Croatia is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, and it’s easy to see why. On a trip to Croatia you can relax on beautiful white beaches with sapphire waters, walk around ancient walled towns or explore lush green valleys dotted around with waterfalls. If you’re planning a trip to Croatia, this complete travel guide covers everything you need to know; from the average prices of food, accommodation, transport and activities to travel times between locations; highlighting all the best places to visit and things to do in the southern coast of Croatia. There is also a detailed 10-day itinerary, to give you an idea of what you can do on each day of your trip, to maximise your time and see as much of this beautiful country as possible.
Useful information about Croatia:
Before we jump straight into the detailed day by day itinerary and must-see highlights of Croatia, here are some useful things you should know first.
The currency in Croatia is the Croatian kuna (HRK). At the time of writing 1 EUR was approximately 7.5 HRK.
Croatian food is very similar to Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. Most restaurants offered selections of Mediterranean starters (eg. Greek salad, fried calamari, fish or meat tartare etc) and then pasta, risotto, fish or meat as main courses. I was travelling with a celiac friend which made eating on the go very complicated (not many gluten-free bakeries in Croatia) so we sat down at restaurants for most of our meals. Prices ranged from 100 – 250 HRK for nice sit down meals of at least two courses depending on the restaurant location and menu. If you want to save money on food there are lots of bakeries in both Split and Dubrovnik, where you can grab local sandwiches, wraps, pizza and more for 20 – 50 HRK.
My favourite restaurants we ate at on this trip were the following:
- Lady Pipi in Dubrovnik: This restaurant was recommended to us by both our AirBnb host and the guy from whom we bought our day tours as a place where “the locals go”. They do fantastic fish and meat grills and have a rooftop dining area with views over the red roof of Dubrovnik
- Bokeria in Split: The best burger I have had in a long time. While it may not be typically Croatian they also had more local dishes.
- Dalmatino in Hvar: The food is amazing and the customer service exceptional. The moment we sat down they started bringing out pre-food shots and samples.
Accommodation in Croatia
I was last in Croatia in 2014 where I stayed at the Youth Hostel in Dubrovnik for around 15 EUR per night. I was surprised to find how much more expensive Dubrovnik has become in the last few years. Beds in shared hostel dorms now range around 20 – 30 EUR. A good alternative to hostels is AirBnb (click here to get AirBnb travel credit!) especially if you’re travelling with friends, since for most places you can often get a whole home for 50 – 100 EUR a night. Depending on how many people you are sharing this with, it can be pretty convenient. Hotels are expensive and usually start at 100 EUR per night.
We personally stayed in all AirBnb or Booking.com apartments. You can find them listed below:
- In Dubrovnik we stayed in a lovely AirBnb called Mirjana Studio, where the host Ivo was super helpful in giving us tips for the best places to eat and things to do
- For Split we got a place on Booking.com called Zorro Apartment just outside the city centre
- In Hvar we also got a flat on Booking.com called Apartments D&S. By then we had more friends join us on the trip so we preferred getting something bigger with more bathrooms.
Accommodation prices and availability will obviously vary depending on the season. We went in September and it was still relatively busy, if you’re going in summer you can expect things to get booked out very early on so you’ll want to book accommodation as soon as you can.
| READ MORE: THE BEST RESOURCES TO BOOK YOUR NEXT TRIP |
10-day itinerary to the South Coast of Croatia
This is the itinerary I have followed myself on my recent trip to Croatia. It is meant to be used as an indication of a route that will allow you to maximise your days and see all of the main highlights in one trip. I have also included travel times and costs of each transport mode and activity, to give you an idea of how much time and money the trip would take. Please adapt this to fit your personal travel interests and times, it’s intended as guidance, not a strict guide to follow at all cost!
Day 1: Arrival in Dubrovnik
This itinerary starts from Dubrovnik, a beautiful city in the Southern most point of Croatia. There are lots of things that you can do in Dubrovnik, which will suit the interests and preferences of most travellers. It’s a city with a rich history for those that love visiting museums when travelling, it has beautiful beaches for the beach lovers, and lots of active opportunities for outdoors lovers like kayaking tours. The next two days will be packed of activities in this city, but depending on the time of arrival, day 1 is a good time to just relax from the flight and enjoy some down time exploring the town centre.
