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Croatia 2020- Advice on Chosen Bases

Just finished a fantastic tour of Italy in June and especially loved the Amalfi Coast and Capri. Now looking to plan our 2020 trip and Croatia is leading the pack (over Greece and Portugal) as the next destination. Looking for feedback on these bases for the trip.

June 3rd- Depart Canada
June 4-6th- Stay in chosen European City (Munich, Berlin or Prague) for 2 days before continuing on
June 6-10th- Fly into Zadar for 4 days (include visit to Plitvice in these 4 days)
June 10th- 13th- 3 nights in Split
June 13-15th- 2 nights in Hvar
June 15th-19th- Dubrovnik
June 19th- home

We'll do day trips from these bases. We love the water, boating, hiking, city squares where you can people watch and have a drink. Any feedback is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Posted by
16748 posts

Are Munich, Berlin and Prague places you've been to before and just want to re-visit briefly? If not, for me two nights at the beginning of a trip (meaning really only one non-jetlagged day) falls in the "Why bother?" category. But If I had to give one of those cities short shrift, I'd definitely choose Munich. I'd prefer Zagreb in that situation. One solid day there would be OK for the average traveler (big-time art-lovers would want longer).

Zadar is nice but rather small. Four nights sounds too long to me unless you plan something like an island side-trip.

I assume you'll be renting a car; I believe taking a bus from Zadar to Plitvice would require a transfer. In any case, Plitvice should not be treated as a day-trip from Zadar (or Zagreb or Split). Many park visitors day-trip in, which makes for seriously sub-optimal conditions for an extended period around the middle of the day. You need to spend one night in or near the park so you can get inside as soon as it opens. If you arrive in mid-afternoon, you may find conditions OK for the rest of the day. There are new ticketing procedures at the park. The only way to guarantee you'll get in is to buy tickets in advance.

Posted by
36 posts

I saw some guided tours from Zadar to Plitvice and thought that might be an option as we are not renting a car. We were dedicating one day for Zadar, one for Pag Island and one for Plitvice but maybe we’ll overnight one night in Plitvice instead. Thanks for the input.

Posted by
16748 posts

I didn't know there were tours ftom Zadar, but unless they get you to the park as it opens, they'll have the same problem I had as a user of public transportation visiting from Zagreb. Plitvice is really great, but it's definitely not the same at mid-day. There's just no comparison.

Posted by
26 posts

Considering your preferences (water, boating, hiking, city squares) you have chosen good places for your base. Each of those cities gives you plenty of day trip options especially if you are into active holidays. While in Zadar, besides a must do visit to Plitvice, consider visiting Paklenica National Park. It is a beautiful hike short drive from Zadar. You can get more ideas on things to do here.
Since you have 3 days in Split you can do a half day trip to Trogir. It is UNESCO protected medieval city just 30 min drive from Split (you can use public bus to get there).

For island, I would consider visiting Korcula instead of Hvar (both connected to Dubrovnik by the same ferry) if you want a more local experience and less crowds.

Posted by
971 posts

I did a Tour from Zadar to Plitvice six years ago and it was really packed. I would advise against doing a day trip like that and spend at least one night near the park, so you can get up early and avoid the day trippers.

Posted by
1508 posts

Unless you had a lot of day trips planned, I would move a day from Dubrovnik to Hvar (or whatever island you end up with). It's nice to have two whole days on an island, and Dubrovnik is very very small and crowded.

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks everyone for your input and for sharing your experiences. It helps a lot!

Posted by
114 posts

Croatia Airlines flies Zagreb-Zadar-Pula in a Q400. You could fly to Zagreb, stay over there a day or two and fly on to Zadar.
Renting a car in Zadar would avoid driving in big city with streetcars Zagreb. Or rent out at the new Zagreb airport and drive tollroads.
Zadar is gorgeous, and the view from the top of the bell-tower a cheap alternative to Google Maps. You can see the whole layout so much better, and the islands. An evening on the waterfront is a must. Listen to the organ of the sea, and maybe local singers nearby.
If you have a rental car, you can leave early for any day trips you want. Everywhere in Croatia is quieter before and after tour buses.
I have flown Canada to Croatia many times and routes. Croatia Airlines partners with Air Canada/Lufthansa so I often fly to Frankfurt or Munich and on to Zagreb. Another route is Frankfurt to Venice and the evening catamaran to Rovinj. which is 24 hours for me. By doing all your flying in one day you are in Croatia sooner. I save Germany for extra time on the way back.
While in Zadar, drive out to Nin, the Roman era town on the salt flats. Unique island town with a tiny chapel with A1 acoustics - sing!

Posted by
85 posts

My daughter and I just returned from 3 weeks in Europe, 2 weeks of it in Croatia and Slovenia. I'll share our itinerary and give you some thoughts. We flew from Vancouver to London and spent 5 nights there first and finished our trip with 2 nights in Venice. Here's the Croatia and Slovenia leg of the trip in between those cities:

Dubrovnik (3 nights), including a long day trip to Mostar.
Split (2 nights) by catamaran
Plitvice area (1 night) by rental car
Zagreb (1 night) and dropped off car
Lake Bled (2 nights) by bus
Motovun (3 nights) by rental car, driving through the Julian Alps and doing day trips to Piran, Rovinj, Pula and Groznjan (just an hour)
Ljubljana (3 nights) dropped off car and stopped at Lipica and Postojna Caves on the way.

I'm not sure what the draw is to Zadar. Do you have family there? If there's a particular reason you want to see it, you could do a day trip from Split, but I'm not sure it merits 4 days of a 2 week trip. Istria is a fabulous region. I would try to fit it in if you can. My biggest piece of advice would be to go to Slovenia. It's our new favourite European country. Bled was one of the highlights and a great place to relax. Ljubljana is a beautiful city and well worth at least 2 nights. I might rethink the stop in Berlin/Munich/Prague at the beginning your trip. Each of these cities deserve some time on their own and there are lots of 2 weeks you could build from them.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
603 posts

I would just fly into Zagreb instead of the chosen city, unless the costs are wildly more expensive. Perhaps an odd opinion, but I prefer Zagreb to Munich anyway.

Plitvice takes 6 hours. Hard to imagine riding 2 hours in in the morning, hiking 6 hours then riding 2 hours back in the afternoon being all that fun.