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Views of Split from Marjan Park in Croatia

7 Days in Croatia Itinerary For First Time Visitors

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If you love history, nature, beautiful scenery and Game of Thrones then a 7 days in Croatia itinerary is guaranteed to whet your wanderlust and appetite for travel.

From the Old Town of Split and a day of island hopping to walks by the side of waterfalls and forests, our Croatia itinerary aims to show you how you can see the very best of Croatia in just one week.

We’ve split this blog post into two parts.

The first part resembles the Croatia itinerary we came up with for our own trip. However, because of the current situation, we had to make some changes to it (our flight home from Dubrovnik was cancelled). The second part acts as a walkthrough of how we actually spent our time in Croatia (with Split as our base for the full week).

We wanted to keep both parts in the blog post to show you each option, so you can make up your own mind about what would work best for you.

We hope you find it helpful!

Part 1: 7 Day Croatia Itinerary Covering Split, Dubrovnik + Day Trips

This 7 Days in Croatia Itinerary At-A-Glance

If it’s your first time in Croatia, then you’ll probably want to pack in as much as you can while still being able to appreciate the beauty and history of this mesmerising country. 

This is what this 7 days in Croatia itinerary is all about. Here’s how it looks at-a-glance:

  • Day 1: Split
  • Day 2: Plitvice Lakes Day Trip
  • Day 3: Five Islands & Blue Cave Day Trip
  • Day 4: Krka National Park Day Trip
  • Day 5: Travel to Dubrovnik
  • Day 6: Dubrovnik
  • Day 7: (Bonus) Montenegro Day Trip

Let’s dive into this itinerary in more detail…

Day 1: Split

Split Old Town, Croatia

Split is Croatia’s second-largest city and the largest city in the Dalmatia region along the western shore.

It’s a thriving city with a healthy blend of modern living and historic sights – and is one of the most popular places for first-time visitors to Croatia. 

This has ensured transport links to and from Split are some of the best and most varied in the country while a number of tour operators see Split as the perfect pickup point for various day trips.

Your first day will probably be spent getting to your hotel in Split, and if you’ve arrived early enough, there’s no reason why you can’t hit the top sights straightaway. 

Split Must Sees:

  • Diocletian’s Palace: Ancient Roman palace built in the fourth century AD and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s so large, you could easily spend two or three hours here. Don’t forget to climb the bell tower for some epic views of the city!
  • The Old Town: Take your time wandering around the historical sights. Although Diocletian’s Palace takes up around half of the old city, you can see the rest at your own pace and as much of it as you want to.
  • Riva Promenade: Lined with colourful buildings and palm trees, the Riva Promenade overlooks Split’s harbour and is simply perfect for romantic strolls.
  • Marjan Park: Home to a botanical garden and various walking routes, Marjan Park is the perfect escape into nature when in Split. Be sure to climb Marjan Hill for yet more epic views!
  • Game of Thrones Walking Tour: Although Split wasn’t used as much in Game of Thrones as Dubrovnik, if you’re a fan of the show, then you’ll want to see as many locations as you can, so a GoT-themed walking tour here is well worth considering. Check out Get Your Guide for prices >>

Top Tip: Order your FREE Split city card from splitcitycard.com for discounts on food, activities and other services during your visit.

Old buildings in Split, Croatia

Getting To Split

Croatia has extensive transport options, which makes it really easy to get to. 

Split’s airport is roughly 15 miles outside of the city, close to Trogir, and is a 30-minute drive away. Plenty of low-cost and premium airlines fly to Split including easyJet, British Airways, Ryanair and Norwegian. 

There are also plenty of rental car options close to the airport too. But if you’re not embarking on a road trip, then you can book a private transfer, hop in a taxi or catch a bus. 

Frequent buses depart from the airport terminal and take around 40 minutes to get to Split, making this a great low-cost option for those of you on a budget.

Where To Stay In Split

To make it easy for bus links, tour pickups and sightseeing, you’re best staying in the centre of Split. 

Here are a few hotel options to consider:

Find more Split hotels and B&Bs on Booking.com >>
Or check out Hotels.com >>

Day 2: Plitvice Lakes Day Trip

Plitvice Or Krka: Which Is Most Worth Visiting

The stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice Lakes may be one of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations – and it’s easy to see why.

