Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Croatia - Trip Itinerary help (

kenav Dec 21st, 2011 08:49 AM

Croatia - Trip Itinerary help
We are considering going to Croatia next September. We would fly into Zagreb, spend about 3 days there and fly to Split and get a car and travel around that area eventually making our way back to Zagreb for a flight home to NY.

Time: 9-10 days.
Will not be going down to Dubrovnik. Too far.


If we want to island hop, would having a car be OK or not? We would probably want to stay on an island or two for a couple of nights, not just as day trips. We do need a car to explore the areas between Split and our final stop back in Zagreb. (We are not intending on staying in Split itself button a nearby town.) Would a car be a hindrance going to the islands on the ferries? Don't we need the car to get around these islands? Would it be better to leave the car on the mainland?

What stops between the Split area and Zagreb would you recommend? What to see beaches and forests, if possible.

What to get to Plitvice Lakes. Time to go to the Istrian Peninsula?

Are there any sand beaches in Croatia?


kenav Dec 21st, 2011 08:53 AM

OK - a few typos.

(... staying in Split itself button a nearby town - should "BUT IN a nearby town.")

"What to see beaches..." Should be "WANT to see..."
"What to get to Plitvice Lakes." Should be "WANT to get to Plitvice Lakes."

maitaitom Dec 21st, 2011 09:04 AM

Your drive from Split to Plitvice is an easy three hour drive.

It will be a two hour drive from Plitvice to Zagreb. Plitvice is well worth a day.


bobthenavigator Dec 21st, 2011 09:07 AM

Here are some images you may enjoy. I would try to include Hvar or Korcula if you can.

kenav Dec 21st, 2011 02:36 PM

Thanks maitaitom and bobthenavigator. (Great pix by the way.)

Can anyone answer the car questions?:

If we want to island hop would having a car be detrimental? Can we take it on a ferry, or best to leave it behind? Thinking of needing the car to <u>drive around the area around Split and the coast, as well as island hop</u>, and to eventually go to Plitvice and possibly the Istrain peninsula before heading to Zagreb to fly home. We know we want/need a car to get to Plitvice and Zagreb, but wonder about the island hopping and touring the coast line part.

Basically, we're trying to figure out when we would need a car and when not and how we can <b>logistically</b> work that out.

kja Dec 21st, 2011 05:41 PM

I think that whether a car is an advantage or an encumbrance for your time in the islands depends on what you want to do and experience. I visited several islands without a car, and was able to do what I wanted to do, but some people want to do road trips on the islands. Example: I visited Hvar Island and used a bus to travel between Hvar Town and Stari Grad; other people prefer to drive themselves. It may depend on the season, but I suspect you will have more ferry options if you do NOT try to take a car to the islands, but I'm not sure what you would do with the car in the meantime.

For a town near Split to stay the night, consider Trogir.

I don't really see Istria fitting in to this trip. With several days in Zagreb, a day in Plitvice, a day in Split/Trogir, a couple of days on Hvar and/or whatever islands most interest you, and a couple of days along the coast (Sibenik? Zadar? Krka/Skradin?), I think you've filled your 9-10 days.

Hope that helps!

NanBug Dec 21st, 2011 05:50 PM

Hi, Kenav!

We just got back from Croatia and traveled entirely by public transportation.

We didn't travel north of Split on the coast, but for islands we loved Korcula. It was super easy to get a high-speed catamaran from Split to Vela Luka on Korcula island, then a bus to Korcula town. (Other boats go directly to Korcula town, too.) The bus ride was very scenic, through little towns and along twisty roads with lovely vistas. We stayed in Korcula town for 2 nights, but could have easily stayed more, even in the off-season. Local buses were plentiful, so we could have taken day trips to other places on the island, or rented a moped, so I'm sure you'll have no problems.

The surprise of our trip was Split. I had heard such negative things about it, but I absolutely loved it. It had so much great energy and nightlife. It felt real. We loved wandering the nooks and crannies of the town that's crammed inside Diocletian's palace, discovering fabulous little bars and restaurants and neat shops. Don't miss the almost completely intact Jupiter's Temple and make sure you hike up Marjan Hill for a fab view. We stayed there for 2 days at a great little place outside the walls:

Have fun, you'll love it!

Ackislander Dec 22nd, 2011 12:57 AM

I agree with kja and Nanbug about not needing a car on the islands and the pleasures of Split. Taking a car is expensive for the benefit.

I think you are planning too much time in Zagreb, not all that interesting for the short-term visitor, and should include either Dubrovnik or some part of Istria.

I would drive from Zagreb to Split, stopping at Pitlivice on the way. I would take a day trip or overnight to an island, then drive south to Dubrovnik, leave the car and fly back from there. No back tracking, masses of scenery, history.

You could also leave the car in Split and take one of the excellent buses to Dubrovnik, especially if you aren't interested in driving along somewhat exposed highways.

kenav Dec 22nd, 2011 05:40 AM

Thought to fly from Zagreb to Split, do some island hopping and then drive up the coast, stopping at Plitvice and hopefully Istrain peninsula, if there's time, before ending at Zagreb. That way, there is no back tracking and the drive along the coast will allow my husband (who will be doing the driving) to be on the inside part of the road. I've heard driving south can be hair raising.

Any suggestions where to stay in the Split area? Or on Hvar or Korcula?

