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Jul 19th, 2016, 03:56 PM
  #1
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Croatia

HELP!
My son is getting married in September and they were planning to honeymoon in Costa Rica. With all the Zika, they have been advised to take another road. We are travelers, but not been to Croatia. They have 8 or 9 days. Flights are reasonable, my son was in the country years ago briefly for a couple of days. They are looking for a time for relaxation, beach time, and have heard about the fabulous waterfalls. Please advise regarding destination for flight in and flight out. HELP!!!!! Looking for nice accommodations. Many thanks!
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Jul 19th, 2016, 04:14 PM
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September is a great time to visit Croatia - should still be warm enough to swim in the ocean if they want to but the season hasn't ended yet.

They could fly into Zagreb, out of Dubrovnik, rent a car in between. Stop at Plitvice Lakes National Park two hours south of Zagreb. Then continue to Split, Dubrovnik, and an island or two (e.g. Korcula or Hvar). They might drop the car in Split and head on to an island by catamaran, then take catamaran or ferry (or the bus) on to Dubrovnik. They won't need a car in Dubrovnik unless they want to do self-guided day trips.

Dubrovnik is touristy and gets a lot of cruise ship tour groups during the day, but at night things calm down and the town is magical.

Read through some of the Croatia trip reports here. Pick up a Rick Steves Croatia/Slovenia book. Watch the Rick Steves PBS travel shows about Croatia (free on YouTube). Ask more specific questions.
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Jul 19th, 2016, 07:30 PM
  #3
kja
 
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I would strongly recommend a good guide book or two. They might check a few at their local library to see which ones seem most helpful to them. FWIW, I thought the Rough Guide by far the best of the half dozen or so I used when planning my time in the area (and that included the Rick Steves guide, which I found, by far, the least helpful -- there are differences and people differ in their preferences ;-) ).

With only 8 or 9 days and an understandable desire for some time to just relax, I would recommend focusing on just one part of Croatia: perhaps (1) Dubrovnik and surrounds, or (2) Split and surrounds, or (3) Istria and surrounds. The latter two would most easily accommodate a visit to the magnificent lakes and waterfalls of the Plitvice Lakes National Park. If they choice Split and surrounds (#2 on my list), they could include both the Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Parks (also known for its waterfalls).

IMO, they might want to focus their initial research on the area in and around Split. With the time they have, they could, as just noted, see both the Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Parks; the dynamic city of Split itself (which has an airport); spend a bit of time on one of the islands that can be easily reached from Split; and maybe fit in another site or two of particular interest -- and there is a LOT to be seen in the area!

Hope that helps!
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Jul 20th, 2016, 04:15 PM
  #4
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Many many thanks for your insight, I want to book the flight (our wedding gift) then they are on there own. I know that they want to visit Plitvice Lakes and probably Krka national Park. As far as flights, should I book in/out of Split or into or out of Split and one of the other cities mentioned?Thanks again
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Jul 20th, 2016, 04:26 PM
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Zagreb is a little closer to Plitvice than Split is, but if airfares or airline schedules work better for Split vs. Zagreb, I wouldn't hesitate to book one over the other myself. Both are relatively small airports, and both should have good car rental options.

Zagreb seems more likely to have better international connections. I would compare flying into both airports: connection times, total travel times, fare, etc. I like Kayak for checking flight schedules, though I prefer to book directly on the airline's website if the fare is the same. (I hate Orbitz and Travelocity unless they save me a lot of money - all they do is add a middleman to the transaction and make potential changes to my ticket more expensive and more complicated.)

Sometimes, you can find a much cheaper/better international flight into western Europe from north America, then take a cheap flight on something like easyJet to Split, but that adds extra complication. (As an experienced traveler, I have done that many times from Amsterdam, though, and it has always worked out for me.)

Of course, if they have any interest in spending time in Zagreb itself, then flying into Split is not a good choice.
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Jul 20th, 2016, 05:55 PM
  #6
kja
 
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What a lovely wedding gift!

I agree that the logical cities for flights would be Split and Zagreb, and will throw in a few other considerations:

... As noted above, with their time, I think staying in and around Split might make most sense, given what you've said of their interests and time frame. If they opt for Istria and nearby locations, then flying into and out of Zagreb might make most sense.

... Although you might find cheaper flights by booking an international flight to a city in Europe and then a cheaper flight from there on, doing so can eat time (which I would guess is precious on this trip), you would need to be sure to route into and out of the same airport -- or allow plenty of time to get from one to another, and you / they would want to make sure the luggage limits on each leg would accommodate their needs and/or that they are willing and able to pay any extra fees.

