Of all the places in Europe, Croatia has been the one on the top of my bucket list for years. It was always just that bit out of the way and just so far from Australia that I kept having to miss it. That wasn’t going to happen again! I was definitely travelling to Croatia on this trip and I am so glad that we did.
I had very high expectations of Croatia – the stunning Old Town of Dubrovnik, the beauty of the Dalmatian coast, the mystery of its islands – that our Croatia trip could have easily ended in disappointment. It didn’t.
In fact, Croatia is even more beautiful and amazing than I could have imagined. The scenery is like nowhere else. The Old Towns really feel like you are going back in time. There are beaches. There is good food and wine. And it is all very affordable! There is nothing not to like about Croatia.
Below, in our Croatia travel blog, you will find all the information from our trip including our fabulous 2.5 week itinerary which took in many Croatian highlights, how to get to Croatia, information about travelling in Croatia, Croatia with kids, Croatia accommodation and Croatia travel advice.
We visited Croatia in September which seemed to be the perfect time! The summer crowds were gone (although Dubrovnik was still crowded – I’d hate to go there in summer) and the weather was beautiful. Apart from in Zagreb, the temperatures were usually in the mid-late twenties with some days in the thirties.
Day 1 Zagreb
We arrived in Zagreb from Ljubljana. We checked into our apartment and started exploring this great city.
Day 2 Zagreb
We explored more of Zagreb. Read more in our full list of what to do in Zagreb.
Day 3 Privlaka
We picked up a hire car and drove down to Privlaka which is a small town just up the coast from Zadar where we based ourselves for the next three nights. It is an easy, just under 3 hour drive and the views as we drove down to the coast are breath taking.
We stayed in this apartment which was just perfect – two bedrooms, great terrace area and right in front of the beach.
Day 4 Privlaka
We had a lazy day playing at the beach and park out our front door.
Day 5 Nin and Pag
We had a day trip visiting Nin and the amazing Pag Island (more details here).
Day 6 Zadar
We headed into Zadar to explore and then checked into the amazing Falkensteiner Family Hotel Diadora which seriously may be the best hotel in the world for families.
You can read our full guide to Zadar and surrounds here.
Day 7-8 Falkensteiner Family Hotel Diadora
Day 9 Split
We set off early to see a bit more of Zadar’s Old Town and then we drove down to Split which is an easy 1.75 hour drive on the tollway.
Split is an absolutely beautiful city. The waterfront is stunning, the old town feels more old than most I have been in and the backdrop of all of this is a stunning mountain range. It’s a lovely destination.
Just walking around the Old Town is just fabulous. The “streets” (if you can call them that!) are super narrow and it felt like quite an adventure. It’s so narrow in parts that I worried we would get stuck with our pram! FYI we didn’t and found it pram friendly.
Split is definitely a must visit destination in Croatia. Read more about it in this guide to Split.
We checked into Hotel Tamaris which is nothing fancy but it is absolute waterfront and we loved it for that. It’s also a great price in a beautiful little spot but you will want to have a car to stay here. See the latest prices here.
Day 10 Brac Island
We caught a car ferry from Split to Brac Island. We checked out Supetar on Brac before driving to our hotel, the Bluesun Hotel Elaphusa, and then went for a splash on one of Europe’s most beautiful beaches, Zlatni Rat.
Day 11 Brac Island
We spent today exploring Brac with a half day tour through the Bluesun Hotel Elaphusa. We then hit the pool in our hotel.
Day 12 Bol, Brac
We explored Bol and had some luxury and pampering at Thalasso Wellness, the massive wellness centre in the Bluesun Hotel Elaphusa. We capped the day off with a visit to Stina Winery.
Read our full guide to Brac here.
Day 13 Makarka
We caught the car ferry back to the Croatian mainland at Makarksa. We then had a great lunch here and explored Makarska’s Old Town and beach areas which are very close together.
There is quite a buzz in Makaska, the most we have felt. The Old Town is lovely especially with the beautiful mountain backdrop. There is also a great park area at the end of the beach near the Old Town – a definite stopping point if you are in Croatia with kids.
We stayed at Rooms and Apartments Tony in a great little one bedroom apartment with a pool for a fantastic price. You can see more information and the latest prices here.
Day 14 Dubrovnik
We left in the morning to drive down to Dubrovnik. It’s an easy enough drive but the road is along the coast and very winding. The road also includes a stretch in Bosnia and Herzegovina!
