Itinerary review: Croatia/Italy


Jan 28th, 2017, 12:39 PM
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Itinerary review: Croatia/Italy

Just in the earliest stages of planning, and have a rudimentary itinerary in mind (far from final, so would love input). Timeframe mid-June of this year. We are fairly flexible on how much time we have, thinking 2.5-3 weeks.

Thinking of some portion of the Croatian coast (Dubrovnik, Split), Venice and Cinque Terre (and possibly Florence, see below).

Looking for suggestions about:

- Best way to set up itinerary for departure/return flight. For example, fly into Dubrovnik, fly home from Florence? Or fly into Venice, rent car to drive through Croatia and back to Venice, and then train from Venice for the rest?

- How best to get to Dubrovnik? Per the above idea, driving from Venice would give us plenty of scenery/sightseeing along the coast, but from what I read on WikiTravel, there could be plenty of summer traffic (particularly transiting through B-H @ Neum). And car travel just sounds like not a great idea according to this page:

- Is travel from Venice to Cinque Terre (La Spezia) fairly straightforward? Or should we plan to do Venice to Florence, and then separately Florence to La Spezia? This could determine whether or not we choose to spend any time in Florence.

These are broad questions, I know. Like I said, just in the early stages of planning, so I wanted to tap into some of that amazing Fodors expertise.
RaymondLuxuryYacht is offline  
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Jan 28th, 2017, 02:04 PM
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In high season, I probably wouldn't pick only destinations that are the most popular with tourists. Driving from Venice to Dubrovnik would provide the opportunity to get away from the crowds occasionally, but having to round-trip back to Venice wouldn't appeal to me and, alternatively, a one-way, two-country rental would likely be too pricey for me. I suppose you could fly Venice-Dubrovnik-Venice and rent a car for Croatia if you consider the time lost in transit is worth it.

I'd probably leave Croatia for another trip, stay in Italy the entire time and mix in some small towns with the big cities. I think you'll appreciate time in the countryside after you endure the crowds in Venice, Florence and the Cinque Terre. FWIW, I'd drop the Cinque Terre before I'd drop Florence.
Jean is offline  
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Jan 28th, 2017, 02:07 PM
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While I can certainly understand your desire to see all these places, I wonder if you will actually have time to see and experience what you want. For my tastes, you are trying to fit in a bit too much -- but that's me, and what matters here is YOU. Here's what I recommend: Get some good guidebooks (or spend some time with a few in your local library), identify the things you most want to see in each location, check their opening/closing times on the internet, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.).

For your transportation options, you can get a preliminary sense through -- just be sure to follow up on anything you learn there, as it is not always fully up-to-date.

Depending on where, exactly, you end up going, a car would not necessarily be an advantage and could, in contrast, be a disadvantage. In contrast, you have good options for public transportation for much of the area.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
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Jan 28th, 2017, 03:11 PM
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I absolutely love the Cinque Terre - been there twice - but in mid-June, I'm guessing it's horribly crowded with non-Italian tourists. Even though it was a highlight of Italy for me, with your itinerary I would probably leave it out, unless you can avoid a round trip between Venice and the Cinque Terre. (You could look into flying from Pisa or Genoa perhaps, if you could find flight connections to make your trip easier.)

Travel between Venice and the CT is very straightforward by train, just time-consuming. You can check the travel times on the Trenitalia website. Trains will either go through Milan or Florence, so if you want to stop in Florence anyway this might work fine. It's the trip back toward Venice that would eat up most of a day of travel. I've heard La Spezia (only changed trains there) is not a fun place to stay over - but I've stayed twice in the town of Levanto on the northern end of the CT, nice beach town and probably a lot cheaper than staying in one of the five villages.

Consider adding a stop in Slovenia on the way to Croatia instead, at least to stop in beautiful Ljubljana and possibly a side trip to Lake Bled. It's a slight detour, but Slovenia is a beautiful little country that gets much less attention than Croatia!

If you rent a car in Italy, plan to return it in Italy as well unless you want to pay a steep one-way drop fee. (Possibly thousands of dollars. Depends on the cities. Check for yourself!). I wouldn't want to drive Venice down to Dubrovnik and all the way back myself. One option would be a ferry from Dubrovnik or Split back to Italy. Another option would be to take a bus or ferry from Venice to Istria (e.g. Rovinj) and rent a car there and return it in Dubrovnik - then fly out of Dubrovnik or ferry back to Italy without a car.

I've driven twice in Croatia and found driving there very easy and practical, but I've not driven in mid-June, when it's supposedly much more crowded with tourists. A car is not desirable in the big cities especially in Dubrovnik except to make day trips but outside of the cities the roads are generally great. Ff you add islands to your itinerary, having a car adds another complication (there are passenger-only catamarans in addition to car ferries).

