Croatia is a country that has become increasingly popular as a holiday destination in recent years. And frankly, that's absolutely right. There are more than a thousand islands along the coast in Croatia, most of which are uninhabited. There are more than 350 species of fish off the coast and did you know that the famous explorer Marco Polo originally from Croatia? This Balkan country with its extensive history, it has everything it takes to become a top European destination. Croatia has many highlights such as sun-drenched beaches, phenomenal nature reserves and stately cities, you name it! The country that was once part of Yugoslavia has been an independent state since 1991 and now has its feet firmly rooted in the Croatian soil.
Also read: Traveling to Croatia in times of corona – What do you have to arrange?
Statement: this is a big blog with a lot of information, sights and photos. Blogs like this are never finished and always subject to changes, new tips and updates. Help by leaving your own tips in the comments! Together we make this most complete overview with highlights of Croatia!
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Information in advance | Itinerary through Croatia
In this beautiful travel route through Croatia we take you along the Adriatic coast and also visit some amazing National parks† It's the ultimate tour roadtrip and is suitable for travel by car, camper, van or engine† Optionally, two beautiful islands have been added to the itinerary, both of which are absolutely worth visiting, but have been kept optional because visiting these islands costs a lot of time (and money).
Traveling to Croatia in times of corona – What do you have to arrange?
With the holidays ahead, we can secretly dream of a holiday in Europe† Travel to Croatia in corona time sounds like a nice option. So we set out to find out what you need to prepare and know. Unfortunately, this is part of today's business and we can't get into the car or plane without a plan. In this article we have put all the necessary information for Croatia for you in one place.
Travel route Croatia in 2, 3 or 4 weeks?
The itinerary is intended to be covered in at least 2 weeks, preferably three or four weeks† It is doable in 2 weeks, but then you have little time left to actually go for a walk in nature or to explore the various villages and towns in peace. It all feels a bit rushed then. If you have more time, use it! Croatia will not disappoint you. You can also choose to skip some cities or highlights in Croatia so that it fits better with your vacation days.
The D8 (E65) coastal road in Croatia
Most of this itinerary will take you on the beautiful D8 coastal road, better known today as the E65. It's absolutely cannot the fastest or most efficient route, but that's the point! It is indeed one of the most beautiful roads in the world to drive. As far as I'm concerned, this road is the highlight of Croatia! In the past, in the years 1980-2010, the D8 was a dangerous road without guardrails. The lack of highways made the road quite busy and dangerous. Many car wrecks were visible in the canyons!
Today, the road has been cleaned up, modified and safety has improved enormously. There is renewed asphalt, there are good lines and thousands of kilometers of crash barriers have been installed.
In addition, the arrival of a highway a few kilometers away has made the D8 a lot quieter in recent years. The D8 is no less than from top to bottom 650 kilometers long† No highway, but nice touring and meandering at 70 kilometers per hour along the many villages and beaches, while you have a view of one of the many Croatian islands and the azure blue sea. It is a route full of highlights that you can take in peace and which is one of the most beautiful roads in Europe.
The whole tour / itinerary on one Google Map
As mentioned, there are dozens of sights and highlights in Croatia that you will certainly not remember all of them. Therefore use the menu at the top of the page to quickly navigate to the place or point of interest you are looking for, or use a tour map from Croatia Below.
Zoom in on the map to see more details. Click on the square icon in the top right corner the map to enlarge the map to full screen in a new tab.
- Red = Village or city
- Yellow = restaurant tip
- Violet = Accommodation or camping tip
- Green = National Park
- Brown = Landmark or viewpoint
- Orange = Activity tips
- Blue (line) = route
The round trip itinerary through Croatia
Porec, Vrsar & Rovinj
We start our roadtrip travel route through Croatia in the most touristic part of Croatia: Istria. It may not really belong to the highlights of Croatia, but in this part of Croatia there are dozens of mega-campsites filled with mainly families. People come to this region from all over Europe for the Croatian sun and its many picturesque places such as Porec, Vrsari en Rovinj.
