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Please help - split time Julian Alps, Salzburg, Dolomites

Hello. This July we are flying in and out of Venice, Italy. The first part of the trip will be Venice and then Rovinj, Croatia. It is the "inside" 10 days of the vacation I am trying to figure out. It seems like it should be split between Ljubljana, Bled/Triglav/Julian Alps, Salzburg, and the Dolomites (last night in Verona before morning to Venice airport and home).

So my family LOVES nature, mountains, waterfalls, crystal clear water, evergreen trees. We have been to the Bernese Oberland 3 times and have stayed up in the mountains for eight days, and even that was not enough time up there - LOL. Hiking, SUPing, Kayaking, Paragliding = all a yes if we slow down on this trip. But I think the cities of Ljubljana and Salzburg will be lifetime memories for us too. I can not decide what portion to cut out. Should we do away with Salzburg? What about the Dolomites? What about only day tripping to Lake Bled/Julian Alps and saving that for another trip and instead of spending more time in Salzburg and the Dolomites? From the video footage I have seen, it appears that the Julian Alps might have even more evergreen type trees and crystal clear rivers/water then the Dolomites. Both look stunning, but the Dolomites appear to have more open meadows and a lot less trees?

We will have a car the entire time and always pack really light. If we tried to do all of this the itinerary might look something like this:
3 nights Ljubljana
2 nights Bled/Julian Alps
3 nights Salzburg
2 nights Dolomites
That sounds more then doable with a car and part of what we want to do is drive around and through the mountains and scenary but that kind of goes against us trying to slow down and enjoy finding off the beaten path experiences I guess.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Posted by
6855 posts

I would give the Dolomites another day at least.
When you take the gondolas, funiculars up in Ortisei you are walking in beautiful meadows among the rocky spires. It is so beautiful there but not a pine forest on top, rather views.

Posted by
12546 posts

We found two nights in Ljubljana to be enough to see all we wanted and tour the castle.

i would suggest at least two nights at Lake Bled and two at Lake Bohinj, where you will find SUP for rent.

Nice hiking from both lakes. Note the Savina waterfall in the above link; that is a nice hike from Lake Bohinj.

You might also include rafting the Soča River.

Posted by
19427 posts

Inland Istria is very pretty. My bus tour visited Motovun and Groznjan, and I enjoyed them both. As of 2015 there was a zip line in operation near (or perhaps actually over) the administrative center, Pazin.

I realize that I'm not helping here. I do think you need to cut back the extent of your trip. In fact, I think you're close to having enough destinations for two 10-day trips there. And it's a shame for outdoor folks to get as close as Istria and not see Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Posted by
17 posts

There is always so much to see and I always have the hardest time cutting things out. Plitvice NP looks stunning on videos/photos and we would love to see it, but all of the online posts talk about how crowded it is in the summer during the main parts of the day. We would really need to spend one night there and see it later in the evening or real early in the morning. We will simply have to see that on our next tour of Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro. We also decided to wait on Prague and Vienna and Budapest strictly because the flight is in and out of Venice. Next time for sure.

Lola, Those SUP adventures look so cool. We might very well do that Lake Bohinj & Savica River SUP tour and also try to rent SUPs at Lake Bled to tour around there for an hour or so.

Suki, You do bring up a great point with the gondola options in the Dolomites. That is one of the many things I love about mountain towns = when they have gondolas or trains to ride up and down to get around.

So if we want to slow down just a bit it probably comes down to cutting out one of the following three things:
Lake Bled/Julian Alps

Posted by
12546 posts

I feel like the Slovenian Lakes and the Dolomites are a better fit with your stated preferences for beautiful scenery, lakes, mountains, hiking, SUP, etc. and they fit better with a Venice start and finish.

I would not spend fewer than 3 nights in either place; preferably 3 at Lakes Bled and Bohinj, and 4 in the Dolomites.

The Dolomites may not have a lot of big trees or lakes, but the scenery is spectacular- pink and white jagged peaks rising from velvety green meadows. Cablecars and gondolas to assist your hikes ( we like to hike up and ride down), hospitable huts for a lunch stop, a wide variety of lodging to choose from, and we have never felt crowded there. It is a place I would return to every chance I get.

I haven't been to Salzburg in 45 years but do not understand the attraction, honestly.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks once again. I think we are going to skip Salzburg for just this trip (next time we can do Berlin, Prague, Viena, Salzburg) and spend more time in both the Julian Alps and a lot more time in the Dolomites then I had originally planned. I will try to spend some time today researching what city to stay in the Dolomites. Love the descriptions of the gondola and bus system up there and I need to remind myself that one reason we are traveling in July (out of Florida) is to get away from the heat and humidity the best we can and it sounds like the Dolomites are similar to Murren Switzerland in that regard.