7 incredible locations in Croatia – Croatian Itineraries

Croatia islands

Croatia is truly a perfect “Euro Summer” destination. Think world class beaches with crystal clear water. Impressive old towns and great history! Tasty food with top shelf seafood! A multitude of islands to fuel your island hopping desires. Stunning national parks with beautiful waterfalls. And a vibe that is equivalent to most other European summer locations. Can you tell we are fans of Croatia as a summer destination? Read on for a list of key destinations to add to your list and a few sample itineraries to help fuel your travel inspiration.

7 incredible Croatian locations you can not miss

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes is a real life fairytale! Think narrow wooden boardwalks snaking through turquoise lakes and cascading waterfalls. The national park is truly one of the more unique destinations in Europe, and a top pick in Croatia! Situated inland around 2.5hrs from Zagrab, 2hrs from Zadar and 3hrs from Split, it is an effort to reach, but worth it! If you plan on visiting, we highly recommend you hire a car, stay the night close to the park, and arrive at the national park as early as possible. In peak season Plitvice opens at 7am and other times 8am. If you arrive early, you will ‘beat the crowds’ into the park and have most of the experience to yourself. If you wait until around 10-11am, the tour busses roll in from Split and you will find it a completely different, and far less enjoyable experience.

Stiniva Beach – Vis Island

One of the most unique beaches we have visited, Stiniva Beach, is located on Vis Island. A narrow canyon opens up to a secluded little bay with clear jade waters. Reached via a short but challenging hike from Vis Island (see guide below for instructions, it’s not for those that aren’t physically capable) or via a boat tour, the effort is worth the challenge. Arrive early to beat the crowds! See the guide to Stiniva Beach here!


The impressive walled city of Dubrovnik is one of Europe’s finest destinations, and a must in Croatia! While it is ridiculously busy in summer, Dubrovnik is still worth visiting! You will have seen photos on your social media or travel advertisements, and the visuals are as good as the photos! With great history, culture, nearby beaches, and some unique experiences (like walking the city walls), we think Dubrovnik matches the hype! Dubrovnik is also well located to other Croatia destinations, and nearby Balkan gems like Mostar and Kotor. See our Dubrovnik guide including tips on how to beat the crowds!

Makarska Riviera

Makarska, where the mountains meet the sea! This is a stunning region of the Croatian coastline located between Split and Dubrovnik, where the soaring Biokovo Mountains flank the stunning Dalmatian coast. Having visited on multiple occasions, we find it to be one of the best summer destinations to relax and enjoy the best of Croatia. If you want to be in the heart of the action, stay in Makarska, or venture to many of the smaller beachside towns along the coast for calmer experiences. See our Makarska guide here!


The most popular of the Croatian islands, Hvar, is located a few hours off the coast of Split. Reached via ferry, this island is popular, but worth visiting. The old town has an impressive fortress overlooking the harbour, and the beaches and swimming areas around the island are delightful. There’s lots to do for adventure lovers (water sports, day trips, quad bikes etc) and those that enjoy partying should definitely visit the offshore beach club on the island opposite Hvar.

Something to consider.. Hvar is impressive, and there’s lots do to, however it isn’t cheap! If you like a calmer or cheaper experience, potentially consider the other islands.

Pula Amphitheatre

Want to coliseum outside of Rome? Pula, located in the northern Istrian peninsula, is an underrated destination to consider adding to your Croatian itinerary. The highlight of this coastal city is the Pula Amphitheatre. This Roman Amphitheatre is one of the largest in the world, and it is one of the best preserved. Constructed around 2000 years ago, it’s a unique location worth visiting.

A little thought.. Consider adding Pula onto your trip to Venice (located nearby in Italy) or Lake Bled (located north in Slovenia).

The Islands!

Okay, this isn’t a specific location, however we truly believe the best part about Croatia are the amazing islands! Our favourite is the relaxed and beautiful Vis Island (see guide here). We have also visited Brac, Hvar and Dugi Otok. We would also love to visit Korcula, Miljet, Krk, and Pag, among others.

