As we travelled from Vienna to Kotor, there are a few lessons that we learned along the way. If you are planning a trip around the region, here are our top ten tips for Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.
You are inevitably going to cross borders from time to time. We travelled in September when things were beginning to quieten down but we did hear many stories about border crossings being quite lengthy. Do allow extra time for this when you are planning your travels.
Many towns in the region have “Old Towns’. They are nearly always pedestrian only areas and involve a lot of steps. Dubrovnik, Split, Mostar and Kotor are prime examples. You will need either a reasonable level of fitness or some extra research to make sure that you can enjoy exploring them. So if you are planning to stay in the “old town” bear in mind you might be carrying you suitcase quite a distance.
Ferries, buses and trains
Ferry timetables are seasonal. If you want to island hop, it is worth doing a bit of planning. We bought all our ferry tickets on-line and printed them off. It can be a bit chaotic on the quayside, with several ferries arriving and leaving at once. Having our tickets sorted, saved a lot of hassle. Here are some websites that might help
We also used the GoEuro app to plan buses and trains. It was easy to use and a useful way to compare your options.
As we were crossing borders regularly, we did not always have the right SIM card in our phone. That is when we discovered that we could set up a route on wifi at our accommodation and download the map. It proved to be incredibly useful when we were hiring cars.
Booking car hire in advance will save you money. A lot of money! The big surprise for us was the pick up and drop off points. They never seemed to have any parking which made it all rather more of an adventure that we had expected!
In Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro it is compulsory to have your headlights on all the time. We were warned that the police sometimes viewed rental cars as “a nice little earner” with on the spot fines!
We used mostly Airbnb accommodation which worked very well for us. They were often up several flights of stairs which improved our fitness levels as the trip progressed. We always sent them a message a couple of days in advance to ask how to get there. Most of the time, they would come and pick us up from buses or ferries, which made life easier.
The well known places do attract large crowds. It is an old cliché but if you can get there early it helps. We also employed or new rule “if you see crowds on the right, just turn left.” It works rather well!
Beaches and sand
This region does not really do beaches. You will often find yourself swimming from rocks. A pair of light weight swimming shoes are worth taking to protect your feet.
With Euros, Kunas and Bosnian marks, money can get quite complicated. Often restaurants etc were prepared to take alternative currencies which was a good way of using up left over currency. We also used the XE app to keep us sane with exchange rates
Pomalo is one of those words that seems to define a whole lifestyle. In essence, it means “Slow down and smell the roses”. If you are the sort of person who wants a coffee in 45 seconds and a meal on 10 minutes, it is time to chill! You will need to relax and go with the flow.
We also found a lot of people found it particularly difficult to smile. We were never sure quite why. So we decided not to take it personally and in the end we made a game out of see if we could get a smile!
Not everyone was like this. Some were super friendly (particularly in Mostar).
So there you have it. Our top ten tips for Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. We hope they help you to enjoy your time in the region.