Blog post by Gary P. Scott (G.P.S.)
Award winning travel guide.
The simple answer is because they are all fun and cool places to visit and not yet the super crowded tourist hubs like many places have become.And why in 2021 – because there will be even less people in these places – meaning you can enjoy them even more than usual.However, you must know where to go, and when to go there.
I have been exploring and taking small groups around Croatia & Slovenia for over 8 years and have been exploring Slovakia for just as long but am starting to offer walking tours there in 2021 (I had groups booked this year but that didn’t happen due to COVID 19.)
August is the busiest time by far in Europe and even though I have taken many groups on trips in August – and we had a great time – we were lucky with the heat and I had to choose very carefully where we went and where we stayed. (Good luck without an expert local guide knowing where and when to get places…) August is when much of Europen takes their holidays so it is very crowded everywhere – including public transport, the roads, attractions, hiking trails, parks, and hotels and restaurants. AND prices for everything goes way up! And weekends are worse – you DO NOT want to be anywhere near Plitvice Lakes on a weekend in August, believe me.
The best times of the year to visit these three countries varies so let’s look at one at a time.
Croatia – absolutely dead from November through March with often grey skies, cold winds on the coast and very very cold water. Everyone leaves or simply closes their doors – no fun. April and October can be wonderful with pleasant weather and very few tourists – my favorite months in Croatia (and when I run many of my group trips). May and September are also great. June is fine though starting to get busier and certainly hotter, especially inland, and July is almost as hot and crowded as August. The further south you go the hotter (and often more crowded) it gets.
Slovenia – I love May and June in Slovenia though up in the Julian Alps you can still have snow on the ground and it can be quite cold. The 30km of coastline in Slovenia (like Croatia) can be very pleasant even in April. I like taking people to Slovenia mid-May through the end of June and then mid-September through the end of October when you enjoy the fall colors in the mountains, and fewer people. Of course having ski resorts there is skiing in winter and the capital of Ljubljana is open and busy all year round. Popular places like Lake Bled and Ljubljana are very busy and crowded in mid-summer.
Slovakia was rated the High Tatra mountains in Slovakia the #1 summer destination in Europe by Lonely Planet Guidebooks for 2019 so we were expecting it to get busier and more popular this year but that didn’t happen so we do expect more people to come here in the future. August again is the busiest time (mainly with local tourists), but it never really gets super hot – especially in the mountains – but I think June and July and September are the best times to explore Slovakia. Skiing is also popular in Slovakia so there is a busy ski season but if you do not ski there is not much to see or do during the winter months. May and October are also good times to visit and this year people were enjoying great hiking weather all the way through late November.
Over the years I have been visiting these countries – and generally every six months in spring and fall, I have certainly noticed more people/tourists every time I go. Certainly Croatia and Slovenia are now on the world map and very popular places to go to, along with Iceland. I predict Slovakia to take another ten years to get there where it will be a popular place to go.
I have spent a lot of time exploring these countries and my “thing” is to find out where to go off the regular tourist routes (where the locals go) and have a more “real” experience. Everyone has heard of Dubrovnik and Split but let me tell you, even though they are cool places – there are way cooler places to go – with far fewer tourists and with far more of a more authentic, less touristy feel. For example one thing I do at the very crowded Plitvke Lakes National Park is to stay at a fabulous lodge tucked away from the large tourist hotels and I have found a back entrance that allows us quick and easy access to the park and we can walk around the lakes on our own and are leaving by noon when the line to get into the park is over a km long and the paths are super crowded. When we go easy we often have the pathways all to ourselves which greatly increases the experience.
I would encourage people to travel to these countries before they get back to “normal” travel levels, as there is a point where travel is far less fun and too much of a hassle when there are just too many people around.
I certainly hope we can all travel overseas in 2021 and I believe it will be a great time to visit these countries since not as many people will travel (by all statistics) and so you will have many of these places to yourself. As a professional travel guide (based in Slovakia), I will be keeping tabs on what is going on and only taking people to places that are safe from a COVID 19 perspective, and not going anywhere that isn’t safe. Being a one-man show I can be flexible and we can change our itinerary anytime.
I will be taking smaller groups than usual (and many private/family groups) and we will be staying even further away from the tourist “hotspots” and being very careful with our hygiene and all safely procedures. I know many smaller family-run hotels and restaurants off the beaten path and those are the ones we’ll be using. In addition knowing when (and what time of day) to visit interesting places is key – and one thing I am very good at.
Anyhow I sure hope to perhaps have the chance to show you around some of my favorite places in 2021 and as an incentive to book some dates you do not need to leave a deposit or make a payment until 60 days before you depart on your chosen dates – and I will be very flexible with refunds after that, as I always am. Anyhow feel free to contact me via email with any questions – firstname.lastname@example.org