The Ultimate 7-Day Croatia Itinerary: 3 Perfect Routes

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by Maggie Turansky

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Planning the perfect Croatia itinerary is essential to ensuring you have the ideal trip to this incredible country.

Croatia is becoming an ever more popular European destination year after year as it has firmly cemented its beautiful Adriatic Riviera onto the pages of travel magazines, websites, and Instagram feeds. This incredibly diverse and welcoming country has endless opportunities to offer travellers.

While most visitors set their sites on Dubrovnik and the surrounding islands, they fail to dig deeper and explore the seemingly endless wonderful places to visit if you have 7 days in Croatia.

Croatia is a lot bigger and has a more diverse climate than most visitors expect, so it is essential to properly plan out your route before you go.

So if you’re visiting Croatia, these three itineraries are perfect guidelines for having the best trip possible.

Best Time to Visit Croatia

Contrary to popular belief, Croatia isn’t all sunshine and sea every day of the year and the vast majority of the country really does experience all four seasons.

While winters in Dalmatia and on the coast tend to be mild compared to that of other European countries, the north of Croatia — in places like Zagreb or the Slavonia region — can expect to experience fairly heavy snowfall and average high temperatures that linger just above freezing.

It is also worth noting that a good majority of Croatia isn’t perennially blessed with endless sunny days. Zagreb, for instance, is actually quite wet and it is best to expect at least a few rainy days on your trip along the coast as well — depending on the season you are travelling.

In the most popular coastal cities in Croatia — like Split and Dubrovnik — you can expect a significant amount of rain in the winter months.

If you do want to avoid the hordes of tourist crowds, then winter can be an appealing option, especially if you’re not one to enjoy lazy beach and swimming days. It is worth knowing that many restaurants and tourist attractions are closed in the winter due to low demand.

Iconic View of Plitvice Lakes from above
Iconic View of Plitvice Lakes from above

The summer months of late June-August are the most popular times to travel to Croatia and if you plan to hit the most visited cities in the country, you can expect them to be very crowded. Temperatures can reach well over 30ºC (86ºF) on the coast and expect it to be even hotter in the capital.

Prices also mimic the high temperatures in the Croatian summer with everything from accommodation to restaurant costs inflated to take advantage of the tourism revenue. Places to stay tend to book out early, especially in July and August, so it is essential that if you’re planning a trip to Croatia, you plan well in advance if you are set on travelling in peak season.

Ideally, the best time of year to travel to Croatia is in the shoulder seasons directly surrounding summer. May and September have some of the best weather in Europe, where you can expect warm temperatures averaging around 25ºC (77ºF) and for the majority of your days to be sunny.

Most seasonal restaurants and tourist attractions will begin to open their doors again through the months of March-October so you will be able to see and eat everything that you could in the summer with a fraction of the crowds.

Split from above
Split from above

Getting Around Croatia

If you are only planning a one-week Croatia itinerary and want to make the most of your time, you need to be able to optimise your transport so you spend more time sightseeing and less time in transit.

If you want to rely on public transport when getting from point A to B in Croatia, then you’re going to need to get to know the bus network. Like many Balkan countries, Croatia doesn’t have an advanced train system and the majority of inter-city transport is dominated by the humble bus.

Bus connections between major cities are frequent, but they can book out early during the summer months. There are a number of different transit companies to choose from, some of which allow you to book tickets online.

Others might require you to buy a bus ticket at the station. You can check bus timetables and routes throughout Croatia on Busbud. Another thing to keep in mind is that most buses do charge to put luggage into hold — usually around €1-2.

If you can and your Croatia budget allows for it, a far better transportation option for one week in Croatia is to rent a car.

This will allow you to be more flexible with your departure times and reach places that aren’t as well-served by the bus network. Driving in Croatia is easy and going on a Croatia road trip is one of the best ways to see a lot of the country in a short amount of time.

If you only have a week, you are going to want to see as much of the country as you can and it isn’t always possible to do with irregular bus timetables and long travel times.

You can browse which compares car hire prices across major companies. Alternatively, check out Localrent which can connect you with smaller companies or individuals renting their cars.

If you’re flying into Croatia and are not hiring a car, you can organise a private transfer from the airport here.

The beautiful town of Trogir
The beautiful town of Trogir

Classic 7-Day Croatia Itinerary

If it is your first time visiting Croatia, then this is the one-week itinerary you should follow. It covers all of the main tourist highlights of Croatia with possible day-trip options to nearby national parks and beautiful islands.

We do recommend renting a car for this route, however, if you want to save money, a car is not necessary for the Zagreb portion of this trip. You can go ahead and rent a car when leaving the capital and save a couple of days of fare and parking fees.

Day 1 – Zagreb

The most logical place to start this route through Croatia is in the vibrant capital of Zagreb. For many years, tourists have treated Zagreb as merely a place to fly into before making a beeline for the coast — maybe spending a night there if their flight arrives late and leaving first thing in the morning.

However, in recent years, Zagreb has really come into its own as a tourist destination, which is why we recommend spending two days in the Croatian capital.

Zagreb has a gritty, artistic feel to it and has a number of interesting things to do. Take a walking tour of the city to get your bearings and explore some of the main historical sites like St Mark’s Church, the Stone Gate, the Zagreb Cathedral and strolling through the lush Green Horseshoe Park.

