Visiting Croatia & Slovenia
Archived Q&A and Reviews
We're a little late in the planning, but we are considering taking a vacation to Croatia this August. Specifically, we are looking into the Southern region in the towns of Dubrovnik, Split and some of the islands. We have a 6 and 2 year old. For those that are familiar with this region, what do you recommend in terms of an itinerary? What are the must-do's and mustn't do's? Any recommendations for things to do with the kids? Any other recommendations on how best to plan this trip? Thanks in advance! Anna
Regarding Southern Croatia, and Dubrovnik in particular. I was in southern Croatia--Dubrovnik -- (and Bosnia-Herzogovina and Montenegro) last year. Dubrovnik is beautiful 'in principle' but totally overrun by tourists--it is like visiting Disneyland in the summer. It is very expensive and most of the people providing places to stay are trying to rip you off. You did not mention where else in the Dalmatian Coast area you want to visit, but after my stay in the Dubrovnik area and visiting Montenegro and Bosnia for day trips, Croatian friends of mine (who now live in Italy) recommended I take the boat from Dubrovnik to Riejka (Croatia) in the north-- that was a beautiful relaxing trip and I recommend it highly to anyone who has the chance. As you have children, I suggest you consider renting a place--perhaps in Slovenia or in Pula or Rovinj (both in Croatia) and making day trips and combine that with the boat trip from Riejka to Dubrovnik and back to Riejka--or maybe one way by boat and then drive back north by car. Kensington
HI There, We're thinking of going to Croatia and Solvenia for 2 weeks next April with our two girls, 10 and 14 years. We'd appreciate any advice on where to go and stay, etc. Thanks, Deborah
You've asked about two of my favorite places. I'm excited for you! The countries are connected in culture but geographically so different.
Here's a great starting point, which was close to a journey I took once there: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com//2009/03/13/now-tweeting-croatia-and-slovenia/
In Slovenia, I loved the capital of Ljubljana. Such a gorgeous and manageable city. Stay at the Hostel Celica, a special hostel/hotel in an arts district that was formerly a prison. Each room is designed differently by local artists. I also really liked eating at Pri Skofu; I still remember the eggplant dish I had.
If you want to hike, my top priority jumping off point would be Trenta. Eco-Farm 'Pri Plajerju' was a steal of a deal, nestled in beautiful mountains.
My favorite places were Kranjska Gora and the Vršič Pass (beautiful and tragic history), Kobarid, Škofja Loka, Soca River Valley and Logarska Dolina. If you like to hike, you'll find some of the most gorgeous paths in the world. Lake Bohinj is stunning, but no need to stay too long (and I preferred it over Bled).
If you prefer a wine region, try Podravje or Piran, in eastern Slovenia. Thermal baths around there, too.
Stay in agro-tourism places in Slovenia, they are real treats to meet locals and stay in their beautiful homes.
As for Croatia, I was actually a bit underwhelmed by some of the obvious coastal places like Dubrovnik -- perhaps because I spent too long there. I suppose in April it will be less touristy. I liked the island of Korcula, not quite as hyped as Hvar. I would have liked to spend more time in the northern part of the coast.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is pretty incredible and I bet this would be a fun time to visit (few crowds). Same with Paklenica national park, where it gets quite hot in the summer. The Elaphite islands are also breathtakingly beautiful.
Istria is supposed to wonderful, but I haven't been. You can also consider going to Mostar or Sarajevo for a day (Bosnia) which I highly recommend. Montenegro would be interesting too.
My experience with the cuisine was not anything to write home about. But the fresh farm cheese and dairy, the jams made from local berries, and the cured meats are wonderful. Be prepared for lots of pasta and pizza. Amazing and cheap gelato in both countries. Burek and cevapcici are cheap, ubiquitous and tasty. Seafood in Croatia is very tasty.
You have chosen to visit two special places and you will not regret it! northberkeleymama
We spent several days in Slovenia last summer with our two daughters, ages 14 and 12. It was fantastic! The people were friendly, the country is beautiful, we all want to go back soon! We were in the capital, Ljubljana, for a few days, and in Bled for a few more. I highly recommend going to both places. Ljubljana is beautiful. The town center is built along the Ljubljanica river and one other I think, there are many notable bridges you cross to get from one area to the other. The Dragon bridge is pretty awesome. There is fantastic food, the castle is a must see, definitely walk to the castle from town, there are great views along the trail.
