Please sign in to post.

Split-Plitvice-Dubrovnik Logistics

Hello,

We are planning a trip for 2 people in our mid-20s in August (I know, peak tourist season) to Prague and Croatia and had a few questions for this forum on the best ways to get around. The Croatia portion of the trip is as follows (not set in stone yet):

  • Day 1: Prague to Split
  • Day 2: Split
  • Day 3: Split / Plitvice National Park
  • Day 4: Split to Dubrovnik
  • Day 5: Dubrovnik
  • Day 6: Return to USA

Our primary question is whether or not we should rent a car. Since our time is limited, we figured it may be easiest to rent a car when we get to Split, then use the car to get to and from Plitvice and then to Dubrovnik. I noticed that a few airbnb options for Dubrovnik make mention of car parking spots, so I am not too worried about finding a place in town to park (obviously we would not be using the car during the day in either city). Do you think it makes sense to rent a car? Rather than taking buses, this may save us some time in and out of the park, and we can get on the road early on day 4 that way.

Second, how bad should we expect the crowds to be in Plitvice in August? We would plan to arrive at the park as early as possible in the morning. Any recommendations as to the best way to go through the park?

Third, we are from the United States (Chicago). When returning to the US, is it easier to fly out of Dubrovnik or Split?

Finally, any other general tips and tricks for this seemingly common itinerary? Neither of us have been to Croatia before, so wondering the best way to navigate tourist season.

Thanks!

Posted by
5011 posts

I would suggest that your plan for Plitvice is not wise, and would ensure you see it at its worst. Expect serious crowds in August. Your park strategy needs to plan for a way to mitigate that. Your plan puts you there mid-day, right at the worst of the crowding (because most people do the same thing, a day trip). Fix that by doing the opposite.

Rent your car, drive there and plan to arrive mid-afternoon. Check in to your hotel in the park (hotel is a bit odd, but in this case its all about location location location). Enjoy a few hours in the park late afternoon on your arrival day, sleep there, get up early and get out and enjoy a few more hours before the throngs arrive. Check out of the hotel and move on.

I think you may be dedicating way too much time to Split. Personally, we were not charmed by Split very much, it was overwhelmed with very large crowds of cruise ship passengers and we were happy to move on after 24 hours there.

Dump the car upon arrival in Dubrovnik, it's just a headache there, even if you get free parking.

Both Dubrovnik and Split are well connected by flights. You can get between Dubrovnik and Chicago with just one easy connection in Frankfurt via United and its partners (don't know about Split).

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks, that's helpful. Would you recommend driving to Dubrovnik right after Split? What about the following:

Day 1: Prague to Split
Day 2: Split
Day 3: Split / Plitvice National Park (late afternoon)
Day 4: Plitvice (morning), drive to Dubrovnik (afternoon)
Day 5: Dubrovnik
Day 6: Return to USA

Do you agree with the rental car approach to travel between all of these locations?

We heard that Dubrovnik is equally as crowded (if not more) during the summer than Split.

Posted by
4748 posts

Depending on the time of your arrival from Prague and assuming this is not straight off a long transatlantic flight, I would be tempted to pick up the car on arrival at Split airport and head straight to Plitvice for your first night.

Get into the park early the following morning, then drive to Split, stopping for at least a couple of hours in Trogir en route and drop the car back.

Day 3 in Split.

Day 4 take the bus or catamaran to Dubrovnik. It’s at least 5.5 hours door to door.

Day 5 Dubrovnik

It’s not a pace I would want to follow, as you are going to be spending a lot of time in transit.

Posted by
5011 posts

Do you agree with the rental car approach to travel between all of these locations?

A car is critical for Plitvice (if you have limited time, and you certainly do). So for that, absolutely, it's the only rational way.

Jennifer's suggestion is spot-on:

assuming this is not straight off a long transatlantic flight, I would be tempted to pick up the car on arrival at Split airport and head straight to Plitvice for your first night

I would agree, as long as your flight into Split arrives early enough in the day. The whole point of the "overnight at the funky Plitvice park hotel" strategy is that it gets you two chances at doing the park, first on the afternoon o your arrival, then next early morning. If you roll ini to the park very late in the afternoon on arrival day, there goes half your park time. So it would depend on the flight time and how efficiently you might be in scooping yourselves up at the airport, getting the car, and driving off. I haven't used the airport in Split so can't say how efficient that would be. I would suggest that you would want to be at Plitvice no later than around 3 pm (you should also allow time for check-in, and driving at a relaxed pace). If you can align all that, then yes, push on to Plitvice upon landing.

