Croatia is a country that has it all–beaches, mountains, forests, lakes, and medieval towns. Plus, it’s affordable and easy to get around. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed beach vacation or an action-packed adventure, Croatia is the perfect destination.
Hit the open road with this two-week Croatia road trip itinerary that will take you to some of the most beautiful spots in the country. From Split and Dubrovnik in the south, to Zagreb and Plitvice National Park in the north, this road trip will show you all of what Croatia has to offer. So pack your bags and get ready for an adventure!
Day 1: Half a day in Zagreb, then pick up your rental car and drive to the Plitvice Lakes area with a stop off at Rastoke on the way.
Day 2: Spend the day exploring Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Day 3: Drive to Split, drop off your rental car and explore the city.
Day 4: Take a day trip to Krka National Park.
Day 5: Take a ferry from Split to Hvar and explore Hvar town.
Day 6: Go on a boat trip to the nearby Vis Island and Blue Cave.
Day 7: Rent your own boat and explore the Pakleni Islands.
Day 8: Rent a quad bike/moped and explore the rest of Hvar island.
Day 9: Have a chill day! On this day we decided to rent kayaks and go back around the islands to some of the beaches we’d missed.
Day 10: Take the ferry from Hvar to Dubrovnik and explore the city.
Day 11: A full day out exploring Dubrovnik’s old town, in the evening take a sunset kayak tour.
Day 12: Go on an island hopping excursion around the Elaphiti Islands, in the evening take the cable car up to Mount Srđ for the sunset.
Day 13: Take a boat to Lokrum Island and spend the day relaxing out of the city.
Day 14: Today is your last day! Take it easy, have a last minute dip in the sea and head to the airport for your flight.
Places to visit
The capital city of Croatia is a great first place to fly into due to it being the closest major airport to Plitvice Lakes (more on that later!). I’d recommend spending half a day in Zagreb to explore it’s old town before picking up your rental car and heading towards the coast.
What to do:
-Wander the streets of Gornji Grad (upper town) and donjim grad (lower town).
-Visit Zagreb Cathedral.
-Check out some of the city’s many museums, like the Museum of Broken Relationships or the Croatia War History Museum.
What to eat:
-Štrukli: a dish made of boiled dough filled with cottage cheese. Be sure to book a table at La Štruk for both sweet and savoury options, delicious!
Plitvice Lakes National Park
This national park is one of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations, and for good reason. The park is home to 16 gorgeous lakes, waterfalls galore, and lush greenery as far as the eye can see.
What to do:
Explore the park
There are a few different ways to explore the national park, depending on how long you wanted to stay there and how much exercise you want to do.
If you’re short on time, I’d recommend taking a boat ride through the lakes. This will give you a chance to see all of the different sights without having to do too much walking.
If you have a bit more time, I’d suggest hiking through the park. There are several trails of varying difficulty levels, so there’s something for everyone. When we visited we completed the full loop of the park by combining a few different trails and boat trips. This meant we were able to see absolutely everything over the course of a few hours, and it was a great workout too!
A word of advice (and something I learned the hard way), the weather around Plitvice tends to be very cold and rainy compared the coast. Please keep this in mind when you’re packing and bring some spare layers!
The village of Rastoke is often referred to as Croatia’s “Little Plitvice” because of the waterfalls and river system that runs through it. It’s a lot lot smaller than Plitvice, but just as beautiful in its own way.
There are several restaurants and cafes located in Rastoke, as well as a few small souvenir shops. We probably only spent an hour or two here (more of a ‘stop the car, wander around to take a few pictures and leave’ kind of situation), but it’s definitely a worthwhile stop on your trip.
Where to stay:
There are lots of charming countryside cabins you can stay in, many of which have their own restaurants serving local food for very affordable prices. We stayed in an Airbnb that was within walking distance to the entrance of the national park.
Croatia’s second-largest city, Split is a must-see on any Croatia itinerary. This city is home to Diocletian’s Palace, an ancient Roman palace that is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
What to do:
Explore the city
-Explore the palace and its many courtyards and temples. Be sure to head up the Saint Domnius Bell Tower for gorgeous views over the city!
-Wander through the Old Town, which is full of charming cafes, shops, and restaurants.
-Check out the fruit and vegetable market for some fresh Croatia produce.
-Head to Marjan Hill for a panoramic view of the city.
-Spend a day at one of Split’s many beaches.
Krka National Park
Located nearby, Krka National Park is famed for its waterfalls and is a must-visit for any nature lover.
Upon arriving in Split we had dropped off our rental car and so made the most of an AirBnb excursion for our visit to the park. I honestly couldn’t recommend the trip we took enough, as well as sorting out our entry to the park we were afterwards taken to a farm and treated to a locally made lunch (and unlimited home-made wine!).
Where to stay:
Why not book an Airbnb right in the heart of the Diocletian Palace? This was one of our favourite stays during the trip, please book here!
