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Updated: 20th January 2024
Croatia’s temptations are innumerable: storied walled cities brushing the Adriatic Sea, idyllic islands edged by paradisiacal if pebbly beaches, and waterfall-laden nature reserves with luminous lakes. Sadly, squeezing all of the country’s highlights into a short trip is impossible, so when it comes to crafting your one-week Croatia itinerary, you’ll need to be selective.
In this seven-day Croatia itinerary, you’ll get a taste of what makes the country so bewitching while touring a handful of the best places to visit in Croatia. Tracking the Adriatic Coast and covering the Dalmatia region, this itinerary will take you from the Unesco-listed cities of Dubrovnik and Split to two of the nation’s best islands where beaches, nightlife and vineyards await. Plus, there’s a detour to one of Croatia’s magnificent national parks.
This one-week Croatia itinerary works best between April and October when ferry connections are more plentiful; if you’re travelling in the offseason, you might need to adapt the route slightly. I’d highly recommend you don’t hire a car for this 7–day Croatia itinerary for a few reasons: parking is expensive and difficult in the historic old towns, car ferries are more complicated and less regular than foot passenger routes, and everywhere you’ll visit is easily accessed by bus or boat. An alternative to travelling by public transport and ferries would be to book a sailing trip.
Seven-day sailing itinerary for Croatia (with discount code)
Having travelled across Croatia overland a couple of times now, I’m eager for my next Croatia visit to be a sailing adventure. Croatia is, after all, best known for its beaches and islands, and from a boat, not only do you get to see spectacular Adriatic views as you hop between destinations, but it’s also a relatively effortless way to explore.
There are plenty of different Croatia sailing itineraries you can choose from, ranging from luxury liveaboards to more laid-back and wallet-friendly boats. For a first-time sailing introduction to Croatia, I really love the itinerary that my buddy Benny put together when he launched his own company (Roam Sailing) after years of working for a large tour company.
Roam Sailing’s seven-day Croatia itinerary (technically eight, when you include the departure day) hops between Split, Hvar, Mijet, Dubrovnik, Korcula, loops back to Hvar’s Stari Grad and then continues to Bol, Makarska, Omis and ends back in Split. It’s a fast-paced itinerary that offers an excellent introduction to some of Croatia’s most famous locations, with slightly more offbeat detours too. Currently, Roam Sailing only operates this itinerary in August, but if you’re planning to travel in summer, it’s a fantastic choice, especially given the prices are very reasonable (from €1250 pp) for a 15 cabin vessel complete with an onboard chef preparing all breakfasts and lunches, plus a heap of other inclusions. If you’re travelling at another time of year, then I still think this is one of the best itineraries out there for a first visit to Croatia, so seek an operator offering a similar route.
If you book one of Roam Sailing’s trips, use the discount code ‘DFS15’ to get 15% off the trip price and give Benny a wave from me!
One-week Croatia itinerary: Dubrovnik to Split
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 seven-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, or consider picking up your car on day three.
Some Croatia itineraries will suggest spending longer in Dubrovnik. Still, as long as you don’t arrive too late on the first day, I honestly think a day and a half is enough. This is especially true if you’re visiting from May until October when the city can be crowded and a bit stressful. Come with an attack plan, see the sights, and then slink off to elsewhere in Croatia for more laid-back and less frantic sights. I hate to say it, but on my last visit, the city felt more like a museum than the lived-in and lovely place I remembered from a decade ago.
Spend your first day settling in, taking an orientation walk and then ride the cable car up to Mount Srđ for sunset. From this incredible vantage point, with the city’s terracotta roofs and historic walls glimmering in front of a crimson sky, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the city. You can stick around to enjoy dinner at Restaurant Panorama or head down to dine in the Old Town. With day trippers and cruise passengers gone, evenings are generally much calmer to walk around.
Day two: Dubrovnik
My biggest tip for Dubrovnik is to wake up as early as possible and explore before crowds, cruises, and day-trippers arrive. Spend the first few hours of the morning visiting some of the top sights before they get busy.
Start your day tracing the main artery of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, Stradun, from the Pile Gate, the Stari Grad’s main entrance. Just after entering the walls, you’ll spot the 15th-century Onofrio Fountain and the Franciscan Church and Monastery on the other side of the street. It’s well worth a visit and closes at 2 pm, so I’d suggest doubling back before lunch for a walk around inside rather than in the early hours when the streets are quieter.
