Croatia and Slovenia Tips: 2008
Croatia and Slovenia are emerging as Europe's hottest new destinations - and we're joining in the fun. This summer we're writing a new guidebook on those destinations (to be published in the spring of 2007). We want your help. If you've been to Croatia or Slovenia, what were your favorite destinations, accommodations, restaurants, or tips? If you haven't been there yet, but want to go, what would you like to see covered in the book?
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
Slovenia & Croatia
We have just returned from three weeks driving holiday through Slovenia & Croatia, we hired our car through Economy Car Hire, over the net, never had a problem, they were fantastic, in Bled we stayed at Garni Hotel Berc, 70 eu per night inc b'fast, would highly recommend anyone to stay there, rooms were clean & spacious & the owners very nice, in Zagreb we stayed at the Arcotel Allegra, again a very nice modern hotel approx 15 mins walk to the centre of town, we then travelled across to Opatija, very beautiful part of the Adriatic coast, we booked a private apartment through Adriatica.net, unfortuneately it was not very nice, our first let down of the trip, we then drove down the coast as far as Split, what a great holiday, we will return.
Sydney, NSW Australia Wed 10/22/2008
Tips on Slovenia and Croatia
We're just back from a couple of weeks of driving through Croatia and Slovenia, both of which we enjoyed immensely. Here are a few preferences and lessons we learned: 1. We flew into Munich and drove from there. We were told in the US by AVIS that we had to pay a surcharge to take the car to Croatia and that we couldn't take it under any circumstance to Montenegro or Bosnia-Herzegovina. Fact is that the Munich agent gave us a form allowing the car to go to all three countries without surcharge--and we did. 2. Consider the Jadrolinija ferry for the return leg of a drive through Croatia. We rode the Marko Polo from Korcula to Rijeka last Sunday afternoon and evening. With the car charge and a cabin for two, the tariff was 1,365 kuna--about $270. For that we saved the gas, the wear and tear, tolls, and a night's lodging. And the trip along the Adriatic coast was lovely. 3. En route from Mostar to Korcula, we spent a night at the Luna Hotel on the main road between Split and Dubrovnik at the south end of Neum, Bosnia. Nice room w/ balcony overlooking the water--just 40E (w/o breakfast). Dinner at a supermarket/ restaurant frequented by tour busses just north of the Luna was great. I had chunks of cheese wrapped in chicken and bacon, skewered and cooked over a wood fire. There was more than I could eat for 5.50 Euros. 4. Another memorable meal was at Pizzeria Rustika in Bled, Slovenia. The spicy sausage with peppers and garlic pizza absolutely rocked. 5. Stayed at the Garni Pension Svigelj in Bled-60E, 4 stars, the Emonec in Ljubliana-78E, 3 stars, the Bellevue in Plitvice Lakes-70E, 3 stars, Villa Ana in Split-675K, 5 stars, and Villa Ragusa in Dubrovnik-70E (w/o breakfast), 4 1/2 stars. Ragusa's Pero was very helpful, finding us a free place to park, rather than paying the 5K/ hour tariff for metered parking, which is in effect 24 hours a day. A special pat on the back to Tanja of Pension Svigelj who referred us to an emergency dentist at the Bled Hospital. The dentist did not render a bill--assume Slovenia has socialized medicine.
Keep on travelling.
Lake Forest, IL USA Sat 10/18/2008
Driver and Guide Pepo Klaic
Our party of four just wrapped up a week in Croatia and loved it. All experiences were great. We had fabulous accomodations with great, service, advice and experiences. The only hiccup that we had was the recommendation for driver/guide Pepo Klaic who was supposed to pick us up upon arrival in Dubrovnik . We confirmed all details with him but he failed to show up. I would be reluctant to recommend him to anyone.
Calgary, AB Canada Sat 10/11/2008
Mostar, Bosnia - Local Guide Alma Elezovic - the best!
