Our Curated 7 Days in Croatia Itinerary: The Ultimate Guide
Uncover the highlights of Croatia with our 7 days in Croatia itinerary for the perfect week in the Adriatic sun. Keep reading for your very own Croatia holiday plan.
Sandwiched between the Balkans and Central Europe, Croatia is a country that seems to have it all. Ancient history and culture? Check. Superb beaches and crystal-clear water? Check. Stunning cities? Check. Beautiful national parks? Check. I could go on. If it isn’t on your bucket list yet, do yourself a favour and jot Croatia on there now.
With incredible islands like Hvar, Vis and Korčula for slow and sustainable travel, ancient cities like Dubrovnik and Zadar and stunning national parks, Croatia makes a brilliant option for a European summer that dreams are made of.
There’s never a perfect amount of time anywhere but if you’re planning a trip to Croatia look no further. We’ve picked out Croatia’s best destinations (towards the south of the country) and planned the ideal 7 days in Croatia for you. This itinerary combines a little bit of everything, cities and sights, nature and beaches for a taste of what Croatia has to offer.
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Some things to note before reading this 7 days in Croatia itinerary further:
↠ This 7 days in Croatia itinerary explores mainly the highlights of mid and southern Croatia with a day trip to Hvar Island. Croatia is a big country with many things to see and it’s impossible to see everything in 7 days.
↠ This 7 day Croatia itinerary only really works in this amount of time if you rent a car. While public transportation options are definitely possible between these destinations you’ll need to potentially add another day or two to factor in bus timetables.
↠ Try to avoid high season when doing this itinerary. July and August on the Croatian coast can be very crowded indeed. To have some flexibility try to come in May, the beginning of June or September or even October for fewer crowds and better deals.
If you come in July and August you’ll need to book everything well in advance, especially your rental car and accommodation in Split in Dubrovnik.
↠ This best of Croatia itinerary is mainly aimed at first-time visitors to Croatia who want to see most of the main and popular places. If you’ve already been to these then I hope we’ll have another itinerary for Croatia for you in the near future.
Getting into most main cities in Croatia is an easy task, especially from other cities in Europe. From many destinations around Europe, you’ll be able to find flights to Zagreb, Rijeka, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik.
To find the best flights and routes closest to you it’s best to use a flight comparison website that’ll show you all your options. If you’re flying in from outside Europe you may need to be flexible with your starting point as direct flights could be limited.
I always use Skyscanner to find the best flight deals available. Click here to search for the best rates on flights to Croatia.
If you’re already in Europe, especially in neighbouring countries like Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Montenegro etc, it’s also possible and more convenient to get to Croatia by train or bus. Click here to book bus and train tickets to Croatia via Omio.
Getting Around Croatia
As 7 days in Croatia isn’t too much time, I highly recommend renting a car for your week in Croatia holiday. This will give you the ultimate flexibility to move around at your own pace and get from place to place much faster than by public transport.
When it comes to car rental in Croatia we used Discover Cars Croatia and found them to be the best in terms of service, rates, no extra fees and vehicle quality. Their website is also the most user-friendly out there too and it takes just minutes to book. Find the best car rental rates for Croatia here through Discover Cars. I personally wouldn’t use anyone else for car rental.
Alternatively, you can also search below.
If you prefer this not to be a 7 day Croatia road trip, it’s possible to get around by bus, however, given that there aren’t that many services, I’d personally add a couple more days onto this itinerary to take bus schedules into account.
Alternatively, you might need to leave out destinations like Plitvice National Park which are more difficult to get to via public transport. To find the best bus tickets and check schedules in Croatia search here via Omio.
The Perfect 7 Days in Croatia Itinerary
Here is the exact Croatia 7 days itinerary we used on our recent trip. There are a couple of minor things I would have changed or added to the itinerary which I’ve included in this version to make sure you have the best possible trip.
If you prefer to start in Dubrovnik it’s completely possible to do the Croatia trip itinerary in reverse.
