7 day Croatia itinerary: Discover Croatia in a week

Krka National Park - 7 day Itinerary Croatia

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Croatia itinerary 7 days: the best Croatia has to offer in one week

Croatia has been chosen as one of the top 10 Lonely Planet countries in the world for 2024. So if you’re looking for a destination and itinerary that has it all, Croatia is the place to be.

With its stunning Adriatic coast, magnificent mountains, cascading waterfalls, and ancient Roman ruins, it’s no wonder that Croatia has caught the attention of travelers worldwide. The region’s beauty is so captivating that it even served as a filming location for the hit TV show Game of Thrones.

We’ve spent almost 2 months in Croatia, and to help you plan your perfect trip to Croatia, we’ve put together a detailed 7-day itinerary for Croatia that covers all the essentials. From the best time to visit Croatia to the most convenient modes of transportation, we’ve got you covered with all the need-to-know information.

So whether you’re interested in exploring historic cities such as Dubrovnik, relaxing on the beach, or visiting the famous Plitvice waterfalls, our Croatia itinerary 7 days has something for everyone.

10 Best places to visit in Croatia

Croatia is a country that offers a diverse range of attractions, from stunning beaches and islands to historic cities and national parks.

A road trip to the country is a great way to discover all of this beauty. However, also consider active hiking cruises in Croatia, along the stunning Adriatic coastline, which offers a perfect blend of tranquillity and excitement.

To get you started, here are the top 10 places to visit in Croatia during your 7-day Croatia itinerary.

1. Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, also known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia. The city is famous for its well-preserved old town, which is surrounded by medieval walls. Visitors can take a walking tour of the old town, visit the Bell Tower, or watch the sunset from the city walls.

2. Split

Split is the second-largest city in Croatia and home to the impressive Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can explore the palace, which was built in the 4th century, or take a stroll along the waterfront promenade. The city also serves as a gateway to the nearby islands.

3. Hvar Island

Hvar Island is one of the most popular islands in Croatia and is known for its beaches, nightlife, and lavender fields. Visitors can explore the island’s many historic sights, hike along its scenic trails, or enjoy a boat trip to nearby islands.

4. Pula

Pula is a historic city in Istria, known for its well-preserved Roman amphitheater. Visitors can explore the city’s many historic sights, including the Temple of Augustus and the Arch of the Sergii, or take a boat trip to nearby islands.

5. Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful national parks in Europe. The park is home to 16 interconnected lakes and numerous waterfalls, making it a paradise for nature lovers. Visitors can take a guided tour or hike along the park’s many trails.

5. Krka National Park

Krka National Park is another stunning national park in Croatia, known for its waterfalls and swimming areas. Visitors can take a boat trip to the park’s most famous waterfall, Skradinski Buk, or hike along its many trails.

6. Sibenik

Sibenik is a lesser-known and visited town, but it stole our hearts with its beautiful old city center and harbor. It is perfectly situated to discover some of the hidden gems of Croatia, such as the Kornati islands.

7. Zagreb

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and a vibrant city with a rich cultural heritage. Visitors can explore the city’s many museums and galleries, stroll through its historic neighborhoods, or enjoy its lively nightlife.

8. Istria

Istria is a peninsula in northern Croatia known for its picturesque towns, stunning beaches, and delicious cuisine. Visitors can explore the region’s many historic sights, including the Roman amphitheater in Pula, or take a wine tour of the local vineyards.

9. Zadar

Zadar is a historic city on the Dalmatian coast, known for its well-preserved Roman ruins and medieval architecture. Visitors can explore the city’s many historic sights, including the Roman Forum and St. Donatus Church, or take a boat trip to nearby islands.

10. Korcula Island

Korcula Island is a beautiful island in the Adriatic Sea, known for its historic old town and stunning beaches. Visitors can explore the island’s many historic sights, including St. Mark’s Cathedral and the Marco Polo Museum, or enjoy a day of kayaking or swimming.

