Krka National Park, Croatia: Travel Guide for the Perfect Waterfall Swim + More

Krka National Park, Croatia: Travel Guide for the Perfect Waterfall Swim + More

What’s the first image that comes to your mind when someone mentions Croatia? Perhaps Dubrovnik like beaches or gorgeous natural landscapes. After all, Croatia has its fair share of clear lakes, rivers and spectacular waterfalls. Guess what, the most famous waterfall of Croatia is located in Krka National Park – and you can swim in it. 

The area that comprises of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina has many spectacular waterfalls and I have seen many of them. Two of them are in Una National Park, one in Kravice Waterfalls, many of them in Plitvice Lakes National Park, a few close to Plitvice Lakes in a town called Slunj and the last in Krka National Park.

Introducing Krka National Park (and Why you Should go there) 

Inside Krka National Park, Croatia

Inside Krka National Park, Croatia – Photo by my friend Selin (@sollunatic_photos)

Just 10 km away from the pretty riverside town of Sibenik, you will reach one of the most beautiful parts of Croatia, where the Krka and Čikola rivers meet and create an amazing natural karst phenomenon. With its seven waterfalls, a large number of lakes, world-famous aromatic lavenders, bees, and of course, with its surreal view, today, this area is known as the famous Krka National Park.

Named after the Krka river, this national park covers an area of 142 square km of magnificent scenery, including one of Croatia’s most famous sights, the Skradinski Buk waterfall. This waterfall is known as one of the most beautiful calcium carbonate waterfalls in entire Europe. 

You must have read about Krka river’s starting point in our post about Una National Park in Bosnia-Herzegovina. While Bosnia’s Una National Park shows the magnificence of rivers Una and Krka, Croatia’s Krka National Park shows the magic of Krka and Čikola rivers.

The similarity between Krka National Park and Una National Park doesn’t end there. Guess what, both the national park feature similar tufa formations that create spectacular cascades and waterfalls. Even the nearby Plitvice Lakes National Park is famous for the tufa formations and feature multiple waterfalls and cascades. 

Cascades and waterfalls inside Krka National Park, Croatia

Tufa forms Cascades and waterfalls inside Krka National Park, Croatia – Photo by my friend Selin (@sollunatic_photos)

In Krka National Park, you can also visit beautiful monasteries, the gorgeous Roski Slap waterfall and its travertine islands, and of course, the best one should be a swimming session near the epic Skradinski Buk waterfall. If that is not enough, the park also has an outlaid promenade walk with wooden paths, which offers a serene walking experience to its visitors.

The Krka National Park is a unique park which has an unaltered area of exceptional natural value, due to its preserved ecosystems. That’s why in 1985, Krka National Park was proclaimed a national park, and today, it is the seventh national park in Croatia. The travertine waterfalls of the Krka River and its limestones are a fundamental phenomenon that should be visited once in a lifetime.

Where is Krka National Park?

Located within the territory of Šibenik-Knin county in southern Croatia, the Krka National Park stands along the Krka River. The Krka River, which has shaped the outstanding Krka National Park, streams all the way through the north-central part of the Dalmatian region between the plateau of the Čikola River and the Dalmatian Zagora region. 

Clear Krka river in Krka national park, Croatia

Clear Krka river in Krka national park, Croatia

The Krka River especially stands out with its constant process of travertine-building, which creates a beautiful karst phenomenon that attracts more than 700,000 visitors every year.

How to Reach Krka National Park?

Ferry from Skradin to Skradinski Buk, Krka National Park, Croatia

Ferry from Skradin to Skradinski Buk, Krka National Park, Croatia

If you are planning to rent a car in Croatia, driving is generally easy. Croatia is an amazing country for a road trip because you can see a lot of different kind of landscapes in a short time. You can enjoy the smooth roads and even speed up to 130 km/h on highways. Check out our Croatia road trip itinerary for ideas and information.

When it comes to reaching the Krka National Park, there are several ways. First of all, you need to know the entrances of the national park. Krka National Park has five entrances:

  • Skradin for Skradinski Buk,
  • Lozovac,
  • Roški slap / Laškovica,
  • Burnum / Puljane, and
  • Kistanje / Krka Monastery. 

The most common are the entrances at Skradinski Buk and Roski Slap, but if you are planning to drive to the park, the most preferred entrance is the Lozovac, which offers free parking spaces. From the Lozovac entrance, you can also go further to Skradinski Buk very easily by using the National Park Krka buses.

If you are planning to use the Skradin entrance, you have to enter the park by ferry boat. To do that, you need to visit the little town of Skradin, and then find a parking space. After that, you can purchase ferry tickets at the Krka branch office. The tickets can also be purchased online. After having your tickets, you can board the ferry and enjoy the great view of Krka National Park.

Ticket Office at Skradin - Krka National Park, Croatia

Ticket Office at Skradin – Krka National Park, Croatia

If you are planning to use public transport, you have to buy tickets at the bus terminal. If you are in a hurry, you can also buy the tickets on the bus if they are still available. To enter the national park, you can use two entrances; Lozovac and the Skradin. 

To reach the Lozovac entrance, you have to take a bus from Šibenik or another town in the area. The timetables can be found easily at every bus station. If you travel from Šibenik, you have to make sure that the bus stops at the park entrance. Otherwise, you will be dropped on the main road, which means that you have to walk 1.5 kilometers to reach the entrance.

To enter the park through the Skradin entrance, you can take a bus from Šibenik, Zadar, Zagreb, or Plitvice Lakes National Park. The bus will leave you just 200 meters from the ferry stop at Skradin. From there you can use the ferry.

How Many Days Do You Need for Krka National Park?  

Cascades in Krka National Park, Croatia

Cascades in Krka National Park, Croatia

In my post about Plitvice Lakes National Park, I recommend at least two to three days because there’s so much to see. In comparison, Krka National Park has fewer things to see. If you have a packed itinerary for Croatia, then I’d say spending just one day is sufficient if you start early. You can drive here early morning from Zadar, park the car near the ferry point in Skradin, get your tickets, hop on to the ferry from Skradin to Skradinski Buk, spend most of the day inside the National Park and then spend the night in Skradin.

Ideally, you should stay for two nights near the park for a relaxed experience. This way you can sleep in Skradin (or any other nearby village) the night before your visit and also the night after your visit. This is how we did it. (We had no other choice because we were traveling with a baby)

Should You Make a Day Trip to Krka National Park? 

If you’re visiting Croatia during peak travel months – especially August, then making a day trip to Krka National park will be a stressful experience because of the crowds. It definitely won’t be easy because you will have to spend more time in the queues. 

Entrance Tickets for Krka National Park

KRKA National Park Entrance Tickets - Croatia road trip itinerary

KRKA National Park Entrance Tickets – Croatia road trip itinerary

The entrance fee for Krka National park €20 (150 kunas) per person and it includes the ferry ride from Skradin to the National Park. Yes, it is much cheaper than the entry ticket for Plitvice Lakes National Park. Consider booking a Krka National Park tour to see all the park’s attractions and the best trails. 

Ferry Pier Skradin

Skradin Ferry pier and river front - Krka National Park travel guide

Skradin Ferry pier and river front – Krka National Park travel guide

Skradinski Buk waterfall can be visited by boat from Skradin from April to October. This amazing boat ride is definitely recommended, if you want to sail to the national park while gazing through the amazing scenery. The price of the boat ride is also included in the price of the entrance tickets! 

Just note that due to the overcrowded tourist population during summer, if you want to visit the park via boat with a large group of friends, you have to contact the Krka National Park in advance. The tickets can be purchased through the Park branch office or online either with the printed ticket or the barcode on a smartphone.

Parking near the Ferry Pier

Views of Krka River from the ferry that goes to Krka National Park, Croatia

Views of Krka River from the ferry that goes to Krka National Park, Croatia – Photo by my friend Selin (@sollunatic_photos)

To take the boat from Skradin Ferry Pier, you have to park your car in Skradin, and then take the ferry to get into the park. There will be a lot of parking lot owners outside of the Skradin city center that will try to “lure” you into their parking lots, but keep in mind that you can find a lot of parking lots very close to the center of town. And if the city center ones are full, you can always go back to those parking lots outside of the city center.

Our van parked near Skradin ferry pier

Our van parked near Skradin ferry pier – this parking was full at the start of the day

The parking near Skradin ferry pier isn’t cheap and I do remember paying an hourly rate. Don’t get fooled by our picture here. This parking was completely full in the begening of the day and we managed to find a parking spot at the end that thankfully had a tree for a shade. This is how empty it got at the end of the day after we spent our evening in Skradin to eat some snacks. Looks like daylight? Yes, that’s a typical European summer evening.

Keep in mind that there are a few overpriced restaurants that offer free parking and they’re not so close to the ferry pier. We got burned on our first day here. We ate lunch in one such restaurant and ended up paying 200 Euros for 4 people – oops!

What to See inside Krka National Park?

You can start enjoying the Krka Rivers wonderful waterfalls and the impressive landscape of its canyon with limestone hills. It is an outstanding view, but if it is not enough, here you can get to see a wide variety of both flora and fauna.

Clear water and fish in Krka National Park, Croatia

Clear water and fish in Krka National Park, Croatia

Located on the Southern European region, the Krka National Park is the home of over 800 species of plants, including several endemic Illyrian-Adriatic species, over 200 species of birds and also home to different amphibian and reptile creatures!  You can also get to see 18 species of fish, including 10 endemic species, which makes the Krka a natural landmark of the highest category. If you are interested, here are some splendid activities to do in Krka!

Skradinski Buk and swimming in its emerald-green water

Skradinski Buk in Krka National Park

Skradinski Buk in Krka National Park – Photo by my friend Selin (@sollunatic_photos)

There are several must-do activities in here, and the biggest of them all is definitely visiting the Skradinski Buk waterfall. Being the highlight of Krka National Park, Skradinski Buk is the park’s largest waterfall surrounded with amazing greenery and full of endemic fishes!

Skradinski Buk - the biggest waterfall in Krka National Park, Croatia

Skradinski Buk – the biggest waterfall in Krka National Park, Croatia

Skradinski Buk is the reason why 95% of the people visit the national park. They enter, swim in Skradinski Buk, relax around it and then leave. Which isn’t a bad way to spend the holiday for family travelers. With its emerald-green water and amazing limestones, it is the perfect spots to swim.

As soon as you enter the Skradinski Buk entry point, you will hear the waterfall. There are small hills around and you can explore the area around to find different viewpoints. Walk a little further, you will notice how big this waterfall is, and how small people look when they swim in it. See for yourself in the picture below.

KRKA National People swimming in Park's Main Waterfall - Skradinski Buk - from up above - Croatia Itinerary

KRKA National People swimming in Park’s Main Waterfall – Skradinski Buk – from up above – Croatia Itinerary

There is a bridge that goes over the swimming area of the waterfall where you can stand and get an excellent picture. Across the bridge, you can also find a couple of historic cottages that are currently offering craft workshops and souvenirs.

Toilets, restaurants, drinking and eating places are on one side of the bridge. There are many different kinds of little shops that sell snacks, bakery items, drinks, souvenirs and some also sell swimming gear. 

These Smaller Falls formed natural showering points in Krka National Park, Croatia

These Smaller Falls formed natural showering points in Krka National Park, Croatia

The is a spot near Skradinski Buk where the cascades form a natural showering spot. The area is lovely and you should definitely experience it. I visited Krka National Park in August, which is the peak season. I never found an empty spot in this showering area since many people hogged this place for a photo. Instead, I ended up clicking a picture of someone else who was enjoying a shower here. 

Natural Shower in Krka National Park, Croatia

Natural Shower in Krka National Park, Croatia

The swimming area in next to Skradinski Buk was too full for my liking but I did find a smaller swimming hole nearby where swimming was allowed. I will share more details in the swimming section of this post. 

The entire area of Krka National Park that has Skradinski Buk has many other smaller waterfalls and cascades all around. You can spend all day here if you want and see everything possible. 

One of the smaller waterfalls inside Krka National Park, Croatia Road Trip itinerary

One of the smaller waterfalls inside Krka National Park, Croatia Road Trip itinerary

In our case, we took the path that was supposed to be for strollers and wheelchairs but it took us to the end of the Skradinski Buk area. This way, we completely skipped the waterfall and started exploring from the back to front. It was pretty funny because no one was walking in this direction. 

Roški Slap and its travertine islands

Roški Slap and travertine pools in Krka National Park

Roški Slap and travertine pools in Krka National Park by oliver.dodd – (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Roški Slap, which is also known as the vast waterfall, offers you a magical scenery with its countless backwaters, cascades and travertine islands. There are also lots of other things to see here.

Roski Slap in Krka National Park, Croatia

Roski Slap in Krka National Park, Croatia

If you check out the left bank of the waterfall, you can visit the original water mills, which are the prized ethnographic monuments in Dalmatia and Croatia, that were used to grind wheat. And over the waterfall, there is a wooden road that dates back to Roman times! To reach here, you have to take the boats from Skradinski Buk waterfall, since it is complicated to find the entrance with a car.

Krka Monastery – the spiritual centre of the Orthodox faith

visovac island with Krka monastry, Krka National Park Croatia

Visovac island with Krka monastry, Krka National Park Croatia CC0 via Pixabay

Being the most important Serbian Orthodox monastery in Croatia, the Krka Monastery is one of the monasteries that features the unique combination of Byzantine and Mediterranean architecture. It lies on Visovac island.

Located above the Krka river, this monastery is the spiritual center of the Orthodox faith. Also known as the Holy Archangel, the Krka Monastery was first mentioned in the written records in 1402, as the endowment of Jelena Šubić.

You can also check out the ancient Roman catacombs, which are below the monastery. To visit the Krka Monastery, you can book an organized boat excursion, which lasts 2.5 hours from April to October, or by driving from the cute village called Kistanje.

Krka National Park Swimming

A semi hidden swimming spot in Krka National Park, Croatia

A semi hidden swimming spot in Krka National Park, Croatia

If you are interested in swimming at Skradinski Buk, depending on the weather and the level of water, the waterfall is open for swimming between the 1st of June till the 30th of September!  

Me in Krka National Park, Croatia

Me in Krka National Park, Croatia

The water is really refreshing, and swimming near a waterfall is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. Unfortunately, you can’t swim under the waterfalls, but you can swim at the base of the Krka Skradinski Buk. Just keep in mind to go there early – due to the crowd – and be careful walking on the slippery limestones.

If you’re like us and enjoy quieter surroundings, then you will be pleased to know we discovered a little quieter spot to take a dip. The main Skradinski Buk waterfall’s main swimming area gets crowded and that’s the only one where you’re allowed to swim. However, there is a smaller swimming hole in this area, you just have to go a little up and you will find it. 

