Central and Northern Dalmatia Itinerary

Well-connected to the rest of the country, Central and Northern Dalmatia have a lot to offer, even beyond the staple cities of Split and Zadar. Plan for a combination of car and boat travel, and try to schedule the car trips on weekdays. The roads can get busy during weekends, peaking on Saturdays, especially if you get on the A1 highway. Avoid taking the car to the islands to circumvent both intimidating ferry lines and scarily narrow island roads. Both Split and Zadar have international airports, so you can start this itinerary from either one.

Day 1: Split

Arrive in Split and head to a hotel (which you booked months ago) or take one of the many private rooms available around town. Spend this first day getting your bearings and exploring the Meštrović Gallery and the Archaeological Museum, two of the city's best museums, before dedicating at least half a day to the Diocletian's Palace. Sit in the open peristyle and admire the imperial quarters, the Cathedral of St. Domnius, and the Egyptian black sphinx before supper and a good night’s sleep.

Days 2 and 3: Island Hopping

Take one of the ferries or catamarans from Split to Brač, Hvar, or Vis, and spend the night in an island paradise. This is the heart of Dalmatia, after all, and these islands are the stuff of glossy tourist brochures. Book your accommodations in advance, or try to book a private room through an agency in Split. In summer, ferries, hydrofoils, and catamarans operate regularly to the islands. Rent a bike or scooter once you've landed and tour the back roads where you can find uncrowded coves and beaches. Remember, Hvar also boasts some of the finest Dalmatian wineries, not to mention the glitzy nightlife.

Day 4: Kornati National Park

Take a ferry back to Split and from there make your way down the stunning coastline to Vodice, stopping off at Primošten and Šibenik for sights and food along the way. At Vodice, board one of the many boats heading out for day trips to Kornati islands, a bare and beautiful archipelago that has been attracting mariners for centuries. If possible, take a boat that will drop you off at Zadar on the way back. Alternatively, drive from Vodice to Zadar to spend the night.

Days 5 and 6: Zadar and Paklenica National Park

Zadar has fast emerged into one of the top Croatian tourist destinations and not without a reason. The beautiful peninsula on which the medieval city center was built hides many remarkable architectural, cultural, and gastronomic feats. Be sure to visit the St. Donatus church and check out the sea organ and the Greeting to Sun. Take a drive or a bus to neighboring Nin and see the former seat of the Dalmatian royal family as well as a quaint little salt museum.

The following day, adventure out to NP Paklenica, an imposing canyon in Velebit Mountain. This rugged limestone offers some great hiking and the ultimate challenge for cliff climbers. Also check-out the old A-bomb shelter that Marshal Tito had built in the 1950s in case Stalin got a little too aggressive.

Day 7: Krka National Park, Trogir, and Split

Head back toward Split and stop along the way at Krka NP. This river’s estuary challenges Plitvice Lakes for cascading water and amazing turquoise waterfalls. Be sure to wear at least sneakers and, in the summer months, a bathing suit as it is hard to say no to the lure of this pristine river. From there it is an easy drive to Split via Trogir and its UNESCO heritage cathedral.

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