Where to start in Croatia?

Old Oct 11th, 2014, 03:04 PM
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Where to start in Croatia?

We leave Los Angeles on a Thursday in February 2015 to go to Croatia. We have a total of 6 days in Croatia. Day 1 will be the Friday we arrive. I'd love suggestions as to where we should start. Should we fly into Dubrovnik, spend three days there and then take Croata Airlines to Zagreb and make our way to Istria? Or what about flying into Zagreb and getting over to Istria to spend some time over there and then fly to Dubrovnik? Even those two options are flexible! Either way my thought was to take Croatia Airline from one of those destinations to the other. I thought that would save time. But.....maybe a car rental and a drive might be a nice thing to do? I am aware that 6 days is not nearly enough. But, we are excited about snow hiking in the Julia Alps. I was thinking 2 or 3 days in Slovenia to sight see and hike. Oh! I wish we had more time! Then we have 1 week in Prague. Right now, I would love help in making some decision about where to start our vacation. Thank you in advance for your time and energy on this.
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Old Oct 11th, 2014, 03:09 PM
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...Julian Alps...sightsee...
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Old Oct 11th, 2014, 03:19 PM
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IMO, the most magnificent of many wonderful sites in Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, so you might want to find a way to include that in your plans. I'd recommend an overnight with a plan to spend 6-8 hours (in one block of time, not split into two) in the park itself. You can get there by public transportation (e.g., from Zagreb or Split), but a car makes visiting the park much easier IME.

Of course it really depends on what you want to see and experience, but with only 6 days and a commitment to Slovenia, I personally wouldn't try to get to Dubrovnik on this trip -- it's just too far away and you would be skipping too much that is closer to where you plan to be. Istria would make more sense if you want smallish Italian-influenced towns; Zagreb if you enjoy Astrio-Hungarian cities. Other options are, of course, possible.

And I trust you realize that 2 or 3 days is very little for Slovenia.

FWIW, I found The Rough Guides to Croatia and Slovenia the best of the half-dozen guidebooks I used when planning my time in the area.

BTW, I was in the area in early June; I have no idea what you will encounter in February.

Hope that helps!
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 07:32 AM
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I suppose you know that February can mean snow and ice in Slavonia (Zagreb) and Plitvice and heavy rainfall along the coast. The mildest climate can be found in Southern Dalmacija (Hvar - Korcula - Dubrovnik). But it will be winter nevertheless.
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 08:00 AM
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I had read the Plitvice Lakes National Park is magnificent. But, we must take our vaca during the cold and snow month of February. I definately felt apprehensive about visiting that because of the weathe conditions. I will get the Rough Guides book ASAP! I appreciate the suggestion of staying closer to Slovenia also. Although we really love old towns and Dubrovnik seemed so exciting to stay in.
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 08:45 AM
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Perhaps one of the Croatia experts can best answer this, but when we were there last week, all of guides, innkeepers, etc were looking forward to the end of the season when most things close for the winter. What will be open in Februrary? Larger hotels and restaurants in the main cities? I got the impression many places will be very quiet in the winter months.
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 02:10 PM
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Uhmmm, that's discouraging. I do recall reading that some restaurants and the ferries to the islands close. I'm not worried about lodging bc of AIRBNB. But now I'm wondering what else might be closed. Clearly, the Slovenia ski areas will be open (weather permitting), but... I guess I need to pay more attention to what guidebooks say about seasonal closings. Anybody out there that has traveled Croatia in in the winter?
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 07:41 PM
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I believe the Plitvice Lakes are open year-round. If you decide to go, you will -- of course -- need to be prepared for winter hiking. The trails should be well-groomed, though, and many of the trails are walkways raised above the surface to prevent damage to the ecosystem.

Major cities should have stuff that is open, as should cities and towns with universities. So (for example) you could visit Ljubljana, Zagreb, Varazdin, Split, or Zadar. But yes, you need to check some guidebooks to make wise decisions.
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Old Oct 13th, 2014, 05:07 AM
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I am going to say that February is a bad time to go to Croatia. It is a beautiful country, both Dalmatia and Istria in particular, but it will not be simple to travel then because much will be closed down. Seriously closed down. The country is subject to the Bura, fierce winds like Santa Ana winds in California but cold, cold, cold. the Plitvice Lakes may well be open, but that doesn't mean you will be comfortable descending icy trails into and out of the gorge.

It isn't clear whether Slovenia is in addition to or part of your time in Croatia. I would think alpine areas there, Northern Italy, a and elsewhere will be wide open for skiing and a much better choice.
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 04:45 PM
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I always appreciate your responses! Thank you. We think we are going to wait to go to Croatia when we can go in May or September. For this trip (February 2015) we think a week in Paris would be fantastic and then fly to Prague for a week. I had a hard time letting go Croatia though!
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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 08:15 AM
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Though I am sure a trip in winter would have its merits, May and September are the absolute best months to visit Croatia. You won't be sorry--especially if you are able to eke out more than 6 days.
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Old Oct 15th, 2014, 08:24 AM
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Thank you. That's what I keep reading about Croatia. That's why it has been such a tough decision to wait until we can go in May 2017.
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