A road trip through Croatia topped my travel bucket list for quite some years. Until I finally had the chance to do it and it was memorable. I can’t wait to return and find out more paradise places. Here’s a complete guide for you to make your first Croatia road trip along the coast too!

Of course, I could simply show off some of the most awesome landscapes we’ve come across along the Dalmatian Coast or in Brac island (Zlatni Rat beach lingers on my visual memory quite a lot when I think of a getaway).

Instead, I’m going to focus on other aspect of this road trip which was particularly complex: the planning phase. No, I don’t want another simple and touristy Split-Hvar-Dubrovnik route!

croatia road trip - Split Port
Sunset in the port of Split.

Don’t get me wrong, I found loads of websites talking about Croatia, but surprisingly none of them was complete and concise enough. Either they are too specific, too broad or simply not valuable pieces of information.

Just like I did with my island hopping guide for Thailand, my Rio itinerary or my road trip in Portugal, I created a detailed guide for your Croatia road trip.

Overview of this guide

This guide is intended to make your life easier. Hopefully it will save you hours of Google searches, trying to put your head around stops all to come up with the perfect itinerary!

I’ve been there and I know is NOT an easy task. But I’m here to help. So this Croatia road trip guide includes:


Let’s get started!

croatia road trip zadar - Lokrum island
Lokrum island.

Planning a trip to Croatia

When to do a road trip in Croatia

Be sure that Croatia is a beautiful place to visit all-year round and there are reasons to go in each season. Some people go to Croatia in January just to see Plitvice Natural Park with snow – which judging by some pictures it’s a true delight!

However, if you’re like me, you’ll most likely want to take advantage of the beautiful coastline and make sure you go when it’s warm and sunny.

With this in mind, I’d definitely avoid the winter months, between November and March and the peak season, between July and August. Peak season can be terribly expensive and crowded everywhere you go, including an uprise in traffic in the major cities.

Two distinct periods are left: April to June and September-October, coinciding with the shoulder season in Europe. Try to book your trip around these months to improve your travel experience.

Uma foto publicada por BRUN🌎 (@bruno_mb) a

How long for a road trip in Croatia

How many days do you have? *wink*

Now, seriously. The longer you can stay, the less you’ll regret it later. The vibe of each little town or village you pass is unbelievably laid-back and relaxing. The sea is really as blue as in the postcards. And don’t get me started on the food.

Although Croatia is not a huge country, it is big enough to keep you busy and happy for weeks. Or months. Make no mistake there are loads of things to see and places to make your wanderlust go crazy.

To make what I call below the First-Time Croatia Road Trip – suited if you’re visiting the country for the first time – you’ll need at least 10 days. If you have more time, great, just check the extra stops to the itinerary you can add below.

First-time Croatia Road Trip

  • Starting Point: Zagreb
  • Ending Point: Dubrovnik
  • Recommended Duration: 10 Days

Croatia Road Trip Route Map

I’m about to mention several places in this article, so I’ve put them together in a map. This way you can easily find them and follow the journey visually.

Orange pins: main road trip stops
Yellow pins: must-go places
Blue pins: extra places you might want to include in your itinerary

Find more information on the orange places below:

ZAGREB: a capital of contrasts

Chances are Zagreb will be the starting point for your road trip. Visiting the capital is a good way to get you introduced to Croatia, even though I later realised how different it is from the rest of the country.

croatia road trip - Split Port
Crkva sv. Marka: A drag version of a church.

The major highlight is definitely the emblematic Crkva sv. Marka (St. Mark’s Church), with its colourful tile pattern representing the coat of arms of both the city and of the country on the roof.

The entire old town is picturesque and walkable. Grab a beer at Tkalčićeva – a vivid street full of bars and small stores, great for people-watching.

Other important attractions are the Croatian National Theatre and the unique Museum of Broken Relationships, displaying personal objects of ex-lovers that somehow tell their (sad) story.

croatia road trip croatia roadtrip zadar - Zagreb
National Theatre.

I’m afraid Zagreb falls a bit flat, specially if compared to other nearby european capitals – my 24 hours in Vienna were more memorable and Budapest…well. I still miss you.

But Zagreb has some strikes of awesomeness going on. It sure makes a great place to get your Croatian adventure started.

⭐ My value-for-money place to stay in Zagreb ⭐

Rooms Zagreb 17
Superb location in central Zagreb and a helpful staff to help you settle on your spacious bright room. Can’t go wrong.
Book now

Or just choose your own accommodation:


PLITVICE: hello nature… or maybe not

Plitvička Jezera (Plitvice Lakes) is one of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations, made up of sixteen lakes inter-connected by a series of waterfalls and mountains.

This was the major fail of our road trip. Plitvice was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Croatia in the first place, so getting there under heavy rain, fog and cold winds was heart-breaking. There was no point to go inside, since we wouldn’t see a thing. Sadly, all we got from Plitvice was getting us soaking wet.

croatia road trip croatia roadtrip zadar - Plitvice Lakes
Next time Plitvice. Next time.

If there’s something this episode reminded me was that inevitably sh!t happens when you travel. All you can do is keep a positive outlook and expect better times ahead. Which actually did come when we later went to Krka National Park. More about it below.

Anyway, I still recommend you to go to Plitvice. There must be a reason why everyone speaks about it with a little sparkle on the eyes.

Plitvice National Park information

Plitvice National Park is open all year round, everyday from 7:00 to 19:00. The entrance to the park in peak season is 180 kuna (about 18 pounds or 24 euros). For complete details on prices and operating hours go here.

Bear in mind weather is unpredictable in this region of Croatia. As the lady in the apartment we stayed in mentioned several times, there is sort of a micro-climate going on the area (and we definitely experienced that!). Be extra careful with the possibly extreme foggy and rainy conditions when driving up to the mountains.


ZADAR: the city facing the sea

roadtrip in croatia road trip zadar - Sun Salutation
Fishing boat in Zadar with a upcoming storm in background.

The ancient capital of Dalmatia, Zadar displays a compelling mix of ruins, fortress city walls and pedestrian-only marble streets which lead to a wide and modern waterfront.

The historical print of the city is particularly conveyed in the area where St. Donatus Church and the Cathedral of St. Anastasia sit in front of a huge lawn with scattered roman ruins.

