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help with Croatia itinerary

Old Jan 24th, 2014, 10:05 PM
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help with Croatia itinerary

My daughter (adult) and I will be traveling to Croatia in mid April. We fly into Zagreb and out of Dubrovnik. We have tried several different itineraries but are having trouble making our plan work with the ferry schedule. Because we are traveling in the off season, it appears that we will need to skip Korcula and perhaps Hvar unless we want to travel early in the morning, which we don't. We also don't want to arrive in Dubrovnik too late in the evening. We plan to get a rental car at the airport in Zagreb and return it to the airport in Split. We enjoy nature and hiking, coastlines, cultural activities, beautiful buildings, some museums and general exploring. We would rather see less areas more thoroughly than rush. Our tentative plan:

night 1 Zagreb
nights 2,3 Plitvice
nights 4, 5 Split
nights 6, 7 Hvar
nights 8, 9, 10 , 11 Dubrovnik (with day trips)

We welcome any recommendations for places to visit, stay and eat. We particularly welcome advice about the transportation system. If we go to Hvar, will we go back to Split before going to Dubrovnik or go via the islands? If we have to go through Split to get from Hvar to Dubrovnik, does the bus schedule connect with the ferry schedule or do we need to spend another night in Split before taking the bus to Dubrovnik? We've looked at the ferry website and from what we can tell, there are few ferries in April. It appears that there is an 8 am ferry from Hvar to Split on Tuesdays in April but we aren't sure we want to book accomodations based on an uncertain ferry schedule. thank you in advance for any help you may offer.
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Old Jan 24th, 2014, 10:57 PM
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There should be a daily catamaran (passengers only) service between Split, Hvar, and Korcula - at least, there was in 2009, even in October when I was there, which was into the "off season." I took it the other way (Korcula to Split, stopped in Hvar). I did have to leave at the crack of dawn, but it worked out fine. Most of the commuters were students and workers, not so many tourists it appeared.

http://www.korculainfo.com/ferries/c...an-korcula.htm

Note however that the catamaran may not run at all in really bad weather. There was a bad rain storm the night I arrived in Split on the catamaran, and the next day, it simply didn't run.

I recall there was (probably still is) daily bus service between Korcula and Dubrovnik. Not sure about about Hvar (I didn't visit). However, Korcula in October was pretty empty - the tail end of tourist season. I imagine it may be similar in April. I imagine some of the businesses aren't even open then. I got the idea that the same was somewhat true of Dubrovnik -lots of places close in the off season, but maybe by April they are starting to open again. I'd check.

Four nights in Dubrovnik would seem an awful lot to me especially in April when some of the in-season excursions aren't available. Do you really have that much to do?

Do you really need two nights in Plitvice? It's a wonderful place, but you don't necessarily need two full days to see it. I stayed one night (in the park). I arrived after noon, saw the park all afternoon, and saw a little more the next morning. I didn't feel rushed or feel like I'd missed much - it's not a tiny park but it still doesn't take all that long to see it. A long day or two half days like did would be plenty for most people.

Have you considered adding say a stop in Ljubljana, Slovenia? It's a wonderful little city and has direct train service to Zagreb (in case you wanted to fly into Ljubljana instead to start). It was certainly one of the highlights for me of my visits to the area, more so than Split or Zagreb for sure, in case you are open to expanding the boundary of your trip a little.

I think many would recommend Istria too (I didn't visit) as well though it may be more difficult between Zagreb, Plitice, and Split.
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Old Jan 25th, 2014, 12:45 AM
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First, just to help us know your constraints, have you already booked your flights, into Zagreb and out of Dubrovnik? For now, I'll assume that's correct.

Second: the good news is that all of the plans you suggest could prove to be wonderful. What you are doing at this point is selecting the icing for your cake.

So here are my observations / thoughts / suggestionsL
- "We enjoy ... beautiful buildings." The National Archives building in Zagreb is an extraordinary place. At least when I was in Zagreb, one could arrange a tour (of about 1 hour) through the tourist info desk. For me, seeing this building was a highlight of a highlight-filled 30-day trip through parts of what was once Yugoslavia.

- If you do decide to spend some time in Zagreb (see above), then taking the time from Dubrovnik makes sense. (As Andrew has noted, you might not need 4 nights there.)

- I agree with Andrew that you probably won't need 2 nights in the Plitvice Lakes: Get there the night before your visit and IMO plan to spend 6 - 8 hours in the park the next day. If your diurnal rhythms mean that you need 2 nights there, so be it! If your life styles permit moving on after your visit to the park, that's also an option. Personally, I don't like driving in foreign countries after dark if I can avoid it, and that might be an issue here -- something for you to check. (If you haven't already done so, just google plitvice sunset april.

- I loved Split for its dynamic and vibrant life within an ancient setting. You probably already know that some Fodorites hate it. Whether you visit it or not, consider making time for a side trip to Trogir. it only takes 30" or so to get there, and Trogir can be seen in just few hours if that's all you have. (To be clear, I'm not saying to skip Split -- just to see if you can fit this side trip into your time in Split.)

- I preferred Korcula to Hvar Town. Just my perspective.

- As Andrew has noted, 4 nights in Dubrovnik is a bit on the high end of what most people plan for the area. But maybe we don't know your plans? I was glad to have 3 nights in Dubrovnik, because it gave me 1 full day in Dubrovnik and 1 full day in Montenegro and bits of days elsewhere.

