4 of us, parents and two 30 year old daughters, are hoping to visit Croatia and Slovenia from Oct. 5 to 14. Rick's book says it's shoulder season but some shops\sites\water transportation may have shut down by then. We want to visit some of the islands. Can we expect to get there and is it likely that most shops, etc would still be open? Would you still recommend Croatia at that time? We're not able to go earlier. Also, would you recommend starting the trip in the north or south at that time of year?
Dennis I have never been to Croatia so ignore this other than as a way to bump this back to the top where someone might see it. I have been to and continue to go often to, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Austria and my preferred season is the third week in September through the second week in October. Tourists are at a lull and the weather is about as perfect as it gets in this part of the world. I glanced at Dubrovnik's weather and it seemed very good as well that time of the year. My impression is that the Croatian coast is about a lot more than the beach so my humble uninformed assumption is that you will find most everything open. Again, in the neighboring countries by mid October the outdoor cafes begin to go inside but in return the theaters have opened after being closed all summer. If you want to hold out for summer weather in Croatia, then come visit us in Budapest. No better time to be there.
I went in early September, so I cannot give proper advice on October. You should check out a book on Croatia to see average temps, and also look at the jadrolinjia ferry website to see if they have their schedule posted for October. There are some ferries to smaller islands that are very likely to operate less frequently - for example Mljet (I used Split as my base for ferries). But the upside is a lot less tourists. Croatia had a wonderful uncrowded feel and there are lots of areas where you can be totally secluded (various hikes, etc). I don't know about the shops but I can imagine that those which rely on tourists would probably amend their schedules a bit to match tourist presence/demand.
James: I am stunned to hear that you, Mr. Budapest, has never been to Croatia. It's a great country, with lots to see, fun stuff to do, Plitvice Lakes, Zagreb, Istria Peninsula, yada yada yada, and only 400 km S of Budapest. Easy day trip to Plitvice Lakes, and that is such a wonderful place. You need to stay overnight, of course.
Haven't been there in October, but did a trip there in May 2012. I would not be at all concerned about shops being closed. I would definitely investigate which ferry lines (and other public transportation options) are available. We found that in May - outside of "high season" (which starts on June or July 1) - many ferry and bus lines had reduced hours, and some simply did not run at all. You need to find out - in advance - for sure what to expect on any line you are counting on, since in some cases "the next one" may not be for a week or 6 months. We loved traveling in this region in "shoulder season" - some places were plenty crowded (Dubrovnik, Split) for our tastes, even outside "high season" - I can not imagine fighting the crowds (and heat) there in August. Some places were delightfully quiet, and were absolutely wonderful - and I bet they were annoyingly crowded a month later. I'm glad we went when we did. Be prepared for any and all kinds of weather - we experienced torrential rains (several days - and I do mean torrential - I'm from Seattle, I know rain...), thunderstorms, even a little snow (in the mountains), cool days, warm days, and lots of very pretty, sunny (even occasionally hot) days - sometimes all on the same day. Given the time of year, I'd start in the north and work my way south. It's an awesome area, so much to see and do.
I was all over Croatia last year in mid October, and didn't come across any closed restaurants or facilities. The weather was really nice - highs between 68-73 during the day. That made it a little chilly for beach time (though on the warmest day I did swim in the ocean and the water temp was fine, I was just a little chilly out of the water) but great for sightseeing. It rained a little, but not too much. We didn't visit any islands but the ferries were still running as far as I could tell. If you want to visit beaches/swim, I'd start south and go north. Otherwise, I'd start north and go south. You have a better chance of warm enough days for beaching the earlier it is.