Croatia/Slovenia April/May 2025

Old Feb 26th, 2024, 07:18 AM
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Croatia/Slovenia April/May 2025

Hello Fodors Friends, I am seeking your assistance for a possible trip next mid April to Croatia and Slovenia. I have read the trip reports and comments by Whitehall, Karen Woo, Russ from LA and Rialto girl. I have perused the RS guidebook on these locations and IMO he rushes through the country. We love visiting the towns and people watch, less into the Art Museum. Cathedral and ruins are more interesting to us. We have 4-5 weeks available. My problem is RS says hit one or two beach areas and move on. However when I look at your pictures and descriptions I am having trouble deciding which ones to visit and which ones to rule out.

We were originally thinking about visiting Portugal first for 7-10 days and then heading to either Ljubljana to start or Dubrovnik. We would most likely rent a car to see Lake Bled and villages in this region. Istria region sounds amazing with Roman ruins etc. Would enjoy Pitlik lakes and then down the Croatia coast.
So my initial thoughts are how much time is required to see Croatia and Slovenia. Secondly, is my timeline for Portugal reasonable. Lisbon, and also seeing the north and south portion of that country. I feel like it is very helpful in getting your opinions initially to help shape our trip. Thanks in advance.
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 07:53 AM
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I cannot comment on Portugal (perhaps maybe ask Mods to change your title so it encompasses your entire trip?). But, based upon what I've read about Portugal, I'd want 10-14 days.

How long TOTAL do you have, both with your Portugal portion and your Slovenia/Croatia portion? Have you researched how to get from Slovenia/Croatia from Portugal? How are you getting home? Personally, I'd avoid having to make a flight within a trip if I could, but that's me.

If you're planning on Croatia to fullfill your beach days in this time of year, keep in mind it (the water) may be too cold for swimming. If you want to just look at the water, then you can do that from anywhere on the coast. But a full beach day where you sit/read/sunbathe/whatever and maybe wade/swim might not be the right time of year for that (obviously will be warmer as you go into May). Granted, you can certainly sit without going in, too.

One nitpick: it's not Pitlik lakes but rather Plitvice. If you go, consider 2 nights in that area.

ETA: for reference, I worked by way down the coast from Piran all the way to Kotor, Montenegro in just over 2.5 weeks in 2022. I excluded Ljublana and Bled (seen on a prior trip) and Plitvice and Krka as I had been to each previously. I also excluded Split (also seen previously but opted for other towns in the area) I moved fairly fast, mostly having 2 night stays. I would not have done that if it was not my first trip to the region (it was my third), so decide on which towns/areas are the most important to you. My first trip to the region basically encompassed your above itinerary of Slovenia and the Istrian region and Plitvice. It was 2.5 weeks (included Venice). It did not include Dubrovnik because of where it is located compared to the other areas.


Last edited by Travel_Nerd; Feb 26th, 2024 at 08:06 AM.
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 09:12 AM
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This is a difficult question to answer. Everyone has a different way of traveling. But if you don’t want to rush around I think with 3.5 to 4 weeks you could really explore both countries.

I agree with TravelNerd 100% about 2 nights in Plitvice, this time of year can be iffy weather wise and it would not even hurt to keep things a bit loose before or after in case of bad weather.
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by mcsles
I have perused the RS guidebook on these locations and IMO he rushes through the country.
And the RS guidebook doesn't even cover a lot of the country or many of the options in those areas it does cover!

FWIW, I took a month just for Croatia, Slovenia, and other parts of the region (Sarajevo and Mostar are well worth seeing IMO). It really depends on personal preferences and interests.
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 10:51 AM
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Hi mcsles,
Firstly, I am very happy to know that my TR is helpful to you. Secondly, as Travel_Nerd asks, how much time do you have for the Croatia/Slovenia portion of your trip? Is the entire trip (including Portugal) 4-5 weeks?

April/May will not be beach weather. We have friends who visited Croatia/Slovenia in late April/early May of 2019 (the same year as us). They started in Dubrovnik, and they said the weather was warmer in southern Croatia (but not swimming weather), and the weather got cooler (and rainier) as they progressed northwards. Ljubljana was rainy and chilly. They had the same itinerary as us because I planned their trip because we were supposed to travel with them. But I had to cancel because I needed hip replacement surgery. We went in September 2019, and we had much better weather. The temps were in the 80's and there were lots of people swimming. I do recommend starting in Dubrovnik and working your way northward to maximize better/warmer weather.

Regarding how much time you need for Croatia/Slovenia, as kja says, it really depends on your interests and personal preferences. We had 13 nights and we definitely could have used more time. We visited only one island (Hvar), and we didn't have time for the Istrian region. We didn't have time to visit Mostar which would have been very interesting. If you are interested in Mostar, I would recommend spending at least one night there instead of visiting as a daytrip from Dubrovnik.

And I agree with kja about Rick Steves guidebooks. I sometimes use his guidebooks but I would never rely on his books alone. If you look at his tours, they rush through every country. Primarily 1 and 2-night stays. You don't get to really appreciate and experience a place by staying there for 1 or 2 nights. And his guidebooks leave out many places. For example, he doesn't include Zadar in his Croatia guidebooks. I can recommend the following guidebooks: Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Michelin Green Guides, and Fodors.

