From the charming capital city of Zagreb to the beautiful shades of water surrounding Hvar to the wonderful charm of Old Town Dubrovnik, it is no wonder why Croatia is a popular tourist destination and captivates all those who visit.
I visited Croatia in September of 2019 and it instantly became one of my favorite countries to visit. My Croatia trip included good food, friendly people, great weather and interesting architecture. There were so many things to love.
This 10 day Croatia itinerary starts in the capital city of Zagreb and then takes you along the coast until you end in Dubrovnik.
Croatia Past & Present
Croatia was formerly part of Yugoslavia. On June, 25, 1991, Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia. The war of Independence was fought for four years following the declaration.
Today, Croatia is a republic governed under a parliamentary system. It is a member of the European Union, the United Nations, NATO and the World Trade Organization.
Although Croatia is a member of the European Union, the kuna is used for currency (not the Euro).
When to Visit Croatia
The best time to visit Croatia is during the collar months of May and June or September and October. The weather during these months is pleasant and sunny, making it the ideal time for swimming and sunbathing. Croatia is also less crowded during these times than during the summer months of July and August, which is high season and can be very hot and crowded.
Between mid-October and early May, most small towns are dead and many resort towns are closed down entirely. Focus your time on cities such as Split and Dubrovnik if you visit during this time.
How to Get Around Croatia
I recommend renting a car to navigate the first part of this 10 day Croatia itinerary. Driving is safe and convenient in Croatia and a great way to see the countryside. It will be the most convenient way to get from Zagreb to Opatija to Plitvice Lakes National Park to Krka National Park and then on to Split.
Since Hvar is an island, you will need to take the ferry to and from Hvar. Once you arrive back on the mainland, take a bus from Split to Dubrovnik. You could also take a ferry from Split to Dubrovnik.
Croatia does not have a good train system.
Is Croatia Safe for Female Solo Travelers?
Using sensible precautions, yes, Croatia is safe for solo female travelers. I spent a lot of time exploring Croatia on my own and never felt unsafe.
10 Day Croatia Itinerary
Days 1 and 2: Zagreb
Zagreb is the capital city of Croatia and home to about 800,000 people. It is the first stop on this 10 day Croatia itinerary due to its robust transportation connections. Zagreb is the seat of the central government as well as the administrative government and most government ministries. Almost all of the largest Croatian companies, media and scientific institutions have their headquarters in the city.
Zagreb is known for its diverse economy, high quality of living, museums and entertainment events. Zagreb is the perfect place to land and get your bearings before visiting the rest of the country.
I found Zagreb easy to explore by foot. I did my own walking tour of the city and started my walk by checking out Jelacic Square. I purchased breakfast from the city market behind the square and then rode the funicular to check out the amazing views from the top. I finished my exploration by visiting a couple of museums and then checked out the city parliament building.
You can read more details about my day in Zagreb here.
Day 1: Arrive in Zagreb, Day 2: Explore Zagreb. Total nights in Zagreb: 2
Day 3: Opatija
Opatija is a seaside town in western Croatia. It is known for its Mediterranean climate and historic buildings. Along to the coast in Opatija, there is a statuesque nymph with her hand outstretched to cradle a seagull. The Maiden with the seagull, created by Zvonko Car in 1956, is a symbol of the region.
Opatija is a great place to wander around while admiring the architecture. Once your feet get tired, I recommend finding a table outside along the water where you can enjoy a glass of wine and an appetizer while people watching.
Day 3: Rent car. Drive from Zagreb to Opatija (approximately a 2 hour drive). Explore Opatija. Total nights in Opatija: 1
Day 4: Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the oldest and largest national parks in Croatia. It was founded in 1949 and added to the UNESCO World Heritage register in 1979. Each year, more than one million people visit the park.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is world-famous for sixteen lakes that are all interconnected and separated into an upper and lower cluster. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors that change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of the sun.
The park is beautiful but walking through it is not for the faint of heart. A large part of the walk is spent walking on wooden paths with no railings built over the lakes and waterfalls. When the park is busy, there is barely enough room for people to walk along the paths two people wide.
Check out more details from my visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park here.
Day 4: Drive from Opatija to Plitvice Lakes National Park (approximately 2.25 hours). Explore Plitvice Lakes National Park. Total nights in Plitvice Lakes National Park: 1
Day 5 Part 1: Krka National Park
Along the drive from Plitvice Lakes National Park to Split, there is Krka National Park. Krka National Park is a vast area that includes preserved or insignificantly altered ecosystems. The purpose of the park is primarily to serve science, culture, education and recreation. In recent years, tourist activities have been added.