If you also prefer to start in Zagreb or even Rijeka it’s fine too. The first stop on the itinerary, Plitvice Lakes National Park is located a similar distance from Zagreb and Rijeka as from Zadar so it doesn’t add much more driving to your itinerary. Just spend day one of the itinerary exploring your starting city.
Our exact 7 Days in Croatia Itinerary:
Day One: Zadar
Day Two: Plitvice Lakes National Park
Day Three: Šibenik and Primošten
Day Four: Split
Day Five: Day Trip to Hvar Island or Korcula Island
Day Six & Seven: Dubrovnik
End: Fly Out from Dubrovnik
7 Days in Croatia Itinerary: Day One: Zadar
Zadar is probably one of the most under-the-radar cities in Croatia as everyone makes a beeline for Dubrovnik or Split. However, stay long enough to explore a little and you’ll find Zadar to be a laid-back city with a beautiful Old Town and classical charm.
You don’t need more than a day to fully explore central Zadar and its old town including its highlights as they are all located very close together in the Old Town.
After arriving at Zadar airport, pick up your rental car and transfer to your hotel and spend the rest of the day exploring the Old Town and what the city has to offer.
Here are the top things to do in Zadar that you shouldn’t miss:
–Exploring the Old Town– the labyrinth, narrow alleyways are beyond pretty and full of aesthetic corners, cafes and restaurants.
–Cathedral of St Anastasia – Zadar’s main cathedral that’s worth a peek inside
–Listening to the Sea Organ – A genius creation of steps located just by the sea on Zadar’s Riva. The energy of the waves is harnessed to create a beautiful relaxing song right by the sea.
–Roman Forum – Ruins of a vast Roman forum right in the center of Zadar
–Crkva Sv. Donata – A beautiful historic Church in the center of Zadar.
Where to Eat
The Botanist – A lovely plant-based restaurant right by the water- one of the best we had in Croatia. Come here for plant-focused Croatia fare.
Konoba Tovar – A fantastic local seafood spot that’s been a favourite for years. A small menu of unbelievably fresh, fried seafood.
Where to Stay
Apartments & Rooms Mareta Exclusive – Centrally located, modern rooms that are comfortable and spacious and have beautiful views over Zadar’s Old Town. Check rates and availability here
Art Hotel Kalelarga – A modern, cool and earthy hotel option right in the center. Fantastic design and service. Check rates and availability here.
Day Two: Plitvice Lakes National Park
Start the day early and drive to Plitvice Lakes National Park. The drive from Zadar takes just under 2 hours. From Zagreb, it’s just over 2 hours.
Plitvice Lakes National Park opens at 7 am during the summer and I highly recommend getting there as early as you can as it’s one of the most popular attractions in Croatia. I also recommend buying your entrance ticket online before to beat the queues and to guarantee your entrance, especially during the high summer season.
Winter opening hours and costs vary, make sure to check their website for up-to-date information.
Note that there are two entrances to the park, Entrance 1 and Entrance 2. We entered via Entrance 1 which is the most popular but I don’t think it makes much of a difference. Many of the trails in the park are loops which will allow you to see all the lakes regardless.
Upon entry to the park, decide which trail you want to do and follow the signs around to visit the amazing, crystal clear lakes. The shortest trail takes about 3 hours and the longest about 6-8 hours. The park can easily be covered in a day or even half a day if you’re fast and you choose a shorter trail.
Many of the trails involve an electric boat ride and a ‘train’, (that’s more like a long bus) and these are all included in the entrance ticket. There are many facilities in the park like basic restaurants, cafes and toilets but it’s a good idea to bring your own lunch or snacks as well as water for the day.
The park is made up of a series of lakes that are all connected together by waterfalls of varying sizes. Wooden walkways allow tourists to walk in between them all and admire the beautiful scenery. The park is really stunning. We visited at the start of autumn when yellow and orange colours were just starting to show through but I imagine it’s beautiful at all times of the year.
