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3-Week Driving Tour: Slovenia and Croatia

San Francisco
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3-Week Driving Tour: Slovenia and Croatia

I am planning a 3-week trip for two to Croatia and Slovenia. Some of the major sights we'd like to see include Dubrovnik, Korcula, Plitvice and Ljubljana. However, I'm trying to plan a somewhat efficient trip that doesn't seem too packed and would like to hear some ideas/suggestions.

We're coming from San Francisco but nothing is booked yet so we're open to anything at this point. I've posted a rough itinerary below.

I like to drive and I hear the views are nice so I'm considering making this a driving trip down the Croatian coast. However, I do have some concerns regarding the amount of driving, potential traffic issues and ferry issues.

I also chose Munich as a arrival/return airport since it seems ~$1000 cheaper. Here's a comparison between doing a roundtrip flight/rental through Munich, as opposed to a open-jaw flight/rental into Ljubljana and out of Dubrovnik.

SFO->LJU, DBV->SFO: $1500 (air) + $1300 (car) = $2800

SFO<->MUC: $1200 (air) + $600 (car) = $1800

QUESTIONS:

1. We haven't bought any tickets yet. From a high level point of view, does it seem sensible to go through Munich or am I missing some other alterate route?

2. Is the driving overrated or more trouble than it's worth in Croatia? I did a 2-week driving tour of Germany last year (Munich > Salzburg > Fussen > Rothenburg > Rhine Valley). Can I expect similar scenic routes and driving conditions?

3. I can't find the low-season ferry schedule so I'm concerned about ferry availability. Should I make a beeline for Dubrovnik first, and slowly drive back up to Ljubljana instead of the other way around?

9/21/2011 Fly SFO -> Munich (MUC), pickup rental car

9/22/2011 Drive to Lake Bled

9/23/2011 Lake Bled

9/24/2011 Lake Bled

9/25/2011 Ljubljana (drive Julian Alps > Ljubljana)

9/26/2011 Ljubljana

9/27/2011 Rovinj (drive Karst > Piran > Rovinj)

9/28/2011 Rovinj (tour Istria)

9/29/2011 Plitvice (drive to Plitvice Lakes via Istria)

9/30/2011 Split (hike lakes in morning, drive to Split)

10/1/2011 Split

10/2/2011 Korcula (ferry to Korcula)

10/3/2011 Korcula (maybe visit Hvar)

10/4/2011 Dubrovnik (ferry to Dubrovnik)

10/5/2011 Dubrovnik

10/6/2011 Dubrovnik (daytrip to Mostar)

10/7/2011 Dubrovnik (daytrip to Bay of Kotor)

10/9/2011 {Start trip back to Munich, ferry Dubrovnik -> Rijeka?}

10/10/2011

10/11/2011

10/12/2011 Return car, fly Munich (MUC) ?? -> SFO

Or would this alternate plan be better ?

...

10/1/2011 Split

10/2/2011 Dubrovnik

10/3/2011 Dubrovnik

10/4/2011 Dubrovnik (daytrip to Mostar)

10/5/2011 Dubrovnik (daytrip to Bay of Kotor)

10/6/2011 Korcula

10/7/2011 Korcula

10/9/2011 {Start trip back to Munich, ferry Korcula -> Rijeka?}

...

Rovinj, Croatia
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1. Re: 3-Week Driving Tour: Slovenia and Croatia

Take a look at Venice, one of the better options for a few years now.

Jelsa, Croatia
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2. Re: 3-Week Driving Tour: Slovenia and Croatia

The Jadrolijina timetables change on 30th September, so do check carefully.

There is timetable on line for the whole year. It is a pity that the coastal ferry will not be running at that time.

Having 3 weeks of time,you can slowly make both directions to look quite different going down by highways and return the coastal road incl. islands.

I wouldn't make a daytrip to Mostar, you can do it on your way to or from Dubrovnik.

San Francisco
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3. Re: 3-Week Driving Tour: Slovenia and Croatia

@TowerOfFlour - I was thinking about flying in/out of Venice since it's closer to Slovenia too, but the big drawback is the rental car costing +$300 more. :(

@Jelsa - Are you saying the coastal ferry won't be running at all after Sep 30? I thought it was just going to run less frequently. I may have to plan around this then.

Rovinj, Croatia
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4. Re: 3-Week Driving Tour: Slovenia and Croatia

Try this consolidator, www.carrentals.co.uk

San Francisco
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5. Re: 3-Week Driving Tour: Slovenia and Croatia

@TowerOfFlour - Thanks for the link. It seems like some rentals are cheaper, but most of them seem to be the same as Priceline's quotes. Did you see something cheaper than what I'm seeing?

Atlanta
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6. Re: 3-Week Driving Tour: Slovenia and Croatia

Is this all you want to see?

