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Island hopping Croatia - into nature/hiking

Island hopping Croatia - into nature/hiking

Old Nov 17th, 2016, 11:33 PM
  #1  
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Island hopping Croatia - into nature/hiking

I would like to ask for some help/advice regarding an itinerary between Dubrovnik and Split including some island hopping. We will have about 11 nights, end of May til beginning of June. It's gonna be our honeymoon

We plan to start in Dubrovnik, spend about 2 nights there (or more if we decide to take day tours to some islands) and end with a few nights in Split. In between we would like to visit at least 2 islands and stay there 3 nights each.

Seeking for some advice though as I find it hard to pick 2 islands. We are in our 30s, nature lovers, love hiking, food, wine, comfort. We are not into museums/history/bigger cities but for a day or 2 we should be able to enjoy ourselves in a nice old town. We are not looking for beaches or night life.

- At first sight it looks like Mljet is perfect for what we want, but is it better to stay there or to do it as a day trip from Korcula or Dubrovnik?
- I can't judge whether Korcula is an island for nature lovers/hiking. It looks easier to get there and probably has better accommodation. So should we maybe choose Korcula over Mljet?
- Is Hvar as a day trip from Split a good idea? It looks too crowded/upperclass for our taste so I don't think staying there is for us? We crossed off Brac.
- Is Vis recommended based on what we like? I read it is not as crowded and that it is beautiful but I am having a hard time figuring out if it is good for nature/hiking.
- Is Peljesac peninsula recommended? Ston, Trpanj? We like wine, but I am worried that transportation is an issue.

We won't have a car and are not keen on renting scooters.

I read quite a bit of information but would love to get "user experience". Thanks in advance!
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Old Nov 18th, 2016, 05:04 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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First thing to consider: Be sure to check the ferry schedules very carefully, as they normally change on 1 June.

Two nights could be great for Dubrovnik, but that would depend on your arrival and departure times. I think many people find about 1.5 days right for Dubrovnik itself, perhaps including a half-day in Lokrum (sounds right up your alley!); if there's any chance that you'll have jet lag, you might want an extra night, but probably not much more unless you visit Trsteno or take a day trip. YMMV.

I didn't visit Mljet, Vis, the Peljesac peninsula, Ston, or Trpanj -- so I can't comment on them, except to say that from what I've read, Mljet and Vis sound like they might be of interest to you EXCEPT that I've read that it can be very difficult to visit Vis without a car or scooter.

The question of day-trip or stop-over is a very personal one with pros and cons to either side. I pack light, hate to backtrack, and love seeing places in different lights -- so I often opt for even a single night's stay rather than a day trip. That said, it can be a very "costly" endeavor in terms of time if you unpack (I only take out what I need for the night), are any distance from the transportation you need, are easily disoriented upon arrival in a new city, etc. Too, I sometimes opt for a single night if it means I can afford a special place that my budget wouldn't cover for any longer, ;-) but only once I've thought through the pros and cons.

Korcula and Hvar are both large-ish islands with several cities. I stayed just one night in Korcula Town, which I enjoyed a lot. I know there are some nice hiking trails in / around Korcula Town -- I spend a few hours on one -- and, as I crossed the island by public transportation, I thought it looked like there were some other areas that would be quite enjoyable.

While beautiful, I thought Hvar Town far too upscale and party-hearty for my tastes, but I thoroughly enjoyed 2 nights in Stari Grad, a small town elsewhere on Hvar. I only walked a bit while in that area, but again, think there are probably some lovely places to hike if that's your preference. I doubt that Stari Grad itself is a high priority for many travelers, but there are (I believe) some resorts and hotels outside the city that might be quite nice.

If you haven't already done so, I'd strongly encourage you to consult either the Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, or both, as these guidebooks generally provide a lot of information about hiking and ways to get around using only public transportation.

I think you have some great options here no matter what you choose -- should be a great honeymoon! FWIW, I'd give some serious consideration to Korcula (trying to include a night when the moresca is performed if you do -- I think its usually performed on Thursdays in late May, but you'll need to check) and consider visiting Mljet, deciding whether to go from Dubrovnik or from Korcula, and whether to spend a night, based on what would suit your schedules best. And I would look into the hotels near, but just outside of, Stari Grad on Hvar. And definitely look for input on your options to enjoy Vis without a car or scooter -- that could be a deciding factor for you.

One last thing: Do stop at the Buza Bar while in Dubrovnik!

Hope that helps!
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Old Nov 19th, 2016, 12:14 AM
  #3  
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Thanks so much, that is very helpful!

