11 Night Croatia itinerary

11 Night Croatia itinerary

Since the start of 2020 have you been dreaming of warm places, a dip in a blue sea, lots of sips of espresso in quant cobblestone hundred-year-old streets? Have you been dreaming of getting back on an airplane, the thrill of exploring a new culture, or staying in unique AirBnB apartments? I think we have all experienced the feeling of being “stir-crazy” at one point over the last 18 months. We found a way to travel during the pandemic — safely, with intention and a plan, and lots of preparation. Here is our 11 night Croatia itinerary. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did — because we had an AMAZING time.

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Croatia is a place I’ve been hearing people highlight for the last 5-7 years. Admittedly, it wasn’t high on my list. But when we started researching international travel during COVID Croatia often came up! Throughout the pandemic they seemingly were taking the virus very seriously. At the same time (as tourism is such a big part of their nation’s income) they remained open to U.S. travelers. Long-story-short, we found affordable-changeable plane tickets for 2 to Zagreb, Croatia (!!).

After lots of research, planning, and preparation, we flew to Croatia and spent 12 days (11 nights) exploring the country. There are many things I could highlight about the trip and the planning I put into it, but that could be a separate blog post. I want to spend this time giving you our 11 night Croatia itinerary.

If you want to read more about saving for money for our trip visit here.

For anyone that might be considering traveling to Croatia in the near future, I would highly recommend this itinerary. We were really happy we traveled to each of these destinations when we did.

Day 1 (Zagreb)

Our flight landed in Zagreb, Croatia mid-day. I didn’t plan much for this day because I knew we would be jet-lagged. I also like to dedicate some time getting acquainted with the logistics of the country and the beginning of our trip. We spent the afternoon renting a car from the airport, exchanging money, driving around the beautiful countryside, getting some groceries for our trip, and checking into our Airbnb.

We stayed the night in a “suburb” of Zagreb at this Airbnb and had the BEST night sleep.

Day 2 (Drive to Dubrovnik)

It felt so good to be able to wake up this morning with a full night sleep. We already had all of our logistics ready. We woke up, ate breakfast, and started driving! The majority of this day we took our time and driving south to Dubrovnik — the southern most city in the country. We spent about 8 hours enjoying the drive, stopping at all the cutest rest stops for lots of cups of espresso, and taking lots of pictures of the gorgeous country. Through that time we drove through mountains, along the sea, and through local towns. It was one of our favorite parts of the trip! And unexpectedly.

When we arrived in Dubrovnik, we checked into our Airbnb. This was my favorite place we stayed during our trip, a gorgeous spot up at the top of the city with a balcony and windows overlooking the harbor.

We walked down the local staircase between houses to the town and got some dinner at a local restaurant. Then we spent the evening walking around and being immersed in our excitement and love of the city.

Day 3 (Dubrovnik)

High on our list was to spend time in Dubrovnik’s old city (where Game of Thrones is filmed). In the morning we walked to the old city. We did an “Airbnb Experience” with a local called the Escape Game. In the game we had to follow a list of clues to escape the city walls. It brought us all around the old city where we learned so much.

We spent the afternoon getting lunch at a local restaurant, relaxing at the Airbnb and cooking dinner. I relaxed on the balcony all evening and prepared for our photoshoot the next morning.

Day 4 (Dubrovnik)

We booked a second Airbnb Experience with a local photographer that was recommended to us. As a couple we don’t always get pictures of the two of us. So we thought this would be a fun way to see hidden areas of the old city and have some nice pictures of the two of us. We woke up early enough to catch the sunrise over the bay and to catch an Uber to meet our photographer. This was an amazing experience for many reasons. We got to be in the old city in quiet in the early morning before all the tourists came. But most importantly, we got engaged!! I can’t express how beautiful and special it was!

Oh my gosh, we were in our own little world. We spent the rest of the morning celebrating with brunch, and sipping several espressos from the oldest “bar” in the old town. Oh and then we found a local beach to run into the Adriatic Sea and we got a local dinner.

In my opinion Day 4 of our 11 night Croatia itinerary was THE BEST! We lived the dream.

