Is there a European destination that screams summer more than Croatia? Personally, I don’t think so. Gorgeous beaches, historic cities, majestic waterfalls, island hopping tours, sailing, and spectacular sunsets are just a few of the amazing things that Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast has to offer. Throw in the added perks of friendly locals, safe towns, and affordable prices and you have a perfect European beach vacation. Ready to go? Here is how to spend 2 weeks in Croatia.
Arrival & Departure
For a Croatia Itinerary of any length, I highly suggest arriving and departing in different cities to make the most of your time. Croatia may not be huge, but it’s big enough that you don’t want to waste an entire day backtracking through the country just to catch your flight. There are airports in Dubrovnik and Zadar that work well for any Croatia itinerary with a focus on the Dalmatian coast. Shop around to see where offers the best deal book based on that because you really can travel in either direction.
Getting Around Croatia
Getting around Croatia by public transit is actually really easy. Every city has a bus stop and there are usually several options throughout the day. If you are relying on Croatia’s bus system keep in mind that there are two routes the busses can take. There is the fast route which travels along the highway or the coastal route which stops at all the small towns making it longer, but much more scenic. What you choose depends on how you like to travel and your schedule.
Travel by boat is also fairly common in parts of Croatia, especially going out to the islands like Hvar. There are a number of different ferry companies so for the main routes, you can kind of just show up and pick the next available ferry. For routes that run once a day, your best bet will be to book in advance as the seats do go pretty quickly.
If you are comfortable driving, you may want to consider renting a car. Having your own car always allows for more freedom and can offer a more scenic way to see the country.
Best Time to Visit Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast
Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is very seasonal and a lot of businesses including restaurants, tours, and accommodation options will close up during the winter months. The summer months of July and August can get pretty crazy with crowds and this is also when the prices will be at the highest. I’d recommend coming during shoulder season: May, June, and September. I visited in September and it was still over 30C degrees every day.
How to Spend 2 Weeks in Croatia
A two week Croatia Itinerary makes for a great vacation. Two weeks will let you see the highlights of the Dalmatian coast at a relaxed pace so you can really kick back and enjoy. Compared to the bustling cities of Paris, London, or Berlin, Croatia’s coastal towns have a very chilled out vibe. So take it easy, enjoy the old towns and the beaches, and get ready to fall in love with Croatia with this two-week itinerary.
Zadar: 3-4 Days
Zadar was my favourite place on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast and a must on any Croatia itinerary. It had the beautiful, historic old town, great beaches, and plenty of nearby attractions at a fraction of the cost compared to Split and Dubrovnik, and nowhere near the number of crowds.
Zadar also makes a great base to see two of the best places for waterfalls in the county: Plitvice National Park and Krka Waterfall. Plitvice National Park is good for hiking and walking but know that you are not allowed to swim in the falls. Krka, on the other hand, is perfect for swimming (although recent news indicates that swimming will be banned here starting in 2021). Plus, the water there is cool so it makes for a great escape from the heat. I recommend spending a day at each.
Zadar old town itself is quite small and you can definitely explore it in one day. Two absolute musts are the Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun both of which can be found by the waterfront. This area also makes a great place to watch the sunset which is another must-do since Zadar’s sunsets are said to be some of the finest in the world.
The architecture of Zadar is beautiful and be sure to duck down the small side streets to see what you may find. When you need a break, head to The Garden; a cool day (and night) bar on the city walls that overlooks the pier. Grab a drink and relax on one of the beds (that’s right, I said bed) or couches and just enjoy the views.
Zadar is also known for Maraska Liquor which you can find advertised across town; you can try it in the majority of bars and restaurants in the city. To cool down, be sure to try the city’s gelato. Thanks to the Italian influence, there are many ice-cream parlours and cafes offering delicious gelato. Slasticarna Donat is known for having some of the best (and biggest portions) of gelato in Zadar.
When it comes to beaches, Zadar has a few choices. There are some nearby beaches only about a 15-20-minute walk from Old Town where you can safely swim, rent kayaks, or just relax. Or, you can join a day trip out to one of the islands and enjoy the beaches there. Book a Sailing trip to Kornati from Zadar.
For more on this city, check out my post of the best things to do in Zadar.
Where to Stay in Zadar
Split: 2 Days
Split is the starting point for most Croatia sailing tours, a lot of island hopping, and of course is a great city on its own (especially if you are a Game of Thrones fanatic). The Diocletian’s Palace is a must-see. It takes up about half of Split’s Old town and was also a filming location in the 4thseason of Game of Thrones (sadly, I didn’t see any dragons when I visited). The Cathedral is also worth climbing for the pretty panoramic views over the palace.
Split is also known for its bars and the night scene. If you are looking to party, there are a couple of fun pub-crawls across the city that are fun to join. Split has a ton of bars both within the old city and just outside it, your guide will take you to the best ones depending on the night that you visit. If the idea of clubbing and drinking with a bunch of backpackers isn’t quite to your taste, but you still want to experience Split’s nightlife then head down to the Riva and grab a drink at one of the many bars or cafes that line this area.
When it comes to beaches Split doesn’t have the most impressive beach in Croatia (especially compared to those on the nearby islands). However, Bacvice Beach, only a ten-minute walk from the old town, is a great place to swim and relax on a hot day. You’ll find tourists and locals alike here.
Where to Stay in Split
Hvar: 3-4 Days
Hvar is probably the best known of Croatia’s islands. This beautiful island is a playground for backpackers and celebrities alike. You’ll find giant yachts stationed in the harbour as easily as you’ll find students on summer break because Hvar offers a little bit of everything for everyone.
