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Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, BiH summer road trip logistics

Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, BiH summer road trip logistics

Apr 9th, 2017, 09:40 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2017
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Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, BiH summer road trip logistics

I am planning a 15-day family road trip ( parents with 2 teens ) from mid-July to early Aug. Here is our tentative loop: Budapest - Slovenia - Croatia - Montenegro - Bosnia & Herzegovina and back to Budapest. Except a few "highly desirables" i.e. Ljubljana, Split, Plitvice National Park, Dubrovnik, Budva/Sveti Stefan, and Sarajevo, I don't have a set itinerary yet. As of now, the plan is to fly round-trip from New York to Prague in early July and spend 2-3 days in Prague before a night train to Budapest for a 10-day music camp. As for the 15 days road-tour that follows, I am thinking of renting a car in Budapest but I am open to other rental locations and a combination of car/train/bus if it helps to save time yet won't really break the bank. I am wondering if anyone can give me some tips on good practice of renting a car in the region and idea of what to expect re summer traffic condition. How long will it take for border crossing, say from Slovenia to Croatia and from Split to Dubrovnik, and from Dubrovnik into Montenegro? Does it make a huge difference whether it's a weekend or a weekday? Early or late in the day or where is the rental car from? I read from a tour book Monastery Ostrog is stunning. Does anyone know how is the road condition there and beyond? We would like to drive to Sarajevo from there and depending on the road, I am considering stopping either in Niksic or Pluzine for the night before crossing into BiH. We don't have a lot of time and would really appreciate your insights to cut down any "waste" if there is such a thing. I would also love to go to Mostar and would like to know what makes more sense in your opinion - take a day trip from either Split/Dubrovnik or make a detour on our way to Sarajevo from Montenegro.
By the way, any suggestion in terms of lodging - airb&b, hotel, hostel etc.?
Thanks in advance for the help!
miamz is offline  
Apr 9th, 2017, 11:48 AM
  #2  
 
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Are you planning to drive from Budapest to Croatia and back? Or fly from Croatia back to Prague or home? I'd probably try to open jaw into Prague out of Croatia if possible just to save time. I'd only do the round trip to/from Prague if that saves you a lot of money or is more practical. Look for flights from Dubrovnik, Split, and Zagreb back to New York as part of an open jaw or "multi-city" fare when checking fares.

If you can do the open jaw, then you can take a train from Budapest to Zagreb and rent the car there and drop it in in Split or Dubrovnik if need be. Usually, a one-way car rental dropped in another country is very expensive - check for yourself. But a one-way rental within Croatia should be much cheaper, probably no drop fee if you keep the car more than a few days.

I drove through Croatia and Bosnia over two weeks in May 2015 - click on my name to read my trip report. I thought the roads were good in Bosnia and great in Croatia. If you read old reports about the Bosnian roads being not good, I would disregard them; I thought they were quite good, even if not quite as good as those in Croatia.

I'm sure you'll find much more traffic in July-August on the Dalmatian coast than I did in May - that's high season, so expect crowds and traffic. Plan for it when estimating driving times; expect delays at borders. Actually, I've been reading that this last weekend, border checks were put into place for a few days at the Slovenia-Croatia border that caused hours of delays (fear of terrorism I guess) but they have recently been lifted. Still, you can expect them to come back or get bad again especially with summer tourism.

I used a Garmin GPS in 2015 for driving and it worked OK, but these days I use an Android smart phone and Google Maps.

Plan out an itinerary of places you want to visit by day and night. I like to set my itinerary as a list of places I'll sleep each night. You have a lot on your plate for 15 days; if you can do the open jaw like I suggest, it's going to save you a lot of time, especially if you can drop the car in Dubrovnik and fly back to New York from there at the end. Or maybe you start in Zagreb, go down the Dalmatian coast and drive back to Zagreb through Bosnia like I did. Maybe it makes more sense to detour up to Mostar and Sarajevo then back to Dubrovnik at the end. Either way, you are going to have to cut things out. Come up with an itinerary and we can give you feedback on specific places you might cut out or trim your days.

