9 days in The Balkans Itinerary

9 days in The Balkans Itinerary

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Route & dates

9 days in The Balkans Itinerary

Start: Madrid, Spain
Fly:  4 h
1
Zagreb, Croatia
— Few hours
Bus:  1 h 45 min
2
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
— 1 night
Bus:  1 h 45 min
3
Zadar, Croatia
— 1 night
Fly + Shuttle:  3 h 30 min
4
Rovinj, Croatia
— 1 night
Shuttle:  30 min
5
Porec, Croatia
— 1 night
Drive:  1 h
6
Pula, Croatia
— 1 night
Fly:  2 h 45 min
7
Dubrovnik, Croatia
— 1 night
Fly:  4 h 15 min
8
Istanbul, Turkey
— 2 nights
Fly:  5 h 45 min
End: Madrid, Spain

few
hours
Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb boasts a combination of Austro-Hungarian and Socialist architecture, but it is beloved for its outdoor cafe culture.
On the 18th (Sat), have some family-friendly fun at Sensperience and then test your problem-solving skills at popular escape rooms.

To see reviews, other places to visit, and tourist information, use the Zagreb journey planner.

Madrid, Spain to Zagreb is an approximately 4-hour flight. You can also drive; or do a combination of train and bus. Expect little chillier temperatures when traveling from Madrid in January; daily highs in Zagreb reach 5°C and lows reach -3°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 18th (Sat) so you can take a bus to Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Things to do in Zagreb

Fun & Games
Find places to stay Jan 18 — 19:
Highlights from your plan
Room Escape Games
Sensperience ©
Sensperience

1
night
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park ©
Plitvice Lakes National Park, a World Heritage Site, showcases 16 crystalline lakes connected by waterfalls.
On the 19th (Sun), explore the activities along Ciginovac Lake, explore the striking landscape at Veliki Prstavac, then admire the sheer force of Slapovi Milke Trnine, and finally explore the wealth of natural beauty at Plitvice Lakes National Park.

To see photos, more things to do, ratings, and tourist information, use the Plitvice Lakes National Park trip itinerary builder app .

Traveling by bus from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes National Park takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a train. Cap off your sightseeing on the 19th (Sun) early enough to catcht the bus to Zadar.

Things to do in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Parks Nature
Find places to stay Jan 18 — 19:
Highlights from your plan
Plitvice Lakes National Park ©
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Ciginovac Lake ©
Ciginovac Lake
Veliki Prstavac ©
Veliki Prstavac

1
night
Zadar, Croatia

Zadar ©
Situated along the Adriatic Sea, Zadar preserves a medieval old town that is entirely contained on a peninsula.
Kick off your visit on the 20th (Mon): brush up on your knowledge of spirits at Mashtel Distillery, look for gifts at Natura Zara wine & more, then take in panoramic vistas at Bell Tower, then explore the fascinating underground world of Modric Cave (Modric Spilja), and finally partake in some friendly competition at City Game Zadar.

To find more things to do, traveler tips, other places to visit, and other tourist information, read our Zadar sightseeing planner.

Getting from Plitvice Lakes National Park to Zadar by bus takes about 2 hours. Other options: drive. In January, plan for daily highs up to 13°C, and evening lows to 1°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 20th (Mon) to allow time to travel to Rovinj.

Things to do in Zadar

Parks Nature Fun & Games

Side Trips

Modric Cave (Modric Spilja), Mashtel Distillery
Find places to stay Jan 19 — 20:
Highlights from your plan
Mashtel Distillery ©
Mashtel Distillery
Natura Zara wine & more ©
Natura Zara wine & more
Bell Tower ©
Bell Tower

1
night
Rovinj, Croatia

Rovinj ©
Istria's most popular coastal city, Rovinj blends a traditional fishing port with a modern seaside getaway.
Kick off your visit on the 21st (Tue): look for gifts at Artrovinj, make a trip to Gallery, then have some family-friendly fun at Paintball Point Flash, then examine the collection at Oil mill Grubic, and finally step into the grandiose world of Castle of Soardo-Bembo.

To see traveler tips, photos, where to stay, and more tourist information, refer to the Rovinj trip planner .

Traveling by combination of flight and shuttle from Zadar to Rovinj takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and ferry; or ride a ferry. January in Rovinj sees daily highs of 11°C and lows of 1°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 21st (Tue) early enough to take a shuttle to Porec.

