The Best Balkan Itinerary for 5 Days

Our Balkan itinerary based on the road trips we had in Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina in 5 days. The best cities and places to visit in Balkans.
Dubrovnik is a must place to visit in a Balkan itinerary.

We visited Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina in the Balkans for the first time and we loved them all! Not having a very long time didn’t set us aside of going to three different countries and seeing the best places on our road trip. With a well planned Balkan itinerary we visited Dubrovnik, Kotor, Mostar, Korcula, Zagreb, Plitvice lakes and many more…

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Where is the Balkans?

The Balkans is a peninsula on the southeast of Europe. It takes its name from Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the whole of Bulgaria. Countries that are entirely or partially part of the Balkans are Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Greece and Turkey. During our Balkans road trip we visited three countries on the Adriatic coast: Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

What is the best time to visit the western Balkans on the Adriatic coast?

High season to visit the Balkan countries on the Adriatic coast, including Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina is July and August. Actually, the weather is pleasant and warm enough to enjoy the sea from June to September. For us, we preferred to travel in shoulder season in mid September.

Our ultimate Balkan itinerary

At the beginning, we planned our Balkan itinerary as having Dubrovnik as a base and we could go as day trip from Dubrovnik to Kotor and Mostar. However, after a quick search we found out that accommodations in Dubrovnik were quite expensive (even more expensive than Paris hotels compared to a b&b stay in Dubrovnik). What’s more, parking prices for our rental car were very high as well.

So, we planned a Balkans road trip starting and ending in Dubrovnik. At the end of our road trip we checked out the rental car in Dubrovnik city center. Thus we could stay in Dubrovnik old town without the need of a pricy parking place and we could easily navigate the old town on foot.

At the second part of our Balkan itinerary we wanted to visit Zagreb and the famous Plitvice Lakes. Both driving and traveling by bus seemed as they would take quite long (about seven hours) from Dubrovnik to Zagreb. So we opted for a flight and found reasonable priced plane tickets with Croatian Airlines. Thus, we could check the beautiful Plitvice lakes off of our bucket list.

Our Balkan itinerary seems a bit tight for 5 days but it’s completely doable. In fact, it is a summary of our Balkans road trip of three countries in five days vacation. Actually, since the destinations at the area that we visited are quite close, you can do lots of things in a short time. (For traveling times and border crossing durations check my post “The Ultimate Balkans Road Trip: 3 countries in 5 Days“)

Day 1: Dubrovnik – Kotor – Mostar

We flew to Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia early in the morning. First thing we withdrew some local currency (Croatian Kuna) from the ATM, just in case we need on the roads in Croatia before we reach the Montenegro border. (Note that, after January 2023, Euro will be the official currency in Croatia.)Then, we rented our car from the car rentals at the airport and headed directly to the Montenegro border.

After a short trip from Dubrovnik Airport we reached to the border. We crossed the Croatia – Montenegro border, and ta taa, it was still morning and we were in our third country in one day! (after Turkey and Croatia)

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

Bay of Kotor, Balkan itinerary
Bay of Kotor

Montenegro was so beautiful! We drove around Bay of Kotor, surrounded by rugged cliffs, rocky mountains and crystal clean calm waters of the southernmost part of Dalmatia. There were quaint little towns and villages throughout our way. They were so sparsely populated with just a few people in sight. Temperatures in mid September were still warm enough that here and there people were enjoying the sea.

Bay of Kotor is often called Europe’s southernmost fjord. In fact, it is not really a fjord but certainly looks like one. In addition, the hue of the pristine Adriatic Sea here is unbelievable with its turquoise blue green hint! The Bay, along with Kotor Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kotor Old Town, Montenegro

When we arrived in Kotor, the first things we noticed were the giant cruise ships docked at the port. So, we were ready to meet some crowds, but luckily, it still wasn’t extremely crowded. We parked our car and started exploring the old town on foot.

Things to do in Kotor

1. Explore Kotor Old Town

Kotor old town, Balkan itinerary
Kotor Old Town

Kotor Old Town, really surprised us. I was expecting a quaint little town with a few historical buildings, but I found a much better and prettier place. All of the town was well preserved and beautifully restored. Gorgeous stone buildings were spread along the cobbled streets. Churches like, St. Nicholas’ Church, St. Tryphon’s Cathedral and St. Luka’s Church were adding to the character and architecture of the historical town. Cafes and restaurants were settled on the cute streets and the lovely piazzas of the old town. All was so beautiful to eyes!

