Self-drive holiday tips and itineraries Croatia

European Itineraries: Self-drive Croatia in 12 days

May 25, 2014 (Last Updated: February 15, 2023)
by Carolyn
Rovinj, Croatia

Dubrovnik is one of the new European hot spots and is often called Europe’s best kept secret but Croatia has so much more to offer than just Dubrovnik. With a limited rail service in Croatia, a self-drive itinerary is a popular and convenient way to see the country.

This 12 day itinerary by car takes in the best of Croatia’s mainland whilst allowing time for day trips to the stunning islands just offshore.

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12 day self-drive itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive Zagreb

Collect your hire car from Zagreb airport or railway station on arrival.  Sightseeing for remainder of the day.

Days 2 – Zagreb

Full day of sightseeing in Zagreb.

Day 3 – Zagreb to Motovun

A departure from Zagreb around 9am will have you in Motovun by lunch time, allowing all afternoon and evening to look around Motovun, one of Croatia’s most attractive Medieval towns.

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The hilltop town of Motovun in Croatia. Photo © Deymus / Dollar Photo Club.

Day 4 – Motovun to Rovinj

Less than an hour’s drive from Motovun, Rovinj was once ruled by the Venetians.  There’s plenty to see and do here.

Day 5 – Rovinj

Full day of sightseeing in Rovinj.

Rovinj, 12 day self-drive itinerary of Croatia
Rovinj is just one of many gorgeous seaside towns in Croatia. (Photo © Dollar Photo Club / daliu)

Day 6 – Rovinj to Plitvice Lakes

No visit to Croatia is complete without a visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Allow yourself time to admire the 16 terraced lakes and 92 waterfalls of this breath taking natural phenomena.

Day 7 – Plitvice Lakes to Split

The last part of today’s drive will take you along the Dalmatian Coast before you arrive in Croatia’s biggest city, Split. (Further reading: Best Things to Do in Split, Croatia)

Day 8 – Split

Spend the day sightseeing in Split.  Don’t forget to allow time to wander along the ‘Riva’, a strip of restaurants and shops alongside the main port of Split.

Pretty Split harbour is the perfect place to unwind.

Day 9 – Split to Dubrovnik

Continue your drive along the Dalmatian Coastline to ancient Dubrovnik where you’ll stay for the next three nights.

Day 10 – Dubrovnik

Full day for sightseeing in Dubrovnik.  Maybe enjoy a ride on the cable car for fabulous views of the harbour or enjoy wandering the old ramparts and ancient city walls.

Further reading: Five reasons your next holiday should be in Croatia

Day 11 – Dubrovnik

Another full day for seeing the sights of Dubrovnik or perhaps take a day trip to one of the nearby islands.

Day 12 – Depart Dubrovnik

Farewell Dubrovnik today.

Croatia self-drive itinerary
An overview of the self-drive itinerary of Croatia. (Route not necessarily exact.)


This 12 day self-drive itinerary of Croatia gives a good overview of the country and, in particular, the Dalmatian Coast.

Additional nights could be added in Split and Dubrovnik to allow you more time to visit the islands of Hvar and Korcula. 

How to get to Croatia

Croatia’s major cities – Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik – are all home to fairly large airports which are serviced by flights from across Europe and the UK.  Ferries operate between a number of Croatian coastal cities and the Italian ports of Bari, Ancona and Venice. 

Visitors arriving by train usually travel from Slovenia or Italy.

Driving info for Croatia

  • As in the rest of continental Europe, cars drive on the right hand side of the roadway in Croatia.
  • Croatia’s road infrastructure is rapidly improving and a major motorway exists between Zagreb and Split with connections to Zadar and Sibenik.
  • Some Croatian motorways incur tolls.

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