... If they are flying from anywhere that might result in jet lag, make sure they are either going to stay in that city for a day or two before moving on or are going to rely on public transportation to move on. (Although not everyone is aware of it, mounting evidence indicates that driving with jet lag is just as dangerous as driving drunk, even if people aren't aware of any symptoms.)
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Jul 21st, 2016, 07:18 AM
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For September and 8-9 days, I would advise one of the following, and all are great--choose the best flights to maximize convenience/time in country. I have visited four times with only one plane change each time.
Into Zagreb and out of Split (if they want to visit Plitvice)
Split round trip (would do Krka instead of Plitvice in this case)
Into Dubrovnik and out of Split or vice versa (Krka still an option)
Round trip Dubrovnik (would then skip Krka, but there are some waterfalls in Bosnia if they want to drive)
I am assuming you are American, and there seem to be fewer flight options into Zadar, but also check Split-Zadar open jaw (convenient for Plitvice).

My favorite beaches are on Vis, but they would want to rent a car or scooter while there (bikes if they are the super fit types, or even small boats if they are experienced).
There is a honeymoon caliber hotel in Vis, but renting apartments is quite the norm in Croatia and you get excellent value--plus kitchen, balcony, etc.
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Jul 22nd, 2016, 01:52 PM
  #8
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Thank you!!!!
Found a great flight into Split and out of Zagreb.
Is it best to fly from Split to Zagreb?
Will they need a car to get to Plitvice (which I believe is on their list to do)?
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Jul 22nd, 2016, 02:05 PM
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No, they won't need a car to get to Plitvice. They can take a bus from Split and then another bus from Plitvice up to Zagreb. And they could stay overnight in one of the park hotels - overpriced but convenient, as they allow you to walk right into the park and are close to the bus stop.

But where else will they go? Dubrovnik is one of the highlights of Croatia - I hope they will get down there. From Split, it's about a four hour bus ride south. It might make sense to take a bus south from Split, then rent a car when they head north from Dubrovnik and drop the car in Zagreb.

It wouldn't make sense to fly from Split to Zagreb if they were going to head back south two hours to Plitvice. It makes more sense to take the bus to Plitvice then another bus on the Zagreb - or rent a car. Driving in Croatia is easy, and car rental in September should not be expensive, even as a one-way rental.
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Jul 22nd, 2016, 02:07 PM
  #10
 
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I meant to add: it's not necessarily convenient to have a car in Dubrovnik - a pain or an extra expense to park it and probably not necessary unless they want to use it to do day trips. It would make getting south from Split to Dubrovnik easier, though. Yes, I'm presuming they will go to Dubrovnik.
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Jul 22nd, 2016, 05:02 PM
  #11
kja
 
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Congratulations on finding a good flight!

While I agree with Andrew that Dubrovnik is one of Croatia’s highlights, I must say that I, personally, would not recommend including it in an 8 or 9 day honeymoon that involves flying into Split and out of Zagreb and during which the goals are relaxtion, beachtime, and waterfalls – your son and his fiance are already going to have to make some difficult decisions about what to do and what to skip without adding a trip to Dubrovnik into the mix! Instead, they might want to make Dubrovnik a key part of another, later trip to Croatia, one that could include Korcula and/or Kotor and other parts of Montenegro and/or Mostar and/or any number of other delightful destinations in that part of the country. JMO, though – maybe they could consider identifying their priorities and plotting them out on a calendar to see what will work best for them?

When I planned my time in the area (which was in 2009), a number of the sources I consulted noted that while there are buses from Split to the Plitvice Lakes and from there to Zagreb, buses going through the Plitvice Lakes don’t always stop to pick people up. (They will leave people off, of course.) I have no idea if that was, or is, true, but they might want to see what they can learn about it. Another option would be to pick up a car when leaving Split (or Zadar or wherever works for them), visit the Plitvice Lakes (with an overnight either before or after, depending on their preference), and then return the car in Zagreb.

Either way, if they want to see the Plitvice Lakes, it would not make sense to fly from Split to Zagreb.
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Jul 22nd, 2016, 08:02 PM
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You can take a bus from Split to Plitvice, and on to Zagreb but I wouldn't do it. I have seen too many perplexed people waiting on the side of the road in Plitvice, and it is their honeymoon. They should get a car. It will give them more freedom to explore on the way, too.

They might also consider staying at a family owned inn instead of one of the park hotels. I love the Plitvice Miric Inn (no secret on this forum) and when you stay there, you are well taken care of by the family that own the place. They have the most incredible dinners. http://www.plitvice-croatia.com/
Even if they do not have a car, they can still stay there, the property has a van and they will take people to the park and back.

