MY WIFE AND MYSELF, ACTIVE MID-70s, ARE THINKING OF A CROATIA SELF-DRIVE HOLIDAY IN MAY/JUNE NEXT YEAR, ABOUT THREE WEEKS. ANY SUGGESTIONS? WE MAY ALSO VISIT A NEIGHBOURING COUNTRY. R. HARTMANN, ALLAMBIE HEIGHTS NSW
Sandwiched between the mountains and the sea, the old city of Dubrovnik is spectacularly endowed with renaissance and medieval churches, palaces, fountains and cobbled squares, all cut from pale Istrian limestone. It also draws huge crowds in summer, disgorged daily from passing cruise ships, but in spring you should be OK. A short drive south along the coast, Cavtat is a pretty little village with a smattering of resort-style hotels, set at the end of a wooded peninsula between two blue bays. The waterfront is lined with cafes shaded by palm trees, rising to the heights of the old village, which is furnished with fig and lemon groves and tiny stone churches. A major attraction in this region is the Dalmatian Islands and there are many options for cruising here, from a whole week to day trips. See Viator (viator.com) for options. Hvar Island is one of the highlights, combining a splendid town – also Hvar – that bears the marks of successive Mediterranean civilisations with an intricate coastline and some marvellous beaches. At the northern end of this coast, the heart-shaped Istrian Peninsula has more than a touch of Tuscany in its olive groves and hilltowns.
Another worthwhile trip is Plitvice Lakes, a pocket of wooded hills wrapped around turquoise lakes, and richly deserving of its World Heritage listing.
Since you have plenty of time you could also visit either Montenegro, to the south, or Slovenia, to the north. Both are marvellous, and I'd find it difficult to choose between them, with just a narrow preference for Montenegro, although Slovenia might be slightly easier.
Assuming you'll be hiring in your car in Croatia, you will also need to return it in that country, although not necessarily to the same location. The airports at either Split or Dubrovnik are logical beginning and end points.
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