Ten Days in Croatia - Split

Ten days in Croatia is a wonderful amount of time to spend in the country! Assuming you’re not wanting to spend all of that time lazing on a beach (but if you do…that’s fair enough!), ten days will allow you enough time to see many of Croatia’s most famous sights, cities and islands.

Before you go any further, we will say that this is a fairly rushed itinerary. So if you don’t fancy moving on every one or two days, this one isn’t for you! However, we do know that many visitors to Croatia want to pack as much as they can into a relatively short amount of time so…if that’s what you’re looking for, read on!

Ten Days in Croatia

Ten Days in Croatia – Where to start?

We’d suggest either Zagreb or Dubrovnik as a starting point – and then travelling down (or up) the country. Which city was is a better starting point depends on which is easier for you to reach in the first place. If you’re visiting Croatia from Europe, you’ll (most likely) easily find flights to either city. However, if you’re visiting Croatia from outside of Europe, Zagreb may be better as you may find more onward connecting flights (assuming you have a stopover elsewhere in Europe) to this city.

Ten Days in Croatia – Itinerary

Consider an itinerary like this:

Day 1 – Zagreb (arrive, get your bearings, do a bit of sightseeing if time allows) – stay 1 night
Day 2 – bus down to Plitvice, visit the National Park – stay 1 night
Day 3 – bus down to Split – stay 2 nights
Day 4 – explore Split and relax (could also: take a bus/boat to Trogir, visit Krka National Park)
Day 5 – catamaran to Hvar Town – stay 2 nights
Day 6 – relax on Hvar
Day 7 – catamaran on to Dubrovnik – stay 3 nights
Day 8 – explore and relax in Dubrovnik
Day 9 – explore Dubrovnik and nearby (e.g. Lokrum, Elafiti islands, Mljet, Peljesac Peninsula)
Day 10 – leave Dubrovnik

Obviously, if Dubrovnik is your preferred starting point, just turn this itinerary on its head!

Ten Days in Croatia - Zagreb
Ten Days in Croatia - Hvar
View of Hvar Town

Ten Days in Croatia – How to get around?

In the itinerary mentioned above, we’ve assumed public transport (mostly buses and ferries). The bus network in Croatia is very extensive, and all of the above mentioned routes have a good number of buses running on them each day. (The lowest frequency is probably Plitvice to Split.) Bus timetables can be easily researched on GetByBus; do also look at our Bus Travel in Croatia page for advice and tips.

The catamaran portion of the trip requires a bit more careful travel planning. Split to Hvar is easy – numerous catamarans run every day in peak season (see Kapetan Luka and Jadrolinija timetables). From Hvar to Dubrovnik (or vice versa), there are fewer options. From early April to the end of May and then again in October, only one catamaran a day runs. From end of May to end of September, there are three services a day. These are again run with Kapetan Luka and Jadrolinija.

If you prefer to hire a car then go for it! Having your own set of wheels will give you plenty of flexibility as you’re not at the mercy of bus timetables. Do note, however, that the Split – Hvar – Dubrovnik portion of the trip is far easier to do with catamarans only. There are of course car ferries, but these can get exceedinly busy in high season, can’t really be pre-booked and you’d have to wait in the queues (to board the ferry) for 2-3 hours. Seriously, we’d say return your hire car in Split, skip the car ferries and stick to catamarans. (As you only have a short amount of time so need to make the most of it!)

Ten Days in Croatia - Split
Ten Days in Croatia - Dubrovnik
View from the top of Mount Srd, overlooking Dubrovnik and Lokrum island

Ten Days in Croatia in off season

Do note that the above itinerary can definitely be undertaken in off season too…apart from the Hvar to Dubrovnik section as the catamarans don’t from the end of October to early April.

Depending on when exactly you’re travelling, you may want to skip Hvar entirely as the islands can be pretty quiet in off season. Without the ability to relax on the beach and sip cocktails under the sun, you might find yourself at a loss for what to do. If you skip Hvar entirely, then how about a revised itinerary like this:

Day 1 – Zagreb – stay 1 night
Day 2 – bus down to Plitvice, visit the National Park – stay 1 night
Day 3 – bus down to Zadar – stay 2 nights
Day 4 – explore Zadar
Day 5 – bus down to Split – stay 2 nights
Day 6 – explore Split and nearby (Trogir, Krka NP)
Day 7 – bus down to Dubrovnik
Day 8 – explore and relax in Dubrovnik
Day 9 – explore Dubrovnik and nearby
Day 10 – leave Dubrovnik

But on the flip side, the peace and quiet on an island may be exactly what you’re after! If you’d still like to do the same itinerary, you’d need to do the below for days 5 to 7:

Day 5 – catamaran to Hvar Town – stay 2 nights
Day 6 – relax on Hvar
Day 7 – return to Split by catamaran; bus down to Dubrovnik

This isn’t too much of a detour, and there are numerous buses from Split to Dubrovnik so you can still make it there in good time.

But I want to visit Istria!

Okay, so the glaring omission in the above itineraries is…Istria. We have nothing against this northern peninsula (very much the opposite!) but we assume that most visitors would like to visit places in Dalmatia – such as Split, Dubrovnik and the Dalmatia islands. Combining Istria and Dalmatia into ten days is…nigh on impossible. Okay, possible, but would involve a lot of lengthy bus journeys at the expense of seeing and enjoying the country.

Ten Days in Croatia - Rovinj
Colourful houses in Rovinj

If you have your heart set on visiting Istria, then you absolutely can do a ten day itinerary based around this county – and obviously skip out on visiting Dalmatia. However, you could still include Zagreb and Plitvice, and possibly drop in on somewhere on the way too.

For this itinerary, we would actually recommend renting a car. Getting from Plitvice to Istria and vice versa is rather complicated (there are no direct buses) so driving would be far better. Likewise, with your own set of wheels you can explore to your heart’s content and fully enjoy the Istria coastal towns and countryside

How about something like this:

Day 1 – Zagreb – stay 1 night
Day 2 – more sightseeing in Zagreb in the morning, drive down to Plitvice – stay 2 nights to enjoy the park fully
Day 3 – spend a full day visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park
Day 5 – drive over to the coast to Opatija – stay 1 night
Day 6 – drive up to Rovinj – base yourself here for the rest of your stay (other towns in Istria also suitable!); sightsee, relax, enjoy Rovinj
Day 7 – drive down to Pula for a day’s sightseeing there (could also combine consider visiting Brijuni islands)
Day 8 – Visit inland towns/villages in Istria e.g. Bale, Vodnjan, Motovun
Day 9 – spend a day visiting Istrian wineries and enjoying the local gastronomic offerings!
Day 10 – fly out of Pula (or drive back to Zagreb to fly out of there)