Renting a car to go from Zagreb through the Plitvice Lakes and on to Split will simplify that part of your journey.

Thank you so much for telling us a bit about your interests - it really does help us respond! My understanding is that you want some balance between the opportunities that travel can afford -- everything from nature to architecture and museums. I love that diversity, too, and specifically planned my trip in Croatia + accordingly. Given your expressed interests and my experience, I suggest that you consider adding at least 1, if not 2, nights to Zagreb. While in Zagreb, I would urge you to consider visiting not only the National Archives (already mentioned), but also any number of Zagreb's other museums / cultural sites, not to mention it's incredibly moving cemetery at Mirogoj. From what you say of your interests, these places may be much more interesting to you than a 2nd night on either Hvar or Korcula or than a 3rd or 4th night in Dubrovnik. Just some ideas to consider.

My input on where to stay or eat is decidedly outdated, given that my visit to the area was in 2009. But for what it's worth, see KJA3 for the hotel reviews I posted on TripAdvisor and see http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rant-notes.cfm
for my comments about the restaurants I visited.
To plan my trip, I used about 6 different guidebooks; I found The Rough Guide the most useful by far, in large part because it provides excellent coverage of transportation options.

Hope this helps! It is a beautiful part of the world, and your daughter is lucky to have the chance to visit it with you.
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Old Jan 26th, 2014, 12:14 PM
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Hi there!

I am from Croatia, Zagreb.

my suggestion is to add few more nights in Zagreb rather then Plitvice and Dubrovnik. You do not need more than 1 night at Plitvice for sure. Better it would be to start early in the morning with the car and see Plitvice lakes and continue to seaside. Dubrovnik is beautiful and expensive, but at the end small. MY opinion is to decrease number of nights there.

For islands it is hard to say because it is not full season in April. Which means there are less line connections. Also on Hvar the best place to see is town Hvar and that is not enough if you are going especially for that. It is pretty much the same with Korcula called "Dmall Dubrovnik". It would be better to visit islands during season time (May/June) and swim, look around, meet people, etc.

If you go to seaside from Zagreb first stop wll be Plitvicka jezera, which is OK.

Check this cities which i reccomend:
Zadar, Sibenik, Trogir, Split, Omis, Makarska and Dubrovnik.

Also check Cetina river and Zrmanja River.
And Krka river with waterfalls.

let me know if u need anything else
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Old Jan 26th, 2014, 02:42 PM
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"Also on Hvar the best place to see is town Hvar" -- I actually preferred Stari Grad to Hvar Town.
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Old Jan 28th, 2014, 07:51 AM
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I would consider not visiting any islands in April--the weather is just too uncertain. You could always do day trips from Split/Trogir and Dubrovnik. I would eliminate days from Dubrovnik unless you have day trips identified.

These are the ferries:
http://www.jadrolinija.hr/en/sailing...9---31-12-2014
You can book accommodation based on these schedules.
A look at the links above should tell you whether you can island hop or must return to Split to get to Dubrovnik. Note you only need to get as far as Korcula, as there is a daily bus from Korcula to Dubrovnik.
Buses from Split to Dubrovnik are pretty much hourly.
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Old Jan 28th, 2014, 06:09 PM
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Good point, yorkshire!
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Old Jan 29th, 2014, 11:01 PM
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Thank you all so much for your invaluable information and suggestions. You are all appreciated! Yes, our flights into Zagreb and out of Dubrovnik are already booked on Easyjet. Our arrival in Zagreb is late in the afternoon. We will spend that first night and following day (at least) in Zagreb and then head to Plitvice arriving before dark. We plan to stay two nights in the park so that we won't be driving in the dark on our way to Split. Also, we want to be able to stop on our way to Split so we need to have a full day. We are now wondering if we should keep the car so we can stop along the coast between Split and Dubrovnik or on the islands if we can make the ferry schedule work. There is so much to see and never enough time!

Thanks again!
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Old Jan 30th, 2014, 11:37 AM
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If you will use highway the view before yadar is going to be very beautiful. If u will go to Dubrovnik I suggest to go with old road which is going paralel with the coast, just 5 - 50 meters. so many beautiful small places and spots to see...check this one and see what i meant
http://forum.net.hr/cfs-filesystemfi...F00_resize.jpg

visiting islands will take u alot of time, but if u want to see them u need car for sure.
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Old Jan 30th, 2014, 03:55 PM
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"We are now wondering if we should keep the car so we can stop along the coast between Split and Dubrovnik or on the islands if we can make the ferry schedule work." -- Having a car while in Split would be inconvenient and having it further south may be unnecessary. I believe you will have greater freedom with ferry schedules if you don't have a car because some ferries are for foot-passengers only. A car could be an advantage on some of the islands, depending on what you want to see and experience, but many people are content to stay in the major towns once on the islands (e.g., Hvar Town or Korcula Town) and/or use a bus or other local transportation if they want to see other parts of an island. The road from Split to Dubrovnik overlooks some truly spectacular scenery. I was VERY glad to let my bus driver do the driving so I could enjoy the views without interruption. (Sit on the right side of the bus for that stretch.) If you want a car for a day trip or two while in Dubrovnik, you can easily rent one there.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2014, 08:04 PM
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Thank you again for your helpful suggestions. We are getting closer to an itinerary and now are trying to find accomodations.
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