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Croatia, Slovenia, Austria with Preschoolers

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Feb 6th, 2016, 04:14 PM
  #1
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Croatia, Slovenia, Austria with Preschoolers

We're traveling for three weeks to Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria. We are trying to do it without a car, so we don't have to lug around car seats. We are more concerned with having fun than seeing everything, although we certainly want to see some sites. We would definitely like to visit any destinations, attractions that might be fun for our daughters.

We fly into Venice and then we'll take the ferry (I think) to Rovinj. We have house with family in Rovinjsko Selo for a week. Then I'm thinking we'll head towards towards the caves in Slovenia, through Ljublijana, Lake Bled, Salzburg, and end in Vienna. That may be too much.

Any suggestions, especially in terms of transportation or must see attractions are welcome. We're trying to avoid the bus as much as possible with two little ones.
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Feb 6th, 2016, 05:04 PM
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I think a car would give you much more flexibility than having to rely on public transportation. Have you called a company such as Auto Europe or Kemwel to see if they can rent you a car with car seats? You certainly won't want a car in Venice but if you'd like to travel in Slovenia and Austria you'll either need to take trains or fly if you want to avoid buses.

Venice might be a challenge with little ones, depending on their ages, as you will have to watch them closely near the canals. However, it is certainly doable and could be great fun. I have a terrific picture of my kids, when they were a little older, in St. Mark's Square that I treasure.

It can be difficult to rent from one country and drop off in another so I would call both companies mentioned above and see what they suggest regarding best options. You may decide to do a combination of train and car rentals or even short airplane flights.

One fun memory from when I visited Europe as a kid was Hellbrun Palace near Salzburg with its trick fountains which I think your kids might enjoy.
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Feb 6th, 2016, 06:04 PM
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Thank you for your reply. I really enjoy riding the train, however I didn't realize how difficult it would be to access in Croatia. Our starting point was determined by a family member's business trip. Although it certainly seems like there is plenty to see there.

It seems once I can get up near Ljublijana train travel becomes easier. It seems the biggest obstacle is getting from Venice to Rovinj and Rovinj to somewhere I can catch the train going north to Ljublijana.

I looked at Auto Europe to see about just renting a car from Rovinj to Ljublijana, but it looked like the price would nearly double going point to point instead of round trip.

We'll really only be in Venice long enough to shake off the jet lag, so hopefully we can make that brief time enjoyable.
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Feb 6th, 2016, 06:15 PM
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If you do not want to rent a car, what you could do is take a private van transfer from Rovinj to Koper in Slovenia and then from Koper, take a bus to Ljubljana.

I did it the opposite way last spring. Bus from Ljubljana to Koper, then I had a van pick me up. I think it cost me 80 euros for the transfer, but for your whole family, maybe that is not so bad. I can give you the name of the van guy if you need it.

Venice to Rovinj is easy. There is the ferry, and there is the bus.
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Feb 6th, 2016, 06:23 PM
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We ended up going by a car shuttle service from Venice to a small city with an airport in Croatia where we will able to rent a car. The service was called GoOpti. I was a little nervous about booking this as I hadn't heard much about it, but all went smoothly. We opted for private transportation rather than doing a shared service. Our driver spoke little English but got us from point A to point B without a hitch.

We had considered taking a ferry from Venice to Rovinj but the ferry schedule didn't work well for us and we ended up changing our itinerary.

I also called both car rental companies I mentioned above and was surprised that Kemwel was more flexible about us taking a car into Bosnia than Auto Europe. However, renting a car from Venice seemed to add one more layer of complexity that was eliminated by renting and returning the car in Croatia.

I hope you are able to figure out a plan that will work well for your family.
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Feb 6th, 2016, 07:11 PM
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I think your trip sounds wonderful.

I found that transport between Rovinj and Ljuljana is surprisingly (at least to me) difficult. Can be done but takes time. One possibility is to take the bus from Rovinj to Piran, stay a night or two, and then take the bus to Koper and train to Ljubljana. An alternative might be to stay at Divaca and visit the caves. When we were in the area, there was no bus connection between Rovinj and Piran but it appear there is one now, albeit infrequent. There is a train from Rijeka to Ljubljana.