Within the park, you can go on boat excursions or go biking or hiking. You can also swim in the waterfalls at Krka National Park, something not allowed in Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Day 5: Drive from Plitvice Lakes National Park to Krka National Park (approximately 1.75 hours). Explore Krka National Park and then continue on to Split. Total nights in Krka National Park: 0
Day 5 Part 2 and Day 6: Split
The next stop along this 10 day Croatia itinerary is Split. Split is a city of 180,000 people along the Dalmatian Coast. It is a bustling, modern city. The main attraction is Diocletian’s Palace, which was the retirement home for Roman Emperor Diocletian, who grew up in the Split area.
The palace sits along the harbor and is both a luxurious villa and fortified Roman town. You can tour the palace for free and check out the cellars, the mausoleum and the main arteries of the palace. The palace is open until early evening during the tourist season but closes at noon during the off-season so plan to visit the palace early in the day if you visit then.
Since I have traveled fairly extensively, I have toured many palaces and castles around Europe over the years. I thought this was one of the more interesting ones so I do recommend touring it while you are in Split.
Other things to check out in Split include The Riva, a seaside pedestrian path that is considered Split’s promenade. It is worth spending an hour or two here in the evening for some of the best people watching in Croatia. The many town squares, the Green Market and the Ethnographic Museum are other things in Split that I recommend checking out.
Day 5: Drive from Krka National Park (approximately 1.75 hours). Return car. Day 6: Explore Split. Total nights in Split: 2
Day 7 and Day 8 Part 1: Hvar
No Croatia itinerary is complete without a visit to at least one of its many islands. In this 10 day Croatia itinerary, I am recommending Hvar, although there are other great islands that can be substituted, such as Korcula.
Hvar has transformed from a tiny Dalmatian fishing village into one of the most popular destinations in Croatia. It is a party town after dark, Croatia’s answer to places like Mykonos and Ibiza. It is gorgeous and worth the visit in my opinion.
I recommend checking out the Hvar Fortress, a castle above the Old Town. The views from the top are sensational. It is a 30 minute hike to the top or you can save time by taking a cab to the top and then walk down, which is what we did.
St. Stephen’s Square is filled with inviting cafes, encouraging tourists to sit and stay a while. There is also the Cathedral of St. Stephens, a Renaissance-era cathedral with a three-humped gable.
If you have time and want to check out more than just the town of Hvar, you can explore the rest of the island via Secret Hvar Island Tours.
Day 7: Take the ferry from Split to Hvar. Explore Hvar. Day 8: Take the ferry to Split. Then take a ferry or bus from Split to Dubrovnik. Total nights in Hvar: 1
Note: The ferry route between Split and Hvar is currently served by three companies: Kapetan Luka, Jadrolinija and Krilo Shipping Company. In the high season the ferry service runs 14 to 16 times per day. In the low season it runs two or three times per day. Journey time is between 55 minutes and one hour 40 minutes, depending on the route. Ticket prices range from 40 Kn to 110 Kn.
Day 8 Part 2, Days 9 and 10: Dubrovnik
The last stop on the 10 day Croatia itinerary is Dubrovnik. Known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik is one of the most prominent tourist destinations along the Mediterranean Sea. Its total population is roughly 42,000 and in 1979, the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.
A main feature of Dubrovnik is its walls, which run 1.2 miles around the city and are visited by over one million people each year. The walls are up to 20 feet thick and were intended to protect the city. They have been a popular filming location over the years, most notably as the fictional city of King’s Landing in the HBO television series, Game of Thrones.
I definitely recommend walking the walls while in Dubrovnik. There is a small fee (150 Kn) to do so but it was worth it for the views. You get amazing views of the Old Town as well as the sea from atop the walls. If possible, I recommend walking the walls (and exploring Dubrovnik as much as possible) early in the day before the cruise ships disembark, flooding the city with tourists.
Beyond the walls, you can check out Dubrovnik from atop Mount Srd, where Napoleon built a fortress in 1810 to watch over his new subjects. A great way to spend an afternoon in Dubrovnik is to hit the beach. I also recommend spending an evening on board a boat doing a sunset cruise around the city.
You can read more about my Dubrovnik recommendations here.
Day 8: Take the ferry or bus from Split to Dubrovnik. Book a sunset cruise around Dubrovnik for the evening. Day 9: Explore Dubrovnik. Day 10: Finish this 10 day Croatia itinerary by leaving Dubrovnik and Croatia. Total nights in Dubrovnik: 2
More or Less Time
While this 10 day Croatia itinerary is a great place to start when planning a trip to Croatia, you may have more or less time to spend there. If you have less, I recommend omitting Opatija and Krka National Park from your trip and spending less time in Dubrovnik.
If you have more time, I highly recommend spending time in Slovenia between your time in Zagreb and Opatija. Slovenia was a pleasant surprise for me. It is easily one of the prettiest countries I have ever been to and I loved my time there.
You can find out how I recommend spending your time in Slovenia here.