Please sign in to post.

*Revised Itinerary HELP - 17 nights in Croatia with a car SOON

Hello Fellow Travelers!
I have been combing this forum & still would like your input on our itinerary. We do have the new Rick Steves book, too. My Husband & I (young 60's) are flying Eurowing Discover/Lufthansa with carry on only bags & personal items for 17 nights end of Sept & beginning October. We fly into and out of Dubrovnik. We like walking, kayaking, snorkeling, rafting (but not lying on the beach), short hikes. Curious how cold the water will be by then. We do have our first 4 nights booked in Old Town Dubrovnik (land 18:10 /6:10 pm). So on night 1 we will be tired & probably won't see much in Dubrovnik. We do want to see islands &Plitvice NP. Here is what we are thinking of doing:
4 x Dubrovnik
2 x Peljsac with trip to Korcula
3 or 4 x Hvar (Now it's October)
1 x Plitvice NP
3 or 4 x Split or Trogir or Strobec (Maybe Omis for rafting)
2 x Mostar
1 x Cavtat

Does this look more enjoyable as we decided to not go to Rovinj. Added more nights to other places. Do you have any suggestions on accommodations at any of these towns? We do not have any activities booked so we can book according to weather or on a whim. Thank you (again) all for your help.

Posted by
3996 posts

It's hard because we all have a pace we prefer, but this would be too much moving for me--even though most of these are small places and you can see the highlights in a day. I just don't see time for outdoor activities--something Croatia is so perfect for!
Since you are flying round-trip to Dubrovnik, I would stick to central and southern Dalmatia, keeping the excursion up to Plitvice and over to Mostar. I think I would save Zadar (which just lacked the wow factor the other places have) and Istria (to make Istria a separate trip in the future). Of course, it is not high season, so you could "wing it" and just see how far you get.
It's been a minute since my last trip to Croatia so I am not sure if you will find dryers in short supply. To me, that means you need time for laundry to dry on a rack. You can always use a service, but I would want a bit more wiggle room.

I would try for a kayak trip on day 3 in Dubrovnik. If the weather is good, see if Elafiti islands trips are on. Easiest is a day on Lokrum.

Posted by
25551 posts

For me that would be way, way too many 1- and 2-night stops. I did like Zadar, and Istria's very interesting, but I agree that you might do better to hold off on the northernmost destinations this time around. On a revisit you could include Zagreb, which is a nice city and quite different from coastal Croatia. It's also close to Slovenia.

ViaMichelin estimates the drive from Zadar to Mostar at over 3-1/2 hours, so I'd suggest two nights there.

I don't think an extra day in Istria would be a bad idea. There are reasons to see Rovinj, Porec, Pula and tiny Vrsar along the coast. You might even venture up to Piran in Slovenian Istria. The inland countryside is nice and has some hill towns (Groznjan and Motovun). There's an ethnographic museum in Pazin, and I think that town has a zip line, if you're into such things. There's at least one winery in Istria too. I took a bus tour that stopped there for a tasting back in 2015. I din't like wine, so I can't comment on the quality.

Be sure your rental car can be taken into Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Posted by
5684 posts

If you skip Peljsac, you could put off renting the car a lot longer - until you leave Split. You could take a catamaran from Dubrovnik up to Hvar Town and a catamaran to Split from there. You can take a car ferry to Hvar island but not directly to Hvar Town - you have to take the car ferry from Split to Stari Grad or another ferry from the mainland.

Last year I returned to Croatia and island hopped from Split for a few days - I had been to Croatia before but not to many island. Hvar Town was nice, but the island/town of Vis really blew me away, enough that I returned to spend two nights there after a day trip. So you might consider Vis if you want more time on islands. You could also stop; in Korcula on the way to Hvar if you take the catamaran. Unless you are planning to explore the islands away from the towns, you really don't want or need a car there.

You can take a catamaran from Hvar Town to Vis daily until the end of September - then there is only one catamaran connection a week (Tuesday), otherwise, you have to go all the way back to Split.

Anyway...your itinerary is otherwise OK. If you are OK with one night stays, go for it - I've done trips like that. It's not everyone's travel style.

I loved Rovinj, but I didn't really fall in love with the rest of Istria. Pula and the hill towns were OK but not places that make the highlights of my trips to the region. (Except Rovinj.) I'm not sure I'd detour up to the region just to see Rovinj, but I know some people do love the hill towns.

Plitvice is amazing but gets so crowded, so do try to see over two days, the first evening and the second morning so you can have some time without the mid-day crowds.

On the way to Mostar, you can detour to stop and see Kravice Falls, a beautiful waterfall.

Posted by
5684 posts

I've been swimming a few times in early October off the Dalmatian coast. The water has generally still been warm enough to swim - not bad once you get in.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you all!

If we don't go to Istria, how/where would you then split the days? Stay longer on Hvar? Go to Korcula? We will spend 1 night close to Plitvice. Would staying in Trogir or Omis be options other than Split (with a car)?

Yes, I am sure the clothes would need to air dry and we are hoping for dry days! LOL!

