Road trip through Croatia: itinerary, sights and tips

Written by Sam Van den Haute aka CheckOutSam

For many travelers, a holiday to Croatia is still unknown and unloved. That's a shame, because this beautiful country has so much to offer. A nice bonus is that you can easily reach this pearl by plane and for not so much money. If you want to know more about this destination full of sun, sea, interesting historic towns and delicious food .. Read on! Because I would like to tell you everything you need to know about a fabulous road trip in Croatia.

Sam Van den Haute CheckoutSam

Hi, I'm Sam, the blogger behind CheckOutSam!

Sam Van den Haute has been a full-time world traveler for ten years and has therefore gained a lot of travel and lifestyle inspiration on all continents. Do you still have questions after reading this blog? Ask them in the comments section or send me a message at [email protected] and I'll be happy to help you wherever I can!

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road trip croatia

Road trip in Croatia

The first choice you’ll have to make is whether you drive your own car (if you live in Europe, of course) or opt for a flight to Croatia. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. If you arrive by plane, I recommend to book a rental car. You’ll easily find one for less than 140 euros per week during the summer holidays so you shouldn’t leave it for the money. In any case, it’s easier than traveling all the way through the country by bus. It’s not that you can’t actually take the public transport (because it’s quite good and comfortable), but the cheaper price doesn’t outweigh the convenience in this country.

With a car trip through Croatia you’ll lose a lot less time. With the car, for example, it takes three hours to drive from Split to Dubrovnik, with a bus it takes at least five.
Hitchhiking is another possibility, but I would only do this if you have a lot of time.

If you book far enough in advance, you can also fly from Zagreb to Dubrovnik. It takes about an hour and you can get flights for about 60 euros per ticket in the summer holidays (one way without luggage – per baggage you pay a fee of 30 euros).
However, if you want to fully enjoy the country and get the most out of your stay, then I advise you to rent a car during your holiday in Croatia.

zlatni rat croatia

And once in a while you can of course also relax… On the beautiful beach of Zlatni Rat for example!

Yipee! A holiday in Croatia! What should I not miss during my road trip in Croatia?

  • The breathtaking Plitvice lakes that you can find in the eponymous national park.
  • The charming city of Dubrovnik where Game of Thrones was recorded.
  • The beautiful beaches of Brač.

And next to that you also have charming towns such as Zadar and Split or the lovely island of Hvar.
The capital, Zagreb, is also quite okay, but can’t compete with the rest of the country. Unless you really have to be here for a flight, I would skip it.

individual road trip croatia

A road trip in Croatia is always fun! Whether you do it alone or with friends. In any case, you’ll always encounter a few other solo travelers!

Cheap flights to Croatia

Croatia may be far from where you live, most flights to this beautiful country are very affordable!
The more flexible you are with your travel dates, the cheaper you can find flights. In this article I give a lot of tips on how you can always score cheap flights. At the moment I already found return flights from Belgium to Croatia via Skyscanner for €20! That’s cheaper than some train tickets!

Cheap rental cars in Croatia

Not only the flights to Croatia are cheap. Renting a car in this country is also possible for no money at all!
For one week you don’t pay more than €60… An extra week can sometimes be arranged for less than €100, but usually the prices start at €120. Which is still very cheap, if you ask me…

I always compare these websites to find the cheapest rental car:

croatia itinerary road trip rent a car


Hotels in Croatia

Croatia starts to get more and more tourists, but it still is a cheap country for most visitors! By the way, there is something for every traveler in this country. From hip youth hostels to luxurious resorts.
There are a lot of overnight stays and all of these accommodations are spread out over many different websites. Be sure to check out:

dubrovnik ramparts road trip croatia

Are you in Dubrovnik? Then definitely climb the ramparts of this mythical city!

Excursions and trips in Croatia

There is a lot to do in Croatia. Beautiful islands, paradise beaches, enchanting nature and picturesque villages. Sometimes it’s difficult to get somewhere (often you have to take a boat), and then it can be useful to plan an excursion or tour.
If I plan an excursion, I always check out these websites:

holidays croatia beach

You can of course also enjoy a day on the beach!

(Individual) Itinerary for Croatia

If you have chosen to fly to Croatia, then chances are that you’ll fly to Zagreb or Zadar, because these airports often have the cheapest flights. If you can, choose Zadar. Because from here you are already more on the way to where you have to be (and want to be).
How long a holiday to Croatia lasts is best chosen by yourself, but try to go at least for one week. To be more convenient, I have assumed a travel duration of 10 days (between one and two weeks). You can easily add (or skip) a couple of these days on the itinerary.

Day 1: Zadar

If you have flown to Zadar you shouldn’t skip this nice town. Take some time to stroll through the charming old streets of the center and begin your vacation in Croatia at your leisure. Furthermore, you still have a real Forum Romanum and a sea organ here. “A sea-what?” you’ll probably think. The sea organ of Zadar is a work of art where the waves of the Adriatic Sea create music by flowing in and out of the structure. Don’t miss the sunset from here! It’s the perfect way to finish your first day. And I really wouldn’t spend much more time here.

itinerary croatia zadar

Zadar is the best place to start with your itinerary for Croatia.

Day 2 + 3: Brac

The next day, you should jump in your car (or take the bus) to Split. Here you can immediately make a choice: either you explore the city itself and then go to Brac, or you can go directly to that last destination. I would recommend the latter because you’ll probably crave the beach and we’re coming back to Split later on!
From Split you take the ferry to Supetar to Brac. Your car can go on the boat as well, and it leaves fourteen times a day during high season. You pay just under 22 euros to transfer your car and 4.5 euros per passenger. The crossing takes about fifty minutes.

Brac itself is just about 50 kilometers (31 miles) wide and it takes about an hour to drive from the westernmost to the easternmost point.
What should you certainly not miss here?

