7 Days in Croatia Itinerary: What to Do on the Dalmatian Coast

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Croatia is a beautiful country and the perfect place to spend your next vacation. We spent a month exploring Croatia with our two kids, from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, and would love to go back to explore even more! With 7 days in Croatia, you’ll have to limit yourself to a few places, but you can start to explore the many historic and natural wonders of this country.

No longer the “hidden gem” it was in the 1990s, Croatia has become a popular summer destination – and it’s easy to see why! This nation combines culture, history, and beautiful islands and beaches into one easy-to-navigate place, perfect for relaxing on a 7-day vacation. You’ll find a mix of history and natural beauty; the color of the water here is so blue it’s hard to believe!

Whether you’re a family looking for historic ruins or a couple seeking a relaxing beach getaway, Croatia is a terrific choice.

What is Croatia known for?

One day in Split Croatia
One day in Split Croatia

Croatia is known for its clear, clean beaches, beautiful islands, and stunning national parks full of gushing waterfalls. It is also famous for having well-preserved Roman ruins, holding lots of music festivals, and being a major filming location for the HBO series “Game of Thrones”.

From their love of futbol (soccer) to the red and white checks of the national flag you’ll see emblazoned everywhere, you’ll find a very welcoming people who are happy to share their culture with you.

There’s plenty of delicious food to try in Croatia. Coastal towns are proud of their fresh seafood dishes, including Brudet, a fish stew that is the national dish of Croatia. While exploring Croatia you’ll also find various types of pasta, black risotto, excellent wine, and lots of Aperol Spritzes, especially during the hot summer months.

Getting to Croatia

You can get to Split by plane, car, bus, train, and ferry. Flying is by far the most convenient option though, and there are regular flights to Split from major European cities.

Split airport (SPU) is about 30 minutes outside the old city. You can also fly into Dubrovnik (DBV) and transfer to Split from there. So, compare prices before you book.

Getting around Croatia

In addition to booking private tours and transfers, there are two main ways to get around Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast: public transportation (buses) and rental cars.

Many people travel via public bus to save money, but that limits your travel options. We recommend a rental car for the additional freedom it allows. Check car prices here.

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7 days in Croatia itinerary

This 7-day trip to Croatia will take you to the most beautiful part of the country, the Dalmatian Coast. The Dalmatian Coast stretches from the northernmost island of Rab in the Adriatic Sea to the southernmost point of Montenegro at the Bay of Kotor.

The Dalmatian Coast is famous for its dramatic coastline, breathtaking beaches, and picture-perfect islands. The area got its name from the Dalmatae, an ancient Illyrian tribe that once lived there.

If you prefer a faster pace, there are some additional stops listed at the bottom of the itinerary. There are so many things to do on the Dalmatian Coast, that you’ll have to pick and choose a bit!

Day 1: Fly into Split

People walking around in Split Croatia

Split is a great place to stay while you explore the coast. This coastal city is centrally located, full of history, and makes a great base for day trips around the region.

You’ll fly in today and spend the rest of the day wandering the historic district of Split, which was built on top of the ruins of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace. The Palace was finished around 305 AD, but the city continued to grow up and around the palace after the Romans abandoned it.

You’ll also find a wide seafront promenade, called the Riva, where many boats head out to nearby islands.

Things to do in Split

There are many things to do in Split. The highlights include:

  • Explore Diocletian’s Palace including the Temple of Jupiter, the Treasury, the Bell Tower, and the Basements (which held dragons in Game of Thrones).
  • Rub some luck off Gregory Nin. You’ll find a large statue of Croatian hero Gregory Nin outside the Golden Gate. Rub his big toe for luck.
  • Take a Game of Thrones tour. Many scenes from this famous series were filmed in Split. From the dragons in the palace basement to the Klis fortress just outside town, a guided tour will show you all the highlights, with behind-the-scenes stories to match!
  • Stroll the Riva Waterfront. Stroll along the riverfront to watch the boats moving in and out of the harbor. You’ll find a lot of cafes here to sit and enjoy the sunshine, and maybe try some of the exquisite local wines.