I did so called "matrix" search for flights and found the easiest and the cheapest option with SFO to Zurich on Swiss Air (direct flight $1045 round trip). Now, rental in Swiss and driving to Bosnia and Croatia, that might be an issue.

Flight to Venice and from Venice would be through Frankfurt on Continental?United and Lufthansa (around $1560). Problem in Venice is that you have basically just one rental company that will allow trip through and in Bosnia/Croatia/Slovenia. That's SIXT rental company with limited availability of rental vehicles. WE used it last yaer and we can recommend it. But, we used "fancy" Fiat 500 and payed around $400 for 2 weeks. Now is little bit more.

Rental cars in Slovenia are much cheaper than anywhere in the region. If you can make it from Venice to Slovenia by bus (it's about 2-3 hours ride from Venice) you can save bunch of "green" $$$$$. Koper or Portoroz in Slovenia are the closest to Italy for rent.

Third option is on Air France ($1580) to Ljubljana through Paris. But, I think you already know that.

That's about arrival.

Now on schedule: 2.5 days on lake Bled. Maybe just as a jet-leg rest. Otherwise you can see all in one single day and get bored 'till evening.

2 days Ljubljana? Maybe if you have family there and you want to spend some time with them. It's not very exciting city. For the first time visitor, might be a bit interesting. As about me, I would just stop there to get rest and for some espresso.

Drive from Bled to Ljubljana does not take much. How is about visiting some caves, like Postojna or Skocjan caves for second day? Or some castles along Sava river to the Croatian border (toward east)?

Everyone is excited about Rovinj. I think you will be more excited to see internal Istria and Pula with great Roman amphitheater. I don't think you are going to get a lot of swimming in given time, I would advise visiting Pula, Motovun and a few Istrian cities on the hills (Groznjan, Hum...)

Usually, rental cars have clause about car-ferries. Read carefully limitations on contract. As I know, it's prohibited to take rental car on car-ferry. At least, it was on my contract with Sixt and I've seen on few others.

How is about doing one day trip to Hvar from Split and One day-trip to Korcula from Dubrovnik?

Return from Dubrovnik might include Mostar and than you can either go through Bosnian side and see some "other world" there or zip back to Adriatic highway and see some stuff in Trogir, Sibenik and Zadar on the way back. Last year me and my better half went in the morning from TRogir, stopped in Sibenik to see Cathedral, went to Zadar, spent couple of hours in Zadar, ate at Policnik's truck-stop (incredible goulash!), went to visit Nikola Tesla's Memorial birth house and still managed to get back in Zagreb around 10PM. If you know what you want to see, it's not big deal. So you have to make really good plan.

Let me know if I can help somehow...(check my Trip report from last year about Kings, Queens and castles in Croatia and Bosnia...)

Jelsa, Croatia
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7. Re: 3-Week Driving Tour: Slovenia and Croatia

No, the coastal ferry will not be running in October:

jadrolinija.hr/pdfs/…202011.pdf

San Francisco
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8. Re: 3-Week Driving Tour: Slovenia and Croatia

@Tvrtko1995 -

In terms of what I want to see, those are the things that I'm aware of that are worth seeing. Let me know if you think I skipped anything not to be missed.

Also, are you doing this "matrix" by hand or is there a magic site that will aggregate multiple airports too?

@Jelsa -

I was looking at the same schedule before starting this thread and thought those dates were just for the high season schedule. It looks like I misinterpreted that and it does seem to be the full schedule (high and low). Darn, I may have to start from Dubrovnik first and drive up the coast instead of the other way around. Thanks for the link though.

NOTE:

Sadly I also just discovered that most car hires in Germany won't allow you to drive into Bosnia or Montenegro. I may need to revise more plans. :(

Atlanta
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9. Re: 3-Week Driving Tour: Slovenia and Croatia

Here is my "magic" matrix search engine: Put any airport and any close airports as start, same to the end, select number of the days and start searching by entire month (couple of days earlier and you will see all the "magic" of this incredible search engine. You cannot buy tickets there. But, you can get all necessary info.

http://matrix.itasoftware.com/

Second, there are so many interesting things. Depends on your need and interests. My wife was interested in Roman, Early Christian history and history of Bosnia and Croatia. She came back filled with so many info that she still talks about some of details.

If you are interested in sightseeing, that's the other thing. If you are interested in human social life, architecture or natural beauties, that's another set of levels. You need to say what you are interested in and we can help you to find hidden gems. Otherwise it's just general tourist trap set of places (Been there, done that)... Let me know what you are after and I might lead you deep in your desire...

San Francisco
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10. Re: 3-Week Driving Tour: Slovenia and Croatia

For this trip, I think I'm mostly interested in seeing old towns/cities and the natural scenery/landscape. After that, I'd say I'm most interested in the recent history of the 1991 war.