Nine days are actually much too short for a Croatia itinerary. This country has so much to offer that you could spend several weeks there on a beautiful Croatia Road Trip. But since we only had a little more than a week, we focused on the most beautiful places. Our Croatia itinerary took us mostly along the Adriatic coast. But we also made detours to the most beautiful nature highlights in the interior. Everything about our Croatia road trip you can read in our travel report.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Croatia Itinerary – Arrival
We arrived by flight to the airport in Zadar (with Ryanair). There we took a cheap rental car to make a 9 day Croatia road trip.Our first tip right at the beginning: If your are willing to spend a few more Euro on your vacation rent a convertible. To drive along the coast with an open roof and to have a free view in all directions is simply fantastic… but now lets take a look at our Croatia itinerary.
Croatia Road Trip – Our Itinerary
On Google Maps we have entered the individual route points between Zadar and Dubrovnik. On this map you can see our exact route through Croatia:
Day 1: Drive from Zadar to Dubrovnik
Since it was raining hard in Zadar when we arrived, we drove directly south towards Dubrovnik. This meant more than 5 hours in the car on the first day of our Croatia itinerary, but the weather forecast for Dubrovnik just looked too good compared to Zadar. The first rain had namely pushed quite on the mood. All the more we were happy when the first rays of sun allowed us to open the top of the convertible and enjoy the first bit of vacation feeling.
Despite the beautiful view, the ride was quite exhausting. Since we hadn’t booked a room in Dubrovnik yet, the first thing we had to do was take care of it before we could explore the old town. After that was done, we wanted to get to the old town as soon as possible. After all, it was already late.
Hotel Recommendation in Dubrovnik
Even though we didn’t take care of a place to sleep until we got there, that doesn’t mean you have to do the same. We have picked out two very recommendable accommodations in Dubrovnik:
- Apartments Dalmatino*
- is located 3 km outside the hustle and bustle and has its own parking. You can relax in beautiful nature from the stress and easily go by bus to the old town
- simple rooms from 50€/night
- Accommodation at Ante*
- Here you are in the middle of the old town and can reach all the sights by foot. Parking is a bit difficult here.
- Double room for 80-100€/night
Parking in Dubrovnik
Our first idea was to drive directly to the city center by car and park there. The parking lots directly at the old town are really extremely expensive. Therefore, it is recommended to park outside and take the bus into the city. This is amazingly easy and saves a lot of money!
Since we did not have too much time on our first evening, we have parked despite the high price in the largest parking garage directly above the old town (link to Google Maps) and walked from there within 5 minutes to the old town. The parking costs here depending on the season between 3-5 € per hour!
Day 2: Dubrovnik
The City Wall
On the second day of our Croatia Road Trip, we took the bus to Dubrovnik in the morning to directly get tickets to visit the city wall. The city wall is the top sight of Dubrovnik and one of the best preserved fortifications in all of Europe. Built in the 8th century, the wall is 1940 meters long and has 5 fortifications and a total of 16 towers. In total there are three entrances to the wall:
- In the east of the city directly next to the St. Lukas church
- one next to the Redeemer Church, directly an entrance gate to the old town(we went in there)
- and another one next to the Maritime Museum and Ivan Fortress
As you walk around the wall, you pass by various fortresses that you can even visit from the inside. We can only confirm the reviews in any forums and on TripAdvisor. It is really worth it… even at a price of just under 15 Euro per person. The walk over the city walls is beautiful and gives a completely different impression of Dubrovnik.
The wall encloses the city center in an uneven polygon with sometimes wider and sometimes narrower passages. Here you can enjoy the view of the inner city on the one hand and the sea and the surrounding hills on the other.
The Stradun and the Old Town
When you leave the wall, you inevitably come directly to the Old Town. This UNESCO World Heritage Site combines monuments, baroque buildings and the above-mentioned city wall to create a very special experience. In the heart of Dubrovnik’s Old Town is the large pedestrian zone and popular shopping mile Stradun (Croatian for “big street”), also called Placa.
Here, stores line up with cafes and baroque buildings with restaurants. Some of the city’s sights are located on the Stradun. At the end of this street stands, for example, the famous Roland’s Column. The Stradun was built already in the 11th century. However, during an earthquake in 1667 it was largely destroyed, but then completely rebuilt. That is why the buildings along the street all look the same.