While the old town displays an interesting combination of ancient and medieval heritage with a vibrant nightlife, the most unique feature of Zadar is in its waterfront.

Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world, more beautiful than the one in Key West, Florida, applauded at every evening.

– Alfred Hitchcock

The Morske orgulje (Sea Organ) is quite hard to notice at a first glance, but it does make sure it’s being heard. The marble steps leading toward the Adriatic display small tubes/whistles that create tunes driven my a combination of waves and wind. Listening to this music of the sea is oddly satisfying…

croatia road trip guide roadtrip zadar - Sun Salutation
The photovoltaic panels of Sea Salutation installment.

A few steps further, you’ll find Sun Salutation : a giant blue circle embedded into the ground. These are actually a set of photovoltaic plates that collect solar energy during the day and put on a wonderful LED light show at night I could watch for hours. For me this was the first true wow moment in Croatia.

Try to time your visit to finish the day in this waterfront zone. As Alfred Hitchcock praised once, the sunset in Zadar is beautiful. Add in both these 21st-century technologies which give the seafront the appearance of an permanent urban art installation and it will become magical.

croatia road trip croatia zadar - Sun Salutation
Me in the Sun Salutation golden hour.

Where to stay in Zadar

Staying in the center of the action, in the old town peninsula, can easily become expensive. If you really wish to stay here, I’d recommend you to book well in advance.

Here’s a list of the top-rated accommodation in Zadar‘s downtown, with WiFi included.

⭐ My top place to stay in Zadar ⭐

Rooms Zagreb 17
Centrally located 3 minutes away from the Old Town, but far away form noice. Sea view included!
Book now

Most hotels in Zadar are 3km out in the Puntamika area, but that’s too far away if you ask me.

Try to find something near the bus/train station Željeznička stanica or in the other side of the bridge that connects the peninsula with the mainland, as you’ll be just a short walk away from everything.

MURTER: the laid-back island

Murter island is probably the most off-the-beaten-track destination in this itinerary. Many driving along the coast of Dalmatia would probably add in Šibenik or Makarska instead. However we were looking for relax and that’s definitely something Murter has more to offer.

Being the largest island in the Šibenik archipelago, it offers a wide range of beach possibilities within its numerous awe-inspiring coves and bay with shallow waters.

From the 4 main settlements in the island, we chose Betina to stay. Easy-going and with a very local feeling and very close to Slanica Bay. It’s a small place but the whole setting of the beach, including the fine sand and the surrounding olive and pine trees, felt like a hidden paradise.

Everyday view on the Dalmatian coast. #lovecroatia #croatia

A photo posted by BRUNØ (@bruno_mb) on

Stay in Murter for as long as you want to relax and discover other sandy and pebbly beaches around like Podvršak, Korisina and Čigrađa.

If you are not in a rush, consider also going on a day trip to Kornati islands. Many residents of Murter own a second property there and may be able to take you out there in a boat. The archipelago – actually a national park – is known for its preserved raw beauty and rich maritime ecosystem.

Getting to Murter

The good thing about this island is that you don’t need a ferry to get there. Murter is connected to the mainland by a bascule bridge at Tisno which makes it technically sort of a peninsula. The bridge is usually open each morning and at late afternoon.

Places to stay in Murter island


KRKA: hello nature part 2!

Krka National Park is a well-known nature spot in Croatia. Comprising more than 800+ species of fauna and flora across its 100 square kilometers of area, it’s a place of exceptional natural value.

I had great expectations that Krka would somehow make it up for the disappointment in Plitvice a few days earlier. And boy, everything went better than expected.

croatia road trip roadtrip - krka national park
Skradinski Buk waterfalls.

I got to say the lower part of the park has an unremarkable music summer festival feeling to it. But all is forgiven by the surrounding scenery once you start exploring the surroundings.

The highlight are the swimmable Skradinski Buk waterfalls. These are a set of 400-meter wide magnificent waterfalls that end up in stunning natural pools, reflecting the green of the surrounding lush vegetation. One of the most incredible sights I’ve ever seen!

I also had time to explore further trails around the Skradinski Buk full of caves, lakes and other waterfalls which only proved how beautiful and special this place is. The whole park seems a distorted reality. It seems someone tuned up the contrast and saturation configurations: everything around overflows your eyes with color!

croatia road trip all you need to know - krka national park

It’s worthwhile to spend a day here, hiking, biking and of course swimming in the waterfalls. Everything happens for a reason and I was glad I came to Krka instead.

I would be absolutely bummed to miss out to jump on these emerald-looking natural pools. It’s definitely one of the most memorable experiences you can have in the Dalmatian Coast.

How to get to Krka National Park

You can enter the park in five different points. As most people visit from Šibenik (a 20-min ride), the two most popular starting points are Skradin and Lozovac at the southern end.

We ended up leaving the car in Skradin, taking a boat up the Krka river until the park. Boats sail every fill hour and return at half hours. The sailing time from Skradin to Krka is about 25 minutes and it is completely free with your entrance ticket. Woo-hoo, a bonus boat trip through the river valley!

Prices and opening hours

Krka National Park is open all year round, everyday from 8:00 to 17:00. The entrance to the park in peak season is 110 Kuna (about 11 pounds or 14 euros).

Check details on prices and opening hours.


SPLIT: the city that’ll make you go places

Split is a major transportation hub in Croatia. Served by an international airport and with the largest passenger port in the country, it is the ideal departure place to explore the islands, specially the ones along the Dalmatian coast.

croatia road trip tips advice - Split republic Square
Split’s Republic Square

When Roman Emperor Diocletian decided to build himself a modest retirement home, he chose Split. Diocletian’s Palace was so massive – it still is – that a bustling town started being build around it. Today, tons of shops, restaurants and cafés in Riva – the main pedestrian street – are the centre of the city action.

If there’s a major sight not to be missed in Split is definitely the Peristyle, the central square of the palace. Grab a seat in the nearest roman ruin, order a beer and marvel the spectacular architecture and the patchwork of Roman, medieval and Renascence buildings around you. It’s particularly beautiful during the evening.

croatia road trip guide - split
Perspective on the Mausoleum Dome next to Diocletian’s Palace.

