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Updated: 26th January 2024
I often credit Croatia with my love of slow travel. My first month-long backpacking trip saw me traverse the country from tail to toe, exploring with a tent, guidebook and an ad hoc itinerary. But if you’ve not got as much time to spare, you can certainly fit many of Croatia’s highlights into a 10-day Croatia itinerary. If you can spare two weeks, even better, you could also include a detour to the hidden gems of the Istria peninsula.
This 10-day Croatia itinerary packs in plenty, mainly focused along Croatia’s Adriatic coast. From storied Dubrovnik to Split and the slightly more underrated cities of Zadar and Zagreb, via some of Croatia’s best islands, you’ll get a great first overview of the country.
Still, if you want to make your itinerary a little more laidback – this is one of Europe’s best beach destinations, after all – you could cut an island or national park from the route below to enjoy some more downtime.
How to get around Croatia: ferry, cruise, car or bus?
Between April and October, getting around Croatia is a breeze. Plenty of ferries, tourist buses, and tour options make exploring the islands and interior of the country straightforward. Outside of this holiday season, you’ll need to do a bit more research to ensure that schedules align with your plans and that the destinations you pick are fully open and not shuttered for the winter – most of these inclusions should be. That’s not to say Croatia is a bad winter destination, just that you’ll have more freedom and longer days to explore during the warmer months.
You might also want to consider exploring the Dalmatia coast exclusively by boat and then switching to bus or car from Split onwards. There are plenty of small ship Croatia cruise operators to choose from, offering a range of itineraries covering different islands and cities in varying levels of comfort and price points, so research is key to finding your perfect sailing.
But even if you’d prefer to travel DIY, I’d not recommend hiring a car for the first week of this 10-day Croatia itinerary. Parking costs are high, car ferries are less regular than foot-passenger ferries, and it’s easy enough to cover some of the islands and southern cities without a car. Then, once arriving in Split, you can decide whether to continue the rest of the journey by bus or if you’d prefer the freedom of doing a road trip between Split and Zagreb. Either way, I’ve included advice, routes and stops for either option below, luggage storage (you might want to download a travel app such as Bounce) suggestions for those travelling by bus, and parking-friendly hotels too.
7, 10 or 14-day Croatia itinerary: which is best?
These Croatia itineraries are aimed at covering as much ground as you can, so it’s fairly fast-paced. Personally, the reason I fell in love with Croatia is the chilled vibes and the fact when I first crossed the country, I did it slowly, with no real plan. So, keep in mind it’s a lengthy country, and if you don’t feel the urge to go to a particular place, just cut it out to make these 10 or 14-day Croatia itineraries slower-paced. Or, if time is precious, opt for a 7-day Croatia itinerary instead.
This 10-day itinerary starts in Dubrovnik and ends in Zadar or Zagreb, depending on where you choose to fly out from. If you’d prefer to cover the Dubrovnik to Split section by boat, then these one-week cruises around Croatia that flit between the islands and Adriatic cities would work, and then you could pick up a car for the final days, or use buses if you’d prefer to leave the driving to someone else.
10-Day Croatia Itinerary: Dubrovnik to Zadar
- Day One: Arrival & Dubrovnik
- Day two: Dubrovnik
- Day three: Korcula
- Day four: Hvar
- Day five: Split
- Day six: Split
- Day seven: Trogir & Sibenik
- Day eight: Zadar
- Day nine: Plitvice National Park
- Day ten: Zagreb and departure
Day One: Arrival & Dubrovnik
Getting around: There are public and shuttle bus options available from the airport. If you’re hiring a car for this 10-day Croatia itinerary, keep in mind that parking is difficult and expensive in the Old Town, so try to find a hotel with parking included.
- Dump your bags and take an orientation walk around town to get your bearings, or slink off to Plaža Banje for a swim and sunbathe to ease into your trip with views of the Old Town.
- Before sunset, take the cable car up to Mount Srđ for perfect panoramas across the city’s terracotta roofs to watch the crimson sun disappear.
