Europe

One Week in Croatia – The perfect travel guide

We spent 7 magical days in the beautiful country of Croatia and the neighbouring balkan countries and loved it so much. There is so much to do in Croatia – Beautiful Cities, Amazing Dalmatian Coast, Breathtaking Islands, and Natural Landscapes. And not to forget the delicious cuisine and the Mediterranean climate! 

Based on our experience, I have created this travel guide along with travel tips and recommendations that will help you plan your dream trip to Croatia. Here is the ultimate 7 day itinerary for Croatia and Balkan countries.

 Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase through the links provided, at no additional cost to you. It’s one of the ways I can keep producing free guides and resources for all our readers. Thank you for supporting the work I put into mrnmrstraveler!

Best Time to visit Croatia

The Adriatic coast of Croatia features a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Just like the rest of Europe, summer is a really busy season (June – August) with plenty of tourists and cruise ships arriving in Croatia. But it’s also the best time to hit the coast because of warmer temperatures.

Spring and Autumn are also good seasons for visiting Croatia with slightly cooler temperatures but lesser crowds and better affordability. So it really depends on which season you want to visit based on your interests.

We visited in the third week of June and absolutely it was fantastic.

Visa for Croatia

Croatia is a part of the European Union and became a member of the Schengen area in 2023. We are Indian passport holders and hence have to apply for the Schengen Visa to visit Croatia for tourism.

 If you want to know more, you can check out our video on How to apply for Schengen Visa. For other nationals, please check the kind of visa required to visit Croatia. 

Budgeting for the trip

Flights

It would depend on the place you are flying from and the season you are traveling in. Summer is the busiest season and the flights are costlier. You might get better deals if flying in the border/off-season. So would suggest checking flight comparison websites for estimates. 

We flew from NYC and it costed around $800-1000 round trip per person (even cheaper if you get a deal or free if you use credit card points). We usually check Skyscanner or Google Flights for the best deals.

Rental cars

We used public transport but you can also rent a car and road trip in Croatia. I would suggest booking 2-3 months in advance to get a better deal. If you are planning to rent a car, do check before hand, if you need a International Driving Permit for renting a car in Croatia. 

Just a tip – check the rental car’s condition before picking it up. And you can do a price comparison using the different websites – Rentalcars.comExpedia.com, and Discovercars.com.

Food

We budgeted around $50-60 per day for the meals and preferred hotels with breakfast to save time. If you want to save more, you can find accomodations with kitchen on Vrbo or Airbnb so that you can cook your own breakfast and dinner.

Water 

Usually it is fine to drink tap water in Croatia. But we always checked with the hotel staff before drinking. Whenever it was not advised to drink tap water, we bought a gallon of water from the supermarket.

Others

We budgeted around $100-200 for miscellaneous things. The budget also depends on what activities are included in the itinerary.

What to Pack for the trip

Here is a list of things I would suggest to carry for the warm Mediterranean weather

Road Trip accessories (Rental Car Edition)
Beach accessories

Brief Itinerary

Day 1: Fly to Split 

Day 2: Explore Split

Day 3: Visit Plitvice National Park 

Day 4: Five Islands Tour

Day 5: Explore Dubrovnik

Day 6: Day trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina (Neighbouring Balkan Country)

Day 7: Day trip to Montenegro (Neighbouring Balkan Country) or Lokrum Island

Our 7-day detailed Itinerary for Croatia

We did a 7 day trip exploring different parts of Croatia along with day trips to two different countries. Here is how we planned our trip, however you can modify according to your preference.

Day 1 : Flying to Split, Croatia

We flew from New York City to Zagreb, completed the immigration formalities and baggage claim, and took another flight to reach Split. For better flight price comparison, check Skyscanner.

From the Split Airport, we took a shuttle which dropped us to the bus station near the Old Town where we had booked our stay for the night. I would suggest staying in the Old Town which is really beautiful and also close to all the major attractions.

Check out the stays in the Old Town area

Day 2 : Exploring Split

We spent the majority of our time in the Old Town and visited a few more places. The Old Town of Split is one of the most popular places in Croatia. It felt like entering into a previous era altogether. Here is a list of things that we did in Split.

1) Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Diocletian Palace. 

Diocletian Palace is one of the major attractions in the Old Town. Built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian, this is one of the most beautiful Roman monuments outside of Rome. There are several attractions within the site like the Cathedral of St Dominus, Brace Radica Square, Marina Tower, etc.

Other places we visited were the vestibule where scenes from the iconic series Game of Thrones was filmed, and the underground market. To understand more about the palace you can also go on walking tours.

2) Relaxing on Riva Harbor

The Waterfront Promenade of Split is a really popular area filled with bars, pubs, and restaurants. We enjoyed walking on the long promenade in the evening.

3) Visit the Marjan Hill Viewpoint

The Marjan Hill viewpoint is a very popular viewpoint to see the town of Split from above.

4) Visit the Klis Fortress

Another stunning location where scenes from the Game of Thrones was filmed. 

Our stay: We stayed in the Old Town as it was perfect for exploring the nearby attractions. 

Foods to try: Do not miss the artisan gelatos from Gelateria Emiliana, they are absolutely delicious.

Day 3 : Day trip to Plitvice National Park

On Day 3, we visited Plitvice National Park, which is one of the most beautiful places in Croatia. Visiting this place was on our bucket list for a long time and glad we visited here. We did a self guided tour, but you can also go for a road trip in case you have rented a car.  

Plitvice National Park has 16 cascading lakes which are connected by a series of over 90 waterfalls. There are paved trails A to E which takes you to different parts of the park, lower lakes to the upper lakes. You can purchase the entrance tickets online here.

If you are planning to spend a night and explore the park in 2 days, you can check out the hotels nearby. 

This is the self guided day trip to Plitvice Lakes we had booked.

Day 4 : Five Islands Tour

On Day 4 of our trip, we decided to take the Five Islands Tour – a full-day tour of five different islands. We started our journey from Split early in the morning on a speed boat and made stops at five different spots including the famous Blue Lagoon and Blue Cave. The tour included visits to Komiza, Stiniva Cove, Blue Lagoon, and finally Hvar

The highlight of the tour was undoubtedly the visit to the Blue Cave, a narrow, dark cave accessible only by boat. The sunlight reflecting off the water creates a stunning bright blue color, making the view absolutely breathtaking. Another beautiful spot was the crystal clear blue lagoon off the coast, which looked spectacular on a sunny day.

We also enjoyed spending time on the island of Hvar, which is very popular for its party scene. We wished we had spent at least a day there to enjoy it fully.

Day 5 : Exploring Dubrovnik

On the 5th day of our Croatia trip, we took an early morning bus from Split to reach Dubrovnik. The ride was spectacular with coastal views along the way. We reached Dubrovnik around 10 am, dropped our luggage, and went for breakfast. We stayed in the heart of Old Town, close to all the major attractions.

Dubrovnik is one of the most popular places in Croatia. It felt like entering into medieval rimes. Most of the attractions are in the Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well. Here’s a list of places we visited in Dubrovnik :-

1) Dubrovnik City Walls: The highlight of Dubrovnik is the city walls, a 2 km wall around the Old Town. It took us close to 2 hours to walk on the city walls. From the city walls, the entire Old Town can be seen which looks absolutely spectacular. And on the other side, we saw the beautiful coastline along the Adriatic Sea. You can check out the ticket prices online.

If you want to know more about the city walls, there are many tours available as well.

2) Fort Lovrijenac: We visited the beautiful ancient fort located on the west side just outside the city walls. After climbing few steps, from the top of the fort we saw breathtaking views of the Old Town, City Walls, and the coastline. Fort Lovrijenac is also popular because of the iconic series Game of Thrones where this used to be the Red Keep. 

3) Wandering the streets of Old Town: Walking around the cobbled streets of the Old Town was one of our favorite things to do in Dubrovnik. Stradun is the main street filled with shops and restaurants. We also walked on the same Jesuit Staircase where the famous scene ‘Walk of Shame’ from Game of Thrones was filmed. Rector’s Palace is another beautiful palace that we checked out in the Old Town. 