With two young kids I'd prefer to avoid long journeys and would either break the journey by stopping either overnight or at least a few hours enroute.

Buses for Slovenia at http://www.ap-ljubljana.si/ in case you haven't got it.

My kids absolutely loathed being trapped in a car and were perfectly happy travelling by train so I would also try to avoid driving.

The ferry from Venice to Rovinj was absolutely fine but when we did that journey, it didn't run every day so check that. Definitely the easiest route.

If you are keen to reduce the number of hotel stops, it is possible to visit Lake Bled as a day trip from Ljubljana if you wish. I say that, though, without having done it, as we visited Lake Bled from Bohinj. Ljubljana makes a great base for exploring the area as it's a transport hub and is a beautiful small city.

One last thing, I recommend getting the kids to carry their own little backpack, even if it only has their games, jumper, drink, snack, etc. Pop your phone number in it along with the hotel address.

btw I thought Venice was one of the safest places we ever took our kids because there was no traffic. I do agree about the potential water hazard but it never worried us. The only gotcha was that it was incredibly easy to get separated. We got the kids to look out for lions (which are everywhere) which made it more fun for them.

I'm sure you'll have a fantastic holiday.
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Feb 7th, 2016, 04:56 AM
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I saw that you mentioned taking the bus from Koper up to Ljubljana. Is the train not a good option from that a area of the coast going upwards?
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Feb 7th, 2016, 05:00 AM
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I think we're going to base out of Rovinjsko Selo for a week. I don't think it is much of a tourist town. We were really looking for a place to relax by the pool and visit family that was near a few things. Does anyone know much about it? Is there anything to do there without going into Rovinj? Hiking?
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Feb 7th, 2016, 08:43 AM
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-I saw that you mentioned taking the bus from Koper up to Ljubljana. Is the train not a good option from that a area of the coast going upwards?-

When I did the opposite way (last April) there was no train, only the bus. I believe there was a train but they put all the people on the bus. Not sure why.

You should be able to do some hiking around the Limski Kanal.
There are also boat tours you can take up the kanal. Your kids might enjoy that.
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Feb 7th, 2016, 09:57 AM
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The boat tours sound like a great idea. I wondered if we could hike to the canal. I've been looking around for hiking information, but so far I haven't found many specifics.

I'll have to do more research on the train. Small kids and buses don't sound like fun for extended periods.
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Feb 7th, 2016, 05:44 PM
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With small kids do you think it would be better to speed two nights in Ljubljana or go on to Bled and do a day trip back to Ljubljana?
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Feb 8th, 2016, 02:52 AM
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The bus to Bled runs at least every hour and takes about 1:20hrs. There is a train but I believe that the train station is not in Bled and requires a short bus ride to the centre. Train also runs very regularly and takes less than an hour.

Only you'll know what will suit your kids best. Do either of them normally have a nap during the day? What is your itinerary looking like? If you're planning to leave Ljubljana, travel to Bled and then return to Ljubljana the next day, remember that most hotels won't allow you to check in until early afternoon although you could probably leave your luggage with them. And, of course, you'll have to pack up your luggage. Where are you heading after Bled if you stay there?

btw. train timetable is showing train from Koper to Ljubljana. Maybe there were works on the line?

Just re-read your post - are you thinking of 2 nights Bled with day trip to Ljubljana? If so, certainly possible, just reverse everything I said. Easy to spend both days in either town though, if you don't want to rush around so much.
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Feb 8th, 2016, 03:46 AM
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train system is not very good in Croatia nor in Slovenia... so, even if that all seems like some short distances you will have much easier transfers if you have a car... the problems that you think will be in a car, believe me, it will be much worse if you try to travel with a train.
After Ljubljana, on the way to Salzburg, the train is very good idea.
So, the best will be to have a combination of car and train, or, if you don't want to have a car, the bus could be better solution than train, anyway.
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Feb 8th, 2016, 12:49 PM
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I think the bus and train services in Slovenia are good, unless of course, one is getting off the beaten track, which the OP is not doing. For Bled, once there some walking is required to visit the tourist highlights. There are limited bus services to Vintgar Gorge.
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Feb 8th, 2016, 12:52 PM
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it will be really shame to miss Vintgar Gorge, because it is really not far from Bled
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