I had never heard of Lokrum and it looks beautiful!

We usually don't like backtracking either and have done a few one night stays during our last trip to Croatia and Bosnia (still need to finish my report). While that was awesome, for our honeymoon a slower pace would be better.

It is good to hear that Korcula offers hiking. We don't need high mountains etc. but just some nice 3/4/5-hour trails with nice scenery would be perfect. I'll do some more research on Korcula's hiking options for sure. It also looks like public transport on Korcula is OK in most of the towns so that helps a lot.

Will do more research on Vis as well. If it's too much trouble then we may even consider a smaller circle for these 11 nights: Dubrovnik, Mljet, Korcula, day trips, in whichever order, and fly back from Dubrovnik. We're relatively flexible with flights as we're coming from Amsterdam (so no jetlag fortunately ). We've seen Trogir and Sibenik in September so I wouldn't be against a smaller circle, saving Split for another trip.
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Old Nov 19th, 2016, 09:35 AM
  #4  
kja
 
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That could work! It really depends on your interests and preferred pace. Split is my favorite city in Croatia, and it makes a good base for some day trips, but if your goal for this trip is to hike and experience nature, skipping it could make sense.
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Old Nov 19th, 2016, 10:52 AM
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We have been to Croatia twice and I think that Dubrovnik deserves two full days (meaning 3 nights). Lokrum is good for easy hiking. Our first time there was in June and it was very hot so walked the Dubrovnik walls in the early morning before it got too hot. After that we did a boat trip to the Elaphiti islands where we visited 3 stunning islands.
On our 2nd visit we took the bus to Korcula Town where we stayed for 3 nights. We hired bikes and rode to Lombarda and also explored the town and surrounds. We took the early morning hydrofoil to Split which stops in Hvar if you want to go there. We got off in Split and stayed in the old town (this a must) and did a couple of day trips from there. One place we loved was Omis which has a river and amazing canyon. We also walked up the old tower and enjoyed the beach.
On our first visit to Croatia we spent 5 days in a small village near Makarska called Drasnice. It is a beautiful village with not much in the way of entertainment which suited us. We hiked in the Bivioka mountains in the morning and spent the rest of the day cooling off in the crystal clear sea. Whatever you do enjoy every minute - its a beautiful place!!
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Old Nov 22nd, 2016, 10:10 PM
  #6  
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Thank you both for your input! After doing some more research and looking at the ferry schedules, we have decided to start in Split and end in Dubrovnik. We don't want to take late afternoon ferries as we'd need to check out of our hotels in the morning and then keep an eye on the clock the rest of the day to not miss the ferry. The morning ferries will be much better for us. Also, a smaller circle starting in DBV doesn't really work as we'd need to make it from DBV to Korcula on our first day which is a struggle given the flight times (early morning). So Split-DBV it is.

It is not too inconvenient to visit Vis it seems and from what I have seen it looks perfect. Since there is a bus I don't think it's a problem to explore by foot. Morning ferry 11am from Split and after a night or 3 the 7am ferry back to Split (that's painfully early but that would be the only ferry leaving that early). Then a more or less connecting ferry to Korcula, spend some nights there, then spend a couple nights on Mljet, then Dubrovnik. Mljet looks like a perfect match for what we want so we do want to spend a few nights.

Now the problem is this seems like too much for 11 nights, given that we want to spend at least 3 nights on each island. So... decisions decisions.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2016, 10:21 PM
  #7  
kja
 
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Sounds like a plan that should suit your interests well -- except, as you say, for what you need to cut. Always the worst part of trip planning, IMO.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2016, 04:52 AM
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"We crossed off Brac"

Any reason why? I much prefer it to Hvar, and it has the option of a ferry on one side and a ferry on the other so you can hike across.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2016, 07:24 AM
  #9  
 
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Hello FlyDriveHike,

We spent quite a few days in the area you want to cover, getting around by public transport and foot. To highlight some of the walking/hiking we did the following:

Walked the wall in Dubrovnik;
Hiked up Mt. Srđ;
Day trip to Lopud and hiked up to highest point;
Ferry to Sobra on Mljet and bus to Polače, where we hiked around the Mljet National Park;
Bus back to Sobra and ferry to Prapratno, where we walked the 3-4 km to Ston;
Walked some of the old wall at Ston - very pretty town but does not require much time;
Hiked from Ston to Žuljana, which was an interesting experience as my map was poor;
Žuljana is small and picturesque, and does not really come to life until late May/early June (this was about May 10);
Hiked from Žuljana to Trstenik;
Hiked from Trstenik to Orebić, which was along a beautiful coast but you need a nose for finding your way;
From Orebić we hiked up Sv. Ilija, which was the best hike of the entire trip - wonderful, if windy, views from the top. Highly recommend this hike;
Ferry to Korčula Town. Had a wonderful apartment along the water a five minute walk north of the town. We took a bus to one trail head, and it was marked at the trail head but never again, so we go lost with the multiple choice of tracks;
Ferry to Hvar Town, stayed two nights with the feet up (which means we went for a long walk to one of the more secluded beaches and back), then moved onto Jelsa, where we made a long walk to Vrboska for lunch and back;
Also hiked from Jelsa to Sv. Nikola, the highest point on Hvar, and back. Some road walking, but the trail is marked from Svirče to the top. This is about 20 km round trip with no shelter from a very hot May sun;
Ferry from Jelsa to Bol, where we hiked up the highest point on Bol, Vidova Gora. The summit is very flat with poor views north, but the view down to Zlatni Rat is quite something.

buzzcolin makes a good point about the hiking near Makarska.

We cancelled Vis, which looked wonderful, due to having to ferry both in and out of Split (in May, this changes for some of the summer months).

Enjoy your trip,

JQ
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Old Nov 23rd, 2016, 12:31 PM
  #10  
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Thanks a lot JQ, those are some wonderful ideas. We are particularly interested in doing the Orebic hike, may do that one as a day trip from Korcula. Was it a long hike?

We are skipping Brac (and Hvar) mainly due to lack of time/having to make decisions. From what I read Brac is more about beaches than say Mljet. If we like this trip then I'm sure we'll be keen on visiting the other islands in the future. We were in Croatia (covered Trogir, Sibenik, Krka, Plitvice) for the first time last September and are already planning our next trip. Too much to explore!
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 04:44 AM
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Hi FlyDriveHike,

I wrote in my journal that round-trip was six hours and twenty minutes (from apartment on the water). The summit is 961 metres. We walked the road up to the monastery and the trail (marked) started a bit past (west) along the road. We returned by the same route, but there are several different ascents/descents.

Hope you have wonderful weather.

JQ
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 05:10 AM
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Bookmarked, as I want to do this next. I was supposed to go to Dubrovnik and some island this summer, but then Zadar and its sea-organ caught me up.
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Old Nov 27th, 2016, 12:52 AM
  #13  
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Thanks JQ!

Managed to find an option where we have 13 nights so yay! That makes things easier, but we will have to leave Vis on a Tuesday to catch the Krilo catamaran from Hvar to Korcula. That connection doesn't work on other days. We'll arrive on a Friday, so with 3 nights Vis that only gives us 1 night Split which we are OK with as it's easy to fly to Split in case we want to spend a weekend there in the future.

So it will most likely be:
- Split 1 night (arrive on Friday)
- Vis 3 nights (leave on Tuesday)
- Korcula 4 nights
- Mljet 3 nights
- Dubrovnik 2 nights (giving us more than 2 full days)

I'm considering spending a night in Orebic, but may do it as a day trip from Korcula. Cannot wait! Still so far though lol.
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Old Dec 7th, 2016, 10:50 AM
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Sounds fantastic! There are a couple books devoted to hiking in Croatia, so you may want to check those out (just look on amazon), but you don't have to be that ambitious about finding nature in Croatia. Mljet will be easy as you are basically in a park.
You may wish to reevaluate not renting a car at all though. On Vis, the bus just goes back and forth across the island, and it is not really conducive for exploring. If you are good at biking (steep hills), that is an option, but I'd go with a car or scooter. There are some stellar beaches, and you just park along the road and then walk till you find paradise. The tourist office will help. It was a similar situation on Korcula. From Korcula, you can take the ferry to the mainland and then walk up the mt near Orebic (Sveta Ilija). http://www.peljesactravel.com/svetiilija-peljesac/
Not to confuse you after you have such a perfect plan, but look into Lastovo, too.
Congrats--Croatia was the perfect choice for my honeymoon, and we have returned three times--all the way from US! We love being outdoors, and Croatia is just the pinnacle of natural beauty to us. Late May is also the perfect time, plenty of wildflowers (but cool seas).
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Old Dec 8th, 2016, 01:51 PM
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Thanks! Things actually keep changing, BUT we now fixed our flights and we will have 12 nights.