Bled is a town on Lake Bled north of Ljubljana. The lake is stunning, there is a walking and biking trail around the lake and a castle on the island in the center. Lots of places to eat that are right on the water. Many of the hotels on the lake have boats you can borrow to row out to the castle. There are also commercial places that will take you out to the castle. If you go to Bled, you have to go to the castle and ring the bell! You can swim in the lake, but only in a few areas. Triglav Ntl Park in the Julian Alps is nearby. We went on some great hikes while we were there. I highly recommend that if you're into hiking. Jen
I recommend a visit to the Postojna Caves in Slovenia. I haven't been there since I was a child (over 30 years ago, at least) but it's something I will remember for the rest of my life. I think it may be a bit tourist-y, but the caves are spectacular. Also would recommend driving down the coast of Croatia. It's beautiful. I have family there still, so if you don't get much info from others, feel free to email me offline. maia
You have a lot to look forward to! We visited Croatia and Slovenia during a 6 week Europe trip 2 years ago with our boys who were 10 & 13 at the time. It's gorgeous there and we thought the people were for the most part friendly and welcoming. Most everyone we ran into spoke English very well, especially in Slovenia.
In Slovenia we stayed in Bovec, Lake Bled and Ljuljana. It's beautiful around Bled and Bovec as there are mountains and a national park all around. While in Bled we stayed at the Jazz Room and Apartments which is a hostel and run by a super nice couple, we really enjoyed it. They recommended we visit the nearby Vintgar Gorge which was spectacular. The town is fairly quiet but set on a lake you can walk around that's surrounded by mountains. In Bovec we stayed at Supermjau Apartments and would also recommend that, great to have room for the kids to spread out a bit and kitchen facilities.
An absoulte highlight of our trip was the day we did canyoning and rafting in the Soca river near Bovec. There are quite a few adventure companies there that will take you, I think they're all good. The canyoning was a unique experience, you wear wetsuits and a guide leads you through an area of the river with cliffs to jump off of and natural chutes to slide down. It was a blast.
Ljubljana is a fun city to explore and we most enjoyed just strolling around and exploring the city. The streets were so crowded at night with outdoor dining/cafes, so many people out enjoying the summer nights. There we rented an apartment throught Airbnb but can't recall the name of it.
We didn't have much time in Croatia so only went to Rovinj and Motovun. Wish we would have had the time to go further south or visit Plitvice Lakes but we did really enjoy what we saw.
In Rovinj we stayed in the old city center near the coast, so glad we made that happen as it feels like you're in an old Italian village. We rented an apartment through Airbnb called Blue Doors which was like stepping back in time (in a good way) and has a wonderful host. Highly recommended. There we rode bikes along the coast line, swam in the sea, and again enjoyed the nightlife of everyone strolling around and dining outdoors.
Motovun is similar to an Italilan hilltown and although it's a quiet, small town it was really cool to spend the night there. We used Airbnb again and got a place right in town that again was like a step back in time. This one was called House Istra and was one of my favorites of our trip. Great food around there too with the Italian influence.
Have a great trip, wish I was going too! Jackie
Hi- We will be travelling in Northern Italy and Croatia next month with our 3 year old son. We had envisioned renting a VW Camper type vehicle, but have not been able to find any to rent. What is available seem too large and excessive. So now, we're looking for any advice in travelling town to town...whether to rent a small car, use buses, etc. We are used to backpacking and travelling light, but the 3 year old comes with a lot of extra baggage. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks. Travels with kiddo
My husband and I (pre-child) traveled to Venice and then to the Istrian peninsula (sp?) Croatia. We took the train in Italy which I think would be very child friendly and cheap. Once we got to Croatia we took a bus down the peninsula to Pula. The ride was a bit long and I could see there might be bathroom issues (not sure the bathroom was really working on the bus). It might be better to rent a car while in Croatia but more expensive. Lesley
About 15 years ago I traveled down the coast of what was then Yugoslavia. I didn't see your post, but a friend of mine drove the coast in a rented car last summer and said it wasn't much fun because it as like driving along Route 1 with huge busses coming the other way all the time.
