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Southern Croatia Itinerary Help!

My wife and I will be visiting Croatia for around 9-10 days this summer (first time!) and I wanted to share my rough itinerary with you pros on here – any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

7/23 – flight arrives Split at 8:50pm
7/24 – stay around Split, see old town/Diocletian’s palace/etc
7/25 – day trip to Plitvice Lakes (should I rent a car since I’ve heard it’s around 2.5hr drive from Split, or are the guided excursions from Split worth it?)
7/26 – day trip to Hvar (any preference between the Krilo and Jadrolinija ferries?)
7/27 – day trip to Krka National Park (guided excursion or just solo?)
7/28 – leave Split, take ferry to Korcula, spend night in Korcula
7/29 – take ferry from Korcula to Dubrovnik, spend rest of day seeing Dubrovnik
7/30 – day trip to Bay of Kotor
7/31 – day trip to Mostar
8/1 – flight departs Dubrovnik

We were looking at Le Meridien Lav Hotel in Podstrana (even though it's about 5 miles south of the Split proper, this one satisfies our desire for a more on the water/beach vibe versus being at a more central landlocked hotel in old town. Has anyone stayed here?

Any recs on sleeping in Hvar versus Korcula? I hear Hvar is more of a party town which I don’t mind, but I’m more interested in better accomodations than nightlife. Any hotel suggestions (for all the above towns) would be greatly appreciated!

I checked the cruise ship schedule and I’m trying to avoid Dubrovnik on 7/28 since that’s a very high volume day, but otherwise I’m open to suggestions on rearranging days.

Also, I’ll be connecting through Munich (from SF on the way) and through Frankfurt on the way back. Any thoughts on both of those airports? My connection in Munich is a little over 2 hrs so I’m not too concerned about that one. However, on the way back we may just have to spend a night in Frankfurt since the only connecting flight to SF that day only has a 1hr layover, which I think is unfeasible with customs.

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
5046 posts

You are travelling in peak season, when most of the decent places on the islands have a 3-4 night minimum booking. You are trying to pack in 2 weeks itinerary into 9 days.

Plitvice is best not attempted from Split, but from Zadar due to the distance involved. If you have had a long journey to reach Croatia and aren't likely to be at your hotel until 11pm, do you really want to be up at 6am the following morning for a trip to Plitvice? At that time of year, it's recommended to be at the park as close to opening as possible, as it will be very busy.

Trogir is certainly worth a day trip from Split.

Hvar - you can take the catamaran to Hvar town or the ferry to Stari Grad. Pick whichever time suits you best.

You need to allow more time for looking round Dubrovnik, unless you have a late departure on your final day.

If your airline tickets are booked through, then it's the responsibility of the carrier to get you back. If you have booked separate tickets, then the onus is on you.

Posted by
19513 posts

I suggest checking the cruise situation for Kotor on the last couple of days of your trip, and picking the best day for the Bay of Kotor excursion if much time is to be spent in the town itself. That's assuming both the Kotor excursion and the Mostar excursion are available on 7/30 and 7/31. Kotor gets pretty swamped when a monster ship is in port.

This does feel like a packed itinerary, though you don't have too many lodging changes. I love Plitvice, but if you are stuck with a mid-morning arrival, it is likely to be jammed. Best to prepare yourself mentally for that.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for the feedback! Maybe I'll drop Plitvice and do Trogir instead. If places have minimum night stay requirements, maybe we'll do 3 nights Split, 2-3 nights Hvar, and 3-4 nights Dubrovnik.

Also, my wife likes sand beaches; I know most of Croatia has rocky/pebble beaches, but any recs on more sandy beaches around Southern Croatia?

Our potential flight on the way back is Croatia airlines from Split to Frankfurt and Lufsthana from Frankfurt to SF, are they partners that will honor us potentially missing a 1hr connection?

Posted by
3191 posts

I agree with those who think your plan is too ambitious. However, the one place I would not eliminate is Plitvice. The scenery is simply stunning. Stay at or near the park the night before, so you can be there at opening. No need for a guided tour; the trails are well-marked.
Croatia Air and Lufthansa are part of the same group, Star Alliance. If your flights are booked on a single ticket, they have the obligation to get you home. We once had a 1 hour 15 minute connection between our Zagreb and FRA flights on United (or maybe it was LH). The Zagreb flight was delayed 15 minutes; and we still made it, as did our luggage. There is no "customs" departing. What there will be at FRA is a brief security check of your passport and a few questions at the gate. Don't waste time and money anticipating a glitch. Assume that if they sell you the ticket, they can make the connection work.