Where to stay in Split

You’ll want to stay close to the old town in Split, as that’s where you’ll be spending most of your time.

Recommended Hotel: Split Artistic Apartments. This apartment is 3 bedrooms, giving you lots of room to spread out. You’ll be right in the heart of the old town, and at a great price. Travelers love the rooftop terrace as well!

Day 2: 5 Islands Tour and Blue Cave Day Trip

boat and dock for the 5-island tour

For your second day, book a day trip out of Split to enjoy the beautiful islands that the Dalmatian Coast is known for. This is a day to relax and take in the beautiful waters around Split!

On this 5-island tour, you’ll explore some of Croatia’s best islands, including Biševo to experience the stunning Blue Cave and Vis Island to immerse yourself in the laid-back lifestyle in the town of Komiža. These two islands are part of the Vis Archipelago, a UNESCO Global Geopark.

You’ll dive into the tranquil waters of Stiniva Cove, snorkel in the Blue Lagoon at Budikovac Island, and end your day with a stroll around Hvar town center and a climb up to Španjola Fortress for panoramic views.

Day 3: Day trip to Krka National Park

Waterfalls at Krka National Park

On your third day in Croatia, you will travel inland to visit Krka National Park, one of the most well-known parks in all of Croatia.

Krka is about a one-hour drive from Split, making this day trip much easier than Plitvice National Park, which is 2.5 hours away.

You’ll board a coach to get to the park, then meander through the travertine pools via a boardwalk, culminating in the famous Skradinski Buk waterfall.

In the past, Skradinski Buk was a popular place to swim, but that is no longer allowed. Instead, you’ll voyage through the park by boat to explore the small town of Skradin and take a dip in the water there.

There’s a small ethno-village here. Many visitors are quick to skip it, as they are anxious to head to the waterfalls. We found that if you stick with your tour guide, there’s a lot to learn here, including why the donkey is so important in Croatian culture!

Day 4: Split

After two days of day-tripping, spend your last day in Split enjoying the town.

You might want to visit the town marketplace to sample local specialties, join a Game of Thrones tour, or relax at beautiful Bacvice Beach, which is an easy walk from old town.

One Day in Split, Croatia

Day 5: Dubrovnik

Cable car approaching Mt Srd with the walled city of Dubrovnik Croatia sticking into the Adriatic in background

On day 5, head to the famous town of Dubrovnik!

Called the “Pearl of the Adriatic” Old Town Dubrovnik is larger than Split. There are many narrow alleyways and cobblestone streets to explore. Wander the placa, Dubrovnik’s main promenade, and explore the alleyways around.

You’ll also find a thriving restaurant scene ranging from upscale to budget-friendly eats, as well as many museums and summer festivals.

Things to Do in Dubrovnik

The main things to do in Dubrovnik include:

  • Walk the City Walls. Try to start walking the top of the city walls in the morning to avoid both the heat and the crowds. You can do a full loop, with views both into the city below and out to sea.
  • Ride the cable car to the top of Mt. Srd. Located just a few kilometers from the city center of Dubrovnik, this 562-meter-high mountain was an important defense point during the Croatian War of Independence. The cable car ride is short and sweet, but you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the walled city and beyond.
  • Rent a kayak to paddle around the city walls and out to seaside caves.
  • Visit Dubrovnik Cathedral, which houses a painting by Titian, and the gold-plated bones of St. Blaise.
  • Visit Lapad Beach for a relaxing day by the sea
  • Take a Game of Thrones Tour. If you skipped this in Split, don’t worry: There were lots of GoT scenes filmed in Dubrovnik as well!

Where to Stay in Dubrovnik

You’ll want to stay either in, or within close walking distance, of the old town. The land rises steeply just north of Old Town, so rooms in that area will have amazing views, but also the climb down to the old town and back up to reach them.

