Itinerary through Croatia: The most beautiful travel destinations for your road trip

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Anyone who has ever sped along Croatia’s spectacular coastal road knows: Croatia is simply the perfect road trip destination! In Croatia you can not only look forward to an impressive natural backdrop, but also look forward to beautiful coastal towns and beautiful beaches.

But once you start planning a travel route through Croatia, you quickly realize that the country is pretty overwhelming. There are just so incredibly many worthwhile travel destinations in Croatia, that it’s not that easy to fix the stops along the route.

To make it easier for you to plan your road trip, we have put together our perfect Croatia itinerary . Our route is intended for around two weeks, but thanks to a wide variety of options, it can be extended or shortened to three weeks. Whatever suits you.

1. Route to the most beautiful destinations in Croatia A little note in advance: We start this itinerary in northern Croatia. (For good reason, because we always travel by car from Vienna.) But if you fly to Croatia or travel by train, you can of course also start the route at any other stop (e.g. Split). You can find more information on how to get here further down in this blog article.

Istria (Rovinj) The Italian Istria is the perfect start for your Croatia road trip. If you are traveling by car (e.g. from Germany or Austria), Istria is more or less on the way to the south.

Istria is the northernmost peninsula of the Adriatic Sea and one of the most famous regions in Croatia. What’s waiting for you? You can look forward to picturesque coastal towns. Rovinj in particular has done it to us. The charming little port town is very touristy, but it’s just unbelievably worth seeing.

There are also fantastic travel destinations in inland, above all the medieval mountain villages such as Motovun . Istria is also the most exciting region in Croatia from a culinary point of view. In our opinion, nowhere else in Croatia does one eat as well as here.

Detailed blog article:
Istria Travel Guide
Recommended stay: 3-4 nights
Our accommodation: The Melegran (Rovinj) or San Tommaso Relais and Wine (Bale)

Optional: Zadar & Dugi Otok The next stage of the road trip takes you south to northern Dalmatia. A possible next stop is the port town Zadar. Small warning: this section is one of the longer of our route. It takes about 4 hours to get here from Istria (Rovinj).

Zadar is (after Split) the second largest city in Dalmatia . Accordingly, many sights are waiting to be explored by you in the historic old town. However, the historical center is comparatively manageable, so that one day is in principle sufficient to explore it.

Zadar is also the port of departure for several Croatian islands. So if you want to get a taste of island air early on on your road trip, then you could make a detour to an island. One of our favorites is the island Dugi Otok, which is still a bit of an insider tip. If you are looking for peace, this is the place for you.

Recommended stay: 1-3 nights (depending on whether you stay only in Zadar or also translated to an island)
Accommodation tip: Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel (Zadar) and Charming Old Stone House (Dugi Otok)

Stopover: Krka National Park
Before starting the trip further along the coast of Croatia, we recommend a detour inland to the Krka National Park. This natural jewel with its countless waterfalls is really breathtakingly beautiful.

The Krka National Park is quite extensive. Nevertheless, a stop of several hours is enough to explore the most famous part of the nature park. This takes you (on foot) over wooden walkways to the famous Skradinski waterfall in about two hours.

More information can be found in this blog article:
Krka National Park

Recommended stay: about 3-6 hours (depending on how much you want to watch)

Šibenik The coastal town of Šibenik is a friendly mix of impressive sights (especially the imposing Cathedral of St. James) and picturesque streets. The historic town center is small, but promises plenty of photo opportunities.

A special feature of Šibenik are the four fortifications. From the most famous, St. Michael’s Fortress, you can enjoy a magnificent panoramic view over Šibenik and the sea. All in all, Šibenik is definitely a really worthwhile stop on a road trip through Croatia.

Detailed blog article: Šibenik Travel Guide
Recommended stay: 1-2 nightsAccommodation recommendation: Villa Pergola or Hotel Armerun

Stopover: Primošten & Trogir On the way to the south we strongly recommend you to take the highway avoid inland on certain sections and take the coastal road instead. This leads you to two really worth seeing towns: Primošten and Trogir.

About half an hour’s drive after Šibenik you first reach the sleepy fishing village of Primošten. Primosten is beautifully situated on a peninsula and surrounded by water on almost all sides. For example, you can walk to the Church of Sveti Juraj or just enjoy the flair in one of the cafes at the harbor.

Again 40 After a car drive to Primošten you finally reach the comparatively quite touristy but very worth seeing port city of Trogir. It’s much livelier here. We can highly recommend climbing the bell tower of the Cathedral of St. Lawrence. The view from up here over Trogir is simply fantastic.