I usually default to booking.com to book lodgings anywhere including Croatia. They included hotels, apartments, "sobe" (B&Bs), and even some hostels. And they generally have good cancellation policies (vary by the lodging - read carefully). Booking.com has never steered me wrong with dozens of reservations (at least in terms of getting the booking right, being able to cancel, easy to use, etc.). If you plan multi-day stays, you might look at AirBnB, which never seems to pan out for me because I usually book things near the last minute and do some shorter stays. AirBnB places tend not to have free cancellation.
Andrew is offline  
Apr 9th, 2017, 01:02 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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A couple of rough (rushed!) itineraries, assuming you have 14 nights:

Train to Zagreb; pick up car
Ljubljana (2 nights - day trip to Bled)
Plitvice Lakes (1 night)
Split (2 nights)
Mostar (1 night)
Sarajevo (3 nights)
Kotor (or Perast) (2 nights)
Drop car in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik (3 nights)
Fly out of Dubrovnik

or

Fly Budapest to Sarajevo (Wizz Air has direct flights some days)
Sarajevo (2 nights)
bus or train to Mostar
Mostar (1 night)
bus to Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik (2 or 3 nights)
pick up car
drive to Montenegro
Kotor or Perast (2 nights)
drive back to Croatia, to Split
Split (2 or 3 nights)
Plitvice Lakes (1 night)
Ljubljana (2 nights, day trip to Bled)
Zagreb (1 night)
fly out of Zagreb

Choose the extra night in Dubrovnik, Split, or a stop elsewhere maybe between Split and Plitvice for a night. Or one more night in Slovenia - maybe if you want to see a cave or something.

For a slower itinerary, cut out Slovenia or Montenegro.
Andrew is offline  
Apr 9th, 2017, 02:46 PM
  #4  
kja
 
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While it depends on your interests and travel style, I must admit that this trip sounds unpleasantly rushed to me. Are you certain you can see and do what you want with this itinerary? If you haven’t already done so, I would urge you to identify the things you most want to see 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.). Then see how things fit together. FWIW, I think each of the itineraries Andrew are also too rushed, in part because I can’t imagine going to Croatia at that time of year and completely skipping its islands, but to each his/her own! Obviously, you need to find a plan that works for your interests.

I would also urge you to think about whether it makes sense to rent a car for the whole trip, as much of it can be done comfortably and conveniently with public transportation. If you can do that, you might be able to avoid the time and cost of returning to Budapest, and instead plan a route with an “open jaw” flight (into one city, out of another). As Andrew has already noted, the cost of picking up a car in one country and returning it elsewhere can be very high.

For a sense of your transportation options, you might consult rome2rio.com -- but be sure to check anything you learn there, as it doesn't capture seasonal variation. And for driving times, check either googlemaps or viamichelin.com

IMO, Mostar is much more engaging after day-trippers leave, so if you can plan an overnight there, it is worth considering.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Apr 9th, 2017, 04:37 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
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For your requirements I would:

Fly into Prague, out of Zagreb (open jaw)
Train from Budapest to Zagreb
Rent a car in Zagreb, return car in Zagreb
Croatian freeway system is first class
Leave Monastery Ostrog for the Faithful.

Building on Andrews suggested itineraries for 14/15 nights:

Train Budapest(6am) to Zagre11:30am);pick up car, drive to
Ljubljana (2 nights))
Plitvice Lakes (1 night)
Split (3 nights)-include day trip to nearby island
Dubrovnik (2-3 nights)
Budva (1 night)
Mostar (2 nights)
Sarajevo (2 nights)
Zagreb (1 night)
Fly home from Zagreb

https://goo.gl/maps/3BBvgyy5RQt
https://goo.gl/maps/ec4hou5worH2

For a slower itinerary, cut out Ljubljana or Sarajevo.

https://goo.gl/maps/DnFnNMNcaTv
https://goo.gl/maps/jvjLkRB9HKm
dugi_otok is offline  
Apr 9th, 2017, 05:43 PM
  #6  
 
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Dugi's suggested itinerary is similar to what I did in 2015 (I flew into Venice but started in Ljubljana, rented a car in Rijeka, drove to Montenegro, back through Mostar to Sarajevo, and then back to Zagreb. Though a brisk pace, it would work fine - I'd probably do only one night in Mostar, though - but it is a lot of driving over two weeks. I was alone so I could pace myself and drive long distances without anyone complaining. Two teens stuck in a car all this time might not be so happy with all of this driving.

