Discover local gems alongside the landmarks on this 9-day odyssey along Croatia's sun-drenched Dalmatian Coast. Beginning and ending in the capital of Zagreb, you'll make your way south along the Adriatic, exploring exquisite medieval and Roman ports, taking a day trip through the Dalmatian and Pakleni Islands, and climbing into the clouds on the towering Mount Biokovo.

Highlights

  • Tour the lively Upper & Lower Towns of Zagreb
  • Explore the emerald lakes & waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park
  • Take a scenic boat trip through the Dalmatian & Pakleni Islands
  • See the Adriatic Coast from dizzying heights at Mount Biokovo's glass Skywalk
  • Discover the ancient port cities of Šibenik, Split & Zadar

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Zagreb Zagreb
Day 2 Transfer to Šibenik via Plitvice Lakes National Park Šibenik
Day 3 Private Guided Tour of Šibenik, Transfer to Makarska Makarska
Day 4 Full-Day Sailing Excursion: Blue Cave, Biševo, Vis & Hvar Makarska
Day 5 Mount Biokovo & Skywalk Excursion Makarska
Day 6 Transfer to Split, Walking Tour of Split & Trogir Split
Day 7 Transfer to Zadar, Private Guided City Tour Zadar
Day 8 Transfer to Zagreb, Guided City Tour Zagreb
Day 9 Depart Zagreb  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Zagreb

Looking out over Zagreb, Croatia's capital
Looking out over Zagreb, Croatia's capital

Welcome to Croatia! Upon arrival at Zagreb's airport, you'll be greeted by your driver and transferred to your hotel. After settling in, the rest of the day is free to explore. The city center is easily walkable and the streets and parks are easy to navigate on foot. All the main attractions and restaurants are within walking distance.

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. The city's many museums and art galleries include the Homeland War Museum, the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, and the ever-popular Museum of Broken Relationships. Stroll through the city center, enjoying 17th-century Neo-Baroque architecture found at Zagreb's Art Pavilion and Croatian National Theater, or visit one of the beautiful city parks which are great for exploring and people-watching.

Day 2: Transfer to Šibenik via Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park is famous for the emerald waters of its lakes
Plitvice Lakes National Park is famous for the emerald waters of its lakes

Today you'll transfer south towards Šibenik, stopping en route for a two-hour guided tour of one of Croatia’s most popular national parks, Plitvice Lakes. A must-visit for any traveler to Croatia, the UNESCO-protected park is comprised of 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. 

After lunch, you'll continue to the coastal town of Šibenik for the evening. Founded by the Croat king Petar Krešimir IV in the 11th century, Šibenik is home to impressive fortresses, music festivals, and medieval gardens. 

Day 3: Private Guided Tour of Šibenik, Transfer to Makarska

11th-century Šibenik on the Adriatic
The 11th-century Adriatic city of Šibenik 

After breakfast and check-out this morning, meet your guide and embark on a fascinating two-hour walking tour of Šibenik. With four fortresses and numerous steps in the old historic center, this will seem less like sightseeing and more like an urban hiking tour that will have your lungs working at full capacity. You'll stroll the scenic walkway along the Channel of St. Anthony, see the island fortress of St. Nicholas, and admire the grand St. James Cathedral, Europe's only fully stone-built cathedral.

Afterward, you'll continue south down the coast to the beautiful beach town of Makarska. where you can get settled in and spend the rest of your day discovering its lively Old Town, horseshoe-shaped bay, and palm-fringed promenades.

Day 4: Full-Day Sailing Excursion: Blue Cave, Biševo, Vis & Hvar

Biševo's Blue Cave (Modra Špilja)
Biševo's Blue Cave (Modra Špilja)

Today you'll set out on an exciting full-day excursion to discover the Dalmatian and Pakleni Islands. Cruise to the east coast of Biševo Island to see the mesmerizing iridescent blue waters of the Blue Cave. Upon landing on the island, you'll transfer to a cave-friendly boat before floating inside the cave to discover the natural light-meets-water phenomena for yourself.

Visit the nearby Vis Island to relax on the stunning pebble beach of Stiniva Bay. Obscured by towering cliffs, the hidden-away beach offers excellent crystalline waters for swimming and snorkeling as well as shade for a respite from the mid-morning sun.  

After a stop at the scenic bay at Palmižana, you'll continue to the rugged southern edge of Hvar Island, full of picturesque landscapes dotted with medieval stone villages set amid lavender fields, vineyards, and olive groves. Upon arriving at Hvar Town, you'll disembark to stroll around the idyllic main square.

After an unforgettable day on the Adriatic, you'll return to Makarska for the evening. 