Assuming you are from The Netherlands drove all the way to Istria in one or two days, now it's time to relax and enjoy† Go out and take a walk in one of the above mentioned places. Enjoy delicious Croatian wine by the sea, stroll through the narrow streets and let yourself be spoiled with delicious Croatian sausage and olives.
Where to stay
Are you on the road by car and a tent, or with a camper or camper van? Then the campsites Green Lagoon en Bijela Uvala absolutely recommended. They are luxury campsites (four stars) and everything you need is there. Swimming pools, restaurants, shops, children's entertainment and much more.
Are you more into hotels and/or small-scale accommodations such as apartments and Bed and Breakfasts? Then absolutely Villa Stephany (click) en Katja Apartments (click) recommend. Both can be booked for less than 50 euros per night and are very well rated (9+). We had a wonderful stay here! You also support the local population by staying in small-scale accommodations, which is a nice thought. Still in need of more luxury? The best rated (price / quality) hotels in the region are Aparthotel Adeo (click) and the really beautiful BO Hotel Palazzo (click).
Below are some more pictures I took during our stay in Istria, especially in Poreč and Rovinj. The 'disco water taxi' can also be seen in one of the photos.
Tips and attractions Porec, Vsar and Rovinj
- Rovinj, the old town | Location
- Rovinj, dining at the highest level at Restauran Lovor (pricey but very good!) | Location
- Vrsar, small and cute fishing village | Location
- Poreč, the old center | Location
- Poreč, good food at the top rated restaurant (inexpensive) | Location
Learn to waterski at Skilift Poreč | Location
- Grab a disco speedboat water taxi (fun experience)
Of course the city Pula with her beautiful roman amphitheater a tourist attraction that we cannot ignore. Pula is also located in Istria, but compared to the aforementioned places, it is a lot bigger and more international. In Pula there are numerous buildings from the Roman period. In the old center and especially around the central square you really go back in time. Walking around here is an attraction in itself. A beautiful old building emerges around every corner.
Where to stay
For the camping enthusiasts I can Camping Stoja (click) recommend, just outside the center. There is a bus that stops in front of the campsite entrance and takes you directly to and from Pula. Camping Stoja is mountainous and rocky. On top of the hill is a large square that used to be an arena and an old cinema, carved out of the rock. It is a place full of ruins and the perfect place where the entire campsite and young people come together to play basketball, football, barbecue and to drink a beer together. It is not a luxury or average camping site, but that is precisely why it is extra fun.
Tip:: There are many crags on the edge of the site for daredevils to jump and dive. Of course I couldn't resist myself...?
Prefer an apartment? Then I can City Point Rooms (click) recommend. Not overly luxurious, but just a big fine and right in the center of Pula, close to all sights.
Tips and attractions Pula
- The Amphitheater of Pula | Location
- The Arch of the Sergii | Location
- The Temple of Augustus | Location
- The Venetian Fortress Kastel | Location
- Austrohungarian Fortress Punta Christo (just outside town) | Location
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From Istria it is time to drive further and deeper into Croatia. From Istria head towards the D8 / E65 and once on the D8 head south to Senj. Along the way you will also pass the large port and industrial city Rijeka† I have personally been there twice, but to be honest it is not such a beautiful city compared to the other towns and villages we visit during this roadtrip† For that reason we will skip Rijeka. From Senj it is about an hour's drive to Plitvice.
Where to stay
A nice a very well reviewed stay near Plitvice is B&B Millenium House (click)† With a 9,6 score out of 500+ reviews, it can rightly call itself the very best B&B in the region.
Time to get the roadtrip / resume travel route through Croatia. The next destination: Maslenica† You now have a choice: quickly to Maslenica (about 1 hour) or back to Senj (1 hour) and follow the D8 coastal road again (another 2 hours) until Maslenica. As mentioned earlier in the blog, driving the D8 coastal road is really worth it, so preferably drive on that beautiful route if you have the time!
