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renatica Jul 16th, 2018 11:41 AM

Stop-overs between Venice and Plitvice- suggestions please

We (me, my husband and 12 year old daughter) are thinking about a trip that would start in Venice, and then we would rent a car to drive to Plitvice (returning to Venice, to avoid the return fees). We went to the southern part of Croatia a few years ago and LOVED it. I would like to have some time by the ocean, but also see different scenarios. We have between 8-10 days for this (not including Venice). I would also like to avoid very long drives in one day- happy to do one night stops. Also, sometimes I lean towards a place over another if there is a nice hotel there- a pool is always good.

So I am thinking that we could drive from Venice to somewhere in Istria- and this is my big question; where shall we stop? San Rocco seems like a nice place to stay, but I wonder if it's worth for more than one/two nights. (also, I am now noticing it might not be good for a family) I am also inclined to stay in Mali Losinj, as I would like to avoid the more busy parts of the coast. Is this true? (that it is less busy). As a reference, we spent much of our previous Croatia trip in Korcula and we loved the vibe of that place. We are not into jet set/dance clubs etc.

What other places should we see in that area? What itinerary would you suggest?

Thanks in advance!

yorkshire Jul 16th, 2018 11:49 AM

In late summer, even sleepy Mali Losinj will be heaving, but I found it marvelous and quiet when I visited in June four years ago. You might check into ferries, which would allow you to arrive at Zadar and then return via land after visiting Plitvice.
I have limited experience in Istria (but have loved southern Dalmatia also)--for some coastal time, the area south of Pula looks nice. Everyone seems to love Rovinj.

PalenQ Jul 16th, 2018 11:54 AM

You have to go thru Trieste I believe and that would be a nice first stop - really neat place with unique Austrian-Italian look and feel.

renatica Jul 16th, 2018 12:17 PM

Thanks. Yes, sadly this will be late August and I wonder if trying to escape the hordes is impossible (although Korcula was totally fine when we went two years ago).

yorkshire Jul 16th, 2018 12:27 PM

Well late August is much better than early-mid August, so I would not sweat it.

Andrew Jul 16th, 2018 12:59 PM

Slovenia would be high on my list. Ljubljana is perhaps my favorite city in Europe. There are wonderful scenic drives and beautiful little towns. Slovenia will have plenty of tourists in August but (inland) may be less busy than coastal Croatia.

Plitvice will be full of Disneyland-like crowds mid-day no doubt. I'd think it essential to stay over near the park and enter it at 7am when it opens, so you have an hour or two without the crowds at least. Same if you get into the park late in the afternoon another day. FYI, if you stay in one of the park hotels, they can stamp your ticket from the previous day so you can enter the park the next day without paying again. But I suspect the park hotels are long sold out for this coming August. In fact, lodging may be your biggest challenge booking this late. I'd be booking things ASAP.

Do you have a rental car booked that lets you drive into Slovenia and Croatia from Italy? Some of them don't.

renatica Jul 16th, 2018 04:23 PM

Thanks. This is actually for 2019- I could give you some sensible explanations for why I am doing this now, but the truth this is my favorite procrastination method :)

Please give me hints on Slovenia beyond Ljubljana! Where else should we go? Exciting!

Also, if you have a favorite place near Plitvice, please send the name along.

Andrew Jul 16th, 2018 06:40 PM

OK, August of 2019 sounds a wee bit more reasonable!

You can read my 2011 trip report that covered Slovenia:

and my 2017 report (only three nights in Ljubljana):

In a nutshell, besides Ljubljana, people tend to visit Lake Bled and/or Lake Bohinj, do a drive over the Vrsic Pass into the Soca Valley (the "Julian Alps Loop"), maybe stop in Kobarid for some World War I history, maybe check out a cave, maybe visit Slovenia's tiny coast (Piran is a gem, a pretty coastal town, part of Slovenia's little piece of Istria). I've also also enjoyed some little towns near Ljubljana like Skofja Loka, Radovljica, and Kamnik. The drive from Skofja Loka through the mountains via Jamnik and Kropa to Bled is very beautiful and scenic. Some people also head to eastern Slovenia, to Maribor and Ptuj, very untouristy old towns (Ptuj is the oldest town in Slovenia). There is lots to see and do in Slovenia - depends how much time you have.

