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Venice to Zagreb travel

My daughter and I would like to travel from Venice to Zagreb for three days. I was looking at Flixbus to get us there, but also have considered renting a car so we can stop along the way, and possibly spend one night in Lake Bled. Any advice on either of those options? Would a day trip to Lake Bled be easier, and staying in Zagreb for all three nights? Thank you for the help!

Posted by
4686 posts

With three nights, you don't have a lot of time for stops. FlixBus would be the most economic and efficient, I guess. Had you considered stopping in Ljubljana? It's one of my favorite cities in Europe. The bus will pass through anyway. You could take the bus to Ljubljana, take a day trip to Bled from there by bus, and then take the train (or bus) to Zagreb from there.

Lake Bled is beautiful, but personally I didn't find the town of Bled all that special. I'd much rather be in Ljubljana at night. Bled is kind of a tourist town.

There's also GoOpti, a Slovenian transfer service that can get you more efficiently between some places without direct public transportation.

If you rent a car, be sure to buy a vignette, a Slovenian driving pass, at the border with Slovenia; an Italian rental car won't have one, and you need a pass to drive on Slovenian highways; otherwise, you risk a steep fine if caught driving without one.

Posted by
4686 posts

You could also take GoOpti say to Bled, then take the train from there (some direct) to Zagreb, passing through Ljubljana.

Posted by
1927 posts

I would concur with Andrew. With limited time, I too would consider a stop in charming Ljubljana! It's our newest favorite European city. We were there 4 nights. Memorable visit!

We used the comfortable GoOpti shared ride from Venice to Ljubljana. We enjoyed a half day visit at Lake Bled. It was enough time to walk the lake and enjoy lunch with a scenic view. As mentioned upthread, Flixbus is another option if you don't rent a car.

I can't speak to Zagreb. We were there for a connecting flight from Dubrovnik.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for the info! We've decided to stay all three days in Ljubijana and take a couple side trips from there.

Posted by
4686 posts

That's great. Now, I WOULD recommend renting a car in Ljubljana just for the day if you can. Although you can get to Bled easily from Ljubljana by bus, you can stop in a nice little town on the way to Bled and do a lovely scenic drive. The one I'm thinking of is to drive from Ljubljana to the town of Skofja Loka, then drive from there up through the mountains via Jamnik and Kropa down to Bled. It's a beautiful drive from Skofja Loka on.

You should be able to return the car late in Ljubljana after the car company closes. I did this for a day rental a few years ago; I rented the car from Avantcar and dropped the keys at the hotel front desk next to the rental car offices. Ljubljana is small enough that it was an easy walk back to my hotel from there. But the town has large pedestrian-only areas, so it's not a great place to have a car to park.

If you don't rent a car, I recommend a day trip starting by taking the train from Ljubljana to Radovljica, spend an hour or two in this charming little town, then take the bus on to Bled. Take the bus from Bled back to Ljubljana. (You can buy bus tickets from the driver.)

Posted by
1927 posts

Wonderful! You are going to love Ljubljana! If you choose to take a bus or train there, it's a short 10 min walk to town. We enjoyed staying 2 nights at Mescanka Apartments on the river before moving to our RS Hotel (Mrak). We especially liked the vibe staying on the river. Our favorite restaurant was Julija. It was only a 5 min. walk walk away.

Posted by
4 posts

Janis - thanks for the restaurant recommendation! Any other must sees?

Doug - would love to hear about Zabreb!
Andrew - I'm hesitant about renting a car and not being able to read road signs. Did you have any problems with that - or do you speak the language?
Thank you everyone - I'm so excited about this trip!

Posted by
4686 posts

Andrew - I'm hesitant about renting a car and not being able to read road signs. Did you have any problems with that - or do you speak the language?

No, I don't speak the language - but Slovenian words are written in the Latin alphabet just like English (with a few extra characters we may not use, but they are pretty obvious). I didn't have any issue with road signs - most of them are not phrases, just town names and numbers. I would recommend taking a smart phone with you as a GPS, though; I'd recommend taking a smart phone, anyway. If you have a smart phone with say Google Maps, you can download the Slovenian map "offline" ahead of time into the app; then you don't even need an internet connection to use it as a GPS, so you don't even need mobile service in Slovenia (though again, I'd recommend that). GPS on a phone can work without a GPS if you have downloaded the maps ahead of time.

Most Slovenes, especially younger folks speak at least some English; many speak it fluently.

Posted by
4 posts

Do they take euros in Croatia, or did you get Croatian Kunas? Thank you!

Posted by
16748 posts

You need kunas for Croatia. Some tourist-oriented businesses may take euros, but the exchange rate will be poor.

Posted by
872 posts

If you don't want to rent a car, there are some small group tours that go to Lake Bled and other places nearby. I did a wonderful small group day tour from Ljubjlana to Lake Bled and more in June 2018 with Roundabout Travel. It was a fabulous day, with a gregarious and well informed driver/guide. She was very amenable to suggestions from the 6 folks in my group about where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. The tour is named "Alpine Fairytale" and was very well-priced for a full and wonderful day. (I also describe the day tour in greater detail in my Tour Report of 7/7/18 entitled "Trip Report: Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia (now all in").