Croatia Road Trip Itinerary: The Best of Croatia!

Visiting Croatia is an unforgettable experience! The best way to explore the fantastic places of the country is via a road trip with your own car or rental car. Croatia is a very popular self-drive country, and so many travelers visit the highlights of the country on their own. Most spectacular on any itinerary are the many historic coastal towns, the breathtaking natural sites, the fascinating islands and the beautiful beaches in Croatia. With a coastline of around 1,777 kilometers, more than 1,200 islands, 8 national parks and 11 nature parks, as well as numerous UNESCO World Heritage cities such as Split and Dubrovnik, the decision for a perfect Croatia itinerary can be difficult. What are the best places to visit in Croatia, which stops should you plan for your road trip and what are the insider tips on any perfect itinerary?

In this guide we give you all the important information and tips for an unforgettable Croatia itinerary. We show you a great route for your road trip across the country, which you can also easily organize on your own as part of a self-drive trip.

Good to know!

No matter if 7 days, 14 days or 3 weeks, a road trip through Croatia is worthwhile in any case. The more time, the better, because even in 4 weeks you will by far not have seen all the best places!

In Croatia there is no vignette. If you drive on the highway you have to pay a toll, which you can pay with cash or credit card. You can save money by taking the coastal road.

The best time to travel around Croatia is in the warm months from the beginning of May to the beginning of November. At this time you can expect a lot of sun and pleasant temperatures.

Croatia is quite small with a size of 56.594 km², which has the advantage that there are usually no long distances between the stops. Many of the most beautiful places are often less than 1 hour away.

 

The Perfect Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Croatia is a popular self-drive country, and so many take a road trip in their own car, camper or rental car. We’ve rounded up a perfect itinerary for your next Croatia road trip in this guide. Our tour starts in beautiful Istria, then the route leads through the most beautiful part of the Kvarner Bay to the very south to Dalmatia. Of course, you can also customize your itinerary depending on where you are coming from and how long you want to stay!

This suggested route is perfect for 3 to 4 weeks in Croatia. Should you only have 14 days or 7 days, then it is advisable to commit to a certain region, or to skip some of the mentioned stops.

# STOP 1: Rovinj, the colorful Pearl in Istria

The coastal pearl Rovinj is definitely a highlight of every Croatia itinerary and therefore must not be missed on any road trip. Fascinating is especially the historic old town, which was built up a hill, and where the close-knit colorful houses conjure up a picture-perfect panorama. During a sightseeing tour through the city center you will discover incredibly romantic squares and get lost in a labyrinth of stone alleys. On top of that, the view from the city hill, where you can look far over the sea, is just amazing. Even a longer stay in Rovinj is worthwhile, because the numerous picturesque beaches offer the best conditions for wonderful bathing days.

  • Duration: 1-2 days
  • Accommodation: The B&B Villa Dobravac inspires with fabulous location close to the old town and beach. Breakfast is delicious, and parking is also available.

# STOP 2: Pula, picturesque Old Town & Beaches

Really worth seeing and a recommended stop for your itinerary through Croatia is definitely the port city of Pula. Here, a beautiful old town center awaits you with numerous attractions that date back to the Roman era. The ultimate highlight, however, is the Arena of Pula, a huge colosseum that is still well preserved and can also be visited from the inside. During a road trip it is also recommended to explore the surroundings of the port city. Only a few kilometers away are the beautiful beaches of Pula, which are among the most beautiful in Istria.

If you love nature, you should also plan a visit to nearby Cape Kamenjak Nature Park for your itinerary, where you can experience magnificent landscapes with breathtaking cliffs and natural bays.

  • Duration: 1-3 days
  • Accommodation: The Park Plaza Arena Pula is a recommended hotel located on one of the absolute most beautiful beaches in the region. The city center is only a few minutes’ drive away.

#STOP 3: Rijeka, Port City with Habsburg Charm

The port city of Rijeka is a real insider’s tip on Croatia itinerary. Particularly beautiful is the historic city center, where you can marvel at the enchanting Habsburg architecture and visit numerous interesting attractions and museums. Impressive is also the long pier “Lungo Molo”, where you can stroll for miles along the harbor and enjoy a fabulous panorama. Directly in the center is the pedestrian zone “Korzo”, a popular meeting place for locals and tourists, where you can experience the lively ambience up close over a coffee. On the hill above the city there is also a beautiful castle, the Trsat Castle with probably the most spectacular view of Rijeka.

