Croatia should be one everyone’s bucket list and not just for the Yacht Parties and the perfect blue waters. Croatia is a land straight out of Game of Thrones (literally, parts were filmed there); filled with medieval history, intricate architecture, and jaw-dropping nature and scenery. If you have the time, expenses and patience the best way to see Croatia is a classic ROOOAD TRIP through the country. That is what my sister and I did during our European Summer Adventure together in 2016. There were certain parts of Croatia we opted out of and do an unforeseen incident (which resulted in taking the backroads from city to city) and instead of a famous population destination we chose to cross borders and check out a lesser known city.
Our Road 🚙 Trip Through Croatia Itinerary:
Zagreb —> Makarska 🏖 —> Day Trip: Split —> Mostar 🇧🇦 —> Kravice 💦 🌲 Waterfalls —> Zadar —> Rijeka —> Slovenia 🇸🇮 —> Trieste 🇮🇹 —> Zagreb
This map may look daunting but remember Croatia is the not a large country. It is about 9 times smaller than Spain & 3 times smaller than Washington State. To drive from Zagreb to Zadar (about half the country) it takes approximately 3 hours.
We flew into the Zagreb airport from Budapest. Picked up our rental 2015 Audi. Stayed at a friend’s accommodation. Even though Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, it tends to get overlooked by tourists who would prefer a coastal destination during the summer months. Filled with an influence of Austro-Hungarian architecture, the capital is full of unique museums, churches, parks, and much more. Even if you are rushing through to get your toes in the water, stop and spend at least one day (or some time) in the Croatian capital.
We didn’t spend much time in Zagreb before jumping on the road to drive to Makarska and sadly, I didn’t capture too much with the lens (just the eyeballs).
Highlights of Zagreb:
- Main City Square – Trg Bana Josipa Jelacica
- Dolac Market
- Tkalciceva Street
- Zagreb Cathedral & St. Mark’s Church (coat of arms displayed beautifully on the roof)
- Observation Deck, for a panoramic view of the city
- Funicular Railway to the Upper Town for a view above the city
- Zrinjevac Park
- National Theatre
- Ilica Street – longest street in Croatia
- Museum of Illusions & Museum of Broken Relationships
This town is an epitome of a beach town. It is where you go to get sunburnt, inhale water while attempting to snorkel and relaaaaaax. There are loads of things to do in and around the city: including strolls, hikes, and bikes plus day trips to neighboring cities. We took advantage of the whole relaaaaxing, just hung out for a few days and got pruney and burnt. Still can’t successfully snorkel though.
The perfect day trip from Makarska is the town of Split. It is about an hour drive. We took the main highway, which requires tolls. Majority of the major highways in Croatia are tolled. Since you probably aren’t a regular Croatian driver and don’t utilize the ELC (Electronic Toll Collection), you can just drive up to the gatekeeper, pay them and continue onward.
Split is actually the second largest city in Croatia (Zagreb is the largest) and located perfectly centered of Dalmatia between Zadar and Dubrovnik. As soon you as you reach the town of Split you will feel the coastal energy.
Highlights of Split:
- Diocletian’s Palace
- Touch the Toe of the Grgur Ninski Statue
- Cathedral of Saint & Climb the Bell Tower
- Park Marjana Viewpoint
- Bačvice & Kasjuni Beach
- Wander through Old Town
CROSSING THE BORDER INTO BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA 🇧🇦
Mostar & Kravice Waterfalls
Zadar the city of love! Our time in Zadar was faaaast. Wandered the old town, ate some pizza and listened to the musical organs. In the morning, escaped the city life and went searching for some sand and water.
Highlights of Zadar:
- Foša Land Gate
- St. Anastasia’s Cathedral
- St. Donat’s Church, Pilar of Shame & The Forum
- Narodni Trg (Peoples Square)
- Walk across the Most
- Climb the Bell Tower (cost: 15 kunas)
Rijeka was a last minute deacon because my butt was falling asleep from being in the car for so long and it was nearby. Rijeka is actually the third-largest city in Croatia and the country main seaport. We didn’t do much besides stop, park, walk and eat. From my research I’ve learned that this tiny-big town is becoming a European Capital of Culture in 2020; so add it to your bucket lists!
CROSSING THE BORDER: SLOVENIA 🇸🇮 & ITALY 🇮🇹
Ljubljana, Lake Bled & Trieste
Croatia is a charming and alluring country, filled with history and coastal views unlike anywhere. The idea to road tripping across the cities & towns in a brand new white Audi through the windy back-roads (to avoid tolls & potential scratches) was a memory I will never forget & one of the highlights of my summer adventure with my sister.
Until next time Croatia ✌🏽