpend the day in Zadar.  The highlights include walking around the old city with its beautiful tiled floors and having a nice, relaxing meal at one of the many restaurants. I would then take a stroll down to the water and with a bottle of wine, enjoy the soothing sounds of the sea organ and marvel at the beautiful artwork “greeting of the sun,” especially at night when the colors are spectacular.  We drove to Zadar kind of by accident, but I was so overwhelmed by the city’s beauty, that I would recommend everyone to visit.  Drive to Split.

 

Day 4

Dubrovnik, CroatiaSpend the day in Split and visit Diocletian’s Palace, imposing Roman ruins found on the reverse of the 500 Kuna banknote as well as a filming site for HBO’s Game of Thrones.  Unfortunately, my trip did not allow us time to explore Split and visit the ruins at the Palace; however, I would absolutely include this day in Split in my ideal itinerary and see what this city has to offer.

 




 

Day 5

hvar island croatiaI have 2 different options for today: extreme sports day or ferry to Hvar Island.  The first would be for those more inclined to do something very adventurous on your Croatian adventure.  We went extreme canyoning down the Cetina river with Adventure Dalmatia tours.  The river is less than an hour away from Split.  After the fact, you are pretty in awe of yourself that you just climbed down a canyon and repelled through a river, but this activity is strenuous to say the least!  If climbing mountains and gliding down rapids is just not your thing, I suggest taking the ferry to Hvar Island and enjoying your day at the beach or exploring the other main town, Stari Grad.  An important thing to note:  the beaches in Croatia are all super rocky!  Bring cheap flip flops that you can wear into the water; I wish I had known that before I scratched every part of my feet running from the lounge chair into the ocean.  If you decided to go canyoning, take the last ferry of the night.  There will be a bus that picks you up and takes you to Hvar if the only option is for you to take a ferry to Stari Grad.

 

Day 6

beach in Hvar, CroatiaSpend the day in Hvar.  We had the best greek-style feta and chicken salad at Dalmatinos.  I still dream about this salad months later and have tried to replicate it, but to no avail.  I would suggest renting either a quad or vespa and explore the island and watch the sunset from some remote beautiful locale.  Make sure if you rent a quad that you do so early in the day as they tend to sell out during the summer.  Hvar does shut down in late September so spending time on this island makes the most sense from May-September.

 

 

Day 7

Hula Hula Beach Bar Hvar, Croatia sunsetSpend another day in Hvar.  When you first arrive on Hvar island, I would recommend talking to a local and getting a feel for the winds and the choppiness of the water as this will determine whether or not you will be able to rent a boat or take a guided tour of the blue grotto.  We rented a boat which was definitely an experience (click here to read our horror story), but I would also recommend taking a tour if you don’t feel like going out on your own and exploring the surrounding islands of Hvar.  Go to Hula Hula to watch the sunset.  Everyone complains about how expensive the drinks are, so just get one drink.  I thought the price I paid for a drink to sit on the edge of an island in a free lounge chair and watch the sunset was absolutely reasonable.

 

Day 8

walking the walls in Dubrovnik, CroatiaTravel by catamaran to Dubrovnik.  Buy your ticket for the catamaran soon upon arrival in Hvar as the catamaran does sell out!  The tickets are sold at a store near the main dock in Hvar.  You will arrive in Dubrovnik around 1 PM and have the rest of the day and night to roam around the old city.  I recommend staying near the cable car like we did, as the location is a five-minute walk into the old city, yet away from the hustle and bustle and tourists in the center.  If you do one thing in Croatia, please have it be walking the old city walls around sunset!   I have travelled a lot and seen many spectacular things, but walking the walls affected me in a way that very few things have in a long time.  The views, the people, and the peacefulness is so incredible.  Just make sure you don’t dawdle too much, as we missed about 1/4 of the walls, since they close the gates right at 6:30 PM and there are two entrances and exits.

