Please sign in to post.

14 nights Croatia to Budapest + Slovenia?

Planning a trip for the last two weeks in September for our family of 5 (all adults 50's and 20's) and would love some advice with the route. Flying into Split the afternoon of day 1 and out of Budapest the evening of day 15, overnight in London before returning to the States.

Day 1: arrive in Split - sleep Split
Day 2: morning catamaran to Dubrovnik - explore Dubrovnik
Day 3 & 4: time in Dubrovnik, day trips to an island, Mostar or Montenegro
Day 5, 6, 7: rent car (if we haven't already) and make our way to Zagreb
Day 8: train to Slovenia - explore Ljubljana
Day 9: day trip to Lake Bled
Day 10: Ljubljana
Day 11: travel to Budapest (train 8 hours - flights?)
Day 12, 13, 14, 15: Stay in Budapest, explore the city and surrounding area

Is this reasonable? Too much traveling? The right amount of time in each area? Should we leave out Slovenia, spend more time in Croatia and go directly to Budapest - is it reasonable to fly there from Croatia? Places along the way that are a must? I'm sure we could spend the entire trip in any one of these places but would love to see them all.
We are hoping to enjoy the sea, visit historical places, explore quaint towns & markets and have some good food & wine. The 4 of us have made several trips to other areas in Europe but this will be my daughter-in-law's first time out of the country. There are just so many great places to see, thank you for your help!

Posted by
767 posts

A few random thoughts and ideas that may help. Split is a relaxing place to start. A good guide will make more sense of Diocletian's Palace. Going to Dubrovnik by boat is the way I will do it next time. Hope you can be in Dubrovnik when it's not overrun with cruise ships. Staying a night or two should help a lot. It's so much more charming when it's more empty.

The drive from Zagreb to Dubrovnik is long, and if you take the inland route, it's just not that scenic. Next time I will figure out a better way, probably by boat for as much as possible. Plitvice was a good overnight stop. Ljubljana was a very pretty city, but if your only day there is a Sunday, it is very quiet.

Don't know if you're a horse person, but we spent a wonderful weekend on Slovenia's Lipizzaner farm at Piba. In Zagreb I found a small group tour, I think from the tourist office, that made a huge difference in sorting out their confusing political history. Great that you have a few days for Budapest. Take you swimsuit and go to the outdoor public baths. It's great fun. And the Terror Museum is an eye-opener.

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks Ruth! Did you make all those stops on the same trip? Was it too much traveling? How long did it take you to drive from Dubrovnik to Zagreb? We would like to take 3 days to make our way to Zegreb - did you stop along the way? where? We could take the evening catamaran back to Split, rent the car there and stay north of the city. What was your favorite place/activity? I appreciate the input!
Rosanne

Posted by
767 posts

Roseanne,
We lived in Germany and saw these places tacked onto 5 or 6 business trips to Zagreb and Budapest. I think we took 3 days to drive from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, with overnights in Split and Plitvice. You might have to add a travel day, but I would do anything to avoid that long inland drive again. We haven't done any of the Croatian islands, but I think I would do more of that next time.
Dubrovnik can be very charming and beautiful. Two big cruise ships in the harbor can turn it into Panama City, FL. There's a website you can google to check the boat schedule. I would plan accordingly.
Our weekend with the Lipizzaners was very special, but I'm a horse person. Very "back door" kind of experience.
You might want to check out some of the smaller European airlines to get you one way from Dubrovnik to Budapest. We flew Germanwings often, and Ryanwings will get you places if you're willing to read their small print and figure out their rules.
Budapest is really in a category of its own. So much history; surviving both the Nazis and the Communists. It's worth as many days as you can give it. There's great info on the travel forum; James is very helpful.

Posted by
470 posts

Ruth, just a little correction regarding the location of the Lipizzaner farm - Piber is the official Austrian Lipizzaner farm, the official Slovenian one is Lipica. Fun fact: the breed was actually named after the village, Lipizza is Italian for Lipica (the pronunciation is the same).

Posted by
767 posts

Dejan,
Thank you! You are exactly right. We stayed in Lipica. I had Piber in my brain because I really want to go there.

Posted by
6721 posts

I think this is a very busy itinerary that has you jumping over very long distances - Budapest seems out of the way and then there's London too at the end? I think you'll end up feeling very rushed especially with having to corral 5 people on this trip. You're skipping a lot of places in between Dubrovnik and Zagreb (including Split which seems like a landing point only...why not just start in Dubrovnik instead?)...I know you need to end up in Budapest somehow, but it seems more logical to me to spend a 14 day trip like this only in Croatia (the distances from south to north are longer than they seem) and perhaps a bit of Slovenia simply because it's not too far from Zagreb (and to cut everything else out - Budapest and London seem like complete outliers here). The jumps you're proposing to make distance-wise means a lot of time just in transit.