After departing Plitvice, you could do the itinerary as Jennifer suggests. I'd look at the cost difference (might be minimal) versus time saved/convenience and comfort of keeping the car through Slit (parking hassles, impossible to drive in the old center) and driving through to Dubrovnik (pretty coastline with scenic places to stop), versus doing the bus or boat instead. Also agree that a stop in Trogir is worthwhile (also Zadar and Sibenik, but...short on time).

We heard that Dubrovnik is equally as crowded (if not more) during the summer than Split.

True that. Hope you can time your visit there when the cruise ships are not many and huge all on that day. Get up at oh-dark-thirty and enjoy the relative peace and quiet before the streets explode. Take refuge during the mid-day (go up the mountain), return and enjoy the city again in the evening as the ships leave. One can only mitigate things so much.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks David and Jennifer - very helpful.

We will have a couple of full days in Prague beforehand, so it should be no issue. Flying to Split from Prague looks like about a 5 hour trip with a stop in Amsterdam, so we would land around 12pm local time if we took a 7am flight out of Prague (through Amsterdam). It would be a long travel day getting to Plitvice but doable.

So we would get to Plitvice late in the day. It sounds like you recommend trying to go into the park that first evening as well as first thing in the morning the following day? Looks like it's open until 8pm. If you would recommend going in the first evening, we could take a direct flight from Prague landing in Split at 2pm and get to the park around 5-5:30. Or take the earlier flight through Amsterdam which would get us to the park even earlier (but that might be too exhausting to wake up that early in Prague).

Only reservation would be paying twice to get into the park within 24 hours, but if you recommend it then we can certainly be comfortable with it.

Day 1: Fly from Prague to Split, drive from Split to Plitvice, possibly Plitvice Park that evening
Day 2: Plitvice first thing in the morning, drive to Split that afternoon/evening (stop in Trogir if we have time)
Day 3: Split
Day 4: Split to Dubrovnik (morning)
Day 5: Dubrovnik
Day 6: Return to USA

Let me know how that looks...

Posted by
2133 posts

Wow. A lot of driving in there. Dubrovnik is cool, but I really wonder if you will enjoy it.

Croatia has about 6-7 "limestone towns" on the coast. Dubrovnik is the best, but it is far from Split (4 hours or so by car). Trogir is much closer to Split, and you can do it by boat as a day trip. I see that you are fixed on Dubrovnik, but why not consider not going to Dubrovnik, staying in Split for the whole trip (day trip to PL), and doing Trogir?

Here's my suggestion:

Day 1: Fly from Prague to Split, drive from Split to Plitvice, possibly Plitvice Park that evening
Day 2: Plitvice first thing in the morning, drive to Split that afternoon/evening (stop in Trogir if we have time)
Day 3: Split
Day 4: Split to Trogir (boat)
Day 5: Split
Day 6: Return to USA

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks, Paul.

Our idea has slightly changed - would any of you recommend skipping Plitvice in favor of Hvar? We could fly to Split from Prague, then take the ferry from Split to Stari Grad (will have to do more research on where we want to go on Hvar but that seems like the most frequent destination for ferries) in the same day.

Stay a couple days in Hvar, then ferry back to Split. Then bus or rental car to Dubrovnik for a couple of days. Still a lot of traveling but somewhat simpler than the previous itinerary.

Posted by
4748 posts

I don’t know when you are travelling, but there are direct flights from Prague to Split. I wouldn’t fly via Amsterdam.

Plitvice and Hvar are like chalk and cheese. Which interests you the most?

On Hvar, you have 2 options. Firstly, taking the catamaran to Hvar town and staying there. Between June and September, Hvar is party central and not my cup of tea. Secondly, you can take the ferry to the pretty, but more sedate Stari Grad and stay there, Jelsa or Vrboska.

You don’t have to back track to Split, as you could take the Krilo catamaran from Hvar town to Dubrovnik, arriving there at noon.