Croatia and Slovenia Tips: 2009
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.
Petar Vlasic – A Wonderful Guide in Dubrovnik
We were finishing up our Best of the Adriatic trip in Dubrovnik. We wanted to see the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro and had no idea how to accomplish the trip. Another couple on the trip had contacted Petar before the trip and arranged a day trip to the Bay of Kotor. They were looking for another person or two to share the expense so we promptly accepted the offer. Petar proved to be an excellent guide. He met us promptly at 8:30 and took us for a day long tour. He was very accommodating and made sure we set the pace. He took us around the bay with stops at Our Lady of the Rocks, Perast, Kotor town and returned by ferry. He spoke perfect English and was very knowledgeable. He described much of the history of the area both past and present. We ended up with a drive to the hill overlooking Dubrovnik and a magnificent view of the city at sunset from the large cross at the top of the hill. Petar is an excellent guide and I would highly recommend him to anyone wanting a guided tour in or around Dubrovnik. He takes people many more places than the Bay of Kotor, we just wish we had more time so we could have taken another tour with him.
Woodinville, WA USA Sun 11/22/2009
In September 2009 we traveled with friends in Slovenia and Croatia on an itinerary similar to Rick's 14 day Adriatic Tour. In Slovenia at Lake Bled we stayed at recommended Tourist Farm Mulej out in the countryside. In spite of getting a family room with shared bath, which was expected, it was nice and an authentic working farm. Vintgar Gorge was a wonderful scenic walk. We chose to tour Skocjan Caves rather than Postonja because we were told it was less touristy, and it did not disappoint. The caverns were beautiful and the rushing river at the bottom is unlike other cave tours. In Istria we visited Motovun, Rovinj and Pula. The coliseum is impressive. We toured Split, Dubrovnik, Trogir and Ston. Rick does not mention Ston which has a massive wall (think Great Wall of Croatia) which is very interesting. We toured Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Park which also has beautiful waterfalls. Rick does not include Krka in his book and I think it deserves a mention. It is similar to Plitvice but it was not redundant to tour both. People everywhere were very friendly and we had no trouble communicating or getting around. Staying in sobe is definitely the way to go. We found we could have laundry done overnight in some places, charged by the kilo. In Slovenia the road toll vignette was included with our car rental. We also noted that entrance fees to several places were a few more kuna/euros than stated in the book, but it hadn't been updated yet. We used the self guided tours in the book almost everywhere we went and they are great. I am a devoted RS Guidebook fan. We highly recommend traveling here. A note about Croatian Airlines: make sure any batteries are in hand luggage and CO2 cartridges (for life jackets) are in checked bags.
Lehi, Utah USA Mon 11/16/2009
Plitvice Lakes National Park Fees
Just returned from Croatia October 2009. If you drive to the Plitvice Lakes national park they have made a few changes in the past 2 years. They charge about $25/person per day not per visit which was the old way. Unless you are with a large tour group or staying in the park which gives you multi-entry. This may be to discourage individual tourists. They also charge 7 kunas per hour to park in the parking lots at entrance 1 and 2.
Salt Lake City, Utah USA Tue 11/10/2009
Slovenia Autoroad Permit!!
When driving on the Slovenia auto road, you NEED to get a permit for either 2 week, a month or a year. Even if you are on it for 10 min or 2 hours, you need one. You can purchase at the gas stations or post office. There are no signs in English about this toll. The only clue is when you drive through a toll both, you think you are getting a free toll. My husband and I thought that, and as we were driving on the auto road for 5 miles, we got pulled over and received a hefty fine! ( 165 euros) The fine is actually more! Please be aware before you go! Rick Steves book did not indicate this info because it was enacted in 8/2008. The mountain passes in Slovenia are prettier to drive on anyway.
