Istria vs. Dubrovnik/Southern Dalmatia

Old Aug 4th, 2007, 05:30 PM
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Istria vs. Dubrovnik/Southern Dalmatia

I was just reading a post where a few people mentioned liking Istria better than Dubrovnik. I responded to their post but I thought I should post a new message as well to generate more responses.

DH and I were in Croatia last year and loved Dubrovnik and the surrounding area. We are thinking about returning next year (early May) and were planning on going back to Dubrovnik, as well as spending a few nights in Kotor, Montenegro and Korcula. Now I'm wondering if Istria is worth a visit.

I know that its supposed to be pretty and full of interesting towns, but I'm interested in hearing from those who've been to both areas to know how they compare. Is the natural beauty as pretty in Istria as stunning as it is in southern Dalmatia? Are the towns as charming and pretty as Dubrovnik is?

Thanks!
Tracy
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Old Aug 5th, 2007, 03:22 AM
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I'll find out in April but that will be a bit late for you. I'm interested in the responses you get to this question.

When planning our trip, we decided to fly to Dubrovnik first and work our way north, eventually flying out of Zagreb. However,we were concerned that, once we saw Dubrovnik, the rest of the trip might be a disappointment!
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Old Aug 5th, 2007, 10:08 AM
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Judy, we absolutely fell in love with Dubrovnik so your concerns mirror ours! We had such a fantastic time in Croatia and Dubrovnik was just magical. I think you are going in a good month because hopefully it won't be so crowded. We were in Dubrovnik in November and crowds were about non-existent so we really had a chance to experience the beauty and charm of Dubrovnik. I understand it can get quite crowded in the summer months.

We did end up working our way north, visiting Split, Trogir, Verazdin and, after leaving Slovenia, Zagreb. We did not make it to Istria. I'm sure its lovely; I'm just hoping for a little reassurance that it won't be dissapointing after being in Dubrovnik! Of course we each have our own opinions but hopefully I will get some great responses.

Tracy
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Old Aug 5th, 2007, 02:54 PM
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topping with the hopes that somebody can offer some insight...
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Old Aug 5th, 2007, 04:43 PM
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From an Istrian lover's perspective, I would strongly recommend Istria. We found it to be far less touristy and commercialized than Dubrovnik, for example. Don't get me wrong - we loved Dubrovnik, too.

It admittedly is hard to match the breathtaking beauty of the Dalmatian coast but Istria has its own serene beauty. We absolutely loved the tiny hilltowns. We went truffle hunting in Istria, too. Yes, the towns are as charming. That is, if you like tiny towns. We found some to be almost deserted so they were wonderful to poke around. If we were given a choice to return to Dubrovnik or Istria my husband and I would both choose Istria.
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Old Aug 5th, 2007, 06:16 PM
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Tracy,
We were in Croatia last September, and spent 3 nights in Istria and 3 in Dubrovnik. Loved them both, and I donít think I can say one is more beautiful than the other one. They are different Ė less tourists and probably better food in Istria, though. Loved the trufflesÖ

We stayed in Rovinj, and it was fabulous. If you like small towns, narrow cobblestone streets, you will love Istria. Rent a car and drive around. I canít remember if you went to Plitvice Lakes last year. If you didnít, donít miss it again, itís a magical place.
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 04:16 AM
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Thank you both so much for your kind replies.

I did do some research on Istria this weekend and it looks like a fantastic area to visit. We love small towns and getting off the beaten tourist path. And unfortunately we did not make it to Plitvice. It was in our itinerary but the day that we were to go to Plitvice was the only day of our vacation that it rained the entire day. We decided to skip it knowing that we would return to Croatia one day. If we do decide on visiting Istria we will definitely go to Plitvice.

I will say that because we were in Dubrovnik in November the town was about dead on occassions so our images of Dubrovnik are probably different than those who visit during more peak times. I'm sure it will be quite different in May, which is the month we are planning on going next year.

Hmmm...I'm torn on what to do! DH really wants to spend a few nights in Kotor, but I think Istria is definitely worth considering.

