Does summer also mean good mood, road trips, sea, spending time in the countryside and trying something new to you? If one destination can offer all of the above, all the better. Since we didn't want to fly somewhere in the summer and still wanted to go scuba diving, our decision to explore Croatia was made very quickly. In this blog post, you will find all the information about our Croatia road trip, with tips on dive centres, day excursions, accommodation, and restaurants.
Overview Roadtrip Croatia
Route Croatia Roadtrip
Day 1 Linz – Plitvice
530 km | approx. 6h driving time (plan more time for border crossings, refueling the car, to buy vignettes and pay tolls)
Whoo-hoo! Here we go! With our red Mazda speedster – which is well packed with our diving equipment by the way – we start the drive to the South. Since we are on the road in the low season, we are happy about empty roads and lose only minimal time at the borders of Slovenia and Croatia.
In the late afternoon, we reach our first destination: Čatrnja. The village is located directly before Plitvice National Park and is, therefore, the perfect starting point for tomorrow.
We spent two nights in the Villa Stone and can highly recommend it. The rooms are newly renovated and lovingly furnished. The parking place is free and the lavender bushes are blooming in the garden.Book a room close to Plitvice National Park
Where to eat in Plitvice?
Restoran Degenija, Seliste Dreznicko bb, 47245, Rakovica
Day 2 Hiking in Plitvice National Park
Lakes in more shades of blue that you can imagine. Wooden footbridges leading along the lakeshore. Lush green trees framing the picture. That's them, the famous Plitvice Lakes.
After a short drive, we park the car at entrance 1 and start our hiking day at the big waterfall. There are already too many people here for my taste, but otherwise, we would have had to be here a little after 7 o'clock.
We spend the whole day in the national park and would like to cool down regularly in the refreshing water. This was unfortunately forbidden a few years ago – scuba diving is not allowed here either.
A detailed article about a day trip with route suggestions is also planned for the blog.
More information about the lakes can be found here – but sadly the website is not very user-friendly.
Opening hours Plitvice National Park: 7:00 am – 08:00 pm
Day 3 Plitvice – Šibenik – Murter
220 km | approx. 2:40h
In the morning we set out to drive further South. Most of the time we drive along country roads and from time to time we pass a little village. We turn up the music and enjoy watching the ever-changing landscape.
But we want to take full advantage of the day before we go to the island of Murter. And so we decide to visit the city of Šibenik on the spur of the moment. It is not quite on our route, but a brief stop to stroll suits both of us well. Šibenik is located by the sea and yachts and sailing ships are docked in the harbor. Jörg even sees a turtle coming to the surface to take a breath.
The old town is not very large, but the labyrinth of narrow alleys gives us a different impression. We love it here a lot and with an ice cream in our hands, we stroll along the promenade.
Then we head for our next destination – the island of Murter. We check in in a small apartment right next to the diving school and end the day in one of the restaurants directly at the sea.
Day 4 – 7 Scuba Diving in Murter
In the morning we register at the dive centre Najada, fill in forms and prepare our dive equipment. The next days we dive at different dive sites in the National Park Kornati and around the island Murter. We explore steep walls, sunken airplanes, wreck parts and an indescribable flora and fauna. If I had known that it is so nice to dive here, I would have come much earlier. As a great lover of snails aka Nudis (Nudibranchs) I am even happier when I discover many leopard snails and other species during the diving days in Murter.[irp posts=”18947″ name=”Scuba Diving in Murter – Welcome to the Paradise Kornati”]
I can recommend the dive centre very highly, because the staff, guides and boat guides know the region very well and are happy to show you the most beautiful places.
Best Restaurants in Murter
In the evenings we always chose a different restaurant – each with excellent food:
- Tic Tac (Hrokešina 5)
- Restoran Mate (Kornatska ul. 1)
- Restaurant Mareta (Rudina b.b)
- Ristorante Boskin Skver (Luke 66)
Excursions from Murter
The Bora winds robbed us of one day of diving and so we drove back from Murter to the mainland. One day we visited Krka National Park, Skradin, and Split. Split is not quite around the corner, but an evening walk with excellent food is worth the trip.