My idea to fly into Sarajevo out of Zagreb is a lot less driving, because you would take trains/buses to Dubrovnik and only have to drive basically between Montenegro/Dubrovnik back up to Zagreb. But I don't now if the flights would work. I did enjoy driving in Bosnia, too, and liked having the ability to stop places here and there. The drive between Sarajevo and Bosnia is spectacularly beautiful in parts (along the river), and I did stop here and there as I drove to take pictures. But you would get the same views from a train or bus.

If you do drive between Sarajevo and Zagreb, do consider stops in towns of Jajce and Travnik. If you drive between Mostar and Montenegro, consider a stop in the town of Trebinje at least for a few hours. I stopped in all of these places and overnight in Trebinje and Jajce, but I had a tad more time.
Andrew is offline  
Apr 9th, 2017, 05:49 PM
  #7  
kja
 
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Still too rushed for my tastes -- but again, it depends on one's interests and preferred pace of travel.

The "problem," IMO, is that the area is full of places worthy of a visit. And because the region's history includes so many different cultural influences, there aren't a lot of places that can substitute for one another -- most are notably distinguishable, and IME, there's no way to cover ALL those discernibly different areas in one trip of the length you are contemplating.

So I think you have some difficult choices to make. The good news is that I don't think any of your choices are bad ones.
kja is offline  
Apr 9th, 2017, 09:07 PM
  #8  
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Hi Andrew, kja and dugi_otok,
thank you all so very much for your wonderful ideas and suggestions. A lot to digest and really appreciate it. I agree that once the itinerary is listed on a piece of paper/screen, it looks a lot more rushed and almost daunting - especially given the likely traffic delay plus the teen factor. I will certainly look into open-jaw to cut down time spent on the road. I can just imagine the frustration build up sitting in the traffic. Now I am leaning tw skipping Slovenia bc we may have other opportunities to go there in the future. Maybe even Montenegro??? I guess it depends on how much we drive? Will take all the suggestions into consideration and do my next round of iteration before coming back for more insights and critiques. until then and many thanks!
miamz is offline  
Apr 9th, 2017, 09:29 PM
  #9  
 
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I'd work out the flight possibilities first. Figure out how you'll get home from the Balkans at the end. Then work backward from there - that will let you know how much time you have.

There's no wrong answer to what you should keep and what you should drop. Some people might prefer to avoid the crowds of the Dalmatian coast entirely in the summer months (I would, actually). You could fill your time with Bosnia and Slovenia if you really wanted to. Or just limit it to Croatia and take your time. Zagreb to Dubrovnik with stops in between is a fairly easy itinerary to put together - but easier to nail down if you know how you are flying home at the end.
Andrew is offline  
Apr 14th, 2017, 08:16 PM
  #10  
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Hello everyone,

I did my homework and please let me know what do you think of the following:

Fly open jaw from NYC to Prague, 2 nights. Train to Budapest, 11 nights. Train from Budapest to Zagreb, 1 night. Pick up the car. Return car in Dubrovnik and fly back to NYC.

Itinerary 1:
Train from Budapest to Zagreb; pick up car, spend the night, N1
Plitvice Lakes (N2, N3)
Split (N4, N5), hope to include one island or it's too rush? can we stay on one?
Mostar (N6)
Sarajevo (N7, N8)
Kotor (or Perast, Budva ) (N9, N10)
Dubrovnik (N11, N12, N13), drop the car.
Fly out from Dubrovnik.

I also have a couple of questions to ask. I have not had the chance to read you all's travel reports yet. Some of these questions might have been answered there already so please excuse if they are redundant and I will check your reports shortly.

