Want to spend your vacation on beautiful beaches, exploring ancient cities and discovering incredible feats of nature? Then Croatia is the perfect choice for you! This absolutely beautiful small country on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea will win you over with its beauty, great food and warm and friendly people. It is a perfect getaway, but you have to plan everything out carefully because the Dalmatian coast is quite popular in summer. However, one week in Croatia will be more than enough to fall in love and experience the best this Mediterranean heaven has to offer. This itinerary will help you use your time in the most efficient way, so enjoy!
What’s the best time to visit Croatia?
Te best time to visit Croatia is summer, no contest. Visiting Croatia is all about enjoying its spectacular beaches and lovely islands, so naturally, summer is the time to be here. Be warned, this period can get quite hot, so you may want to avoid walking in the sun a lot at noon and things like that. The climate is generally typical for the Mediterranean, which means very warm/hot summers and mild winters.
But if you want to avoid tourist crowds, skip July and August and maybe aim for a visit in June or September – those months still have plenty of sun, and the sea should be excellent for swimming. But given that the winters are not that cold on the country’s coast, maybe coming here for Christmas wouldn’t be a bad idea, either? It certainly won’t be as crowded.
Finally, keep in mind that summers also offer a variety of great festivals. From Ultra Europe in Split to Hideout Festival in Novalja or even INmusic Festival in Zagreb, great music and world-famous performers abound. Mind you, these three festivals are just the tip of the iceberg, and there are plenty of other very attractive events all over the coast.
A Few Facts about Croatia
At the moment, Croatia is the last country to join the European Union. They don’t use the euro here, though, but have their own currency called kuna. You can get a little less than 7.5 kunas for one euro if the exchange rate is fair.
With just over four million people, Croatia is by no means a big country. Still, the nation is very proud of its heritage, and many people don’t know that the tie was actually invented here. Yes, that thing men put around their necks for important meetings was first used in this country. Furthermore, Nikola Tesla was born in a village near the town of Gospić, and you’d do well to go and visit the place if you have the time. Oh, and remember 101 Dalmatians? The southern part of the country is called Dalmatia and this is where the breed originated from. Cool, right?
Finally, Croatians love football (soccer, as the Americans call it). Sports fans will know that their national team was in the final match of FIFA 2018 World Cup, losing in the end to France, and with team captain Luka Modrić winning the best player award. The party was wild when the team got home – look it up online, you won’t believe it!
Croatia One Week Itinerary
Follow this day by day itinerary and make the most of your upcoming trip. These are the best places to visit and best sights to explore in Croatia in one week.
Day 1 – Zadar
As hinted earlier, this overview of the best places to visit in Croatia will mostly revolve around the region of Dalmatia, and the first thing on your list is the city of Zadar in the region’s north. The city’s origins go way back to the 4th century BC, with the influence of ancient Romans being quite clearly visible in Zadar’s Old Town. Furthermore, you absolutely must visit the world-famous Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun, two fascinating artistic installations. Enjoy the unique atmosphere which may very well remind you of a much smaller town because of the way everybody is relaxed around here and definitely grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants, preferably in the evening. The seafood is excellent, and Croatian wines accompany it splendidly, so you’re in for a real treat and a lovely dinner. After that, turn in because you have a big day tomorrow.
Day 2 – Plitvice Lakes
Plitvice Lakes are by far the most famous of all Croatia’s national parks and a UNESCO world heritage site. And for a very good reason. Since they are about two hours away from Zadar, it would really be a shame not to visit them during your one week in Croatia. That’s why day two of our Croatia itinerary is perfect for that.
There are 16 cascading lakes in the national park in total. They vary in color from green to gray and are surrounded by unspoiled nature and lush greenery and connected by spectacular waterfalls. Honestly, you’ll feel like you’re in a fairy tale. Have lunch in one of the restaurants in the park and spend a great day on fresh air. Swimming in the lakes is not allowed, but there are plenty of great places for that outside of the national park, so having a car with you is recommended. Once you’re done, go back to your accommodation in Zadar and prepare to continue your tour of the best cities in Croatia.
Day 3 – Split
The next part of this Croatia itinerary is in Split, the country’s second largest city. It is connected to Zadar by highway, so you can get there in less than hour and a half by car. Careful if you’re taking the bus – they usually do not go via the highway, which means the journey takes longer, but on the plus side you get to see some spectacular views of the coast.
