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Parking and travel in Bled and Julian Alps

We are planning our trip to Slovenia/Croatia/Italy in July. We will be in Vienna for several days and are then thinking about taking the train to Ljubljana, partly to see the city, but also partly to rent a car! We want to go to Bled and spend a couple of days there and then Istria, then nw Croatia.

I don't know how many hours it will take to get from Vienna to Ljubljana; I don't know how crowded Bled might be and whether parking will be a major hassle.....I want to avoid the "rental car conundrum" and that probably means heading back to Ljubljana and then heading down into Croatia to rent another car.....

Any thoughts? Please help!

Posted by
456 posts

Last April my husband and I also traveled through Slovenia and Croatia. We rented from Budget in Ljublijana and returned the car in Zagreb. Traffic in April was light and parking was readily available except in Trogir, Split, and Dubrovnik. The road through the Julian Alps was in good repair, and not nearly as difficult as the guide books report. Have a great trip.

Posted by
188 posts

Last July, we visited Ljub. and Bled without a car so I can't advise about parking. These aren't really big places if you're up to walking a bit and thus avoid the parking problem. If you think you'd prefer to drop off the car in Ljub. after your Slovenia touring, the train from there to Rijeka, Croatia is quite doable (2 hours?) and you can rent a car there to tour Istria.

Posted by
811 posts

We just got back from a trip that included Croatia and Slovenia, and had a car for most of the trip. BIG disclaimer: we were there in off-season (March) so it could be a different situation in July.

Parking in Bled was no problem because we stayed at the Penzion Berc (in Rick's book, TOTALLY recommend it. Location is great - a 10 minute walk to Old Town - and the room was awesome) and they had a (free) parking lot. We did drive into Old Town once and although we found a spot, we commented how it must be a zoo in peak season. Regardless of where you stay, just email them to check on parking availability (looks like most places had it).

Istria was the same, we stayed in Opatija and toured the peninsula in the car. Pula & Rovinj (& Ljubljana) have parking, but in peak season you could be driving around a few times before snagging a spot.

Lastly, visit www.viamichelin.com to guage travel times and distances - it's great for European driving.

Have fun!

Posted by
3112 posts

It's a cheap and easy bus trip from Ljubljana to Bled. The Ljubljana bus station is adjacent to the train station, and the drop off in Bled is only a 5-10 minute walk from most hotels. You don't need a car in Bled unless you plan to explore sights away from the town. There are rental car agencies in Bled, but you might get a better price by picking up either at the airport or in Ljubljana. A drive from Bled to Istria will likely start on the expresssway that runs by the airport and circles Ljubljana, so neither is really out of the way.

Posted by
34 posts

Thanks to all who have posted. I'm worried about the cost of dropping off a car in another country,which is why we thought of going back to Ljubljana and then taking the train to Croatia. Thanks for the information on the travel times -- I've been looking for something like that.

The trouble with a bus ride to Bled is then we cannot tour the Julian Alps....

What about rail prices from Vienna to Ljubljana and then from Ljub to Croatia? Is it worth buying a railpass for those short hops?

Posted by
456 posts

Here's another idea: find out if you may take a car into Croatia that is rented and returned in Slovenia. Renting and returning to Ljubljana should work. The distances between the destinations you're planning are not going to be a problem, but relying on public transit for parts of your trip will be time-consuming.

Posted by
811 posts

The Julian Alps are definitely worth it with a car. The problem with trains in Croatia is their infrastructure is limited and trains aren't as convenient as in a place like, say, Italy. Then you have to rely on buses and we had a situation where a bus ride was supposed to take 3 hours and ended up taking 7. Additionally, I cannot imagine having to rely on buses in the Istrian region, especially if you just wanted to be able to explore the whole area.

Our rental agent, Auto Europe, charged us an additional USD$20 (one time fee) to take the car into Slovenia from Croatia.

I agree with Anita - everything is so close in the area so maybe consider renting and dropping off in Ljubljana if the drop off fee in another country is excessive.

Slovenia is one of Europe's best-kept secrets - it is beautiful!

Posted by
188 posts

Just a couple of tidbits of information:

Bus from Ljub to Bled is about 1.5 hours and cost 6.30 Euros pp. last July

We didn't have a problem renting a car for a day in Lake Bled to travel around (booked it the night before!) so you could do that for your Julian Alps tour.

Train from Ljub to Rijeka was about 2.5 hours and cost 86 kuna pp. (so don't bother with a Rail pass). We bussed from there to Opatija (much nicer to stay the night than in Rijeka) and rented a car with ease to tour Croatia.

We found there are both disadv. and advantages to having a car, so hopefully the above info will help you decide what you want to do. This was our first time bussing and training it and we found that we arrived way too early at the station--didn't want to miss our train but there were not the lineups we expected. Bus travel was more comfortable than the train.

Have a great time!

Posted by
34 posts

Very useful information, all! I may as well tap you once more before I end.....

We are hoping to mostly end our trip in northern Croatia at Plitvice, although I'm still thinking about a stopover to Rab before we head to Italy. Is Rab worth the trip? We were then thinking of taking the ferry across to Italy from Zadar. I'd appreciate input about that -- is that a good way to go? Costs? Time? Can we return the rental car in Zadar?

Thanks in advance! You guys are the best!