2 weeks in Croatia: Late May early June

Jan 27th, 2014, 04:53 PM
  #1  
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2 weeks in Croatia: Late May early June

Hello helpful travelers,

I am hoping to get some unique advice on what your favorite activities-sights-hikes-locations are in Croatia.

I will be with a few girls, all of us in our early 30's and all very active, but interested in historic architecture, beautiful beaches, and great food-wine as well.

Besides all of the to-do stuff , I'm also looking for advice on how long we should stay in each place, or whether it makes sense (which would be much easier for us) to rent 1 week on one island in a house and 1 week on another island in a house or apt or even 2 weeks on the same island, and take day trips out to other places. I'm not familiar with how far everything is, and want to make sure I don't book us somewhere too long and we all get stir crazy (I did this on Elba Island which is gorgeous but didn't need 3 full days there unless on a honeymoon or romantic trip). Totally open to Bosnia trip just not quite sure how that would go money wise, travel time wise and if there are any different visas or anything needed...

Thank You in Advance!

Brooke
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Jan 27th, 2014, 06:36 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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If you are prone to getting stir-crazy, I wouldn't recommend renting a house on an island as you would be dependent on ferries to get off the island. But maybe I'm not understanding what you want.

Croatia includes such a wealth of opportunities that I can't imagine how any of us could tell you what to see or how long to spend seeing it. A good guide book or two should prove invaluable to you. I found The Rough Guide the most useful of the half-dozen or so that I consulted in preparation for my trip, in part because it has excellent information about transportation options. With 2 weeks, you will need to be selective.

For historic architecture, consider Dubrovnik, Split, Trogir, Sibenik, Zadar, maybe Rab, Pula, Porec, definitely Zagreb, and Cakovec (among other places). For beautiful beaches, I'm not the one to ask - maybe Korcula? For great food and wine, have no fear -- available throughout the country in all sorts of regional variations! Mostar (in Bosnia) is well worth a stop, particularly if you decide to stay overnight. Do not miss the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

I'll be happy to try to answer more questions once you have a better sense of what you would like to see and experience.

Happy planning!
kja is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 07:07 PM
  #3  
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Hi Kja,

great tips already. Thank You. I guess if I have to sum it up in an nutshell what we really enjoy the most, it is a balance between really outdoorsy active days (hikes and exploration most days and perhaps rent a sailboat one day or more dependant upon price), and then also some great chill days on beautiful beaches, with some historical architecture (so will be taking your tips here) mixed in. We aren't the lay all day every day on the beach and drink type gals.

I love the apartment or home idea because it gives us so much freedom to just travel around free of baggage and it also gives us a kitchen so we can do our own breakfasts in the morning before taking off, and do laundry, etc etc when needed. Plus all 3 of us are pretty awesome cooks and enjoy it so grabbing fresh seafood and some wine and doing a cookout at our beach place is definitely something we will very much enjoy doing occasionally. But: I'm not familiar with how long some of the travel times are from island to island. My client who recently went, strongly suggested we stay in Hvar. I see quite a few different option there so one question I Have is, which area would be most convenient to stay in? AS far as closest to modes of transportation and sights, etc

Also, I know 2 weeks is short but that's all the vacay most of us get here. I have a few days extra myself so I may try to add on Bosnia-Herzegovina trip or some other 2-3 day excursion on my own on the way to Croatia or on the way home.

Brooke
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Jan 27th, 2014, 08:09 PM
  #4  
kja
 
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Hvar Town is lovely -- if you want an upscale yacht resort. On the island of Hvar, I preferred Stari Grad, but it doesn't sound to me like that would fit your interests very well.

