In the summer of 2022, I decided to pack my bags and head off on a four-month journey through Europe. I kicked off my backpacking trip in Croatia, and what an amazing way to start! With everything from ancient ruins to powerful waterfalls, there is something in Croatia for everyone. It surpassed all of my expectations, and is one of my favourite destinations to date!
This guide is going to tell you exactly how to spend two weeks in Croatia and have the trip of a lifetime!
How to get around Croatia
Take the Bus
My only complaint about Croatia is the lack of public transport. To get around, you need to take a bus, which is normally operated by a private company. This means that the cost of the bus is a lot more expensive than what we’re used to in Europe. The best website to find your bus route and prices is Get By Bus.
Usually, the buses run to schedule. If there is a certain bus or company that runs late, you’ll know from the reviews on Get By Bus.
There aren’t many train connections in Croatia, and the bus will be your best option to get around.
Rent a Car
Car rental in Croatia starts at around €20 a day. If you are travelling with a group of people, this may even be more affordable than getting the bus! This is a great option to visit some spots which are off the beaten path. Furthermore, having a car gives you greater flexibility to move on your own schedule! If you are travelling with a group, I’d recommend this option.
BlaBlaCar and Uber
The major cities of Croatia are well served by Uber, and the prices are very reasonable. This is a great option for short journeys, such as airport and ferry transfers.
If you’re looking for a transfer for a longer journey, and don’t fancy the bus, you should check out BlaBlaCar. This application allows you to carpool with others that are travelling a similar route, which will save you both some cash! You can download the BlaBlaCar mobile app for android here, and for Apple devices here.
What’s the Best Time to Visit Croatia?
The best time to visit Croatia is either May or September. In these months, the weather is perfect. It’s not too warm, but warm enough to enjoy the great beaches on the dalmatian coast. It’ll also be a lot quieter than July and August. As Croatia is becoming more and more popular, it’s also getting a lot busier. By visiting in May and September you’ll get the best weather but avoid the crowds.
Your Two Week Croatia Itinerary
Pula – Three Days
We are starting with one of the most beautiful and most underrated places in Europe – Pula! Pula is located in the Istrian peninsula, which is the stretch of coastline joining Croatia, Italy, and Slovenia. In this region, you’ll find ancient architecture, sprawling vineyards, and beautiful blue seas. This is the perfect place to kick start your two-week adventure in Croatia!
How to Get to Pula
Pula has its own airport which you may be able to fly into. Because this is a small airport, there’s a high likelihood that the flights will be expensive and infrequent. My recommendation is to fly into Zagreb, and then get the bus/rent a car to get to Pula. The bus journey is about 4.5 hours, so this is a long trip but trust me it is worth it! If you’re driving, you’ll have a slightly shorter journey at just under 3 hours.
Where to Stay in Pula
Pula is an incredible base for the Istrian Peninsula! There are a lot more options for accommodation, which makes it cheaper than other popular locations like Rovinj and Poreč. If you’re solo travelling or on a budget, I recommend staying at Antique Hostel in Pula. This hostel is affordable, and is in the heart of the city, just a 5-minute walk to the Pula Arena.
Things to do in Pula
You won’t get bored in Pula! There is so much to see and do here that you’ll be planning another trip back before you’ve even left! Here’s a short guide on what you should get up to in Istria, but for a more detailed itinerary you can check out my blogpost on Three Days in Istria.
Visit the Ancient Sites
Pula is famous for its ancient ruins and historical sites. The largest, and most impressive is the Pula Arena. This is a large amphitheatre in the centre of Pula, and one of the only amphitheatres to still have all 3 stories and 4 towns intact to this day.
Go Sea Kayaking in the Caves
One of the best things I did on my two-week trip to Croatia was go kayaking in the caves around Pula. I went on this tour, and I couldn’t recommend it more! We had a great time kayaking to the caves, snorkelling and cliff jumping! If you’re looking for something a bit more exciting, this is the perfect way to spend a day! Tours last 3/4 hours and start at about €50 per person.
Go on a Roadtrip to Rovinj, Motovun and Poreč
This is one of the best ways to explore the Istrian Peninsula. Grab some friends, rent a car and head to Rovinj, Motovun and Porec on a day trip. Rovinj is a beautiful small city, with gorgeous windy streets and a picturesque harbour. Motovun is one of the best-preserved medieval villages in the world and sits atop a large hill with a great view of the surrounding area. Spend a few hours here walking the narrow cobblestones and exploring the city walls. To finish out our road trip, we’re going to head to Poreč for sunset! Check out my post about Istria for an in-depth guide on what you should get up to on your day trip along the Istrian Peninsula.
