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Croatia Itinerary: 7 Days in Paradise

Croatia itinerary 7 Days: the perfect length to catch a glimpse of this vibrant country! Without a doubt, Croatia is one of those countries where you could spend a couple of weeks exploring. But if you’ve only 7 days in Croatia, there is still plenty to do for a quick taste of its cultural and natural abundance.
Here’s a complete guide and the estimated cost for one week in Croatia!

Whenever I think of Croatia, I picture myself on tranquil islands with crystal clear turquoise water, surrounded by lush pine trees, and accompanied by the sound of cicadas. This European gem is as much about secluded beaches and islands, as it is about cute cobblestone alleyways you want to get lost in, delicious seafood (and fruit!) and lots of sunshine.

In a month, I traveled from Istria in the North down to Dubrovnik in the South & sailed the Dalmatian Sea in between. Here’s what you should do if you are looking for the perfect Croatia itinerary 7 days!

Croatia Itinerary 7 Days: The Perfect Journey

Day 1: Enjoy Zadar | Highlights: Historic Ruins, Romantic Piazzas, & the Sea Organ

Day 2: Explore Plitvice National Park | Highlight: A UNESCO Beauty!

Day 3: Zadar – Krka National Park – Šibenik | Highlights:  Seven Waterfalls & Tranquil Town

Day 4: Experience Split | Highlights: Stunning Coastal Road & Exciting Nightlife

Day 5: Sail Makarska | Highlights: Relaxation & Delicious Seafood

Day 6: Sight-see Mljet | Highlights: Peljesac Peninsula & More Time to Unwind

Day 7: Dubrovnik | Highlights: Old Town & Beautiful Architecture

Croatia in 7 Days

Day 1 Experience the Beauty of Zadar!

Zadar, situated on the Dalmatian Coast on a Peninsula, is one of those places that can totally surprise you. It’s close to the sea, has a relaxed vibe, and features two unique things: the Sea Organ, an architectural sound art object and Sun Salutation, a monument dedicated to the sun.

Although the city is sprinkled with historic Roman ruins, romantic piazzas, and churches that stood against the test of time, Zadar’s Sea Organ is much more unique. It’s a system of pipes and whistles, set within perforated stone stairs that descend into the ocean. It’s the movement of the sea that pushes air through it and unleashes a sound as if it has a deep yearning.

In addition to this unusual attraction, it’s the ideal place to watch the sunset!

Adjacent to it you can find the Sun Salutation. It’s a 22m-wide circle set into the pavement that collects the sun’s energy through 300 multilayered glass plates. In conjunction with the wave energy that leads to the Sea Organ’s sound, it creates a light show from sunset to sunrise. If you’ve 7 days in Croatia, do spend a day grabbing some photos here!

To get a taste of local cuisine, make sure to check out the famous Pet Bunara. It has been on the forefront of serving seasonal and unique dishes that represent Zadar’s gastronomic scene for 35 years!

If you have one week in Croatia, do give the markets a spin! Spend some time at the Zadar Market,which is open every day except Sunday, offering fresh local produce, e.g huge nectarines, cheese and olive oil. I find that there is no better way to immerse yourself in a country than through its local market.

For dinner, head to Lungo Mare to enjoy fresh seafood and some great views of the sunset from their outdoor terrace.

Tips: You can easily travel around Zadar by foot if you get a hotel in the old town. City Hostel Zadar is a great budget option, or spend a fancier night at Art Hotel Kalelarga.

Zadar-Waterfront-Seaorgan

Day 2: A Day at Plitvice Waterfalls

Zadar-Plitvice: 2hrs 15 mins by car

I’d suggest getting a rental car from this point forward as it will make your journey easier to manage. You can get a rental car starting at EUR 10/day. Compare prices & companies via Rentalcars or Auto Europe and make sure to book ahead of time!

Traveling to Croatia and not visiting one of the national parks would be a crime! Although hard to pronounce, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the best natural attractions of the country and Croatia’s first national park. It’s a UNESCO site and features 16 crystal clear turquoise lakes, inter-connected by waterfalls.

As it is the most visited place in Croatia, it can get crowded on the pathways leading through the park. With one week in Croatia, I’d suggest planning for an entire day for Plitvice Lakes National Park. Remember to arrive early in the morning and ideally plan the visit for the spring or late summer.

The park can be visited all year round, with different seasons offering a different experience – think snow-covered trees! The entrance fee ranges, depending on the season, from KN 180 to 300 (or EUR 24 to 40 / USD 26 to 44).