Maybe not? Krka National Park

The Krka National Park is another great attraction to consider visiting in Croatia. Uniquely different from Plitvice is the main waterfall, providing a beautiful photo opportunity. The national park is located around 1 hour and 15 minutes north of Split and 1 hour south of Zadar, right near Sibenik. The park is reached via ferry, and you can walk along picturesque boardwalks and swim beside the waterfalls. Krka used to be a huge attraction due to the fact that you could swim under the impressive waterfalls! However, in 2021 they changed this, banning swimming in an effort to preserve the park (see here). Due to this fact, we would consider if it’s worth visiting, and the effort and crowds may no longer be worth it without the ability for the unique experience swimming there (like Ky did in 2018).

Key Tip: arrive early! Similar to Plitvice Lakes, Krka gets busy. Arrive and aim to get on the first ferry to the national park, allowing you to enjoy the park without as many crowds. This is particularly relevant if you want to get some good shots without too many people.

A few Croatian Itineraries to fuel your inspiration

Having visited this beautiful country numerous times, we have some insight into the multitude of excellent option to traverse the country. We have suggested three differing itineraries which may help you plan your trip to Croatia below:

Itinerary 1: Island Hopping

This is the ultimate ‘Croatian Summer’ holiday. Fly into Split (the gateway to popular islands), catch a ferry out to idyllic islands, and then finish up either back in Split or down in Dubrovnik! See a proposed itinerary below for an amazing 1-2 weeks island hopping in Croatia!

island hopping itinerary croatia things to do hvar brac split vis

Stop 1: Split – Spend 1 night

Stop 2: Brac – Spend 2-5 nights

Stop 3: Hvar – Spend 1-2 nights

Stop 4: Vis – Spend 2-5 nights

Stop 5: Dubrovnik – Spend 2-3 nights

Consider adding..

  • Korcula
  • Komisa – little town on the opposite side of Vis from the main ‘Vis Town’
  • Makarska
  • The islands in the northern Istrian coastline (e.g. Pag, Krk, Dugi Otok etc). A sample itinerary for the northern islands could include a stay in Zadar, before visiting islands like Pag and Dugi Otok).

Itinerary 2: Coastlines & National Parks

Wander along the incredible coastline in Croatia, hopping inland for some national park adventures. Explore little coastal towns and see some of the impressive big cities in Croatia! If you have time, consider adding Itinerary 1 and 2 together for an amazing 2-3 weeks!

balkans and croatia itinerary where to visit things to do

Stop 1: Venice (use as a ‘fly in’ point and either hire car or transport to Croatia)

Stop 2: Rovinj – Day trip vs 1 night

Stop 3: Pula – Spend 1-3 nights

Stop 4: Krk Island – Spend 1-3 nights

Stop 5: Plitvice Lakes National Park – Spend 1 night

Stop 6: Zadar – Spend 1-3 nights

  • Consider: Day trip to Dugi Otok

Stop 7: Krka National Park – Day trip

Stop 8: Primosten – Spend 1-2 nights

Stop 9: Trogir – Spend 1-3 nights

Stop 10: Split – Spend 1 night

Consider adding..

  • Omis
  • Makarska
  • Island Hopping – see above for ideas
  • Dubrovnik
  • Balkans e.g. Mostar, Bled, Kotor (see below)

Itinerary 3: Make it a Balkan Adventure

Croatia is in the heart the Balkans, one of our favourite regions in Europe! The Balkans includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia.. while Slovenia, Moldova, and portions of Turkey and Greece are also often included within the Balkans. We have included an itinerary below that includes some of the great nearby Balkan destinations into your Croatian adventures. Also check out our Balkans guide (see here) for more Balkans inspiration.

balkans and croatia itinerary where to visit things to do

Stop 1: Ljubljana – Fly in here, hire a car, and head straight to Lake Bled

Stop 2: Lake Bled – 2-4 nights

Stop 3: Rijeka – Spend 1 night

Stop 4: Plitvice Lakes National Park – Spend 1 night

Stop 5: Split – Spend 1 night vs head straight for islands

Stop 6: Vis Island – Spend 3-5 nights

Stop 7: Makarska – Spend 2-4 nights

Stop 8: Mostar – Spend 1-2 nights

Stop 9: Dubrovnik – Spend 2-4 nights

Stop 10: Kotor – Spend 2-4 nights

Stop 11: Fly out of Dubrovnik Airport

Consider Adding:

  • Continue on to Albania from Kotor
  • A visit to Lake Ohrid – North Macedonia
  • More islands – see guide above
  • Budva – beachside town in Montenegro

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