My wife and I just returned from a trip thru Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina using Rick Steves' guide book. In Mostar we spent the afternoon with local guide Alma Elezovic (noted in the guide book - firstname.lastname@example.org). What a treat - the kind of travel experience that fits so well with the Rick Steves philosophy. My wife and I both feel privleged to have spent some time with Alma and look forward to going back for a longer stay in Bosnia.
Paris, France Thu 09/11/2008
Psnak Tourist Farm - Slovenia
We spent time in both Croatia and Slovenia in May of 2007 and LOVED both. Your guides were helpful and accurate, as usual. A major shortcoming however was the lack of emphasis on the tourist farms of Slovenia. You mention one farm in the Karst area, but there are hundreds.
We received a booklet describing about 250 tourist farms through www.slovenia.info. We knew we wanted to explore the Julian Alps, Bled, and surrounding areas, and selected the Psnak Farm west of Bled. What a fabulous choice! Picture a miniature Yosemite Valley with no tourists or buildings! The Psnak Farm is a small functioning family farm in a breathtaking and quiet setting within Triglav National Park about 10 miles west of Bled. It makes and excellent base to explore the Julian Alps and nearby Bled.
Warm and friendly hostess Tanja speaks excellent English and, with the help of her mother-in-law, provides hearty meals at fabulous prices. Accomodations are in their old stone family farmhouse, recently expanded. The six tourist rooms share a separate private entrance and are spotless and beautifully furnished. Our room had a covered balcony with a stunning view of Yosemite like pastures in the foreground surrounded by peaks of the Julian Alps.
Their valley is filled with history, and when we were there in May, stunning wild flowers. They will loan you bicycles to explore the quiet local roads, and if desired you can ride into nearby Bled (about 10 miles) the "back way".
We were impressed with Slovenia in general: Warm friendly people, outstanding scenery, fun villages to discover on impossibly windy roads through the Julian Alps, and inexpensive prices. Our experience at the Psnak Farm could not be topped!!! We will be back!
We have relied on Rick Steves' guides for European travel for many years and believe that the Psnak Farm would be an excellent addition.
Clatskanie, OR USA Mon 09/01/2008
Slovenia Tourist Farm
The Stern Family farm was the highlight of our two week trip. We explored Croatia and on our way back to vienna we stopped at a small farm near Fram. You can arrive at the lovely Stern Family home by following the directions on the website attached. Barbara the hostess speaks excellent english and is very sweet and hospitable. The house is amazingly clean and if you choose to stay for dinner or breakfast the food is fresh off the farm, home cooked and delicious. For a rustic and homey feel stop at this farm to get an experience you wont forget. http://www.kovacnik.com/
Los Angeles, CA USA Sun 08/31/2008
Cruise on Croatian coast
I wish when we were in Croatia we had taken a cruise along the coast instead of driving it. It is the most beautiful coastline I have ever seen. Rick's recommendation of a travel agent in Split is the way to book this trip. There are a number of wooden hull luxury schooners available according to him.
Castle Rock, CO USA Sun 08/31/2008
Pepo Klaic - tour guide for Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro
My husband and I just returned from a 5 day trip to Croatia. Wanting to make day trips to Bosnia and Montenegro, we hired Pepo Klaic as our guide (recommended in the Rick Steves' Croatia & Slovenia book) and he was awesome. Not only did Pepo take us to the typical tourist sights, but to several off-the-beaten track places that proved to be the highlights of our trip. Pepo fought during the war in 1991 and learning of his stories and experiences, along with visits to war sights really leaves an impression. We hired Pepo as guide, but left with him as a dear friend.
I'm a bit puzzled after reading the negative review about Pepo (below). Both my husband and I think very highly of Pepo and the guiding he provides. The only thing I can guess, is that there may have been an error in communication. If it helps, we always reconfirm any and all reservations for hotels, transportation, tours, and restaurants just prior to our leaving for a trip.