Our secret swimming spot in Krka National Park, Croatia

Our secret swimming spot in Krka National Park, Croatia

Just walk up the little hill but not out of the Skradinski Buk waterfall area. There’s a small pool with cascades that’s almost hidden and you’re allowed to swim there. That’s where we spent all our afternoon to cool off.

Eating or Drinking Inside Krka National Park

Finding food in the Krka National Park is no problem, however, if you are looking for a fancy meal, you won’t find it in the borders of the park. There are several small restaurants with buffets and snack bars with some sandwiches and drinks in the parking area. But if you want to pack your own sandwich, you can also enjoy it in many picnic areas in the park.

If you are looking for a full Krka National Park experience, you can go to Roški Slap waterfall tavern which is called Alte Mühle Kristijan, or also known as Christians Place, and enjoy your food with your feet in the water! You can also find several water fountains to get some freshwater in the park. For fancier lunch and dinner options, check out the harbor where lots of restaurants and stores are lined.

What to Carry to Krka National Park

Me in Krka National Park - Ultimate Croatia Road Trip

Me in Krka National Park – Ultimate Croatia Road Trip

I should not have to mention this, but I can’t help saying it – make sure you carry your swimming gear. Carry a small and compact backpack with your swimsuit, towel, extra pair of underwear (just in case you’re unable to dry your swim suit), sunglasses, water and something to eat. We also carried a picnic mat.

Where to Stay near Krka National Park?

When you keep in mind the natural beauty of Krka National Park, a lot of campers would love to camp in the national park. Although, camping is not permitted in the national park, there are several campsites in the direct area of the park.

Skradin

If you want to stay in a hotel or book an Airbnb, you have to check out the town of Skradin, which is very close to the national park. This cute riverside town with brightly painted stone houses and a ruined fortress will mesmerize you. You can stay in famous hotels like Hotel Skradinski Buk or find a few private accommodations as well.

Park Camp Marina

San and I in Camp Marina near Krka National Park - Croatia Road Trip itinerary

San and I in Camp Marina near Krka National Park – Croatia Road Trip itinerary

Just 5 km away from the Skradin, Camp Marina is another beautiful camping area near the National Park Krka. This is where we stayed for two nights and loved it. The area all around looks like a desert and it is unbelievable that there’s a river with many spectacular waterfalls nearby.

Surrounded by Mediterranean pines, olives, and grape wine, this massive camping park offers a great location and serene time. If camping is not your thing but still want to be in nature, you can also rent one of their rooms and enjoy the meals from its restaurant.

Lozovac

Camp Krka

If you like being surrounded by pine trees, you can pack your bags and stay in many tents of Camp Krka. This family camp is only 2.5 km away from the Lozovac entrance and was established by a local family called Family Skocic.

Camp Krka doesn’t just only offer tents, but also rooms and apartments suitable for couples and groups with a large group of members. You can also get to taste much local food like milk, cheese, wine, prosciutto, and olive oil in here!

The delicious meals are served by the family as well. The essentials for campers like wash machine, showers, toilets, warm water, even an internet connection is provided by the camp. If you want to stay in a room or in an apartment, you can also get to cook your own food and even grill.

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10 Amazing Day Trips from Dubrovnik, Croatia

10 Amazing Day Trips from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Information about Day trips from Dubrovnik with details about how to reach, what to see and suggested tours.

What’s better than a typical mediaeval travel destination? A mediaeval walled city that is also a beach destination. Now add a fantasy fiction element to it (like Game of Thrones or Star Wars), it turns into a heck of a prominent tourist destination. Yes, that’s exactly what Dubrovnik is – a part of literally every single Croatia itinerary.

Dubrovnik is situated in Croatia’s Adriatic Coast, it is a mediaeval walled city that rose to its peak after the restoration post the break up of Yugoslavia. The fact that it was a shooting location for King’s Landing on Game of Thrones helped Dubrovnik rise to its prominence. Not just Croatia, but Dubrovnik is the most popular tourist destination in the Mediterranean.

Dubrovnik - King's Landing in Game of Thrones - Croatia Itinerary

Dubrovnik – King’s Landing in Game of Thrones – Croatia Itinerary

No doubt Dubrovnik is spectacular, but it seriously suffers from over tourism. Thanks to Instagram, Dubrovnik has turned into something like a Disney Land for holiday goers. Just because it is extremely crowded, doesn’t mean you should miss it. Try visiting it during shoulder months and avoid it in July and August. 

Dubrovnik viewpoint - Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Dubrovnik viewpoint – Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Why Should You Consider a Day Trip from Dubrovnik?

If you do end up visiting Dubrovnik, you will be happy to know that it is situated in a spot that makes it easy to visit some of the nearby countries for a day trip. It close to the Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina borders. You caneasily visit the nearby Montenegro our favorite – Bosnia-Herzegovina, and many other amazing destinations within Croatia on some well planned day trips from Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik isn’t far from Serbia and you can also visit it, but on a trip that’s longer than just a day trip otherwise it will be super rushed. The Balkans are lovely and you should try to explore this part of Europe by driving. We have an epic post about our road trip through the Balkans on our website that covers not just Dubrovnik but some other destinations that are on this list.

Our list of day trips to Dubrovnik has many options for nature lovers, wine connoisseurs and history enthusiasts. Yes, there is something for everyone on this list, so go ahead and find the one that suits you the most.

PART 1: Day Trips from Dubrovnik to Bosnia-Herzegovina:

Kravice Waterfalls + Mostar (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina - travel the Balkans

Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina – travel the Balkans

Dubrovnik tends to get very hot during summer, but a day of swimming in the spectacular Kravice Falls of Bosnia-Herzegovina will cool you down. While you’re there, head to the nearby historical town Mostar that is of a cultural significance and is gorgeous too.

Getting to Mostar is easy from Dubrovnik with buses frequently making the hasty 3 hour drive up to the historical city. Once in Mostar, the stunning Kravice Waterfalls are about an hour away. If you are driving like us, you can actually stop at the falls before heading into the city to explore Mostar.

If you don’t have your car or van and are looking for ways to get to Kravice waterfalls, then booking an all inclusive day trip makes a lot of sense. This way, you can visit both Mostar and Kravice Waterfalls without the headache of managing your public transport. Below are some tours that we have handpicked for you:

Make sure you read all the details in the tours before booking because some features or additions may change over time.

Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia & Herzegovina - Balkans Road Trip itinerary

Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia & Herzegovina – Balkans Road Trip itinerary

While in Croatia, did you stop at the Plitvice Lakes? Did you yearn to swim in those inviting, turquoise waters? Did you want to take photos without the crowd of other tourists? Head to Kravice Falls to satiate all your needs. (Yes, our main profile picture on the blog has the Kravice Falls in the background)

The Kravice waterfalls are similar to Plitvice Lakes’ Mali Prštavac Slap in terms of beauty. They are both made of up many dreamy cascades that are surrounded by and lush forest, however, there is a feeling of calmness here as Kravice Falls are a little more hidden in the trees. Unlike Plitvice, you can actually swim here. (Yes, I can’t get over it)

Mostar is an old city that has many buildings still standing that are in the style of Ottoman Architecture including the Stari Most (the Old Bridge), the defensive towers erected on either side of the bridge, as well as in a large number of residential homes around the old city. If you are lucky enough to go at the end of July, you can witness the annual passage of young, Mostar men jumping off the Stari Most as part of a 450 year old tradition.

Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina - Travel to the Balkans

Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina – Travel to the Balkans

Lastly, don’t miss your chance to stop by the magnificent Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque. Here you can learn a little bit about Islam (as they accept anyone to enter it’s walls) and get an unbelievable view of Mostar from the top of the towering minaret.

Vjetrenica cave (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Inside Vjetrenica Cave in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Inside Vjetrenica Cave in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Did you ever see Planet Earth Documentary series and saw an albino cave salamander? I did too, and I actually thought that in my lifetime I’d never get to see an elusive rare creature like this. I was wrong, I saw one in Vjetrenica Cave in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Albino cave salamander or Human Fish in Vjetrenica Cave

Albino cave salamander or Human Fish in Vjetrenica Cave

Vjetrenica Cave is an interesting day trip from Dubrovnik and highly recommended if you are looking for a unique thing to do. For anyone who hasn’t rented a car to drive around Eastern Europe with, you will need to get to the small village of Zavala first or you can book a tour that will guide you from Dubrovnik to the cave.

Once at Vjetrenica Cave, there are hourly English-guided tours that will take you into the cave system and point out some fascinating sites to see. The cave is well-known for being home to some peculiar looking fish and is worth taking the trip to admire it’s magnificent natural beauty.

Walking inside Vjetrenica Cave, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Walking inside Vjetrenica Cave, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Visiting Vjetrenica Cave was not a part of our list and honestly we did not even know of its existence. We lost our way on our way from Kravice Waterfalls to Montenegro, and ended up seeing a board for Vjetrenica Cave and decided to make a stop here. We were just in luck and arrived just 10 minutes before an English tour was going to start.

As mentioned earlier, Vjetrenica Cave is near Zavala; a quaint village recognized by its old stone masonry that makes up the majority of its architecture. The gem of Zavala is Zavala Monastery; a Serbian Orthodox monastery that overlooks the vast Popovo field.

PART 2: Day Trips from Dubrovnik to Montenegro:

Kotor Bay (Montenegro)

Enjoying an ice cream in Denovici, Kotor Bay in Montenegro

Enjoying an ice cream in Denovici, Kotor Bay in Montenegro

The beauty of traveling around Eastern Europe is that there are so many intriguing day trips that you can take not only within the country, but also to the enthralling neighboring countries. Montenegro’s beautiful flower shaped bay of Kotor is so lovely and so close to Dubrovnik, that it would be a shame not to make a side trip here.

As with most of the destinations on this list, you can easily hop on a bus that will take you south into Montenegro and arrive at Kotor in about three hours. If you are driving yourself however, consider taking a more scenic route along the coast to breathe in the glorious Adriatic Sea.

Kotor Bay viewpoint, Montenegro - Balkans Road Trip

Kotor Bay viewpoint, Montenegro – Balkans Road Trip

For us, the joy of driving to Montenegro was almost as good as our time on its beaches, because the drive is full of viewpoints. The best part is that every single viewpoint has a parking place next to it so that you can stop and click photos.

If you don’t have your own method of transportation, then booking an all inclusive day tour will make a lot of sense as compared to managing the public transport. Below are some tours that we have handpicked for you:

Please read all the inclusions of the tour and the language of the tour guide before booking one.

A day trip to Kotor Bay (also known as Boka) is an ideal choice for those wanting to spend the day doing to fun outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking; with the reward of impeccable views.

Kotor Bay at night, Montenegro - day trips from Dubrovnik

Kotor Bay at night, Montenegro – day trips from Dubrovnik

If you would like, you can also explore the old medieval town of Kotor and its impressive fortified walls that hug the city. Around this ancient city, there are many formidable churches and cathedrals that show off the romanesque architectural style however, you can also see a huge amount of Ottoman and Venetian influence within the town’s centre as well.

Kotor isn’t the only must-see city that rests on the coast of Boka, Perast is another great stop most notably for its proximity to two small islets that appear just off of it’s coast. Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) and Sveti Đorđe (Saint George) are the sites of two impressive religious buildings; one being a Roman Catholic church and the other being a Benedictine Monastery.

Tara Canyon / River Rafting / Durmitor National Park (Montenegro)

Tara River Canyon near Zabljak and Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

Tara River Canyon near Zabljak and Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

Whether you are driving yourself around Eastern Europe or relying on tours and buses, Durmitor National Park is a day trip from Dubrovnik that you will not regret taking. It takes about three and a half hours to get drive to Durmitor. Getting here solo is much more difficult than other destinations on this list but there are a few day tour options that will help you visit Durmitor National Park.

Rafting on Tara River, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

Rafting on Tara River, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

Looking for something exhilarating to do on your day trip? Try river rafting through the Tara River Canyon; the deepest canyon in all of Europe. We highly recommend you consider booking a river rafting tour on Tara River so that you can enjoy the spectacular beauty of Tara Gorge.

The tour we’re talking about starts from Dubrovnik. The tour includes a drive to a river camp along Tara river where you will eat breakfast. After rafting instructions, you’re ready to go and enjoy the beauty of Tara River as it forms small waterfalls. There will be many swimming and photo opportunities. 

At the end of the 25 KM rafting experience, you will get to indulge in a warm shower and enjoy river side lunch. Post lunch, you will be driven back to Dubrovnik.

If you are not too excited about discovering the canyon from below, there are numerous caves and viewpoints that you can find while trekking around the gorge. You can also do a zipline over the canyon, which surely looks scary but fun.

Black Lake - Durmitor National Park near Žabljak, Montenegro

Black Lake – Durmitor National Park near Žabljak, Montenegro

Durmitor National Park itself is made up of the Dinaric Alps, a few other impressive canyons, and 18 glacial lakes. Black Lake is the largest and most visited of the lakes, luring tourists in with its mirror-like surface that reflects the breathtaking landscape surrounding it.

While Montenegro’s Kotor bay gets all the attention, I enjoyed my time more in Durmitor National Park. Given a chance, I’d prefer to go back to the relaxing mountains of this national park.

PART 3: Day Trips from Dubrovnik within Croatia 

Mljet National Park (Croatia)

Saint Mary Monastery - Mljet National Park, Croatia

Saint Mary Monastery – Mljet National Park, Croatia

Choosing to take a day trip from Dubrovnik to Mljet is a superb idea and it is one of the easiest destinations to get to due to how close it is. All you need to do is hop on a catamaran and in about two hours you will arrive to Mljet Island. Alternatively, you can book an all inclusive day trip to Mljet that starts from your hotel and make this visit even easier. 

If you are looking for a day trip where you can bask in the glorious nature of Croatia, Mljet has just that. Once you get to Sobra harbour, immediately you will notice the dense greenery surrounding you and will be led down a hiking trail to Mljet National Park. You will most likely want to catch the bus to take you to the other side of the island, specifically to the lakes known as Veliko and Malo Jezero.

These are two saltwater lakes that are connected by a small bridge called Mali Most. Here you can rent kayaks that you can take out onto the lakes; choose to paddle for a little work out or just relax and go with the current.

Next to the bridge is a ferry port where you can take a boat to the islet called Sveta Marija in the middle of Veliko Jezero, which is the large lake. On this isle, you can visit the romanesque Monastery and Church that was built in the 12th century in the name of St. Mary.

Elaphiti Islands (Croatia)

Elaphati island is not one island but a group of islands near Dubrovnik. These islands are collectively called the Elaphatis and are connected to Dubrovnik via daily ferries. 