There is much to see along the way. There are some viewpoints along the way where you can stop for a short break, a cup of coffee or a nice photo. If you want to take it easy, you can of course also choose to stop somewhere and spend the night.
Tip:: Don't worry about accommodation, it really is everywhere! Hotel here, apartment there, camping like this and camping like that. Driving 15 minutes on the D8 without coming across anything is rare, so sit back and enjoy the scenery.
Maslenica Bungee Jump
If you continue to follow the D8 in a southerly direction, you will automatically arrive in Maslenica. The Maslenica Bridge is an easy landmark. The bridge is an attraction in itself! But what makes it really unique is the Bungee Jump, for the daredevils. Of course we couldn't let this opportunity pass us by. The Maslenica Bridge is the highest bridge in Croatia (about 65 meters) and is great for jumping into the deep. You can find more information about the bridge itself here .
So for the daredevils among us, there can be jumps. Of course you can also just stop there for a cup of coffee and lunch, there is a restaurant and a cafe with a view of the bridge. It's also nice to see other people bungee jumping while enjoying a cup of coffee!
From Maslenica we continue our roadtrip travel route through Croatia direction Zadar† It is only a short drive, less than 40 minutes. Use the rest of the day to enjoy a stroll through the city! Zadar is a nice city to stay for a few days. The city has many sights and a crystal clear sea. There is also a popular nature reserve (Paklenica National Park) relatively close by, which is perfect for a day trip.
Tips and attractions Zadar
- Walk the beautiful city walls
- Paklenica National Park (Day Trip) | Location
- Kornati Islands (Day Trip) | Location
- St. Donatus Church | Location
- St Mary's Church | Location
- St. Anastasia Cathedral | Location
- Enjoy a sunset at the Sea Organ | Location
De roadtrip / travel route through Croatia continues. This time we deviate a bit from the D8 because the D8 takes a piece inland here and we prefer to stay along the coast cruising† Take the coastal road called Jadranska Magistrala towards Šibenik. There are many small, basic campsites along this road with a beautiful view of the sea and the nearby Kornati Islands† At many campsites you can rent a boat to discover one of the many islands yourself. Take advantage of this!
The next day you arrive in Šibenik. Šibenik has a beautiful old center, it breathes history and, as far as we are concerned, is in the same row as Pula, Split and Dubrovnik. Šibenik is quite small, so one to two days should be enough to see all the sights.
Tips and attractions ibenik
- Stay at Kamp Romantica, a basic campsite with ultimate sunsets | Location
- St. Michael's Fort | Location
- Saint James Cathedral | Location
- Baronet Fortress | Location
And of course just the old town. There is also a well-known Aquarium, but anything that involves keeping animals in captivity we strongly advise against† We hope our readers will do the same. Dolphins and sharks belong to us in the sea, not in an Aquarium…
A visit to the Krka waterfalls is one of your highlights roadtrip or tour of Croatia.. From Sibenik it is just a stone's throw away. As a kid in the 90's I could still climb and jump off the falls. From the campsite you just looked straight at the large waterfall. It is now completely different, but certainly no less beautiful.
PS. Since January 1, 2021, swimming is no longer allowed in the park and at the waterfalls. I got this tip from one of our facebook followers, thank you!
Tip:: It has become a busy park so if you have the opportunity go as early as possible† We had the very first boat of the day 2 years ago, we were already in front of the gate before 06:00 in the morning. It paid off because I shot some of my most beautiful pictures ever there. Judge for yourself!
From Sibenik and/or Krka we drive on to the next highlight of Croatia: Trogir. Also applies here: don't go for the shortest route† Directly from Sibenik, rejoin the D8 coastal road for beautiful winding roads and panoramic views. The drive via the D8 is about 1 hour and 15 minutes without stops, but of course it is advisable to grab a nice beach or fishing village in between.
