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1 week in Croatia

I'm planning a 1-week trip to Croatia around Labor Day, and need advice on the cheapest, most direct transportation.

My rough plan is to start in the South and make my way up to Northern Croatia. I'm open to reversing the direction if I am able to save on flight costs. I will probably buy an open jaw ticket to save on travel time. Currently, flights are about $1,500. I prefer to have only 1 connection on the flights. I've heard flying into Venice (which is a city I'd love to see even for just a full day) can be a cheaper route than flying directly into Croatia.

Day 1- Fly from San Francisco to Croatia
Day 2- Full day in Dubrovnik
Day 3- Full day in Dubrovnik
Day 4- Bus ride to Split (up to 5 hour bus ride), afternoon & overnight in Split.
Day 5- Korcula- beach & boating
Day 6- Travel back to Split
Day 7- 2/3 of day in Split; evening flight to Zagrab (I think this is the quickest way to get up North. I'm hoping to find a low cost flight).
Day 8- full day in Zagrab
Day 9- flight to Venice- sight see in Venice
Day 10- full day in Venice
Day 11- Flight back to San Francisco

I've read Motovun is worth a visit, but I don't know if there's room in my schedule to visit.

Any suggestions?

Posted by
16860 posts

Based on the map and the experience of others around me, one would normally stop at Korcula on the way between Dubrovnik and Split, not go to Split and double-back. This would also help avoid splitting your stay in Split - just go there once. See www.skyscanner.com for budget flights to Venice. For maybe $200, flying would be much faster choice than train, which takes 9 hours or more.

Posted by
107 posts

When my daughter and I were in Venice in 2011 we went on the Doge's Palace tour, specifically Secret Itineraries tour. I'm doing it again with my husband later in September. Fascinating.

Posted by
107 posts

This question is for Laura. I'm thinking of flying from California to Amsterdam to visit relatives and then first to Split. Someone suggested staying in the Trogir area. Your book mentions "made-for-tourists" village which is surrounded by water according to your book. So how do you get from there to the rest of Split? After seeing the sites in Split would you then take a boat to Korcula and then from there take another boat to Dubrovnik? My husband and I, in our 60s, will be traveling with our 25 year old daughter. Do you think she'd like this island or Hvar? I don't want to spend too much time traveling in a car, bus, or boat from stop to stop as we are still going to Rome and Venice where we will spend more than a week. Thank you so much!

Posted by
1424 posts

Laura's correct about the order of travel; you can go from Dubrovnik directly to Korcula by bus or ferry, and then from Korcula to Split.

I don't think Motovun is worth a visit unless you are already driving around the Istrian peninsula. It sounds like you are not planning on renting a car, so that would not make it feasible. In addition, if you wanted to add something to this itinerary, Motovun would not be on my list of recommendations. (It's just a small town in a lovely setting on a hilltop with attractive views, but there's not a lot to do there.)

I didn't go to Zagreb when I was in Croatia last year, so I can't speak to that specifically, but not going to Plitvice Lakes would be an unfortunate omission. That can be done on a day trip (organized tour) from Split. Perhaps doing that instead of going to Zagreb would make sense; in your itinerary you have a lot of airport transfers.

If you were going to rent a car I'd make different suggestions on how to adjust your itinerary, but you're probably on the right track for a carless itinerary. Enjoy!

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you Laura and Lane for the travel advice. I spent hours researching flight options today, and was starting to think I might need to resort to a cruise. I know many people enjoy them, but I'd rather plan out my trip and stay in the cities I'm visiting instead of on a huge boat.

I'm now thinking I'll skip Zagreb all together, do the day tour of Plitvice Lakes. Lane- that was another spot that was on my list, but I didn't mention it in my original post. I could then fly from Split to Venice and finish out the trip there.

Is $1,500- $1,600 the average price I should expect to pay for a flight to Croatia/Venice from SFO? I recall looking about a year or two ago, and it was about that price.

Posted by
567 posts

Bailey, I just booked my open jaw flight to Europe for around the same time of the year and I paid $1500. Last year (same travel dates; different cities), I paid around $1300. Dunno why the prices jumped a lot, considering fuel costs are much lower this year. But yeah, that price seems to be right, especially considering you're flying to Dubrovnik. You might want to try this trick. See what price you get for flying into Zagreb. And then you can book a separate flight from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, which should not cost you more than $62 (1 checked bag included). I know this would probably involve an additional connection, but might be worth a try.

I did a quick search for you with hypothetical dates (arrive Sept 1 and leave Sept 12). It's $1240 if you fly with Turkish Airlines (very reputable and I've flown with them before). This would arrive in Zagreb around 7:30 pm and then you can take the 9:10 pm flight from Zagreb to Dubrovnik for $53! Cheap! You gotta play around with the dates for your open jaw flight though. When I did an initial search leaving Sept 6, the flight was only $1180. Try using Hipmunk for flight searches. It's a great sight.

And I agree, spending time in Venice is a must and you'll be able to see quite a bit in that one day if you don't devote all your time to the various sites/museums there.