From my perspective, one day is enough to explore Split. I’d definitely try to allocate more time to Zadar for instance. So, just make your visit simple. Just have good food, enjoy the Split’s unique vibe and historical fingerprint and get lost in the streets of the old town.

You’ll on track to have a great time.

Where to stay in Split

Even though finding a parking spot in centre Split during the summer can be a needle-in-a-haystack task, I highly recommend you stay in the center of the old town. If possible inside the city walls. The outskirts of Split can be a bit disappointing and they’re surely not worth the extra trip.

Here’s a good option:

Villa Boban Luxury
Just a 4-min walk from the beach and 20-min from the Diocletian Palace, it has a great location. The apartments are clean, modern and tidy. Book now

If not, you can always start your search with this list of the best accommodation in Split city center, with WiFi and a good location close to the city center.

Going to the ferry port

Make sure you get early to the ferry port. I mean reaaaally early: 1h30 at least and maybe even 2 hours if you’re going on a popular summer ferry route.

Oh and it does not matter if you bought your ticket online in advance or not. The ticket is valid for the entire day and does not guarantee a place for your (or your car) in a specific ferry time.

Start booking your accommodation in Split today:


BRAC: the paradise island

If you are road tripping Croatia, you’ll want to go to one (or more) of its 1,000 islands. After checking the possible ferry routes and ruling out time-consuming connections, we ended up with three possibilities: Brac, Hvar and Korcula. In the end we’ve chosen the first one because it seemed to have the perfect mix of what we wanted to find: beaches, nature and relax.

croatia road trip guide - ferry split to brac
Leaving Split behind on the way to Brac island.

I’ve praised the island of Brac before. It was a true show-stopper for me and quite possibly the major highlight of the trip. It was there I truly realised how rich Croatia is in term of natural landscapes. Brac is one of those places with the power of take you away and make you forget all your problems.

Zlatni Rat beach is by far the main highlight of the island and one of the most popular postcards of the country. Due to its unique natural conditions, it’s a mecca for all the watersports enthusiasts but also a true delight to all nature lovers.

brac croatia road trip guide - island of brac
Typical house in Brac.

By all means allow yourself at least 2-3 days in Brac and don’t be limited to Zlatni Rat. The island has many other stunning coves and bays waiting to be explored, such as Lovrecina and Sumartin. Plus, the quaint small villages of Supetar, Pučišća and Bol are worthy of at least a seaside stroll.

Where to stay in Brac island

BlueSun Borak
Very close to Zlatni Rat and to the walking promenade that leads to Bol. If you’re looking for peace this is it. Book now

Island-hopping in Croatia

Choosing which island(s) to go in Croatia can quickly turn into a first-world problem given all the possibilities. More than one thousand to be accurate! Go to Brač for beaches, Vis for a getaway atmosphere and Hvar if you’re looking to party. In the end, it all comes down to what island stereotype you identify the most.

Additional ferry information

Regardless of your choice, make sure you check beforehand the ferry connections and timetables. Only a VERY limited number of ferries allow cars on board and they’re usually routes coming or going to the mainland. This can have a huge impact on your itinerary and can easily you make you waste a lot of time.

For detailed ferry information check the Croatia Ferries website or go directly with the largest croatian ferry company, Jadrolinija.

DUBROVNIK: the medieval wonder

You’ve probably heard how Dubrovnik is a must-go whenever you are around in Croatia. The city has grown hugely in popularity in recent years and much credit should be given to the TV series “Game of Thrones”. In fact, you can see a GoT tour in every corner of the old town.

Someone's home. #dubrovnik #lovecroatia #🇭🇷

Uma foto publicada por BRUNØ (@bruno_mb) a

The amount of people inside the walls of Dubrovnik during the day is impressive, specially when cruise boats arrive. Stradun, the main commercial artery, can be completely packed at that times.

In any other destination, it would totally take away the charisma and authenticity – take Venice for example. But somehow in Dubrovnik that does not happen. Even with all the crowds and tours, wandering around the narrow cobbled streets of the old town felt as special as ever.

Walking the two-kilometre ancient walls allows for the best views of Dubrovnik, but I found it more interesting seeing it from the sea. Sea kayaking tours are widely available – I recommend Adventure Dubrovnik – and usually are done starting from Pile Gate and around the Lokrum island, right in front of the city.

Croatia road trip guide Dubrovnik
Stradun street at dusk.

One great place to stay – far away from the old town madness but easily reachable by bus/car – is the Lapad peninsula. Despite being an area with many high-end luxurious hotels, it’s also possible to find cheap accommodation next to the best beaches near Dubrovnik.

Take a look at this shortlist in Booking. It contains only the top-rated hotels in Dubrovnik, with WiFi and breakfast included.

Bring your passport

Did you know Dubrovnik is geographically isolated from the rest of Croatia? If you are coming from anywhere else in Croatia to Dubrovnik by road, you’ll have to pass through Bosnia & Herzegovina. Bosnia is not part of the European Union, so depending on the country of your passport you may need to show your documents.

Getting around Dubrovnik

Traffic and parking in Dubrovnik is a total CHAOS. I highly recommend you get around using the reliable and efficient network of bus. We didn’t wait more than 5 minutes every time we used it, even during the night.

Where to stay in Dubrovnik

I stayed in the Lapad peninsula which turned out to be a great place to stay in Dubrovnik. Apart from a short bus trip to the crazy Old Town, it allows you to have a little bit of beach time close by.
My hotel was the one below, but here’s a shortlist of the top places with WiFi in Lapad to get your search started.

⭐ My value-for-money smart deal in Dubrovnik ⭐

Apartments Silva
Comes with a super friendly host and a gorgeous view over Lapad area. It’s a 5-min walk from the beach!
Book now

Alternatives and extras to this itinerary in Croatia

If you have some more spare days, there are many other options to enrich your itinerary with places not only in Croatia but in other neighbour countries.

Istria peninsula, Croatia

I’ve left the entire western-most region of Croatia out of my basic itinerary due to time limitations. If time is not a problem, you can spend some days exploring the peninsula of Istria. Amongst the green countryside and the coastal little ports, the main city Pula and the fortified town of Rovinj stand out. Nearby there also some of Croatia’s popular islands: Krk, Rab and Cres.