Posted by
85 posts

Instead of driving to Zagreb, why not fly? We caught the first Croatia Airlines flight (~ 6:30am) from Dubrovnik which had us in Zagreb before 8:00am. We rented a car and visited Plitvice (~ 1:40 minute easy drive). We took a day trip to Lake Bled and Ljubljana. If it was me, I'd allocate 2 nights for Zagreb, 1 for Lake Bled and 1 or 2 for Ljubljana. I wish we had stayed overnight in Bled.

Posted by
31 posts

Yes - I think it's a lot of traveling too. Corralling isn't much of an issue, we have traveled together quite a bit. We are flying on miles and could not get seats into Dubrovnik so we are arriving in Split. The overnight in London is to catch the morning flight and we arrive late in the day and sleep at the airport. The original idea was to spend 8 nights in Croatia and 6 in Budapest but I've read so many great things about Slovenia and it's so close I thought it might be worthwhile to split the time and have a few nights there. We have 14 nights (+the overnight at the airport in London) so that would be 6 nights Croatia, 4 in Slovenia and 4 in the Budapest area.

I like the idea of flying from Dubrovnik to Zagreb then either driving or taking the train to Lake Bled and Ljubljana.

If I were going to allocate 6 nights to Croatia in mid September - still flying into Split - where would you put them? Thank you!

Posted by
6721 posts

If I were going to allocate 6 nights to Croatia in mid September - still flying into Split - where would you put them?

Since you're concentrating on countries to the north of Croatia even more than Croatia itself, why not focus only on the mid/northern region of Croatia instead of trying to get all the way down to Dubrovnik and Montanegro? You can allocate 3 nights just to Split - that will give you enough time to see Split, Trogir, and a day trip to any of the islands (Brac, Hvar, maybe Korcula). The islands depend on the ferry schedule in mid-September which isn't as frequent as in the summer. Then from Split you can easily get to Zagreb and spend at least a few nights there (say 2 nights) - you can use an additional 1 night in Plitvice too so you can see the park before others make it there. That easily covers your 6 nights. As you can see, 6 nights is really not a lot - and not enough to try to rope in everything in the south (you technically can, but you'd be switching hotels so often that I don't think it would be a relaxing trip). Dubrovnik is nice, but honestly, it's not a "must" (because frankly everything in Croatia is beautiful) and you can save it for another trip. This really isn't a Croatia trip - this is more like a three country trip done over a short period. If you concentrate on mid/north Croatia and use two city bases (Split and Zagreb), you'll cut out a lot of travel time and hopefully make your trip a bit more sane and relaxing (and you'll save money from not having to fly from Dubrovnik to Zagreb).

Posted by
31 posts

That's interesting Agnes, I thought it was the other way around - that Split was not as interesting as Dubrovnik, which was a must see? You would then suggest leaving out Slovenia and spending 9 nights in Croatia and flying to Budapest?

Posted by
6721 posts

I think both are interesting and worthwhile for different reasons (Split is a UNESCO site due to Diocletian's Palace and I enjoyed it a lot), but Dubrovnik is much more touristy and "postcard pretty". "Musts" are totally subjective - only you can decide if something has to be seen. Dubrovnik has obvious marketing appeal that surpasses any other place in Croatia. Split has better connections to the islands and is a more central location for accessing the north, islands, flight connections, etc. I'm not recommending cutting out Slovenia - I haven't been to Slovenia. All I'm saying is you're trying to fit in too much so something has to give ( I thought Budapest was the obvious outlier, not Slovenia). With 6 days, pick two bases to stay in. I thought Split and Zagreb make more sense logistically - because you're landing in Split and because you're using Zagreb to get to Slovenia. Look on Tripadvisor Things to Do for both Split and Dubrovnik and decide which appeals to you most - most people (on this Forum anyway) will say Dubrovnik. Maybe you'll discover you're willing to spend 8 hours round trip to get between Dubrovnik and Split (it takes about 4 hours by bus each way, I don't know how long by high-speed ferry). Either way, I think you'll have a wonderful trip - it's just a matter of how much you want to spend traveling in between places. Although as far as traveling in between places goes, Croatia is perfect because the coastline is so gorgeous.

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks Agnes, I'll continue to research to see what makes most sense. I appreciate the input!

Posted by
85 posts

Good point about the ferry schedule. We had to take a 4 hour bus from Split to Dubrovnik because their wasn't a ferry in mid May.