What would you do
What time of year?
Who makes up your groip, and what are their interest?
Are you willing to rent a car?
April/ May..3 people. I actually love renting a car!
For what it is worth, I did not like Dubrovnik, It was, to me, a beautiful city ruined by tourists. The old town is a collection of shops and restaurants as opposed to a place people live. It felt unreal, and not in a good way. The day trips from there involve at least 60=90 minutes each way by car, and I do not like car trips. That said, the food was terrific and the wine better, and it was all very economical.
What we did like was Korcula, the Peljesac Peninsula where we had a private wine tour, and Split. We wish we had spent more time in Split and had gone north instead of south from there.
With just a week to play with, I think you need to decide between the north and the south. The north could include Zagreb, Istria, and Plitvice Lakes National Park. You could probably squeeze in Split (or substitute it and Zadar for Zagreb). A car would be necessary to move that rapidly in the north (especially for Istria). The practicality of covering this area in just a week depends on how you get to Croatia and your arrival point, and where you are heading afterward. For Plitvice in high season (which you are avoiding), it's essential to arrive the night before you want to visit the park and get an early start before the day-trippers arrive. I suspect, but do not know, that crowding is not that much of an issue in April and early May. Weather might be a concern, though. The park wouldn't be so enjoyable in the rain.
If you want to visit one of the islands, you'll need to research transportation options. Ferries and catamarans may not be very frequent in the spring. It might be possible to hit Istria, Spalit and one of the northern islands; maybe also Zadar.
If you want to see Dubrovnik (which with luck would not be so overrun in April/May--check online info for cruise-ships docking during your target period), it could be combined with one or two islands or one island plus Split, if you can work out transportation to the islands. For this area a car might be an impediment since you'd need to take car ferries rather than catamarans. Weather might be a bit warmer in the south, but I assume you wouldn't want to swim.
If you prefer a more exotic trip, Dubrovnik could be combined with Sarajevo and Mostar in Bosnia, plus maybe one island.
My recent experience in Croatia did not include the south or any of the islands, so we need input from folks who've visited that part of the country recently. I also haven't driven there, but sitting on buses, the roads looked fine.
What would I do? I'd check historical weather data and probably end up along the southern coast if traveling in April. I really like Zagreb, but it was getting cool and rainy by the first week of October last year. By mid-May, I'd feel like I had more options. Early May? I just don't know, but few travelers hate chilly weather as much as I do.
Thanks for the info. SO the south is better? What is the best place to fly into? I heard of other people fling into Venice and driving along the coast visiting Trieste and ending in Dubrovnik. I wonder if you can do that.
What is the best place to fly into?
If you plan on seeing the south, try flying into Split, many more flight options than Dubrovnik. If you rent a car in Italy, how are you going to get it back (to Italy)? If you drop it in Dubrovnik, it will cost a fortune in drop-off fees. I would keep the car rental entirely in Croatia if you can.
April isn't beach weather, the sea will be cold and the ferries don't run very regularly, so forget the islands.
With only a week to play with, stay either in Istria and visit the hill towns OR use Dubrovnik or Split as your base and do day trips. Split airport doesn't have that many flights until May.
Driving from Venice to Dubrovnik is a 2.5 week holiday minimum, unless you want to spend the whole time in the car.
Schools will be on Easter holidays in mid/late April, so places may be busier and accommodation more expensive.
Hmm Thanks, Maybe I just fly to Split and drive around the coast?