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The Perfect 14-Day Croatia Itinerary (Dalmatian Coast)

Many suggested Croatia travel itineraries cover the length of the country – from north to south – hitting pretty well most of the top places to visit in Croatia.

They have you starting inland in the capital of Zagreb, take you to the famous Plitvice Lakes, maybe to Rovinj, then down to Split and the Dalmatian islands – and have you ending up in Dubrovnik.

Epic? Yes. Relaxing? Not so much.

Our 14-day Croatia itinerary takes you to the major cities and most beautiful islands in the country’s southern region, the Dalmatian Coast.

We’re big on slow travel. And for us, that means focusing on one area and really delving into some of Croatia’s best beach destinations, wineries and old medieval towns in Dalmatia.

We’ve crafted the best Croatia itinerary for you if you’re looking to make the most of your time in this diverse region. So, let’s get going!

Beautiful Dubrovnik, Croatia
We started our Croatia trip in Dubrovnik

About our 14-day Croatia itinerary

If this is your first time to Croatia, trust us, you’ll want to return! (We’ve toured the country on three extended trips now and also visited Dubrovnik more times on cruises.)

Spending just one or two nights in a place and constantly packing and unpacking is tiring.

If you zero in on a smaller region, you can discover it in a more leisurely fashion (knowing you can visit other parts of Croatia on another trip). 

Beautiful village in Croatia
There are so many beautiful places in Croatia that it can be hard to choose where to go!

This trip, we wanted lots of time to swim, stroll about centuries-old towns, go wine tasting, ride a bicycle, hike, eat the freshest of seafood, read books on the beach and sip Aperol Spritzes at sunset while people-watching.

Dalmatia is famous for this.

The 200-mile-long Dalmatian Coast is known for its crystal ink-blue waters, charming medieval towns, picturesque pebble beaches and sunny Mediterranean climate. 

This 2-week Croatia itinerary is therefore ideal for the slow traveler who wants to experience the best of Croatia – without trying to see the whole country in one go. 

It’s especially apt for travelers who want know how to plan a Dalmatian Coast trip.

The route starts in Dubrovnik and ends in Split (though you can do this in reverse). Along the way, you visit three of the best islands in Croatia – Korcula, Hvar and Brac.

One of the most beautiful cities in Croatia, Split is a natural starting or end point for a Croatia trip.
One of the most beautiful cities in Croatia, Split is a natural starting or end point for a Croatia trip

Best way to travel in Croatia 

For independent travelers, island hopping by ferry is by far the best way to see the Dalmatian Coast!

We didn’t rent a car. We took ferries from island to island, staying in the old towns reached by ferry. 

The old town hotels in this Dalmatian Coast itinerary will send a staff member to meet you at the ferry dock and help carry your luggage to the hotel. (Text or email them in advance of your ferry arrival time.) 

Often there are lots of stairs to climb in Croatia’s old towns, so you’ll appreciate this service! 

It helped that we traveled light, with one rollaboard and laptop backpack each. (And, yes, traveling carry-on was a challenge for Janice, but she did it!)

Within the old towns, we walked everywhere and to nearby beaches and attractions. And we booked tours as day trips to explore the island we were on or to visit other smaller islands.

Getting around Croatia by ferry

Several ferry lines service Croatia and Dalmatia.

Most are passenger-only, high-speed catamarans.

The cost is the equivalent of about $15 to $20 USD p.p. per ferry ride, depending on the distance.

The ferries run more frequently in the summer months between June to September (the tourist season). In fact, they don’t really gear up for island hopping in Croatia until about mid-June. 

It’s therefore easier to plan a Croatian islands itinerary if you visit during this time.

During high season (July and August), be sure to reserve your ferry tickets in advance, as they can sell out.

Jadrolinija

Jadrolinija is the main ferry provider in Croatia. 

Their schedules are usually reliable, especially in July and August. But they still canceled one of our trips. (We traveled in June.) 

Take-away: Be prepared to tweak your Croatia Dalmatian coast itinerary, according to the ferry schedule.

The sailings on Jadrolinija ferries take longer, but you can sit or walk outside on the deck. This is not possible on the comfortable high-speed catamarans. 

Other main ferries servicing the Dalmatia area

The following are all high-speed catamarans that gear up for traveling between the Dalmatian Islands in the summertime.

Best of Croatia itinerary: 14 days

The following covers the best of Croatia in 2 weeks. Now, it does skip Istria – but we think that’s best left for another visit.

Dubrovnik – Days 1 to 2

Let’s start by saying that we’ve never yet spent enough time in Dubrovnik. It’s simply one of the best places to visit in Croatia!

View of Old Town Dubrovnik
View of Old Town Dubrovnik

Its Old Town may be small, but it’s packed with things to do and explore, and we can’t wait to go back. 

Dubrovnik is a historical gem, and it’s worth the hype. Besides the rich history and mind-blowing architecture, the waters lapping the Adriatic beaches are beyond the blues of your dreams. 

Dubrovnik is a must on your Dalmatian coast trip. It’s one of the most beautiful ancient fortress cities in Europe.

Banje Beach and Old Town Dubrovnik
This view of Banje Beach in front of the Old Town is one of the most photographed scenes in Dubrovnik

And the secret is out. You, along with thousands of others, visit the city daily. 

So, if you can’t deal with crowds, go in the shoulder season (but that will make Dalmatia island hopping harder to organize).

Or plan day trips so you’re away from the Old Town from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, when the crowds are the worst.

Plus, it’s cooler and more pleasant in high season to visit the Old Town in the early mornings and late afternoons/evenings.

Things to do in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is full of time-honored buildings, monuments, churches and palaces.
Dubrovnik is full of time-honored buildings, monuments, churches and palaces

Explore the Old Town

As you walk through the gleaming Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979), the ancient buildings and rich history transport you to a bygone era. 

