2 weeks in Croatia is a trip everyone should consider taking.
What could possibly be there to peak my interest, you ask? Beaches, mountains, old stuff, and really, really good food.
Before you Go:
Rent a Car.
Although you can see Croatia without a car, I highly recommend you rent one. Jackson and I found an incredible deal online and got a manual 4-door sedan for 2 weeks for about $180 USD (and that included that $50USD fee for “going into another country” which was Bosnia, a country you have to pass through in order to get to Dubrovnik…).
If you look hard enough, you can find companies that will rent you a car that you can drive one way (you won’t have to drop it off where you picked it up). We got our car through ridecar.hr and they didn’t charge us the one-way fee!
After two weeks of driving all over the country we spent about $130 USD on gas and avoided highway tolls (you can avoid tolls relatively easily by telling Google to plan routes around them!).
Here’s our recommendation for a Croatia itinerary: 14 days based on what we did in May 2017:
Day 1: Zagreb (2 nights)
Start in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city.
There are plenty of things to do here. We found that a solid day of taking in the downtown was enough. It’s walkable, there are bars, restaurants and old churches to see. It’s quite charming, actually. Here are some photos Jackson snapped while we were there.
I’d definitely recommend going to the Museum of Broken Relationships! This was an awesome museum and you can get tickets for about $4USD per person. It’s a couple hours of reading, and such a great stop.
Want lunch? Stop in at Vjestica Bistro. This place was SO GOOD. You can read about me gushing over it here. Seriously: do yourself a favor and eat here. I almost cried tears of joy from the food.
Day 2: Travel from Zagreb to Samobor to Plitvice
30 min outside Zagreb is the charming medieval town of Samobor.
Jackson and I enjoyed visiting the old ruins of a 14th century castle (a bit of a climb but free and deserted when we got up there!) before trotting down to the town center for a delicious piece of samoborska kremšnita at Slasticarnica u Prolazu. This was HEAVEN, I’m drooling thinking about it. (You can read more about what I’m describing here).
Another 3.5 hour drive to Plitvice! We booked a quaint little room through AirBnB which had gorgeous views of the mountains. It was lovely watching the sunset and listening to the crickets.
Day 3: Plitvice (2 nights)
This is the park everyone will post jaw-dropping images of and with good reason.
The price of admission is about $18 USD per person but gets more expensive in the summer. You can get a several day package, but we only did the one day and that was plenty. (We looped the walk and then some within a few hours!). If you want more pictures and information about what we loved you can read more here (for photos) and here (for what we did).
A word of caution: this park is gorgeous, but SUPER tourist central. Be prepared to have to wait to take shots and fight your way toward a particularly beautiful area.
Day 4: Travel from Plitvice to Crikvenica
This is a 4-hour drive if you take the off roads, not the main toll roads. The local roads were gorgeous and took us into some seriously beautiful back country. Honestly, though: coming out of the mountains and dropping toward the sea is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. It’s unreal. I can’t talk about it enough!!
Driving in this country can be hair raising because the roads will switch back and curve and the drivers can go really fast, but it is so beautiful!!
In Crikvenica, get dinner at Konoba-Restaurant Maslina. I got the best grilled Calamari OF MY LIFE there. Thinking about it now gives me goosebumps. Here are some pictures Jackson took of Crikvenica.
Day 5: Crikvenica (2 nights)
After sleeping in your AirBnB or hotel on booking.com, wake up semi-early and head over to Dramalj for the beaches (that is, if you are into FKK or nude beaches). When we went, it was quiet and we had a whole beach to ourselves.
I’ve never seen beaches so outstandingly beautiful. Just be sure to bring some shoes to walk on the pebbles with!
Day 6: Travel from Crikvenica to Zadar
This 2.5 hour drive is packed full of spectacular views. We avoided the tolls and loved every minute.
Why not stop in Senj? It’s a beautiful medieval village and the brand new walkways around the old Fort are beautiful.
Day 6-8: Zadar (2 nights)
Zadar boasts some incredible roman ruins that date back to the 9th century. It’s got a quaint old town to walk around and a beautiful walkway along the sea where you can watch people on their boats (Jackson took a bunch of photos here). Just do yourself a favor and don’t order any ice cream. We thought the ice cream was terrible! You can read more on our reactions here.
Although the ruins are lovely, we found that Zadar’s main attribute was the drive from the mountains down to the coast. It’s a stunning drive. Like: one of the most dramatic drives we’ve ever done (and we’ve road tripped in New Zealand and Namibia). Otherwise, one full day in Zadar should be enough.
Day 8: Travel from Zadar to Šibenik to Split
Stopping in Šibenik for lunch will help break up the drive to Split. We didn’t find Šibenik to be the most interesting of places, but it was pretty. What we liked about it was how untouristy it was. There were lots of small street and stairs to climb and at the top you can see beautiful views of the sea.
Continue on to Split!
Day 8-10: Split (2 nights)
Being the 2nd largest city in Croatia has its perks. There’s a lot to see and do in Split and we really liked this ancient city!
The cons of coming here is that it is very touristy. Like: tons of instagramming foreigners snapping shots of everything.
Diocletian’s Palace is a beautiful ruin to check out. It’s really tall and there are costumed Roman soldiers waiting to take pictures with you at the base. Ha!
We enjoyed walking along the prominade and checking out the local market that was selling all sorts of yummy-looking Croatian goodies. Jackson and I got some fried fish and ate while we people watched, it was lovely.
Be sure to check out Park Šuma Marjan, it’s a nice break from the bustle of the city and you can get some gorgeous views of the sea.
Day 10: Travel from Split to Brela
Here’s another treat: this drive. Even thinking about how beautiful it is makes me filled with longing to go back. Lucky you. Plus, it’s only a little more than an hour from Split.
Day 10-12: Brela (2 nights)
You want the best beaches in Croatia? Look no further. Brela is a tiny town on the cliffs of the Biokovo mountain range. It’s stunning. Go: relax. Repeat.
Day 12: Travel from Brela to Dubrovnik
This drive is about 2.5 hours. If you want to break it up, might I suggest taking a stop on Pelješac Peninsula to check out Ston? It’s an old medieval town that boasts a really trippy-looking wall that goes up a mountain.
Day 12-14: Dubrovnik (2 nights)
Dubrovnik, like Spit, is incredibly touristy. Game of Thrones did a lot to put this place on the map and it is now firmly on said map. It can get clogged with tourists at times, but with a little bit of sneaking, you can find some great places to be alone.
Try going to Lokrum island off the coast, if you get a chance. It’s a great escape from the city and provides stellar views of the area.
Otherwise, Dubrovnik has plenty to see. It’s a beautiful medieval city and the iconic orange roof tops are really beautiful.
You’re at the end of your itinerary. Fly out of Dubrovnik.
We didn’t include Istria in this itinerary, but that does not mean it is any lesser than anything else we did. In fact, I think of Istria as my favorite area of Croatia. We didn’t include it because we think it would have made the itinerary too rushed. If you want to read about what we did you can go here for the pictures and here for more information.
Thanks for stopping by! Anything you think we left out? Let us know in the comments!