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So, you’re planning a trip to Croatia? After living in Split for several months and travelling the country extensively, I’ve devised the perfect Croatia itinerary for 7 days… In fact, I’ve created three of them so you can pick based on your preferences and how busy you want to be!
With 21 million visitors in 2019, Croatia is slowly climbing the tables as one of Europe’s most visited countries. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful with stunning islands and national parks, easily reached from cities overflowing with culture, history, cuisine and nightlife. There’s no need to choose between cities and nature!
Croatia is safe for solo travellers and can be affordable providing you avoid popular locations in peak summer. There’s no reason not to go, whether you’re visiting as a holiday or part of a larger Balkans travel itinerary.
How many days do you need in Croatia?
You could spend weeks in Croatia (I spent 3 months there in early 2022) but 7 days in Croatia is enough to see the highlights. With this amount of time for your Croatia travel itinerary, you can visit 2-3 places and take day trips to popular attractions.
3 x suggested Croatia itineraries for 1 week
Option 1 – Dalamtia highlights
- 3-4 days Dubrovnik (1 day sightseeing plus day trips)
- 3-4 days Split (1 day sightseeing plus day trips)
Option 2 – the full shebang
- 2 days Dubrovnik (1 day sightseeing and 1 day trip)
- 2 days Split (1 day sightseeing and 1 day trip)
- 2 days Zadar (1 day sightseeing and 1 day trip)
- For this itinerary, I recommend travelling early in the morning and sightseeing in the city for the remainder of the day.
Option 3 – Zagreb & Istria
- 2 days Zagreb
- 1 day Opatija
- 1 day Pula
- 2 days Rovinj.
The smaller towns in Istria have less to do in terms of excursions and day trips than the Dalmatian cities, so this is the perfect itinerary if you want to take it easy and enjoy the unique Istrian culture and cuisine.
Where to go in Croatia
If you’re still deciding where to go, this next section should help. With just 7 days in Croatia, I’d suggest heading to Dalmatia. The central Croatian coast is known not just for beaches and islands but its inland attractions like national parks and waterfalls. There are several cities with excellent tourist infrastructure and accommodation options.
Saying this, there’s more to Croatia than just Dalmatia. Let’s run through the options for a 1 week Croatia itinerary…
Dubrovnik is the most visited city in Dalmatia and it’s not hard to see why: the Old Town is a living museum with its perfectly-preserved city walls offering spectacular views of the terracotta roofs and turquoise ocean.
Although the city is packed with museums and ancient sites, the things to do in Dubrovnik aren’t limited to history. With numerous beaches and several nearby islands like Lokrum and Mljet, it’s a perfect summer destination with opportunities to swim, snorkel or simply bask on the sands.
Then, there are the Game of Throne destinations! More on this to come…
Despite being the second-biggest city in Croatia, there aren’t loads of attractions in Split city centre but it’s an undeniably charming place characterised by the ancient Diocletian’s Palace. As well as several beaches and a huge coastal park (Marjan), it’s close to fantastic islands like Hvar, Vis, Korčula and Brač.
From Split, you can reach two national parks: Krka and Plitvice as well as scenic towns like Trogir and Omis. After living here for 2 months, I can tell you about all the best Split day trips which, in my opinion, top the Dubrovnik day trips.
Split also beats Dubrovnik for nightlife so it’s the perfect place to let your hair down. Prices are slightly lower in Split but it still gets super busy in summer so book well ahead.
Zadar is lesser-known than Split and Dubrovnik but I can vouch for it as a wonderful destination for your Croatia itinerary.
Two unique Zadar attractions are the Sea Organ (a public installation creating beautiful music powered by the waves) and the Greeting to the Sun (a solar panel installation using the sun’s rays to create evening light shows). They add character and community to the centre of Zadar which, combined with Roman ruins and surrounding mountains, is a wonderful place to be.
