Europe Forums

Post New Topic

Recent Activity

View all Europe activity »
  1. 1 Trip planning to Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg
  2. 2 Lodging in Lauterbrunnen and Grindenwald in October
  3. 3 He Musta Saw Us a-Comin': A Brief, Cautionary Tale about Taxis in Rome
  4. 4 italy Cinque Terre
  5. 5 Paris Neighborhood Help
  6. 6 Trip Report Just the wine list please and Daisy came too.
  7. 7 San Sebastián
  8. 8 Poor weather outlook 10/16-19 Grindenwald
  9. 9 Northern Ireland ideas
  10. 10 Question about Loire Valley châteaux
  11. 11 Zurich to Milan trip
  12. 12 Spanish Medical Providers
  13. 13 Belgium Itinerary
  14. 14 Give 2 1/2 Days to Porto or 1 1/2 Days with Day Trip to Coimbra?
  15. 15 Planes, Train, and, well, no automobiles
  16. 16 wondering if this trip too ambitious
  17. 17 Driving through Paris
  18. 18 Can parking
  19. 19 Trip Report Mantova, Ravenna, Brisighella, Bologna
  20. 20 Ambitious 1st time trip through Europe whilst pregnant??
  21. 21 Barcelona - Safety/Language/Trip Ideas
  22. 22 Electrical Power Conversion
  23. 23 Arenal:Bullring area Seville?
  24. 24 Need help with Honeymoon - Italy, Slovenia, Croatia
  25. 25 Amalfi Coast Apartment in October -- mobility an issue
View next 25 » Back to the top

Itinerary for Italy, Slovenia and Croatia in December 2017

Jump to last reply

Hi All,

I would like to run my nearly-finalised itinerary for Italy, Slovenia and Croatia driving all the way from Malpensa Airport and back with my family (wife, 2 kids (8yo and 3yo), mum and dad) this starting from 30th Nov to 24 December. We are fairly fit and active and enjoy hikings, long walks etc as well as going around seeing old town, shop and eat. Personally, I also enjoy taking photographs, especially landscape, therefore some of the itinerary below fit with it as well.

Day - No of night - Where to stay - Activity:
1 - 2 - Verona - pick up car at airport, stop at Lake Garda, Sirmione, then relax in Verona till next day
3 - 1 - Bozen / Bolzano - via Madonna Della Corona, explore Bozen, Xmas market
4 - 1 - Cortina Di Ampezzo - explore Pragser Wildsee, Misurina
5 - 2 - Bled - drive to Bled stop at Waterfall Pericnik, Vintgar Gorge. Next day to Bled castle, hiking, boat to church
7 - 3 - Ljublana - Explore Ljublana for 2 days, Xmas market, on the last day visit Predjama Castle
10 - 3 - Zagreb - via Novo Mesto, explore Zagreb
13 - 1 - Zadar
14 - 3 - Split, via Krka National Park and Trogir then explore Split. On the last day, drive to Omis, maybe to Mostar.
17 - 1 - Rijeka - explore area
18 - 1 - Rovinj - explore area
19 - 1 - Gorizia - via Skocjan Cave. Any suggestion where to stay near the area?
20 - 2 - Bergamo - explore Como and Bellagio and Bergamo
22 - 2 - Milan - Explore area
24 - Depart from Milan

I appreciate comments and inputs from you regarding:
- more ideas to do on the destinations
- driving tips
- how well is the planning, is it too tight and suggestions?
- places to visit for kids and tips going with kids
- other that you may find important to know
- other interestings areas/destinations that we miss and should include
- good spots for photography

FYI, this is our second time in Italy but will be first in Slovenia and Croatia. Your help/inputs are much appreciated

Regards,
Fly3r

  • Report Abuse

    2 days Llubjlana is 1 too many imo.
    Driving tips ? I guess you need to rent an automatic so be sure to get one get a sticker / device for highway in Slovenia pay attention to ZTL in Italy don't turn on red keep on the right side of the road or the ´ rightest ´ lane at all times
    What else ? Pay attention to alcohol. Don't drive first day jet lagged after deplaning.

  • Report Abuse

    I’m not sure I’m reading your itinerary properly (that can't be your actual plan, can it?), but if I am, I believe that all your times are WAY off, as you don’t seem to be counting transportation or the time it takes to change locations. Each time you propose to change locations, you need to count time for your transportation and you also need to add some time on either side for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting lost/oriented, etc. So each time you say you have “1 night” you really have just a part of a day for anything you think you are going to see in that place.