Continue towards Zvonik (the clocktower), and you’ll reach the Church of St. Blaise — it’s free to enter and worth a quick peek. Across the street is the Palača Sponza, a magnificent example of well-preserved 16th-century Renaissance and Venetian architecture. Dip inside the courtyard for a closer look, and if you’d like to visit the paid space, I’d again suggest coming back in the afternoon.
Next, head to the waterfront at Porat Dubrovnik before exploring some of the narrow side streets. Then, fill the afternoon – when the sun is shining and crowds are swelling – with visits to some of the earlier mentioned attractions or the Rector’s Palace, which doubles as a museum. If you plan to do the city walls, museums and fort, you can buy combined tickets online in advance. Be sure to walk atop the old city walls as close to sunset as possible (check the closing hours; they vary by season), and stay until actual closing time so you can hopefully experience them a little more serenely after cruise ships depart. Then, dive into a 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 drive up to Orebic (around 1:45) and then take the car ferry across (15 minutes) – the journey times are similar either way.
Starting early again for day three of this one-week Croatia itinerary, head to Fort Lovrijenac for opening at 8 am. You’ll want to allow an hour or two here to explore, walk the walls and enjoy all the incredible views of Dubrovnik’s Old Town and the Adriatic. Alternatively, a kayak tour around the fort offers another impressive angle – however, they usually depart a bit later and may delay your onward travel to Korcula.
Depending on which month you’re visiting Croatia and thus the varying ferry schedules, I’d suggest taking either the 13:00 or 15:00 ferry onwards to Korcula so you can check out and then check straight into your next hotel. You’ll arrive around two hours later. Most foot passenger services go directly into the 10th-century Old Town, often dubbed ‘Mini Dubrovnik’.
Dump your bags and set out to explore the medieval Old Town. The Korcula Town Museum offers a decent, if fairly brief, overview across three floors of a small palace (open until after sunset), with a few other low-key attractions such as Saint Marks Church (head up the tower for some great photos, especially at sunset) and the old walls. Personally, my favourite thing about Korcula was how laid-back it was, and enjoying some freshly grilled fish with a local glass of wine on the waterfront kept me more than happy on the few evenings I spent here. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a traditional evening Moreska sword dance show, a centuries-old tradition that the islanders are immensely proud of; ask at the tourist office or your hotel if there is any chance of a performance 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 first need to go 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.
If you’d rather make this seven-day Croatia itinerary a little more laid-back, you could cut Hvar and spend an extra night in Korcula (or vice versa). There are ferry connections onwards to Split from Korcula the following day without needing a chance, so this is easily done.
Either way, after a leisurely breakfast, start your day in Korcula with a little bit of beach time. The beaches here are pebbly, and Luka Korculanska is the best pick close to the Old Town. There are some more great beaches further out or on Badija Island. In the late morning, I’d suggest taking a wine tasting tour to some of Korcula’s vineyards, as although the island’s production is relatively under the radar, they produce some excellent wines. This will also allow you to see a little bit more of the island, but you’ll need to allow around 4 to 5 hours for the tour before continuing to Hvar.
Taking the boat to Hvar will again depend on which month you’re visiting and which ferry timetables are suitable. If you’re planning to do a wine tour and see a bit more of this hidden gem of an island, then take the ferry around 17:00. If not, then the 13:00 will get you into the harbour of Hvar for a late lunch.
On arrival into Hvar Town, have a stroll through the old storied streets, stopping off in Saint Stephen’s Square for a coffee (or wine) before visiting the Baroque cathedral of the same name. You might also want to walk around the other side of the harbour for some pretty photos of the town itself. Before sunset, climb the stairs to Hvar Fortress (Fortica). There’s been a defence here since Byzantine times, though what you see today is from the 14th century. Sadly, you now need to pay a small entrance fee, but the incredible views make every cent worthwhile. The fort is open until 9 pm in the summer so you can enjoy the last light of the day.
No stress about finding a late-night dinner; this is a town that stays up until late, and you’ll have no issue enjoying some delicious fresh fish, usually with a hiked price tag. After dark, Hvar Town can be a non-stop summer party.
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.
The following day – depending on how late you partied last night – you’ve got a couple of options on Hvar Island before continuing to split.