Moving on from Split we took the ferry over to the island of Hvar, our home for the next 4 nights.
Hvar is Croatia’s sunniest island and home to beautiful beaches, as well as a number of party towns.
What to do:
The main town of Hvar is the most popular spot on the island, and where we stayed. It’s incredibly picturesque with a Venetian-style harbour, surrounded by restaurants, bars and cafes.
If you want to be in the heart of the action then Hvar Town is definitely the place for you.
There are a number of beaches within walking distance of the town centre, or you can take a short water taxi ride to some of the more secluded beaches.
If you’re looking for something to do in the evenings then Hvar Town has a vibrant nightlife, with a number of bars and clubs to choose from.
Just off the coast of Hvar are a group of small islands known as the Pakleni Islands.
The best way to explore the islands is by renting a boat for the day, which you can easily do from Hvar town. We actually explored these islands using two modes of transport: rental boat and kayak.
Now I wont lie when I say the kayaking isn’t easy, especially in the heat, but it’s definitely worth it when you reach one of the more secluded beaches that can only be accessed by a smaller boat!
There are a number of different beaches to choose from, some with restaurants and bars, and others that are completely deserted.
The main beach of the Pakleni Islands is Palmizana, which is also home to a number of restaurants, bars and hotels. We booked in for lunch at the Ristorante Palmizana Meneghello: reasonably priced, large portion sizes, beautiful!
Vis Islands & Blue Cave
The Vis Islands are located a little further away from Hvar, but they are definitely worth the extra travel time.
We took a day trip to the island of Vis, which is the largest and most populated of the islands, as well as some famous local swimming spots.
The highlight of our trip was definitely the Blue Cave, see the photo below for a good reason why!
The cave gets its name from the stunning blue light that fills the cave when the sun hits it just right. Even if you don’t go on the exact trip I’ve linked above, make sure you book a trip that takes you to the Blue Cave!
Rent a quad bike
A great way to properly explore the island of Hvar is to rend a quad bike or moped and spend the day driving around. There are a number of different companies that you can rent from and they will provide you with a map of all the best places to visit.
If it’s in season, make sure to drive out to the lavender fields that Hvar is famed for!
There are a few other towns in Hvar worth a visit such as Stari Grad and Jelsa, but for the most part, you’ll want to spend your time on the road enjoying the incredible scenery.
Where to stay:
Our favourite AirBnb of the whole trip, thanks to it’s roof terrace! Our host Marko also seemed to know everyone, and was super helpful at helping us with booking rentals etc.
No trip to Croatia would be complete without visiting Dubrovnik. A beautiful city located on the Adriatic Sea full of history. In recent years it has gained massive fame for being Kings Landing in Game of Thrones – but fame or not it’s absolutely gorgeous!
Spend a day walking around the old city walls, checking out all of the incredible architecture. In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants located in Dubrovnik.
What to do:
Explore the city
– Walk around the city walls
– Check out the architecture in the old city
– Complete a Game of Thrones walking tour, we used a self guided app to do this for free!
-Take a cable car up to Mt. Srđ for panoramic views of the city, best done at sunset.
-Enjoy a meal at Konoba Dubrava, be sure to book in advance for their ‘under the bell’ options. Seriously so good we dined here two nights in a row!
-Grab a drink at Buza Bar, perched on a cliff just outside of the city walls overlooking the sea. Definitely the most beautiful and lowkey bar in all of Dubrovnik!
Just a short boat ride away from Dubrovnik is Lokrum Island, full of natural beauty and the perfect place to relax for a day. Famed for being a filming location of Game of Thrones and the large resident population of peacocks, we enjoyed hiking around the island and up to the viewpoint (the abandoned Fort Royal) for views over the sea and Dubrovnik. For real GoT fans, you can sit on the real iron throne here too!
One of my favourite activities of Dubrovnik was booking a sunset kayak tour.
We kayaked around the city walls and then out to a nearby cave where you could do some jumps (if you dared!) before heading back out to open water as the sun dropped below the horizon, leaving gorgeous pink hues over the city.
A short boat ride from Dubrovnik will take you to the Elaphiti Islands, a small group of islands off the coast. We booked a very last minute boat trip to visit three of the islands: Kolocep, Lopud and Sipan.
While our trip was ridiculously cheap (only £35 each!), it ended up being a great day out exploring the islands and even included a beautifully prepared lunch in the Captains own restaurant.
Where to stay:
We found a great AirBnb that had views right over old town Dubrovnik. Although pre-warning you had to climb a lot of stairs to get there!
With so much to see and do, Croatia is the perfect country for a road trip. And with this handy guide, you’ll be sure to hit all of Croatia’s highlights. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today! Bon voyage!
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Stuart Forster says
I adored the experience of travelling in Croatia and have fond memories of the country. With its long cultural heritage, delicious cuisine and excellent wine, it makes for a great holiday destination