 

 

Day 9

drinking coffee Dubrovnik, CroatiaSpend the day in Dubrovnik or take a guided wine tasting tour in nearby Montenegro.  As this is your last day of a very complete and exhausting trip,  it is up to you whether you would like to spend the day roaming the streets again around the old city and perhaps take the cable car up to the top of the mountain for a fantastic view of the Adriatic Coast.  If you feel like powering through, finding a tour and having the opportunity to visit another country for half a day, there are many options for guided wine tasting tours in Montenegro, Serbia.   We opted for the former and spent the day eating, buying souvenirs, and enjoying the last moments of being in Croatia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 10

lower lakes Plitvice, CroatiaFly home or to your next location.  There is an airport bus that picks up right at the bottom of the cable car and takes you straight to Dubrovnik airport.  This could not be easier and the bus times correspond with your flight times.  How awesome is that!

Read More:

Spain Itinerary: 7 to 10 Days in Barcelona and Madrid

Greece: An Ideal 10-Day Itinerary

 

 

 

 

Cuz who doesn’t need some SHOPPING inspo for your trip?!

 

Planning to go elsewhere in Europe?  Check out my guide to the best festivals in Europe and the best modes of transport for many different cities in Europe!

 

Are you on Pinterest? Pin this Croatia Guide for later!

 

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44 thoughts on “Croatia: An Ideal 10-Day Itinerary

  1. Visiting from Girls vs Globe :p This is so useful especially since me and my girlfriends are planning our trip to Croatia for this summer! You’ve just bumped Hvar to the top of my list

    1. So glad the itinerary helped! And so sweet of you to say so! Yes, Hvar is awesome. Vespas, boats, private beaches, truffle pasta, feta cheese, nightlife, wine and sunsets, its seriously the best. If you have any other questions related to your trip, I would love to help if I can! Just email me at worldonawhim@gmail.com. Have the best time 🙂

  2. This is nice, comprehensive post! I never thought there’d be a lot to explore in Croatia. I always only hear about Dubrovnik and the old city. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! Dubrovnik is definitely the most well-known city, but there are so many people I think just a couple of days there really is enough. But if you ever plan on going, definitely check out Hvar and Zadar! And thank YOU for reading 🙂

    1. 1) Let me know when you are going! I will probably be in Europe this summer. 2) You will absolutely love Croatia!

  3. Where did you ditch your car? I’m going to Croatia in a couple of weeks and I’m trying to figure out how many days we need the car for.

    Similar to you – we are flying into Zagreb and out of Dobrovnik.

    1. We booked our car through our hostel/hotel and made arrangements with the car company to drop the car off at the port in Split before our ferry to Hvar. At first, we weren’t sure as to how they were going to find our one little car along the whole port, but we ended up calling the phone number the car company gave us and the guy that came to pick up our car found us quite easily. If you booked directly through a company, I would suggest emailing and calling and seeing if they can do a pickup in a different city. Basically, you want to ditch the car before you go to any islands and/or Dubrovnik.

      1. Thanks for this great post and suggested itinerary. I am planning my trip to Croatia now and planned on keeping the car until I hit Dubrovnik so I could also travel into Montenegro. I also thought it would be nice to travel around Hvar by car. Why do you suggest getting rid of the car at Split? Thank you.

        1. Thank you so much for your kind words! As for the car, I personally did not want to deal with having to drive the car onto a car ferry and pay extra fees to bring it to Hvar when it is a small island with little parking. The website for the ferry times was completely wrong when we showed up in Split, and we were just lucky to get on the last ferry of the evening so I wouldn’t want the added stress of trying to get a car on board as well. If you do, I would make sure you have that booked well in advance. The ferry company is called Jadrolinija. I have also heard it is difficult to find parking in Dubrovnik. You can’t drive into the old city so you would have to find parking in the surrounding areas. Personally, I would look into buses from Dubrovnik to Montenegro! Let me know if you have any more questions and have a blast on your trip! It will be incredible no doubt 🙂

  4. Seriously lovin’ this itinerary! Will definitely have to save it for when we decide to visit Croatia (hopefully soon!). Those lakes are on our bucket list! Thank you for the great tips on this post!

    1. Thank you for reading! Definitely a worthwhile place to visit! You will absolutely have a blast 🙂

  5. Thank you so much for this awesome itinerary! I intend to use it for myself, husband and adult daughter for our 12 day holiday in Croatia in August 2017. We are flying into Zagreb from Australia and flying out of Zagreb for London. I had intended hiring a car for the whole trip but now am rethinking this. What would you suggest to be the best way to get from Dubrovnik to Zegrab for our 12.30pm flight to London?