Day 2: Dubrovnik
The one thing that is a must see for everyone, regardless of your travelling preferences, are the walls of the Old Town. The Old Town of Dubrovnik is surrounded by walls, which are open to the public for walking all around and admiring the views over the red roofs of Dubrovnik. The walk can take up to two hours and it’s a great way to spend the morning of your first full day in Dubrovnik. Access to the walls costs 100 HRK.
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Once you have finished the walk and have had time to relax and have lunch, another must do activity regardless of your preferences is taking the cable car to the top of the hill that overlooks Dubrovnik. You can also walk up if you’re feeling very sporty and have the time for it, otherwise you can do a round trip with the cable car for 140 HRK. I recommend going just before sunset, since the light will really bring out the beauty of the red roofs and the Old Town. There is also a restaurant at the top of the hill, while you get to enjoy a beautiful view with dinner, as you can imagine it is very overpriced compared to the restaurants in town.
Day 3: Dubrovnik
Having seen the main attractions and points of interest of Dubrovnik there are now different activities you can do during day 3. One would be doing an all day boat trip to the islands close to Dubrovnik. You can get tickets for this from the stalls in the harbour of the Old Town, with prices varying from 250 – 500 HRK, depending on how many stops the boat trip does and if food and drink are included.
If you’re not a boat trip person, there are other ways to spend your day. As passionate Game of Thrones fans we spent a morning doing a Game of Thrones walking tour. This lasts around 2 hours and they take you all over the Old Town to see the locations of Dubrovnik that have been used in the filming of the TV show. These tours usually cost around 150 HRK, plus 50 HRK to get access to Fort Lovrijenac, where most of the Red Keep scenes have been filmed. If you don’t want to spend the money for the trip you can follow this itinerary I have put together and do your own walking tour of the filming locations.
| READ MORE: GAME OF THRONES WALKING TOUR IN DUBROVNIK |
The Game of Thrones tour will only take up the morning, so after lunch we went for another tour in the afternoon. This was a sea kayak sunset tour. It takes about 3 hours, setting off at 4pm and returning after 7pm. During the tour they take you kayaking around the island of Lokrum, just in front of the Dubrovnik harbour, and then cliff diving in a beach in a secret cave. They usually also provide a sandwich and drinks. On the way back you can admire the sunset over Dubrovnik from the sea. Prices are around 200 – 250 HRK, depending on whether you want a day tour or a sunset tour with wine.
Day 4: Dubrovnik – Split
The journey from Dubrovnik to Split takes around 4 hours, depending on traffic and costs around 125 HRK. You can buy tickets at the bus station, but if you’re visiting in high season I recommend buying them online on buscroatia.com to make sure it’s not sold out. Coaches run throughout the whole day so you can take it at whatever time suits you best, depending on whether you want to spend more time in Dubrovnik or Split. You could spend the morning in Dubrovnik exploring the Rector’s Palace, then get a bus and arrive in Split by late afternoon, in time to enjoy the awesome restaurants and bustling nightlife of Split.
Day 5: Split
While there are lots of amazing things to see in Split, we found it was even better when used as a base from which to do day trips to the surrounding areas. However there are some key things to do and see also within Split. Your first stop of the day should be Diocletian’s Palace. This is actually more of a fortress, composed by lots of different buildings, which form about half of the old town of Split. The most iconic spot is the peristyle, the central square towards the entrance of Diocletian’s quarters. From there you can also access the bell tower of the cathedral, despite the very narrow staircase up the views over the rooftops of the city are well worth it. Access to the bell tower is around 20 HRK, as is access to the cathedral (two separate tickets) if you’re interested in visiting it. The peristyle is also a fun area to visit in the evening, as the bar opposite the cathedral sets out pillows along the steps and usually has live musicians.
| READ MORE: BEST OF SPLIT |
Another must see spot in Split is Park Marjan and the viewpoint. The viewpoint is a short 15-minute walk from the harbour of Split. If you’re into hiking and being outdoors you will enjoy walking around Park Marjan. From there you can also reach Kasuni beach. There are two main beaches within walking distance of the Split centre, Kasuni is further away but it has been recommended to us by our AirBnb host as the best one since it’s less busy and touristy. The other beach is called Bacvice and is the only sandy beach close to Split, which is why it’s more popular.