Again, if you have time while in Croatia, contact Pepo and deepen your understanding on the Croatian people, the culture, the sights and the history. And don't forget to ask Pepo for restaurant suggestions...he is spot-on with his recommendations!
To contact Pepo:
And be sure to tell him Christer and Christine Bradley send our hello's!
Ramstein, USA Tue 08/26/2008
Apartmani Raic - Old Town Dubrovnik sobe
When my husband and I stayed in Dubrovnik, we tried to make reservations with Villa Ragusa, but they were booked. Fortunately, they recommended the sobe directly across from them (in Old Town) and we gladly booked a room. So glad we did. Apartmani Raic is located on Zudioska 16 and run by a mother and two daughters. They have kept the original wood beams and stones featured in the home (mostly destroyed during the war). They've rebuilt and its beautiful. We had a double bed with private bath and kitchen. The daughters can offer up some great local restaurants (good food, decent prices). Visit www.dubrovnik-area.com/Eng/vlasnik.asp?vla+679 or tele: +385 (0) 996-0858. Nice people, clean establishment, great location.
Ramstein, USA Tue 08/26/2008
Restaurant Rozarij - Old Town Dubrovnik
One word: YUM! So many restaurants to choose from in Dubrovnik, many of them mediocre and overpriced. Rozarij, located in Old Town on Prijeko 2, features fresh seafood with good prices. The ambiance is not so hustle-bustle as the main square and you can actually relax and enjoy the quiet. Book ahead. Reservations are a must, as the seating is limited and the food is Dalmatian style and yummy. Tele: 321-257
Ramstein, USA Tue 08/26/2008
Croatia and Slovenia
My wife and I just recently returned from a trip to Eastern Europe, 10 days of which were spent in Croatia and Slovenia. We thoroughly enjoyed both places. The Dalmatian coast is beautiful to view and to swim in, but the area is very hot in the summer. The island of Korcula is great but we were surprised to find that the fast catamaran service to Dubrovnik sells out very quickly. I was told to come to the office at 8:30 AM to buy a ticket for that afternoon, but when I got there at 8:20 they were already sold out. The alternative is a bus which takes a short ferry ride and a long drive on a windy mountainous road. While in Dubrovnik we really enjoyed our trip the little local island, I think it's called Lukrum. It has beautiful swimming and it is a nice peaceful change from the crowded old town. Ljubjana in Slovenia is a capital city with a small-city feel. It has great ambiance and tremendous ice cream. Lake Bled, as Rick recommends, is worth a couple of nights. We swam, biked and hiked and had a relaxing time. Pension Mayer is good accomodation there. I'd love to go back to both countries, although I think Croatia would be better in September without the crowds.
Prince Rupert, BC Canada Fri 08/22/2008
Driving to Plitvice Lakes NP
Drivers passing through Otocac don't have to get out of their cars to experience a minefield... the road is one! The "highway" 52 to Plitvice is a bizarre mixture of one section of the smoothest, widest, pavement you'll ever drive on with mostly rutted, gravel, seemingly one-lane paths and everything in between. The driving is SLOW, but scenic. I don't regret traveling this road, but wasn't aware of the extra time it would take to reach the park. Strongly recommend a daytime drive.
San Diego, CA USA Thu 08/07/2008
Croatia in Winter
Going against the tourist flow, my wife and I toured Croatia last December. Started in Zagreb, which was actually warmer than one might expect. Probably 50-55F during the day and 35-40F at night. This city definitely has a eastern European feel, as my wife described "a dirty Prague." Nevertheless, the food was outstanding (great pizza and seafood). And the atmosphere...Bond...James Bond. Someone could get lost here.
