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Written by Savi, 46 Comments

* Part 2 of our 3 part series on driving through Croatia. Part 1 features the emerald lakes of Plitvice National Park and Part 3 takes you on a pretty drive from Split to Dubrovnik.

Once we’d had our fill of the lakes in Plitvice National Park (read: torn ourselves away and promised to return at a later time), we drove down to Split.

We stopped for lunch in the medieval city of Zadar. Nikola Bašić’s unique art installations – the sea organ and sun salutation – drove us there. His sea organ is the world’s only organ which plays music using sea waves while the sun salutation is a vast circle of solar panels that light up in patterns. I was busy taking pictures of the Adriatic coast, but Savi spent her time cavorting with the solar lights that flash in fascinating sequences along the coast.

 

Zadar- Sea Organ Nikola Bašić’s sun salutation in Zadar

Zadar Street FoodRustic pizzas in Zadar

 

Next stop- Trogir. Most people prefer to stay in the larger towns of the area but we opted for Trogir because we liked the idea of staying  in a medieval town – our first evening was spent absorbing the sights and sounds of this enchanting port. We stayed in Trogir for 3 days, and spent our days in Central Dalmatia exploring the Roman ruins, medieval towns, and fishing ports.

 

Croatia Road TripDriving through Central Dalmatia

Trogir PromenadeTrogir by day

Trogir TravelTrogir by night

 

On one of our days there, we drove down to Split to explore the Diocletian Palace. The walls of the Palace house a small city, made from marble, within its confines. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Split is perfect for a weekend break in Croatia. It is easy to spend days sipping coffee and cocktails at the pavement cafes and quaint bars that populate Split. The seaside promenade makes for a pleasant walk, and Split’s sunsets are a sight to behold. Take a look:

 

Diocletian.PalaceGrgur Ninski’s statue, Split

Split PalaceThe ruins of the Diocletian Palace at night, Split

Split RestaurantRestaurants inside the walls of the Diocletian Palace, Split

Split BakeryHole-in-the-wall bakery inside the walls of the Diocletian Palace, Split

Stunning Sunset SplitSunset at the seaside promenade, Split

 

On our last day in Trogir, we discovered Solin, a little town situated north-east of Split, entirely by chance. While Split and Trogir feature heavily on off-beat itineraries of Croatia, neither of us had heard anything about Solin. To our surprise, the Roman ruins in Solin were very impressive. The grand amphitheatre at the ruins is especially breathtaking. The best part? Entry is free and there are no tourists around.

 

Solin Croatia ruins

Savi at the Roman Ruins, Solin

Bruised Passports’ Tips

  • You must take a walk along the Adriatic coast and try fresh pizzas from the pizzerias that litter the labyrinthine alleys of Zadar.
  • Visit the ruins in Solin- you will not be disappointed.
  • In Split, walk around the remains of the Diocletian Palace at night. Try the Soparnik, a local delicacy made of baked dough and vegetables.Before leaving Split, make sure to rub the giant toe of Grgur Ninski’s statue near the Diocletian Palace; it is said to bring good luck

 

Need help planning a road trip to Croatia? Have a look at some sample itineraries 

46 thoughts on “Roadtrippin’ Croatia: Split, Zadar, and Central Dalmatia

  1. I just spent a week in Croatia and Montenegro, my second visit to the country. My boyfriend is a NATO pilot and went there on a peacekeeping mission after the Balkan Wars and told me I’d be saddened by what I saw. I was amazed at how resilient the Croatians were in the face of rebuilding after a devastating period, but they’ve certainly restored their cities to a beautiful degree. Looking forward to reading more!

    1. Hi Cat,

      Glad you are enjoying reading the posts :). We have a couple more lined up for our road trip in Croatia. Although there is no denying that Dubrovnik is amazing, but so are the many other offbeat towns along the Adriatic coast. Loved the quaintness and the rustic feel to these towns!