Sipan Island of the Elaphiti Islands group - easy day trip from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Sipan Island of the Elaphiti Islands group – easy day trip from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Out of all the Elaphiti Islands, there are three main islands that are the biggest ones. They are Koločep, Šipan and Lopud. You can decide to go to just one of them or some of them based on your preference. 

Koločep is the closest to Dubrovnik, just 5 KMs from the harbor at Gruž. Koločep is known for its old buildings and churches that were built between the 9th and 11th centuries.

Lopud is the middle island in terms of both distance and size. It is known for its sandy beaches. It has the Lafodia hotel. If you’re looking to relax on a nice beach, then Lopud island is the place for you.

Šipan is the farthest and the largest island our of the three main islands. It has several quite bays and beaches, so you will get a nice break here from Dubrovnik’s madness. 

We have shortlisted two tours that go from Dubrovnik to Elaphiti Islands. Check them out:

  • Elaphiti Islands day trip with lunch: This tour includes a visit to the all of the three main islands that we have mentioned above: Koločep, Šipan and Lopud. You can enjoy a nice swim on the beaches of Lopud and sunbathe there. 
  • Elafiti Islands Day Cruise on a Karaka Ship: Enjoy a day trip to Elaphiti islands on a unique Karaka ship with an air conditioned restaurant where you will enjoy a buffet lunch. This tour also includes a visit to the three main islands – Koločep, Šipan and Lopud. You also have a chance to go snorkeling by making an extra payment to use the gear.

Dubrovnik can get a little crazy with crowds during the summer. If you’re looking to enjoy the best of Adriatic coast’s beaches, then a visit to the Elaphiti islands makes total sense.

Korčula Island (Croatia)

Are you in search for a relaxing, beachy day? Consider heading to Korcula Island (a.k.a. Korčula). Travellers getting around Eastern Europe by foot can take a ferry directly from Dubrovnik, however, the schedule changes frequently and the direct ferries do not run all year round.

Korčula Island - day trips from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Korčula Island – day trips from Dubrovnik, Croatia

If you cannot find a direct ferry or you are driving, you can easily take a ferry from Orebic on the Peljesac Peninsula. It is only about a 2 hour drive up the coast and you can enjoy the incredible views of the Adriatic coastline.

Alternatively, you can book a tour to avoid the hassle of managing your transport to Korcula Island and back to Dubrovnik. Below are some tours that go from Dubrovnik to Korčula:

There is an abundance of beaches on this island. You can go swimming, partake in watersports activities, or taste some local cuisine at the seaside restaurants. Korcula is also a great choice for those who enjoy cycling; there are many places where you can rent a bicycle to traverse around the island.

Korčula Island near Dubrovnik, Croatia

Korčula Island near Dubrovnik, Croatia

With all this being said, Korcula Island is more than just a beach-filled destination. It is rich in cultural history and offers many archaeological sites and museums that you can visit around the island.

Pelješac Peninsula (Croatia)

Pelješac Peninsula, Croatia

Pelješac Peninsula, Croatia

Peljesac is a peninsula that includes the area starting around Ston all the way to the small town of Lovište. You could easily spend a week or two exploring all of the charming towns on Peljesac but if you are short on time, you can at least take a day trip from Dubrovnik.

There are a few places that you should stop at on your visit to the Peljesac Peninsula with the first one only about an hours drive away; and that place is Ston.

There are two tours that take you to the Pelješac Peninsula as well as Korčula island (mentioned above):

The most common thing to see is the aptly named Walls of Ston, which are reminiscent of the Great Wall of China. While exploring these walls and fortresses that are connected by it, you can also take in the scenery of Peljesac and the rolling hills that cover it.

Orebic is another popular destination on the Peljesac Peninsula and is about two hours away from Dubrovnik. Many people have chosen Orebic as their summer destination due to the picturesque beaches that are around this town.

Lastly, if you want to get to the very tip of Peljesac, you will find yourself in Loviste. Loviste is a calm seaside town that is only about 20 minutes away from Orebic. Most travellers like to come here for the quiet seclusion and to go sailing around the cove.

Krka National Park (Croatia)

KRKA National Park in Early Summer - Croatia Itinerary

KRKA National Park in Early Summer – Croatia Itinerary

Truth be told, this might not be the most accessible day trip from Dubrovnik if you are not driving around like us. To get to Krka National Park, you need to once again drive through Neum so make sure you have your passport and visa documents on you to avoid any delays. Driving from Dubrovnik should only take you about 3 and a half hours which is worth it as you are driving to paradise.

If you’re not driving and would still like to visit Krka National Park on a day trip from Dubrovnik, then we highly recommend you check out this private tour where you will be picked up from your hotel in Dubrovnik.

The main attractions of Krka National Park are the massive Krka Waterfalls. There are a total of seven waterfalls that sit along the Krka river with the most popular being Skradinski Buk.

A semi hidden swimming spot in Krka National Park, Croatia

A semi hidden swimming spot in Krka National Park, Croatia

You can hike around the whole park and take in all the lush scenery that has become the home for a ton of unique flora and fauna. Another key site to see on your day trip to Krka National park is the Visovac Monastery which is located in the middle of Krka river, only a boat ride away from Skradinski Buk. Even if you choose not to go out to see it in person, it is just as intriguing to view it from afar.

Split (Croatia)

Sunset in Split town - Croatia Road Trip

Sunset in Split town – Day trips from Dubrovnik

The distance between Split and Dubrovnik is a bit further than the previous suggestions but it is still possible to take a day trip here using your own car or van. A bus ride will take you about 4 and a half hours whereas you can save an extra hour by driving yourself.

Considering the transport time, this trip is recommended for those who are have their own transport. Keep in mind, you have to cross through Neum which is part of Bosnia so make sure to have any documents that you need for the border crossings.

If you have a little more than just a day, then you can also take a ferry that will connect you from Dubrovnik to Split in 4 and a half hours for a unique experience. It is the same amount of time that the bus takes.

Split town at night - Croatia Itinerary

Split town at night – Day trips from Dubrovnik

Split itself is the second largest city in Croatia, so there is no shortage of cool things to see in and around this city. Split has amazing beaches, so you can relax and enjoy the sea.

Much like other parts of Eastern Europe, you can see the influence of the ages that made their mark on Split. This is especially evident in the diverse architecture that ranges from ancient to modern.

There are a few notable buildings to stop at starting with Diocletian’s Palace; a Roman Fortress that was built in the early 4th century AD to be the resting place of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. While there, you can visit the Cathedral of Saint Domnius; the Mausoleum of Diocletian and the oldest catholic cathedral in the world that uses most of its original structure.

Lastly, the Ivan Meštrović Gallery; an art piece in itself that was built in the early 1930’s to be the summer villa for Ivan Meštrović and his family. Nowadays, the structure is used to display all of Meštrović’s most profound work and is a brilliant example of 20th-century Croatian art.

Other than exploring the old architecture, some other fun things to do in Split are to spend the afternoon hiking around Marjan Park and find unreal views of the city; get up close and personal with the Adriatic sea while scuba diving; and take part in a food tour as you discover the secrets of Old Split, the charming centre of town.

Did follow our day trip recommendations from Dubrovnik?

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Things to do in Pula, Croatia: Travel Guide for the Gem of Istria

Things to do in Pula, Croatia: Travel Guide for the Gem of Istria

Pula is fun, vibrant and historical. It has a bit of everything that Croatia is famous for – all packed in one destination.

Situated on the lower tip of the Istrian Peninsula, Pula is a coastal town with an abundance of distinctive rocky beaches. It is more than just a beach destination, it has a LOT of history too. There is so much more to this charming, medieval town that makes it worth the visit and the perfect destination for you to start or end your adventures in Croatia. 

The rocky coast of Pula, Croatia

The rocky coast of Pula, Croatia

Pula is one of the biggest and most important towns of the Istria region. Due the history surrounding this area, Pula is often viewed as a little Rome with many impressive Roman ruins dispersed around the city. With comfortable, mild weather year-round and an eclectic nightlife scene, you would be remiss to avoid Pula during your travels.

The Shipyard in Pula lights up at night, Croatia

The Shipyard in Pula lights up at night, Croatia

Pula has a massive shipyard that lights up at night with different lights. We saw this view from our hostel window every night and it was unbelievable. 

Where is Pula


Ever noticed on the map that there’s a part of Croatia that’s on the opposite side of the sea as Italy? That’s where Pula is! With Venice just across the Adriatic Sea on the left, Pula is situated on the bottom angle of the Istrian Peninsula. 

If you are planning to visit multiple places in the country, then Pula is the best place to start your Croatia itinerary. Istria is the westernmost county in Croatia which makes it an ideal place to begin your escapades around this mesmerizing country.

A Bit about Istria

The Streets of Pula, Croatia

The Streets of Pula, Croatia

You have noticed how I have mentioned Istria many times while introducing Pula. Well, here’s a little info about it. Istria is a peninsula in the Adriatic sea that’s mostly in Croatia, and some parts are also in Slovenia and Italy.

A big part of the Istria region inside Croatia is called Istria County – so, they’re not the same thing. When someone says “Istria”, they usually mean the entire region that is much bigger than the Istria County of Croatia. 

In the Ancient times, Istria was called Histria and was much bigger than the present day region. This region has a lot of history, but I won’t go into that in this post. You can read about the history of Istria here.

How to Reach Pula?

It is simple to reach Pula by many different ways. We arrived here on bus from Slunj town but below are all the other ways to enter Pula:

Reaching Pula by air – Pula has an International Airport (Zračna luka Pula) which enables travellers to easily access the city from many different parts of Europe. Not just budget airlines but also bigger international carriers like Lufthansa and British Airways fly to Pula too.

Me after getting off the bus in Pula, Croatia

Me after getting off the bus in Pula, Croatia

Reaching Pula by bus – Travelling around Croatia is relatively simple with a reliable amount of train and bus routes that can help you access anywhere you want to go within the country and to its neighbours as well. We arrived here on a bus from Slunj (near Plitvice Lakes) and had to change it in Karlovac. You can arrive here on a bus from Rijeka, Zagreb, Split, Karlovac, Belgrade (Serbia) and Venice (Italy) to name a few. Here’s more information about reaching Pula on bus.

Reaching Pula by sea from Italy – Spending some time in Italy? Pula is nestled up to the Gulf of Venice which means you can ride a catamaran directly from Venice to Pula for a unique experience. Please note, just journey can only be done in summer. 

Things to do in Pula, Croatia

Pula Beaches

The Rocky beaches of Pula, Istria - Croatia Itinerary

The Rocky beaches of Pula, Istria – Croatia Itinerary – a little ahead of Ambrela Beach

Pula is situated right on the coast of the Adriatic Sea so you can be assured that there is no shortage of picturesque beaches to spend your days here. Go with the family and lounge on the shore or take part in some water sports with your friends. If you are searching for paradise, you will be able to find it.

Pula beach sunset - Croatia Road Trip itinerary

Pula beach sunset – Croatia Road Trip itinerary

Taking a dip in some of the most popular beaches such as Ambrela Beach, Hawaiian Cove Beach, or Valkane Beach comes as a given that it is one of the best things to do in Pula. We loved Stoja Beach the most and you can even camp here if you are road tripping or camping around Croatia.

Below are some of the beaches of Pula that you should consider visiting:

Ambrela Beach

Me on the crowded Ambrela Beach during the peak season

Me on the crowded Ambrela Beach during the peak season

One of the most popular beaches of Pula, it is a blue flag beach. It is a pebble beach that’s on the Verudela peninsula. The famous Brioni Hotel is on this beach. Ambrela beach is perfect for swimming because the water is shallow and very clear. There are also two floating lines on the water along this beach.

Ambrela Beach tends to get very crowded, so as you move a further ahead, you will notice a few secluded shaded areas where you can enjoy some quiet time.

Stoja Beach

The Lovely Stoja Beach in Pula, Croatia

The Lovely Stoja Beach in Pula, Croatia

Out of all the beaches that I visited in Pula, I somehow enjoyed myself the most on Stoja. It was so because there are a few beaches that are together and you can see them from some spots. There’s the Stoja Beach, Seagull’s Rocks Beach, and the Valovine Beach (see the next point).

Valovine Beach

Valovine Beach is next to Stoja Beach. A very small part of this beach is sandy and most of it is pebbles. This beach has Big Mama Beach Bar, which is a good spot to watch the sunset. 

Valkane Beach

Valkane Beach is near Stoja beaches in the Zelenika Cove. This blue flag beach has two beach bars – Valkane Bar and Sumi More. It isn’t the best looking beach in Pula because it is highly furnished. 

A secluded spot ahead one of the popular beaches in Pula, Croatia

A secluded spot ahead one of the popular beaches in Pula, Croatia

Havajsko Beach

It is a small beach with pebbles. The water is very clear. On one side of this beach are the Verudela Beach Apartments and on the other side is the Verudela Canyon. Park Plaza Arena Pula is behind the beach.

Saccorgiana Cove

Saccorgiana Cove is at the end of Ambrela Beach. It is extremely small and has the Zeppelin Beach Bar on one side of it.

Valsaline-Mornar Beach

Another pebbley beach, Valsaline-Mornar is on Soline cove. 

Sunset view from one of the beaches in Pula, Croatia

Sunset view from one of the beaches in Pula, Croatia

Gortan’s Cove or Gorton Cove Beach

Gorton’s Cove beach is next to the monument of Vladimir Gortan. It is a very small beach and is shallow, so is perfect for swimming. Gorton’s Cove has a small shaded area where you can sit. This beach has Pomidor Bar that has a small children’s play area too.

Felsen Beach or Seagull’s Rocks

Seagul’s Rocks beach is also called Felsen Beach, it is next to Stoja Beach. You can’t just walk into the water here because these rocks are a little high. There are many cliff jumping spots on this beach at different levels. 

Beach Park Plaža

This beach is where the Park Plaza hotel is situated, and this is why it is sometimes called Park Plaza Beach. It is a very small beach.

Another unique experience to enjoy here in Pula is to sunbathe at a naturalist friendly beach (marked FKK). Naturism is a very common movement in Europe and is all about being free and comfortable in your own skin. 

Visit Pula Arena – the Roman Amphitheatre

Aerial View of the Pula Arena, the Roman Amphitheatre

Aerial View of the Pula Arena, the Roman Amphitheatre

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Pula Arena is resemblant of the famous Colosseum in Rome and is one of the six remaining ancient amphitheaters still standing. Constructed in 27 – 68 AD, Pula Amphitheater is the best preserved ancient monument in Croatia. The best part is that, one of its sides faces the sea.