If you love nature make sure not to miss this.
Where to Stay
You can either choose to stay right by Plitvice National Park if you’re planning to make the whole day of it or drive back down to the coast and stay in Šibenik, the first stop on the next day’s itinerary. I’d recommend the latter if you still have the energy for it.
For Plitvice: Guesthouse Ljubo & Ana – A very friendly, local homestay experience with basic but very comfortable and warm rooms (it gets cool in the mountains) right by Entrance 1 of Plitvice National Park. Check rates and availability here.
For Šibenik: King Kresimir Heritage Hotel – A gorgeous boutique hotel in the atmospheric streets of Šibenik. Great design, service and comfort. Check rates and availability here.
Plitvice Lakes National Park or Krka National Park?
When researching what to do in Croatia you’ll come across both Plitvice and Krka and you might be trying to decide which one to visit. I personally recommend going to Plitvice rather than Krka. Yes it’s much more expensive and it is further from the coast than Krka but Plitvice has much more to offer.
Plitvice felt like a real national park, we were surrounded by nature and beauty and it was easy to connect with nature.
On the other hand, Krka’s main trail is not as beautiful and there are many more tourists including a VERY large amount of tour groups even early in the morning. I personally found Krka National Park to be nice but also very overpriced and overcrowded which massively spoiled the experience.
Of course, every experience is different but I personally recommend visiting Plitvice National Park over Krka National Park. It’s worth the extra time it takes to get there.
Day Three: Šibenik and Primošten
Spend the morning exploring the beautiful little town of Šibenik, one of Croatia’s lesser-known gems. You won’t need more than a morning here to cover most of the beautiful old town.
Here are some of the best things to do and see in Šibenik:
–St. Jacob’s Cathedral – The town’s main Gothic-Renaissance style cathedral with many sculpted stone heads on the facade.
–St. Michael’s Fortress – A hilltop fortress with amazing Adriatic sea views and views over Šibenik.
–Explore the Old Town– Walk the charming stone streets in Šibenik and get to know its corners.
–St. Lawrence Church, Monastery and Garden – Relax in the scenic and quiet monastery gardens with a mid-morning coffee.
Where to Eat
NaMaLo Coffee & Wine Bar – A very nice spot for coffee or local Croatian wine
Restoran No. 4 – One of the best restaurants in town (comes recommended by many locals) serving typical Croatian and Mediterranean food in a beautiful outdoor square.
From Šibenik it’s a short drive to Primošten, another beautiful Croatian town. The Old Town sits on an oval peninsula surrounded almost 360 degrees by warm Mediterranean waters.
Primošten is pretty small but it’s definitely a great place to park and walk around for a couple of hours soaking up the beautiful streets and Adriatic views.
Top Things to Do in Primrošten:
–Go for a walk around the Old Town – Primošten has a beautiful hilly and atmospheric old town, and the best way to experience it is to just walk around. Don’t miss the scenic church in the middle of town.
–Go for a swim – Nearby you have some truly spectacular beaches. I highly recommend Gradska Plaza just outside the Old Town for a swim.
–Have lunch– Primošten has some delicious and great value restaurants, especially for seafood and local Mediterranean cuisine.
From Primošten get back to the car and drive the remaining one hour to Split. Spend the evening exploring Split and going for a local dinner.
Day Four: Split
One of Croatia’s favourite cities Split is an atmospheric city with a lot to offer. For a first-time visitor, you’ll want to focus on the relatively compact Old Town where you’ll find most of Split’s highlights located very close together. Spending at least a day in Split is a must on any perfect Croatia itinerary.
For Game of Thrones fans Split also has some famous filming locations nearby as well as a GoT museum too. If you prefer to avoid anything Game of Thrones they make the most of the atmospheric old town streets, getting acquainted with the cities’ fascinating Roman history or sampling the extraordinary food scene here.
Here are the best things to do in Split, Croatia:
–Visit Diocletian’s Palace – Visit the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site and Roman emperor’s palace that’s survived so well since ancient times. Make sure to get here early in the morning otherwise it’s super crowded!