Hvar Island, Croatia

Hvar is the most popular island destination in Croatia. From its endless lavender fields to the bubbling nightlife of Hvar Town, there’s always something to keep you busy. If Hvar still bores you, you can always rent a boat and head to the deserted Paklinski islands on a day trip.

road trip Croatia tips and advice
Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

A day trip to Mostar is perfectly doable from either Split, Makarska or Dubrovnik. The city holds a complete different vibe from the whole Croatia, which makes it a great addition to your road trip route. Besides the stunning Stari Most (Old Bridge), Mostar is an interesting mix of a vibrant oriental culture and a joyless recent history.

Kotor, Montenegro

Backed up by impressive mountains keeping its authenticity untouched, many consider Dubrovnik to be a Euro-trashy version of Kotor. With scenic views, four-kilometre medieval walls and a ever-lasting medieval architecture, you might want to consider adding this city to your route. Next time, I will.

Best Time To Visit Croatia

If possible avoid July and August months. The most popular places in Croatia tend to be overcrowded and prices inflated. For the best compromise between crowds, prices and weather aim for the shoulder season in Europe.

Anywhere in May, June and September and even October are great times to visit.

croatia road trip guide - sunset
Sunsets are one of the strong points of Croatia.

Driving in Croatia

I must say I was impressed with how easy it is to drive in Croatia. No matter the natural obstacles you’ll be driving on – mountains, cliffs, coves – the roads are in perfect condition and very well signalised. Pay tolls, when existent, are very cheap.

Within the cities, the story is a bit different. While Zagreb is still much calmer to what you’d expect of an european capital, traffic in cities like Zadar, Split and specially Dubrovnik can be CHAOTIC.

Same for parking: we wandered around 45 minutes to find a (paid!) parking spot in Split. And we decided to ditch our car when arriving Dubrovnik (our last stop) and switch immediately to public transport. Remember this was in September, can’t even imagine on the peak summer months!

Croatia road trip dubrovnik Game Of Thrones

As for rental companies, you can find most of the big heavy weights in Croatia. Whatever company you go for, try to book your car as soon as possible – it can save you loads of money. I always use this awesome tool to compare rental prices:

We ended up going with Sixt and getting an additional insurance from Insurance4carhire. Great value for money in both cases, so I can just recommend them!

Pro tip: due to the geography of Croatia, you probably don’t want to return the car in the same place you picked it up. Always check in the small letters if there’s any “one-way” fee applicable.

Accommodation in Croatia

Croatia has overall one of the best offers in terms of accommodation I’ve seen. There’s a wide range of hotels, hostels, guesthouses, villas and specially private apartments available on Booking and Airbnb.

They’re usually cheap and with good quality rooms. Yet, due to the increase of tourism in recent years, it is recommended to book well in advance for July and August months.

Start your search using this list I’ve put together of all hotels in Croatia with WiFi and good-to-excellent reviews in Split and Dubrovnik. They all have WiFi and breakfast included!

Or just input your location and dates in the box below.


Costs for a Croatia trip

So how much all of this madness cost?

Find out a breakdown on my numbers below. Keep in mind these are values per person and that I travelled with four other people, which tends to lower down the global costs. If you’re travelling with less people, I’d add 10-30% extra to the total for a better estimate. And don’t forget to add in your flights!

  • TOTAL DISTANCE COVERED: about 840 km
  • ACCOMMODATION: 185€/9 nights
    • Car Rental: 102€ (rental value per person)
    • Diesel: 13€ (total value per person)
    • Ferries: 14
    • Meals and snacks: 291
    • Supermarket stuff: 30
  • TOTAL COST (€): 585€/pax

Here are some tips to keep you in the budget:

  • Try to stay in apartments with kitchen, where you can prepare some meals. We actually did stay but we were too lazy to make any meals, which could have saved us loads!
  • Pay attention to exchange rates, in some of the most touristy places they are outrageous. You can lose a lot of money changing money to kunas!
  • Shop for food in supermarkets, even if it is just small snacks.

Other Croatia Resources

I hope this guide helped you plan your amazing trip. Do you feel ready to explore Croatia by road?
Share your experience below!

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  1. Great read so glad i found it. I am in the process of organising a road trip to Croatia at the moment and am just wondering if its possible to drive from Zagreb to Plitvice to see the lakes and then on to Zadar that afternoon. Understand this may rush things or is it cutting to fine the time in the national park. Looking forward to any info that may be passed on.

  2. You can book your package online since the booking conditions are available.
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  3. Fantastic article and a great help in planning a six week trip through Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia in late May/June 2018. I have booked accommodation myself (including the one you recommended in Zagreb – Rooms 17 Zagreb). Instead of driving we are using some private/shared transfers, day trips + ferries, buses and trains. Basically it is three nights Zagreb, a two day trip to Sarajevo, five nights Sarajevo, a three day trip to Dubrovnik (with two nights Mostar), four nights Dubrovnik, three nights in each of Korcula, Split and Zadar, two nights Plitivice Lakes (hopefully we’ll get one fine day), three nights Rovinj, two nights Piran, four nights Ljubljana, four nights Bled and then one final night Zagreb. Hopefully it will go well and many thanks for your very helpful tips/suggestions.
    One question – we are doing a private transfer between Split and Zadar so that we can visit Sibenik and Krka National Park. I have allocated four hours in each of these places. Do you think that is long enough for both Sibenik and Krka NP? My only other option is to only do one of these on the way and do the other as a day trip from Split or Zadar on one of the two full days we have in each place.

  4. Great article! I would like to add a few days in Slovenia for a 14 day trip. Any thoughts? Better to start or finish in Slovenia?

    1. I would save Croatia for the hotter days – whenever they are – but overall I think the order is a bit irrelevant. Really depends on your logistics.

      Let me know how Slovenia was!

  5. Dear Bruno,
    It’s a really good article! You said everything you needed to say about traveling in Croatia.
    I’d like to recommend all of you to come and explore all the beauty of the country where I’am living. I’am feeling so proud now.

    Greetings from Istria!

  6. This is the best site I found on Croatia. Makes my planning very easy. Can I ask if going to any of the island in first week of October is worthwhile given it may be cold by then?

    1. Dear Jay,
      Well, it depends the weather. Last year, the whole September and October were very solid temperature.

      Good luck!


