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one-month itinerary -- what am I missing?

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Feb 1st, 2015, 08:28 AM
  #1
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one-month itinerary -- what am I missing?

We're spending a month in Croatia this summer, relying on public transportation to get around. We love swimming, snorkelling, hiking, biking and kayaking. We like to stay in oceanview quieter areas but within a kilometre or two of the old towns, We have done a lot of moving around every couple of days on other trips, but we'd like to spend a minimum of three nights in each place this time around, if possible.
I tried to squeeze in Mostar but cringed at the 4+-hour one-way bus journey. Kotor or Vis is another thought, but they would come at the expense of Mljet or pulling nights from Hvar, Korcula and Dubvronik. Worth it?
We've followed some earlier advice from forum pros and would appreciate any last thoughts on our itinerary and whether we're missing some must-sees.

Fly into Pula -- 1 night
Rovinj - 4
Lovran - 3
Zadar - 3
Plitvice - 1
Trogir - 3
Hvar - 4
Korcula - 4
Mljet - 3
Dubrovnik or Cavtat - 4
Fly home to Canada.
Many thanks for any tips or suggestions.
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Feb 1st, 2015, 09:53 AM
  #2
kja
 
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I'm probably not the best person to comment, as your interests are quite different than mine, but I think this plan would work in light of those interests. IMO, Mostar is fascinating and quite spectacular, but one night is enough for most people. I thought the bus very comfortable and the scenery was stunning, but only you can decide whether it would be worthwhile to you. I thought Kotor quite beautiful, with some similarities to Dubrovnik. But then, your trip will include a number of places that are similar to one another, so again, only you can decide whether to include it or not. I didn't make it to Vis, but thought it sounded quite lovely. If you do want to diversify your trip a bit, you might look at Rab, but it's a bit harder to get to and isn't THAT much different than other places on your itinerary.

It is a beautiful part of the world - enjoy!
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Feb 1st, 2015, 10:23 AM
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I would definitely try to add Mostar, in part because everything else on your trip is all summer coast, sun, etc. If that's what you want, great, but you'll have most of a month of it. Why not add something different? Mostar is very different from everything else on your itinerary.

In the summer months especially, you will probably find locals (perhaps via your hotel or landlord) who will lead tours to Mostar for the day from Dubrovnik, Korcula, or elsewhere. One of the local travel agencies did this as I recall. Ask around, you'll find someone who will. Mostar will probably be mobbed with tour groups during the day, though (I visited in October). It is much nicer at night after most of them have left.

Have you considered renting a car on your trip at least for a few days? That would make it easier to travel to Mostar as well. (You can drive a car in from Croatia if you have the right permit in your rental car. I did.) I found driving in the area very easy, despite being nervous about it ahead of time. Granted, I was driving in October when the roads were not busy even in Croatia. In the summer I hear things can get pretty crowded.
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Feb 1st, 2015, 03:33 PM
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Thank you both. I'd like to avoid a car rental. We spent four weeks driving around Ireland last summer on roads barely wide enough for two sheep, with posted speed limits better suited for the autobahn. So I wouldn't mind turning over that task to a professional driver this time around.

In looking at my itinerary, where would you pull a day or two from to squeeze in Mostar and/or Kotor? Do you think two nights, instead of three, in Trogir is enough to see the old town there and then explore Split the next day for a bit? Or should I pull it from Zadar or Hvar?

It looks like we could catch a morning bus to Mostar, leaving Split at 9:30 a.m. (arriving at 2 p.m.), stay overnight and catch an 11 a.m. bus back the next day, giving us another couple of hours in Split to look around before catching the 6 p.m. catamaran to Hvar. But that's assuming we can get tickets for that 6 p.m. boat. Does that seem doable?

Thanks again for sharing your expertise!
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Feb 1st, 2015, 03:54 PM
  #5
kja
 
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"where would you pull a day or two from to squeeze in Mostar and/or Kotor?" -- I can't answer that, but I can offer some observations about some of the areas that you seem to be planning a lot of time. For example, it seems to me that you have a LOT of beach / island time, so you might consider cutting a night or two from one of those locations. And since Lovran edges Istria, when you count your time in Rovinj you have a week in that area and might be able to cut a day there. But again, I'm not the person who can really advise you as your priorities are so different than mine.

Re: Trogir / Split. I loved Trogir, but it is tiny -- you can walk every street in just a half day. I also loved Split, although not everyone does. It is much larger and very dynamic, with lots of interesting areas to walk around, a great market, some worthy museums, a vibrant waterfront, etc.