You can watch the Rick Steves PBS travel shows for free on YouTube - and dig up the ones about Slovenia to learn more. I also highly recommend his Croatia/Slovenia book which worked great for my trips.

renatica Jul 16th, 2018 07:29 PM

Thanks. Is it worth sleeping in Bled or can that be a day trip from Ljubljana? The less packing I have to do, the better!

Andrew Jul 16th, 2018 08:14 PM

Yes, Bled is an easy day trip from Ljubljana. But if you are going to explore the area around Bled (like Bohinj or doing the Julian Alps drive), it can be more convenient to base up there instead of Ljubljana the whole time. Some people like you prefer one base and not a lot changing hotels. Personal preference!

neckervd Jul 17th, 2018 01:33 AM

Check Aquileia, Trieste-Duino-Miramare-Muggia, Postojna caves, Skocian (San Cassiano) caves, Lipizza stud, Porec (Parenzo), Pula, the Brestova-Porozina car ferry from Istria to Cres and those from Cres to Rab and from Rab to the mainland south of Rijeka....
But you are way too early for planning such a trip

yorkshire Jul 17th, 2018 07:29 AM

It's never too early--I have the hardest time eliminating things from my lists, and there are many many options to sort through!

renatica Jul 17th, 2018 11:32 AM

I agree- never too early!

So I am leaning towards this: Venice- Ljubljana- Plitvice- Mali Losinj- Venice. What do you all think? Hopefully with little stops along the way.

One thing I should mention: we will then take a train Venice-Salzburg for work; should that in any way affect my itinerary?

yorkshire Jul 17th, 2018 11:41 AM

How many days--is the 8-10 days for the Slovenia-Croatia portion only?

Andrew Jul 17th, 2018 01:01 PM

Consider taking a transfer service like GoOpti or a bus like FlixBus from Venice to Ljubljana and rent the car in Ljubljana. Then you can return it there and take the train on to Salzburg from there. I suspect that will be easier and cheaper than trying to rent a car in Venice that allows you to drive in Slovenia and Croatia. And you'll avoid the backtracking all the way to Venice and get a direct train from Ljubljana instead of a longer train ride with connections from Venice.

renatica Jul 17th, 2018 01:50 PM

Yes, 10 days for the Slovenia-Croatia

renatica Jul 17th, 2018 01:51 PM

OMG- genius. Thanks!

yorkshire Jul 17th, 2018 02:00 PM

That's great--I would want about three days for Ljubljana, depending on day trips, and then you will need to stay somewhere near Plitvice for at least one night (maybe the night before to be able to arrive early), and then I suggest at least three days for ML--one day just for chilling, but also time for exploring the island and neighboring island Cres. Then one night back closer to your departure point.

Andrew Jul 17th, 2018 03:04 PM

No need to pick up the car the hour you arrive in Ljubljana, either. You actually won't need one in Ljubljana itself - only for the day trips. You will need to park it in a garage in Ljubljana or find a lodging with parking - Ljubljana has large pedestrian-only areas, so having a car there isn't so simple but the town is small, so it's pretty easy to park and walk to your lodgings. Definitely stay close to the center if you can and enjoy the walking charm of the place vs. trying to find a place outside of town with parking. Just park in a garage near the center on the nights you need to.

There are several car agencies right in town in Ljubljana (so no need to go out to say the airport to get one). Sixt has its rental office right at the train station, so that would make returning the car en route to Salzburg easier at the end.

renatica Jul 18th, 2018 08:47 AM

Thanks guys for all this info. You have all been extremely helpful!

PARAGKASH1 Jul 20th, 2018 08:55 AM

Piran and Rovinj are very pretty seaside villages in Istria. Pula has very nice Roman amphitheater and ruins.
You can also visit Predjama Castle inslovenia.
Lake Bled is over hyped and touristy. Lake Bohinj is prettier and picturesque and quieter.
I would see Piran (worth an overnight stay) on the way and stay 2 nights in Rovinj with day trip to Pula.
You have to buy a Sticker for travel in Slovenia, but then you dont need to pay highway toll.
I would stay in such a way that I would reach Plitvice by 5 or 6 pm. Stay overnight.
Go to Plitvice early by 8 or 9.

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