–Explore the Old Town – Split Old Town is a maze of winding alleyways, ancient stone buildings and overhead arches where history just seeps through the walls. Go for a wander and take it all in.
–Stroll along Split Riva – don’t miss the beautiful waterfront and stroll along taking in the lovely architecture and waterfront restaurants.
–Climb Marjan Hill – Located just outside the old town, this scenic hilltop park is the place to get the best views of Split and the Adriatic.
–Relax on the beach – head to Bavice beach for one of the best beaches in Split.
Where to Eat
Bokeria Kitchen & Wine Bar – One of the best restaurants in Split, don’t miss a local meal here and some of the best local wine.
Barakokula – A great plant-based restaurant full of healthy classics like açai bowls, sushi, grilled dishes and bowls.
Pandora Greenbox – A nature-filled cafe and restaurant with healthy plant-based classics, Mediterranean-inspired food and a great selection of non-alcoholic drinks.
Where to Stay
Luxury Residence Mareta- For those that prefer apartment stays over hotels, this is a perfect option just steps away from the Riva. It’s modern, cosy and clean and the design is on point. Check rates and availability here.
Piazza Heritage Hotel – Located within Diocletian’s Palace, this Heritage Hotel is a truly epic stay. With its art nouveau decor style, luxurious rooms and excellent service this is one of the best hotel options in Split. Top tip: Book out of season and this place is a steal! Check rates and availability.
Day Five: Day Trip to Hvar Island (or Korčula Island)
It’s time to visit some of Croatia’s incredible islands- for me, the highlight of any trip to Croatia. Unfortunately, a week in Croatia isn’t quite enough time to see both the highlights of the mainland and the islands so you’ll need to choose just one island.
I would suggest going to Hvar because one, it’s incredibly beautiful and two, it’s very close to Split- just one hour by ferry.
Take the first ferry of the day from Split. The main ferry lines are Jadrolinija and Krilo and you can buy tickets in advance online via their websites. I’d suggest taking your rental car with you on the car ferry if you want to spend the day exploring beyond Hvar Town, which I totally recommend, you’ll need a car.
Once on Hvar, there are so many things to do to fill the day from exploring the charming towns on the island to relaxing on some of Croatia’s best beaches.
Best things to do in Hvar during this 7 days in Croatia itinerary:
–Explore Hvar town – Filled with hilltop alleyways, stairways and stone squares, Hvar town is a gorgeous little place full of life. Spend a few hours wandering around, visiting St. Stephen’s Square and the lovely church as well as the Franciscan Monastery and its museum.
–Drive to Stari Grad – probably one of the best places on the island Stari Grad is located on the Stari Grad plain and is a stunning village of stone houses, colorful shutters and a beautiful waterfront to just get lost in.
–Drive through Stari Grad Plain– Visit the area where most of Hvar’s grapes grow and walk through the olive groves.
–Visit Jelsa and Vrboska – two more gorgeous little towns on the other side of the island worth visiting
–Spend some time on the beach – there are so many incredible beaches on Hvar island all surrounded by crystal clear waters. My favourites were Mekićevica and Robinson Beaches close to Hvar town as well as Malo Zarace beach and Dubovica Beach.
–Climb up to Hvar Fortress – incredible island views await.
From Hvar, you can either take the ferry back to Split and then drive the 3 hours to Dubrovnik or drive to Sucuraj port at the other end of Hvar Island, cross by car ferry to Drvenik (mainland) and drive further along the coast, across the Peljesac Bridge to Dubrovnik. The first option is definitely easier.
For those that would prefer to visit Hvar Island as part of a tour from Split, you’ll be pleased to know there are many available. This takes the work out of planning the island itinerary and you’ll be able to visit all of Hvar’s major sights and more.