Baltimore, MD USA Sat 10/31/2009
My wife and I spent a delightful four days in Dubrovnik in early October (at the conclusion of an RS tour of Croatia which we really enjoyed). We stayed in "Apartment Tina" and were very pleased with the accommodations. It is a clean, comfy apartment for two persons inside the Old City. It was close to all of the attractions in Dubrovnik. Some stairs are involved, but there are routes that reduce the climb. The apartment has a bedroom and a separate kitchen, dining, sitting area. The kitchen area has a small fridge, two-burner stove top, a microwave, and a toaster. There is a TV, but we did not use it. In the "hump" season it was 60 Euros/night. For us it was ideal. By the way, Silva and her husband Matija were both delightful and very helpful. They also took us to the airport for less than taxi fare. (You can arrange to have them pick you up at the airport as well.) We would certainly recommend Apartment Tina to any couples looking for a great place to stay in Old Town Dubrovnik. We didn't see any of the other "Artemida Apartments", but judging by Apartment Tina, any of those should be good choices as well. Check them out at www.apartmentsdubrovnik-artemida.com
Olympia, WA USA Mon 10/26/2009
Dubrovnik, Croatia: I spent 5 days in Dubrovnik this past summer, thoroughly enjoyable despite the crowds of fellow tourists. The walk on the city walls is truly unmissable - best to do it when the daytrippers are gone for the day, you'll be able to linger over the gorgeous views. When entering the Old Town by the Pile gate, take the slope (not the steps) and check out the map on the wall, listing the war damage sustained by the town during the war of the 1990s. For accommodations, sobe (rooms) or apartments are a great choice since hotels are expensive, but some apartments entail a steep climb up many steps, especially in the Old Town. Apartment and sobe hosts can arrange taxi pickup, laundry, and sometimes sightseeing. I stayed in an apartment called Suzy's Lodging in a residential area 20 minutes' walk from Old Town, very professionally run by Suzy (of course) - a great hostess, helpful and full of good advice. The apartment looks exactly like the photos in Suzy's website, has a terrace with a sea view over the rooftops, and just 5 minutes' walk from the beautiful beach at Boninovo. (Rich Steves is right, it's the most lovely beach there). Suzy also rents out a room and another, larger apartment. I'd definitely recommend Suzy's Lodging to travelers. I'd also suggest to everyone to try the locally-grown fruit, absolutely wonderful. The little old ladies at the market in the city centre will let you try before you buy. Lokrum, the little island 15 minutes away by regular ferry, is definitely worth a visit - the inland salt pool is refreshing and most of the island is a nature reserve. I found it difficult to decide which other islands to visit, so am posting my boat tour experience here to help other travelers decide! I took a rather crowded boat tour of the Elaphite islands - the three islands are Kolocep, Sipan and Lopud. My host Suzy booked it for me, she even organised a free pickup from the apartment to the boat's first departure point which meant I was one of the first 20 tourists to board and we all got the coveted seats on the upper deck! The fish lunch provided on the tour was delicious (as was the wine). The boat stops at Kolocep and Sipan each for 45 minutes, very brief. At Kolocep I only had time to walk up to the quaint 13th century Church of St Mary and admire the views over the hills and towards the sea. At Sipan, I walked inland from the port and admired the lovely gardens of the locals. The boat stops for almost 2 hours at the last stop, Lopud, where I made the 1.5km uphill-and-downhill trek to the beautiful sandy beach of Sunj. It's worth the trek! After a swim, I had time to get back to the town and walk along the promenade to the Franciscan monastery, where there's a church with a beautiful carved wooden choir stall from the 15th century. It's probably better to choose one island to go to and take one of the regular ferries there. If I had more time I'd probably have visited the island of Mljet too.
Singapore , Singapore Tue 10/20/2009
Flawless travel, using Rick's guides
Thank You, Rick. We just returned from a week in Croatia and 3 days in Prague, using Rick's guides to plan the entire trip. This was our first trip, using Rick's guides and we were amazed to find all the connections, restaurants and services defined in print, exactly as we found them in real life. We rented an apartment in Dubrovnik (www.apartments-raic.com) based on a comment on Graffiti Wall. The apartment was freshly remodeled, very comfortable, and in spite of a lot of steps to climb, very conveniently located, just a couple blocks from the center of town. Ivana made several phone calls at the last minute to help us schedule rooms in Hvar and Plitvice, with the skills of a professional travel agent. Our entire trip was flawless, thanks to Rick Steves' and other travelers' recommendations.
