This complete two-week road trip is a great route for travelers visiting Croatia for the first time—you'll even have time for a quick visit to nearby Montenegro. Start in Croatia's capital, Zagreb, then journey along the best of the Dalmatian Coast until you reach its most popular southern city, Dubrovnik. Swim in the pristine waters of popular Krka National Park, lie out on the golden sands of Brac's Zlatni Rat Beach, and hike a medieval route between remote villages on the island of Hvar.


  • Discover cascading waterfalls and emerald lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park
  • Listen to the sea organ of Zadar and explore its storied alleyways
  • Explore the famous Diocletian's Palace in Split, dating back to the fourth century
  • Hop over to the islands of Brac and Hvar for stunning beaches and ancient villages
  • Roam marbled streets and marvel at the Baroque buildings of historic Dubrovnik

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Zagreb, Food & Culture Tour Zagreb
Day 2 Half-Day Trip to Samobor, Free Time in Zagreb Zagreb
Day 3 Drive to Plitvice Lakes National Park via Rastoke Plitvice Lakes National Park
Day 4 Drive to Zadar, Free Time on the Dalmatian Coast Zadar
Day 5 Drive to Split via Krka National Park Split
Day 6 Split & Diocletian's Palace City Tour Split
Day 7 Ferry to Brač, Explore the Island Brač 
Day 8 Guided Hike to Dragon's Cave, Relax on Zlatni Rat Beach Brač 
Day 9 Ferry to Hvar, Hike the Lavender Road Hvar
Day 10 Hvar Cycling Tour & Local Winery Visit Hvar
Day 11 Ferry to Dubrovnik Dubrovnik
Day 12 Walking Tour of Dubrovnik Dubrovnik
Day 13 Day Trip to Montenegro: Kotor & Perast Dubrovnik
Day 14 Depart Dubrovnik  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Zagreb, Food & Culture Tour

Zagreb is Croatia's capital and largest city
Zagreb is Croatia's capital and largest city

Start your great Croatian adventure in Zagreb, the capital. A gem of a European city, Zagreb is at once historic and new. It's filled with leafy green parks and Gothic/neo-Renaissance buildings, yet there are also modern shopping complexes, outdoor malls, and endless dining and drinking options. On arrival, a private driver will meet and transfer you to your hotel. Refresh and get ready to explore the city's historic heart on a private guided walking tour.

This half-day food and culture tour will explore the best of the Croatian capital, starting in Ban Jelačić, the main square, which is chock-full of museums, great architecture, trendy neighborhoods, and delicious food. Wind through the oldest part of Zagreb, Gornji Grad (Upper Town), and taste fresh produce at the buzzing Dolac market. You'll visit the Cathedral, Kamenita Vrata (Stone Gate), and St. Mark's Church with its famed multicolored roof. Taste delicious traditional dishes while listening to your guide share stories about the local lore.

Day 2: Half-Day Trip to Samobor, Free Time in Zagreb

Stop in Samobor's main square for a tasting of its famous cream-filled pastry called kremšnite

Enjoy a slow morning in the city before you meet your private guide for a half-day adventure to Samobor. Only a short drive from Zagreb, this calm and picturesque town became a center of artisans, culture, and intellectual parties. Your guide will take you on a tour of this lovely city and tell you all about its history and legends. Along the way, you'll enjoy two unique local tastings in the main square—sweet wine and the famous Samobor custard cream cake. After, enjoy free time to explore on your own before returning to Zagreb together.

The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore Zagreb at your pace. Use your time to experience Croatia's famous café culture and indulge in the local pub scene. Head north of the city's main square, and you'll find Tkalčićeva Street. This vibrant strip is filled with small boutiques, traditional stores, and places to eat and drink, making it the perfect day-to-night destination to settle in for a laid-back Croatian dinner and reflect on the city's beauty.

Day 3: Drive to Plitvice Lakes National Park via Rastoke

Plitvice Lakes National Park
Choose from eight different hiking trails within Plitvice Lakes National Park

Today, you'll collect a rental car and begin your great road trip across Croatia. Make the two-hour drive south to Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of Croatia's most popular national parks. You'll pause at Rastoke, a picturesque watermill village set on the small Slunčica River. This fairy-tale village is filled with wooden houses with colorful facades and is surrounded by beautiful nature and the sound of cascading falls. In the late afternoon, you'll reach Plitvice Lakes National Park and can explore the UNESCO-protected park at your leisure.

