Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia-Kirsten Maxwell Kids Are A Trip

Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the top destinations in Croatia. Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

How to Spend a Blissful Week in Croatia

Croatia is one of the sunniest spots in Europe, making for good weather the majority of the year. The country has gained popularity from the television show, “Game of Thrones”, but it is more than King’s Landing and Qarth. Within this Mediterranean country visitors will find eight national parks, including the world famous Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Park. There are charming small towns, fortified ancient cities, pristine beaches, and islands where the parties never end. Best of all, the country is relatively inexpensive and safe. It’s easy to reach from Europe and in summer of 2019 there will be even more direct flights to the country from the United States.

In a nutshell, Croatia is a country full of hidden gems. We barely scratched the surface, but can’t wait to go back. The good news is if you only have a week in Croatia, there’s plenty to see and do to give you a good taste of Croatia’s beauty.

Here are some suggestions to help you plan a week-long trip to Croatia.

1. Fly into a centrally located airport

The major airports in Croatia are Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, and Rijecka. Rijecka is in the north and closest to Pula and Rovinj. Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and most international flights fly in and out of here. Zagreb is in the north central part of the country and not close to the coast. It is a two hour drive to Plitvice Lakes from here and even further to the sea. Split is the most central of all airports. Zadar is to the north, Zagreb is north east, and Dubrovnik is south. The Dubrovnik airport is the southernmost airport in the country, so know you will be driving quite a bit if you want to see anything outside of this area of Croatia.

2. Set your Croatia sightseeing priorities

If there is one destination in Croatia you have to see, make that your priority and plan your itinerary from there. Some of the highlights of Croatia include: Dubrovnik, Plitvice Lakes, Split, Zadar, Krka National Park, Hvar Island, Korčula, Brac, Rovinj, and Pula.

If there is a major activity you want to do in Croatia, plan time for that as well. Whether it’s sailing to the islands (there’s over 1,200), wine tasting in vineyards, sea kayaking, or a “Game of Thrones” tour, be sure to work this into your itinerary as well.

Dubrvonik Croatia harbor sunset-Kirsten Maxwell Kids Are A Trip

Most visitors want to make a stop in Dubrovnik. Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

3. Weather can affect your plans, but it probably won’t

As I mentioned, Croatia is known for its sunshine, but this changes the further north and inland you travel. If you head to Plitvice National Parks, it can be a lot cooler than the ocean. Summers in Croatia will be dry and sunny, while shoulder season (May and October) can still be quite warm. The country’s interior and capital city of Zagreb, typically have very warm summers and chilly winters, complete with snow.

4. Transportation can take awhile

Unfortunately, Croatia does not have much in the ways of public transportation. Locals are very dismissive of the rail system, and tourists would do well to avoid trains unless absolutely necessary. They are extremely slow and unreliable. City buses are efficient and inexpensive, and a good option. Many will feel comfortable renting cars and driving on their own. Roads are well maintained, but city streets are typical European, narrow and busy. Plan your time accordingly if you decide to take public transportation or navigate on your own.

For a different mode of transportation, I would recommend a transfer company. We used Octopus Transfers to take us from Split to Plitvice Lakes, Split to Dubrovnik (with a stop in Mostar, Bosnia), and Dubrovnik back to Split. Sometimes it’s better to sit back and let someone else do the driving.

5. Choose two or three cities as a home base, but no more

With only a week to spend in Croatia, it’s helpful to pick a couple of destinations as a home base and explore from there. Split, Zadar, and Zagreb could be an itinerary, or we did Split and Dubrovnik. Try to eliminate a ton of driving between destinations to maximize time enjoying your vacation.

Trogir Day Trip from Split-Kirsten Maxwell Kids Are A Trip

From Split we were able to take a day trip to Trogir, which was worth it! Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

6. Book your accommodations early

Once you have your itinerary planned, get those accommodations booked! Croatia is extremely crowded with tourists from May to early October (especially Dubrovnik), and cities are often filled to the brim with cruise ship passengers during the day.

In Dubrovnik, we would recommend staying outside the town walls as cars are not allowed inside the city. This means pulling luggage through cobblestone streets and up some narrow stairs if you stay in town. We would recommend Grand Villa Argentina, a 10-minute walk from Old Town, but rooms with beautiful ocean views and great customer service.

In Split, you definitely want to stay in the Old Town. Cars aren’t allowed, but hotels will assist with luggage, and some even have golf carts to assist with transportation. Try Central Square Heritage Hotel for spacious rooms with a view of People’s Square or Villa Split Heritage Hotel just around the corner with stunning rooms, great hospitality, and a wonderful breakfast each morning.

7. Don’t be afraid to use a tour guide

In order to maximize your time, consider using a tour guide to explore parts of Croatia. We had a wonderful guide in Split, Dino Ivančić who also took us to Trogir and the Klis Fortress. It was amazing to learn about the city’s origins with a person who is so passionate about his country. In Dubrovnik we did a “Game of Thrones” tour with Ivan Vukovic who is simply a marvelous guide and individual. Don’t waste your money on other tours as he is the real deal. We also did a day trip to Ston from Dubrovnik, a city famous for its Roman salt pans and 14th century city walls that rival China’s Great Wall. If a tour of Montenegro interests you, or a day trip to Mostar, Bosnia, those are also available from Dubrovnik, just be sure to book in advance during the summer months.

Perast Montenegro Day Trip from Dubrovnik-Kirsten Maxwell Kids Are A Trip

Perast, Montenegro is an easy day trip from Dubrovnik. Photo: Kirsten Maxwell

Craving a Croatia escape? Pin this and plan your getaway:

Kirsten Maxwell

Kirsten Maxwell

Kirsten Maxwell

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