1. I'd like to know if you have to choose between Split or Kotor (Perast/Budva ), and maybe even Dubrovnik, which one would you choose and why.
2. What are some of the main geological/cultural differences of Kotor, Perast
or Budva/Sveti Stefan?
3. @dugi_otok, I could not find an early train to Zagreb. Do you recall which railway did you use?
4. I notice the Dubrovnik airport is only about 1 hour from Perast. What about the idea of skipping Dubrovnik and simply stay at Perast for like 4-5 nights?

Also, I am intrigued by Andrew's idea of avoiding the Dalmatian coast in summer altogether. But instead of Slovenia and BiH, what about Serbia and BiH. Belgrade has always fascinated me. One last question, which places have more summer crowd - Croatia coast or Montenegro coast? I assume Croatia but on the other hand flying out of Dubrovnik is easier and more economical than Podgorica.

Many thanks!
miamz is offline  
Apr 14th, 2017, 08:25 PM
  #11  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,703
Sorry, but I must say that I think this plan is WAY too rushed. Although some people aren’t enamored of Zagreb, I thought it easily merited 2 or 3 full days. Split is my favorite city in Croatia. With 2 nights, you are basically giving it just one day – NOT enough IMO (although it depends, of course, one what YOU want to see and experience). IMO, the city itself deserves at least 2 days; add time if you want to visit any islands as a day trip. And FWIW, I’d want more than a day trip for sme of the islands! (You also have multiple options for daytrips to other parts of Croatia from Split.) Sarajevo easily deserves 3 days.

1. I would certainly put Kotor behind Split and Dubrovnik. JMO.
2. Please get a decent guidebook or two!

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Apr 14th, 2017, 09:04 PM
  #12  
kja
 
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Sorry, meant to add:

4. Perast is TINY. You can walk every inch of it's streets in under an hour. It is easily worth, in my opinion, as much as 2 hours, 3 if you include a stop for food. And Perast it isn't a good base for anything with the possible exception of Kotor, which also takes less than a day. The idea of giving Perast more than a few hours? Well, to each his/her own.
kja is offline  
Apr 14th, 2017, 09:11 PM
  #13  
 
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I'm not sure why you have two nights in Plitvice? You can, of course, but with your limited time, I'd probably spend the second night elsewhere. I think most people can get the gist of the park in a good 5-7 hours or so, and if you arrive in the afternoon one day you can see part of the park the first day and part the next morning and move out by mid-afternoon. (Consider staying in one of the overpriced park hotels to get your tickets stamped from day 1 to enter the park again on the same ticket the next day.) I don't think that would be especially rushed, at least not compared to everything else that is a bit rushed.

I wouldn't skip Dubrovnik completely. It's a gem, certainly a highlight if not the highlight of the Dalmatian coast. The big knock on it the last few years is that it is has become a big tourist trap full of cruise ship tour groups especially during the day. But at night, it's much less crowded and magical when everything is all lit up.

I'd at very least squeeze in one night in Dubrovnik, so you can experience it at night. If you visit Dubrovnik as a day trip, you'll probably hate it. During the day, you can walk the walls in the morning (maybe about two hours to do) and not hang around so much in town if it gets crowded.

Staying at Perast for 4-5 nights would seem pretty boring to me (it's not a big town), but if you want to relax and do leisurely day trips without any stress, it could be fun for you. (Day trips up to Croatia would probably not be fun with long waits to cross the border each way.) I'd rather spend at least some of those nights in Dubrovnik because as I said it's so lovely at night.

I would guess the Dalmatian coast is more touristy than Montenegro, just because of reputation, but I've not been to either in high season. I assume they are both crowded. (Kotor gets cruise ship tourists, too, even if perhaps not as many as Dubrovnik. I saw some cruise ship groups there in May.)

If you keep the car the whole time, you could go from Split to say Korcula by car ferry (to Vela Luka, then drive across the island to Korcula Town), spend a couple of nights in Korcula Town, and then drive via short ferry at Orebic and another ferry at Trpanj over to Mostar (give yourself a good amount of time to make the ferry connections with two ferries that may not run constantly, and you may need to show up and wait for the next ferry). To do that, you could take one night from Plitvice and one night from Dubrovnik - and you wouldn't have to use your day in Split to day trip to an island.

