This one week itinerary in Croatia will let you see the highlights of this beautiful country. Starting in Zagreb, the capital, and making your way down south to Dubrovnik, stopping to see Plitvice National Park, the ancient port cities of Zadar and Split, then spending a few days relaxing on the beach on the island of Hvar before ending your trip back in Dubrovnik.
Day 1 - Arrive into Zagreb
Explore the city of Zagreb. During the summer, it is crowd-free and home to non-stop festivals, museums, bars and sporting events. Walk around Lenuci’s Horseshoe - which is a u-shaped string of seven landscaped, urban park squares in Zagreb. Explore and take in the sites like the iconic Croatian National Theater, several museums, monuments, lots of outdoor statuary, shops and restaurants. There’s always something going on all year-round; take a look here for the best time to visit.
Luxury: Esplanade Zagreb Hotel - rated one of the best hotels in Zagreb located close to the center of town. With a bar, two restaurants and cafe on site it is a great place to stay for travelers interested in food, exploring old-town and architecture.
Mid-Range: Best Western Premier Hotel Astoria - great location in a quiet area in the center of the city, and has free private parking and wi-fi. It has a cafe and restaurant on site.
Mid-Range: Hotel 9 - luxury boutique hotel, modern interior in a great location in the city center walking distance to the train station.
Budget: Camera Felice/Happy Rooms - close to the main square, bright and colorful cozy rooms.
Day 2 - Drive to Plitvice
Drive two hours to Plitvice National Park, the most popular park in Croatia.
Spend the morning in Zagreb and drive to one of the nearby villages of Plitvice. Spend the night in a sobe (B&B) to enjoy a more intimate experience and wake up early the next day to take advantage of the park before the crowds.
Even if you arrive to the Plitvice area earlier there are plenty of outdoor activities to partake in, from hiking to swimming in the Mrežnica River.
Stay two nights in Villa Verde, a family run B&B that focuses on giving travelers the local experience. Nada and Zeljko make every guest feel at home and use locally sourced ingredients in their home cooked meals.
Villa Plitvica - located in the park, basic and clean B&B. Walking distance to the waterfalls. There is a restaurant across the street which serves simple Dalamatian cuisine. Free parking available.
Day 3 - Plitvice National Park
Wake up early and explore the park before the crowds. Choose your route before you go into the park as there are 8 different hiking trails to choose from which range from 3 to 8 hours. The upper lakes tend to be less crowded during the peak season. Make sure to pack a picnic lunch as food in the park is overpriced.
Day 4 - Drive to to Split and take a ferry to Hvar
After breakfast, drive an hour and 40 minutes to Zadar, an ancient Mediterranean walled port city. Rich in history, explore the historic center starting at the Sea Organ, passing the 12th-century cathedral and the church of St. Simeon. Stop for lunch with a glass of wine in the center of town at a restaurant like Stomornica, which is popular for its grilled fish and simple Dalmatian cuisine.
Continue driving to Split for an hour and 40 minutes, returning the car, then going to the ferry terminal to catch the ferry for Hvar Town. Depending on if you have time before the ferry - explore the Old Town of Split, its narrow alleys and walk around Diocletian’s Palace.
Luxury: Adriana Hvar Spa Hotel, a 5-minute walk from the beach and center of Hvar, offers a spa, rooftop and swimming pool. A few bars and restaurants on site. Guests love the location and proximity to the beach.
Luxury: Villa Nora Hvar, a boutique B&B with 8 rooms in Old Town, Hvar. Housed in a former 14th century palace, serves a buffet breakfast and dinners. There are many restaurants, cafes, and bars close by.
Mid-range: The Palace Hvar Hotel overlooks the Hvar Bay and has great views of the Paklinski islands. A bar and restaurant on site, it is in an ideal location.
Budget: Apartments Mare a B&B with sweeping view of the Adriatic from every balcony and a 10-minute walk from the main center. It offers a kitchenette with a grocery store nearby.
Day 5 - Hvar
Rent a scooter from Hvar Town and drive through olive groves, lavender fields and vineyards along the coastline, for no more than 250 Kuna/day ($40 USD).
Bring a bottle of wine and watch the sunset from Spanjola Fortress. The short walk up to this old 16th century fortress is worth the hike up for the stunning views of Hvar Town and the Pakleni islands.
For other unique experiences and things to do in Hvar, check out this article.
Day 6 - Hvar
Take a half-day sailing and snorkeling trip to the Pakleni Islands. Just off the coast of Hvar, these islands are filled with hidden beaches and lagoons.
Day 7 - Depart Hvar and ferry to Dubrovnik
After breakfast, take the three-hour ferry ride to Dubrovnik.
Take the cable car up to the top of Srdj Hill, for stunning views of Dubrovnik and nearby Elafiti Islands then walk down instead of taking the cable car down.
Spend the day exploring Old Town and the city walls at your own pace. Get a map from your hotel and wander aimlessly through the town.
Watch the sunset from Buza Bar - a hidden gem outside the city walls overlooking the sea or catch the sunset from the water on a 2.5 hour sunset dinner cruise on a traditional Karaka replica ship or your own private boat. Taking in the scenes of Old Town and the islands from the water.
Luxury: The Pucic Palace a boutique hotel with 19 rooms and suites located in Dubrovnik’s Old Town, next to the main Stradun street. With Banje beach so close by the hotel provides guests with complimentary umbrellas and sun chairs. The hotel has a private yacht which is available for trips up the coast
Luxury: Hotel Bellevue set on a cliff overlooking Miramare Bay has a pebbly beach on site. Offering sea views from all rooms, Dubrovnik’s Old Town is a mile away. Has a spa and restaurants on site.
Mid-range: Hotel Lapad located 2 miles from Dubrovnik’s Old Town or a 10 minute bus ride. The hotel is in a historic building with a large outdoor pool and a restaurant.
Budget: Hotel Adria located 1.5 miles from Old Town in Gruz, most rooms have a balcony with views of Lapad Bay. Restaurant and cafe on site.
Day 8 - Depart Dubrovnik
If you have the morning free, visit Gundulić Square Market to buy gifts and snacks from the only open-air market in Old Town. It sells authentic Dubrovnik products like dried lavender, local brandies and dried fruits. Go before 1pm.