Thanks again!
Tracy
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 06:45 AM
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I have not yet been to Istria (3 visits but always drawn to Dalmatia), but I will chime in to say that Dubrovnik in May will be mobbed at times. On my return trip there I really did not want to spend time there, as gorgeous as it is. However, if you mean the region surrounding Dubrovnik, then there is much to recommend--especially if you did not visit many islands last time (and Korcula is one of my faves.)
More important, Kotor was not at all crowded in May, and you just might want to get that trip to Montenegro in while it is relatively quiet (at that time of year--and not on the beaches).
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 07:02 AM
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yorkshire, thank you for chiming in. We were kind of worried about Dubrovnik in May. I think we have this certain imagine in our heads of lovely, quite Dubrovnik because that's exactly what it was in November. I worry that going in May could end up being dissapointing in comparison.

We would like to spend time in Montenegro. We daytripped there from Dubrovnik and loved it. We were thinking of spending 3 nights in Kotor and using the time to really explore the country, not just the stunning coastline but also the interior. And we didn't get a chance to visit an island in Croatia because off-season meant that that the ferry schedule was not that great and hotels were very hard to come by.

Tracy
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 09:14 AM
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Arriving in Dubrovnik on the coastal road from the south still brought tears to my eyes, but they are just letting in too many cruise ship groups during the day. (This does vary by day of the week, more on weekends and Thursdays for some reason). When they throngs aren't in town, you have to look at the floating monstrosities right offshore.
Sadly, but I guess understandably, it just isn't as magical the 2nd time. However, if you venture off the main streets it is so quiet! We stayed up the hill on our first visit several years ago, but for this second time of only one night, we opted for an old town apartment and it was lovely. Also, in the evenings it is pleasant if bustling--so not all bad. I loved the Bay of Kotor and wished I had stayed longer to explore the inland. Wasn't as impressed with Budva (and wished I had explored further south on the coast).
Good Luck deciding!
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 09:45 AM
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yorkshire, we weren't too impressed with Budva either. I'm not entirely sure why, but for some reason it seemed to lack some of the charm that Kotor had. We would definitely base ourselves in Kotor should we choose to visit southern Dalmatia as opposed to Istria because we loved the town and wish to explore it further.

Dubrovnik was so breathtakingly beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes as well. We did have one day on our trip, our final day, where there was a cruise ship and the town took on a completely different feel. It still wasn't very crowded because it was November, but the cruise ship tourists flocking to all of the souvenir shops took away some of the magic of the town. We just headed off the main streets and up near the walls and wandered around, petting the cats and marveling at the quiet and beauty of the town.

I guess its good for their economy that the cruise ships stop in Dubrovnik, but for a town of its size I'm sure overwcrowdedness can be a problem.

Tracy
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 06:33 PM
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We traveled to Dubrovnik, Korcula and Hvar in 2002 and couldn't imagine we would enjoy any other places so much, but in 2004 we went to Veli Losinj on the island of Losinj (south of Rijeka in the Kvarner Gulf) and then to Rovinj, and this trip was equally wonderful! Both trips were done using public transportation only. We'd love to repeat both vacations!
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 04:12 AM
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Linawood, thank you for your reply. So you thought that this area was just as pretty as southern Dalmatia?

We haven't been to an island yet so our initial thought was that if we do decide to visit Istria and/or northern Croatia we would probably head to an island for a few days. We are thinking of the island of Rab right now, but that's still up for debate. I never heard of Losinj. Are the towns on the island nice and scenic? I'll have to do some research!

We are still quite torn. I think that I am leaning more towards northern Croatia and DH is leaning towards southern Croatia and Montenegro.

Thanks!
Tracy
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 10:25 AM
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 06:21 PM
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It's hard to compare because the two trips were quite different. Dubrovnik is totally unique and the Dalmacian coast is very dramatic and not to be missed. But given that, we loved our second trip because it was really much more low key. Losinj is fairly hard to get to (without a car anyway) and in early October was very quiet. There were a few German tourists but we heard no Americans or English. There are only 2 main "towns" - Mali Losinj is a nice small town size, and Veli Losinj is extremely small (and probably impossible "in season". They are a 45 minute gorgeous walk from each other along the shore path and there are a couple of other miniscule harbors to walk to. Here are a couple of good websites to get an idea:

www.losinj.com:
Be sure to look under "photos" and "promenades and footpaths"
www.mali-losinj.com

Also go to www.flickr.com and put "losinj" in the search box to see a bunch of photos.

