Can't decide where to go in Spring 2019

May 7th, 2018, 02:30 PM
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Can't decide where to go in Spring 2019

Hello!
We always make several visits a year to France to visit our daughter and her family who live in southern France, and we usually stay with them for 2 weeks.. Now that we are retired, we try to add a new destination to our France trip. For example, last September, we spent 2 weeks in Madrid and Andalucia after we visited our daughter. We just returned from a 3-week trip last week (2 weeks in France and 5 nights in Lisbon). Because our daughter and her family will be visiting us this summer and again at Christmas, we most likely won't return to France until spring of 2019. I am having such difficulty deciding where to go after our visit! There are so many places we want to see!

I would love to hear from travelers who have been to Croatia, Greece, and/or Italy. I know everyone has different interests, etc., but I genuinely love to hear what places people like and why, and what they didn't like and why. I also need good advice on what destination would be the best for a 2-week visit either the last 2 weeks of April or any 2 weeks in May. I understand we have to take into consideration ferry schedules for Greece and Croatia, and possibly restaurant openings, etc. We love everything! Beautiful scenery, cities, countryside, local food and wines, art museums, history museums, castles and cathedrals, etc! We love to wander around neighborhoods and relax at cafes. The only thing I can't do is hiking up mountains!

So, these are our choices:

Croatia - My husband and I have not been to Croatia. Our youngest daughter visited Croatia, and she loved it! I have read trip reports and planning threads, and I know it is a place we would enjoy. We will have 2 weeks. We would like to see Dubrovnik, Split, Plitvice, Zadar, Mostar, Bay of Kotor, and possibly a little of Slovenia. And an island. If we can't do all this in 2 weeks, then I'll have to eliminate some places when I do more detailed research.

Greece - I was in Greece in 1972! That was my first overseas trip, and i was bitten by the travel bug. I was with a tour group; we based in Athens, and took day trips to Cape Sounion, Delphi, and a one-day cruise to Aegina, Hydra, and Poros. My husband has never been to Greece. I think Greece is his first choice (especially the islands), while Croatia might be my first choice, but my preference keeps changing everytime I read a trip report! If we choose Greece for next Spring, I would like to spend 3 or 4 nights in Athens, and then visit Santorini, Naxos, Paros, and/or Crete. I know the ferries don't run as frequently in April/May. Is this doable?

Italy We both spent a week in Rome in the 1970's, and we haven't been to Italy since then. Our daughter who lives in France visited the Amalfi Coast when she was in college, and loves it! I am sure we would love it, too. If a week is enough on the AC, I would also like to spend a week in Sicily. I'm sure many Fodorites will recommend 2 weeks in Sicily. But Amalfi Coast would be my first choice, and one week in Sicily is better than none.

Honestly, I go back and forth every day about where we should go! I would welcome and appreciate any suggestions, ideas, opinions, what you liked and why. Once we decide on a destination, I will purchase several guidebooks. I love to read guidebooks!

Thank you!
KarenWoo is offline  
May 7th, 2018, 10:40 PM
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For Greece, if you confine your islands to Santorini, Naxos, and Paros, the ferries run every day all year round, so you don't even have to factor that into your planning. For Santorini > Crete the daily ferries usually start around the middle of April, and it won't be until after the New Year that schedules are published. Of course there are daily ferries and flights to Crete from Athens.

It would be better to go straight to an island and save Athens for the end of the trip, just in case strikes or weather cancel the ferries. You might want to consider a trip to Delphi and/or Nafplio while you are on the mainland. I love the islands for their beaches, but there is far more to see on the mainland.
Heimdall is offline  
May 8th, 2018, 02:42 AM
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I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to Portugal. As far as the next one - I don't think you can go wrong with any of those itineraries.

We had eight days in Croatia and did half of what you list (Dubrovnik, Split, Korcula, Mostar and Bay of Kotor and felt the timing was good. So in two weeks it would seem reasonable you could add in Plitvice and Zadar, etc. We really liked Croatia, and I would like to go back, but I do remember my husband and I saying that it was so similar in many ways to Italy, and Italy is even better.

Italy is my favorite country and I can't get enough of it (in fact this is one of the rare years where my total 7 weeks in Europe will not include Italy and I have a bit of 'withdrawal' symptoms). I've been to the Amalfi Coast numerous times and you can certainly get a great vacation with just one week there. I do think Sicily deserves a bit more than a week but I also don't think you'd be terribly disappointed if you combined the two in two weeks (can you tack on an extra 3 or 4 days?).

Your plan for 3 or 4 nights Athens then Santorii, Naxos and Paros is a 'favorite' itinerary on Fodors, and probably everywhere else, and for good reason. My first trip to Greece I did just that (plus added a few days in Naplion and Delphi for a total of about two weeks). We spent 8 days in Crete all by itself on another trip and could have used more so I would probably pick one or the other for a two week trip and not try to do all of it in two weeks. I think a lot of people do Crete and Santorini (if the ferry between them is going) and that would be a good combo.