It’s compact enough to explore in half a day or less.

But you could easily spend more time wandering down the narrow alleys that shoot off Stradun, the main street. Each alley is lined with adorable cafés and tourist shops. 

Sidewalk cafe in Old Town Dubrovnik
Visitors enjoy eating and strolling about in the Old Town

While there, check out sites like:

  • Pile Gate
  • Ploce Gate
  • Church of Saint Blaise
  • Orlando’s Column
  • Dominican Monastery
  • Jesuit Staircase
  • Gunduliceva Poljana Market

For Dubrovnik in a nutshell, here’s a 1½-hour guided Old Town walking tour which takes you to the most important historical landmarks.

If you wander through the Old Town as day turns into night, you’ll hear the twittering of hundreds of tiny swifts on their evening flight.

Pro tip: Every day in the summer months, cruises float into Dubrovnik. After all, it’s one of the best places in Croatia! So, time your visit when there are fewer cruise ships in the port. Check here for the schedule. You’ll thank us later.

Walk the city walls

Walking around on top of the city walls is one of the top things to do in Dubrovnik!
Walking around the Old Town on top of the city walls is one of the top things to do in Dubrovnik!

The city walls form the perimeter of the Old Town and are Dubrovnik’s main attraction. And they don’t disappoint. 

The stone walls were built between the 12th and 17th centuries to protect the city. As you meander on top of them, enjoy the bird’s eye views. 

The terra cotta-colored roof tiles are a sharp contrast to the azure sea – and it’s breathtaking. 

Red tile roofs of Dubrovnik Old Town
A sea of red tile roofs in Dubrovnik

Take your time soaking up the scenes of the Gothic and Renaissance churches, Venetian palaces and stone houses from above. 

You’ll feel like a fly on the wall watching the daily lives of the families living within these historic walls. 

Tickets to walk on the city walls are now 250 Croatian Kunas (about $36.50 USD) per adult.

We’ve walked these walls three times and learned a thing or two. For more details and pro tips (including how to avoid the crowds), check out our guide on walking the Dubrovnik city walls.

Do a Game of Thrones tour

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last decade, you probably know and love Game of Thrones. And you also probably know it’s filmed in and around Dubrovnik. 

So, take a guided small group tour to learn all about the filming locations and behind-the-scenes secrets. Not to mention all the hot gossip that only the locals who lead this tour know.

Swim at Banje Beach

You can’t go to Dubrovnik and not swim at iconic Banje Beach. 

Banje Beach is the most popular beach close to Dubrovnik Old Town.
Banje Beach is the most popular beach close to Dubrovnik Old Town

Yes, it’s the city’s main public beach. But where else can you float in the multi-hued blue Adriatic while looking at the Old Town and Lokrum Island? (More on that in a second…)

It’s one of our favorite beaches in Dubrovnik. And the perfect Croatia itinerary has a balance of cities and beaches – Dubrovnik and Banje is an ideal combo. 

You can spread your towel on the smooth pebbles for free.

Or you can rent beach beds from Banje Beach Club, the hottest day club, restaurant and lounge in the area. Get a massage while listening to the DJ and sipping champagne! 

Banje Beach, with Dubrovnik Old Town in the background
Banje Beach, with Dubrovnik Old Town in the background

Since it’s only about an 8-minute’ walk from the Old Town, Banje Beach is a perfect reprieve from the mid-day sun. 

Pro tip: Buy a pair of water shoes and wear them like your life depends on it. There are sea urchins and anemones in the waters around Croatia. Nothing ruins a vacation like an urchin spine in your foot. 

Take a water taxi to Lokrum

If Banje Beach doesn’t cut it for a day at the beach, hop on an adorable wooden water taxi to Lokrum Island, the “Island of Love.” 

A wooden water taxi docking at Lokrum Island, Croatia
Water taxis run frequently from Dubrovnik to the island of Lokrum

We’re not exactly sure why it’s called the Island of Love, especially since the curses surrounding the island are far from loveable. 

Legend has it that Benedictine monks cursed the island when the French booted them off. After that, there were shipwrecks, deaths, suicides and murders galore, and a great fire that burned everything to the ground. 

Fortunately, today it’s a nature and forest reserve, chock full of history and only open for day trips.

After exploring the historic monastery, the lovely outdoor cafés and the botanical garden – and snapping pics of the wild peacocks – find a rocky slab to sit on and dive into the turquoise sea.

Steel ladder leading to the sea on Lokrum Island
Steel ladders on Lokrum make it easy to get into the sea for a swim

Spend a full day on Lokrum if you can. 

Or you can book a 3-hour kayaking tour from Dubrovnik.

You first get to see the city walls from the sea. Then you paddle over to Lokrum and along part of its shoreline, where you have the chance to swim.

Kayaking from Dubrovnik to the island of Lokrum, Croatia
Kayaking from Dubrovnik to Lokrum Island

Ride the cable car to Mount Srd

For a panoramic view over Dubrovnik and the surrounding islands, ride the cable car up Mount Srd.

At the top, explore the Dubrovnik Imperial Fortress (built by Napoleon) and the Croatia Homeland War Museum. 

If you have time, stay for the sunset and watch the fuchsia haze settle over the water and the Elafiti Islands in the distance. It’s a thing of magic.

The Dubrovnik cable car to Mount Srd
The Dubrovnik cable car to Mount Srd

Another option is to take a combo tour and combine an Old Town walking tour with a cable car ride up Mount Srd. 

Visit the Elafiti Islands on a day trip

There are three main islands to visit in this archipelago: Lopud, Kolocep and Sipan. 

You may visit the Elafiti Islands (also called the Elaphite Islands) for the postcard-worthy beaches. But you’ll fall in love with the little villages and churches surrounded by olive and citrus groves. 

