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Lake bled to Plitvice - Drive through Zagreb or Rijeka and BARS

Hi we are 4 adults , 3 kids -8,12,14 , non EU citizens, spending 2 weeks in Balkans. We are spending time in the following places
Lake Bled -
Plitvice National Park -
I am trying to figure out the driving route between Lake Bled to Plitvice N. park and we are non EU citizens so we have to keep the immigration counters in mind.
I’m trying to choose a stop either to be Zagreb or via Rupa to Rijeka
I liked the Rovinj area as well but the entry points seem longer and we are later going to be spending time on Split , Zadar ,Sibenek.
Two questions -
Which route is better in terms of sights and places to eat ?
Any good local food recommendations , cafes , restaurants throughout the route would be greatly appreciated. We are big foodies and love trying out cocktail bars.
Thanks in advance 🙏🙏

Posted by
30 posts

Hello everyone! Any suggestions to the above - choice between Zagreb and Rijeka, though as I write I'm skewing towards Rijeka.
Also local food n Bars recommendations along the way would be highly appreciated. Thanks

Posted by
4686 posts

Rijeka is a big port city without a lot of charm. Zagreb is the capital of Croatia. It seems like an easy choice to me - even though I wasn't crazy about Zagreb, I would choose it over Rijeka. Some people really like Zagreb - maybe you will too.

Rovinj is a lovely town but it's tiny. It makes a great base for exploring Istria, but if you don't have a few extra days to spend in Istria, I would skip Rovinj entirely - you can see the whole town in a few hours.

Posted by
30 posts

I loved what I saw in pictures fof Rovinj and Pula. However we are non EU citizens. I am under the assumption that the route which we will have to take to stop in Rovinj will mean that our our border crossings will be fewer and our crossings will take much longer. Would you know anything about that?
We would be driving from lake bled.

Thanks in advance,

Posted by
4073 posts

Everyone has to cross the border between Slovenia and Croatia. Whether or not you are an EU Citizen only makes a difference when you choose what line to take. Both lines move equally fast. I don’t think crossing the border should factor into your decision at all. Why do you think it would? I also assume that you have the proper visas for Croatia and that your Schengen Visa is multiple entry, if you’re planning to reenter the Schengen. Your nationality is unclear, so I’m not sure of your visa requirements.

Posted by
30 posts

Hi ! Ok perhaps I’m mistaken but we were told that if we took that way then the lanes for non EU citizens for the border crossing are fewer. One family is on Shenzhen visa and another is Singaporean. But both families are non eu residents ( which I’m told makes the lines longer )
We read that the border crossing from Pula is easier as there are suffusing lines.
To make it clearer , we want to avoid unnecessarily long waiting lines. Though some waiting for immigration is understandable.
Any suggestions to the route we can take if we want to stop at Rovinj or Pula to go to Pilvitce.

We aren’t big fans of big cities so Zagreb is not attractive. All of us are fairly well travelled and enjoy a nice scenery , history and food.

We are exploring that.


Posted by
4073 posts

The lines will be long no matter which border crossing you choose. It doesn’t matter.

Posted by
30 posts

Thanks for your reply. I guess that was my understanding based on reading that the few routes have more lanes than the others for non EU citizens.
Having established that the above won’t play a big factor, given it will be a stopover , would you advise a stop at Pula and Rovinj ?

Thanks 🙏

Posted by
3112 posts

Going from Lake Bled to Plitvice via Rovinj and Pula is a huge detour. Given the number of places you want to see in such a short visit, I think Zagreb is your most logical choice for a stop, especially if you're just stopping en route between Lake Bled and Plitvice. I like Zagreb and think there's a great selection of things to do and see there. The pizza in Zagreb is surprisingly good.

Posted by
467 posts

Sophie, there are smaller local border crossings that are reserved for EU citizens. However, if you stick to the main routes (be it via Piran, Rupa or Zagreb) you will not find this to be an issue. I've personally had Google Maps direct me to one such crossing north of Motovun and Oprtalj in Istria when the three other main international crossings were congested, which is about the only time you might encounter one since they are usually on much much slower minor routes. I have an EU passport so I did not have any issues, but someone with a US passport would have been turned back.

Posted by
30 posts

Ok, thank you for your advice and comments . I Guess Zagreb is the sensible choice here, unless we leave really early in the morning.
Any advice on bars and restaurants? I've written some restaurant names down based on previous suggestions.
Lake bled area - Open kitchen , Julia
Pilvitce area - Taste Atlas
Dubrovnik - Fat cats , kazbek

Posted by
1919 posts

We were just in Zagreb. There is the central square, Jelinac Square with the king on the horse. There are many sidewalk cafes in various directions. We just had a great dinner at Restaurant Pulger. Sort of Germanic (waitress spoke German), but there are plenty of Balkan specialties (stuffed cabbage, stuffed peppers), both of which we had and enjoyed. There's a ton of restaurants.

At PL, we went to a small area near the park the night before for a restaurant.