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Croatia has many scenic beaches, many islands, and beautiful cities but there is much more to discover in this country. The perfect way to discover Croatia is with a road trip.
The Republic of Croatia is ‘Republika Hrvatska’ in Croatian. This county has an interesting history and a lot to explore from culture to landscape to architecture. You will not get bored in Croatia.
Read about Croatia in the blog What to know about Croatia. The best way to discover Croatia is going on a road trip because you can easily visit every place. There are places that are quite hard, sometimes nearly impossible, to reach by public transport.
Tip: if you visit Croatia by car and pass by Slovenia and Austria, you’ll need to buy a vignette. You can order this online in advance or at the gas station before the border.
The last adventure that you can do, if you love adventures, is climbing. There are many places to climb like Rovinj and Omis. The most famous place for climbing is Paklenica which is near by Zadar. If you like climbing bring your climbing gear or book a guide, which you can find here.
Must visit in Croatia
In Croatia there are many places to visit. A road trip is perfect to discover this amazing country. Start the trip from Zagreb, go all the way down to Dubrovnik and head back and end in Pula.
Below I give some places you can visit during a road trip in the right order:
- The capital Zagreb
- Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Nature Park Velebit
- Krka National Park
- Pag and Vir island
- Wine tasting at Masvin
- Murter Kornati
- Blue cave, Vis, Hvar and Blue Lagoon
- Kornati National Park
- Silba and Olib islands
- Rab island
- Krk island
- Brijuni National Park
- Rovinj, Porec and Bale
Extra stops known on Instagram: The eye of Dalmatia and Beerspa from Sanservolo
The capial Zagreb
Zagreb is the capital of Croatia which means you should visit this city. When you arrive in Zagreb you will be amazed by the friendly people and cozy atmosphere.
Some places you should pass by are:
- Hrvatsko Narodno Kazaliste
- Cric tunnel: a pedestrian tunnel that was constructed in 1943 which used to be a bomb shelter and an underground promenade. Now it’s possible to walk through to get to another street with different exists. You’ll also find a water fountain and a public toilet here.
- St. Mark’s Church with colourful tiled roof constructed in 1880. It also has a medieval coat of arms. On the left side it’s the one of Croatia, Dalmatia and Salvonia. On the right side it’s the emblem of Zagreb.
- Walk around through the upper town and enjoy the views
- Market in Zagreb
- Zagreb Cathedral
- Lotrscak tower: each day at noon a cannon fires from here.
In Zagreb you can’t get lost, you’ll find signs on almost every corner but the best way to discover this capital is wander around and enjoy the views.
Tip: you can drink some delicious juices and cocktails at Roots. The people are very friendly.
Plitvice lakes National Park
You need at least 6 to 8 hours if you want to hike the two big walks. You can also visit a part of the national park with the most beautiful spots. Most people don’t do the two whole hikes, but it is worth it.
‘Take nothing but Pictures, leave nothing but footprints and use nothing but time!’
I would recommend you start from Entrance 2 and start with the upper part. Afterwards you can hike to entrance 1 and do the lower part. Then you hike back to Entrance 2.
Parking: you can park for free in the village nearby and follow the hiking trail to the park (around 20-25 minutes’ walk) or you can park your car at the parking and pay a fee.
Tip: Wear decent shoes, best is to wear closed shoes. It’s possible you’ll see some animals like little snakes and lizards.
If you have some time to spare, there’s also a boat rental in the park which is very relaxing. The boats are a nice way to see a part of the park.
Tip: wear light clothes because it gets hot and bring water, snacks, and sun protection.
Really beautiful little town with a view on the Velebit mountain chain. Nin was important in the history because it was the center of a medieval Christian Bishopric. Besides that, Nin is famous for the salt, and you can visit the factory here. Walk around and explore. There are many Roman remains here like a ruin of a roman temple and a Roman house etc.
Nature Park Velebit
A mountain chain where you can do many beautiful hikes. Like mentioned in the section Adventures in Croatia, there are many day hikes that you can do but there is also a 9-day trekking that takes you through the beautiful Croatian mountains which is called the Velebit hiking trail (VPP).
A must visit in Zadar is the church of St. Donatus and walk around the area. For the sunset the best place you can go is to the Sea Organ. You will literally hear the sounds of the ocean. It’s an architectural sound art object. The sea waves on the steps are making music that comes out of tubes which is located underneath the steps. After the sunset you need to go to Greetings to the sun.