Option one is to spend the morning exploring Hvar Town. Then, take your bags on the 12:30 bus from Hvar Town to Stari Grad for lunch and spend a couple of hours strolling this picturesque city. Stari Grad is one of the oldest towns in Europe and the oldest in Croatia, and while there aren’t heaps of attractions, it’s a really nice medieval town to spend a couple of hours in. The downside is there isn’t an official luggage storage place (I believe), so you’ll either need to carry your bags or ask a local cafe or hotel to store them. Then, it’s around a 30-minute walk or brief taxi ride to the Stari Grad port, where you can take the ferry onwards to Split around 17:30.
Option two would be to store your bags at your hotel in Hvar Town, take the 9:45 Bus to Stari Grad, have a couple of hours there, and then return on the 12:00 bus back to Hvar Town for lunch before taking the ferry around 14:30 or 17:00 onwards to Split (again, check as sailing times vary month to month). Option three, of course, would be to skip Stari Grad and just enjoy a leisurely day soaking up one of Croatia’s best beach destinations and head onwards to Split in the early afternoon.
Either way, tonight, we’ve reached the final place to sleep on this one-week Croatia itinerary, so you’ll be based in Split for the next two nights. Unesco-listed Split is an absolute highlight of Croatia. The history of the city spills across the Old Town, which is centered on a former Roman emperor’s palace. Essentially, the Old Town and the Diocletian’s Palace are one and the same. Enjoy a walk along the waterfront (Split Riva), a large and lively pedestrianised esplanade, before entering the Old Town, which is even more magical by night. Spend the evening getting lost in the web of streets, find a dinner table outside a konoba (tavern) in Pjaca Square or down a small laneway to take it all in, and gorge on local specialties such as black risotto and oysters.
Day six: Split and Krka or Plitvice National Park
Getting around: Split to Krka National Park is around a 70-minute drive by car or bus (take the bus to Skradin Krka for entry tickets and a boat entry into the park). To Plitvice National Park, the journey time is closer to a three-hour drive and even longer by bus. Alternatively, you could book a day trip tour to Krka National Park or to Plitvice National Park from Split if you want to save the hassle of organising it yourself.
For the penultimate day of this one-week Croatia itinerary, I highly recommend that you head inland to one of the spectacular and water-heavy national parks. Of course, if you’re departing early tomorrow, you may want to spend the whole day exploring Split instead. But, if time allows, plan a day trip to either Krka National Park or Plitvice National Park. Krka is obviously a much more suited day trip option, given the journey length. However, some will want to go all in and make it to Plitvice Lakes (which is my personal favourite).
Both have similarities: there are dramatic waterfalls, shimmering lakes and plenty of verdant-clad landscapes surrounding them. Yet, Plitvice is larger, has a better collection of cascades (IMO), and is overall more impressive and attractive. Krka is a little smaller but still mighty impressive, especially if you’re not chasing the largest of waterfalls. A word of warning: both can get very busy, with Plitvice sometimes having long lines due to the narrow walkways that cross some lakes. Do your research, decide which works best for you, and then make it happen. It’s possible and not that complicated by bus, but a tour might give you a bit more peace of mind.
Day seven: Split & Departure
Getting around: Getting to Split Airport from the Old Town is super easy. You can take a pricey taxi and be there in around 25 minutes, or take the 37 public bus, which makes the journey about 45 minutes but will only cost a few euros (there are some shuttle bus options, too).
Wrapping up this seven-day Croatia itinerary in Split, hopefully, you’ve got a late afternoon or evening flight so you can make the most of today. Head back into the Diocletian’s Palace early to enjoy it before the crowds, exploring the small alleyways and outside monuments. By mid-morning, there will likely be a throng of tour groups around, making it a perfect time to visit some of the city’s top attractions, such as the Underground Cellars, The Peristyle and the Cathedral of Saint Domnius.
Outside the city walls, walk along the Slit Riva towards Marajan, a forested hill that backs the Old Town and offers some beautiful walks and vistas of the Adriatic and the city. En route, you’ll come across the excellent Mestrovic Sculpture Gallery, well worth a visit if time allows before your onward flight.
10 or 14 Day Croatia Itinerary
If you’ve got longer to explore Croatia, then I’d personally suggest doing this same itinerary but taking it a little slower. Alternatively, check my 10-day Croatia itinerary for a route that goes from Dubrovnik to Zagreb, with an option for a two-week route including Istria.