Visiting Zagreb is a good first stop on a croatia itinerary
Beautiful view of Zagreb

Where to Stay in Zagreb

Casablanca Boutique B&B – This boutique bed and breakfast is one of the best places to stay in Zagreb if your budget allows for a little bit more than a hostel. They have a number of clean and comfortable rooms available, it is located very close to the city centre and all of the main tourist attractions, and breakfast is included in the room rate. 

Hostel Mali Mrak – This locally-run hostel is one of the best places to stay in Zagreb if you’re travelling solo or on a budget. They have an incredibly friendly staff, great common areas that make it easy to meet other travellers and have both dorms and private rooms available. 

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Zagreb

Day 2 – Zagreb

Though you can certainly see the majority of the highlights of Zagreb within the confines of one day, spending two days in the city is ideal if you want to go at a slower pace and get your bearings in Croatia.

If you spent your first day in the Old Town there are plenty of other places you can visit on the second day.

For instance, consider hopping on a bus to see the massive and sprawling Mirogoj Cemetery. Or, if you’re a craft beer fan, there are plenty of great brewpubs to hop between. Those who love quirky museums will also like the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Zagreb is also an excellent place to educate yourself on the Yugoslav Wars, which were particularly devastating here. Many people tend to forget the horrific conflict of the 1990s when visiting Croatia, but it is important to see how far the nation has come in the past 30 years.

Two days in Zagreb is a perfect amount of time to spend in order to really get a feel for the city and will probably lend to you longing to return one day!

Mirogoj Cemetery
Mirogoj Cemetery

Day 3 – Plitvice Lakes National Park

The iconic and gorgeous Plitvice Lakes National Park is the second-most visited attraction in Croatia (after Dubrovnik) and it is for good reason — it is absolutely spectacular.

This massive network of lakes and waterfalls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is enough to charm even the most ardent of city people and visiting is a highlight of any trip to Croatia. While it can get very busy in the summer months, it is still an unmissable area to explore in Croatia.

While many people visit Plitvice as a day trip from Zagreb or Split, we recommend spending a night near the park so you can get there as early as possible, avoid the inevitable tourist crowds, and spend as much time as you can in the park.

You need at least four hours to see the majority of the park, but you can easily spend longer. Because of this, we recommend leaving Zagreb in the evening, spending the night near the park, visiting Plitvice Lakes in the morning and then driving onto your next destination by the afternoon or evening.

If you don’t have a car, you can organise a guided tour from Zagreb or a group tour that includes transport from Zagreb to Split.

Plitvice Lakes Waterfall
Spectacular scenery at every corner in Plitvice Lakes!

Where to Stay in Plitvice Lakes

House Turkalj — This cosy family-run guesthouse is an excellent affordable option for those looking for a little bit more than a hostel. They have a handful of private ensuite rooms available along with self-catering facilities. They also offer complimentary beer and rakija.

Falling Lakes Hostel — This is a great option for backpackers, budget and solo travellers who want a place near Plitvice Lakes. They offer both dorm and private rooms, self-catering facilities, and will arrange a shuttle to the entrance of the lakes should you not have your own vehicle.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Plitvice Lakes!

Day 4 – Split

After spending two days of your week in Croatia soaking up the arts, culture, and nightlife of Zagreb and another day at the incredible Plitvice Lakes National Park, it’s time to head to the coast and Croatia’s second-largest city of Split.

The drive to Split is absolutely beautiful and there are lots of places in Croatia to stop and enjoy along the way, so make sure to spend your day taking advantage of seeing all there is on the Croatian coast.

Spend the next day taking advantage of all of the great things to do in Split. Walk around the UNESCO-listed Diocletian’s Palace, stroll along the seaside promenade, enjoy a glass of Croatian wine at an outdoor cafe, or take a hike up Marjan Hill.

Split Harbour
Split Harbour

Where to Stay in Split

Il Giardino Luxury Rooms & Suites – If you’re looking for a little bit more luxury, then you can’t go wrong with this boutique hotel. They have a number of spacious and comfortable rooms on offer, are located close to both the centre of Split and within walking distance of the beach and have breakfast included and a restaurant on site.

Tchaikovsky Hostel – This hostel is a great option if you’re travelling solo or on a budget. They are centrally located, have excellent ratings, and offer both dorm and private rooms.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Split

Day 5 – Split

On your second day, consider taking one of the many potential day trips from Split. You could head to the towns of Sibenik or Trogir (the latter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), visit the beautiful Krka National Park, or even make a trip to one of the islands off the coast — enjoy the laid-back nature of Brac or the lavender fields of Hvar for a day!

If you choose to visit Krka National Park, get an early start to beat the crowds – it’s located about an hour from Split. Here you can enjoy gorgeous lakes and waterfalls, swimming spots and nice walking trails.

The town of Sibenik is only about fifteen minutes from Krka, so it’s easy to also visit here. It’s small, but absolutely charming with great seaside views and plenty of winding, cobbled streets to get lost on.

If you want a jam-packed day, you could also tack on the town of Trogir on your way back to Split. This is an historic town on its own island (there is a bridge to get there) that is an absolute joy to explore.

Alternatively, consider taking a day trip to an island like Hvar or Brac. Brac is closer to Split but is a bit more sleepy – though it is home to the iconic Zlatni Rat Beach.

Hvar is a bit further away, but fast passenger ferries from Split can allow you to spend the day exploring the charming Hvar Town and swimming around the Pakleni islands.

If you have more than a week to dedicate to this particular itinerary, this is the time where it makes sense to spend more time. Spend an extra day or two in Split, for instance, and you can easily go on all of these day trips. If you have longer, head to an island like Hvar or Korcula for a few days before moving on to Dubrovnik.