The walking is marvelous, the towns extremely picturesque, wonderful outside dining in almost movie set surroundings. But it is important to remember that it is very low key and a country type vacation. We loved the several hour bus ride from Riyeka that goes on a ferry and drives through the island of Cres before reaching Losinj - very slow down a narrow road with amazing vistas (if you like stark scenery).

We chose to stay in northern Croatia because we wanted to go to Venice also. So we had a very mixed vacation but it worked out beautifully. Bus from Trieste to Rijeka, bus to Veli Losinj, 3 busses from VL to Rovinj, bus to Trieste, train to Venice, and on to the South Tyrol.

If you do get to Losinj, be sure to take an excursion (or boat) to the sand island of Susak which is very traditional and has no motor vehicles.
A lot of the lodging on Losinj is in apts and rooms. Very good tourist infrastructure.



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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 06:37 PM
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Tracy, how long a trip are you planning? You could do both. I stayed in Rovinj 4 nights, then took a bus to Reijka where I took the overnight ferry to Dubrovnik. I stayed in Dubrovnik 4 nights and then flew back to Zagreb. While in Rovinj I did a day trip to Pula and took two boat rides to neighboring towns and islands. I got to Rovinj by bus from Trieste (Italy). While in Dubrovnik I took the Atlas trip to Montenegro and another wine tasting tour.

Some complain about the ferry but I really enjoyed it. It stopped in Split, Hvar and Korcula. You can get off at any of those but you will want to know it doesn't run everyday in May.
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 07:49 PM
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We spent nearly 3 weeks in Croatia last August/September so saw a good part of the country. We stayed in Istria for several days using Rovinj as our base. We spent one full day touring the hilltowns which were nice but nothing like those in Italy. Rovinj was pretty with the cobblestone streets and charming harbor. No cars are allowed in the town which helps but it is still a very touristy and busy place. I just got a brochure for a Dalmatian cruise that includes a stop there so I am guessing it will get even more crowded as time goes on. We drove down the coast (loved Plitvice - well worth a detour to go there), Trogir/Split, Hvar then on to Dubrovnik which we thought was spectacular. It is much better to stay there so you can see the city at night after the tour buses from the cruise ships have left. The marble Stradum (main street) is incredible at night (it has been worn shiny over the centuries of use). We hired a driver for a day trip to Montenegro including a stop at Kotor. The excursion was interesting and well worth doing. If I were to choose though between Istria and Dubrovnik, there would be no choice. I would opt for Dubrovnik. We have been to most major cities throughout Europe and Dubrovnik is one of our favorites.
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Old Aug 8th, 2007, 04:31 AM
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Thank you again everyone for your replies!

We will have a car for this trip so we won't be relying on busses. At this point I think we are leaning towards northern Croatia because we would like to also combine our visit with Venice, which after numerous trips to Italy I have still yet to visit, and then head up into Austria because we love the mountains.

As much as we loved Dubrovnik and Montenengro I think it will wait. To be honest a big reason why we may skip this area this time around is the planned road construction, which we heard is terrible so we really don't want to deal with it. Plus in a strange way I almost feel guilty visiting the same place without visiting other parts of the country.

linawood, thank you for the links! Losinj sounds just lovely so I'll definitely be doing some research.

Thank you again to everyone!
Tracy
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Old Aug 8th, 2007, 08:17 AM
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That sounds perfect. Since you're headed to Austria, be sure to dawdle a bit in Slovenia. Ljubliana is an interesting town and Lake Bled is really beautiful.

Also, enroute from Venice to Istria, take a look at Trieste. It's such a nice, non-touristy Italian town.
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Old Aug 8th, 2007, 08:18 AM
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By the way, check out your ability and liabilities with taking a car from Italy to Croatia. You might want to take the train from Venice to Trieste and then bus into Croatia and rent a car when you get there.
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