• Leslie

The Best 10 Day Itinerary For Croatia and Slovenia

Updated: Aug 30


the stunning walled city of Dubrovnik in Croatia
the stunning walled city of Dubrovnik in Croatia


Want to take a classic Croatian-Slovenia road trip? This is the ultimate 10 day itinerary for a journey from Dubrovnik Croatia to Ljubljana Slovenia. This popular road trip route is dense with exciting cities, must see medieval villages, UNESCO-listed landmarks, and loads of old world seaside charm.


Croatia is a stunningly beautiful country. It has something for everyone -- stunning waterfall-laced landscapes, gorgeous beaches, historic landmarks, Roman ruins, and charming hamlets. In the Dalmatian Coast, dramatic cliffs rise above islands set in azure water.



the ultimate guide to spending 10 days in Croatia and Slovenia


Tiny overlooked Slovenia is one of Europe's most charming and delightful off the radar destinations. It's a gravely beautiful land of imposing green mountains, shimmering glacial blue lakes, and medieval towns.



Lake Bled in Slovenia
Lake Bled in Slovenia


Slovenia is every bit as beautiful as Croatia. But it has an independent spirit and slightly different charm all of its own. Slovenia also lacks the crowds and high prices of other European countries.


This Croatia-Slovenia itinerary begins in Dubrovnik, Croatia's fairytale walled city. From Dubrovnik, you'll travel through the beautiful Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. You'll cut inland to Plitvice Lakes National Park and then enter Slovenia, basing yourself in the lovely capital of Ljubljana for the rest of the trip.



Trogir Croatia
Trogir Croatia


Trip Overview:


Length of Trip: 10 days or more

Start and End Point: Dubrovnik Croatia and Ljubljana Slovenia

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Dubrovnik, Kotor, Diocletian's Palace, Trogir, Plitvice Lakes National Park

Here's my recommended 10 day itinerary for a self drive road trip in Croatia and Slovenia. You don't need to pick up your rental car until day 3 when you day trip to Kotor Montenegro. You won't want or need a car in Dubrovnik the first two days.



the Adriatic Sea
the Adriatic Sea


Day 1: Explore Dubrovnik

Day 2: Explore Dubrovnik

Day 3: Day Trip to Kotor Montenegro

Day 4: Drive To Split and explore Split

Day 5: Split: Island Hopping Tour

Day 6: Day Trip To Zadar or Trogir

Day 7: Visit Plitvice Lakes National Park en route to Ljubljana

Day 8: Explore Ljubljana

Day 9: Day Trip to Lake Bled & Vintgar Gorge

Day 10: Day Trip to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle

More Time? Istrian Coast or Julian Alps



beautiful Dubrovnik
beautiful Dubrovnik


For this Croatia-Slovenia road trip, you'll have three bases: Dubrovnik (3 nights), Split (3 nights), and Ljubljana (4 nights). Split is a busy city. If you'd rather stay somewhere quieter, you can easily base in Zadar or Trogir instead.


There are plenty of great destinations to explore in Croatia and Slovenia. This super detailed 10 day road trip itinerary is perfectly adjustable.


You can make it shorter or longer, depending on your available vacation time or personal fast/slow travel pace. I've tried to give you a mix of cities and leisurely villages, with day trip options as well.


You can also reverse the order and start in Ljubljana and end in Dubrovnik.



the beautiful harbor in Dubrovnik
the beautiful harbor in Dubrovnik


The Ultimate 10 Day Road Trip Itinerary for Croatia and Slovenia


Day 1: Dubrovnik


Dubrovnik is dazzling and divine. It's fairytale pretty, the perfect version of what you would imagine a medieval European city looks like. Dubrovnik has colorful orange terra cotta rooftops, stunning views of the Adriatic Sea, and fame as a Game of Thrones filming location.


Dubrovnik has a perfect setting on the turquoise blue Adriatic sea, an impressive mountain backdrop, and some impressive historic landmarks. Its walls are one of the greatest fortifications of the middle ages.


1. City Walls


Begin your day bright and early with a walk along the city walls. Be sure to climb Micenta Tower. It's the highest point on the walls. The fortress itself is a stony and cramped experience, but the views are terrific.



my daughter and I walking the Dubrovnik city walls
my daughter and I walking the Dubrovnik city walls



The city walls cost 200 kuna and will take approximately 2-3 hours, though there is an exit midway. You can buy tickets at the tourist office or online in advance.