- Enjoy dinner from a high at Restaurant Panorama, or head back into the Old Town for a more peaceful meal now the cruise ships and day trippers departed.
Day two: Dubrovnik
- Wake up early to make the most of the city before the crowds descend – especially as this is the only full day in Dubrovnik on this 10-day Croatia itinerary. Take a brief walking tour from Pile Gate down the main thoroughfare, Stradun, admiring the 15th-century Onofrio Fountain, Franciscan Church and Monastery, Zvonik (Clocktower), Church of St. Blaise and the Palača Sponza.
- Continue out to the waterfront at Porat Dubrovnik and then explore some of the small side streets in the Old Town.
- As day trippers arrive and the heat starts to pick up, double back to visit the interiors of some of those key attractions, starting with the Franciscan Church and Monastery, which closes at 2 pm.
- After lunch, you’ll have time to visit another monument or museum. The Palača Sponza’s courtyard (free entry) is a fantastic example of 16th-century Renaissance and Venetian architecture. Or head inside the Rector’s Palace, which doubles as a museum.
- Closer to sunset, but before closing time, head up to walk the Old Town walls (check hours; they vary by season) so you can linger until the very end and try to get a few brief moments of serenity. There are combined tickets available for the walls and some other attractions.
- Enjoy a fresh seafood feast in the Old Town.
Day three: Dubrovnik and Korcula
Getting around: The direct foot passenger ferry from Dubrovnik to Korcula takes around two hours. If you’re travelling by car (or fancy a detour by bus), then head to Orebic (around 1:45) and take the car ferry from there (15 minutes) – the journey times are similar either way.
- Start early again to beat the crowds and head to Fort Lovrijenac for its opening time (usually 8 am). Allow yourself an hour or two to explore this historic defensive fort and enjoy the Adriatic views over to the Old Town.
- An alternative, or a bonus, is to take a kayak tour around the fort (try and get an early departure, around 10 am) for another perspective.
- Enjoy a quick lunch before travelling onwards to Korcula Island. Ferry schedules vary by season, but aim for the 13:00 departure or the 15:00 departure if you’ve done a kayaking tour. Book these tickets in advance.
- The first island of this 10-day itinerary is Korcula, and you’ll arrive around two hours later into the 10th-century Old Town, often referred to as ‘Mini Dubrovnik’.
- Dump your bags and have a wander. The Korcula Town Museum, housed in an old palace, is open into the evening, while the Saint Mark’s Church bell tower offers some pretty views over the island and sea.
- Enjoy a delicious sunset meal outside the walls, next to the lapping waves. Fresh seafood here is first-class and pairs well with the island’s own wines. Moreska sword dancing is one of Korcula’s most treasured customs, and while performances aren’t daily, ask around to see if there’s a show you could try and catch this evening.
Day four: Korcula and Hvar
Sleep: Hvar Town or Stari Grad (Budget options are few and far between in Hvar, so shop around to find the best choice)
Getting around: The direct foot passenger ferry between Korcula and Hvar takes around 90 minutes. If you’ve hired a car, there are no direct car ferries to Hvar from Korcula. You would need to go first to Split (Korcula’s car ferry departs from Vela Luka) and then take a car ferry to Stari Grad (not Hvar Town). As such, you might want to spend an extra day exploring Korcula instead and skip Hvar.
- Enjoy a leisurely breakfast followed by a little beach time. If it’s summer, it’s already going to be warm. Pebbly Luka Korculanska near the Old Town is an easy choice, or you could make the short excursion to Badija Island.
- Mid-morning, aim to book a wine tasting tour. These under-the-radar wines are great, and they will give you the chance to see a little more of the island while someone else does the driving. Some tours also include lunch. Alternatively, head underwater – I found the scuba diving decent here, although they weren’t my most memorable dives.
