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Itinerary for Slovenia/Croatia for September?

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I am planning a 20 days trips to Slovenia and Croatia in September (9/7 - 9/28). The dates are set as we were able to get Seattle-Paris-Seattle tickets using points. I'm so excited! Now the fun part of creating the itinerary for our adventure starts. Nothing is booked yet other than our tickets, so everything is still flexible. I am looking for suggestions on what to see and do in Slovenia and Croatia. We are both active, so we are thinking about spending a night in Paris since we will already be there, then hiking for a week or so in the Julian Alps in Slovenia, then perhaps renting a car and exploring Croatia. Any ideas on what to include? What would be worth our time? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Here is a rough draft of the itinerary:

20 days trip to Slovenia and Croatia

Sep 8 arrive to Paris at 7:25am

Sep 9 leave Paris at 11am, arrive to Ljubljana at 12:40pm

Sep 10 leave Ljubljana by bus, arrive to Kranjska Gora

Sep 11 hiking starts, take morning bus to Vrsic pass

hike Mala and Velika Mojstrovka (5.5km, 2360' elevation)

stay overnight in Ticarjev Dom or Postarski Dom

Sep 12 Vrsic pass to Trenta village on Soca Trail (11km, 3280'

downhill), easier day, stay overnight in Trenta

Sep 13-18

Trenta to Petrovo Brdo, stage 8 of Slovene High Level route

67.5km, 13000' gain, 12000' loss

Need to plan details of this stage...

"The emphasis of this stage is not not steep rock and via

ferrata but on varied terrain through dwarf pine, past

mountain lakes and on long traverses on balcony paths

and flower strewn ridges with super views of lower hills

and the land to the south".

Sep 18 back to Ljubljana

Sep 19 leave to Zagreb by train, arrive to Zagreb

Sep 19-27 Croatia (TBD, still need to research)

Sep 27 back to Paris; 1 night in Paris

Sep 28 @9am flight back to Seattle

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    FWIW, I did a similar trip in 2009; you can find my trip report by clicking on my name and scrolling down to trip reports. (I live in Portland.) Flew into Milan, train/bus over to Ljubljana, down into Croatia, flight from Split to Paris, home from Paris. I love Paris and had two nights there at the end.

    Your staging in Paris and Ljubljana seems awkward - one night each to arrive and depart, though I can understand why, given how hard it is to get from Seattle to Croatia/Slovenia in a day. Is it possible to fly out to Ljubljana the same day from Paris without spending the night there, then staying the final two nights the way back? I know it sounds risky in case a flight is delayed and you miss your connection - but consider if there is a fallback plan (another flight to Ljubljana a few hours later maybe?

    You mention hiking so is nature stuff your primary interest? I loved the city of Ljubljana - not tons to do there but a lovely downtown core, great place to stroll. I hope you have more time there than just getting in late/leaving early and get a chance to see the place.

    In Croatia, Plitvice Lakes National Park is highly recommended (about two hours from Zagreb by car) - lots of hiking there. If you've been down to the Columbia River Gorge, imagine the waterfalls but huge turquoise-color lakes full of trout! Really something.

    I'm a Rick Steves fan - suggest you check out his Slovenia/Croatia book.

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    Andrew - thank you for your response and for a link to your trip report. I shall read it tomorrow morning.

    As for your question about Paris and Ljubljana, unfortunately our flight is not direct and give the time difference, I think that it would be a good idea for us to spend a day and night in Paris, likely staying close to the airport, just to recover from the flight. We flew into Munich in February this year and did something similar (one night in Munich) before driving to Italy. It turned out to be a great idea as we were exhausted and it is a vacation after all, right? Having said that, I will look into flight to Ljubljana, and consider your suggestion of going there right away and then spending two nights in Paris on the way back.

    Nature is one of our interest. We also like to stroll around towns and villages, eat fresh food, just hang out, and spend time in beautiful surroundings.

    I've added Plitvice Lakes National Park to my list as this one keep popping up frequently in different guides.

    Working my way through Rick Steve's Slovenia/Croatia book now - just got a copy from the library.

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    If you arrive at 7:25 in CDG, you could catch a flight out at 11 to Ljubljana that same morning - there's even an easyJet flight at 11 on 9/8 in addition to the Adria Airways flight at the same time. But if you have a connection between SEA and CDG, then it is riskier - having the night in Paris does give you a buffer in case you get stuck due to weather at a connection or something.