You should arrive when the walls open at 8:00 am (in high season) to avoid the hordes of tourists from cruise ships and stave off heat exhaustion from the lack of shade. Alternatively, go around 5:00 pm.


After your tour of the walls, relax over a luxe lunch at Proto, a seafood restaurant in the old town between Siroka and Vara streets.



view of the old town from the city walls
view of the old town from the city walls


2. Old Town


In the afternoon, explore the pedestrian-only old city. All the attractions can easily be visited by foot.


Take a proper stroll down Dubrovnik's main drag, the 13th century Stradun Street. If you enter via the Ploce Gate or Pile Gate, you are right at the street. Fill up your water bottle at Onofrio's Fountain.


Along Stradun, you'll see stunning Venetian style buildings. Explore the hidden pathways and staircases.



aerial view of the Stradun
aerial view of the Stradun

Stradun Street and Onofrio Fountain
Stradun Street and Onofrio Fountain


Inspect the beautiful Jesuit Staircase, reminiscent of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Step inside the Church of St. Blaise and admire its opulent interior. The Rector's Palace, Sponza Palace, and Dubrovnik Cathedral are likewise impressive. The Rector's Palace houses the city museum and a concert hall.


One of Dubrovnik's prize landmarks is its Clock Tower in Luza Square. The tower dates from 1444. At the top, two bronze statues ring the bell each day at noon.


At the end of Stradun Street, you'll find the port. You'll find restaurants, boats, and yachts -- all set amid a lively atmosphere. If you love boat tours, this is the point of disembarkation.



the Rector's Palace
the Rector's Palace


view from Mt. Srd
view from Mt. Srd


3. Mt. Srd Via Cable Car


In the early evening, take the Dubrovnik Cable Car up to Mt. Srd for a stunning sunset. Plan to arrive an hour or so before sunset. Alternatively, have a cocktail at Buza Bar. It's a super casual cliffside bar built into the city walls. There, you'll have gorgeous views over the Adriatic.


If you've opted for the cable car ride, there's an amazing restaurant at the top of Mt. Srd -- Panorama Restaurant. The food is quite good and the epic viewpoint makes it seem even better. Book a table in advance and ask for a table with a view.



rooftops of Dubrovnik
rooftops of Dubrovnik


Day 2: Dubrovnik


Begin day 2 with breakfast at Gradska Kavana Arsenal. It's a casual place situated in the heart of the old town and overlooks the old port, Arsenal.


1. Lovrijenac Fortress


On day 2, head to the 11th century fortress, Lovrijenac Fortress (also known as the St. Lawrence Fortress). Above the door leading to the fortress is a famous inscription carved in stone: “Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro” (“Freedom cannot be sold for all the gold of the world”).



view of Lovrijenac Fortress from the city walls
view of Lovrijenac Fortress from the city walls


From the fortress aerie, you are assaulted with the best views of Dubrovnik. Your ticket to the city walls gives you entrance to the fortress, so keep it with you.


2. Lokrum Island


In the late morning, take a ferry out to Lokrum Island from the harbor. They leave every hour or so, more frequently in summer. It's just a 15 minute ride.


Lokrum Island has rock slab beaches, gardens, a Benedictine Monastery, and stunning views of Dubrovnik. There are a couple places to grab a bite to eat. But you may want to bring a picnic lunch.


Once there, you can pose on an Iron Throne from Game of Thrones. (Lokrum doubled as the City of Qarth in GOT).



Lokrum Island
Lokrum Island


Or, if you're athletic and need a workout, you can take a kayaking tour around Lokrum Island. Be sure to book in advance. You can also kayak in the Dubrovnik Harbor.


3. Game of Thrones Tour


In the late afternoon, if you're a Game of Thrones fan, take a Game of Thrones tour (2-3 hours). Dubrovnik served as King's Landing in the series and there are myriad filming locations.


Some tours take you to Lokrum island, but most don't and stay on the mainland. Here's my guide to taking a Game of Thrones tour in Dubrovnik.



Sveti Jakov Beach, just 8 minutes from Dubrovnik
Sveti Jakov Beach, just 8 minutes from Dubrovnik


4. Beach Time


If instead you need some afternoon down time, lounge on a beach. Just a 35 minute drive from Dubrovnik is a splendid beach, Sveti Pasjaca Beach. Closer by is Sveti Jakov Beach.


