Croatia is one of the most incredible countries we have ever been to. Our Croatia itinerary was full of some unique and amazing experiences we couldn’t have gotten anywhere else in Europe. And Plitvice Lakes National has the most beautiful waterfalls on Earth! In this blog, we will go over a perfect Croatia itinerary to see the country, and talk about the best time to visit Croatia.
Croatia is on the rise as a tourist destination. When people think of visiting a beautiful Mediterranean coastal city, it is typically in Italy or Spain, but Croatia should be right up there near the top! The sites, tastes, sounds, and smells made this country the crowned jewel of our time in Europe.
Plan your next trip before it becomes overly crowded with tourists! You won’t regret it. Now, let’s dive into our Croatia itinerary, starting with the largest city in Croatia: Zagreb.
Zagreb is stop number 1 on our tour of Croatia. At just under 1 million people, this is the largest city in Croatia. Now, on our trip to Croatia, Zagreb was a stop en route to Plitvice Lakes National Park, which we were wildly excited about. The train we took ended in Zagreb and we rented a car in town.
However, that does not mean that Zagreb is just a stopover. If you would like to stay here, there are a ton of cool adventures to have and things to explore. We recommend trying the free walking tour, which will give you a close-up view of Zagreb’s landmarks and history of the city. The tour is FREE, why wouldn’t you give it a shot??
If you stay in Zagreb for a long period of time, check out this advice from GPS My City:
If you like urban travel with a bit of urban nature and a very relaxed atmosphere, Zagreb has a lot to offer. Zagreb is a great city with a very laid-back vibe. It’s got its somewhat quirky museums, some cool cafes, excellent street art and plenty of places to chill.
Once you have explored everything you want to see in Zagreb, it is time to head to one of the most uniquely beautiful places in the world: Plitvice Lakes National Park!
Plitvice Lakes National Park!
First things first, check out these pictures of the Croatia waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes. Does it get any better than this?
Okay, we have a lot to cover on this location. We’ll talk about the waterfalls and how to explore the park of course, but let’s start with how to get to Plitvice Lakes.
How to Get to Plitvice Lakes
Plitvice is located pretty deep in the Croatian countryside. The closest large city is Zagreb, which is why we recommend starting your Croatia itinerary there. When we made the journey, that is exactly what we did, taking the train to Zagreb from our previous destination, Budapest.
However, another option is to come to Plitvice from the South, from Trogir, Split, or Dubrovnik. In Zagreb, or any of these cities, you can rent a car to drive the distance on your own. That is the easiest way to get to Plitvice Lakes in our opinion.
We absolutely LOVE photography, and sharing pictures! These are the cameras we use on all of our adventures. The drone and GoPro help us get cool new perspectives (underwater, in the air, wide angle) and the Rebel we use on a day-to-day basis for most of our shots!
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There are more waterfalls here than Julie has hair products… If you love to hike or you love the outdoors, this needs to be on your bucket list. The endless trails, wandering wildlife, and OH MY GOODNESS those waterfalls will make it worth the trip! Take at least 2 days to make sure you see the whole park.
We could not stop marveling at Plitvice’s lakes and waterfalls, walking the wooden walkways and drinking it all in (not literally, please do not drink the water) seriously… The waterfalls are so beautiful that they do not seem real.
Hiking in Plitvice Lakes National Park
There are 8 separate hikes that you can walk through Pltivice, all varying in difficulty and length. We recommend that you wear comfortable shoes, number one. Leave your heels at home.
Second, take some time to plan your walk before you head out. The place is beautiful and you can get lost in the sites, but you can also get lost. Bring a trusty map, plan your walk, and have the time of your freaking life!
No matter who you are, you will not regret making Plitvice Lakes National Park a main stop on your tour of Croatia. It is beautiful. You are beautiful. The experience will be beautiful. Beautiful stuff, my friend.
Also, the Plitvice Times wrote a piece about us getting engaged while we were at the park! Check out our story told in the Plitvice Times!
Trogir – Land of 1000 Islands
Stop number three on our Croatia itinerary is a beautiful one: Trogir. Trogir is a coastal city along the Croatian coast, and in our opinion is one of the most exotic places in Croatia. Along the coast, many people head to Dubrovnik, and some head to Split, but people rarely make Trogir a stop as well.
If you have the opportunity, make Trogir a stop! You will not regret it. This town is so so beautiful and is not at all full of tourists. There is a local Croatian experience with delicious food and wonderful sights ahead of you if you do. Let’s start with the Croatian dining experience in Trogir.
