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Best of Croatia in short trip? Please critique my itinerary

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Jan 2nd, 2013, 05:02 PM
  #1
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Best of Croatia in short trip? Please critique my itinerary

My boyfriend and I (mid-50s) are planning a trip to Croatia this summer, probably mid-June and need to firm up our plans so we can book our hotels. We're looking for a mix of beach relaxation, outdoor activities and a chance to soak up the culture. Museums don't interest my boyfriend much, so we'll probably skip them this trip.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

Day 1 - Arrive Zagreb, pick up rental car, drive 2 1/2 hours to Plivitce Lakes, spend night
Day 2 - Spend morning hiking Plivitce Lakes, lunch in the area, leave mid-afternoon for Split, 3 1/2 hours, spend night Split
Day 3 - From Split, take a kayaking or canoeing/rafting excursion
Day 4 - Morning in Split, depart for Korcula, 3 1/2 hours (stop for break at Brela beach)
Day 5 - Korcula - beach/relaxation day
Day 6 - Morning in Korcula; mid day departure for Dubrovnik, 3 1/2 hour drive
Day 7 - Dubrovnik
Day 8 - Dubrovnik
Day 9 - Fly home from Dubrovnik

Does the pacing seem about right? Is this doable without being too rushed? I had hoped to insert Mostar after Split, but I don't think we have time. I know we're missing Istria completely, but given our short trip, i don't see how we have time for it.

Must-do's for us: Dubrovnik, Plivitce, and at least one beach/relaxation day.

What do you think?
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 05:29 PM
  #2
kja
 
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Given your interests, I'd say your plan is reasonable. I trust others will chime in with their views.

If possible, time your trip so that you are in Korcula on one of the nights when the moresca is performed - great fun!

It's a beautiful part of the world. Enjoy!
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 07:50 PM
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Can recommend lodgings in Plitvice, Split and Dubrovnik. Have been to the old Yugoslavia in the 70's and 80's and to each of what are now the independent republics. These three hotels may or may not be in your budget. (While in Split take a short drive out to Trogir near the airport and have lunch on its promenade...a very scenic little town.

Hotel Park in Split...a classic throwback to old Yugoslavia..it's own beach, and a short walk into the middle of town and Diocletian's Palace ruins. Beautiful terrace overlooking the beach..very quiet surroundings..convenient for your beach relaxation days.

Hotel Jezero (lake) in Plitvice....fine dinner menu, not much else available in the park. You'll get a room with balcony overlooking the cascades and the lakes.(we were last there in the early spring with snow all around)

In Dubrovnik, the Villa Dubrovnik...handsome place with great views of the old city in the distance. A comfortable walk to the walled city. Again, with view balcony. I will include some pics and the web sites below.

You will have a joyous visit...itinerary looks doable.Perhaps a bit overestimated on driving times...the A-12 is a finely engineered highway. I was impressed, having driven the little twisty, two-lane roads often, during pre-warring days.
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 08:00 PM
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You might just skip Split entirely and stop the second night near Brela. Besides Diocletian's Palace, there's not much to it (though some people love Split or nearby Trogir even more). You could see Diocletian's Palace in a an hour or two, but getting into/out of Split consumes time. On my trip to the area, I drove from Zagreb to Plitvice, spent a night there, and spent the following night in Baska Voda near Brela. Baska Voda is a pretty dull (but pretty!) town but it would have the relaxation/beach thing - so would the other nearby towns.

Do you have just two nights in Dubrovnik at the end or three? If you have three, you could certainly use one of them for Mostar (which I also drove to). Personally, given a choice I'd go for Mostar over Split though I understand that's not an either/or choice in your itinerary necessarily. Or you could do a long day of driving from Korcula and do a day trip to Mostar and get into Dubrovnik late, though Mostar is better after the daytime tour groups go home. It feels more exotic compared to what you see elsewhere in Croatia.

You can drive from Korcula Town to the mainland with two ferries (one to Orebic, one to Ploce) and skip driving the peninsula down to Dubrovnik. That would give you a pretty straight shot to Mostar via Metkovic.

Dubrovnik is great but you don't HAVE to have three nights there - I did and two would have been plenty for me. If you want more beach time in Dubrovnik, you might consider staying nearby Lapad. In Dubrovnik, you could walk the old city walls one morning (probably a must-do if you can) and have at least one dinner there, but beach scene is really better in Lapad. (I visited Lapad but wasn't looking for beach time so it wasn't to my liking.) Dubrovnik will probably be mobbed with cruise ship tours during the day, anyway.

