ITINERARY INSPIRATION ✧ One Month in Central Europe

Itinerary: One Month in Central Europe

Highlights from Austria, Croatia, Slovenia + Italy

Itinerary: A Month in Europe

Countries: 4
Days of Travel: 34
Hotels/Villas in Europe: 13
Wine Tastings: 
2
Transport Used: 
Planes, Trains, Rental Car,
Driver/Guide, Boat Charter, Ferries
Miles Traveled (including to/from Anguilla): 
12,513

Austria

Itinerary: A Month in Europe

DAY 1 – 2 : SALZBURG, AUSTRIA // We technically flew into Munich via Paris from St. Maarten, which is why Munich is shown on the map above. Depending on your point of origin, getting a flight into Salzburg may be a challenge without connecting. Munich is a quick train ride away, so it was logistically easier for us to grab a train from Munich to Salzburg to get there for our two days. We landed in Salzburg in the afternoon and hit the ground running to maximize our 36 hours. Opt for sightseeing in Salzburg with the Salzburg Card to maximize a quick 24 – 72 hours in the city. We spent two nights at the Goldener Hirscha historic property in the heart of Salzburg.

DAY 3 – 4: VIENNA, AUSTRIA  // We took the morning train from Salzburg to Vienna (we booked in advance with GoEuro), a scenic and simple way to get from Salzburg to the Austrian capital. With two full days and nights, we took in the architecture and a Mozart concert, amongst other things. For inspo, check out these 5 things to do on a quick trip to Vienna. We leveraged our Starwood points and overnighted at the stunningly elegant Hotel Bristol, where we got to experience their lavish Bristol Suite.

Using the Salzburg Card, Salzburg Catacombs
Salzburg, Austria

HIGHLIGHTS, TIPS AND TAKEAWAYS // Austria was an add-on for us prior to Croatia, which was the real anchor point in our trip. That being the case, we only had four days in Austria, a shorter stay than we’d normally plan if Austria was more of a focus. Our weather in Austria was mixed. In Vienna, we were met with sunny days of 75 degrees, perfect for exploring all that the city has to offer. Our time in Salzburg was quite the contrast, with a lot of rain which made sightseeing a bit more of a challenge. With just two days (a little less, actually) in Salzburg, we had time to see key sites but didn’t really get to enjoy the city as much as we should have (weather was a bit of a factor for us, too). I’d say three days would be better for a first visit but any time is better than nothing! In Vienna, we had two jam-packed days but there was so much more to see, plus many more experiences to bad had that we simply didn’t have time to enjoy. If Vienna is a focus for you, I’d give the city at least four days to explore and enjoy without being run ragged. Vienna and Salzburg are very different cities, and both are worth seeing to better understand which you resonate with. For the cosmopolitan sect interested in architecture and museums, Vienna will likely be more up your alley. If you’re an outdoors lover, Salzburg – and the region in general – will likely incite more wow. For those visiting both cities, the train is the way to go: it’s a breeze, and they have wifi and coffee on board to make the journey fly by.

Croatia

Itinerary: A Month in Europe

Croatia was our main event; the anchor in our month in Central Europe. We were there with the intention of celebrating my in-laws’ 40th wedding anniversary, and crafted the rest of our itinerary around our 12 days together in Croatia. Together we explored Dubrovnik, Hvar and the islands, and Split. Independently, Scott and I explored Plitvice and Istria in Northern Croatia. It’s a country that brings wonderful diversity, from the typical Adriatic seaside excursions to the wine tasting and culinary scenes. The roads are great, which make it perfect for road tripping, and the ferry systems are affordable and reliable which makes island hopping a much easier proposition.

DAY 5 – 7: DUBROVNIK // We spent three days in Dubrovnik, which I think is the perfect amount of time for a first-timer to the city. In that time we had sufficient time to explore the Old City, take in the views from the city walls, have a few great meals, and take in the history that’s integral in understanding the current state of Croatia. As a family of five, we spent our three nights based at the Tailor Apartments in the heart of the old town, where we had stunning views from our terrace.

DAY 7: WINE TASTING ON THE PELJESAC PENINSULA // Our final day in Dubrovnik took us away from the city out for some wine tasting on the Peljesac Peninsula with D’Vino Wine Tours. For anyone moderately interested in wine, this was a fabulous experience with an incredible lunch and a visit to a number of wineries.

DAY 8 – 14: HVAR + NEIGHBORING ISLANDS // We spent a week on Hvar, and used three of those days to pop over to neighboring islands to explore. During that time we spent a day in Korcula, a day on Brac, and a day exploring Vis and smaller islands off of Hvar. People will have mixed thoughts on this, but I think being based on Hvar for a week was the way to go as far as island exploration goes. We unpacked once, had a home base at night (Hvar has plenty of dining + nightlife options), and had great ferry access to neighboring islands and the mainland. We spent a week at a villa in the heart of Hvar Town, booked through Luxury Retreats. 