Zadar doesn’t have islands you can easily explore on foot however the Pakleni Islands and Dugi Otok can be seen during a day trip (more details to come) while Pag Island is a cultural gem with world-class cheese and easy access from Zadar by car.
Zagreb (north Croatia)
Croatia’s capital can’t compete with Dalmatia as a summer holiday destination yet it’s a cool, cultural city with plenty to see and do. If you’re planning to visit Istria while spending 1 week in Croatia, it’s a good arrival point closer to the peninsular than Dalmatia’s airports.
Alongside the usual features of a European city, Zagreb has a few gems. The Museum of Broken Relationships is a must, then there’s the quirky street art scene, cool coffee shops and excellent restaurants. In my opinion, the prices are half that of Dalmatia!
You can also take an easy day trip from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of the most beautiful natural places I have been.
Read next: 33 things to do in Zagreb, Croatia
Istrian peninsular (Western Croatia)
The best surprise of my Croatia itinerary of 2022 was Istria. I fell in love with this charming peninsular in the west of Croatia also home to parts of Italy and Slovenia.
With a distinctly Italian vibe (it was ruled by Venice for over 500 years), the architecture, hospitality and food are second to none.
Oh, and truffles are harvested here. I was in heaven!
Popular towns to visit in Istria during a Croatia 1 week itinerary:
- Opatija has a fancy feel with lovely cafes, coastal views and walks
- Rovinj was my favourite destination thanks to the colourful buildings, peninsular coastal park and fantastic food. Seafood and truffles galore!
- Pula is a pleasant city (and the largest on the peninsular with 55,000 inhabitants) with well-preserved Roman ruins and boat rides to the Brijuni Islands.
When to visit Croatia
Croatia is one of the most seasonal places I’ve been. Everywhere in Europe is seasonal to some degree but Croatia is extreme: international flights to popular coastal destinations like Split and Dubrovnik don’t operate from November to March.
For that reason, the winter months are VERY quiet in Croatia with many things closed and ferries running on reduced schedules. I’ll never forget visiting Dubrovnik in March, having Srd Hill to myself and no restaurants serving food at breakfast time! If you hate crowds, I’d recommend visiting off-peak but it’s not exactly atmospheric.
Summer in Croatia is extremely busy and expensive. I’d avoid visiting in July or August personally although it’s a good time to party and enjoy the fantastic weather. I’d suggest the shoulder season of April to May and September to October as the ideal time for your Croatia trip itinerary.
How to get around Croatia
By car: If you want to get off-grid and find hidden gems, it’s extremely useful to have a car when visiting Croatia. With no trains operating along the Croatian coastline, driving is the fastest way to get around. Use Rentalcars.com to hire a car.
By bus: a car is not needed in Croatia because there’s an efficient bus network between the cities and the tourist attractions such as Krka National Park. I used Flixbus in Dalmatia and Arriva buses in Istria which can be booked on Omio.
By boat: in the summer months, a ferry operates between the Dalmatian cities. It’s the more scenic way to travel, plus it saves you two customs stops when travelling between Dubrovnik and Split since the cities are separated by a stretch of Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Tour groups: if you’re trying to move between a city and a popular attraction, chances are GetYourGuide and Viator will have an organised tour including transport. With affordable prices, it’s often worth jumping on a trip rather than spending time and effort navigating public transport.
7 day Croatia itinerary #1 – classic Dalmatia
This itinerary is for those wishing to catch the coastal highlights of Dalmatia with enough time to relax and unwind. Base between Split and Dubrovnik, spending 3-4 days in each city and taking day trips to surrounding towns, national parks and islands.
Dubrovnik: 3-4 days
Day 1 in Dubrovnik – explore the city
- Walk the City Walls – at an expensive 250 kuna (€33), the preserved city walls are Dubrovnik’s top attraction. The views are spectacular!