You can probably rent apartments for 3 or 4 days at a time, rather than a full week. Best bases depend on (a) whether you will have a car or not and (b) what specific things you want to do with your time.
kja is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 08:28 PM
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Hi Kja
Well, although the threads I've read on Croatia here are thoroughly confusing as far as I still have no idea really how I'll get from place to place and exactly which itinerary makes sense, I do think I have these basic details firmed:

1) We'd fly into Dubrovnik, as it's a more affordable ticket and seems like an amazing place. Seems like it would be worth it to spend at least a couple-few nights here (we'd also have to come back at end of trip, or at least the gals I'm traveling with would) and do some day trips out.
2) From Dubrovnik, if we want to see these places: Split, Trogir, Sibenik, Zadar, Pula or Porec, Zagreb, maybe Cakovec, Plitvice Park, etc where would we start and which ferries should I be looking at?
3) It sounds like you don't think Hvar would be the best place for us to spend a majority of the trip, should I just be looking at a few nights here?
4) I am completely open to renting a car whenever necessary. I will be the driver for our group. However, not sure the cost of this, or if there are special items I need to legally drive here? I'd like to get rid of it when possible, also. It it prohibitively expensive to pick up and drop off different locations? Or is it reasonable if picking up and dropping off in major cities
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Jan 27th, 2014, 08:30 PM
  #6  
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I also very much miss Italy, so I'm intrigued by the # of people on here who tack on a quick trip to Venice and other Italian cities to their Croatia itineraries. I'm fluent in Italian so It would be a fantastic end to my trip to spend a few days there. But I believe it makes my airfare much much higher to do these multicity flights
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Jan 27th, 2014, 09:01 PM
  #7  
kja
 
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I suspect that one of the reasons that you are finding threads about Croatia confusing is because it is a large country with many very different regions that offer very different experiences. So again: A good guide book or two should prove invaluable to you. I'm not trying to by coy, Brooke - I honestly can't decide for you what you and your friends want to see or experience. And IMO, it is a wonderful thing that people travel in different ways and for different reasons! ANY good guide book will cover the top sites, include maps, offer suggestions geared toward particular interests, provide information about transportation (how, how often, and how long), types of lodging and food, what it takes to rent and drive a car....

BTW, Dubrovnik is amazing and well worth a couple of nights, or perhaps more if you decide to do some day trips from there. But flying into and out of the same city doesn't often make sense, and in a country like Croatia, where you will likely end up quite far from Dubrovnik, you would probably do well to check into open jaw options.

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 09:21 PM
  #8  
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Kja- all good points. I think though, that that is exactly what I like about Fodors. People break things down into detailed explanations and itineraries of places you would never think of if you just looked at a map. For instance I saw some of the most amazing places in France, from ideas I got here. Had I just looked at the map and seen towns near where I was flying into I just wouldn't have gotten the real sense of what they were like and whether I woudl truly enjoy them. I absolutely love the honest and detail oriented tips people give on this site. They make or break a trip. I think what I am finding challenging is that I see so many locations listed for Croatia but each thread has little to no specific information or no links to the transportation between islands and places. I'm sure there's a thread that has links to all this stuff but I'm not sure how to find it. That would be really helpful. To know where I can pick up/drop off cars. Where trains and ferries realty make more sense, etc etc
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Jan 27th, 2014, 09:22 PM
  #9  
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PS I have a basic map
Brooke_Herron is offline  
Jan 27th, 2014, 09:42 PM
  #10  
kja
 
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"I think what I am finding challenging is that I see so many locations listed for Croatia but each thread has little to no specific information or no links to the transportation between islands and places ... That would be really helpful. To know where I can pick up/drop off cars. Where trains and ferries realty make more sense, etc etc"

Seriously, Brooke, that is exactly what a guide book offers. As I already mentioned, I prefer The Rough Guide specifically because it provides that information in easy-to-access detail, but ANY decent guidebook will cover at least SOME of this very basic information.

We can, and I'm sure WILL, respond to your questions with the richness and detail that Fodorites so generously share -- once you have clear questions. Until then, I really don't think I can offer anything else. Again, good luck. it's a beautiful part of the world.
kja is offline  
Jan 28th, 2014, 06:59 AM
  #11  
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It seems like, the more I look at these places, that I'm going to need to pick a few places and stick with those.