ICYMI: Check out an itinerary for one week in Hvar including island hopping inspiration.

DAY 15 – 17: SPLIT // There’s a bit of a Split vs. Dubrovnik debate. Many people compare the two cities, and Split will often win as a favorite just as often as Dubrovnik will. Split is a beautiful city that has its own vibe, and it’s a feel that’s different from Dubrovnik. It’s less touristy than Dubrovnik is, but not by much (we still saw cruise shippers and the place was quite busy by day). We enjoyed our two days there, and I don’t want to compare Dubrovnik and Split but if I had to, my vote would be for Dubrovnik. In Split, we stayed at Baćo Apartments, just steps away from Diocletian’s Palace. Read about how we spent two days in Split.

DAY 18: PLITVICE LAKES NATIONAL PARK // From Split, we jumped in our rental car and headed up to Plitvice Lakes National Park, where we spent the day exploring the iconic waterfalls and lakes. Plitvice was a bucketlist adventure for me, and it stunned in real life. We were fortunate to be there on a sunny day (sandwiched between two rainy ones) and enjoyed the fresh brush with nature. We spent the night at Plitvice Miric Inna charming boutique hotel right outside of the park gates. Read my tips for visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park.

DAY 19 – 22: SLOVENIA // SEE BELOW.

DAY 23 – DAY 25: MOTOVUN {ISTRIA} // After a handful of days exploring stunning Slovenia, we headed back into Croatia where we first explored Istria’s hilltop towns of Groznjnan and Motovun. You’d be forgiven for feeling like you were dropped in Italy – Istria has a distinctly Italian feel from their coastal seaside towns to the landscape of central Istria. We spent one day truffle hunting in Istria with Karlic Tartufi (a must!) and spent quiet evenings taking in Motovun’s views. We overnighted at Villa Borgoan ideal B&B in the heart of Motovun.

DAY 25 – 27: ROVINJ // From Motovun, we jetted out to the coast to see the famously beautiful Italianate seaside town of Rovinj, often referred to as Istria’s gem. It’s a beauty, with the colorful Venetian-inspired facades and the cliffside dining that’s utterly romantic. Rovinj brings a beautiful European feel with a more affordable Croatian twist, but also brings more American tourists than much of central Istria. Check out my take on 5 photos to take in Rovinj!

ITINERARY INSPIRATION ✧ One Month in Central Europe

DAY 28: POREC // After a couple of nights in Rovinj, we headed a bit further north to Porec, a seaside town that sometimes plays second fiddle as far as coastal cities in Istria go. Porec wowed us, probably in part because our expectations were non-exisisttant to begin with. We explored the tangle of cobblestone streets and took in the stunning Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO site. We overnighted at the Valamar Riviera Hotel, with stunning seaside views.

HIGHLIGHTS, TIPS + TAKEAWAYS: Croatia is an absolute gem and it’s incredibly regionally diverse, which makes it an even greater draw. With three weeks there, we were able to take in the historic cities of Dubrovnik and Split, the island experience in Hvar, and the charming Istrian peninsula, which brought a more tranquil vibe to the experience. Croatia is an exceptional value, and even in more touristed areas like Dubrovnik, Split and Rovinj, that remains true (to a slightly lesser extent). We spent the vast majority of our month in Central Europe there but every stop felt fresh with new landscapes and subcultures. Food is generally wonderful – very Mediterranean with some quintessential Croatian twists – and wines surprised us by being some of our favorites!

Slovenia

ITINERARY INSPIRATION ✧ One Month in Central Europe

I found myself very enchanted with Slovenia. It’s a country that brings natural beauty in spades, and the stunning views of the Julian Alps had me thinking that someone dropped me into a scene from Switzerland. Unlike famously spendy Switzerland, Slovenia is a great destination for those looking for a more budget-friendly escape. We were amazed at the value that the country offered, and while I have yet to visit Switzerland, I’d happily recommend Slovenia it to anyone wanting a place that celebrates nature with great outdoors experiences and an eco-friendly vibe.

DAY 19 – 21: LJUBLJANA // Ljubljana is a cool kid. It’s a medieval town that brings in modern elements seamlessly. It’s super eco-friendly and celebrates diversity and inclusion while simultaneously being proud of its independent identity. We embarked on a great food tour through Ljubljana which taught us about far more than just Slovenian cuisine. It was a lesson in history, geography, and politics, sprinkled with some delicious food + wine.

