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1st time to Europe - destination Ljubljana and Croatia - Help

This is our first trip to Europe. We have about 10 days. Traveling in June.
We are planning on following my guide book and fly into Slovenia, down to Istria, Plitvice Lakes, Hvar and Dubronovik.

1) We are flying from Texas in the US. Can someone recommend a city to target in Europe? I'm assuming I need to hit one of the bigger cities and then catch a local flight over to Lublijana.

2) Is this too much to cover (renting a car) in 10 days? I don't want to feel like I'm driving the entire time but there seems like there is so much to see.

Posted by
8318 posts

I go to Budapest several times a year and I fly United from Houston to Frankfurt most often. Sometimes its a Lufthansa A380 double decker airbus and sometimes its a smaller United flight. Lufthansa and United code share so I check both of their sites and pick the best deal. One note is that United has the upgraded economy which Lufthansa doesn't have and I think its well worth a few extra bucks. Frankfurt is a major hub and there is a good chance that the connection you want will be there. But that's just a wild guess. United is my preference and the only other rules I have is never be on a flight that changes at JFK or ChuckyD (Paris): both miserable.

Posted by
2824 posts

Hi Ann,
My husband and I did a similar trip in October but with twice as many days as you're planning. I do think that it's too much to cover in 10 days.

Consider either focusing on the north (Ljubljana, Istria, and Plitvice Lakes) or the south (Dubrovnik, Hvar and something else (Split? Mostar? Kotor?).

If you decide to focus on the north - look at flying into Venice or Zagreb. From Zagreb, there are great inexpensive airfares on Croatia Airlines from Zagreb to Istria (Pula or Rijeka.) You could rent a car there to travel in Istria, Ljubljana, and loop back to Zagreb for return trip.

For the south, look at flying into Split or Dubrovnik.

We did a round trip into and home from Zagreb. We flew Croatia Air to Split (2 nights), ferry to Hvar (3 nights), picked up rental car in Split (1 more night) to drive up the coast with an overnight stop at Plitvice National Park. From there we did overnights in Lovran (2), Rovinj (3), Ljubljana (3), and Radovijica, Slovenia (1 night for Lake Bled) then ended up with 2 nights in Zagreb. It was quite a lot of driving with some long days.

While it's not perfect, you'll get a good idea of travel times using Rome2Rio

It's all great- I just wouldn't try to do too much!

Posted by
8318 posts

Everyone means something different but if 10 days means

1 Depart the US
2 Arrive Europe
3. Someplace
4. Travel
5. Someplace
6. Travel
7. Someplace
8. Travel
9. Someplace
10 Fly home

then you might want to cut the trip into two where you can really dig a little deeper into your stops. I could spend that entire 10 days between Budva, the Kotor bay and Dubrovnik and still wish I had more time.

But everyone is different and there is no right and no wrong. Just what floats your boat.

Have a blast!!!

Posted by
34 posts

In Dubrovnik get an "apartmant" (sobe) in the Old City or at Old City level. We didn't and end up with a daily walk of 400 steps up and down to get to the beach, Old City etc. (even thou the place where we stayed was wonderful for the view). The islands of Lokrum, Korcula are mandatory. In Korcula we enjoyed our stay at Tedeschi's plus you can take the 15 min bus ride to the beaches, on the other side of the island. Also, in Plitvice Lakes we stayed at the Bellevue Hotel (it was worth it since it was clean, near the entrance of the park, and had a great breakfast buffet!).

In Slovenia don't miss Lake Bled, the Julian Alps and of course Ljubjiana. We rented a diesel VW car from Europcar (Internet with pickup at a downtown hotel in the City) for 3 days and it was very economical (E30 in gas). Eruopcar is a very professional company and found it reliable (but just to be in the safe side take pictures of the car before and after the rental).

Hope this helps! Enjoy!!!

Posted by
215 posts

Ann.. We are doing something similar in September...chose to fly into Venice. From there you can get a small shuttle van from Mestre to Ljubljana....it is a 3 hr drive. We got a one way flight from Dubrovnik to Frankfurt on Croatian Air and then a non-stop FRA-DFW.

I too think 10 days is not enough time to accomplish what you want. Air tics to Europe are not inexpensive and travel time to and fro eats up days. I would either extend my time or focus on one or two places on your list.

Posted by
80 posts

Hi Ann - My family did a similar trip in September. We stayed 16 nights.

I think it is too much.

Do either the bottom half of Croatia or the top half. Hvar, Korcula and Dubrovnik would be one trip. Ljubjlana (with Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj a day trip), Lake Plitvice, Rovinj, and Zagreb.

A suggestion though. Fly into Venice and take a ferry over to Croatia. Fly into Venice stay 2 nights...take the ferry over to Croatia and fly out of either Zagreb or Ljubjlana. Venice in June will be packed but it is such a beautiful city...

Posted by
9883 posts

I've never been to Slovenia or Croatia, so I have no specific suggestions. But here are some general tips to get you started with planning.

If you're considering driving between the two countries, remember there is a charge for picking up a car in one country and dropping it in another. Prices vary; on this Helpline, I've seen as high as €600. If you pick up and return a car in the country (even if different cities), there is usually no surcharge. It may still be easier than other options, but do know what you're getting into before deciding.

To get estimated driving times and tolls, you can use Via Michelin. Key word, of course, is estimated. But this may help you decide how much moving around you want on this trip.

Once you know your starting and ending points, you'd do best to get an "open jaw" flight, into your first city and out of your last, on one ticket. Even if this is more expensive than a simple round trip, you save time and money by not backtracking. And by having it all on one ticket, you are protected if one flight is delayed or canceled. To find these flights, use the "Multi City" option on Kayak or Matrix ITA Software. Don't book two one-ways, as that's MUCH more expensive.