Once you have arrived in Trogir you will see that historical buildings and places of interest follow one another. Beautiful narrow alleys and stone streets. Trogir is small but very photogenic. You seem to be able to take the perfect photo from every angle. From the water you look at the beautiful buildings, the many boats and the perfect sunset.
Taking a boat tour is a very popular activity in Trogir. Below are some photos sent in by Facebook group of Holidays in Croatia, Dalmatia† I have listed the most popular sights of Trogir below.
Tips and attractions Trogir
- Cathedral of St. Lover – Location
- The Castle of Kamerlengo – Location
- The Cipiko Palace – Location
- The Trogir Civic Museum (Muzej Grada Trogira) – Location
Split is a big city for Croatian standards with a lot to see and do. What makes Split so unique is that in addition to all the 'common' Croatian historical sights, it also has a beautiful promenade. There are also beautiful green parks and the nightlife is vibrant. Split is a city in which you can get lost for a few days.
Tips and attractions Split
- Diocletian's Palace | Location
- Cathedral of Saint Domnius | Location
- Marjan, the green heart of Split | Location
- City beach Bacvice | Location
- Marmontova Ulica (nice shopping street) | Location
- Riva (Buzzing Promenade) | Location
bra.. what? Correct: Bracč† Croatia's new, undiscovered sun destination. Brač is an island just off the coast of the city Split† It is characterized by a green, mountainous landscape, azure water and vineyards. The island has no less than 2700 hours of sunshine per year† In May it can be pleasantly warm here with a temperature of around 24 degrees and in the summer around 30 degrees. The island is perfect for a (rental) car or camper (bus). Go out on your own! Definitely add the island to your list of highlights of Croatia if you have the time / opportunity.
Ferry from Split to Brac (Supetar)
The ferry departs almost every half hour in the high season and about every hour in the low season. Below I have an overview of the current prices added. Prices and departure times change every year, for the most up-to-date overview, go to this website† Here you will also find all departure times per month.
Tips and attractions Brac
- Fishing village Bol – Location
- Zlatni Rat (golden horn) – The famous pointy beach – Location
- Vidova Gorda – The Viewpoint of Brač – Location
- Supetar & the Sveti Petar Church – Location
- Postira – A cute harbor town – Location
Hvar, where do I start? As far as we are concerned, this is the most beautiful island in Croatia. In Hvar, you'll be staring open-mouthed at the shiny superyachts moored in the harbour. You walk through the old town and enjoy the perfect weather and crystal clear water. Hvar is one of those places where time really seems to stand still. Do not underestimate the international popularity of Hvar, among the Dutch people it may be a relatively unknown island but foreign JetSet and Instagrammers have discovered this highlight of Croatia long ago. Prices are on average a bit higher than in the rest of the country.
Head to Hvar for the ultimate sun holiday, dolphin spotting or big game fishing adventure. Put on your best white blouse, rent a boat, buy a nice hat and feel like a millionaire. More information about the Ferries, the departure times and the most current prices can be found at this website.
Hvar . tips and attractions
- Visit the famous Spanjolica / Fortica fortress with a view – Location
- Shop, eat and drink in the bustling harbor of Hvar Town – Location
- Visit St. Stevens Cathedral – Location
- Visit Franciscan Monastery – Location
We are now approaching the end of this beautiful roadtrip / travel route through Croatia. The next and final destination is the highlight called Dubrovnik. I came here as a child, even just after the war when it was largely in ruins from the devastating war. That was very confronting, our beautiful holiday country was in ruins, the campsites where we stayed had been destroyed and many areas were unsafe due to the many land mines that still had to be cleared.
We are now more than 25 years later and Dubrovnik has been beautifully restored, rebuilt and perhaps the most visited part of Croatia. Even cruise ships from the US dock here in the new modern city.
The old center is famous and known among mass tourism, including through the Game of Thrones series. It is often quite busy but don't let that stop you from visiting the city! The old center is really so very beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful and best preserved old city center in the world.