- Take a free walking tour – I do these wherever I go. Give a tip if you enjoy it
- Take the cable car to Srđ Hill for fantastic views (sunset is a wonderful time to do this) for €27. At the top, there’s a restaurant and the Homeland War Museum focussed on Croatia’s struggle for independence during the 1990s
- OR hike to Srđ Hill instead – this takes 1 hour, saves you money and soaks up lovely coastal views
- Visit other important buildings like Dubrovnik Cathedral, St Ignatius Church (at the top of photo-worthy Jesuit Stairs), Onofrio Fountain, the Rector’s Palace, and Ploce and Pile Gates
- Wander the Stradun (the atmospheric central street) and get lost down its offshoots filled with independent stores and gelato cafes
- West Harbour – between Fort Bokar and Fort Lovrijenac, this famous harbour brings us to my next point…
- Tour Game of Thrones locations – fans can take a GOT walking tour to see filming locations and learn facts from a knowledgeable guide
- Take a sunset kayak tour – seeing Dubrovnik’s Old Town by kayak tour is a lot of fun
- Hop from busy Banje Beach to slightly quieter Sveti Jakov, or head to Lapad neighbourhood to enjoy the beaches there.
Read next: 35 best things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Is the Dubrovnik card worth it? Yes, a 1 day pass is only €12 more than the City Walls walk so I’d suggest squeezing your other desired attractions into the same day.
Where to stay in Dubrovnik
- Hostel – Hostel Villa Angelina is in the heart of the Old Town with security lockers and a fully-equipped kitchen. Check availability for €20 a night.
- Apartment – Apartment Arbanasin is beside the Old Town with spectacular ocean views. Check availability from €90 a night. If you don’t mind being a 10-minute drive/30-min walk from town, S & V Deluxe Apartments are available from €49 a night.
- Budget hotel – between the Old Town and Lapad beaches, Boutique Hotel Porto has a restaurant, private parking, a bar and garden. Check availability from €70 a night.
- Splash out – for a real treat, Royal Blue Hotel has a rooftop pool and a bar with panoramic views of the Lapad Bay and an indoor pool with a spa and sauna. Check availability from €150 a night.
- Browse more hotels on Booking.com and hostels on Hostelworld.
Where to eat in Dubrovnik
- Barba – eat seafood without breaking the bank at this small cafe serving octopus burgers, fried calamari and the like.
- Taj Mahal – here you can eat authentic Bosnian food like cevapi and meat platters. The staff offer excellent advice if you don’t know what to order.
- Drink coffee at Glam Café or Cogito
- Peppino’s – the best ice cream shop in town with countless flavours to choose from.
Day trips from Dubrovnik
Depending whether you have chosen to spend 3 or 4 days in Dubrovnik, add the day trips that most appeal to your 7 day Croatia itinerary.
- Lokrum Island – just a quick boat ride from the city harbour, this spectacular island has a salty Dead Sea where you can swim; live peacock strutting around; and Games of Thrones filming locations
- Mljet National Park – beaches, caves and hikes make Mljet Island worth visiting. Tours from Dubrovnik visit the national park with opportunities for snorkelling, biking and swimming
- Elaphiti Islands – Šipan, Lopud and Koločep are three charming islands that can be visited by way of a 3-island boat trip
- Cavtat – this lovely town up the coast from Dubrovnik has the feel of a mini Split with its coastal promenade, peninsular park with sea views, and lots of outdoor cafes. Catch bus 10 from the main bus station or the stop beside the cable car station for 25 kuna.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina – for a flying introduction to this wonderful country, take a day trip from Dubrovnik to Bosnia, stopping at Kravice waterfall, quaint Pocitelj village and cultural Mostar. We took this full-day tour (€45).
Split: 3-4 days
It’s hard to decide whether I like Split or Dubrovnik more but after 2 months living in Split, I confess I’m very fond of this little city. Getting lost in the alleyways surrounding the palace is always an adventure, and it’s easy to escape into nature.