    I guess some people do prefer to rest after that long overseas flight - plus having that buffer night in Paris gives you more security that the rest of your vacation won't be delayed if you miss a connecting flight or something. I personally prefer to get where I'm going the first day - but that's a personal preference.

    Yes, read the Rick Steves book and the numerous other Croatia threads here and ask specific questions. (FYI, you can watch his Croatia and Slovenia videos for free on Hulu if you want to see some of these places ahead of time.) September should be a great time to be in Slovenia and Croatia; I'm still thinking about going back to Slovenia in September myself. I saw only Ljubljana my first time in Slovenia and really want to see more of that unique little country.

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    I'm not sure I can be of much help at this point, but I will say that I think you are wise to plan on some time to recover from jet lag at the start of your trip. I hate taking transit risks at the start of a trip when I am disoriented and especially if schedules are uncertain. But if I know I can get to my final destination on a reasonable schedule, I far prefer to push on and crash at my final stop than try to deal with jet lag mid-trip. (That's assuming I'm not driving. If I'm driving, I want some time to overcome jet lag before getting behind a wheel.) Just my view.

    > 20 days trip to Slovenia and Croatia

    I'm having a difficult time envisioning what you expect beyond that 1st week in Slovenia, I didn't visit most of your target destinations in Slovenia - I envy your youth and energy! Even so, 20 days for Slovenia AND Croatia seems to me like a VERY short time. I think you will need to be VERY selective if you stick to this pace.

    > Sep 9 leave Paris at 11am, arrive to Ljubljana at 12:40pm
    Sep 10 leave Ljubljana by bus, arrive to Kranjska Gora ...
    SSep 18 back to Ljubljana
    Sep 19 leave to Zagreb by train, arrive to Zagreb

    If I'm reading correctly, you have a few evenings and maybe a bit extra time in Ljubljana. I thought it a charming and unique city and I encourage you to leave enough time - at the very least an evening and the better part of a day - to explore it.

    > Sep 19 leave to Zagreb by train, arrive to Zagreb
    Sep 19-27 Croatia (TBD, still need to research)
    Sep 27 back to Paris ..

    With about 8 days (if I'm reading correctly) you will need to limit yourself to brief visits at your highest priority sites. For comparison, I spent about 3 weeks in Croatia itself, and thought I shortchanged it.

    > I've added Plitvice Lakes National Park to my list

    Definitely worth visiting! It is one of the world's most spectacular and best preserved sets of travertine falls in a gloriously beautiful setting. And since you like hiking, perfect! I took a 6-hour walk, and would have planned a longer walk if I could IMO, the Plitvice Lakes easily merit designation as a World Heritage Site. From what I read, serious hikers might find enough to justify at least a 2nd day to explore the park; I can't say whether that's true. I took a "6-hour" route, which I walked on my own and at my own pace and found (to my surprise, given that I often moved more slowly than others) that it actually did take just about 6 hours. Tourist info boards at each entrance identify 2, 4, 6, and 8 hours options; staff posted by these boards when I was there provided advice to those who wanted to plan their own routes.

    > Working my way through Rick Steve's Slovenia/Croatia book now

    When I plan my trips, I consult a wide range of sources that cover the places I am considering, each with different strengths and weaknesses. I appreciate that different guidebooks focus on different aspects of the travel experience - As a rule, I study at least 6 guidebooks for any one trip. Over the course of more than a dozen international trips, I used a Rick Steves' book only once - his guide to Croatia and Slovenia. I found it ill-suited to my specific purposes. For example, it seemed to give information about fewer sites than other guides, it seemed more judgmental than other guides, and it seemed to me to steer tourists to caricatures of local culture while pretending to help tourists find "real" experiences. I could be - and hope I am- wrong. I'm just describing my impressions based on my experiences with a single guidebook.

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    My husband and I went to Croatia's Istrian Peninsula two years ago and we FELL IN LOVE with Rovinj Croatia. There are beautiful sights, great swimming holes in the sea, warm people, and great fresh produce, oil, and honey from their open air market. I highly recommend finding some time for this wonderful city. Have a blast!

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