From sampling the most refined fresh pasta to sailing across the sparkling Adriatic sea, this 10-day Italy and Croatia itinerary is sure to satisfy your Mediterranean craving.
One of the many joys of traveling in Europe is how easy it is to visit multiple countries in a short amount of time. Spending five days in Italy and five days in Croatia will give you the perfect sample of each country without stretching yourself too thin! Some travelers are unfamiliar with just how close Croatia actually is to Italy and how easy it is to get from Italy to Croatia and visa versa. In this 10-day itinerary, you’ll experience the best of Roman culture, glide through Venetian canals by gondola, and traverse across Croatia’s Istrian peninsula.
The Ultimate 10-Day Italy and Croatia Itinerary
Day 1-3: Rome, Italy
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Day 1: Arrive in Rome
Buongiorno! And welcome to Italy. Start off your Mediterranean ten-day tour by flying into the Italian capital city of Rome. Ideally, you will find a flight that arrives in the morning to have a full day here for your first day. Nevertheless, prepare to be awe-stricken by Rome’s classical and buzzing vibe on this first day.
Check into your accommodation and get familiar with your surroundings on day one. Rome is a huge city, and there are a variety of great neighborhoods to stay in while you’re here. But with just three days, it’s best to arrange your accommodation to be in the center of Rome. The districts of Monti (bustling, hip neighborhood with lots of bars near the Colosseum), Trevi ( famous for none other than the Trevi Fountain), and Sant’ Eustachio are all located within the historical center of the city.
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Once you are checked in and settled, take the Metro or venture by foot to the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Take a guided tour of these monumental museums, or just enjoy their atmosphere and snap some photos from the outside!
Day 2: Explore Historical Rome
On day two, check out the historical sites in central Rome. What better way to start your day than to enjoy a quick authentic Italian espresso (you won’t find any Starbucks here!) and make your way to the Trevi Fountain. Visitors swamp this famous fountain in the afternoon, so it’s best to do this in the morning.
From here, stroll down the whimsical narrow alleyways of Colonna and end up at the Pantheon. This 2,000-year-old temple is impressive to see and is a true landmark of Roman history. If you want to tour the temple on the weekend, it is necessary to book in advance. Otherwise, you can buy your ticket on-site the day of.
From here, it’s a short stroll over to the famous Piazza Navona. There are dozens of quaint eateries here looking over the square. It’s a great place to grab lunch or at least a gelato!
Make your way down Via dei Coronari and cross the ancient Ponte Sant’ Angelo bridge to arrive at the Castel Sant’ Angelo, a second-century castle and museum. Tour here, or walk down Via della Conciliazione to reach Vatican City.
End your day with a slice of pizza (or 5) and an Italian aperitivo. Aperol Spritz or Limoncello Spritz are widely popular amongst tourists AND locals, and you know…when in Rome!
Day 3: Italian Shopping and Roman Galleries
On day three, stroll through the districts of Campo Marzio, Ponte, and Regola for premium Italian shopping (or window shopping) and explore renowned European galleries.
Start your day by visiting the Spanish steps in Campo Marzio. From here, stroll down Via dei Condotti to see a few of the flagship stores of some of the world’s best-known designers. Dior, Gucci, Fendi, you’ll find them all here!
Continue down this street, and you’ll arrive in Ponte, a district known for cobbled streets and local life. Ponte is a great place to find a quaint trattoria to enjoy lunch before an afternoon of gallery exploring. Make your way to the street “Via Guilia” when you’re ready. Here you will find quaint shops, impressive palazzos, and the art district. From the Van Buren Contemporary Gallery to the Galleria Spada (15th-century art museum), you will find all kinds of galleries here.
Day 4-5: Venice, Italy
Day 4: From Rome to Venice
Travel from Rome to Venice by train on day four.
It takes about four hours to get from Rome to Venice by train, so it’s a good idea to make this journey in the morning. You should pack some snacks or lunch to take on the train; there may not be a cafe on board. Arrive at Venice’s central train station in the afternoon and check into your accommodation. Be aware there are no cars in the city of Venice. The main form of transportation here is by boat, or you’re walking! So keep this in mind if you have heavy luggage and book accommodation far from the train station.
Get acquainted with Venice on this first afternoon and wander through the district of Dorsoduro. A quirky, artsy district hosting novelty shops and is home to the Museo Leonardo da Vinci. In Dorsoduro, you will find endless eateries and quaint bars that offer competitive prices since this district doubles as a student neighborhood.
Day 5: Venice by Land and Sea
Begin your day of Venetian exploring by visiting St. Marks Basilica in the morning. Enjoy the Piazza San Marco, where St. Marks is located, and reveille in the ambiance of grand Venetian architecture. Here you will also find the impressive library, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, and the Palazzo Ducale (an opulent gothic palace that houses exhibits and tours of the prison, armory, and palatial rooms.).
From here, go to the famous Rialto Bridge either by foot or by boat! You can get a ferry from St. Marco to Rialto or take a gondola down the Rio del Palazzo and Rio Della Fava canals. Admire the Rialto bridge and head up to the roof terrace at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi shopping mall to better view the bridge and the Grand Canal. Go to the nearby Rialto Markets, a beloved marketplace hosting a great variety of shops for locals and tourists.
