15-day round trip Croatia: mapped route, itinerary & tips
On a road trip in Croatia? Use our fully planned round trip with itinerary + tips!
Croatia has a lot to offer: beautiful beaches, clear blue water, a fascinating history, beautiful nature, lots of sunshine and excellent food. The ideal vacation destination!
Are you planning to visit Croatia by car? Our mapped out route is the perfect start for your road trip Croatia. Download our free preview travel guide Croatia and explore it for yourself!
Map of the 15-day round trip through Croatia
Day 1: City walk in Zagreb
We start our 15-day tour in the capital of Croatia: Zagreb. This city is less visited by tourists than for example Split or Dubrovnik, but that doesn't make it less interesting. We made a city tour that took us along some of the special highlights: the majestic cathedral, St. Mark's Church, and the original Museum of Broken Relationships.
Croatian Zagreb has a different atmosphere than the rest of the country. The city offers a mix of different architectural styles with a ton of cosy bars. There are not a lot of typical tourist attractions or highlights, Nonetheless, it is still a very nice city to start your tour!
- In this blogpost we collected 17 tips and highlights in Zagreb.
- Planning to stay longer? Then you might have time to make some excursions and day trips from Zagreb.
Our tip for a stay: The Palace Hotel Zagreb, nearby the old centre and with an high quality breakfast.
Day 2-3: On discovery in wonderful Istria
Distance traveled: 325 km
For the visit to Istria we have planned in 2 days, so we had plenty of time to visit various highlights in this beautiful region.
Poreč is the most visited resort area of Istria, it has a lot of Roman remains, which made the city extra attractive for us. Read all our tips for visiting Poreč.
We also found Pula a very nice place to visit, with as personal highlight the beautiful Temple of Augustus. Here you can read our tips for a trip to Pula.
Looking for inspiration for more day trips? In this blog post you can read about our favorite excursions in Istria.
Be sure to take some time to explore the cosy harbor town of Umag. Umag is located on the crystal clear Adriatic Sea in the north of the Istrian region. You will stay for a while just among the locals, because tourists are not very common here, which makes the town even more fun and authentic. There's not much to see in Umag, but we think it is a good place to get to know authentic Croatia!
Day 4: Via the bay of Kvarner to the Plitvice Lakes
Distance covered: 325 km
Today we drive along the bay of Kvarner to Plitvice Lakes National Park.
The road takes us along the past glory of the elegant Opatija, the impressive castle of Nehaj in Senj and the picturesque village of Rastoke, with its 22 mills and cascading waterfalls. Read more about the most beautiful sights in Kvarner here.
Plitvice Lakes is without a doubt one of our top spots in Croatia. The beautiful natural wonders, the walks, the impressive waterfalls ... it has it all. The National Park Plitvice Lakes is a real tourist attraction, but nevertheless you can still imagine yourself in a fairytale park. The clear green-blue water will enchant you, along with the many waterfalls and beautiful nature! For clear reasons, it is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Read all about our visit to the Plitvice Lakes, with lots of practical tips! Also check out our selection of best hotels around Plitvice Lakes.
Attention: Since April 2019, it is compulsory to book your tickets online. Read all about it in our blog post.
Our tip: Would you like to visit the lakes traffic free? Find an overnight stay nearby, we chose for Golden Lakes Rooms 3* hotel, close by the park
Day 5: Via Paklenica National Park to Zadar
Distance traveled: 202 km
If you didn't have time to visit Plitivice Lakes yesterday, maybe you can do it today in the morning. Anyway, the tour continues today, towards Zadar.
We make a stop in Paklenica National Park, with its impressive canyons and biodiversity, and the ancient and picturesque coastal town of Nin. In Paklenica National Park you can hike or climb, depending on the route you choose. Don't forget your hiking boots, because they will be necessary. Often you start with a steep climb at the start of your route, followed by beautiful paths surrounded by breathtaking nature. This park is very well maintained and feels almost unreal when you walk through it. Absolutely a must if you like hiking and nature!
