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Croatia and/or Slovenia itinerary

Struggling to plan a trip to Croatia and/or Slovenia. Still working out flight logistics (have a different post about that). I've considered doing just one of the countries, but we don't mind a fast paced trip and seeing only a few highlights. Two adults and a college student in mid-August (I know it will be very crowded). My heart doesn't want to skip Slovenia. I think the college kid may find Croatia more exciting. A day in Mostar would be memorable. Trying to get a little taste of them all in a short time. Thoughts?

Fly into Zagreb, pick up rental car, drive 1.5hrs to Ljubljana; OR fly into Ljubljana (3 nights)
Bled
Julian Alps
Drive to Plitvice (1 night)
Plitvice in the morning, drive to Split, drop off car, boat to Hvar or Korcula (3 nights)
Full day Hvar
More Hvar, or island day trip
Boat to Dubrovnik (2 nights)
Full day Dubrovnik
Pick up rental car early and drive 2.5hr to Mostar, then drive 2hr to Split - I realize it can take much longer than this with border crossings, could this be done by public transport? (1 night Split)
Fly out of Split

Posted by
169 posts

I can’t stress this enough, keep the car the entire time.

Hvar and Korcula are VERY hard to navigate outside of the city centres without a vehicle. You’re missing out on so much without a vehicle imo

Personally Slovenia to me was kind of meh after Croatia. We didn’t go to bled but went to Ljubljana and some of the surrounding areas. If I was to build a similar trip for friends or family I’d focus more on Croatia, especially 3 nights in Slovenia. In Bled and even Ljubljana you are a pretty substantial distance from Plitvice.

If you’re set on going to Plitvice then you’re probably best to go from Zagreb etc. but for me Plitvice was pretty underwhelming.

Imo after seeing both countries and spending almost a month in Croatia I’d focus moreso on the southern portion and the islands as you already are. You can spend a night in Mostar, relax on the islands, and maybe spend one of the nights that was planned in Slovenia and check out Kotor? It’s an easy day trip from Dubrovnik

Posted by
4283 posts

Yes, fast-paced with lots of driving, but doable. If it were me, I might look at Slovenia, Plitvice to Mostar, Mostar to Dubrovnik, then islands, then ending with Split. Makes more sense than splitting Split time (lol).
So Slovenia 3 nights
Plitvice 1 night
Mostar 1 night
Dubrovnik 2 nights
Island 3 nights
Split 1-2 nights
If you can’t stay overnight in Mostar, I would leave it out. You could also squeeze a one island stop to 2 nights….. tough choices. Or as you said, cut Slovenia.

Tyler is right about a car on Hvar or Korćula giving you more flexibility. However on a fast trip, that may not be a consideration since you won’t have multiple days to utilize it. Balance that against cost, ferries, and where the car ferries arrive and depart for lodging. If you rearrange your cities, it is entirely possible to rent in Zagreb and return in Dubrovnik and do the remainder by ferry.

I was in Slovenia in September 2021 for 5 nights and it was absolutely beautiful and everyone I met was great. I loved it and plan to be back some time. But the truth is you can’t see everywhere, especially on a short trip.

No bad choices here! Just hard ones! :)

Posted by
1 posts

If you're not sure which island for your tour (besides Hvar), there are a couple of North Adriatic islands to consider if your path goes along the coast from or to Slovenia. In general across the forum it appears North Adriatic islands are a bit overlooked. It may have to do with the fact that they are traditionally more visited by family holiday tourists from Germany, Austria and Italy traveling by car. Anyway, islands like Krk, Rab or Pag are stacked along the coast and it takes a short ferry ride to and from the island. Rab for example has the biggest number of sandy beaches on the Adriatic and for family vacationers it is probably a nr.1 beach destination in Croatia. Just a tip in case your trip is still not fixed :)

Posted by
266 posts

Muguet, Keep the car for entire trip - you are moving too much to waste time checking car in and car out. Taking the long ferry runs uses more time than just driving - the coast toll highway is fast. Whatever the ferry make sure of the schedule! Read up on all the attractions in both countries and each of you make a list of what is a must see. Good luck sorting that out!