Things to do in Split
- Wander the alleys around the ancient Diocletian’s Palace in Split Old Town for free or buy a ticket to climb the Bell Tower, enter Domnius Cathedral, browse relics in the treasury and step inside the Baptistery (Temple of Jupiter)
- Promenade along the Riva or sit at one of the cafes for coffee or sunset drinks
- Take a wine-tasting tour to Putalj or visit one of Split’s wine bars (such as Zinfandel or MoNIKa’s) to try Croatian wine like Pošip (white) and Plavac mali (red)
- Buy fresh produce and edible souvenirs at the Green Market
- Eat and drink at the many fantastic Split restaurants
- Visit beaches like Bacvice and Kasjuni. To be honest, Split doesn’t have the best beaches but these are your best bet.
- Enjoy the nightlife at Charlie’s, the Daltonist or Marvlvs Library Jazz Bar.
Read next: 35 things to do in Split, Croatia
Afternoon – Marjan Park
After seeing the main Split attractions, take a walk in Marjan Park or hike to Marjan viewpoint. It’s one of my favourite places in Croatia. A flat path runs around its exterior (starting from Spinutska Vrata) passing viewpoints and beaches.
For an energetic alternative, take the uphill hike from Belvedere viewpoint to Vrh Telegrin summit. I did this every morning for 2 months and will always have fond memories of this place: the views are unrivalled!
After, sip coffee at Vidilica, one of my favourite Split cafes with amazing views.
Day trips for 1-3 extra days in Split
For me, the best thing about Split is the wonderful day trips, many of which can be reached by boat. No need to spend hours in a car or bus! Some of the best options for your Croatia itinerary include…
- Krka National Park – an hour from Split lies Krka’s majestic roaring waterfalls surrounded by forest. A day trip to Krka is Split’s most popular excursion so expect it to be busy in peak season. Arrive by car, Flixbus or organised day tour.
- Klis Fortress – known for GOT filming, this ancient fortress with spectacular views can be visited by car, bus, taxi, tour bus or small-group tour
- Korčula island – although it’s the furthest away, this was my favourite island day trip from Split. Korčula boasts a beautiful old town and activities like snorkelling, bike tours and kayaking. My highlight was wine tasting at Popic Winery in Lumbarda which you can visit independently or as part of a wine tour
- Brač Island – this closeby island to Split is insanely beautiful with natural attractions like Zlatni Rat (Golden Cape) Beach and Vidova Gora viewpoint
- Vis Island – for a rugged, untouched island, Vis is known for its scenic fishing villages and beautiful beaches
- The Blue Lagoon – nearby Vis, this is no hidden gem! Despite the crowds, it’s indeed beautiful with light filtering through the cave entrance at certain times of day, turning the water a brilliant blue
- Hvar island – in summer, Hvar island is the best place to party! But that’s not all it’s known for: there’s also snorkelling, boat trips to the Pakleni islands and charming Hvar town where you can climb to Španjola Fortress
- Trogir – this well-preserved historic town on an island is easily accessible from Split by car or bus.
Read next: all the best Split day trips
Where to eat & drink in Split
- Villa Spiza – for fresh seafood and pasta dishes at a cosy, charming restaurant, this is an absolute gem and not too expensive
- Pizzeria Bokamorra – my local pizza joint where I was given free shots on my last night because I’d been so many times! The best woodfired pizzas ever plus unusual dessert pizzas
- Kantun Paulina – a budget eat for tasty takeaway Balkan burgers with cevapi and ajvar
- Kava2 – my go-to for the perfect flat white and croissants stuffed with peanut cream.
Read next: 18 best Split restaurants
Where to stay in Split
- Hostel: between the city and Bacvice Beach, En Route Hostel has bunks with curtains, power outlets and reading lights from €20. It’s a great place to meet other travellers with a clean, modern vibe. Another option is Backpackers Fairytale which has a cosy vibe that’ll make you feel at home.