So probably didn't help you narrow it down much. Good news is all your plans are 'doable' and great.

Here's one of my trip reports that was a total of three weeks Amafli Coast and Croatia, but if you click on my name and scroll to trip reports you'll find others.
Amalfi Coast, Rome and Croatia - Images of three hot but wonderful weeks

And photos of all the places are here: Zenfolio | isabel's_images
isabel is online now  
May 8th, 2018, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Heimdall View Post
For Greece, if you confine your islands to Santorini, Naxos, and Paros, the ferries run every day all year round, so you don't even have to factor that into your planning. For Santorini > Crete the daily ferries usually start around the middle of April, and it won't be until after the New Year that schedules are published. Of course there are daily ferries and flights to Crete from Athens.

It would be better to go straight to an island and save Athens for the end of the trip, just in case strikes or weather cancel the ferries. You might want to consider a trip to Delphi and/or Nafplio while you are on the mainland. I love the islands for their beaches, but there is far more to see on the mainland.
Heimdall, thank you for your response. Is the water warm enough to swim in during April or May? While we usually don't go to Europe for the beaches, it would be nice to have the option of spending part of a day at the beach. I'm not surprised there is more to see on the mainland, but I know my husband wants to spend some time on the Greek islands, too. Realistically, how much time would we need to see Delphi and Nafplio? Could we see a few islands, Athens, Delphi and Nafplio in 2 weeks?

It's possible we could change our trip to next June instead of April or May, but then it means we have to wait longer to see our grandchildren. And they are our first priority.
KarenWoo is offline  
May 8th, 2018, 09:12 AM
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Isabel, thank you for your comments, your photos, and your trip report to Amalfi Coast and Croatia! I just finished reading it, and discovered that I commented on it back in March when someone else topped it. I am saving it so that i can refer to it when I decide where to go next spring! And I like your comparisons of Croatia to Italy, Greece, and France!
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May 8th, 2018, 09:15 AM
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Mostar is in Herzegovina, 3-4 hours by road from Split. It's often done as a day trip from Split or Dubrovnik.....a waste of time in my opinion.

Much better to spend a few days, not just Mostar but also a few days in Sarajevo [Bosnia]. And using both Mostar and Sarajevo as bases to visit beautiful outlying areas. The 2.5 train trip between Mostar and Sarejevo is like being in a dream.

Also have a look at Macedonia. We've been travelling round for the last couple of weeks by public transport, Skopje, Lake Ohrid, Bitola, and loving everything about the country.

Romania too. We're off to Bucharest next month, and then travelling round Transylvania for 3 weeks independently by train.....can't wait.

Last edited by LancasterLad; May 8th, 2018 at 09:17 AM. Reason: Adding text
LancasterLad is offline  
May 8th, 2018, 09:39 AM
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Hi KarenWoo, most people find the water too cold for swimming in April and early May. June would be better, and more things are open too. Even in June the water is 'invigorating', so it may not be worth the delay in seeing your grandchildren. In a way that's good, because you will have more time for sightseeing when you spend less time on the beach. ;-)

I see no reason why you couldn't fit in Nafplio, Delphi, Athens, and a couple of islands in two weeks. For example, you could do 3 nights each on Santorini and Naxos (or Paros), fly back from there to Athens, and pick up a car at the airport. Drive from the airport to Nafplio (about 2-3 hours), and spend a few nights there to see the sights in the Argolis area: http://visitnafplio.com .

Drive from Nafplio up to Delphi for a night or two, then back to Athens. You won't need a car in central Athens, so can drop it off back at the airport.

DISCLAIMER: there are other people on the forum, e.g. stanbr, who know far more than me about road trips on the mainland.
Heimdall is offline  
May 8th, 2018, 09:53 AM
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For Croatia, June would also be more reliable for swimming, but late May is fine (depends on your tolerance of course!)
yorkshire is offline  
May 8th, 2018, 10:50 AM
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LancasterLad,
Romania is on my list of places to see before I get too old! But probably not for 2019, though. My daughter who went to Croatia went to Romania on her honeymoon, and loved it. Some people thought it was a weird destination for a honeymoon . . . I guess it doesn't sound romantic, but definitely sounds intriguing and different. She said they definitely felt like they stepped back in time . . . farmers driving wagons on the road, etc. Do you plan on writing a trip report for Romania?

Yorkshire, swimming would not be our first priority. So we will most likely stick with April or May. I was just curious what water temps would be. Sounds like it wouldn't be an option for us.

Heimdall, we prefer more time for sightseeing than swimming.

