We (6 people) plan to visit Croatia in late August, start in Split and island hop to Dubrovnik. Explore Dubrovnik and neighboring towns for a few days, then work our way north in a rental car to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park, then end up in Ljubljana Slovenia.
Here is where I seek advice -
What's the best route from Plitvice Lakes National Park to Ljubljana Slovenia?
1. Drive? Since we will have a rental car, the easiest is to drive to Ljubljana. However, Rick Steves' guidebook advises against returning a rental car to a different country (heavy fees), therefore we are exploring other options after dropping off rental in Croatia.
2. Train? If so, will it be best to go from Zagreb -> Ljubljana? Rijeka -> Ljubljana? or... (also, which town is more interesting to spend an eve and night? Zagreb or Rijeka? We will already have spent plenty of time on coastal towns by then.)
3. Bus? Same Q as #2 above, what's the best city to catch the bus?
4. Hire a private car / driver to drive the 6 of us to Ljubljana? Has anyone done this before? Is it very costly?
Any insights are greatly appreciated.