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Croatia/Slovenia itinerary help

We are a family of 4, traveling to Croatia and Slovenia in approximately late June/early July. Our kids are 12 and 14, and have traveled internationally with us since they were 5 & 7, so they are used to the demands (and fun) of travel. We will be renting a car separately in each country to avoid the drop off fees we’ve heard about.

Does this itinerary seem too rushed and crazy? We usually stay 3 nights in one location, but since our destinations are closer together than in other countries we’ve visited, we are trying to cover more ground.

Where we are sleeping :
Day 1: Dubrovnik (we arrive mid to late afternoon)
Day 2 Dubrovnik
Day 3 Dubrovnik
Day 4 pick up car and drive to, sleep in, Mostar
Day 5 drive to Trogir
Day 6 visit Split but sleep in Trogir
Day 7, see more of Trogir/ rush to Plitvice, just want to sleep there for early arrival to the park
Day 8 early arrival to the park, sleep in Plitvice
Day 9 drive to Rovinj, drop off car
Day 10 Rovinj
Day 11 private xfer to Portorož, pick up car, see Skocjan cave, drive to Kobarid
Day 12 drive through Triglav NP, via Vrsic Pass stopping along the way, sleep near Lake Bohinj
Day 13 drive to and sleep in Ljubljana, drop off car
Day 14 Ljubljana, fly out next morning of Day 15

Does Rovinj deserve more time? Maybe take the first night off Ljubljana? Take the second night off Plitvice and just head for Rovinj when we are done with the park? There’s so much to see and so little time, it’s been hard to make decisions. This itinerary doesn’t work in any islands, which would be nice, unless we take a day trip to Mjilet on our second day in Dubrovnik (Day 3). I also saw a video of the Logar valley in Slovenia that blew me away, I wish we could see that too. We are definitely limited to 14 nights. My husband thinks we will manage this pace just fine, because of the freedom the rental car allows. I’m less sure about that but I want to do and see everything on this itinerary too. Help! Thank you!

Posted by
151 posts

There are many ways to change, I would take a day from Dubrovnik to add to Istria keeping the car for this. In high season it can be difficult to get accommodation for less than 3 days, figure out that first.

Posted by
2 posts

Cro, good point about the 3 night minimum. Thanks for the reminder about that. I think you are right about keeping the car for exploring Istria. Thank you!

Posted by
5011 posts

About your intention to arrive at Plitvice...

Day 7, see more of Trogir/ rush to Plitvice, just want to sleep there for early arrival to the park
Day 8 early arrival to the park, sleep in Plitvice

I think it's a mistake to time your arrival at Plitvice in the morning. That's when everyone shows up. Like other places across Europe that are tourist day-trip magnets, being there between 10 am and 4 pm means you spend your time there when it's most crowded - the opposite of what you want. The best way to beat crowds is to arrive when they are all getting ready to pile into their cars and buses to leave (say, 3-4 pm), then you get to enjoy the place relatively crowd-free until closing time/sleeping time. You can cover about half the park this way. Sleep right there in the park in the park hotel. Get up early the next morning and charge out, enjoy the park crowd-free (do the other half), then by late morning, when all the day-tripper buses roll up, that's time for you to move on.

One full day, spread across two half-days, is enough time to get your fill of Plitvice and see it at its best.

This same strategy works for most places that are more crowded than you would like. It ensures you get the best possible experience.

Posted by
26 posts

I definitely agree with David about Plitvice lakes. However, you are going to one of the most touristy spots in Croatia and in mid summer so you will most likely encounter crowds no matter when you go.
As far as Dubrovnik, spend evening on your arrival day in the Old Town (you will see, Dubrovnik in the evening is a completely different feeling) and one full day for sightseeing (walls, mt.srdj, museums, restaurants etc). Third day in Dubrovnik use for a day trip to some of the islands. The most convenient would be Lopud island or Korcula.
I think sleeping in Trogir instead of Split is a great choice.

All in all you mentioned your family is used to the demands of the travel and I believe this itinerary is almost perfect.

Posted by
98 posts

It sounds like a good quick survey trip. We agree with Kate about the evening magic in Dubrovnik. The locals parade down the Stradun and dine leisurely at their favorite restaurants. Join them. David is right - late afternoon & morning for Plitvice. Use the extra day for Rovinj. If you don't find enough to do in Rovinj itself, day trip to Pula or Motovun. In Kobarid, make time to visit the small but excellent WW1 museum. Most of us never learned about the extensive & deadly fighting in the area. Ljubjana is a charming town with good food & markets. A good place to relax a bit before a long flight.

Posted by
18875 posts

I agree with the idea of mid-afternoon arrival at Plitvice so you can see about half the park late on your arrival day. I believe they sell 2-day tickets. If you are staying at the hotel in the park, they may be able to endorse your one-day ticket so you can return for a second day, but I'm not sure about that. I believe you can take the longest of the marked walks in considerably less than eight hours. I took the second longest during day-tripping hours ago (a nightmare even in 2015) and finished it in much less than the posted time. There are some additional paths (no doubt much less crowded) that aren't part of one of the labeled routes, so you can certainly spend extra time in the park if you want to. I was hapoy to have the large map of the park sold at the little shop near the ticket line. What I got on my entry ticket was so tiny as to be useless.

Don't take time away from Ljubljana. It is a charming city with actual sights to see, including a castle and the dragon bridge.

It's not Rovinj itself that needs more time; it's Istria as a whole. Porec is a very colorful coastal town (also very touristy; research the parking situation online before heading over). Vrsar is a cute, tiny village on a hill between Rovinj and Porec. The inland towns of Groznjan and Motovun are very atmospheric. Pula (where I've never been) has some Roman ruins; it doesn't draw overwhelmingly positive reviews.