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September 2019 Slovenia and Croatia Itinerary Help, Please

I could really use some help with this itinerary, please. We have 15 nights for a trip in Slovenia and Croatia this September, and we are using Rick Steves’ recommendations for our travels, as always. We’ll have a car for part of this time, and need a work-around for the $500-ish one-way drop off fee for the rental car. See days # 6 and # 7 for my initial thoughts on this, but I know I need to fine tune the plans for these days. I am also thinking Piran may be too similar to Rovinj to do both? Thanks for any suggestions.

  1. Thursday, Sept 5 - Ljubljana, arrive from US mid-day
  2. Friday, Sept 6 – Ljubljana
  3. Saturday, Sept 7 – Ljubljana, day trip by train to Zagreb
  4. Sunday, Sept 8 – pick up rental car, drive to Lake Bled, hike the lake & the Gorge
  5. Monday, Sept 9 – Julian Alps drive, stay in Lake Bled area
  6. Tuesday, Sept 10 – ??visit the Skocjan Caves, drop rental car and stay in Piran, somewhere else?
  7. Wednesday, Sept 11 – take bus or GoOpti to Rovinj, stay in Rovinj
  8. Thursday, Sept 12 – pick up rental car, drive thru Istria, stay in Plitvice Lakes
  9. Friday, Sept 13 – visit Plitvice Lakes early, drive to Split, drop off rental car
  10. Saturday, Sept 14 – Split
  11. Sunday, Sept 15 - ferry to Korkula
  12. Monday, Sept 16 – Korkula
  13. Tuesday, Sept 17 – ferry to Dubrovnik,
  14. Wednesday, Sept 18 - Dubrovnik
  15. Thursday, Sept 19 – Dubrovnik, possible day trip to Bay of Kotor Fly home
Posted by
470 posts

Have you checked the drop-off fees for leaving the car in Istria or Rijeka as opposed to Dubrovnik? It may work out to be an acceptable cost. You could then just return the Slovenian vehicle and rent a Croatian one from the same office. If that doesn't turn out to be feasible, then yeah, I'd say you have a good itinerary, for the Slovenian part at least. Set off early on the Julian Alps drive so you can spend some time at Lake Bohinj when returning to Bled.

Posted by
17 posts

Hi. We just returned from a very similar trip. We took GoOpti from Venice to Ljubljana, rented a car there for 7 days and drove to Lake Bled, Julian Alps, Kobarid, Istria Peninsula, Piran back to Ljubljana to drop car & spend several days. Then took the train to Zagreb where we rented a car again drove to Plitvice (stayed in Rastoke) then to Split to drop the car. Ferry to Hvar then to Dubrovnik. Your Day 4 is very long to do all. Piran was nice but not worth the extra drive as there was more to see in Istria. We went to Kotor also which was great but I’d opt for two days in Dubrovnik instead (we stayed 7 days there). All in all it was fantastic!

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience, jkcotton. I like how you managed the rental cars. I'll see if something like that might work for us. Its like a Rubic's Cube to sort out the rental cars for this trip.

Posted by
5 posts

We just took the Rick Steves' tour that coverts most of your itinerary. One thing to keep in mind at the Plitvice Lakes is that they arbitrarily change where you can enter and even with a timed ticket purchased in advance they may change your entry time. Our tour group had both happen to us. We also saw couples have their entry times changed so that one had a 9 am entry and another was given a 2 pm entry. You need to allow 4 or more hours to see the Lakes, especially if you want to see the upper and lower lakes and ride any of the boats.

The Plitvice Lakes are stunning and well worth a visit. We were rushed through on our tour and not allowed any time to stop and enjoy what we were seeing - very disappointing for a Rick Steves' tour. We'd like to go again and spend an entire day to really enjoy the beauty.

Posted by
4 posts

Wow, very disappointing that could happen with reserved tickets and times, more so that your tour group had this experience. Do you think it was a particularly crowded time/day when you were there? I have been debating whether to book a late day entry, an early morning entry, or both using a two day ticket. I guess it will be a gamble no matter which way we do this.

Posted by
3 posts

Funny, we are doing a very similar trip, also in September! We're arriving in LJU on Sunday, 9/15 and departing from Dubrovnik on Thursday, 9/26. Our workaround was to leave our Slovenian rental car in Slovenia, take a GoOpti transfer to Zagreb, and then rent a car in Zagreb and immediately drive to the Plitvice Lakes area, where we'll stay the night before hitting Plitvice Lakes first thing in the morning and then driving onto Split where we'll drop off the car. Here's our itinerary (which is super packed, I recognize):

9/15: arrive at LJU late evening, get rental car, drive to Lake Bled, stay the night
9/16: Lake Bled and environs (Vintgar Gorge, Radovljica, etc.)
9/17: Julian Alps driving tour, lunch in Kobarid, afternoon doing wine tasting in Vipava Valley, stay in Vipava
9/18: Skocjan caves in AM, then Ljubljana the rest of the day
9/19: AM and early PM in Ljubljana; mid-afternoon GoOpti to Zagreb; rent car in Zagreb, drive to Plitvice area, late dinner
9/20: AM/early PM at Plitvice Lakes; drive to Split and drop off rental car
9/21: Split
9/22: Ferry to Korcula, rest of the day in Korcula
9/23: Ferry to Dubrovnik, rest of the day in Dubrovnik
9/24: Day trip to Kotor, rest of the day in Dubrovnik
9/25: Dubrovnik (kayak to Lokrum, maybe)
9/26: Flight home is around noon