One of the great joys of European travel is that you can visit several cities in a very small amount of time. Hopping from Italy to Slovenia and Croatia with kids is certainly worth more than three days, but if you are desperate to see a few more sights and are short on time, here is the itinerary for you. Keep in mind that this itinerary will NOT let you dig in deep and see all of the sites. This is a whirlwind, “step your foot in a new country and then move on” type of tour.
Let’s go to Slovenia and Croatia with Kids!
While visiting friends in Ferrara, Italy, we decided to take on the insane challenge of a three-day road trip with three adults and four kids under the age of five (my own boys were five-months and three-years-old at the time). It was an exhausting, whirlwind of a trip, but we didn’t regret one second of it.
Our strategy was to divide and conquer the big tasks. One person was in charge of setting up lodgings, another navigated us to the sights and handled the meals at each destination. We started in Ferrara, Italy, but you could easily do this trip from Venice and other surrounding cities as well.
3-day Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1: Italy to Slovenia
- Depart Ferrara, Italy (or Venice depending on your location)
- Drive to Lake Bled Slovenia
- Stop for lunch in a small town in Italy along the way
- Check into hotel or rental in Lake Bled
- Take a boat to the church on the island in Lake Bled
- Dinner at a restaurant on the way back to your hotel
Day 2: Slovenia to Croatia
- Drive to Rovinj, Croatia
- Lunch and gelato at waterfront restaurant
- Explore the city
- Dinner back at rental
Day 3: Croatia to Italy
- Drive back to Ferrara or Venice (whichever your starting point is)
- Stop in Trieste, Italy for Lunch
- Back to your home base by dinner (or Venice if that is not your home base)
Things to Know about Italy, Slovenia and Croatia with Kids
Venice is a car-free town, so you will need to park your vehicle in one of the cities outer parking lots. If you arrived in Venice via air or train, you can pick up a rental car at both the train station and airport. You could do this trip by train, but it is a lot easier and more fun if you just drive. You will have to pay tolls, so factor that into your budget.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled deserves much more than a few hours, but seeing the church in the middle of the lake is certainly a highlight. Walk around the lake until you find the boat docks. You can rent a rowboat to bring yourself or hire a boat and captain (ok, so he just steers the boat) that will take you out there. Explore the island and the church. If you have time, walk into town once you are back on the mainland. Bled Castle on the hill provides great views of the lake.
The water is the big draw in the area, with loads of boats and places to catch epic views of the coast. Hike up to the Church of St. Euphemia for the best views and a little historical insight into what makes this town worth a stop. Fish is the main staple at many of the restaurants. Don’t resist. It is amazing, and you can’t go wrong with the catch of the day. Wander the back streets and alleys if you have time to get a feel for local life in this Croatian sea town that is often overlooked, especially in the off season. If you are lucky, one of the open air markets will still be hoppin’ when you get to town. Walk around the water front as you stroll back to your hotel or rental for bed.
Trieste is a bustling metropolis on the water. Wander around the Piazza Unità d’Italia (Unity of Italy Square) as you look for a lunch spot close by. You can find street parking if you are lucky, but to be safe, park in a lot. While there are things to see and do in Trieste, we made this a quick stop to stretch our legs.
Was a European Road Trip with Kids Worth It?
Overall, our insane road trip trip through Europe to Slovenia and Croatia with kids was worth it. We were exhausted, exhilarated and elated to be back in Ferrara by the time we pulled into the drive, but oh, the stories we could tell. Nothing but rain poured on us on Lake Bled. My three-year-old son ate his first whole fish in Rovinj. The baby had pizza at five-months-old (that was an accident. He mainly sucked on the crust). Oh, and I broke a camera. Yup. That was super fun.
My friends and I still laugh about that trip. We wonder what we were thinking, but also knew that it was an amazing adventure that we would do again. Now the most important question…
Are you crazy enough to road trip
Slovenia and Croatia with kids for 3 days?
Lake Bled, Rovinj, and Croatian port photos via Shutterstock