    FWIW, it’s usually best to lay out itineraries in terms of your nights -- that helps focus attention on what time you have to actually be somewhere.

    While it depends on what YOU want to see, I would find this itinerary painfully rushed – particularly because you will be in these places during the days with least sunlight – further limiting your options. Have you actually identified things you want to see or do in each of these locations and plotted them out on a calendar? I think you would be well advised to do.

    Honestly, I don’t think what you plan would be possible or enjoyable, unless your idea of “explore” is to spend a few hours walking around in between long, stressful times getting from place to place.

    Are you experienced in driving in winter conditions? If not, you should seriously consider planning a route using public transportation. As someone with extensive experience in driving in snow, sleet, and ice, I can assure you I would do everything in my power to avoid it – particularly on a vacation!

    You don’t say where you are from, but if there is any chance that you will have jet lag, I would strongly encourage you to take public transportation for your first night or two. Although many people are not aware of it, there is mounting evidence that driving with jet lag is just as dangerous -- to yourself and others -- as driving drunk, and nothing you can do will prevent the microsleeps (which you might not even notice) that are the apparent culprit. Seriously -- NOT a good idea, no matter your other constraints and no matter your prior experience! And please be patient with me if you think I’m being overly adamant, but I know too many people who have died or been seriously injured in accidents to which jet lag was a contributing factor, and I know too many people who will spend the rest of their lives dealing with the knowledge that they were responsible for accidents that resulted in multiple deaths, including those of children, all because they were too confident in their ability to drive safely with jet lag. The issue has become a bit of cause célèbre for me….

    Frankly, I think you need to come up with a different plan.

    Sorry I can't be more positive. Good luck!

  • Report Abuse

    I pretty much agree with kja. We live in Vienna and have winter driving experience, and I would not even consider your itinerary. Even in good weather (which there is no guarantee of at the time of year for your itinerary, (e.g. Krka National Park)), you're spending a disproportionate amount of time driving and fussing with parking/hotel logistics, especially if you'll be renting a vehicle large enough for 6 persons, luggage, and a stroller for the little one.


    What does, "Stop at Lake Garda" mean?
    "Landscape" photography in November means lots of barren trees, grey skies, and the dull brown of the fields.
    Hiking with a 3 year old? Are you also bringing a backpack to carry the little one when they tire? (And, is everyone bringing appropriate outerwear/footwear?)
    Skocjan Cave has limited hours in the winter; you would have to time your arrival appropriately.
    There will be many closures in Bellagio, Como, and Garda. Walking around ghost towns looking for the lone open restaurant may not be fun, especially with hungry little ones.

    You may have great flights into/out of Milan, but I, too, would scale the holiday back to one that is more seasonal and requires less manuevering.

  • Report Abuse

    Personally, given the season, I would not venture to the south of Croatia in the amount of time you have, so I'd cut Zadar and Split. You can then use those freed up nights to slow down your itinerary. You are bound to hit some winter weather in the space of a month, so you should not have a tight plan for that time of year or risk your itinerary falling apart completely. If you are not accustomed to winter driving, this should be even more of a concern. Roads are cleared up quickly after snowfall, but it still takes about a day to get everything back on track.

    So, for example, if two days is one too many in Ljubljana (I wouldn't necessarily agree with that, it depends on your interests), keep the two days. If your travel is disrupted you may end up only having one day there anyway.

    Furthermore, make absolutely sure the car you are renting will have winter tyres fitted. Besides the fact that it is simply dangerous to drive with summer tyres in the mountainous areas of the three countries in December, it is also a legal requirement in Slovenia, Croatia and some areas of Italy. I am not familiar with the situation in Milan specifically, but Italian rentals are often hit and miss when it comes to winter equipment.

    Some specific suggestions for your itinerary:

    The Vintgar Gorge will have closed for the season by then. However, there are other sights in the area. Coming in from Cortina, there's the Zelenci Springs and Planica ski jumping center near Kranjska Gora, or you could visit Lake Bohinj from Bled and take the cable car up Mt Vogel. Very panoramic, weather allowing.

    Skocjan Caves - consider visiting the one in Postojna as an alternative. In December, they traditionally have a live nativity scene inside the cave.

