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Our Croatian Adventure (Itinerary)

We would love feedback on our itinerary, I think we're pretty close, especially after reading all the great advice on this forum!

Late Aug-mid Sept, we will have a car the entire time. Trying to minimize the one-night stays but see most everything!

1-2 - Travel Days
3 - arrive Zagreb 1pm, drive to Ljubljana (3 nights)
4 - Lake Bled, hiking
5 - Julian Alps loop
6 - Castle/Caves/Lipica/Piran - drive to Rovinj (4 nights)
7 - North Coast loop (Porec, etc)
8 - Hill Town loop (Motovun, etc)
9 - South Coast loop (Pula, etc)
10 - ferry/drive (Beach Day) to Cres (1 night)
11 - long drive thru Krk and down the coast to Zadar (2 nights)
12 - day trip to Brac
13 - leave Zadar, hit Krka/Sibenik during the day, arrive Split (2 nights)
14 - chill out in Split (NO cruise ship day!)
15 - am water taxi to Trogir and back, then drive to Dubrovnik (4 nights)
16 - chill out in Dubrovnik (NO cruise ship day!)
17 - day trip to Montenegro/Bay of Kotor
18 - day trip to Mostar
19 - check out, head up Peljesac, ferry to Korcula for the day, stay somewhere (?) on Peljesac (1 night)
20 - hang out on Peljesac, chill, sight see, then long drive, arrive late in Plitvice (1 night)
21 - Plitvice early, then on to Zagreb (2 nights)
22 - Zagreb day, maybe to Samobor (I'm looking for relatives and think they may be there?!)
23 - fly out of Zagreb in the morning

The biggest concern I have is understanding and communicating my desire to drive in 4 countries and not having any issues. We could take a tour or bus to Mostar if need be. I'm also still a little unsure about days 19-20... still researching!

I would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions on the itinerary above...thanks so much!

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
2776 posts

I'm not sure what your concern is in regard to driving to Mostar? If you have a car, just drive - it's easy. You will need to make sure you have an insurance card or "cross border card" (or "green card") for driving out of the EU, anyway, if you will drive to Montenegro. That will probably add a little to the cost of the car.

You could even drive back to Plitvice through Bosnia and stop in Mostar on the way. It's a very different kind of drive vs. coastal Croatia, and there are some pretty towns like Jajce that aren't on the average tourist's radar. Of course, you'd be near Sarajevo, too, then but you may not have time to see it on your present itinerary. But you could hit Korcula and Peljesac driving south from Split to Dubrovnik.

Samobor is a lovely little town, not a bad place to stay over.

I assume you've got round trip tickets to Zagreb already, but if not, you might be able to skip the drive back north from Dubrovnik entirely and just fly out of there, with a little more re-arrangement of your itinerary.

Posted by cindyngabe OP
Northern California USA
13 posts

Thanks, Andrew... we looked at Sarajevo in an earlier "do everything" type of itinerary, but decided we'd rather spend more time in Istria and Slovenia. I like the drive from Mostar to Plitvice idea... maybe even spend and evening, the night and next morning in Mostar (and avoid more of the day trip crowds)... then take the long drive thru Jajce... hmmmm

I'll make sure to get the card from the rental car folks. I guess I was reading about some "issues" heading into BH, but hopefully everything is cool. We certainly like the flexibility of having a car!

I only need the green card for BH or Montenegro, correct? Not Slovenia? (there I need the vignette)

Posted by Scott
Everett, WA, US
69 posts

This sounds more like work than a holiday. You may want to consider doing half this year, and the other half the next. Also, if you're spending all this time in Croatia, Zagreb is worth a 3 night stay. You can get a luxury hotel cheap, if that interests you.

Posted by cindyngabe OP
Northern California USA
13 posts

I hear you, Scott... we're still young-ish, and this is sort of the speed we took for a 3-week Italy trip a couple years ago, except more trains and less driving... since we aren't booking tours or anything, if we just want to chill a day or two, we certainly will - we're ok modifying the "plan"...! :)

We have thought about Zagreb... and assume we might be back (especially if I find family and we can connect)... same thoughts about Rome, figure we might be on the front or back end of another trip to the region.

