Croatia tours: tips and road trips

Would you like to add some excursions to your sea holiday in Croatia or plan a step-by-step trip? Here are some ideas for your itinerary.
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Are you planning a voyage of discovery to Croatia? If so, here is a comprehensive guide with all the information you need to plan an itinerary to discover this multifaceted destination. Croatia is a destination that appeals to all types of travellers and is chosen by more and more visitors every year thanks to its wide range of offers and services.

In fact, this country allows you to combine days of sea and fun with the discovery of historical towns and the possibility of planning excursions and trekking in extraordinary natural locations. Added to all this are the numerous thermal spas and eno-gastronomic itineraries to discover typical food and wine. For all these reasons, Croatia is a country that allows you to experience a stay of relaxation, culture, fun and good food.

Organising a trip to Croatia is quite simple and can be done completely independently without the help of a travel agency. For many, planning their holiday on their own is a truly exciting time that allows them to arrive on the day of departure full of enthusiasm. In addition to setting the travel period, itinerary and stages, during the planning phase you will also have to choose how you will travel.

If Croatia is your next destination, here is a mini-guide with useful tips for preparing a discovery tour of this country. In addition, here you will find not only indications on the best time of year or how to get around, but also recommended itineraries and many other useful tips.

How to get around Croatia

The best way to get around Croatia is definitely by car. You can decide to leave directly with your own vehicle or rent one locally. Croatia is part of the European Union, so it is possible to drive there with a driving licence issued by another member state. The advantages of having your own car are many, since not only can you decide on the timing and stages of your journey, but you can also reach many places that are unfortunately not well served by public transport. In fact, the railway network in Croatia is not very extensive and there are not many trains available. There are some areas, such as many towns on the coast, that are not served by rail and the only way to reach them is via roads and motorways.

An alternative to the car, if you are travelling alone, could be buses. The bus lines in Croatia are very efficient, the routes well distributed and the prices not too high. There are several companies that travel nationwide connecting the main places in the country and often offer reduced prices or promotions.

When to go to Croatia

Panorama of the island of Vis

Croatia is characterised by three climate zones: the hinterland (continental area), the mountainous area and the coastal area. In these three areas there are different characteristics and climates, which allows you to enjoy the different beauties of Croatia at any time of the year. Winter is ideal for cultural visits: cities such as Zagreb and Dubrovnik organise numerous interesting events. In particular, we recommend visiting the capital during the Christmas period when wonderful markets are organised and Zagreb is beautifully decorated.

In summer, Croatia is one of the most popular destinations for those who love the sea for its beautiful beaches. July and August are the busiest months and prices are higher during these weeks, but there are also more connections to the islands during this period. The months of May, June and September are ideal for a quiet and relaxing beach holiday, as there are far fewer crowds during this period.

The in-between seasons are also not to be discarded: they are perfect for those who enjoy hiking and trekking or visiting different cities without the summer heat. In addition, Croatia is a popular destination for those who love spas. The country boasts numerous facilities where you can carve out days of relaxation. Many locations have thermal springs that can cure rheumatic illnesses, orthopaedic injuries and skin diseases.

How long does it take to visit Croatia

Croatia is a very extensive country and the length of your stay depends on the type of trip you want to take. If you are planning an itinerary not only of sea and relaxation but also of culture and trekking, then 12-15 days might be ideal. Croatia is a country with a vast historical, architectural and natural heritage, and in summer there are also numerous beaches and islands worth discovering. Before leaving, therefore, we advise you to study this beautiful country in order to design an itinerary that suits your tastes and interests.

You only need about ten days if you want to make an itinerary to discover the most important cities (Split, Zadar, Pula and Zagreb) with a stop at a few beaches. If you have more time at your disposal, you can organise some trekking or head south to discover small villages rich in history and charm, some of which are very little frequented by tourists. In addition, there are at least a thousand islands in Croatia, but only 50 of them are inhabited and if you have time, it might be interesting to discover some of them. This destination, therefore, allows you a complete tour that allows you to indulge in various activities such as hiking, diving or wine and food tours.

Croatia is perfect for an on-the-road trip in stages lasting several days, but if you only have a few days, this country will still satisfy you. Lovers of trekking and hiking can organise a long weekend at the Plitvice Lakes surrounded by nature, while those seeking calm on the beach can bask in the sun at numerous coastal resorts. For a romantic weekend, on the other hand, towns such as Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Zadar are perfect due to their charm and atmosphere. Another alternative is to add a stop at a spa for a few days of well-deserved rest to your trip.