  7. This itinerary and advice is great. I am travel agent and I have not been to Croatia and I am currently putting together a trip for a retired couple over the age of 55 but still very active. If I had to leave anything off your list to make it easier for them what do you suggest? Also is there a bus system that can get them to each city?

    1. I’d definitely skip Zagreb, if not Split. There are buses connecting the main cities, yes, I just find renting a car much more convenient.

    2. Ok so what would be your best route advice? they will be flying in from barcelona. what city in your opinion would be best to fly into to work their way down or up the coast?

    3. I don’t know your clients, so it’s hard for me to suggest anything. That said I would keep the car the entire time and only ditch it once I get to Dubrovnik.

      Good luck!

  8. We will be in Croatia/Slovenia for 10 days in September. We are flying into Dubrovnik, staying 4 nights – then 3 nights on Hvar Island with plans to ferry to other islands while there, a day in Split, a day/night at Plitvice Lakes and 2 nights at Lake Bled. We plan to fly into Dubrovnik and out of Ljubljana. Would it be helpful to have the rental car the whole time, and take a car ferry from Dubrovnik to Hvar, then Hvar to Split? Which companies have car ferries?

    1. Yes, I think it saves some hassle. Most (if not all) ferries of Jadrolinija allow cars, but for detailed information check Croatia Ferries website.

  9. Thank you for your generosity in putting together this amazing guide. We only have 7 days in Croatia so can only do part of your itinerary. We will be flying in and out of Spit. Our plan is to spend 3 nights in Split and do one day-tour to Krka park and one day-tour to Vis Island. From Spit, we plan to take the ferry or catamaran to Brac Islands, then Korkula and then Dubrovnik. We are debating whether to get a car since the first two days we will be going with a tour and then ditch the car in Dubronic (we’ll sail, fly or get a shuttle back to Split to fly home). Is there anyway to get around Brac and Korkula without a car? Can we bike? Thanks so much for your help.

    1. First of all I think you have a pretty busy schedule. 3 islands in 7 days + Krka + 2 cities?! I’d skip one place otherwise you’d be spending your holidays inside a car moving around.

      That said there are some buses in Brac, but really not reliable. A car/bike is a must in my opinion, but again, some people stay in Bol/Zlatni Rat for a week and don’t explore the rest of the islands. Same for Korcula.

  10. please could you help me as I want to drive from the UK to Croatia but will not want to drive back so looking to scrap my car which is only a cheap vehicle but reliable. Any help appreciated so that I can arrange to speak to a scrap dealer and fly back.

  11. great info, thanks!

    hubbie and i just booked 21 days for a roadtrip based on all you’ve listed here! flying into zagreb 9/14, picking up another couple in split 9/27, and all leaving from dubrovnik 10/5.

    we like to stay in places 3-4 days and day trip other sites from there. we defintely want to go to both bosnia and montenegro. we’ve spent one day each already in dubrovnik as well as kotor via cruise ship.

    still early in the planning process, but i’m thinking three days each in zagreb, west coast, p lakes, zadar, an island or two, split, and kotor. we’d stay in downtown zagreb, split, and dubrovnik — so, pick up car after a few days in zagreb and retrn car in split when picking up other couple and then stay downtown split before we rent the second car and come back a day or two early to rtn car in dubrovnik.

    does that sound reasonable? are we trying to do too much, and am i worrying too much about car parking? any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


    1. I think that’s a pretty good plan, just has extra hassle with two rentals. We also ditched our car when arriving to Dubrovnik, parking was a nightmare (maybe it won’t be that bad in late Sep/Oct).

  12. hi, excellent guide for our trip in august to croatia. Me and my boyfriend want to do the road trip in a motorcycle. Is it a good idea? Do you know were can we rent a motorcycle? how are the roads?

    1. Like mentioned in the article, the roads are in very good condition and safe. The distances might be too much for a motorcycle (it’s a long country), but it all depends on your experience!

  13. Very interesting. Me and my wife are going to be in Croatia for ten days starting from Rijeka . And ending in Rijeka again to catch our plane back to Sweden. Any idées witch is the best way to take,
    Kindly regards JOHNNY

  14. Great summary of your experiences! I’m going with my wife to Croatia – starting from Zagreb and heading to Dubrovnik. Just nervous about the driving, as I’m from UK. Also the signs and the places to view n where to park! We are going for 6 days. I want to spend a night somewhere between Zagreb and Dubrovnik. We will be in Zagreb for one half days, then drive down to Plitvice – stay for short while before heading further down to the Dalmatian coast. We hope to spend 2 days in Dubrovnik. Any suggestions? Any possibility of going to Mostar during that time?

    1. Croatia is actually a very safe and tranquil place to drive, except to what it comes to parking in the big cities. That can be a little drama, specially in Dubrovnik – that’s why I recommend to ditch the car once you get there.

      I would choose either Zadar or Split for your night along the way. Skip Mostar and save at least 2 full days for Dubrovnik, beautiful city with lots to do. And I bet you want to relax a bit as well, no? Less is more!

  15. Thank you for your guide, immensely helpful, my husband and I will be visiting Croatia for 10 days at the end of August. We are flying to and from Zagreb (direct flight from Toronto bonus) and were planning on renting a car from the airport for 9 days and returning it back to the airport. Is this a good idea since we are planning on visiting most of the places you mentioned?

    1. It might be more expensive but much more convenient if you get a flight Zagreb-Dubrovnik and go all the way up to Zagreb again (the reverse way I did). It will save you some good hours or driving.

      For me i’s either that or skip a part of the itinerary (e.g. Dubrovnik). Good luck!

  16. I read the entire page details and they were very useful for our trip planning. Great job.

  17. Thanks for your guide. I’m so pleased to have discovered your page. We are planning a trip in September 2017 for 8 days and are looking at flying to Zagreb and then from Zagreb to Dubrovnik before making our way back to Zagreb by Hire Car over 6 days via Split, Zadar and the lakes before returning to Zagreb. Any useful tips would be much appreciated.

  18. Thanks for your guide! Myself and my boyfriend are planning for September 2017. We only have 8 nights, and trying to make those hard choices on places to skip is terrifying!

    So far Plitvice has beat out Krka, but now I am terrified we will have the same experience as you with weather in September.

