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Croatia w/ Young Adults: Bike/Sail or Independent?

Croatia w/ Young Adults: Bike/Sail or Independent?

Old Jun 13th, 2014, 06:17 PM
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Croatia w/ Young Adults: Bike/Sail or Independent?

We're thinking of spending a week in Croatia with our two sons, 20 and 23, before our younger son does a semester in Madrid. We've looked at freedomtrek's bike/sail tour and are also considering renting a car and doing day trips on our own - *splitting* our time between Split and Hvar. Opinions?
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 08:16 PM
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It is easy to visit Croatia on your own, so there is no reason to take a tour unless that's your preference. If sailing is a priority, I don't know how easy it would be to gain access to a boat, but renting a car and/or bikes shouldn't be a problem.

If you do go, consider spending at least one night and a day at the incomparable Plitvice Lakes.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 08:57 PM
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Other than chartering a yacht, all the sailing trips seem to be tours. I also think the bicycling might be a hassle otherwise. Did you bicycle long distances while there? We're not really tour people, but loved our boat trip to the Galapagos and thought it might be relaxing to not have to do all the coordinating.

If we don't do the sailing trip, do you think Split-Hvar-Pitvice is too much for 8 days? I hate to cut out Dubrovnik, especially because the boys are Game of Thrones fans.
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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 09:35 PM
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I didn't bicycle at all, but have read of people renting bikes on Hvar and (I think) some other islands. The Lonely Planet and Rough Guide guidebooks usually cover those kinds of options, so you might check them.

I think Split, Hvar and the Plitvice Lakes can be seen in 8 days, but whether it makes sense for you to do so depends on (a) whether it is really 8 days on the ground and (b) what you want to see and experience. I thought Split deserved about 2 days, including time for nearby Trogir. For the Plitvice Lakes, you can drive from Split (renting a car just for that purpose, as it will otherwise simply be an inconvenience), spend the night, spend maybe 6 or 7 hours in the park, and then drive back to Split. That would give you about 4 days for Hvar, which would be enough to see Hvar Town ("seeing" it really only takes a few hours), maybe Stari Grad if you have an interest, and still have at least a day or two for cycling or whatever.

Hope that helps!
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Old Jun 15th, 2014, 09:51 AM
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Very helpful. We're now thinking 2 nights Dubrovnik (chill after flight), 3 nights Hvar (biking/boating, 3 nights Split (with day trip to Plitvice - found a tour for this). Do you think this is too much moving around?
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Old Jun 15th, 2014, 01:41 PM
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"Do you think this is too much moving around?" -- I'm not the right person to ask, because I don't mind relocating every night or two if it suits my purposes. If you are all willing and able to deal with all that changing hotels requires (packing, unpacking, getting to/from the hotel from the bus station or ferry dock, etc.), and if this plan maximizes your options to see and experience the things that are highest on your wish lists, I don't see why you shouldn't give it a try!
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Old Jun 19th, 2014, 11:42 AM
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Update: Still haven't completely ruled out the boat, but we're now leaning toward a combo Prague/Croatia trip because of award ticket availability. Packing and unpacking is not an issue: We always travel very light w/ carry on only (see my crazy trip reports) but our younger son will have an extra duffle because he is going straight to his semester abroad in Madrid.

As of now, we're deciding between:

4 nights Prague
4 nights Hvar (w/ Game of Thrones tour in Split on the way)

OR

3 nights Prague
2 nights Split (w/side trip to Plitvice)
3 nights Hvar

Our boys need to depart after eight nights, but Mr. Crosscheck and I then have three more weeks for elsewhere in Eastern Europe and Spain (partly for work).

Two Qs:
- If we miss Plitvice w/ the boys, Mr. C and I can head there before leaving Croatia. How much of a must-do is Plitvice? Will it be swamped with tourists in late August?
- The boys' British friends (all in their 20s) have all HIGHLY recommended Hvar. Does this mean it's too much of a party island for a family trip?
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Old Jun 19th, 2014, 03:59 PM
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IMO, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is the single greatest highlight of Croatia. The lakes and connecting waterfalls are stunning.