Posted by
334 posts

Like others have said, this is too ambitious, but that's the beauty of Croatia -- there is a lot to see and do.

For the day trip to Plitvice, you should rent a car if you can. You will be in peak season, so the earlier you can start at the park, the better. With the 2.5 hour drive, you will need to be up early to get to the park before all the tour busses arrive (10:00 AM). Aim for arriving at 9:00 or earlier. Of course, as a day trip, it will be a very long day with 5 hours of driving on top of the hours spent at the park itself. If you don't think you'd feel up to that level of commitment, you could fall back on the tour bus option, but just know that while you could sleep on the bus, during the day you'd be in a near-constant crowd of people at the park. It loses a little bit of it's magic when there's tour groups on top of each other all in one place at one time.

I didn't stay at your hotel in Split, but instead I stayed near, but not directly in, Old Town. The best thing about our location was that we could walk everywhere without problem. Old Town, Diocletian's Palace, the harbor, the tiny little sad train station are all there together and were were about a 5 minute walk from each. It was nice to not have to figure out transportation to and from our hotel each day. As far as the "water/beach vibe," there isn't much in Split itself. The better beaches are on certain islands and further south.

For going to Hvar, the only difference between the ferry companies is how fast they get you to port and which port they take you to. The car ferries will be slower, of course, than the catamarans. Some ferries go to Stari Grad while others head to Hvar Town. Just pick the route and the time that best suites you.

You may have to skip going to Korcula or make it a day trip from Split. During the high season, there are often minimum bookings at a lot of hotels. Check it out with the hotel before making serious plans to only be there one night.

You haven't give a lot of time to Dubrovnik itself. I believe that ferry from Split/Korcula arrives at around noon, and half a day is not enough time. Arriving earlier on 7/28 (even though it is a high volume day) shouldn't be that much of a problem. The cruise ship crowds dissipate in the afternoon and you'd still have that evening to get your bearings and then have a full day on 7/29. Then you still have your day trips to Mostar and Kotor.

Finally, as others have said, if you are booked on a single ticket through, then the airline believes that you have enough time to transfer. I'm not familiar with Frankfurt, but other airports are set up so that you don't have to go through customs during a transfer. You will need your passport and there may be some check at the gate, but it won't be a full customs process as you are not leaving the airport.

Posted by
351 posts

We were just in Plitvice on Saturday and Sunday. We arrived on Saturday around 2:30, checked into our hotel and were in the park before 4. Practically everyone was walking out and we had several peaceful hours to walk all around the upper lakes. We went back on Sunday morning and by 10:30 at the Lower lakes you could barely move on the paths. I would not attempt a day trip to Plitvice. I would rather miss it all together than walk in those crowds. If you can do on overnight, then I would not miss the park as it is stunning when uncrowded.

We didn't stay at the Meridian, but drove past it a few days ago, and it's your basic high rise between the water and the highway from what we could see. if you are only in Split for 1 day and mainly want to see the Diocletians palace and old town, you might as well stay right there. If you want deluxe, try the Vestbule Palace. Location could not be better. You can walk to everything and there's an Oryx car rental close by if you want a car for Plitvice.

Posted by
1120 posts
  1. Definitely stay in Plitvice the night before your visit - wake up and be the first ones in the park. We walked ALL of the paths from 8 until 2 and were finished and ready to drive away. Plitvice was spectacular - I would definitely place it ahead of a visit to Trogir.

  2. We stayed in a wonderful apartment in Hvar right above the marina - we loved it and did not feel like it was a party town at all !

Posted by
6778 posts

I know most of Croatia has rocky/pebble beaches, but any recs on more sandy beaches around Southern Croatia?

I'd hate to add yet another place to your overpacked itinerary, but Zlatny Rat beach in Bol on Brač island is absolutely stunning. Just look at Google images. Soft sand in certain areas (although I still wore water shoes) and buttressed by pine trees. Perhaps you can scrap Hvar and go to Brač instead (I did, and really enjoyed it). I did have to take a bus from Supetar (ferry landing) to Bol but it was worth it.