Croatia/Slovenia/Bosnia Itinerary Review and Car Rental Questions

Hey everybody! This is my first time posting on any sort of travel forum. My husband and I will be traveling the Western Balkans this month and I had a few questions. Any input/advice is much appreciated! Here's our tentative itinerary: Sept 29 - London - Dubrovnik arrive late afternoon and settle in Sept 30 - spend the day in Dubrovnik: go to the beach, walk the walls, ride the cable car, enjoy Old Town, and try and adjust to jetlag Oct 1 - daytrip to Montenegro (only the Bay and Kotor as we have less interest in Cetinje and Budva), spend any extra time hanging out in Kotor or seeing more of Dubrovnik Oct 2 - pick-up rental car, drive to Mostar, hang out for most of the day, and drive to Sarajevo to sleep Oct 3 - hire a local guide to see Sarajevo, overnight in Sarajevo Oct 4 - morning drive from Sarajevo to Trogir, enjoy scenery along the way, hang out and sleep in Trogir Oct 5 - spend morning in Split to see the palace and get to Plitvice by nightfall. Overnight in Plitvice. Oct 6 - spend 5-6 hours to see Plitvice and then drive to Bled. Overnight in Bled. Oct 7 - Driving tour of Julian Alps. Overnight in Bled. Oct 8 - Enjoy Bled and head to Ljubljana. Overnight in Ljublana. Oct 9 - Skocjan caves and a few hours in Zagreb, drop off rental car in Zagreb at airport before we board late flight to London Here are my questions:
1. Should we pick up the rental car one day early and use it to drive to Montenegro? Is parking an issue near Old Town Dubrovnik? Would it be a mistake to skip Cetinje and Budva? continued...

Posted by Monica
Orange County, California, USA
2 posts

2. Should we sleep in Mostar or Sarajevo on Oct 2? Is Mostar worth seeing at night? Is the drive from Mostar to Sarajevo safe to do at night? 3. Should we forget Trogir and just sleep in Split? From what I've read, Split isn't worth much time except to explore the palace but since we have one night, is it more convenient? 4. Due to the time of year we are traveling, we cut out islands and beach time thinking it will be too quiet and the weather too cold or unpredictable. Is this a mistake? We figure a beach in Dubrovnik and the coastal town of Trogir will be enough. We are hoping to come back one day and just island hop during the summer on some sort of cruise. 5. Any itinerary advice for Slovenia? Are we spending too much or too little time in any of the cities? 6. Is it a mistake to spend just a few hours in Zagreb?
7. Lastly, and this question is probably the most important, we will be driving everywhere except Dubrovnik and since we are picking up and dropping off within the same country, I am guessing we shouldn't incur extra fees. Is this a correct assumption? Any online car rental site recommendations? I have read about autoeurope, sixt, and gemut but have no experience with any of them. I usually use carrental8 in the US and they seem to do international rentals also but not sure if they cover all border issues. Will we have problems at any of the border crossings? I've read that you need a vignette for Slovenia which is straightforward but I don't know about Bosnia. Do you recommend we buy insurance? Thanks ahead of time for any help you can offer!

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

A few specific thoughts: Zagreb is completely skippable, esp. compared with the other things you want to see. You'll wish you had more time in Slovenia. You may find yourself cutting the Julian Alps part just to enjoy things closer to Ljubljana. I would pick one place to stay-either Bled or Ljubljana, not both. A tiny bit more driving, perhaps, but time saved in relocation effort. We enjoyed Tourist Farm Hudicevic which provided ample space, masses of food, and great location with a car. Don't know if you're into the farm stay, but it was fun! You can do a fantastic day trip to Predjama Castle and the Postojna Caves.
Oct. 6 is not impossible, but a VERY long day. Driving Plitvice to Bled will take min. 5 hours. And spending only 5-6 hrs. at Plitvice itself is criminal. Hiking around in the woods among the streams and waterfalls is what's really special and you need some time to do that.

Posted by Matthew
Kihei, HI, United States
112 posts

First off, let me say this is going to be awesome. I actually did a road trip in this area last year at the same time of year, and it was perfect - blue skies, great temperatures, less crowds etc. Some answers to some of your questions (can't answer rental questions as I have a car in E Europe): - Parking near dubrovnik is kind of a pain, but you can pay. There is a huge municipal parking garage and a lot of private lots, and I would be willing you can find accommodation that includes parking - I spent the day in Mostar, but slept in Sarajevo. I could see sleeping in either place. The drive between the two is really beautiful though, so you should keep in mind if it is at night you are missing a lot.
- Not sure what the safety question was addressed to - if it is bandits or something then nothing to worry about afaik, if it was is it more dangerous to drive at night in E Europe then the answer is probably a little, although that is a really good road. I guess it depends on whether you have driven in the region previously and feel comfortable. My recollection of this area was that there wasn't much traffic at all. Between Dubrovnik and Mostar, there is a town called Pocitelj that is worth wandering around for an hour - it will be on the right side of the road. And then on the comment about "too much" I would just say you travel the way I do. As long as your driving is limited to 3-4 hours a day (preferably 2-3) and you book rooms in advance (usually I book a day or two before without problems, I can easily change route that way) and know where you are going I think you can do and see a lot. Have fun.

Posted by Matthew
Kihei, HI, United States
112 posts

Also if you go to Kotor there is a vignette you need to buy - USD or EUR, I cant remember how much it was, $15 I think but they wont give change.

Posted by Jeff
Westminster, CO, USA
159 posts

Question, did you have any problem with the 'CDW excess" with your car rental, which agency did you end up renting from ? Any suggestions regarding this? thanks

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8742 posts

@Jeff
Westminster, CO USA When you ask the same question half a dozen times it starts to look like spam.

Posted by Paul
Sioux Falls, SD, USA
214 posts

You will regret not spending more time in Ljubljana. It's a really cool place.

Posted by Paul
Sioux Falls, SD, USA
214 posts

We rented from Avis, and were very satisfied with both price and service. We rented in Vienna.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1414 posts

Will just address a few of your points... 1. It does seem like a lot given the number of days you have - and I, too, tend to move fast (faster than many here would say is wise). Driving times can in some cases be longer than you expect. Though roads are quite good, many of them are curvy 2-lane roads with some traffic. Use viamichelin to get accurate drive times. 2. We actually liked Trogir more than Split. Split was packed with cruise ship mobs, and other than Dioclesian's walls, we didn't find all that much there that was compelling. Half a day would have been enough for us, a night and a day was probably more than we needed. Had some of the best Italian food I've ever eaten in Trogir (we went back to the same place the next day and ordered the same dishes, it was that good). 3. The islands are lovely, and I'd best that the time you're going may be the best time to be there. We went in mid-late May, and even though it wasn't hot, we loved the islands. They looked like they would be miserably crowded in July-August. I bet September would be awesome. We liked Korcula and Rab best, were not crazy about Hvar. 4. Forget "beach time" - you don't go to Europe for a great beach experience (not if you have any sense). The coastal areas are lovely, but if you want a nice beach, you have better options close to home and more time to enjoy those. 5. Call the guys at Gemut.com for your car - 'nuff said.
Have fun.