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17 Day Trip to Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, and Montenegro

Hi. My husband and I will be flying into Zagreb in late September and will have 17 touring days before we depart. We want to see as much as we can but still have time to relax and enjoy all the sights. Here is our tentative schedule:
Day 1: Arrive in Zagreb and get rental car
Day 2-3: Depart for Slovenia to travel to Lake Bled (we will see sights in between; I heard there is a palace and a national park we should see?)
Day 4: Depart for Lorvan and see sights along the way and stay night
Day 5: Spend 1 day in the Plitvice Park (arrive early); depart Park and travel to Zadar for night
Day 6: Spend day in Zadar and travel to Trogir (see sights along the way); stay in Trogir
Day 7-8: Spend time in and around Trogir (visiting Split)
Day 9: Drop off rental car; take ferry (walk on) to Hvar or Korcula
Day 10: Spend 1 night in either Hvar or Korcula (depends on which island we visit)
Day 11: Take ferry to Makarska; pick up rental car: Drive to Mostar and stay the night
Day 12: Drive to Sarajevo for day; return to Mostar for night
Day 13: Depart for Dubrovnik (plan to stay outside the Old Town (Cavtat or Lapad)
Day 14-15: Side trips to Montenegro (Kotor)
Day 16: Drop off rental car; take flight from Dubrovnik to Zagreb
Day 17: Spend day in Zagreb; depart next day for USA

Does this sound doable? Are we missing any major sights we must see? Thank you for your input!

Posted by
3283 posts

Did I miss it, or have you not left even one whole day for Dubrovnik? It's a beautiful, interesting city, worth more time than you've allotted for it. Also, where's the time to relax you say you want? You've got mostly one night stays, which eat up time and energy. One way to slow down a little would be to eliminate Slovenia. Either spend your first night in Zagreb and drive to Plitvice from there. Or, drive to Plitvice after arrival, spend the night, and visit the park the next day. You could then add a day to Dubrovnik and elsewhere.

Posted by
4872 posts

I think this work, but you aren't really going to have much time to relax - it's a very fast itinerary. You might seriously consider dropping Slovenia and adding a few days elsewhere to slow down the pace (e.g. in Istria). I say this even though I loved Slovenia. FYI, the "national park" in Slovenia is called Triglav (I think that's what you mean), and it's a huge park you drive through, not the compact place you walk through like Plitvice. Not sure what you mean by "palace" in Slovenia, but there are castles at Ljubljana, Bled, and elsewhere.

I'm not sure what you mean by "late September," but the earlier you get to the Dalmatian Coast, the better. By mid-October, depending on the weather, things start shutting down.

So if you can possibly reverse the order of your trip(?), and start in Dubrovnik, you might be better off.

I stayed in Zadar and then Trogir the following night on my recent trip, and I stopped in Krka National Park and then the beautiful town of Sibenik before getting to Trogir, FYI.

I would avoid dropping the car/picking up the car when you go to the island. Why not take one of the local car ferries from the mainland? It might mean you have to park the car for a few days - but maybe not You might enjoy having a car to explore the island. And it would avoid the hassle of dropping a car and picking another one up.

I'd stay in Rovinj instead of Lovran. I stayed in both on a recent trip. The highlight of Lovran for me was being able to walk along the Lungomare promenade along the ocean, but you don't seem to have any extra time - late arrival from Slovenia, early departure for Plitvice. Otherwise, Lovran wasn't much of a town, whereas Rovinj is charming and lovely. Either way, I'd add an extra day here. Maybe stay in Rovinj, stop along the way (maybe in Lovran or Optatija), get to Plitvice late and stay there, then start exploring the park first thing in the morning. (Assuming you aren't able or don't want to reverse the direction of your trip as I recommend.)

Opinions differ on Split, but it wasn't my favorite place. For me, half a day to explore Diocletian's Palace was plenty. Trogir is more charming I thought. Anyway, you might be able to afford to lose a night here.