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! How exciting for your family. You will have such a great upcoming trip! There are 3 ways to get from Dubrovnik to Zagreb…car, bus, or plane. Car and bus take a lot of hours like 8-12 respectively so I would suggest taking a plane the morning of. I looked on Google Flights for you and saw that there were flight in August on Croatia Airlines for around $50-$60 that leave at 6:15 AM arriving in Zagreb about an hour or so later. That should give you enough time hopefully depending on which airport your London flight is out of to make your 12:30 PM flight. If not, then maybe fly out the night before. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions.

  6. Thank you so much for this! I am exploring a summer vacation for 2017 with our two young adult girls and this sounds fun and Croatia has been on the bucket list.

    1. I think Croatia would be a great choice for 2017 vacation! Thanks for reading and if you have any further more specific questions when trip planning feel free to send me an email.

  7. Great itinerary! Thank you for sharing.

    Do you think this trip would work in reverse? Fly into Dubrovnik and out of Zagreb?

    1. Yes, definitely! Whichever you get a cheaper flight/bus/train too, go for it!

  8. We’re looking at similar Croatia itineraries so this was really helpful! The main difference is we’re spending two days in Slovenia then heading to Zagreb and Plitvice. With so many beautiful places it’s hard to choose!

    1. Slovenia looks absolutely beautiful! Sounds like a great trip 🙂 I couldn’t agree more, so many places to see it is very difficult to choose.

  9. Nice itinerary! We are planning our Croatian trip for early July and will be doing almost the exact itinerary (in reverse) but will be doing a night in Split and heading to Krka before ending in Zadar. A picture of Plitvice Lakes was what initially got me interested in Croatia (about 5 years ago or so) however, I think Krka will fit better in our itinerary but we are still debating the last 2 days of our trip!

    1. Thank you! Reverse totally works on this as well. I think whichever park you go with Krka or Plitvice will be fantastic. As for the last 2 days, I loved Zadar and Zagreb and would have loved to spend more time in both! Have a wonderful trip 🙂

  10. Thanks so much for the amazing itinerary!!! How much was renting the car if you remember? I am thinking of doing something similar later this year.

    1. I’ve been trying to remember exactly how much it cost and I can’t 🙁 But, I know that an automatic car was something outrageous like $75-100 a day and manual was much more reasonable but still expensive in comparison to most other things in Croatia. I think if you just know to book ahead of time, you will be more than fine though! Thank you for reading 🙂

  11. Love your whole blog – been catching up on your older posts. Found this one and had to comment. We went to the Balkans in October/November – actually drove from Venice through Slovenia (gorgeous!) to Zagreb, then drove (stick shift bad ass!) all over Croatia. Plitvice Lakes, Zadar, Split, Krka, Dubrovnik, and the Peljesac Peninsula wine region (we live in Napa Valley and work in wine so we couldn’t pass this up). Ended up in Bosnia & Herzegovinia (holy shizz what an amazing place!). I already want to go back. Oh, and I should mention, I didn’t tell my wife where we were going. Just how long …and average temperature during the trip. 2 1/2 weeks and every day she didn’t know wht the next day would bring. If you want to check out our trip story you can connect with the end post and link back to earlier if interested.

    PS – I went to law school at UCLA so Go Bruins!

    1. Wow! That sounds like quite the spectacular trip! I absolutely loved reading about it. And love how you surprised you wife as it is such a romantic gesture! Stick shift is the way to go in Croatia haha. So funny that you aren’t totally sick of wine living in Napa (another outstandingly wonderful place). Go Bruins!!!

  12. Just booked our flight into Dubrovnik and gradually travel up to Zagreb as our exit point. We are a family of 5, so will need a large car. I hope that they have large car for rental. Also where would you recommend to stay in Dubrovnik?

