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Hi there, we are taking a 2 week vacation mid June to Croatia. The more I read the more stressed I become. MY thought was to fly in to Venice stay and tour (self guided) around for 3 to 4 days. Then head over to Croatia area. So from Venice maybe taking the ferry across to Rovinj. Was actually hoping to get to Zagreb and stay a day or two.. Rent a car head our way to Split. Some where in here making sure we get to Ptitvice lakes. Retuning car then doing some island hoping ending with a day or 2 in Dubrovnik then fly home. Could someone help me with this? I'm all over the map... We are in our 50's good health, out going active couple wouldn't even mind renting some bikes and biking around the islands if possible. Any suggestions would be very appreciated. I haven't booked anything yet and after reading i'm feeling the sooner we book things the better.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
10681 posts

How many nights will you have in Europe?

I think you have a pretty common problem: probably too many places on the wish list compared to the time you have available. At the least, I think one of the places on the edge of your territory will need to be eliminated--that means Venice, Rovinj, Zagreb or Dubrovnik. Just deleting Zagreb might or might not be enough, depending on how many nights you have and how much island time you want.

Do you plan to fly home from Dubrovnik, or will you need to get somewhere else for that flight? You may find decent connections into and out of Zagreb.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
3302 posts

So if I were to boil down your itinerary from what you've said, it might be:

Zagreb or Rovinj (probably not both)
Island (e.g. Korcula or Hvar)

First question: how many nights will you have in Europe? What does two weeks really mean? Flying out on a Friday and home two Fridays later is thirteen nights in Europe plus one night for the transatlantic flight.

Let's say you have thirteen nights.

Then you could do:

Venice (3 nights)
Rovinj (2 nights)
Rent a car in Rovinj
Drive to Plitvice (1 night)
Drive to Split and drop car
Split (2 nights)
Catamaran to Korcula or Hvar
Island (2 or 3 nights)
Catamaran and/or bus to Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik (2 or 3 nights, depending on how long on an island)

Fly home.

That's thirteen nights. If you can add more nights, add more nights to this itinerary here and there - but I probably wouldn't add more places.

I assume you would skip Zagreb, because it takes more time to reach from Venice than Rovinj. You could still substitute Zagreb, but figure on 5-6 hours by shared transfer (or longer by public bus). I don't think you have time to do both Zagreb and Rovinj).

Besides a catamaran from Venice to Rovinj, you could train to Trieste/bus to Rovinj or try a private transfer service like the Slovenian company GoOpti (might also get you from Venice to Zagreb if you wanted to try that option.)

Can you find a reasonable flight home from Dubrovnik at the end? If not, what about Split or Zagreb? Try Google Flights on your proposed dates of travel and see. Croatia Airlines has affordable direct flights between Zagreb and Dubrovnik, but you might need to spend a final night in Zagreb - which gives you a way to see it briefly, if you could say add another night. You might do the same kind of staging in another European city like Amsterdam or London - get a cheap flight from Croatia to that city and fly home from that city the next day (possibly cheaper too). Sometimes that avoids a messy day of flying with multiple plane changes.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
10681 posts

Andrew's routing could work, but having just two nights (not much more than one day) in Istria (Rovinj) pains me. It's an interesting area with multiple worthwhile towns to visit. If I were going there, I'd want more time. I was tied to public transportation, which did slow me down, but I spent about a day wandering around Rovinj itself, a second day to Porec with a stop in Vrsar and a few more hours in Rovinj, and a very full day on an Inland Istria van trip that took me (among other places) to Motovun and Groznjan. There's some Roman stuff in Pula, but I haven't been there. Much of the countryside is hilly and green, so the peninsula is more than just the coastline.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
3302 posts

With only thirteen nights, I assume, you have to limit your time in all of these places. If you want a third night in Istria, where do you take it from?

What could work would be to take a transfer service like GoOpti from Venice to Rovinj to get in say mid-afternoon, which would give the rest of that day to explore Rovinj (which I adore but is tiny and can be explored fairly quickly). Next morning, pick up the car, go explore Motovun, Groznjan, and other hills towns. Next day have a leisurely last morning in Rovinj then head out for Plitvice. Personally, I'd skip Pula - I didn't care for the town much, and the Roman ruins I saw were OK - but I'd seen better in Rome itself.

As I recall, the catamaran from Venice to Rovinj leaves early in the evening from Venice so wouldn't get in until late. So taking a transfer with someone like GoOpti would take half a day from Venice and give it to Istria/Rovinj.

Posted by mitsha OP
Chilliwack BC Canada
2 posts

Thanks for the help. We are actually going to be there for 15 days I believe. Leaving on a Saturday and returning on the Monday. This is not set in stone, nothing has been booked yet. We could possibly leave on the Friday. As soon as we figure out the best route.
Thanks again, If you think of any other ideas we'd love to read them.