Day 5: Mount Biokovo & Skywalk Excursion

The glass-floor attraction of Biokovo Skywalk
The glass-floor attraction of Biokovo Skywalk

Today you'll experience the Adriatic coastline from above, with a half-day tour of Mount Biokovo, Dalmatia's tallest mountain. Home to a unique and biodiverse ecosystem, its craggy limestone landscape towers over the surrounding coast and countryside. Close to its peak lies the Skywalk, an incredible glass walking platform set at the edge of a 3,937-foot (1,200 m) cliff. Brave the dizzying, horseshoe-shaped walkway for breathtaking views of the sea and coast below. 

Return to Makarska in the afternoon, where you spend the remainder of the day relaxing at the beach.

Day 6: Transfer to Split, Walking Tour of Split & Trogir

Early morning at the Peristyle inside Diocletian's Palace
Early morning at the Peristyle inside Diocletian's Palace

Bid Makarska farewell this morning, as you transfer north up the coast to the ancient port of Split. Founded 1,700 years ago by Roman Emperor Diocletian, Split's Old Town includes a number of impressive sites, including Diocletian's Palace, one of the best-preserved Roman buildings in the world. Meet your expert guide in the Peristyle square for a two-hour walking tour, taking in the 3,500-year-old sphinxes Diocletian brought back from Egypt before exploring the 4th-century palace and its ancient cellars.

From here, you'll continue to the Romanesque bell tower of the Cathedral of St. Dominus (St. Duje)—considered the oldest Catholic cathedral still in use—for stunning views over the city and Adriatic. Next, it's the former Roman temples, the famous Golden Gate, and the statue of Grgur Ninski (Gregory of Nin) for an interesting lesson on medieval history. After lunch in a local restaurant, you'll take a brief drive along the coast to discover a wealth of Roman and medieval history not far from Split.

Set on a small island—a stepping stone between the mainland and the much larger Čiovo—is the ancient coastal city of Trogir. It's a small place, and it doesn't take longer than about five minutes to walk from any point in Trogir's historic center to reach the sea. Navigate the narrow stone streets, starting with the Garagnin-Fanfogna Palace, working your way to the Cathedral of St. Lawrence to admire Radovan's 13th-century Romanesque Portal and the bizarre creatures around the doorposts. 

Stroll along the Riva, admiring diverse architecture and medieval fortress walls as you find your way to the 15th-century Kamerlengo Fortress. Ascend its ramparts for sweeping views over the island. And don't be surprised if you're serenaded by traditional acapella groups called klapa, along the way.
 
At the end of the tour, you'll transfer back to Split, where you can get settled into your accommodations and spend the rest of the day exploring on your own.

Day 7: Transfer to Zadar, Private City Tour

The Monument to the Sun installation in Zadar
The Monument to the Sun installation in Zadar

Today's transfer continues north along the coast to reach the beautiful city of Zadar. A historical center of the Dalmatian Coast, Zadar is famous for its picturesque coastline full of islands and vibrant blue waters, as well as fresh seafood and unforgettable sunsets. Once you've settled in and freshened up, meet your guide to embark on a two-hour walking tour through the cobbled streets of the Old Town, discovering highlights like the Sea Organ, which plays unique melodies powered by the waves, the Monument to the Sun installation, and the Roman Forum, Croatia's largest Roman ruin. 

Take the rest of the day to relax and explore. You may wish to 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 capella groups called klapa that serenade the passersby, including folks on yachts who dock there. Here you can sit back and enjoy one of the city's legendary sunsets.

Day 8: Transfer to Zagreb, Guided City Tour

See sites like Zagreb's Stone Gate on today's tour
Say your goodbyes to the Adriatic today, as you transfer back to Zagreb. After settling into the capital, explore its many sights in-depth with a guided walking tour. From the main square of Ban Jelačić, you'll wind your way through the network of small streets through the oldest part of Zagreb, Gornji Grad (Upper Town), an area that stretches between two hills: Kaptol and Gradec. You'll visit the Cathedral, Tkalčićeva Street, the Kamenita Vrata (Stone Gate), and St. Mark's Church with its famed multi-colored roof—as well as learn why the Grič cannon fires from the Lotrščak Tower every day at noon.
 
You'll then take the funicular down to Donji Grad (Lower Town), an area made up of spacious parks and boulevards, like the impressively grand Lenuci Horseshoe capped by the Neo-Baroque Croatian National Theater. Here you'll have the opportunity to explore part of Ulica Street, one of the longest streets in Zagreb and a great place for shopping, cultural sites, and finding a restaurant to grab a bite.
 
As evening falls, choose a cozy local restaurant to enjoy your final evening in Croatia.

Day 9: Depart Zagreb

Sunset over Zagreb's Ban Jelačić Square

Your Croatian adventure draws to a close today, as a private transfer takes you to the airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

More Croatia Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Croatia? Check out these other Croatia itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.