Tip:: set out as early as possible. Not only is it a lot quieter then, the sun is also less strong. Walking around in the full afternoon sun is not really recommended as it can get very hot in Dubrovnik, especially in the summer months. Walk the city walls, admire the beautiful buildings and step back in time.
Dubrovnik tips and sights
- View of Old Dubrovnik from Mount Srd – Location
- Visit Fort Lovrijenac – Location
- Walk the city walls
- Stroll through the many narrow streets without a plan
- Book a 'Game Of Thrones Tour'
End of travel route through Croatia & tips
Everything comes to an end, and so do all the highlights in this great Croatia itinerary. If you have any tips of your own, for example for somewhere to eat well or know a nice place of interest that has not yet been mentioned, let us know in the comments† Of course, with your help, we want to add some nice tips to the blog afterwards, because a blog like this is never really finished. Let's make it the ultimate Croatia travel itinerary together!
Best time to visit Croatia
It is best to travel to Croatia in spring or autumn. This is because around this time there are not so many tourists and the weather is not too hot. If you like to go out, it is best to go in the summer. Then there are regular festivals.
This blog is part of a series of blogs about Croatia. Visit our Croatia page for more information about Croatia, its people, climate and much more. Also, for more great travel tips about Croatia and other countries, you can join our Facebook page of Instagram† See you there!
I know the route fairly clear what I want to drive in Croatia next summer with the camper .. but 1 important question. In August… whether or not to book campsites in advance?? In France last summer time and again everything was full… very annoying. Is that also the case in Croatia?
Do you travel with children?
Personally, I like Zagreb the least. I think Zadar and Split are similar in size too, so I would drop Zadar because Split has just a bit more beautiful old buildings and culture. Trogir is very small and you can see it in 1 hour, literally. It will also be overcrowded now in the high season, it was already very busy three weeks ago. Sibenik is beautiful, definitely go!
We did that route this time too 🙂 Don't forget to stop at Camping Slapic in Duga Resa (camping on the beautiful river) and visit Slunj Rastoke, a small historic village full of waterfalls about 30 minutes from Plitvice. You practically pass it. I'm currently blogging about these places, will be online today or tomorrow.
As for Plitvice: one day is enough to get a good impression of the park. Also take the boat then you can see most of the park in a total of 5-6 hours.
I'm working on the route now. We are also going for 4 weeks, but we have not been there before, so everything seems nice, you still have to choose. In terms of cities in Croatia, Zagreb, Zadar, Split, Trogir and Siblenik are now on our list. Which one would you drop if you had to?
Thanks for your quick response! Well, there is something to be said for both, but since we want to drive from north to south via Zagreb and Plitvice (so inland), it will still be the south-north option..
Another question: how many days would you take to explore Plitvice? We are not die-hard hikers, but we do like to see several places there.
This is a really good question that I haven't thought about before… But now that you're asking the question and I'm thinking about it, I definitely have an answer for you!
We have been in Croatia for the past 4 weeks, also with a camper. And yes, going from North to South on the coastal road is easier when it comes to a 'quick stop' along the road and at viewpoints. However, there are often also possibilities to get to the indicated viewpoints from the 'other side'. The sporadic parking spaces that are not indicated will be a lot more difficult.
But there is another important point, at least we think so?!
The other way around (from South to North) often gives a nicer view, especially in the afternoon and evening because you can see the sun low above the islands and/or go down in the sea while driving. You can see a perfect example of that at the top of this article: https://www.wereldreizigers.nl/europa/kroatie/reisroute-hoogtepunten-kroatie/#De_D8_E65_kustweg_in_Kroatie
As far as we are concerned, both have very clear advantages and disadvantages!
We will also drive part of that route. We have a motorhome. Well I was wondering if there is a preferred direction for driving the D8/E65 along the coast. Does it make any difference for parking and stopping whether you drive from north to south or from south to north? In California, we made that mistake by driving from South to North, leaving you with mountains on your right and barely an opportunity to stop.