San Carlos, CA USA Sat 10/17/2009
Sketchy Tow Operators in Kotor
We had a fine time visiting Croatia and Slovenia using Rick and Cameron's book. One not so pleasant note of warning for everyone.
I would advise folks who rent a car in Croatia to spend a day visiting Montenegro's Bay of Kotor that it's imperative to use the pay parking lots when visiting the old town of Kotor. It's also a good idea to change money to Euros before setting out for the day. There's no money conversion in Perast, and we skipped Herceg Novi as suggested in the book.
On arrival to Kotor, we used what looked like legitimate street parking near the old town because we hadn't changed money for the pay lots. Unfortunately, our rental car was towed to a nearby lot where we, and many other tourists (all in Croatian rental cars) were basically extorted 85 Euros under dubious circumstances by sketchy characters.
So, at the end of the day, it didn't ruin our trip, but folks should know about the iffy tow-operators preying on tourists outside the old town of Kotor.
Shoreline, WA USA Sun 09/20/2009
Just got back from Croatia and Slovenia and they are absolutely marvelous. Croatia I fear is in danger of losing some of what makes it so wonderful once they become part of the EU, which will inevitably happen sometime in the next few years. I LOVE the outdoor markets, where fresh, delicious local and organic foods are for sale by the Croatians who grow them. I fear that in the future the produce options will look like Spain or some of the more industrialized countries who import their food from all over the world, is grown with chemicals and tastes awful. These markets are a way to interact with the people for travelers and shows what a simple life most Croatians live. I fear things will only get more complicated with the EU. The country is beautiful and not filled with immigrants. So Croatian culture is everywhere you look.
There is so much pushing to be politically correct in Europe's growingly diverse communities that people are afraid to say that it is a GOOD things that Europe is able to remain European. A little bit of immigration in the form of temporary refugees or people on contract work can be just fine, but the mass migration that is drastically changing Europe is just not working. I took 2 trips to Europe in 2009, after not going for 5 years and I was shocked at the change I saw in some parts. I really home some day Europe wakes up and decides that their unique cultures are at risk of extinction because Europe is fast becoming a melting pot. It works in US and other countries where immigration whole idea, but CAN NOT and SHOULD NOT in the rest of the world. This is not racist, and calling it that, or frustrated Europeans that is ignorant. It would be a just as much of a loss for traditional countries all over the world if Europeans flooded their cities and even countryside's (like I am now seeing in Italy) creating a vast "melting pot."
So go to Croatia, and see the pleasures of the still mostly preserved society. Enjoy it, but do not destroy it. Travel with passion, and respect.
Los Angeles, CA USA Wed 09/02/2009
slovenia and croatia
hello! just spent some time in croatia and slovenia and it was wonderful! we (husband, 2 preteen children, and I) drove from southern bohemia and made our first stop for the night in bled. without advance reservations, bled was too packed for us to find a family room for four, but that allowed us to discover peaceful and quiet selo. what a beautiful little village. we walked into bled (about 1 km) and our stay was nicer than we'd hoped!
a quick swim in the lake in the morning and then we were off - south to plitvicka jesera (beautiful) for a few days and then further south to zadar, trogir, and split where we caught a ferry to brac. brac was amazing! quiet, away from tourists and ruins from the war (which saddened me more than i'd expected). our little town, splitska, was perfect and a great spot for getting to bol and more private swimming lagoons. we purchased wine from a mom & pop vinoteka, ate octopus on just about everything we ordered, and the people couldn't have been more friendly. we couldn't have wished for a more beautiful experience!
beautiful slovenia and croatia!