But I think it is better to have a car.

They should try to do a couple of island days too.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 04:31 PM
  #13
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Had a bit of a curve ball with a 93 yo mother that required our attention and delayed the honeymoon planning.
Any thoughts and suggestions are GREATLY appreciated.

Here is what my son is thinking...

Day 1: Arrive in Split at 1:45 PM, spend remainder of the day, night, and next day
Day 2: Ferry to Hvar for three nights
Day 3/4 Hvar
Day 5: Ferry (I do not think that there is a flight) to Dubrovnik
Day 6: They had talked about Plitvice
Day 7: Night in Zagreb
Day 8: Fly home from Zagreb

They talked about the "green/blue" caves
Is there an alternative to Plitvice? Seems out of the way for this trip, unless it is a must see.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 05:21 PM
  #14
kja
 
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I hope your mother is OK!

This plan could work, although it strikes me as a bit rushed, leaving extremely little time for Dubrovnik and -- depending on how the timing works out -- little time for Split or Zagreb. (You are correct: They would take a ferry from Hvar to Dubrovnik.)

If they want to see the Plitvice Lakes, then I think they might want to consider skipping Dubrovnik on this trip: From Hvar, take the ferry back to Split, pick up a car, and drive to the Plitvice Lakes. Take rialtogrl's lodging recommendation! Add the "saved" day to Split/Trogir or Hvar or Zagreb, whichever interests them most.

As an alternative to the Plitvice Lakes, they could visit the Krka National Park north of Split before going to Hvar. That park has some glorious travertine-formation falls, in a river rather than a set of lakes. Although not quite a substitute, it is not a bad alternative IMO. The problem, though, is that making this change wouldn't really save them any time, as they would need an extra day in Split to make it work.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 07:17 PM
  #15
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The fall and fractured hip certainly set her back both physically and mentally, thank you for your thoughts!
I will pass the info onto my son, many thanks
I am sure that I will be back in touch
Thank you
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Aug 6th, 2016, 07:21 PM
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How will they get back to Zagreb? If by car, Plitvice is basically on the way north - it's only about two hours by car from Zagreb (with a detour off the A1 highway to the slower D1). Krka is a nice park too but in my opinion not a real substitute for Plitvice, which is unique with its dozens of little waterfalls and huge lakes.

Skipping Plitvice makes sense only if they fly back to Zagreb from Dubrovnik, which could work (relatively cheap flights within Croatia on Croatia Airlines).
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Aug 6th, 2016, 08:45 PM
  #17
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If they pass up Plitvice, they will fly to Zagreb.
I guess they are going to have to decide top choices for this trip.
I know that they will appreciate any thoughts regarding itinerary reconsiderations.
One reason that they were considering the travel south, is a forest with different varieties of truffles (a love of daughter in law to be)
Thoughts on islands? Is Hvar a good choice? Any suggestions for a hotel. Thank God, it is not the middle of the tourist season with very limited options!
Thank you
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Aug 6th, 2016, 08:52 PM
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I think they'd want Istria (northern Croatia on the coast) for truffles.

The thing is, they really don't have much time to see a lot of things. Yes, they're going to have look at the things they want to do then decide what to leave out. If they want a relaxing vacation that's a little slower, they should probably stick to the coast, mostly, maybe even skip Dubrovnik (which would be a shame, but it's kind of a detour with everything else). There are just too many constraints: too little time, too many places, and too little time in each. Something has to give. Let them decide what kind of trip they want.

I haven't been to Hvar, only to Korcula. Hvar as I understand it has a reputation for being more upscale and party-culture - the place where celebrities might dock their yachts. I liked Korcula but I stayed in Korcula Town. It's an island with more to see than just the towns, I guess.
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Aug 6th, 2016, 09:14 PM
  #19
kja
 
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Yes, Istria is the place for truffles -- and too far from their other destinations for this trip, IMO.

Hvar is beautiful, although it was too upscale for my tastes. But many people love it, and given the constraints on the itinerary that you have already identified, I would think Hvar a very good choice.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 06:49 PM
  #20
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Soooo, after a long day back and forth with my son, here is where we are:

Fly into Split, do you think that they should stay in Split or journey to Trojir?
Next three nights in Hvar. I found a small hotel called Little Green Bay...pretty pricey, but it is their honeymoon. Any thoughts?
Then, my thought is they either go on to Dubrovnik and skip Plitvice or on to Plitvice and ship Dubrovnik, your thoughts? I think that this may be a tough call for them
Once again, thank you for your wonderful insight
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