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45-day Croatia-Slovenia-Italy Itinerary

We (my husband and I) are planning a 45-day trip to Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy this Sep. and Oct. We will fly into Dubrovnik and fly out of Rome (flight tickets have already been bought). We will rent a car in Split for the road trip in Croatia and Slovenia and return the car in Rovinj, from where we will take a ferry to Venice. (This way, we would also avoid returning the car in a different country.) We post the itinerary since we still have some questions, and your comments/suggestions will be appreciated!

Note: The trip is primarily based on Rick Steves’ itinerary with added days and our own adjustments.

(1) We considered visiting Mostar or Kotor from Dubrovnik and decided to leave them out for a future trip to Bosnia and Montenegro to delve deeper to those two countries.

(2) We’ve been to Milan and Lake Como during our previous trip to Switzerland, so they are excluded from this trip.

(3) We would need at least a week to visit the Dolomites, so we will leave Dolomites for future trips (likely visiting Dolomites from Munich).

(4) We enjoy nature, culture, and food, but we rarely drink alcohol and are not into wine.

Day 1-3: Dubrovnik (3 nights, 2.5 days)

Day 4-5: Korčula (2 nights, 1.5~2 days) On Day 4, morning in Dubrovnik, afternoon ferry to Korcula.

Day 6: Hvar (1 night, 2 half days) On Day 6, morning in Korcula if needed, afternoon ferry to Hvar.

Day 7-8: Split (2 nights, 1.5 days) On Day 7, Tour to the Blue Cave & Green Cave from Hvar and afternoon (or early evening) ferry to Split.

Day 9: Zadar (1 nights) Pick up a car in Split, drive to Zadar, visiting Krka NP on the way to Zadar.

Day 10: Plitvice Lakes NP (1 night): Morning in Zadar, drive to Plitvice Lakes NP and enter the park in the afternoon.

Day 11-13: Lake Bled (3 nights, 2 days): on Day 11, morning in Plitvice, afternoon drive to Lake Bled via Ljubjana.

Day 14: Kobarid (1 night): drive through Julian Alps.

Day 15-16 Ljubjana (2 nights, 1 full day): on Day 15, continue driving through Julian Alps to Ljubjana.

Day 17: Koper(?): Drive to Skocjan Caves, also visit Lipica Stud Farm and Predjama Castle.

Day 18-20: Rovinj (3 nights, 2~2.5 days): visit Opatija and other hill towns; return the car in Rovinj.

Day 21-23: Venice (3 nights, 2.5 days): on Day 21, morning ferry from Rovinj to Venice (7:45am-10:30am); (I did check croatiaferries.com and there are ferries available on that day).

Day 24-26: Cinque Terre (3 nights, 2.5 days)

Day 27: Lucas (1 night, 1.5 days) Pisa & Lucas

Day 28-30: Florence (3 nights, 2~2.5 days): On Day 28, morning or most of the day in Lucas.

Day 31-32: Siena (2 nights, 1.5~2 days): On Day 31: morning in Florence if needed.

Day 33: Assisi (1 night, 1 day)

Day 34: Orvieto (1 night, 1 day)

Day 35-38: Sorrento (4 nights, 4 days) On Day 35, visiting Naples on the way to Sorrento; on Day 36, day trip to Capri, on Day 37 & 38: Amalfi Coast.

Day 39-44: Rome (5 nights, days): on Day 39: visit Pompeii on the way to Rome. Remaining 4~4.5 days in Rome.

Day 45: Fly home from Rome.

Questions:
(1) Any comments/suggestions on this itinerary?

(2) Is Koper the right city/town to stay overnight for Day 17 when visiting Skocjan Caves? Any other better choices?

(3) Is it easy to return the car in Rovinj?

(4) For Day 27, should we stay in Pisa instead?

(5) We will be in Sorrento of Almalfi Coast in mid Oct; it should still be shoulder season with many businesses open and activities available, right? If not, we could remove Sorrento and distribute those 4 nights somewhere else, or maybe adding back Mostar and Sarajevo?

(6) Do we need more time somewhere along this trip? Are there places we should spend more time?

Posted by
404 posts

I'm doing almost exactly the same Croatia/Slovenia trip this summer and have been to all the places you're visiting in Italy. I would definitely stay in Lucca rather than Pisa and would probably move one extra night to Lucca. I think Lake Bled could easily be seen with only two nights and I think you would regret only having one night in Lucca once you see it. I've never been to the Amalfi Coast that late, so I can't comment on how much will be open.

You're going to have a fantastic time on this trip!!

Posted by
27237 posts

I'm retired and a slow traveler. This itinerary would be way too rushed for me over the course of a 6-week trip. That's very different from a 2-week trip which allows a traveler to push for a while and crash on the plane going home. I think there's a real risk you're going to hit the wall at some point. However, I can't really point to specific places where I think you absolutely need more time since I don't know your sightseeing interests. It's just that I'd enjoy having more time in Ljubljana, Florence, Rome and Orvieto. And I wouldn't try to see Naples on the way from Orvieto to Sorrento. The Archaeological Museum is worth several hours, and there's a lot more to see in Naples than that one museum.

