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Itinerary Questions for Families with kids

Our planned 19 day trip in June to Slovenia and Italy looks like it will clearly have to change. Our only non-refundable hotel booking is in Ljubljana, so I'm considering pivoting to a Slovenia and Croatia trip in July. Obviously that may not be possible, who knows, but I had some questions while I consider.

Facts about us:
Myself, my wife, 4 kids (12, 9, 6, 3). We will have a car. We would likely have 17 days or so. We typically rent houses via airbnb/booking.

  1. One legitimate concern - we aren't seafood eaters. My wife in particular. I can eat anything, but to this point my kids don't eat much seafood. They aren't picky and I'm sure they would try it, we just don't eat it often. Everything I read about Croatia and the great food is typically seafood related. Will this be a problem, or will we have plenty of other options across Croatia as long as we do a little homework on which restaurants we visit?

  2. To do Dubrovnik and Ljubljana and an island, that's a LOT of travel time. I can't decide if I should cut some of it out? Initial thought was:

    Dubrovnik - 3 nights
    Jelsa (on Hvar) or Bol (on Brac) - 4 nights (this portion would be meant for beach and pool time)
    Plitvice - 1 night (just to go to the park in the morning)
    Istria - 4 nights (near Rovinj likely)
    Ljubljana - 3-4 nights
    Is this too much travel time over this period of 16-18 days?

  3. To cut some travel time, should we skip an island, and maybe find a house near a beach in Northern Dalmatia? I was looking at the area in between Split and Sibenik, along the coast. Maybe we could reduce some transit time by skipping the island? Or is an island a must do? Also, if we stayed inland instead of on an island, we could probably cut out the overnight at Plitvice, and stop there on our way from Trogir/Sibenik toward Istria.

Any other thoughts or recommendations would be very much appreciated! Thanks

Posted by
3904 posts

We have a holiday booked for the beginning of August in Mallorca, we're fully expecting not to go. I would certainly not be considering making any plans for holidays, particularly expensive long distance ones in the current climate, simply because there is complete uncertaintly however, only you know what level of risk you're prepared to take.

I can't comment on your itinerary as I haven't been to those precise locations however I can offer some input on the seafood front. Yes, Croatia (and surrounding coastal countries) are famed for their seafood as are most coastal European countries however it isn't compulsory to eat it and there are plenty of other options. Meat, quite often lamb, is ubiquitous plus nearby Italy has had a big influence with regards to pasta etc. You'll always find a burger. My boys, 15 and 12, are reluctant seafood eaters unless it's battered and fried although the youngest is partial to prawns (shrimp) and they've never had any difficulty finding something to eat in any restaurant we've been to in the area. Personally I'll tend to opt for meat over fish however I did enjoy some excellent seafood in Montenegro last summer but I wasn't bereft of choice, you genuinely don't need to worry about this.

Posted by
55 posts

JC - Yes, I 100% know that this trip (or any trip) this summer may not happen. I don't think now is the time to make any judgement on that though, as none of us know at this point.

But, in the dreary stay-at-home days that we have right now, a little travel planning for a trip that I hope to take is a great diversion.

Thanks for your thoughts on the food!

Posted by
3940 posts
  1. There is plenty of meat in addition to fish, particularly good lamb. Being near Italy, there is also plenty of pasta and pizza.

  2. I would be tempted to drop Dubrovnik and Ljubljana which are the geographical outliers as you have too much travel, particularly with 4 children including a 3 year old. Hvar to Plitvice is a full day’s travel - most would have time in Split rather than trying to do this in one day. Two weeks is a good timescale for Dubrovnik - Island - Split and Trogir - Plitvice. Focus on Dalmatia or Istria, not both.

  3. I like the islands which are prettier than the mainland, but you need to be realistic about how much ground you can cover. I have been on Hvar in July and it’s often been mid 30s, which is hot.

I fear that your questions are somewhat hypothetical. The U.K. government is suggesting that social distancing will still be in place in September and I can’t see that anywhere in Europe is going to be any different.

Posted by
55 posts

Jennifer - thanks for all your input. I worried that it may be too much driving as well..

I fear that your questions are somewhat hypothetical. The U.K. government is suggesting that social distancing will still be in place in September and I can’t see that anywhere in Europe is going to be any different.

Wow, I haven't seen people expecting lockdowns on travel and still strict social distancing into September. That would be a LONG time for everyone and would absolutely kill the travel and tourism industry. Obviously we all hope that's not the case - we shall see!

Posted by
1064 posts

Dubrovnik and Split are two places that I remember the most from my trip long ago. If you like classic and antique Mediterranean architecture...this is where some of Game of Thrones was filmed. Speaking of Mediterranean...most of the food is similar to Italian or Greek food you may have eaten in the USA. Everyone should be able to find something they will enjoy. I like dinner salads myself. I would realistically start planning for 2021. If the Olympics postponed to July 2021, so should you. The European Economy and Tourist Industry will need sometime tor recover.

