Budapest - Lake Bled- Dbvornik - too much distance to cover?

I have a sketched trip planned that is pretty aggressive starting in Germany, then Austria, then Czech R, then Hungry...but at the end of my design I am concerned it is a bit much in terms of distance to cover. Would you recommend and can you give me any insight into the travel it would take to get from Budapest to Lake Bled and then down to Dbvornik (spelling??). I think Dbvornik is a lot further down than I am giving it credit for. I just saw something in National Geographic Traveler about a National Park in Croatia that looked like it was about half way between Lake Bled and Dvornik - but then I read it would take 9-10 hours to get from that park to Dbvornik. Holy Cow!

Posted by Angela
Chicago/Rural WI
809 posts

Hi Amy,

Just curious, how long of a trip are we talking about? 3-4 weeks? And will you be driving or relying on public transit?

According to viamichelin.com (which is a great website to ascertain driving distances/routes), the drive from Budapest to Lake Bled is about 5 1/2 hours. But then the drive from Lake Bled to Dubrovnik is 8 1/2 hours, not including any stops along the way. Please note these are driving distances, the bus will probably take longer (and there are no trains all the way down to Dubrovnik).

The national park National Geographic was talking about may have been the Plitvice National Park, which is roughly mid-way between Bled and Dubrovnik.

The bad news is the travel times may be long, but the good news is there are a lot of interesting places to stop along the way (for an overnight) if you have the time. Otherwise, you may want to consider taking a flight between Ljubljana (Slovenia) to Dubrovnik, as flights may not be all that expensive and it would save you significant time.

Posted by Amy
Madison, WI, USA
456 posts

Thank you angela that was very helpful. I was planning on using trains for all of this trip because I understand car rentals thru Eastern Eur are restricted in places. I didn't realize it would be bus only from Lake Bled to Dbv. The entire trip is 4 weeks with that portion sketched at 9 days. 3 for Budapest,2 for Lake Bled and 4 for Dbv. Now with what you have said I may need to add a stop in between to break up the Bled-Dbv. Or drop Dbv all together. Something for me to think about!! Tx again!!

Posted by Angela
Chicago/Rural WI
809 posts

I just wanted to clarify that the trains in Croatia do not go farther south than Split (a city mid-point up the western coast), so it might be possible to take a train to a certain point before picking up the bus to Dubrovnik.

I also wanted to add that another alternative would be to go from Budapest to Ljubljana, pick up a rental car, then drive up to Bled (about an hour from Ljubljana) for 2 nights before starting your journey south to Dubrovnik. To break up the drive you could overnight in Split (which is a charming town on the water), and then make it to Dubrovnik for 3 nights instead of 4. I am of the opinion (and others may agree/disagree) that 3 nights in Dubrovnik is plenty, 4 is a bit excessive.

Driving in Slovenia and Croatia was a snap for us, the autocestas were beautiful stretches of road and directions were fairly straight-forward.

Either way you do it, it sounds like a great trip. Have fun planning!

Posted by Pauline
British Columbia, Canada
188 posts

I just want to add my two cents worth to Angela's really good suggestions and info. To give you some idea as to time involved using public transport -- we took the train last year from Ljubljana to Budapest--ended up being 9 hours for us through Slovenia (I wouldn't do this again). Bus from Lake Bled to Ljubljana = 1.5 hours - pleasant, bus is sometimes more comfortable than train in these parts. Ljub. to Rijeka, Northern Croatia by train=2.5 hours. Split to Dubrovnik by bus=4.5 hours. We drove from Split to Plitvice Lakes (about 3 hours), otherwise bus but no train available. Travel time can eat up a large part of your day.

Getting from Budapest to D'nik can be a puzzle, but perhaps there are cheap flights from Bud. to Ljub. or even Graz,Austria and then you can train it to Lake Bled and continue south. Or fly to Trieste,Italy and then take the train or car to Lake Bled. There used to be flights from Budapest to D'nik but they may be seasonal?? Hopefully, you can find a way to make this part of your trip work. I loved our time spent in Budapest, Slovenia and Croatia!

Posted by Sharon
Atlanta
2664 posts

Hi Amy,
As an example, a couple of years ago we took a train from Budapest to Ljubljana--it was a long trip (about 8.5 hours) but I we enjoyed spending time in Ljubljana so much that I don't remember the train trip being difficult. We rented a car for a day trip to Lake Bled though bus would be a good option as well. From Ljubljana we took a train to Zagreb and then flew from Zagreb to Dubrovnik on Croatia Airlines--at the time the flight wasn't expensive and it saved a lot of time. We didn't visit Plitvice Lakes. I hope that you can keep Dubrovnik in your itinerary because it's a wonderful city to visit!

