Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina & Montenegro Itinerary

Old Town Fort, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik, in Croatia's far south, should be tops on any traveler's itinerary.
By Rick Steves and Cameron Hewitt

So much to see, so little time. How to choose? To help you get started, we've listed our top picks for where to go in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro, as well as our plan for your best two-week trip.

Depending on the length of your trip, and taking geographic proximity into account, here are our recommended priorities.

  • 3 days: Dubrovnik
  • 5 days, add: Mostar, Split
  • 7 days, add: Korčula or Hvar (for a relaxing island experience); Montenegro's Bay of Kotor (for dramatic scenery); or Sarajevo (for a more in-depth look at Bosnia)
  • 8 days, add: Plitvice Lakes
  • 10 days, add: Lake Bled and the Julian Alps
  • 12 days, add: Ljubljana, more time for Dalmatian islands
  • 14 days, add: Istria
  • 16 days, add: Whatever you skipped on day 7 (Korčula/Hvar, Montenegro, or Sarajevo)
  • 18 days, add: The Karst, Zagreb
  • 21 days, add: More mountains (Logarska Dolina) or coastal villages (Piran, Mljet)
  • More time, add: Ptuj, Opatija, and even more islands and coastal villages

As you plan your trip, don't underestimate the long distances. If you have a week or less, focus on either the south (Dalmatian Coast — Dubrovnik, Split, and the islands — plus Mostar and Montenegro) or the north (Slovenia, Istria, and Zagreb). The worth-a-detour Plitvice Lakes are midway between these two areas, but reachable from either one (easiest by car). Sarajevo also requires a detour, but affordable flight connections with Zagreb make this more convenient than it seems.

Rick’s Best Two-Week Croatia/Slovenia Trip (by Car)

Day 1:  Arrive at Ljubljana's airport, take shuttle bus to Lake Bled (sleep in Lake Bled)

Day 2:  Relax at Lake Bled (sleep in Lake Bled)

Day 3:  Pick up car, drive through Julian Alps, end in Ljubljana (sleep in Ljubljana)

Day 4:  Ljubljana (sleep in Ljubljana)

Day 5:  Drive through the Karst and Piran to Rovinj (sleep in Rovinj)

Day 6:  Rovinj with possible side trip to Opatija (sleep in Rovinj)

Day 7:  Drive to Plitvice Lakes via Istria's hill towns and Opatija (sleep in Plitvice)

Day 8:  Hike the lakes, then drive to Split and drop off car (sleep in Split)

Day 9:  Split (sleep in Split)

Day 10:  To Hvar or Korčula by boat (sleep in Hvar/Korčula)

Day 11:  Relax on Hvar or Korčula (sleep in Hvar/Korčula)

Day 12:  To Dubrovnik by boat (sleep in Dubrovnik)

Day 13:  Dubrovnik (sleep in Dubrovnik)

Day 14:  Rent a car or hire a driver to day-trip to Mostar or to Montenegro's Bay of Kotor (sleep in Dubrovnik)

Car rental tip: To save the substantial extra cost of picking up your car in one country and dropping it off in another, consider returning your car in Slovenia and taking public transportation to Croatia, where you can pick up a different rental car for your time there. For example, ride the bus from Ljubljana to Rovinj, then pick up a car in nearby Pula or Poreč; or take the train from Ljubljana to Zagreb or Rijeka, then pick up a car in one of those cities.

By Public Transportation

This itinerary can be done by public transportation, with modifications. Skip (or hire a driver for) the Julian Alps, and take the bus from Lake Bled to Ljubljana. Skip Istria; instead, take the train from Ljubljana to Zagreb, see that city, then take a bus to Plitvice. The bus connects Plitvice to Split, and from there, you can continue down the Dalmatian Coast by boat or bus.

Even if you're mostly using public transportation, choose one or two places to rent a car or hire a driver for the day; this works best for the Julian Alps, Istria, Mostar, Montenegro's Bay of Kotor, and the Pelješac wine country near Dubrovnik.

Cameron Hewitt is co-author of the Rick Steves Croatia & Slovenia guidebook.