I’m planning a trip to Croatia mid-April. (Istria and the Dalmatian Coast). Wondering if it is too early in the Season and that a lot of services and restaurants might be closed so the experience may be lacking. Your thoughts are appreciated.
The islands in particular will be very quiet and many places will still be closed. The catamaran service serving Split, the Dalmatian islands and Dubrovnik runs its winter service until the second week in May.
The larger places such as Split are home to many residents and restaurants etc will therefore be open.
At this time of year, I would stick to the mainland.
Islands will be quiet at that time, how long will you stay in Croatia?
Thank you so very much for the helpful info! Much appreciated. Think I will give the islands a miss on this trip and will concentrate on Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Monte Negro. I am there for three weeks. All suggestions as to what to see and what to skip are appreciated!
The most off-season I've ever been to that area is the second week of October (and that was Zagreb), so I don't have a good sense of what things will be like in mid-April in the coastal towns. Zadar was still lively in early October, so I think the larger places (including Split and Dubrovnik) will still be busy.
Three weeks sounds like a lot of time, but it will disappear rapidly, given the territory to be covered. I'd suggest reading first about Croatia and figuring out what you want to see there and how much time it might take. Then look either north (Slovenia) or south (Bosnia-Hercegovina and Montenegro). I'd want at least 3 full days in Croatian Istria, two full days in Zagreb (one non-jetlagged day would be OK if you have no interest in any of the very good museums), one nearly-full day at Plitvice (spending the night before your visit in or near the park--critical crowd-avoidance strategy).
Keeping in mind that 1/2 day, or more, disappears every time you relocate, two full days means three nights, and your first day isn't worth much for serious sightseeing because of sleep-deprivation and jetlag, you're now well into Week 2. Places to consider as you move down the coast include Zadar, Sibenik, Trogir, Split and Dubrovnik. I'm sure there are other good possibilities.
Slovenia is pretty often discussed here and has its own forum, so I suggest reading through some likely-looking threads. Ljubljana is an especially nice city. Its museums aren't quite up to Zagreb's (to me), but it has a castle, interesting markets, and a lively historic area that's fun to just be in. I'd want at least two days there, because it doesn't seem like the sort of place for a hit-and-run visit. A lot of the other commonly mentioned Slovenian destinations are outdoorsy (the caves being exceptions), so I think much depends on how optimistic you are about the weather. You can easily stay in Ljubljana and day-trip to Lake Bled. In the summer Ljubljana also works as a base for the Postojna or Skocjan Caves. I haven't attempted to verify the availability of off-season transportation, but I think it's pretty likely that Postojna would be reachable.
Sarajevo and Mostar are fascinating destinations and would get you to an area that isn't totally westernized. My visits were too brief and too long ago to provide guidance.
In Montenegro I enjoyed Ulcinj (Turkish vibe), Herceg-Novi (also not overrun by American tourists), the interior town of Cetinje (very different look from the coastal towns), Kotor (medieval, walled, very atmospheric if there are no cruise ships in port), and Budva (historic area reminiscent of Kotor's without the walkable wall; I fear it might be dead in April, but that's just a guess). Others really liked Perast as an escape from Kotor on days with lots of cruisers in town. Montenegro's countryside is very lovely; it has much more than just the Bay of Kotor to appreciate, so if you can get beyond the coast, it will pay off big-time. There is bus service that will get you most places, but probably not to the interior of the national parks. The capital city of Podgorica is definitely skippable but may be helpful as a transportation gateway.
I think when you begin working up a target list, you'll decide you don't have time to do justice to both Croatia and Montenegro in the time you have, so I suggest leaving the latter for another trip. And if you're doing that, you can also postpone Sarajevo/Mostar if necessary.