The beautiful town of Trogir
The beautiful town of Trogir

Day 6 – Dubrovnik

The most popular place to visit in Croatia thanks in no part to Game of Thrones, no trip to Croatia that covers the tourist highlights of the country would be complete without including the city of Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik is the premier place to visit in Croatia and the image of its beautiful city walls is what automatically fills people’s imaginations when thinking of this Adriatic country. Keep in mind that Dubrovnik is small, can be very crowded, and is noticeably more expensive than anywhere else in the country.

That is not to say it’s not absolutely gorgeous and it is absolutely worth spending time in the city, especially if it’s your first time visiting Croatia. We recommend spending at least two days in Dubrovnik, one where you can stroll along the well-trodden tourist sites and another where you can try to explore outside of the Old Town.

Spend your first day in Dubrovnik taking in the highlights of the Old Town. Get an early start to beat the crowds on the City Walls and then continue on to visit the Pile Gate, the Dubrovnik Cathedral and the Rector’s Palace.

There are lots of day trippers and cruise ship crowds here, so the crowds can lessen significantly in the evenings. Take this time to enjoy a quieter side of Dubrovnik.

Walking the City Walls
Walking the City Walls

Where to Stay in Dubrovnik

Boutique Hotel Porto – Located directly in the Old Town, this boutique hotel is a great option if you’re looking to add a bit of luxury to your time in Croatia. They have a range of clean, comfortable rooms on offer and it comes very highly rated. 

Old Town Hostel — As the name suggests, this boutique hostel is located directly in Dubrovnik’s iconic Old Town. It is one of the highest-rated hostels in the city and has both dorm beds and private rooms available.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Dubrovnik

Day 7 – Dubrovnik

On your final day, you can use it as an opportunity to explore more of Dubrovnik and get a bit beyond the old town.

You could spend your day lounging on one of Dubrovnik’s beaches or, perhaps, visit lovely Lokrum Island located just a few hundred metres from the shores of the old town.

You can grab a ferry to Lokrun Island and reach it in about ten minutes from the centre of Dubrovnik. It is a nature reserve known for its lush greenery. There are also plenty of lovely, secluded swimming spots for those who want to splash in the water!

Dubrovnik is also a great base to take a few day trips. It is incredibly possible to visit the beautiful city of Kotor, Montenegro or marvel at the Stari Most in divided Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina. If you spend one day exploring the old town, it is totally possible to tack on a visit to either of the cities on the second day.

Streets of Kotor's Old Town
Streets of Kotor’s Old Town

7-Day Adriatic Coast Itinerary

If you’re interested in spending time on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast and want to see the highlights that lie in the cities, towns and islands of the Adriatic Sea, then this is the route for you.

It skips some of the inland attractions and concentrates solely on the coastal region. Keep in mind that this route is much easier to execute if you have your own vehicle.

Day 1 – Zadar

Begin your trip in the lovely town of Zadar. This historic town is located in the centre of the Dalmatia region and is actually home to its own international airport, so you can easily get here from plenty of other destinations across Europe.

Zadar is small but there is a lot to see and do in the town and it’s worth spending at least an entire day exploring. The pedestrianised old town doesn’t attract the crowds often seen in cities like Split and Dubrovnik.

There is a lovely seaside promenade complete with a delightful Sea Organ – a series of steps that plays music as the waves crash against it. There are also Roman ruins and beautiful churches to take in, along with swimming spots all along the promenade. There are also plenty of great cafes and restaurants to enjoy.

Where to Stay in Zadar

Art Hotel Kalelarga — This boutique hotel offers modern, comfortable rooms and free breakfast in the morning in a fantastic Old Town Zadar location. It is one of the highest-rated hotels in Zadar and it is a great option for those looking for a bit of luxury. 

Downtown Boutique Hostel — This small boutique hostel is located in the centre of Old Town Zadar. They have a number of room options available — from dorm beds to privates  — and a friendly and helpful staff. This is a great budget option. 

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Zadar

Zadar Main Street (Siroka Ulica)
Zadar Main Street (Siroka Ulica)

Day 2 – Krka National Park & Šibenik

On your second day, plan to make your way to Split as your final destination. However, there are a couple of excellent places you can visit within easy reach of Zadar.

Start your day with a visit to Krka National Park. Though not located directly on the coast, this gorgeous natural area is absolutely worth a visit if you’re in this part of Croatia. Within the park, you will find beautiful waterfalls, swimming areas and walking trails.

Only about fifteen minutes driving from Krka, you will find the lovely town of Sibenik, which is our second destination for the day.

This is another excellently-preserved old Croatian town and it is a true delight to wander through. It attracts even fewer crowds than Zadar, so you can certainly have some of the quiet, pedestrianised streets to yourself.

From Sibenik, it’s about a 1-hour drive to Split, your destination for the next two nights.

Charming streets of Sibinek
Charming streets of Sibinek

Day 3 – Split

Your third day of this route should be spent exploring the highlights of the city of Split. Though it’s Croatia’s second-largest city, you can easily explore the compact old town in the confines of a single day.

Because you’ve spent the night here, you can beat the crowds in Diocletian’s Palace and get an early start!

You can also take the time to hike up Marjan Hill where you can get incredible views of the city below and of the surrounding islands.

Split Promenade
Split Promenade

Day 4 – Hvar

Try to get an early start and hop on the earliest ferry you can to get to Hvar, one of the most popular Croatian islands to visit. Car ferries from Split arrive in the port in the town of Stari Grad, which is only about thirty minutes from the far more popular Hvar Town.