View of the Adriatic Sea from Pula Arena, the Roman Amphitheatre

View of the Adriatic Sea from Pula Arena, the Roman Amphitheatre

Despite it’s cousin in Rome gaining worldwide notoriety, the impeccable restoration work done on this one has developed it into a pristine example of the ancient building style. It is the ONLY remaining Roman amphitheater with all three Roman architectural orders and side towers entirely preserved. 

After arriving in Croatia, you will surely get the Croatian currency from an ATM or a ForEx kiosk. Take out the note for 10 Kunas and flip it over. If you have one of the older 10 kunas, you will see the Pula Arena depicted on the note. Interestingly, the entry to the amphitheater is also 10 Kunas. 

Pula Arena - the Roman Amphitheatre in Pula

Pula Arena – the Roman Amphitheatre in Pula

It was once the setting for epic gladiator fights but nowadays, Pula Arena is still widely used as a key venue for festivals and huge musical performances. International superstars like Alanis Morissette, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Sinéad O’Connor, Elton John, Micheal Bolton, Foo Fighters, Norah Jones, Jamiroquai, Anastacia, Sting and Status Quo have performed in Pula Arena. 

Imagine attending an art or musical performance with the backdrop of Roman ruins – sounds awesome, no? Pula Arena is also the venue for multiple festivals. Scroll to the bottom of the list of things to do in Pula to see the information about the festivals.

Want to see something different? Once every month, there is a small show here that mocks gladiator fights and is funny.

Walk Around in the Old Town

Arco dei Sergi in Pula's old town centre at night - Croatia itinerary

Arco dei Sergi in Pula’s old town centre at night – Croatia itinerary

One of the most interesting things about Pula is that it is filled with Ancient Roman buildings and ruins. The Old Town is the perfect place to wander around and see some of these former structures.

Some of the top sites to check out are all within walking distance of the main square, also referred to as the Forum.

San and I on the streets of Pula, Croatia Itinerary

San and I on the streets of Pula, Croatia Itinerary

Start at the Arch of Sergii (Zlatna vrata); an arch built in 27 BC devoted to three brothers of the Sergius family, a leading house that ruled over the area for a few centuries. 

Then to head the Temple of Augustus. The first Roman Emperor, Augustus, built a series of temples similar to the one you can see in Pula all over the Ancient Roman Empire. 

Walking around in Pula Old Town - Travel Guide

Walking around in Pula Old Town – Travel Guide

Lastly, you don’t want to skip Pula Cathedral. Although built quite a bit later than the other two recommendations and furthermore revised over the centuries, it is still a prime example of Ancient Roman architecture.

Visit the Open Food Market / Pula Fish Market

Cheese in Pula Marketplace - the open food market

Cheese in Pula Marketplace – the open food market

Alright all you foodies and photographers, this one’s for you! While visiting Pula, you have got to take a trip to the Open Food Market that’s open from 7 am to 2 pm. Follow your senses through the aisles of this fresh market as you taste samples from the many vendors selling their homegrown goods.

The merchants are separated with meats and fish sold inside the market hall and produce available outside. You can find things like fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey, olives, olive oil, You can also grab a bite to eat, drink coffee, eat cake and enjoy your breakfast on the go. There are breakfast shops that are upstairs, but we recommend eating in the coffee kiosks that are outside.

Meat in Pula Marketplace - the open food market

Meat in Pula Marketplace – the open food market

Get ready to click loads of pictures because this market lis in Pula’s lovely city centre and looks gorgeous outside. You can see merchants lined up on each side of narrow paths – it all makes Pula Marketplace an interesting sight.

My husband, San is half Italian and as per him this market reminded him of Italy. For us, the most interesting part was cheese. We highly recommend a stop here, even just to see and mingle with the local community.

Pula Nightlife & Party Scene

Pula has an amazing party scene

Pula has an amazing party scene

What you are guaranteed to get when searching for Pula nightlife are unique venues and a variety of music. There will be a spot on the beach for you whether you are looking for a high energy DJ to spin you up some house and techno music or a mellow reggae bar. If you are looking for a more chill and alternative vibe, you will find venues in the Old City more your style. 

Visit the Shipyard Bar to enjoy amazing craft beer with burgers, Old City Bar to enjoy your drinks outside or Sunshine Beach Bar to enjoy the view of the sea.

Day Trip to Rovinj

There are many interesting small villages near Pula to take day trips to but Rovinj is a town you don’t want to miss. Rovinj is a harbour town that is lined with brightly, warm toned buildings and cobblestoned streets, featuring a pleasant mix of Italian and Croatian culture. 

Getting there from Pula for the day is also really easy with buses leaving on the 40 minute trip at all times throughout the day and costing only about five euro each way. 

Visit one of the Islands near Pula

Rovinj - an easy day trip from Pula, Croatia

Rovinj – an easy day trip from Pula, Croatia

You could go island hopping all the way from Pula down to Split if you wanted to as Croatia has over 1000 islands off of its eastern coastline. The Croatian Islands offer a much different experience than island life in more tropical climates can give you. Expect a mesh of incredible beachy landscapes with ancient European flavour.

The most popular islands to visit near Pula are the Brijuni Islands. Here you can visit the ruins of a Roman Villa, explore a protected Croatian National park, or even track down some dinos from the cretaceous period.

Take Your Kids to Pula Aquarium 

Jellyfish inside Pula Aquarium

Jellyfish inside Pula Aquarium

If you are travelling with your kids (and lets be real, even if you are not) an exciting thing to do in Pula is visit the aquarium. The setting for Pula Aquarium is unlike anything you have seen before as it is located within Verudela – a 130-year-old fort! So, you pay for the aquarium but get to enjoy the historical fort too.

Pula Aquarium shows, educate, and protect the wildlife that inhabits the Adriatic sea as well as the lakes and rivers around Croatia. Learn about the evolution. Get up close and personal with hundreds of different species of fish and crustaceans. You will see some sharks, jellyfish, octopuses, seahorses, crocodiles and piranhas apart from just usual fish. You will see some beautiful corals too. There’s an Amazonian theme on the second floor, which is lovely.

Inside Pula Aquarium, Croatia

Inside Pula Aquarium, Croatia

The best part is that it isn’t very big so you won’t feel like you’re missing out on something if you have time constrains. It is small enough for you to explore it in 1 or 2 hours, but big enough for you not to be bored. It is one of the best places to visit in Pula if the weather is bad.

While here, make sure you go to the roof to enjoy the panoramic views from there. Pula Aquarium also has a reasonably priced snack bar where you can enjoy a cup of coffee.

Parking outside Pula Aquarium is free, but it may be difficult to find an empty parking spot during busy summer months. If you’re arriving here by public transport, then get on to bus 2A or 3A to Verudela and walk to the aquarium from the bus stop.

Pula Festivals

If you’re visiting Pula in summer, then you may want to check out the below festivals that occur every year at the Pula Arena amphitheater: 

  • Pula Film Festival – July or August 
  • Festival Visualia – mid September, 
  • Dimensions Festival – mid August
  • Outlook Festival – early September

 

Pula Weather and What to Expect

Pula has made it to many travellers itineraries due to the mild climate that is in Istria county year round. The warmest months are from June to September, with temperatures typically being above 20 degrees celsius. With that being said, Pula rarely cools down to below 10 degrees.

One thing you should take into account when planning and packing for your trip to Pula is that it can get very humid. This is expected with its close proximity to the sea, but it can get uncomfortable in August when this region sees its warmest weather. 

Our visit to Pula was in early August. During mid day, the weather was a little too warm for our liking. 

Where to Stay in Pula

Colosseum Garden Studio Apartments

As the name suggests, these apartments are very close to the Pula Arena Amphitheatre. These apartments have a bedroom, sitting area in the garden, kitchen and literally all the appliances that you would need on your vacation.

Click here for more information. Alternatively, you can read reviews about this place here

Riva Hostel

Riva Hostel in Pula - Travel Guide

Riva Hostel in Pula – Travel Guide

We stayed here and loved it! Riva hostel offers clean and comfortable accommodations in close proximity to some major attractions including Pula Arena. The shining feature of this hostel was the furnished terrace; a perfect spot for relaxing after a day of exploring and meeting fellow travellers.

Click here to book Riva Hostel or read the reviews about this place on TripAdvisor. 

Camping Stoja

If you are on a camping adventure and in search of a safe place to stay, this is an incredible campsite right next to Stoja Beach. This campsite is within walking distance of everything you could possibly need to in your little oasis. 

There is also a swimming pool as well as other water sports facilities nearby to give you things to do during the day. At night, enjoy the sunset on the beach and if you are lucky, you will even see some dolphins swimming home.

Where to go after Pula?

Rovinj

We have already raved about taking a day trip to Rovinj, however, if time permits you should stay here for a few extra days. Most people are attracted to Rovinj for it’s dreamy, photogenic scenery but there is so much more to this port town.

For one, the locals are extremely friendly and charming. If you are needing suggestions for a place to eat or thing to see, you can count on the locals to give you a top-notch recommendation with a genuine smile.

Brijuni

The Brijuni Islands are a cluster of 14 islands off the coast of Pula. As mentioned above, a day trip is possible here but it is worth a longer visit if you have time. 

One of the main things to do in Brijuni is to visit the National Park. Depending on how you like to travel you can book either a guided tour, a self-guided tour, or rent a bike and go off and explore on your own.

If you are travelling with kids, they might really enjoy seeking out some dino footprints as there has been over 200 footprints found on Veliki Brijun Island.

To say that there are a ton of things to see here would be an understatement. Brijuni is rich in history which is evident through different sites around the main islands. You can find ancient Roman and Byzantine era ruins dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries. There are structures from the Bronze Age that are estimated to be from the 14th century BC.

Plitvice Lakes

San and I in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

San and I in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

For those searching for some time to bask in nature, than you need to head to the astounding Plitvice Lakes. Here you will find a collection of 16 turquoise-hued lakes strewn around a limestone canyon and divided by magical cascades. 

At this national park you can expect adventurous hiking trails, unique wildlife and, of course, unbelievable viewpoints. Due to the popularity of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, we highly recommend you spend some time here instead of attempting a day trip from Pula.

We absolutely loved our time here and made a whole guide with tips on how to avoid crowds when visiting this breathtaking sanctuary.

Krka National Park

One of the smaller waterfalls inside Krka National Park, Croatia Road Trip itinerary

One of the smaller waterfalls inside Krka National Park, Croatia Road Trip itinerary

Ok, did we grab your attention with Plitvice Lakes? Then you need to also add Krka National Park to your Croatia itinerary. Although it is not as grand as Plitvice, Krka National Park showcases a system of seven stunning waterfalls.

At Krka National Park, visitors are allowed to swim in the inviting pool that is created by the biggest waterfall, Skradinski Buk. There are also some fascinating sites to see here such as Krka Monastery which has been built on some ancient catacombs.

Zagreb

Cathedral and Rooftops in Zagreb - Croatia Road Trip itinerary

Cathedral and Rooftops in Zagreb – Croatia Road Trip itinerary

If you are following our Ultimate Croatia Road Trip Itinerary, you will already know that we visited Zagreb before making our way to Pula. Needless to say, that doesn’t mean that you can’t choose to stop in Zagreb after exploring everything that Istria has to offer. 

Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, has its own charm with architecture that has been frozen in medieval times. Much like Pula, Zagreb has an intriguing history that you can discover throughout the Old Town quarters. You can take a walking tour around the city to see all of its main sites or wander around the cobblestone alleys on your own.

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Ultimate Croatia Road Trip Itinerary: Top Places to Visit + Map + Tips

Ultimate Croatia Road Trip Itinerary: Top Places to Visit + Map + Tips

Croatia Road Trip Itinerary to help you plan your trip.

How beautiful is Croatia! There are clear blue lakes, medieval walled cities, amazing beaches, and stunning natural beauty. After two road trips in Croatia, we can confidently say that this lovely country in the Balkans can WOW every kind of traveler.

The first time we visited Croatia was on 2016. Back then, we didn’t do any research and did not have any idea about what to do in Croatia. Those were our carefree backpacking and hitchhiking days and we did not have any time constrains. Our Croatia travel itinerary had nothing on it but Plitvice Lakes and many extra days for spontaneity. I still remember how unreal it felt when we saw Croatia’s natural beauty – especially clear rivers and lakes.

Our second trip to Croatia was in 2019 and it was on our own camper van from Slovenia. We had a better idea about how we wanted to spend our time and where to go in Croatia. During our second trip, we had limited time and we wanted to spend it well. We saw different places on both these trips and have a lot of tips to share. 

If you’re on this page, I’m sure you know already where Croatia is. But still, just for the sake of quick information so that you can visualize the map in your head – it is opposite Italy with the Adriatic Sea separating them. Croatia shares most of its border with Slovenia, Hungary and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It also shares a small part of the border with Serbia and Montenegro. 

Croatia has everything – mountains, beaches and historical towns so a road trip through this gorgeous country in Europe is a once in a lifetime experience. It still remains one of our favorite countries in Europe.

The Streets of Pula, Croatia

The Streets of Pula, Croatia

Get lost in lush jungle landscapes, stroll streets with charming Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, and enjoy the most pristine beachscapes – there are so many amazing things to do in Croatia. This guide to the most mesmerizing Croatia road trip will ensure that you have an unforgettable adventure.  Soak in the atmosphere of Croatia on a thrilling road trip. Here’s how to do it right.

Starting Point for Croatia Road Trip

So where should you start your epic Croatian road trip? It depends on many factors. The starting points will change based on how you enter Croatia. If you’re flying to the country, then you will most likely land in Zagreb. We suggest you start your road trip in Zagreb if you’re flying into Croatia and renting a car for your journey.

If you’re doing this journey on a camper van or a van, then be sure to check out our mega detailed post about exploring Europe on a camper van.

If you’re able to find cheap tickets to Croatia where you land on any other airport, then by all means get those. In that case, you can start your Croatia itinerary from another place such as Split or Dubrovnik and do a circle from there.

In case you’re driving to Croatia from one of the nearby countries, then it makes more sense to start your trip from one of the destinations that’s near the border. We want to make sure that you’re making the most of your travel time by sharing the best routes and stops.

If you’re driving into Croatia from Slovenia, then you can skip Zagreb and start your road trip from Pula instead. However, if you’re driving in from Hungary then it makes more sense to start your trip from Zagreb. Budapest to Zagreb is only 3 – 4 hours by driving. 

In case you’re starting your trip from Montenegro or Serbia or Bosnia & Herzegovina – then just do this itinerary in reverse and make Dubrovnik your starting point. From Bosnia-Herzegovina, you can also start your Croatia road trip from Plitvice Lakes

Our first road trip to Croatia was from Hungary and the second one was from Slovenia. Both these trips had different starting points – Zagreb and Zadar.

