When thinking about Croatia holidays, most travelers have in mind Plitvice Lakes, Dubrovnik, and Split. They rush to these popular destinations without much consideration for the rest of this fascinating country. But there is so much more to discover there than most tourists realize. Take a Croatia road trip and you will easily see what they are missing. With its stunning scenery, pleasant weather, rich history, great food, and warm people, Croatia is the perfect ground for relaxation and deserves to be explored at a slower pace. Here is your two-week relaxing itinerary with all must-sees and also hidden gems of Croatia.
HOLIDAYS TO CROATIA, TWO WEEK RELAXING ITINERARY
Just like the majority of travelers, I had a list of top must-sees for my Croatia holidays. The primary goal was to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park, on my bucket list for years. My number two destination was Dubrovnik. But unlike many foreign visitors, I really wanted to get a feel for the whole country. In order to do so, I decided on a two-week road trip. Since I was traveling with my sister and her husband, frequent visitors to Croatia from Poland, I planned our adventure around their recommendations. I also added a few stops that appealed to me personally. It turned to be a perfect combination of Croatia must-sees and off the beaten path locations. We took our trip in October when the weather was still pleasant, but the crowds were lower.
Highlights of Croatia Holidays – the two-week itinerary
I tried to make my Croatia itinerary as relaxing as possible. I would rather see less than jump from one place to another just to put a checkmark on sites visited. This is why our road trip to Croatia included a lot of stops, most not particularly famous, and many we simply stumbled upon. You can’t really take a wrong turn when road tripping in Croatia. Wherever you go, you will find something worth exploring. This is a map of the places we visited.
Plitvice Lakes – 2 days
Senj – 2 days
For relaxation, that was my favorite part of the Croatia holiday itinerary. After Plitvice Lakes National Park, we needed a break from the tour buses and crowds. I picked this location in search of a local vibe. It was definitely the right choice. Imagine how uncommercialized the area is, with the population just above 7000, the historic walled town of Senj is the largest town on the coast between Rijeka and Zadar! It is located at the foothills of the Mala Kapela and Velebit mountains. The symbol of the town is the Nehaj Fortress, which was completed in 1558. Learn more about Senj and what to do there here.
Senj has a wide variety of different accommodation and affordable rates in comparison with other places on the Adriatic coast, but we stayed in Apartment Alemka 5 in Sveti Juraj, just a few miles away. I wanted off the beaten path, and I got it! To the point that we could not find the place and had to knock on the locals’ doors to rescue us in the middle of the wind storm. They did everything they could to help us, including sharing their homemade Slivovica (brandy) to calm our nerves.
We arrived late at night, so we did not get to see the scenery, but when we woke up, we were greeted with incredible views. The property also had a beautiful pool and outdoor areas. In season, the owner cooks dinner for the guests. The apartment was nice and clean. The village is just perfect for an extended relaxing stay. The price is right too!
Starigrad and Novigrad – 2 days
If you like off the beaten path destinations, make Starigrad a part of your Croatia itinerary. Most people just rush through town on the way to Hvar and nearby islands, but they are missing out. Curving around a pretty bay, Starigrad is one of Croatia’s oldest towns, and one of the oldest in Europe, dating back to 385BC. I loved the drive along the bay. It was calming and beautiful. Since it was already offseason in the area, the town was practically deserted. We found one restaurant open and saw a few tourists walking around enjoying their peaceful walk.
The town is surrounded by pine tree forests and often blessed with a cool breeze. In the hot summer days, it is one of the rare Dalmatian places where the air is fresh and the sleep refreshing. The town is a pure delight in the shadow of overcrowded Hvar. Check here 11 wonderful things to do in Starigrad. Make sure to try local seafood during your visit.
Novigrad is a small fisherman and tourist settlement often considered one of the most romantic resorts on the Adriatic coast. Hidden deep inside the Novigrad Sea, one of the most indented bays in Croatia, it waits to be discovered. If offers narrow stone-covered streets, typical Dalmatian houses, and a lovely port. In Novigrad, you can relax among the untouched natural beauty, enjoy the specialties of the local cuisine, and enjoy all the usual activities by the sea. Learn here about what Novigrad has to offer.