5 Different ways to plan your 7 day itinerary in Croatia

If you’re planning a week-long trip to Croatia, here are some suggested itineraries:

  • Classic Croatia: Zagreb – Plitvice Lakes – Split – Dubrovnik
  • Dalmatian coast: Zadar – Sibenik – Split – Dubrovnik
  • Nature lovers: Split’s Islands – Krka – Plitvice Lakes

Our 7-day Croatia itinerary

Start your Croatian adventure in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. You can fly to Zagreb and then rent a car. We end in Dubrovnik. You can also start in Dubrovnik and end in Zagreb.

Here’s a summary of our 7-day Croatia itinerary:

DayDestinationActivity
1ZagrebVisit the capital of Croatia, enjoy the musea and the old town
2Plitvice Lakes Enjoy one of the most beautiful national parks in Europe
3ZadarExplore the historic Old Town and enjoy the Sea Organ and Sun Salutation installations
4Krka National Park – SibenikA beautiful national park and a historic old town on the Dalmatian Coast.
5SplitVisit the UNESCO-listed Diocletian’s Palace and hike up Marjan Hill for panoramic views of the city
6HvarTake a ferry to the island of Hvar and relax on the beaches or explore the charming town
7DubrovnikWalk along the ancient city walls and explore the stunning Game of Thrones filming locations

Our 7-day Croatia itinerary allowed us to experience the best of the Dalmatian Coast, from historic cities to stunning natural beauty. We highly recommend this itinerary to anyone looking to explore Croatia in a week.

Day 1: Zagreb

If you love history and architecture, you must first visit Zagreb’s Upper Town. Walk along the cobbled streets and admire the pastel-colored buildings dating back centuries. Make sure to see the Gothic Cathedral of Zagreb and St. Mark’s Church, known for its colorful tiled roof.

The hilltop Dolac Market is also worth a browse for local specialties like cheeses, meats, and truffle products.

In the evening you can go to Tkalčićeva Street for great local cuisine. This lively pedestrian street is full of cafes and restaurants serving Croatian fare like cevapi (skinless sausages), schnitzels, and fresh seafood. It’s also a hotspot for nightlife with many bars staying open late.

For lodging, some top options on Booking.com include the 4-star Hotel Dubrovnik (from $109), located in the heart of the city near major attractions. In the lively Upper Town area, consider the 4-star Esplanade Zagreb Hotel (from $139) with its elegant decor and panoramic city views.

Day 2: Plitvice Lakes

Before visiting the park, it’s important to buy your ticket online in advance, at least one day before. If buying the day of, you can see ticket availability per entrance, and per hour time slot in advance, and you can pay with cash or card. However, it’s not recommended to buy the day off during the peak season of July and August.

Hold onto your ticket during your visit, as you may need to scan it for boat rides and shuttles.

Route A and B take you along the lower lakes and are the busiest part of the park. To avoid crowds, it’s best to visit right at open or mid-afternoon. The classic view of the boardwalks from above is near the end of Route C.

You can’t swim in the park, so there’s no need for a swimming suit. There are a few bathrooms and cafes along the trails, specifically at the entrances and boat and shuttle stops.

The park is made up of a network of boardwalks that take you along it all – it’s truly a sight to see. We decided to do Route C from Entrance 1, which covered both the lower and upper lakes. It took us about 4.5 hours to complete it, including photo breaks and a quick lunch at the shuttle stop.

If you decide to spend the night here, B&B Villa Sumrak Plitvica is a charming family-run guesthouse in a quiet location right by the park. Boutique Hotel Plitvice is a seasonal hotel with prime views of the Plitvice Lakes. Fenomen Plivitse Resort is another Plitvice hotel in the heart of the park that’s open year-round.