Croatia Itinerary

We have included many different kinds of places to visit in Croatia that will appeal to all kind of travelers. Our Croatia travel itinerary has beaches, national parks, historical towns, small towns, and party places. You can edit and modify this itinerary to skip some places to make your trip shorter.

Croatia Road Trip itinerary suggested route - Map

Croatia Road Trip itinerary suggested route – Map

Here’s a map of Croatia with all the suggested places marked for you. You can open this map on Google Maps and on your left you will see an option to send the directions on your phone. Save an offline version of this map on your phone if you have enough space. It will help you when you’re driving.

Here’s our Croatia itinerary, which is actually a combination of two of our separate trips in the Balkans. We’re also suggesting 1 – 2 places that we did not end up visiting but you shouldn’t miss them for your ultimate road trip in Croatia.

Zagreb – 1 Day 

Zagreb town - Croatia Itinerary

Zagreb town – Croatia Itinerary

Zagreb is Croatia’s glorious capital, and one of the best places to start your road trip in Croatia if you’re flying in. Pick up your rental car here and make this your beginning point. No, renting isn’t expensive and can turn out to be even cheaper than driving your own car into the country if you’re crossing too many countries.

Just like a typical European capital city, Zagreb also has a medieval-esque old town with cobbled streets and architecture. It is Croatia’s biggest city but you don’t need to spend more than a day here. In all honestly, you can skip Zagreb if you want to spend more time in nature. It is a suggested starting point because of the ease of starting your journey here.

Cathedral and Rooftops in Zagreb - Croatia Road Trip itinerary

Cathedral and Rooftops in Zagreb – Croatia Road Trip itinerary – CC0 via Pixabay

While in Zagreb, book an apartment for yourself and park your car because the city’s public transport is awesome and affordable. There are trams (ZET – Zagreb Electric Tram), buses and historical rails. Get a single day tram ticket so that get on and off as you explore the city. Alternatively, you can get a Vrijednosna Karta that can be used for both trams and buses. Zagreb has Uber too, and it is super affordable.

So wondering how to spend one day in Zagreb? Start at the Upper Town (Gornji grad) and gradually make your way to the Lower Town (Donji grad). You can walk and enjoy the most of Zagreb. As per Lonely Planet, Zagreb is made for strolling. Oh, and there’s free WiFi that’s available around the national theatre in the main city square – how cool is that!

Upper Town is the main old town of Zagreb with medieval architecture. While here, walk around in Strossmayer Promenade, see the Old town gate, relax in Ribnjak Park, see the Neo-Gothic style cathedral in the Upper Town, look at St. Mark’s Church and the Sebian Orthodox Church. 

With such a rich history in this enchanting capital, it’s a great idea to take a walking tour in Zagreb to really soak in all of its wonders before you start your road trip. 

Jarun Park, Zagreb - Croatia Itinerary

Jarun Park, Zagreb – Croatia Itinerary – CC0 via Pixabay

When you get bored of being a tourist in Zagreb, head over to Jarun Lake and relax on one of the bars. You can eat lunch here or have a few sunset drinks to end your day early.

If you’re visiting Zagreb on a Sunday, then take out time to check out Hrelić flea market that’s a little out of the city. 

Places to Stay in Zagreb

If you want to stay in Zagreb city centre, then check out Zest and Nest boutique Apartments. The apartments here have everything – kitchen, living room, toilet with all the appliances.

If you know for sure you won’t be cooking your meals and you’re looking for something fancy, check out Hotel Jägerhorn. It is an award winning hotel with a view of the town. It isn’t as pricy as other hotels.

Pula (Istria) – 2 – 3 Days

The Rocky beaches of Pula, Istria - Croatia Itinerary

The Rocky beaches of Pula, Istria – Croatia Itinerary

If you’re driving to Croatia from Slovenia or Italy, it makes total sense to start your trip in Pula and skip Zagreb. Pula is the biggest town in Istria and should be a part of your Croatia itinerary if you want to cover this particular part of the country.

It is a beach destination BUT is more than just pretty beaches, Pula has a lovely old town too. Believe it or not, it was built 3000 years ago by the Illyrians! You can see fascinating landmarks to visit and some of the most well-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. It is like mini Italy within Croatia. 

Pula old town centre at night - Croatia itinerary

Pula old town centre at night – Croatia itinerary

Pula has Rome’s Colosseum look alike – it is called the Roman Arena. Guess what, it is the 6th largest surviving Roman amphitheater in the world. The entry is 20 Kunas, which is a 3 Euros. 

San and I on the streets of Pula, Croatia Itinerary

San and I on the streets of Pula, Croatia Itinerary

I really enjoyed walking around in Pula’s old town. There are two gates and one triumphal arch. Zlatna vrata is the arch and it was built in the 1st Century BC. The gates are Dvojna vrata and Herkulova vrata. These are all decent photography spots especially as the sun starts to set. There’s also a street market that we saw here with amazing cheese, salami and more.

Me in Pula - Croatia itinerary

Me in Pula – Croatia itinerary

While we were in Pula, we spent most of our time on the beaches. The beaches aren’t sandy but are pebbeley. Head to Stoja – the beach here was my favorite. Stoja isn’t a single beach here but many of them together next to a campsite. If you see google maps, you will notice how this part looks triangular with multiple beaches. If you’re road tripping on a van or are carrying a tent, then you can just camp right here in Camping Stoja.

Pula beach sunset - Croatia Road Trip itinerary

Pula beach sunset – Croatia Road Trip itinerary

Apart from Stoja, there’s also Valkane beach, Ambrela beach, Hawaii beach and many other beaches. Most of the beach looked similar but Stoja stood out for me.

FKK in Pula

Pula has some naturalistic beaches that are a little outside the city and are marked FKK. Free body culture exists and it isn’t just for the hippies. Go, shed your clothes and sunbathe naked in Pula’s FKK beaches.

Where to Stay in Pula

We stayed in a place called Riva Hostel and we loved it. The dorm rooms were excellent and so was the outside sitting area. We were not close to the beach but the pier, so we could see the water from our windows. The Roman Amphitheatre (Arena) was very close to our hostel. 

As mentioned in the section above, the campsite in Stoja is beautiful and is on the beach. You should definitely consider it if you’re looking for a campground in Pula. 

Plitvice Lakes National Park – 2 Days

Plitvice Lakes - third viewpoint over the big waterfall that shoes the cascades

Plitvice Lakes – one of the three viewpoints over the big waterfall that shows the cascades

Imagine 16 clear water lakes, all arranged in different levels (like steps) with cascades and waterfalls between them – that’s Plitvice Lakes. This world-renowned national park truly the best natural wonder in Croatia. It will make your jaw drop and leave you with incredible memories. 

San and I in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

San and I in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park is awesome but gets super crowded. Read our guide to the Plitvice Lakes for some useful insider knowledge about tips for avoiding crowds, costs, hiking routes, photo spots and more. It is best to drive through in the early afternoon as it’ll take around 2 hours to drive here from Zagreb, whereas it’ll take 3 and a half hours from Pula. 

Once you arrive, set up for the night so you can be there to enjoy the park early before it gets crowded. Book an apartment that’s nearby and get some rest the night before because you will have to walk a lot inside the national park. We stayed in Bungalows and Camping Korana, that’s 5 KMs away. 

Crystal Clear Water - Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Water so clear that you can see the bottom of the lake – Plitvice Lakes Croatia

It isn’t cheap to park outside Plitvice Lakes entry gates so you can take local transport to save money. Our place of accommodation was running free shuttles to the park so we did not have to worry about this.

No doubt the lakes here are super stunning, but Plitvice Lakes National Park is so much more. Some of the viewpoints, waterfalls and cascades here are unbelievably gorgeous. There is also a cave too. Take the winding trails that show off Croatia’s unrivaled natural beauty as you bask in the blissful oasis that is the Plitvice Lakes. 

Mali Prštavac Slap - the most beautiful waterfall in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Mali Prštavac Slap – the most beautiful waterfall in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Grab the chance to go for one of the world’s best walks as you breathe in the fresh air and admire the limestone canyon before your eyes. This is a truly remarkable area that attracts travelers from all over the world. The entrance fee is only €25 – €30 (180 Kunas). 

Where to stay near Plitvice Lakes

There are three hotels inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park and they are a little more expensive than the others. If you stay inside the national park, you will not spend on your internal transport and will also not wait in the long line. 

We stayed in a place called Campsite and Bungalows Korana, which is only 5KMs away. Not into camping? No worries, they have bungalows too. It is one of the few places that’s recommended by the National Park and they also run a free shuttle to and from the park everyday. 

Rastoke, Slunj Day Trip – 1/2 Day [Extend if you like]

Mini Plitvice Lakes - Waterfall in Slunj, Croatia Road Trip

Mini Plitvice Lakes – Waterfall in Slunj, Croatia Road Trip – CC0 via Pixabay

Did you know there is a “mini Plitvice Lake” in Croatia? It is in Slunj town, that’s not far from the National Park. The complex is called Rastoke and is a good place for a day trip if you want to get off the tourist trail in Croatia. 

Rastoke, Slunj in Croatia - Road trip itinerary

Rastoke, Slunj in Croatia – Road trip itinerary – CC0 via Pixabay

While you’re here, you can stop in Slunj town for lunch. It is a nice town with helpful locals. I have visited it a few times over the last few years because of Modem music festival.

If you have some more time and would like to experience the “real Croatia” without tourists, then by all means spend some more time in Slunj town. The locals here speak decent English and you won’t have any communication problems. Honestly, I’d rather spend more time in a small town like Slunj and skip other places if I’m visiting Croatia during one of the busier months. 

Zadar – 1 Day (Optional)

Zadar is near Krka National Park - Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Zadar is near Krka National Park – Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Zadar is an optional stop, because this itinerary already includes similar (and more beautiful) historical coastal destinations like Dubrovnik and Split. If you have time, then by all makes stop here because it is close to Krka National Park and can be a good stopping point for the night. We stopped in Zadar for one night before driving to Krka National Park. 

If you do decide to stop in Zadar, then go explore the old town that has 34 churches. The beach that’s closest to the city centre is Kolovare. You can also visit Vitrenjak Beach and Borik Beach. 

So what’s unmissable in Zadar? The Sea Organ – it is really cool. There are tubes that are installed under marble steps that play music with the sea waves.

Where to Stay in Zadar

We stayed in a place called Apartment Maruna that had everything we needed. Our rooms were air conditioned, which was a blessing considering the summer heat. Our apartment had a nice and compact kitchen and a toilet. We also had a sitting area that was outside. It was the perfect place to stay for us. 

Krka National Park – 1 Day

KRKA National Park in Early Summer - Croatia Itinerary

KRKA National Park in Early Summer – Croatia Itinerary – Photo by my friend Sollunatic Photos

Krka National Park is one of Croatia’s most beautiful and fun at the same time. The drive will likely take you up to 2 hours, so we suggest leaving Plitvice Lakes in time to reach this park in the early afternoon. 

Plitvice Lakes is stunning but you can’t jump into any of the lakes or waterfalls there. On the other hand, you can swim in Krka National Park instead. The waterfall in Krka National park is massive and the biggest waterfall – Skradinski Buk creates a very big natural pool which makes the perfect swimming hole.

KRKA National People swimming in Park's Main Waterfall - Skradinski Buk - from up above - Croatia Itinerary

People swimming in Park’s Main Waterfall – Skradinski Buk – from up above – Croatia Itinerary

In order to enter the national park, you can either hike for 3.4 KMs, or take a ferry from Skradin to Skradinski Buk Ferry Pier. The hiking path isn’t shaded with threes so in summer you will literally die if you decide to hike. You can also cycle through. During summer, taking a ferry is the easiest option and the ferry is free if you have your park tickets.

In order to take the ferry, you have to reach Skradin and you can park your car nearby, the parking spot is marked as Parking Skradin KRKA on Google Maps. Parking is super expensive! I think we paid 1 euro per hour. 

Please note, that the ferry from Skradin to enter Krka National Park only runs from April to early November. Be prepared to hike to cycle for 3.4 KMs if you’re visiting during other months.

The ferry queues were long in August but they’re pretty normal during other months. Before you stand in the queue for the ferry, you need to also buy the Krka National park entry tickets. Thankfully the staff was pretty efficient and the ticket queues mover very fast. There is also a toilet in this area, not far from the ticket booth.

The ferry ride lasts for 20 minutes and is fun because you get to see the beauty of Krka River and the bridge.

Views of Krka River from the ferry that goes to Krka National Park, Croatia

Views of Krka River from the ferry that goes to Krka National Park, Croatia – Photo by my friend Sollunatic Photos

If you want to compare the beauty, then Plitvice Lakes National Park definitely wins. However, if you want to cool down and take a dip in the waterfall then you will love Krka National Park. Just like Plitvice Lakes, Krka National Park tends to get crowded as well, so visit super early or in the late afternoon to avoid crowds.

Me in Krka National Park - Ultimate Croatia Road Trip

Me in Krka National Park – Ultimate Croatia Road Trip

We found a smaller swimming hole which was near the main Skradinski Buk but was hidden because of the trees. Because of this, not many people were swimming here.

A semi hidden swimming spot in Krka National Park, Croatia

A semi hidden swimming spot in Krka National Park, Croatia

We visited in August and it was very crowded. The only time where we could enjoy the waterfall without people was during late afternoon. My friend Selin [Sollunatic Photos] visited a month before us and Skradinski Buk waterfall looks so empty in her photos.

Unlike Plitvice Lakes, you don’t need to walk that much inside Krka National Park. If you’re doing this trip with a baby in a stroller, then Krka National Park will be an easier destination and you should skip Plitvice Lakes. 

One of the smaller waterfalls inside Krka National Park, Croatia Road Trip itinerary

One of the smaller waterfalls inside Krka National Park, Croatia Road Trip itinerary

The Krka National Park is home to many outstanding parts of Croatia’s history, including traditional watermills, and the Krka Monastery. Sightsee ancient Roman catacombs, exquisite cascades, and the park’s most popular site; its seven waterfalls. 

Take advantage of a Krka National Park tour to see all the park’s attractions and the best trails. The entrance fee is €20 (150 kunas) per person, and it’s well worth it.

KRKA National Park Entrance Tickets - Croatia road trip itinerary

KRKA National Park Entrance Tickets – Croatia road trip itinerary

Get a waterproof case for your camera or a GoPro to create memorable photos as you spend your day swimming in Krka National Park. Apart from that, there’s so much to explore here, so let your free spirit go wild as you find hidden gems scattered within the park. 

After you take a long walk through the park, refresh yourself in the crystal clear blue waters of the waterfalls. We suggest you spent a night at nearby accommodation, or book a tent and camp the night at the camping facilities 2KMs away. This is a fantastic way to embrace the wonder that makes Croatia’s indigenous landscapes renowned. 