Krka National Park
Parking is free of charge but it’s your own responsibility if something disappears or gets damaged. You need to know that this national park is big, and you need to drive to different parts of the park. It’s possible to park at every part and you can walk around at every spot.
Tip: start at 9 am and you will finish around 7 pm if you want to visit almost everything.
You should start at the entrance of Lozovac. From there you can hike for 25 minutes to the Skradinski buk (the waterfalls) or you can take the bus. If you are early, it could be that you can drive the car down where the bus stops. It is possible to take the entrance from Skradin to the waterfalls but then you need to take the boat first.
Tip: wear your bathing suit because you can swim near the waterfalls from June to the end of September but at your own risk. Don’t forget your water shoes because the rocks hurt!
After the Skradinski buk (the waterfalls) you can take the boat to Visovac. Visovac is an island in the national park. This visit takes around 2 hours, and you pay extra to take the boat. You pay 100KN per person to Visovac or 130KN per person to Visovac and Roski Slap. This is a nice way to visit Visovac but it’s better to go by car.
Tip: you can take the car to Visovac and take the boat for 50KN to visit the island. This way is faster and cheaper than taking the boat from the Skradinski buk! You need to know that the road to there is tricky, and you need to have some driving skills.
Visovac is a small island, you only need 10 minutes to visit it because there is only a church and a souvenirs shop. This island is among Croatia’s most valuable. It was and has always been an island of peace and prayer during its stormy history.
After visiting Visovac you can drive to Roski Slap. It’s the perfect place to hike around in this area and enjoy the beautiful views.
Another thing you should do is go to the viewpoint of Visovac, it is stunning. You will see the island from above which is an epic view.
Manojlovac Slap is the last stop you can do. It’s a viewpoint over an incredible waterfall.
Tip: try to spot the snakes and many other animals in Krka National Park. But don’t touch them because there are some dangerous species. Read more about the dangerous species to look out for on the Croatian website.
Pag and Vir island
This island is well known for the lace, cheese lamb and salt. You can easily access the island because it’s connected to the mainland with a bridge. You can drive around, enjoy the views, and walk around. This place is perfect to buy some lace as a souvenir. It’s also possible to visit a cheese factory. You can do a cheese route by car and taste different cheeses. ‘Sir’ means cheese in Croatian.
You can go to the furthest point Lun to have some nice views. On the road to this point, you’ll see many olive tree farms called the Olive Gardens of Lun.
When you go back in the direction of Vir Island you should stop at Fortica Pag and afterwards you should drive to Vir Island. Vir is perfect to watch the sunset.
Tip: watch the sunset at Red Stone in Vir.
Wine tasting at Masvin
Perfect place to do a wine tasting and enjoy the vineyard. They have fig trees, olive trees a vineyard and much more. You can ask to help picking the figs and afterwards enjoy eating them while you do a wine tasting. Everything on this land is organic and you can just walk around.
Tip: always ask if you want to walk around and take pictures, they really appreciate this.
How to pick the best figs? The big ones that are soft have the best taste!
Inside the building of Masvin you’ll see paintings hanging on the wall that are made from wine. On every painting it says the name of the wine and the year of the wine the painting is made of.
A beautiful island that you can easily reach by car because there is a bridge. You should walk around for one or two hours to discover this island.
Stunning old pirate village right next to the canyons. Here there are many adventures you can do like rafting, ziplining, kayaking, etc.
Another little Croatian village, nice for a little break and to eat or drink something.
Cozy little village on an island connected by a bridge that is known among the tourists and locals for the food. You should stop here, walk around, and have dinner in one of the good restaurants. The city center doesn’t allow cars.
To reach Dubrovnik by car you need to cross the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina (UPDATE 09/22: the Peljesac Bridge now eliminates the need to cross the border). Dubrovnik is amazing and a must do in Croatia. It is known for its Old Town that is encircled with a massive stone wall. The stone wall was completed in the 16th century.
Visiting the Fort Lovrijenac and the wall of Dubrovnik costs 50KN, you can use the same ticket to visit both. If you’re looking for stunning views, a must do is to walk around the whole wall of Dubrovnik.
The old town of Dubrovnik is pedestrian only. Walking around in Dubrovnik is the best way to explore the old town. Another great activity to do is renting a kayak and discover Dubrovnik from the sea.
You should also go to the viewpoint over Dubrovnik. It’s possible to go by car up to the viewpoint or you can take the cable car up. If you want to be more active, you can always hike but this can be quite a challenge in summer with the heat.