This Full-Day Catamaran Cruise allows you to visit Hvar town and the stunning Pakleni Islands too on a day trip from Split. For another top-rated tour check out Blue Cave, Vis & Hvar Full-Day Trip by Speedboat.
If you prefer you can also visit Korčula island instead of Hvar and spend your day in Korčula town. Korčula is not as well known as Hvar but equally if not more beautiful. The island attracts more couples and older travellers interested in the island’s fine dining scene and pretty streets. There isn’t much nightlife here.
For Korčula town you don’t need a car so I’d recommend leaving your car parked in Split and then visiting Korčula on the passenger ferry.
As this is a pretty long and fun-filled day I’d probably suggest staying the night in Split and driving to Dubrovnik early in the morning the next day.
Day Six & Seven: Dubrovnik
Start your day driving from Split to Dubrovnik which should take about 3 hours. You’ll need to drive over the Peljesac Bridge in order to get to Dubrovnik.
Spend the rest of the day exploring the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. Much like the other Croatian towns and cities so far, Dubrovnik’s Old Town is where you want to focus your energy, especially as a first-time visitor to Croatia in 7 days.
Dubrovnik is Croatia’s most popular city, made famous by the HBO series Game of Thrones with many of the filming locations being in or around Dubrovnik. If you’re a fan then I’m sure you already know this and these spots might be the main draw for you to Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik is a fascinating city, full of ancient and modern history and culture which it combines perfectly with coastal Adriatic life. It’s one of the only places around where you can immerse yourself in history in an ancient fortress right before sipping on cocktails and diving into the crystal-clear Adriatic just moments later.
While there is much to see, two days or even one full day is enough to scratch the surface of this lively city.
Some of the best things to do in Dubrovnik and the main attractions are:
–Explore the Old Medieval Town– Start in Stradun, the main thoroughfare before walking down the long, stone alleyways and into the lively squares.
–Walk the City Walls – One of the only places in the world where the entire ancient walls are still intact! Walking the Dubrovnik city walls is a must for incredible views of the city and beyond.
–Climb Mount Srd – The best thing to do right before sunset, the views of Dubrovnik from here are second to none. Either hike or take the cable car.
–Take a boat to Lokrum Island– one of the top things to do is to visit this beautiful little island close to the city for city views and tranquil walks.
–Spend some time on the beach– Sulic beach, Banje beach and Divovici beach are my personal favourites but there are many beaches in Dubrovnik east and west of the city center. For a hidden gem try Pasjača Beach a 40-minute drive south of Dubrovnik.
–Go for a sunset drink and swim at Buza Bar – Located between the sea and the walls of Dubrovnik this is the best spot to grab and drink and a swim, preferably at the same time.
–Visit Lovrjenac- A famous Game of Thrones filming location and historic fortress with stunning views.
–Do a Game of Thrones Tour– for the series fans, why not do a walking tour of all the filming locations in a 2-hour GoT tour? Check this tour for more.
–Visit Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina – If you have some extra time then why not go on a day tour to visit the gorgeous town of Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina? Check this fantastic tour for more which also includes Kravice Falls.
Alternatively, you can also go there yourself, just make sure you’ve told your car rental company you’ll be crossing the border (most do allow it for an extra small fee). It’s an easy day trip with the drive taking 2.5 hours. This is best done out of high season as the border crossing can take a very long time in the summer!
Where to Eat
Nishta– One of the best plant-based restaurants in Dubrovnik, come here for both local and international plant-based goodness.
Portun– Located on a stunning side street, come here for local cuisine like grilled fish, seafood, pasta and local wines.
Bota Šare Oyster & Sushi Bar– If you’re in the mood for Japanese cuisine head here for the best sushi in town. They have some good veggie options too.
Where to Stay
Boutique Hotel Stari Grad– A wonderful, modern boutique hotel in the heart of the Old Town. Rooms are cosy and comfortable and the roof terrace has stupendous views over the city. A must for sunset! Check rates and availability here.
Dominus Rooms- A beautiful room with a very convenient location in the old town. Perfect as a base for exploring the city and its dining scene in the evening. Check rates and availability here.
