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Getting from Dubrovnik to Ljubljana

Our planned trip for June is to fly into Split, rent a car and make our way via islands to Dubrovnik, then I was planning to get a 1-way flight to Ljubljana for our week in Slovenia, but I'm struggling to find any direct flights. Anybody have any suggestions? I'd rather not spend the day driving from one to the other (or sitting in a bus).

We could switch around our itinerary (nothing is booked yet) but the cheapest 'open-jaws' flights are into Split and out of Ljubljana.

Many thanks for suggestions!

Posted by
4695 posts

Consider doing an "open jaw" itinerary: fly into Ljubljana, out of Dubrovnik (or vice-versa).

It may be easier, depending on where you are starting out, to fly into Venice and take a bus or shuttle to Ljubljana. You can rent a car there just for your time in Slovenia and drop it before you leave Slovenia. Take a train or bus on to Croatia and rent another car there and drop it in Dubrovnik. That way you, avoid paying a steep one-way drop fee for dropping a rental car in another country.

Others might open jaw fly into Zagreb out of Dubrovnik (or vice versa) and rent the car in Zagreb, drive it into Slovenia than back to Croatia and on to Dubrovnik and drop the car there. You may still pay a one-way fee but not nearly as much as trying to drop a Slovenian rental car in say Dubrovnik.

Otherwise, if this type of open-jaw scenario doesn't work for you, you might take advantage of flights on Croatia Airlines between Zagreb and Dubrovnik and (seasonally) between Venice and Dubrovnik, if Venice winds up being an easier departure point home than Dubrovnik. Sometimes it can save you a lot of money or at least some travel connection hassle to stage overnight in some other city after leaving Croatia before you fly home. Again - really depends on where you are flying home to.

Posted by
228 posts

Instead of flying into Split, fly into Dubrovnik. From there take a ferry to Korcula (2h). From Korcula take a ferry to Hvar (1h 15m). From Hvar take a ferry to Split (1h) www.croatiaferries.com.
When leaving Split get an early start and rent a car and drive to Plitvice Lakes National Park (2h 30m) and spend a half day before driving to Zagreb (2h) where you'll drop of your car then take a taxi to the train station to catch the last train to Ljubljana (www.bahn.com).

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks everyone! I'm still in a quandary.

  • Flying into Dubrovnik is way more expensive than Split, hence going this way round. (We are flying from Houston, connections are in Germany.)
  • Looks like there are no flights Split-Ljubljana either, so my Plan B of driving back to Split falls down.
  • Is Zagreb worth a visit? I can look at flights into Zabreb, driving to Split via the lakes (which we were going to skip), but then it's a pretty long schlep back to Zagreb from Dubrovnik. Are there trains Dubrovnik-Zagreb??
  • We want to have a car while on the islands, so we can get away from the crowds in the port towns. Maybe we'll just have to suck it up and spend a day in a car....
Posted by
4695 posts

There are relatively cheap Croatia Airlines flights between Zagreb and Dubrovnik, if that helps. You might need to stage a night on the way home if you want to end there and spend a night or two in Zagreb. It's definitely worth seeing, though it was not my favorite place in Croatia.

Another option might be flying through Barcelona or Rome and getting your own connecting flight from there to Dubrovnik. Or come home that way (again, spend a night in either city on the way back to make it easier). I'm not nuts about having a bunch of flight connections in one day - depends on what it is - but that might be easier than trying to connect twice in one day or something. As I said, if you can fly into or out of Venice, that's a decent entry port or exit point for Ljubljana.

Posted by
17176 posts

There is no rail service whatsoever to Dubrovnik.

I flew home from Zagreb in 2015 with just one stop somewhere in Europe (Munich, Frankfurt or Amsterdam, I think). That doesn't mean it will work for you, of course.

And I agree that Zagreb is worth visiting. Very handsome historic center. Also lots of good museums. Looks quite different from the coastal towns I Croatia.

Posted by
4695 posts

Right - no rail service between Split and Dubrovnik. But three is reliable express bus service between them and also (slower, I think) catamaran service. There is rail (and bus) service between Split and Zagreb. Between Dubrovnik and Zagreb, it's probably easiest to fly if you aren't otherwise going to drive it.

Posted by
228 posts

Zagreb was a plesant surprise, I especially loved Tkalčićeva Street.

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you all - Andrew, acraven, MaryPat.

I will look at Zagreb as an option for flying in. We could stay a night there, fly next day to Dubrovnik, pick up car, head up to Split via islands, Lakes on way back to Zagreb. Then drop the car, get the train or bus to Ljubljana to pick up our next car.

Y’all are the best!

Posted by
17176 posts

Keep in mind that Plitvice Lakes National Park gets overrun during day-tripping hours. Try to figure out a way to spend the night there so you can see the park late on your arrival day and immediately after opening the next morning.

The park no longer guarantees admission if you haven't bought timed admission tickets in advance. We haven't had any reports as to whether people are actually be turned away.

Posted by
151 posts

Internal flight to Zagreb is the preferred option, turning up an hour before your flight is sufficient.

Posted by
569 posts

Wanderer, I think you have a good plan now. And I agree with acraven's strategy for visiting Plitvice Lakes. That is exactly what we did. We purchased 2-day tickets, and selected a 4PM entrance to the park on our first day. We visited the Upper Lakes first. Then the next morning we arrived at the park around 8:30AM and saw the Lower Lakes. If you are early risers and can get there before 8:30AM, that is even better.

BTW, we stayed at Plitvice Miric Inn, if you are looking for a recommendation. It is about a 5-minute drive from Entrance 2. Their breakfast buffet is one of the best I have had. For an additional 20 euros, you can have dinner at their restaurant. It was one of the best meals of our trip. You choose your entrée (we chose fresh trout), and it is served with a huge platter of potatoes and roasted vegetables. The meal also comes with a salad, home-made chicken soup, and the best apple strudel I have ever had. I've heard the in-park hotels are not very nice and the food is mediocre. There are very few restaurants in the area, so you are limited to where you can eat.

If you can, try to spend 2 nights in Zagreb. I think it's an under-rated city. We enjoyed our visit very much. Visually and architecturally, it is very different from Dubrovnik and Split, so it's nice to have some diversity. The Old Town is lovely with 2 different levels, a huge market, and some very interesting small museums.

The train ride from Zagreb to Ljubljana is very pleasant and inexpensive. You cannot buy your tickets online in advance. You have to go to the train station to purchase your tickets.