The Cable Car
If you still have time and want to go there, you can take the cable car up to the Sergiusberg (Srd) to have another view of Dubrovnik from above. Since this is also quite expensive (20 € p.P.) we have not made this trip. If you have more time in Dubrovnik you can find more information about the cable car here: www.dubrovnikcablecar.com/
The old town of Dubrovnik itself we found really beautiful and it should be part of every Croatia road trip. Of course, you meet far more tourists here than in most places in Croatia especially if a cruise ship arrives. But that shouldn’t stop you from discovering the southernmost tip of Croatia. If you stay away from the big places in Dubrovnik, you will hardly meet another tourist and see the real and not so highly polished Dubrovnik.
Day 3 of our Croatia Road Trip: Makarska
The drive from Dubrovnik to Makarska was the biggest part of the trip with about 3 hours on our itinerary back towards Zadar. Makarska we had discovered only by chance, since it probably does not belong to the usual stops on a Croatia Roadtrip. We can not understand why this is, because Makarska is beautiful and is located at a stunning national park.
The scenery that awaits you there, as well as the nearby Biokovo National Park are definitely worth a stay. Makarska is a beautiful little town with a cute harbor and an impressive mountain backdrop.
Hotel Recommendation in Makarska
We spontaneously booked a room in Makarska at the Villa Ruza* hotel and can definitely recommend it. The rooms are very nice and have a fantastic view of Makarska and the harbor. On each floor there is a communal kitchen, so you can prepare something to eat and enjoy your meal with the great view.
Biokovo National Park
From Makarska, it takes about 10 minutes to get to the entrance of Biokovo National Park. There is a fee of about 7 Euro per person. This national park is well suited for hikers and offers in many places a great view of Makarska and the sea. With a bit of luck you can also meet wild horses here. If you don’t feel like hiking, you can drive a narrow 23 km long road to the top of the mountain and enjoy the view from here.
The drive over the narrow serpentine road is a real adventure and you should calculate one hour driving time each way. You should also be prepared for oncoming buses and cars. In some places there are bays to overtake, but still it can be quite tight. Who likes to drive on challenging routes is exactly right here. A good overview of other activities in the Biokovo National Park can be found at here find.
Day 4: Omis
On day 4 of our Croatia road trip we went to Omis. By car it takes about 45-60 minutes from Makarska to Omis. This was one of the shortest parts of our Croatia itinerary. In Omis you can do several things… among other things, there is a real sandy beach right in front of the town. This is a real rarity in Croatia.
But our highlight in this town was ziplining. Here you slide on a partly several hundred meters long rope, which is suspended between two gorges. You glide down this rope… under you nothing but abyss… and your heart slips in your pants during the slide! But it’s still cool!
Hotel Recommendation in Omis
This small, unusual accommodation is enchantingly located directly on the shimmering river. What could be more beautiful than waking up in the morning, looking at the river and the mountains behind it.
Day 5: Split & Trogir
From Omis to Split it takes only about 45 minutes. Split is part of most trips to Croatia… so it was crowded and we were in Split only for a short time. Split is one of the big tourist places in Croatia, so that you have no possibility to enjoy the city in peace.
This has disturbed us extremely. Even more than in Dubrovnik. After a short walk through the very beautiful old town and along the harbor, we therefore went on to the next city.
After about 40 minutes and 30 km we arrived in Trogir. There it was very quiet and relaxed. In Trogir it is worth to take a little walk and stroll through the small streets. Unfortunately, it rained a little during our visit. This has dampened the mood a bit, but was virtually already part of our Croatia vacation. Almost every afternoon it poured briefly and heavily with isolated thunderstorms.
But as quickly as it came so quickly it was mostly gone again. Trogir owes its special charm and flair to the Romans. They separated the old city center from the mainland by a canal. So nowadays every trip to the old town begins with crossing the old bridge and the arduous search for a parking space. We parked just outside the old town (namely here) and then walked for about 10 minutes. It was hassle and stress free.
A multitude of old towers, churches, palaces as well as winding alleys in the medieval old town make the walk a real experience. There is something new to discover at every corner.
Even from a distance you can see the high tower of the impressive cathedral, which is also the landmark of Trogir. If you want to visit the cathedral and its tower, you have to pay 20 KN (about 3 €). For another 15 KN (about 2.50 €) you can also visit the fortress Kamerlengo. Built between the 13th and 15th centuries, this fortress once served as a base for the Venetian army and is now the second major attraction in Trogir.
Hotel Recommendation in Trogir
Spend the night in the middle of the old town while only 500 meters from the beach at Rooms Roso* . The family-run, small hotel is super centrally located and the family is always there to help and advise you.