    1. I would recommend booking the rental car in advance, so once you decide on whether you are going to stay in a hotel or airbnb, you can either have the hotel make arrangements for you or book it yourself online if you choose to stay at an airbnb. I stayed right outside of old town, across the street from the cable car and really loved the location. It was only a 5 minute walk (although up and down a lot of stairs) and was a little bit separate from the crowds in the old town.

  13. I just got back from spending ten days in Croatia and we completely skipped Dubrovnik. We headed up to the Istrian peninsula instead and spent time in Split. We rented our car from Sixt and it was relatively affordable. I have friends who live there so I can’t wait to go back and explore islands like Hvar and Dubrovnik. If you ever go back, you have to go to the Istrian peninsula for the truffles.

    1. I absolutely want to go to the Istrian peninsula for the truffles! You totally hit the nail on the head with my dream trip haha. And, your trip sounds fantastic! I totally recommend going to Hvar or Dubrovnik when you visit your friends. Just maybe not June, July, or August because the crowds are crazy that time of year!

  14. Have you ever travelled to Albania from Croatia? I heard that it is simply beautiful and worth going.

    1. I personally have not but know a lot of people who choose to go down the coast. It would be an awesome trip possibly spending time in Kotor and then Albania!

  15. Is it safe to drive to Mostar or Albania. I have heard there are land mines leftover from the war.

    1. I have heard that as well but also read/watched plenty of bloggers and vloggers who have done the drive to Mostar from Croatia. I think if you stay on the main road and don’t venture out into the countryside you should be fine. As far as Albania, I don’t have too much knowledge on that particular drive.

  16. Hi,
    Wonderful blog, and I particularly was enriched by your article on Croatia. We, four women from India, are travelling to Croatia for 10 days as part of a 36 day trip to Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia. We are travelling straight to Zadar from Ljubljana, a day in Zadar, 2 in Split, Catamaran to Korcula island, a day there, 2 nights in Dubrovnik, fly to Zagreb, 3 nights in Zagreb, with Plitvice thrown in as a day trip, and then on to Budapest. All by public transport.
    We will have 2 full days in Zagreb. Is it too much time there ?
    Wish we had an extra day for Krka.

    1. Just completed touring Croatia. Suggest you stay 2 nights at Zadar . U can join a full day tour to Plitvice which is nearer to Zadar . As for Split , 2 nights stays where u can make a side trip to Torgir. Try go there by bus and return by ferry . If possible skip Zagreb. U can also skip krka if u plan to go to Plitvice.
      For Dubrovnik, try at least spend a full day at Dubrovnik old town and a full day tour to Montenegro. Hope u have a enjoyable trip like I enjoyed mine

    2. Wow that sounds like such an incredible trip! I personally loved Zagreb so I don’t think that 2 days is too much time there. You may run out of traditional things to sightsee, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the plazas and parks and awesome food that Zagreb has to offer. As for Krka, I felt the same way, but maybe next time!

  17. The last days of our holiday we stayed in Dubrovnik. This old city is just beautiful; it is listed on UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The old town is flocked by tourists though as it is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the fact that is was crowded (and boiling hot) we did enjoy our two days here before flying back home. In Dubrovnik, we stayed at Alberto Apartments which is beautifully located in the old town. The friendly owner is very helpful and the apartment is good value for money.

    1. Sounds like an awesome trip! You have to be a person that can do well with crowds, but if so, then Dubrovnik is a magical place. Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

  18. Hey, Thank you very much for this detailed Itinerary.
    I am planning to visit croatia in coming MArch.
    I would really appreciate your help in following-
    1. what are the must have places for a five days trip to croatia?
    2. Since I don’t drive, what are the reasonably priced options available except for the taxi to travel intercity and within the city?
    3. is mid-march the good time to go to croatia?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hey there! Thank you for taking the time to comment.
      1) I would choose 2 cities for 5 days…so maybe Dubrovnik and Split with a day trip to Krka? You could also do Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes, and Zadar.
      2) All of these cities are walkable within the city. To travel from city to city, there are buses that you can take. There is also a catamaran between Dubrovnik and Split.
      3) Mid-march would be a good time to go in terms of lack of tourists. You just wouldn’t want to go to island destinations like HVar because most everything is closed, so I would stick to the larger cities in Croatia during mid-March.

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