Things to do in Rovinj

Historic Sites Fun & Games Shopping

Side Trip

Bale
Find places to stay Jan 20 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
Artrovinj ©
Artrovinj
Grubic - Olive Mill & Evoo ©
Grubic - Olive Mill & Evoo

1
night
Porec, Croatia

Porec ©
With a scenic location along the Adriatic Sea and a basilica listed as a World Heritage Site, the ancient town of Porec represents the most visited tourist destination in Croatia.
Start off your visit on the 22nd (Wed): stroll through Pinesta Beach, stop by Break Time Porec, and then get great views at Viewpoint Casanova.

For ratings and tourist information, use the Porec trip builder app .

Porec is just a short distance from Rovinj. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 22nd (Wed) so you can go by car to Pula.

Things to do in Porec

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trips

Viewpoint Casanova, Pinesta Beach
Find places to stay Jan 21 — 22:
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Pinesta Beach ©
Pinesta Beach
Viewpoint Casanova ©
Viewpoint Casanova
Break Time Porec ©
Break Time Porec

1
night
Pula, Croatia

Pula ©
It's the mild climate and calm seas of Pula that draw visitors to the southernmost point of the Istrian peninsula, but the city's ample Roman architecture is a key reason they stay.
Start off your visit on the 23rd (Thu): learn about winemaking at Babos Wine, explore the historical opulence of Kastrum, then have some family-friendly fun at Alpha Strike Laser Tag, and finally do a tasting at Food & Wine station Trapan.

For more things to do, ratings, and more tourist information, refer to the Pula trip maker tool .

Drive from Porec to Pula in an hour. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. January in Pula sees daily highs of 11°C and lows of 1°C at night. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Thu) so you can travel to Dubrovnik.

Things to do in Pula

Wineries Historic Sites Fun & Games

Side Trips

Babos Wine, Kastrum
Find places to stay Jan 22 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Babos Wine ©
Babos Wine
Kastrum ©
Kastrum
Food & Wine station Trapan ©
Food & Wine station Trapan

1
night
Dubrovnik, Croatia

Along the Dalmation Coast, the city of Dubrovnik has become famous for its pedestrian-only Old Town surrounded by fortress walls, and its historical heft has earned it World Heritage Site status.
Start off your visit on the 24th (Fri): get outside with Outdoor Activities, admire the striking features of Franjevacki Crkva Male Brace, and then get to know the fascinating history of Dubrovnik City Walls.

To find photos, traveler tips, ratings, and other tourist information, go to the Dubrovnik trip itinerary builder site .

Traveling by flight from Pula to Dubrovnik takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of flight and ferry; or drive. January in Dubrovnik sees daily highs of 12°C and lows of 5°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 24th (Fri) early enough to travel to Istanbul.

Things to do in Dubrovnik

Outdoors Tours Historic Sites
Find places to stay Jan 23 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
Climbing Tours
Dubrovnik City Walls ©
Dubrovnik City Walls
Franjevacki Crkva Male Brace ©
Franjevacki Crkva Male Brace

2
nights
Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul ©
A physical and cultural bridge between Europe and Asia, the transcontinental city of Istanbul serves as a living reminder of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires.
Start off your visit on the 25th (Sat): don't miss a visit to Hippodrome, then admire the striking features of Basilica Cistern, then get engrossed in the history at Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya), and finally get engrossed in the history at Topkapi Palace. On the 26th (Sun), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: admire the landmark architecture of Dolmabahce Palace, contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Cinili Mosque, contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Sultan Ahmed Mosque, then steep yourself in history at Galata Tower, and finally admire the masterpieces at Kariye Museum (The Chora Church).

To find reviews, traveler tips, other places to visit, and other tourist information, read Istanbul travel planner .

Fly from Dubrovnik to Istanbul in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of car, train, and bus. The time zone difference moving from Central European Time to Eastern European Time is 2 hours. Plan for a bit warmer nights when traveling from Dubrovnik in January since evenings lows in Istanbul dip to 10°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 26th (Sun) to allow time to travel back home.

Things to do in Istanbul

Museums Historic Sites
Find places to stay Jan 24 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya) ©
Sultan Ahmed Mosque ©
Sultan Ahmed Mosque
Topkapi Palace ©
Topkapi Palace

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