Plitvice visit between 2 drives

Has anyone visited Plitvice, sandwiched between the drives from Rovinj and to Split, all in one day/without getting a Plitvice hotel?

My fiance and I are planning to go to Slovenia and Croatia on our Honeymoon this September.
In a nutshell, our trip currently includes Lake Bled (2 nights), Julian Alps (drive before going to..), Rovinj (2 nights), Plitvice (day trip**), Split (2 nights), ferry to Hvar (2 nights) and back to Split, Mostar (as a day trip between Split and..), Dubrovnik (4 nights, and base for taking day trip to Montenagro)

The trip from Rovinj to Plitvice is 3:45 hrs
The trip from Plitvice to Split is 3 hrs
If we leave Rovinj first thing in the morning, allow 3-4 hours at Plitvice, we should theoretically be able to make it to Split in one long day (oh yeah, after we drop off our rental car at the Split airport, haha)

We're in our late 20s, so if anyone could do it, I'm sure we could... but are we being over-ambitious?
I wish we had set things up to sleep in Plitvice the night before our hike (per Rick's suggestion), but my fiance already booked all of our hotels, so I doubt we could shift around their dates. Even if we could somehow remove a night from Dubrovnik, and shift everywhere else back a day, that would mean we would spend our Friday night at a Plitvice hotel / Saturday afternoon driving to Split - which also sounds less than ideal.

I guess I'm hoping for reassurance that we can survive the intense day that my fiance has planned and/or suggestions to help pull this off (we're on our honeymoon, so we probably could justify small splurges to help).
I guess the alternative would probably be eliminating Plitvice (which we'd hate to do) and driving straight to Split from Rovinj... Or worst case, he's the one who will be doing the driving while I nap in the car ;)

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
161 posts

Sure Plitvice is "doable" between long drives, but you'll probably feel rushed in the park. I'd personally feel anxiety about driving to Split (though the drive itself is pretty easy), dropping the car at the airport, getting a bus or taxi into town, then finding the hotel - don't want to check-in too late, want to eat dinner, etc. It's a shame, because Plitvice is one amazing place.

Personally, I was a little disappointed in Split, especially after the way Rick kind of talks it up in his book as some sort of cosmopolitan gem, which I didn't quite think it was. I can understand with the ferry option that logistically one night may not be quite enough. If there's indeed a ferry or catamaran leaving in the morning then you might want two nights in Split (to maximize time in Hvar), but if you'll be taking an afternoon catamaran to Hvar, you could probably get away with one night in Split in my opinion: arrive noonish first day after Plitvice, spend afternoon and next morning before heading to Hvar. Many find a stroll along the Riva and a tour of Diocletian's Palace sufficient to get the gist of Split. Even if you like Split better than I did, I highly doubt it will turn out to be your trip's highlight, whereas there's a chance Plitvice might (it was for me).

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
6084 posts

Buy some car snacks in advance in Rovinj, to fortify you during the long day, and do plan to start driving early. Check how late the airport car rental office is open, and alert the Split hotel that you'll be arriving late. For instance, it looks like Europcar at Split airport is open late, but charges an extra fee between 20:01 and 23:59.

Posted by Mike C.
Elizabeth City
43 posts

It may be too late but if you can try to spend the night in the park. We got there late in the afternoon and there were very few people. The next day about 10 or so the tour buses moved in and the experience was not nearly as enjoyable. I'll echo what someone else said--I didn't find Split to be that good. Granted I didn't see it all but I was ready to move on. Plitvice is to enjoyed slowly if possible (we visited in May). Didn't got to Rovinj so I can't speak to the city. Bled is great. Spent 3 nights there. Mostar was a good culture shock but a long day trip (we spent the night)!! Montenegro was ok and a good day trip --but you should check it out. we spent 3 nights in Dubrovnik and I didn't feel rushed. Best of luck!