Lopud and Kolocep are car-free, so you’ll have to hike or kayak around them to discover all the hidden coves and coastal caves.

The best way to see the islands is with a tour. Here are some different options:

Where to stay in Dubrovnik

Visitors throng a street in Dubrovnik Old Town
You might like to stay right in the Old Town – it’s close to everything, but it’s also busy in high season

There are three main neighborhoods to stay in in Dubrovnik. 

The first is the Old Town, and while it may be ideal for some, it’s definitely not for others. 

Here’s why… 

It’s a car-free zone. If you come with a heavy suitcase, you’ll have to roll it up and down cobbled streets and staircases to get to your hotel room. Not exactly a luxurious way to start your vacation, trust us. 

Also, there aren’t a lot of accommodation choices, and it’s one of the most expensive areas in Dubrovnik. 

However, you’re in the thick of it all, and once you drop your suitcase, you have everything at your fingertips. 

Ploce, just east of the Old Town, is where we like to stay.

It’s within walking distance (or a very short bus ride) to all the tourist sites within the city walls. Additionally, there are more accommodation options here, including luxury hotels on the waterfront. 

Lapad, a peninsula west of the Old Town, is the third neighborhood and a 10-minute public transportation ride to the center. 

It has a wide tree-lined pedestrian-only street with affordable hotels and restaurants. Because it’s a peninsula, there are some lovely beaches to relax on.

It’s the perfect place for a family vacation in Dubrovnik.

Old Town – Boutique Hotel Stari Grad

Boutique Hotel Stari Grad is the best place to stay in the Old Town. 

The fully renovated 16th-century historic palace has eight spacious rooms. Breakfast on the rooftop terrace with views of Old Town, the Adriatic Sea and the surrounding islands is included.

Ploce – Excelsior Hotel

The Hotel Excelsior is one of the best hotels in Dubrovnik
The Hotel Excelsior is one of the best seafront hotels in Dubrovnik (and it’s very close to the Old Town)

We love the 5-star Hotel Excelsior.

What’s not to love? It’s a historic villa with sea view rooms. We swam right off the terrace below, and the hotel is only a few minutes’ walk from the Old Town.  

Sea-level terrace at the Hotel Excelsior
Sea-level terrace at the Hotel Excelsior

There’s also a grand indoor swimming pool if the sea isn’t your style. 

A drool-worthy champagne breakfast buffet (with George’s fave – plum dumplings) is included in the room rates. 

Not only are you treated like royalty, you may run into a royal while you’re here.

Queen Elizabeth II, Morgan Freeman and Elizabeth Taylor, among others, have all stayed at this luxury Dubrovnik hotel. 

Lapad – Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik

Set one minute from the beach on a striking cliff, the 5-star Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik offers sea views from every newly rehabbed room. 

Take a private elevator down to the secluded pebble beach and spend the day lounging on your secret hideaway. Or head to The Wine Bar with over 180 wines and champagnes just waiting to be sipped. 

Where to eat in Dubrovnik

Looking down from the Dubrovnik walls at an outdoor restaurant
Looking down from the Dubrovnik walls at an outdoor restaurant

Sensus Restaurant

Dine on Mediterranean fare at Sensus Restaurant, one of the most elegant restaurants in Dubrovnik.

The setting is very romantic, especially if you sit outside on the stone terrace. The tables here (draped with white tablecloths) have terrific views of the Old Town. 

To start with, we were offered complimentary wafer-thin fried plantain chips with eggplant-and-goat cheese dip. They went well with the bubbly rosé.

We then dined on beef tartare, grilled octopus and sea bass with cauliflower foam. And it was all excellent, as was the service.

Proto Fish Restaurant

Recommended by the Michelin GuideProto Fish Restaurant is known for its fresh fish and seafood.

Its roof terrace is lovely (or you can sit streetside).

The fresh catch of the day is always a hit. Or try the truffle pasta with shrimp or grilled scallops with apple lentil mash.

Trattoria Carmen

For fresh good Italian food at reasonable prices, Trattoria Carmen is the place to go.

It’s located on a secluded street in the Old Town.

The menu, which changes daily, is written up on a chalkboard. The pasta is super fresh. And the octopus entrée is a fave.

Korcula – Days 3 to 5

The Old Town of Korcula
The Old Town of Korcula

Heading northwest from Dubrovnik, Korcula Island is the next destination on our Croatia trip itinerary.

Korcula is simply one of the best Croatia islands! 

It’s known for its sandy beaches, medieval towns and thriving wine industry. It’s the perfect laid-back antithesis to Dubrovnik’s beautiful chaos. 

Korcula’s cobblestoned Old Town is pedestrian-only, like Dubrovnik’s Old Town. The narrow lanes are charming and peppered with opulent architecture and cute cafés. 

Keep an eye out for these sights:

  • Town Gate
  • Marco Polo’s house (he’s said to be from Korcula)
  • St. Mark’s Cathedral

You can see and learn about the major sights on a guided 2-hour art and history walking tour of Korcula Old Town.

Pro tip: There are traditional moreska (sword dance) performances every Monday and Thursday, so be sure to check that out for a taste of Korcula’s culture.

Staircase to Old Town of Korcula
You climb a flight of stairs to enter the Old Town of Korcula

Getting from Dubrovnik to Korcula

Ferries run frequently from Dubrovnik to Korcula in the tourist season (June to September). The sailing time is about 2 hours.

We took the TP Line to Korcula Town. From there, it was a mere 5 minutes’ walk (no stairs) to our hotel.

Things to do in Korcula

Hike up to St. Antun Church

Take a 30-minute hike from town along a coastal sidewalk, and you’ll find yourself at the base of St. Anthony’s Hill. Then climb up 102 steps through a cypress forest to St. Antun’s Church. 

