In July 2015, we spent 5 days driving along the Croatian coast. We would highly recommend Croatia to any traveler. It's a beautiful country that is still relatively inexpensive, and there are so many things to see and do.
We rented our car through Europcar to find the best available rate, and the company we chose was Otis. We enjoyed our experience with both Europcar and Otis, and have continued to use Europcar for our car rental needs.
We were traveling to Croatia from Italy, so we decided to take an overnight ferry from Bari to Dubrovnik. The ferry was a pretty unique experience. Our private room was tiny but clean and we appreciated that it had a sink in the room so we didn't always have to walk down the hall to the bathrooms. Tip: if you want to shower, do so immediately after boarding so you get a clean shower before everyone else starts to use them!
Below are some highlights from our trip.
Dubrovnik is one of Croatia's most popular tourist destinations, and for good reason! It's a beautiful walled port town with an impressive history based on maritime trade. It has managed to survive many threats and sieges over the centuries, and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
Don't miss walking the ancient city walls, with stunning views of the Adriatic Sea set against the terracotta-tiled roofs of the Old Town. Have a drink at Buza Bar if you can find it (this hole-in-the-wall cliff bar is quite hidden). If you're up for it, take a dip in the crystal clear water below. Wander the tiny cobbled streets and pop into the many souvenir shops. You can also hike or take the cable car up to the top of Mount Srd for some iconic views of Dubrovnik from above.
Split is the second largest city in Croatia and its Old Town is full of history. Don't miss Diocletian's Palace, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in 305 AD for the Roman emperor Diocletian. The rest of the Old Town is small and walkable with lots of shops and restaurants lining the cobbled streets. The Riva promenade is perfect for people-watching.
3. Krka National Park
One of eight national parks in Croatia, Krka National Park covers a total area of 109 km² along the Krka River, and is known for its beautiful waterfalls. The park can easily be reached as a day trip from Split.
Don't miss Skradinski Buk, the largest and most impressive falls. The best part is that you can swim in them! Skradinski Buk can be reached from the Lazovac entrance to the park.
Another highlight was Roski Slap, known for its cascading waterfalls called the "necklace" by locals. For a great vantage point, you can climb 517 wooden steps to Ozidana cave. This cave was continuously populated from 6000-1500 BC, and has been open to the public since 2012.
Lastly, you'll want to see Manojlovac Slap, the tallest waterfall in the park at 59.6 m. The viewpoint can be accessed from Road 509 between Knin and Kistanje.
4. Plitvice National Park
Croatia's first national park, Plitvice National Park is a true natural wonder and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This park was a detour away from the coast, but we really wanted to see it and we were not disappointed. Make sure you go early and give yourself at least a full day to experience the park. We started at Entrance 1 right when the park opened and did the K loop, which is the longest route that allows you to see the entire park in one go.
Part of the fun of any road trip is making unscheduled stops. One of our favorites was stopping in Senj for a swim. We just couldn't resist how amazing the Adriatic looked from the road. We found a little spot all to ourselves and enjoyed the incredibly clear and warm water in the late afternoon sun.
Croatia is a fantastic Mediterranean travel destination with lots to offer both from a historical and natural standpoint. If you're planning a trip to Croatia, let us know if you have any questions for us in the comments below. We'd also love to hear your own travel experiences if you've been before!