We have booked our apartment directly through the dive centre Najada. It was more important for us to be close to the dive facilities than in the centre of Murter.Book a room in Murter
Day 8 Murter – Rab along the coastal road
200km | approx. 3:30h depending on the ferry schedule
We love diving in Murter so much that we decide to add two dives on the day of our departure.
With a heavy heart, we leave Murter and get back on the road. The drive along the old coastal road is quiet, idyllic and again and again, we see the mountains of Velebit on one side and the sea on the other. With the ferry, we leave the mainland behind us again and are already full of anticipation of what awaits us on Rab.
We check in at Tanja's dive center Aqua Sport in the north of Rab. Also here we have booked diving and accommodation together and both places are run by the same family.
Day 9 – Day 11 Diving on Rab
Diving with Tanja and her husband Riko is differently arranged than in Murter. In the late morning, the guests of the holiday house meet on the terrace and discuss the day. Those who want to dive, get on the boat, those who prefer to relax, stay ashore.
It is difficult for me to compare Rab and Murter with each other because they are so different. At Aqua Sport the word stress does not exist and so we often start the first dive of the day just before noon. The underwater world is not as rich as on Murter, but nevertheless, I discover a giant seahorse and an octopus and observe and photograph both of them for over an hour. Thus I reach 120 minutes in this dive and log my longest dive.
Best Restaurants in the North of Rab
In the same bay in which the dive centre is located are also a few restaurants within walking distance:
- Gonar: Try octopus salad and fish platter 2nd class for two persons
- Marenda: Try the tuna steak!
Excursions on Rab
One afternoon we are itching to get out and explore the city of Rab. The sea surrounds the beautiful old town and we stroll calmly through the alleys.
We stayed in the dive center's holiday home. On Rab, you can find plenty of holiday homes as well as many hotels.Book a room on Rab
Day 12 Rab – Präbichl – Linz
655 km | approx. 8h
The time in Croatia has passed much too fast and on the last day, we leave early in the morning to cover mileage. We make good progress up to the border crossing Croatia-Slovenia, but then we lose 30 minutes there due to passport controls.
To free our equipment from the sea water, we make one last stop at Präbichl. The Grüblsee is located there and is ideal for a desalination dive. In winter the lake serves the snow cannons of the ski area and as soon as it is warm enough the operators of the diving school sink statues. The Grüblsee is also known as an alpine aquarium and a variety of fish, which can also be fed, live there.
After a warming soup and a snack, we start the last leg back to Linz. And then one of the most brilliant road trips is already over. But we are planning another trip to Croatia in autumn for diving because we have just started to explore beautiful Croatia.[irp posts=”18058″ name=”Scuba Diving Alp Aquarium Grüblsee”]
Tips for a perfect road trip in Croatia
The perfect vehicle: Mazda CX-5
Anyone who spends a long time in the car likes to be comfortable – and so do we. Anyone who dives will also understand that a large boot is an absolute must. The Mazda CX-5 combines these features and boasts excellent equipment.
I was particularly impressed by the built-in GPS: the travel time is calculated extremely accurately and it even knows the ferry times, so you know whether you can take your time or better go straight to the departure terminal.
Toll & Vignette
The easiest way to get from Austria to Croatia is through Slovenia. Don't forget to buy a vignette for the motorway in Slovenia. You can buy one at the last petrol station in Austria just before the border.
In Croatia, the motorway is a toll road and is billed according to the distance travelled.
Getting to Rab requires taking a short ferry ride. There are fixed ferry times at which the ferry has to leave, but if the ferry is full earlier, it leaves immediately. Here you can find the current ferry times and prices.
More tips for a successful road trip
Have you seen my blog post with cool playlists to accompany you on your road trip and encourage you to sing along?
Have you ever been diving in Croatia? Do you have any tips for me?
ps. pin me!
For our road trip, we were provided with a bright red Mazda CX-5. Many thanks to Mazda Austria for making this special road trip possible.