5. Dinner and Drinks


In the early evening, head to d'Vino Wine Bar for a cocktail. For dinner, head to Kopun. You can try the city speciality, castrated rooster. Another good option is Azur, a fusion of Mediterranean and Asian food.


Alternatively, try a classic Croatian Peka meal. This is a particularly good idea for those who don't like seafood. In the Peka style of cooking, lamb or veal is slow cooked under a bed of coals.



the stunning town of Kotor Montenegro
the stunning town of Kotor Montenegro


Day 3: Day Trip to Kotor


One day 3, it's time for your first day trip. And this one is in another country, Kotor Montenegro.


It's an approximately 1.5 to 2 hour to Kotor drive from Dubrovnik. You may also experience delays crossing the border when you return Croatia. But Kotor is worth the hassle.


Kotor lies, perfectly at ease with its dramatic setting, at the end of the photogenic Bay of Kotor. Its backdrop is the brooding Lovcen Mountains. Some call Kotor Europe’s southernmost fjord. Others refer to it as a "little Dubrovnik."


Set in the fjord-like bay, jaw dropping Kotor is less a town than a labyrinth of narrow cobbled passageways, filled mostly with cats, who sprawl across the doors of lovely Romanesque churches and snuggle in tourists' laps. Kotor is surely one of Europe's most picturesque villages.



the bay of Kotor
the Bay of Kotor


Not surprisingly, the ancient walled town of Kotor Montenegro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's easily one of the best preserved medieval towns in the Adriatic.

There's delightfully little to do in Kotor. There is no long "must see" list. You can pack away your guide books and maps, and venture forth with only camera and imagination in tow.


There are only four essentials: wander the picturesque Venice-like old town, hike to the Castle of San Giovani for spectacular views, admire the confident and ubiquitous Kotorian cats, and try a hot oily Montenegrin burek.





When you enter the main gate, you arrive at Weapons Square, the largest open space in Kotor. There, you will find Kotor's Clock Tower, which dates from the early 17th century. It endearingly leans and lurches slightly, as befitting a historic building.


Kotor is also filled with Romanesque churches and Venetian-influenced palaces. None of them are individually very impressive All of them add to the atmospherics of the small town.



the beautiful city of Split Croatia
the beautiful city of Split Croatia


Day 4: Drive To Split


There's nothing much worth seeing between Dubrovnik and Split besides the lovely coastline. But if you take the modern highway, you'll have the fastest route. The drive from Dubrovnik to Split is approximately 3.5 hours.


Split is a fairly busy place. If you want something more mellow after Dubrovnik, you could opt to stay in Trogir or Zadar instead. Both make excellent bases for seeing the sites and towns in Croatia.


1. Split's Old Town


After you've settled in in Split, explore the elegant and stony old town. Split's an ancient city that dates back to Roman times. It has an incredible natural setting. There's a whole range of drool worthy historical, cultural, and natural offerings.



Peristyle Square in Diocletian's Palace
Peristyle Square in Diocletian's Palace


2. Dioceltian's Palace


The one must see site in Split is the UNESCO-listed Diocletian's Palace. With a fetching location on the dramatic Split harbor, Diocletian's Palace is Split's #1 attraction. And justifiably so.


Diocletian's Palace is one of the most imposing ancient Roman structures in existence today. It's not just a stand alone palace, or a museum, or a UNESCO site. It's the living, breathing, vibrant heart of Split.


READ: Guide To Ruins and Archaeological Sites in Rome



the bell tower of Diocletian's Palace
the bell tower of Diocletian's Palace


The 4th century complex is a sprawling maze of beautifully preserved ancient ruins, shops, restaurants, apartments, and people. It's a delightful confluence of ancient history and modern life, happily commingled as a "living museum."


The key highlights are the Peristyle, the Cathedral of Saint Dominus, the Bell Tower, the Temple of Jupiter, and the four palace gates.


The bell tower is where you'll get a stunning bird's eye view of the palace grounds and Split's incredible setting. Avoid it if you're scared of heights though.



the Riva Promenade in Split
the Riva Promenade in Split


3. Old Town


While Diocletian's Palace dominates the old town, there are still some pretty pedestrianized squares, impressive churches, and markets outside the palace walls that you shouldn't miss. Be sure to take in Narodni Trg (the main plaza), Vocni Trg, and Trg Republike. Check out the National Theater and the fish market (Ribarnica).