The drive from Mostar to Sarajevo is beautiful, but it's a long drive for a day trip. Sarajevo is worth seeing for sure, but it's not a place easy to get a feel for quickly. I didn't like Sarajevo that much, even though II wound up spending three nights there trying to get a feel for the history. Mostar, by contrast, is small and easy to see in a few hours.

I loved Bay of Kotor - very beautiful. Worth a day trip from Dubrovnik to me.

Posted by
1444 posts

I did those four countries last year in 21 days. I stayed in 10 different places, which was a fast pace but didn't feel rushed. I had four places with 3-night stays. You have 11 different stays in 4 fewer days. I'd suggest cutting that down a bit.

I think it is a mistake to visit Sarajevo as a day trip from Mostar. I disagree with Andrew: Sarajevo was a real highlight of my trip. I stayed there for three nights. It is not the most beautiful city, but historically it is such an interesting place, and the people were so warm and friendly, and there is much to see and learn there. And it is by a long shot the least touristy place on your itinerary, so if you go, spend a few days.

Here's what I would do (based on my itinerary from last year):

Arrive Zagreb, pick up rental car and immediately drive to Ljubljana
3 nights Ljubljana (day trip to Bled)
1 night Plitvice
3 nights Sarajevo
1 night Mostar
1 night Trogir
Drop off your car at Split before boarding the ferry
2 nights Korcula (I think you can take an early ferry to Hvar, spend a half a day there, and then catch a later ferry to Korcula)
Bus to Dubrovnik (You won't need a car for Dubrovnik and Kotor - you can visit Montenegro on a tour, or rent a car just for that day.)
3 nights Dubrovnik
2-3 nights Zagreb (depending on whether you actually have 16 or 17 nights)

Alternatively, you could move Zagreb to the beginning of your trip, and then try to get a flight home from Dubrovnik with just a plane change at Zagreb airport.

Have fun!

Posted by
106 posts

Hi.... My husband and I just spent 3.5 days in Dubrovnik and Cavtat. We stayed in the Hilton Dubrovnik as we had hotel points that were expiring. Turned out to be a good choice(we usually stay in pensions) because the hotel was steps outside the main city gate. There are steep steps all over the city so think of that when you reserve your hotel... We saw people really struggling with their luggage.

I strongly recommend that you stay a few days in Cavtat ... About 25 min by taxi, we stayed in the Hotel Cavtat, directly on the water. Get a sea view room, you won't regret it. The place is tiny (1 street) but Sooooo relaxing. Stunningly beautiful. Definitely eat at Bugenvilla, the best restaurant we ate at on the whole trip

Have fun

Posted by
106 posts

Ps you can fly Croatia airlines from Dubrovnik to Zagreb or Venice, I think also to split

Posted by
13395 posts

Day 13: Depart for Dubrovnik (plan to stay outside the Old Town (Cavtat or Lapad)
Day 14-15: Side trips to Montenegro (Kotor)

I just got back about a month ago. Why, if you only have one night, would you not stay inside the walls of Dubrovnik? Sure, its pure tourist, but isn't that what you are going to see? It's beautiful, especially in the evening. At best its a one full day experience (one full day requires two nights). You aren't going for the culture (it move away years ago), you are going for the beauty, the food and the architecture and that all exists inside the walls.

Kotor? We visited. Think of a little Dubrovnik. You just did Dubrovnik so let me suggest you research Perast. Very few tourists, very lovely. Perast in particular and Montenegro in general is a place we are returning to.

We drove on to Titograd. Beautiful drive. Titograd sort of sucks. BUT, we got on an early morning $70 flight to Belgrade which was worth the effort. Really enjoyed Belgrade, then the next day another $70 flight took us to Budapest and then a week later on to the states.

Posted by
4872 posts

I assume it's pointless to offer Sharon more advice on a trip she has already taken.