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Croatia Itinerary - 16 Nights - Any Advice?

Hey Everyone! Hoping I can get some advice on my itinerary. Nothing has been booked yet so anything can be changed around.

I'll be travelling to Croatia with my boyfriend for the first 2 weeks of September. We're in our late 20's; we want good food, some exploration, and maybe a bit of time by the beach.

We'll probably rent a car in Pula and drop it off in Split. It sounds like Rovinj is a good base for Istria, we'll do day trips to the towns in the area. We aren't necessarily set on Brac but based on what I've read it sounds like it's more our vibe than Hvar.

Does my itinerary seemed rushed? I took out Plitvice because it sounded like it wasn't worth the hassle and I'd rather the extra night on Brac. Is there anything major we're missing that we should do instead of what I have?

Aug 30 - Toronto to Amsterdam
Aug 31 - Arrive Amsterdam
Sep 1 - Amsterdam to Pula to Rovinj
Sep 2 - 4 - Rovinj
Sep 5 - Istria to Zadar
Sep 6 - Zadar to Split
Sep 7 - Split
Sep 8 - Split to Brac
Sep 9 - 11 - Brac
Sep 12 - Brac to Dubrovnik
Sep 13 - 14 - Dubrovnik
Sep 15 - Dubrovnik to Toronto

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
16746 posts

Nearly every trip requires compromises to fit the itinerary to the time available. I don't see anything wrong with your plans, though I have never been to Brac. However, I definitely do not agree that Plitvice isn't worth the hassle. It is worth the planning necessary to see it under the best possible (current) conditions, which means spending a night there and doing your park exploration partly late in the afternoon (if practical) and first thing in the morning.

I liked Zadar when I spent the night there in 2015 and have recommended it, but it is somewhat like Dubrovnik, and at this point your itinerary (excluding any side-trips you may take while in Rovinj) consists solely of coastal towns. I'd substitute Plitvice for Zadar without a second thought if this were my trip.

Posted by
4686 posts

I strongly disagree that Plitvice isn't worth the "hassle." It is surely one of the highlights of Croatia (along with Dubrovnik). I live in the Pacific Northwest where we have an abundance of beautiful waterfalls, so I am a bit spoiled...but I still found Plitvice truly unique and magical, enough that I returned on a second trip to Croatia! (One trip was in the spring, once in the fall, so once the waterfalls were flowing heavier due to the spring rains; in the fall they weren't as fast but in October there were some beautiful fall colors.)

The key with Plitvice is ti arrive in the park when it opens at 7am, so you can get a few hours in the park before the mobs of tourists arrive. September should still be busy but not as busy as the summer no doubt. A good plan is to arrive in the afternoon the first day, see half of the park the first day (as tour groups start to depart) and the second half the next morning. If you stay at one of the overpriced (but convenient) park-run hotels, you can get your park tickets stamped from the day before so you don't have to pay a second day to enter the park.

I see you found a cheap direct easyJet flight into Pula on 9/1. That's a pretty good option, except that it burns a day in Amsterdam. You could consider instead flying into Venice (if you can get a decent flight in) and take a bus or shuttle from there to Rovinj. Personally, I hate the idea of taking a long overseas flight and being shell shocked with jet lag the first day...and have to get up early the very next morning and have ANOTHER airport day. A bus or shuttle (probably 3-4 hours) might not be fun, either, but at least when I finally get there I can SLEEP and not have to get up super early the very next morning for another flight.

Plus, you wouldn't need a car the first day or two in Rovinj - you could have that first day to chill (take the bus to Pula if you want). Pick up the car the last day or as you leave - you will want a car to explore the hill towns of Istria for sure.

Other than adding in Plitvice between Rovinj and Zadar...your itinerary is fine but still a bit rushed. But if you're OK with the pace and you know you travel well at this pace, go for it. We all have different travel styles.

Posted by
4686 posts

I liked Zadar when I spent the night there in 2015 and have recommended it, but it is somewhat like Dubrovnik,

I respect your opinion, but I guess I don't see how they are that similar. Dubrovnik is a walled city built on a hill, with steep pedestrian streets and steep steps as the "streets," with most of the homes with those distinctive red roofs. Zadar is flat and on a peninsula (the old town is, anyway), with pieces of old Roman ruins scattered around the old Roman forum in the center. They are both touristy, Dubrovnik even more so I guess. Despite the tourist mobs, I loved Dubrovnik especially at night when most of the tourists had gone. I didn't take to Zadar for some reason - one night there was plenty for me.

Posted by
1927 posts

Looks like a nice trip! We were in Croatia last September. We spent 2 nights in picturesque Rovinj. Did not go to Zadar. We loved Lake Plitvice (one night). That said, it would be a great addition to your itinerary. It was the top highlight of our tour. We spent two nights in Split. Very scenic but too pretentious for us. Did not go to Brac. Our favorite island was Korcula. We spent 2 nights there and didn't want to leave! Absolutely beautiful, great walking town, wonderful cuisine. Enjoyed beach time there. Our last stop was Dubrovnik. Toured old town in the am to avoid the crowd. Spent the afternoon at the beach area. Two nights were perfect. Enjoy this amazing area!

Posted by
2 posts
  • The easyjet flight to Pula is definitely what I was looking at. But I'll take a look at flying into Venice again, that would be a better option. Also like the suggestion to pick up the car in Rovinj on the last day.
  • Thanks for the advice on Plitvice! I'll add it back in; get there in the afternoon, stay the night, and go in the morning.

Would I be better off going taking out Zadar for Plitvice? Or take a night off of Dubrovnik? I'm not sure we need two full days in Dubrovnik. I think the benefit to skipping Zadar is that we wouldn't have two 1 night stays back to back.

This was really helpful! I really appreciate all of the recommendations.

Posted by
3112 posts

If you can get a flight onward to Venice on Aug 31, there's a Venezia Lines catamaran that departs for Rovinj at 5:15pm and arrives at 9:00pm. I took it in the opposite direction and would use it again. If you take it, consider the inexpensive upgrade to the VIP lounge where you'll have much more space than in the regular seats. Note that I wouldn't fly onward to Venice unless it was part of your round trip ticket. Buying a separate flight for your arrival day is risky. For a separate ticket, I think your idea of flying to Pula the next day is good, and Amsterdam is a great place to stay active and get over your jet lag.

In looking at your itinerary, I don't see how substituting Plitvice for Zadar adds 2 consective 1-night stays. Am I missing something? Personally, I wouldn't remove a day from Dubrovnik. There's plenty to keep you busy for 2 full days, and the weather in Dubrovnik should still be quite nice in mid-September allowing for some beach time. Also, I would pick up the rental car upon arrival in Istria as it provides much more flexibility to explore. I had a rental car while in Rovinj and used it to visit several interesting towns nearby. Distances are fairly short, so day trips won't eat up the entire day.