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Stay put in Split, or add overnights elsewhere?

Florida, USA
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Stay put in Split, or add overnights elsewhere?

My husband and I plan to spend a week in Croatia with our 13yo son in late June. We will be spending a day in Zurich on the way in and an overnight in Vienna on the way out, so I don't want to cram in too many places while we're in Croatia. I'm leaning toward staying in Split and day tripping from there to a few islands, Krka, Plitvice, Trogir, maybe a canyoning, kayaking or rafting excursion. We are from Florida so we don't really care about the beach. I'm wondering:

1) Is it a crime to miss Dubrovnik? I loathe the thought of being packed in with a bunch of cruise ship passengers, which makes me think it might be better to skip it, but we could work in an overnight or day excursion if it's truly unmissable. I think we'd like walking the walls, I'm just not sure it's worth the long trip.

2) Should we spend a night at Plitvice? I'm considering doing this with Split Excursions as a day trip or possibly renting a car, although I am a little nervous about driving where we can't read the signs.

3) Any other red flags?

Suggestions much appreciated.

Brighton and Hove...
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for Trogir, Ciovo Island
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1. Re: Stay put in Split, or add overnights elsewhere?

Some would say it's a crime to miss Dubrovnik and others would say it's a crime to miss Istria - I think you are being realistic in your use of time. However, if you're unlikely to be back in Croatia then it starts getting very difficult (it's only 2 hours from London for me). Do you fly or train into Split as your starting point for Croatia?

I'm not sure why you can't read road signs - if the sign says Split on I'm pretty sure it will be going there for example! and for Americans you are at least driving on the right side of the road.

The Port of Dubrovnik has a website that lists the number of cruise ships due in Dubrovnik on any given day - this is for June: http://www.portdubrovnik.hr/girica1.php - each day is given a Red/Amber/Green rating - aim for a green day when fewest cruise ships dock - 24, 25, 26 and 30 June look OK for example.

Zagreb, Croatia
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2. Re: Stay put in Split, or add overnights elsewhere?

First of all, it's very easy to drive in Croatia and, if possible, take a car for at least a part of your trip. IMO, you might wish to go to Zadar area, as it's close to many other places and it could give a good overview of a number of things, e.g. ancient Roman site (Zadar), nature (Plitvice Lakes on the way to Zadar, only 1.5 hrs by car from Zadar; Paklenica NP, Kornati Islands NP), and for excursions: Pag island (connected with land via bridge), Sibenik and nearby River Krka NP, Trogir and Split,... You might want to stay in some of smaller places to the south of Zadar (e.g. Biograd), for they are equally well connected with highway but yet offer a lot more of peace and quite.

And it's not a crime to miss Dubrovnik.

Another option is to go to Istria, which is equally at 3 hours from Zagreb, the capital, where you can also see some ancient Roman history (amphitheatre in Pula!) plus lovely mediaeval towns along the coast (e.g. Rovinj, Porec and its Byzantine basilica...) and inlands (Groznjan, Motovun, Oprtalj - all with magnificent views).

Florida, USA
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3. Re: Stay put in Split, or add overnights elsewhere?

Thanks very much to both of you for your insights! Jude, we will fly into/out of Split. As for driving, it's not the town names as much as the instructions that concern me, i.e., bridge out, one way, etc. However, I could learn some driving vocabulary along with the basics when I prepare for the trip.

Sofia, Bulgaria
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4. Re: Stay put in Split, or add overnights elsewhere?

"...And it's not a crime to miss Dubrovnik..." "..you might wish to go to Zadar area,..."

dude, are you f-r-i-g-g-i-n-g kidding me with this??? dubrovnik is e-a-s-i-l-y one of the top 10 most beautiful cities in the w-o-r-l-d and zadar is not even n-e-a-r the top 500

Virginia
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5. Re: Stay put in Split, or add overnights elsewhere?

Roadsides are pretty standard for the most part wherever you go. We did not have any problem driving in Croatia last September. It was much easier driving in Croatia than in many other European countries!

Dubrovnik is lovely if you can plan your itinerary around cruise ship schedule as mentioned before. It certainly deserves more than a day of your time, otherwise you will only see as much as a cruise ship passenger would.

One week in Croatia is quite short so pick what appeals to you the most. I think the only crime when traveling is trying to see too many places in too little time. I know that Croatia is not around the corner for us who come from the US, but then it is even more important to make your trip memorable discovering Croatia and not spending time on the road.

Virginia
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6. Re: Stay put in Split, or add overnights elsewhere?

If you fill the week with things you like and don't try to overdo it, I don't think you will have any regrets. I agree with #2 that you may wish to consider staying near Zadar for half the week for easy visits to Krka and Plitvice, and near Split/Trogir the other half for island visits, maybe rafting at Omis, plus sightseeing. I just don't really like long day trips. The coast is very dramatic, rocky with green water and evergreen trees rising above.

UK
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for Istria, Rovinj, Pula
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7. Re: Stay put in Split, or add overnights elsewhere?

Travelmom: No, it's not a crime to miss Dubrovnik if the thought of seeing tiny Dubrovnik (which as it happens is wonderful) competing with thousands (and I mean thousands) of cruise ship tourists for cafes or the walls or wandering the Stradun puts you off then go with your instincts. If you really do want to see (however briefly) Dubrovnik make sure your get out early in the morning to walk the walls before 10 a.m. and don't return until early evening. Many Dubrovnik lovers refuse to return until something is done about restricting the thousands of cruise ships that are allowed in on any one day to be be cut. It's become impossible. Ignore the post above from someone who, as a first timer doesn't know the score and her language offensive..

Ely, Minnesota
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for Dubrovnik
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8. Re: Stay put in Split, or add overnights elsewhere?

It sure would be nice if the cruisers were limited in Dubrovnik because its a shame that people are not going there because of it...to me its a definite must every time we to to Croatia...to me there is just a magic about the place but it has become overrun by cruisers....that is not stopping me from going there again this summer though.....but so many other nice places!

UK
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for Istria, Rovinj, Pula
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9. Re: Stay put in Split, or add overnights elsewhere?

barry, So glad to hear you will be back in your wonderful Dubrovnik this year. You're right it IS magic. Such a shame about the cruise ships and sad that it doesn't do anything for the local economy. We're crossing fingers that the cruise ships aren't going to venture North - there are rumours! Hope you'll do a report on your visit.

Perth, Australia
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10. Re: Stay put in Split, or add overnights elsewhere?

I first visited Dubrovnik in 1983 and fell in love. Each time I have been back that love has slowly dwindled. I am one of the Dubrovnik lovers that won't go back for a long time. Last time I was there was in September 2012 and I loved the nights when all the cruisers had gone and the magic returned. During the day it was horrendous.

I completely agree with you Barry, the cruisers should be limited but not only in Dubrovnik. It sounds like Venice is just as bad.

>>Travelmom: No, it's not a crime to miss Dubrovnik if the thought of seeing tiny Dubrovnik (which as it happens is wonderful) competing with thousands (and I mean thousands) of cruise ship tourists for cafes or the walls or wandering the Stradun puts you off then go with your instincts.<< Good advice Danny!