There's supposedly a coastal ferry in Croatia again this year - wasn't running in 2016 but I hear it's back in 2017. That's another option to get up and down the coast, but the ferries don't run every day. There are also some short flights between Pula and Zadar and (maybe) between Rijeka and Split that you might check into to avoid long bus trips otherwise.
Andrew is offline  
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Feb 1st, 2017, 05:34 AM
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I have most experience in traveling in Croatia, so I will be a bit more detailed about that part. I think that it won't be difficult to can get a lot of info about Italy.

Mid June is still not the most busiest time of the tourist season, and travelling by car in Croatia is probably very good to do. The highway along the coast is very good, the local roads are busy because they are one-lane so you can't pass a bus or lorry and have to stay behind them. The plus side is that you can see much more when travelling by car through Croatia.

In Dubrovnik it is difficult to get around by car, so best to park your car at your hotel and take a transfer bus to the old town. From Dubrovnik you can make a great day trip by car to a small coastal town south of Dubrovnik - Cavtat. Go there with the coastal road for nice sea views and back take the inland road that runs along the east side of the airport it nice to see the landscape and not many tourist take that road, if you like to try traditional Croatian food go to Konavoski dvori it is located along a river (nice and cool on hot days) and serves traditional food.

From Dubrovnik northward there will be less traffic in June than southward. Visit the peninsula Peljesac, the town Ston and mali Ston - very long old stone wall along the hillside, an area where from ancient times sea salt is collected and the place is famous for fresh oysters and other seafood, furthermore the area is known for its red wine made from the plavac grape variety - Dingac and Postup. On the peninsula are many wineries where you can just stop and go for a wine tasting.

Travelling northward along the coast you pass through 'Neretva' a delta region which is very fertile, stop here and buy some local products which are offered in stalls along the road like freshly picked fruit, honey, home-made marmalade. Take the highway (tollroad) to Split, in this town you can spend 2-3 days at least, Trogir half a day but really nice to see. So this will take at least 7-10 days depending on the sight-seeing and if you want to go by ferry (you can take your car with you) to Hvar or Korcula, or a one-day boat trip to one of the national parks in this region (NP Mljet or NP Lastovo, which is also very nice to do.

Then from Split to Venice - quickest is by airplane (Volotea), otherwise make a round trip Dubrovnik-Split by car and fly from Dubrovnik to Venice.

Stay a couple of days in Venice, go by train to Florence (you go through Florence anyway), couple of days in this amazingly beautiful city and then by train to relax along the coast of Cinque Terre.

Good luck with planning!
Croatia4me is offline  
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Feb 1st, 2017, 06:35 AM
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Croatia coast
June is not high season
The coast road will be ok
Driving both ways, a bit of a pain
Cars in towns (a bigger pain)

Ferry, I'd look here as a possible easy way back and fly out.
bilboburgler is offline  
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Feb 1st, 2017, 07:30 AM
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I have basically alternated between visiting Croatia and Italy for the last decade or so, but never in summer. I would not be as worried about June as I would about July/August.
I am actually vehemently against visiting Cinque Terre--I know, a strong opinion, but I just don't think the area can adequately absorb the amount of visitors it is getting, and I feel like the crowds detract from the experience entirely. There are just so many other beautiful places in the world (heck, just miles down the road in Italy), so why do we have to love this one to death?
You question is tough to answer because there are just so many options. I also think you may need to pare down your list, or just concentrate your choices a bit so that you do not have to hopscotch around so much.
Play around with some flight search engines for Italy-Croatia travel, and look at the train travel bit for Venice to CT on trenitalia, and peruse your guide books a bit to see what other places in Croatia you may be interested in.
If you are flying from the US, getting to Croatia is a tad more difficult than flying to Italy, so I would at least investigate the open-jaw flights also.
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Sep 25th, 2017, 03:27 AM
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Oct 1st, 2017, 03:32 PM
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Two years ago we tried to include going to Italy with Croatia but matter how what combination we tried the airfare was ridiculously high so we did Germany with Croatia and saved Italy for this year. I never did understand why the fare would not work doing Italy and Croatia but would for Germany and Croatia. Anyway I am telling you all this just to urge you to check your airfares closely. Be sure to see what it would be if you just went in and out of Croatia. Look the cost of flying into Split and out of Dubrovnik and then compare it to what to what you really prefer to do. Perhaps in the 2 years since we travelled to Croatia it is easier and not so expensive to include Italy at lease I hope so
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