Too much? Would it be rushed? We’re ok with just picking 1-2 good locations in each country and are OK with not trying to hit all the popular destinations, more of experience a select few approach? We can always come back and see more. We have done independent travel to Central America and SE Asia but have no experience with Europe. Thanks in advance.
I’ve spent more than two months in Italy and there is still so much to see. A Croatia trip involved a tour that included Slovenia and Bosnia for 12 days. I could have spent more time there. My advice would be to pick a region and see that area more in depth. Two weeks goes by very quickly especially when tou have to travel far to get there.
For me it would be too much. We spent 12 days in Italy and I don't feel it was enough. It all depends on what you want to see. For me personally, I would rather spend more time in just one country and get a feel for the country, and do the other country on the next trip.
Consider just Italy for one trip, then do Slovenia and Croatia on the next trip.
A good choice? Opinions will probably vary.
My opinion is that if this is your first trip to Europe, stick to Italy. There's plenty to see and do there, more than enough to keep you busy for way, way more than 12 days. 12 days is a short trip to Italy IMHO. No need to make it feel that much shorter still.
With just 12 days in Italy, you will still need to be highly selective. Most folks would suggest 3 locations, 4 at the most. If it were me, I'd shoot for Venice, Florence, Rome. If you really have 12 full days there (as opposed to 12 days including your travel/arrival/departure days), you could squeeze in one more stop.
One location in each country. Pick Istria for Croatia and Verona for Italy. Fly into and out of Venice.
Obviously you can visit Italy for months and not see all the highlights. People who love it go back again and again to different parts of the country. But if you're looking for a "taste" of Italy and Croatia (you've chosen 2 great destinations!) you could certainly create a wonderful sampler itinerary.
Are you driving? taking trains?
I'll propose an idea just to get you thinking: visit Venice (3 or 4 nights), pass through Trieste and Piran, Slovenia (you get a 3rd country for free!) on the way to the Istrian peninsula of Croatia (3 or 4 nights), visit Plitvice on your way to Zagreb (3 or 4 nights); fly home from Zagreb.
It's not the typical "first visit to Italy itinerary" - but then, that's not what you asked for!
Stick to Italy. Rome 5-7 days, then two options-- go north or go south.
North: Pisa, Lucia, Verona (good base location), Florence, Venice. I think Florence & Venice are greatly overrated. 2 days each is plenty
South: Naples, Capri, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast. Can locate at Sorento
Thanks. Liking the non typical 3 country plan, don’t mind driving at all. Thanks again, this has been very helpful!!
I have a little bit of experience driving that route:-) In reverse. And with Ljubljana and Lake Bled instead of Venice.
Enjoy the planning and feel free to ask any questions!
Be aware that that three-country itinerary will cost you an international drop-off surcharge of at least many hundreds of euros (possibly $1000 or more) if you choose to drive.
What time of year do you plan to make this trip?
How many nights can you spend in Europe, not counting the night on the plane on the way over?
Take the train from Venice to Trieste. If you're flying out of Zagreb, take a 30 minute bus to Koper or longer train to Piran. Rent a car at either location in Slovenia. For those locations and a random 8 day period, rate from Sixt was about $224 for a small car. (Surprisingly, rates were much higher to rent in Rovinj (Croatia) and return to Zagreb.) Supply and demand for locations vary, so check various cities for your dates.
Compare the costs of parking and gas vs public transport to decide whether you prefer the flexibility of a car. For Istria and Plitvice, we liked having the car. You don't need/want it in Zagreb.
A car is extremely helpful on a short trip to Istria and will also simplify getting to Plitvice (where you want to spend the night before visiting the park, to minimize exposure to the overwhelming crowds of day-trippers).
However, I am very much in the Italy-or camp rather than the Italy-and camp.
Italy and Croatia is one of those country combinations, like Spain and Portugal, that seem "natural" to those of us in the US, but that are surprisingly hard to combine in a single short trip. So, if you are still thinking of seeing both in a 12 day trip (and I'm also in the pick one or the other but not both camp), do figure out, FIRST, how you will get between them. Depending on which parts of each country you want to see, there may be buses, or ferries, or shuttles, or you may have to fly - but you're likely to use the better part of a day connecting them. If you stay in one country, you'll lose less time getting around - and on a short trip, that's important.
What interests are you prioritizing? scenery( croatia and slovenia), art(florence and rome), history(rome), food? That would prioritize which places you should visit.
It would entirely depend on where in Italy and where in Croatia. I have been to Croatia four times and Italy seven, so I am all for more immersive trips and nowadays rarely travel more than a few hours apart during a visit. That said, Venice makes a decent pairing with Istria. In most other combinations, you are going to be flying or taking an overnight ferry, and I prefer to not do that on vacation.
Let us know which places you are thinking of, and we can advise on if they are good choices for convenience/time management, etc.