Return to Zadar for the night!

Plitvice-croatia-itinerary-7-days

Day 3: Zadar to Šibenik via Krka National Park

Zadar- Krka National Park: 1hr 17 mins-Šibenik: 35 mins

Zadar to Krka National Park is a short 1 h 17 m drive. This captivating park is known for its series of seven waterfalls. A Croatia itinerary for 7 days is incomplete without Krka, but unfortunately, I had to save it for a future visit. The entrance price for an adult in 2020 varies from KN 30 (EUR 4 / USD 6) in Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec to KN 100 (EUR 13 Eu / USD 15) in Apr, May, Oct and KN 200.00 (EUR 26 / USD 30) in Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep. You have the benefit of swimming in the water and getting up and close to the waterfalls.

From Krka National Park it’s only a 35 minutes drive to the lesser-known, but oh so worth it Šibenik. A place that is relatively tourist-free.

Thanks to a Croatian friend who spent his summers here, I came to know of this offbeat place. Šibenik is full of brimming medieval architecture and offers spectacular views of the city’s historic centre, high up from the St. John’s Fort.

One big appeal is, the city is fairly easy to conquer. The afternoon allows enough time for a walk up to the viewpoint, a stroll through town and some sunset drinks!

For dinner or lunch (depending on when you arrive), head over to Konoba Nostalgija. An affordable family-owned restaurant with rustic interior serving dishes using high-quality local ingredients.

Sibenik-Town croatia

Day 4: Šibenik to Split

Šibenik to Split: 1 hr by car

The coastal road is just stunning! With all the beautiful pine tree-dotted highways and traditional houses and their red-tiled roofs, driving place to place was half the fun!

In a matter of one hour, you will arrive in Split, the second-largest city in Croatia. You can opt to return the rental and take a cab to your accommodation.

For many, Split serves as a starting point for great sailing trips. However, it’s also the ideal place to explore the local restaurant scene, discover hidden bars, and enjoy the nightlife.

Must-Do & Eat in Split

Once you have dropped off your bags, begin your day at the Split market (5am-4pm except Sundays), which is nestled between the Roman Palace and the Silver Gate. Make sure to sample some of Croatia’s finest fruits & vegetables! For a taste of a local fish dish, head to Marmontova on the other side of the Old Town.

When it comes to hotels, opt for Hotel Garden Apartment as a budget option, or spend a lux night at Antique Split Luxury Rooms.

For a typical regional lunch, go to Konoba Matejuska and try the most popular dish in town – Pasticada Stewed Beef. For vegetarian and vegan goodness, head over to Ma:Toni. It’s one of the first places to serve vegan food and remains one of the best in Split!

Continue your morning stroll through the Old Town. Start by the Diocletian Palace and admire one of the best-preserved Roman architectures in the world. Remember to wear your walking shoes as you will surely enjoy getting lost in the labyrinthine alleys, where history is present at every step!

Take a rest at Peristil Square and enjoy Split’s landmark, a 57-metre tall belfry.

One of the nicest places in Split is Riva, the waterfront. It invites you to stroll past cafes, restaurants or just sit underneath one of the many palm trees. The view of the harbour makes a great setting for a bottle of wine, or two. Check out Brasserie on 7 for its timeless interiors and outstanding Croatian cuisine with a French twist.

You can also opt to sip a drink and enjoy a good read in the interesting Marvlv Library Jazz Bar. This building from the 15th century is the birthplace of Marcvs Marvlvs, the father of Croatian literature. It’s a real hidden gem right in the heart of Diocletian Palace!

Split---St-Domniius-Bell-Tower
Splits-Cobbled-Alleyways

Day 5: Mini Cruise – Split to Makarska

I find that to truly experience the beauty of this country, you have to go on a sailing trip. Even if you only have 7 days in Croatia!

As most cruises don’t start before the afternoon, you can head to Bepa for a Mediterranean breakfast.

Must Do & Eat in Makarska

Most cruises depart around 1 pm and include lunch on board. One of the main appeals of sailing is the many swimming spots along the way. When I volunteered on a sailing boat for two weeks, we always stopped to relax and enjoy the pristine waters.

You’d arrive at Makarska in the evening, just in time for sunset & dinner. It features a half-moon bay lined with palm trees and busy restaurants with some of the finest and freshest seafood. Head over to Konoba Kalalarga for a daily changing fish menu depending on what has been caught! Try the squid ink risotto – one of Croatia’s specialties!