Sample Pula’s Nightlife
If you’re solo travelling and looking to meet some like-minded people, or you’re just on the hunt for a good night out, you can’t skip out on the Pula pub crawl. This is the most popular nightlife activity in Pula and is sure to be a night to remember (or not). You can find more information on how to book here.
Korenica (Plitvice)- Two Days
After a few days in the charming villages of Istria, we’re going to immerse ourselves in nature at Korenica. Here you’ll find one of the most famous National Parks in Croatia, Plitvice National Park. In Korenica you can explore the park, go hiking at Mrsinj Grad, or kayak along the river!
How to get to Korenica
If you’re travelling by car, the journey will take around 3.5 hours. By bus, the journey is a lot harder, but again, trust me it is worth it! From Pula, you’ll first get to the bus to Karlovac, and then on to Korenica. The total journey will take about 10 hours, so if you can find someone to split the cost of a car this is a far better option! If driving really isn’t for you, then She Travelled the World has you covered! The blog takes you through how best to optimize your time so you get the best out of your stay.
Where to Stay in Korenica
One of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in is Falling Lakes Hostel in Korenica. I made loads of friends here that I stayed with for the rest of my trip down the dalmatian coast. The hostel organises a shuttle bus to Plitvice park, as well as activities like hiking and kayaking! You’ll find a great atmosphere in the common room in the evenings, and the party ends at 11 pm which is perfect if you need to go exploring the next day!
What to do in Korenica
Plitvice National Park
The most popular, and the best thing to do in Korenica is to visit Plitvice national park. The park is about a 20-minute drive from Falling Lakes hostel, and the hostel organise a shuttle bus each day to bring you. The bus leaves at 8am and returns at 4 pm, which is plenty of time to explore the park at a relaxed pace. If you want more time in the park, you can book a two-day pass and visit again!
Tickets for Plitvice National Park can be found here, and the cost varies depending on the time of year. In the winter, tickets cost only €10.80. In the summer, this increases to €40. The national park is one of the highlights of this trip, but if you are on a budget try to schedule your trip in the off-season to save some cash!
Hiking Msrinj Grad
Another great perk of this hostel is that they organise plenty of free activities! Falling Lakes run two hikes to Msrinj grad, a full day hike, and a sunset hike.
I did the full day hike, which was 7-8 hours in total. This hike is extremely challenging and has a very steep incline. With this in mind, I only recommend it if you are physically fit.
The hike concludes at a military base on the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The military base is abandoned, and is a really cool place to explore, especially if you have an interest in history! The top of the mountain is over 1600m above sea level, and gives you amazing views of the nearby landscape!
I didn’t do the evening hike but I was told it takes about an hour one way and is a much easier hike. This would be a great activity on the day of your arrival, as you’ll want to stretch your legs after sitting in the car all day!
Swimming isn’t allowed at Plitvice National Park, but just outside the park, you can go kayaking. Falling Lakes organise a tour which brings you through the beautiful karst canon, and it’s a great activity for any thrill-seekers! The tour is from 9am to 4pm, and the price starts at 400 Kuna (or about €50 euro). When I visited it was only spring, and it was too early in the season for kayaking. But if you have some time and want to experience the famous rivers I highly recommend it!
Zadar – Two Days
Zadar is Croatia’s oldest, continuously inhabited city. It has one of the most charming old city’s in Croatia, and is our first stop along the dalmatian coast! A city rich in culture and heritage, this is a must-visit in Croatia. We’re going to spend one day exploring the old town, and one day in Krka National Park.
How to get to Zadar
There is a bus directly from Korenica to Zadar which takes only 1.5 hours. As always, I recommend booking your ticket with Get By Bus and checking the reviews. The journey by car is very similar at just under 1.5 hours.
Where to Stay in Zadar
Downtown Boutique hostel has everything you need for a perfect stay in Zadar. It’s in the centre of the old town, just a short walk to all the main attractions! The rooms are large and clean and have lockers to store your suitcase. The beds are super comfortable and have a curtain for privacy. If you’re looking to make some friends, the hostel has a WhatsApp group so that you can see what’s going on and meet other people staying there.
Things to do in Zadar
Explore the Old Town
Zadar is a city packed with history. For your first day, take some time to get acquainted with the city. If you’re up for it, you can join a free walking tour which leaves every morning at 10 am. This is a great way to meet new people if you’re travelling alone, and you’ll learn all the best tips and tricks from the locals!
When wandering the Old town make sure you see the Roman Forum, and nearby you’ll also St. Donatus’ Church. This church was built in 800 AD and is almost perfectly preserved. To get a great view of the town, you’ll want to climb to the top of the tower in the Cathedral of St. Anastasia as well as check out the city walls. From here, you’ll also get a nice view of the port. For sunset, head to the sea organ, which lights up at night. Here you can watch the sun go down whilst you listen to the organ sitting on the sea.
