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Itinerary for Croatia

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Mar 22nd, 2015, 02:51 PM
  #1
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Itinerary for Croatia

Looking for Fodorites wisdom on a trip we have planned for early May-10 days. Our plan is to travel into and out of Venice; this part is set due to flights and plans made to see friends there. We will stay for two nights in Venice on the back-end of the trip. When we first land in Venice, we will rent a car and drive to Croatia. Someone has told me there is a fee to drive through Slovenia. Does anyone know about this? First stop is Rovinj where we plan to spend 3-4 nights. Looking for suggestions for Istria- other than Pula, which we plan to visit. Also would like to travel down into Dalmatia and don't mind driving. Any suggestions on where to visit given the timeframe would be most appreciated.
This is all I have so far:
1. Land in Venice, rent car
2.3-4 nights in Rovinj with travel around Istria
3. Split?, Zadar? Nin?
4. Drive back for 2 nights in Venice
Would really love to see Hvar but wonder about the logistics. Thank you for your advice.
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Mar 22nd, 2015, 03:23 PM
  #2
 
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You might consider taking a bus or ferry to Rovinj from Venice (ferry in May only a few days a week - Saturday? - so only if time it perfectly). You can take a ferry back to Italy from Split daily I think, then take a train back up to Venice. That would save you the long drive back. And renting a car in Croatia will most likely be a lot cheaper than renting in Italy. (I plan to be there at about the same time in May; I have driven in Croatia before but have never been to Istria; I used EconomyCarRentals to check prices, and renting in Venice was about 2X the cost of renting in Croatia.)

The "fee" to drive in Slovenia is the vignette sticker you are required to have/display to drive on highways in Slovenia. This is super important: if you do rent a car in Italy, plan to stop and buy a vignette absolutely as soon as you cross the border, at a gas station or something (perhaps even in Italy you can buy one - not sure). Don't blow this off - it's a huge fine if you are caught driving without one, and the authorities don't issue warnings for naive foreigners. There are lots of stories out there about tourists fined for driving without a vignette.

From Split, visiting Hvar is easy by catamaran - without a car. Still doable with a car I think but may be more complicated off season - not sure.

So you could rent a car in Rovinj and return it in Split if you like; catamaran without a car to Hvar, catamaran back, and go back to Italy from Split via ferry. (Probably overnight though.)

http://www.directferries.co.uk/split_ancona_ferry.htm
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Mar 22nd, 2015, 04:02 PM
  #3
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Thanks for the reply Andrew and your help. I had thought about ferries but the timing for us is off. We arrive on a Thursday. Thanks for the feedback about the vignette; will definitely pick up as soon as we can-either in Italy or as soon as we get into Slovenia. The rental price I got is not too bad- europecar had it around $225. They also said there were no restrictions to travel to Croatia. So I think this is the plan. Any thoughts on towns to visit? Maybe Split may be too far but others a bit closer? Thanks agin; we are getting excited as it gets closer.
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Mar 22nd, 2015, 04:18 PM
  #4
kja
 
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I agree with Andrew -- the vignette for Slovenia is absolutely essential!

"Looking for suggestions for Istria" -- You might consider Porec and the hill towns (perhaps especially Motovun). A good guide book should help you pick places that suit you. I found the Rough Guide particularly useful for Croatia in general and Istria in particular.

"3. Split?, Zadar? Nin?"

I loved Split -- I found it vibrant and dynamic and energetic. It is also a good base for beautiful Trogir and Hvar. That said, some people don't like Split very much. You'll have to read about it and decide for yourself.

I found Zadar pleasantly laid back, and it offers quite a range of sites from Roman ruins through modern installations that use waves to create music or solar batteries to create visual images.

Nin has what I thought a very interesting and tiny ancient church -- I believe the oldest in Croatia. And it is an interesting place to stroll around. But it is TINY. A few hours, max, and you'll have seen everything. Doesn't mean you might not enjoy relaxing there for a while....

"Any suggestions on where to visit given the timeframe"

IMO, the single most unmissable site in all of lovely Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Part of what makes these lakes so magnificent is that each has unique microbiota, and as a result, the lakes are different colors. The best way to see that is to walk a single, long loop through the park -- something on the order of 6 hours or more (including time for the boat that connects the lower and upper lakes). You might want to consider driving from Istria to the Plitvice Lakes, spend a night, visit the park, and then move on to Split or Zadar or wherever you end up choosing to go.

"Would really love to see Hvar but wonder about the logistics"

Andrew has pointed to your options for getting there. If you don't go as far south as Hvar, you might consider Rab Town / Rab Island instead. Much more laid back and less upscale, but still very beautiful and with some stunning architecture. Just a thought....
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Mar 22nd, 2015, 04:43 PM
  #5
 
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If the prices for renting in Venice are not much different than renting in Croatia via EconomyCarRentals, then I'd rent in Venice almost for sure. You could do the rent-in-Croatia only to save yourself extra driving, as you could ferry/train back up to Venice from Split (and bus from Venice directly to Rovinj to start). But it probably won't be a difficult drive in May driving the whole way. Some people like the train and would prefer splitting it up that way.

I think because Croatia has joined the EU that rental car restrictions have changed. In other words, the car companies may not be able to impose restrictions on driving within the EU. I am going to be driving out of the EU from Croatia (to Bosnia and Montenegro) and there are extra costs and restrictions for me to do that with several rental car companies I've checked with.

I would visit Plitvice as well if you have time - it's amazing.
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Mar 23rd, 2015, 04:59 AM
  #6
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Thank you kja and Andrew! Great advice. We would like to try to get to PL so we'll definitely see how to add that in. Also will check out the Rough Guide- hadn't picked that one up yet. Will start looking into your suggestions. Thank you!
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Mar 23rd, 2015, 06:58 AM
  #7
 
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Does the 10 days include the last 2 days in Venice?
Of course it all depends on your personal preference (i.e., looking for nature or cultural attractions) and how much you wish to drive, but I will put in a plug for the northern Kvarner islands of Mali Losinj and Cres--rugged beauty and few tourists in May. If you need more action, then driving down the mainland coast would be in order. There is no need to drive all the way to Split, but it just depends on what sticks out to you from the guide book.
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