Day 3: Zadar

Zadar was one of our favorite towns in Croatia. The Sea Organ was one of our highlights during our itinerary in Croatia. It is a quieter and smaller coastal city on the northernmost Dalmatian coast, known for its beautiful Roman landmarks, fresh seafood, and beaches. It’s located just 1.5 hours away from the Plitvice Lakes.

What to do in Zadar

While you can walk from end to end in the old city in less than 15 minutes, there are still plenty of things to see and do in Zadar. Here are our top recommendations:

ActivityDescription
Spend the day at the beachMaestrala Karma and Kolovare Beach are both great options.
Visit the city’s old Roman churchesDon’t miss the Church of St. Donatus, St. Chrysogonus, and Simeon.
Check out Zadar’s cathedral and climb the belfryGet a bird’s eye view of the peninsula.
Stroll the sea promenade and listen to the Sea OrganThis unique instrument plays a tune and is a great spot for watching the sunset and taking a swim.
Walk along the Roman forumA local market makes for good souvenir shopping.
Get lost in the city streetsSee the old walls, the Land Gate, and the People’s Square.
Get a history lesson at Zadar’s Art and Archeological MuseumLearn about the city’s rich history.
Have a drink on StomoricaThis short strip of tiny bars is the perfect spot for a drink and people-watching.
Take a day trip to Kornati and Telascica National ParksExplore the beautiful islands and bright blue waters nearby.
The Church of St. Donatus

Where to stay in Zadar

For the best experience, we recommend staying in the old city to be close to the water and main attractions. Here are some cool Zadar accommodations to consider:

Hotel NameDescription
Bastion Heritage HotelA luxury hotel with a spa and famous gourmet restaurant serving Mediterranean dishes in the historic city center.
DeZign Superior Apartments and RoomsModern interior design and cozy guesthouse-style accommodation make this a nice pick in Zadar.
Downtown Boutique HostelBudget hotels don’t have to be low quality, and this boutique hostel is our top pick for budget backpackers and solo travelers.

Day 4: Krka National Park – Sibenik

On day 4 of our 7-day Croatia itinerary we visit the Krka National Park and stay in Sibenik, a beautiful coastal town.

How to visit the Krka National Park

Nestled along the Krka River in central Dalmatia lies one of Croatia’s most stunning natural landscapes – the Krka National Park. Established in 1985, the park encompasses over 400 square kilometers and is renowned for its spectacular waterfalls and unique karst geology. The Krka River flows through the park, cascading over a series of terraces and plunging over seven magnificent waterfalls before emptying into the Adriatic Sea.

The most impressive of the waterfalls is Skradinski Buk, which tumbles over travertine barriers in the lower course of the Krka River. Visitors can walk along wooden walkways right up to the base of the 95-meter-wide waterfall, feeling the spray on their skin.

Another highlight is the Visovac Monastery, perched on a small island in the middle of Lake Visovac and surrounded by lush vegetation. The monastery offers breathtaking views across the turquoise waters and karst landscape.

The best way to experience the natural beauty of Krka National Park is to visit the main visitor centers and walk along the network of trails. There are entry points and visitor centers at Lozovac, Skradin, Roški Slap, and Visovac. The trails vary in difficulty but range from gentle riverside strolls to more challenging climbs up the rocky terraces. Make sure to allow a full day to explore the different sections of the park.

Sibenik

Sibenik is often overlooked by tourists. Sibenik offers its own blend of history, nature and coastal charm worth discovering. It is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Croatia and transports you back in time as you wander its narrow stone streets lined with churches, palaces, and fortifications dating back centuries.

A highlight is the 15th-century St. Jacobs Cathedral, renowned for its unique stone carvings and inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Sibenik is also the perfect place to discover the surroundings Kornati islands. Have a look at the Visit Sibenik website for more information about trips in Sibenik.

Sibenik

Day 5: Split

On day 5 of our Croatia itinerary, we will visit Split, Croatia’s second-largest city. It is known for its Roman ruins, charming marble streets, and affordable food scene.