2. Climb to San Giovanni Fortress

Kotor view from San Giovanni Fortress
Kotor view from San Giovanni Fortress

After we enjoyed the beauty of the old town, it was time for an intense hike and some breathtaking views! San Giovanni Fortress sits just at the top of the old town. You need to climb up some steep paths to reach to the top, but the view is definitely worth it. The fjordy view of Bay of Kotor, beautiful architecture of old town, all is so incredible!

3. Enjoy a great Dalmatian meal

What to eat in Kotor? Balkan itinerary

Mussel stew, Dalmatian cuisine in Kotor
Black risotto, Dalmatian cuisine in Kotor

Grilled shrimps, Dalmatian cuisine in Kotor

After a beautiful day in Kotor, we were ready to try some Dalmatian cuisine. We sat on the tables set outside of a TripAdvisor awarded restaurant and enjoyed our meal with some delightful old town vibes. A local cheese board and a glass of white wine was great after the long day. Black risotto is a must in Dalmatian cuisine. Certainly we tried it, along with mussel stew and some shrimps. Not bad for a start to Dalmatian cuisine!

Where to stay in Kotor

We didn’t stay in Kotor since we had a lot to do at our Balkan itinerary and decided to drive from Kotor to Mostar at the same day. But at a more relaxed vacation I would love to spend at least one more day in Kotor.

Boutique Hotel Hippocampus ( score 9.3 /for more than 300 reviews) looks like a great choice in the Old Town of Kotor only steps away of St Nicolas’ Church and a terrace overlooking San Giovanni walls.

Apartments Magic Sea View ( score 9.7 /for more than 170 reviews) is another choice close to the Old Town with great sea views that can accommodate 4 people and has a free private parking.

For more places to stay in Kotor, please click here.

Generally speaking, accommodation at all the places we visited during our Balkan itinerary were quite affordable. We managed to stay around 50€ for two people at all places we stayed (except for Dubrovnik) during our trip.

Fourth country in same day: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina border is also not very far to Kotor. So we managed to cross the border before sunset. Thus, as stepping in Bosnia and Herzegovina lands, we broke our own record of being in four different countries in same day that can’t be beaten easily!

We drove through Bosnian roads at dusk and reached the historical city of Mostar at dinner time. After we checked in to our hotel, we walked to Mostar Old Town. We strolled through polished cobbled streets of Mostar and found a place to try traditional Bosnian meal: cevapi. Cevapi, finger shaped traditional Balkan meatballs, were so yummy. After enjoying our Bosnian beers “Mostarsko Pivo”, it was time to call it a day, and explore things to do in Mostar freshly in the morning.

Day 2: Mostar – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Korcula

On the second day of our Balkan itinerary we planned to enjoy the beauties of Bosnia and Herzegovina. After a day of exploration of Bosnian lands, we would cross back to Croatia and try to catch the ferry to the island of Korcula before dusk.

Mostar Old Town, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Old Bridge of Mostar, Balkan itinerary
Mostar bridge and old town (same view as in my mom’s embroidery)

Mostar is a beautiful, historical old town with distinctive Ottoman and post-medieval architecture. Undoubtedly, The Old Bridge of Mostar (Stari Most) is the highlight of the city. It is an iconic structure in the Balkans and was a symbol of 1992-95 Bosnian War. The Old Bridge, originally 16th century Ottoman structure, was fully destroyed during the Bosnian War. In early 2000s it was beautifully reconstructed and was inscribed on Unseco’s World Heritage List along with the Mostar Old Town, because of its symbolic value of reunification.

Coming from Turkish Balkan heritage myself, we had Mostar Bridge’s needlepoint picture (goblen art) hung on the wall of my childhood home. My mom had embroidered carefully all the details of The Old Bridge and streets of Mostar Old Town in that picture. That’s why, I woke up early on our day in Mostar and went to the exact point where the girl in mom’s Mostar embroidery stood and took the same picture that is hung on my parent’s walls!