charmcity, md USA Tue 09/01/2009
Hello, My husband and I recently spent 3 weeks in Europe (mostly Slovenia). I just wanted to share what an amazing time we had in Slovenia. This was my first visit to Europe. My husband has been to Europe many times but never to Slovenia. We stayed in many places and towns and I would be happy to chat more about these if you had questions but one particular place that I wanted to mention was an apartment we stayed at in Kobarid, Slovenia. I wish we had budgeted more time to spend there. The owner, Silva and his wife were incredible. The place was clean and we thoroughly enjoyed their hospitality. If you travel to Bovec or the Soca river area, this is one place you should not miss. Here is their contact information. HEALTH STUDIO "MODRINA" KOBARID massage, sauna, jacuzzi, solarium, apartments,bar ... www.modrina.eu mobile:+38641494178 e-mail: email@example.com
Boise, ID USA Fri 08/21/2009
Travel in Ireland. Athenry, the little jewel of co. Galway. Located aprox. 26km east from Galway City. Has Norman Castle, walled city with towers, the Priory, many old houses, St. Mary's Cathedral & museum and many other interesting 17th, 18th & 19th century buildings and ruins all within walking distance of the castle. Castle fee 8 euros includes 20 min. film about the area. The rest is free!
Sebastian, FL USA Wed 07/15/2009
bus transport from Sezana, Slovenia to Trieste, Italy
To go from Sezana, Slovenia to Trieste, Italy or back, consider taking the Avrigo busline. Cost is 1 euro per person, another euro if you have a suitcase which needs to go into the "hold". Six buses each way each day, schedule at : www.avrigo.si. Ask at the Sezana Tourist Office (also at bus station) for a schedule. Once at Sezana, you can take a taxi to the Lipizanner farm at Lipica. This way is a lot cheaper than taking a cab from Trieste to Lipica.
Federal Way, WA USA Tue 07/14/2009
Excellent Tour for Split
Based on prior posts, we contacted Nick Simati (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a tour of Split in June. Our extended family included small children and my elderly father, and we had limited time due to the short time our cruise ship was in port. Nick made excellent use of the time, making the history of Diocletian's palace come alive for the children, but also helping me understand the political rubric of the Adriatic Coast. After our tour, he took us to a great restaurant in Split which is evidently 'Bill Gate's favorite place to dine while in Split' and it was very good. Split is very clean, people are very friendly, most speak English well. We would love to go back to Croatia to spend more time than just the day allowed and would highly recommend Nick as a fantastic tour guide.
College Station, Texas USA Thu 07/09/2009
How to get from Trieste, Italy to Lipica to see the Lipizzaner stud farm? I now know how, as I did it in June 2009. You can take the bus from the Trieste Central Bus Station to Sezana, Lipica for one euro. Then the taxi from Sezana to Lipica for about seven euros. To take the taxi from Trieste to Lipica can cost 30 to 100 euros depending on how much a Trieste taxi driver feels you are "stuck" there. The bus is the economical way to go.
The Tourist information people in Trieste airport were not helpful about this as they did not seem interested in our transport to Slovenia as it was not Italy. However, an Englishwoman whom we met had gotten the info from the Sezana, Slovenia T.I. which was very helpful and told her about the cheap bus.
It was a pleasant bus and I would do it again.
Please include this info in your books for people who wish to do a day trip from Trieste (a very lovely city which I will return to) to Lipica and who do not want to start from Llubjana, but are in Italy.
On the other hand, we very very disappointed to see the (June 2009)scaffolding and advertisements on the Doge's palace, Bridge of Sighs and new Uffici in Venice-I will never return there.
Federal Way, WA USA Mon 07/06/2009
Hvar - Croatia
My wife and I just returned from a 10 day trip to Croatia. On the island of Hvar we hired Siniša (or Simon if you prefer)as our guide. He is simply the finest tour guide that we have ever used. He is thoroughly knowledgeable and is very informative both of history and culture. Never in a hurry, Siniša goes that extra mile to make your tour a once in a lifetime event while always leaving plenty of time for taking wonderful photos. I would recommend that everyone visiting Hvar contact Siniša and Secret Hvar (email@example.com) for a tour of a lifetime. You won't regret it.