Then Split. Remarkable. In addition to Diocletian's palace, we were probably most impressed by the harbor promanade outside the palace walls. Stunning place to gather an dpeople watch. I'm sure Rick notes this (didn't read his guide) but there is a hillside path near the end of the promonade that goes up, and up and up, providing spectacular views of the harbor. Again, great seafood. And Croatia in general...probably some of th e best coffee in Europe. Not sure of the name, but found a GREAT restaurant in the small "neighborhood" that preceeds the palace, if you're walking from the city towards the palace/harbor. If anyone cares, I believe the restaurant is listed in Fodor's (and probably Rick's guide). All I can remember now is that it had a woman's name in the restaurant name. A small "house" with serious eating. Definitely off the beaten path – hard to find at night. The locales pointed the way. Great meat and probably the best risotto I've ever tasted.
Fianlly a five-hour bus ride along the coast to Dubrovnik. The ride itself was incredible, but Dubrovnik...wow. I know we missed out on a lot of the sunbathing, etc. but it was like we had the entire city almost to ourselves. I'm curious about Spring/Summer, but it was almost worth going in the winter to avoid the drunken crowds and really soak in the history and beauty of this man-made wonder.
Overall, all of Croatia, incredible food, high-octane coffee, great people (virtually no language barrier), cosmopolitan buzz and natural beauty. And even warm days in winter. What more could you ask for?
Houston, Texas USA Wed 07/23/2008
I'm now in Croatia and loving it. Rick's advice, as always, is excellent. However, there is one glich. Using Rick's advice I hired Peppo Klaic (Croatia guidebook page 225) to take me into Montenegro and he never showed or contacted me. It has been a tremendous disaappointment!
Harrison, NY USA Fri 07/18/2008
It seems that Mr. William Suesholtz never wanted to take the trip for I was waiting half hour and he did not contacted me and what is the rush to tell the world we will never know all the best from Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik, croati USA Fri 07/18/2008
Monte Negro, Sea Urchins, Hvar Ferry, and drinks
A few of tips..
1) Border crossing into Monte Negro now charges a 10 euro carbon tax. Fresh-faced state employees sporting nifty pink & green outfits are stationed right at the border. You can't pass GO without paying the tax. Only euros-- no kunas.
2) Sea Urchin warnings. Croatian waters are teaming with these prickly purple creatures. They love the shallow rocky shoreline along the coast and islands. Protect your feet and your young'uns with water shoes.
3) Another ferry choice in Hvar (other than Stari Grad) is located at the very tip of the island. Ferries depart about every hour or so. It's only a 45 minute ride to the mainland. The ferry lets you off about halfway between Split and Dubrovnik. It's about an hour drive to the port from Hvar Town, but the scenery is spectacular. Well worth it.
4) Have a sunset drink at the Terrace Bar in Dubrovnik. Clinging to the rocks above the sea, the bar is located right outside the town walls. You can only access it through a small, obscure doorway carved into the wall. Nothing fancy, but it has the best view in the world! When you walk the wall on the ocean side, look down over the wall and you'll see the bar.
Concord, MA USA Mon 06/23/2008
croatia walking holidays
My friend and I walkied across the Istrian peninsula last Sept and we had a fabulous time. 7 days in some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe. No people outside of the tiny villages. The food was great; we had truffles with dinner, truffles with breakfast, figs off the trees, grapes off the vines, lovely wines and lovely people. The Croatians we met bent over backwards to ensure we had everything we needed or wanted or didnt even know we wanted. Always felt safe and welcome.
USA Sun 06/22/2008
Croatian heritage restaurant in Zagreb
We traveled via car through Croatia and Slovenia and 6 other Eastern/Central European nations using this guide of Rick's...We ate at several of Rick's suggestions and I have an excellent addition to add. Just outside the city of Zagreb in Gracani, so a car if helpful, the Stari Puntijar Restaurant, Zagreb, Gracanska Cesta 65, Tel. 01/4675600. This family restaurant was established in 1838 and the food is fantastic,family recipes 5 generations old! Fantastic game dishes, Croatian pasta dishes and excellent wines! We can highly suggest it.