Where to stay near Krka National Park

San and I in Camp Marina near Krka National Park - Croatia Road Trip itinerary

San and I in Camp Marina near Krka National Park – Croatia Road Trip itinerary

We camped in Camp Marina, one of the smaller campsites near Krka National Park. This campsite was perfect for us because we found a place in the corner with the view. It is 5 KMs away from the main parking area that’s close to the ferry pier. This campsite has rooms too, so you can book a room if you’re not up for camping.

Another option is Rooms Ive, a great spot for the night. It is 6 KMs away and you can enjoy barbecue facilities, free parking, privacy, and air-conditioned rooms. Have a comfortable night’s rest before continuing on your Croatia road trip. 

Split – 2 Days

Sunset in Split town - Croatia Road Trip

Sunset in Split town – Croatia Road Trip

Split is undoubtedly one of the most popular cities in Croatia, it also happens to be the largest city in the Dalmatia region. The drive here will take just over an hour, so we suggest leaving Krka National Park in the early morning to enjoy lunchtime in the city. 

The lovely Split town - Croatia Road Trip

The lovely Split town – Croatia Road Trip

This coastal urban city is never short on incredible sights and sounds, and it’s an exciting place to enjoy on a Croatia road trip. The city boasts still waters that reflect the shimmering sun and makes for the most wonderful place to go on a Croatian cruise

Fill the day with a boat ride to the blue lagoons and sightseeing ancient architecture like Diocletian’s Palace. You can also taste world-class cuisine with Italian influences or visit the charming Old Town.

This is a fabulous spot on our Croatian road trip itinerary to grab some souvenirs and have a sundowner whilst gazing over the dazzling Adriatic Sea. One of the best ways to enjoy the local vibe and feel the hum of Split’s city life is to take a stroll through the scenic Riva Promenade.

Split town at night - Croatia Itinerary

Split town at night – Croatia Itinerary

For those who enjoy hiking, be sure to have a go at climbing Marjan Hill. Split is the kind of city that has something for everyone.

Where to Stay in Split

Split has so many charming and unique hotels. One of our favorite spots is the Heritage Hotel Antique Split. This hotel combines the old with the new and is an affordable, elegant hotel in Split.

Hvar – 2 Days

Hvar Island from up above - Croatia Itinerary

Hvar Island from up above – Croatia Itinerary

C’mon you’re in Croatia so you’ve got to visit at least one island! One cannot travel this country without island-hopping and making time to see the famous Croatia scenery of the cities that lay just off the coastline. 

Although you won’t be able to drive to Hvar, you’re able to take your car on the ferry. The ferry costs are around €17 (127 Kunas) and you can catch one at 7:30, 10:00, or 16:30  daily. During peak months [summer], the queues are annoyingly long for ferries so try your best to take the earliest one. 

Hvar Island Sunset - Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Hvar Island Sunset – Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Alternatively, you can make things easy for yourself and park your car in Split. Book a Hvar island tour from Split, which will cover your transport costs. The ride is likely to take you an hour to two, so take the earliest ride out possible.

The beautiful Old Town of Hvar Island, Croatia Itinerary

The beautiful Old Town of Hvar Island, Croatia Itinerary

This island will take you back in time and teach you about the colorful history of Croatia. While you’re here, make time to appreciate the 13th-century walls and architecture. As well as one of the most popular features, the Renaissance-era Hvar Cathedral. 

However, there is more to this island than its city.  One of the must-see attractions is the enchanting Monk Seal Cave, also known as the Blue Cave.

Take a load off after a long day of traveling around Hvar and laze out on one of the divine beaches, one of the best being Dubovica Beach. Let the day fade and enjoy a night’s stay on the island.

Where to stay in Hvar 

Hvar is renowned for having excellent accommodation options, with plenty of resorts and villas. For the full Hvar experience, look at staying at a beach resort. Our top choice is Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort, but if you’re looking for something cheaper, the Pharos Hvar Hotel will not disappoint.

Dubrovnik – 2 Days

Dubrovnik - Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Dubrovnik – Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Another unmissable thing to do on a Croatian road trip would be to visit the enthralling and extravagantly beautiful city of Dubrovnik. Highly touristy so make sure you thoroughly read this post before.

To get to Dubrovnik, you’ll need to leave Hvar and catch the 7:30 am ferry back Split. Your tickets will likely cost around €17 (127 Kunas). After you return to Split from Hvar, the drive to Dubrovnik is around 3 and a half hours. Seeing as this is a long drive, stop off and have a bite to eat at Kapetanova kuca on the way for some local cuisine. 

Dubrovnik - King's Landing in Game of Thrones - Croatia Itinerary

Dubrovnik – King’s Landing in Game of Thrones – Croatia Itinerary

Dubrovnik is thriving with historical hubs, museums, restaurants, and shops. It also fronts the dreamy Adriatic Sea. There is plenty to do here, and riding through the quaint streets will be a venture in itself.

The city has also become synonymous with Game of Thrones TV series, as it’s where some of the most iconic scenes of King’s Landing have been shot. You can learn more about this on a Game of Thrones tour. The series showcases the captivating, 16th-century walls that make up the border of Dubrovnik’s Old Town. 

Dubrovnik viewpoint - Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Dubrovnik viewpoint – Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

The best part about Dubrovnik is that everything is just minutes away from each other by walking. This walled city is the proud home to many well-preserved, ancient structures, such as the St. Blaise Church and Sponza Palace. A walk through the city is a must! 

Admire architecture from both the Renaissance, Baroque, Gothic and Roman styles as you see first-hand the blend of culture that this remarkable city has. After your walk, head over to your accommodation spot for some much needed R’n’r.

Dubrovnik - the Walled city in Croatia - Balkans Road Trip

Dubrovnik – the Walled city in Croatia – Balkans Road Trip

Similar to Split, Dubrovnik also has a hub for locals and travelers to get together and take in the one-of-a-kind atmosphere of this Croatian city. In the morning, venture to Stradun, where you can walk on limestone paving and enjoy the unique city life. Choose from any one of the many restaurants and have a delicious breakfast, and then spoil yourself in one of the shops. 

Where to stay in Dubrovnik

Why not splurge for your night in Dubrovnik with a stay at the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik? Enjoy a night of luxury and rejuvenate at the onsite spa. Alternatively, for a more low-key evening at a budget-friendly rate, spend your night at the comfortable and beautiful Hotel Vis.

Kravice Waterfall Day trip from Dubrovnik [Bosnia & Herzegovina]

Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina - travel the Balkans

Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina – travel the Balkans

While you’re on the road, why not make an extended journey to Bosnia and Herzegovina to see the exceptional Kravice Waterfall (also called the Kravica Waterfall). This will give you the opportunity to see the nearby Koćuša Waterfall. It will take around 2 and a half hours to get here from Dubrovnik, and the drive itself is really enjoyable. 

The entrance fee changes depending on the time of year, expect to pay €3 (6 Kunas) between October to May, €4 (8 Kunas) between June to September and €5 (10 Kunas) between July to August.

Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia & Herzegovina - Balkans Road Trip itinerary

Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia & Herzegovina – Balkans Road Trip itinerary

The Kravice waterfall is a jaw-droppingly beautiful sight to see. It originates from the Trebižat River and seamlessly cascades down the crevasses of the jungle. You can ensure that you get to see its sister waterfall, the Koćuša Waterfall, by taking a guided waterfall tour

This outstanding natural attraction is growing ever more popular as an increasing amount of travelers enjoy its magical plummeting. Be sure to visit early, before it gets too crowded.

Eating and Drinking in Kravice Waterfalls Bosnia

Eating and Drinking in Kravice Waterfalls Bosnia

You can go on one of the walking trails that will show you insurmountable natural paradises. Afterward, wash off and rejuvenate in the inviting water pool created from the Kravice Waterfall. 

This is the perfect way to wrap up your road trip!

Where to stay near Kravice Waterfalls

Extend the time of your stay and enjoy this location for a whole day by booking into the Apartment Kravica. This ideal accommodation spot provides a way for you to stay only 400 meters from the waterfall itself. Relax knowing there’s no more driving involved for the day, and kick back here for the night.

Brela – [Optional Stop on your way back]

Brela Stone - the iconic sight of Brela - Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Brela Stone – the iconic sight of Brela – Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

In case you have rented a car from Zagreb and you have to return it there before you fly off, then you have to drive back from Dubrovnik. There is an amazing coastal destination that will be on your way, is called Brela. It is on the Makarska Riviera.

Brela has amazing beaches with a backdrop of mountains. You can see the Biokovo mountain from most of the beaches in Brela. The most iconic spot in Brela is the Brela Stone. It is perhaps the most photographed part of this destination. Brela Stone is on Brela beach.

Brela’s loveliest beach is Punta Rata, make sure you go there. In pictures Punta Rata looks sandy but in reality it is a pebble beach. 

Brela has nice beaches - Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Punta Rata beach – Brela has nice beaches – Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Brela boasts of 6.5 KM long coast. If you’re traveling with small children, take them to Soline Beach because there’s a children’s playground there. The beaches of Vruja are a little secluded and you can avoid crowds there.

Where to Stay in Brela

While in Brela, indulge in a room with a view of the sea. Look at Blueson Hotel on Soline Beach with sea on three sides or Villa Paulina that has a view of the sea.

Tips for Driving in Croatia

Driving to Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb or Zadar, Croatia

Driving to Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb or Zadar, Croatia

Here are some basic tips that you need to keep in mind while driving in Croatia:

  • If you have driven in any European country, then driving in Croatia isn’t any different. When in Croatia, you drive on the right side of the road. 
  • The emergency number for road assistance in Croatia is 1987.
  • As in most of the European countries, you are required to drive with the headlights during the day in winter months.
  • The roads are well maintained in Croatia. The Croatian motorways are not always wide, they can be winding and narrow. 
  • An amazing thing that I noticed about driving in Europe is how other drivers flash their lights at you to let you know that there’s traffic police nearby.
  • You need to pay a toll fee on the roads that connect Zagreb with Zadar, Split and Rijeca.
  • If you’re planning to enter any of the non EU countries on the same car from Croatia, then make sure your car has a “green card”. Our rental car from Serbia had one.
  • The maximum level of permitted alcohol level in blood while driving is 0.5% in Croatia.

I have a detailed post about road tripping in the Balkans that contains tips. Be sure to check that out too.

Best Time to Go to Croatia

Croatia is at its best in summer and autumn. August is the busiest month for Croatia [and most of Europe] and isn’t the best, so avoid that month. 

Is Croatia cheap to travel? Our Budget & Mistakes

Back in 2016 when we first visited Croatia, we expected it to be very cheap. No that wasn’t the case. The thing is, Croatia isn’t expensive when you compare it to the Western European countries but is expensive as compared to the nearby Hungary, Slovenia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. 

If you travel smart and buy groceries from a supermarket to cook your own food, you won’t find Croatia very expensive. Instead of booking a room, try to find an apartment on Booking.com. It is possible to find one for as low as EUR 25 for two people. Most apartments include a kitchens too. Of course, the prices go high as you get closer to the popular destinations.

Our mistake – we spent too much money on eating out even though we had the ability to cook our own meals in our van. While we were in Zadar, we rented an entire apartment that included a kitchen. We did not eat breakfast before driving to Krka National Park and ended up eating an overpriced meal in a fancy restaurant that’s close to the entry point of the national park.

The entry for Croatia’s beautiful National Parks isn’t cheap, but that shouldn’t be a reason for avoiding them. The most beautiful place in Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park – please don’t skip it. 

While planning a budget for your Croatia road trip, keep in mind the toll costs, national park entrances and parking fee among all other things.

Is Croatia Safe to Travel Alone?

Croatia is very safe. In our two visits to this amazing country, we met many travelers and a majority were traveling solo in Croatia. We did not hear about even a single incident that would make us doubt the safety aspect here.

If you’re a solo woman traveler and are planning a trip to Croatia then you will be happy to know it is one of the safest countries for you. As a thumb rule, be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings safe when you visit crowded areas. 

Where to go After Croatia?

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina - travel the Balkans

Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina – travel the Balkans

Bosnia & Herzegovina is the best place to go after Croatia. The country’s natural beauty is stunning. Unlike Croatia, it is yet to be affected by mass tourism. Go visit the Kravice Waterfalls, Una National Park or Vjetrenica cave to see the natural beauty – we loved all of them. If you like historical towns, then explore Mostar or Visegrad. Both these destinations are famous for their Ottoman style old bridges.

Slovenia

Slovenia is a stunning country that will charm you. Spend a few days in Slovenia’s Triglav National Park where you can camp right next to Lake Bohinj. Bohinj isn’t far from the more famous Lake Bled and is more beautiful.

Hungary

I have been to Hungary only once, and I spent most of my time in Budapest and then I went for S.U.N. Festival towards the country side. I did not find Hungary to be as beautiful as the nearby countries, maybe because I did not get a chance to explore it. If you like to party, then Budapest has one of the craziest party scenes in this part of Europe. 

Montenegro

Black Lake - Durmitor National Park near Žabljak, Montenegro

Black Lake – Durmitor National Park near Žabljak, Montenegro

Montenegro’s flower shaped Kotor Bay is very close to Dubrovnik and you can visit it very easily after your road trip in Croatia. I also recommend Durmitor National Park, which we enjoyed more than Kotor Bay. Driving in Montenegro is amazing because the roads are winding and there are many viewpoints where you can stop your car and rest. 

Conclusion of Our Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Pin It - Croatia Road Trip itinerary suggested route - Map

Pin It – Croatia Road Trip itinerary suggested route – Map

Road trips are a brilliant way to live in the moment and remember life really is about the journey, not the destination. Croatia is one of the world’s most fascinating destinations and provides the perfect mixture of historic charm and tropical terrain for a road trip you will never forget. 

Our Croatia road trip guide will take you to all of the most awe-inspiring locations throughout the country, and allow you to really feel its unique ambiance. Enjoy all of the must-see attractions and highlights as you cruise Croatia with our itinerary in hand. Appreciate a travel experience that may even inspire you to start your own Croatia travel blog. 

We wish you unending adventures and hope that you’re able to get the most out of your time in Croatia’s flourishing cities and beachscapes on this spellbinding road trip.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.  We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Travel Guide for Visiting Plitvice Lakes, Croatia [Avoiding Crowds + Walking Routes + Tips]

Travel Guide for Visiting Plitvice Lakes, Croatia [Avoiding Crowds + Walking Routes + Tips]

Plitvice Lakes Croatia – the most beautiful national park in the Balkans

Just imagine – 16 lakes, all arranged in cascades between two rivers where the water goes from one river to another. While on the way, the water forms a series of waterfalls. 