I suspect we may love Slovenia and Istria so much that we might just do another trip and focus just on Istria/Slovenia/Zagreb... Thanks!

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
2678 posts

Overall, looks pretty awesome to me (although yes, pretty aggressive). A few points to ponder...

You arrive in Zagreb (after 1-2 travel days) at 1 pm, then jump in a car and drive to Slovenia. Hmmm. Will you be arriving jetlagged, after a long slog across the world? Or just an easy hop from London or someplace else relatively close? If coming off that redeye, driving away in that condition is never a good idea (even for an easy drive).

You might be short-changing Plitvice a bit. See if you can get there early enough to do a couple hours in the park before it gets dark, then a few more hours the next morning before moving on.

Unsure about days 19-20 days....we didn't go to Peljesac, We loved Korcula, it was one of our favorite spots in Croatia.

Be careful and check to be sure all your connections (ferries, buses, etc.) will be running when you're counting on them. Once you get into September, some of these may start cutting back service.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
2776 posts

I'll make sure to get the card from the rental car folks. I guess I was reading about some "issues" heading into BH, but hopefully everything is cool. We certainly like the flexibility of having a car!

I think some old tales from after the war persist - bad roads, etc. But the war was over 20+ years ago. I drove through Bosnia in 2015 without the slightest issue. The roads were great, even if not quite as good as Croatia's or Slovenia's.

I only need the green card for BH or Montenegro, correct? Not Slovenia? (there I need the vignette)

Slovenia and Croatia are both in the EU, so it's a different issue vs. driving to Bosnia and Montenegro. But if you can drive the car to those two countries, you certainly should be able to drive it to Slovenia. Just double check with the car company.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
2776 posts

You are going to want to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) for driving in these countries, especially Slovenia, along with a valid home driver's license. Not sure where you are from; in the US, we can get an IDP for about $20 USD from AAA offices.

Posted by Adam
NJ
47 posts

We are just finishing up our 2 week vacation of Croatia and Slovenia, we followed RS 2 week tour. We didn’t feel rushed at all. Regarding the drive to Mostar, we just went on a day trip today from Dubrovnik. We hired a private driver (Ermin from RS book) who took us the mountains route, it took around 20 minutes at the border crossing. He said more and more buses are taking this route which is causing big delays. I would imagine in peak season this can be a long wait. He said the other route along the coast takes an extra 2 hours because there are 2 border crossings and most buses take this route.

You are going to love this trip because each location has such a different feel to it. If you like wine we would definitely recommend a wine tour of Istria, the wines were amazing along with beautiful scenery at each winery. I can recommend one if you are interested. Let me know if you have any questions.

Posted by cindyngabe OP
Northern California USA
13 posts

Andrew, yep, will get my IDP again (got it for our Italy trip) - thx for the reminder!

David, the trek shouldn't be too bad... after Chicago to Amsterdam, we've got 4 hour layover before the quick flight to Zagreb. I appreciate your concern about the drive. I'm lucky that the jetlag doesn't seem to affect me too much, but certainly will focus and proceed with extra caution to Ljublana.

Adam, do share your recommendation, that would be of interest to us!

...and the variety is what we loved about our Italy trip, where we had essentially 4 "mini" vacations - (1) Cinque Terre, (2) Rome, (3) Umbria and (4) Sorrento) - hoping for a similar experience on this journey!

Posted by Adam
NJ
47 posts

We used Istria Wine Tours - https://www.istriawinetours.com. It’s a little pricey but it includes 2 to 3 wineries (your choice), a lot of snacks at each winery, olive oil tastings and a 4 course lunch with wine. It was roughly a 9 hour tour. We thought this was the best way for both of us to enjoy the wine without having to worry about driving. We had so much food during the tour that we didn’t even need dinner that night. We would highly recommend it!