That said, I presume they will be there for a while. If you have other priorities as a family, you and Mr. C can (as you say) see them later and your boys might have a chance to go at some later time in their lives. And you can try to see them at a time when you can stay overnight beforehand.

3 nights is very little time for Prague. And once you count transit time, your second plan doesn't really allow time for Split.
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Old Jun 19th, 2014, 06:35 PM
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I have to agree with kja...Plitvice is pretty special and well worth going to... and yes stay in the park or nearby.

If you go to Prague, stick to the 4 night plan as it will give you 3 full touring days, there is enough to see there, and then after Hvar, you can continue your trip in Croatia and elsewhere without your sons.
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 01:11 PM
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Thanks so much, kja and maxima. I just found flights for the boys from Zagreb rather than Split, which would give us an extra day for our family trip. Day 9 will involve a lot of traveling and we'll miss overnighting in the park, but this way the four of us can do Plitvice together. (And I've read that the crowds and photography are preferable in the late afternoon.)

The question now is whether to rent a car or get a driver for our Split-Pitvice-Zagreb journey. We can take a water taxi from Split, then drive to the lakes and be there from around 1pm-6pm. How does that sound?

Here's the new plan:

4 nights Prague
4 nights Hvar
Day 9 - Hvar-Split-Plitvice; stay in Zagreb
Day 10 - onward from Zagreb
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 04:05 PM
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"We can take a water taxi from Split" -- Do you mean from Hvar to Split? I don't think that was an option when I was there....

"then drive to the lakes and be there from around 1pm-6pm" -- yes, that should work. I'm not sure when, exactly, this trip will occur and so don't know when sunset will be, but if you can stay a bit longer you might not regret it. The park rangers have some standard recommendations for 2, 4, 6, or 8 hours circuits of the park, or they will work with you to identify a plan that suits your needs. I opted for a variant of a 6-hour circuit, which actually took me closer to 7 hours (more, I think) because I stopped to take so many pictures. Part of what makes this park so spectacular is, IMO, seeing the differences between the lakes, so the longer you can spend there -- and the larger your circuit -- the better.

I didn't drive the stretch between the park and Zagreb, but most of your route will be along major, well-marked, well-signed highways, so you shouldn't have to worry about reaching Zagreb before dark.

Do give some thought to a day trip to Split from Hvar.
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 04:46 PM
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Sorry - I was referring about water taxi from Hvar to Split. We got an email from the hotel we reserved describing this service. It's not cheap, but probably worth it for the day we leave. And we do intend to spend a day in Split before going to Hvar.

One concern is that the trip is at the end of August. I just saw a photo of the crowds at Plitvice...ugh. I'm hoping it will be more manageable at the end of the day. We were warned to stay away from Dubrovnik for the same reason. We also heard that Hvar (and Prague) are not quite as mobbed as at the end of the month. We travel often to Europe for work but it's been many years since we went for a vacation in the summer.

Haven't paid for anything yet (including flights...and still have to figure out our post-Croatia itinerary), so please let me know if August is a deal breaker for any of these places. Again, many thanks.
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 05:35 PM
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"we do intend to spend a day in Split before going to Hvar." -- I'm sure you've considering switching your time in Split until after you visit Hvar. It would mean an extra change of lodging (with an overnight in Split before heading to the Plitvice Lakes), but might let you get a bit of an earlier start on your trip to the Plitvice Lakes.... Just a thought.

"please let me know if August is a deal breaker" - I can't answer that -- I visited these places in early June. Here are some thoughts:

- If your goal for visiting Hvar Island is primarily biking, boating, etc., you might consider staying in Stari Grad rather than Hvar Town. The lodging options in Stari Grad are much more limited, and it might not have the nightlife your sons would prefer, but it is much further off the beaten tourist trail than Hvar Town, or at least it was when I visited (2009).