Sibenik – 1 day
If you want to explore a well-preserved medieval city in Croatia without the crowds, I suggest adding Sibenik to your Croatia road trip. It is less busy than Dubrovnik or Split and it also makes an excellent base for exploring nearby islands and Krka National Park. Sibenik invites visitors with city walls and forts, cobblestone streets, waterfront promenade. The stone labyrinth of steep backstreets and alleys is a joy to explore. Learn more about Sibenik here.
Omis and Split – 2 days
Split is the second-largest city of Croatia and the largest city of the region of Dalmatia, with about 250,000 people living in its urban area. It offers an abundance of restaurants and wine cellars. Sites such as Diocletian’s Palace and Mausoleum, Grgur Ninski Statue, and the Cathedral and Bell Tower of St. Domnius qualified its position as a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. Split has it all: Roman ruins and grand museums alongside fashionable cafes and trendy shops, and a vibrant outdoor market. What makes this city even more alluring is its proximity to the sandy beaches and rocky coves of nearby islands and also its scenic location overlooked by mountains and edged by the deep blue Adriatic Sea. Learn about things to do in Split here.
I am sure you will find Omis to be one of the top attractions of your Croatia road trip. Here you will get to enjoy one of the most dramatic locations of any town on the Dalmatian coast. Situated at the mouth of the Cetina River, at the end of a picturesque canyon, it’s backed by walls of grey rock topped and craggy peaks. Omis is a popular tourist destination. Its population of 15.000 more than triples in the high season. Most tourists stay in private accommodations as the number of hotels in the area is limited.
The coastal-highway traffic slows to a crawl as the road narrows into the charming oak-lined main street. On the landward side is a small but atmospheric labyrinth of old streets capped by a little castle. A sandy-shingly beach stretches out on its other flank. If you are looking for adventure, rafting, canyoning, hiking, paragliding, and rock climbing are among the most popular activities. Here is detailed information on what to do in Omis.
Makarska – 1 day
Makarska is another beach resort with a spectacular natural setting. This popular tourist destination is located on a horseshoe-shaped bay between the Biokovo mountains and the Adriatic Sea. The city is noted for its palm-fringed promenade with cafes, bars, and boutiques overlooking the harbor. The center of Makarska is an old town with narrow stone streets, the main church square with a flower and fruit market, and a Franciscan monastery. Makarska is the center of the Makarska Riviera stretching for 60 km (37 mi) between the towns of Brela and Gradac.
If you are into active vacations, put Makarska on your Croatia road trip itinerary. Activities include hiking, climbing, paragliding, mountain biking, windsurfing, and swimming. In high season the town is busy with many buzzing nightlife spots, but it also offers a lot of fun for those with children. Here are things to do in Makarska.
Dubrovnik – 4 days
At the end of this Croatia road trip, beautiful Dubrovnik will await your arrival. It is one of the world’s most fascinating walled cities. Situated on the southern Adriatic Sea coast, it is widely regarded as the most picturesque city on the Dalmatian coast and is referred to as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” The Old Town, with its many interesting sights, is the top attraction of Dubrovnik.
With a population of 42 thousand, the city welcomes over 1 million tourists a year. The area’s undeniable beauty contributes to its popularity, but there is another essential factor – Dubrovnik was the primary filming location for the TV show Game of Thrones. The fans flood the city to visit the film’s famous spots. No matter what season, you will be dealing with the crowds. Still, creating an enjoyable visit is very possible.
Although Dubrovnik has much to offer in terms of historical sightseeing, part of its allure lies in the fact that it is a vibrant and bustling city. As well as visiting the churches, palaces, and museums, the visitor can also enjoy markets, bazaars, cafes, bars, and restaurants. The city is also a perfect base for day trips to nearby islands and inland excursions. To make the most of your visit, follow the essential tips on how to visit Dubrovnik, Croatia.
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