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Itinerary advice: Croatia and Slovenia


Jun 2nd, 2013, 06:11 PM
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Itinerary advice: Croatia and Slovenia

We are flying into Dubrovnik and out of Zagreb Sept. 25-Oct. 13, so we will have 17 nights if I've counted correctly! 2 couples. We plan to do a day trip to Montenegro. We would like to drive to Mostar from there, and on to Sarajevo. Would that be doable in one day and still get to see some of Mostar? Should we spend one or two nights in Sarajevo?
From there, we want to see Split, Trogir (possibly staying there...how long?), Rovinj, Plitvice
lakes, and ljubljana, ending in Zagreb. Should we include some islands after Dubrovnik and before Mostar? I appreciate any ideas on how many nights to spend in each area, and the best way to piece them together, especially on the front end. Thanks!!!
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 06:43 PM
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[Double-post. Ask the moderators to erase one of them and tag the other one with both "Croatia" and "Bosnia and Herzegovina."]

A couple of years ago I drove the other direction from Zagreb, night in Plitvice, night on the coast (Baska Voda), night in Mostar, then dropped the car in Dubrovnik. I regret now now seeing Sarajevo. Julia_t has posted a few times about her travels there; search the Europe forum and I'm sure you can find her reports.

You probably won't need the car in Dubrovnik; I'd pick it up the day you want to head down to Montenegro.

The part of Mostar you will be interested in seeing is not big; a few hours there would easily be enough to see the core (the bridge is the highlight for sure), though Mostar during the day is very touristy, full of day-trippers. At night it will be much less crowded, but I'm not sure if it's worth spending a night there vs. Sarajevo.

I do think at least one of the islands is worth seeing. Korcula would be fairly easy to get to as a detour. The big car ferry going up and down the Dalmatian Coast only runs once a week or so, but you can take a double ferry from the coast from Ploce to Trpanj, drive to Oberic, then Oberic to Korcula Town. (Look on a Google map, it makes a lot more sense once you see it.) These car ferries run several times a day.

I visited Korcula in early October, and by the time I arrived it was the end of the season and kind of dead at night, even on a Saturday night (restaurants were open but empty). Otherwise, it's a nice town. My advice would be to visit Korcula before Mostar and Sarajevo.

You could see Hvar instead - probably not both islands given your limited schedule. I don't know anything about ferries for HVar.

I stayed in Split, didn't see Trogir but sounds like I should have done that the other way around.

I didn't get to Rovinj; I did see the smaller seaside town of Piran, Slovenia, which was beautiful.

Ljubljana is a beautiful town but small, no need to spend a lot of days there. Lake Bled is beautiful and worth a visit for sure - a great place to visit during the day whereas Ljubljana is more interesting at night.

Plitvice is great but best explored first thing in the morning before the big tour groups arrive. You could spend a night there, spend the morning there, lunch nearby, drive 2hrs to Zagreb. I didn't think Zagreb was worth more than a day. You could plan to return the car there and spend the last afternoon seeing the sites before leaving the next day.

So you could do your visit this way:

Montenegro (day trip or overnight?)
Lake Bled(? recommend at least a day trip)

You can plug in the nights and figure out how many and where.

You could do Plitvice before Ljubljana I guess. I'm not sure which routing really works best - I didn't drive it.
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 10:27 PM
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Wow, your advice is really helpful! You've put into words what my mind was (slowly) forming!!! Sounds like a great itinerary. So one night in Ljubljana enough?
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 11:07 PM
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Given that you will probably have several hours driving before you arrive in Ljubljana and also some driving on the day you depart back for Croatia, 1 night might not quite be enough for Ljubljana. What about two nights and a day trip up to Lake Bled? (Or a night in Lake Bled and a night in Ljubljana?) There are other towns nearby that are worth exploring, too. I drove from Ljubljana to Lake Bled with a stop in between at the delightful little town of Skofja Loka. The drive from there through the mountains up to Lake Bled was gorgeous.

You might read up a little more on Slovenia and see what else might grab you there. One popular activity is driving through the Julian Alps over the Vrsic Pass, through Triglav National Park, but you'd want a day for that. Given your schedule, it might not be worth your time, though.

In many ways I preferred Slovenia to Croatia (I did two separate trips and focused on one on each trip). This is a gross oversimplification - but Croatia's highlights (other than Plitvice) seem largely based on sun-and-fun vacation stuff. That's a big reason many people visit. Slovenia has very little of that, without much of a coastline, but the towns are nice and so are some of the other natural areas. I guess we all have our preferences.

You can find my trip reports from those two trips by clicking on my name/handle, if you're interested.
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 11:28 PM
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We just got back from our trip in May. I agree with Andrew on almost everything. You can check out my trip report . We also preferred Slovenia over all the other former Yugoslavia countries. If driving from Dubrovnic to Mostar I would spend the night there and head to Sarajevo the next day. The city is much nicer after the crowds have left. I agree pick up your car the day you want to go to Montenegro. Get it first thing because the border gets busy. We left about 8:15 and the line up wasn't too bad. We came back and stayed the night in Dubrovnic and paid $25 Canadian dollars to park overnight. Left the next day for Mostar. Definitely visit Plitvice by 8 am. By 10-11 am the tour buses have arrived and the boardwalks can get very congested. We drove , Dubrovnic to Montenegro, Dubrovnic to Mostar, Mostar to Drevnis. Ferry to Hvar. Hvar ferry to Split the drove to Plitvice. Overnight at Plitvice. Visit again in am to avoid crowds. The drove to Rovinj. 3 nights. Visited hill towns . Then drove toLjubljana for 3 nights with day trip to Lake Bled, Vintgar gorge, Lake Bohijm . The Julian Alps were beautiful and we lucked out because we had sunshine. It has rained there since we left and they have had flooding. Especially in Czech republic.
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Jun 6th, 2013, 10:13 PM
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Thanks for the helpful replies. Due to a very busy week I haven't been able to plug in my destinations to see what works. I need to get going so I can work on hotels/apartments. Appreciate all the advice!
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