Spend your first day exploring the sites in and around Hvar Town. Wander the delightful Old Town and then take the time to lounge on the beach – Pokonji Dol Beach is an excellent option!

Alternatively, you can also join a boat tour or hop on a water taxi to the lovely Pakleni Islands, little islands that lie just off the coast from Hvar Town. These are great places to swim and sunbathe.

Hvar Town is also known for its nightlife. So, if it interests you, you can party into the wee hours of the night at one of the many beach clubs. Those looking for a quieter stay will find plenty of other great places to stay elsewhere on the island.

Where to Stay in Hvar

Pharos Hvar Hotel – Located in Hvar Town, this 3-star hotel is a good option on the island. They have a number of comfortable rooms to choose from and a great location for exploring the island and the town.

Adriana Hvar Spa Hotel – This seaside hotel is a great luxury option in Hvar Town. They have an inviting swimming pool, an on-site spa and plenty of gorgeous rooms for guests to choose from.

Hostel Villa Skansi – This hostel is great for budget travellers looking to enjoy Hvar’s nightlife. They have a number of different rooms to choose from and social events organised each evening.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Hvar hotels!

Hvar Town
Hvar Town

Day 5 – Hvar

On your second day in Hvar, continue to explore this beautiful and tranquil island! Your second day should be spent on the gorgeous Dubovica Beach before wandering over to explore cool and quiet Stari Grad.

You can stop off at some iconic Lavender Farms before wandering over to Vrboska – a town that has a lot of charm but not a lot of tourists. It’s a great place to sample some local wines and get a great meal!

Dubovica Beach on Hvar Island
Dubovica Beach on Hvar Island

Day 6 – Korčula 

Day six of this itinerary sees you going to another gorgeous Croatian island – Korcula. However, if you’ve had enough of islands and would rather visit Dubrovnik, then consider heading there from Hvar instead.

If you decide to head to Korcula, it can also be a good idea to get an early start. The easiest way to get there from Hvar is to drive to the Sucaraj ferry terminal and take the ferry to the mainland, then drive to the Orebic ferry terminal and grab the boat from there to Korcula town.

Then, spend your first day exploring the beauty of gorgeous Korcula Town. Often marketed as a smaller Dubrovnik, this is an old and excellently preserved town that just oozes charm. There’s a lot to see here and there are also some great restaurants and lovely local wine bars to pop into.

Where to Stay in Korčula 

Apartments Milion – A great mid-range option in Korcula Town, this place offers both comfortable double rooms and apartments for guests to choose from. It makes for a great base when exploring the island.

Aminess Korcula Heritage Hotel – This plush hotel in Korcula Town has a beautiful location right on the seaside. They have plenty of beautiful rooms and a great breakfast available in the mornings.

Hostel Korcula – Backpackers visiting Korcula will love this cool hostel in the centre of Korcula Town. They offer both dorms and privates and there are great common areas to enjoy.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Korcula hotels!

Korcula Town
Korcula Town

Day 7 – Korčula 

On your final day in Korcula, you can spend it lounging on the beach and, in the afternoon, enjoying some of the incredible wine that makes this island a dream destination. In the morning, head to the lovely Pupnatska Luka Beach and soak up some rays.

If you want to sample some local vintages, then consider heading to the inland town of Smokvica where there are several wineries that offer tastings.

In the second half of the day, make your way to the town of Lumbarda for more wine tasting. This town is also home to some of the island’s (and Croatia’s) only sandy beaches so you can enjoy this, as well.

Vineyards in Lumbarda on Korcula Island
Vineyards in Lumbarda on Korcula Island

7-Day Istrian Highlights Itinerary

If it isn’t your first time in Croatia — or even if it is and you’re keen to venture away from the well-trodden tourist path — then consider heading to the northwestern region of Istria.

This triangular peninsula is often considered to be Croatia’s gastronomic heart and it offers incredible ancient historical sites, beautiful coastal cities, and imposing hill towns to rival those of Tuscany. So, if you want to take the road less travelled, take a look at this Istria itinerary:

Day 1 – Pula

Begin your trip in the historic port city of Pula. Pula has an international airport that serves a multitude of airlines and destinations but if you don’t arrive by plane, it is also well-connected by bus.

Three days in Pula is sufficient in order to be able to see all of the incredible sites that the city has to offer while also giving you time to take a day trip or two.

Spend your first day checking out the amazing Pula Arena, visiting the number of interesting museums in the city, browsing the bustling Pula market and learning about Pula’s history.

Foodies will love the House of Istrian Olive Oil, which is a museum that explains the history of olive oil in the region and also allows you to have some tastings. There is some delicious extra virgin olive oil to enjoy here!

Of course, the Pula Arena is really the draw of exploring this city and it is truly spectacular. Excellently preserved, it is smaller than the Colosseum of Rome, however, it attracts far fewer people, as well.l You can climb all around the arena so it’s a very cool place to visit.

Where to Stay in Pula

Boutique Hotel Oasi – This small hotel is located very close to the beach and a short distance from central Pula. They have a number of rooms on offer, a restaurant on site, and breakfast is included in the room rate. 

Boutique Hotel Valsabbion – If you’re the type to travel in luxury, then this boutique hotel is the place for you. Boasting sleek modern rooms, a fantastic swimming pool, an on-site spa, a beachfront location and much more, this hotel is sure to give you a great experience in Pula! 

Crazy House Hostel – Located in the centre of the Old Town, this hostel is the perfect place for solo travellers on a budget and there is a fantastic outdoor terrace to relax on. 