As I’m always for celebrating life (especially when on vacation), I’d suggest going to Bounty Restaurant and splurge a little on oysters and some of Croatia’s finest wines. Make sure to ask for a table that has an ocean view!

Sailing in Croatia

Day 6: Makarska to Mljet

One of my favorite memories about my 7 days in Croatia was taking a sailing tour to Mijet. The boat departs early morning towards Mljet, with the Peljesac Peninsula being one of their stops. The tranquil Salt Lake will be the perfect oasis to unwind.

Must-Do & Eat in Mljet

Once at Mljet National Park, you also have the option of exploring the 12th-century monastery. It’s situated on the little island in the middle of the park.

For dinner, make sure to go to Konoba Herc. Not only is it the ideal spot to watch the sunset, but it also has excellent seafood, fished by the owner himself. Please try the grilled calamari, you’ll not regret it!

Day 7: Mljet to Dubrovnik

The boat will set sail for the final destination right after breakfast. Bernard Shaw, the famous Irish playwright often notes Dubrovnik as ‘Paradise on Earth’.

You will arrive at the ACI Marina in the afternoon and complete check-out by then. From the ACI Marina, grab a cab to the city centre. Depending on the cruise you booked, there might be a sightseeing tour of Dubrovnik that is included.

Must-Do & Eat in Dubrovnik

Once you arrive in the Old Town, head over to the Walls of Dubrovnik. Here’s a chance to stroll along the walls of one of the world’s best kept medieval cities. You can go on a 2hr walking tour that shows you the hidden gems and best views of the city.

Alternatively, you can just purchase a ticket and explore the area yourself. During high-season, you can visit the walls until 7 pm. You can also book the tour or general tickets online and skip the queue. The price is KN 150 (EUR 20 / USD 22).

To finish off your day, walk through the picturesque cobble streets ad get a drink at the Buža Bar. This bar provides some awesome views of the ocean and the setting sun.

That’s it, a short and sweet itinerary to make you fall in love with the Europe gem. If you got more time, definitely check out Istria in the North or do a week-long sailing trip to Hvar or Vis. The country took me by surprise and I hope that this 7 day Croatia itinerary inspires you to visit soon!

Dubrovnik-Old-Town Croatia in 7 days

Other Tips & Advice

If you are wondering how many days to spend in Croatia, I believe that a minimum of 7 days in Croatia would be a decent timeframe to catch a sight of the charming country. Here are a few others tips that may be helpful for your trip planning!

Other than a week in Croatia, make sure to check out its neighbors with this 10 day Greece itinerary, this 5 day in Bosnia plan or this week-long agenda in Slovakia!

Estimated Cost for One Week in Croatia

For one week in Croatia with the itinerary above, you can expect to pay around EUR 630 (USD 680) per person. This Croatia itinerary 7 days will include:

  • Hiring a rental for three days
  • A three day/two nightsmini cruise
  • Staying in hostels
  • Doing the recommended activities and eating in a mix of local taverns & cute restaurants,

The cost can increase to EUR 1180 (USD 1290) if you choose to stay in hotels and opt for a different cabin for the cruise tour.

The per person cost for this Croatia itinerary will be:

  • Visits to parks and other activities might amount to EUR 25 (USD 27) per attraction and person.
  • Depending on where you stay, one week in hostels can cost between EUR 105 to EUR 210 (USD 113 to 230). If you stay in a hotel, budget for EUR 470 to EUR 945 (USD 510 to 1025).
  • A 3-day/2-night mini cruise (depending on the cabin) costs between EUR 290 to EUR 430 (USD 315 to 470).
  • The price for a rental starts at EUR 175 (USD 185) per week or EUR 25 (USD 27) per day – not including fuel.
  • Around EUR150 (USD 160) per week in Croatia on food.
    • EUR 7 (USD 7.50) for a meal in a local tavern
    • EUR 15+ (USD 16) for a decent restaurant
    • EUR 1,50 (USD 1.6) for a Cappuccino

 

Christin is a travel blogger, photographer and yogini – currently chasing kiwis in New Zealand. She has travelled to 73 countries, lived in 6 of them and enjoys to share her extensive destination knowledge with friends & readers alike. She recently documented the NZ Spirit Resolution NYE Festival, a conscious yoga festival in Auckland, New Zealand. When she is not planning her next adventures she is available for branding photography, content creation & itinerary design services. For enquiries please visit her website www.christintheilig.com and follow her on Instagram via @christintheilig for more travel tips & inspiration.

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