- Hotel: Slavika is one of the oldest hotels in Split, right inside the Diocletian’s Palace with air-conditioned rooms, TV, Wi-Fi, terraces with sea views and tasty breakfasts. Check availability from €140.
- Apartments – for all your amenities in a private setting, stay at Apartment Linda, Best Location Apartments or Split Inn Apartments.
- Browse all Split accommodation on Booking.com and Hostelworld.
How to get to Split
From Dubrovnik, you can either fly (40 minutes), drive a rental car or take the Flixbus. Journies take just over 4 hours and start from €13. Book on the Flixbus website.
The downside of arriving via road is going through customs twice because a stretch of the coastline is owned by Bosnia & Herzegovina. In summer, there can be long lines.
The final option (skipping customs) is the ferry which also takes just over 4 hours. Check times and prices and book your ticket online.
7 day Croatia itinerary #2 – the busy one!
If you have just 1 week in Croatia and want to see as much as possible, you can squeeze in Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar using the following itinerary. I’d suggest travelling in the AM and exploring the city centres during the afternoon then using your second day in each destination for a day trip of your choice.
2 days in Dubrovnik
During two days in Dubrovnik, you could see the highlights of the city centre (jump up to my first Croatia itinerary above to read about these) then take a day trip on day 2.
If I had time for just one Dubrovnik day trip, I would probably pick Lokrum Island because it’s so charming, especially if I wanted to avoid a long travel day. To see three islands during one day, the Elaphiti Islands make for a great full-day trip.
2 days in Split
For everything to see and do in Split, jump back up to my first itinerary. Even if you’ve travelled from Dubrovnik during the morning, you could see Split’s highlights in the afternoon and – if you’re fast – finish with sunset at the top of Marjan Hill.
I’m such a slow traveller so this wouldn’t be the Croatia itinerary for me but it’s doable!
With time for just one Split day trip, I would recommend one of the islands. Although Brač and Hvar are closest and cheapest to reach by public ferry, my favourite islands are Vis (because it feels more of a hidden gem) and Korčula for the amazing wine tourism.
While I did most of the islands as separate day trips, you could see a few during one day with the many island boat tours that run in summer.
2 days in Zadar
Zadar is a lovely city: Venetian Gates surround Roman ruins while modern installations create community beside the Adriatic. Providing you didn’t have your fill already, there are several islands to visit and Krka National Park isn’t far away, either.
Things to do in Zadar:
- Wander the Roman Forum and learn about its history
- See the Silver and Gold of Zadar at the Permanent Exhibition of Religious Art, guarded by Benedictine monks since WWII
- Listen to beautiful music at the Sea Organ, a public installation powered by the waves
- Watch solar light shows created by the Greeting to the Sun installation.
Read next: 28 things to do in Zadar, Croatia
Best day trips from Zadar
- Pag Island – this craggy, moon-like island connected to the mainland by bridge isn’t your typical Adriatic island but it’s all the more interesting. Traditional crafts including cheesemaking, lace-making and salt production have been practised for centuries. Read about them in my guide to visiting Pag Island.
- Dugi Otok – translating as ‘Long Island’, there are plenty of points of interest including Telašćica Nature Park. My guide to Dugi Otok explains how to visit and what to do, see & eat.
- The Kornati Islands – 140 striking islands make up this Adriatic cluster. The best way to visit is by island tours that also call at Telašćica on Dugi Otok.
- Hiking in the Velebit Mountains – drive or take a bus to Stari Grad town to hike in Paklenica National Park. The 18km hike to Paklenica Hut is rewarding but worth it.
Where to eat in Zadar
- Amazing ice cream sundaes at Slasticarna Donat and ice cream cones at Gelateria Eva
- Fresh seafood, wines and dessert at 2Ribara
- Typical fare at Konoba Skoblar (the monkfish medallions were delicious)
- Authentic Thai food at Pearl of Siam.