Split’s city centre is where you want to spend most of the time because this is where a 1700-year-old Roman palace built by emperor Diocletian still stands. It is a remarkable place to visit since life still goes on in there and you can see architecture from so many different periods practically at the same time. Have lunch in the streets which were once frequented by real Roman royalty and have a cup of coffee on Riva, right next to the sea. There are plenty of places to explore and culture to absorb, and the evening offers plenty of options too – from great parties to fancy dinners, everything is on the table, if you’ll pardon the pun. But remember to save some energy for tomorrow.
Day 4 – Brač
Split is actually quite a big port and very well connected to the neighbouring islands. So why not explore some of them and see more of Dalmatian coast? Take the catamaran from Split to the beautiful town of Bol on the island of Brač and enjoy the country’s most famous beach and one of the best places to visit in Croatia in general: Zlatni Rat. The crystal-clear sea, the pine trees around it and the facilities on the beach which have blended fairly seamlessly with the surroundings guarantee ultimate relaxation and enjoyment.
But Brač is much more than just Zlatni Rat. It is full of small picturesque towns an villages, great beaches and excellent restaurants, so if you don’t feel like spending the whole day in one place, rent out a car and start exploring. The view from Vidova gora is simply amazing. Just remember to return the car on time and catch the last catamaran from Bol to Split, but even if you get stranded, there are certainly worse places to spend the night in.
Day 5 – Hvar
Another day, another island to visit. This time, board a ship to Hvar. That’s the island right across Zlatni Rat, so you must’ve had a glimpse of it if you went there for a swim, especially if you climbed Vidova gora. Catamarans can get you there, so consider taking them because they are much faster than ferries.
There are two main towns on the island – Hvar (yes, the island’s namesake) and Stari Grad. The former is a quite exclusive place with a fantastic old town and loads of foreign tourists and very much worthy of a visit. Stari Grad (literally translates to “an old town”) is Croatia’s oldest town, founded by ancient Greeks in 384 BC. Explore this amazingly old place, grab something to eat in one of the traditional restaurants (called “konoba”) and enjoy one of this island’s fantastic beaches surrounded by pine trees and crystal-clear sea. No matter which town you choose to visit (or do both if you have the time and energy), you’ll find a great dipping spot with ease.
Day 6 – Dubrovnik
Time to say goodbye to Split and its islands and head even further south. But don’t be sad because you are about to visit the crown jewel of Croatian coast and its tourist offer in general – Dubrovnik. When it comes to the best places to visit in Croatia, this city is at the top of that list, that’s for sure, primarily because of its Old Town, an impeccably preserved collection of Renaissance and Baroque buildings and cobbled streets, all wrapped by magnificent city walls which you can (and should visit). Walk down Stradun (the main street) but keep this tip in mind – it is quite expensive. You can get a much better deal for your lunch or coffee if you just turn a corner from it.
Grabbing a ride on a cable car to Srđ, the hill above the town, is a great idea if you want a unique perspective of Dubrovnik and its surrounding. And if the city looks familiar to you, that’s no surprise – it played King’s Landing in The Game of Thrones and some scenes from the latest Star Wars movies were shot here, too!
Day 7 – Still Dubrovnik
The final day of this Croatia itinerary, so let’s not make things unnecessarily stressful, ok? If you didn’t manage to see some things you wanted to see yesterday, you can do so in the morning, no rush. Or you can simply sit down in a cafe in this magical town, order a drink and do some people watching. If you can find Buža cafe, go there – the view directly from the city walls is simply breathtaking and another proof why this is one of the best cities in Croatia.
But if you’re craving some beach time, take the bus number 6 to Lapad. You can take a swim there, plus the restaurants around the place are much cheaper than in the Old Town, so you can fully relax and enjoy yourself. This is where the locals come to escape all the hustle and bustle the tourists create in summer, so you can get a genuine experience of the life in this city if you come here. Just take it easy and let everything sink in. Hopefully, this little Croatia travel guide of ours pointed you in the right direction and you have seen why this small country is such a smashing hit among tourists every single year. Ancient cities, pristine sea and beautiful nature are absolutely perfect for a spectacular vacation. Sadly, all vacations must come to an end, but there’s always next year and always a chance for a new Croatia trip. You’ve only discovered one part of what it has to offer and more intriguing places with more mesmerising things to see (and taste) await. Have a safe trip home!
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