Within the 115 square mile park lies sixteen sprawling lakes linked by cascading waterfalls, wooden walkways and various hiking trails. 

Although Plitvice is 150 miles north of Split, it’s possible to experience some of it as a day trip – albeit you’ll need to get up early as it takes around 2.5 hours to drive there. 

You could also stay near the park if you’ve got extra time or would prefer to visit it at a slower pace. 

Either way, just remember to book your tickets for the park at least 48 hours before your visit because of how busy it can get.

RELATED: Plitvice Lakes Or Krka National Park – Which Waterfalls To Visit In Croatia

Getting To Plitvice Lakes

Driving directly to Plitvice Lakes from Split takes roughly 2.5 hours. There are two entrances to the park; each with parking charged by the hour.

Alternatively, Split is a popular starting point for day tours, which usually last for 10-12 hours in total. Our advice would be to find a tour like this one that allows for plenty of free time (say five hours) at Plitvice Lakes so you can explore at your own pace.

Check out these tour options from Get Your Guide >>

Day 3: Five Islands & Blue Cave Day Trip

Views of Croatian islands from the fortress in Hvar

More than a thousand islands are dotted along Croatia’s coastline; with some of the most pristine and most famous islands found along the Dalmatian coast and close to Split.

In just one day, you can see several of these islands including Hvar, Biševo, Vis, Ravnik and Budikovac by boat. Whether you like swimming and snorkelling or eating ice cream and lazing on the beach, you’ll love this day out!

While some visitors choose to charter their own boats, you can also head out on various tours from the Port of Split itself. Some of which even take you to the Blue Cave on the island of Biševo.

On sunny days, the sunlight passes through an underwater opening inside the cave, creating a luminous silver-blue light, which is both eerie and mesmerising. This stunning natural phenomenon was once only accessible through scuba diving, but since 1884, it can now be accessed by a small boat. 

Check out these tour options from Get Your Guide >>

Day 4: Krka National Park Day Trip

Skradinski buk in Krka National Park Croatia

Another of Croatia’s most famous sights is Krka National Park. Although it’s also north of Split, it’s only about an hour away.

Within this 55 square mile park, you’ll find yet more cascading waterfalls and clear lakes. Unfortunately, you’re not permitted to swim here anymore.

Our tour guide told us this was because too many people were jumping from the top of the waterfall and getting seriously hurt. *sigh*

Your entrance ticket also includes a boat trip through the park so you can see even more than you would on foot.

Getting To Krka National Park

Krka National Park is about an hour’s drive north of Split. It has a total of five entrances but the one at Lozovac has the largest car park.

You can also catch a bus from Split to Skradin, which takes around 1.5 hours, operating year-round. From there, you can catch a ferry to the entrance of Krka and start exploring.

There are also plenty of tours from Split to Krka, which take around 9-11 hours in total. Just like with Plitvice Lakes, you should find a tour that offers you free time to explore. Some even include free time within Skradin itself so you can marvel at all the medieval buildings here too. Here’s a great tour option!

Or check out even more tours to Krka on Get Your Guide >>

Day 5: Travel to Dubrovnik

Found around three to four hours south of Split, and also along the Dalmatian coast, is the ancient city of Dubrovnik. Much like Split, it’s known for its Old Town but was also extensively used within the popular Game of Thrones television series.

You have a couple of different options for travelling from Split to Dubrovnik. You can drive it or you can catch one of several daily buses straight from Split to Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik sadly doesn’t have a train station, so this is a no go!

You should know that there is a brief border crossing through Bosnia and Herzegovina so you should keep your passport in your hand luggage – whether you’re driving, busing it or being chauffeured privately. 

This crossing can also cause delays during peak times, which is why we’ve set aside the bulk of this day to travel… just in case! The buses also often allow for a 15-minute rest stop in Neum in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Where To Stay In Dubrovnik

The centre of Dubrovnik is the best place to stay for convenience and sightseeing. But it’s also home to a lot of apartments making it easy to cater for yourself during your trip. 

Here are a few options to consider:

Find more Dubrovnik hotels and B&Bs on Booking.com >>
Or check out Hotels.com >>

Day 6: Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Today, it’s all about taking your time wandering around Dubrovnik; seeing the sights, eating ice cream and people watching from local bars and cafes.