  • Zlatni Rat: this beach is rightfully called the Golden Horn and counted among the most beautiful beaches of Europe.
  • Milna: a charming fishing village where you can’t miss the local specialty (sardines). It’s also fun if you want to (learn) windsurfing.
  • Vidoca Gora: from here you have a beautiful view of the whole island.

Don’t forget your sunburn because Brac counts more than 2700 hours of sun per year!

car rental croatia road trip brac

The islets around Croatia are really beautiful. On this photo you see Brac.

Day 4: Split

The next day you take the ferry back to Split and you can quietly explore this former Roman settlement. Not to be missed are the cathedral and the palace of Diocletian. Active tourists should also go rafting on the Cetina river in the afternoon. You are picked up in the center of Split or you can drive to the village of Zadvarje yourself (50 minutes drive).

split croatia road trip

Split is really cozy! And there are many delicious restaurants here.

Day 5 + 6: Dubrovnik

*soundtrack of Game of Thrones* The day has finally arrived when you leave for King’s Landing… Dubrovnik! You can’t miss this picturesque town during a trip through Croatia. In terms of accommodation, I can definitely recommend Hostel Marker, a stone’s throw away from King’s Landing at extremely affordable prices! Dubrovnik itself is a three hour drive from Split so I would definitely stay two days here so that you have plenty of time to take in the city. Please note: parking isn’t possible in the center, so you’ll have to park in a public parking lot. Bellevue and Banje Beach are the easiest beaches to reach, if you rent a kayak you should definitely go to Betina Cave Beach! In the evening you can stroll on the old city walls and enjoy the fantastic fresh fish!

itinerary croatia dubrovnik

When creating an itinerary for Croatia, you can’t skip Dubrovnik of course!

Day 7 + 8 Hvar

The next day you say goodbye to Sir Jaime Lannister and you drive two hours to Drvenik, where you take the ferry to Hvar. This takes about 35 minutes and costs you just under fifteen euros for a car and two euros per passenger. Hvar itself is a very nice island, slightly more cultivated than Brac. You can also taste delicious wines here! After you have had a few glasses, you should perhaps also think of going to a party here. Or… You can just do nothing on the beach! Everything is possible on Hvar! Tip: a scooter is the ideal way to explore this island.

hvar croatia

Do wines or beaches say little to you? Then you can also just enjoy the beautiful views of the island.

Day 9 + 10: Plitvice lakes

I saved the best for last! You should definitely not miss the Plitvice Lakes when planning your itinerary for Croatia. Unfortunately there are no car ferries from Hvar to Split, so you’ll have to take the ferry back to Drvenik. From here, it’s a three and a half hours drive to the Plitvice lakes so you should leave early in the morning. Normally you’ll arrive in the afternoon so that you can still explore this fantastic national park. But to enjoy it to the fullest, you can also wait with your visit until the next day. This amazing national park consists of sixteen lakes and no less than 90 waterfalls. Since 1979 it’s also listed as a UNESCO heritage site. For a day pass you pay 20 euros and for two days 33.5 euros. This is definitely worth the money. During the low season you pay a lot less (7.5 euros for one day – 12 euros for two).

road trip croatia plitvice lakes

The beautiful Plitvice lakes! One of the most beautiful parks I ever saw!

Day 11: Zadar – Zagreb – Home

Unfortunately, the end of your road trip through Croatia has already arrived. From Plitvice it’s about an hour and forty-five minutes drive to Zadar and two hours and fifteen minutes to Zagreb. Another advantage of renting a car in Croatia and not taking public transport: you can arrange your time of departure much better.

zagreb croatia

Zagreb isn’t very spectacular, but it is cozy!

Extra tips for your road trip in Croatia

  • If you choose for a car trip through Croatia, you have to pay a little attention to the Croatian drivers. Don’t let this put you off, because you can travel around perfectly with the car, but just be attentive of some drivers. The roads are great and the area is breathtaking. Take your favorite music with you, put the speakers at their maximum volume and start cruising!
  • You don’t have to worry about safety or crimes either. Like anywhere else in the world, you shouldn’t show off your wealth or leave your camera in sight in your car, but Croatia is definitely not an unsafe country.
  • Pay attention when walking! In the early 1990s there was a war in the country and during this dark period more than two million land mines were spread out over the country. If there are paths: stay on them. The country is expected to be completely mine-free by 2019.
  • Enjoy the fresh fish! In Croatia you can eat the best fish in Europe (together with the south of Italy, of course!). So I suggest to definitely try some of these local dishes.
  • Instead of just a road trip through Croatia, you can make this a road trip through ex-Yugoslavia. From several cities in Croatia (especially from Dubrovnik) you can easily cross the border to Montenegro and Bosnia. A day trip to see some of the most beautiful sights or places is definitely worth the extra time or effort. I really loved Kotor and Perast in Montenegro and the Kravice waterfalls and Mostar in Bosnia.

Of course I only gave you a sample itinerary for Croatia and you can decide for yourself where you want to go during a holiday in Croatia. I gave you only the most obvious destinations. You can of course always make changes to this itinerary, with, for example, adding Pula. Just make sure to take your time to enjoy this beautiful country! Every year more and more tourists choose for a road trip to Croatia, which also has consequences for the prices and availability of hotel rooms. So… Make sure that you book everything on time!

croatia road trip

Do you arrange a road trip trip through Croatia or do you prefer to plan another kind of itinerary? With these tips you’ll hopefully come a long way!

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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.
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  1. Hi there!

    I enjoyed reading your article! I’m currently experiencing Croatia from a bit different perspective – sailboat, and it’s beyond stunning! We’re also planning to do some trips to a few cities so your blog is really helpful! Hvala 🙂

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