What I did was lots of fun (if it still exists). I caught a government ferry which went down the coast stopping at various towns and cities. It was cheap, had a nice dining room with waiters and small cabins you could rent for the night if you wanted ( with hot showers). The carrier was Jadrolinja (or Yadrolinga or some such spelling). You could hop on and off as you pleased, the coast was drop-dead gorgeous and it was very relaxing. You might be able to find out about this as an option in the ''Let's Go'' books as that's how I found out about it. Jean
I would recommend traveling by car. We visted Italy and Croatia in 2005 and were really glad we had our car. We were able to visit off the beaten track kind of places that would have been impossible by bus. We appreciate the flexibility of it too. Carey
We've recently decided to travel to Dubrovnik, Croatia and meet up with another couple and their 13 mo. old daughter. I'd love any input people have regarding this area (and environs!) re: housing (we'd love to rent an apt. or house we could all stay in), food, transport (within the country--do we bring our carseat????), etc. We'll be there for 11 days at the beginning of May.
Thanks in advance!
We go to Croatia, specifically the island of Korcula, every summer. Dubrovnik is very attractive but it also has become very touristy in the past few years (tons of huge cruise ships dropping off the hordes and the attendant tourist shops) so if you can go a bit further afield you will get a more authentic feel.
The coast traditionally makes most of its money during the summer tourist season and thus is quite used to foreigners. Nearly every house has extra rooms that are available for let. The quality is usually very modest. It is much rarer to be able to rent an entire house. There are also hotels which are usually overpriced for what you get. Finding rooms should be very easy, especially in May. Just google Dubrovnik and housing. If you fly to Dubrovnik and don't plan to go anywhere else, you won't need a car but if you do plan to travel further it's worth bringing your own carseat to be safe. You arrange to rent a car at the airport. The highway to and from Dubrovnik has spectacular views of the blue, blue water but is also a little scary as you are right on the edge of the ''mountains'' at all times and the roads feel very narrow.
There are several islands that would be worthy of visits. You can take ferries to them. May is beautiful with all the flowers (and lots of bugs too!) It may be still too cold for swimming but every year the water is different.
Grilled fish or shrimp are very common. Croatians also eat a lot of blitva, which is a green very similar to chard. They eat it with potatoes and olive oil. Most of the restaurants in Dubrovnik proper are not very memorable; you need to look for family-owned places that make everything themselves. These are usually outside the city centers. There have been lots of articles about the island of Hvar; not so many about Korcula (thank goodness!)
There is now a lot of information out on the Croatian coast and there are lots of Western and Eastern Europeans about so it feels very cosmopolitan. With a little research and planning I guarantee you'll have a wonderful time. Celia
We're trying to plan a week-long vacation in/around Croatia for extended family in early August (9 adults, 4 kids six and under). Ideally, we're looking for a place where we can all stay together, have lots of day trip options, and not be inundated by crowds of tourists (ah, Europe in August...). Our preference is a mix of urban and coastal, but we're open to suggestions, especially given the kids' ages, the time of year, distance, etc. I'd love recommendations on places to visit, places to stay, places to avoid... and any other useful resources. Thanks! Jean
We have had a summer home on the island of Korcula, which is part of Croatia, for 5 years now. It's an incredibly beautiful place, and the water is a stunning blue. We now tend to avoid August as it's the high season and the island becomes overrun with tourists. The problem with the resorts on the Croatian coast is that they were built with mass tourism in mind and there is, at present, very little in the way of ''medium'' tourism--there are now a few very high end boutique hotels with prices to match. So your options will probably be somewhat limited and the prices in August will be high. Best to start booking now but I would read up very carefully on any hotels you are interested in--the Lonely Planet guides are very helpful. Given your numbers, the ''sobe'' option may not be of interest but almost all coastal families rent out rooms, some with kitchens. Things are changing, but often these rooms are extremely basic and furnished in what could be called Soviet-bloc fashion.
Hvar and Korcula are considered to be the most beautiful of the islands, and there are many ferries to get you around all the islands and even to and from Europe. (Many eastern Europeans drive down for their vacations--windsurfing is hugely popular, as is sailing--and you will see license plates from all over Europe.) Split and Dubrovnik are must-sees and there are other small charming villages such as Trogir or Cavtat. The 2 1/2 hour drive from Dubrovnik airport to the Peljesac peninsula is absolutely stunning. Your best bet is to read several guidebooks and put together an itinerary that appeals--Croatia now has a great deal of information in English on the internet, such as all the ferry schedules. I don't know that I would spend too much time in the interior--the coast is really the pride and joy of the country. If you have any specific questions about Korcula, I would be happy to answer them. Celia