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other places in Pula!

Sun shining through the Pula Arena
Sun shining through the Pula Arena

Day 2 – Brijuni Islands

You can spend your second day either taking in more of Pula itself or going on a day trip to the wonderful Brijuni Islands.

These were once the summer home of former Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito and today are a wildlife park and nature reserve.

To get to the Brijuni Islands, you must take a ferry from the nearby town of Fazana. This is a pedestrian-only ferry as there are no cars on the island.

Once there, it can be a great idea to hire a bicycle and ride around the island – it’s quite flat and there are plenty of secluded beaches to enjoy.

A lovely deserted beach on the Brijuni Islands
A lovely deserted beach on the Brijuni Islands

Day 3 – Labin & Rabac

On the third day, you can either take a day trip to neighbouring hill towns like Labin or spend the day lounging on a nearby beach.

There is a lot to see in this area of Istria so using Pula as a base for 3 nights really makes sense even if you only spend one full day exploring the city itself. The hill town of Labin, for instance, is located only about 45 minutes from Pula and it can be a delightful place to explore.

Nearby, if you want some seaside charms, head to the small town of Rabac, which is absolutely charming and with wandering through, as well. There are also plenty of beaches you could choose to visit should you wish to have a lazy day of sunbathing.

Day 4 – Umag

After spending some time enjoying the history and atmosphere of Pula, it’s time to head to one of the most underrated towns in Istria: Umag.

Umag is a small seaside town in the northwest of Istria and has a quaint and compact old town, a number of stellar swimming spots, great restaurants, and is close to some of Istria’s best vineyards. Two days here should be enough.

Spend the first day exploring Umag itself and maybe take the time to visit a local vineyard for some wine tasting. You can even head to the beach and swim in the warm Adriatic.

Wine tasting in Istria
Wine tasting at Cuj Winery near Umag

Where to Stay in Umag

Vilola – A small boutique hotel located close to some of the best swimming areas in Umag, Vilola offers air-conditioned rooms with their own balcony and breakfast included in the room rate. 

Hotel Arte Casa – Another boutique hotel in Umag, this one also has a great breakfast included in the nightly rate, air-conditioned rooms, and free parking on the premises. 

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other places in Umag!

Day 5 – Istrian Hill Towns

On the second day staying in Umag, take to the car and head inland to visit some of the most picturesque hill towns in Istria. Buje, Groznjan, and Motovun are all within easy reach of Umag.

Here you can also dine on truffles and pasta for a fraction of the cost of elsewhere in the world.

This area of Croatia is completely different from the most popular tourist destinations and it is sure not to disappoint.

Groznjan is filled with art galleries like this one
Groznjan is filled with art galleries like this one

Day 6 – Rovinj

After enjoying the hustle and bustle of Pula and the laid-back nature and nearby hill towns of Umag, it’s time to head to the most iconic Istrian town: Rovinj.

Rovinj is an absolutely beautiful seaside town in western Istria and boasts a number of interesting things to do. Its proximity to some of the best beaches in the region is an appealing reason to visit Rovinj as well.

Spend one day exploring the Old Town and take the time to just let your feet wander and get lost. Walk around the harbour, stop in for a drink at one of the many seaside cafes, and even climb the bell tower of St Euphemia’s Church.

Rovinj at sunset
Rovinj at sunset

Day 7 – Rovinj

On your second day in Rovinj and last day of this Croatia trip, you can either spend it laying on the beach and soaking up the bright Adriatic sun or you can hop in the car and go on another day trip.

The small hill town of Bale or the lively seaside towns of Porec and Vrsar are both appealing options, as is the beautiful Lim Fjord.

Where to Stay in Rovinj

Hotel Angelo d’Oro – A small hotel in the middle of old town Rovinj, this place has a number of rooms on offer and comes very highly rated. Breakfast is also included in the nightly rate.

Rooms Barbieri – Located only five minutes from the old town, this charming hotel is a great option for a place to stay in Rovinj. The rooms are large and comfortable and it also includes breakfast in the room rate. 

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other places in Rovinj!

Croatia is an absolutely gorgeous and welcoming country that just begs to be explored. However, mapping out the ideal 7 days in Croatia itinerary is paramount to ensuring you have the best Croatian adventure possible!

Are you planning to visit Croatia? Have any questions? Let us know in the comm

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie


  1. Hi, we are staying for 7 days. Our worry is that we arrive late at night around 00:30 in Zagreb. Do you suggest to immediately move out of Zagreb and then to return to Zagreb on the last two days (to avoid problems cause of the flight?) Also, at night which is the easiest way to travel and would Zadar be a good place to be based at? Thanks a lot!

  2. Hi-is it reasonable to drive from Vienna to Croatia or is it better to fly & rent a car in Zagreb? Was thinking of focusing on Istrian area due to time constraints & found a hotel that caters to Vegan diets. Is there enough to do in that area for 6-7 days if your primary interest is pretty nature? Thanks

    • Hi Mark, especially if you’re heading to Istria and not further south in Croatia, it’s not unreasonable at all to drive from Vienna. In fact, it’s a gorgeous drive and you will have lots of opportunities for stop-offs along the way. The drive from Vienna to Pula is about 6 hours.

      There is certainly enough to do in Istria to fill 6-7 days and I would highly recommend spending that amount of time there!