- Again, check ferry schedules for the month you’re visiting, but aim to take the foot-passenger route onwards to Hvar Town around either 13:00 or 17:00 (if you’ve joined a wine tour).
- On arrival, stroll the storied streets, grab a drink in Saint Stephen’s Square across from the Baroque cathedral, and then, at sunset, head up to the Hvar Fortress (Fortica). A defensive structure has been here since the Byzantine times, and the vistas are incredible. It’s a small entrance fee but well worth it; just check on closing times (usually around 9 pm).
- For dinner, there’s no shortage of upscale restaurants to pick from – Hvar has long been a haunt of the rich and famous. After dining, you’ll likely have plenty of choices for a party, too, especially in summer.
Day five: Hvar and Split
Sleep: Split for two nights (Budget suggestion: Hurricane Hostel | Free parking: very few hotels close to the Old Town have free or cheap parking, so you’ll likely be looking at paying around €20+ per day)
Getting around: The direct foot passenger ferry between Hvar Town or Stari Grad and Split takes between one and two hours, depending on which sailing you take.
- To make the most of this 10-day Croatia itinerary and avoid doubling back, I’d suggest crossing Hvar Island to visit Stari Grad, the oldest town in Croatia, for a couple of hours this morning. This way, you can leave your bags at the hotel and pick them up before the afternoon ferry. You can take them to Stari Grad if you wish and take a ferry from there, but there isn’t any official luggage storage near that port.
- Take the morning bus from Hvar Town to Stari Grad around 9:30 (check seasonal schedules) and spend a couple of hours strolling around the historic streets.
- Head back to Hvar Town around 12:30 for lunch and a final wander before taking the afternoon ferry.
- Check seasonal schedules, and choose from a ferry onwards to Split around 14:30 or 17:00. The ferry port in Split isn’t too far from the Old Town, so you can choose to walk if you wish.
- This enchanting Unesco-listed city is one of the country’s finest. The Old Town is a former Roman emperor’s palace – the Diocletian’s Palace – and it creaks under the weight of its historic importance and tales.
- After ditching your bags, enjoy a walk along the Split Riva waterfront, lively by the evening, before exploring the Old Town. Particularly magical at night, there might be traditional performances happening (check in advance for tickets), but it’s just as special to enjoy from a table outside a konoba (tavern) on a back street or lively Pjaca Square. Dine on local specialties such as oysters and black risotto.
Day six: Split
- With a full day to tour Split, you might be feeling ready for a sleep-in, but this is one of Croatia’s most popular destinations year-round, so an early start will allow you to explore the Old Town with fewer fellow visitors.
- Head back into the Diocletian’s Palace and wander the streets while they are still quiet. By mid-morning, it will be busy, so tour some of Split’s top attractions, such as the Underground Cellars, The Peristyle and the Cathedral of Saint Domnius.
- Post lunch, enjoy a lazy afternoon outside the Old Town walls. Walk along the Split Riva esplanade towards Marjan, a forested hill that offers some fantastic views – I highly recommend walking up to the viewing platforms for sunset.
- Make the most of the afternoon sun by chilling on one of the nearby beaches, such as Obojena or Kasjuni. Or, hide away from the sun and visit the excellent Mestrovic Sculpture Gallery.
Day seven: Trogir & Sibenik
Sleep: Zadar for two (if flying out of Zagreb) or three nights (if flying out of Zadar). If you’re going to make this into a two-week Croatia itinerary, stay for two nights here and then have a night in Pag if you want to party. Budget suggestion: Sky Hostel | Free parking: Hotel Kolovare)
Getting around: While the rest of this itinerary is best by public transport, hiring a car at this point (from Split to drop off in Zadar or Zagreb) will be handy as you can enjoy a few more detours, won’t have to worry about luggage storage, or be constrained by timetables. While this is especially true if doing the 14-day itinerary to Istria, it also will be helpful for visiting the national parks on the 10-day Croatia itinerary. See further details in the plans below.