I don't know your travel style to know whether this type of itinerary is too fast for you or not. Are you an experienced traveler especially in Europe? Do you have a feel for how fast you like to travel? If you haven't traveled much, then you're going to have to figure out what a good travel pace and style is for you. Sometimes it takes a few trips to figure that out. I'm a fairly fast traveler (my 2015 trip was pretty quick!), and I tend to ignore people who tell me I'm going too fast, because they don't seem to care what my travel preferences are and want to push theirs on me. Maybe you should slow it down. But I can't say what is best for you.

I can say that your itinerary without Slovenia (and the modifications I propose) is doable and not unreasonable, even if it's still a bit brisk. I can't say whether it's too fast for you personally or not.

I think it would be a shame to miss the Dalmatian coast in favor of just Slovenia and Bosnia, but who knows? I was making a suggestion there more than a recommendation. I wouldn't necessarily expect Sarajevo and Ljubljana to be free of tourists either in the summer - probably fewer Americans than you'll find on the Dalmatian coast, though. Somehow, tourists bother me more if they are other Americans - lots of them - because they make me feel like I'm in a less exotic place. You might have to endure fewer unpleasant traffic jams and crowds if you skip the Dalmatian coast, but you might also regret missing it. You'll just have to figure it out!
Andrew is offline  
Apr 14th, 2017, 11:33 PM
  #14  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,703
I completely agree with Andrew’s caution to do what YOU want and at YOUR pace. People really differ in their preferences, and viva la difference! That’s why I recommend that people consult guidebooks and work with a calendar. And why, when commenting on how long to spend somewhere, I try to be clear that I am simply offering my opinions. Too, that’s why I try to avoid suggesting itineraries -- although I believe that those who do offer them do so with a sincere desire to be helpful, a written itinerary can be a powerful inducement to do what the recommender would do, or at least what s/he would do on the assumption that the originally proposed time frame and wish-list of place names were actually writ in stone (an assumption I rarely make).

One of the things I greatly appreciate about Fodor’s is that people with very different travel styles and interests feel free to offer their opinions and suggestions with confidence that those who ask for the information will sift through all the different responses to see what makes sense to them.

Again, good luck with your planning!
kja is offline  
Apr 15th, 2017, 02:32 PM
  #15  
 
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>> 1. I'd like to know if you have to choose between Split or Kotor (Perast/Budva ), and maybe even Dubrovnik, which one would you choose and why?<<

>>2. What are some of the main geological/cultural differences of Kotor, Perast
or Budva/Sveti Stefan?<<

Crossing the Croatian/Montenegrin border, you have left sleek and tidy Croatia for a place that's gritty, raw, and a bit exotic. While Croatia's showpiece Dalmatian Coast avoided the drab, boxy dullness of the Yugoslav era, less affluent Montenegro wasn't so lucky. Between the dramatic cliffs and time-past villages, you'll drive past grimy, broken-down apartment blocks and some truly unfortunate concrete architecture. Montenegro is also a noticeably poorer country than its northern neighbor, with all that entails.

In the last 10 years, the Montenegrin coast has become a powerful magnet for a specific breed of traveler: millionaires from Russia(and, to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia), who have chosen to turn this impressionable, fledgling country-with its gorgeous coastline-into their very own Riviera.The Tivat airport is jammed with charter flights from Moscow, signs along the coast advertise Russian -language radio stations, and an extravagant luxury yacht marina is being built near Tivat. And so Montenegro finds itself in an awkward position: trying to cultivate an image as a high-roller luxury paradise, while struggling to upgrade what it is-in places-a nearly Third World infrastructure. Power and water outages in a 5 star resort are happenings.Montenegro is skipping right past an important middle step in its tourist development-that of a moderately priced destination. But because of the natural beauty of its mountains, bays, and forests I consider the area around Kotor to be worth a day trip from Dubrovnik. I might consider an overnight stop at most.

The "Budva Riviera" is unappealing built up, with endless strings of cheap resort hotels and low quality 5 star hotels make it pale in comparison to the tidiness of Dalmacia. Three miles from Budva is Sveti Stefen, the peninsula is home to the Aman Sveti Stefan luxury resort. This place is exclusive — so exclusive that only hotel guests, or guests of its super-expensive restaurant, are permitted on the island itself.So it is relegated to a distant photo opp. Not even worth a day trip to me.