We have LOTS of fantastic photos of our trip (none of the restaurant, sorry) if you'd like to see the slide shows. http://www.flocyte.org/ISAC%20TRIP/index.html Check it out!
Irvine, CA USA Sat 06/21/2008
We hired Petar Vlasic, email@example.com, a Dubrovnik-based driver/guide, recommended in Rick Steve's book, to take us on 2 day trips during our stay in Dubrovnik: Montenegro and the Peljesac Peninsula (wine country.) He was amazing. He was very knowledgable and so passionate about his native Croatia. He experienced first hand the 1991 war, and the insight he gave us about the war was incredible. Our time with Petar totally enhanced our trip and made an already awesome experience unforgettable. We highly recommend him to anyone visiting the Dalmation Coast.
Tampa, FL USA Wed 06/18/2008
Living in Piran, Slovenia
My husband and I lived for six months (June-December) in Piran--the gorgeous little Venetian town on the Adriatic. Choosing such a small town to call home (Piran probably has only 3,000 permanent residents) was quite a big step of faith but I wouldn't have lived anywhere else!
It was so magical there. For those of you who haven't been: imagine winding, cobblestone medieval streets, the largest of which three people can walk abreast, lace curtains hanging over your head blowing in the sea breeze, the local chess club meeting in front of the library, and any variety of sweet little nooks and crannies where you are surprised to find a baptismal font from the 1400's, or a little fountain, long neglected.
Piran was quiet, safe, and before long my husband and I slid into the "Mediterranean" pace of life. Days seemed to slip by. The nuns greeted us cheerfully every morning as we went to buy our daily bread. Soon, people began to talk to us as they would their neighbors, and we discovered that many of them knew English enough to have a conversation. My husband didn't even need his Italian!
I hated to come home. I made some friends there--including an 85 year old woman who just started to learn English, and I became a playmate (and maybe honorary aunt) to three local children.
People there don't seem to understand the concept of stress. It was a shock landing at JFK where we were screamed at, corralled, and jostled. I kept hanging on to the memory of our last glimpse of Slovenia, the top half of Mt. Triglav peeking above the clouds in our last Slovene sunrise.
The whole country is a natural wonderland. Please, do yourself a favor. If you are going to Austria, Venice, or Croatia, go to Slovenia. You'll be so glad you did.
Ann Arbor, MI, MI USA Mon 06/09/2008
My wife and I just returned from 2.5 weeks in Europe, which included 7 days in Croatia. It was the best part of our trip. We spent two days in Baska on the island of Krk staying at a B&B. Although it's not mentioned by Rick in his books, we found it to be just wonderful. The B&B is called Pansion 55 and I highly recommend it. Contact Terezia at www.pansion55.com. She treated us like family. Travel in Croatia was great with excellent roads and freeways, but the drive along the coast from Rijeka to Maslenica where we picked up the freeway was awesome, with fabulous scenery, quaint villeges hugging the rocky coast and hardly any traffic. Be ready to do a lot of shifting though! We were amazed at how prevelant English was spoken. Split was wonderful also, but Baska was the best.
Minneapolis, MN USA Sun 06/08/2008
My wife and I found Pansion Oscar in Mostar to be a great value (10 Euros/person). It is nearby the crooked bridge and the family is very helpful. They have a website. Since we had a car we enjoyed Kravica Falls. They are about 12 km NW of Capljina toward Ljubuski; look for an unmarked road to the left--Google Earth is helpful. Took the ferry ride from Ploce to Trpanj. Allow yourself enough time to for road construction around Ploce. We stayed in Trpanj and daytripped to Korcula via passenger ferry from Orebic. Loved Trpanj w/ its very nice seaside promenade-very quiet in March. Recommend Apartment Vesna (26 Euros). Loved the artistic cappuchinos at cafe bar on right side corner as come off ferry.
Pontotoc, Tx USA Tue 04/08/2008
Slovenia- Just go!
