If you like to travel, surely you have been bitten by the bug of visiting the sunny coast of Croatia and its crystal clear waters. But not only that, Croatia has much more to offer: it has plenty of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The problem with having so many places to choose from is that in the end you don’t know where to go. And more importantly, how do you avoid the hordes of tourists and really get to know the country’s culture?
This car trip starts in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, and will take you to the green and rugged landscape of the Plitvice Lakes, from there we will head towards the Adriatic Sea. We will visit Zadar, Šibenik, Split and we will arrive in Dubrovnik, where the winding road runs along the beautiful Croatian coast and takes us to the best places in the country. Along the way we will make stops to discover some hidden treasures, such as the Cetina River or the Ston Walls, some defensive walls that make up one of the symbols of Croatia.
The first day you can stroll through the upper city, which is the old town and one of the most mystical areas. Discover the alleys lit by gas lamps and don’t miss the sunset. It is at that moment when the lamplighter makes his round and when you can take the opportunity to take a selfie with him. See the Church of San Marcos with its colorful red and white roof. Then, just around the corner, you will find the oldest café in Zagreb: Pod starim krovovima. Here you will see how the locals love the coffee culture.
The streets of the city are abuzz with people and there is always something going on, from live music to gastronomic fairs, especially from April to October. Go to the Green Horseshoe, an area of parks and squares where you can discover the most modern and vibrant side of Zagreb.
On the second day we will drive to Sljeme, the summit of the mount medvednica. In addition to enjoying the beautiful scenery, you can visit the medieval castle of Medvedgrad and the many little houses where they serve homemade food made from the heart. For the last night, we recommend you go to the Wine Bar Bornstein bar or any other on the lively Tkalčićeva street, the nightlife area of Zagreb.
Take half a day to discover the Plitvice Lakes. Take a boat trip on Lake Kozjak and take a selfie at the highest waterfall in the park, the Veliki Slap. But above all, do not miss the opportunity to connect with nature. Then you can recharge in the rustic restaurant Lička Kuća. We recommend the delicious roasted lamb or breaded trout.
Zadar is a good way to get to know the Croatian coast. Here the combination of the sun and the sea is a true wonder of nature. Walk along the beach promenade and hallucinate with the Sea Organ, a monument that is in turn an experimental musical instrument that sounds with the onslaught of the waves. Don’t miss Saludo al Sol, another art installation located in front of the sea.
If you want to learn history, visit the Plaza del Foro and the church of San Donato, which dates back to the 9th century. Then get lost in the cobbled streets of the city, stroll through the Plaza de los Cinco Pozos and the main street Kalelarga. See the buildings, the arches and soak up that halo of antiquity. After so much walking, you well deserve a reward, so treat yourself to the ice cream parlor.
The next day we recommend that you take a boat trip through the Kornati National Park and jump from island to island. Normally the excursion comes with the food included, which is usually the catch of the day. If you want more seafood, we recommend the Proto Food & More restaurant.
Krka and Šibenik waterfalls
Delve into the Krka National Park in the city of Skradin. Don’t forget your swimsuit and get on one of the boats that reach the biggest waterfall in Krka: the Skradinski Buk. The best way to see all the waterfalls is on foot, you can also take a dip, because bathing is not prohibited!
Enjoy a delicious meal in Šibenik at Pelegrini, one of the first Croatian restaurants awarded with the Michelin star. Then stroll through the fortress of San Miguel, a medieval building that has beautiful views of the city and the archipelago.
On the first day you can visit the most famous monuments: the Cathedral of San Duje, and the Palace of Diocletian and his peristyle. Then take the opportunity to relax in the market square, called Pazar, or in one of the terraces on the beach promenade.
Do not miss the views from the top of the Marjan hill because they are spectacular, especially those of the Vidilica cafe. The freshest seafood is served at Nostromo, a tavern located next to Split’s famous fish market, Peškarija. And to close the evening, go to the Paradox Wine & Cheese Bar, where they serve the best Croatian wines accompanied by local cheese and prosciutto.
The next day go on an excursion to Trogir. Visit the 13th-century Cathedral of Saint Lawrence and admire the door carved by Master Radovan, a gem of medieval masonry. On the way back he stops in Kaštela, a city made up of seven villages, kaštel, each with a fortified castle. The Kaštilac fortress in Kaštel Gomilica appears in a very famous series, guess which one? Finally, visit the 1,500-year-old olive tree in Kaštel Štafilić.
Take the next 24 hours to disconnect. As soon as you see these white stone beaches you will only want to spend the day in the sun and take a good dip.
Make one more stop at Ston on the Pelješac peninsula. Don’t leave without trying the mollusks or seeing the second longest wall in the world: Ston’s wall. In the Bakus tavern you can eat fresh oysters and mussels. Then you will burn the calories when you walk up and down the walls.
Now get ready for your final destination: Dubrovnik. We recommend that you stay in the quiet neighborhood of Lapad, you have the beaches nearby, but also the old town. Danče beach is a little hidden and very close to the Pile Gate, but we recommend it because it is wonderful. So is Lokrum Island, where you can spend the day and it is very easy to get there by boat.
Take advantage of the first day to discover the charms of the old town. Stroll through the city walls, visit the Rector and Sponza palaces. Don’t leave without visiting the third oldest pharmacy in the world, located inside the Franciscan monastery.
And to round off the day, take the funicular up to Mt Sr monte and enjoy the views of the city.
If you want to try authentic Dubrovnik food, go to the Pantarul restaurant, where they cook with products from the neighboring Konavle region. Have a drink at the Troubadour café, a classic in the city.
Before catching the plane, go to Cavtat, the hometown of the famous Croatian painter Vlaho Bukovac. After visiting your home, take one last dip. Nearby you will find plenty of irresistible beaches.
Other recommended car trips:
- tour India: from Goa to Kerala
- discover the most beautiful villages in France
- or take one of the most beautiful train trips in the world