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travel in eastern europe

My husband and I are planning a 3 week trip to eastern europe in late Sept./early Oct. We plan to fly into Budapest and out of Dubrovnik. I plan to book hotels for the beginning and end of the trip but prefer to book the remainder as we go. Is this a good option? We will rent a car in Zagreb to do Croatia. Do I need to arrange the car rental before leaving or is it easy to just rent there? I prefer to keep as much flexibility in the schedule as possible. Also, does this itinerary seem doable?

land in Budapest-4 days
Lublijana-2 days
Lake Bled- 1 day
Zagreb-2 days
Istria-3 days
Plitvice-1 day
Zadar-1 day
Split-3 days
Dubrovnik-4 days
We plan to do some side trips in Split and Dubrovnik and Budapest. Thanks for your help!

Posted by
1425 posts

I think you have things a bit out of order. I would go from Budapest to Zagreb and then pick up your car to head to Ljubljana. I would also stay two nights in Bled so you have a day to do the Julian Alps drive recommended in Rick's book. You can take that day away from either Zadar, Split, or Dubrovnik. (I didn't go to Zadar, so I can't say for sure whether it's worth including in your itinerary.)

Another option is to do Bled as a day trip from Ljubljana, and then stay overnight somewhere in the Soca Valley, such as Kobarid or Tolmin. That will put you closer to Istria and give you time for some scenic driving through the Karst.

If you plan to go to Mostar, I would do it as an overnight between Split and Dubrovnik, rather than a day trip.

Otherwise, the itinerary seems quite doable, though some people might advise you against so many short stays in different places.

Posted by
334 posts

I agree with what was already said about re-ordering your trip. By going to Zagreb first, you can have a rental car through your time in Slovenia and it allows you experience some of the (very small) Slovene coastline on your way to Istria. Your itinerary seems good as it is.

I highly recommend side trips to Montenegro and Mostar while in Dubrovnik. Hvar is close enough to Split to be a day trip from there. Perhaps you already have this in your plans.

If you have any specific questions about Budapest, there are some very knowledgeable people in the Hungary forum.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for the advice. I've been looking at the Hungary forum too.