Day 5 (Dubrovnik)

Our last full day in Dubrovnik, it was sad! I like to reserve time in every city without much of an agenda. We decided to spend the morning back in the old city sipping espresso and getting to know our new friend — the bar/cafe owner. Then we spent the afternoon at a local winery south of Dubrovnik. This was incredible because there aren’t many reasons to drive south of Dubrovnik. We were so happy we did. We found a family-owned winery that was quant and super personable. Here we sampled delicious wines, liquors, cheeses, and got to see the family donkeys. Also, we found out that they host intimate weddings 😉 We spent the afternoon immersed in the excitement of this place and our future together 🙂

Day 6 (to Split)

Split is about a 3 hour drive north of Dubrovnik on the Dalmatian coast. It has a lot of history like Dubrovnik. And it’s also known as one of the greatest sailing destinations in Europe. Our experience was great in Split. I would describe it as having easy access to wonderful restaurants and views that attracts many European tourists. It’s where everyone goes before they head off to the local islands.

On our first evening there we had an “Experience” reserved to get a scooter tour of the city. We got to ride miles around the city on scooters to learn about the city. Split has a gorgeous nature park where you could run or walk for miles and jump in the sea along the way. I hadn’t been on a scooter for that amount of time either, so that was a fun experience.

That evening we checked into our Airbnb. This was probably the cutest one we had. It was in a hundreds-old building down pedestrian cobblestone streets! We couldn’t access it by car, but it was a short walking distance to the Diocletian’s Palace and the main boardwalk of the city. Oh my — we loved it here!

Day 7 (Split)

We found a little restaurant for breakfast and espresso. Then we walked around the gorgeous Diocletian’s Palace. This place has such old charm. It has such a unique history as well. The little town inside the walls has been restored to allow people to live in. I got lost dreaming about having a cute little apartment in hundred-years old buildings. We took time to get an espresso and people watch tourists as they came into the palace.

In the afternoon we lined up our ferry tickets for the next day. For dinner we found a romantic restaurant just steps from our accommodation.

Day 8 (to Hvar Island)

Hvar Island is one of many islands off of the coast of Croatia. It’s one of the most popular for many reasons. One of the cities on the island is the oldest city in all of Croatia! There’s a lot of history here. AND its beautiful!

In the early morning we took a ferry from Split to Hvar. On the island we found some coffee and lunch at Stari Grad (Old Town). We walked around the oldest city in all of Croatia. You could see and feel the old-ness.

Our Airbnb overlooking the Adriatic Sea that was just a 3-minute walk to a beach. Hvar is filled with great food, history, and little quant beaches. In the afternoon we spent time on the balcony, walking around, and then got ready for a nice dinner in Hvar Town.

We ate some of the most high-end food on our trip, for the price of a decent restaurant in America. The food was fabulous and ironically was one of our many gnocchi dishes while in-country. We quickly realized another reason the island was so popular. It’s party central for young people all over the world, particularly many European tourists. While we went to bed early, there was an energy to the island that was contagious!

Day 9 (Hvar)

Day 9 of our 11 night Croatia itinerary was a day to relax. We slept in, soaked in the views from our balcony, got some local coffee, spent the afternoon in the sea, and then went out again for a simple dinner. We spent a lot of time reflecting on our trip so far and making friends. I was sad that our trip was coming to an end….

Day 10 (to Zagreb)

After taking the ferry back to Split early in the morning, we got back into the car to make the drive back up north to the capital city, Zagreb. Zagreb was by far the most under-rated city we spent time in. We loved it! We knew we would love Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar. These cities are the reasons people travel to Croatia. They have a Mediterranean feel due to climate, food, history, and ocean and island views.

But Zagreb, as a city in the north felt more like an Eastern European destination. There was old soviet buildings, trams, and huge old European buildings and churches. We felt like it was a different cultural experience than the Dalmatian coast and we loved it! It was also considerably more affordable.

Late afternoon we checked into the Airbnb and then walked around for some dinner and past all sorts of shops, cute cafes, and a street of restaurants.

Day 11 (Zagreb)

This was our last day in Croatia!! We spent the day walking around, exploring a gorgeous cemetery in the city, getting our COVID test, and getting a nice early dinner before an early bed time. Zagreb was by far the biggest pleasant surprise of our trip. We loved it! Yet, most people come to Croatia for the Dalmatian coast, so you don’t always hear a great amount about the capital. We recommend spending some time here!

Day 12 (Journey back to Chicago)

This day we woke up very early to get to the airport and start our journey back to Chicago.

I was pretty sad to leave Croatia. I could have spent so much time here!

But for anyone looking to spend time in Croatia, I would really recommend this itinerary and this amount of time. With a day to journey on either side, you could do this trip in 2 weeks and return home energized by your amazing vacation.

I hope you enjoy your 11 night Croatia itinerary!

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