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Almost-final 3-week itinerary

Hi,
My partner and I are looking forward to our first trip to Croatia this coming May/June (it will be his first trip to Europe). I have found this forum extremely helpful while planning the trip, and now I am hoping to get some help with my itinerary. We are in our 50s, fit and active, and enjoy a mix of outdoor activities, beautiful scenery and sight-seeing. I am trying not to overwhelm my partner with toooo many old cities, museums etc. He is a "birder" and a nature enthusiast in general, so I have tried to create an itinerary that is balanced, with some birding days built in for him (without sacrificing any of the great sights!). I would love to get a second opinion on this itinerary; in particular, are we missing anything "must see"? I am thinking in particular that we don't have much time on the Islands, but I can't see how to squeeze more in.

May 28: land in Dubrovnik at 10 AM. Hope for no serious delays. Only thing scheduled is sunset Kayak tour around city walls

May 29: Dubrovnik: City Walls, Old Town, Lokrum Island, Mt Srd. Sleep in Dubrovnik

May 30: day-trip to Kotor (driver booked). This is a cruise-ship day in Dubrovnik, so we want to get out of town! Sleep in Dubrovnik

May 31: pick up rental car and drive to Mostar. Overnight in Mostar

June 1: Drive from Mostar to Split, via Peljesac peninsula, Ston and Mali Ston. Arrive in time to walk in Marjan Park. Overnight in Split

June 2: Split Dioclecian's Palace etc, maybe Mestrovic gallery, evening Riva walk. Sleep in Split

June 3: day-trip to Trogir, Salona and Klis. Sleep in Split

June 4: day-trip to Hvar via Catamaran. Sleep in Split

June 5: drive to Lake Vrana area via Sibenik and Falcon Center. Sleep at Hotel Maskovica near lake Vrana (this is for birding)

June 6: Lake Vrana birding day (sleep at Maskovica)

June 7: morning Krka NP (primarily for birding) and afternoon Zadar (sleep in Zadar)

June 8: Paklenica NP (birding). Overnight Zadar

June 9: Pag Island (birding) and then drive to Plitvice. Overnight Plitvice

June 10: Plitvice and then drive to Rovinj. Overnight Rovinj

June 11: Pula and birding nearby. Overnight Rovinj

June 12: Porec and birding nearby. Overnight Rovinj

June 13: Hill towns. Overnight Rovinj

June 14: drive to Zagreb via Risjnak NP (for birding / nature). Overnight Zagreb

June 15: day-trip to Crna Mlaka bird reserve and Cigoc to see storks. Overnight Zagreb

June 16: fly home from Zagreb.

I would love any and all input. Are there any glaring omissions? Anything we should add or delete?

Thanks very much!!
Laura

Posted by
27352 posts

Be sure your rental company allows you to take the car into Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Posted by
16894 posts

While islands sound a bit more romantic in the imagination, you’ll still see plenty of beautiful coastline in mainland Croatia.

Posted by
259 posts

"June 1: Drive from Mostar to Split, via Peljesac peninsula, Ston and Mali Ston."
Maybe you are taking the car ferry from the peninsula (from Trpanj to Ploce)? If so, you might consider driving up the south side of the peninsula, and through the small one-lane tunnel.
We took that route in 2017 when we did Dubrovnik-Split-Plitvice Park-Rovinj. The tunnel is mentioned at end of Part 1 of trip report posted on the RS Forum: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/croatia-road-trip-aug-2017-dubrovnik-and-drive-to-split

Posted by
15 posts

Jeff B - thanks for the tip! I very much enjoyed your trip-report and found the details about driving routes etc extremely helpful.

Posted by
3933 posts

On June 13 which hill town were you thinking of? If Motovun, park at the bottom of the town in the lot and walk up. But be warned it is a long walk up. It is very hilly and the streets are old, large cobblestone. Wear sturdy shoes. Don’t go if it is raining. My husband drove up and parked near the cemetery. The signs clearly read no parking, he reads Croatian. Anyway, surprise, we got a parking ticket. The ticket stated that if you paid immediately it was 1/2 price. We paid at the booth in the parking lot. It wasn’t much, maybe $11. Motovun may have been an artist colony back in the day but now it is mostly empty houses which many are for sale. Most of the artist have left and not many craft shops. Believe me, I looked because I am a shopper especially of local artisans. We walked the ramparts, had coffee at the top by the castle which had beautiful views, but not much else. We then drove to Poreč where we ate a lovely lunch by the water and enjoyed a self guided tour of the Basilica. By the way, Poreč is flat.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks for the heads-up about parking/walking in Motovun. We were planning to visit Motovun, Oprtalj, Groznjan, but are open to suggestions!

Posted by
771 posts

Day 3 seems pretty ambitious to me. Presuming you have a car, it could be done, but only in the most cursory way. Maybe do a little more research and pick just one or two? You seem to be using Rovinj only as a place to sleep. It's an interesting little town on its own. Try to find time at least to spend an afternoon/evening. Honestly, I'd skip Motovun. It was boring and crowded with tourists the first time. The second time I took my husband, who had not been there, to give it a second chance. It was still boring and crowded. If you do go, heed the warnings above. They are spot on. Personally, I don't understand what people see in it at all. We enjoyed Groznan and Poreč the most of several hill towns.

Posted by
15 posts

Thank you Wanderlust 58! By "Day 3", are you looking at our third day (day-trip to Kotor) or June 3 (Trogir, Salona, Klis)? I think probably the latter. Thank you for pointing out that that will be too much! We will indeed have a car, but I will try to pick two of these places to visit instead of all three.
For Rovinj, you are quite right that it looks like we aren't spending any time actually enjoying Rovinj. We had thought, since sunset will be quite late in June, that we would spend the late afternoons and evenings in Rovinj (4 or 5 PM until dark and also have dinner), but in reading everyone's comments, it seems like we might be best to cut our day of visiting hilltowns to a half-day.
I really appreciate your input. Thanks!