Things to do in Mostar

1. Walk across The Old Bridge of Mostar (Stari Most)

I have walked on many historical bridges before, but I must say The Old Bridge of Mostar is nothing like them at all. You walk through a steep incline to reach the top of the bridge. On the top, you can see that it is really a high bridge hanging over the beautiful Neretva River. You would notice some men sitting at edge of the sides of the bridge. Don’t panic, as I did, they are kind of show divers. They collect money from the tourists, trying to collect 50€ or so. After they have the money, they jump from the high bridge and dive into the cold waters of Neretva River.

2. Explore the cultural and architectural heritage from Ottoman times

Mostar bridge and Neretva river, Balkan itinerary
The view from Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque

Bosnia and Herzegovina is quite different from the other countries in the Balkans, since Bosniaks are predominantly Muslim. (Other religious groups in the country are Eastern Orthodox Serbs and Roman Catholic Croats.) Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque is a good example of Ottoman architecture. Moreover, it offers some striking views of the Old Bridge and the Old Town from its minaret.

Muslibegovic House and Biscevic House, that both can be visited as museums, are historical Ottoman houses showcasing some authentic objects and furniture. Waking through The Old Bazaar, with its polished round cobblestone streets and many shops at the side banks of the Old Bridge, would transfer you to medieval Ottoman times. Definitely, try Bosnian coffee, a heritage from Ottoman times. Pour your coffee from the traditional copper dzezva, a pot coffee is brewed and served in, and sip slowly its thick foam enjoying the little things in life.

3. Dip your feet in cold waters of Neretva River

Mostar Bridge and Neretva River, Balkans itinerary
Mostar Bridge and Neretva River

During crossing The Old Bridge, the view of greenish blue Neretva River under us, attracted me immediately. We found the path leading to the river and once more were awed with the view of the bridge, this time with the viewpoint under the bridge. People were jumping off the bridge, diving into the river and swimming. We weren’t as brave as them for sure, but at least dipped our feet in the crystal clean waters of Neretva. Oh my, it was freezing cold! In fact, did you know that, Neretva River is the coldest river in the world! Once more, I appreciated the bravery of all the people jumping and swimming in it!

4. Explore the sad remnants of Bosnian war

Although Mostar is a great touristic city and Bosnia and Herzegovina is a totally safe country to visit as a tourist, the sad memory of the Bosnian War in 1990’s is still very fresh in people’s minds. Besides doing touristy things in Mostar, you also can see the remnants of the war by just walking a few steps off the polished touristy sites. There were houses with multiple bullet holes just a few streets away of the old city. I noticed some city parks, turned into graveyards during the conflicts. Just a few reminders how ugly the wars can be and how precious the peace is…

5. Enjoy the delicious Bosnian food

Bosnian food is so delicious! Two dishes that you should definitely try when you are in Bosnia and Herzegovina are cevapi and burek. Cevapi are fingerlong shaped kebabs, perfectly grilled and served with pita bread, some pepper paste and cream. And burek is a kind of filo pastry or a stuffed pie, filled with minced meat or cheese, coiled into spiral shape and perfectly baked. Flaky, a bit greasy but so yummy!

Where to stay in Mostar

Hotel-Restaurant Kriva Cuprija ( score 9.4 / for more than 990 reviews) is a perfect choice for a memorable accommodation in the middle of the Old Town, just steps away from the Old Bridge. It also offers a great breakfast and quadruple rooms for the ones who travel as a family.

Hotel Almira ( score 9.1 / for more than 460 reviews) is another choice in the Old Town which is quite a budget friendly accommodation. It offers breakfast, free garage parking and has many triple and quadruple room options as well.

For more choice and prices of Mostar Hotels, please click here.

Blagaj Tekija, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Blagaj Tekija and the under mountain cave, Balkans itinerary
Blagaj Tekija and the under mountain cave

Blagaj Tekija is a must place to visit on a road trip to Mostar. It is a Dervish Tekija, a kind of Islamic monastery, in an incredible surrounding nature. The Tekija is built on a solid rock at the point where Buna river is sourced out of an under mountain cave. A very high rock cliff stretches just above the tekija. The complex which dates back to 17th century can be visited by tourists. Or you can just go and take in the surrounding incredible nature and sit at one of the restaurants on the banks of the river.

