Croatia road trip itinerary; from Zagreb to Dubrovnik

A road trip is the best way to explore Croatia, one of the most diverse countries I’ve ever been to. It has fantastic cities, cute little towns, amazing national parks with incredible nature, paradise islands and a dreamy coastline. So it would be a shame to visit just one or two places during your stay. Don’t have a driving license or don’t feel like driving yourself? Don’t panic! Croatia has a very practical and cheap bus network that will take you everywhere you want to go! I traveled from Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, to Dubrovnik (that became famous thanks to Game of Thrones) for only 50€ in total by bus! Of course I wasn’t able to do everything in Croatia; the options are endless, but I’d say this itinerary is perfect for a first time two week Croatia road trip!

The ultimate Croatia road trip itinerary

Stops: Zagreb – Plitvice Lakes NP – Sibenik – Krka – Split – Hvar – Dubrovnik – Mljet
Hotels/Appartments: all places I stayed at were located in the center of the towns near the bus station
Duration: 10-16 days (depending on how long you want to stay in each place)
Total kilometers: 641km
Activities: city trip, national parks, swimming, boat trip, little town exploration, forts, blue cave
Practical tips for how to plan your trip through Croatia: How to plan a trip through Croatia on a budget

Croatia road trip itinerary map


Croatia roadtrip Zagreb

Duration: 2 nights
Where did I stay: Best Western Premier Astoria Hotel

Zagreb is a perfect first stop for your Croatia road trip! It is also known as little Vienna. To my surprise it was a very trendy city and super budget friendly! Zagreb consists of two parts; the lower town (Donji Grad) and the upper town (Gornji Grad). Donji Grad is the modern part of town where you can go shopping, visit museums or go to fancy restaurants.  Gornji Grad is the more historical part with its old structures, churches and monuments. Make sure to visit its many vivid squares, the cathedral, the Dolac market, Tkalciceva street where you can watch people passing by while enjoying a good drink and Saint Mark’s Square with the cute Saint Mark’s church!
Read more about Zagreb here: How to spend 36 hours in Zagreb

Plitvice Lakes NP (2 hours drive from Zagreb)

Croatia roadtrip Plitvice Lakes

Duration: 3 nights
Where did I stay: Guesthouse Academia Danica, only 400m from entrance 1

If you always wanted to visit a fairytale landscape or if you’re a sucker for waterfalls like me, you need to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. It truly is one of the dreamiest places I’ve ever visited! Most people spend only one day at this park, but I recommend at least 2 days to be able to explore every corner before the crowds arrive!
Discover the best views, how to avoid the crowds and more tips & tricks in my post Plitvice Lakes NP; the guide with everything you need to know 

Sibenik (2 hours drive from Plitvice Lakes)

Croatia roadtrip Sibenik

Duration: 3 nights
Where did I stay: Guesthouse Merla, small but perfect location in the middle of the old town

Sibenik is the oldest Croatian city on the Adriatic coast and  not yet overrun by tourists. It was a filming location for Game of Thrones and it consists of small narrow cobblestone streets, often with stairs. The eyecatcher is probably the Cathedral of St James and also the fortresses are fun to visit.
Curious about what’s to explore at Sibenik? Find out here: The ultimate quick guide to Sibenik.

Krka NP (day trip from Sibenik)

Croatia roadtrip Krka

Krka National Park is another fantastic park with a lot of beautiful waterfalls formed by Travertine, a limestone deposited by mineral springs. The big difference with Plitvice Lakes NP? You are allowed to swim at Krka!
Discover everything you need to know before your visit to Krka here: Tips for Krka NP: what you should know before your visit 

Split (1 hour 10 minutes drive from Sibenik)

Croatia roadtrip Split

Duration: 3 nights
Where did I stay: Jupiter Luxury Hotel located at Diocletian’s Palace!

The old town center of Split actually consists mainly of Diocletian’s Palace, so most of your time you’re walking along the remains of a Roman palace! The Peristyle is a great place to sit on the steps and enjoy the view and the Riva is the place to be at night!
Read everything you need to know about this fantastic historical gem here: Split, Croatia: things you must see and do

Boat trip to Biševo (Blue Cave) Vis (Green Cave) & Hvar (day trip from Split)

Croatia roadtrip Hvar

Boat trips are a must at Croatia which counts over a thousand islands! The boat trip I did from Split, took me to the magical blue and green caves and to the wonderful island Hvar, where you can explore the town and climb to the fortress.
Read more about my boat trip here and watch my video of this fantastic boat trip on my YouTube channel

Dubrovnik (3 hours drive from Split)

Croatia roadtrip Dubrovnik

Duration: 5 nights
Where did I stay: Apartment Lucic with the best view in town!

What a way to finish this Croatia road trip! Dubrovnik is like nothing you’ve ever seen! As soon as I stood on the terrace of my apartment tears started to burn behind my eyes simply because the view was so breathtakingly beautiful. Dubrovnik takes you way back into time when you walk inside of the city’s walls. It’s no surprise so many Game of Thrones scenes were shot here!
Discover what the big fuss is all about here: The essential travel guide to Dubrovnik

Mljet (day trip from Dubrovnik)

Croatia roadtrip Mljet

This island is probably one of the most unspoiled islands of Croatia and so the ideal place to escape the cruise crowds that invade the Dubrovnik walls from 10.00 til 18.00. You can swim, hike and bike here. Fun fact; there’s an island within the island Mljet!
Read more about Mljet here: Mljet island; escape the crowds of Dubrovnik 


If you like my pictures of my Croatia road trip I suggest to follow my Instagram account where you can find a lot more!

Croatia roadtrip itinerary

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3 thoughts on “Croatia road trip itinerary; from Zagreb to Dubrovnik

  1. Hi Jollee,
    I loved reading your article, it is very informative and your itinerary seems to be very good. I am planning a trip in May, is it a good time to travel to Croatia.
    The bus journey from Plitvice Lake NP to Sibenik is for about 4.5hrs as, whereas you have mentioned 2hr. Can you please tell me where to book it.
    If I rent a car, how safe it is to drive in Croatia.

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