  3. We are interested in visiting the Balkans at the beginning of November for about 11 days. We can rent a car but I would like to start from Sarajevo and end there. I thought of doing two countries only, maybe Bosnia and Croatia. Or Bosnia and a different country – which one? We would need to get back to Sarajevo. We are also interested in the Jewish background of the Balkans, both historically, after the expulsion from Spain through the Holocaust. Can you help me to put my head in order :-)?

    • For 11 days, I think you could easily visit some highlights of Bosnia along with bits of Croatia. Especially if you’re interested in Jewish history, Sarajevo can be a great place to visit.

    • Hi Maggie, we are planning a 20 day trip to Croatia late July/beginning of August with 3 kids (8, 12, 14). We are arriving and departing from Dubrovnik. We would like to end our trip in Dubrovnik and since there isn’t a convenient flight from Dubrovnik to Zagreb, we will have to hit the road as soon as we land. We would like to visit Istria, Lake Bled/Vintgar Gorge, Plitvice Lakes, Rijeka, Split, Hvar, Korcula, Dubrovnik with various day trips throughout. It would be nice to see Zadar and/or Zagreb as well but not sure if we will have time or if necessary. We love hiking, beaches and of course sight seeing. I’m trying to figure out what’s the best way to plan out our trip. Should we break up our initial 7 hour drive from Dubrovnik or go straight through? Where should we stop first and in what order should we make our remaining stops? I would like to see as much as we can but at the same time not be overwhelmed and have some beach time. Please help!

  4. Hi Sandy

    We are arriving in Croatia in the middle of June for 7 night staying in Lapad can you recommend where to start exploring first

  5. We need to fly into Zadar or Zagreb either is fine and out of Split. Give or take a week. We don’t need a ton of hiking but would like to see some falls. Islands? Cities. We need a plan.

  6. Hello Maggie,

    As first, I want to say that I do like your overview of Croatia trip in general and thank you for it.

    However, I must say that it is very sad how people focus only on coastal region of Croatia, with exception of Zagreb and Plitvice lakes, and completely ignore the continental part of it, which is definitely not fair.

    Places like Vinkovci, the oldest settlement in Europe where two Roman emperors were born, then numerous wine cellars and vineyard, especially in the town of Ilok, whose wine was used during coronation of Queen Elisabeth II and on Price Harry and William weddings, city of Osijek with its baroque architecture, city of Djakovo with its royal breed of horses called Lipizzaner which are so beautiful – closest thing to Unicorns as they are called, then the City of Varazdin, called also a “Little Vienna”, formerly even a capital of Croatia (18th century) with a beautiful castle and mesmerizing baroque style architecture, Croatian Sahara, numerous castles all around, river sites, and as I like to say most important of all, the amazing food and the most warm and welcoming people of all.
    Of course, there are so many more that I didn’t mention, but I don’t want to keep this long.

    At the end, this is not a criticism and have no negative connotations, but just maybe a pointer that there is another side of Croatia, that is far from the sea and common touristic spotlight, however still beautiful and wort to visit.

  7. Hello,

    We are planning a trip to Croatia in March 2023. Our flight lands in Zagreb on 03/09. We fly out of Zagreb as well. Have about 8 days. I like your first itinerary, but we wanted to see Istria as well. We are not planning on going all the way to Dubrovnik on this trip. Any suggestions as to routes? Would like to hit Zadar, Split, Plitvice Lakes Park, and Istria. We will rent a car.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Sandy, unfortunately, it’s not very practical to include all you want on your itinerary – especially when considering travel times. Personally, I would suggest not planning on visiting Istria if you would like to see all of the other parts of Croatia, as well.

      • We are planning a trip next month for 7 days and interested into going to Montenegro from Dubrovnik. I think it would be too much to think we could get to the Plitvice National Park as well?
        What are your suggestions in Montenegro?

        Thank YOU!

  8. I am visiting Slovenia and Croatia next summer for approximately 8 days . We will arrive in Lublanja in the middle of the day and leave from Dubrovnik at noon the last day. We would like to spend 1/2 day in Lubalanja and 11/2 days in lake bled , a day in Novo Mesto, 1/2 day in Pula and2 days in Dubrovnik We we’re thinking of a tour to Mostar and Medjagorje one day Can we do this in the time allotted? We will not be driving Could you give us a time efficient itinerary that would make it possible?

    • Hi Jackie, this route seems far too rushed to be enjoyable and to actually spend any time in any of the places you’re keen to visit — you’ll be spending the majority of your time in transit. I would suggest planning to spend your entire time in Slovenia or visiting a bit of Slovenia and Croatian Istria. You can find our Slovenia itineraries here:

  9. Hi Maggie,
    Thank you for writing one of the most thorough blogs about traveling in Croatia! I’d love to get your advice on my itinerary. I will be going to Croatia from Slovenia and will have 7 days and 6 nights. I’d like this to be a more relaxed trip if possible…and am so torn between chilling on an island an skipping Dubrovnik or fitting Dubrovnik in! My flight is out of Split so I do need to get back there somehow and figure out what to do with the car I rent. What are your thoughts on the following:

    Option 1: Fly into Zagreb/stay overnight > Zagreb to Plitvice overnight > Plitvice during the day and drive to Split (overnight or head to Hvar/Brac) > 4 nights in Hvar or Brac > Depart from Split

    Option 1: Fly into Zagreb/stay overnight > Zagreb to Plitvice overnight > Plitvice during the day and drive to Split (overnight or head to Hvar/Brac) > Hvar or Brac for 2 nights > Dubrovnik for two nights > Split overnight > Depart from Split

    Option 2 honestly sounds pretty intense. That said, do you think it’s doable? If I were to go with Option 1, do you have any suggestions between Hvar or Brac and where to stay?