Venice is a very nice place (albeit a city with rather expensive hotels) to have an extra day or two for just wandering around the non-tourist parts of town. It comes right around the mid-point of your trip. It would be nice to have a bit of extra time there, but since you already have your airline tickets, that's probably not possible unless you eliminate one of your other stops. I keep looking at those 3 nights in the Cinque Terre, though; are you planning lots of hiking? If not, that's a lot of time there.

Posted by
4 posts

Bill and Acraven, thanks a lot for your suggestions. Given the uncertainty about the Almalfi Coast in mid Oct, we are considering reducing its 4 nights to 3 nights, and add one night in Lucca.

About the 3 nights in Lake Bled, the drive from the Plitvice NP to Lake Bled is long, easily taking half a day, so 3 nights leaves 2 days in Lake Bled. We were not sure if one day would be too rush; maybe we would spent 1.5 days exploring Lake Bled and then rest for half a day there.

About the 3 nights at Cinque Terre, yes, we like hiking and do plan to hike there.

Posted by
261 posts

Quite a busy trip. Why are you going from Plitvice to Lake Bled? Why not Plitvice to Zagreb or Ljubljana? Then to Lake Bled (1 or 2 nights), then over the alps to Soca Valley and Kobarid. Divaca is convenient to Skocjan Caves and Lipica. (Check RS description of Predjama Castle as a visit.) From Skocjan Caves to Rovinj is an easy 3 hour drive with lunch in Piran. Venice to Vernazza (mid CT) is 6 hrs on train thru Florence, 8 hrs on train thru Milan, and 6.5 hrs on bus thru Bologna. Pisa and/or Lucca are an easy day trip from Florence. Assisi is away from your planned route of Florence-Siena-Orvieto - spend that night in one of those. Amalfi Coast buses tend to be over full and slip their schedule sometimes, even in October. Driving there is tense and parking is iffy. We are slow travelers and getting slower, so your schedule would be very trying for us.

Posted by
27237 posts

Lake Bled is beautiful, but it is truly tiny. You can walk all the way around it in 2 or 3 hours. The small town of Bled isn't exceptional. Ljubljana is.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks a lot for your advice, Larry and Acraven.

Looking at the map, we do think it make more sense driving from Kobarid to Krocjan Caves directly instead of from Kobarid to Ljubjana then to Krocjan. Will we miss any scenic drive this way? (The original Kobarid to Ljubjana first itinerary follows Rick Steves' itinerary.)

If we make the above change, we could go from Plitvice NP to Ljubjana and still stay at Ljubjana for two nights but we would have 2 full days in Ljubjana before going to Lake Bled in late afternoon or early evening. In addition, we will also have a shorter drive on the day arriving Ljubjana from Plitvice NP. If we still need more time in Ljubjana, we would be willing to forgo the night at Hvar as we do have two nights at Korcula. Any comments about move the night at Hvar to Ljubjana?

At Lake Bled, we plan to walk around the lake, visit the island church, hike up to the castle, visit the Vintgar Gorge, and visit Lake Bohinj and the surrounding Bohinj Valley. Is one day really enough? If 1.5 days are enough, maybe we could move one night from Bled to Kobarid to have a bit more time in Soca Valley?

We will reconsider visiting Assisi to see if we want to remove it from our itinerary.

Posted by
261 posts

Jill:
It is tough trying to plan trips - too much to see and do but not enough time. RS info & tours are a place to start, but RS needs to find activities and reasonable accommodations for a group. You only need to find for 2. Every where we have traveled we spend more time than planned (or wish we could). I suggest you check similar entries in the Croatia, Slovenia and Italy forums, e.g., "Itinerary help with Slovenia and Croatia", brownbin. Everybody has different priorities, so you have to parse the info through your desires and experiences.

However, I will try to give some help with your itinerary anyway. Hvar vs Korcula: we drove to Drvinek, got on the car ferry to Hvar Island and wound our way to Hvar town. Enjoyed the island and town very much. We did not go to Korcula. I suggest you pick the one that works for you and not do the other. Lake Bled: the walk, castle, 2 churches and the gorge is one full day. No experience with Bohinj. The Julian Alps and the Soca Valley were a highlight - you will stop often for views and sites. We lived decades in Alaska but those Alps were still very impressive. Especially when you know that the WW1 fighting was atop them! I don't think you need an extra night in Kobarid. Yes, there are car rental outfits in Rovinj area but check the hours and do not trust the opening or closing times too much. Assisi: we stayed in Spello and day tripped to Assisi on a week day in late April. Interesting and lovely, but crowded and expensive. Cinque Terre: suggest Monterosso for accommodations as not as hilly. Yes, good exercise going up and down but not with suitcases. (We stayed in Vernazza somewhere in the clouds!) Trains are frequent. Check website for trail conditions and permits. Amalfi Coast: day trips to Positano and/or Amalfi are barely doable but beware the bus schedules.

However you travel, you will find wonderful experiences and have fond memories. Just allow yourself time to create them.