  • Duration: 1 day
  • Accommodation: Really brilliant is the Ivana Central Apartment right in the center, just a few steps away from the Korzo. There is also a cheap parking garage just around the corner.

#STOP 4: Krk Island, the Golden Island of Croatia

If you also want to visit some islands during a road trip through Croatia, then you should definitely put Krk Island for your next stop on your bucket list. It is not far from Rijeka and connected to the mainland by a bridge. Krk is the largest island in the country and attracts visitors with numerous beautiful attractions and scenic places. You should visit Krk Town, which will delight you with its picturesque old town and romantic harbor, as well as fabulous vacation atmosphere. A must-see is also the wine town of Vrbnik, which is enthroned on a high rock above the sea and attracts with the smallest alley in the world. Famous, however, are also the numerous breathtaking dream beaches and natural bays, which can be found especially in Baska.

  • Duration: 2-4 days
  • Accommodation: The VilaVeja apartments are a fabulous choice. The apartments are very clean, there is free parking and you can get to the most beautiful places on the island in short time.

#STOP 5: Rab Island, the Sand Beach Paradise

Rab Island is an idyllic vacation island of the Kvarner Bay and a next possible stop on our Croatia itinerary. The best way to reach it is by car ferry, which connects the island of Rab with the island of Krk. Particularly famous and worth visiting is the fascinating Rab Town, whose historic old town is one of the most beautiful in Croatia. Something very special on Rab Island are also the numerous velvety sandy beaches, which are found in such high density hardly anywhere in Croatia. A popular vacation destination is Lopar, where especially summer vacationers spend their bathing days on the so-called paradise beach.

  • Duration: 1-3 days
  • Accommodation: The Pension Bellevue is a real insider tip on the island. Guests love the fantastic view, the pool and the tasteful furnishings.

#STOP 6: Zadar, the beautiful Pearl of Dalmatia

The city of Zadar is one of the absolute highlights of any road trip through Croatia! Not only the beautiful old town is worth seeing, but also the surrounding region with the national parks as well as the offshore island world is absolutely spectacular. So it is definitely worthwhile to plan a little more time for the stay here. You should definitely see the historic city center with its numerous attractions, which date back to Roman times. Beautiful and unique is also the waterfront Riva, where the world famous sea organ is located.

If you have some time, you can take a boat trip from the port to the Kornati Islands as well as to the Telascica Nature Park. Also worth seeing in this region are the towns of Nin, the Vir Island and the Paklenica National Park.

  • Duration: 1-3 days
  • Accommodation: Beautiful is the Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel right in the old town. Guests love the gorgeous furnishings and unique charm.

#STOP 7: Split, the famous UNESCO Old Town

A fixed point on every Croatia itinerary is the UNESCO port city of Split. One highlight follows the other here, and it is not for nothing that this coastal jewel is high on every Croatia bucket list. Really beautiful is Split Old Town, where you can admire numerous historical attractions on a sightseeing tour, including the world-famous Diocletian’s Palace. A must-see is also the picturesque harbor promenade, which is one of the most beautiful in Croatia, and where you can enjoy a coffee while taking in the lively hustle and bustle. Right next to the center is the Marijan Forest Park, which delights with extremely charming beaches and spectacular viewpoints.

Tip: Also worthwhile are boat trips to Brac Island with the famous Zlatni Rat beach and tours to the Blue Grotto of Bisevo, which you can even book online on GetyourGuide.

  • Duration: 1-3 days
  • Accommodation: The Hotel Park Split is a great choice for a trip to Split. The accommodation is right on the beach, and the old town is not far away either.

#STOP 8: Korcula Island, the Green Island with dream Beaches

The road trip continues with the ferry from Split to Korcula Island. The so-called green island is famous for its breathtaking coastal landscapes as well as for the Korcula town of the same name, which is also known as the “little Dubrovnik” of Croatia thanks to its extremely charming medieval town center. A real highlight of this fascinating island pearl are the numerous beautiful beaches and natural coves spread around Korcula. During a road trip across the island, you will discover several fantastic bathing beaches at the same time, including fine white sandy beaches in a magnificent setting. You should try the delicious local white wine Grk, which was once brought to the island by the Greeks.