Re: Zadar / Hvar. I'm not sure why you would look at these as a pair, but FWIW, Zadar has a very pleasant college-town feel to it, with lots of history (and architecture from the ages), and some very interesting modern installations (the Sea Organ and solar panel display nearby). Hvar Island includes beautiful Hvar Town, which I found a bit too upscale for my tastes, and Stari Grad, which I found worth visiting, but I'm not sure it's what you are looking for.

You might want to pull out a calendar and sketch out what you think you'll aim to do each day. that might give you a better sense of where YOU would feel most comfortable cutting your time.
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Feb 1st, 2015, 04:56 PM
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I'm not sure I'd stay four days on both Hvar and Korcula. I understand you want to relax and not rush around changing hotels every night. But you can probably day trip easily from one to the other via catamaran and perhaps devote the remaining days to Mostar + add them to somewhere else. I didn't visit Hvar at all, only Korcula, but I have read other comments echoing what kja says about Hvar being more upscale. It has gotten a reputation as party town for the elite, not something that much appeals to me, either, but then again, I haven't actually visited so I shouldn't really judge.

I'm not suggesting you rent a car the entire trip - perhaps for just a few days. As I said, I was nervous about driving in Croatia and especially BiH before my trip but it turned out not to be a big deal at all. The main road from Split halfway down to Dubrovnik is a huge modern freeway, the A1. Other roads are generally in good condition - perhaps less so in BiH but still not bad on the main roads. I don't recall any roads I thought narrow - to get to Mostar from Croatia you don't exactly have to drive back roads or over mountains or anything. It's a pretty straight shot. I haven't driven in Ireland so I can't compare with your experiences.

(Parking in Mostar was a bit of a challenge; I let the B&B owner park my car in a designated spot and left it there for the entire time I was there, just a night.)

The biggest issue with driving in Croatia/BiH for me was that drivers seem very aggressive and will pass you with seemingly not enough enough passing clearance on a two lane road. The first few times someone passed me I was a bit unnerved; within a few hours I was driving just like them. I've learned that when you visit somewhere, it's usually best to drive like the locals. It may be more dangerous to drive there like you might at home, slower and more conservatively, when the other drivers are expecting people to drive like them. Even so, I wasn't particularly afraid to drive there after about the first half hour.

You don't have to drive there, of course, but it could make your life easier.

You could potentially day trip (with a guide driving you) from Korcula - closer than Split or Dubrovnik, if you look on a map. There are regular car ferries that cross the peninsula there too - if you look on a Google map you'll see the dotted lines where the ferries cross (at Orebić and Trpanj). You may even be able to take public buses and do a trip in a day from Korcula, not sure how the timings would work.
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Feb 1st, 2015, 05:26 PM
  #7
kja
 
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While I relied primarily on public transportation while in Croatia, I did have some decidedly scary moments on the road -- not on the main roads, which I agree were easy, but on back roads which were necessary to reach some of the places I visited. You might not end up on any of those roads. I agree that many other drivers were VERY aggressive. Watch for cars coming toward you that come around turns in the middle of narrow roads, or even in YOUR lane!

Hvar Town and Korcula Town are different -- their main buildings reflect very different architectural styles and they "felt" very different to me. Both islands have buses that you can use to visit other parts of each. Again, I think it makes sense for you to think through what you would most like to do in each location.
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Feb 1st, 2015, 06:13 PM
  #8
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Again, thank you two for the invaluable feedback. Re: Hvar. We're definitely not into upscale, especially when travelling with carry-on only and living in a pair of decidedly unhip zip-off pants. But I've found a cute studio east of Hvar Town that fronts the ocean, and I'm loath to give it up. So I'll see where I can slice off a night or two elsewhere and consider a short-term car rental as well.
Thanks again, and safe travels on your next journey.
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Feb 1st, 2015, 06:36 PM
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Which month matters, a lot. Hvar can be heavenly in June--I would avoid it in August. But if you are staying no where near a nightclub and wish to explore the island by day, then probably fine.
I hate to advise reducing your long stays because I travel that way, and have loved doing so in Croatia, but three days can feel pretty luxurious on an island, so you can easily cut one of your four-night stays to include Mostar. If you skip Korcula, then you could visit Mostar between Split and Dubrovnik. There may be a Mostar to Korcula bus as well.
For Vis, you really need three nights.
For Zadar, my experience is dated, but look into how many day trips/excursions you can do by public transport before committing three days.
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Feb 1st, 2015, 09:49 PM
  #10
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Thanks, Yorkshire. I had another look at things, and I think I'll trim a night from Korcula and head to Mostar out of Dubrovnik. It's a shorter bus route than Split anyway.
Great feedback. Cheers!
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