Nestled on the Adriatic Sea, Croatia features numerous islands, pristine beaches, picturesque national parks and a multitude of activities that make for a truly invigorating break.
To help inspire you, here’s a four-day itinerary starting with Croatia’s capital Zagreb through to the Dalmatian city of Split.
Day 1 – Get introduced to Zagreb
To kick off your holiday, you’ll arrive in Zagreb, the centre of Croatia’s arts and culture scene. Spend a day discovering Upper Town Zagreb. Best explored on foot, Upper Town is the older part of the city and offers unique renaissance architecture, galleries and quaint restaurants.
Start from Trg Jelacica - Zagreb’s central square - and walk your way to the historic neighbourhood of Kaptol. More than a thousand years old, Kaptol is home to the Cathedral of Assumption, the city’s tallest building and one of the most significant examples of neo-gothic architecture. After a visit to the cathedral, head to Dolac, Zagreb’s colourful fruit and vegetable market that promises to delight your taste buds. You can sample delicious fresh foods and even buy locally produced honey to take home.
If you have time to spare while in Zagreb, don’t miss the Museum of Contemporary Art. It is located in Dubrovnik Avenue and is a 20-minute taxi ride away from Dolac market. Showcasing a large collection of modern art works and live performances by local artists, the museum provides great insights into Croatian culture and hosts free guided tours daily.
Day 2 – Experience utter serenity at Plitvice Lakes National Park
Your outdoor adventure begins with a visit to the breathtaking Plitvice Lakes National Park. A two-hour bus ride from Zagreb transports you to Croatia’s largest and most well-known park. A true example of the country’s stunning natural landscape, the park boasts 16 pristine lakes amid lush forestation and crystal clear waterfalls. Book a boat tour along Plitvice’s largest lake, Kozjak and take in the breathtaking scenery around you. You could also enjoy the view from one of several foot bridges and try to spot different species of flora and fauna including the brown bear, the extremely rare Siberian Leopard plant and the white-throated dipper bird.
Hikers can take advantage of the walking trails of the upper and lower lakes regions. There are several pathways with a range of difficulty levels. The trails take about 4 or 5 hours to complete and you’ll need to be prepared with plenty of water and refreshments. If you’d like to spend a longer period of time exploring the park, consider staying overnight at Korana Village, just a stone’s throw away from Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Days 3 – Discover Split: Lose yourself in a Roman palace
To experience the attractive Dalmatian coastal region of Croatia, take a bus from Plitvice to Split. The journey to Croatia’s second largest city will take you approximately five hours.
Split, one of Croatia’s most popular destinations seamlessly merges history, culture and a buzzing energy, offering you an ideal balance of fun and relaxation. There are also several islands around Split, making this part of Croatia a haven for water sports enthusiasts.
Start your visit to Split by getting to know its history at Diocletian Palace. The palace lies at the very heart of the city and dates back to the 4th century CE. Named after Roman emperor Diocletian, the palace is a great place to spend hours walking through its narrow streets. Get lost in Diocletian, wander into the many small shops within the palace walls and stop by local cafes to get a feel for everyday life in Split.
Day 4 - Around Split: Go kayaking in Hvar
After a day of relaxation in Split city, take a short ferry ride to neighbouring Hvar for a few exhilarating hours of kayaking. Tours start early in the morning and there are many operators that can arrange a half day of kayaking complete with equipment and expert guides.
A particularly popular route for kayakers takes you from Hvar to and around the nearby Pakleni Islands. Expect to see untouched beaches and azure waters as you enjoy the beauty of these hidden gems. If your schedule permits, you could also go snorkelling.
For your onward journey back to Zagreb, take a 45-minute internal flight from Split. Alternatively, catch a train back for a more scenic journey. Although the train trip takes almost 7 hours, it is a treat for the eyes as you pass by the coast, mountainous terrain and rural villages on your route.