In April of 2016 we set out to visit two beautiful and extraordinarily different countries, Croatia and Slovenia. Croatia is a country that borders the Adriatic Sea and offers a very mild temperature throughout the year. Slovenia is a small country that boasts its own natural wonders. This trip was a whirlwind and was full of adventure, laughs and stress. We drove from Vilseck to Zadar, Split, and Bled.
The Good: We saw the beach and the Alps all within a few hours!
The Bad: Getting lost in the countryside of Croatia and driving two hours in the wrong direction.
The Reality: Trying to see two countries within four days is very doable as long as you triple check your GPS.
Zadar, Croatia is about ten hours from our town in Germany so we had to leave really early in the morning. To save money for this trip I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of a whole loaf of bread and packed a lot of snack that we could eat throughout the trip instead of buying meals. We didn’t stop to eat at all on the way there, we only stopped for gas. Make sure you get gas in Slovenia before you get into Croatia because it can be expensive there. On this trip I accidentally typed in Zagrab instead of Zadar into our GPS so we ended up driving two extra hours, but we eventually made in Zadar two hours later than planned. Thankfully we still had enough daylight to explore the city.
Once in Zadar we met our airbnb hosts and saw our room. After our first airbnb fiasco in Munich we decided to try it again and we loved it! This place was better than the pictures and we had a wonderful experience. The only downside was that it’s in a working class area next to an early morning market so there is no chance to sleep in. We spent the afternoon wandering around Zadar and exploring the beautiful parks.
The whole reason we came to Zadar was to see the Sea Organ. It’s an architectural wonder! The waves of the sea push air out through this man made structure to create haunting, yet delicate sounds. The best time to hear it is during the evening when the tide has come in. The sounds really start to pick up. There’s also the Greeting to the Sun, which is better to visit at night because it’s had all day to soak up the power of the sun.
Split on Saturday was something else! This city is really small and you can see everything within an hour. The drive was also super easy and the highway lead right into the city. We got a late start and left an hour later than we wanted, but we were exhausted from the long drive from the day before. Split is about two hours from Zadar. We parked in a parking garage and the parking garage is a good walk from the sites but it was free to park on the day we went so we didn’t mind at all.
The walk from the mall was down hill and easy. It was literally a straight shot to Diocletian’s Palace. Everything you need to see is in this little area. There’s a outdoor market, restaurants, and shopping. We were able to see all the sights within about two hours.
Out next stop on Saturday, Krka National Park was breathtaking and I didn’t want to leave. There’s a bus at the entrance that’ll take you to the famous waterfalls but we took the treacherous hike down. Take the bus! Once you get down the hill go to the left and follow the walking path OR go straight to the falls. We walked and did not regret it at all. We walked along the wooden path and saw nature at its finest. Once at the falls there’s a restaurant and a stand to buy souvenirs. In the summer months you can swim but it was spring when we came and still very cold water so swimming was not permitted.
Sunday was a really busy day. Plitvice Lakes National Park was our first stop that day. Get there early because when we left the parking lot was full. If you can manage to leave Zader earlier than we did it makes your trip even better. Once at Plitvice Lakes National Park go to the information booth first and have them help you set up a plan depending on how much time you have. We told them three hours but we were having so much fun that we were there for five hours!
We had planned on being at Lake Bled 2 PM for check-in but stayed way past that time. So we didn’t get to Lake Bled until 7 that evening. We also got lost for about an hour and had to back track. We were so lost that our GPS couldn’t find us. Just follow the main road and it turns into the highway.
Glamping!! Is like camping but way better. We stayed at Garden Village and we absolutely fell in love. I wish we had more time there. This place is a dream.
We had a nice clean tent all set up and a personal hot tub that we enjoyed after our dinner. That evening we ate at the gourmet restaurant on site and it was a really healthy and filling meal.
Sunday we woke up early and had breakfast, which is included in the price. After breakfast we lounged around until check out and then rented two bikes for a morning ride around the lake. We left right after our bike ride for our five hour drive home. You could also spend some time in the city but we opted to head home instead.
Time Frame (tentative):
Friday in Zadar
4 AM – Leave for Zadar
2 PM – Arrive at hotel/airbnb rental
2:30 PM – Follow walking tour (link below) to see all of the sites
5 PM – Find a place for dinner
6 PM or 7 PM – go to the Sea Organ
Saturday in Split
8 AM – Leave for Split
10 AM – Park at Joker Shopping Mall
10:30 AM – Walk from mall to Diocletian’s Palace
12:30 PM – Leave for Krka National Park, we were there for about three hours
4 PM – head back to Zadar and spend the evening leisurely walking the coast line
Sunday at Plitvice Lakes National Park and Bled, Slovenia
7 AM – Leave for Plitvice Lakes National Park
9 AM – Arrival at Plitvice Lakes National Park and beginning of hiking adventure
2 PM – Leave for Bled
5:30 PM – arrival at Lake Bled and check in
Monday in Bled
10 AM – Check out but we still rented a bike and rode around Lake Bled for two hours
12 PM – head on home
Cost of Trip (This is just an estimate!! Use more of as a guide, each family will be different depending on need)
Gas and Tolls: $350
Rental Car: $370
Spending Money: $100
Hotel Rooms: $300
Vignettes for Slovenia and Austria: $27
If you drive your own car or find a better rental deal this will be cheaper for you!
Zadar Walking Tour Link: http://jetsettingfools.com/zadar-a-self-guided-walking-tour/
Krka National Park Website: http://www.np-krka.hr/en/
Plitvice Lakes National Park Website: http://www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/
Garden Village Website: http://gardenvillagebled.com/en/accommodation/glamping_tents