In summary Dubrovnik and Split are good bases for visiting Dalmatia. Dubrovnik as a world class destination. Split is a real Croatian city. Both have numerous day trips that can be taken. Kotor is a day trip from Dubrovnik.Thank you Rick Steves for articulation.

>>3. @dugi_otok, I could not find an early train to Zagreb. Do you recall which railway did you use? <<

I use Deutsche Bahn (www.bahn) english for Europe train planning.

https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml

https://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/qu...fasScrollDir=2

Budapest-Keleti
Zagreb Giavni Kolod

leaves 6:00
arrives 11:39
duration 5:39
changes "0"
train type IC (Inter City)

>>4. I notice the Dubrovnik airport is only about 1 hour from Perast. What about the idea of skipping Dubrovnik and simply stay at Perast for like 4-5 nights?<<

Yikes! 4-5 hours is too long.

>>Also, I am intrigued by Andrew's idea of avoiding the Dalmatian coast in summer altogether. But instead of Slovenia and BiH, what about Serbia and BiH. Belgrade has always fascinated me.<<

Shame on Andrew for putting that thought in your mind. I have been in Dubrovnik during the August Music festival-It was great. Nothing like having outside dinner in the old town alley restaurants.
Belgrade?- Take your temperature, you must be delirious. Last time I was in Belgrade US war planes were flying overhead. Now days Belgrade is an all night party place. Are you a party girl?

>> One last question, which places have more summer crowd - Croatia coast or Montenegro coast? I assume Croatia but on the other hand flying out of Dubrovnik is easier and more economical than Podgorica. <<

Actually crowd density is worse in Montenegro. Small places, poor infrastructure, threes a crowd.Take out a large insurance policy if flying out of Podgorica.
dugi_otok is offline  
Apr 15th, 2017, 05:22 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 970
I did my homework and please let me know what do you think of the following:

Fly open jaw from NYC to Prague, 2 nights. Train to Budapest, 11 nights. Train from Budapest to Zagreb, 1 night. Pick up the car. Return car in Dubrovnik and fly back to NYC.

Itinerary 1:
Train from Budapest to Zagreb; pick up car, spend the night, N1
Plitvice Lakes (N2, N3)
Split (N4, N5), hope to include one island or it's too rush? can we stay on one?
Mostar (N6)
Sarajevo (N7, N8)
Kotor (or Perast, Budva ) (N9, N10)
Dubrovnik (N11, N12, N13), drop the car.
Fly out from Dubrovnik.
.................................................. ......

You did indeed do your homework.

The only remaining issue, one that you alluded to, >>hope to include one island or it's too rush? can we stay on one?<<

I would add 2 nights at Korcula town after Split, a possibility mentioned by Andrew. Leave Split by taking the car ferry Split to Vela Luka on the island of Korcula. Then drive the length of the island to Korcula Town for 2 nights.
After your 2 nights take the Ferry (15min crossing)Domince to Orebic. Drive to Mostar via Ston to continue your journey.To make up for the 2 days, take one night from Plitvice and one night from Kotor(or Dubrovnik).

https://goo.gl/maps/Lw4GRpMEv472

Another make up 2 days possibility is to eliminate Sarajevo which would reduce the driving time by 3hr40min and distance 206km.

https://goo.gl/maps/aQt4jkcpZo42

Then:

Fly open jaw from NYC to Prague, 2 nights. Train to Budapest, 11 nights. Train from Budapest to Zagreb, 1 night. Pick up the car. Return car in Dubrovnik and fly back to NYC.

Itinerary 1A:
Train from Budapest to Zagreb; pick up car, spend the night, (N1)
Plitvice Lakes (N2)
Split (N3, N4)
Korcula Town (N5,N6)
Mostar (N7)
Sarajevo (N8, N9)
Kotor (or Perast) (N10)
Dubrovnik (N11, N12, N13), drop the car.
Fly out from Dubrovnik.
dugi_otok is offline  
Apr 15th, 2017, 05:49 PM
  #17  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,703
BTW, I trust you realize that 2 nights is very little for Prague.