Plitvice is filled with an exquisite collection of 16 glassy emerald green and blue travertine lakes, more than 90 cascading waterfalls that seemingly cover every corner of the park, and numerous caves. The terraced lakes are surrounded by beech and pine forests and are home to extensive wildlife. Choose one of eight different hiking trails, ranging from three to eight hours in duration, where the upper lakes tend to be less crowded during the peak season. You may wish to bring a picnic to enjoy.

Day 4: Drive to Zadar, Free Time on the Dalmatian Coast

Waterfront views of Zadar
Views of Zadar from the water, with the looming mountains of the Dalmatian Coast rising up behind

In the morning, continue your drive south until you reach the ancient Roman city of Zadar. A historical center on the Dalmatian Coast, Zadar is famous for its picturesque coastline of islands and vibrant blue waters, as well as fresh seafood and memorable sunsets. It's only a 90-minute drive, and the rest of the day is yours to relax and explore. Walk the walled Old Town—a treasure trove of ancient architecture from Roman and medieval times. Discover the ninth-century Church of St. Donatus, a 16th-century Venetian city wall, and a first-century Roman Forum.

Later, stroll along Zadar's Riva, a wide ribbon of stone paths bordered by a grassy park on one side and the sea on the other. It runs along Old Town's waterfront, where it comes alive at night with vendors and Dalmatian a cappella groups called klapa that serenade the passersby, including folks on yachts who dock there. Take in a legendary sunset from Café Brazil before discovering the pretty patterned lights of the Monument to the Sun while listening to the nearby Sea Organ. This urban musical instrument uses waves and sea breezes to make a series of haunting chords. 

Day 5: Drive to Split via Krka National Park

Krka National Park
Krka National Park has seven waterfalls, but Skradinski Buk is the largest and most famous

Krka National Park is a couple of hours away from Zadar and best explored before the crowds. Rise early to make the journey. With seven waterfalls—the largest and most impressive being Skradinski Buk—Krka National Park is one of Croatia's top-rated parks. The Krka River, another highlight of the park, carves through the limestone and creates a spectacular canyon on its 44-mile journey (70 km) from the foothills of the Dinaric Alps to Šibenik

Follow the winding wooden paths that traverse turquoise pools and river islands to prime lookout spots in which to view the falls. Mother Nature saved the best for last with Skradinski Buk. Cascading 78 feet (24 m) down into an emerald lagoon wider than the falls are tall, you'll find restaurants, snack stands, and ice cream shops at the base of this picture-perfect locale. In the mid-afternoon, continue 90 minutes south to Split, a remarkable city whose heart is set within the ancient walls of Diocletian's Palace—blending UNESCO-listed Roman architecture with modern life.

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Day 6: Split & Diocletian's Palace City Tour

View of Split from Diocletian's Palace
Get a spectacular view of Split from within Diocletian's Palace

Split is the second-largest city in Croatia and home to the dazzling Diocletian's Palace, a fourth-century haven for the Roman emperor Diocletian. This ancient coastal city was founded 1,700 years ago by the emperor, with the well-preserved palace transforming into the heart of the ancient city. Today, you'll join a guide to explore Split's Old Town, which sits within the halls of the ancient palace. Visit the Cathedral of St. Dominus, the Piazza, and Peristyle Square, where you can stop to admire the 3,500-year-old sphinxes that Diocletian brought back from Egypt.

If there's time following your tour, climb the Romanesque bell tower of the Cathedral of St. Dominus—considered the oldest Catholic cathedral still in use—for stunning views over the city and Adriatic. If you like walking, continue down the Riva and up to the local Marjan Park for beautiful vistas over Diocletian's Palace, the city of Split, and the Adriatic Sea. You'll also find a few historical sites in the park, plus quiet swimming coves and some of Split's most beautiful beaches, like Bačvice Beach.