Posted by
3996 posts

Even if you just added days to your existing stops, that would be great, but all of the places you mentioned as possible additions would be good, too. Trogir is very small so may not be any easier when it comes to parking versus Split. There is a lot just outside of the island, or you can stay on neighboring Ciovo. I missed Omis on all of my trips, but I love the sound of it--and some rafting would be cool! I have a strong soft spot for Korcula, so that would make a good addition, especially if you are having great weather and want more island time.
I think at that time of year, being flexible is the best course. Scope some places out in advance and save them in the app, then follow the sun. Split and Zagreb are great if you get bad weather (just in case--fingers crossed!).
Since you are going into Bosnia already, read up on Hercegovina as there are some neat sites like monasteries and streams similar in appearance to Plitvice (not near as extensive but some possible pretty stops).
On a trip of this length, I would want a four or five day stop at some point, but that could just be my personal quirk!

Posted by
3470 posts

I have been trying to figure this out but it looks like many places you are in for only one full day or less.

I might go with Andrew’s idea of using the ferries Dubrovnik to Split, with island stops on the way - and wait to get the car as you leave Split for Plitvice, Zadar, or wherever.

And if you arrive evening, then do you truly only have 2 days in Dubrovnik (and you are thinking about going somewhere else on one of them because of cruise ships)?

I might also agree with skipping Istria this time and adding those nights on to Zadar, Split, and an island. But if you aren’t booking ahead, then really all you have to decide is where you are getting and returning your car.

I used for Croatia and it has a large selection of apartments - primarily where I stayed in 2021 for my month (and my second stay on Korćula a week ago).

Croatia is lovely!

Posted by
5684 posts

Many lodgings use multiple booking sites. I've used for years too, but some properties that use it also use AirBnB and sometimes they are cheaper on one site than another.

Posted by
7 posts

Andrew & TexasTravelmom, We actually don't understand the taking the ferry from Dubrovnik to stopping at other islands to Split. Then pick up the car. Won't we miss the beauty of driving up the coastal highway? (We have not been to Croatia or used ferrys for travel before) How will we get around the islands when we stop? Is it day trips from Dubrovnik, then back to Dubrovnik. We are certainly thinking of staying south & staying more days in one place as you have all mentioned. We do want to get a feel for and enjoy each town.

Thank you Valadelphia, acraven, Andrew & TexasTravelmom

Posted by
3996 posts

RE car:
If you keep Peljesac in the itinerary, you will want a car. It's a gorgeous area, so I would want to make use of the car (though you can get there by bus). Plus, it is not high season, so I don't think traffic and parking will be a concern. In summer, I might agree with simplifying things, as without a car you can use a catamaran OR a car ferry.
I don't think you need the car until you leave Dubrovnik unless you had a day trip requiring one in mind. If you were just going from Dubrovnik to [island], I would agree, take the catamaran and enjoy the view. While on most islands, you can do a daily car rental as needed, and there is also limited bus service (Hvar to Stari Grad for example). I think there is a good argument for staying longer on at least one island so you can tool around wit the car and explore--one full day is not sufficient time for that to me.
So, while it can be a bit of a pain to have to deal with parking and car ferries, it sounds like you value scenic drives and might be playing it loose with the itinerary, so you may appreciate the flexibility of having the car.
I have done four trips to Croatia without a car, so I do appreciate the bus and ferry/catamaran system, but if I were coming in October with a plan like your, I'd be getting one--but definitely give yourself some time to make really good use of it (like driving across Hvar)!

Posted by
5684 posts

jmgdjc, presumably you would be able to see beautiful scenery from the catamaran too, right? But both the driver and the passenger would be able to see it.

I don't know what you plan to see on the islands. Many people stay in the towns themselves instead of venturing away especially on short stays, but if you want to go out and drive around and explore the islands, of course you would want the car. There is limited bus service on the islands between some towns. Last October, I used buses on Hvar, Brac, and Vis to do day trips to second towns, but of course my ability to explore outside those towns was limited. My visits were short so I didn't have much extra time anyway.

If exploring the island beyond the main town important to you, then of course, I would drive. But if you aren't planning to do more than visit the main town where you will stay on the island, a car can be more of a burden than a help. You've got to park it, etc. People do take cars to the islands, so you certainly can. I just wanted to offer you the option of doing the islands without a car - it is very doable for some itineraries could actually be easier than driving.

Posted by
3470 posts

Won't we miss the beauty of driving up the coastal highway?

Yes, you would, so it becomes a choice. If you drive, you miss the beauty of the trip on the water.

(We have not been to Croatia or used ferrys for travel before) How
will we get around the islands when we stop? Is it day trips from
Dubrovnik, then back to Dubrovnik.

The ferry goes from Dubrovnik to Split, with stops at Mljet, Korcula, and Hvar in between. So you could ride Dubrovnik to Korcula, then Korcula to Split a different day (with 2 separate tickets) or any similar combination. There are other ferries to other islands.

Andrew referenced transportation thoughts for the islands. It all just comes down to what sounds most appealing to you.