To make things even better, the water is crystal clear and there are mountains in the picture. With a landscape like that, of course it is Croatia’s most visited national park – this is Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1997.

Introducing Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Crystal Clear Water - Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Water so clear that you can see the bottom of the lake – Plitvice Lakes Croatia

One of the most beautiful National Parks in Europe, the Plitvice Lakes is even more beautiful than the pictures. It is more than just the 16 interconnected lakes. It has spectacular waterfalls, river canyons, tufa formation, travertines, elevated viewpoints and so much more.

As per wikipedia, the other comparable formations worldwide like Plitvice where tufa formation causes lakes and waterfalls are at Pamukkale in Turkey, Slunj in Croatis, KRKA National Park in Croatia, Una National Park in Bosnia & Herzegovina – these all I have visited. Also to add to this list are Hindu Kush mountains’ Band-e Amir lakes, Yellowstone National Park, Jiuzhaigou in China and Ocho Rios in Jamaica.

The biodiversity in Plitvice Lakes National Park is so rich – there are at least 75 plant species here that can’t be found anywhere else. If I were an animal, I would have picked THIS place to be my home. There are 125 bird species, wolves, brown bears, and eagles that live here to name a few. Honestly, you won’t see all these animals but you will surely see amazing fish. We saw a snake too!

Snake inside the water in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Snake inside the water in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Water so slear that you can see the fish - Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Water so slear that you can see the fish – Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Plitvice is one of the oldest parks of South East Europe. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of spectacle of Mother Nature in this national park. On the other hand, nothing can prepare you for the shock of seeing the hordes of tourists lining up to enter this place. After all, more than 1 million people visit it every year – and the number is steadily increasing. It is a part of most of Croatia travel itineraries.

The crowd near Veliki slap in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

The crowd near Veliki slap in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

This is where MY HELP comes in, my post will help you figure out how to do Plitvice Lakes right. Yep, read on friends because I’m going to share my best tips for avoiding crowds, share info about photo spots, help you select a hike as per your comfort level, and more. 

Having visited multiple national parks all over Europe, the beauty of Plitvice Lakes still holds very special in my heart. I want all my readers to enjoy this place as much as I did.

Things to Know Before Visiting Plitvice Lakes + Tips

Should You Make a Day Trip to Plitvice Lakes?

Stunning Clear Water - Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Stunning Clear Water – Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

 

Avoid making a day trip to the Plitvice Lakes National Park [especially during the peak season] because it will be a stressful experience. If you make a day trip here from the nearby towns of Zadar or Split, you won’t arrive here before 9 or 10 am and that’s when it gets extremely crowded.  

If you’re visiting anytime between June to August, please note that they are peak months. Do not even think of visiting the national park for just a day trip from one of the nearby cities. The crowds are crazy and it will be the most stressful experience. Vacations aren’t supposed to be like that. 

If you’re visiting Plitvice Lakes during the low season then you can consider a day trip. If you have the energy to wake up extremely early and arrive here during spring, autumn or winter – walk around at least 5 KMs in the park and then leave then by all means do it. But again, there’s so much to see in this national park that I highly recommend you take time and explore.

Here are some of the best day trips to Plitvice Lakes National Park that we have handpicked for you:

Can You Stay Inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park?

One of the many upper lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

One of the many upper lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Yes. There are just three hotels in Plitvice Lakes National Park where you can stay. There’s Hotel Plitvice, Hotel Bellevue and Hotel Jezero. Yes, they are really inside the national park close to entrance 2. Entrance 2 is close to the upper lakes.

I don’t know why many websites claim that the park operated hotels are overpriced – they aren’t. A room in these hotels can be from 70 Euros to 150 euros per night. Imagine you save money on getting to the national park on your taxi or the inconvenience of standing in line. Even if you spend 20 euros more by staying inside the national park, it is worth it (at least for me) as compared to staying in a village that’s 10 KMs away.

Keep in mind that just because your hotel is inside the national park, you still have to buy your ticket for the Plitvice Lakes. Yes, you can totally skip the queue and just walk in! If you’re not looking to stay inside the national park, then look for accomodation in the nearby villages such as Čatrnja, Mukinje and Rastovaca.

Plitvice Lakes Swimming

The inviting waters of Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

The inviting waters of Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Can you swim in Plitvice Lakes? Sorry to break this to you. It is no longer permitted to swim in the lakes or waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Before 2006, it was possible to swim in Lake Kozjak.

This beautiful area is sensitive and human influence harms the tufa formation. Tufa takes centuries to form as a result of sedimentation of minerals from water. The cascades of lakes and waterfalls inside this national park exists because of tufa – you don’t want to spoil that, right?

If you’re looking for a National Park where you can admire nature and swim, then try the nearby KRKA National Park or Kravice Waterfalls of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have been to both and I loved them. I prefer Kravice National Park of Bosnia over KRKA National Park of Croatia.

Upper and Lower Lakes

Illustration of multi level lakes in Plitvice, Croatia

Illustration of multi level lakes in Plitvice, Croatia

Sixteen Lakes – wow that’s a lot of lakes to view in just a day or two by walking, no? Well, you will be happy to know that they’re divided into Upper and Lower Lakes to make things easier for you to explore. There are 12 upper lakes and 4 lower lakes. During winter, some parts of the upper lakes may be closed.

How to Avoid the Crowds in Plitvice Lakes [in Summer]

Plitvice Lakes tends to get full in summer

Plitvice Lakes tends to get full in summer

Avoiding crowds is an important aspect of a stress free travel experience, especially in a place like Plitvice Lakes. It is necessary to make a proper strategy else the crowds will greet you at every turn here. 

I have mentioned a few points below that you can keep in mind to skip the crowds. Not just one but you will have to implement a few of these points together to avoid crowds inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Buy Your Tickets Online from Before

The long lines in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

The long lines in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

The best way to avoid crowds in Plitvice Lakes is by saving yourself time in standing in the ticket queue. Queues are very long in summer so buy the tickets on the internet from before.

 

You will need to select your date and time for entering the national park at the time you purchase the tickets. If available, your time slot can be as early as 7 am or as late as 5 pm. 

Reach Super Early

When I say reach the Plitvice Lakes early, I mean earlier than early. The day-trippers start arriving between 9 and 10 and that’s when the national park starts getting jam packed. As mentioned in the last point, buy your tickets online and select an early time slot like 7 am. If by some case you can’t find park tickets, then just show up at the entry area at 7 am.

..Or Reach in the Afternoon

Are you not a morning person? Neither am I. If 7 or 8 am slots are too early for you then enter in the afternoon to avoid the queues. The ticket price is cheaper in the afternoon after 4 pm. The park closes by 8 pm in summer but much earlier in winter. If you enter at 4, you won’t have a lot of time to spend inside but you can most likely move faster because the trails won’t be jam packed.

Pick the Longer Trail

Walking along the lake on trail K in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Walking along the lake on trail K in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia – we picked the longest trail

There are 7 routes or walking trails and they are of different lengths. I have a separate section in this post with details about the trails. Most of the people pick the smallest trail. Veliki Slap / Big Waterfall is the most famous spot and tends to get very crowded after 10 am. 

In order to avoid crowds, pick the longer trail. Someone also mentioned that they avoided crowds by walking in the opposite direction of the trail.  Most of the smaller trails are crowded, the bigger trails are beautiful and totally worth it. The park is just so beautiful that you won’t even realize that you’ve walked so much.

Take a Detour

If you reach the park early, take a detour to Veliki Slap to avoid the crowds and come back to your original trail. Your entry ticket will also include a map on the opposite side, which isn’t difficult to read. Make the most of it.

Entrance 2 is a Lot Less Crowded

Entrance 1 is closer to the lower lakes and entrance 2 is closer to the upper lakes. Most of the people enter from the first entrance and hence it is more crowded than Entrance 2. The parking at Plitvice Lakes is both at entrance 1 and 2.

The Best Spots and Viewpoints inside Plitvice Lakes

If you’re like me and suffer from a massive FOMO (fear of missing out), then take the biggest walking trail so that you don’t miss out even a single thing. However, if you’re short on time or low on energy, you will have to take one of the smaller trails or do a part of the bigger trail. In any case, here are some of my favorite stops:

Mali Prštavac Slap and Veliki Prštavac Waterfalls

Mali Prštavac Slap - the most beautiful waterfall in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Mali Prštavac Slap – the most beautiful waterfall in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Mali Prštavac Slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

Mali Prštavac Slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

Us in front of Mali Prštavac Slap - small waterfall in Plitvice Lake Croatia

Us in front of Mali Prštavac Slap – small waterfall in Plitvice Lake Croatia

Going through all my photos of Plitvice Lakes, I realized this spot was really the most beautiful one. In fact, we loved it so much that we walked around here twice. This is Mali Prštavac Slap – one of the waterfalls in the upper lakes.

Us near Veliki Prštavac Waterfall in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Us near Veliki Prštavac Waterfall in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Veliki Prštavac Waterfall n Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Veliki Prštavac Waterfall n Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Actually there’s a series of waterfalls that’s together – Veliki Prštavac Slap and Mali Prštavac Slap. Mali means small and Veliki means big. Slap means waterfall. There is an area where it is all together – Burgeti Lake, Gradinsko Lake, Veliki (Big) Prstavac and Mali (small) Prstavac. Apart from these, there are many smaller waterfalls here.

Galovački Buk Waterfall

Galovački Buk Waterfall is also in the upper lakes area and very close to . The water is clearer than most of the spots and the series of waterfalls look fantastic. It took me a while to realize what this spot is called and where it is.

The extremely beautiful Galovački Buk inside plitvice lakes

The extremely beautiful Galovački Buk inside plitvice lakes

clear pools under Galovački Buk in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

clear pools under Galovački Buk in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

This series of waterfalls is in the upper lakes area. This waterfall isn’t as big as Veliki Slap (the most famous and the biggest waterfall in Plitvice Lakes National Park), but in our opinion is the most beautiful one. Galovački Buk is 25 meters high and falls from Milino Lake and Galovac Lake to Gradinsko Lake. The result is truly spectacular. 

To be honest, there is a little bit of the confusion on the internet because if you google the pictures of Galovački Buk and Mali Prštavac Slap – the internet will show you the same waterfall for both the names. They are two separate waterfalls. If I wouldn’t have clicked a picture of the signboard next to Mali Prštavac Slap, I would have never known which one is which because the park is massive.

San and I in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

San and I in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Viewpoint Near Veliki Slap / Big Waterfall (There are three)

Veliki Slap means big waterfall, is the most famous spot in the entire National Park. The Veliki Slap is at the end of the lower lakes. Yes, the waterfall is surely beautiful but the best viewpoints to see the Plitvice Lakes are right over Veliki Slap. Veliki Slap and the surrounding limestone canyon is included on every walking route in Plitvice Park.

The big waterfall is lovely but the real beauty of it all lies further up on the other side of the canyon from where you can see lakes cascading into several waterfalls inside the huge canyon with the Big Waterfall on the right-hand side. 

Viewpoint Near the Big Waterfall - Veliki Slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

Viewpoint Near the Big Waterfall – Veliki Slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia – Shot on my GoPro

There are at least three viewpoints on top of Veliki Slap and they’re not difficult to find. The view is awesome and a little different from all three. Here is how you can find them. (You may want to bookmark the below paragraph before visiting the national park.)

In the first viewpoint, you will see Veliki Slap behind Sastavci Waterfalls (Sastavci Slap). This is the most famous image of Plitvice Lakes that’s used everywhere.  The picture on top was shot on my GoPro. I visited during an extremely sunny day and the excessive daylight ruined my photo. Below is another image that I found of this spot on the internet. I wanted to show you both, so that you understand how this place looks with and without harsh sunlight. 

The Viewpoint on top of Veliki Slap in Plitvice Lakes National park Croatia

The Viewpoint on top of Veliki Slap in Plitvice Lakes National park Croatia – CC0 via Pixabay

As you face the Big Waterfall, take the steps that are on the left side that go behind the waterfall. You will eventually be on a higher path that goes around the waterfall. Follow that path and you’ll reach the viewpoint where the most famous photo of the Plitvice Lakes is taken that’s used in most of the travel brochures. If you’re confused, then head on trail C or K after the big waterfall. You will soon reach the viewpoints. We also went up on trail B.

That’s not the only viewpoint. If you continue to explore the path that goes up on the other side of the canyon, you will see other viewpoints like this one here. Here are the other two viewpoints. The below one is particularly my favorite one because the time I visited, the water here looked lovely turquoise. 

One of the viewpoints above the Big Waterfall - Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

One of the viewpoints above the Big Waterfall – Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Us on top - one of the viewpoints on top of Veliki Slap in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Us on top – one of the viewpoints on top of Veliki Slap in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

I liked the second viewpoint more because there was more to see. You may not noticed but the pictures of the first viewpoint are really zoomed in. It doesn’t look as striking as the second one looks in reality but of course in the pictures it does. 

Here is the third viewpoint that’s on top of the big waterfall. This viewpoint also shows you the great cascades, which can’t be seen from the other viewpoints.

Panorama viewpoint on top of Veliki slap in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Panorama viewpoint on top of Veliki slap in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Panorama viewpoint on top of Veliki slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

Panorama viewpoint on top of Veliki slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

Again, because of very harsh sunlight my picture from the third viewpoint isn’t as good as many others that you will see on the internet. Here’s a better picture of the view from here. This is a highly zoomed in picture. 

Plitvice Lakes - third viewpoint over the big waterfall that shoes the cascades

Plitvice Lakes – third viewpoint over the big waterfall that shoes the cascades

Which one do you like the most? Viewpoint 1, 2 or 3 – let me know in the comments.

Tomićevo Pogledalo Viewpoint on Stubica Elevation

This viewpoint is on the trail that leads to Stubica Elevation from Lake Kozjak. There is a gazebo called Tomićevo Pogledalo where you can look at the panoramic view and see Lake Prošćansko and Lake Ciginovac. You will find this spot on walking trail K.

Tomićevo Pogledalo Viewpoint in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Tomićevo Pogledalo Viewpoint in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

View from Stupica Elevation on trail K - Plitvice Lakes Croatia

View from Stubica Elevation on trail K – Plitvice Lakes Croatia

As you go down from Stubica elevation, you will also come across several spots from between the trees from where you can see the upper lakes and this little waterfall.

If you want to take pictures of Plitvice Lakes that are a little different from others’ photos, then go on top of Stubica Elevation and find such viewpoints.