IF we don't stay in Split, we will need a car to get to another town to stay in, that area. Can we do without a car if we stay Split and island hop from there? Yes, I have heard negative thing about staying in Split.)

Again, what are the beaches like in that whole area? Only rock/pebble? Same in Istria?

kenav Dec 22nd, 2011 05:50 AM

Oh yeah, forgot to ask...

if you don't have a car how do you manage the schlepping of all your luggage on the ferries, getting to your various hotels, etc.?

maitaitom Dec 22nd, 2011 07:31 AM

"and then drive up the coast, stopping at Plitvice and hopefully Istrain peninsula, if there's time, before ending at Zagreb."

Plitvice is not on the coast. It looks like it is about four hours to Rovinj from Plitvice (maybe a little less) and more than three hours from Rovinj to Zagreb. For a short stay in Istrian peninsula, it might not make the most sense on this trip.


Andrew Dec 22nd, 2011 08:31 AM

kenav: <i>if you don't have a car how do you manage the schlepping of all your luggage on the ferries, getting to your various hotels, etc.?</i>

My solution: don't overpack! My last two trips to Europe have been done with carry-on bags only. Makes getting around without a car so much easier! I did have a car in Croatia on my 2009 trip: I drove from Zagreb to Plitvice to Dubrovnik, where I dropped the car. I didn't have a car getting from Dubrovnik to Korcula (bus) to Split (catamaran).

NanBug Dec 22nd, 2011 08:49 AM

I agree with Andrew about packing light. We travel with two 14 lb. small backpacks and that's it. We just plan on doing laundry half-way through a 15 day trip, usually. If you can't easily carry your bags around the block, you're packing too much.

On Korcula, we loved the Apartments Lenni. We stayed in the huge top floor apartment, right in the heart of the old town. It has a washer, a major plus if you want to pack light. Email Pero, the friendly, English-speaking owner, directly for the best price. Tripadvisor reviews are good, including mine (also posting as NanBug):

In Split, we loved our stay at the Villa Split Art, right outside the walls, but 2 minutes from the gate and the bus/ferry terminals. See link in my previous post. I also reviewed it on Tripadvisor. It was really cheap, spotlessly clean and located on a quiet street.

No need for a car in Split, everything's within walking distance, as the ferry and bus stations are about a 2 minute walk from the old town/Riva/Palace walls. With a car, your ferry schedule will be more limited. As a pedestrian, you can take your pick of boats.

Andrew Dec 22nd, 2011 09:10 AM

I stayed at Apartments Lenni also but in a ground floor apartment. I too would highly recommend them - the apartment was great, excellent central location in Korcula Town. Actually, I don't know how it would work having a car while staying there - you might have to park it somewhere else. Read the reviews from people with cars to see how they worked it out staying there.

kenav Dec 22nd, 2011 03:18 PM

maitaitom - thanks for information on how far Plitvice is from Rovinj, etc.

Andrew et al, I would love to do carry-on, but with the liquids I take it wouldn't work. Have to check our bags. Anyway, my husband packs more than I do and he would never manage. Additionally, thinking of going to Moscow first and then flying from there to Zagreb, so different (warmer clothes) would be needed as well.

Guess we could fly from Zagreb to Split, stay a few days there and then go island hopping, without a car but with the luggage schlep. Then back to Split and rent car to go north. Have to think about it. Perhaps I will go to the Croatian travel bureau (must be one here in NYC) and ask them.

Also perhaps someone who did the car thing will see this thread an comment.

Might like to go to Hvar as well. And maybe some small island that is not as well known.

Andrew Dec 22nd, 2011 03:52 PM

You could take the train from Zagreb to Split as well, FYI. It isn't going to save you any time but might be a bit cheaper - and personally, I find train travel pleasant and preferable to airports and flying. I think it's about a six hour train trip vs. about an hour flight, early arrival at the airport, transportation from each town center to/from the airport, etc... I know the bus stop in Split is close to the catamaran and ferry docks, I think the train station must be adjacent, I don't remember.

Ackislander Dec 23rd, 2011 03:23 AM

IIRC, friends drove to Dubrovnik and returned to Split via ferries to Korcula and Hvar, thus avoiding retracing the route, but this was some years back, so I don't know current schedules and affordability.

I have not taken one of the fast ferries, but the vehicle ferry to Hvar was very much like the vehicle ferries from Cape Cod to Nantucket with the exception that smoking was permitted and the air inside was really, really funky. The trip is of a similar length.

The ferry terminals might have lockers or left luggage rooms for your larger bags, and if the railway station is nearby, as suggested above, there will almost certainly be storage available.

kenav Dec 23rd, 2011 09:45 AM

Will check out the "left luggage rooms" at ferry terminals, and if I would trust it. (Never done anything like that.)

Also will check out the tar. Airfare Zagreb-Split is $54 pp.

kenav Dec 23rd, 2011 09:45 AM

Will check out the "train" not "tar"!!!

Andrew Dec 23rd, 2011 10:15 AM

It's hard to imagine the train is much less than $54 per person, if less at all. In that case, the only reason I'd take the train is because I enjoy train travel and would love to avoid the airport screenings, etc. To be fair, both Split and Zagreb have small, low-stress airport. I flew in 2009 on Croatia Air (which I assume has the $54 pp fare) and they were fine.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:58 AM.