Pocitelj Historic Village, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Pocitelj village, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Balkan itinerary
Pocitelj village, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Pocitelj is a historic village on the bank of river Neretva. It is an open air museum and a protected National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was a delightful, refreshing stop there, on our trip out of Mostar. We climbed up to the stone fort for the panoramic views of the village and Neretva. We walked around the village and saw the mosque and the clock tower. Looked at the handcrafts sold by local salesmen. All was nice and cute…

Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia and Herzegovina Balkan itinerary
Kravice Waterfalls

Kravice Waterfalls are pure heaven for nature lovers! There are tens of waterfalls all pouring from a large limestone onto the lake bellow. Even in late summer the water flow of the waterfalls was quite strong. At time of our visit, people were swimming in the lake, having a picnic at the shores and enjoying the nature. As it was our last place in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we sat at the cafe by the lake and enjoyed a final plate of Bosnian cevapi.

Going back to Croatia

Croatian border is very close to Kravice Waterfalls. We crossed the border, adding one more stamp to our passports, that filled up with border stamps in just two days. Normally we were planning to catch the ferry from Ploce to Orebic where we would catch another ferry to Korcula Island. Unfortunately we missed the ferry in Ploce and had to drive all the coast to Orebic. This meant, two more border passings, since there was city of Neum, a Bosnia and Herzegovina land, between the two parts of Croatia lands on the Dalmatian coast. Indeed, we passed very smoothly through the borders and enjoyed all the journey along Dalmatian coast a lot.

Orebic, Croatia

Driving to Orebic through Peljesac peninsula, Croatia
Driving to Orebic through Peljesac peninsula, Croatia

Orebic is a port town on Peljesac peninsula and located just across Korcula Island. Just before sunset we turned to Peljesac peninsula and continued driving to Orebic. It wasn’t long that we noticed we were going through a gorgeous place. There were vineyards all around with grape bunches hanging on the vines. Later, we’ve learnt that actually we were at the heart of Croatian wines there. Also, there were olive trees orchards and pine forests throughout our way. Cyclist were all around, enjoying a ride in this incredible nature.

Orebic is a cute seaside town with nice beaches and crystal clean turquoise water. It also has some sandy beaches, which is quite rare on the Dalmatian coast. Ferries departing from Orebic, can take you to Korcula Island in just 15 minutes.

Korcula Island, Croatia

Korcula Island, Croatia itinerary
Korcula Old Town, Land Gate

Island hopping in Croatia is quite common tourist attraction since it’s very easy to travel to islands using public ferry transportation. Hvar, Korcula and Brac are among the most visited islands for different preferences, such as natural beauties, beaches and nightlife. Being not far to Dubrovnik and thanks its gorgeous looking old town and great foodie scene, Korcula Island was our choice to visit at this Balkan Itinerary. As soon as we set foot on the island, we acknowledged that we definitely made a right choice!

What to do in Korcula Old Town?

Narrow streets of Korcula Old Town
Narrow streets of Korcula Old Town

Korcula Old Town is a beautiful, fortified town on the east coast of the island of Korcula. The old city is surrounded by historic walls all around. Thera are two main gates, Land Gate (Kopnena Vrata) and Sea Gate (Morska Vrata), and a few towers scattered through the walls. The town plan of the old town itself is very interesting and unique with all the streets arranged in a herringbone pattern, allowing air circulation and protection at the same time. St. Mark’s Cathedral, House of Marco Polo and Land Gate are some of the places must not be skipped in a trip to Korcula.

We loved getting lost in the narrow streets of Korcula Old Town. Morning strolls among the colorful cafes facing the sea and the walls were so delightful. We sipped our coffees by the crystal clean waters surrounding the island. At the time of our visit, some people were enjoying the less crowded late summer beaches just next to the old town. Actually, all of the city had great laid back summer vacation atmosphere with its beaches all around and many cafes, restaurants and bars scattered on the cobbled streets and many squares of the old town. And we loved that!