4. Riva Promenade


In the evening, stroll along the Riva Promenade. Dubbed "the Riva" by locals, the walkway spans the entire length of the old town. With impressive views of the Adriatic Sea and swoon worthy palm trees, this promenade provides a taste of Split's idyllic coastal lifestyle.


But the Riva is busy. It's home to restaurants, cafes, and luxury hotels. Sit down and have a coffee or cocktail. This is probably not the best place to dine though. The restaurants are rather touristy, and hence overpriced with mediocre food. Strolling is the best activity.



view from Hvar Fortress
view from Hvar Fortress


Day 5: Split: Island Hopping


Your second day in Split book an island hopping tour. It's not easy to visit the islands on your own. But an island hopping tour is one of the best things to do in Split. The coastal town makes a great jumping off point to sail the Adriatic Sea.


You have many tour options/permutations from half day, to full day, to a super extended day. You can choose to visit Hvar only, Hvar and the Blue Cave, or take a grand 5 island tour.


We opted for the later and it was a lengthy 12 hour affair, when all was said and done. But it was a beautiful way to spend the day. Wear your swimsuit. There will be multiple chances to take a cooling dip in the sea.



pretty Stivina beach
pretty Stivina beach

my daughter and I on our island hopping tour
my daughter and I on our island hopping tour


The UNESCO town of Hvar is known as the “sunniest island in the Adriatic Sea." And also as a buzzy boozy party island. The sunny place attracts tourists galore. But if you go off season, you'll skip this rather dreary side note and be medievalized by the enchanting place.


If you need to detox from tourists or cocktails, hike up to the hilltop fortress, Fortica Španjola, surrounded by pine trees, for excellent views.



Hvar Island
Hvar Island


The popular Blue Cave is on Bisevo Island. This magical grotto glows with the preternatural blue hues, created by sunlight bouncing off its white limestone floor. You can only visit via boat; you can't swim in the cave itself.


Aside from Hvar and the Blue Cave, the other islands you can visit include Vis, Budikovac, and Hell Islands (with Palmižana beach). We had lunch on Budikovac. The most scenic beach was the tiny cove-like Stiniva Beach on Vis, voted the “best beach in Europe” in 2016.



town of Zadar
town of Zadar


Day 6: Day Trip to Either Zadar or Trogir


1. Option 1: Zadar


Zadar is an incredibly underrated town in Croatia. Compact Zadar is built for wandering. The colorful town is adorned with building in both pastel and bolder hues.


Stroll along the waterfront and listen to the Sea Organ. It's a massive musical instrument entirely powered by waves. There's also the Sun Salutation, a solar powered light display that will wow you in the evening.


For culture lovers, Zadar is full of Roman ruins and pretty churches. If the heat has you down, head inside to the splendid and well-curated Archaeological Museum.



the ancient St. Donatus Church in Zadar
the ancient St. Donatus Church in Zadar

St. Mary's Church in Zadar
St. Mary's Church in Zadar


St. Donatus Church is 800 years old and Zadar's main landmark. The church is nearly perfectly preserved. Its round pre-Romanesque facade is the very symbol of Zadar. The church is sometimes a venue for Renaissance music concerts.


St. Mary's Church is also a beauty. In the 11th century, it once belonged to a Benedictine Monastery. Though damaged in WWII, the church was completely restored. Zadar's Romanesque cathedral is also a must see, dating from the 11th century.


Zadar also boasts the largest Roman forum on the Adriatic. Built by Emperor Augustus in the 1st century, the forum was discovered and excavated in 1930. You'll find the ruins of fragmented columns and a pillory, where criminals received public punishments.


Before heading back to Split, end your day in Zadar with a meal at Restaurant Bruschetta. And try a chocolate truffle at Vitlov Chocolate.



the UNESCO-listed town of Trogir
the beautiful UNESCO-listed town of Trogir


2. Option 2: Trogir


I loved storybook Trogir, known as Croatia's "stone beauty." Trogir is secluded on a tiny island and encircled with medieval walls. And, only 30 minutes away, it's an easy day trip or half day trip from Split.