Where to start a tour of Croatia

Dubrovnik, southern Croatia

There are several cities from which to start a tour of Croatia, and the choice depends essentially on the means by which you decide to reach the country. Travelling by car, the most popular route is the one that starts in the region of Istria, in the north, and then proceeds southwards to discover the coastal and inland towns. Those travelling by plane, on the other hand, can arrive in Split, Zagreb or Dubrovnik, all three cities with a rich historical heritage. All of these airports have car rental agencies with the possibility of booking a car online in advance. In addition, these cities are connected by roads and motorways to the main locations in the country. Those who reach the countryby ferry have many more possibilities since, especially in summer, there are many connections between the main Croatian ports. In particular, the best connected cities are Dubrovnik, Zadar, Rovinj and Lošinj.

How much does a Croatia tour cost

Croatia has often been chosen as a cheaper destination with good accommodation and services. Now although prices are no longer as low as they were in the early 2000s, they are still good and on average lower than in other Central European countries. The final cost, however, also depends very much on the travel period and the type of holiday one wishes to take. In the big cities and during the high season, prices are certainly higher, while in the less touristy resorts you can not only find lower prices but also get a taste of local life. The most important items in the holiday budget are accommodation and meals, plus the entrance fees to the National Parks and the cost of any ferries to the islands.

You can save money on car rental by booking online well in advance. Direct flights to Croatia are also many, but often have medium to high prices. The best solution in these cases is to buy tickets even several months in advance, especially if you decide to travel in the weeks of high season. The same applies to ferries: prices here are generally affordable, but by buying in advance you can save money.

What places to visit on a tour of Croatia

Croatia is a country with many cities to see but also many sites to discover. There is not only sea and islands, but here it is possible to organise trips to discover the vast and varied heritage of the country. The question to ask yourself before you leave, therefore, is: what kind of trip do I want to take? Here, to support you in your choice of tour stops, we have listed the most beautiful places in Croatia by type:

Recommended itineraries

The Plitvice Lakes, a must-see on a holiday in Croatia

Still not sure which stops to make on your journey of discovery through Croatia? Here are three different itineraries we have devised for you to discover different parts of this beautiful country.

Classic itinerary

Starting from Dubrovnik, a town famous for its beautiful walls, you can continue the route first to Korcula and then to the island of Hvar, one of the most famous in Croatia. After days of relaxing on the beach and having fun, the route can continue on to charming towns with a long history such as Split, Zadar, Pula and, finally, Rovinj. From the coast you can then proceed inland to Zagreb, the country’s capital. From here, if you still have days to spare, don’t forget to head to the Plitvice Lakes, where you can spend time surrounded by nature.

Itinerary for discovering northern Croatia (Istria)

If you have decided to discover the northernmost part of this country, there are many towns you cannot miss and several beaches to see. In particular, in Istria, you must hit the towns of Pula, Rovinj and Poreč. Of these, Pula is famous for its beautiful arena while Porec not only has an elegant old town centre but also a beautiful town beach and many other beaches in the surrounding area.

If you come to this area also for a seaside holiday, remember that you will find pebble or rocky beaches here, while sandy beaches are very rare. Among the most beautiful beaches are the Punta Verudela beach, the Brulo beach in Poreč and the Baluota beach in Rovinj. If you are looking for an island KrK is the largest among Croatian islands and offers beaches that have been awarded Blue Flag status and a wide range of hotels. If you have more days at your disposal or if you want to go on excursions, you should not miss the Risnjak Park or the Učka Nature Park

Discovering Dalmatia

The main cities of Dalmatia are Zadar in the north, Split in the centre and Dubrovnik in the south. These are three stops you should definitely not miss if you are in this part of the country, but they are not the only ones. In addition to ancient cities and beautiful beaches, there are also numerous national parks here.

Further north, in addition to Zadar, the medieval town of Sibenik and the island of Pag are recommended. Those who enjoy sailing trips and wild, secluded beaches, on the other hand, cannot miss the Kornati Islands, a true nature paradise. From this area, it is easy to reach not only the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park, but also the Krka National Park and Paklenica National Park.

In south-central Dalmatia, on the other hand, you will find the cities of Split with its famous Diocletian Palace and Dubrovnik, as well as historical towns such as Trogir. If you are looking for magnificent beaches, you can go to the island of Vis or to the island of Brac where the Zlatni Rat beach is considered the most beautiful in Croatia. Those who love outdoor activities should not skip the climb to Mount Biokovo, which offers spectacular scenery.

Food and wine itinerary

Although Croatia’s food and wine heritage is not well known, it has long been making a name for itself thanks to the high quality of its local products. In particular, Istria is famous for its wine and game dishes. Moving along the coast, on the other hand, one can find numerous fresh fish dishes that are served in traditional inns known as konobe. Finally, southern Dalmatia is the area that is most suitable for those who enjoy less crowded resorts and good food.