  2. Wow, first time I’ve heard about this roman ruin, thanks for mentioning…it seems like renting a car may be the best way of getting around Croatia?

    1. Driving is definitely the best way to get around Croatia Noel. Public transport is very efficient, but having a car allows one to discover gems such as the ruins 🙂

      1. Thanks for great posts. Wonder how it is to drive in Croatia. I found France a very relaxing place to drive. Are the drivers very aggressive? Roads are really narrow? How’s the parking situation, do we need really tiny cars? Thank you.

        1. Hey Ryan – it’s comfortable to drive in Croatia. Highways are well-equipped and even the roads that pass through towns and villages are well made. Most villages offer free parking but touristy areas such as Split have allotted parking areas 🙂

  3. Nicely done. We are in Zadar right now at the glorious Hotel Bastion. Add me to your mailing list. My wife and I have been to 60 countries (no tours). but first time on the Adriactic. So far we are totally impressed
    Charlie

  4. We’d like to do a driving trip through Croatia as well. Did you find parking a problem in Trogir? From what I’ve read parking is a bit of a nuisance so I’m wondering where you guys parked?

    1. Hey there – We stayed in a self-catering apartment that had a garage. Roads are extremely narrow in Trogir, so it’s a bit difficult to manoeuvre one’s car. It’s best to opt for a hotel/flat that has a parking space.

    1. It shouldn’t take much longer than that Beth but you’ll be tempted to stop every 5 minutes – mark our words 😉

    1. Thanks a ton for leaving a comment Margaret. We’re so happy you found our posts on planning a roadtrip in Croatia helpful 🙂

    1. Hi Jason,

      If you can, try staying in Trogir – it’s a small town 20 minutes drive from Split. Much quieter than Split and we really enjoyed the couple of nights we spent in Trogir. We opted for an apartment overlooking the Trogir fort – the name is Apartments Kasalo. Hope this helps 🙂

      Cheers

    1. Hi Pulkit,

      We hear Hvar is amazing so definitely try to visit if you can. We could not squeeze it in our itinerary 🙂

      Have a great trip.

  5. Hi!

    Currently planning a road trip to Croatia in May and loved reading your blog, sounds truly amazing! Do you know if it would be necessary to book accommodation before we get there?

    Thanks
    Rachel

    1. Hey Rachel – that truly depends on what time of the year you’re going. Accommodation is usually sold out during peak months (May-September), so it’s best to book ahead 😀

  6. Hi. A beautiful write up this is but the pictures are outstanding. We are planning to goto croatia in may on a road trip. We are based in mumbai. Will our indian licence do. Are they easy roads to drive on. Especially the coastal road to dubrovnik or are they terribly narrow and winding. Thanks for your help

    1. Hey there – yes an Indian licence works fine. Most roads are well-marked and wide. We found them comfortable to drive on. Have fun in Croatia – it’s a gorgeous country 😀

  7. Hey Guys,
    Lovely vivid description.
    Planning a road trip this June with family incl 2 teenage kids. Have copied some thoughts from your blog 🙂
    Plan to fly into Zagreb, drive across and down up to Dubrovnik (one-way) and fly out from there.
    The draft itinerary looks like this. WOuld welcome thoughts:
    – 2 days at Zagreb. Day triop from here to Zagorje region (Istria) and visit the hilltop vineyards
    – 2 days at Plitvice. Cover the Dubovac Castle, Karlovac from here
    – Drive to Zadar. Stay 2 days. COver the Velebit National PArk and Dugi Otok lighthouse from here
    – Drive to Trogir/Split. Stay 2 days. Cover Makarska Beach from here
    – Drive Split to Dubrovnik. Am told this would take a full day given the lovely stops all the way
    – Stay Dubrovnik 3 days. Cover Mljet from here
    – FLy out from Dubrovnik

    Would book my stay through Airbnb. PLs let me have your thoughts on the location/ neighbourhoods to choose?
    Is finding parking a pain?
    Would welcome all suggestions.
    Cheers
    Sanjay