Be aware that Dubrovnik is the most expensive city in Croatia, and due to the limited number of rooms in or near Old Town, they can get quite pricey during busy times.

Recommended Hotel: Apartments Santa Marta. These small rooms are in an old-fashioned stone house, right in the center of old town Dubrovnik. You’ll be in a quiet space, in the middle of all the action. One traveler writes “You live right in the center of medieval city, feels like fairytale.”

One Day in Dubrovnik: How Much Can You Really See?

Getting from Split to Dubrovnik

To get from Split to Dubrovnik, you can rent a car, book a private shuttle, or take a bus. Buses take just over 4 hours between the two cities. The travel time by car takes around 3-4 hours, depending on traffic and border delays.

A new bridge recently opened that allows direct access down the coast, but some buses are still using the old route, which crosses briefly into Bosnia and Herzegovina. Make sure you have your passport available, as you’ll need it at these border crossings.

Day 6: Dubrovnik

Since your first day in Dubrovnik was shortened by transit, take a full day to explore the old city. Start at the city walls in the morning, then explore the sites of the old city, stopping to enjoy some fresh seafood in a local café.

Day 7: Lokrum Island Day Trip

Rocky soil and a view of the wooded area at the end of Lokrum Island

For your final day take a day trip to nearby Lokrum Island, where pine trees and quiet paths replace the buzz of the city walls.

Just a 15-minute ferry ride from the old port of Dubrovnik, you’ll find an old monastery, a dead sea that you can swim in, wild peacocks, and the original iron throne used in filming “Game of Thrones.” Hike to top of Fort Royal for views looking back at Dubrovnik.

Return to Dubrovnik in late afternoon, and sit at a café to enjoy your last sunset in Croatia.

If you have more time in Croatia

If you have more time in Croatia, consider adding these additional stops to your itinerary:


People watching the sunset over the water in Zadar, Croatia,

Zadar is a smaller city than Split, with a focus on the sea. Here you’ll find a seaside promenade built more for jumping into the clean waters, than for massive numbers of boats.

Zadar is known to have some of the most famous sunsets in the world, so famous Hemingway wrote about them! You can watch these epic sunsets from the end of the Riva (sea promenade) while listening to the Sea Organ, an art installation at the edge of the water designed so that the waves play the notes.

Just next the Sea Organ is a second art installation by the same artist called Sun Salutations, a series of solar panels that light up LEDs when the sun goes down.

Zadar has more of a small-town, laid-back vibe than Split, and was one of our favorite cities in Croatia. You won’t need a lot of time there, but do consider adding it if you have an extra day or two.

Things to Do in Zadar

Some of the “not-to-miss” things to do in Zadar include:

  • Watch the sun set while listening to the Sea Organ
  • Visit the Museum of Glass
  • Swim at Kolovare Beach

Getting to Zadar

Zadar can be visited on a day trip from Split, but to really enjoy Zadar’s famous sunsets, you’ll need to spend at least one night.

If you’re not renting a car, Zadar is a 2½ hour bus ride from Split.

Travel everywhere for less

Plitvice Lakes National Park

A boardwalk passing by some of the waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most stunning National Park in Croatia, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site to boot. Boardwalks crisscross both the upper and lower lakes at this park built over travertine lakes.

You can’t swim in this park, but you’ll have amazing views of the bright blue and green waters wherever you walk. It’s best to have two days to explore Plitvice National Park, but it can also be seen on a long (12-hour) day trip from Split.

The drive from Split is about 2.5 hours each way. Many people book a guided day trip like this one so they can relax on the way and be sure they don’t miss any of the park’s highlights.

Plitvice is one of the highlights of a trip to Split. It really is as gorgeous as it appears in pictures!

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The town of Mostar, in Boxnia and Herzegovina, as seen across the Neretva River. Popular day trip from Dubrovnik and Split.

Ready to add another country to your itinerary? You can easily visit Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina on a day trip from Split like this one.

You’ll see the famous Stari Most bridge in Mostar, as well as the famous waterfalls of Kravice National Park.