Just like in Split, most of Dubrovnik’s top must-sees are its most ancient sights such as:

  • The City Walls: Famous fortress walls surrounding Dubrovnik’s Old Town. The views from here are just as incredible as the history of the place!
  • Old Town: With impressive views of the Adriatic sea, the terracotta rooftops of medieval Dubrovnik are well worth wandering around and photographing.
  • Dubrovnik Cable Car: Take in the breathtaking views of Dubronik’s Old Town from the city’s cable car. While the journey might only be four minutes long, the views are some of the best in Dubrovnik.
  • Game of Thrones Walking Tour: Taking around two hours, there are so many Game of Thrones filming locations to discover in Dubrovnik via a guided walking tour. Check out Get Your Guide for prices >>

(Bonus) Day 7: Montenegro Day Trip

On your last full day in Croatia, you might need to rush off for your flight from Dubrovnik. 

But if you’ve got the time or you can stay in Croatia for a bit longer, then why not make the most of seeing another country on a day trip while you’re here?

Ignoring border crossing times for a moment, Dubrovnik is around an hour from the border of stunning Montenegro. It’s less touristy than Croatia but no less beautiful – and perfect for nature lovers!

Getting To Montenegro

You can drive yourself to Montenegro, of course. One of the country’s current claims to fame is Kotor, which is home to mesmerising views across a glistening lake cuddled by mountains.

Alternatively, you can also head out on a day tour from Dubrovnik, which lasts for around 11 or 12 hours. Some of which include free time in Kotor as well as the charming town of Perast and the unspoiled beaches of Budva.

Check out various tour options from Get Your Guide >>

Part 2: 7 Day Croatia Itinerary Covering Split + Day Trips

This Croatia Itinerary At-A-Glance

And now here’s a look at how we spent one week in Croatia after we had to switch up our itinerary.

We kept Split as our base for the full week and got to see more of the city than we would have done in our original itinerary.

Here’s how it looks at-a-glance:

  • Day 1: Split
  • Day 2: Day Trip To Plitvice Lakes
  • Day 3: Five Islands Boat Tour
  • Day 4: Marjan Park in Split
  • Day 5: Split Old Town
  • Day 6: Day Trip To Krka National Park
  • Day 7: Kašjuni Beach in Split

Day 1: Split

Our first day was focused on getting to Croatia and settling in, so we took a more relaxed approach to sightseeing.

We wandered through the Old Town, rubbed Gregory of Nin’s lucky toe, tucked into a delicious 3-course meal at Restaurant Spalatin and took in the dazzling lights of the harbour at night.

Day 2: Day Trip To Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes Croatia National Park

Plitvice Lakes was thankfully still on our itinerary (as part of this tour).

We’ll never forget our visit here. The lakes were more stunning than we could ever find the words for and well worth making the trip from Split.

Admittedly, the coach ride did feel a little long, but it was so worth it!

We had about five hours of free time at the lakes, which was enough time to see the main parts while still finding time to eat our picnic in the most scenic of areas.

That said, we could have easily spent longer here. Maybe one day we’ll spend a full two days at Plitvice instead!

Views from our picnic spot at Plitvice Lakes in Croatia
Views from our picnic spot at Plitvice Lakes in Croatia

Day 3: Five Islands Boat Tour

This boat tour was another highlight of our trip.

Unfortunately, the waves were very choppy on this day, so the blue cave was closed and the boat captain had to change up our itinerary a bit on the day to try to avoid the waves. But we did get to see multiple islands and we even snorkelled above a shipwreck!

Here’s where our boat stopped off at…

Milna

Milna Harbour, Croatia

An hour here was just enough time to have a slow wander along the waterfront and back up through some of the houses.

Vinogradišće

We spent about 2 hours at this tiny little cove, which was plenty of time for a spot of snorkelling and sunbathing.

Note that we did have to walk from the harbour on the other side of the island, which took us just 15 minutes or so.

Hvar

Views from Hvar fortress in Croatia

We had about 3 hours to spend in Hvar, so we walked to the top of the fortress to take in the views. It was a tough climb in the heat, but well worth it for the views and history.

We then stopped off at a sweet little pizzeria on our way back, which offered a discount to all of us on the tour.

Vis

Vis snorkel spot, Croatia

Our last stop of the day was at a secluded spot near the island of Vis where we jumped off the boat to do some swimming and snorkelling. There was even a shipwreck to see here!

