One week in Istria

Old Jan 7th, 2019, 12:24 PM
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One week in Istria

We will be in Croatia for one week in early May 2019.
We know we want to see Plitvice National Park and are looking for suggestions for other things to do. We will have a rental car and at the moment are thinking of flying into Zagreb (from California) and flying out of Split (heading to Rome for a cruise). We'd like to avoid busy, touristy places and instead want to focus on seeing small towns, rural Croatia, and outdoor activities.
in particular, we'd like to know...
what off the beaten path small towns do you recommend
will two days be enough time to enjoy Plitvice
any suggestions for best airlines to fly from California to Zagreb
does renting a car make sense, or should we rely on local buses
does it make sense to go to split, or would it be better to focus just on Istria
Mishaa is offline  
Old Jan 7th, 2019, 12:45 PM
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Moved to the Europe Forum.
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Old Jan 7th, 2019, 04:36 PM
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If flying into Zagreb from California, make sure you spend at least one night in Zagreb or use public transportation to get to your first destination. You need at least that much time after crossing that many time zones before you can drive safely.

As a rule, the Plitvice Lakes can be seen in about 7 hours. With the current crowd levels and the chance of bad weather, many people recommend getting to the park in time to do at least a 4 hour walk on the first day so you can start very early (before tour buses) on the next day or so that you have a back-up in case of bad weather.

You can reach the Plitvice Lakes by public transportation, but many people find a car best for that park and for Istria. IME, you can can get particularly good information about your transportation options -- and about what to see -- in the Rough Guide.

Split is my favorite city in Croatia, so I wouldn’t skip it, but others feel differently.

With only one week, you’ll need to make some difficult decisions. You certainly can’t see Zagreb AND Istria AND the Plitvice Lakes AND Split AND everything else in between in that time.

May is delightful in Croatia – enjoy!
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Old Jan 7th, 2019, 06:33 PM
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We visited Croatia and had a whirlwind trip covering many areas. It can be done with detailed planning. We started in Dubrovnik, then went to Korcula, Split, Plitvice and Motovun. It did feel rushed but we loved all of Croatia and were glad we could at least see a little in each place. Details at our blog at
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Old Jan 8th, 2019, 08:08 AM
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I had a few days in Istria in Sep 2015 before heading to Plivice Lakes. Stayed in Rovinj for 3 nights with a day trip to Pula. Loved the area. Haven't been to Dalmatia to give you any recommendations for that region. Personally, with a week, I would just hit Plivice and onto Istria. You can fly out of Pula, I believe; but I have not looked into flights to Rome.

As far as airline recommendations - choice is yours. Do a search for carriers on booking sites, though I personally book through airline directly. From CA, you will not find a direct flight to Zagreb. Depending on the airline, you will likely have a layover at another European hub - be mindful of the layover time and give yourself enough time to navigate.
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Old Jan 8th, 2019, 08:12 AM
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If you decide to fly out of Split, I would visit Zagreb, Plitvice, Split and an island, or perhaps Zadar before Split instead. Nowhere is very big in Croatia, but the places that are small are SMALL--I think you may want a happy medium, so look at Primosten, Sibenik as possibilities on this route. Early May is not high season yet--check out Paklenica and Krka parks as well.
If you choose Istria, I would see if you can fly out of Pula, Rijeka, or Zadar. I have not explored Istria, but there is a sometimes poster here with "chef" in their name. She lives in Istria and can recommend villages to visit (or try a search).
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Old Jan 8th, 2019, 08:45 AM
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"any suggestions for best airlines to fly from California to Zagreb"

From where:
I suppose you know that the airports of Venice, Treviso, and Ljubljana ar as close to Istria as Zagreb.
Airports within Istria or a few miles away: Pula, Trieste, Rijeka
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