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Help with Croatia,Slovenia Itinerary

We are in the first stage of planning a trip for 23-25 days in mid Sept 2014, and would like any suggestions on our tentative itinerary. FYI: We are active seniors (71 and 67) but obviously don't move as we did 20 years ago, so this itinerary may seem slow to some, but we like to travel at our own pace.

Fly to Ljubljana, car or bus to Lake Bled
Lake Bled, 3 nights, maybe Julian Alps
Ljubljana, 3 nights
Train to Rovinj
Rovinj, rent car,3 or 4 nights, visit Istrian towns
Plitvice Lakes, 2 nights
Trogir or Split, 3 nights
Mostar, 3 nights
Kotor, 2 nights
Dubrovnik, return car, 4 nights
Fly out of Dubrovnik

Is it feasible to drive from Split,Croatia to Mostar,Bosnia and then to Kotor,Montenegro? This itinerary has 24 days. Should we add 1 day each to Kotor, Dubrovnik, or somewhere else? Do we have too much time in any town?
We'll appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

Posted by
106 posts

Hi Carol!

In regards to the Slovenian portion, we would advise you hire a car at the airport so you can enjoy the areas around Bled like Lake Bohinj, Vrsic Pass (Julian Alps), Vintgar Gorge etc.

You could do the circle day trip which is Bled - Kranjska Gora - Vrsic Pass - Bovec - Kobarid - Most Na Soci - Car Train back to Bohinjska Bistrica - Bled, excellent day!

Drop off the car in Ljubljana. You can spend 1 to 2 days to fully explore Ljubljana or use 2 days for day trips.
Usual destinations are Postojna Caves\Predjama, Skocjan Caves\Lipica Stud Farm. Also consider somewhere like Velika Planina and Logarska Dolina, very beautiful.

There is no train to Rovinj, you would need to take the bus or transfer.

Have a great time planning and if you need further recommendations, let us know.

Posted by
1193 posts

Thanks for your suggestions! Will look into those towns/sites. Thanks, again.

Posted by
10 posts

Hi Carol,
We just finished 3 weeks in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Hercegovina (and a few days in Italy).
Briefly, I'll address the places you're planning that we visited.
We liked Bled. It was our place to decompress from the flight. Spent two nights, easily could have spent another night it was so relaxing. (tourist season was about over, it was very quiet.) We picked up a car and drove around the Julian Alps. (Well described in Rick Steves guidebook.) We loved the Soca Valley, spent two nights at Kobarid. Would like to go back for a longer stay. Great scenery, great hiking opportunities, interesting World War I history. Although driving down the Soca Valley is slow; a narrow, twisty road for miles. (I was the driver and it was work for me.)
We drove to Istria, spent five nights, and that felt like the right amount of time. (It was rainy, so not much time on the beach) Visited Skocjan Caves, Rovinj and some of the hill towns.
We returned to Ljubljana and spent the night. Could have easily done another night in that town.
At that point trained to Zagreb and drove into Bosnia.
We did a short visit to Mostar. We had just spent four days in Sarajevo, so Mostar was a bit of an anticlimax, also some tour buses had just unloaded in town as we arrived so it was quite the scene.
We stayed at a small village about 25 kilometers from Mostar for two nights. It seemed to us there were a lot places to explore in that part of Hercegovina, and we wished we had more time there.
We drove on to Croatia, stayed on the Peljesac Peninsula, three nights in a town across the water from Korcula town. Liked that area a lot, want to go back.
Went to Dubrovnik. It was crazy with tourists, can't imagine high season. But it is a cool town. I think four nights there might be too much, definitely not four days wandering around the town itself.
In short, I think our favorite places were the Julian Alps, western Hercegovina and western Bosnia, and the Peljesac Peninsula and Korcula. (I'll bet you can't go wrong anywhere on that beautiful coastline - the question is, how much time do want to spend on the beautiful coastline, verses exploring a little inland?)

Have fun on your trip,

Posted by
1193 posts

James, thanks for your info. We're not planning on going to Sarajevo but your comment on Dubrovnik was interesting. Four nights would equal 3 days. It seems the planes out of Dubrovnik leave at 7:30am (at least those we've seen this far in advance, which could change) so we might move to a hotel near the airport for the 4th night. Being so far in advance we have not done any of the real detail work and just want to have a feel for the number of nights in each location. Seems we've got a pretty good plan so far.
Thanks again Greg & James for your advice!

Posted by
1437 posts

From Ljubljana, you can take a train to Opatija (train station "Matulji") and pick up a car rental for Croatia there (Sixt has a small outlet in one of the hotels). I did this in reverse. It would be a great place from which to start a loop of the Istrian Peninsula, before heading out to Plitvice.