  • Duration: 1-2 days
  • Accommodation: A terrific choice is the ECO Aparthotel The Dreamers’s Club. Guests love the fabulous location on the harbor, and the beautiful beaches aren’t far away either!

#STOP 9: Makarska, picture-perfect Beaches and Mountains.

The Makarska coast is one of the most beautiful regions of the country and should actually not be missing on any Croatia road trip. Fascinating are especially the beautiful beaches that line the Riviera and make Makarska a real vacation paradise. The mighty Biokovo mountain range in the background, which rises directly from the coast, is also imposing and is home to a national park worth seeing with numerous hiking trails and a skywalk. A really famous attraction is also the fascinating stone of Brela on the beautiful Punta Rata beach, which became the landmark of this region. In addition, you should include in your itinerary a stop in Makarska town, where you can visit an enchanting old town and a beautiful harbor.

  • Duration: 2-3 days
  • Accommodation: Really fantastic are the apartments of Casa Mare Brela directly at the sea! Parking is also available free of charge.

#STOP 10: Ston & Mali Ston

The road trip now leads in the direction of southern Dalmatia. On the way, along the coastal road, you will pass by Ston & Mali Ston. These two small coastal towns are still a real insider tip in Croatia, and a short stopover on your route is definitely worth it! Absolutely impressive is the 5.5 kilometer long wall of Ston, the longest defensive wall outside of China. It leads from the village of Ston to Mali Ston and can be visited via a short hike with numerous spectacular viewpoints. However, the bay of Ston is also famous for its oysters, which are among the best delicacies in the world among gourmets.

  • Duration: 1 day
  • Accommodation: If you want to stay overnight, then the Apartments Marita offer affordable apartments in a romantic location overlooking the old town!

#STOP 11: Dubrovnik – The Old Lady of the Adriatic Sea

If you continue your round trip all the way to southern Dalmatia, then of course you must have seen Dubrovnik. This fascinating UNESCO World Heritage city is located in the southernmost part of Croatia, not far from Montenegro. Dubrovnik’s historic Old Town is particularly famous, surrounded by a gigantic city wall. A tour of this spectacular wall is a highlight of any tour. A stroll through the center is also wonderful, where you will be amazed by numerous buildings, imposing churches and interesting museums. Around the port city there are also many breathtaking beaches, some of which are also among the most beautiful in the country.

  • Duration: 2-3 days
  • Accommodation: The Villa Leoni offers beautiful apartments with parking and in a fabulous location not far from the old town and beaches!

#STOP 12: Krka National Park and/or Plitvice Lakes National Park

You should definitely include a stop in one of the most spectacular national parks of Croatia on your bucket list. Especially worth seeing are the world-famous Plitvice Lakes National Park with beautiful waterfalls and 16 cascading lakes, which is also on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. No less worth visiting is the Krka National Park with fascinating landscapes and the famous Krka waterfalls. If you have time and desire, it is best to see both national parks.

  • Duration: 1-2 days
  • Accommodation Krka Waterfalls: The Apartments Kantunal convince with a really nice interior and a small roof terrace.
  • Accommodation Plitvice Lakes: The Guest House Plitvice Villa Verde is a very nice pension with delicious breakfast and great facilities.

#STOP 13: Zagreb, the beautiful Capital of Croatia

Zagreb is the last stop on our Croatia itinerary. Most vacationers only travel the Croatian coast, however it is also worth planning a visit to the Croatian capital. During a sightseeing tour you can expect a lot of attractions worth seeing, and it would be a pity not to have seen this city at least once. Zagreb is famous for its imposing cathedral with its two 105 meter high towers and the shortest funicular railroad in the world. But there is much more to discover in this city. Many interesting museums, beautiful parks and numerous romantic squares with hip cafes and restaurants invite to explore!

  • Duration: 1-2 days
  • Accommodation: We recommend the modern LOOX Apartments Hatzova in a central location. There is also a parking garage just around the corner.

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