The Ultimate 6-Day Croatia Hiking Itinerary, According to Hikers

croatia itinerary

If a trip to Croatia isn’t on your bucket list, maybe it’s because you haven’t heard the buzz! The wildly diverse country on the Adriatic Sea in Eastern Europe has just about everything you could dream up for an epic adventure vacation. 

Check out our recs and suggested Croatia itinerary for a week of epic hiking and unforgettable memories in Croatia’s national parks.

Not sure where to get started? Let our perfect Croatia itinerary be your guide, or join Explorer Chick’s Croatia Hiking National Parks and Multisport Adventure Tour! We’ll take care of the planning and logistics, all you have to do is be ready to say YES!

But first, some info on Croatia

Officially the Republic of Croatia, the country boasts a gorgeous coastline dotted with dreamy Croatian islands, awe-striking national parks bursting with natural beauty, and the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites designated Intangible Goods of any country in Europe. Since the country’s economy relies heavily on tourism, it’s easy to find folks who speak English in major cities and popular tourist destinations.

Best time to visit Croatia

You could easily spend weeks in Croatia with all there is to explore. Every season has something spectacular to offer, but if you’re amped for some epic outdoor adventures, you’ll want to plan your visit in the summer.

June, July, and August are high season for adventure, and have the best weather for any of the outdoor activities you have in mind for your trip to Croatia. The conditions during these months are perfect to explore Croatia and its national parks.

How to get around Croatia

Croatia doesn’t have a very extensive train system, but budget travelers can save money and take advantage of bus systems within its cities. While there are plenty of bus connections between major destinations, the schedules can sometimes be a little wonky, so plan ahead and do your research if you’re relying on public transportation to get around.

If you find your Croatia itinerary is getting jam packed—and rightly so since there is SO much to do when visiting Croatia—it may be worth booking a rental car or joining a group tour to make getting to more off-the-beaten-path places easier. Why not let your adventure include a Croatia road trip, too? Don’t forget to protect your trip with travel insurance!

What to eat in Croatia

No Croatia trip is complete without some serious sampling of the local cuisine. While visiting the Croatia coastline, treat yourself to a plate of infamous black risotto. This dish is made with cuttlefish, garlic, wine, and squid ink–which gives the dish its striking color and rich flavor. Be warned, it will turn your mouth black but is worth savoring every bite.

Looking for something a little more from the earth? Croatia is famous for all kinds of stews and soups. Posna juha, which translates to “fasting soup,” contains no meat and is made with potatoes, carrots, leeks, oil, and a pinch of sea salt from that beautiful coastline.

The Perfect Hiking Croatia Itinerary: 6 Days

With everything from incredible views of gorgeous mountains, world renowned national parks, and absolutely lovely coastal landscapes, it’s no wonder Croatia is one of Europe’s top destinations for backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts. The lay of the land makes it easy to take day trips from within the city walls of places like Zagreb, Zadar, and Split.

Strap in for our best Croatia itinerary for hikers and outdoor adventure lovers!

Day 1: Hiking Trails Around Zagreb

Start your adventure in Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb, with views of majestic green hills visible from the city center.

Visiting Zagreb means access to some of the most beautiful hiking areas in Croatia with accommodations in the beautiful town itself. Explore the narrow streets of old town and sample take in the historic town for a night before heading into the gorgeous surrounding forests to spend the day exploring.

  • Where to stay: Croatia’s Capital City of Zagreb
  • Where to hike: Medvednica Nature Reserve and Park, Planina Donja Hike, ~2.8 miles, Gračani Hike, ~7.9 miles
  • Which cultural spots to visit: Stroll past the bell tower at St. Mark’s Church when you visit, it’s one of the oldest architectural monuments in Croatia. Visit the Croatian Museum of Native Art, displaying the art of the “peasant painters” as they were once called.
  • Where to eat and drink: Locals love Zinfandel’s Restaurant for their great drinks, tasty food, and laid back atmosphere.

Day 2: Stroll the Istrian Countryside

Get ready for relaxing when you make your way to the Istrian countryside–you’ll definitely be sampling some local wine here! Whatever your interests, your one week Croatia itinerary has got to include a visit to this area.

Walk the city walls of hilltop towns like Motovun, and treat yourself to a true Croatian wine tasting at one of the countless wineries in the region.