Hhere’s more information about both places: Primošten & Trogir
Recommended stay: Approx. 2 hours each

PrimostenTrogir Split
No Croatia road trip without a stop in Split! In our eyes, Split is a jewel of a city and should not be missing from your itinerary. The old town around the famous Diocletian’s Palace is breathtakingly beautiful. Split is incredibly steeped in history and at the same time a modern coastal metropolis.

Because Split really is one of the most fascinating destinations in Croatia, we would recommend you to stay at least two nights. Believe us: The Flair of Split is really very special and will definitely be remembered. If you want to plunge into the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, there are also plenty of beaches around Split.

Here to the detailed blog article:
Split Travel Guide
Recommended stay: 2-3 nights

Our accommodation: Heritage Hotel Fermai

Optional: Hvar Split is port of departure for some islands in southern Dalmatia. With the islands, of course, it’s always one of those things: The ferry crossing takes time and requires a bit of planning. But if you want to make a detour to an island, then we can highly recommend Hvar.

Hvar is one of the most expensive and most beautiful islands in Croatia. You will find some incredibly stylish, but also very expensive accommodation here. With the island’s capital, Hvar town, you can also look forward to one of the most beautiful cities in Croatia.

Recommended stay: 3 nights
Accommodation tip: Town House Rosario

Stopover: Omiš The road trip continues on the mainland towards the south. And here, too, we once again recommend avoiding the inland motorway and choosing the spectacular coastal road instead. It will take you from Split in about 12 Minutes to Omiš, a coastal town worth seeing.

Omiš is quite impressively situated at the foot of the mountains. (But it will be even more impressive in Croatia, as a small spoiler.) In any case, we definitely recommend that you climb the Mirabella Fortress. From up here you have a fantastic view over Omiš.

You can find more information here: Omiš
Recommended stay: approx. 2-3 hours

Makarska Riviera From Omiš the route takes us again along the coastal road. Now it’s getting really impressive, because we are approaching the Makarska Riviera – a stretch of coast that is characterized by the spectacular Biokovo Mountains. Densely packed picturesque nestle here Small town at the foot of the mountain range – a unique natural setting.

The largest and region eponymous place is Makarska, a beautiful town. The fantastic beaches that you will find here are also unique, above all the Punta Rata beach in Brela, which is regularly voted the most beautiful in the world.

All in all, the Makarska Riviera is a great destination for a beach holiday, but there are also plenty of opportunities for active holidaymakers thanks to the Biokovo Mountains . We particularly liked it here.

Here see our detailed article:
Makarska Riviera
Recommended stay: 2-3 nights
Our accommodation: Villa Basca

Dubrovnik Last but not: Dubrovnik – the spectacular port city at the southernmost tip of Croatia. To get to Dubrovnik, you have to cross the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina (and back to Croatia) via the so-called Neum Corridor.

The long drive is worth it, however: the UNESCO World Heritage city of Dubrovnik is for many the most beautiful city in Croatia. Since the series “Game of Thrones” was filmed here, Dubrovnik has once again gained some popularity. You probably already know what that means: Dubrovnik is without a doubt also one of the most touristic destinations in Croatia.

If you have enough time, then you should definitely plan a stopover in Dubrovnik for several days on your road trip. The medieval flair is really something special.

Further information: You will soon find Julesandaway on the travel blog a detailed blog article about Dubrovnik.

Recommended stay: 2-3 nights
Accommodation Tip: The Byron

2. Map: Our Croatia itinerary at a glance To give you a better idea of ​​the route, we have marked all stops on this map. As you can see: Croatia is very long. In order to shorten the return journey from Dubrovnik, it is of course a good idea to plan another stopover.

You have two options here: Either you leave one or the other stop along when traveling south of the route and take it with you on the way back. Or you can choose the direct route via the inland motorway. Here you could plan an overnight stay at the famous Plitvice Lakes .

3. Transport & Car Rental in Croatia Own car vs. rental car in Croatia Perhaps you are undecided whether you should travel to Croatia with your own car or whether it would be better to book a rental car on site? In principle, both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Anyone who comes from Austria or southern Germany will probably own car the first choice. Coming from Vienna, for example, we always drove to Croatia in our car. The downside is that you collect an unbelievable number of kilometers in Croatia. From Vienna to Dubrovnik alone, for example, there are almost 1. Kilometre.

Therefore, traveling by train or plane is an option for many (especially those who come from central or northern Germany). . For example, you could head for Split or Dubrovnik. We like to look for cheap flights on Skyscanner. Once you have arrived in Croatia, you can hire a rental car on site.