Joe & Elaine, Pittsburgh PA
Joe & Elaine
Pittsburgh, PA USA Fri 07/03/2009
Dubrovnik and Brela
We just returned from a 10 day trip to Croatia. We spent 4 nights in Dubrovnik at this apartment (sobe). www.apartments-raic.com It was wonderful: central location, clean, comfortable! Ivana, the hostess, is AMAZING! She helped us book a motoscooter for an afternoon, a car for the day to drive to Montenegro and finally a car to drive to (and leave in) Split so we could take the ferry to Hvar. Ivana went above and beyond - making several phone calls to arrange these services at the last minute. She also helped us figure out the ferry schedules (which was different that what was posted on the Jadrolinja website)
We would also recommend the beach town of Brela for a vacation from your vacation. Beautiful pebbly beaches with GREAT food! Villa Silvia is inexpensive, clean and right on the beach. We highly recommend it!
Dubrovnik, MA USA Fri 06/19/2009
Best Guide in Croatia!
Just got back from an incredible 12-day group trip to Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro. As you can imagine, get to these places before they are discovered by American tourists. To get the most out of these countries, our Croatian tour guide, Toni Juric (firstname.lastname@example.org; 1+385 989 934 093), was just incredible in making the journey seamless and memorable. His English is excellent and his knowledge is surprisingly comprehensive. He personally greeted us at the airport in Zagreb and saw us off 11 days later in Ljubijana. He was with us every step of the way and it was like having your own personal friend look out for you and giving you suggestions at every city to enhance your visit. I would not hesitate in using him again on a trip to Croatia.
Austin, TX USA Wed 05/27/2009
Grand Hotel Dramalj, a discovered gem!
My group was originally booked for two nights at the 4-star Grand Hotel Adriatica in nearby busy Opatija, Croatia, but a mix-up by the Hotel Adriatica occurred whereby my group had to find last-minute alternative lodging at the 4-star Hotel Dramalj (www.grand-hotel.hr) in the quaint small town of Dramalj on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, just 15 miles from Opatija. The error certainly worked in our favor as this hotel is just 3 years old (but the two converted villas are 500 years old). According to the owner's daughter who manages the place and was responsible for its renovation, her father bought the villas 5 years ago after they sat vacant for 10 years. The villas sit about 150 feet from the shore of he Adriatic and there's a staircase that leads down to a private beach. The spotless rooms are large -- especially by European standards -- and are nicely appointed. The restaurant area is open air in the summer and you can see the sea in the distance. The food is great as well and includes a full American style hot breakfast. Dinner is also great and offers many selections on the buffet including Croatian favorites and western dishes. An interesting fact is that there are two Cedar trees next to the villas that the prior owner from 100 years ago had imported from Africa. There's a nice pool, sauna, massage room, patio between the villas, a patio area off each room, and a view from every room. The best thing about this place is its price for a 4-star hotel -- it makes Croatia sound cheaper than many 4-star hotels in other European countries. To top it off, the hotel staff waved goodbye and blew kisses to our group as well drove off. I will definitely stay there again.
Austin, TX USA Wed 05/27/2009
places to stay - split
writing this from my room in sobe base in split, croatia. Its an amazing hotel and I wanted to thank Rick for recommending it! Everyone should stay a night in Split (when you are passing through) and try to stay at this hotel!! The shower has a rain shower head and side jets - its really great
seatlle, wa USA Fri 05/22/2009
Croatia is beautiful and Dubrovnik is truly a gem but there are certain caveats.
First, hotels are quite expensive, even more expensive than places in Italy and there is a lack of budget accommodations even though the higher priced hotels do look like budget accommodations.
Be prepared to travel by bus for long periods of time. Seven hours from Venice to Pula. All day from Pula to Split (I actually took two days, stopping in Zadar overnight) and six hours from Split to Dubrovnik. I flew back from Dubrovnik not wanting to deal with another all day bus ride.
You can get ripped off easily. The Placa Kodak Express Photo Shop in Dubrovnik charged me $80 to transfer two 4gb photo cards to DVD (it was $20 in Paris) and they were very coy about their pricing structure so it is confusing. They are simply crooks.
The Roman amphitheatre in Pula is not as large as the Colosseum in Rome but much better preserved; it is well worth the trip to Pula.
Split is a wonderful town, charming, with marble streets and lots of sights. Solano is a city bus ride away but well worth the trip, another Roman sight (is there anywhere they didn't go). Split is a transportation hub and you can split (sorry) for Italy and other points in Croatia by boat.