If you are looking for an accommodation a little bit outside of the sea, then the Villa Samac* is exactly the right place for you. Here you have a little more luxury and can choose between normal double rooms and well-equipped apartments.
From Trogir, our Croatia road trip continued in about an hour towards Skradin and the famous Krka National Park.
Day 6: Skradin and Krka National Park
The town of Skradin is really, really small and serves most people only as a starting point to Krka National Park. But here we had found a nice little place to stay* overlooking the river and strolled around the cute little old town a bit in the evening. The next morning we got up pretty early to go to the park.
A boat departs hourly from Skradin to one of the many entrances to the National Park. The shuttle boat is included in the entrance fee, as well as a shuttle bus that runs between Lozovac and Skradinski. The entrance fee is about 25 Euro per person from July-August. During the rest of the main season it is 15 Euro per person. The prices are valid for all areas of the Krka National Park. A detailed overview of the prices can be found here.
Krka National Park
If you want to visit Krka National Park without many other tourists, then leave very early. When we were there around 11am, it was already quite crowded. The park is very beautiful, absolutely recommendable and one of the highlights of Croatia.
A special highlight is that you are allowed to swim in front of the big waterfall. Through the rest of the park you walk on wooden walkways that lead over waterfalls and small water points again and again.
Besides hiking, you can also take different boat trips in Krka National Park. You can go to Visovac island by boat, admire the waterfalls of Roški Slap or visit the monastery and fortress. More information about the tours you can find here.
After seeing the first part of Krka National Park we went back to Skradin by boat and from there by car towards Roski Slap. This is another part of Krka National Park, which you can probably also reach by boat, but in much shorter time (about 30 minutes) by car.
In Roski Slap you have the opportunity to go hiking and have a nice view of the river. It has a completely different atmosphere than the actual Krka National Park (less watercourses and waterfalls) but it is still very worth seeing. There is also a cave here that you have to climb hundreds of steps to see. The Oziđana cave is unfortunately not really very long.
Although we have also discovered a bat there, one must not necessarily look at this cave. Especially since you have to go completely down from the mountain to climb the mountain again on the other side (where you have a great view of the river).
However, this path to the viewpoint on the river is fully recommended. It is rather arduous as you walk almost all the time on the bare, slippery ridge and there are no real paths, but the view from the windy top is really fantastic!
Day 7: Plitvice Lakes National Park
Another highlight and a tourist hotspot while touring Croatia is Plitvice Lakes National Park. The national park is the largest national park in Croatia in terms of area and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Again, start your hike through the park as early as possible. You can easily drive to the national park and park on one of the paid parking lots.
The parking costs about 1 Euro per hour or 10 Euro for a day ticket. The entrance fee to the national park is about 20 Euro for an adult in the high season. The entrance fee includes the use of the panorama train and the electric boat. All information can be found on the homepage of the Plitvice National Park.
The National Park has several Hiking routes routes of different length. We chose route C, which takes about 4-6 hours and consists of a hike and a boat ride. Route C passes the biggest and most attractive waterfalls (“Veliki slap”, “Veliki” and “Mali prštavac”) as well as countless smaller waterfalls. Although we were there early in the morning, it was sometimes so crowded that there was a large crowd of people moving along the boardwalks.
Partly whole school classes passed us by. Nevertheless, this national park is an absolute must on your tour of Croatia. How the boardwalks were built directly through and over the water is really incredible. It gives you the feeling of really being in the middle of the original nature than just walking through a well-developed national park.
Accommodation near the Plitvice Lakes
A great place to stay just 1.5 km from the entrance of the national park is House Boro*. The small, cute rooms make you feel right at home and the breakfast is simply first class.
Day 8: Paklenica National Park & Winnetou Gorge
We started our last full day of our Croatia road trip early in the morning in Paklenica National Park with a hike to a stalactite cave. Our short hike was very beautiful, but also really exhausting. It took us about 2 hours to get to the top of the cave entrance.
The Paklenica National Park is an Eldorado for climbers, which you can also see hanging on the steep rock walls of the park everywhere. But also hikers do not miss out here. There are numerous hiking trails that lead you through the entire area of the national park. Information about this can be found on the following website:
The Manita Pec Cave
The cave can be visited only with a guided tour and this also only between 10 and 13 o’clock! When we arrived at the top, the guide and 4-5 other hikers were already waiting for us and after a short wait we entered the cave. Inside it was about 10-15 degrees, which actually sounds cold. With outside temperatures of over 30 degrees, however, this is a nice cooling.