Regarding Portugal, I recommend a minimum of 2 weeks to see what you want to see, and that might not be enough. We spent 5 nights in Lisbon (that included a daytrip to Sintra). We didn't have a lot of time because we were doing the TAP Portugal stopover on our way home from France. But I've done research and read lots of TR's. Stay 2 weeks if you can. If you wish, you can click on my name to read my TR for Lisbon/Sintra.
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 03:22 PM
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We leave April 24 for 15 nights in Croatia, Austria and Slovenia. Zagreb, Varazdin, Moribor, Graz and then Ljubljana. My good friend lives in maribor, says the weather should be A 10. Maybe some rain but good walking/hiking weather. Flowers in bloom, few tourists, less travelled roads….
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mike1728
We leave April 24 for 15 nights in Croatia, Austria and Slovenia. Zagreb, Varazdin, Moribor, Graz and then Ljubljana. My good friend lives in maribor, says the weather should be A 10. Maybe some rain but good walking/hiking weather. Flowers in bloom, few tourists, less travelled roadsÖ.
iíve been in Ljubljana at the end of April when it snowed. Iíve been at Plitvice in early May when it snowed. Iíve been in Slovenia in April when it never stopped raining for a week. Also in May. This is over the past several years. Having said that, I was in Zagreb last week and it was sunny and warm (in February!) and am in Belgrade now where yesterday was 80 degrees and sunny. In February! You canít tell weather anymore.. itís impossible. I fully expect to break out the parka when Iím in Slovenia in mid April this year. Less traveled roads are always better - hope you have a great trip Mike.
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 10:12 PM
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80 degrees in February in Belgrade?! Wow! Enjoy, RG. One of my favorite cities.
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Travel_Nerd
80 degrees in February in Belgrade?! Wow! Enjoy, RG. One of my favorite cities.
And today is another glorious one.. when I saw some dude walking in shorts yesterday I thought, ok this is nuts. I guess I need to go buy some sandals.
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Old Feb 27th, 2024, 04:14 AM
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Thank you all so much for your comments. First, I initially was wondering if we could link both Portugal and Croatia in the same trip. We were allotting 5 weeks max to visit both locations. As you already know we do not want to feel rushed ie RS type travel. We did that in our 30's and had to look at our pictures to remember what country we visited. From your comments we should consider 2 weeks just for Portugal. We would be using miles for air travel and we can fly in and out of Lisbon to Dubrovnik and then out of Zagreb or Ljubljana to the USA. We are not planning on swimming we are just interested in the coastal views. As I mentioned earlier, we were reading some of your trip reports and one coastal town after another sounded like a don't miss destination. My apologies on misspelling Plitvice lakes region, I was using my cell and sometimes it changes the letters on it's own.
I now have several trips to the library and guidebooks for research to plan our vacation. Karen Woo I agree that we use a variety of books for reference on our trips. RS helps IMO with finding lodging that different from the standard chain USA lodging. We like a clean safe location with a bit of the local character ie the Karmen Apartment in Dubrovnik for example.
So in summary from a big picture view, 2 weeks would be a good start for Portugal, leaving me 3 weeks for Croatia and a brief Slovenia visit. We understand there will be crowds in Split and Dubrovnik but hoping for not as busy in beginning of May. We definitely would like to vist Plitvice lakes and Lake Bled . I'm wondering if you have a list of your favorite coastal Adriatic towns that you visited and you could share with me? I ask because the guidebook picks their favorites but IMO I prefer your feet on the ground and that excitement you get when you see a charming village or town the first time. Thanks and I look forward to your responses.
MCS
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Old Feb 27th, 2024, 07:25 AM
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OP, yes each seaside area is beautiful and is hard to choose. But, they all have their similarities as well. Not saying they all "look the same" and aren't unique in their own right by any means. My suggestion is to prioritize the following: what towns/areas that might serve the most for you and your spouse in terms of 1) things to do and see in the town itself, 2) possible day trip options (and how to navigate that using however mode of transport you choose), 3) transit to your next destination. And lastly, 4) which town/area is best served for your trip home.

That will guide you on your choices. There are no wrong choices, here. Even if you miss one town or area, you may find another town or area that is equally special to you. And whatever you miss, you can always go back to it the next time.

And if it helps, you mentioned Roman areas. If that is of interest to you, in addition to the Pula area in Istria, there is Zadar in North Dalmatia and Split in Central Dalmatia, for example. You could, conceivably, base in the Split area and cover Zadar as a day trip (possibly better if you have a car) or split your time between North Dalmatia and Central Dalmatia. From Split, there is also other options in addition to Zadar such as Krka National Park, Skradin (near Krka), Sibenik (which is often overlooked by travelers - and is the first actual Croatian settlement) as well as Trogir. To cover all of the points in the Split area I mentioned above, I think you would need at least 5-6 nights in this region. And you do not have to go to all of them. If you just want to sit at a bar on the Riva and look at the water, you can do that too!

Once you have chosen your "bases," you can then determine how much time you need.
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Old Feb 27th, 2024, 02:46 PM
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Thanks Travel Nerd, your advice makes a lot of sense. We noticed in some of the trip reports where folks day tripped via ferry to several of the villages on the islands. I think we will be doing that quite often.
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Old Feb 27th, 2024, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by danbiggie0342
Consider leveraging a mix of public transport, taxis, and e-bikes as a viable backup; buses and taxis can cover longer distances between major points like Avignon to St. Remy and St. Remy to Luberon villages, while e-bikes offer a flexible and enjoyable way to explore the picturesque countryside and smaller villages at your own pace
@danbiggie0342, I think you meant this for a separate thread. The OP did not mention going to France. Perhaps you meant to post your advice here: Riviera OR Riviera & Provence? ? Or maybe another thread that is covering France?
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