Korcula Island has a great laid back summer vacation vibe
Korcula Island has a great laid back summer vacation vibe

We had an incredible, romantic dinner at a TripAdvisor awarded restaurant in a beautiful corner of the old town. Al fresco dining with some historical old town scenery was spectacular! I must add that Korcula Island is a foodie paradise with its many fine dining, seafood and local cuisine options. It has Michelin star rated restaurants as well. Korcula offers some white wine verities like Prosip, Rukatac and Grk that are native to the island. It also has producers of olive oil that received prestigious certificate of PDO (protected designations of origin).

Where to stay in Korcula?

We stayed one night in Korcula Island for an exploration trip but we would love to come back and have a longer summer vacation in the future. It’s certainly worth to spend at least three – four days (or more) there and enjoy all it has to offer deeply.

Aminess Korcula Heritage Hotel ( score 9.0 / for more than 350 reviews) is the oldest hotel in town which offers a delightful stay with some awesome sea views. This prestigious hotel is just at the heart of the old town and includes an excellent breakfast.

Apartments Milion ( score 9.3 / for more than 170 reviews) and Guest House Dijana ( score 9.1 / for more than 80 reviews) are some budget friendly accommodations set in the old town of Korcula.

For more choice and the prices of Korcula hotels, please click here.

Day 3: Korcula – Ston – Dubrovnik

After a delightful morning on Korcula Island, we were ready to catch the ferry back to Orebic and Peljesac peninsula. We drove all the stunning way back to the starting point of the peninsula and found the little villages Ston and Mali Ston.

Ston and Mali Ston

The Wall of Ston, Croatia itinerary
“The Wall of Ston” overlooking the village from the mountain.

Mali Ston and its larger sister village Ston are located where Peljesac meets the mainland Croatia and are less than an hour drive to Dubrovnik. We’ve heard about Mali Ston on a Rick Stein BBC show where the Mali Ston locals insisted that they have the best oysters in the world. The bay of Mali Ston has a unique mix of freshwater and saltwater, making it ideal for oyster farming.

Things to do in Ston and Mali Ston

Mali Ston village is famous with its oysters
Mali Ston village is famous with its oysters

Ston and Mali Ston are linked together with “the Wall of Ston“, which looks like a miniature form of the Great Wall of China. The fortification system in Ston is the second largest in the world after the Great Wall of China. In addition, Ston is one of the oldest salt producing places in Mediterranean which has been in use for some 4000 years. However, for us, the main reason to visit Mali Ston was a restaurant that is featured as one of 100 Best Restaurants in Croatia: Kapetanova Kuca.

Mali Ston oysters, Kapetanova Kuca, Croatia
Black risotto, Kapetanova Kuca, Croatia
Kapetanova Kuca restaurant, Mali Ston
Kapetanova Kuca restaurant, Mali Ston

We had the restaurant special Black Cuttlefish risotto and seafood spaghetti after some delicious and fresh Mali Ston oysters. Both the black risotto and the seafood spaghetti were perfectly cooked. The seafood delicacy salad of crabs, octopus and seashells were also very delicious. I can easily say that it was the best meal we had during our whole trip. Also, the prices were quite affordable, especially compared to the places in nearby Dubrovnik. Even if you stay just in Dubrovnik, try to visit Mali Ston and Kapetanova Kuca for a little feast!

Mount Srd, Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik Old Town view from Mount Srd
Dubrovnik Old Town view from Mount Srd

After a quite a long D-tour through the cities and countries surrounding Dubrovnik, it was the time to explore Dubrovnik itself. First, we drove to Mount Srd for some breathtaking views of Dubrovnik old town. People normally travel to the top of the hill by the cable car from Dubrovnik old town. Since we still had our rental car, we preferred to go by car before returning it in Dubrovnik city center. We climbed to the top of the mountain, going through some narrow and steep roads at some parts. Nevertheless, the view of red tiled old city of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic Sea was definitely worth it!

After we came back from the mountain we returned our rental car in the branch in Dubrovnik Rixos Hotel and were ready to explore the old town on foot. Walking the short way from Rixos Hotel to Dubrovnik Old Town, we noticed some cute coves with people sunbathing and swimming in the coves. Obviously, Dubrovnik was a great city with plenty to offer and it definitely was “the pearl of the Adriatic“!