Krka National Park
I’d recommend stopping at Krka national park on your way to Split. To do this, you’ll get the bus from Zadar to Skradin. Here, you can find a few places to leave your luggage whilst you explore the park. Entrance to the park ranges from 200 Kunas for adults in July and August to 30 Kunas in the winter, and you can find tickets here. If you’re planning on going back to Zadar, it would probably be worth it to do a tour, as the price will end up being about the same.
Visit one of the Islands
At the port, you’ll find lots of people selling boat tours, and frequent ferries running to Sali and Kali. Sali seems to be the most popular amongst the locals, so I’d recommend spending a day there if you have some time and want to spend the day relaxing!
Where to Eat in Zadar
I had one of the best meals of my entire trip in Zadar. If you’re looking for some great Thai food and really friendly staff, try Pearl of Siam. The food here is incredible, so good that I went back twice on my two-night stay! It’s a really small restaurant that gets really busy so you can either arrive early or be prepared to wait a while for a table.
Split – Two Days
Surprisingly, a lot of people told me to skip Split, and I’m so glad I didn’t listen! The city is built on an old retirement home, and the layout is incredibly cool. You’ll find out loads of fun snippets of information about the city if you go on the free walking tour, which I highly recommend (but more on that later).
Some people label Split as touristy, but it’s fun to be a tourist! And this also means that you’ll have more people and better nightlife in the largest city on the Croatian Coast.
Where to Stay in Split
Unfortunately, we found a lot of bad hostels in Split. I met up with some friends from Plitvice, and we all hated our hostels. So with that in mind, book in advance. Although I didn’t stay here, everyone I’ve met who’s stayed at Backpacker’s Fairytale has loved it! I’ve heard great things about the friendly atmosphere and the great location, being only a 10 – 15 minute walk to the old town.
Things to do in Split
For a full list of the best things to see and do in Split and Hvar, check out this in-depth guide. Here’s some of the highlights!
- Free Walking Tour – you’ll get some local insights and knowledge on this UNESCO World Heritage site
- Marjan Hill – a great place for walking and hiking, with a fabulous view of the city
- Split Cathedral – climb to the top of the belltower for another amazing view of the Old Town and Port
- Sample Split’s Nightlife – start at Charlie’s backpacker bar and see where the night takes you
Hvar – Two Nights
Originally I’d booked in one night for Hvar, but as soon as I arrived I realised that’s not enough! There’s so much to see and do on this little island that you could easily spend 2-3 nights exploring the main sites and relaxing.
Where to Stay in Hvar
Thre are two main hostels in Hvar, Dinks and White Rabbit Hostel. Dinks is definitely a party hostel, so if you’re looking to let your hair down you’ve come to the right place. If you’re into a more relaxed vibe, I’d recommend The White Rabbit hostel. The White Rabbit also has a far better location, being just 5 minutes from the port and in the centre of the main town.
Things to do in Hvar
This blog post contains a list of the best things to do in Hvar and Split. But here’s an idea of what you can expect on the island!
- Take a boat tour to the blue caves
- Climb to Hvar Fortress, the best view in Hvar
- Go clubbing at Carpe Diem
- Rent your own boat for the day
- Sample some of Hvar’s greatest wine
Dubrovnik – Three Nights
Our last stop on the trip and one of the most iconic places in Croatia. Famous as the fiming location for much of Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik is a city rich in history. You could really spend a full week here but we’re going to spend 3 days seeing the highlights of Dubrovnik. The best way to get to Dubrovnik from Hvar is to go by Ferry, which you can book here.
Where to Stay in Dubrovnik
By far the best hostel in Dubrovnik is Anglina’s. It’s right in the old town, and has a gorgeous terrace where you can sit out and relax. The hostel is super social, and they have nightly events where you can make friends and try new things. Dubrovnik is one of the more expensive places in Croatia, so be warned that this will be a bit pricier than the hostels we’ve seen so far.
Things to do in Dubrovnik
You definitely won’t run out of things to do in Dubrovnik. You could easily spend a week exploring this gorgeous town and be prepared to pack a lot into the next three days. This is probably the most popular holiday destination in Croatia and with good reason! For a detailed breakdown of things to see and do in Dubrovnik, check out this post. Here’s an idea of what you can expect to get up to in Dubrovnik:
- Walk the city walls and visit Lovrijenac Fortress
- Grab a drink at Buza Bar
- Take the boat to Lokrum Island
- Get the best view of Dubrovnik at Mount Srd
- Go Sea Kayaking
- Visit the old town
And there you have it, the perfect itinerary to see the best of Croatia in two weeks! I completely fell in love with this country and the amazing people, and I hope you love it as much as I did.
Thanks for reading,