    Gorizia - In this area, I would opt for an agriturismo. The Vipava Valley on the Slovenian side or the Collio/Brda region that straddles the Italian-Slovenian border are wine regions within 15-20 minutes of Gorizia with some nice accommodation options: Arkade Cigoj in the Vipava Valley, as well as Stekar and Klinec in Brda are good, but there are many more.

    If time allows, consider a visit to a thermal spa. It is a relaxing and fun way to escape the cold for an afternoon. There are some in the area between Ljubljana and Zagreb - Terme Catez in Catez and Thermana in Lasko are two child-friendly options with different swimming pools and indoor slides.

  • Report Abuse

    Bvlenci, that's my concern - the OP may get summer tyres with chains in the back. While that meets the legal requirement and may be perfectly reasonable in the Po and Veneto Plains, I certainly would not want to drive in the Alps in December without winter tyres. I've experienced far too many snowy December days on the road when some poor soul got stuck on a hill and had to put chains on their car in the freezing cold and darkness of winter. I wouldn't want to have to do it on my own car, let alone in a rental car with a young family in a foreign country. Plus, there are safety benefits to having a better gripping tyre even when there is no snow on the road.

  • Report Abuse

    Hi all,

    thank you so much for your reply, I appreciate them.

    From your replies, I'll categorise them so I can get a better targeted information from all of you.

    The alps driving and safety
    I rent a car from Hertz which I am now making enquiry if it includes winter tyres and snow chain in my reservation. I come from Australia, and have limited driving experience in snow so I am seriously considering the journey through from Bolzano through to Cortina and then Bled.
    If anyone has experience in driving through that part of the region in December, please share. Any route that is safest with minimal encounter of snow?

    Itinerary too rush
    I'll arrive in Malpensa at 6am, so driving on that day to Verona takes 2hours which I will take my time as to minimise the effect from jetlag.
    Secondly, yes I am aware of the number of places we stay for only 1 night which seems rushed but I see it more effective in getting to the places we want to go and going back to Milan. Making few single bases with many day trips becomes time consuming in term of driving back and forth as compared to more checking in and out to accommodations if you know what I mean.
    This is our fourth trip to Europe but only second in December month so we have a little bit experience doing it this way although the first December trip we did not encounter too much snow.
    Taking the points from Kja and Fourfortravel, I'll stay in Cortina for 2days to allow time for snow delays and also leave Bergamo/Como/Gorizia to stay in Mestre (2nights) and Milan (3nights) with day trips to Venice or Bassano Del Grappa.

    We will bring suitable snow gear (jacket, boots etc) but when we are hiking, we won't be bringing the 3yo and mum and dad. Rtt921, I'll check out your places to visit suggestions, thanks.

  • Report Abuse

    "I come from Australia, and have limited driving experience in snow"

    Then please, reconsider! Driving in winter can mean snow, ice, sleet, and black ice -- and ANY of these things can occur unpredictably. Proper tires are essential. But even with proper tires, experience and training can make the difference between life and death. Seriously. And even experience and training cannot ensure that one avoids serious or fatal crashes. Unfortunately, I speak from experience.

    And for goodness sake, do NOT plan on driving after dark, when otherwise clear roads can turn into sheets of ice!


    "I'll arrive in Malpensa at 6am, so driving on that day to Verona takes 2hours which I will take my time as to minimise the effect from jet lag."

    Sorry, but driving ANY distance with jet lag is unsafe, just as driving ANY distance after drinking is unsafe.


    "the number of places we stay for only 1 night"

    I, personally, prefer 1-night stays to backtracking for exactly the reasons you mention -- I abhor backtracking when I could more forward. So my concern about your plan has nothing to do with the number of one-night stays, but instead about the time you have in between those nights. When I plan a stay for a single night (something I often do), I ensure that I have time to see and experience the places in which I stop, but I remain confused about what you hope to gain from your dash through the area. Maybe you will be able to see and do what you want, but I would certainly find your itinerary incredibly frustrating and unpleasant. JMO. Have you plotted your plans out on a day planner?

    Good luck!

  • Report Abuse

    "Don't overlook Trieste - a really neat city. Next door to Rijeka."

    Off topic, perhaps, but Trieste is not next door to Rijeka. It is a 90 minute drive one-way with a border crossing; Croatia is EU, but not Schengen, so there is the obligatory passport check in both directions.

    On topic, I hope.