If you still have time, you can already explore Zadar today; here you will find an overview of our must do highlights in Zadar.
No more time? Then tomorrow you can continue to discover the unique atmosphere of this beautiful old town. What exactly can you expect... Small alleys where you can stroll around peacefully, a beautiful roman forum, a long promenade and also an escape from the hustle and bustle and tourism.
Day 6: City walk and island-hopping in Zadar
Zadar is one of our favorite cities in Croatia. Probably because it is a unique blend of centuries old and modern. Or maybe because it is not as well known/ busy as Split and Dubrovnik, and therefore not (yet) flooded by mass tourism.
There is a lot to do in and around Zadar. First of all, Zadar itself is a charming old town with cosy streets and a beautiful centre. Along, you will find the real Forum Romamum and the famous sea organ of Zadar. The latter is a work of art in which music is produced by the waves of the Adriatic Sea. You can catch a beautiful sunset from here, which we think is the perfect way to end your day or visit to Zadar. Finally, don't forget to visit 'The Greeting to the Sun', you can go here during a walk on the boulevard. Read here our tips and favorite highlights of Zadar.
Along, A trip across the azure, Adriatic Sea to one (or several) of the islands off the coast of Zadar, is also very worthwhile and certainly recommended. Discover the most beautiful islands near Zadar here.
Day 7: Via Krka National Park to Šibenik
Distance traveled: 107 km
Today's plan: A visit to Krka National Park. This national park is extremely diverse, with waterfalls, a monastery on an island, historic water mills, a forge... You can even swim in crystal clear ponds. This is also the place where you will find the largest concentration of lavender in all of Europe? You can also pass by the famous waterfall SkradinskiBuk: the largest and most beautiful waterfall of all Krka waterfalls, where you are allowed to swim! Finish with a beautiful walk along the wooden footpaths, go through the swamp and cross several streams. Read all our tips for your visit to Krka National Park.
The road continues to Šibenik, in our opinion a piece of authentic Croatia. A short city walk took us past the most important sights. An overview of our must see's in Šibenik can be read here.
Day 8: Via Trogir to Split
Distance traveled: 95 km
Today we leave Šibenik in the direction of Split. Along the way we stop at Trogir, where there is some time for a short walk through the city. Pass by the cathedral, Kamerlengo castle, the bell tower... The many beautiful historical buildings you come across tell a beautiful history.
Let yourself be captivated by the narrow streets with picturesque squares, a beautiful promenade along the waterfront, many impressive ships and yachts that moor, small shops with all kinds of nice gadgets... And of course: many, many, sunny terraces and restaurants! Read all about the most important highlights in Trogir.
Other highlights of the day are a visit to Salona (or today's Solin), a prehistoric city that was important in Roman times. Here you can visit the medieval castle of Klis which levels up high up against the mountain flank. Note that the city centre used to be surrounded by thick walls, remnants of which can still be found in several places.
Day 9: City walk in Split
On day 9 of our tour we take the time to explore Split. Split is a beautiful Dalmatian town that is impossible to miss during your trip to Croatia. Besides the beautiful, old buildings, Split is also just a nice city to stroll around in. The old centre of Split is car-free, which makes it even more relaxing.
We're especially impressed by the palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian, of which quite a bit is still standing and forms a large part of the old town centre. Therefore it is not surprising that this palace is on the UNESCO world heritage list.
Along the promenade you will find many restaurants and also in the old town you may be surprised by a restaurant or bar on a very beautiful locations. We end the day on the shady Marjan hill, overlooking the city. All our recommendations for Split are bundled in this blogpost.
If you stay a bit longer in Split, you might want to consider a day trip. There is a lot to see and do near Split, including an excursion to Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which we did on day 10. Here you can read all our tips for a day trip from Split.