Posted by
4684 posts

There's nothing wrong with planning a trip - you can use the plans a year from now if you can't go this summer. At least it gives you something to look forward to now!

Whether an island is a "must do" is a personal preference. I visited only Korcula (two nights) and liked it but can't say it was the experience of my life or anything. (Ljubljana on the other hand was something special - really love the town and have been back several times.) But if you like the island experience, do it. Yes, not doing it would reduce the complexity of the transportation issues a bit.

I will say, if you did this say in the summer of 2021 (assuming things are mostly back to normal by then) instead of 2020, I'd expect it will be crazy busy everywhere especially on the islands, and I'd be reluctant to endure the hassle, personally.

Have you planned to drop the Croatian rental car before heading on to Slovenia, or were you planning to just pay the steep one-way drop fee?

Posted by
55 posts

Kathleen - thanks for the reassurance on the food!

I would realistically start planning for 2021. If the Olympics postponed to July 2021, so should you. The European Economy and Tourist Industry will need sometime tor recover.

I should have been more clear in my first post. I 100% understand that this trip may not go through. But I don't want to get to Mid May, and wish I had this trip ready to pull the trigger, but I haven't done any planning. Personally, I think Japan cancelling the Olympics is completely irrelevant to me taking my family to Croatia. Yes, I realize the COVID19 Virus is an issue and may prevent travel, but I won't be using the Japan Olympics as any gauge. Also, regarding allowing their Tourist industry to recover - I think these countries are going to desperately need people who are willing to come visit them this summer, or they won't recover.

Posted by
55 posts

Andrew H.

There's nothing wrong with planning a trip - you can use the plans a year from now if you can't go this summer. At least it gives you something to look forward to now!

That's kind of what I was thinking!

I will say, if you did this say in the summer of 2021 (assuming things are mostly back to normal by then) instead of 2020, I'd expect it will be crazy busy everywhere especially on the islands, and I'd be reluctant to endure the hassle, personally.

Again, I agree. That's one reason that if it's feasible to do it this year I would love to do it. Also, I already have a 2 week trip planned for next year with both my wife's and my extended families (1 week each), that can't be moved. So, moving my Italy/Slovenia trip to next year isn't possible. But, if travel loosens up in the next 3 months (I think is completely a real possibility), then I want to be ready.

Heck, at the current point my state (and almost every other US State) has a much much bigger COVID19 problem than Croatia or Slovenia - as long as the published numbers are to believed.

Have you planned to drop the Croatian rental car before heading on to Slovenia, or were you planning to just pay the steep one-way drop fee?

Yes, and I can't figure out what to do. If I go through with this trip, and book flights, then I'll decide. I may end up flying out of Zagreb, which would make the car rental return easier. But if we fly out of Ljubljana, maybe we will return the car in Croatia before crossing the border, depending on the drop fee. But I'm looking into it - yes thanks for pointing that out!

Posted by
4684 posts

Regarding the car: one possibility is to drop the car in Rovinj and take a bus or GoOpti shuttle up to Slovenia - even up to just Koper or something - and rent another car there for Slovenia. (It's a long bus ride all the way to Ljubljana that detours through Trieste I believe.) Or, you can do the opposite of what I did: drop the car in Rijeka (about an hour's drive from Rovinj) and take the direct train to Ljubljana. You'll have to see about the schedule: I think it runs in the morning and the afternoon but maybe not all year. Personally I prefer trains to buses or shuttles if they are practical.

If you do the latter, then you wouldn't need to rent another car in Ljubljana right away.. You don't want/need one in Ljubljana anyway - only for day trips. The town has big pedestrian-only areas (lovely walking town) so parking can be a challenge or at least an extra expense. It's even possible just to rent a car for the day in Ljubljana to do a day trip or two as needed. You don't need a car to get up to say Lake Bled, but it is nice to have to do scenic detours, etc.

Posted by
3940 posts

I agree that Ljubljana is a nice place, but you have to make decisions as to what to cut. If you decide that Ljubljana is a must, then just cover this, Istria and Zagreb, which is plenty for your timeframe. I assume that your 2 youngest in particular would appreciate more time at the beach than time spent in cities, so your itinerary may look different to that of a middle aged couple travelling on their own.

Posted by
1893 posts

The food thing in Croatia is partially fish, and partially a residual of Croatia as a part of the Austria-Hungarian empire. There are plenty of sausages, plenty of Wiener-Schnitzle-like dishes, stuffed peppers, that kind of thing. We've been many times, and really have not eaten fish all that much.