Hvar Town can easily be explored in half a day. The picturesque old town is fun to explore and it’s worth climbing up to Hvar Fortress to get the views (make sure you bring water). If you are feeling adventurous, rent a scooter and venture around the island. Most people stick to Hvar Town so it’s a good way to get away from the crowds for a day. You’ll be able to find some great beaches, olive groves, lavender fields, and caves along the way.
You can also do some island hopping tours around Hvar, which is a fun way to see the islands or have a lazy beach day. Head down to the Marina and check the boats to see who is going where. Local’s will have signs on which of the smaller islands they are going to and, for a fee, will take a group over to a neighbouring island. Pick one with a nice beach resort where you can rent a sun chair and spend the day relaxing by the sea with a cocktail in hand. Another popular day trip from Hvar is to take a boat out to the famous blue and green caves.
As you may already know, Hvar is also known for its party scene. There are a number of day bars, such as Hula Hula, that start the party early. Backpackers can join pub crawls while those looking for something more upscale (including a bigger price tag) head out to Carpe Diem.
For more on Hvar, check out my picks for the best things to do in Hvar.
Where to Stay in Hvar
Makarska: 1-2 Days
Makarska, located on the Riviera, is a beautiful resort destination that, while still popular, is much less crowded than Split and Dubrovnik. It’s a great place to spend a couple of days relaxing and enjoying the beach life. That being said, if you are looking for a bit of a break from the sun and the sand you can also do some hiking here. There are easy paths along the coastline or you can head into the hills and, if you are a very ambitious hiker, ascend St. Jure which is the highest peak in the Biokovo Mountains (Note that this takes several hours).
Makarska is a pretty town that makes for a great stop on a Croatia itinerary. Plus, spending a day or two here helps break up the long ride between Split and Dubrovnik.
Where to Stay in Makarska
Dubrovnik: 3 Days
Dubrovnik is one of the most visited destinations in the Mediterranean and has gained even more popularity thanks to its alter ego as Kings Landing in Game of Thrones. The walled city, which is perched beside the sea, is stunning and a must-see. However, keep in mind that it will be very crowded and can be quite expensive in comparison to other Croatian cities. I’ll admit I wasn’t a huge fan of Dubrovnik because of this, however, I will also say it’s a must on your Croatia Itinerary.
Old Town Croatia can be seen in a day. For your best bet at escaping the crowds, I recommend getting up early to explore before the tourists from the cruise ships arrive. Trust me, when that happens you’ll want to find somewhere to escape to (I liked to head just outside the old town walls- it’s safer there).
Must-do activities in Dubrovnik include walking the wall (again, go early before the cruise ship crowds arrive), taking the cable car up to Srd for gorgeous views, and of course, hitting the beach. The closest beach to Dubrovnik is Banje, just a short walk from the Ploce Gate. This is very much a tourist beach though so if you want to try something more local, you’ll have to walk about twenty minutes from Old Town to Sveti Jakov. It’s beautiful and much quieter.
For those looking to escape the city for a few hours or day and see some of the area’s natural beauty, consider the nearby Lokrum Island or the Elafiti Islands where you can swim, snorkel, and kayak. Another great day trip option is to head to Mostar, Bosnia, which is just a couple hours away. It’s a beautiful city rich in history and, if you have the time, I absolutely recommend going.
Where to Stay in Dubrovnik
Must-Pack Items for 2 Weeks in Croatia
I HATE packing for travel (I’m the worst) but there are definitely a couple of things you definitely want to have with you when packing for Croatia
- Reef-safe Sunscreen: Fun fact, most sunscreens kill coral and marine life. So if you plan on swimming in the warm sea then help out the ocean and choose a reef safe sunscreen. I like Stream2Sea which has great sunscreen, leave in conditioner for long hair. They also have a travel size kit for those doing carryon.
- Water Shoes: I will be the first to admit that water shoes are hideous. But, on the rocky beaches and waterfalls, they are a great option. Not to mention Croatia’s beaches tend to have a ton of sea urchins, so they protect against those too. Grab a good pair of water shoes and keep your feet safe!
- A good beach towel: I know you can use a sarong or a small towel, but big beach towels that you can sit on and wrap around you are the best. A microfibre towel is a perfect pick for beach destinations because they dry super quick.
- Rashguards: If you plan on being out on the water for an extended period of time, you may want to consider throwing a rashguard in your bag. Get one with UV protection to help keep you safe from the sun. Nobody wants a bad sunburn on their vacation.
- Reusable Water bottle: Croatia is hot. Really hot. So stay hydrated and save your wallet by bringing your own quality reusable water bottle. The tap water is safe to drink so use it!
Final Considerations for 2 Weeks in Croatia
Croatia is an amazing country to travel to and makes for an epic summer vacation destination. The mix of beaches, nature, and historical towns makes it a popular choice for all kinds of travellers, and Croatia is great for solo travel. That all being said, it is a popular destination so if you plan on coming during high season ‘going with the flow’ may not work so well. I definitely recommend booking your accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment. There’s nothing worse than arriving somewhere than not being able to find a place to stay.
Croatia was one of my favourite countries and travel experiences. It was safe, the locals were friendly, and with so much to see and do I was never bored. So if you are eyeing Croatia as a summer holiday destination then I say go for it. Just keep this Croatia itinerary handy when you go!
A Note on Travel Insurance in Croatia
Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine multiple times. While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance as they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found, plus, they are who I use and I have had great experiences with them. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.