Bring a picnic and a bottle of local wine and enjoy the quiet and peaceful hilltop.

George climbs up the steps to St. Antun’s Church

Take the hop-on hop-off water taxi

Go on an excursion for the day via a hop-on hop-off water taxi. For tickets, head to the boat dock (by the ferry dock) and look for a stall with a sign that reads “Korcula Water Taxi.”

Then hop on and head to:

Badija Island
Deer on Badija Island, Croatia
The deer on Badija Island beg to be hand-fed by visitors

An adorable uninhabited island, Badija is known for its 14th-century Franciscan Monastery, tame deer that love to be hand-fed and secluded pebble beaches. 

The beaches are so well-hidden, they beg you to go skinny dipping. Not that we’d do that. Okay, we totally did that!

Cute deer on Badiji Island
The deer on Badiji Island are so cute that we just had to include another pic!
Vrnik Island

Vrnik is a favorite Sunday destination for locals from Korcula. 

It’s famous for its deep stone quarries, 29 to be exact, that date back to Roman times. In addition, there are loads of secluded swimming spots tucked where the sea is an astounding shade of cobalt. 

There’s a small restaurant under the shade of pine trees (Vrnik Arts Club), where you can plop down on a bean bag, have a drink and cool off in the clear sea.  

Relaxing on Vrnik Island, Croatia
Relaxing on Vrnik Island
Lumbarda

Unlike the other two stops, Lumbarda isn’t an island. Rather, it’s a small seaside village of fishermen and farmers on the southeast coast of Korcula Island. 

It’s well worth a visit – if not for the (rare) sandy beach of Vela Przina, but also for its famous Grk wine.

If you don’t have time to make it to Vela Przina, there’s a pebble beach (Prvi Zal Beach) with a pretty restaurant and sunbeds/umbrellas right by the Lumbarda wharf – Café Prvi Zal.

Check out Lumbarda Village

Hop-on/hop-off boat from Korcula Town
Hop-on hop-off boat from Korcula Town

You can take a direct water taxi (or the hop-on hop-off one above) to Lumbarda Village. Or you can rent a bike in Korcula Town and bicycle there. It’s only 3½ miles south and an easy ride.

If you’re going to Vela Przina, the nicest beach in Lumbarda, then get there early to nab a sunbed. Unfortunately, those spots get snatched up quickly. However, there are three other sandy beaches nearby if that’s what you’re after. 

Not far from Vela Przina are the vineyards. 

Lumbarda is the only area in the world where Grk grapes thrive, so you’d better get your fill of this delicious white wine – we did! Most Grk wines are dry, some are citrusy and others have a fruity note. 

You’ll need to try them all to find your favorite. Our orders!

Pro tip: If you take a direct water taxi to Lumbarda, rent a bicycle and ride between the vineyards, tasting to your heart’s content. Must taste wineries – Lovric Winery, Popic Winery and Winery Gryk.

Or better yet, take a tour…

Taste wines in Lumbarda on a bicycling tour

Bicyclists in Lumbarda, Korcula
Fellow bicyclists on our bicycling wine tour to Lumbarda

We took the Korcula bike-and-wine tour to Lumbarda with Korcula Explorer and had the best time. 

On this small group tour in the late afternoon, you’ll cycle about 6 miles in total – which is just about right, as you’ll be wine tasting too!

You’ll ride at a leisurely pace along some quiet narrow roads and stone paths in the countryside, past beautiful vineyards and olive groves. 

It includes a few hills (walking your bike up is allowed). But the good news is you take a van back to Korcula at the end – no tipsy biking is involved.

You visit two family-run wineries to taste their unique wines and nibbles. Both have lovely views over the vineyards to the sea. 

The wine tasting runs the gamut from rosé to white, red and dessert wines (like cherry and lemon liqueurs). 

Winery in Lumbarda, Croatia
One of the wineries we visited on our bicycling-and-wine-tasting tour

And we thoroughly enjoyed meeting like-minded guests on this tour – along with the bicycling, drinking wine, laughing and learning all about Korcula and Croatia’s wine industry from our English owner/guide, who lives on Korcula with his young family.

Go swimming

Walk a few minutes out of Korcula Old Town to where the boats are anchored, and you’ll find a concrete wharf.

Throw down your towel, put on your water shoes and climb down the ladder into the waiting sapphire Adriatic. 

Still yearning for a beach? Walk one minute more, and you’ll find tiny pebble beaches, where the waves slowly ripple ashore. 

Pebble beach in Korcula, Croatia
Like most Croatia beaches, Korcula’s beaches are mainly pebble ones (no icky sand in your swimsuit!)

But wait… there’s more. 

Spend the day at Pupnatska Luca Beach

About a 20-minute drive from Korcula Town (you can take a taxi), Pupnatska Luca Beach is touted as the most beautiful beach on the island. 

It’s protected from the winds in a stunning cove, where you can sit on a gently sloping pebble beach and float in the clear turquoise water.

There isn’t much shade on this narrow stretch of beach, so rent a sunbed or come prepared. There are beach bars and restaurants for libations and munchies. 

Where to stay on Korcula

The Fabris Luxury Inn

For a lovely boutique hotel in Korcula, The Fabris Luxury Inn ticks off all the boxes.
For a lovely boutique hotel in Korcula, The Fabris Luxury Inn ticks all the boxes

We found The Fabris Luxury Inn on the edge of the Old Town absolutely delightful. Plus, it’s only a few minutes away from a pebble beach and the ferry dock. 

We booked a luxury courtyard room with a king bed in the Annex building.

It was a large, newly renovated room with fresh white stone walls, polished wooden floors and vaulted ceilings. The website photos don’t do it justice. 

Have your breakfast (it’s included) on the hotel’s lovely outdoor terrace overlooking the yachts moored nearby.