  • Where to stay: The Quaint Villages of Istria
  • Which trails to hike:
    Medievel Roads, ~6.5km
    Donji Kamenjak Biodiversity Trail, ~13.5km
  • Which cultural spots to visit: Visit the ancient ruins at Amphitheatre de Pula, one of the oldest and largest remaining Roman amphitheaters. Visit the most valuable cultural monument of the town of Poreč and world heritage site, Euphrasius’ Basilica, and see the gorgeous mosaics.
  • Where to eat and drink: Choose from countless wineries in the region, or check out the local’s favorite, Restaurant Zigante, located walking distance to old town square with shops, hotels, and more dining.
epic adventure travel in croatia

Day 3: Hike Plitvice Lakes National Park

For your third-day Croatia itinerary, you can’t miss visiting Plitvice Lakes. You’ll love the easy walking trails lined with cute wooden boardwalks and stunning waterfalls just a short walk away from even more gorgeous landscapes.

There are two entrances to the park and seven routes that navigate through it passing lakes, waterfalls, and viewpoints that will blow your mind.

  • Which cultural spots to visit: Plitvice Lakes is one of Croatia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to its unique plant life and stunning lakes, caves, and waterfalls. The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and everywhere you go here holds a little bit of history.
  • Where to eat and drink: Bistro Vučnica has located just a short drive from Plitvice Lakes, and locals swear they’re serving up some of the best pizza in all of Croatia.

Day 4: Paklenica National Park

Next stop on your 7-day Croatia itinerary? Get ready for a day trip to the Dalmatian Coast to visit Paklenica National Park and the nearby islands sprawling along the seashore. The park has over 200km of trails to choose from, including easily accessible trails for all and high peak trails where you won’t find so many tourists. Staying in Zadar makes this park an easy half day trip for the morning before you head to the Adriatic coast to catch the late afternoon sun.

  • Which cultural spots to visit: Paklenica National Park is another Croatian UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t miss the centuries-old European beech tree forests, surviving thousands of years and countless generations at this location.
  • Where to eat and drink: Locals and tourists alike love the peaceful and quiet location of Taverna Konoba Marasovic with amazing food and delicious local drinks.

Day 5: Kornati Islands National Park

Book your boat ride for a day trip to Kornati Islands! Over 130 islands, inlets, and reefs make up this chain of paradise along the Adriatic Sea. There are plenty of travel agencies that can help you book transportation to the islands, boat transfers to island hop, and take care of things like admission fees and rental equipment for your adventure.

  • Where to stay: Murter, Zadar or Sibenik will be close to the Kornati Islands
  • Which activities to do: Clear waters and unbelievable marine life make the Kornati Islands the perfect place for water activities. Give your legs a day of rest from hiking and enjoy swimming, snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving one the shores of a pristine, pebble beach.
  • Which cultural spots to visit: Don’t miss seeing the Fortress of Tureta, the most significant fortress in the park and dating back to the Byzantine period, or the Church of Our Lady of Tarac, another archaeological site dating back nearly 3000 years ago.
  • Where to eat and drink: You have to check out Restoran Festa, offering drinks, local seafood, and a glamping resort on the island of Žut. Yup, you heard that right!

Day 6: Split

Split is Croatia’s second largest city, and your Croatia trip itinerary has to include at least a brief stop in the area.

  • Which cultural spots to visit: The ancient walled city of Split was the first port established on the Adriatic Coast by the ancient Greeks. Diocletian’s Palace was built between the late 3rd and the early 4th centuries A.D., and remnants can still be found throughout the city.
  • Where to eat and drink: Chops Grill downtown serves some amazing local seafood and perfectly seared steaks, and Bokeria Kitchen & Wine has some of the best local spirits to sip on in the city.

Ready to Get Hiking?

Does this one week itinerary in Croatia sound exactly like your type of adventure? What would you say to embarking on an epic trip like this with a bunch of strangers who are just as excited to get out there?

If you haven’t visited Croatia yet, why not make it a REAL adventure with a group of badass, travel-loving women?! Explorer Chick’s Croatia itinerary hits most of the awesome destinations detailed here and more.

Trek together through Croatia’s most beautiful national parks, sip in the Istrian countryside (and the wine, obv) on a bike and winery tour, and soak up the sun on the islands of the Adriatic Coast. We guarantee a good time, with every detail attended to by your expert Explorer Chick guides. Let’s go hiking!

Meet the Writer

April Brightman

April is an adventure lover and freelance writer based in New England, with a passion for public lands, wild places, and all things outdoors. She loves camping in any form and spends as many weekends as she can hiking New Hampshire’s highest peaks, or road-tripping with her sweet dog Marley. If not in the mountains, you can find her planning her next expedition or caring for one of her far-too-many-houseplants.

Favorite outdoor adventure: National Parks Hiking and Road Trips!

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