Fish and Seafood
Croatians know how to cook their seafood. Damn do they know how to cook their seafood! We had the best sea bass we’ve ever tasted in Trogir and ordered some Octopus, Calamari, and even Sardines when we were feeling frisky. We would recommend any and all of it, except maybe the Sardines…
The coast of Croatia is lined with the Adriatic Sea and over 1000 islands (I say again, one thousand islands!). Every one of these islands is surrounded by the bluest water we have ever seen. This water is bluer than Violet Beauregarde after she eats the blueberry pie in Willy Wonka.
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While island hopping, you need to stop and snorkel in the Adriatic Sea. We followed Frank About Croatia‘s advice and took a dip in the clear blue sea, exploring the wildlife and underwater sites, and you should to:
We love snorkeling in Croatia or elsewhere, because it’s easy (anybody can do it!), it’s family-friendly, and it’s relatively cheap (you can do it anywhere, and with a simple gear).
The sea in Croatia is very clear, and clean. The sea bed, especially in the shallow waters, is pebble. Thus the underwater visibility is excellent. The Adriatic Sea is very safe to swim and snorkel. You won’t find any sharks, whales or other dangerous species live in these waters. You can encounter lots of dolphins in the Adriatic. The most famous sites for dolphins are the island of Losinj, and Rovinj. There are also lots of ship wrecks all along the coastline.
Croatian People Are So Friendly
From our favorite restauranteur Gloria in Trogir to our AirBnB hosts in Plitvice Lakes (who didn’t speak English but knew to give us a shot of moonshine when we got there!) everyone we talked to was UNBELIEVABLY AWESOME.
If you don’t think the people in Croatia are nice, then either something is wrong with you, or that person you met was Julie after she ate her sardines. If it was the latter, then please forgive her.
Stop number four, Split, is another Croatian coastal city. Split is larger than Trogir, in fact it is the second largest city in Croatia, and it is as beautiful as they come.
Take at least one day and do an Island Hopping Tour, either in Split or Trogir. Ask your Croatian skipper to take you from island to island at whatever pace you want, and have them give you recommendations for sights and stops along the way!
Why Brianna Thinks You HAVE to Go to Split
Split is the second largest city in Croatia. It’s often dismissively mentioned in the same sentence as Dubrovnik. Even though Split seems to be coming in second place, you should move it to the top of your travel list. With its Roman history and a nice compact old town, Split is worth a visit to soak up some Croatian sun.
I’m going to admit something. I didn’t like Split at first. I was coming off of my Dubrovnik high and was feeling a little fatigued by shiny-marble and old towns. It’s one of those travel truths that can be hard to admit. But Split really grew on me. It feels more lived in than Dubrovnik and has less of that check-list feeling that comes with being somewhere with lots of tourists. Rather than fighting crowds, you can relax in Split and wander around the city at your own pace.
The Walled City of Dubrovnik
There are many reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the best cities in Croatia. Dubrovnik is full of history! Zach, being a history buff, could have spent days on walking tours learning facts about the distant and recent past of this coastal castle. What is a city if not for a collection of stories and treasures, after all?
We recommend you spend a day shopping in Old Town and take the time to walk the wall. Which wall? Well, the wall that surrounds Dubrovnik to protect it from attack! On top of the wall you will have a beautiful view of the bright orange rooftops contrasting with the bright blue sea. Plus, this is the only walled city that hasn’t been taken over in battle…ever! Pretty epic if you ask us. No wonder Game of Thrones chose Dubrovnik as King’s Landing.
When to Visit Croatia
In our opinion, the best time to visit Croatia is during the Summer months, or even late-Spring or early-Fall. Sometime between May-September is the best time to visit Croatia and all of these incredible sights. Why? well a few reasons!
At Plitvice Lakes National Park, what is almost as incredible as the waterfalls is the greenery. The plants will be lush and deep green is you visit in the Spring or Summer, giving you great contrast between the blue of the water and the green of the plants.
Temperatures in Croatia are not particularly extreme. The Summer highs reach the high 80s (in Fahrenheit) and the Winter temperatures typically still reach the 50s (again, Fahrenheit). Therefore, March-September is the best time to visit Croatia since it will be T-shirt weather and the water temperature will be nice for swimming.
Clothing We Love
You need clothes to travel. Heck, maybe you don’t. We don’t judge. If you want to hop around the world in your birthday suit then go right ahead! But if you want to cover up, here are a few of our favorite clothing items we love, and we think you’ll love too!
We absolutely adored our Croatia experience, and we are fully confident that you will have the time of your life as well. Croatia was a wonderful country, and will be the jewel of any European adventure you choose to take in the future.
Also, we got engaged there, so…we like it!
Thank you so much for reading our Croatia itinerary, complete with the Plitvice waterfalls and information on the best time to visit Croatia! If you liked this article, please Pin the images below to save it for later.
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