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Feedback on possible itineraries

We have 13 on the ground (no travel) days. It is my husband and I ( mid 40s) and our kids who are 13 and 10. They are great travellers. We like a variety of things: beach, swimming, hiking, historical sites, markets, people watching etc.
We have travelled by train and rented cars in the past and are good with that, and ferries as well.

Non negotiable is travel in July ( yes, I know that it will be hot, crowded and cost more $$$) but this is what we are restricted to and we deal with it :)

Itinerary 1:
Fly into Ljubljana and out of Dubrovnik ( or other way around)
Ljubljana 1 night
Bled 1 night
Zagreb 2 nights ( pick up car)
Plitvices Park 1 night
Zadar 2 nights
Split 2 nights ( drop off car)
Hvar 1 night
Korcula 1 night
Dubrovnik 2 nights

Itinerary 2:
Zagreb 2 nights (pick up car)
Plitvices 1 nights
Roving 2 nights
Zadar 2 nights
Split 2 nights ( drop off car)
Hvar 1 night
Korcula 1 night
Dubrovnik 2 nights

Appreciate any thoughts and insights!

Posted by jayhamps
Liverpool UK
393 posts

I would go with the first one personally, but the choice is yours go with your gut.

Posted by Digbydog
50 posts

From what I have read, you could have trouble finding accommodations in Hvar for 1 night.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
7688 posts

Do you normally travel like that, staying only one or two nights in each place? You are allowing so little time to see the places where you are stopping. Ljubljana is a really charming city; you'll have a few hours to sleepwalk through it, then you're getting up the next morning and going to Bled. My bet is that you won't get an early start (jetlag), then you have to check out of your Ljubljana hotel, get the bus or train or a taxi (might be reasonably priced for 4) to Bled and check into your second hotel. You'll have a few hours in Bled and/or at the Vintgar Gorge but no time to go farther. Then it's Day 3 and you're on the move again.

I'd consolidate the Ljubljana and Bled stops. Stay in Ljubljana. It's easy enough to day-trip to Bled, and you'll save some time by not checking into two hotels. You have to go back through Ljubljana anyway when you're ready to head to Zagreb. You really need at least 3 nights for Ljubljana and Bled when they are the first destinations.

Zagreb is OK with two nights if you don't plan to do much in the way of museums (it has a lot).

Plitvice is OK at one night as long as it's the night before your park visit. Otherwise, you'll be arriving from Zagreb at the same time as all the day-trippers and the park will be a madhouse. (I made that mistake in 2015--don't do it!)

Zadar is OK at two nights. I really like Zadar, but I'd axe it from your itineraries and add the time to Ljubljana (Itin. 1) or Rovinj (Itin. 2).

I would not go to Istria for just two nights. It's a lovely area with at least four towns worth seeing (Rovinj, Porec, Motovun, and Groznjan). The cute coastal hilltop village of Vrsar was nice when I visited because there were no other tourists visible (it may have been a freaky day), and there are some Roman ruins in Pula (though no one here seems impressed by Pula). As of 2015 there was a zip line in Pazin.

It typically takes longer than expected to get to and from islands (getting to the port, waiting for the ferry, etc.). I would consolidate Hvar and Korcula into one stop.

If you haven't already done so, check your flight options. It may not be easy to find reasonable travel times unless you're departing from a major market.

Speaking of "market", both Zagreb and Ljubljana have markets of various types. The crafty sorts of things usually happen on the weekend, with the food market occurring multiple days a week. Some quick Googling will probably pin down the information you need to be sure you don't miss something going on while you'll be in town.

Posted by Jennifer
Tunbridge Wells
1715 posts

You aren't going to have much time for hiking, beaches etc as with both your itineraries, you are going to be spending half your time in transit.

Is day 1 going to be a write-off due to jetlag?

Two nights somewhere is one day there, so you aren't going to see much of Ljubljana. Transport is easier if you stick to just Croatia.

Istria deserves at least 4 days there, so I would drop this from your itinerary.

You will struggle to find accommodation on the islands for only one night and I would therefore visit either Hvar or Korcula and spend 3 nights here, as this will be your only beach elements.

I would suggest 3 nights in Dubrovnik, 4 on an island, 3 in Split so you can see Split and nearby Trogir, the night before you visit Plitvice at the park, then 3 nights in Zagreb or Ljubljana.

Posted by sharon OP
843 posts

Thank you so much for all the feedback.. we usually aim to do at least 2 nights in most places as I agree that 1 night leaves so little time to visit much

The one thing that we are not is museum people which is why I thought 2 nights in Zagreb would be enough for us.

The 1 night in Plitvices was the night before we would head to the park. We are early risers so would aim to be there at the opening of the Park.

We have checked flights and since we are coming for a major centre, flight times are pretty good.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
7688 posts

In that case, two nights in Zagreb will work OK. It's a very nice city with a large historic district and lively streets, but I did spend a lot of my time in the museums.

Posted by Dejan
359 posts

Sharon, if you enjoy hiking, plan four nights in Ljubljana/Bled. You’ll need a day in Ljubljana (great for markets and people watching) and a day in Bled (you can even do some sunbathing/swimming at the lake in July) so that is three nights right off the bat.

Then, if you want to do some hiking, plan another day for the Julian Alps/Triglav National Park. The Lake Bohinj area of the national park will be easiest to reach without a rental car. You can walk around the lake, do one of the easier day hikes such as Vogar or take the cable car up to Vogel ski resort and then hike up to the top of Mt Vogel (proper footwear obligatory).

Posted by valadelphia
408 posts

Itinerary 2, but I would reduce Zagreb to one night, eliminate Rovinj at least but probably Zadar too, and add those nights to the island stays. It's the "Amazing Race" (except not so amazing) otherwise. I would want at least a three-night stay at some point in the trip, if only to do laundry!

Posted by Paul
Sioux Falls, SD, USA
751 posts

I would do Itinerary 1. I would really be discouraged by the number of moves. Drop Bled, stay in Ljub. Drop Korcula, 2 nights in Hvar. Drop Zadar, go to Split for 3 nights, Dubrovnik 3 nights. One day in Split can be the day trip to Trogir. If you wish, stop in Zadar for a short time - it is small, nice, but not really great. Trogir and Zadar are quite similar. Croatian coastal towns are much of a piece - they are all variations on a theme. Zadar, Trogir, Sibenik - quite similar. Split is different, and Dubrovnik is the crown jewel.

You said you weren't museum folks, but do consider the Museum of Croatian Naive Art - it's very interesting, and quite unique to Croatia.

Whatever you decide, post your final itinerary.

Posted by sharon OP
843 posts

Thank you all again for your time in commenting on my post.

Our revised itinerary is:
3 nights Ljubljana: We will have a day in Lake Bled
1 nights Zagreb: pick up car
1 night Plitvices: night before we want to tour the park
3 nights Split: drop off car side trip to Trogir
3 nights Korcula or Hvar
3 nights Dubrovnik possible side trip to Mostar

Thoughts on this?

Posted by Paul
Sioux Falls, SD, USA
751 posts

I think it's a big improvement. Staying in one place for more than one night is good. I'd stay in Zagreb longer, but you have to make choices. We've been to Zagreb 4 times in 7 years. We really like Croatia.