Day 7: Ferry to Brač, Explore the Island

Seafront scenery of small mediterranean village Pucisca
Seafront scenery in the small Mediterranean village of Pučišća on Brač 

This morning, board a 90-minute ferry bound for the port town of Bol on Brač and check into your hotel. The largest of the central Dalmatian Islands, Brač is bursting with historic sites dating back to ancient Greece and the Middle Ages. Take the day to explore the island by car and discover coastal towns, villages, and older settlements in the interior. Stop in Pučišća and visit the only stone masonry school in Europe (their sculptures are scattered throughout Bol). You'll witness the centuries-old lapidary tradition as you watch the students bring Brač stone to life.

Next, drive up to the highest peak on the island, Vidova Gora, for all-encompassing views of Bol, Zlatni Rat Beach, and the Adriatic. Continue the short trip west, winding your way to the UNESCO-listed Blacka Monastery (Pustinja Blaca), an impressive hermitage built around a cave by two monks fleeing persecution. When it's time, return to Bol for a leisurely dinner, perhaps choosing a restaurant with views of the sea, like Terasa Santo or Vendetta.

Day 8: Guided Hike to Dragon's Cave, Relax on Zlatni Rat Beach

Stunning aerial shot of Zlatni Rat beach
The famous Zlatni Rat Beach moves and shifts shape throughout the year

Step outside your hotel early in the morning and visit the King's Stairs, located in the heart of Bol, to mingle with the locals and buy fresh produce from the local market. Afterward, meet your guide and drive to Dragon's Cave (Zmajeva Spilja), just 3 miles (5 km) west of Bol, for a hike to explore the impressive Christian and pagan reliefs carved into the cave walls by a 15th-century friar.

From here, return to your hotel to grab your swimsuit before setting out along the Bol Promenade, lined with Brač stone and shaded with pine trees, to Croatia's pretties beach, Zlatni Rat. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon relaxing or take advantage of the maestral winds and windsurf just offshore. A geographical phenomenon, Zlatni Rat protrudes over 1,641 feet (500 m) into the Adriatic Sea in a V-shape, surrounded by deep blue and turquoise water. The shape of the beach changes with the wind and water currents, further adding to its uniqueness.

Day 9: Ferry to Hvar, Hike the Lavender Road

The old town of Stari Grad
Stari Grad is one of Europe's oldest towns

Catch a three-hour ferry to the island of Hvar for a day of trekking on the Lavender Road. This Croatian island is a popular destination with tourists due to its natural setting, mild climate, and its historic port town of the same name. Take the early afternoon to walk along the narrow streets of one of Europe's oldest towns, Stari Grad, which was founded in the fourth century BCE. Explore its charming squares and old stone buildings before continuing the 7.5-mile (12 km) trek to the southern coastline and Hvar Town.

Along the way, you'll hike an old trail—the main thoroughfare in medieval times connecting the north and the south of the island—through sweetly scented lavender fields and past gnarled olive groves. Pass the village of Velo Grablje, once home to a thriving lavender industry and now undergoing a slow revival, and pause in Malo Grablje for a delicious meal at an authentic tavern before carrying on. After the day's adventures, treat yourself to a drink in the ancient piazza of Hvar overlooking the Venetian loggia, seventh-century fortification walls, and the oldest municipal theater in Europe.

Day 10: Hvar Cycling Tour & Local Winery Visit

You'll cycle through the charming village of Vrboska on Hvar 

Today's half-day cycling excursion covers Hvar's undulating island terrain, accented with vineyard-covered hills, thick olive groves, and fragrant fields full of rosemary and lavender. Step into the saddle and gear up for an immersive adventure with a local cycling guide. Transfer to ancient Stari Grad, then set out to explore the north side of the island. Discover centuries of living with a Hvar native, starting in the center of town. Move on to the ancient trail of the Greek Hora (agricultural plains), then stop at a family-owned vineyard, where you'll have the opportunity to try the finest local wines.

Follow along the fragrant trails of Hvar as you pedal toward one of the most beautiful inlets of the Adriatic—Vrboska. This small fishing village is located in a deep-set inlet and interconnected by numerous bridges—it will surely remain one of the most beautiful memories of your Hvar vacation. Continue through dense pine forests and Mediterranean island scenery to Jelsa, where you'll stop for a cup of coffee in the relaxing ambience of the main square. Finally, return to Stari Grad for lunch at a traditional konoba restaurant. 

