As Croatia approaches fuller membership into the European Union it remains a tourist destination on the rise and a country whose economy and infrastructure are growing. It is a country of pristine mountains, lovely countryside and arguably one of the best and bluest coasts on earth. Thankfully due to good roads, highways and transit options it can be a breeze to come and discover the length and breadth of the landscape either in an affordable rental car or one of the many buses that connect every corner of the country together.
A solid itinerary of Southern Croatia can best begin at the Southern extremity of the country. This way one has hours of countryside or seafront to explore. A good amount of time to set aside is seven to ten days to really get a feel for the landscape. Two weeks would be enough time to branch out into the Northern part as well, because it can take a long time to drive all the way up the coast. Car rentals are affordable and are best gotten at any of the major airports such as Split, Dubrovnik or Zagreb.
Dubrovnik is an incredible gem on the Adriatic. Its Southernmost situation and big town infrastructure make it the perfect place to begin and end the trip, as the most beautiful city in the South it should not be missed on principle. The airport is close to town and can be reached by a city bus, one of the nicest spots from which to enjoy the best views the city has to offer is the Radisson property there.
The coast of the Adriatic Sea and its electric blue hue of water calls out to travelers. The coastal highway is full of twists and hairpin turns in its voyage among the rocky cliffs. Between the meandering road and the insatiable desire to take a photo every five minutes it can take quite a while to drive up the coast, but enjoy it. All along the way one will find towns with fresh seafood, idyllic cafes and unspoiled panoramas in abundance. Roadside stands selling dried goods, spices, herbs and liquors are often a great way to interact with local producers, fisherman and other tourists from around the world.
Split is a city that seems to be nestled in a spectacular harbor. The waterfront and downtown offer the tourist the opportunity to breathe in the long history of Dalmatia as one can explore the summer villas of Roman emperors, centuries old churches and some lovely parks and hills that surround the central port. Split has many great B&B’s which are affordable and chic, often with patios and full kitchens.
Hvar is a fantastic way to see the pace and form of the laidback island life here. It can only be reached by ferry and the best route is to go to and from Split. It may feel like a bit of backtracking as you sail South again, but it is assuredly the fastest and most used route to and from the island. Here one can see locals plying their trades, affordable restaurants, nighclubs and the surrounding traffic of the boats on the high seas.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is probably the furthest North one would want to drive on a car or bus tour of the country. It can be many more hours heading to the cities of the North. This park is a true wonder of the natural world. The complex is famous for the veritable labyrinth of lakes, streams and waterfalls that make up an astonishing display of beauty.