All these activities will definitely keep you busy on your last two days in Croatia. You can return your rental car to Dubrovnik’s International Airport before flying out. Alternatively, you can also add a couple more days to the itinerary to drive back to Zadar or Zagreb but it is a long trip so I recommend flying out from Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik was easily the most crowded city we visited in Croatia and it experiences similar overcrowding problems to Venice. I highly recommend visiting outside of the high-season summer months of June, July and August and starting your day early to avoid crowds.
Our Croatia Travel Route
Here is this exact 7 day Croatia road trip on Google Maps with all the main things to do in each location. Feel free to download it and use it as your Croatia route planner.
Croatia Trip Itinerary Variations
There are some slightly different variations for Croatia trip itineraries which you might want to consider based on your travel interests and time constraints.
8 days in Croatia Itinerary – If you have more time you can add an extra day at the beginning, middle or end of the itinerary. Personally, with a Croatia 8 day itinerary I would visit both Hvar Island and Korčula island as they are both stunning.
You can also spend an extra day in the Dubrovnik area at the end of this Croatia itinerary or start in Zagreb or Rijeka and have an extra day exploring those cities as well as Zadar.
6 days in Croatia itinerary – If you have one day less then you’ll have to let something go. With a 6 day in Croatia itinerary, I would spend one day less in Dubrovnik or perhaps miss out Šibenik and Primošten and head straight to Split on three. Personally, however, I enjoyed the smaller towns and islands in Croatia much more than the bigger, famous and crowded cities like Split and Dubrovnik.
Islands instead of National Parks – If you find that you prefer islands and beaches to mountains and national parks, you might want to miss out on Plitvice National Park on day 2 and instead extend your stay on Hvar island or visit Korčula Island instead.
The Croatian islands are absolutely stunning and definitely warrant more time if you have it. Having said that Plitvice National Park is incredible so this is a tough call.
Now before we end this itinerary here are some common questions I’ve been asked over on my Instagram about our Croatia itinerary. I hope these help you to plan the perfect 7 day Croatia tour for yourself in this beautiful country.
Is it possible to see Croatia in 7 Days?
Croatia is quite a big country so it’s not possible to see everything in 7 days. However, you can definitely see the most popular places and Croatia highlights with a week in Croatia. I would recommend focusing on one part of the country such as either the more southern parts i.e. the Dalmatia region (like this itinerary), or the islands or the northern part of the country.
The pace of the trip will be quite fast, however.
How to Plan a Trip to Croatia?
Use this Croatia in one week itinerary! I’ve tried and tested this itinerary to take the hassle out of travel planning for you. It’s a great overview of the country and you’ll see all the best spots Croatia has to offer in this itinerary.
You can also use Google Maps to find points of interest to add to your itinerary as well as using social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to find pretty locations in the destinations. I’ve done my best however to include them all here for you.
While this one week Croatia itinerary is an overview, more detailed Croatia destinations posts will follow soon.
What’s the Best Way to Get Around Croatia?
The best way to get around Croatia is by rental car. Nothing beats having the flexibility to move between destinations when you want and it will save you a lot of time.
You’ll be able to find some great out-of-season deals for car rental in Croatia. Make sure to check out Discover Cars which had the best rates by far for Croatia.
Moving around by bus and ferry is also possible and affordable but it will take more time. All city centres are completely walkable so be prepared to do a lot of walking.
What are the highlights of this 7 Days in Croatia Itinerary?
The highlights might differ for everyone as we all often have very different experiences in the same places. For me, the highlights of this 7-day Croatia itinerary were Plitvice National Park, Šibenik and Hvar and Korčula islands. I fell in love with the islands, their towns and beaches and their slow pace of life.
Do let me know what the highlights of this one-week in Croatia were for you!
Ready to experience your very own 7 days in Croatia itinerary? Let me know your questions and comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
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Booking.com for great deals on hotels
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