We will be in Dubrovnik on a work trip for a week in May and are able to extend by 3 days before and 2 days after. Our thought is to fly in and out of Split and rent a car for the entire time which seems very reasonably priced. We are looking for any suggestions on an itinerary for the extra days. Perhaps driving to Plitvice Lakes upon arrival Thursday afternoon to stay the night there in order to get an early start. Spend Friday in the park then head back to Split in the evening. Saturday in Split...maybe kayaking Blue Cave? Sunday drive down to Korcula then Dubrovnik to meet up with the group for the week (M-F) At the tail end we thought of driving up to Hvar for Sat/Sun before we fly out Mon morning unless that is too pricey. Any thoughts or ideas would be much appreciated. Also we will have some free time during the week in Dubrovnik including an entire day/eve so ideas on things to see/do there are welcomed too. Thanks in advance!
Is the car paid for (work expense), including parking? If not, check into that - parking can be really expensive in Dubrovnik and not convenient, depending on where you are staying. In general, it may be better not to have a car there. You could drop the rental car in Dubrovnik as you arrive and rent another when you leave, if need be.
If you can fly out of Zagreb and really want to see Plitvice, what might make some sense is to fly at the end from Dubrovnik to Zagreb (usually cheap Croatia Airlines flights) and rent a car at the Zagreb airport, drive directly to Plitvice (about two hours), spend the night there and enter the park first thing in the morning (park opens at 7am) to see it before the big crowds arrive - it can get VERY crowded! Really better early in the morning. Split is slightly further from Plitvice. You could do Plitvice as a day trip but you'll see the worst of the crowds, which can be unpleasant, even if not awful yet in May.
If you decide not to visit Plitvice, a substitute might be Krka national park, which is much closer to Split (I didn't like it as well as Plitvice but some do).
Mid-week, without a car, you could day trip to Mostar, BiH or down to Kotor, Montenegro, by bus or excursion. If staying near the Dubrovnik old town, you really wan't need or probably want a car otherwise.
Thanks for the reply Andrew. We do have free parking at the hotel in Dubrovnik so it will be cheaper/easier to just keep the car rather than do two separate rental/returns. You are probably correct that we won't need it much as we are staying in the old part of town. Do you think there is any benefit in driving ourselves to either Mostar or Kotor rather than taking a tour? We have the option of going on a tour bus with the group for about $100 each. If you were to choose just one, which would it be? an Elephiti island cruise is another day option for us which sounded lovely. As far as Plitvice, is it necessary to book a tour guide or can you just buy a ticket and walk around on your own? There seems to be a huge price difference so wanted any opinions on value of a guide inside the park. PS...has anyone done the Blue Cave kayaking?
I think it would be very easy to drive a rental car to Kotor (or anywhere in Montenegro), so if you want to pay for a $100 tour, I would pick Mostar because the drive would be longer and more tiring (plus I doubt your rental company would allow you to cross into Bosnia).
All spots are good. For Plitvice, I suggest looking for accommodation with transfers to the entrance. Many tourists come here and have no idea where to go. It is just one long road. In Split, u have many tours to blue caves. Getting Korcula you don't need a car. Just catamaran. much easier. i prefer staying longer in Korcula than in Dubrovnik. ps many activities you will meet when you get there. no rush. best