I have been to Slovenia three times in the past few years. Lake Bled, Lipica for the horses, and some castle that I can't remeber the name of. Each time is better than the last. Most recently we found a resort names Terme Šmarješke Toplice. There are many resorts listed on Slovinia's national tourism website. We were the only Americans there and everyone was suprised to see us. We took our 9 month old baby, and the place would have been wonderful for famlies with older childern--especially in the summer when the outdoor pools were open. There was a performance fron a local dance troup one night, a small market in the lobby with locals selling honey, wine and crafts, wonderful meals, 'healing' pools, hiking and so on. I've traveled and lived in Europe for over 5 years, and I must say that Slovinians are the most friendly people I have meet.
Burbank, WA USA Mon 03/03/2008
Great Caves in Slovenia
There is a lot of advertising for Postojna Cave around Slovenia where you get to ride a train into the cave. The cave is OK but it all feels a bit theme-park like with the crowds to match. Much better and for a much more authentic show cave experience, though awkward to get to without a car, is the stunning Skocjan Cave system. The caves includes a remarkable bridge crossing (45 metres above the cave floor), large pot-like formations (called rimstone pools)and a tremendous variety of formations. It is one of very few cave systems which are UNESCO Heritage listed. It is worth the effort to get there (easiest is a 3km walk along a path from Divaca rail station).
Mark (at www.travel-wonders.blogspot.com)
Sydney, NSW Australia Mon 03/03/2008
8 Things to do in Zagreb
I'm married to a Croatian and visit Zagreb fairly regularly. Visiting in-laws is a different experience than a regular vacation but here's a list of things I've done and encourage everyone to do in Zagreb (just about anybody can tell you how to get to these places and since so many people speak English, they're easy to find):
1. Light a candle and say a prayer at the Stone Gate to Gornji Grad (the old walled city). On the way, stop and get candles from the little shops that line the street and note the statue of St. George slaying the dragon just as you get to the gate. After stopping at the gate explore Gornji Grad's, narrow streets, like Ulica Jurjevska.
2. Tour the cathedral. This is just an incredible building inside and out and you can see it from almost anywhere in town so it's easy to find.
3. Get a pizza and have a coffee at the VIP cafe on the Flower Square (I think the name of the square is Trg Petra Predravica, but if you tell anybody you're looking for the square where they sell flowers they'll know what you're talking about).
4. People watch at Trg Bana Jelacica. This is the main center of the city, like the Times Square of Zagreb without all the Disney-fied junk.
5. Stroll around the National Theater. The building is gorgeous and the grounds are extremely well kept.
6. Get a dessert (or two small ones like the locals do) at Vincek. You won't be disappointed.
7. While you're indulging the sweet-teeth stop at any of the Kras stores around town and pick up a box of Fontana (a little bit of cool, minty, chocolaty heaven).
8. For the wine lover, stop by Bornstein wines and pick up a bottle of local wine. I'm partial to the Malvazia from Istria and I also like the Grasevina Riesling.
New York, NY USA Fri 02/29/2008
Lake Bled, Slovenia
We stayed in Lake Bled for six nights during the Christmas holidays at one of Rick's recommended places -- the Hotel Berc. It was great -- new, clean, spacious, quaint, good breakfast, and the proprietor Luka could not have been more helpful and friendlier.
Lugano, Switzerland Sat 01/26/2008
Croatia Itinerary Planning
When my husband and I were planning our trip to Croatia last year, we used this website: www.croatiatraveller.com. It's by the lady who wrote the Lonely Planet book. She has a lot of ferry information and plus suggested itineraries (we had no idea where to go or how to get around). We ended up paying her for a private itinerary consultation which got us all sorted out at a reasonable price. We flew into Split, took a ferry to Hvar and then another to Korcula and then went on to Dubrovnik. All that in 8 days! I would highly recommend it. We had a great time although it was pretty crowded in July.
Totowa, NJ USA Wed 01/09/2008