- Leave Split early in the morning to visit Trogir, a World Heritage Site. It’s a 30-minute drive, or you can take the FlixBus (very early departure) or one of the local companies, Promet or Samborcek. In the summer, the Bura Line ferry offers an alternative (foot-passengers only) way to cross between the two, with some lovely views from the water. Luggage can be stored at Trogir bus station for a small fee – just ask at the desk.
- Small and compact, pretty seaside Trogir is easily explored on foot in a couple of hours, with the historic core set on a small island. Venetian, Renaissance and Baroque architecture dazzles here, with architectural wonders such as the San Lorenzo Cathedral, Clock Tower, and the closed-to-the-public Cipiko Palace being standouts.
Afternoon option one: Sibenik
- From Trogir to Sibenik, it’s around a 50-minute drive or bus journey. Again, FlixBus serves this route (if you want to book in advance), as do some local operators. When you arrive at Trogir bus station, check the timetables and book your ticket to depart before or after lunch. Luggage storage is available at the bus station.
- Sibenik is a little different from its neighbours in that Croats founded it, although the architecture is quite similar. It’s a handsome city touching the Adiratic, and well worth a tour after enjoying lunch. The arrow-like Saint Nicholas Fortress is a little pricey but worth a visit if of interest, as is the Saint James Cathedral, though it’s also a great city just to explore on foot, hopping between wine bars and pretty plazas.
- From Sibenik to Zadar, it’s around an hour’s drive or 90 minutes by bus. There are public transport options into the evening with the same various companies, so you can plan to leave and continue to Zadar whenever suits you. If you’re planning to drive the road closer to the coast, it will take around 90 minutes, but you’ll have a couple of pretty stop-off points en route, such as Turanj.
Afternoon option two: Sibenik and Krka National Park (if you have a car)
- If you have a car, then you could have a quick visit to Sibenik and then go to Krka National Park today, as it’s only a 20-minute drive from Sibenik, and then continue to Zadar in the evening. Still, as Plitvice National Park is included in this Croatia itinerary, you might want to skip it. That’s not to say they aren’t both worth visiting, so do your research and decide if you’d like to tour both. If you’re reliant on public transport for timetable and luggage reasons, I’d suggest either skipping Krka or visiting tomorrow from Zadar.
Day eight: Zadar
Getting around: If you’re staying in Zadar today, enjoy a chill one; park the car and just explore on foot.
- Enjoy a slow walk ambling around Zadar’s compact Old Town today before a lazy afternoon of swimming and sunbathing.
- Flit between the historic city walls around Five Wells Square, the ruins of the Roman Forum backed by the Church of Saint Donatus, and climb the bell tower at St Anastasia’s Cathedral for some city panoramas.
- Enjoy a lazy afternoon on the beach. Some of the best not far from central Zadar are Kolovare and Borik. Or, for a sandy option, go a little further to Bilotinjak.
- At sunset, head down to the Sea Organ, my favourite spot in Zadar. The Sea organ is a set of underwater pipes that create a musical instrument played by the waves and tides. From the marble steps leading down to the Adriatic, you can walk amongst the sounds while watching the sunset.
- After dark, Greeting to the Sun installation is the place to be. A vast, circular glass platform along the waterfront, this nightly light show is a playful sight.
- Finish up the night with some drinks at the bars along Stomorica.
Krka National Park alternative (and two-week itinerary)
- If you prefer to visit both Krka and Plitvice, then you can take a day trip today instead of having the full day in Zadar. Take the bus to Skradin Krka. Check the seasonal timetable, but the first departure is usually around 9:00, taking 50 minutes, with return buses at 15:00 or 17:00. If you’re following the two-week version of this itinerary, then today would be the day to head to Krka.
Day nine: Plitvice National Park (or Krka National Park)
Getting around: The drive from Zadar to Plitvice takes around 90 minutes. By car, it’s then around two hours to continue onto Zagreb if you want to spend a night in the city before flying home. Without a car, it’s also possible. There is free luggage storage at some of the park’s entrances.