Bosnia and Herzegovina are so close to Croatia, but culturally they feel a world away. This was one of our favorite cities during our month in Croatia and the surrounding area. If you have the extra time, we highly recommend a visit!

Kotor, Montenegro

People walking around Kotor Montenegro

Montenegro is another country to add to your itinerary during your week in Croatia. It was once well off the tourist track but has increasingly become a favorite destination for budget-minded travelers.

Historic Kotor is an easy day trip from Dubrovnik. This old Mediterranean-walled town is on the Bay of Kotor, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Although some people say Kotor is like a “mini Dubrovnik”, it is much less touristy and still maintains its unique character. Kotor is full of beautiful old buildings, winding cobbled streets, imposing city walls, and ancient churches. There are plenty of restaurants to sample traditional Montenegrin cuisine and wine, as well as a thriving nightlife scene.

The drive to Kotor is stunning, with jaw-dropping views of the Bay of Kotor. This fjord-like bay is a sight worth seeing, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also take a boat trip to the island during your visit.

If you’d like to visit Montenegro on your own and don’t have a rental car, the bus from Dubrovnik to Kotor takes as little as 2 hours 10 minutes. Or, you can let a local show you around. On this guided tour, you’ll learn about Montenegro’s culture and history, have free time to explore Kotor, and then stop in the beach town of Budva before returning to Dubrovnik.

Best Things to Do in One Day in Kotor, Montenegro

FAQ: 7 Days in Croatia

When is the best time of year to visit Croatia?

The best month to visit Croatia is in June. You’ll have warm temperatures, everything will be open, and the famous waterfalls will be full of water. July and August bring even warmer temperatures, and staggering crowds.

Is Croatia safe?

Yes, Croatia is considered a very safe place to travel. The country has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe. You’ll mainly need to be mindful of petty theft. Take standard precautions and watch for pickpockets.

What is the currency in Croatia?

As of January 1, 2023, the currency of Croatia is the Euro. Croatia used the Kuna from 1994-2022, but switched its currency as part of its admission to the Schengen Bloc.

Is Croatia part of the EU?

Yes. Croatia joined the European Union in 2013 and joined the Schengen Zone on January 1, 2023. If you are watching your 90 Schengen Visa days, your time in Croatia now counts as part of this.

Can you fly direct to Croatia?

Yes, there are direct flights to Croatia. From the United States, United Airlines flies nonstop from New York to Dubrovnik. From Canada, Air Transat flies direct from Toronto to Zagreb. Many airlines, such as Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines, offer direct flights within the EU.

Where are the nicest beaches in Croatia?

Croatia’s southern coast is dotted with lovely beaches. The majority of these beaches are made up of pebbles rather than sand, so the water is crystal clear and a stunning turquoise color.
Zlatni Rac is consistently listed as one of the best beaches in Croatia. It is a pebbly beach, 2 km from the town of Bol, on Brac Island. This beach is also famous for windsurfing.

Is it safe to rent a car in Croatia?

Yes, it is very safe to rent a car in Croatia. This means you can move around at your own pace without worrying about bus schedules.

Is Croatia hot all year round?

No, Croatia is not hot all year round. January is the coldest month of the year, with daytime highs rarely going over 48°F / 9°C. If you want to go to Croatia because of its beaches and islands, the best time to go is from June to September, when it is warm and dry.

Final thoughts about spending a week in Croatia

Croatia is an incredible country with so much to offer. From the vibrant city of Split to the stunning Krka National Park and historic walled city of Dubrovnik, there are plenty of exciting activities to keep you busy during your holiday.

With so many activities on land, and plenty of beaches and islands to explore, you can have as relaxing or exciting a Croatian visit as you choose! You’ll find delicious food, and friendly people welcoming you to this coastal nation. Before you know it, you’ll be planning your return trip!

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Written by Cynthia Matthews von Berg

Written by Cynthia from Sharing the Wander. Sharing the Wander is a family of four traveling the world and inspiring other families to do the same.

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