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2 week Croatia trip

My husband and I and our 9 year old son are going to Croatia next June for 14 nights. This will be our 3rd trip to Europe with our son. He's a great little traveler. We like to do a little of everything. We will be flying from Copenhagen to Zagreb on June 18th and arriving early afternoon. I thought we would rent a car in Zagreb and drive straight to Ljubljana. I would like to spend 3 nights up in Slovenia. Here is a very rough itinerary:

June 18th-July2nd

18th-20th Ljubljana (day trip to Lake Blad) 3 nights
21st drive to Plitvice Lakes 1 night
22nd-23rd see Plitvice Lakes and drive to Split or Trogir 2 nights
24th-26th drop off car and take catamaran to Hvar 3 nights
27th-30th go to Dubrovnik 3 nights

We have 2 more nights to play with. Any suggestions? Spend only 2 nights in Hvar and add 2 nights in Korcula and 1 more in Dubrovnik? Is it ok to take a rental into Slovenia?

Thanks!!

Cindy

Posted by James E.
USA
8211 posts

Cut a night out of Dubrovnik (2 was more than enough for my taste) and spend one night in Perast and two in Budva. Return home from Podgorica (aka Titograd) through Rome.

You will have to hire a driver or a guide for the Montenegro leg, but the costs in Montenegro are very reasonable. Figure $150 a day for a guide, driver and car or half that for just a driver and a car.

Just returned from our second trip into Montenegro and planning for next year...

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
10681 posts

The towns James is recommending are in Montenegro. But that much bouncing around Montenegro (very nice country) probably requires a car. You can get to Perast and Kotor along the incredibly scenic Bay of Kotor by bus from Dubrovnik.

I agree that you've got an awful lot of time in Dubrovnik if you aren't planning to use it as a base for side trips.

Another possibility is Mostar in Bosnia-Hercegovina. There are probably one-day bus tours offered from Dubrovnik.

Or you could use some or all of the extra time in Zagreb, which is a very nice city with an enticing historic district. Not sure there's anything to compare to Ljubljana's dragon bridge, though. Be sure you don't miss that. It will be a hit for sure.

Posted by Cindy OP
Portland, OR
53 posts

We will definitely do day trips from Dubrovnik. I was looking into going to Montenegro. What's the best way to get there from Dubrovnik? I will look into staying a couple of nights in Budva. Thanks!

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
3302 posts

Driving to Montenegro is easiest from Dubrovnik, but of course you will have ditched your car already. You could rent another one. The scenery along the Bay of Kotor is stunning at times, and I was glad I had my own wheels to stop and take pictures numerous times.

But you could fill two days lots of ways:stop for a night or two in Zadar and/or Sibenik; stop at Krka National Park near Sibenik. Or add Mostar into the mix as suggested above. Having a car to get there is sure going to be easiest, though you could day trip from Dubrovnik by bus or excursion (unlike the drive to Montenegro, I don't think having your own wheels in Mostar is essential; the highlight is the town itself, not getting there.)

FYI, for driving a Croatian car into Slovenia, you MUST stop and buy a vignette driving pass at the border! Otherwise, you risk a steep fine. You can buy a vignette at a gas station on either side of the border. Don't wait! Croatia on the other hand uses a completely different system of tolls for their highways.

Posted by Lane
Seattle, WA, USA
1137 posts

You've gotten some reasonable suggestions so far. Mine would be to spend more time in Slovenia. I'd recommend spending a few nights in the Soča River valley, Kobarid or somewhere near there. Drive from Ljubljana over Vršič Pass to get there. There's a lot of history, beautiful scenery, great hiking, and some good water sports (kayaking, white water rafting, and such).

I also second the suggestion of visiting Mostar. It could be done as a day trip from Dubrovnik, but it's better as an overnight. I had the chance to have really nice conversations with three local people (an artist, a baker, and the receptionist at the Muslibegovic House, where I stayed and highly recommend) after all the day-trippers had left. It will be a truly inspiring visit for your son to get a feel for how tragic and pointless war can be and how rebuilding is about infrastructure but also about people rebuilding their lives and their culture. But even if you only get there for a day trip, it's so worth it. Montenegro is very beautiful, but my most vivid and powerful memories from my trip were of Bosnia. (I also went to Sarajevo, but I had three weeks.)

Three nights in Dubrovnik is good because there are a lot of day trips possible. Aside from Mostar and Kotor (depending on whether you do them as day trips or stay overnight), consider taking a boat or bus ride to Cavtat.

I fear we are all being unhelpful by giving you too many options to consider. Good luck narrowing them down!

