Croatia and Slovenia Itinerary: 9 Days of Epic Hikes, Food, and Wine

by | Last updated Aug 18, 2023 | Croatia, Europe Itinerary, Slovenia

During our travels, I have found myself gravitating toward certain destinations such as New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, and Chile. What is the commonality between these destinations? Amazing nature experiences + an amazing foodie scene. Croatia and Slovenia can now be added to that list. In this ultimate Croatia & Slovenia itinerary, I will share how we independently explored these two beautiful countries. This 9-day trip throughout Croatia and Slovenia is filled with epic day hikes, sprinkled with a few historic sights and museums, and of course, our local foodie experiences. I hope this itinerary is useful as you plan out your next adventure to these gorgeous countries.

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Bedroom at Hotel Capital in Zagreb
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DAY 1: TRAVEL TO ZAGREB

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With a layover in London, we flew from the United States into Zagreb at 11:15 pm. By the time we got to the hotel, unpacked, and got settled in, it was 1 am. 

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Uber is available in Zagreb! We took an Uber to our hotel, which was fast, easy, and cheap.

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Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner: Today was a travel day, so all meals were consumed at the airport or on the plane.

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Overnight: Hotel Capital. Gorgeous, elegant hotel located in the heart of Zagreb.
Lower Lakes at Plitvice Lakes National Park
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DAY 2: DAY TRIP TO PLITVICE LAKES

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6:45 am: Bus ride from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Yes, it’s early, but you can sleep on the bus! It will be worth it.

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9 am – 2 pm: With 16 terraced lakes, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls, immerse yourself in one of the most gorgeous parks in the world. Check out my planning guide on Plitvice Lakes National Park.

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8 pm: Pre-dinner cocktails at Esplanade 1925 Lounge & Cocktail Bar.

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Breakfast: Grab a quick bite at the train station.

Lunch: Pack some protein bars to eat at the park.

Dinner: 8:30 pm reservation at Noel, Zagreb’s only Michelin-starred restaurant that focuses on Croatian dishes with a modern twist.

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Overnight: Hotel Capital 

Panoramic Viewpoint of Zagreb Cathedral
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DAY 3: EXPLORE ZAGREB

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12:15 pm: After sleeping in, check out Dolac Market for the cornbread. Then stop by Burek to taste the famous street food, burek.

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1 pm: Grab a coffee at one of the world’s best coffee shops, Eliscaffe 

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1:45 pm: Walk through the Gric tunnel and visit St. Mark’s Church and Museum of Broken Relationships. 

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3:15 pm: Walk along Strossmayer Promenade, check out the Croatian Inventor Murals, and find the viewpoint for the Zagreb Cathedral.

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5:15 pm: Split a strukli at La Struk. Read top things to do in Zagreb and pre-dinner drinks at La Bodega Wine Bar.

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Breakfast/Lunch: Burek and La Struk. Dinner: 9 pm at Stari Fijaker.

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Overnight: Hotel Capital 

Slovenian wine country
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DAY 4: TRAIN TO SLOVENIA WINE COUNTRY

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7 am: Very comfortable train ride from Zagreb to Ljubljana. Arrive at 9:16 am. Pick up the car rental from Atet, great local company!

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11:30 am: Check out Predjama Castle, the world’s largest cave castle. Continue to Gostilna Theodosius for a delicious lunch at 12:30 pm.

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3:30 pm: Explore the unique wine varietals of Vipava Valley at Guerila Wines. Find out more by reading our Slovenia wine country getaway.

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Breakfast: Protein bars to carry you over for the train ride.

Lunch: Gostilna Theodosius.

Dinner: Just snacks for dinner due to the late heavy lunch.

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Overnight: Garni Hotel Dvor in Goriska Brda, one of Slovenia’s premier wine regions. Adorable B&B run by 2 sisters.

Edi Simcic Modern Wine Tasting Room
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DAY 5: VIPAVA VALLEY + GORISKA BRDA

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All-day wine tour with Jani from Winestronaut to visit Vipava Valley and Goriska Brda, two of Slovenia’s top wine regions!

