East Europe Tour Plan for Slovenia and Croatia

By now you probably are aware that we as a family have this penchant for taking family vacations !! And in those little two-week holidays we try and work out the details beforehand as much as we can.  I do not favour travelling with guided tours or tour-packages and always love the independene that a unfettered tourist enjoys. This year,  my plan for my family vacation, was to go to Europe. I selected Slovenia and Croatia, for its landscape and nature. Check out my East Europe Tour Plan for Slovenia and Croatia. Though the plan wasn’t the same when it started, over time we built a different plan and we worked out the cost and the tour dates . This is a budget travel plan for Slovenia and Croatia. Slovenia, if you compare it to the likes of Paris or Amsterdam or London, is  much cheaper and fitedt both our budgets and our tastes wonderfully. It has to be our type of travel, the things we like and the locations we would enjoy. As you know Europe consists of around 30 countries of which Russia is the largest and probably Vatican city and Lichtenstein being the smallest.Our target this time was to again do a quick 2-week tour, and see which route fits us and its destinations attracts us too. Here was our initial plan. We were supposed to fly into Germany, then drive through Switzerland, Lichtenstein Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic and then back into Germany.

As always I plan up an itinerary first, scanning Google maps, and checking distances, and identifying the cities where we can spend the night if we string the locations as a big road trip. I also note down the distances between cities, later adding a 25% detour to arrive at the total driving distance. Now once you have identified the car, and taken an average calculation of the kilometers/miles per liter and then multiplied by the average cost of gas, you can estimate the fuel cost.
Here is our first plan

Destinations Distance Kms Time Interests
Munich, Germany 0 0 City
Zurich, Switzerland 312 3.20 hrs City
Bern, Switzerland 125 1.30 hrs Nature
Lausanne, Switzerland 112 1.20 hrs Nature
Lucern, Switzerland 220 2.20 Hrs Nature
Salzburg, Austria 454 4.45 hrs City
Vienna, Austria 296 3.20 hrs City
Budapest, Hungary 245 2.30 hrs City
Bratislava Region, Slovakia 235 2.40 hrs Nature
Prague, Czech Republic 525 3.10 hrs City
Bavaria, Germany 356 3.3 hrs Nature
Munich, Germany 85 1 hr City
Distance and Fuel Cost 2806 415 Euros  

But you will find two huge drawbacks  drawback in this family holiday plan. Firstly , it included a looootttt of driving. Too much if you ask me. The route covers 2800 plus kilometers in so short a time. Plus this tour chart does not include the local sightseeing which , as per my experience say usually adds up to 25% . So that another 700 kms. Pretty large distance to cover when you are visiting new places and cities. .

Secondly I am not a student of history and thus my interests in castles, museums and palatial architecture makes for a very medium intensity. Thirdly I am also not an avid opera enthusiast neithera classical concert lover to make me decide in favour of locations or cities which are famous for them, example Prague or Vienna. I would probably love to view and tread the corridors of the museum from the first city that I come up to, but as I keep visitng more cities with more museums and more churches, my interest will wane, I am sure. I am not concerned if Jacob the 16th fought Henry the 9th and won over the queen Lillie the 11th. IIt doesnt hold so much importance to Joe the peasant here. Now, I happen to live in one of the most dazzling cities of the world : Dubai. This travel and road trip itinerary included destinations which are mostly cities. I would rather be with nature rather than visit cities with skyscrapers and palatial hotels or buildings. Nope, this plan didn’t work for me.

So the question is what would me and my family love most  out of a two week tour ?? Now, my family consists of myself, Anita and our just-been-teen daughter. I needed to plan a schedule which would be rewarding for all of us. Again I had a budget to consider. And the bugger cities are usually more costly, especially Switzerland which is the costliest. Thus the plan went for changes , quite a few times and this is what it ultimately shaped up to.

Location Distance Time Attractions
Venice 0   City
Venice 0   City/ Nature
Ljubljana 240 2.25 Hrs City
Ljubljana 0   Nature
Kransjka Gora 85 1.10 Hr Nature
Kransjka Gora 0   Nature
Lake Bled 65   Nature
Lake Bled 0 1 hr Nature
Lake Bled 0   Nature
Plitvice Lake 325 3.25 hrs Nature
Plitvice Lake 9   Nature
Piran 370 3.20 Hrs City
Venice 200 2 .0 hrs City

So you see, how i started with one set of countries in central Europe and then moved towards East Europe to chalk out a totally different route plan ? This one suited me and my family travel plans.

As you can see, the final tour plan for the Family holiday switched over to a complete new set of places. It included Venice (Italy), Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Piran and Kransjka Gora from Slovenia , and Plitvice National Park in Croatia. The tour started and ended at Venice ( I later went ahead and booked a return ticket from Dubai to Marco Polo Airport, Venice) and included the rest as a form of road trip.

Europe Tour MapThis tour was basically of Slovenia. One of the little known gems of Europe, Slovenia is nature’s delight. The capital Ljubljana . not falling in the likes of cities like France or Lucerne, is cheaper but well connected to other parts of Europe.

As I was applying my finishing touches to the basic plan for Slovenia  I was told about this place in Croatia. It is an UN Heritage park, and some pictures which I checked out in the internet, bowled me over. A quick check-up on the driving distance , I found it is doable. So our plan was to drive to Plitvice National Park in Croatia, about 325 Kms from Lake Bled and then move back into Slovenia , to a seaside town called Piran. All looked good, and the logistics and plan slowly was forming out. Now I decided to work out on the places where I needed to stay and the number of days. Ths depends on the local sightseeing plan and again I quickly checked them out.

It worked for me and slowly the tour was forming shape. Plan was to fly into Venice, move to Ljubljana, travel to Kransjka Gora and Lake Bled, and then into Croatia and again return back to Piran (Slovenia). The fly back plan is from Venice.

RentalCars Car Option
RentalCars Car Option

Another family joined us and we needed to adjust our plan a bit. The car which we had booked initially from Venice would not accomodate all six of us. We needed a bigger car. Initially we had booked out a car from Venice, but then found out that the larger automobile class were not allowed to travel into Slovenia / Croatia from venice. So we tweaked the plan. We needed to find a car transfer service. A quick search and a question to the forum at virtual tourist lead me to Go-Opti .

We booked our trip from Venice to Ljubljana and our return from Piran (Slovenia) to Venice through Go-Opti. The experience was great. More about it here. For the rest of the tour I booked an Opel Zafira ( 7 seater) which we picked up from Ljubljana and dropped off at Piran ( next to Portoroz)

The rest of the trip now became easy to plan.