    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Gina, happy you’ve found this article helpful! I do think that your second option is doable, however, it does sound quite rushed and exhausting, especially if you’re looking to chill out a bit!. Personally, I would opt for the first option to have a more relaxing trip 🙂

  10. Hey Maggie
    I hope my message finds you well!
    We are planning with my partner a 6 days 5 nights trip starting and ending from Zagreb airiport, at the end of August with Flix bus and Ferries.
    We arrive in Zagreb at 14:00 Day one and Im thinking of after spending 3 hours in Zagreb to leave for either Pula or Rovijn, spend the Night and few hours the next Day. After I was checking if there is a way to travel with Ferrie directly to Split, spend the next evening there and travel with Ferrie to Dubrovnik for night number three. Next evening I was thinking of catching the evening Flix bus for Plivitce lake, in order to get in early in the morning. Later get back to Zagreb for an early flight the next Morning.

    Is it possible you thhink with Bus and Ferrie, what should I leave back or add, any advices.


    • Hi Zak – honestly, I think your itinerary is way too hectic for the short time you have. I’d recommend concentrating on one of the routes I have outlined above for a less stressful and easier to coordinate trip 🙂

  11. Thanks so much for this blog it is awesome! We are a family of four with two teenagers. Are we too late to plan a visit this summer? We are environmental scientists so I am mostly interested in enjoying the natural beauty of Croatia. What is your favorite island? I am obsessed with swimming holes and also clear blue waters…. What do you think two teenage girls would like the best?

    • Thanks for your comment, April, and I’m so happy you’ve found this article helpful! I don’t think that you’re too late to be planning a trip for the summer at all! Unfortunately, I don’t have too much experience travelling to the Croatian islands (I hope this changes soon, though!), but I do think that the island of Brac sounds like a good fit for you. It’s easy to reach from Split and has lots of great swimming areas. Hope you’re able to have a great trip!

  12. Looking at booking Croatia for July/August 2021 and wanting to spend 14 days touring the country. What airport would you suggest to fly into and what airport would you suggest to leave out of? We are avid hikers and defiantly enjoy our ocean and water days. Enjoy the finer hotels and spas also. Very excited being my great grandmother and grandfather came from Croatia I want to experience the finest places the country offers.

    Pat Williams

    • Hi Pat, I would recommend flying into Zagreb and out of Dubrovnik (or vice versa) if you want to see a good portion of the country in 2 weeks. Hope you’re able to plan a great trip!

  13. Hi Maggie. I am planning a trip of about 7 days to Croatia the first part of June. I have heard such wonderful things about Rovinj and the Iberia peninsula, but we also want to visit Split and Dubrovnik. Any suggestions or is this just trying to cram too much into a week? Most of the itineraries that I see online are an either/or for visiting those areas..

    • Hi Karen, unfortunately, it will likely be a bit too rushed if you plan to visit Istria and also Split and Dubrovnik in just one week. You can very easily spend a week just in Istria and even more in Dalmatia, so I would recommend weighing which areas appeal to you most and concentrating on those. You just might have to plan another trip!

  14. Hi. What is the best way to tour the islands? Day trips or charter a sleeping boat for a few days? Want to enjoy the coastal scenery without feeling rushed by a group boat. And, when does Summer/high season officially end?

    • Hi Cindy, if you don’t want to feel rushed on the islands, then I would recommend spending a few days overnight on the ones that interest you rather than going on day trips. A boat charter is also a great idea if you want to island hop with more flexibility! High season is typically over by the end of September and you will start to see tourists clearing out and some businesses closing up by this time. The weather usually stays very nice through October, though, depending on where you are in the country!

  15. I am planning a trip for 2 and most likely following a schedule similar to your “Classic Croatia” route. I was interested in visiting Krka National Park as well. Do you think it is worth it or is similar to Plitvice and not necessary?

    • Hi Holly, thanks for your comment! Both Krka and Plitvice are similar, but you can still get different things out of them if you want to visit both. For instance, you can go swimming at Krka which is not allowed at Plitvice. I personally think that both are worth visiting but Plitvice is more stunning than Krka in my opinion.

  16. Hi Maggie, My wife and I are planning a 14 day motorhome tour of Croatia in mid September 2020. Our trip starts in Zagreb and ends in Dubrovnik. We currently have no Itinerary but would like to spend equal time travelling the coast and inland areas. Could you advise any web sites that show motorhome overnight parking.


    • Hi Peter, sounds like you’re in the process of planning a great trip! Unfortunately, I don’t know much at all about motorhome travel, so I can’t advise you in that area. Hope you have a great time in Croatia!

  17. Hi Maggie, I have planned my visit to Croatia from 25th Feb to 02nd March 2020. It is going to be me and my wife only. We will land in Zagreb on 25th Feb and would move out from Dubrovnik on the 02nd of March (Flights already done). Can you suggest what all places to be covered in this duration and how is the weather going to be like? Also, I am a bit confused b/w taking a rental car (don’t know whether it is left or right hand drive) or taking public transport like bus or taxis.

    • Hi Apoorv, I have covered a week-long itinerary starting in Zagreb and ending in Dubrovnik as well as the average weather to expect above. Croatia, like most European countries besides the UK, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus, drives on the right-hand side. All major cities are well-connected by bus. Relying on taxis to get around is an option, however, it will be very expensive. Hope this helps and you have a great trip!