    We land in Zagreb early afternoon, spend night 1 there. We then leave the next day to drive near Plitvice, hope to arrive late afternoon and spend night 2. Wake up early the next day and spend the day at the park, hoping to leave here around 4 pm and drive to Zadar that evening to spend night 3. (Do you think this is cutting the park short or leaving not enough time to find our accommodation that evening in Zadar?) We have the full next day and night 4 in Zadar and leave the following morning to head to Split. We are torn on whether to spend the day and night in Split before heading down the coast to Dubrovnik, or driving on through Split and catching a ferry to and island (Brac or Hvar) for night 5. Get the ferry back the next morning and do the Adratic coast to Dubrovnik, arriving early evening and spending night 6. Then end off with two full days and night 7 & 8 in Dubrovnik. What do you think?? Any help would be much appreciated! Have read many blogs and changed our itineraries, but have had this plan for the last week, working on accommodations now.

    Thanks again!!!

    1. Readings experiences from others and advice from blogs is great, but there’s a time you need to step away and decide what YOU really want to do. There’s always something you need to leave behind, the important is to enjoy each moment, even if it is pouring rain in the Plitvice Lakes!

      Overall I think you have a very tight plan, specially the ferry. There’s no point in getting the ferry to Hvar or Brac if you’re not spending at least 2 full days there.

  19. Lovely guide – what car company you used to rent from one city and drop off in another? We are planning to travel from Rovinj to Dubrovnik

  20. Super useful guide. Thanks! One question: We are traveling from Colombia for 18 days. We arte starting at Dubrovnik where we hire the car and finish in Zadar. At the middle of the trip our plans are to hop from Split to Korcula – Hvar – Bol and back to Split. We are thinking on living the car (or returning the car) at Split while doing the islands and then hire another car to continue the trip. This will give us more flexibility on the ferry schedules. Do you think this is a good idea? Or do you think its better to hop between the islands with the car? thank you for your time!!

    1. I think it’s a big advantage to have the car in the islands. You can easily explore some of the less explored coves and beaches and that’s totally worth it. It requires some coordination with the ferry schedules, but it will pay off!

  21. Hi, we are planning to arrive in and out Zagreb first two weeks of Sept. Since parking is such a hassle in Split and Dubrovnik, is public transport doable? Or shall we rent a car from Zagreb n ditch them at Dubrovnik and return to Zagreb by public transport? Thanks for your time.

  22. Wow! I can not thank you enough for all your help!! This has helped me tremendously!! We only have 4 days in Split and Dubrovnik. After reading your blog we will for sure go to Brac!!
    I am sorry I didn’t get to see your website before we booked the hotels. .. We are renting a car.
    We are in Split for the first 2 nights.
    Do you think is possible to do Brac Island Zlatnik Rat Bch)
    Plivitce Falls OR
    Krkra National Park and Dubrovnik.
    We have 5 nights and 4 days.
    I am falling in love more and more with Croatia
    Let me know if you get a chance please.

    Thank you!

    1. It is technically possible, but I would make some choices. With 4 days only, I’d not go to more than 2/3 NEARBY places. Perhaps Krka + Brac is the best option?

  23. Great site and information! We are heading from Plitvice Lakes to Rijeka. Is there anywhere inbetween you suggest staying for the night? Finding Rijeka limited for accommodations. From there we head to Pula in the morning. Thank you!

  24. Hi, We’re in the process of planning a road trip to Croatia this May, 2017. We discovered that we can use our airline miles to fly round trip from Philly to Zagreb at no cost. However, we have to arrive & depart from Zagreb. Is there a good way to begin & end a road trip in Zagreb? Thanks very much! Don & Linda

  25. Hi! My boyfriend and I are planning to go in May for a total of 5 nights and 4 days. Can you please recommend where to go out of all your suggestions above? It would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Depends on where you want to go. You really need to choose where to go and it also depends on where you land. I’d say skip the islands and choose 1,2 cities + a national park!

  26. Hi! Great post. We are planning a trip this summer to croatia. I think your road trip is the best option. Do you think ita OK with a 3 year old? Can you send me a break down of how many days you stayed in each place?

    1. I don’t see why this trip isn’t suited for a 3-year old, but I’d probably take out 1 or 2 places to make it more relaxed. I spent 1-2 full days in each place, except Dubrovnik where I spent 3 nights.

  27. I am doing research right now. Flying from any point in the US to either Zagreb or Dubrovnik is a huge pain, overnight stops in London. It is much easier to fly to Venice. Do you know anything about the Ferries from Venice to Croatia? And if we fly to Venice it would be way out of the way to get to Zagreb, do you think it is worth it?

  28. HELLO ! Your posts above is a one stop guide. It cleared almost 90% of my queries. We are 3 boys planning for a croatia roadtrip for 8 days & we want SPLIT DUBROVNIK & HVAR ISLANDS. Can you please suggest for the same.

    1. Glad to know I cleared your questions. I haven’t been in Hvar so can’t really suggest much there. From what I’ve heard from other travellers is more of a party island.

  29. Thanks for a great post. We are planning an extended trip up to 18 months driving between Schengen and Non Schengen areas as well as trying to dodge the cold weather. Your wonderful Croatian post has given me a starting point.

  30. Thanks for this amazing advice. We have just booked flights to Zagreb and other than Zadar, I have had a headache researching where to go, especially island wise. This is a huge help, thank you.

  31. Hello! As mentioned in earlier comments, your guide is one of the best I’ve seen! Many thanks! My husband and I are world travelers/hikers and in our 50’s. We’re in the early planning stages of a trip to Croatia for Sept. Strange as it may sound, we prefer not to do the driving ourselves. However, we would LOVE to see many of the sites you describe. Are you aware or familiar with any outfitters that offer transportation? Of course, this may be much too expensive to consider, but I would appreciate your insight. Thanks very much!

  32. I have been to Croatia 4 times now from Australia as I fell in love with the place on my first visit. The place is so popular with Australians with many I talk to claiming it to be there favourite destination in Europe. Google these hidden treasures of mine. Rastoke, city of Varazdin and Trakoscan castle, Vodice. Island Murter and the Kornati archipelago , Pucisca on the island of Brac, Rovinj, Mali Losinj on island Losinj, island of Vis and Stiniva cove. Croatia is an absolute gem

    1. Had no idea Croatia was a favourite amongst Aussies, but I sure can see why. Thanks for your suggestions, I’ve only been to Murter, can’t wait to go back to explore more!