Morning & Afternoon
- If you want to DIY this trip, then the Prijevoz Knežević buses (seasonal) to Plitvice depart around 8 am and return at 17:00. They also have connections onwards to Zagreb in the late afternoon. Alternatively, if you’re coming back to Zadar, then you might want to book a tour bus trip for ease of access.
- Plitvice National Park is the largest in the country, and it’s one of my favourite memories of my time in Croatia. Plan to spend the full day in the park, as while the waterfalls and lakes are absolutely the main draw, the forested area and trails extend far beyond the lake walking routes. There are a few different routes you can follow (plan in advance using the official website), including a boat ride and a short panoramic train – included in the price.
- It will be evening by the time you arrive in Zagreb. So, ditch the bags and head out to the lively Tkalčićeva Street to sample some of the excellent wine bars.
Day ten: Zagreb and departure
Wrapping up this Croatia in 10 days route, your final day will depend on where you’ve decided to depart from. If you’ve managed to get an evening flight out of Zagreb, great, you can spend today exploring the city (see some tips in the 14-day itinerary below). Or, if you’re flying out from Zadar, you can just enjoy a chill day on the beach before departure.
- Away from the coast, you’ll find a big shift in scenery and pace of life as you explore the melange of architectural styles that Zagreb offers, a far cry from the Venetian looks you’ve got used to.
- Start your visit in the Lower Town, as you’ll likely arrive in time for a quick visit around the Dolac Market before peeking at other popular attractions, including Zagreb Cathedral or the Art Pavilion and its surrounding gardens. Colourful Tkalčićeva Street is a good place to stop for lunch.
- Next, head to the Upper Town (Gornji Grad), the oldest part of the city, to stroll the cobbled streets between sights such as St Mark’s Square and the flag-tiled roof of St Mark’s Church. The Museum of Broken Relationships is also well worth a visit – I found the quirky space fascinating.
- Book a late afternoon or evening flight out of Zagreb to maximise your day.
14 Day Croatia Itinerary: Dubrovnik to Zadar (including Istria)
- Day One: Arrival & Dubrovnik
- Day two: Dubrovnik
- Day three: Korcula
- Day four: Hvar
- Day five: Split
- Day six: Split
- Day seven: Trogir & Sibenik
- Day eight: Zadar (and/or Krka National Park)
- Day nine: Zadar and Pag
- Day ten: Plitvice National Park
- Day eleven: Rovinj
- Day twelve: Pula
- Day thirteen: Zagreb
- Day fourteen: Zagreb & Departure
To make the 10-day Croatia itinerary into a two-week route, including Istra, follow the itinerary already detailed until day eight. From day nine, there will be some slight changes to avoid doubling back on yourself. These are as follows:
Day nine: Zadar and Pag
Instead of heading to Plitvice National Park on day nine, head over to Pag Island for another chilled beach day. Pag is renowned for nightlife, so you can spend a night here partying.
Day ten: Plitvice National Park
Head to Plitvice for the day before continuing on to Rijeka to spend the night.
Day eleven and twelve: Istria Peninsula
Exploring the gorgeous Istrian peninsula using either Pula or Rovinj as a base. These are some of Croatia’s prettiest corners, with Roman amphitheatres, temples, and postcard-perfect small villages allowing for delicious seafood pauses.
Day thirteen and fourteen: Zagreb
Drive to Zagreb (if you’re travelling by bus, then the 5 am Autotrans departure is perhaps the best option to enjoy a full day in Zagreb) to spend an afternoon and the following day exploring the city before your onward flight.
Other suggestions to extend your Croatia itinerary
There’s always the option of adding on some of the neighbouring countries, too, if you have more time. Day trips to Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina, or slinking off to the Vipava Valley wine region in Slovenia are easily done and highly recommended. But however you spend your 10 days in Croatia, remember to make time to slow down and soak it all in. That’s what the Mediterranean lifestyle is about, after all.