I know for sure I want to do Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Split. Would give ourselves a few days to explore this city, take a day trip somewhere one or 2 days (anyone have a comment on whether Monte Negro is worth it compared to other locations?), and then head on to Split.

So tentatively....

Fly into Dubrovnik. Spend Days 1-3 or 1-4 with Day Trip to Montenegro and trip to Mljet Island or Korcula (thoughts?)

Journey to Hvar Day 4: Is a day trip doable-realistic? Could we journey to Hvar for the day and then head on to Split and still get there by that evening or would it make more sense to stop a couple nights in Hvar and stay in Stari Grad? These places all look so close but I know it's not that easy.

Split and surrounding areas Day 5-8 Is this an easy ferry from Hvar?

Stay in Split a few days: It looks like a good homebase...

Plitvice Natl Park? Would this be a stop before Split, or something after Split? Or day trip from Split? I have seen suggestions that we should stay the night there, but welcome other opinions..

Days 9-13 Either head up North and See Zagreb or Istria and fly out of one of the airports here, or spend more time down South and just add days on to each of the places we are stopping. Zagreb and Istria look pretty far on the map, should we really try to do all of these in a 2 week trip, or should we stick down South? Or is there an easy-quick way to get up North to Istria and is it a not to miss spot..
Brooke_Herron is offline  
Jan 28th, 2014, 07:00 AM
  #12  
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Kja- I will be picking up that guide. Thanks for the suggestion
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Jan 28th, 2014, 07:55 AM
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Stopping in Hvar between Dubrovnik and Split is not realistic. First you have to drive from Dubrovnik down to the ferry and the main car ferry to Stari Grad takes two hours each way.

You should allow a day to get there, then spend two days on the island at minimum. I love Hvar Town and while there are yachts and upscale resorts there is also a lot more to it - it is very beautiful there, the beaches are great, there are lovely walks all around town, and there are some very good restaurants. I have been twice in late May and early June and will go back again this May. It was pretty quiet at that time of year for the last two years.

A beach day, weather permitting would be great in Hvar Town, you can rent beach recliners from the Hula Hula bar and drink cocktails by the sea. They have a big party there at sunset time, but I have never stayed for that part.

Stari Grad is not too far away and there are numerous nooks and crannies of the island to explore if you have a car. There are several wineries on Hvar Island including one right on the ocean where you can try the wines and eat lunch (Zlatan Otak.)

Split and Plitvice sound good and you can go to Plitvice on the way to Zagreb to get home. I don't think you have time for Istria, it deserves more, and someday you could combine a trip of NE Italy and Istria. You can utilize your Italian in Istria, many people speak it there.

I agree to stay over at Plitvice, maybe even two nights - one to arrive, relax and have dinner and the next to explore the park. I love this place; it is owned by a wonderful family, and breakfast and dinner are included in the rates.
http://www.plitvice-croatia.com/

You are going to love Croatia!
rialtogrl is offline  
Jan 28th, 2014, 08:29 AM
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"Dubrovnik, Split, Trogir, Sibenik, Zadar, Pula or Porec, Zagreb, maybe Cakovec, Plitvice Park, etc where would we start and which ferries should I be looking at?"
~Going by this list, you could start with 3 nights in Dubrovnik, bus to Split (4 hours away, buses practically hourly) 3 nights, bus to Plitvice 1 night, bus to Zadar 2 nights, bus to Pula or Porec 3 nights, bus to Zagreb 2 nights. That's 14 days, with Trogir and Sibenik as day trips or stop overs in transit.
Alternatively, on your evolved itinerary including islands, you will find the website of the main ferry operator useful:
http://www.jadrolinija.hr/en/home
Note there are some smaller regional operators.

