Croatia – Travel Guide + Itinerary
Breathtaking natural beauty, glittering waters, almighty view of mountains, Dinaric alps which stretch all the way from Italy to Albania hugging most of the coast, gorgeous waterfalls, ridiculously picturesque lakes, dramatic farmlands, endless hiking and biking trails, oodles of history, very interesting architecture, super delicious wine, seafood and desserts. Seriously I can go on and on…..
You don’t find Croats everywhere in the world so you may not know Croatia as well as you know US or UK but before I share my expertise let me tell you Croats are extremely friendly, warm and hospitable people.
On day 14th of our “UK to India road trip”, we entered Croatia from Slovenian border. Croatia shares its borders with Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia – Herzegovina and Montenegro.
Our driving route was as below:
Zagreb –> Vinjerac –> Split –> Dubrovnik
We added a day trip to Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) from Dubrovnik and I would highly recommend adding Mostar if you have 1 additional day.
DRIVING IN CROATIA
As we both are Roadies, our favourite mode of transport will always be car does not matter which part of the world we are in; unless rental or self-driving is not possible. Now, if you are thinking to drive in Croatia, that’s definitely a great decision. If it’s your first time to Croatia, you may have no idea how stunning Croatian Riviera is. Roads in Croatia are generally good but I strongly advise you to have Satnav. We had Sygic (Android app) and Google. We also carried Atlas but Sygic was perfect with mostly accurate. Mostly we were on the E59, E71 and then A1
Note: Directions are usually marked by city letters followed by numbers in Croatia. Sea coast road from Split to Dubrovnik skirts along the edges of some very high cliffs. When we drove ( September 2014) there were some engineering works going on so roads were quiet narrow, also local people we interacted with warned us about rash driving by locals on those narrow roads but luckily we dint had any bad experience from local Croatian. Roads are not protected everywhere with guard rails like you get in USA but again that’s quite normal in most of the Europe.
I rate our driving skills quite good as we have driven most of our lives in India & UK ;-). So let’s say If you have driven in Rome or NYC, Croatia will be a piece of cake for you J
JUST PAY ATTENTION and that’s it…
TRAVEL AGENT’S ITINERARY TIP
Croatia is a very diverse country so it will be wrong to say that you can cover everything in 5/7/10 days, hence I have made few combinations below. I have mainly focussed on “must see” places. If you have more time, you can always spend additional time at desired place and add on neighbouring countries for additional day trip. I would strongly suggest to be careful with the geographical location and its proximity. Don’t underestimate the long distances. If you are driving, it’s still manageable as we have driven during night for few hours and then would take rest, visit a town and then move to next place but if you are relying on local transportation, you will have to keep the distance in mind. If you are thinking to hire a car, use the car and then drop it back in the same country. If you choose different pick up/drop off location, you may end up paying huge amounts. This is the combination I would also suggest to my clients and I have got good feedback on this, so sharing it here.
My Top Picks
03 DAYS – Dubrovnik only.
05 DAYS – Add Slano + Mostar (Bosnia & Herzegovina).
07 DAYS: Add Split & Hvar.
08 DAYS: Add Pitvice Lakes.
10 DAYS: Add Zadar.
Cruising in Croatia is definitely very tempting as you get to see most of the Dalmatian coast. People who prefer full board catering, well planned itineraries and exploring different places every new day, this one is definitely for you!
I used to sell variety of cruises in my last travel job and thought of sharing the top most cruise of Croatia (based on the popularity and feedback). You can book this through www.viator.com or www.sail-croatia.com. You can also book once you are in Croatia but if you are planning your travel in peak season, I highly recommend booking it in advance. You have choice of luxury cruises, super ship cruises, sailing cruises, local cruises, day cruises while in Croatia.
SPLIT -> HVAR -> KORCULA -> DUBROVNIK -> ELAPHITI ISLANDS -> MLJET -> SLANO
LOCAL FOOD & RESTAURANT
For food lovers, here are few must eats:
- Povitica (beautiful Cinnamon swirled bread)
- If you love seafood, try local seafood stew
- Pasticada (Traditional slow cooked beef roast)
- Sarma (Stuffed cabbage rolls)
Note: We really wanted to visit “Hole in the Wall” bar in Dubrovnik but due to shortage of time we had to miss it. I would definitely recommend this for a glass of wine, with absolutely breath taking views. I am sure you will have endless memories & pictures to take back home.
Zagreb, Zadar, Split, Hvar, Dinaric Alps, Old Town of Dubrovnik, Pitvice Lakes, Dalac Market, Ancient City Walls.
WHEN TO GO
- High Season: July – August
- Shoulder Season: May – June, September
British don’t need visa for Croatia whereas Indians would require Schengen visa.
Croatian Kuna is the official Croatian currency. Love the fact that even thou it’s a part of EU but still retains its currency, making the trip very cost effective.
Choosing a hotel is quiet an individual preference and depends on few factors like number of travellers, reason of the trip, time of the year, type of holiday etc. You may want to choose self-catering apartment, villa, room share, hotel, camping depending on what accommodates your request.
Best site I suggest is www.trivago.com. Another search engine which compares Hotel prices and offers you the best deal.
Note: Always check the terms and conditions before you hit confirm button as booking through these hotel websites can lead sometime being not eligible to accumulate hotel rewards programme. Those are only valid if you book through hotel website directly so please do check.
E.g. Booking Sofitel hotel through www.bookings.com or similar website will not get you points on your Le Club Accor programme. You will have to book it directly at Sofitel website or with hotel reservation at full rate
- If a restaurant includes a service charge, No need to add tip otherwise 10% tipping.
- Don’t drive and talk on the phone – Its illegal in Croatia, and strictly enforced.
- Plenty of UNESCO sites to tick off.