    1. Hey Sanjay – so glad you liked our articles on a road-trip in Croatia. Your plan sounds great. We’ve written all our suggestions in the articles, so don’t have much to add. However Air B&B is a great choice- try to choose houses that offer free parking (parking can be a bit of a pain, especially in historical towns and cities). Have fun in Croatia 🙂

  8. Hi. Beejal again. I will be spending one night in split after driving from zadar. Is it worth while to take a detour and tour trogir for fewhours or is it similar to split and zadar. I shall be driving to dubrovnik the next day. Thanks

    1. Dear Beejal,

      We enjoyed Trogir quite a bit and felt it was different from Split/Zadar – especially the fort in Trogir. It’s not far from Split, so you can easily drive to Trogir for a few hours 🙂

      Hope you have a great trip in Croatia!

      Cheers

  9. Considering a 8 day road trip through Croatia – can you give me an idea of what the budget for that could be?

    I’m a big fan of your blog and believe you’re in my city at the moment – Bangkok! Hope you enjoy it 🙂

    1. Hi Ankita,

      We really enjoyed Bangkok 🙂

      As for Croatia, it really depends on your style of travelling. If you stay in B&Bs, you’d be spending around 60 GBP per person per day including car rental, accommodation, food, and miscellaneous expenses 🙂

      Have a great trip and share your pictures with us!

  10. Hi. I just wanted to say that we had a great trip in Croatia. As you said, the roads were fantastic to drive on. Thanks so much for being our inspiration to do a driving trip. It has been our best road trip so far

    1. Hey Beejal – that’s SO great to hear. Please do email a few photos from you trip to bruisedpassports at gmail dot com with your full name. We’d love to share them with our readers 🙂

  11. Hi

    It was a great read and the pics are a treat to the eyes. Thanks for sharing your experience. We will be taking a road trip in Croatia in July. Hope we enjoy the same way.

    1. We hope so too Deepti. Please send us photos from your roadtrip in Croatia – we’d love to share them with our readers 🙂

  12. Hi .. Its a delight to read your posts.. Just wanted quick help on our itinerary. We are considering 3 days dubrovnik, 2 days in split and one day in Hvar and 2 days in zagreb.. Does it make sense to stay in split for two days..
    and also must do’s in dubrovnik..
    Also we will be in munich for 3 days so will be great if you can share some not to miss things/places in and around munich. Thanks

    1. Hi Nidhi,

      Thanks for your comment! 2 days in Split will be nice – you can walk around Split and also visit Trogir – it’s a beautiful little town. As for Dubrovnik, take your time walking around the old city and make sure you drive up to Mt. Srd to get excellent views. If you have the time, we highly recommend a drive to Cavtat – it’s a 30 minute drive from Dubrovnik on the way to the airport!

      As for Munich, please read our article on a road trip through Bavarian Alps: https://www.bruisedpassports.com/austria/alpine-road-trip-in-bavaria-germany

      Have a great trip!

  13. Hi, I’ve been reading your blogs, They are lovely. I wanted to know if the car rental companies provide drivers and would that cost a lot?

    1. Hey Mrinal,

      Thanks a lot. Don’t think that the car rental agencies provide drivers per se. There must be other companies that provide this service – your best bet would be to search on the internet. I am pretty sure these services cost a lot !!

  14. Is it worth travelling on the coast road, rather than the “highway, between Split and Zadar, or Zadar and Rijecka? Is it really beautiful, or is just the road from Split to Dubrovnik that is so gorgeous? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lindy,

      That road is pretty scenic too but the one from Split to Dubrovnik is the best. We’d suggest just drive the highway between Zadar and Split and then get on the coast road from Split to Subrovnik 🙂

  15. Hello,

    Thanks for such amazing blogs. My wife and I are planning a trip to Croatia and places around it. We were thinking of going to Mostar(Bosnia and Herzegovina) and stay for a night there? Is it worth going there and will it be safe?

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