What to do in Split

Split is a city with a rich history, and its old city walls are a testament to the Roman occupation that lasted for centuries. Walking within the walls of the old city feels like a mini Rome, with ruins and charming marble streets greeting you at almost every turn.

Today you can explore the historic part of Split, including Diocletian’s Palace, the world’s oldest cathedral, Saint Domnius Cathedral, Jupiter Temple, and the old treasury located in the Ticket Office. Stroll and shop Diocletian’s Cellars under the palace, snap photos of the Vestibule, and get lost in the winding streets and squeeze through Split’s smallest street.

Where to stay in Split

We recommend staying in the old town, as it is not only the best place to enjoy the Roman ruins but also near the harbor where most island tours leave. Noteworthy accommodations in Split include Apartments Salvezani.

Day 6: Hvar Island

It’s time to discover the island life in Croatia. From Split, we take the ferry to Hvar.

Nestled off the coast of central Dalmatia lies the beautiful island of Hvar, often referred to as the “Croatian Ibiza” due to its reputation as a glamorous jet-setting destination. Measuring approximately 86 square miles, Hvar is one of Croatia’s most popular islands known for its striking coastal scenery, historic towns, and upscale beach clubs and restaurants.

The island’s main town and harbor, also called Hvar, sits on the north coast. Its walled old town is filled with Renaissance architecture, vibrant squares, and luxury boutiques and cafes. Nearby are lavish beach clubs that attract celebrities in the summer. Further west is Stari Grad, a historic town filled with red-roofed stone houses near the island’s oldest working theater.

The interior of Hvar features rugged mountains, rolling hills dotted with vineyards, and quiet medieval villages like Jelsa and Vrboska. Olive groves and pine forests cover much of the landscape. This rural area offers glimpses into traditional island life and opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Day 7: Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must-visit destination during your 7 day itinerary in Croatia. It boasts a well-preserved ancient history, an oceanside locale, and unbelievable beauty.

What is Dubrovnik known for?

Dubrovnik is known for its intact city walls that date back to the 13th century and its well-preserved ancient history. It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is also famous for being the filming location of many key scenes in Game of Thrones. The city is dominated by GOT references, making it a popular destination for fans of the show.

What to do in Dubrovnik

Most of Dubrovnik’s attractions can be done pretty quickly, but you’ll need about two hours for the city walls and a few hours for the Game of Thrones tour (which is essentially a walking tour of the old town).

Here are some of the best things to do in Dubrovnik to fill out your itinerary:

  1. Walk Dubrovnik’s Old City Walls.
  2. Climb up to Fort Lovrijenac.
  3. Take the cable car or hike up Srd Hill and have a drink/lunch at Panorama.
  4. See filming locations on a Game of Thrones walking tour like the Jesuit Steps (Cersei’s shame walk) and Dubrovnik West Pier (Blackwater Bay).
  5. Sip beer and take a dip at one of a few cliffside bars like Buza Bar.
  6. See how royalty once lived at the Rector Palace.
  7. Check out the cathedral.
  8. Soak up some sunshine at the Plaža Banje beach.
  9. Treat yourself to fine dining and fresh seafood.
  10. Go on an adventure with a sea kayaking tour or zip-lining at the top of Srd Hill.
  11. Take a day trip to the beautiful Kravice waterfalls and Mostar in Bosnia.

Where to stay in Dubrovnik

Staying in the heart of the old city is highly recommended during your visit to Dubrovnik. However, you will need to book early enough to secure a room before they fill up. Most of Dubrovnik’s accommodation options in the old city are guesthouses or private apartments. There are also fantastic luxury hotel options that dot the coast not far from the old town.

Some of the recommended Dubrovnik accommodations are Guesthouse Rustico, Boutique Hotel Stari Grad or the Old Town Hostel.

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7 day Croatia itinerary: Discover Croatia in a week

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