DAY 21 – 23: LAKE BLED // We spent two days taking in the beauty that is Lake Bled, and there’s no doubt that it’s a page right out of a fairytale. Lake Bled is commonly inserted into a larger itinerary as a day trip from Ljubljana but it really does deserve a few days until itself to enjoy the serenity that lake life brings plus nearby day trips to natural wonders. We overnighted at Vila Istraa picturesque lakeside B&B. Check out these 5 things to do at Lake Bled.

DAY 23: POSTONJA CAVES // The Postonja Caves were arguably the most touristed activity that we experienced during our time in Slovenia, and after leaving we fully understood the draw. There’s no doubt, the Postojna Caves are the most comprehensive cave system that I’ve ever seen first hand, and nothing else comes close to what we saw there. It’s a fascinating place to spend a few hours, and can be incorporated easily into a Slovenia/Croatia itinerary. Check out our experience visiting the Postonja Cave.

HIGHLIGHTS, TIPS + TAKEAWAYS: Slovenia wowed us with its beauty and its impressive value. It’s safe, it’s naturally beautiful, and there’s plenty on offer to make it a destination in and of itself. We ended up with about five days in Slovenia split between Ljubljana and Bled as our home bases, which was perfect for us. Renting a car is the way to go with simple-to-navigate roads and good infrastructure throughout. If you’re renting a car and crossing the border from Croatia into Slovenia, be sure to get a car tag when you cross the border. These can be secured from gas stations when you enter Slovenia and rental cars are required to have these stickers on their windshields if you don’t want to be fined for driving illegally. For a week, we paid around 15 euros for the permit. For those wanting to delve deeper, make a broader road trip out of the experience to uncover the varied influences (Austrian, Croatian, Italian) within the small country’s borders.

Italy

ITINERARY INSPIRATION ✧ One Month in Central Europe

Can you ever go wrong with Italy? It was love at first sight when I visited nearly ten years ago on a trip to Rome, and it’s a destination that I always bring up as a go-to for a family trip or romantic escape. That being said, our trip to Italy this year was the first time that Scott and I had visited together, and we explored an area that was totally new to me.

DAY 29 – 31: VENICE // Venice is an extremely polarizing city. For some, it’s the peak of excellence with its otherworldy architecture, romantic canals, and unique history. For others, it’s dirty, chaotic, and overrun with tourists. I went in with managed expectations having heard from both sides, and I undoubtedly fell into the first contingent.  I loved Venice and I felt like I could have easily stayed for a week exploring and getting lost in the city’s tangle of streets. In our two days, we embarked on a tour of Venice with Walks of Italy and experienced EatWith in Venice for our first in-home dining foray. We overnight for two days at the famous Hotel Danieli in Piazza San Marco. Read about how we spent two days in Venice.

DAY 31 – 34: ERBUSCO/FRANCIACORTA // Venice was meant to be our grand finale in Europe but with cancelled flights to get back to the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma, we ended up with an additional three days in Northern Italy. We rented a car and hit the road to explore the lake region near Lago d’Iseo. There was a hot debate about where we should go, but we ended up in Erbusco, a tiny town in Franciacorta that brings major countryside charm. Read about our drive from Venice to Milan for some inspiration, with stops in Verona and Bergamo during our additional days! We spent three nights at L’Albereta Hotel, a 5-star countryside boutique property with a sprinkle of glam.

HIGHLIGHTS, TIPS + TAKEAWAYS: If you’re going to get stuck somewhere for a few additional days, there are worse places than the Italian countryside. Venice wowed me in a major way and our time at L’Albereta brought some of the R&R we desperately needed before returning home to the devastation we knew awaited us. We’ve been fortunate to visit a number of interesting countries around the world, but Italy is one of the tops for me in terms of places to return again and again. Renting a car was the way to go for us. After escaping the hustle and bustle of Venice, we enjoyed the ease of Italian motorways, zipping to new destinations and stopping where we felt inclined. Overall, a great and unexpected end to a wonderful month in Central Europe.


In terms of itinerary planning, this trip can easily be broken down into a number of pieces depending on your focus and travel style. With a couple of weeks to spend, you could easily do a single country in-depth, or wrap together a couple of these destinations to create a multi-country itinerary. Based on our month in Europe with a range of activities and experiences, I’ll be sharing 10 weeklong itineraries for inspiration when you’re faced with the prospect of crafting a week in Europe versus a month! For those lucky enough to have more than a week, you can piece some of these ideas together for something longer. Despite some of our emotional challenges during this journey, it was a pretty incredible itinerary that touched on so many places I’d been dreaming of for years. ✨

Which countries would be on your itinerary for a monthlong getaway?

Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect, formerly The Traveling Scholar. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. She is a former resident of London and San Francisco and now calls the island of Anguilla home. In addition to The Wanderlust Effect, Shannon is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort and is on the Board of Directors of the Omololu International School in Anguilla.