4) City Harbor: We spent some time on the beautiful harbor, which is connected to the Old Town. 

5) There are few other things to do in Dubrovnik (that we wanted to visit if we had more time) like taking the cable car to Mount SRD for the views of Dubrovnik City, Banje Beach and a day trip to the neighboring islands. 

What to eat : We tried chicken burek from Holy Bureks, Bosnian cuisine from Taj Mahal, Black Risotto (our favorite food in Dubrovnik) from Dalmatino and gelatos. 

If you want to relax, check out the Buza bar. We visited this cliffside bar for sunset and loved the ambiance. 

Where to stay : We stayed in the Old Town on the main street (Stradun). We totally loved our stay as it was close to all the major attractions. You can check out the hotels here.

Day 6 : Day Trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina (neighbouring balkan country)

On Day 6, we went on a daytrip to the neighboring balkan country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We didn’t know that this country is so beautiful ! Here’s where we visited in this amazing country 

1) Kravica Falls : One of the most beautiful waterfalls we visited in Europe. A short 15 mins walk down took us to the falls. We were amazed to see this breathtaking waterfall created by the tufa barrier. We also did a short boat ride that took us close to the falls. What an amazing experience this was !

2) Mostar : Next we visited the beautiful city of Mostar where we spent most of the time. The city is popular for the Mostar Bridge or the Old Bridge which looks stunning with emerald green colored Neretva river flowing below. We also did a short boat ride in the river going below the bridge ! We also visited the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque and the main bazaar(market) filled with shops and restaurants.

3) Pocitelj : On the way back we made a quick stop in the beautiful town of Pocitelj. Filled with cobbled stairs and greenery all around, this small town is gorgeous. 

Day 7 : Exploring Montenegro
(neighbouring balkan country)

On Day 7, we went for a day trip to another Balkan country – Montenegro. Our trip started with a quick visit to the town of Perast where we hopped on a boat to the man-made island and visited ‘our Lady of the Rocks’ church. 

Then we headed to the beautiful city of Kotor where we spent most of our time wandering around the narrow alleys. But frankly, we felt that we should have spent much more time in Montenegro as just a day wasn’t enough. 

If you want to spend more time in Croatia, instead visit the neighboring islands from Dubrovnik like Elaphiti islands or Lokrum.

Day 8 : Headed to next destination

After spending memorable time in Croatia, we headed to our next destination on this trip – Switzerland. We spent 10 days road tripping around Switzerland. You can check out our 10 Day road trip itinerary for Switzerland blog to know more about the trip.

Other things to know before you go!

1. Croatia’s currency is Euro. Most of the places in Croatia accept credit cards but it’s always good to keep some cash with you. We used credit cards with zero foreign transaction fees. Please check with your credit card company or bank about this before traveling.  Also, if you are using ATMs in Croatia to get Euros, use only Bank ATMs (aka Bankomat). Never use ‘Euronet’ or 3rd party ATMs as they charge a heavy transaction fees.

2. Apart from the passport and Schengen visa (if you require one), we would always suggest carrying printed documents of return tickets, Insurance, and hotel stays. The immigration officer may ask about this at the border control entry. 

3. You can buy prepaid SIM cards at the Airports. We did not buy any SIM cards, however, we used our existing numbers. We use T-Mobile as our provider in the USA which offers an International pass for 7 days with 5 GB data or 30 days with 15 GB data. This international pass included Croatia which was good for us.

4. Croatia’s official language is Croatian, however people spoke English wherever we visited.  Also, if you don’t understand what is written on the menu or signboards use the Google Translate app.

5. We would suggest booking hotels that provide breakfast (included in the room price/chargeable). This will save a lot of time in case you want to get an early start in the morning.

 

There are so many places to explore in this country. It is overwhelming to plan and decide which places to visit. Hope you find this blog helpful to plan your epic road trip to Croatia. 

Also, let us know in the comments if have any questions. Happy to answer! or if you find our blog useful. Happy to know!

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Thanks for Reading! See you next time!

 Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase through the links provided, at no additional cost to you. It’s one of the ways I can keep producing free guides and resources for all our readers. Thank you for supporting the work I put into mrnmrstraveler!

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