Day 6: Krka National Park
Krka National Park is one of the main attractions in this part of Croatia. You can get there either by renting a car and driving yourself, or with an organised tour. We went with an organised tour with Book Your Perfect Trip, for approximately 200 HRK. The tour sets off early in the morning around 9am, so that you can arrive at Skradin where you get the ferry to the waterfalls. This is a scenic and peaceful boat trip, which when compared to the busy waterfalls was even better than the rest of the park. I personally liked doing the tour with Book Your Perfect Trip since you get 5 hours of free time at the park, where you could either swim by the waterfalls or explore the nature. It’s a very independent tour, which only really includes the transport, if like me you hate driving it’s perfect. The tour doesn’t include food but there are cafes in the national park that where you can eat. As you can imagine these are a bit overpriced so we got sandwiches from a bakery in Split and brought them with us. Access to the national park isn’t included in the tour price and costs an extra 150 HRK. The journey is about an hour coach drive depending on traffic, then a 20-minute ferry. The tours usually return to Split around 5pm, leaving you with a free evening to enjoy dinner and the Split nightlife.
Day 7: Omis
Omis is a small town just 30 minutes away from Split. You can get there with the public buses that run from the harbour, for about 25 HRK. The town is very picturesque, with its medieval old centre to walk around. Just a short walk from the centre there is the Starigrad Fortress, a fort that you can climb up to and enjoy the view over the town and sea. However the town itself is very small, you can easily see the whole town in a few hours. Omis is better known as a departure point to explore the beautiful Cetina Canyon, where you can do outdoors activities like zip lining and rafting. We went zip lining and I can highly recommend it. I had never zip lined before, but felt perfectly safe with the team and guides, plus the incredible views more than made up for it! Zip Lining cost around 400 HRK.
Day 8: Split – Hvar
Croatia is well known for its coastline, islands and beaches. Amongst these Hvar is one of the most well known for having the clearest waters and lively nightlife. You can visit Hvar as a day trip from Split, however to really get the opportunity to explore the island I recommend staying in Hvar a couple nights. There are ferries all throughout the day, which take about 1 hour to get to Hvar and cost around 80 HRK. We bought the tickets at the harbour at least a day in advance, to make sure we got a spot on the ferry at the time we wanted. This isn’t a must but if you have issues with seasickness you might want to get a ferry earlier in the morning, as the waves are smaller. Depending on your arrival time in Hvar a great way to spend your first day is exploring the old town centre, and walking up to the fort to enjoy the view over the harbour.
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Day 9: Hvar
So Hvar is actually both the name of the main town where the ferries dock, but also of the island. Confusing, I know. The island itself is quite big, with other smaller towns dotted along its coast. The easiest way to explore it and see as much as possible of the island is to rent a car for the day, and drive along the coast. However beware of car rental scams that go on in Hvar, we were scammed by the company we rented the car with, you can read about my experience here. Once you have a car (hopefully scam free!) you can drive around the whole island in 3 hours. After driving around aimlessly for a bit stopped at a restaurant right on the beach for lunch, where we had some of the freshest fish of our entire trip. There were few other people there at that time, and we were the only tourists eating there. That’s when you know a place is good! The owner was then kind enough to recommend us a lovely beach close by that would be more sheltered from the wind. After a long day of driving and exploring Hvar island I recommend going to Hula Hula Beach Bar for the last night of your trip. The food isn’t as amazing as some of the other places in town, but you get to eat at a relatively cheap price sat on sunbathing decks with an amazing sunset view.
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Day 10: Hvar – Split + Trogir
The last day of the trip is sadly here! You will want to get a ferry depending on what time your flight is. If you get the opportunity of flight late in the evening, I recommend getting an early morning ferry, so that you can spend some time exploring Trogir before flying. Trogir is another small medieval town close to Split airport. It’s about a half hour journey, and you can get there by public bus from the Split harbour, just outside from where you will get off the ferry for about 20 HRK. It’s a small and quaint little town, which you will be able to see in just a few hours. Similarly to Split, there is a cathedral and bell tower that you can visit and walk to the top of for 25 HRK. The view is well worth it, and will be something to remember as you then head to the airport and back home.
If you made it all the way to the end, well done! Thanks for reading this; I hope you will find it useful in planning your own trip to the southern coast of Croatia. This is the exact itinerary I have followed myself, and I hope that by sharing it with you I can help give you an indication of the time and money required to properly experience this part of Croatia, experiencing all best things in each location. Have you been to Croatia before? How did you find it? Did your itinerary look something like this? Let me know in the comments below!
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