Travel to Slovenia and Croatia

Dec 22nd, 2015, 07:35 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
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Travel to Slovenia and Croatia

My wife and I are planning a three week bicycle tour this fall in Slovenia and Croatia. We have never been to this area and hope to get guidance on planning the trip. Our initial thoughts are to fly to Trieste, bike the Istria peninsular and some of the islands, and ride down the coast to Dubrovnik. Then train or bus to Ljubljana and ride - via the Julian alps back to Trieste. At this point we have no idea if this is feasible, for a couple of retired people, in the time we have available. Some help with the following would be great:
- What towns and sites to visit. What are the "must see" places to visit?
- Is Trieste a good city to start/end the trip? KLM has (almost) affordable flights
- How is train/bus transportation in the region?
- What is a good travel guide? How about good websites?
- We try to travel on a modest budget. Any thoughts on lodging, especially in Trieste?
- Any suggested bike routes, or roads to avoid?

Thanks in advance.

jjtravel is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2015, 08:56 AM
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Obviously it would save you time to fly an open jaw and try to fly out of Dubrovnik, if possible, instead of flying round trip into/out of Trieste.

Trieste is a small airport I think; if you can get decent fares to fly in there then that might work great, but I have no idea where you are flying in from. For me flying in from the states, Trieste often does not work well. Venice is often cheaper for me. From Venice, you could train easily to Trieste if that's where you want to start.

Mostly you will have to rely on buses - there isn't an extensive train network especially in Croatia. There is a train from Split to Zagreb and you could train from there to Ljubljana. Otherwise, although it would be a very long bus journey, you could certainly bus from Dubrovnik all the way back to Ljubljana. FYI, Croatia Airlines offers cheap flights between Dubrovnik and Zagreb, so you could fly that way and then train the rest of the way to Ljubljana.

You might put Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia - an amazing park about two hours from Zagreb - on your list of places to see as well. It's a hiking park, though, not suitable for bikes.
Andrew is online now  
Dec 22nd, 2015, 10:34 AM
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We covered Slovenia last year with my parents (car trip). For us the best airfare by far was in/out of Vienna. We really enjoyed our one day in Styria (wine region), Austria. Lots of biking trails in the area. For me Logarska Dolina was a highlight but if you fly in/out of Trieste it may be too far east. We covered both lake Bled and lake Bohinj and far preferred the latter lake for its serene beauty. So much less touristy than Bled. Also really enjoyed the Vogel cable car from lake Bohinj. Gorgeous views.
Vrisic pass is not to be missed as well as the scenic Soca river valley (the color of the water is unreal).
In Istria we covered the hilltop villages of Groznjan and Motovun. Preferred Groznjan. Also some lovely wineries in the region - the outdoor wine tasting at Kozlovic Vina with my parents will always be a wonderful memory for me.
We did not have enough days for Croatia but its on the list. Its a beautiful country with friendly people. You will love it.
mnag is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2015, 05:04 PM
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"How is train/bus transportation in the region?"

There are trains only in Ljubljana and the northern part of Croatia. I thought the buses comfortable and convenient.

"What is a good travel guide? How about good websites?"

Of the half dozen guidebooks I used when planning my time in the area, I thought the Rough Guide BY FAR the best. For your purposes, the Lonely Planet is also likely to be of benefit.

I found some good information on the Croatian Tourism board's website:
BUT I don't think it would be a good substitute for a good guidebook, as

"Any thoughts on lodging"


I agree that flying open-jaw would make most sense. I must admit, though, that I can't imagine cycling all the way from Trieste to Dubrovnik, particularly if you also try to cycle through Istria and some of the islands! Have you looked at google.maps? You might want to consider making your 2nd airport a bit more accessible -- perhaps Split, Zagreb, or Ljubljana, depending on how your trip finally shapes up.

I also agree that a visit to the Plitvice Lakes National Park is well worth considering -- it is, IMO, the single most magnificent of Croatia's many splendors. But as Andrew noted, it is for hiking, not biking.

Hope that gives you a good start!
kja is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2015, 05:31 PM
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BTW, when calculating "best" airfares, don't forget to count the cost of transportation to get where you actually want to be, along with any costs you will incur en route. A lesson I once learned the HARD way -- I wanted to go to Rome, booked a less expensive flight into Milan, and then spent much more than the difference in flight costs -- and very precious day -- actually getting to Rome.
kja is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2015, 03:06 AM
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You may also bike over the Islands by using local ferries between them
neckervd is offline  
Dec 24th, 2015, 10:01 AM
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If you want to see Ljubljana, makes more sense to do it from Trieste, then go on to Istria and points south. And fly home from the southern end of your travels. Probably Dubrovnik or Split.

I second neckervd's suggestion of the Jadrolinija boats, which travel to the islands along the Dalmatian coast. We took one such boat from Dubrovnik to Korcula and enjoyed it greatly. And also took a catamaran from Korcula to Split. But you must read the boat schedules very closely.
Mimar is offline  
Dec 24th, 2015, 12:54 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 6,818 following my usual modus operandi, "a pic is worth a thousand words" the above offers pics from the former Yugoslavia as well as Croatia/Slovenia. Hopefully you will get an idea or two out of them.
tower is offline  
Dec 26th, 2015, 06:32 PM
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Thank you all for the feedback. Guess it is time to get realistic and reduce the amount of ground covered. We prefer not to ride more that 25-35 miles/day in order to also explore on foot. Some days we hike instead of riding.

The open jaw is a great idea, but logistically might not work. We travel with folding bikes and leave the bike luggage in the city we fly into. Hopefully, we can find a way to work around that issue.

So far the best airfare, flying from Boston with good connections, has been on KLM for just under $900. We should have took it when we saw it. The next morning it went up $500.

kja - Thanks for the advice. We do figure our total costs when choosing a destination city.

tower - glad you sent the pictures. Saw a number of spots we want to include in the itinerary.

Andrew and mnag - thanks for making me aware some more must sees and for waking me to the logistical issues.

Thanks to you all.

jjtravel is offline  
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