Let's see if anyone here agrees/disagrees with me and you can weigh the consensus!
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 08:18 PM
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althom..here are the lodgings I recommend for you:

http://hotelpark-split.hr/en/7/location/

http://www.booking.com/hotel/hr/jezero.en.html

http://www.villa-dubrovnik.hr/
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Jan 2nd, 2013, 08:33 PM
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althom:

Here are some old scanned pix of the Old and the New Yugoslavia. These are not great, but they do tell a story of the old and the new. I'm afraid I'm only a rank amateur photographer. Every place mentioned in my post and on your itnerary is shown herein. My overseas travel days are over, but I do have thousands of pix (scanned and digital) and delicious memories of the many decades of world wide travel which I enjoy sharing. Don't put off any travel plans!

https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...Kq1odTr3IKLHA#

Stu Tower
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 08:31 AM
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Have you pinpointed a kayak excursion you want to take--I assume sea kayak? I know there is white water rafting at Omis, south of Split. I have not noticed any kayak tours out of
Split, but there is one out of Dubrovnik, so that may work toward skipping Split to get more rural, relaxation time. Since you have a car, I'd use it to explore the Peljesac peninsula and drive to Mostar. You should be able to do both. You could lose a night from Dubrovnik. enjoy!
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 08:53 AM
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I would agree that 3 days is too much in Dubrovnik, given the cruise ship crowds. We did the walls early in the morning to avoid the crowds and the heat. We went on the 3 Island tour out of Dubrovnik, it was a great way to get away from the crowds in Dubrovnik.
In Split we arrived mid afternoon and had plenty of time to walk around Diocletian's Palace. We took a guided walking tour of Diocletian's Palace the next day and I wouldn't recommend it, a good guide book and you can do a self-guided tour. We went to Trogar as well and spent a couple hours, a nice place for a relaxing walk and lunch.
I would add Mostar if you can, it was a highlight of our trip. If you arrive in Mostar later in the day and spend the night, do your touring early in the day before the tour buses arrive and then head to Dubrovnik. You will still have plenty of time to hit the Buza Bar for sunset. We stayed at the Villa Anri in Mostar, a wonderful little B&B close to the bridge and easy walking to old town. Here is the link:
http://www.villa-anri-mostar.ba
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 05:37 PM
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You all have given me a LOT to think about. I'll go over all this with my boyfriend and we may make some modifications. The company I'm looking at for the sea kayaking is below, which goes from Split, but it looks like we wouldn't necessarily have to stay in Split since we'll have a car. We're considering the river canoeing or rafting as an alternative - haven't decided yet. Possibly we could do the canoeing out of Split and the kayaking from Dubrovnik.

http://www.splitadventure.com/excursions.asp

We're on a budget, looking to spend about $100 per night on lodging, on average.

Regarding Dubrovnik, we'd have three nights there using the itinerary above, but now I'm thinking that might be too much. I also considered using one of the Dubrovnik days to go to Lokum or another nearby island as a day trip.

And I'm liking the idea about Mostar - I do want to see it and yes, it looks a little different than anything else. I deliberately over-estimated the driving times a bit to give us a cushion.

Will study up a little more on the details of all your comments and come back with more questions/ideas in a day or two. In the meantime, keep the idea coming!

Thanks,
Karen
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 06:10 PM
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Would you choose Korcula or Hvar? That's one dilemma I've had.
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 06:53 PM
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I've only been to Korcula. It was nice, but I went late in the season (mid-October) so it was kind of dead. You'd be there in June so it should be pretty busy and lively.

The impression I got was that Hvar was more about partying and nightlife and high-class yachts, etc. and Korcula was more laid back - but that might be simplifying things a bit, and having not been to Hvar I can't stand by the generalization.

You can have a look at my Korcula pics if you like:

http://www.portlandbridges.com/00,5D...a-croatia.html
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 07:01 PM
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kja
 
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If you're on a budget, consider skipping the rental car entirely or returning it in Split. (Some people think having a car is a great asset when visiting the Plitvice Lakes; others find a car unnecessary for that stretch). You should easily be able to visit most of the other places mentioned so far by public transportation - I did!

Personally, I think 2 days reasonable for a laid-back visit to Dubrovnik, but people have different ideas. Lokrum is just a short hop away and well worth a few hours. Mljet might also be a good choice for you for a day trip.

Mostar is well worth considering and can also be visited by public transportation. I agree that it is particularly lovely after day-trippers leave. While I loved Mostar, I also found being there very bittersweet, as the signs of the war that ravaged it in the 1990s were still evident. But the old bridge (Stari Most) has been beautifully rebuilt, as have a number of mosques and ottoman-style houses, and the setting is stunningly gorgeous. I'm definitely glad to have been there.

