Croatia & Montenegro - 16 Days - June

Old Jan 4th, 2018, 01:38 PM
  #1  
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Croatia & Montenegro - 16 Days - June

Hi Everyone.

My wife and I (we are 30 years old) will be travelling to Croatia and Montenegro this June. We would love some beach time but also want to experience the European charm that these countries seem to have as well as any inland beauty you can suggest. Great food is important. We also like to extend our stay in locations even if it means missing out on a few others.

We plan to start in Venice because it works with our airline when it comes to getting home from Montenegro.

Venice - 3 nights
*ferry from Venice to Pula
Rovinji - 3 nights (Porec and Pula or other Istria-area destinations)
Split - 2 nights
Dubrovnik - 3 nights
Kotor - 4 nights (day trips to Budva and Sveti Stefan, possibly Herceg-Novi on the way to Kotor)
Podgorica - 1 night *depart from Podgorica

In Croatia, I've read a lot about "island hopping." Where is the best place to island hop from? What exactly does island hopping mean?

We would be willing to stay an extra night in Montenegro before we head to Podgorica. Is there a "can't miss" suggestion?

Seems like hiring a car and driving throughout the trip is a wise and favourable decision. Does anyone know if you can rent a car in Croatia and return it in Montenegro?
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Old Jan 4th, 2018, 07:47 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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Should be nice!

It really depends on what you want to see and experience, but FWIW, I wanted more than 2 nights for Split – and more time in that area so I could also see Trogir, Sibenik, etc. And 3 nights in Dubrovnik is actually a LOT – you might be able to cut a night there.

Have you considered visiting the Plitvice Lakes National Park? It is, IMO, the single most un-missable of Croatia's many splendors. Not only are the lakes connected by travertine waterfall formations, each lake has unique microbiota, and as a result, the lakes are different colors. The best way to see that is to make a single, long hike through the park -- something on the order of 6 hours or more (including time for the boat that connects the lower and upper lakes), and by all means, start at the lowest part of the park so you are facing the falls as you proceed. To do that, you would really need to plan on at least one night in the park.

I can’t comment on the Montenegro portion of your trip, as I just took a day trip to Perast and Kotor.

Island hopping can mean different things to different people, and which island(s) to include really depends on what you want. If you don’t already have one, I strongly recommend that you consult a good guidebook – perhaps the Rough Guide.

Hiring a car in one country and returning it in another is likely to cost you an arm and a leg. You might want to consider returning the car in Croatia, taking a bus from Dubrovnik into Montenegro, and renting separately there. BTW, a car is not likely to be an advantage in Split or Dubrovnik, so you might consider returning the car in Split, taking the easy and comfortable bus to Dubrovnik. That would allow both of you to enjoy the stunning scenery, which can’t be fully enjoyed by a driver, as the road requires his/her attention. Or from Split you could take a ferry or catamaran to Hvar and then on to Dubrovnik, or from Hvar to Korcula to Dubrovnik.

Hope that helps!
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Old Jan 9th, 2018, 03:16 PM
  #3  
 
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Island hopping simply means visiting one or more islands. My husband and I (late 30's) spent 16 days in Croatia in late August. We started in Zagreb, then Plitvice Lakes, followed by Zadar. From there we spent two nights in Split, then took the catamaran to Hvar. We spent two nights on Hvar an one of the days we were there we took a chartered speed boat tour. There were 10 of us on the boat for the day including the captain and his wife. We visited Vis island (including Stiniva Bay- amazing, but unfortunately the word is out), the blue cave on Bisevo, plus a few other gorgeous spots for swimming and relaxing. My husband and I agree that this was our favorite day in Croatia, and that is saying a lot because we absolutely loved the whole trip! From Hvar we returned to Split and drove on to Dubrovnik- beautiful drive and wish we had time to go ziplining in Omis! We stayed 3 nights in Dubrovnik which IMO was 1 night too many. We did a kayak tour from Dubrovnik which allowed us to see a few more islands- the small Elaphiti chain. At the end of our trip we spent 2 nights in Kotor with a day trip to Sveti Stefan. Food recommendations: Taj Mahal within the Dubrovnik city walls for delicious Bosnian fare, Zinfandel in Split for good food & service as well as live entertainment. Walk to the top of Marjan Hill in Split to take in the sunset, but I don't recommend eating up there. Be sure to get cheese from Pag- many restaurants around Croatia will feature cheese that comes from Pag. I loved all of the Croatian wine I tried- am very surprised it doesn't get more attention elsewhere. Be sure to check the cruise ship schedule in Dubrovnik (https://www.croatiatraveller.com/sou...-schedule.html) and avoid inside the city walls as well as walking the city walls on days with high numbers of cruise visitors. Enjoy your trip, it sounds amazing!
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Old Jan 9th, 2018, 03:18 PM
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https://www.croatiatraveller.com/sou...-schedule.html
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Old Jan 11th, 2018, 07:45 AM
  #5  
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Thank you so much for the great replies! Here is an updated itinerary:

Venice - 3 nights
*ferry from Venice to Pula
Rovinji - 2 nights (Porec and Pula or other Istria-area destinations)
Plitvice Lakes - 1 night
Split - 2 nights
Hvar - 1 night
Dubrovnik - 2 nights
Kotor - 4 nights (day trips to Budva and Sveti Stefan, possibly Herceg-Novi on the way to Kotor)
Podgorica - 1 night *depart from Podgorica

Whenever we travel, we usually tend to focus on quality, not quantity in terms of where we visit. However, it just seems like there is so much to do in these countries and no real need to stay somewhere for a long time. Is that a fair assessment?