Trogir feels like its made entirely of limestone and tangled alleyways, and sprinkled with fairy dust. Everywhere you look, there's stunning architecture and cobbled lanes. All you really need to do is stroll the medieval streets and find a quaint nook to dine in. This isn't hard!



the waterfront promenade in Trogir
the waterfront promenade in Trogir

the UNESCO-listed Trogir Cathedral, with Venetian style architecture
the UNESCO-listed Trogir Cathedral, with Venetian style architecture


For a view of the pretty town, climb Kamerlengo Fortress. The fortress was originally built by the Venetians in the mid15th century. You can now visit it for about 3 €.


Stop in at the Cathedral of St. Lawrence. Built in a Romanesque-Gothic style, the church is part of Trogir's UNESCO designation. If heights don't bother you, you can climb to the top of the bell tower.



aerial view of Plitvice Lakes National Park
aerial view of Plitvice Lakes National Park


Day 7: Stop in Plitvice Park en route to Ljubljana


On day 7, it's time to head to Ljubljana Slovenia. En route, you'll stop at Plitvice Lakes National Park. The park is a must visit destination in Croatia, especially for nature lovers. It's the perfect midway point between Split and Ljubljana Slovenia.


The park is approximately 2.5 hours from Split. From the park, it's another 3 hours to Ljubljana. You'll need to start early to have a solid 3-4 hours to hike around Plitvice. And you'll want to pack a picnic lunch.


The gorgeous Plitvice Park is full of vibrant colors. It boasts turquoise water, terraced lakes, stunning viewpoints, and photogenic gushing waterfalls. You'll be stunned at the breathtaking technicolor views at every turn.



walking paths in Plitvice
walking paths in Plitvice


In 1979, Plitvice Lakes became a UNESCO site. It's one of the most popular destinations in Croatia, with over a million annual visitors.


Plitvice Lakes can be overwhelming to visit. There are different levels of lakes, four different hiking trails, 7 different routes through the park, and 2 different entrances. And there will be crowds.



stunning waterfalls in Plitvice Park
stunning waterfalls in Plitvice Park


Pristine Plitvice is divided roughly into three areas -- the lower lake section (Donja Jezera), the upper lake section (Gornja Jezera) and a third area around Proscansko Lake.


The lower lakes section is accessed by Entrance 1 and includes the iconic Veliki Slap Waterfall. There are several detours off the main trail, which take you to viewing points. From the lower lakes, you can take electric boats or the shuttle to the upper lakes section. Beyond that is the Proscansko Lake.


Here's my complete guide to visiting Plitvice Lakes, with must know tips.


the beautiful city of Ljubljana
the beautiful city of Ljubljana


Day 8: Explore Ljubljana


Lovely Ljubljana is a small, laidback, and walkable town. You can cover Ljubljana's main attractions in one day. But if you have extra time, it's worth another day.


1. Preseren Square and the Bridges


Spend plenty of time wandering the cobbled old town. Start at the city's heart, Preseren Square. It's lined with historic landmarks and dedicated to Slovenia's greatest poet.


Cross the Venetian-looking Triple Bridge and wander along the emerald green river -- taking in the whimsical bridges and Jože Plečnik architecture.


Be sure to admire the "pink church," the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. It's an iconic landmark in Ljubljana.



the "pink church" of Ljubljana
the "pink church" of Ljubljana


2. Ljubljana Castle


For lunch, check out the Central Market or eat at one of the cafes along the lively river embankment. Then explore Ljubljana Castle on Castle Hill.


From Dragon Bridge, it's a steep hike up or easy funicular ride to the castle. But you'll have lovely views over Ljubljana from the top.



view from Ljubljana Castle
view from Ljubljana Castle

my daughter on Butcher's Bridge in Ljubljana
my daughter on Butcher's Bridge


3. Architecture Tour


In the afternoon, consider taking a guided or DIY architecture tour, learning all about Plečnik and seeing Ljubljana's beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, including the striking Vurnik House. Plečnik shaped Ljubljana, just like Gaudi shaped Barcelona and Bernini shaped Rome.


If you prefer street art, head over to the Metelkova Mesto district, just a short stroll from the medieval old town. It has an edgy bohemian feel. Aside from the cutting edge street art, there are pop up flea markets and temporary exhibitions.



Ljubljana's main shopping and restaurant street
Ljubljana's main shopping and restaurant street


4. Ljubljana's Main Drag