Croatia has been a red-hot travel spot in recent years. With dramatic seaside cliffs, ancient Roman Ruins, the natural wonder of Plitvice Lakes, and a bevy of islands to hop to, it’s no wonder why. This two-week itinerary lets you explore all of that along with several other Balkan region highlights.
Use this itinerary as a guide for your own trip, altering where you see fit. We’ll visit the Dalmation Coast, the war-torn city of Mostar, the dreamy Istrian peninsula, and charming Slovenia!
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Best of the Balkans in 2 Weeks
The itinerary below provided the basic framework for our recent trip to the Balkans. I’ll cover each area in-depth in later posts but this plan will give you a great overview of the best of the Balkan sights!
|1||Depart home for your overnight flight to Dubrovnik.|
|2||Arrive in Dubrovnik and get settled. Either start exploring or take a rest!|
|3||Enjoy the day in Dubrovnik.|
|4||Pick up a rental car at the Dubrovnik airport and continue on for a day trip to Perast and Kotor. See notes below regarding driving in the Balkans.|
|5||Drive from Dubrovnik to Split via a sightseeing stop in Mostar.|
|6||Enjoy the day in Split.|
|7||Take a day trip to an island or two.|
|8||Leave Split for Plitvice Lakes, stopping in Trogir or Zadar along the way. Enter the park late day with fewer people on the trails.|
|9||Revisit the Lakes in the AM before crowds arrive (if you stay on-site, hotels will validate your ticket from yesterday for a 2nd day visit). Make your way to Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula.|
|10||Tour the quaint town of Rovinj in the morning and hit the beach in the afternoon. Alternately, visit Pula with its amazing amphitheater if you didn’t stop on the drive in yesterday.|
|11||Explore the charming hill towns of Istria.|
|12||Leave Croatia and drive to Lake Bled, Slovenia. Depart early so you can visit some of the Karst region sights along the way.|
|13||Enjoy the town of Bled. Late day, drop off your rental car at Ljubljana Airport and take a cab to your lodging in town.|
|14||Wander the amazing bridges, market, and old town of lovely Ljubljana!|
|15||It’s so hard to say goodbye! Today, you depart for home.|
Notes on Driving in the Balkans
If you haven’t driven in Europe before, this isn’t the best place to start. Roads are very narrow and twisty and are frequently used by pedestrians as well. If that feels outside your comfort zone, consider visiting some places (Kotor, Mostor, Plitvice) by day trip as either part of a group tour or by hiring a private driver.
Without a car, it will also be difficult to visit Rovinj. Consider Opatija as a base instead. It’s a bit more on the main public transportation routes and you’ll still be able to visit some hilltowns from this base.
While public transport is technically available, it chews up a good bit of time. A private driver between cities will cost a bit more but is much more efficient in this area. If you do opt to use a combination of public transport and day tours, consider eliminating one area from your itinerary or adding extra days to your trip.
If you’re less into sightseeing and more into beach/resort time, consider basing yourself on one of the islands in the Split area, likely Hvar or Korčula. Note that this works best without a car as most rental companies don’t allow you to take their cars on the large ferries. It will limit your ability to take day trips to sights like Mostar, Plitvice, or Krka but will still let you see the main highlights of Old Split.
Good to Know
I highly recommend visiting this area in the shoulder season. Dubrovnik and Split are both packed to the gills during the mid-summer months. Enough to make a visit somewhat tedious and exhausting. Traveling in late April, May or September, early October will provide for a better experience.
As of this writing, Croatia accepts the kuna and has just started posting prices in both kuna and euro. By January 2023 the country will be fully on the euro, making currency issues much simpler. Montenegro and Slovenia are on the euro and Bosnia-Herzegovina accepts convertible marks. For a day trip to Mostar, you probably won’t need to exchange money, but for a longer stay, you will.
Stay tuned for posts on the individual areas mentioned in this trip as well as some fun fall content. As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding a trip to this region. I’m always happy to share our experiences and help you plan your dream holiday!
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