Where to stay in Zadar
- Budget hostel – for a social base in the heart of town with fantastic breakfast options, you can’t do better than Boutique Downtown Hostel. All bunks have their own curtains, reading lights and plug sockets. Book from €19.
- Affordable guesthouse – stay at Harvey’s Luxury Rooms in a modern, spacious double room in the heart of town. Book from €50.
- Apartment – for total privacy in the city centre with a kitchen, balcony and garden view, stay at Arsenal Apartments from €65. If you don’t mind being on the mainland and walking or taking the 6 kuna barkajoli boat into town, Apartments Gabriel is available from just €40 a night.
- Browse all Zadar hotels & apartments on Booking.com and hostels on Hostelworld.
Getting to Zadar
From Split, you can drive a rental car or take the Flixbus. Journies take 2 hours and start from €11; book on the Flixbus website. Finally, you can get a 2.5-hour ferry for 158 kuna between Split and Zadar.
7 day Croatia itinerary #3 – Zagreb & Istria
Now we’ve done Dalmatia, my final itinerary covers Croatia’s capital and the Istrian peninsular in the west. After years of Italian rule, this region has a unique culture somewhere between Croatia and Italy. It has the pomalo (chilled) feel of Croatia with many of Italy’s food options.
I found Istria cheaper than the popular Dalmatian cities although it’s worth noting I visited in April so this may not apply to peak summer.
I hope you enjoy my final itinerary for 7 days in Croatia, beginning with the capital…
2 days in Zagreb
Zagreb is a mid-sized pleasant city that reminds me of Bratislava, Sofia and Ljubljana in size and nature: it’s a relaxed capital surrounded by mountains, influenced by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and communist rule. For a one week Croatia itinerary, I’d suggest a day in the centre and a day trip to Plitvice Nat Park.
Getting to Zagreb
I used Skyscanner to get a flight from London for £7 (€8)! I use the whole month search feature to see the cheapest dates to fly.
You can also arrive in Zagreb by Flixbus from nearby cities such as Vienna, Ljubljana and Sarajevo. For a slightly more comfortable option, travel by train to Zagreb from cities north of Croatia. Use Trainline to book tickets.
Things to do in Zagreb
- Laugh or cry at the Museum of Broken Relationships, the only place in the world dedicated to love lost. The stories range from funny to heart-wrenching, relieving and empowering. Entry is €5 and there’s a cool cafe and restaurant onsite
- Tour the wide variety of museums and galleries in Zagreb from modern art to the 80’s Museum and even a Mushroom Museum!
- Find cool and colourful street art in Zagreb
- Shop for groceries at Tržnica Dolac Market AKA ‘the belly of the city’
- Enjoy the cafes, restaurants, bars and live music on Tkalčićeva Street
- Ride the world’s shortest funicular to Upper Town where you can wander Strossmayer Promenade and soak up views from Lotrščak Tower
- Take a walk in spacious Park Maksimir
- Admire the grand graves at Mirogoj Cemetery, a hidden gem that’s not as morbid as it sounds.
Read next: The top things to do in Zagreb
Where & what to eat in Zagreb
- Štrukli at La Štruk restaurant – this delicious cheese dish comes either wrapped in dough or layered and baked. Dishes cost 35 kuna including ingredients like truffles, walnut, honey and blueberry
- Flatbread and tapas at Heritage Croatian Food where all the ingredients are sustainably sourced within Croatia. Book ahead because it’s the #1 rated restaurant in Zagreb with only a few tables
- Hearty meat dishes at Pri Zvoncu, off the tourist track in the south of the city. I tried the Weiner Schnitzel, pork stuffed with cheese and ham, a fried cheese starter, and tiramisu for €25!
- Typical Balkan dishes at Plac Kitchen & Grill or MERAK
- Coffee at one of the many excellent Zagreb coffee shops.
