Croatia then Italy 6/16-7/9/13, family of 4, transportation, accommodation?

We are a family of 4 from the Pacific NW, USA: parents and 2 teen daughters traveling from around June 16 to early July 7-9, 2013 for 3 weeks to Croatia (5-6 days) then Central Italy(2 weeks). We've never traveled to Croatia & it's been years since we were in Italy. Main question is where should we fly into to get to Croatia? Should we fly into Dubrovnik (expensive) via another main hub airport like Amsterdam? Or should we fly into Venice and take a ferry to Croatia? How to travel back from Croatia to Venice? Where to focus our trip in Croatia? I have not made any travel arrangements yet. Budget: like to keep it moderate but I realize it's busy summer travel time. Time is ticking & I need to at least get our air tickets booked. In between cities in Italy, should we plan to take trains vs. rent a car, or a combination? Croatia: 6/16 for 4-6nights For Italy: Venice 2night/3 days Cinque Terra 2 nights/3 days Drive with stops to Pisa & Lucca, to Florence Florence 3 nights/4 days: 1 day for museum, 1 day for sightseeing, 1 day to Siena & may be San Giminagno & Montepulciano.
Rome: 3 nights/4days, return home Yes, I have also done hours of research online too. We are all healthy, enjoy the outdoors, love food and people. Thanks any advice would be appreciated.

Posted by LaVee
Edenton, NC, usa
74 posts

With 4 in your party, for lodging you may want to look at apartments, especially for your 3 night stays in Rome and Florence. I have used www.airbnb.com You will have more space, plus a kitchen/kitchenette. You can select a location with a washer, wifi, etc. Payment goes to Airbnb, which is based in San Francisco and holds your payment until 24 hours after you arrive as a safeguard. I have exclusively used trains (with a few buses to areas without/with less convenient stations, e.g., Sienna). I love the freedom on the train of being able to walk around, use the bathroom, get something to eat, take a nap, etc., especially on long journeys. However, without doubt cars in "countryside" areas in Tuscany, Umbria, etc., give greater flexibility and opportunity. With 4 traveling it may even be more economical; I leave that to someone with firsthand experience to advise on. In the meantime, here is a link to a RS article on cars: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/carrental.htm NOTE: I have had a couple friends get HUGE tickets in Italy for driving in prohibited zones, especially in/around Florence.

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
911 posts

Croatia is a large country. You won't be able to see it all in 4-6 days. Do you have any specific places you want to see there? That would determine where you fly into. If you want to visit Plitvice Park, you could fly into Split or Zagreb. If you want to visit Dubrovnik with maybe a day trip into Montenegro, you should fly into Dubrovnik. From Split or Dubrovnik, you can catch ferries back to Italy (Bari or Ancona). If you want to visit Rovinj and the Istrian peninsula, you could ferry over to-from Venice. If you choose this option, you might want to choose a base (where you have a hotel and leave your luggage) and then rent a car to use for day-trips around the area. In Italy, you don't need or want a car in any of the cities (Venice, Florence, Rome). I'd probably do the whole thing by train, but then I like trains. And if you book ahead, you might find some 9 euro economy tickets. Fitting two adults and two teenagers plus your luggage into a small European car might be a challenge? Lots to think about!

Posted by gregbohrer
2 posts

Croatia is next on my list so can't help there... but Trains will work throughout Italy... from Venice to Florence is easy... Florence to Pisa change and up to Cinque Terra - then to Rome all easy straight forward connections..
Local bus from Florence to Siena