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Summer Trip to Italy, Croatia, Slovenia

We were just invited to share a house in Tuscany with a group of wonderful friends. Since we are getting married this summer, we decided that this is the perfect kick off to a honeymoon in Europe.

Here is what we are thinking:
July 18-25 Florence (with friends)
July 25 Rent a car in Florence and drive to Bari, Italy (keep rental car the entire trip-- return to Venice before leaving europe). Take overnight ferry with rental car to Dubrovnik
July 26-27 Dubrovnik
July 28-29 Mostar
July 30-31 Split
August 1 day trip to Plivicka
August 1-3 Zagreb
August 4-5 Rovinj
August 6-7 Ljubljana
August 8 Day trip to Lake Bled
August 8-9 Venice
August 9 Leave to go home to Portland, Oregon

What do you think? Should we cut something out or add something? Is it fairly easy to drive a rental car between boarders and return back to Italy?

Posted by
7485 posts

Is it fairly easy to drive a rental car between boarders and return back to Italy?

You will need to look at the fine print of the rental car "Conditions" for 'Geographic Restrictions'

Different companies can have different rules about where their car can go.

Only one night in Venice? It deserves more

Posted by
18913 posts

I think you're moving pretty fast and packing up/unpacking a lot for a honeymoon. Specific issues I see:

Seeing Plitvice Lakes National Park on your way from Split to Zagreb is the worst thing you can do. It's essential to stay in or very near the park the night before your visit so you can enter the park at its opening time. It gets absolutely blasted by mid-morning, and it will seriously affect your enjoyment. (I know this because I was lucky enough to see the park twice in the 1980s and foolish enough to day-trip in from Zagreb in 2015. Not remotely the same experience.) So that's the #1 thing you need to fix. If you can get to the park mid- to late-afternoon, you can see part of it late that first day and just finish up the next morning. The sell 2-day tickets, and I've seen a comment or two about the in-park hotel(s) being able to do something to make a one-day ticket valid the next day. I don't know anything about that.

I enjoyed Istria a lot. You'll only have about 1-1/2 days there, which won't give you much time. I think of it as more a minimum-4-night sort of area.

You're allowing no time for Venice at all. You're day-tripping to Lake Bled on August 8, then hot-footing it to Venice late in the day to fly out the next morning. Many folks have found it difficult to fly home from Venice without needing a crack-of-dawn flight that necessitates expensive private water-taxi transportation to the airport. You may be luckier if you live in a fortuitous US city, but do check the flight options before getting wedded to this idea.

Rather than renting the car in Italy and ferrying it to Croatia, you could fly to Croatia and go home from Zagreb. You wouldn't have to cut Ljubljana/Bled out of your itinerary; the two capital cities are quite close together.

If you rent in Croatia, be sure to clear the foray into Bosnia-Hercegovina with your rental-car company. If you rent in Italy, clear the whole itinerary. I have read on this forum that taking rental cars on ferries is often not permitted.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you. We can spend a few more days in Venice. We both have been there before but it has been 20 + years since our last Italy trip. We were worried about crowds in Venice. We could leave venice a day or two later.

Also, now readying that Motar is more of a day trip from Dubrovnik. So this could free up some time.

Thank you,

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks, Acraven. This is very helpful. We are not wedded to any particular spot as we have not purchased our airline tickets, yet.

We live in Portland, Oregon, and we had never really considered a trip to Slovenia or Bosnia but after some reading realized these are beautiful places to see while in Croatia.

Posted by
12219 posts

Some rental companies in Italy will not permit their cars to be taken on the ferry to Croatia. And if they do, it will be expensive. You might consider instead driving to Venice and dropping the car there, spending time in Venice, then taking the (shorter) ferry to Split. Pick up a new hire car there for your tour of Croatia and Slovenia. Then fly home from either Ljubljana or Dubrovnik. (Like acravan, I have found that flights to the US from Venice generally depart very early, and we see lots of questions here regarding transport to Marco Polo Airport for those early flights. It seems too cause some problems).

Posted by
18913 posts

I flew back home from Zagreb in 2015 and it was easy--one change in either Munich or Amsterdam. I realize that Portland OR is not Washington DC, so your travel challenges might be greater. But Zagreb may be easier than Dubrovnik or Ljubljana. Ljubljana's a lovely place but a logistical challenge for many and the focus of a fair amount of tooth-gnashing on this forum. It could work for you, though.

Since Zagreb and Ljubljana are so close together, public transportation--though I assume a bit slower than using your own car--is a viable option. And Bled is quite close to Ljubljana. There are buses, and even a taxi may be affordable (it was in 2015, at least).

Posted by
4760 posts

You are unlikely to find an Italian car rental that you can take on a ferry into Croatia. Why back track and waste a day? Fly open jaw.