Where to stay in Zagreb
- Hostel – Swanky Mint has dorms, privates and studios, a seasonal pool and a cool Asian restaurant, Soi Fusion. Book from €11 a night.
- Apartment – Apartments Downtown are clean and cool with thoughtful details, TV, Wi-Fi and toiletries. Check availability from €40.
- Affordable hotel – Hotel Jägerhorn has period rooms, spacious courtyards and complimentary breakfast. Check availability from €80.
- Splash out – the Esplanade Hotel is known as one of the best hotels in Zagreb with five-star art-nouveau rooms and bathrooms with marble floors and elegant bathtubs. Check availability from €150.
Day trip to Plitvice Nat Park
There are few places in Croatia as beautiful as Plitvice National Park which changes with the seasons from an abandoned winter wonderland to a luscious, bountiful paradise packed with tourists. Every season offers something different.
Two hours from Zagreb by car, a Plitvice day trip from Zagreb is a must for any northern Croatia itinerary. Ride the bus or take this small group tour by mini bus. Our guide was so knowledgeable: a real historian!
Entry fees (included in tour prices):
- Jan, Feb, March & Nov, December: 80 kuna (€10)
- May & October: 180 kuna (€24)
- June, July, August, September: 300 kuna (€40).
1-2 days in Opatija
Opatija was my first taste of Istria and I was immediately blown away by the grand, colourful buildings and the curving coastline offering views for miles around. Once a wellness retreat during the Austro-Hungarian Empire days, the town has a distinctly Austrian look with fancy cafes serving delicacies like Sacher torte.
Opatija is a small town that can be seen during a day, however if you’re travelling from Zagreb (3 hours) you may wish to set aside 2 days.
Day 1 – travel from Zagreb, check in to your hotel & see the town.
Day 2 – take the coastal walk from Volosko to Lovran along the Kvarner Bay coast. Volosko is the more atmospheric town and a good place to start or end the walk with coffee and cake at Kaokakao.
Where to eat in Opatija
- Ružmarin – one of the best meals I had in Croatia was at this restaurant. The pasta with truffles and scampi will change your life!
- Roko – this is another excellent restaurant with quality pizza and pasta dishes. I mixed it up from my normal truffle pasta routine by ordering truffle pizza
- Kavana Strauss – excellent coffee and fancy cafes at a grand, Austrian-style cafe
- Valle Losca Tavern – a local-style restaurant in Volosko with no written menu, just dishes of the day made with quality local produce. Make sure to book ahead.
Getting to Opatija
From Zagreb, it’s a 173km journey which should take 2 hours 20 minutes to drive with no traffic. Alternatively, book a bus through Omio from €9.
1 day in Pula
The informal capital of Istria is Pula, known for its Roman ruins in particular Pula Arena, one of the best-preserved amphitheatres outside Italy. For history lovers, it’s a fantastic place for a 7 day Croatia itinerary.
Pula was captured by Rome in the 2nd century BC, Venice in 1331 (lasting until 1797) and the Austro-Hungarian Empire before WWI. It became part of Italy in 1920 and was then passed to Croatia (then Yugoslavia) in 1947. Artefacts from these eras make Pula an architect’s dream.
Getting to Pula
From Opatija, it’s a 100km journey which should take just over 1 hour 15 minutes to drive with no traffic. Alternatively, take an Arriva bus booked through Omio.
Things to do in Pula:
- Pula Arena – tickets to the amphitheatre cost 40 kuna but if you’re on a budget, you get decent views from the outside
- Tour other historical buildings including the Arch of the Sergii and the Temple of Augustus
- Take a boat tour to the Brijuni Islands – I took a sunset cruise spotting dolphins and enjoying wine and freshly cooked fish for dinner
- Hop between Pula beaches on the Verudela peninsular like Brioni, Histria Beach and Lighthouse Beach, and Stoja peninsular beaches including Cyclone and Valovine.