While repeating that it really depends on YOUR interests, I think dugi_otok has an interesting proposal. Adding a night to Sarajevo is, I think, worth considering; I would take it from either Korcula (which is small) or -- depending on how your timing works out -- from Dubrovnik (which you can probably see in 1.5 days).

I'm sure you realize by now that following any of these plans means skipping a lot and giving some places very little time. It is your choice whether to limit the number of destinations, giving yourselves a bit more time to enjoy those you do visit, or to include a greater number of designations, with the understanding that you'll have to be selective in what you see and do and will spend a greater proportion of your time in transit (rather than on the ground). No right or wrong answers, IMO, just some very difficult choices.
kja is offline  
Apr 16th, 2017, 11:22 PM
  #18  
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Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 5
Thank you all for your reply! I really appreciate your concerns, itinerary suggestions, info re transportation etc etc. Truly wonderful! I agree with @kja that it all comes down to our interests and travel form. Perhaps to justify a brisk pace, often times I take the initial trip like scouting to get a feel of the place if it makes any sense. But of course, more often than not a return trip ends up to remain on my bucket list indefinitely which leaves me forever regret that I did not spend enough of time in a given location. Btw, I did realize 2 nights in Prague is very short. We have visited there before though not our children. Unfortunately, they need to get to Budapest by Monday to attend a music camp. Anyhow to answer Andrew's question re our travel experience, other than the usual Western Europe touristy spots plus Prague and Budapest, we have not traveled extensively in Europe for the most part. Certainly not a multi-country quick paced trip by a car like this one. We did do some medium -paced road trips elsewhere - Peru in 2014 for two weeks and Iceland in 2015 for 12 days. We took mass transit in Peru and drove in Iceland. But the nature of those trips seemed more child-friendly and there was certainly no crowd nor border to slow trip down or run frustration up. Btw, I was trying to make this trip more child-friendly by reserving 2 nights in Plitvice. Clumsy? I have to admit the quick pace plus crowd/traffic/border do worry me. I am very happy to hear Dubrovnik was great even in August. Thank you @dugi_otok for your insightful Croatia/Montenegro comparison and "Budva Riviera" description. Interesting observation re Serbia as well. My impression of Belgrade apparently got stuck in the past with Tito. I hate to admit but I am ignorant about what has happened in the intervening years after the war. It also seems Lonely Planet only points out positive things and I guess it's time for me to get "a decent guide book or two" as @kja puts it and perhaps plus a history book.

Will do more reading and thinking. And, will come back for more critique and suggestions! Until then.

Again, thank you all for your help and have a great week!
miamz is offline  
Apr 17th, 2017, 12:08 AM
  #19  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,703
Sounds to me like you are considering the key variables!

I must admit to being intrigued by the varying ways that people deal with questions about the future....

I’m in the I-may-never-return camp, and that realization makes me want to maximize the time I have to actually see and experience the places that I choose to see, while minimizing the time spent traveling between places (unless, of course, the point of the journey IS the time in transit). Rather than skimming the surface and spending time getting from place to place, I am inclined to skip some places entirely, even if I am sure I would enjoy them. I’m most likely to skip or skimp on places that have international airports, because those are the ones that I can most readily visit again. I’ve also realized that if I can return to a region, the LAST thing that I am likely to do with my time is re-tracing even part of my original route, just so that I can go back and finally see the things I skipped the first time, because of all the time it would take me to do so. In fact, I might end up not returning specifically because it would mean taking so much time going (again) from place to place! And as it turns out, that sort of defeats the purpose of "deferring" some places on a first trip to the area. JMO!!!

There are, I think, as many ways to approach these issues as there are people … no right or wrong answers, just difficult decisions, and fascinating perspectives….
kja is offline  
May 8th, 2017, 07:32 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,759
Miamz - are you in Florida like us? We are also planning on a trip, but in sept and have 30 days in the western Balkan region. Please come back and provide a report afterwards. Have a wonderful trip.
dgunbug is offline  

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