My recommendation: Zagreb, Ljub, Bled, Alps ending at Kobarid, Rovinj if time, if not straight to Plitvice, coast highway to Split, Drvnik car ferry to Hvar or Orebic car ferry to Korcula, Mostar if time, last to Dubrovnik. Drop car in Dubrovnik and add flight from there to home. Or reverse that.
(AerLingus has a flight Dubrovnik (DBV) to Dublin (DUB) to BOS in 12 hours!)
At Bled the Vintner Gorge is neat. Kobarid has a very good WW1 museum and Italian Mausoleum. Rovinj old town is like a hill town but better accommodations & restaurants plus easier walking.

But no matter what you do, one country or both, it will be a trip to remember.

Posted by
70 posts

Tyler - others have mentioned that the car ferries are limited and also have long lines.  Since our trip would be so short, I'm leaning toward not having a car in those parts, as we wouldn't run out of things to do in just Hvar town, boat trip, or taking the bus to Stari Grad, for example.  Perhaps Plitvice was underwhelming to you since you are from beautiful Vancouver?  Many of the reviews here for the Best of the Adriatic tour cite Plitvice as their "wow" of the trip.  But I see your point, there is so much to see just in Croatia.  

TexasTravelmom - I like your suggested route.  I'm worried so many 1 night stops will make the trip exhausting.  You are correct, no bad choices, just hard ones!  Cute Ljubljana, the Alps, Dubrovnik, the islands, it all just sounds amazing.  

Marin Crnic - Thanks for mentioning some alternatives.  Hvar will be crazy in August!

Larry - Thanks for the ideas, a trip to remember is my goal!  AerLingus does seem to have good fares now.  I've thought of booking a round trip into a hub, and then separate low cost flights into Croatia, but I'm nervous to book separate tickets in case something goes wrong and we miss a flight.  One time I did a flight search and the price was amazing, then I realized it was DUB and not DBV.  :)

I've read conflicting things about driving in Bosnia.  Some say it's super easy, others mention shady bribes to police after getting pulled over and hours long lines at borders.  My husband wasn't keen after I told him that.  It seems like paying for a day trip to Mostar may be less stressful.  Thoughts?

Posted by
4283 posts

Again, just my very limited experience but I think with a trip of this length, I would skip Mostar and use that night somewhere else - eliminating one 1-night stop, since you have so many other one night stops.

I only drove Dubrovnik to Mostar and then Mostar to Trogir. But the driving was fine. I wouldn’t use worry about police and bribes to make your decision. The border stop each way in 2021 was short (but who knows now). I didn’t use it but I think I remember that there used to be an app that stays up with wait times at each potential crossing site.

Posted by
169 posts

We went through a couple “road blocks” in Bosnia and it seemed like the police didn’t have any interest in someone In a rental car who could only speak English lol

Posted by
5687 posts

I last drove in Bosnia in 2015, so it's been eight years now. But driving was really easy then. I drove from Montenegro through Trebinje, Mostar, Sarajevo, Jajce, and Bihać over several days, so all the way across the country. I had read that roads might be bad, no lights in tunnels, etc...but this was not my experience at all. This was twenty years after the war by then and driving seemed easy, roads generally were fine. I was never stopped by police. I felt safe stopping anywhere to take pictures along the roads etc.

Posted by
5687 posts

I drove to Mostar on a previous trip in 2009. This is a very popular drive for tourists between Mostar and Croatia. I would not be worried about that drive in the least.

Posted by
790 posts

This, from info on rental cars.com site. Know before you go.

Cross border travel is allowed on request for a fee of €50.00 per rental. It’s not allowed to travel to Kosovo, Albania, North Macedonia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania or Russia.
If the customer wishes to travel through the town of Neum (in Bosnia and Herzegovina) on the way from / to the south of Croatia they need to let the car hire company know. They also need to advise if they plan to take the car on ferries to visit islands, this is available for a fee of €20.00 per rental.
If approval is not given for cross border/ferry travel, or the customer travels to countries not allowed, all insurances will be invalid.

That is an additional €70 to take to Mostar and on ferries.