Its territory is characterised by a wide variety of landscapes, from the blue sea to snow-capped mountains and beautiful historical towns. This area also produces some of Croatia’s finest wines, such as the red wines of Peljesac. Finally, the island of Korcula is not to be forgotten, boasting not only lush nature but also numerous expanses of olive groves and vineyards. The latter, in particular, produce the famous white wines of Korcula.

Two-week itinerary from Zagreb

Our two-week driving itinerary takes you to the most beautiful locations: cities, islands and nature parks. During your trip, you will visit mysterious ancient castles, beautiful cities rich in art and history, beaches with crystal-clear sea, parks with unspoilt nature, picturesque villages and lush islands.

With this travel programme, you will be able to visit the most beautiful places in Croatia in a fortnight, taking it at a leisurely pace, so that you can also enjoy a bit of the sea.

The itinerary goes from north to south, from the continent to the coast, touching not only on the capital, but also on Croatia’s most beautiful cities, the most surprising national parks and Dalmatian coastal gems.

First two days: we recommend that you start your holiday in Croatia with a weekend in Zagreb. Indeed, the weekends in this delightful city come alive with events and an intense nightlife to combine with visits to museums during the day.

Day three: don’t miss a rejuvenating dip in the lush nature of the Plitvice National Park, declared a Unesco World Heritage Site for the incredible beauty of its lakes, immersed in a veritable labyrinth of unspoilt nature. Dedicate a whole day to exploring the many trails available and admiring the turquoise waters and waterfalls that seem straight out of a fairytale!

Day four: one day in Zadar is more than enough, but you will need it to discover this little-known city and to get closer to Croatia’s seaside destinations. In any case, Zadar will amaze you with its many historical attractions and its nuanced modernity.

Fifth and sixth days: lovers of nature and the sea cannot fail to appreciate a trip to the island of Dugi Otok: cliffs, crystal-clear waters, underwater caves and simply beautiful nature! You can also decide to spend several days there if you need to relax!

Day seven: once you are active again and regenerated in body and soul, you can head to Krka National Park: here you can admire the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in Croatia! An unmissable panorama that represents one of the wildest and most incredible places in this diverse country!

Day eight: if you still feel like the sea, you can take a regenerating break on one of the small Kornati islands, which make up the largest archipelago in the Adriatic.

Day nine: don’t miss a walk through the medieval streets of enchanting Trogir!

Days ten and eleven: we move on to Split, one of the pearls of Croatia! This beautiful city by the sea will enchant you with the buzz and life of Diocletian’s Palace!

Day 12: Another dip in the most beautiful, crystal-clear sea on the coast to the island of Brac, a famous destination immortalised on every postcard.

Day 13 and 14: Spend two days visiting Dubrovnik, by far the true jewel of Croatia.

Useful information for visiting Croatia

The Arena of Pula in Istria

Here is some practical information and tips that may prove valuable when planning a trip to Croatia.

Opening hours in Croatia

Most museums and parks are open every day from 9:3010:00 in the morning until 18:00 in the afternoon. However, there can be substantial differences depending on the season. National Parks, for example, close much earlier in winter and in the cold months almost all establishments within them are closed to the public.

With regard to the opening hours of restaurants and bars, it is necessary to differentiate between establishments in large tourist cities and those in small towns and villages, and here too there can be differences depending on the season.

Generally, in restaurants in large cities it is possible to eat from 12:00 to 14:30 and from 19:00 to 21:30, although in summer, thanks to the longer days and numerous tourists, it is easy to dine even later (2222:30). Post offices, banks and public offices are open in major cities from 8:30 until 16:30, or until 18:30, and close at weekends.

Petrol stations

Be careful: one thing you should consider when planning a trip to Croatia is petrol supplies. Indeed, petrol stations are few and far between and it is easy to find long stretches of road without refuelling. This is why we recommend that you never find yourself with a car in reserve and fill up with petrol whenever you have the chance.

Driving in Croatia

Driving in Croatia is generally easy and the main places in the country can be reached via motorway connections. The Croatian government has invested heavily in recent years in an efficient and well-developed road network.

Speed limits in Croatia are similar to those in Europe, as are the main rules of the road. In small villages, it is recommended to drive around on foot in order to fully appreciate the beauty of the country, while in more rural areas it is necessary to pay attention to the presence of animals. When renting a car, however, it is always advisable to opt for comprehensive insurance that covers all damages in the event of an accident


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