Dubrovnik Old Town

Dubrovnik is one of the worlds best protected walled cities with a great medieval architecture. It is situated on Dalmatian coast overlooking the calm blue Adriatic Sea. Old City of Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage site with beautiful preserved city walls, Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. It is one of the most prominent touristic city of the Mediterranean. Walking through the streets of Dubrovnik Old Town would certainly transfer you to the medieval times!

Things to do in Dubrovnik Old Town

There are tens of important places to visit and attractions in Dubrovnik Old Town. Gates, fountains, churches, palaces, museums and many more… You would be spoilt for choice among all these amazing places. Perhaps, it ‘s the best just to stroll around and take in the beauties of this gorgeous city.

1. Walk on Dubrovnik’s City Walls

Dubrovnik's City Walls, Balkan itinarary
Dubrovnik’s City Walls

The walls surrounding the Old City of Dubrovnik are a series of defensive walls which can reach 25 meters (82ft) high and are 3 to 6 meters (19ft) wide. These massive stone walls were completed in the 16th century and are 1,940 meters (6,360 ft) long. Walking on Dubrovnik’s City Walls, for me, was the best tourist attraction in Dubrovnik. The entrance fee is not cheap but it is a great experience. You walk on the thick walls, through forts and towers surrounding the whole old town. The views are amazing!

2. Stroll through Stradun

Stradun in Dubrovnik Old Town
Stradun in Dubrovnik Old Town

Stradun or officially Placa in Croatian is the main street of Dubrovnik Old Town. It is limestone paved pedestrian street that runs some 300 meters through the old town surrounded with shops, cafes and many eateries. Walking through Stradun among all those historical buildings is enchanting. After a long day of exploring have a rest at one of the cafes, people watch and just take in the beauties surrounding you.

3. Explore the historic attractions

The list of historic places in Dubrovnik Old Town is very long. It is just packed with so much attractions in a relatively small area. If I should name some, don’t skip seeing Rector’s Palace (now a history museum), the city gates (Pile Gate and Ploce Gate), Onofrio Fountain, Loggia Square, Sponza Palace, St. Blaise Church, Franciscan Monastery (it also accommodates a medieval pharmacy, one of the oldest in the world from the 14th century), Dubrovnik Cathedral and the Old Harbour.

4. Game of Thrones Walking Tours

"Walk of Shame" stairs in Dubrovnik
“Walk of Shame” stairs in Dubrovnik

If you are a “Game of Thrones” fan, you would definitely have heard about the different filming locations of the series in many distinct places in the world. Hence, Dubrovnik Old Town was the main filming location for King’s Landing. There are many places in Dubrovnik, used as a background in tens of scenes at the show. The Wall of Dubrovnik, old town streets, Pile Gate, Pile Bay, Minceta Tower, Lokrum Island, Fort Lovrijenac, Tresteno Arboretum are some of the places used in Dubrovnik.

You can explore these locations with a Game of Thrones Walking Tour in Dubrovnik. Or you can do a self guided tour, as we did, and walk into the imaginary world of the show. We’ve found a few filming locations of the series. For example, we walked through the stairs of the famous “Walk of Shame” episode.

Where to stay in Dubrovnik

If you are planing to stay in Dubrovnik Old Town, obviously the accommodation prices can be quite expensive, especially during high season. But, by booking in advance or just booking at last minute as we did, you can still find some affordable places to stay.

Dominus Little Palace ( score 9.4 / for more than 200 reviews) is located in old town, just steps from Stradun. It offers renovated rooms in great location, in close walking distance to all the places you would want to visit in Dubrovnik.

La Vita e Bella ( score 8.7 / for more than 240 reviews) is a more affordable accomodatiation in old town, again just few steps from Stradun. It is in a perfect location in old town, with restaurants and things to do all around.

Apartments Minceta Old Town ( score 9.1 / for more than 100 reviews) is just a few steps from old town’s main gate. It has incredible views of Dubrovnik Old Town and Adriatic Sea. It offers double rooms or entire apartments with kitchen and sea views.

Pearl of Adriatic ( score 9.8 / for more than 160 reviews) is an affordable priced, recently renovated apartment, 8 minutes walking distance to Dubrovnik Old Town. The apartment has furnished terrace with great sea and old town views and is big enough for a family of four.

