If you are one of those lucky people who can take 2 weeks or more to go on summer holiday in Europe then I’ve got the right place for you. It is no other than Croatia and its epic long turquoise-water coastline. There is so much to do and see in this part of the world that I organised the entire trip by the suggested number of days you could spend in each town. Starting first up north in the Istrian Peninsula and then heading south to Dubrovnik towards the Dalmatian coast. Here’s how to spend at least 10 days in the Croatian coastline.
2 Days in Pula
Flying to Pula is cheaper than any other city in Croatia, so instead of choosing Dubrovnik if you are on a budget consider flying here and then make your way south by car. Pula is located right up on the coast, more precisely in the Istrian Peninsula which meant finding a nice city with a fascinating history and crystal clear beaches nearby. Also, it is good to know that this part of the country still has a strong Venetian influence, many people can speak Italian and most signs are also both in Croatian and Italian which comes very handy as not everyone speaks English fluently in this part of the world.
Highlights: Best beaches are located in Punta Verudela and Medulin, take a boat from Rovinj to explore the Brijuni islands, the Roman amphitheatre is impressive and one the world’s best preserved, the Arch of Sergii and the Temple of Augustus is a must see. The marina and harbour near the Riviera Hotel are Pula’s citizens’ pride and joy. There’s a local food market every morning in the city centre.
2 Days in Zadar
Probably one of the most charming cities in all Croatia, it is by far my favourite and it has a lot to offer. The City Guided tour provided by the Tourist Information Centre is worth your time. You don’t want to miss its sunsets, the sea organ and the Greeting to the Sun, especially during the night.
Highlights: When the sun goes down walk along the sea promenade called Riva, admire Zadar’s Romanesque architecture and its Venetian gates in the city walls, enjoy great views from the top of the Cathedral Belltower, and taste of the local Maraschino liqueur.
Top Tips to spend 10 days in the Croatian coastline:
- Renting a car is key, it gives you the freedom to move around and saves you money on flights, the roads are in top condition. The tolls are inexpensive, I spent about € 30 in total roundtrip.
- Try to book in advance a stay in Dubrovnik. It gets packed and super expensive. Also, try to stay outside the walled city you’ll pay much less.
- If you’re driving towards Dubrovnik. Don’t forget to bring your passport with you and keep it handy as you will be stopped by the police at the Bosnian border town of Neum which is the only way to enter back into Croatia. Expect some traffic and queues in both directions especially during high season (July-Aug)
- Check out properly all kayaking tours and boat excursions to the islands, there are many tourist traps promising things they can’t fulfil. Be sure to ask before booking anything things like, what operator actually runs the excursion? what type of food is included? is there free time during the trip? timings, etc. Try to be assertive, there are many hawks by the port selling all sorts of “tours”.
- Be sure to bring with you a pair of water shoes otherwise you won’t enjoy swimming. The Croatian coastline is all ABOUT rocks and stones and full of sea urchins, there are very few sandy beaches. You’re welcome 🙂
- Avoid at all costs the month of July: no matter where you go in Croatia it will be flocked by hordes of tourists. Not nice.
- Sunblock all the time. Don’t underestimate the sun in the Croatian coastline.
- Try to get money out (Official currency is Kuna) before you go on the road, it’s NOT easy to find ATMs and tolls DON’T accept cards. Other than that, the roads are in top notch condition. It is super pleasant to drive across Croatia.
1-2 Days in Split
Split is the place if you’re looking for a city with good nightlife and lots of partying. Overall, I wasn’t too impressed by it although Diocletian’s Palace is quite stunning. There are many interesting stalls with artisans selling their artwork. However, the main reason to come to Split is that from here you can get to many paradisiac islands, including Hvar, Brač, Biševo and Pakleni. I highly recommend staying at one of these islands instead for a more authentic experience.
Highlights: The Blue Cave in Biševo, Hvar town, swimming in the Blue Lagoon and Stiniva beach. I’d suggest doing the 5 Island Tour if you don’t mind starting your day quite early (Boats leave about 8:00 am). This trip will take your entire day, so plan accordingly. There, are many people selling this tour by the marina in Split, but I can recommend an agency that worked out fine for me.
Also, check out the list of events at the National Theatre in Split you might be as lucky as I was to find frow tickets to the opera in the middle of Diocletian’s Palace.
4 Days in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is all you have heard and more. Yes, it is such an incredible place that almost feels like being on a movie set. No wonder why it has become so popular amongst filmmakers. Its city walls made my jaw drop a few times. It’s worth getting the Dubrovnik Card to enter most of the places of interest and saving some money. The accommodation can be quite expensive in the city and surroundings so try to book well in advance.
Highlights: Take the cable car up the mountain because the panoramic views are beyond beautiful, do some kayaking in the city and watch the sunset as you row back to shore, definitely pay a visit to the City Walls and Fort Lovrijenac, and of course a good City and GOT Walking Tour is a good way to spend a couple of hours.