Posted by Barbara
Brooklyn, NY
914 posts

We (6 people) are going to Croatia for 2 weeks next summer. Our itinerary is as follows

Saturday 7/28 arrive Zagreb, drive rental car to Rijeka 6 nights in our apt. with day trips to Venice, Pula, and Plitvice Lakes. We have family in Rijeka we must visit. You can substitute another city.
Friday 8/3 drive to Split 3 nights - turn in car
Monday 8/6 ferry to korčula 2 nights
Wednesday 8/8 ferry to Dubrovnik. 3 nights
Saturday 8/11 private driver early am to Zagreb. 1 night hotel with shuttle to the airport on Sunday

We have already booked rooms in Split, Korčula, and Dubrovnik. Need to book Zagreb.

We decided on the driver from Dubrovnik because of the connections. The early flight to Zagreb is 6:15 am and then waiting around. The flights Saturday night are around $200+ pp and the driver is about €500 so it is a little cheaper and we can go when we want. With the driver we can leave early and see a little of Zagreb, have dinner with some friends, and not be too cranky flying home on Sunday, thus avoiding 3 flights in one day.

Posted by valadelphia
668 posts

Compare some different flight options and see what you get. I would not try to do northern and southern Croatia in a two-week period. Individual interests will determine what you leave out, but the north has pretty towns, islands, and gorgeous scenery too! If you keep Venice, then focus on the north. If you dispense with Venice and Istria and save them for a later trip, Zagreb to Dubrovnik is easily doable over two weeks.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
3302 posts

Was it really cheaper to hire a driver than rent a car and drive from Dubrovnik to Zagreb at the end? A little ways north of Dubrovnik, it's an easy freeway drive all the way north to Zagreb. I'm guessing there's a one-way drop fee for a short rental but even then what would it cost - 100 Euros for the one day, 50 Euros for fuel and tolls?

Doing that, you might have planned your Plitvice stop on the way back (staying over a night in Plitivce is really better than a day trip in June - you'll see mobs of tour groups in the park by mid-morning, whereas staying over in Plitvice lets you get into the park at 7AM when it opens and enjoy a less crowded park for the first few hours.

How will the day trip from Rijeka to Venice work? Driving all the way? That sounds like a super long trip - or were you planning to take a ferry?

If you've never been to Ljubljana, Slovenia, that would be a nice day trip from Rijeka. There is direct train service twice a day, so you wouldn't even need to drive necessarily, though I imagine it woudl be an easy drive.

Posted by Barbara
Brooklyn, NY
914 posts

Luckily my husband is from Rijeka and we have been to croatia many, many times. Sometimes we don't want to do the driving and have hired drivers many times. For us, we like the convience and since we are 3 couples, the cost is split. The drive from Dubrovnik is only slightly cheaper, but after going back and forth with flights, the timing is better with the driver. We can't do Plitvice on the way back because we have family obligations on Korčula and in Dubrovnik and can't change the dates. We will get to Plitvice very early on the day we go so that won't be a problem. We are all very early risers. A day trip to Venice is to drive, about 3 hours. Over the years we have gone by bus and hydrofiol, and train, and car is the best for us. The driver picks us up at 6:00 am, we nap, get to Venice around 9:00. We text him when we want to leave and meet him in the parking lot. We can nap on the way home and he takes us door-to-door. To take the ferry, we have to take a cab to the bus depot, take the bus, then the ferry. Time wise, it is neck-in-neck. The driver is just a few dollars more, remember we are 3 couples, and so much more convenient. Luckily, we are older, our kids are all married and employeed, so we have some extra money to splurge here and there. Some people splurge on hotels, expensive meals, or upgrading flights, we like to splurge on private drivers when we can. Especially in croatia cause we use the same gentleman every time we visit.

We had been to Slovenia and few time in the 70's, But since the country broke up the only time we went was to see the Postojna Caves with our children back in 2002.

Posted by Barbara
Brooklyn, NY
914 posts

Mitsha, mine response is just our itinerary. I just wanted to maybe help you to get a little flow to your trip. That is one thing a like about reading people's responses. I read them all then use what would be good for me and tuck the rest away for a future trip. There is no right or wrong. One thing about going to Croatia is that there are no direct flights. And it was less expensive for our guests to fly round trip from NY to Zagreb, even adding in the private driver, then multicity adding Dubrovnik. (We are going to Poland before meeting up with everyone). And as I mentioned above, the timing of the flights was not good for us, and our guests didn't want to take 3 flights in one day. Seeing a little of Zagreb is an added bonus.

Research is the key. As tourism has exploded, Croatia is making many improvements to roads, ferries, buses etc. the way we traveled years ago is not how we travel around the country now. Keep asking questions, keep reading, continue to google and you will plan a fabulous trip.