For more choice and prices of places to stay in Dubrovnik, please click here.

Day 4: Dubrovnik – Zagreb

After exploring the lovely Old City of Dubrovnik, we were ready for our next destination. We got on Aerobus to Dubrovnik Airport at the bus stop outside the walls (just near the cable car to Srj hill). We boarded to our flight to Zagreb, and off we go, we were in Zagreb in just a few hours after we left Dubrovnik Old Town.

Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb city center, Balkan itinerary
Zagreb city center

Zagreb is the capital city of Croatia and has more Slavic atmosphere compared the Dalmatian city Dubrovnik. Honestly, we spent just one night in Zagreb. We visited there basically for its proximity to Plitvice Lakes and since we had found cheaper return flights from Zagreb. At a more relaxed schedule, it would be great to spend one more day in this capital city.

As soon as we checked in our hotel close to city center, we started exploring Zagreb at the only night we had. Actually, we were quite lucky, because there were three different festivals at different parts of Zagreb downtown that night. We entertained with locals in a beer festival, watched some folkloric dances at another. After exploring the main squares and shopping streets of Zagreb, we set in a local’s favorite traditional restaurant to try some local food.

What to eat in Zagreb?

Zagreb’s cuisine is mostly Austro-Hungarian influenced, hearty continental dishes. Instead of Dalmatian sea food, you would find traditional dishes of meat, potatoes, cottage cheese, vegetables and stews in Zagreb.

Traditional Croatian restaurant, Balkan itinerary
Zagreb cuisine

Zagreb style schnitzel
Dalmatian ham with olives

We dined in a TripAdvisor awarded Zagreb restaurant, Stari Fijaker. Definitely, tried Escalope of veal Zagreb style, a kind of Zagreb schnitzel (Zagrebascki odrezak) that veal is stuffed with ham and cheese, then fried as a schnitzel. We also had grilled veal and veggies and Dalmatian ham with olives, accompanied with some Croatian red wine. It was a lovely last meal of our Balkan itinerary.

Where to stay in Zagreb?

Manda Heritage Hotel ( score 9.3 / for more than 1200 reviews) looks like good choice located just in the center of Zagreb, very close to Zagreb Cathedral and the museums. It offers a good breakfast and some family rooms as well.

Pod Zidom Rooms ( score 9.4 / for more than 600 reviews) is another affordable choice centrally located steps from Zagreb Cathedral and with an exceptional breakfast. It is also close to many restaurants, cafes and bakeries.

Sheraton Zagreb Hotel ( score 8.7 / for more than 3000 reviews) is a well known choice in the heart of Zagreb. It is an elegant 5-star hotel very close to the train station and 0.6 mi from the Main Square.

For more choice and the prices for places to stay in Zagreb, please click here.

Day 5: Zagreb – Plitvice Lakes

On the last day of our Balkan itinerary we rented a car from a car rental close to our hotel. We checked out of our hotel in Zagreb and headed to the last road trip of this itinerary, the world renowned Plitvice Lakes.

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia itinerary
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

The Plitvice Lakes is the oldest and largest national park in Croatia. It is an exceptional natural beauty with 16 named and several smaller unnamed lakes cascading one into the next at different elevations. The lakes end with impressive waterfalls, creating a pastoral masterpiece altogether. Plitvice Lakes natural park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a bucket list destination for many nature lovers.

We arrived early in the morning to the park and were absolutely awed with all the beauty the Plitvice Lakes has to offer. Lush forests surrounded lakes were in unbelievable azur color! Even in the late summer there were many waterfalls everywhere. We were also impressed with how well organized the natural park was, in spite of thousands of people visiting there every day. There were lake level walking paths, electric lake boats and panoramic train rides to help you enjoy the park at the best.

Plitvice Lakes walking paths, Croatia itinerary
There are 7 tour routes to hike around the lakes

At the end of a full day of hiking, exploring and traveling we went back to Zagreb. We found Zagreb airport and returned our rental car there. After five well spent days in the Balkans we were blown away with all the things we experienced there at such a short amount of time. I hope my detailed Balkan itinerary can help you plan your dream trip to the Balkans!

My other related blog post:

The Ultimate Balkans Road Trip: 3 countries in 5 Days

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