But sitting next to the water and eating fresh fish, whether it's in Greece or Croatia, is what we are looking for.
KarenWoo is offline  
May 8th, 2018, 10:52 AM
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Just wanted to mention it, late spring is a wonderful time to be in Italy or Croatia--I keep alternating between them, bu I hope to make it to Greece one day!
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May 10th, 2018, 04:59 AM
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Originally Posted by yorkshire View Post
Just wanted to mention it, late spring is a wonderful time to be in Italy or Croatia--I keep alternating between them, bu I hope to make it to Greece one day!
We love to travel during the off-season: less crowds, lower prices, and more pleasant weather. At my age, I find it difficult sightseeing when temps are in the 90ís. We may have to give up a little such as not being able to swim but thatís ok with us because sightseeing is more important to us than swimming when we travel to Europe.

Have you written any trip reports for Croatia or Italy? I would love to read them if you have.
KarenWoo is offline  
May 13th, 2018, 09:21 PM
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We are off to Croatia next week and will post a TR soon after. But check out my trip report for Naples/Sicily from a few years ago. Those destinations pair well. Sicily requires a lot of moving around so just a week Is hard.
If you havenít been to Italy in so long why not explore more traditional spots there? You can check my really old TR for cinque terre, the lakes, Milan and Piedmont.
But any part of Italy would be delightful! I could go back to Rome tomorrow.
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May 14th, 2018, 12:41 AM
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Honestly, Greece nowadays is such a boring place to be. Croatia has the same architecture outlook alongside, but there's some more, don't know, living vibe around, I would say.
jackthelad is offline  
May 14th, 2018, 03:50 PM
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Alison, I am looking forward to your trip report on Croatia.
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May 16th, 2018, 05:49 AM
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you absolutely can do all of your croatia plans in 2 weeks, and may is ideal- it was pretty crowded when we were there early may, but we had great weather and a great time. everyone kept telling us it is a zoo, way overcrowded come june- august, so for sure take advantage of the 'off' season
we loved slovenia, would have spent more time there for sure if we could have (only were there 2 days)
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May 16th, 2018, 05:06 PM
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4bams, thank you! I appreciate hearing about your experience in Croatia and knowing that May is ideal.
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May 17th, 2018, 05:57 PM
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I was in Croatia mid April and while a very few things were closed it didn't matter. I wouldn't want to go when it is more crowded. I have not been to Greece but have been to Italy. Croatia seems to be what Italy was like before it became crowded. I love the old castles and pedestrian old towns. I wish I had rented a car and spent more time in Montenegro. The Bay of Kotor is amazing. I wish I had stayed in Kotor. Croatia is Catholic and Orthodox and some of the churches, in fact most are amazing. Durbrovnik is a dream. Lovely surrounded by water and city walls. I rented a car and went to Plitvace (which by the way I would skip) because I guess I've seen a lot of waterfalls and didn't think they were fabulous. Many have disagreed with me on this. I drove all over the countryside on my way to Slovenia and then Zagreb. More castles, some amazing ruins that I love even more than restored castles. It lets the imagination wander. There are many medieval villages with old towns to discover. The countryside is green and filled with wildflowers. The Croatians drive much like Americans, not crazy like it Italy. (Please don't take that the wrong way) I would skip Slovenia and spend more time in the countryside in Croatia. Lake Bled is lovely but not as magnificent as other Alps location. One last thing. It seemed everywhere I stayed the staff were happy I was there. They really made the trip special. Don't even get me started on the breakfasts. So, yes! Go to Croatia. It has everything.
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May 17th, 2018, 06:01 PM
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One other thing. I did the Amalfi Coast before I went to Croatia. I flew into Rome and took the train down. I stayed in Positano and did day trips to Capri and took the bus to other towns on the coast. I love coastlines and Amalfi is astounding. Nothing else like it on earth. (or at least I think so and I've been to a lot of coasts.) So you could easily do Amalfi and go back to Rome as I did and fly the one hour to Dubrovnik. I don't know if you'd fly from Paris but it was easy to get to Zagreb and fly from there.
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May 17th, 2018, 07:32 PM
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TerryThor, thank you so much for your lovely detailed description of Croatia, and for your comments about the Amalfi Coast.

How many weeks did you spend in Croatia and Slovenia? You posted reports during your trip, right? I think I remember reading about your bus trip to Bay of Kotor. So it sounds like you rented a car for part of your trip, but not to go to Montenegro. What made you decide to take the bus?

Thank you!
KarenWoo is offline  
May 18th, 2018, 06:26 AM
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Stupidity made me take the bus..🙄☹️

The bus was horrible. Everyone has to get off at the border crossing so the bus was an hour late. On the way back everyone got off the bus and our luggage was searched. So I ended up doing an 11 hour trip with only an hour and a half in the town. Also I would have loved to stop along the way. The bay is spectacular! I had two weeks in all these places and of course itís never enough but it was also more than enough. Hope that makes sense! It was so nice in the spring, not crowded cool and gorgeous, although it did get hot. Granted I live in FL but I love the coast just to enjoy the beauty. I think that you can always dash to a cheap beach in the US and swim in CA, FL, SC etc. so I go to Europe for the sites you canít see anywhere else. But thatís me...
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