We always book our rental cars through Sunny Cars. Sunny Cars is a comparison platform. You book through Sunny Cars and then collect your car from a local car rental company (e.g. Hertz). The big advantage of Sunny Cars is the fully comprehensive insurance. In the event of damage (regardless of whether it is caused by someone else or your own fault), you will not incur any costs. Personally, we would never travel without such insurance again!

You can search for cheap rental cars here: Sunny Cars

Driving & tolls on a road trip through Croatia The Croatian road network is quite well developed. Two routes in particular are important for your road trip: Firstly, the modern A1 motorway, which leads inland from Zagreb to Dubrovnik. And on the other hand the coast road, which meanders spectacularly along the water and is of course much more attractive in terms of landscape.

Motorways (as well as some tunnels ) in Croatia are subject to a toll. However, there is no vignette. Instead, you take a ticket when you drive up and pay the fee when you leave in cash or with a card at the counter.

The tolls are quite high: For 100 kilometers you have to reckon with about 8 euros. When you consider how long Croatia is, there are quite a few fees. But the motorway is really in top condition.

On the islands: ferry connections in Croatia To get from the mainland to the many islands of Croatia, you can easily use the ferry. The main ports of departure are in Split (e.g. for the islands of Hvar, Vis or Korčula) and Zadar (e.g. for Dugi Otok).

The largest liner shipping company in Croatia is Jadrolinija. Their ships connect practically all touristically relevant port locations in Croatia. In the meantime, you can even book your ferry tickets in advance online, which we would also recommend in the high season.

More important Note: Cars can only be taken on the large ferries, while the catamaran is intended purely for passenger transport. When booking, you can buy a corresponding vehicle ticket. Inquire in advance with your rental car company whether you are allowed to leave the mainland.

4. FAQs and further information for your Croatia road trip What is the best travel time for a road trip through Croatia? Not recommended: July & August Very, very important: Try to avoid the midsummer, i.e. July and August, if possible. Croatia is one of those travel destinations that seems to be growing in popularity every year. In the summer months, many places in Croatia are unfortunately hopelessly overcrowded.

Of course we are aware that many people have no other choice due to the school holidays. remains than to travel in July or August. In that sense: don’t panic. Of course, you can also take a road trip through Croatia in the high season.

You have to adjust to a lot of people. Most of the well-known beaches are then really quite full and even popular restaurants are often fully booked for days. We would also highly recommend booking your accommodation in advance in July and August.

Our recommendation: spring or autumn If you are flexible in terms of time then we really recommend that you plan your Croatia road trip for spring or autumn. Then there is still a lot going on, but it is much more pleasant than in midsummer.

The autumn would be our preferred travel time, more precisely September to early/mid October. With a bit of luck the weather will still be stable. The sea is also warmed up by the summer and nothing should stand in the way of a beach holiday. (Provided that the Adriatic Sea doesn’t get in your way.)

The spring is also beautiful in Croatia. For example, we have been to Croatia several times in May. In between, the thermometer can reach summery temperatures. In any case, you can usually look forward to sunny spring days.

How much time should I allow for a road trip through Croatia? Croatia is huge! Once you start researching the most beautiful travel destinations, you will soon realize that one trip is never enough to see everything.

To give you a rough idea of ​​which route to take which period is possible, we will briefly give you our assessment.

1 week: Of course it’s for one Croatia road trip rather tight, but definitely possible. We recommend that you focus on one region, such as Istria (super doable in a week) or Central Dalmatia (Split & Makarska Riviera). 2 weeks: All of Croatia is possible, but rather stressful. For example, you could “only” drive to Split or skip Istria. The itinerary described above would be a rather ambitious undertaking, but it is quite feasible if you skip one or the other stop. 3 weeks: The longer, the better of course. Therefore, three weeks is a great travel period to travel all over Croatia and also to cross over to an island in comfort. Book accommodation along the itinerary in advance or spontaneously? Whether you book your accommodation in advance or prefer to do so first on the way is a matter of taste. Personally, we almost always book the first stops on our route from home.

If you don’t have much time, we would definitely recommend booking the hotels before you travel. Experience has shown that researching suitable accommodation while on the go can be quite tedious and time-consuming.

Especially in the high season: The earlier you book, the better! Popular travel destinations are often practically fully booked in July and August. We once made the mistake of going to Split in August without a reservation. Never again!

Transparency: Affiliate links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

And now we’re curious: Have you ever done a road trip through Croatia? How was your itinerary? What do you think are the most beautiful travel destinations in Croatia? We look forward to hearing about your experiences!