While we were docked, a man in a little speedboat approached the boat to offer us cocktails. That was certainly an experience as he spun his boat around in a circle while mixing our drinks.

Here’s the link to the tour we booked onto.

Day 4: Marjan Park in Split

Views of Split from Marjan Park in Croatia

As it was my birthday on this day and we’d had a hectic couple of days sightseeing, we decided to take it relatively easy. We hiked to the top of Marjan Hill in the morning (there were A LOT of steps to climb!)

But once we were at the top, we found a shaded spot beneath the trees to read our books. Then we whiled away our evening at a restaurant along the promenade in Split.

Day 5: Split Old Town

Split Old Town in Croatia

Since we were spending longer in Split than we originally intended, we decided to buy a combo ticket for a few different parts of Diocletian’s Palace, including:

  • The cellars beneath the palace (also a Game of Thrones filming location)
  • Jupiter’s Temple (a Roman temple, which is home to an Egyptian sphinx and a statue of St John the Baptist)
  • Saint Domnius Cathedral (where you’ll be met with a dazzling display of gold and other treasures)
  • The palace’s crypt (where we made a wish at the well)
Inside the Saint Domnius Cathedral in Split, Croatia

On reflection, we’re really glad we got to see inside this historical palace. We spent about 3 hours wandering around all of this, so it was a perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon in Split.

If you also find yourself with time to spare here and enjoy historical buildings, then this is all well worth seeing.

Day 6: Day Trip To Krka National Park

Krka National Park

Krka National Park is much closer to Split than Plitvice Lakes, so we had ample time here as part of this tour.

We found time to wander along the main trail twice, swim in front of the Skradinski Buk waterfall (sadly this is no longer allowed), picnic by the side of some mini waterfalls, enjoy a relaxing cruise along the Krka River, wander through the town of Skradin, before finally settling down to drink delicious milkshakes by the harbour in Skradin.

Although we found the lakes and waterfalls at Plitvice to be much more mesmerising, we’re still glad we found time in our Croatia itinerary to visit Krka as it was such an enjoyable and relaxing day.

RELATED: Plitvice Lakes Or Krka National Park – Which Waterfalls To Visit In Croatia

Day 7: Kašjuni Beach in Split

Kasjuni Beach in Split, Croatia

Our final day was spent sunbathing and swimming at Kašjuni Beach. Marjan Hill overlooks it, and it’s such a calm little cove; perfect for swimming and relaxing.

We actually walked there from our apartment near the Old Town, which took us about an hour. But you could easily hop in a taxi and be there in about 10 minutes if you prefer.

We went to the beach on a weekday and it did seem to get busier in the afternoon as locals ventured there after school, work, etc. But we were leaving then anyway (after tucking into some posh sandwiches from Joe’s Beach Bar).

Later on, we spent the evening at Pizzeria Portas in the Old Town where we tucked into delicious pizzas larger than our heads and carafes of wine, which were amazing value for money. And all this was outside on their terrace, which was covered with vines and leaves. We loved it!

Final Thoughts On Our 7 Day Croatia Itineraries

The great thing about both of these Croatia itineraries is that they work well whether you’re heading out on a road trip or travelling around Croatia without a car. 

We’ve also suggested different tours you can take in case you’re not able or want to do a self-drive Croatia itinerary.

We weren’t driving either, so it’s definitely possible to see and do all of this as part of organised tours or by using public transport.

You might also be wondering when would be a good time to visit Croatia.

The first thing to know about Croatia’s climate is that it varies a little from the coast to the mainland. The coast tends to have warm Mediterranean summers and mild winters, while the mainland has hot summers and freezing cold winters. 

Although the best time to visit Croatia depends on what you want to do while you’re there, it’s highly likely that you’ll want to see Croatia’s beautiful landscapes and national parks. 

In that case, we’d recommend visiting outside of Croatia’s peak summer season (June to August), and instead, visit in May or September. That way, you’ll still experience Croatia’s balmy climes as average temperatures should be in the mid to high twenties Celsius.

We hope you found each of these 7 day Croatia itineraries helpful. We’re aiming to go back to Croatia (possibly next year?) as we still want to do the Dubrovnik and Montenegro parts of the first itinerary, so watch this space!

Feeling inspired to spend 7 days in Croatia? Share the wanderlust around now!

7 Days in Croatia Itinerary (Two Ways!)
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