It was ridiculously easy to go through these two border points. Bosnia and Herzegovina did not check our papers at either and the Croatians just gave our passports a quick check when we were exiting.
The drive took about 2.75 hours. The scenery is amazing.
On arrival in Dubrovnik, we headed to the Mt Srd lookout which was probably my scariest experience driving! We then returned our car to the rental company at the airport, caught a bus back into the Old Town and checked into our Airbnb apartment.
We hit the stunning Old Town for dinner.
Day 15 Dubrovnik
We spent the day exploring Dubrovnik’s Old Town.
Read our full guide to Dubrovnik.
Day 16 Dubrovnik
I wasn’t feeling too good so I took it easy. The kids and J headed out to Banje Beach in the afternoon.
Day 17 Goodbye Croatia… maybe….
We spent the morning packing and being brutal with what we would pack as it was time to start the journey back to Penang. Unfortunately, after massive delays at the airport, our flight was eventually cancelled and we spent one more day here before flying out to Oslo the next morning.
Our kids were 3 and 5 when we visited Croatia and we found it to be an easy place to be with kids. Many attractions are outdoors, there are a lack of full on museums and there are plenty of beaches! All wins for kids.
We did not find many attractions in Croatia for kids specifically but, like I said, the normal activities that we would want to do anyway generally suited them well.
The food is also good and there are plenty of Italian options as well as Croatian cuisine so we never had any problems at all finding something to eat in Croatia for kids.
It helped that we were travelling around Croatia in a car – that always makes things extra easy.
You can also read a Croatian expert’s guide to the top things to do in Croatia with kids.
Croatia can feel a bit removed from the rest of Europe and I know I had problems finding budget flight options to Croatia in the past – in fact our flight out of Croatia to Oslo was not much cheaper than our onward flight all the way to Bangkok!
There are plenty of flights to Croatia though, especially in summer time. There are also boats, buses and trains and many people come by cruise ship (although please don’t – you definitely need longer than a day or two in Croatia!).
We took a different option in getting to Croatia and signed up for a transfer with GoOpti from Ljubljana to Zagreb. We got a great price by choosing a time frame in which we were happy to be picked up and ended up with basically a private transfer between the two cities for the same prices as a bus ticket. It’s a great service.
We hired a car to travel around Croatia. This was cheap and no one way fee was applicable because of the length of time which was a bonus. I actually think we probably saved money compared to 4 tickets on buses and trains between these destinations and we were able to see many places we just wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. I would definitely recommend car hire for travel in Croatia.
We hired the car through Avant Car. It was the cheapest price and it worked out well. I had been worried as I read many negative reports about all the car rental companies in Croatia but we had no problems.
There was one annoying thing though. They told me if I was in any type of accident that I had to get a police report and have a breathalyser – if I had any alcohol in my system then I would be at fault and would have to pay the full cost of any damage, not just the excess! I had never heard of this so it is something to be aware of.
Driving in Croatia is crazy easy. I had no problems at all except when I went up a two-way, one lane road on the side of a steep mountain in Dubrovnik. Just don’t do this and you will find it a breeze! The roads were all in fantastic condition and everything is well sign posted. It was such a different experience to driving in Italy.
Parking can be more annoying although I didn’t have too many problems until Dubrovnik which is why I returned the car before even settling into an apartment. Parking near the Old Town is a nightmare.
If you don’t want to drive, I highly recommend Octopus Transfers. I know the owners of this company personally and they can pick you up at airports, take you to festivals and Croatia’s national parks. Read more about their services here.
Most accommodation in Croatia tended to be private apartments. The biggest range seemed to be on Booking.com. There are also some fabulous hotels and resorts in Croatia.
You can find more information on our accommodation choices in our individual guides.
Needless to say, we absolutely loved Croatia. There is just so much to love.
Despite travelling relatively fast, we also felt that we had some well deserved, relaxing downtime in Croatia thanks to some great resorts, beach time and Croatia’s attractions being more about experiencing life rather than reading about it in a museum. The people are lovely, the food is good, things are cheap and we honestly just loved it.
If you haven’t been to Croatia yet, move it up to the #1 bucket list item. If you have, I’m sure you are already dreaming about travelling through Croatia again :D
Below you will find all our Croatia travel blogs… You can also read about neighbouring Slovenia.
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