Balcony view from The Fabris Luxury Inn, Korcula
Balcony view from The Fabris Luxury Inn (Credit: The Fabris Luxury Inn)

Lesic Dimitri Palace

Just down the street from Marco Polo’s home and the old cathedral in the Old Town is Lesic Dimitri Palace and its Michelin star restaurant. 

Housed in an 18th-century palace, each of the six residences is uniquely designed with comfortable elegance in mind. Choose from 1 to 3 bedroom apartments, some with a sea view, all with kitchens.  

Also, it’s just steps away from Zakrjan Beach (or Zakerjan Beach), a pebbly swimming spot on the eastern edge of the Old Town. 

Aminess Korcula Heritage Hotel

Another Old Town gem of a hotel is the 4-star Aminess Korcula Heritage Hotel

Built as a hotel in 1912, it’s the oldest hotel in this small town. Together with its chic café, it’s retained the ambience of that olden era. 

The 20 boutique rooms come with a fabulous breakfast that you take under flowering trees with a view of the sea. But not all the rooms have a sea view, so check those details when you book. 

Where to eat in Korcula 

Konoba Adio Mare

This is one of the most popular restaurants in Korcula Old Town.

Konoba Adio Mare is one of the best restaurants in Korcula, Croatia.
Konoba Adio Mare turned out to be our favorite restaurant in Korcula

Konoba Adio Mare at first turned us down because we were 17 minutes late for our reservation. Our table had already been snapped up.

We returned the next night – on time! – and our dinner here was one of the best we had in Croatia. 

Think an elegant white tablecloth setting on a rooftop patio. A complimentary starter of tuna paté and charcoal-grilled toast. Grilled catch of the day with a juicy tomato salad – and French fries, of course!

All complemented by perfectly chilled white Grk wine.

Konoba Adio Mare is expensive but worth it.

The service is also perfect, a match of any high-end restaurant’s service.

Konoba Aterina

Konoba Aterina is one of the best places to eat in Korcula for simple home-made pasta.
Konoba Aterina is one of the best places to eat in Korcula for simple home-made pasta

Konoba Aterina is a pretty alfresco eatery with colorful plastic tablecloths decorating the tables.

The menu is small but the prices are reasonable.

We started with an appetizer platter of anchovies, tuna paté, chick pea hummus, olives, goat cheese, tomatoes and a basket of home-baked bread.

Traditional Croatian appetizer platter at Konoba Aterina in Korcula
Traditional Croatian appetizer platter at Konoba Aterina

For an entrée, home-made pasta with pesto or tomato sauce is their specialty. Choose your protein to go with it – shrimp or meat.

Lole Wine Bar

We couldn’t snag a table at this side-street gem (it’s very popular). But Lole Wine Bar looked like the perfect place to sample some of Korcula’s amazing wines and nibble on tapas. 

Check out the reviews and you’ll see that everyone who goes there raves about the place.

Hvar – Days 6 to 9

Turquoise waters of Hvar Island
The turquoise waters of Hvar Island

Every Croatia island hopping itinerary must include sophisticated Hvar Island. It’s an idyllic blend of old towns, historic villages, incredible beaches and booming nightlife.

Hvar Town and Stari Grad are the two main towns to visit on the island. And they couldn’t be more divergent. 

Hvar Town buzzes with billionaire yachts and boats ready to carry revelers after dark to the clubs on the Pakleni Islands to party until sunrise. Loads of fashionably-dressed young people trundle off every new ferry arrival with their rollaway suitcases.

Stari Grad is the opposite, with a quieter and more authentic vibe.

We stayed in Hvar Town rather than Stari Grad because there are more attractions in Hvar and it’s more of a hub for visitors.

Getting from Korcula to Hvar

Ferries run to Hvar Town from Korcula several times a day. 

We took the Krilo (Kapetan-Luka) ferry from Korcula Old Town to Hvar Town – a ferry ride of about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Things to do in Hvar

We stayed for almost a week on Hvar, soaking up every moment.

We’ve written a whole guide on what you can do on Hvar. Below are some highlights:

Explore Hvar Town

A Mediterranean gem, Hvar Town is the island’s largest town. It’s a joy to stroll along its streets.

Pop into the teeny 1612 Hvar Theater (the oldest public theater in Europe). And photograph the baroque St. Stephen’s Cathedral with its four-story belltower.

For some exercise, hike up past botanical gardens to the Spanish Fortress looming over the town. You’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of Hvar and the Pakleni Islands up top.

Stairs leading up to the Spanish Fortress on Hvar Island
Stairs leading up to the Spanish Fortress

At the end of the day, join the party and have sunset cocktails at the Hula-Hula Hvar Beach Bar.

Take a boat ride to the Pakleni Islands

Speaking of the Pakleni Islands, you’ll want to take a boat tour to visit one or some of them. The ride to get there is only some 30 minutes long.

One of our favorite beaches in Hvar is the serene Mlini Beach on Marinkovac Island in the Pakleni archipelago. Lounge under the dappled shade of pine trees and take a dip in the blue blue sea.

Mlini Beach is the most tranquil spot on the Pakleni Islands
Mlini Beach is the most tranquil spot on the Pakleni Islands

Or have a fancy seafood lunch at Palmizana Beach on Sveti Klement, another Pakleni Island.

See the Blue and Green Caves

The Blue Cave is a sea cave on Bisevo Island, regaled for its incredibly blue water color.

Take a shuttle-boat inside the amazing Blue Cave, swim inside the Green Cave and visit Vis Island (or the Pakleni Islands) on this 5-star-rated speedboat tour from Hvar.

Chill at a beach on Hvar

Hvar has no shortage of great beaches.

Two great options?