Posted by
44 posts

Hello, new to this forum and also looking for Croatia advice. I'm going for six days in mid-June. Flying into Dubrovnik and out of Split. Hoping to see Hvar and so a day trip to the Plitvice Lakes. Anywhere else we should squeeze in there? And how many days would you say for each spot and how shall we go about travelling to each location? We are more beach-y/relaxed tourists that enjoy nature than architect. Thanks so much!

Posted by
567 posts

Split (no pun intended) those 6 days evenly between the two cities. If you're more into the beach, I'd say spend a night or two in Hvar and visit the Pakleni Islands. You can see the old town centers of both cities in about half a day (skipping museums and such, of course). Traveling between the two: bus (4-5 hours), car (less than 4 I believe), or ferry from Dubrovnik (not sure how long this one takes; check the Jadrolinija website).

Posted by
44 posts

One more question.. I have seen on other forums recommendations of renting a boat to go from island to island. Does this mean rent and drive it yourself or is it relatively inexpensive to get water taxis or something like that?

Posted by
44 posts

One more question.. I have seen on other forums recommendations of renting a boat to go from island to island. Does this mean rent and drive it yourself or is it relatively inexpensive to get water taxis or something like that?

Posted by
567 posts

I don't know anything about that, but I would imagine you would need experience driving a boat (boat license) and it would probably be ridiculously expensive. Gas is not cheap in Croatia, for starters.

Posted by
567 posts

By the way, I'm not sure what you meant by "island to island." If you're talking about getting from Hvar to the Pakleni Islands, water taxis from the port in Hvar town are plentiful and cheap. Each boat has a sign saying which island it's going to.

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks for the information, Gabriel! Water taxis will be great for us and they sound convenient! Are the prices set? I recently had a bad experience in St. Lucia with being ripped off by a water taxi; being told one price getting in and another when arriving. And yes, I was referring getting from Hvar to the islands you suggested. They look beautiful!

Posted by
1687 posts

Some Split recommendations-
Great icecream at Luka Icecream and Cakes, a short walk north of the old town.
Wonderful dinner at Konoba Vidjakovi near the SE end of the harbor. They have an outside patio, very private, and wonderful grilled fish. Not touristy (it was recommended by a friend who went to college in Spli).

Posted by
567 posts

Shyla, yes the prices are set. I've been twice before and I've never been ripped off or anything like that. Just make sure that you pay attention to the last departure time from the island when the captain gives you your ticket. You wouldn't want to be left stranded out there :-).

Posted by
44 posts

I have come up with the following tentative itinerary:
Day 1 - Dubrovnik: Fly in, spend the day/night settling in and exploring the city/town (not sure which it is)
Day 2 - Dubrovnik: Game of Thrones tour & perhaps beach time
Day 3 - Hvar: explore
Day 4 - Hvar: day trip to the Pakleni Islands
Day 5 - Split: explore
Day 6 - Split: Plitvice day trip

Thoughts? Thanks! :)

Posted by
567 posts

Shyla, what time are you arriving in Dubrovnik? To have a Game of Thrones tour and beach time on the same day may cut out some other siteseeing opportunities. I forgot about the gondola that takes you to the top of the hill above Dubrovnik. The views are amazing from up there. Everything else on your itinerary looks fine.

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks for replying again, Gabriel! We get into Dubrovnik at 8am after spending five nights in Hamburg for a conference. Would you stay right near the city centres for both Split and Dubrovnik? We fly out of Split on the Saturday around 730am.

Posted by
44 posts

I'm now booking hotels now so trying to figure out which areas would be nicest/best!

Posted by
567 posts

OK great, you'll have most of the day when you arrive in Dubrovnik to see the town and go up the lift to the hill I mentioned (I forgot the name). The ride between the airport and the town takes about 30 mins or so (it's not that close). I would advise staying somewhere near the main road that runs through town. Staying inside the old town may require a lot of stair climbing. Best to stay outside the walls. Obviously, the closer you are to the walls the more expensive the room. So I don't know what your budget is.

As for Split, the same rule applies. Stay outside Diocletian's Palace. I usually stay in the Lucac neighborhood (on the right side of the palace). It's very close to the bus station and the port. Walking distance varies from 5-10 mins. You have an early flight. There should be a bus that leaves the bus station heading to the airport that should get you there in time for your flight. This trip is also about 30 mins. Plan to be at the airport about an hour before flight time. Check in and security should not take you more than 30 mins.

Posted by
567 posts

Shyla, don't forget to visit the town wall in Dubrovnik and if I were you, visit towards the end of the day (about an hour or so before they close). You'll get great shots of the sunset from there and the dim light looks perfect over the tiled roofs of the homes there.

Posted by
44 posts

We will do that the first day! Thanks!

I ended up booking our Dubrovnik and Hvar hotels before getting your reply so hopefully we won't have too much difficulty walking with our luggage. Dubrovnik we are staying at the Hilton Imperial and in Hvar the Amfora Beach Resort. I'm pretty excited! :) Will book Split in the next few days.

Posted by
567 posts

The Hilton is a fine choice and is situated not far from one of the gates of the old town. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
44 posts

Do you have any high end dining places or any restaurants at all that we should maybe reserve before going?