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Balkans Itinerary

Hi everyone,
My husband and I are lucky enough to be able to spend nearly a month in the western Balkans between late July-early August this year. I'm narrowing down the itinerary, and trying to figure out if this is too much... or if I should reorganize and reconsider other places. We've both been to Europe a number of times but never the Balkans, and we hope to have a lot of locals' experiences. We're both early 40's and fairly active.

Here's the current itinerary--any thoughts are appreciated:

7/21 leave SEA

7/22 arr ZAG, two full days

7/25 train to Belgrade

7/25-28 Belgrade, maybe day trip to Novi Sad? (optional, may not have time)

7/28 Bus to Sarajevo, four full days

8/2 Train to Mostar, one full day

8/4 Bus to Dubrovnik, 3 full days

8/8 Bus to Kotor, 1 full day

8/10 Back to Dubrovnik, rent car, drive to Split

8/10-13 Split, drive to Zadar early on 8/13

8/13 Overnight in Zadar

8/14 Drive to Plitvice Lakes in afternoon, stay outside park two nights (8/14 and 8/15)

8/15 Visit Plitvice Lakes park (getting early start!)

8/16 Return to Zagreb with rental car

8/18 Flight from ZAG → SEA


Posted by
334 posts

Are you intending on any island time with your days in Split or Dubrovnik?

Posted by
6767 posts

I would say that Sarajevo doesn't need 4 full days unless you plan an additional day trip to nearby areas (if you have 4 days full of things to do planned out, please feel free to ignore this). I think you can cut it down to 3 days and still hit all the major sites. I would add the extra day to Split since it doesn't sound like you've given it any time (it's really worth seeing). Mostar can be done in 1 day (it's fairly compact) but I regret not staying there a day longer because it was so lovely.

There is very good and inexpensive bus service between Dubrovnik and Split and much cheaper than renting a car, so you may want to consider doing that link by bus. I got to Dubrovnik from Mostar with a bus/train combination as well.

Posted by
1427 posts

With 4 weeks in the Balkans, I think it would be a shame not to make it to Slovenia or Istria, or to any of the islands in the Adriatic. I admire your desire to take time to immerse yourselves in the places you visit, but I think you have too many nights in most places, and you're going to miss out on what I thought were some of the best parts of the Balkans.

If I read your itinerary correctly, this is what you're planning:

2 nights Zagreb
4 nights Belgrade
5 nights Sarajevo
2 nights Mostar
4 nights Dubrovnik
2 nights Kotor
3 nights Split
1 night Zadar
2 nights Plitvice
2 nights Zagreb

I would start off by eliminating one night each from Sarajevo, Mostar, and Plitvice. I'd make Kotor a day trip from Dubrovnik and not stay overnight there at all (although one night in Kotor would be nice). Unless you're going to visit one or more islands, I'd cut Split to one night, and I'd cut a night off Zagreb at the end.

Given those changes, you have seven or eight extra days to play with. If you also consider maybe ending in a different city so you don't have to loop back to Zagreb, you might save additional travel time. (You could maybe fly back to Zagreb on the morning of your flight home.)

There are a lot of possibilities for those extra days, and I think it's definitely worth considering some changes.

Best of luck!

Posted by
5035 posts

I disagree with the last post! You are just planning a European style holiday, not an American one! You will have plenty of time to immerse yourself in Croatia by not moving on each day, but I would suggest one less day in Dubrovnik or you could pick a day trip to one of the islands from here.

Make sure your car hire permits you to drive to Split as technically, you have to take the car into Bosnia and back into Croatia. Our hire company last year didn't permit this and some charge a bit more. Driving in Croatia is easy.

Pick up Trogir from Split.

This is peak season so you will need to book accommodation ASAP.

Posted by
3 posts

If you can find some time to shave from your itinerary, it would be a shame to miss Slovenia, also a part of the former Yugoslavia. Ljubliana is perfectly charming and worth 2 days of sight seeing. Bled is a beautiful, fairy tale, picturesque town...not to be missed. As a side trip from there we rented a car and took a day to drive a loop through the Julian Alps. Stunning!!! On a side will be very HOT in July and August. Slovenia is more mountainous. It might be a relief from the heat. Hope this is helpful. Tracey