Local tip: you should stop at Ston when you drive to or from Dubrovnik. In Ston you’ll find the oldest salt factory of Europe which is impressive to visit. In Ston you can eat the best fresh oysters and if you have time left you should walk on the old wall to have some incredible views. The hike goes from Ston to Mali Ston.
This is the second largest city of Croatia which is full of live. There is a nice viewpoint over the city where you should go and afterwards you can go explore the city. You need to go to Diocletian’s Palace and explore this area. From Split there are many tours going to different islands.
Blue cave, Vis, Blue lagoon and Hvar
You must visit these amazing places. You can book a tour that starts from Split, or you can rent a boat and visit those places yourself. Only the blue cave you need to go with a smaller boat and skipper. If you go by yourself with a boat to those places then you need to know that for the blue cave you need to go to Puerto de Bisevo. There you can leave your boat and go with a smaller boat with skipper to visit the blue cave.
Tip: for the blue lagoon don’t forget swimwear, towels, snorkel gear, water shoes, waterproof bag, and sun protection. Go to the other side of the island, it’s way less crowded and you’ll pass by some donkeys.
A lot of local people recommended this place. Perfect to take a break from being on the road and wander around this cozy little town.
Kornati National Park
Beautiful national park that consists of islands. Perfect for a relaxing day, have beautiful views and to snorkel around in the sea to spot some fishes.
Tip: bring a jacket, towel, or scarf to wear because it can get cold on the boat.
Silba and Olib islands and Rab islands
Three islands that are really known by locals. It’s easy to get there by ferry from Zadar.
Krk island is easily reachable by car because there is a bridge. Another typical Croatian cozy, little city. Perfect to walk around and drink something.
Beautiful city with a lot of history. You should visit the Arena of Pula and walk around the city center. Try to find the Rimski Mosaic and the Forum of Pula.
Must do in Pula: you should rent a kayak to visit a beautiful cave on the Adriatic Sea. More about renting a kayak in Pula you can read in the blog Kayaking in Pula.
Another thing you can do is diving. Read about diving in Croatia in the blog Diving through the rocks in Croatia.
Brijuni National Park
It’s a touristic island that is made for tourism. You can take the ferry from Fazana to the island.
This national parc is nice but not a must do. There are roads and you can rent a bike, scooter, or golf cart to get around the island. Renting a golf cart is 150KN for an hour but you can easily see the island in 2 hours with a golf cart. You can also hike around but you’ll need another form of transport if you want to see the whole island. There is a golf terrain here for people who like to golf.
Rovinj, Porec and Bale
Rovinj, Porec and Bale are some nice, cozy Croatian villages. You can stay for around 2 to 3 hours in every village. Walk around, drink something and enjoy the views.
Extra stops: the eye of Dalmatia and a beerspa from Sanservolo
The eye of Dalmatia is a well-known place for Instagram pictures. It’s spectacular from the air so if you have a drone this will be the place to take it out. More information you can find here.
If you like to relax you can go to a spa where you can take a bath in beer which sounds cool. More information about this spa you’ll find here.
Adventures in Croatia
There are many adventures to do in Croatia. The adventures you should do are to go from island to island by boat, go kayaking, hiking, diving, and go climbing.
Going from island to island by boat is a nice thing to do in Croatia because they have more than 1,000 islands over there, so go and explore. Some islands you can explore just with the ferry and for others you need to book a tour, or you can rent a boat if you have a boat license.
There are many places where you can go kayaking on the Adriatic Sea, which is epic, or even on some Croatian rivers. You can decide to book a tour or just rent the kayak and go by yourself. It’s nice to just book a kayak so you can go at your own pace. More information about kayaking in Croatia you can read in the blog Kayaking in Pula.
Hiking is another amazing thing to do in Croatia. Nature Park Velebit is the perfect place to go hiking. There are many small hikes and day hikes that you can do which you can read on this website. It is nice to know that there is also a 9-day trekking that takes you through the beautiful Croatian mountains which is called the Velebit hiking trail (VPP). The trail starts from Zavizan and ends at Starigrad Paklenica. The trail is around 100 km in total and is marked with red and white. More information about this hike you can find on this website.
Important: you need to know that camping is forbidden in open areas outside the registered campsites. This means wild camping is not allowed!
Another adventurous activity you can do is diving in Croatia. It has many places where you can dive. Diving is amazing in the Adriatic Sea. There are many shipwrecks to discover, beautiful cave dives and maybe you’ll spot a sea horse. Read about diving in Croatia in the blog Diving through the rocks in Croatia.