Where to stay in Pula
- Hostel – I stayed at Pipištrelo which was fantastic value. There wasn’t tons of atmosphere but maybe it’s more lively in peak season. Check availability from €14.
- Budget hotel – Hotel Amfiteatar has stylish, air-conditioned rooms with flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Check availability from €63.
- Splash out – Ribarska Koliba Resort is moments from the beach with air-conditioned rooms and apartments, plus an à la carte restaurant with a terrace and sea views. Check availability from €197.
- Browse all Pula accommodation on Booking.com and Hostelworld.
2 days in Rovinj
I’m saving the best for last, mainly because the bus from Opatija to Rovinj calls at Pula so it makes sense to go en route. With colourful buildings amidst atmospheric alleyways, ocean views and phenomenal cuisine, Rovinj was easily my favourite place when spending a week in Croatia’s Istria region.
Getting to Rovinj
From Pula, it’s a 36km journey which should take just over 45 minutes to drive with no traffic. Alternatively, take an Arriva bus booked through Omio.
Things to do in Rovinj:
- Take a walk around Golden Cape Forest Park (Park šuma Zlatni Rt) stopping at points of interest like Lone Bay or continuing further to Cuvi Beach
- See the important buildings in town like Balbi’s Arch and climb Rovinj bell tower
- Take a boat tour down the Lim channel
- Have a drink at Bar La’Moura bar with ocean views
- Take a boat ride to nearby St. Catherine Island
- Shop at small galleries on Grisia, an atmospheric street leading to the church of St. Eufemia.
Where to eat in Rovinj
- Tunaholic Fish Bar for affordable seafood ‘street food’ like burgers and fried fish, and Fish House Rovinj for fun seafood dishes including fish bao buns and tacos
- Spacio Grota beside the market for affordable local wines and meat & cheese platters. Grab a stool beside a barrel table at this vibey spot where the locals hang out
- Torkolo restaurant – it was here that I had truffle gnocchi, wine and tiramisu for the unbeatable price of €13!
- La Vela Gostionica – to no one’s surprise, I ate yet more truffle pasta here. It’s a cosy restaurant with red-checkered tablecloths and staff who switch between Croatian, Italian, English and German for the tourists
- Gelateria Italia – the best gelato in town run by an Italian family. After browsing the phenomenal flavours, I had a scoop of tiramisu and another of Ferrero Rocher.
- Can you believe I was in Rovinj 3 days solo and ate all that ^ I’m impressed at myself!
Where to stay in Rovinj
- I stayed at Apartments Sonja in a studio with a private kitchen and bathroom. The lovely family who lived below provide free bikes to cycle into town. Check availability from €33 a night.
- Other private apartments with great ratings include Fumi Apartment and House Kate.
- Browse all Rovinj accommodation on Booking.com.
Thanks for reading!
- What to see and do in Split
- 21 best day trips from Split
- A complete guide to Split Old Town
- Where to eat in Split
- The best coffee shops in Split
- Things to do in Trogir, Croatia
- The ultimate Krka Falls day trip from Split
- Marjan Hill viewpoint hike
- Top things to in Zagreb, Croatia
- 15 best Zagreb coffee shops
- Zagreb street art walking tour
- How to visit Plitvice Lakes as a day trip from Zagreb
- Fun things to do in Dubrovnik
- Visiting Lokrum Island, Dubrovnik
- A day trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina from Dubrovnik
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TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR VISITING CROATIA
Getting around by air – I use Skyscanner and search by month to see the cheapest dates.
Driving in Europe – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in European countries (and all around the world).
For trains, I use RailEurope. The search feature allows you to compare prices, and they show live departure times on the website.
For buses, I use FlixBus. Find journeys between European countries from €1!
Use Omio to compare trains and buses in one search. It’s so handy!
For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
Browse tours and activities on GetYourGuide.
Need travel insurance? I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s affordable but covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote.
For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and budget tips from my 10+ years on the road!