  33. Hi, this is truly one of the best travel guidance sites I ever read on the net. Thanks a lot for your objective advice on travelling to Croatia. We are planning a trip this summer, unfortunately in peak season !
    Best regard, Johan

    1. Wow, thanks very much, I’m very happy it was useful to you. I hope I can come back and improve it even more. 🙂

      Hope you have a great trip, even in peak season Croatia is memorable!

  34. I along with my friends are planning to have a road trip next month along the coast. Is it possible in the Winter Months to have a road trip?

    1. It’s far from ideal, I reckon it will be chilly and windy, but it’s definitely possible. I bet Dubrovnik is beautiful anytime of the year!

  35. Stunning guide, that we used as a base route reference while travelling and exploring Croatia by car. Highly recommend this route to all the others.
    The main deviations we have made – stayed longer at Brac island in Bol (next to Zlatni Rat beach), as we absolutely fell in love with this place. 🙂

    Thank you for such a great guidance with awesome photos and useful links!


    1. Hi Ieva, thank you very much for your kind words and I’m really happy I could help and that you had a great time 🙂

      Wish I had time to stay near Bol, it was my favorite place of the whole trip too!

      Take care!

  36. Excelente guia! Vou com um grupo de amigos este mês e estamos encantados só com o que encontramos na internet! A nossa ideia é fazer praticamente o mesmo percurso que vocês fizeram, mas começando em Zagreb e acabando em Dubrovnik. Está a ser complicado seleccionar o que vamos ver, especialmente no que diz respeito às ilhas! Parecem todas espectaculares! lol 🙂

  37. What is good about Croatia, that it has endless posibilities for new explorations. Me and my family are visting Croatian coast already for more than 30 years, but we still didnt see more than 10 % of populated islands.

    1. It sure does, it’s a fascinating country! I will for sure come back and try to explore a bit more of the islands too. Which one was your highlight so far?

  38. Hi I’m planning a trip late Oct with my two young sons 10 and 8 . Staying in Zadar but not planning to hire a car , can i easily get around and take some trips with out transport. We are staying for 7 days so don’t want to be driving for long periods.

  39. Croatia is beautiful country, i love o come back again……..some local drivers very annoying,one garage try to rip me of on service a/c on car(maybe because they seen car is from uk),otherwise everything is fine

  40. Hi there,

    Lovely article.

    This summer I’m heading to KRKA waterfall from Zadar and then driving on to Split after, I’m just confused to what the parking situation is outside KRKA waterfall? I read online that there is free parking outside Lozovac, but in your article you mentioned that you left your car at Skradin, what is the parking situation there?

    Help appreciated!

    1. Not sure about Lozovac, we paid some money to leave the car for the day in Skradin. I’m sure there is parking in all entrances.

  41. Hi, definitely considering a 10 day road trip in October, what’s your experience of the weather during the first couple of weeks? Also what’s the local cuisine like as we both love to eat and drink 😉

    1. I went in September and it was fine. In October you might encounter some colder evenings, but days are more likely warm enough.

      What I enjoyed the most about food in Croatia were the local ingredients. Everything tasted better and they definitely have a concern with that.

      Try Pašticada. It’s basically a stew cooked in special sauce of plums. Delicious!

  42. Hi,is worth to leave car at supermarkets (split,zadar,zagreb) and explore cities by foot?or is there restrictions on parking?

    1. I found very hard to park in places like Split in Dubrovnik. Not sure what you mean supermarkets, but if they are close enough and free, I’d say go for it!

  43. Hi, thanks for the great info!
    I was trying to mimic your route but starting in dubrovnik and ending in zagreb.
    If i were to try and go to hvar from dubrovnik, which point would be best to take the ferry with a car to hvar?

    1. The place that makes more sense to me is Drvenik, getting to Sucuraj. You will need to check the timetables, as there might be as few as 2 or 3 ferries per day.

      You can also get on a direct ferry from Dubrovnik, I am just not too sure if you can go with a car on it.

  44. Muitos parabéns pelo site e especialmente por este guia sobre a Croácia. Vou fazer uma road trip Dubrovnik-Zagreb de 12 dias no final de Agosto / início de Setembro e houve muita informação aqui que me ajudou.
    Uma pergunta, o insurance4carhire que utilizaste não está disponível para residentes em Portugal. Conheces alguma empresa que faça esse tipo de seguro?

    1. Sempre bom saber que este artigo foi útil! 🙂
      Bom, há o Car Hire Excess, mas esse nunca usei. Ou claro, comprar o seguro directamente pela agência.

  45. Great Blog !
    I am planning a trip troughout Mid September , and im going alone , maybe with a +1 , but not sure . Any tips ?
    I will scrap some of the places since im planning for a 8 day only , any advice regarding this?
    Many thanks in advance !

  46. Great blog! We are heading to Brac Island with a car (among other places) but was wondering how good (or bad!) the coastal road were on the Island? We are hoping to drive from Milna to Blaca Monestry but not sure if the small coastal roads are roads or more of a dirt track!

    1. There are normal roads to almost all the places in the island I’d say, but I remember there was a dirt track right next to the sea in the north which made some damage on our car. Beware.

    2. Thanks – think we will check with the tourist office in Milna – we are moving from Milna to Bol but thought it would be a good idea to visit the Blaca Hermitage monastery on the way most of the info on getting there is from Bol and google maps show the coast road!

  47. Chapeau on this detailed, very useful review. we’ll try that out in August 😉
    Any special recommendations for partying? or extraordinary activities?
    thank you!

  48. In Yerevan now you can enjoy many rock concerts in pubs or in an open air. There are many talented musicians. Dorians and Bambir are the best.

  49. Hej
    We’er going to Croatia for about 22 days from Denmark, leaving in a months time….if we get out AC fixed!
    I’ve heard a lot about how the roads…and the drivers on them gets a bit wilde…..What do you think ?
    Venlig hilsen

    1. I really didn’t see any reason for concern. It was one of the safest – and most beautiful – places to drive in that I’ve been to.

      I do agree parking in major cities like Split and Zadar is a bit chaotic though.