Comments on your revised itinerary appear below:
"Fly into Dubrovnik. Spend Days 1-3 or 1-4 with Day Trip to Montenegro and trip to Mljet Island or Korcula (thoughts?)"
~Korcula is too far for a day trip, but you can stop there on the way to Split (bus to Korcula, yes the bus takes a ferry, then ferry to Split).

"Journey to Hvar Day 4: Is a day trip doable-realistic? Could we journey to Hvar for the day and then head on to Split and still get there by that evening or would it make more sense to stop a couple nights in Hvar and stay in Stari Grad? These places all look so close but I know it's not that easy."
~You would hate a day trip to Hvar--it is the kind of place you want to spend a few days.

"Split and surrounding areas Day 5-8 Is this an easy ferry from Hvar?"
~yes, see ferry link above.

"Stay in Split a few days: It looks like a good homebase..."
You night think that, but while Split has its charms, a lot of people find it a letdown after being on the idyllic islands. Croatia is very laid back.

"Plitvice Natl Park? Would this be a stop before Split, or something after Split? Or day trip from Split? I have seen suggestions that we should stay the night there, but welcome other opinions.."
Geographically it would come after Split. I recommend an overnight.

"Days 9-13 Either head up North and See Zagreb or Istria and fly out of one of the airports here, or spend more time down South and just add days on to each of the places we are stopping. Zagreb and Istria look pretty far on the map, should we really try to do all of these in a 2 week trip, or should we stick down South? Or is there an easy-quick way to get up North to Istria and is it a not to miss spot.."
Why surmise places "look far" when you can google the facts (i.e., time via drive or bus)???

Once you read your guide book and make some choices it will be easy to piece together the itinerary and figure out transport. The mistake most people make is trying to do too much. I generally advice three days per place, with exceptions of course. Day trips are often not the most efficient course in Croatia because of travel times and ferry schedules, so moving from place to place in a leisurely fashion is the best course.

hope that helps--good luck!
yorkshire is offline  
Jan 28th, 2014, 07:17 PM
  #15  
kja
 
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"You would hate a day trip to Hvar--it is the kind of place you want to spend a few days" -- I must admit that I was glad to have only a part of a day in Hvar Town, as I found it FAR too high-brow for my tastes. Another great example of the legitimate differences between people in their travel preferences!

"while Split has its charms, a lot of people find it a letdown after being on the idyllic islands. Croatia is very laid back." -- Croatia CAN be very laid back, if that is how one chooses to experience it. I chose to experience it differently and I loved Split, in part, for its energy.

"Day trips are often not the most efficient course in Croatia because of travel times and ferry schedules, so moving from place to place in a leisurely fashion is the best course." -- I agree that day trips may not be efficient. That's why I moved on as frequently as I did.

"Once you read your guide book and make some choices it will be easy to piece together the itinerary and figure out transport." -- I agree.
kja is offline  
Jan 28th, 2014, 08:02 PM
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I too have been researching these places and found the Rough Guide to be invaluable. The VisitCroatia website isn't too bad either. We are cruising to Koper (& Piran),Split (& Trogir) and Dubrovnik (among other places) later this year, which I imagine could be slightly frustrating because it means one day only in each place. However we also intend doing some pre-cruise driving of some Northern Croatia places that the cruise misses. Hence my researches! For what it's worth, we've pretty much settled on an itinerary that includes (ignoring some of Northern Italy at the start), Rovinj (day trips to Pula & Porec), Lovran (ditto Roč & Hum), Zadar, Plitvice, Zagreb and then into Slovenia.
twoflower is offline  
Jan 29th, 2014, 08:55 AM
  #17  
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Yorkshire and rialtogirl- great tips thank you!

I think a few days on Hvar would be very nice. Also, thanks for pointing out that Korcula is too much for a day trip.