Day 11: Ferry to Dubrovnik

Historic Dubrovnik and its beaches
Historic Dubrovnik offers both culture and coastline

Catch a 3.5-hour morning ferry to Dubrovnik today, then use the afternoon to explore one of Europe's most ancient fortress cities. Known as the "Pearl of the Adriatic," this area came into its own in the 12th and 13th centuries when it was under the rule of the Venetians—though there's evidence of settlements as far back as the Byzantine era. Throughout the Middle Ages, it was a fortress port encircled by stone walls, and its many Baroque churches and Renaissance and Gothic palaces still stand today.

After checking into your hotel, you'll want to get out and explore. Can't-miss activities include riding the cable car up to Mount Srđ to take in the sunset over the nearby islands and walking along the smooth, limestone-paved streets of historic Old Town. You'll surely find yourself on Stradun, Dubrovnik's main street, at some point, where it's easy to find excellent restaurants and wine bars. Alternatively, there's Buza Bar along the water's edge and outside the city walls—a great spot to enjoy a cocktail while taking in the sunset.

Day 12: Walking Tour of Dubrovnik

Fort Lovrijenac
After touring the Old Town, you'll wander up to the Lovrijenac Fortress

Start your day early to avoid the crowds and meet your expert guide at the 16th-century Pile Gate. Together, you'll enter the Old Town to uncover centuries of the city's rich history while your guide shares stories of local life, legends, and tales of the importance Dubrovnik once held in the era of its Republic. Highlights include Onofrio's Fountain, the 15th-century Rector's Palace, Luza Square, the Church of St. Blaise (St. Vlaho), and the café-lined streets of Brsalje Street.

After touring the streets, you'll head for Lovrijenac Fortress and the city's impressive defensive walls, the second-largest set of city walls in the world. At certain places, the wall rises 75 feet (23 m) high, offering excellent vantage points for photos of the coastline. For the rest of the afternoon, explore Dubrovnik and its surroundings on your own or enjoy the afternoon sun on the nearby beaches. If you didn't make it up Mount Srđ yesterday, today you could take the cable car to the top for panoramic views over the city and Adriatic, then stay for dinner at Panorama Restaurant

Day 13: Day Trip to Montenegro: Kotor & Perast

Bay of Kotor
The Church of Our Lady of Remedy in the Fortress of Kotor, overlooking the Bay of Kotor

Today, you'll get to check off another country on your travel bucket list when you cross the border on a day trip to Montenegro. This tiny Balkan nation borders Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the south and is known for the beautiful beaches and medieval villages along its Adriatic coastline. You'll want to get an early start to allow time for the border crossing. Continue with a scenic drive around the Bay of Kotor before stopping at the village of Perast, which feels like a little piece of Venice on the Adriatic.

From here, make the 20-minute drive to the medieval coastal village of Kotor. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is built on a sloping mountain and abounds with Venetian palaces and Romanesque churches. Kotor is also an ancient fortress town, as evidenced by the medieval stone ramparts that run up the mountain to the Fortress of St. John, which dates to the sixth century. You can reach this fortress by hiking up some 1,350 steps from town to a height of roughly 820 feet (250 m). When you're ready, find your way back to Dubrovnik, a drive of around two hours.

Day 14: Depart Dubrovnik

Old Town glows at dusk
Leave Dubrovnik with fond memories of the Old Town 

Depending on when you depart, you may have time to visit one of Dubrovnik's museums, like the Franciscan Monastery and Museum. This large complex houses many treasures, including the world's third-oldest pharmacy, dating from 1317. Alternatively, visit the Rector's Palace and Cultural Historical Museum to explore a well-preserved palace-turned-museum filled with details of life in the Republic of Ragusa during medieval times.

Then, when the time is right, make the 45-minute drive to the airport with enough time to drop off your rental car and check into your departing flight home or onward. This concludes your grand Croatian adventure. Safe travels!

More Great Croatia Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Croatia? Check out these other Croatia itineraries, explore different ways to spend two weeks in Croatia, or discover the best time to visit Croatia.


A note on diacritical and retroflex markings: In order to support the best technical experience and search functions, diacritical markings have been omitted from this article.


Map of Ultimate Croatia Road Trip: Zagreb, Plitvice, Brač & Dubrovnik - 14 Days
Map of Ultimate Croatia Road Trip: Zagreb, Plitvice, Brač & Dubrovnik - 14 Days