Personally, unless you are avid hikers, one night in Plitvice would be enough. I would spend the next night in Zadar. The sea organ in Zadar is truly unique and enchanted me! On the way from Zadar to Trogir, I would plan on spending lunch and a couple of leisurely hours in Sibenik.

Posted by
1437 posts

Also, you may want to fly into Zagreb and out of Dubrovnik. The driving distances are short and very easy. You will likely save quite a bit of money if your car rental starts and ends in Croatia (one rental). You are allowed to take it into Slovenia. Look at both the price of flights and of car rentals for each scenario and compare.

Posted by
1193 posts

Thanks, Diane. I think we'll stick with flying into Ljubljana and out of Dubrovnik. We would rent a car to drive from Ljubljana to Lake Bled and back, then visit Ljubljana without a car. Then take a bus to Rovinj and rent a car there, returning it in Dubrovnik before spending time there. That way we rent and return the car in the same country each time. Opatija and Zadar sound interesting and we'll look into adding them. Thanks for your suggestions!

Posted by
3115 posts

We were in Croatia for 2 weeks in September. Here are my thoughts on your plans. I agree with the poster who said that 4 nights in Dubrovnik were too much. We did 3 and found that ample. I strongly recommend a visit to Trogir. You could do it as a day-trip from Split. I can give you the name of a terrific guide for Diocletian's palace, if you like. Rovinj makes a good base for visiting Istrian towns. Don't miss Porec. It has a marvelous mosaic-decorated basilica. We stayed near Plitvice Lakes 2 nights. We arrived in the early evening and were well-rested for a day of hiking. We (same age group as you) were able to hike both the lower and upper lakes in about 6 hours. I suppose we could have, then, driven on toward our next destination; but it was nice just to relax back at our hotel. If you want recommendations for lodgings, feel free to ask. You're going to love Croatia!

Posted by
2 posts

I am so envious! My husband and I spent 3 months living in Dubrovnik Sept-Nov 2 years ago. It was like living the dream--all those brochure photos overlooking old town were what we woke up to every morning. It is a magical place. Late September should be a great time to be there as the tourist season will be less crowded and crazy. I would pick a hotel near old town. Walking on top of the walls surrounding old town is a must--I never tired of walking them many times. You can drive from Dubrovnik to Kotor (I did twice playing tour director to visiting family)but it is a long day from Dubrovnik and the road around the Bay of Kotor is not a super highway!! Do not even think of driving from Mostar to Kotor in 1 day. The Bay of Kotor is spectacular. We spent 1 night in Mostar--it is an interesting place but 1 night was plenty. If you like wine---take those extra Mostar nights and head to the Peljasec Peninsula--just north of Dubrovnik. They are world renown for oysters (Restaurants Kapetanova_kuca and Villa Koruna)and their Plavic Mali wine is fabulous. You can hike a medieval wall (most intact wall outside The Great Wall in China)between the towns of Ston and Mali Ston. Visit some wineries---The scenery is jaw dropping.
Your itinerary is fabulous--we plan to return to Croatia and Slovenia someday. There are few words to describe what you will be seeing.

Posted by
1193 posts

Rosalyn - Thanks for your advice. We do have Porec and Trogir as a towns to visit.

Marj - According to googlemaps it is a 3hr drive from Mostar to Kotor. Are the roads bad or is it due to border crossings that it should not be done in one day? The issue of driving from Split to Mostar in one day and then from Mostar to Kotor Bay in one day is one we're still wrestling with so your comments are appreciated.

Thanks again to all.

Posted by
2 posts

I see google maps keeps you inland away from the coast so it is doable in a day--always plan longer times over there. Their roads are slower and it is winding, mountainous. Don't miss Blagaj when leaving Mostar-fascinating as Buna river appears from the side of a mountain. Also a great old Ottoman Dervish (as in whirling) monastery sits right where the river emerges and is a sight to see. A lovely setting and different.
Also stop in the little town on Bay of Kotor called Perast. Storybook setting and nice restaurant right ON the water.
When you drive from Kotor to Dubrovnik there is a little car ferry you can take across the Bay of Kotor to prevent backtracking around bay again. But be warned--the road from Kotor to car ferry is NARROW and right on (almost in) the water. Enough said!
In Lake Bled we stayed in one of Tito's palaces (Vila Bled). It is very CLEAN and face it--how often can you stay in a dictators palace??
You have an amazing trip planned--

Posted by
1193 posts

Thanks for your suggestions, Marg. Those towns look beautiful and we'll add them to places to look for. We knew that was a beautiful part of the world but these pictures and also those of Plitvice, Lake Bled, and other locations posters mentioned are amazing. We can fine tune our itinerary, knowing that up until the morning of each day, it's always subject to change. We always start with a great itinerary and make adjustments when and if necessary, as we all do.

Thanks again to all for your suggestions. You have all confirmed our choice.