Head back to the Grand Canal and hop on a ferry to San Toma. You can walk to the area around Campo Santa Margarita, a ritzy and fashionable local area, and try some of the favorite eateries amongst Venetians.
Keep in mind the beauty of Venice is in wandering the streets, hopping on gondolas or ferries, and just embracing the atmosphere of one of the most unique cities in the world.
Day 6-10: Istrian Peninsula, Croatia
Day 6: Ferry from Venice to Rovinj
It’s ciao for now, Italy! Get ready to explore the northwest corner of Croatia on day six. It’s surprisingly easy to get from Italy to Croatia by ferry. You can go directly from Venice to the picturesque hilltop town of Rovinj in just a few hours. There are two ferry operators for this route, either Venezia Lines or Adriatic Lines and the journey will take anywhere between 2.5 hours to 5.5 hours, depending on which line you choose.
When you arrive in Rovinj in the afternoon, prepare to be blown away by the enchanting, fairytale-like atmosphere of this coastal town. Spend the afternoon getting lost in the tangled cobblestone alleyways that lead towards the waterfront.
Go shopping and treasure hunting on Grisia Street and enjoy the variety of quaint boutiques this famous street offers. Continue here, and you will end up at St. Euphemia Church and the iconic bell tower. This tower is sure to catch your eye as it is the town’s most prominent and defining feature. Learn the story of Euphemia and enjoy the architecture of this quaint, central church. In the evening, watch the sunset from the old town pier and get ready for your next day of adventuring.
Day 7: Explore Porec and Buje
After seven days of exploring cities on foot, it’s the perfect time to pick up a rental car and explore the corners of the Istrian peninsula. Rovinj offers several options for rental car companies to choose from, so opt for what suits you best and head north to the town of Porec.
Just a 40-minute drive away from Rovinj, the pastel-painted town of Porec offers impressive history and a quaint Riviera. Porec has seen inhabitants since 800 BC and was captured by the Romans in 129 BC. The city is well known for its 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica, which is remarkably preserved and boasts unique gold mosaics to admire.
From Porec, make your way to the charming medieval town of Buje. This town is known as the home to some of the most renowned wineries in Croatia. With around 25 wineries, it would almost be impossible not to stop and taste some of Croatia’s finest wines. Stay the night in Buje and enjoy the romantic medieval ambiance.
Day 8: Visit the Islands of Cres and Losinj
On day eight, drive approximately 1.5 hours southeast to the Brestova Ferry Terminal and experience the Islands of Cres and Losinj. The ferry connecting Brestova and Cres holds cars, so there is no need to ditch the rental car yet! Drive on board, and in just 20 minutes, you will be on the Island of Cres. Drive down the coast (there is just one main highway here) and enjoy the views of the sparkling sea on either side of you. At the southern tip of Cres, you will cross a small bridge to the Island of Losinj.
If you’re up for an adventure, spend the afternoon at Lubenice Beach, one of Cres’s most secluded and pristine beaches. There is a 45-minute walk down to this remote beach, but the views and bright aquamarine water is a sight to see! If you’re looking for a beach with a little more accessibility, check out Valun. This small coastal village hosts two charming beaches with pristine waters perfect for wadding in. Head back to the ferry and make the short 25-minute drive to the town of Labin where you will stay the night.
Day 9: Explore Labin and Pula
Wake up in the town of Labin on Day nine and be pleasantly surprised by this hidden gem. Labin, which was once the center of the regional coal mining industry, is a quintessential Istrian town perched in the hills above the sleepy fishing village of Rabac. If you are up for a gentle hike, you can follow the Sentona Trail to Rabac, passing several cascading turquoise blue waterfalls on your way. To see waterfalls, you don’t have to go all the way down to Rabac if you would rather just take a short walk halfway down the 5km trail.
This Croatian itinerary takes you to your final stop, Pula, in the afternoon. This Istrian capital city is the largest city on the peninsula. You will undoubtedly feel the reminiscent Roman atmosphere while you’re traipsing through the old town. Pula is home to the world’s 6th largest Roman Colosseum, which is the focal point of the city. The Pula Arena is also one of the best-preserved Colosseums in the world, so make sure you pay a visit here during your time in Pula.
Stroll into the Pula town center and enjoy the Italian-like architecture of the main piazza. This square hosts cafes, restaurants, shops, and it is a great place to squeeze in some last-minute souvenir shopping.
Day 10: Head Home From Pula
On day ten, wrap up your Italy and Croatia trip by going for a morning coffee at a quaint cafe around the Piazza in Pula and go for a morning stroll through the Marina. It’s quite the sight to look up and see the Pula Arena set as a backdrop behind the sleepy harbor.
Depending on where you are going next, Pula offers excellent transport links as the main hub of Istria. Pula has an airport that is well connected to other European cities and hosts airlines such as RyanAir, EasyJet, British Airways, Eurowings, SAS, and Norwegian Airlines, to name a few.
Final Thoughts on the Ultimate 10-Day Italy and Croatia Itinerary
This Italy and Croatia 10-day itinerary is optimized so you can spend less time traveling between locations, and more time experiencing. Between Rome, Venice, and the Istrian peninsula, you are sure to get a grasp of Italian and Croatian culture and will see the best sites of each location.
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