Walk 30 minutes south from the Old Town to Pokonji Dol Beach, a pine-shaded haven with beach bars and sunbed rentals.

Pokonji Dol Beach
Pokonji Dol Beach

Or embrace the Robinson Crusoe vibe at Robinson Beach, an hour’s hike along the coast (or a quick water taxi ride away).

Where to stay in Hvar Town

Palace Elisabeth

The Palace Elisabeth is the most deluxe hotel in Hvar Town.
The Palace Elisabeth is the most deluxe hotel in Hvar Town (Credit: Palace Elisabeth)

Set in a luxuriously renovated historical building, the 5-star Palace Elisabeth is a heritage hotel and landmark in the center of Hvar Town.

It captures the essence of days gone by, yet it offers the modern luxury we’ve come to expect today. Every room has a view of the Pjaca, the largest square in Dalmatia, or of Hvar Bay. 

Heritage Hotel Dea Hvar

This family-run heritage hotel is steps away from everything in the Old Town, yet it’s totally quiet at night.

Nothing is too much trouble for the staff, who are very helpful and kind. Staying at Heritage Hotel Dea Hvar feels like staying with family.

Villa Nora Hvar

Villa Nora Hvar, is another family-run boutique hotel in Hvar’s Old Town. Housed in a former 14th-century palace, its spacious air-conditioned rooms are decorated with antiques.

Nor do you have to walk far for an appetizing dinner – its on-site Lucullus restaurant serves excellent food and wine.

Where to eat in Hvar

Lungomare

Lungomare is a delightful family-run fish restaurant, a 10-minute walk from the town center.

Grilled fish in Croatia
A server prepares a grilled fish dish

Choose your fish from the ice case. It comes perfectly grilled! We ordered ours with fries and veggies, accompanied by homemade wine.

End with warm crepes topped with cherry jam for a delightful meal.

Bonus: This Hvar restaurant is reasonably priced.

Fig

We loved Fig so much we ate here twice for dinner.

Their must-try flatbread with goat cheese, figs and arugula is a treat, as are the pulled pork chili bowl and the bacon and blue cheese salad.

Fig is a popular spot and doesn’t accept reservations, so be ready for a bit of a wait. 

Konoba Luviji

Konoba Luviji offers a lovely rooftop dining experience. Savor traditional Croatian cuisine while enjoying views of Hvar Town’s red rooftops and the beautifully lit Spanish Fortress at night.

Brac – Days 10 to 12

Brac (pronounced “Bratch”) is the largest island in Dalmatia, yet far less glitzy and touristy than the others on this itinerary.

An ideal spot to see an authentic side of Croatia, it’s known for its white stone buildings and its olive oil, which is unique to the island. 

Bol, the small resort town where we stayed, is known for Zlatni Rat, a white pebble beach said to be among the best in the country.

Brac Island, Croatia
Less touristy than Hvar, Brac turned out to be one of our favorite islands in Croatia

Getting from Hvar to Brac

The ferry connection from Hvar Town to Bol was a bit more difficult for us than our other ferry connections.

Jadrolinija canceled our direct sailing at the last minute. 

So the only alternative was to take two ferries. First, we went from Hvar to Split with Krilo and then after a couple of hours hanging around at the Split port (no hardship), we took Adriatic Fast Ferries from Split to Bol.

(We could have gone on Jadrolinija from the town of Jelsa on Hvar directly to Bol – a ferry ride of about 20 minutes. But the taxi cost from Hvar Town to Jelsa would have been prohibitive and the scheduled ferry departure at 7:00 am was a little too early for us.)

Things to do on Brac

We stayed on Brac Island for a glorious week and had a jam-packed itinerary.

Our post about the best things to do on Brac has the complete scoop. Meanwhile, here’s a glimpse at some of the island’s must-do activities:

Hike to Blaca Hermitage

Frane boat excursion to Blaca Hermitage, Brac
We first took a boat ride from Bol, then hiked up a mountain to reach the Blaca Hermitage

Back in the day, when the Turks were invading the Dalmatian Coast, two monks fled to Brac and hid in a cave in the hills. They spent 20 years creating a monastic community before they were given permission by the bishop to build a proper monastery. 

And for 400 years, it thrived. Those monks lived the good life.

Their land produced 15,850 gallons of wine and 574 gallons of honey annually, which they traded for some of their most prized artifacts. Things like an 880-pound piano from Vienna that took a team of men eight hours to carry up the trail to the top of the hermitage. 

You’ll hike up the same path the monks used for centuries. But your trek will only take 45 minutes to reach the monastery. 

Blaca Hermitage is a masterpiece frozen in time and not to be missed.

Room inside the Blaca Hermitage
Inside the Blaca Hermitage

We booked our excursion with Frane, taking a 30-minute boat trip from Bol to the cove where we started our hike up to the monastery.

Chill at Zlatni Rat Beach

This iconic V-shaped beach is surrounded by so many blues it’s hard to believe it exists in nature.

Imagine aquamarine water flowing into a deep midnight blue, where you can float the day away as if in a dream.

Zlatni Rat is one of the most photographed beaches in Croatia!
Zlatni Rat is one of the most photographed beaches in Croatia!

Rent a lounger and umbrella or get a core workout while stand-up paddleboarding, but either way, take your time here. It’s paradise.

Enjoy a jeep tour of the island

We had a blast on our all-day jeep tour with Explore Brac. 

Part of the fun was our tour guide. He entertained us with stories about the island, all while expertly navigating the sometimes tricky terrain.

A jeep tour is one of the best things to do on Brac Island, Croatia
Our trusty jeep for our day tour of Brac

We started driving through the unique countryside of rolling hills and pines dotted with cast-aside slabs of white stone.

Our first stop was the historic Olive Oil Museum. Next, we stopped at an iconic stone church with a tree growing through the roof, and finally, it was on to the highest point on the island, Vidova Gora.

