Croatia/Slovenia/Austria

Old Oct 29th, 2023, 08:20 AM
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Croatia/Slovenia/Austria

Hello fellow European excursionists: looking for some advice on a planned trip this coming April/May to Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria. Still in the early planning stages but this is what I envision as of now: Boston to Zagreb via Lufthansa thru Munich arrive in Zagreb at 1230pm on a date in late April. Rent a car and go direct to Varazdin for 2/3 nights. Maybe a day trip to Nagykanizca, Hungary. From Varazdin to Maribor, Slovenia…stop enroute in Ptuj, Slovenia. 2 nights in Maribor. To Graz, Austria for 3/4 nights (looking for day trip ideas). To Ljubljana for 3 nights and then to Zagreb for 3 nights before returning home. I have 3 nights to play with at a yet undetermined location, suggestions welcome. We have been to Croatia several times, but apart from Zagreb all our stays have been along the Dalmatian Coast. We have also been to Lake Bled. Looking for ideas for hiking opportunities, historic sites (WWI and WWII), Tito related, and especially castles of which I know this region is rich with, and quaint towns and villages to explore on day trips. We will have apartments at all locations, so a lot of home cooked meals from the local markets. Lakes and waterfalls would be a plus.
Appreciate any advice, insight and knowledge of these regions.
Thank you,
Mike
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Old Oct 29th, 2023, 11:53 AM
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Have you been to Plitvice Lakes NP on your other trips? If not, then I would definitely add Plitvice to your itinerary. This is a stunningly beautiful park with lakes and waterfalls. To avoid the bulk of the crowds, I suggest spending the afternoon of your first day at Plitvice, visiting the Upper Lakes. We purchased tickets for a 4:00PM entry time but you can pick them up 30 minutes prior. Then the next morning hike the Lower Lakes. We were on the trail by 9:00AM. Left by 12:30pm when the parking lot was filled with about 20 tour buses.

I recommend staying at Plitvice Mirin Inn. In 2019 the rate was about 130 euros including one of the best breakfast buffets I have ever had. At the time, they were also serving dinner for an additional 20 euros per person. And this was one of the best meals we had on our trip. However, I think they have discontinued serving dinner because of staff shortages. If you stay at Plitvice Miric Inn, you do have to purchase 2 separate tickets to Plitvice Lakes, one for each day. If you stay at a hotel inside the park, you don't have to pay for the second day inside the park. However, when I was planning my trip, many people said the food at these hotels is very mediocre and the hotels themselves are not very nice. If you wish, you should read TPAYT's recent trip report. They were with a tour group who stayed inside the park, and she said the food was horrible and they had to jostle with hundreds of guests to get to the buffet. She said never again!
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Old Oct 29th, 2023, 05:44 PM
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Spent a month on the Istrian Peninsula in April of 2022 and it was FABULOUS. It was Venetian for about 700 years so a lot of italian influence. Would highly recommend visiting there if you can.
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Old Oct 29th, 2023, 05:50 PM
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Agree that Plitvice Lakes should be added to your itinerary. Having a car makes this fairly easy and I recommend spending two nights there and taking an entire day to enjoy the park. It's beautiful and unique. There's a concession restaurant in the middle of the park where you can have a decent lunch. I had a hard time finding a place for us to stay and also heard that the big hotels just outside the park are left over from Soviet times and not very good. When we went there we stayed at a private "guest house" -- it was a private home with two studio apartments. I found it on booking.com. It was definitely a one star, didn't pretend to be anything else, but it was clean and the owner cooked breakfast to order. (She was very kind and had offered to drive the other guests to the park entrance. They were a young couple with a baby traveling by bus. We dropped them off for her.) It was called "Apartment Ana" and there was a very good restaurant nearby. I just looked at Google maps and see that there are a lot of restaurants around there now. That was not the case when we were there in 2017.

You might also consider Triglav National Park in Slovenia for some hiking. We didn't get there but saw a bit of it when we visited Lake Bled. If I were to plan the trip now I would have spent the time in Triglav instead. I heard the hiking is excellent.

Have you been to Istria? We walked through Opatija and that was fun -- faded glory from a bygone era but a very attractive waterfront. RS thinks that Rovinj is wonderful but we found it touristy, overpriced, and meh. There may be other Istrian towns that are much better.

After these areas I think you're back to places like Zadar and Split, which I gather you've already visited.
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Old Oct 30th, 2023, 09:06 AM
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Josip Broz TITO:
You may be interested in
Goli Island (close to Rab Island), one of the worst jails for political prisoners under the Tito Regime
Brioni Island:^(close to Pula): once private property of Tito where he relaxed and where he received his political friends like Nehru, Sukarno, Nasser........
Jasenovac (100 km from Zagreb, along the highway to Belgrade):memorial at the former concentration camp
Jaice (Bosnia Hercegovina), 50 km south of Jasenovac: Place where Tito created Communist Jugoslavia, with partisan Musesum and some other museums.

Frescoes of Tone Kralj in the Soca/Isonzo Valleyainted during the Nazi occupation:
Hitler, Mussollini, Goering, etc. are all painted as devils in these frescoes.

WW1 memorials all along the Soca/Isonzo Valley.
There are also hiking possibilities, may be around Kobarid/Karfeit/Caporetto.
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Old Nov 1st, 2023, 07:10 AM
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Thank you for all the suggestions folks-much appreciated. We are still in the planning process of this trip, so plenty of time to weigh my options.
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