Yorkshire-have you done Montenegro or Mljet?

rialtogirl- you suggest skipping Istria, I must say I'm inclined to agree, since it means we spend more relaxed time in Dubrovnik, on the way to Split (seeing Korcula), in Hvar, and then at Plitvice. Between Plitvice and Zagreb is there anything we should see?

and Thank you for the link to the Plitvice hotel. I'm booking us ahead everywhere to take the stress out of the trip, and also to ensure we get affordable and good lodging, since I know it's a popular travel destination. Tips from fellow travelers are the best way to go
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Jan 29th, 2014, 10:10 AM
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Updated tentative Itinerary based on tips, suggestions, and having chosen airports we are flying in-out of:

Day 1: Arrive in Dubrovnik late afternoon. Check into our apartment. Do dinner out somewhere

Day 2: Explore Dubrovnik

Day 3: Day Trip to Montenegro (or overnight is possible if day trip is too hectic, suggestions welcome)

Day 4: Head to Hvar by Ferry. Check into apartment. Explore Hvar (will get more detailed with researching exactly what to do here, on a separate thread to make it easier)

Day 5: Hvar

Day 6: Hvar

Day 7: Leave for Korcula. Spend day here and stay night here (worth 2 nights considering our limited time? I do do hate checking out of places every day but also want to see a lot?).

Day 8: Head to Split. Spend day in Split. Stay night in Split

Day 9: Spend Day in Split. Potentially rent car this afternoon and head to Plitvice. Need to do more research on what we might want to do in Split and whether we will want to leave today or next day

Days 10&11: Plitvice. I'm going to rent us an apartment close to park's entrance. Prices look really high through the sites I"ve seen people recommend, compared to rest of Croatia. I'm opting for air bnb as this never steers me wrong and will save us a lot of $.

Leave evening of 11th day for Zagreb (still waiting for my guide book to see if this even makes sense drive time wise and transportation wise)

Question insert here: If we pick up a car in Split to drive to Plitvice, is it typically non-exorbitant rates to then drop this car off in Zagreb? Is it worth considering taking public transportation to Plitvice, so we don't have to deal with this, or does the travel time ,and the country passed through, make driving the best option?

Days 12 and 13: Zagreb

Personal itinerary for me Days 13-16 since I plan to stay and see a bit more before heading home. Tips for solo traveling from base of Zagreb welcome...
Brooke_Herron is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2014, 08:49 AM
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I am not sure what source you are using, but it does not make sense to go from Dubrovnik all the way to Hvar, then back to Korcula, then north again. You would visit Korcula en route from Dubrovnik to Hvar/Split (depends on ferry schedule).
However, your allocation for number of days from Dubrovnik to Zagreb sounds good.
The Montenegro day trip (assuming you mean to bay of Kotor) can be done with a rental car or a private driver/tour. The bus schedule does not allow for a day trip--it is about 3 hours away.
After your friends depart, you could easily get to Istria from Zagreb. Or, you could explore the less touristed northern interior. Lots of options.
I found taking public transportation from Split to Plitvice to Zagreb quite easy. However, if you wish to stay outside of the park's immediate vicinity you may prefer having a car.
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Feb 3rd, 2014, 10:55 AM
  #20  
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yorkshire- thanks for the information!

Yes, I'm not sure about the info I got about Korcula, but looking at the map it didn't make sense... heh
I'm not completely attached to the Montenegro day trip but I would like to take a day trip somehwhere from Dubrovnik where we can come back that night. do you have any suggestions?

I can find us an apartment right outside the Park in Plitvice, from what I've seen so far, so I will look into public transport options. Seems like with 3 of us it would probably cost the same to rent a car as to buy 3 separate tickets everywhere and might save us some time.

what parts of the 'less touristed northern interior' do you like? Is this an area where I'd be fine traveling alone (small young woman) without speaking the language? I have also been considering more and more just hopping over to Italy for a few days and then back to Zagreb, when I'm solo. It's so close!
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