10 am: Pick up time

11 am: Burja Estate (our favorite experience!)

1:30 pm: Tilia Estate, House of Pinots

4:30 pm: Edi Simcic

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Breakfast: Wonderful breakfast at your B&B (included in the rate).

Dinner: 8 pm reservation at Belica. They serve some delicious local dishes. Check out my article on top Slovenian foods.

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Overnight: Garni Hotel Dvor 

Kozjak waterfall in a cave like setting
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DAY 6: HIKE #1 + HIKE #2 + HISA FRANKO

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10:45 am: Hike #1! After breakfast at the B&B, drive to the trailhead of the hike known as Drugmbernca. It starts and ends at Dobrovo Castle and takes you through vineyards and the rolling countryside. The hike is 5.9 miles and takes 3 hours.

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2 pm: Drive the scenic drive to Kobarid and check in to the Airbnb.

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4 pm: Hike #2! This gorgeous hike takes you to one of the most unique waterfalls, Slap Kozjak. Check out my Kozjak hiking guide.

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Breakfast: At the B&B, Garni Hotel Dvor.

Dinner: 8:30 pm reservation at one of the world’s best restaurants, Hisa Franko (this is THE reason we booked a trip to Slovenia).

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Overnight: Booked at Apartment Zonir but switched to Apartment Honey Bee

Lake Bled as seen from Ojstrica Viewpoint
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DAY 7: LAKE BOHINJ + LAKE BLED

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10 am: Make the 2-hour drive to Lake Bohinj

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12:30 pm: Walk around the crystal clear water of Lake Bohinj.

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2:30 pm: Check in to the hotel and explore the fairytale setting of Lake Bled. Must try the Bled cream cake.

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5 pm: Hike to the Ojstrica Viewpoint to get an absolutely stunning panoramic view of Lake Bled. Worth the strenuous 20-minute hike.

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Breakfast/lunch: Strud’l near Lake Bohinj.

Dinner: 8:30 pm reservation at Finefood Penzion Berc (restaurant at your hotel, one of the best restaurants in Lake Bled).

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Overnight: Penzion Berc, an incredibly charming hotel with the warmest hospitality
Vintgar Gorge emerald green water
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DAY 8: VINTGAR GORGE + LJUBLJANA

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8 am: After a wonderful breakfast at the hotel, drive to Vintgar Gorge and arrive around 9 am. Crisscross the wooden walkways across the gorge and take in the stunning emerald green waters. 

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10:30 am: Drop off the rental car at Atet. Taxi to the hotel in Ljubljana.

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12:30 pm-8 pm: Hotel check in. Check out Open Kitchen, which is a gourmet food market. Discover the famous bridges, the Mlekomat, and House of Illusions. See my article on Ljubljana for the top sights.

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9:30 pm: After-dinner drinks at Wine Bar Suklje.
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Breakfast: At Penzion Berc.

Lunch & Dinner: Open Kitchen. Only held on Fridays. Plan accordingly.

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Franciscan Church and Triple Bridge in Ljubljana
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DAY 9: 1/2 DAY LJUBLJANA + FLY HOME

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12:00 pm: Sleep in and then stroll around the Central Market. Pick up some prized pumpkin seed oil as a souvenir. Delicious with sourdough bread. 

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12:30 pm: Grab a coffee at the adorable, pocket-sized coffee shop called Crno Zrno.
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1 pm: Stroll around the beautiful streets of Cankarjevo Nabrezje and Gornji trg.

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1:30 pm: Take a taxi to the airport for the 5 pm flight back home.

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Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner: At airport lounges and plane ride.

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MAP VIEW OF CROATIA + SLOVENIA ITINERARY

Map of 9 day Croatia and Slovenia Itinerary
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WHO WILL LIKE THIS CROATIA + SLOVENIA ITINERARY

  • Foodies
  • Casual wine drinkers and serious wine connoisseurs
  • Outdoor enthusiasts
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BEST TIME TO VISIT CROATIA + SLOVENIA

The best time to do this 9 day Croatia & Slovenia itinerary will depend on what activities you want to do.

