The early morning flight made us arrive in Zadar at 8 am. Small and convenient, Zadar airport is a great base to start a Croatia Road Trip. We rented a small car with Alamo and as soon as we had the keys, we drove 15 minutes to Zadar’s Old Town.
Croatia Road Trip – Zadar
Parking in Zadar can be difficult, but since we arrived early morning we managed to find a spot right at the harbor. The hourly rate is 6 KN (0,80 €) and has to be prepaid at the machine where you get a ticket to place in your car. We started our walking tour of Zadar at St. Anastasia’s Cathedral, from where we headed to the Greeting to the Sun and the Sea organ. Of course if possible, we suggest to visit this place at sunset rather than during the day! We were unlucky as the Sea organ pipes were in maintenance during our visit. There is a lovely place to have a drink under a huge tree right next to here. We continued the walk down the Riva to the University along the city walls to the Gate. You can check the itinerary on the map below.
Croatia Road Trip – Zadar to Krka (88km)
From Zadar we drove along the coast to Sibenik before entering the land to Krka National Park. The coastal road offers many great photo opportunities.
There are two ways for visiting Krka National Park and the famous Skradinski Buk waterfalls. You can either park the car at Lozovac or drive further to Skradin where a boat will take you to the waterfalls. We opted for Lozovac for free parking and free shuttle to the waterfalls. During spring and fall, Park entrance is 110KN (15 €) for adults and 80KN (10,5 €) for kids above 7. At Lozovac entrance you can opt for the trail down instead of the winding bus ride. It’s only 900 m but make sure to wear good shoes! Once you arrive we suggest the 1 km 900 Skradinski Buk walking trail on elevated wooden paths through lush nature. Take some water and snacks, especially if you’re visiting with kids. At the end of the trail you’ll end up at the waterfall where you can have a swim.
Krka National Park in Pictures
To get back to the car parking, we took the 8 minute bus ride up the hill
and feared for our lives as our bus crossed another before being caught in a huge downpour. We ran to the car and drove to Split (84 km) on flooded roads.
In Split we stayed at the Radisson Blu Resort Split.
Croatia Road Trip – Split
The next morning we visited the city. We found convenient parking for our luxury car (picture below) right next to the Diocletian Palace (Unesco World Heritage Site) at the Riva. We paid 55 KN (7,5 €) for 2,5 h. Next to the parking you can head straight to the farmers market where locals sell fruits, vegetables, cheese and meat products. From here you can enter the Palace via the Silver Door (Porta Argenta).
To experience the Cathedral, Crypt, Bell tower and St. Ivan Baptistery we bought a combined ticket at 45 KN / 6 €. Be advised that going up the Bell Tower is really impressive and not for anyone claustrophobic or with a fear of heights. One of us may not have made it to the top…
It’s really nice to stroll around the narrow streets where behind every corner you’ll find little bars and restaurants. Narodni Trg is the main square with lots of Cafés.
Before leaving Split, have a drink at the Riva. It is said that if you don’t drink a coffee at the Riva, you haven’t been to Split.
Croatia Road Trip – Split to Dubrovnik (227km)
From Split we drove along the coast. It is a beautiful drive with endless photo opportunities offering panoramic views on the sea and neighboring islands. As we were under time pressure we didn’t stay on the coastal road to Dubrovnik but drove for 60 km on the highway. The landscapes were as breathtaking as along the coast. An interesting fact when you drive from Split to Dubrovnik is that you’ll have to drive through Bosnia and Herzegovina for 20 km. The town of Neum is the country’s only access to the Adriatic Sea.
For the first night in Dubrovnik, we stayed at Radisson Blu Sun Garden.
Croatia Road Trip – Dubrovnik
After breakfast we enjoyed the sun on the loungers before driving to our last stop in Croatia. We checked in at Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik and made our way to the old town included on the list of World Heritage by UNESCO. As we were both hungry we wandered a bit around until a restaurant called Portun. I ordered the Dubrovnik cheese platter with olives and ham (completely tasteless) and hubby got the Caesars salad. The salad was uneatable: 3 salad leaves were floating in a ton of mayonnaise. Needless to say that it was sent right back to the kitchen and nothing else was ordered. The restaurants in Prijeko Street (parallel to Stradun) looked more inviting than the tourist traps right next to the main street.
Dubrovnik Ancient City Walls
After this complete disaster, we bought tickets for the ancient City Walls and the guy that sold us the tickets wasn’t particularly friendly: a part from “240” (kuna) we didn’t hear his voice… The walk around the city walls is definitely a must do in Dubrovnik. The views on the city and the Adriatic sea are spectacular. Make sure to wear good shoes, take water and sunscreen as it can be very hot and crowded and there are a lot of stairs. The entrance ticket is 120 KN (17 €) which we think is overpriced. The same goes for everything in Dubrovnik: food, drinks, parking, accommodation… Unfortunately, people take advantage of the recent hype for Croatia especially with Asian and American tourists to boost their prices. Tip: To avoid tour bus and cruise ship crowds plus the heat go early morning or later in the day!
What can be visited for free are a number of churches. In the evening, we went back for a walk in the old town and its narrow alleys. La Bodega and Cele Bar on Luza Square are popular with young people and there’s most likely live music playing.
In conclusion, during our Croatia road trip we drove a total of 435 km. If we would have had more time (at least 2 more days) we would have added Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Kotor Bay (Montenegro) to the plans. So, if you can you should definitely visit those too. Yet, if you’re under time pressure, visiting Zadar, Krka, Split and Dubrovnik in three days is totally doable.