However, the highlight of the day unfolded over the following few hours. 

We were driven to what felt like the middle of nowhere, except for an old stone cottage on the water.

There, we swam in the pristine sapphire waters. In the meantime, Andrea, the owner of the company, and her cousin Martin prepared a long lazy lunch of home-made yumminess.

Tastings of local walnut and cherry liquors were followed by freshly baked flatbread with home-made sheep cheese, grilled fish and lamb. 

All sourced from the land we were lazing on. It was divine.

Fresh grilled fish for lunch on Brac Island
After a swim in the sea, we were served fresh grilled fish for lunch

So, if you only have a short time, this is a great way to experience Brac.

If you can only spend half a day, see this half-day off-road tour with Brac Off-Road Adventure.

Where to stay in Brac

We stayed in the medieval village of Bol, and so should you. It’s walkable, beautiful and has historical sites to wander through. 

What more could you need? A great hotel!

Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered. Stay at the lovely Villa Giardino Bol boutique hotel. The rooms are plush, and having breakfast on the flower-filled terrace made it difficult to leave each day.

As a bonus, it’s only a 5-minute walk to the waterfront and the Stina Winery. 

Villa Giardino Bol hotel room
Our room at Villa Giardino Bol

Where to eat in Brac

Ribarska Kucica

Our favorite restaurant in Brac is Ribarska Kucica. (We had dinner here twice.)

It’s very romantic, with a seaside location and traditional European service, white tablecloths and all. Truffle cheese appetizer, fish, grilled lamb chops – it’s all good. 

(Mind you, like many restaurants in Croatia, the creamy pasta dishes were too salty for Janice’s tastes, so choose dishes that don’t come with sauces if you don’t like too much salt.)

Mali Raj

Mali Raj is set in a picturesque garden about a 30-minute walk from Bol Old Town, near Zlatni Rat Beach.

It’s highly reviewed. But while we found the food good, it’s not outstanding. Plus it’s quite expensive.

So we’d say go here more for the lovely setting than for an exceptional meal. 

Split – Days 13 to 14

The Split waterfront at night

Split is the largest city in Dalmatia and the northernmost city in our itinerary. It’s very touristy, so if you can get here in the shoulder season, you’ll be grateful. 

Even though it’s coastal, it’s not known for its beaches. 

History buffs love Split for Diocletian’s Palace, Klis Fortress and the Salona ruins. We love it for at least 21 reasons…

Things to do in Split

We’ve mentioned we adore this gem of a town… So much so that we’ve gone three times and have written a detailed post of our 21 fave things to do in Split

Anyway, here are some activities in Split you shouldn’t miss.

Explore Diocletian’s Palace

In 305 AD, the Roman emperor Diocletian commanded an army of slaves to build him a summer villa. 

The Old Town of Split is built around Diocletian's Palace
The Old Town of Split is built around Diocletian’s Palace

He only wanted the best for his palace. So he used white stone from Brac and marble from Italy, and 12 looted sphinxes were shipped over from Egypt to add a little zhuzh.

Diocletian’s Palace comprises 220 buildings in a 10-acre neighborhood in the heart of Split’s Old Town. This UNESCO site is like a living museum.

Today, about 3,000 people live and work within the palace walls.

It’s filled with trendy cafés, modern boutiques and apartments, as well as historical sites – and it feels more like part of the city (which it is) than a separate independent palace.

Split's Cathedral of St. Domnius
Split’s Cathedral of St. Domnius is one of the oldest in the world

Browse the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery

Housed in Ivan Mestrovic’s 1930s neoclassic mansion – a work of art itself – the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery displays some of his best sculptures and drawings.

And seeing as how he was Croatia’s version of Michelangelo, it’s something to be seen.

Before you walk through the museum, watch the film detailing his tumultuous life. The wars and years in exile clearly influenced his art, and you can see it throughout the exhibitions. 

Climb up Marjan Hill

If the crowds in Split have you feeling frazzled, escape to the 584-foot-high oasis of Marjan Hill. There are walking trails through the pine forest that will make you forget you’re in a crowded city.

Walk up the stone steps for a 360 degree view of the world below. Then, go to the café here for a nibble and a sip with views of the cruise ships and harbor below.

Take a day trip to Krka National Park

When going to Split, don’t miss the famous waterfalls in Krka. There are seven different falls within this park, and it’s only an hour away from town. 

Skradinski Buk Falls is a must, with its collection of 17 cascades and a 148-foot drop into a pool the color of a turquoise crayon. 

Skradinski Buk Falls is one of seven amazing waterfalls in Krka National Park.
Skradinski Buk Falls is one of seven amazing waterfalls in Krka National Park

Roski Slap, locally known as the “necklace” falls, is just as dreamy. 

Go in the morning, and you’ll have a little more solitude than when the throngs arrive in the afternoon. 

Take a guided tour and taste some olive oil, cheese and wine along the way, or go independently and at your own pace. 

Where to stay in Split

Judita Palace Heritage Hotel

Our favorite boutique hotel in Split is a restored 16th-century gem right in the center of the Old Town.

Judita Palace has 19 luxurious guest rooms with elegant furnishings, marble bathrooms and sparkling chandeliers. And nothing was too much trouble for the highly attentive staff.

A Judita Palace Heritage Hotel guest room
A Judita Palace guest room (Credit: Judita Palace Heritage Hotel)

Hotel Park

A stone’s throw from Old Town, Hotel Park oozes historic magnificence with all the modern luxury you might desire.

Radisson Blu Resort & Spa

If you’ve come to Croatia to marvel at the Adriatic, stay at the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa. Its seaside location is about 1½ miles from the hustle of the Old Town and it’s the ideal respite after a day of sightseeing.