If we did not make it to Zagreb and Zadar, would anyone consider this a huge miss?

How about Montenegro ... is there any general feedback from anyone? Are we staying there too long or short?
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Old Jan 11th, 2018, 08:01 AM
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I would reduce the number of nights in Kotor. Even with all of those day trips, the places are quite tiny (and in my opinion a bit of a letdown after Croatia--Montenegro's strength is more likely in the interior mountains). That would also enable you to add some nights to the previous places. You are correct that a lot of these places are small and the joy is in soaking it in. It does make more sense to move along due to distances (rather than try to have a "base"), but a string of five 1 or 2 night stays is too much.
The bus and ferry/catamaran systems are very convenient, but you are still going to need time to get from place to place.
You cannot include everything, so put Zagreb and Zadar out of your mind.
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Old Jan 11th, 2018, 05:37 PM
  #7  
kja
 
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I think you are correct that this is not an area well suited to bases, and so moving about with some frequency makes sense. That said, I should note that I’m not adverse to frequent changes of hotel, while for some people, that’s a deal breaker. I think it’s really a choice that only you can make based on your preferences.

I also think that yorkshire has given you some great advice: You cannot include everything! (But I think you were wise to add in the Plitvice Lakes National Park.) If you can see what you want to see in these specific locations in the time alloted, and are comfortable with skipping everything else on this trip, go for it!
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Old Jan 15th, 2018, 07:58 AM
  #8  
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I managed to find a way to not have to land in Venice but rather land in Zagreb and drive directly to Rovinji. With those 3 extra nights, I've added 1 to Istria and 1 to Hvar. Any suggestions on where to add the third night? Maybe a third night in Split to allow for another island visit (Solta possibly)?

Rovinji - 3 nights (Porec and Pula or other Istria-area destinations)
Plitvice Lakes - 1 night
Split - 2 nights
Hvar - 2 nights
Dubrovnik - 2 nights
Kotor - 4 nights (day trips to Budva and Sveti Stefan, possibly Herceg-Novi on the way to Kotor)
Podgorica - 1 night *depart from Podgorica

I've been told that Istria is a great area in Croatia. Do you agree?
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Old Jan 15th, 2018, 09:09 AM
  #9  
kja
 
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You might spend your first night or two in Zagreb.

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….
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Old Jan 21st, 2018, 06:29 PM
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Do you have recommendations for staying in the Plitvice National Park? We will be there the end of May.
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Old Jan 21st, 2018, 06:55 PM
  #11  
kja
 
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I stayed at the Villa Mukinja, and although I wouldn't describe the accommodations per se as outstanding, my room was fine and the food -- particularly the dinner (included in the room rate) -- was delicious! Years later, my mouth still waters when I think of that meal. It still gets some very good reviews.
Villa Mukinja :: Homepage
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Old Jan 30th, 2018, 08:55 AM
  #12  
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We may have to start this trip in mid-May. I've looked up average temperatures and 24 degrees Celsius seems to be the consensus. Can anyone speak specifically on the month of May. Is the water warm and are beaches enjoyable? We did Sardinia (Italy) in early June and thought the weather was great. Any comparisons?

By the way, an updated itinerary:

Rovinji - 3 nights (Porec and Pula or other Istria-area destinations)
Plitvice Lakes - 1 night
Split - 3 nights
Hvar - 2 nights
Dubrovnik - 2 nights
Kotor - 4 nights (day trips to Budva and Sveti Stefan, possibly Herceg-Novi on the way to Kotor)
Podgorica - 1 night *depart from Podgorica
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Old Jan 30th, 2018, 09:20 PM
  #13  
kja
 
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Posts: 22,767
I visited this area in mid-to-late May and found it glorious, with wildflowers blooming everywhere and comfortable temperatures in each of the locations you list. (Mostar was scorching.) May is shoulder season, so some expenses won't be as high as later in the year, and its the START of the season, so those involved in the tourist season are fresh and eager to begin working again. IMO, its a great time to travel. BUT IIRC, many ferry schedules change on or about 1 June, so be sure you check your options carefully.

I didn't go visit any beaches except for a brief walk here or there, and so can't speak to the water or beaches.

I think you've added one night to Split? Good choice, IMO.
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Old Feb 12th, 2018, 06:55 AM
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The more reading I do, the more I am being swayed away from visiting Croatia and Montenegro in May. Not that these country's beauty will be less, but I fear that we will not experience beaches, swimming, and other coastal activities the same way we would in June or the summer months. I've read that the water is too cold to swim in and the weather is not consistently warm enough to plan to be on a beach too often. I'm sure the lovers of this area of the world will disagree with my findings but can you place yourselves in the shoes of a first-time visitor and truly weigh in on whether this is a good time to go or not? Thank you so much in advance!
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Old Feb 12th, 2018, 08:29 AM
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It depends on when in May. Late May is one of the best times to visit--in terms of weather and crowds. I would only choose early September over late May (just for a change, as I have visited four times in late May). For a guarantee of comfortable swimming sea temps, June would be better, but I have certainly swam in late May. If it's mid to late May, start with the mainland and try to end on the coast, moving north to south. Being from the southern US, I do find the sea temps jarring in late May, but plenty of people swim then and the weather was fabulous on three of my four visits.
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