That’s why we didn’t have any jackets with us, of course, like apparently all the other hikers. We were kindly offered fleece jackets by the guide, but honestly we wouldn’t have needed them. Because as I said… we were happy about the cool air and the lack of sun in the cave.
The Guided Tour through the Manita Pec Cave
The guided tour in the cave was quite entertaining and we heard many facts about the history of the cave. Unfortunately, it was not allowed to take pictures with flash in the cave. That’s why there are none from the cave here!.
After half an hour, the tour was already over and we headed back. There are of course bigger caves in the world and the way up was not the easiest. Still, we didn’t regret it. But if you’re not really interested in stalactite caves, you might prefer a classic hike in the park. Because there are enough routes there.
It’s a good thing we didn’t do another hike in the park, because I really wanted to go to Winnetou Gorge. I have zero interest in the Winnetou movies, but this gorge looked so spectacular in the photo that we definitely had to check it out. The way to get there is not that easy to find.
You have to leave the main road at a certain point (there is also a small sign pointing to the viewpoint) and then drive a few hundred meters along a dirt road until you finally reach the gorge. But there you have an amazing view. The exact viewpoint is here on Google Maps to find!
Our Hotel near the Paklenica National Park
We spent our last evening in Croatia in a small but very nice accommodation in Rovanjska. Our accommodation Rooms & Apartments Dora* was in close proximity to the National Park Paklenica and also to Zadar. The rooms are very nicely furnished. But the highlights are definitely the turtles in the yard and the excellent breakfast. The owner Dora bakes super delicious muffins every morning and makes sure that you can start the day fully fed and satisfied.
Day 9: Zadar
Our last half day of our Croatia itinerary, we spent in Zadar. We actually thought Zadar was only the usual gateway for the low-cost airlines and otherwise not worth mentioning. But this is not the case. Zadar has a really beautiful old town, is located directly on the sea with a beautiful promenade and you can spend here some time.
The old town of Zadar is a real open-air museum with beautiful buildings, historical excavation sites and narrow streets for walking. In addition, there are many restaurants and bars to linger and plenty of souvenir stores to buy souvenirs.
The Sea Organ
The most famous (and certainly the most modern) sight in Zadar is certainly the Sea Organ, which is located – oh wonder – right by the sea. It is a stone staircase leading into the sea, with underground tubes underneath, which produce organ-like sounds due to the wave movements of the water. Fascinating, but a bit annoying after a while.
But definitely a great tourist attraction. Right next to it on the waterfront is the “Greeting to the Sun”. This is another modern work of art that consists of many illuminated glass panels that you can even walk over.
In the evening hours, the “Greeting to the Sun” is very crowded, because many tourists come here for sunset and watch the colorful light shows under the glass plates. If you are interested in the other numerous sights of this city, which we have by far not seen all, take a look at this page https://www.kroati.de/kroatien-dalmatien/zadar.html
Blind, Deaf and Fluffy
During our walk back to the old town to buy some more souvenirs, we suddenly heard a soft beeping noise. We followed the sounds and could not believe it at first, because next to a house entrance there was a latticed shed from which about half a dozen kittens together with their mommies were beeping towards us. What an incredibly cute spectacle. Some of the little creatures were still so young that their eyes had not even opened after birth.
Sabrina’s instinct to help was of course immediately awakened and we thought of a way to do something good for these little creatures. Without further ado, we went to the nearest super market and bought some cat food and cat milk. We put the treats out for the hungry little cats and watched for a while as they feasted on them. Our good deed for the day was done and we could head to the airport with a clear conscience. A wonderful road trip in Croatia was unfortunately over much too quickly.
Overnight stay in Zadar
- Just outside the city center you can book your own apartment with parking at Apartments & Rooms Hosana*
Road Trip Croatia – More Tips
- If you can afford it financially, then book a convertible. The free view you have of the nature is definitely worth it.
- For the drive to Dubrovnik you drive a short distance through Bosnia and Herzegovina. With most car rental companies this is no problem. Use this passage to get to know the country and its people during a short shopping trip.
- Try to be in the national parks as early as possible, then it is not yet so crowded and you have the nature mostly for yourself
Did you like our travel report about our Croatia road trip? Or do you have any questions or suggestions about our Croatia road trip? Then feel free to write us a comment under this travel report. Thank you!