Where to eat in Split

Zinfandel

Zinfandel is a cool little wine bar in Split Old Town. Its wine menu of 10 pages offers more than 60 wines by the glass, and live music is played every night.

Order the warm chocolate cake for dessert – it’s sinfully delicious.

Makarun

Serving tasty local delicacies, Makarun is hidden in a secret passage between Renaissance palaces. Go for the hand-rolled pasta with truffles. The beef carpaccio is also excellent.

Portofino

Hidden between ancient buildings, footsteps from the Cathedral, Portofino is pricey but worth it. The octopus salad, sea bass and crab-and-shrimp risotto are all recommended. Service is excellent too.

More (or less) than 14 days in Croatia?

How many days in Croatia (Dalmatia) should you spend? 

Let’s just say you won’t get bored vacationing for two weeks in Croatia! 

Croatian beah
For a leisurely trip, two weeks is ideal for exploring the Dalmatian Coast

This trip, we spent three weeks in Croatia – all on the Dalmatian Coast – and there were still islands and places we didn’t have time to visit.

We think our 14-day Croatia travel itinerary is ideal. 

But if you have less time, it can easily be adapted for 10 days in Croatia, or even 7 days in Croatia (see below).

If you have lots of time to visit Croatia, then you could head to the romantic city of Rovinj on the Istrian Peninsula, visit Plitvice Lakes National Park and explore the capital of Zagreb. We have this book-marked for our next Croatia trip!

10-Day Croatia itinerary

If you don’t have enough time to experience a full Croatia 14-day itinerary, no worries. You can shorten your time in each Croatian destination.

Here’s what we personally recommend for a Croatia 10-day itinerary:

  • Days 1 to 2: Dubrovnik
  • Days 3 to 4 – Korcula
  • Days 5 to 6 – Hvar
  • Days 7 to 8 – Brac
  • Days 9 to 10 – Split

If this feels too busy to you, you could eliminate the island of Brac and spend those extra two days on Korcula and Hvar (one more day on each island).

7-Day Croatia itinerary

With a week in Croatia, we recommend basing yourself in just three places – and taking day trips from there (to limit the time spent switching locations):

  • Days 1 to 2 – Dubrovnik
  • Days 3 to 5 – Hvar or Korcula
  • Days 6 to 7 – Split

Best time to island-hop Croatia

June is a great time to visit Croatia. So is September. 

They’re not as crowded as the high summer months of July and August. But the sea is warm enough for swimming – perfect, in fact!

It’s possible to visit the Dalmatian Coast and islands all year round. 

But ferry services aren’t as frequent in the off-season. (Some routes shut down completely at the end of September and don’t restart until late June.)

And restaurants, bars, clubs and many tours are only open during the tourist season.

And forget about swimming in the colder months. The sea will be just too chilly!

Croatia island hopping yacht cruises

While hiking to the Blaca Hermitage on Brac, we met a hiking guide from Sail Croatia. Then in Split, we toured the elegant Queen Jelena, one of Sail Croatia’s small cruise yachts.

From what we saw and learned, we’d have no hesitation recommending these yacht cruises as a great way to explore the Dalmatian Coast if you’d rather go on an organized group trip. 

These are small yacht cruises, accommodating between 32 and 40 guests (depending on the ship) – with outdoor-focused itineraries.

Sail Croatia yacht
The Sail Croatia yacht we toured in Split

Sail Croatia offers several types of 7-night cruise experiences, including roundtrip hiking-themed itineraries from Split and upscale (“Elegance”) cruises between Split and Dubrovnik. 

The Elegance yachts feature spacious ensuite cabins, lovely dining saloons, swimming platforms, lots of lounging space on deck and a splash pool or large outdoor hot tub.

What’s especially appealing is that unlike regular cruise ships (where all meals are included), with Sail Croatia, you go ashore in the evenings for dinner on your own – so you can dine alfresco at different local restaurants.

The advantage to booking one of these cruises is that you’d get to visit several islands without having to plan your Croatia vacation itinerary yourself.

That wraps up our itinerary for Croatia!

There are so many incredible things to do in Croatia. We could have stayed another month without seeing all of this beautiful country!

We hope this itinerary nudges you to start on your Croatia travel plans. Our advice: Get packing and go!

More Croatia travel information

In case you missed them, see our other Croatia travel guides:

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: Booking.com is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!


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14 Day Croatia Itinerary

Photo credits: 4, 7 to 16, 19 to 21, 24 to 30, 32, 34 to 36, 38 to 40, 42 to 45, 47 to 49, 52, 56 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase


About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Cindy J.

Thursday 24th of August 2023

If we had up to 3 weeks to spend and didn't want to move from lodging to lodging, what recommendations do you have for where we could spend a week in one place? Maybe 3 places for a week each, where we could explore the surrounding area before moving on?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

Janice and George

Sunday 27th of August 2023

We'd pick Dubrovnik, Hvar island and Split.

These are the larger hubs, with lots of hotel and restaurant choices. And there are many day tours you can do from each place.

You could have a great 3-week trip in Croatia basing yourself in these three places!

Melanie

Thursday 13th of April 2023

You posted this in a Croatia Facebook group today. I cannot find the post again, but I wanted to thank you. I found this to be very helpful with my trip planning.

Janice and George

Thursday 13th of April 2023

Hi Melanie,

You probably couldn't find the Facebook post on our site, because it's on the Explore Brac Facebook site :-). They told us they'd posted our article on "Things to Do in Brac" on their FB site today.

Anyway, we're happy you found our Croatia article helpful!

Ryan Biddulph

Wednesday 25th of January 2023

What an awesome breakdown for visiting Croatia, Janice and George. Keep up the good blogging work!

Janice and George

Wednesday 25th of January 2023

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed our Croatia travel guide:-).