3 weeks in the Western Balkans

Hi. We're traveling to the Western Balkans this October. The plan is to fly round trip US to Madrid, so that we can spend a bit of time in Madrid on the way home. We were then thinking of round trip tickets from Madrid to Zagreb. We will have a bit over three weeks from when we land in Zagreb to when we want to be back in Madrid. Once in Croatia, we were thinking of heading to Slovenia, seeing some sights there (Bled, Ljubljana, Skocjan caves) then heading back down through Croatia (Rovinj, Pula, Plitvice, Sibenik, Split, Korcula, Dubrovnik). If time allows we would also like to see a bit of Bosnia (Mostar, Sarajavo) and Montenegro (Kotor, Ostrig) before returning to Zagreb (I believe flights from Dubrovnik would be the best option). I'll post a more detailed itinerary as our plans become firmer. Right now I have two main questions. First, we don't want to feel rushed but definitely don't want to be move too slow, which may be worse! Is three weeks an appropriate amount of time to be doing all of this? Second, the beginning of October is definitely the shoulder season and the end is pushing the off season. Is the route we're thinking good for the timing, or should we alter it because of the time of year we're going? Maybe save Slovenia for the end or fly into a different city in the Balkans and alter the whole thing? I'm hoping to get some dialogue going and use this thread as a major resource as we plan the trip. Thanks for the help and any advice is greatly appreciated! Rob

Posted by Sharon
Atlanta
2664 posts

We made a similar trip a few years ago starting in Budapest and flying home from Split. Besides Budapest we went to Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Korcula, Split, Dubrovnik, and Trogir. October is a beautiful time to travel in that area. The weather when we were there was crisp but not too cold. The markets are filled with wonderful produce - cabbages, pumpkins, sunflowers, etc. For our trip we mostly traveled by train but flew from Zagreb to Dubrovnik on Croatia Air to save time. We really liked Ljubljana and spent 4 nights there. We rented a car for one day to take a daytrip to Lake Bled and that region. We took a ferry from Split to Korcula but October was off-season so seasonal restaurants were closed or closing soon. The Jadrolinija ferry doesn't run every day so if you go, time your visit to make sure you don't spend more time there than you intended. You'll have a great time - Rick's Eastern Europe guidebook was a valuable resource for us when we were planning that trip!

Posted by Paul
Sioux Falls, SD, USA
214 posts

3 weeks? When do we leave? I'd love to do this. We did Vienna-Budapest-Plitvice-Split-Ljubljana-Salzburg local-Vienna last year. We were there for 19 days. Ljubljana is the place I regret NOT spending more time in. We stayed in Hostel Cselica - an old prison - a hoot, and every night, locals and tourists gather in the beer garden there. We had a nice conversation with some local students - very interesting. PL is a wonder. I just loved Croatia in general. The mountains are like Austria without the Austrians, the coast is like Italy without the Italians, and both were very nice. We got by easily on English and German.