Croatia you are an absolute dream. If this country isn’t on your bucket list and you love the idea of spending balmy days by crystal blue waters, then it needs to be added now.
We only had a week to explore and at 7 months pregnant I didn’t fancy sitting in a van for two days just to get there, so we flew into Split (which was only a 2 hour flight and about £40 – bargain)! We rented a van for our road trip, which we picked up on arrival at the airport. We hired the van from Indie Campers and this was the beast right here…
We really couldn’t have asked for a better van! We were totally spoilt as it was much bigger than our VW transporter back home! I mean it really was a home on wheels… it had 2 double beds, a fridge/cooler, sink, interior table, exterior shower, portable gas cooker, this was as well as having all the necessities for a road trip i.e outdoor table and chairs, bedding, kitchen and cleaning gear, a sat nav and even Wi-fi… it was perfect for a week of adventure.
On arriving at Split airport, we were met by a friendly guy who took us to the van, where he gave us a tour of our mobile home for the week and went through the paper work and insurance. It was so easy! If you’re wanting to explore a country in the best possible way… then exploring in a camper is it! If you don’t have a van yourself or you have limited time then renting is a great option. You can click below and check out the range of vans at Indie they cater for everyone and cater for most European countries too …
TOP TIP: Click on the map markers to open and see the exact location we stayed overnight.
TIP 2: If you plan on doing a similar route it would be better to fly in to Dubrovink or Zadar and work your way up or down. We ended up going back on ourselves and wasted some time, but it is possible to pick up the van at one airport and drop it off at another.
Our Road Trip
Driving in Croatia was mostly like something out of an advert. Picture cruising along winding coastal roads where dramatic mountains meet turquoise waters.
We couldn’t wait to explore and so we hit the road immediately.
From Split we drove north and stumbled across this perfect spot a few miles up the coast. It was really hot and we couldn’t wait to swim in the water so no sooner had we pulled up we were diving into this and soon decided to stay the night…
After a morning swim early the next day, we headed to Krka National Park, stopping in the mountains for breakfast on the way…
Krka National Park
The National park is outrageously breathtaking. With stunning walks and magnificent waterfalls including the Skrandinski Buk Falls, you may have seen these in photos of Croatia as it’s one of its most famous sights. There is also the small island of Visovac and Roski Slap waterfall within the park.
Entry to the park is 22 kunas, about £23 and this also includes a boat trip through the park. Best of all, it is possible to swim in some locations, so don’t forget your swimming gear!
TOP TIP: I would definitely recommend getting to the national parks early to avoid the crowds if like me hundreds of people can make it a little underwhelming.
That evening we headed to Zadar and found a not so glamorous car park to camp in. Oh well, you win some, you lose some! That said it was the perfect base to park up and explore this gorgeous city. We walked for miles soaking up the evening sunset on The Riva and watching people jump off rocks into the ocean. We came across The Sea Organ, which is an enormous musical instrument played by the movement of wind and water; it looks like steps going into the sea and is amazing to sit and listen to. The Sun Salutation is another attraction on the promenade near to the Sea Organ and there are plenty of bars and restaurants close by.
Plitvice National Park
The next morning we drove to Plitvice National Park, it is truly magnificent with its sixteen lakes, inter-connecting waterfalls, all set in deep woodland and forest. There are a large amount of wildlife which include deer, bears, wolves, boars and rare bird species. The National Park covers a total area of 300 square kilometres and the entrance fee is 300 kunas (about £35) if you go in the height of the season.
That night we stayed in the mountains, thankfully no bears or wolves were spotted!
Trogir & Ciovo Island
Although we love being lost and exploring inland we never stay away from the coast for too long, so we headed back towards Split to a place called Trogir. Trogir is linked to the mainland by a bridge on one side and to an Island called Ciovo on the other side. Pretty perfect for island van life as there’s no need to hop on a ferry. We stayed near Okrug on Ciovo island and this was by far the best park up of the whole trip. We pretty much had a private beach to ourselves, the water was sapphire blue and this was definitely the best place to view the sunset. All we saw were a couple of kayakers who pulled up to have lunch.
Trogir town is set within medieval walls and is filled with hundred year old century buildings. Even though its close by it’s a lot less hectic than Split, with a relaxed feel and the best coffee I have EVER tasted. In the evening all the old style street lights are lit up and the restaurants and bars on the harbour side are bustling with a warm atmosphere.
TOP TIP: It can be quite busy with traffic getting on and off the island but the further you head in, it gets much quieter. We also passed by plenty of campsites on Ciovo island that were located right on the beach, so you won’t be short of somewhere to stay.
The last destination on our road trip was Dubrovnik, we knew we really wanted to explore this city so we committed to the 5 hour drive, stopped off wherever we felt and sat back and enjoyed the stunning scenery… coast line on one side and mountains on the other.
TOP TIP: You have to cross the border into Bosnia during this drive so leave a bit of extra time for this, we didn’t have to wait long but I can imagine it would get busy in the summer.
We treated ourselves to a campsite in Dubrovnik, they only had one! But it was perfect; the shower block was amazing , super clean and we also had a crazy view of the sunset from our pitch. We could walk to the beach and there is a bus route that takes you directly into the old town from just outside the site. It was called Solitude Sunny Camping.
Dubrovnik Old Town itself was just as busy as all the other tourist spots but it did capture a little piece of my heart. Walking around the old city walls was like something out of another world, full of colourful orange rooftops and the bluest ocean. Worth staying for a couple of days to explore if you have longer. I would go back for a girls weekend for sure!
On the journey back to Split we stumbled across a gorgeous little gem off a village called Mimice where we stayed overnight. It was here that we said we would definitely come back to Croatia with our little one, it is just perfect and the whole country is so family friendly.
We couldn’t resist ending our week of adventure back in our favourite park up (Trogir) before returning to the UK. Thank you at Indie Campers and Croatia you really were the best adventure to enjoy on our last road trip as a twosome.
Would you hire a van to explore another country? Do you know any good road trips you could do in 7 days? I would love to know!
Thanks for reading and happy road trip dreaming!