View of the waterfall from trail K inside Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

View of the waterfall from trail K inside Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

Waterfall view inside Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Waterfall view inside Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Šupljara cave

The path going inside Šupljara cave in Plitvice Lakes National Park

The path going inside Šupljara cave in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Šupljara cave is located in the lower lakes section, near Kaluđerovac Lake. There is a path that goes inside this cave. Don’t take a detour to just see this lake if you’re not visiting the lower lakes because it is pretty ok. This was the only cave that I saw in the national park, so for me this was one of the most memorable spots.

Šupljara cave, Plitvice Lakes

Šupljara cave near Kaluđerovac Lake – Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Novakovića Lake

Novakovića Lake is lowest lake in Plitvice National Park, located on altitude of 503 meters above the sea level. It is one of the smallest lakes in the group of Lower Lakes. The lake is fed by waters from Kaludjerovac lake via two meters high travertine barrier, creating a series of tiny waterfalls. There is a nice wooded path leading over this barrier. 

The Great Cascades

There are many other spots inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park that are stunning. I really liked these cascades too. You will see the cascades at many different points in both upper and lower lakes.

Getting Around inside Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes National Park is pretty big but you don’t have to cover it all by just walking. You can take boats and trains inside for free. You need to hang on to your entry ticket and show it while getting on to a boat. We did not end up taking a boat because there were a lot of people waiting.

Seven Routes inside Plitvice Lakes National Park

The wooden walking ramp in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

The wooden walking ramp in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

Now that I have mentioned all the amazing spots inside the national park, you must be wondering which walking route you should pick to see them. I have gathered the details for you for that as well. There are seven suggested routes inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park and they are called “Lake Tour Programs”. You can do them by walking and also take a boat in between.

Routes that start from Entrance 1

  • Program A – 3.5 KMs, Short – this route covers the big waterfall, and the lower lakes – Novakovića brod, Kaluđerovac, Gavanovac and Milanovac. You also go on the Kozjak Bridge and towards a part of the canyon. It is the most crowded trail.
  • Program B – 4 KMs, Short – This route covers the big waterfall, the lower lakes, boat ride over Kozjak Lake, panoramic train and a part of the canyon.
  • Program C – 8 KMs, Long – Highly Recommended – This route will take show you both the upper and the lower lakes, big waterfall and many smaller waterfalls like Veliki Prštavac and Mali Prštavac. This route also includes a boat ride and panoramic train ride.
  • Program K1 – 18.3, Very Long – This is the one we took. Actually the Program K starts from both entrance 1 and 2. You can do this circle from any entrance instead, we did from entrance 1. This route includes everything – the lower lakes, upper lakes, big waterfall, Stubica elevation. Instead of taking a boat over Lake Kozjak, you walk along the shore, as a result you see so much more.
One of the many waterfalls near the upper lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park

One of the many waterfalls near the upper lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Routes that start from Entrance 2

  • Program E – 5.1 KMs, Medium – This route only includes the upper lakes and Prštavci waterfalls. If you have to do one of the shorter trails, then pick this. It doesn’t have the big waterfall but has the smaller Prštavci waterfalls which I found more beautiful. 
  • Program F – 4.6 KMs, Medium – This route includes the lower lakes and the big waterfall. You miss out on the lovely Prštavci waterfalls but you will end up seeing the big waterfall and the viewpoints on top of the big waterfall.
  • Program H – 8.9 KMs – Long – Highly Recommended – This route will show you the upper lakes, lower lakes, the big waterfall and the viewpoints. There’s also the boat-ride on Lake Kozjak. It shows you most of what the park has to offer apart from Stubica Elevation.
  • Program K2 – 18.3, Very Long – Program K1 and K2 are both the same routes but the numbers are different to signify the different entrances where they begin. This routes includes everything – the upper lakes, lower lakes, big waterfall and the Stubica Elevation.

If you want to see the most of Plitvice Lakes National Park but don’t want to walk as much as we did, then pick the trail H or C. If you want to pick a shorter trail and see the upper lakes and the smaller but lovelier waterfalls, then pick the trail E. I highly recommend you study the routes to make a suitable Plitvice Lakes itinerary for yourself.

Empty walking trail - route K in Plitvice Lakes national park

Empty walking trail – route K in Plitvice Lakes national park

How to Get to Plitvice Lakes National Park?

It is easy to reach the Plitvice Lakes by car, bus or even a taxi. Many taxi guys wait at bus stations and are happy to match the bus ticket price when there are at least 10 people.  

Reaching Plitvice Lakes by Car

Driving to Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb or Zadar, Croatia

Driving to Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb or Zadar, Croatia

It is so easy to travel within Europe in a rented car, and turns out to be cheaper than taking buses and trains when there are 2 or more people. I wonder why San and I did not do this enough in our backpacking days. I highly recommend you rent a car in Zagreb or Zadar or Split or Karlovac and arrive here at your own pace. 

You can reach Plitvice Lakes in 2.5 to 3 hours from Zagreb on E71. You can make your route faster by switching to D42 or D1 from Karlovac city. From Zadar, the drive will take you 1.5 hours on E71 and D1. From Split, it will take you 2.5 – 3.5 hours on E71.

Reaching Plitvice Lakes on Bus

Shuttles and Buses to Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Shuttles and Buses to Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

You can easily reach the Plitvice Lakes on a bus from Zagreb, Zadar or Split. Buses that run between Zagreb to Zadar OR Zagreb and Split cross Plitvice Lakes. 

We arrived here from Pula with a change in Karlovac. Honestly, at that time we had no idea and we just reached the bus station and ask the ticket seller for help. It worked well for us and we waited for just 45 minutes for our bus. Of course, we had a general idea of our direction.

We did not even have a hotel reservation. Our bus driver dropped us outside Camp Korana, which is just 3 KMs away from the park.

How to Reach Plitvice Lakes from your Hotel

If you get a hotel near the Plitvice Lakes, you will most likely stay in Čatrnja, Mukinje or Rastovaca. I did not find information

Staying in one of the park operated hotels will make it easier for you to get to the national park because you can simply walk in or if you’re further away, there will be a shuttle for you. 

Plitvice Lakes Entrance Fee

Like many National Parks in the Balkans, the Plitvice Lakes also have different ticket prices for different seasons. The tickets are more expensive in summer as compared to other months. Here is a break up of the cost based on the season:

Price per person in Kunas (HRK) Based on the month of the visit
  Adults (Single Day) Adults (Two Day) Children 7 to 18 years
Children (Two Day)
January, February, March,
November & December
60,00 90,00 30,00 50,00
April, May &
October
100,00 160,00 50,00 80,00
June & September
Till Afternoon 250,00
350,00
120,00
170,00
Afternoon 150,00 70,00
July & August
Till Afternoon 250,00 120,00
Afternoon 150,00 70,00

Be smart, and buy your tickets online from before to avoid wasting your time. Even the park officials recommend prebooking the entry tickets.Wondering what is the afternoon time here? From June 1 to August 25, it is 4 PM and from August 25 to September 30 is 3 PM. If you buy a double day ticket, the price is not double. 

 

 

Eating Inside Plitvice Lakes

Most of the restaurants inside the Plitvice Lakes complex are expensive. I’d say they were at least three times more expensive than other places in Croatia. There was a lot of waiting and most of the restaurants mainly selling burger and chips. 

If you want my recommendation, check Licka Kuca restaurant near the Entrance 1. They have good salads, platters, polenta and apple strudel. Meat lovers will enjoy this restaurant because of local Croatian specialities. 

Best Time to Visit the Plitvice Lakes

Lovely flowers inside Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Lovely flowers inside Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

The Flowers inside Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

The Flowers inside Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

We visited in summer – the water was very blue but the park was crowded. Spring and Autumn months are recommended to avoid the crowds. Moreover, it is cheaper to visit Plitvice Lakes during this time. The tickets are also cheaper in winter but the water isn’t as blue. Of course the lakes are beautiful all year round but every season has its own charm.

I can only imagine how lovely the park would love during autumn or spring months. Imagine the contrast of red and brown leaves against the turquoise blue waters – wow. Or, imagine flowers around the lakes and waterfalls. I’m sure Plitvice Lakes look stunning during winter but I’d personally not visit during that time considering how some part of the upper lakes is usually closed.

How Many Days Do You Need for Plitvice Lakes?

Stay overnight in one of the nearby villages so that you can enter the park early and avoid peak crowds. Do not make a day trip here, the park deserves way more than that.

Other Tips for Visiting Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Wear Comfortable Shoes

Wear comfortable shoes in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Wear comfortable shoes in Plitvice Lakes National Park

This is the most obvious point but many people miss it. Even if you take the shortest walking path inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park, you will still have to walk a lot. Be kind to your feet and wear comfortable shoes. 

Don’t just wear a brand new pair of shoes right before the hike, because c’mon you need to “break your shoe” first. Instead, wear your slightly older tried and tested shoes.

Bring your own food to save money

The entry for Plitvice Lakes isn’t exactly cheap but you can save money by carrying your own food. If you want to eat at the restaurants that are inside, then keep in mind that they’re a bit expensive. 

Consider Getting a 2 Day Ticket

Croatia's Plitvice Lakes have the clearest water

Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes have the clearest water

Take your time to explore and make the most of your visit. It is possible to buy a multi day ticket. Consider getting a 2 Days ticket for the park if you’re not in a mood to walk a lot in a single day.

The Park has two entrances

Plitvice Lakes National Park has two entrances – 1 and 2. Entrance 1 is closer to the lower lakes and entrance 2 is closer to the upper lakes. During winter, entrance 2 is usually closed.

Consider staying in one of the park operated hotels to avoid the parking fee

If you’re visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park by driving here on your own car, then be mindful of the parking fee. You can avoid it by staying in one of the park operated hotels.

Unlike many websites say – no all the park recommended hotels aren’t overpriced. The time we went visited Plitvice Lakes National Park, we were backpacking and we pitched our tent in Camp Korena. It is also one of the park recommended place to stay but it is very affordable.

Plitvice Lakes National Park has an App – Use it.

Consider downloading the mobile app to study the trails. Instead of spending hours on the internet and hunting for information that you need about Plitvice Lakes National Park, why not install just one free app that’s run by the park tourism? Try it. 

Visiting Plitvice Lakes with Baby? Yes or No?

The wooden walking path in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

The wooden walking path in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

I’m all for traveling with a baby and I have multiple posts that encourage new parents to do so. However, Plitvice Lakes National Park isn’t the best place for you to bring your baby in a stroller. 

Why? Well because when you’re inside the national park, the only way to walk from one place to another is by taking one of the walking paths. Taking your baby’s pram on the wooden ramp isn’t going to be comfortable for you and those who are around you. The path goes up and down has steps. You will cause a traffic jam to an already jammed up space. 

It isn’t easy to take your baby on your arm and walk so much, and it isn’t easy taking pushchairs and strollers. If you’re traveling with a baby then consider skipping Plitvice and heading to Krka National Park instead. 

Where to Stay to visit Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes Lakes Hotels

Hotels In Plitvice National Park

There are only three hotels inside Plitvice Lakes National Park. They are Hotel Plitvice, Hotel Bellevue and Hotel Jezero. Yes, they are really inside the national park close to entrance 2. You can really skip the queue and walk inside the national park but of course you have to buy your ticket. They are priced between EUR 70 per night for two to EUR 300. 

Other Accommodation and Hotels near Plitvice Lakes

Camp Korana (They have Bunglows Too – Bungalows Korana)

Our camping place in Camp Korana near Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Our camping place in Camp Korana near Plitvice Lakes Croatia

The time I went to Plitvice Lakes, I stayed in Camp Korana. It is a is a camping place that’s next to the River Korana. Yes, the same river that is also in Plitvice Lakes National Park. The best part is that they have free shuttles to the National Park and back.

They also have bungalows, and that part is called Bungalows Korana.

Outdoor restaurant in Camp Korana near Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Outdoor restaurant in Camp Korana near Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Camp Korana is essentially a place for camper vans but we entered without a van but just with our tents. This place is very big from inside. We visited in peak summer season – August but still there appeared to be a lot of free space inside.

Camp Korana Swimming Spot by Korana River - camping place near Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Camp Korana Swimming Spot by Korana River – camping place near Plitvice Lakes Croatia

We also saw bungalows inside and their website advertises that there are 47 of them. So, if camping isn’t your thing, then you can also rent a bungalow here. There’s also a decent restaurant here and a bar. There’s wifi that actually works in the entire campground.

Green Lakes House

Green Lakes House is one of the most affordable places to stay that’s super close to Plitvice Lakes. It is 2 KMs away from entrance 2 of the national park. This guest house also has an air conditioner, that you will surely need if you’re visiting Croatia in summer. They have a dining area that you can share with other travelers. They also offer free WiFi. The rooms here cost between 40 – 50 EUR per night.

House Flora in Rastovaca

House Flora is just 700 meters away from the Plitvice Lakes National Park’s entrance 1. If you want to save money by staying outside the national park, you can’t get any closer than this! The rooms sell out fast and are for 80 – 100 EUR. 

Where to Go After Plitvice Lakes?

Una National Park, Bosnia

Una National Park is very close to Croatia-Bosnia border. It is just 70 kilometers away from Plitvice Lakes. We have visited Bosnia & Herzegovina twice and we love it. It is as beautiful as Croatia, minus the crowds. There are two big waterfalls inside Una National Park and they’re spectacular.

Slunj – Rastoke (Mini Plitvice Lakes) and Mjesto Primišlje

MoDem Festival's Killer Location - Psytrance Festivals 2017

MoDem Festival’s Killer Location – Psytrance Festivals 2017

Slunj town is 25 KMs away from Plitvice Lakes – it is totally under the radar and you can visit the historical centre here called Rastoke. Here Slunjčica river joins Korana river and create something that’s called Mini Plitvice Lakes.

Primslje around 15 KMs away from Slunj and is just 38 kilometers away from Plitvice Lakes. I have visited (and camped here) twice. It is actually the location for Modem festival and I’m sure it is much better to visit it without the festival. Here Mrežnica river creates multiple pools and waterfalls. You can camp here at Campsite Vrela Mrežnice.

KRKA National Park

We visited KRKA National Park this year (2019) and enjoyed it. Unlike Plitvice, you can swim here. It is nowhere as beautiful as the Plitvice Lakes but swimming makes the experience worthwhile.

Zadar

Zadar is 119 Kilometers away from Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is a historical coastal town that is a famous tourist destination in Croatia.

Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia

Kravice Waterfalls are 337 Kilometers away from Plitvice Lakes National Park. These waterfalls are in Bosnia & Herzegovina and are truly spectacular. You can swim here too. Read my post about Kravice Waterfalls for more information.

Have you visited the Plitvice Lakes, Croatia?

If yes, did you like it as much as I did? What were your favorite spots inside the national park? Also, I’d love to know if you saw crowds here and what are your tips for avoiding them.

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