Starting at the most Northern point, Rijeka is a transport hub and major ferry port. It and its nearby neighbour Opatija, are the gateway to the Croatian Dalmatian coast. As Croatia's third largest city, it's bustling although most visitors rarely stop and simply head south. Do yourself a favour, stop here and experience the charm of the locals, colourful carnival and good nightlife.
East of Rijeka/Opatija is the Istria region. The Istria is a big foodie hub, famous for truffles and wine so if food is your thing, consider adding the city of Pula and other parts of the Istria region onto your itinerary.
One of the most famous attractions in all of Croatia, this World Heritage site is unlike any other. It's almost 300 sq/km of lakes and waterfalls full of blue and turquoise colours that visitors just can't get enough of.
A sneaky way of experiencing some of the Croatian islands is to put your car on a ferry from Prizna and drive through the island of Pag, which happens to be the home of lace. It is possible to visit Pag without taking the ferry but if traveling from North to South (or vice-versa) but taking the ferry one-way is the most time-efficient way of travelling.
Outside jaw dropping views of the Adriatic sea and a bustling nightclub scene, Pag is famous for three things. Lace, wine and cheese. Many farmers sell their wares on the side of the road, including Pag cheese, don't be afraid to stop to sample their wares.
Zadar was a pleasant surprise, almost a secret discovery. I only knew it’s existence after a fellow Aussie expat moved to the area and shared some amazing photos. From that alone I was sold.
This peninsula town full of history and ruins, it offers visitors an array of options and appeal. Food, beaches, museums and more. The thing we enjoyed the most about Zadar was the country feel. Perfectly weighted between entertaining, relaxation and experiences. In Zadar there are just enough restaurants and accommodation providers to be shared amongst travellers without feeling like the only visitor, or worse, one of ten thousand that day. A gleaming white city against the backdrop of the calm waters of the bay, this gorgeous medieval city is worth a visit. Visitors to Sibenik often don’t stay long as it makes a great launching pad for visitors to Kornati islands and Krka National Park. (see below).
If you have time on your summer road trip, stay a while and enter a world of steep cobblestone backstreets which lead down to the serene bay. If that’s not enough, there’s the Cathedral of St James, another UNESCO site and St Michael’s Fortress to see while you’re there.
Croatia’s second most famous National Park, Krka is remarkable untouched natural beauty. It’s situated along the Krka River and known for a series of 7 waterfalls. It’s prize over Plitvice is that visitors can swim in the fresh waters. If you’re planning to swim, heed our advice once again, and time your visit as early as possible to make the most of the park before the day-trip tour buses arrive from the major cities.
There’s little to no changing facilities and no lockers for secure storage. This is rural swimming at its best, so pack what you need and be prepared to change behind your towel. Something like a large sarong would be handy.