Dubrovnik is awesome. Absolutely charming town, surrounded by huge walls which you can walk completely around (do it, it is worth it). I spent three days there just chilling out as the weather was incredible and the scenery magnificient.
I flew to Zagreb and spent and afternoon and evening there before an overnight bus ride to Vienna. Coming in from the airport, it looks like another former communist city with ugly block buildings but once you get to the center of the city, you will find magnificent architecture.
If you leave your luggage at the guardaroba at the bus station, prepare to have it reek of cigarette smoke when you get it back.
Croatia needs to do a better job providing budget accommodations. Their tourist industry seems more interested in extracting as much money from people as possible (making up for lost time). They know they have something incredible there and they are just trying to get the most out of it.
New York, NY USA Thu 05/21/2009
Too bad this one wasn't in the current book but Cameron's update http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/east/east2.htm is right on. If you get a room in the annex across the drive you'll miss the noise. The double bed is a bit small, but the location cannot be beat! Just 1/2 block from the Triple Bridge and Congress Square just off the river. Just make a left at Prešeren's girlfriend and look for the sign, then enter the courtyard.
Pacific Palisades, CA USA Mon 05/04/2009
Pepo Klaic - tour guide for Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro
After reading Christine Bradley´s comments we booked with Pepo as were calling into Kotor on Azamara Journey and 4 of us wanted to visit Dubrodnik so we contacted Pepo (email@example.com; mob 098 427 301) prior to departure. Although anxious whether we would be met as promised (in view of someone elses reported experience) we were met on the jetty by his friend Miro (firstname.lastname@example.org mob +383 067 516 626) who is also a Montenegro guide. He took us to the border where we were met by Pepo and had a very interesting tour. On completion we returned to the border, changing cars to return to the ship. Both guides were excellent and reliable, the cost reasonable, and we have no hesitation in recommending them to others.
Bowness-on-Windermere, UK Sun 05/03/2009
Lake Bled is relaxed and beautiful with great hikes and great weather right now. The castle now costs 7 euro and the boat to the island costs 12 euro. There is a free wi-fi spot that is fast and reliable at Bar Pyramida in old town by the lake. Safe travels!
San Diego, CA USA Fri 04/10/2009
Eastern Europe Trip-Balkans
Visited BiH, Croatia, Montenegro: Watch your luggage on the bus, in Zagreb a lady tried to lie to the driver and say my bag was hers, I grabbed it from her, no confrontation.
BiH Sarajevo: My favorite place in the Balkans, lots of cool mosques, souveniors to buy, great people, politely aggresive souvenior sellers with really unique things to sell, I bought a lot here. Mostar: Went through Mostar, looks really great as well. BiH-well worth the trip, Bureks are awesome.. I ate mainly Bosnian food in Croatia too.
Croatia: Dubrovnik: Beautiful, food is good, kind of like watered down Italian food. Worth one full day, city gates really pretty, shopping kind of pricey but some nice jewelry. Coast is amazing and pretty. Split: Has a few nice museums and cool palace, can be seen in 2 or 3 hours to be honest. Bus ride from Dubrovnik is very long and boring, worth it if you are really interested in Roman Ruins Zagreb/Slavonia-Honestly, not much to see, kind of boring, I would say can be seen in a hour, not worth the hassle, but if you are in the area its okay.
Side-Trip: Kotor, worth it if you have time, not that much to really see, I only spent an hour here, I recommend a few hours to climb the ruins and another hour or so for shopping around the old part of town, not much to buy though the bus ride there is amazing, kind of rough.
USA Mon 03/02/2009
Fantastic tour guide for Split, Croatia
My wife and I had a fantastic tour guide for our one afternoon in Split. We spent several fascinating hours walking through the ruins of Diocletian's Palace and the surrounding area. Nick Siminiati gave us a wonderful tour demonstrating a great depth of knowledge of history and politics. Not only did he go overtime, but he was such an interesting person that we spent an extra hour sitting in a cafe with Nick listening to his life experiences as a news journalist and film maker. His contact email is email@example.com.
Alameda, CA USA Sun 01/04/2009