We are planning a trip to Croatia in Sept of 2019. We are an older couple, very active and capable of doing stairs etc and love to visit cafes, wine, sightseeing in old historic towns. Where would you suggest as a home base? We will have 7 nights on the ground. Thanks in advanced
Many would just stay on the Dalmatian coast with only 7 nights: Dubrovnik, Split and an island, perhaps steak up to Plitvice Lakes National Park (north of Split) or at least Krka National Park.
Au contraire, Andrew. I would suggest 5 days on the coast, and 2 in Zagreb, which my wife and I really enjoy. It's a small town as far as capitals go, but it has a lot of great things - a nice art museum (Croatian Naive Art Museum). It has a nice upper town, and the lower town is nice as well. There is a Botanical Garden (which has odd hours, so we have not visited it).
Oh I thought the Croatian Naive Art Museum in Zagreb was terrific - my kind of museum, not very big and unusual. But it was 30 minutes of my time. I was done in Zagreb in half a day (I spent two nights). I saw the botanical garden too and it was OK - not something I really thought that memorable. Zagreb is worth visiting, and some people like it, obviously, I but I can't personally recommend it over other places in Croatia on a tight schedule unless flying in or out of Zagreb is convenient.
The OP asked about "a home base" in the singular. I'm not sure how firm the desire is to stay in one place--though it's likely at least one night will be needed in Zagreb for an efficient return home in any case. For a single base plus Zagreb (where I, too, would recommend two nights), I would consider Istria. Especially if limited to public transportation (unclear what the plan is in that regard), Rovinj-Porec-Pula-Vrsar-Groznjan-Motovun could fill the rest of the time. In 2015 there was a once-a-week (Wed.) bus tour offered that covered Groznjan, Motovun and a winery's tasting room.
Plitvice is wonderful but really does need a night spent at or very near the park the night before the visit, because that place is unpleasantly mobbed during day-trip hours. So I guess there goes my idea of a single stop plus Zagreb.
Thank you. 2 nights in Zagrab sounds like a great idea and we were looking at Rovinj as a home base to explore as well as the surrounding towns.