Posted by Amy
Madison, WI, USA
456 posts

With everyone's input I am seriously considering renting a car and driving from Bled down to Dbv with a pit stop in Split. I would not have considered it because the language barrier looks particularly hard in Croatia. But if you have all done it and felt it was doable - i am sure we can do it. I am picturing a Croatian "route 66" down the coast. And it works well because then I can stop at the park...Plivteic Park (so not spelled right!). The photos I have seen are amazing. Because we have 4 weeks, my intention was to spend more time in places - but it is too hard not to just keep adding on and adding on! So I might have to snake a day from Dbv to give to Split. We can do it though. Any tips on the driving or car renting? Anything I need know about driving in Croatia? We have driven in Germany and in France with a lot of success. I really appreciate everyone's input. This helpline is awesome.

Posted by Angela
Chicago/Rural WI
809 posts

Yes, and with a car you might wake up and decide to take a day trip from Bled through the Julien Alps to Klagenfurt, Austria, and then maybe take some time to see Predjama Castle or Postojna Caves, and then there are the Lippizaner horses, and then there is the entire Istrian peninsula, and then... aaahhhhh!!! Yes, sometimes it is nearly impossible to refrain from all the add-ons!! Being someone who wants to do it all when on vacation, I feel your pain. :)

By the way, during what time of year will you be traveling?

Our car rental experience in Europe (including Croatia & Slovenia) has exclusively been with Auto Europe (autoeurope.com), and we have always felt their rates and customer service are top-notch. Another alternative I've read about many times on this forum is Sixt Car Rental (sixt.com), and although I've never used them they seem to come highly recommended by other posters. Keep in mind that if you rent in Slovenia and drop it off in Dubrovnik, there may be a steep one-way rental fee (in addition to the border crossing fee, for which I think we paid 12 euro). If the one-way rental fee is too high, maybe look into getting yourselves from Bled to somewhere in Croatia (Rijeka, Zagreb, etc) via public transport and p/u the car there. Then start south, hitting Plitvice along the way (and unless you are an avid hiker, Plitvice really only needs between 4-6 hours before you are on your way again).

But again, driving (with a good road map that you can buy there) is pretty easy. Road signs are easy to follow (standard international signs) and most people do speak English. The main highways are beautiful (and mostly new-ish) with plenty of gas stations. Just keep your lights on at all times and follow their zero-tolerance policy on drinking/driving - anything more than a 0.00% BAC and bad things happen!!

Posted by Roxanne
Vashon, WA, usa
3 posts

Amy, We spent a month in Croatia this summer. The Croats and Bosnians speak perfect English. We had absolutely no trouble with language.

Also I recommend a 2 day stay in the Old Town Split - it is amazing to spend time in Diocletian's Palace! Happy travels.

Posted by Kyla
Ypsilanti, MI, USA
146 posts

Amy, I did the opposite direction in 2006 (Dubrovnik - Split - Plitvice National Park [the best!] - Ljubljana - Lake Bled - Ljubljana - Budapest), all by public transportation (buses in Croatia, bus in Slovenia, train from Ljubljana to Budapest). It was a good two-week trip (with 5 days in Budapest) but easily could be done faster. The train from Ljubljana to Budapest was 8.5 hours, and the buses in Croatia are many hours, too. The trip was fabulous, though (but I really love taking public transportation--that's half the adventure for me!). Good luck!

Posted by Helene
Brentwood, ca, USA
115 posts

We took similiar trip last year. Train from Budapest to Lybiyana. Rented car for few days went o Lake Bled, and both caves and castle, and horse farm then back to return car. (to expensive to rent car for 2 countries we found)Took train to Zabged for 1 nite and day then bus to Plivice. Stopped and did the park for 4 hours, then caught bus again to Split. 2 nights in Split, loved it, then fast ferry to Hvar and Korcula for 2 nights (absolutely loved that island, so relaxing after traveling for 4 weeks)Bus to Dubrovnik stayed 5 nights just outside the Pile Bridge. That was our favorite town. Rented car and went to Montronegro for day. Best trip if our life, and would do the exact same thing again. Any questions email me. Have fun with your adventure.