Good luck!
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 07:11 PM
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I did part of this with a car and part with public transportation, but given the OP's time constraints, I'd probably keep the car. It's just going to make things easier and save time. One place where it might be challenging to have a car is in Korcula, but there are options for that. They could dump the car upon arrival in Dubrovnik, though, and take a bus or taxi to the airport at the end.

FYI, in Korcula I stayed at Apartments Lenni and highly recommend it. I see on Trip Advisor that, three years after I visited, reviewers are still favoring it. The apartments aren't too far from a car park as I recall (though I didn't have a car for that part).
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Jan 3rd, 2013, 07:16 PM
  #14
kja
 
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I visited both Korcula and Hvar and enjoyed both, if for very different reasons.

Korcula Town is very small and very beautifully situated, it has some amazing and (I believe) unusual medieval stone carvings, and is the only place where the moresca is still performed.

For Hvar, I stayed in Stari Grad (not Hvar Town) because I wanted to see Tvrdalj Castle - which I loved, but doesn't sound like your thing. I thought Stari Grad a charming and very laid-back fishing village/town with a very well-restored medieval core at the end of a lovely inlet.

In contrast, Hvar Town, which I visited for only a few hours, is a stunningly gorgeous town that has a number of high-end accommodations and lots of well-heeled visitors. I was very glad to see its architecture (Renaissance influences in the core, some more medieval streets off the main path).

Of these three, Stari Grad is the quietest, least expensive, and in most ways for most people, probably the least interesting. Hvar Town is the most touristed and most expensive. Korcula is in between.

Note, though, that I wasn't looking for beach time or relaxation or sporting activities on my trip to Croatia, so I don't know how these places will strike you.

Hope that helps!
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Jan 4th, 2013, 09:17 AM
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Hvar vs. Korcula is kind of a toss-up. I agree with others' assessment, but in June Hvar should not be too crazy. If you take the car, you have to wait for a ferry, whereas without one you can take catamarans. On Hvar, I found it easier to get little day boats to the small islands offshore, whereas on Korcula, bus service was better and it was more flat for biking. I'd let the ferry schedule be my guide, but given the trajectory you have going, Korcula may make the best sense.
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Jan 4th, 2013, 12:23 PM
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Yes, I had based the Korcula decision largely on the routing of the trip. It seemed to be the most logical in terms of driving distance each time we move. And even if we could use public transportation for less money, I still want the car. I like the convenience and ability to stop whenever/where ever we feel like it.

Back to Hvar vs. Korcula - i had read earlier comments that lay out differences along the lines you all are mentioning. I think I'd probably like Korcula better and my boyfriend would like Hvar better (just the differences in our personal preferences). I'm going to check out ferry schedules and see if that gives me a better idea of which would work better. I've pretty much decided to cut Dubrovnik back to 2 nights and go to Mostar for 1 night, although I guess we could day-trip there. I like the idea, though of being there before/after the tourist hordes depart.
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Jan 4th, 2013, 02:04 PM
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I don't think you'll be disappointed with Korcula.
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Jan 16th, 2013, 08:18 PM
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We've revised our itinerary slightly:

Day 1 - arrive Zagreb, drive to Plitvice
Day 2 - Plitvice morning, drive to Trogir mid-afternoon, overnight Trogir
Day 3 - Trogir
Day 4 - Leave for Hvar - arrive early afternoon
Day 5 - Hvar
Day 6 - Leave for Mostar - arrive mid-afternoon
Day 7 - Leave for Dubrovnik - arrive around lunchtime
Day 8 - Dubrovnik
Day 9 - fly home

Basically we replaced Split for Trogir, and Hvar for Korcula. Plus we dropped a night from Dubrovnik to visit Mostar. We've decided to skip Split altogether. We're not interested in the Diocletian Palace and could do without a large city. Trogir sounds better to us.

Now I'm not sure which day to do the sea kayaking - where would be best? I think we'll rent a boat on day 5 to visit/swim at the small islands off Hvar.

So how does this look? And are there any other suggestions for us?

Thanks!
Karen
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Jan 17th, 2013, 02:09 PM
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Thanks for all the ideas. I'm planning week long trip to Montenegro (for the sea and the mountains & the white-waters) in June/July... Ideally with a train ride into Kotor area from Vienna via Zagreb or from Istanbul via Bulgaria but worried about train commute : how long?? routing?? cost?? not easy to research (can't read German or Serbian)... Recommendations???
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Jan 17th, 2013, 03:45 PM
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Might be best to start your own thread, since you are talking about an entirely different (if neighboring) country.
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