  50. This is a handy blog!
    What are some activities you took part in while on your Croatian adventure other than the general sightseeing/exploring?

  51. Hi, we are planning to make the same trip to Croatia.

    Would you let us know , how many days should we spend

    in Zagreb ?

    in Zadar ?

    in Split ?

    in Dubrovnik ?

    or any other suggestion, recommendation ?

    We have 9 days to spend from Saturday evening to Sunday morning. We will rent a car from zagreb like you did and leave in Dubrovnik.

    Waiting to hear from you soon.


    1. I can’t tell you how many days you should spend in a place, it all depends on what do you like to do, your travel goals, who are you traveling to, etc.

      Having that said, IMHO Zadar and Dubrovnik deserve more than 1 day for sure while for Zagreb one day is enough.

  52. Thanks for this perfect information!
    My boyfriend and I will start our journey from Dubrovnik ( unfortunaly during July) and gonna stay in Croatia for 11 days.
    We’re wondering if we should rent a car from dubrovnik airport for all 11 days, or some places like national parks are easier to get without having a car…( the cheapest price we’ve found to rent a car is almost 400euroes).

    Thanks in advance:-)

  53. Great blog! You’ve inspired me to book my own 4-day road trip! Quick question for you: I’m renting a car from Sixt now, and it gives me additional options of 1) Navigation System and 2) “Internet-to-go.” Did you use either of these options? I’m thinking the GPS Navigation will certainly be helpful… is that how you got around? (Note: I’m from USA and don’t think I’ll be buying a special data plan from Verizon for this trip.)

    1. Well, it all comes down to prices I guess.

      I’m not familiar with the Verizon tariff plans in Europe, but data roaming on your phone gives you access to use Google Maps + other apps (e.g. to communicate with friends and family back home). Might look more expensive, but it can save you money in the end… If it’s just 4 days, so you need to see what’s more convenient to you!

      Disclaimer: we had some problems with Google Maps navigation in the some more remote areas like Brac island.

  54. Thank you so much for this well-written blog, complete with pics and tips. I have a long way to go regarding my trip, but your overview is great insight regarding my own travel plans for Croatia.

  55. Fantastic blog! Just arrived in Zagreb and about to spend 4 days in Croatia on a mini road trip with my boyfriend. It really isn’t a lot of time we know but we are going to make the most of it. Thanks for the tips! So helpful!!

  56. Hi, it’s a great website, I have two questions about your trip: what type of car you did you take for 5 people? and what type of suitcases did you use?

    1. We got a simple 5-door car (not a van!) and used backpacks mainly. Some of us got trolley. We needed to be a bit frugal though – there was not much space!

  57. Hi Bruno,

    I am landing in Split next Friday and driving up to plitvice and back down over 10days, was looking at hiring with Sixt too, can I ask why you needed additional insurance from insurance4carhire? This wasn’t something I was thinking would be needed until I read this post. Thanks very much for this too, given me a few ideas!

    1. Sorry for the late reply Tonya.

      We got the insurance from those because it was cheaper than Sixt and covered a wider range of damages.
      Hope you had a great time and didn’t need the insurance at all!

  58. Hello! Your guide was very helpful- my husband and i are planning to visit Croatia but were looking to relax at the beach for one of the days as well- we have a total of 5 days- what cities would you suggest?

    1. Depends on the type of the beach you want. There aren’t many sandy beaches in Croatia. I recommend Brac island for relax (check my other article on it!). Plus, it’s where the most famous beach in Croatia is (Zlatni Rat).

  59. Croatia, such a wonderful place for family vacation. I would love to experience a road trip to Croatia. I read about its national & nature parks . Such an amazing places. Thanks for your useful guide on road trip to Croatia.

  60. Hi! I’m planning to roadtrip through Croatia with my girlfriend in the second half of June this year. Your post was really helpful. I know you mentioned that in some of the larger cities it was easier getting around using bus/ trains etc. I wanted to know if it was still very expensive parking the rental car in these cities or did you manage to find accommodations with free parking. I also wanted to know if you think the drive from Dubrovnik to Zagreb is doable in one go! Thank you!

    1. We found parking rather complicated, specially in Split. I suppose you can find accommodation with free parking outside of the major cities.

      You certainly can do Dubrovnik to Zagreb in one (long) day.

  61. Wow, thank you for all of the information. I am planning to visit end of Aoril beginning of May, so I doubt I will run into any crowds. Thanks again!

  62. Great. I love Croatia and been there several times. You guide is very comprehensive and i found your site via Lonelyplanet. Keep up the good work.

  63. My family and I are planning to go to Croatia late this year, and reading this made me more excited. I can’t wait to see what Croatia has to offer, from its amazing scenery to its wonderful people.

  64. We visited Croatia a couple years ago and it was so much better than we expected. Reading your article I couldn’t help but notice there are a few places we didn’t have time for that are now officially on our bucket list.

  65. Bruno, you’ve put together a great guide. I think road-tripping in Croatia is fantastic not only because of each destination you covered but also because of the range and variety of landscapes, culinary and cultural experiences you can cover in such a relatively short time. Glad you liked Croatia!

    1. Thanks Andrea, you are entirely right, Croatia allows a great deal of experiences in such a short time and space. Can I ask what’s your favourite spot in Croatia?

    2. In terms of landscape – definitely Lika (where the Plitvice Lakes are) and Gorski Kotar (forested area around Rijeka). Vis island on the coast and Zagreb of course – it is very underrated and a city that slowly unravels to travellers, but it’s very vibrant with a great arty scene all year round. 🙂

    3. Vis and the Rijeka region are on my plans next time, Gorski Kotar looks amazing!

      Zagreb was not exciting for me, but I have a feeling it’s one of these cities that will grow on you quickly. Unfortunately I just spent one day there.

      Thanks for your tips!

  66. Croatia has been on my “to visit” list for a while, but sadly I have not had the pleasure of seeing it yet. Plitvice especially looks like a place worth visiting, though everyone I talk to who has seen Croatia says sthe whole country is beautiful. Thanks for such a detailed guide of where to go and what to do!

    1. It really is a country with beauty everywhere. No matter where I went, there was always a stunning landscape to admire. Hope this guide can be of your use when you finally go!