After doing more research, now we are actually planning to go to Cavtat rather than Dubrovnik. The plan is to do a day trip to Dubrovnik and a day trip to Lokrum. So we'd stay 3 nights in Cavtat at the end of our trip, sounds like the perfect place to relax a bit at the end of our honeymoon.

That means we have to cut 2 nights from the islands, which is most likely going to be from Korcula (leaving 2 nights). Mljet is really on top of our 'bucket list', so not going to cut from Mljet. The only other option seems to be to cut Vis completely and save it for another trip, leaving a lot more time for Korcula, including Orebic and maybe even Lastovo (did look into Lastovo since the ferry from Split to Vela Luka goes there).
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Old Dec 9th, 2016, 08:15 AM
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As much as I love Vis (some of the best beach experiences in a country full of idyllic coves), I think it would make the most sense to save it for later since you can get to Split so easily, and you have to backtrack from Vis and lose some time that way. Korcula is a large island, so you may want to put those days there. A beach we especially enjoyed on Korcula was Pupnatska Luka, but it took a scooter ride and a long walk to get there. I think I would have rather used a car on Korcula (Vis is perfect for scooters because of the small size and little traffic). We rode through some vineyards and had trouble getting up some hills with me being on the back. I was not about to drive one myself, so I understand the hesitation.
From Korcula town, you can ride bikes or take a bus to Lumbarda, a nice little village with many beaches.
Lastovo fits in nicely with the ferry schedule from Split to Korcula. It is very quiet, and transport can also be an issue there, but it is such a lovely contrast to the crowds you can see in Dubrovnik, Hvar town, etc.
You might consider putting a little time in Split if you don't want so many days on the islands, as there are so many directions you can go from Split (other islands, Trogir, Krka national park). Enjoy!
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Old Dec 10th, 2016, 08:31 AM
  #17  
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Thanks yorkshire! You did make me think a bit more and now we have an alternative that I personally love as well. So hard to make decisions as there is too much to see.

You have a point in that we could easily do Vis in a future trip (combined with for example Hvar, Brac), whereas Lastovo is on our route this time. We probably wouldn't go to Croatia just for Lastovo, but Vis on the other hand is easier to combine with other locations.

So we now have the following alternative:
1 night Split
3 nights Lastovo (we found the perfect accommodation that we are in love with already)
3 nights Korcula
3 nights Mljet
2 nights Dubrovnik (staying close to the old town and not in Cavtat to free up a day for Korcula)

We would still do a day trip to Lokrum and we would still have 3x half a day for Dubrovnik. The switch from Cavtat to DBV has nothing to do with Vis vs. Lastovo btw, but this option gives us more time in DBV than 3 nights in Cavtat.


vs. the old plan:

1 night Split
3 nights Vis
2 nights Korcula
3 nights Mljet
3 nights Cavtat(day trips Lokrum and Dubrovnik)

Would love to stay in Split a little longer in both itineraries (we basically only have one evening there and that is it), but it just doesn't fit. It helps that we have been to Trogir and Krka NP last September though.
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Old Dec 12th, 2016, 06:46 AM
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That sounds fantastic and is making me want to return for a fifth trip. On Lastovo, we stayed in Zaklopatica in the apartment rental of a lovely family who lived downstairs. It was May, and the season was not quite underway, so they cooked for us each night, with fish they caught and vegetables from their garden. We walked to Lastovo town and generally just kind of tooled around, enjoying walking and views. We rented a scooter a couple times to get further afield. It's a nice contrast to the busier islands (but they say even it fills up in August).
Good call on staying IN Dubrovnik. You'll be able to enjoy the town in the morning and evening--it's nice to plan day trips to escape the crowds midday.
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Old Dec 12th, 2016, 12:03 PM
  #19  
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We booked an apartment in Pasadur. I think there are a few buses and they have bikes. So in love with the place already!

In Korcula we are looking at Marko Polo hotel just for the pool and hot tub - some rooms and the morning coffee get mediocre reviews but that's fine. Also, we prefer boutique / more cosy accommodation, but at times a cold and ugly hotel will do.

For Dubrovnik Villa Klaic is on our radar, don't mind the steps. Seems affordable with amazing hosts.
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Old Dec 12th, 2016, 04:49 PM
  #20  
kja
 
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In Korcula, I was pleased with the Korcula Royal Apartments, which still gets great reviews. No hot tub, though.

And in Dubrovnik, the Villa Adriatica still gets very good reviews. It's a bit quirky, but the views would be hard to beat.

I'm not sure that either is really suitable for a honeymoon, though....
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