Overall though, to enjoy fewer crowds plus still have decent weather, the shoulder seasons are best.

I would advise May/early June and mid-September/October.

If you do not mind the crowds and want to enjoy the warmer weather and numerous festivals throughout Croatia and Slovenia, then the summer months of June, July, and August are ideal.

Just realize though places like Plitvice Lakes National Park and Lake Bled will be extremely crowded.

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NUMBER OF NIGHTS IN EACH PLACE

  • 3 nights in Zagreb, Croatia
  • 2 nights in Goriska Brda, Slovenia
  • 1 night in Kobarid, Slovenia
  • 1 night in Lake Bled, Slovenia
  • 1 night in Ljubljana, Slovenia 
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ACCOMODATIONS

  • Zagreb, Croatia
Gorgeous bar at Hotel Capital in Zagreb Croatia
  • Goriska Brda, Slovenia
Enjoying some wine on the Garni Hotel Dvor Deck
  • Kobarid, Slovenia. ** We stayed at Apartment Honey Bee, which wasn’t anything special. Next time we’re staying at Nebesa Chalets. 
Nebesa Chalets
  • Lake Bled, Slovenia
    Penzion Berc in Lake Bled Slovenia
    • Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Grand Hotel Union Bedroom in Ljubljana
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    AIRLINES

    American Airlines

    • To make this Croatia & Slovenia itinerary work, we booked 2 long haul segments with American Airlines: United States to London Heathrow Airport and vice versa. Then we took regional airlines to Zagreb and from Ljubljana.

    Croatia Airlines

    • 8 pm flight from London Heathrow Airport. Arrived in Zagreb at 11:15 pm

    LOT-Polish Airlines

    • 5:05 pm flight from Ljubljana to London Heathrow Airport with a short layover in Warsaw, Poland. Arrived in London at 9:45 pm. Spent the night in London and flew out early evening the next day.
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    CAR RENTAL & HOW TO GET AROUND

    • Zagreb, Croatia: We used Uber to get to and from the airport. We used the bus to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park
    • Slovenia: We rented a car through the local company, Atet. They were very professional and efficient.
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    TOUR OPERATORS

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    LUNCH/DINNER RESERVATIONS

    • Noel (Zagreb)
    • Stari Fijaker (Zagreb)
    • Gostilna Theodosius (Vipava Valley, Slovenia)
    • Hisa Franko (Kobarid, Slovenia)
    • Finefood Penzion Berc (Lake Bled, Slovenia)
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    WINERY RESERVATIONS

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    WHAT I WOULD HAVE CHANGED

    • We went in early May when the temperatures were still a little cool. If I were to go again, I would go towards the end of May when it is a little warmer.

     

    • This Croatia & Slovenia itinerary was packed. If we had more time, I would spend 1 extra night in Goriska Brda and use it to relax by your hotel’s pool for a day.

     

    • If we had more time, I would also add 1 more night to Lake Bled, so we could have done another day hike in Triglav National Park.

     

    • My husband’s grandparents came over from Croatia, and his grandma used to make wonderful sarma (stuffed cabbage). I was hoping to find a restaurant in Zagreb that served some local Croatian dishes. Although the reviews are great, our dining experience at Stari Fijaker fell well below the mark in both the food and service. Maybe we were there on an off-night, but I would advise booking another restaurant.

     

    • Consider booking another accommodation for Kobarid, especially if you add an extra night. Apartment Honey Bee was adequate and clean, but I would recommend trying to stay on the property of Hisa Franko (book well in advance) or Nebesa Chalets.

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    Questions about our Croatia + Slovenia itinerary? 

    Let me know in the comments below!

    2 Comments
    1. Penelope

      Nichole, this has been so helpful in planning! Would you recommend bringing proper hiking boots or will sneakers suffice?

      Reply
      • Nichole

        Thanks for reaching out. I would recommend trail runners, which falls in between hiking boots and sneakers. Some of the trails were muddy and wet because of recent rainfall, so you’ll want something with a little grip. My trail runners worked out great for these hikes. Happy to answer any other questions. Enjoy your trip!

        Reply

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