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
10681 posts

There's bus service to Kotor; buses probably stop at Perast, but I'm not sure since I approached Perast from the Kotor direction. There is bus service from Kotor to Budva. I don't know whether the Dubrovnik buses go beyond Kotor; I suspect you'll need to change in Kotor, which raises the issue of how long you'll need to wait. It can be difficult to be sure you are getting reliable bus schedules on the internet. Google will probably turn something up, but check when you get to Dubrovnik to get reasonably definitive information, at least for the buses that originate in Dubrovnik. Bus service tends to be quite a bit thinner on weekends, so be cautious about planning to cross the border then.

The bus station in Kotor is a bit of a walk from the gate to the walled town, but I think you'll ride right past it on the way. James and I disagree about Kotor vs. Budva. If there's no monster ship in port at Kotor, I prefer it. But there's pretty scenery in just about every direction in Montenegro, so there's nothing wrong with going farther into the country to stay in Budva.

These places will all probably be quite hot during your visit, so be prepared with hats, sunscreen, etc.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
3302 posts

If the OP is already planning to rent a car earlier in the trip, I'm not sure why she wouldn't rent another one for Montenegro later. Probably won't cost much especially if reserved well in advance.

Posted by Cindy OP
Portland, OR
53 posts

Thanks for all the great suggestions. We will be sure to get a vignette driving pass. I like the suggestion about stopping in Sibenik since I want to check out Krka National Park. I've read about Monstar too. You're right too many great ideas, but not enough time.

Posted by James E.
USA
8211 posts

Day One: Dubrovnik to Perast is about 2 hours. Stop in Hercig Novi old town for a couple hours and lunch. In Perast take the boat out to the islands. Perast hotel with this wonderful waterfront dining patio is Hotel Conte

Day Two: Perast to Kotor is about 30 minutes. After seeing Dubrovnik, Kotor can be a little disappointing. But figure an hour to visit. Then the long route (P1) over the mountains on the winding road and its about an hour trip to Budva. Maybe stop in Cetinje on the way. Look at the Hotel Astoria

Day three: In Budva

Day Four: About an hour to Podgorica

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
3302 posts

The "winding road" from Kotor to Cetinje offers incredible views down on the Bay of Kotor. Some might find this drive a bit unnerving but I had no trouble with it personally. I stopped more than once for pictures of the incredible scene below but took my time. When I was driving up hill and a big bus came down the hill along the narrow road - too narrow for us both to pass - I simply waited for the experienced bus driver to back up the hill until he got to a spot where there was room for me to get by him.

After you get past the views down and are driving onward toward Cetinje, the drive itself goes over some interesting terrain for sure - looks very different from what you see below along the bay. Rocky and a bit desolate. As I was driving through one of the villages, driving slowly, a couple of old guys were walking the other way, and as I slowed down to take a picture out my window, one of them reached in and shook my hand and said, "Montenegro!" with a smile and friendly voice and walked on. I stopped in Cetinje itself for an hour to walk around, but it was nothing quaint or that interesting.

Posted by Cindy OP
Portland, OR
53 posts

I'm also looking at flying into Ljubljana instead of Zagreb. Would you suggest renting a car in Ljubljana? If so, where is a good place to return it before we head to Croatia? I would then have to change my itinerary a little and train to Croatia and pick up another car in Croatia.

Posted by Dejan
Slovenia
390 posts

Rent in Ljubljana and return there, too. There are several daily trains and buses between Ljubljana and Zagreb, where you can rent another car. Although depending on where in Slovenia you'll end up going, you might not need a car at all. You would for Lane's suggestions, but not for your original itinerary, although that scenic detour from Ljubljana to Bled via Skofja Loka and over Jamnik is very pretty.

Posted by James E.
USA
8211 posts

Andrew, that hand shake is what I travel for. Because Montenegro's southern coast and interior hasn't been discovered by tourists yet the folks remain friendly and welcoming. The mountains and valleys and rivers and lakes in the north are absolutely breath taking. We had some pretty good fly fishing week before last and caught a few snappers off the coast as well. Well probably be back in June. Podgorica has $65 flights to Budapest so it works well for us ... all trips must end in Budapest.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
10681 posts

The bus ride to Podgorica from Nis, Serbia, is a killer, too. (In a good way, I mean.)

Posted by James E.
USA
8211 posts

Acraven, there is a fairly decent train to Belgrade too I am told. We flew Podgorica to Belgrade a few years ago. Podgorica airport is very easy and the flight was about an hour and under $100