Day 10: Day trip to Mostar
Distance traveled: 360 km (back and forth)
Today we leave Croatia for a day trip to Mostar, an old town in Bosnia-Herzegovina that is mostly known for its bridge. This bridge was destroyed during the war in the 90's, and in the meantime has been restored to its former glory. It has become the symbol of the resilience of a nation, who in spite of everything have the strength to rebuild everything. Here you can read more about our tips for visiting Mostar.
Day 11: History and beach on Brač island
Distance traveled; 214 km
Croatia has hundreds of islands, so spending a night on one of them is a must on your round trip. For example, the island Brač. This island is known for its shiny white stone, which is used all over the world.
The stone was not only used to build Diocletian's palace in Split, but also the White House in Washington DC. Brač is also known for the special boulder beach Zlatni Rat, which often appears in advertisements for Croatia. Read more about all our tips for visiting Brač.
Day 12: Spotting nature and celebrities on Hvar
Distance traveled: 160 km
Day 12 of our tour we visit another island: Hvar. Hvar has 2 faces: on one side it is known as party island, where the rich come to party.
But on the other side it is also very untouched, with beautiful lavender fields, buzzing honey bees, farms, orchards and farms... Hvar town feels very cosy and atmospheric, and the surrounding islets with white beaches are enchanting. The many small boutiques will undoubtedly charm you as well.
In short: we are a big fans of the island! Read more about our unmissable sights on Hvar.
Day 13: Relax on Korčula Island
Distance traveled: 130 km
You will find countless beautiful islands off the coast of Croatia. It is therefore advisable to visit one or more islands, or maybe you can even plan some island hopping. If you ask us: definitely worth it!
Korčula, for example, is highly recommended. This island offers something for everyone. There are sandy beaches, pebble beaches, dense forests, farms and vineyards. The famous 13th-century explorer Marco Polo is said to been born in Korčula Town. Moreover, the water is bright blue and the village is very atmospheric and walled by narrow streets. The boulevard is an ideal place to stroll. In general, Korčula is just an ideal place if you want to enjoy yourself and lie in the sun.
We especially found it a very nice destination to take a break and relax. Read here our recommendations for a visit to Korčula.
Day 14: Visit to the Mljet island
Distance traveled: 180 km
Mljet is the last island we visit on this tour. There are some special highlights, such as an island within an island, and several very rare plants. According to the legend Odysseus would have stayed on the island for 7 years under the spell of the nymph Calypso. 7 years may be a bit long, but spending a day on the island is definitely worth it! Here you will find an overview of the highlights and must do' on Mljet.
Day 15: Discover Dubrovnik and surroundings
Distance traveled: 60 km
You probably won't be alone during your visit to Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is one of the most popular cities in Croatia, and it is clear why. Not only does the city have an important history of which there is still a lot to see, there is also a lot to do. Along, there are lovely beaches with azure blue water nearby. The fact that popular series (Game of Thrones) or movies (Star Wars) are partly shot in Dubrovnik only increases its popularity.
Here you can read an overview of our travel tips for Dubrovnik, with all the highlights you shouldn't miss.
Be sure to read our blog post about our favorite beaches and islands in Dubrovnik.
And as if that wasn't enough, you can also make several day trips from Dubrovnik.
One thing is for sure: you won't get bored!
Our tip: Staying the night in Dubrovnik? Choose the Lapad neighborhood (10 min from the old centre), much less expensive and more quiet than the city centre.
Which car to rent?
- Are you still unsure which car to rent for your road trip?
- Do not rent a car that is too small, go for a comfortable car.
- Be sure to book an all-inclusive insurance policy so you can drive around in peace.
- A reliable car rental company is Rentalcars (very large offer).
- Read more tips about renting a car on vacation.
Don't miss out on anything in Croatia, get our travel guide!
Like most of us, you don't want to miss out on anything during your vacation in Croatia. Well, we have some good news, because we already did the research for you! Buy our travel guide Croatia with a fully mapped out round trip through Croatia, and more than 155 highlights (+ GPS coordinates). Prefer to try it out first? Download your free Iceland travel guide here