- When I visited the Plitvice Lakes -- and when I have been at other crowded places -- the worst moments are when tour groups come through. I wouldn't wish coming between a tour group member and a tour group leader on my worst enemy! IME, even some of the most polite people in the world become madly driven and astonishingly, brutally rude if they fear they are being separated from their tour director. So just step aside and let them pass. That, of course, is another reason to try to start your exploration of the Plitvice Lakes a bit earlier, so you have time to let the groups pass.

- Make sure you and your family have a plan for what to do if you get separated. Are you going to try to stick together? If not, when/how will you meet up again?

- FWIW, I think tolerance for crowds varies a lot not just from person to person, but also from place to place and time to time. As a rule, I find crowds unbearable, but if a place is special enough, and if I feel SAFE, I am sometimes surprised by how completely I disregard crowds. Are there things you, as a family or as individuals, can do to maximize each person's sense of safety?

- If no one else comments in the next day or so, you might want to start a new thread with a title that specifically asks about this issue.

I wish I could be more helpful....
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 05:53 PM
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You have been TREMENDOUSLY helpful! I'm with you about tour groups. I can't imagine navigating through a national park surrounded by them. Great idea to start a new thread...will do that in a few days. I still have several days to get the air tickets.
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 06:22 PM
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Do let us know what you decide and how it works out!
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 07:27 PM
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You can expect lots of tourists in Prague but don't let that bother you. The are concentrated around the Castle, the Charles Bridge and parts of the Old Town. Personally I would try to avoid the cafes around the main square in Old Town.. full of tourists and much more expensive than the places a few blocks away.

depending on where you are flying from Prague may be easier to get to than Dubrovnik.

The end of August is still vacation time for many, while others have returned to work or schools.

FYI Dubrovnik is quite hot in the summer. The Old Town is small, and most crowded when the cruise ships are in. But if you do your touring in the early morning or late in the afternoon you will be ok.. the tour groups tend to be there only for a short time any way.


In Plitvice the crowds tend to be near the beginning, and then tend to thin out quite a bit as many groups do not do a full loop of the walkways. You can purchase a ticket that includes a ride across a lake and then continue on the walks on the other side, there is also a train.. on wheels not a track.. more like connected carts.. that can take you back to where you may have begun. When I was there it started to thunder and rain, and being in the woods in a storm is not always a good idea, so it was fortunate that we were able to hop on the train and take it all the way back to a stop a short distance from the hotel in the park. The trail markers were a bit confusing so be sure to pick up a good map at the entrance.

One of the problems taking the catamaran to Hvar is that there doesn't seem to be a way to reserve your ticket in advance. there are more ferries in high season, and if you are Split the day before your trip to Hvar you can buy a ticket a day in advance. You may want to consider a day less in Hvar, and a night in Split..you can go to the Old Town that day, get your ferry tickets and get a bus to the ferry the next day.

I don't think you need a driver, as the roads are well marked and modern, and 4 people with luggage plus a driver will be a pretty large car and probably pretty expensive too, as you are paying for a driver to return to Split

Of course if you prefer not to drive, then hire a driver. driver.

spend a little time in Zagreb's Old town when its just to 2 of you.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 06:20 PM
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Wow, thanks for your input. We heard back from the boat we considered and it's more for families with young kids. So we have decided to definitely do the Prague/Hvar combo, especially because we'll get to see the boys' former babysitter on a day trip from Prague. We also will rent a car rather than get a driver for our Plitvice adventure, and will probably go in the early afternoon. We will also do the Game of Thrones tour in Split, but probably not stay over.

Our hotel in Hvar gave us the opportunity to book the catamaran in advance - probably a steep surcharge, but worth it. Considering several 2 bedroom suites in Prague. But first trying to confirm our all our award tickets...Will report back.
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