  18. HI
    I’m travelling to Croatia in early May 2020. Land Zagreb, 7 days, finishing in Dubrovnik (probably fly into Athens from here I’m thinking).
    A friend told me that Plitvice Lake NP required 2days and to stay there a night. What’s your thoughts on this??
    Many thanks

    • Hi Anne-Marie, I think you would only need 2 days in Plitvice if you’re really into hiking and nature and that’s why you’re visiting Croatia. Especially since you only have 7 days, there are many more places to spend time in Croatia. Hope you have a great trip!

  19. Where should one start its trip from? If we are skipping Zagreb, and want to cover places like Split , Plitvice, Dubrovnik.
    Any other place that should which is highly recommended?

    • Hi Archie, if you don’t plan on visiting Zagreb, starting in Split or Dubrovnik makes sense. If you want to visit another coastal town, Zadar will make a nice stop. Also, there are numerous islands (Hvar, Brac, Korcula, etc) that are worth visiting.

  20. 20 days in Croatia and neighboring countries

    We are 6 active hikers booked a trip to Croatia for 10 days in early May, 20
    2 nights Opatija
    1 night Split
    2 nights Dubrovnik
    1 night Vodice
    1 night Zagreb
    2 nights Bled

    We would like to stay 10 more days to go to neighboring countries as well as doing a little hiking, biking and kayaking the area.

    We are planning our flight from Vancouver. Our trip starts at Opatija and ends at Bled. Any suggestions on a good itineraries for pre and post trip?

  21. Hi , I would be landing at zadar airport in september and planned for a 7 day trip, could you suggest how should we plan.. About us- Couple with no historical interests but love nature, scenery , beaches. Have to use public conveyance only for travel within croatia.

    We are looking for a relaxed trip not a rushed one.

    Thanks in advance.. Silky

    • Hi Silky, I would recommend you rework the Adriatic coast itinerary above to begin and end in Zadar rather than Zagreb. Going from Zadar-Zagreb-Split-Zadar or Zadar-Split-Zagreb-Zadar both work equally well and are all easily accessible via public transit. Hope you have a great trip!

  22. I briefly read the article and maybe you covered it already. But most people will fly into Zagreb. With a 7 day itinerary using a rental car, you will start at the North and end in Dubrovnik. One has to account the time to get back to Zagreb. Any suggestions on how best to do this?

    • Hi Jacob, thanks for your comment. Because many people start and end their Croatia trips from different areas of the country (there are numerous airports that people will fly into, not just Zagreb!), I’ve left out how to get back to your beginning point. However, if you’re planning on renting a car in Zagreb and making your final destination in Dubrovnik, I see no reason why you couldn’t just drive back to Zagreb. It is often a lot cheaper to pick up and return a rental car to the same location. There are also numerous bus connections to Zagreb from just about every major city in Croatia, including Dubrovnik, if you don’t want to drive back to the capital yourself.

      • Hi Maggie,
        How’s Croatia in the dead if winter? January end Feb beginning? Where do you recommend travelling and what’s there to see. Thanks b

        • It depends on what you’re after, but the seaside towns will be pretty sleepy in the winter months. It’s a good time to visit Dubrovnik as you can experience the city with far fewer tourists than in the high season. Across the board, you will find accommodation prices to be a lot cheaper than in the more popular months, but some businesses may not be open in the middle of winter. Hope this helps!

  23. Hello, Maggie!
    travellers plan to travel to visit Croatia in June, 2019, it would be around from June 26 to July 2-3 return,trip planned sbout 7-8 days at the destination. We are coming and driving a minibus (minivan) so ,it means we are very flexible on route and in any destinstion, we are free and sould move to any place any fay. As we primary memtioned, our start of the itinerary would be Zagreb, Split or Dubrovnik. Is it right if westart our trip from Riga by bus? By our plans we have to cross Latvia, Lithuania? Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and then somehow enter the Croatia. Could you corret me and suhgest me the best trip option (7-8days trip) for us as necessary?!
    Best regards,
    Ieva Lukina (ieva@21. lv)

    • Hi Ieva, I think that if you only have 7-8 days for your trip, trying to drive from Riga to Croatia is going to take up a good portion of it and give you very little time to explore Croatia itself. Maybe, if you can, try to allot more time for the trip or concentrate on travelling a little closer to home instead, this time around.

  24. It’s tough making a decision, there are so many places to see that are gorgeous.
    I’m honestly not a big fan of Zagreb, it’s not the real Croatia to me. It’s Central Europe. Croatia for me is Central Dalmatia and to a smaller extent, Istria. For me, the highlights of the country range along the coast from Zadar (with an excursion inland to Plitvice) to Dubrovnik (from where I think Kotor is a must see as you mention). So many great spots on the way though: Sibenik, Omis, Makarska, the island of Vis…and that’s not even including the islands on the south. So much to see.


    • Thanks for the comment, Frank! I agree with you that it’s so hard to plan a route in Croatia…you could easily spend months there and not see everything!

      I’m going to have to disagree with you about Zagreb, however. While I’m the first person to say that a capital city isn’t necessarily reflective of a country on the whole, I’m not sure it’s right to say that it’s not the “real” Croatia. It’s certainly much different than the cities in Dalmatia, but it’s still a fantastic place to visit and I think including it on a Croatia itinerary is important to get a feel for all sides of the country…even if you only have a short period there.

      Great suggestions elsewhere…I’ve only been to Šibenik out of the places you mentioned and thought it was absolutely lovely. Like you said…there’s just so much to explore!


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