    "Making few single bases with many day trips becomes time consuming in term of driving back and forth as compared to more checking in and out to accommodations if you know what I mean."

    Not necessarily, if you plan your trip properly.

    "...the journey through from Bolzano through to Cortina and then Bled.
    If anyone has experience in driving through that part of the region in December, please share. Any route that is safest with minimal encounter of snow?"

    A "minimal encounter of snow" is a side note. The Autobahn will be cleared if permissible; what is impossible to account for is a snowburst that creates whiteout conditions and can lead to accidents. Secondary roads are another matter altogether. I feel you are underestimating your winter driving ability and the trustworthiness of a rental car with winter tires.

    Are Rijeka and Rovinj still on your itinerary? You do realize that most restaurants and many hotels will be closed; and the beaches will be empty because, well, it is December? Bled may either be a fairy tale snowscape or dreary gray and brown sadness, too.

    "Milan (3nights) with day trips to Venice or Bassano Del Grappa"

    No. The one-way is ~2.5 hours. Are you seriously considering driving 6 hours in unpredictable weather to DAY TRIP to Venice? Ditto for Bassano. Whatever would family, especially the little ones, do in the latter for a couple of hours? You may also be overlooking the shortened daylight hours in this part of the world in December, too. Being crammed on a cold vaporetto in the dusk, and then having to drive back to Milan in the dark is not a holiday.

    I am sorry to write, and I mean this in the most polite way, that your entire itinerary should be scrapped. This holiday is best suited for summer, or perhaps late Spring or early Autumn. A December itinerary it is not. You would fare much, much better if you selected two or three resorts in the Dolomites or South Tyrol where there is something to do for everyone, grandparents and little ones included.

  • Report Abuse

    "I come from Australia, and have limited driving experience in snow so I am seriously considering the journey through from Bolzano through to Cortina and then Bled.
    If anyone has experience in driving through that part of the region in December, please share. Any route that is safest with minimal encounter of snow?"

    Now, I wasn't of the opinion that your itinerary was completely unfeasible, I just thought it needed some slimming and more time in each place due to the weather, shorter daylight hours, etc. However, with this new information in mind, I think you will have to reconsider. What do you mean by limited driving experience in snow? Have you driven in winter conditions for more than a day at all (not necessarily snow)? Do plenty of research on winter driving, proper techniques, how to avoid getting yourself into danger and then decide. Personally, I think it's safer to err on the side of caution and not drive, but I don't know how good of a driver you are.

    Aiming for a minimal encounter of snow is indeed a side note. You are travelling through the whole of December. It is not a question of avoiding snow, you will in all likelihood encounter at least a couple of days of snowfall. Regarding sticking to the motorways, they might get cleared faster, but they have many more heavy trucks than regular roads, which pose another danger.

    Finally, use traffic information services that are available online (in Slovenia, Radio SI also has nationwide traffic announcements in English) and talk to the locals about road conditions before setting off, especially if you have to cross any mountain passes.

    "Taking the points from Kja and Fourfortravel, I'll stay in Cortina for 2days to allow time for snow delays and also leave Bergamo/Como/Gorizia to stay in Mestre (2nights) and Milan (3nights) with day trips to Venice or Bassano Del Grappa."

    I seriously recommend dropping the south of Croatia and thus minimizing your driving instead of skipping places you will have to pass anyway. Including Zadar, Krka NP, Split and Mostar is essentially doubling the distance you have to cover on the entire trip.

  • Report Abuse

    Sorry to do so, and hope not to get a lot of criticism, but I am going to pile on a bit.

    On any trip, things can happen, and even if you are a great driver, accidents not involving you can happen. It is worse when it happens in winter. We have been caught in storms a few times. We were stuck once for 12 hours in a snow storm during the night. There was a major accident and it was difficult for rescue of any kind to get through. Ambulances slid off the road and helicopters could not fly. Actually, we were very lucky because we were on our way to a winter area for a holiday and the car was loaded with food and drinks for a week. We had just filled the gas tank and had sleeping bags.

    So, if you do go ahead with a winter trip, be well prepared. People will probably think it is overkill and you will likely be just fine and not need it. So, great. Be happy if you do not. You will sure be happy you have stuff if you do need it.

    I grew up in snowy Michigan. My smart Mom always had blankets, snacks, hot drinks and flashlights in the car, even for short trips.

15 Replies |Back to top

Sign in to comment.

Advertisement