Get behind the wheel and cover the highlights of Croatia in a whirlwind seven days. Starting in the capital of Zagreb, you'll make your way south to Dubrovnik, stopping at Plitvice National Park, the ancient Dalmatian Coast port cities of Zadar and Split, and the idyllic Adriatic island of Korcula. In just one week, you'll experience the best nature, culture, and wine experiences on this compact Croatian itinerary.


  • Visit Plitvice Lakes National Park and see waterfalls and emerald-green lakes 
  • Discover Split and learn about its 1,700-year-old history
  • Watch the sunset over the Elafiti Islands from Mount Srd in Dubrovnik
  • Tour the Konavle wine country and sample wines from three traditional wineries

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Zagreb, Free Time Zagreb
Day 2 Drive to Plitvice Lakes National Park via Rastoke Plitvice Lakes National Park
Day 3 Plitvice Lakes at Sunrise, Drive to Split Split
Day 4 Ferry from Split to Korčula Korčula Town
Day 5 Drive to Dubrovnik via Pelješac Peninsula Dubrovnik
Day 6 Konavle Wine Tasting Tour Dubrovnik
Day 7 Depart Dubrovnik  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Zagreb, Free Time

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. Consider heading out on a guided walking tour of the city's historic heart, taking you from the main square to Zagreb's Upper Town through local markets to St. Mark's Square.

Alternatively, you could visit one of the many museums and art galleries, like the Homeland War Museum, the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, or the ever-popular Museum of Broken Hearts. Or stroll through the city center, enjoying 17th-century neo-Baroque architecture at Zagreb's Art Pavilion and Croatian National Theater. Zagreb also has a number of beautiful city parks, which are great for exploring and people-watching, especially in the late afternoon. Maksimir is a great option, with a variety of cafés nearby to pick up a coffee for your stroll.

Day 2: 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, 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.

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Day 3: Plitvice Lakes at Sunrise, Drive to Split

Boardwalks lead you throughout the park
Explore the surreal beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park at sunrise

Early morning is one of the best times to visit Plitvice Lakes before the midday crowds arrive. Many hiking routes within the park follow along wooden boardwalks, and you can explore them on your own or with a private guide. The benefit of opting for a guide is that they'll be able to offer insight into the region and lead you to the most interesting areas of the park. After enjoying a leisurely morning in Plitvice, get back on the road and continue about 2.5 hours south to the ancient coastal city of Split.

Croatia's second-largest city was founded 1,700 years ago by the Roman emperor Diocletian. In the fourth century, he built the dazzling Diocletian's Palace, which became the blueprint for Split's Old Town. The well-preserved palace has been transformed into the heart of this ancient city, and you can wander its halls. Visit the Cathedral of St. Dominus, the Piazza, and Peristyle Square, where you can admire the 3,500-year-old sphinxes Diocletian brought back from Egypt. If there's time, climb the Romanesque bell tower of the Cathedral of St. Dominus for stunning views over the city and Adriatic.

In the evening, take a stroll along Split's seafront Riva to admire the views over the Adriatic before finding the offbeat Konoba Dioklecijan restaurant, just to the left of the Bronze Gate for dinner—its outdoor terrace built into the walls of the famed Diocletian's Palace.

Day 4: Ferry from Split to Korčula

Colorful boats line a marina on Vineyards at Smokvica village on Korčula
Colorful boats line a marina at Smokvica village on Korčula

Check out Split's Green Market (Pazar Market), a lively fruit and vegetable outdoor market just east of Diocletian's Palace. This is a great place to see how the locals shop and to pick up some fruit for your 2.5 or 3.5-hour ferry ride to Korčula. Once in Korčula, the afternoon and evening are yours to discover this little island's numerous restaurants, taverns, shops, and bars as you roam the maze of gray stone houses, alleys, churches, and squares. Visit the 14th-century Land Gate atop an elegant staircase, then explore St. Mark's Cathedral and its strange sculptures.

Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Bishop's Treasury next door for a small but impressive art collection, including works from Carpaccio, Bassano, and Tiepolo. From there, you may wish to visit the simple house thought to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. Rent a bike or scooter or ride the bus 5 miles (8 km) to the sandy beaches of Lumbarda. Afterward, grab a bite to eat and pair it with the local dry white, grk, indigenous to Lumbarda and nowhere else. Dinner is a great time to try traditional lamb and goat in Korčula's Old Town.

Day 5: Drive to Dubrovnik via Pelješac Peninsula

Mali Ston, Croatia
Mali Ston has one of the longest defensive stone walls in Europe

Today, you'll leave Korčula and catch the 1.5-hour ferry to Orebić on the Pelješac peninsula, which juts out from the Croatian mainland. From here, continue your drive south to Dubrovnik. The drive takes less than two hours, but en route, you'll stop in the medieval city of Ston. Here, you can explore one of the longest defensive stone walls in Europe, built to keep predators away from the town's salt pans, and discover this area's importance in the 14th century. Enjoy beautiful views over Ston and its glittering salt pans from a parapet walkway on Ston's 3,937-foot (1,200 m) wall.

Reward those efforts with a seafood lunch of Ston's famous fresh oysters or mussels accompanied by a glass of local dingač red wine. When you're ready, continue to the historic coastal fortress city of Dubrovnik. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure, allowing time for you to wander and explore this enchanting city. Depending on when you arrive, you may have time to hop aboard a cable car and ride to the top of Srđ Mountain for vistas of Dubrovnik and the nearby Elafiti Islands

Day 6: Konavle Wine Tasting Tour

Sample local wines in the Konavle Valley
Sample local wines in the Konavle Valley

Sit back and let someone else do the driving today as you set off for Konavle, a famous wine region outside of Dubrovnik, where you'll visit three wineries and their famous winemakers—all families whose tradition of winemaking has endured for centuries. The tour lasts six hours and starts with a panoramic transfer along the coast to Konavle. First, you'll stop at the awarded winemaker, Crvik, to taste the local white, red, and rosé, including a unique white, dubrovacka malvasia, pressed from old grapes from the days of the Dubrovnik Republic.

Next, you'll continue to another winery belonging to the Ljubić family, where you'll taste merlot and a variety of herb liqueurs and enjoy a traditional meal in their wine cellar. From here, you'll carry on through the Konavle Valley to the Karaman family's award-winning winery to sample their dry dessert wines, prošek, alongside traditional padispanj cake. After, return to Dubrovnik for a final night by the sea.

Day 7: Depart Dubrovnik

Rector's Palace
Rector's Palace sits in the heart of Dubrovnik's Old Town and houses an excellent museum

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, for a collection of 15,000 pieces of interesting works, visit the Rector's Palace and Cultural Historical Museum. Wander this well-preserved palace-turned-museum and explore its exhibits, some detailing life in the Republic of Ragusa during medieval times.

Later, when the time is right, make the 45-minute drive to the airport with enough time to return your rental car and make all connecting flights home. This concludes your grand Croatian adventure. Come back soon, and 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 a week in Croatia, or discover the best time to visit Croatia.


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Map of Highlights of Croatia: Zagreb, Plitvice, Korčula & Dubrovnik - 7 Days
Map of Highlights of Croatia: Zagreb, Plitvice, Korčula & Dubrovnik - 7 Days