You are going to be spending a lot of time in transit rather than sightseeing. The 8 August is 4-5 hours driving plus visiting Lake Bled and dropping the car off in Venice.

If you are tied into Venice flights, then drop Dubrovnik and Mostar, as you have far too many destinations and these are the furthest flung. Istria really needs 4 nights as an absolute minimum to cover the hill towns and the coast. Your itinerary is mostly cities and there are many smaller places such as in Istria that merit a visit. It’s your honeymoon, so have some chill time at some point.

Stay the night before at Plitvice and get in early. August will be busy. Ljubljana is compact and can be seen in 2 full days.

Posted by
286 posts

Hi ! We are doing a 28 days trip this summer that covers Venice-Croatia-Slovenia- Dolomites.

After a lot of search we have drop the idea of going south of Croatia (Split and Dubrovnik) because we could not find a comapany that allows to take ferry or to cross in Bosnia. And we choose to stay in the north, Istria seems to have a lot to do (we will have 4 nights there). Maybe it will be different for you....

Posted by
5 posts

So far we've made a few decisions on our trip.
Flying out of Venice is the cheapest option and we found a trip back to Portland, Oregon leaving at 12:30pm with only one stop (not bad + we get to see Venice this way).

We are going to take a train from Florence to Ancona and sail overnight to Split. Now we need to plan out the rest of our trip. We have the following dates open for planning...

July 25 Arrive in Split
Leave Venice August 9th
The places we would like to see Dubrovnik, Rovinj, Ptlitvicka, Havar or Korcula, Lake Bled, Mostar. Trying to map this out and figure out transportation along the way.

We would love some more input from folks who have done this trip before.

Thank you,

Posted by
2080 posts

July 25 Arrive in Split Leave Venice August 9th The places we would
like to see Dubrovnik, Rovinj, Ptlitvicka, Havar or Korcula, Lake
Bled, Mostar. Trying to map this out and figure out transportation
along the way.

Arrive Split (no time in Split?) July 25 boat to Hvar
Hvar July 25-28
boat to Korcula July 28-30
bus to Dubrovnik July 30-Aug 2
(You could do both islands or choose one and put the other time in Split [but see below, the time in Split may be best placed later]. In late July, I would avoid Hvar town and choose Stari Grad on Hvar or Korcula instead--Hvar gets crowded in July/August)
bus to Mostar Aug 2-3
I don't know the best logistics (play around with Google Maps and RometoRio), but it might be best to take a bus to Split after Mostar, and then a bus to Plitvice (1-2 nights depending on arrival time). From Plitvice to Rovinj is tricky--again you will need to do some legwork to figure out the best course here. Alternatively, you could pick up a car as you leave Dubrovnik and drop it in Rovinj). Make sure rental is allowed in Croatia, Bosnia, and Slovenia. I'd probably skip Lake Bled for more time in Istria, but you could probably work it in.
ferry to Venice from Rovinj Aug 8

Posted by
5 posts

Okay with the help of all of you, we have mapped out our trip. Feel free to give opinions.

Florence July 18-24 with friends
July 24 leave Florence by train to Ancona take overnight ferry to Split
July 25-26 Split
July 27-28 ferry to from Split to Korcula
July 29-30 ferry to Dubrovnik from Korcula
July 31 Rent a car in Dubrovinik and drive to Mostar (day trip) up to Plitvica
July 31 stay the night in Plitvica
August 1 Plitvica
August 2-3 Drive from Plitvica to Ljubana
August 4 Drive to Lake Bled and Julienne Alps (day trip)
August 5-6 Rovinj --not sure when to drop off the rental car-- do we need it in and around Rovinj???
August 7 Ferry to Venice
August 7-9 Venice
Leave Venice mid day August 9

Posted by
2080 posts

It's a lot of driving and a pretty quick pace, but if you like that, I see no red flags.
With only a day in Rovinj, it does not matter much about the car. You could see some of the Istrian hill towns on the way.

Posted by
286 posts

July 31 could be a bit intense.
Where will you sleep in Julian alps ?

What I dont like is that you are only 1 or 2 nights at each place, its a lot of packing and unpacking at a quick pace.

Posted by
3112 posts

I agree about July 31 and August 1 being too fast paced. You're looking at a minimum of 7 hours driving time Dubrovnik to Mostar to Plitvice. That doesn't allow much time to see Mostar, and it would be a very tiring day followed by another busy day hiking the park and then driving to Zagreb.

Posted by
7 posts

Here's my $0.02 worth: You have too many stops and will need a vacation from your vacation when you get home. You are going to spend too much time traveling, packing and unpacking etc. Slow down and smell the roses! This likely won't be your last trip to Europe and you can't see everything. Take some time to enjoy the places you visit. A week in Florence is a good amount of time. Other places on your itinerary deserve more time.