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3 weeks in Croatia July/August

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Dear fellow Fodors...
Family of 5 (2 adults and 3 young people - 16, 13 & 11) flying into Zagreb 22nd July and out of Split 11th August.
We have a skippered yatch booked out of Trogir between 30th July and 6th August (unanimously recommended by 3 travelling friends) for a family celebration (birthday and wedding anniversary) otherwise our time is fairly flexible...and the budget is quite tight!
My thoughts so far are:
22 Arrive Zagreb (lunchtime) - stay 2 nights - thoughts on what to do/where to go & if we need a car or can bus or train...I read somewhere about a thermal spa...also, which museum for a teenager size bit of culture?
24 Depart Zagreb for Plitvice Lakes - bus or car? Any suggestions on where to stay at the Lakes? I heard that a full day at the lakes was the best idea walking lower to higher lakes and possibly including a boat trip?
25 Depart Plitvice Lakes (pm) for stay in Zadar (possibly 2 nights?)
27 Day and overnight stay in Kakr national park?
28 Trip to Trogir (meet family arriving at Split airport and stay in Trogir night of 28th and 29th)
30 embark yatch for week of island sailing (itinerary suggestions welcome - we will have the option to plan our own route (with skippers guidance) so please shout if you know of any must see spots
06 Aug leave yatch early Saturday morning...plan to head to Split by ferry from Slatine (Čiovo) (does this seem sensible?) stay near ferry catamaran terminal in Split.
07 Aug catamaran from Split to Dubrovnik
07 Aug stay Dubrovnik 2 nights - city wall walk, cable car ride and sunset kayak trips are all being considered - do you have any other suggestions?
09 Aug Ferry or bus from Dubrovnik back towards Split (any preference? should we be worried about excessively busy roads in August?)
09/10 Aug where should be stay for final couple of nights - it'd be nice to be in a villa/apartment with a pool - need to get to the airport for 15:55 flight out of Split (Trogir) on the 11th August.

Have I overlooked any hidden gems or does any of the itinerary look a little weird?

Really appreciate any advice.


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    No matter what you choose, should be a great trip!

    First and foremost, get some really good guidebooks, or consult some at your local library. If it helps, I found the Rough Guide BY FAR the most helpful of the half-dozen or so that I used when planning my time in the area. And get the young people involved in the planning!!!

    Now, for some specifics:

    You do NOT need, nor do you want, a car while in Zagreb. Zagreb has a number of small and, IMO, quite delightful museums -- and provides a perfect example of an opportunity to let the young ones steer.

    Then, as you are leaving the city, pick up a rental car, which will greatly simplify your visit to the magnificent Plitvice Lakes National Park. Not only are the lakes connected by travertine waterfall formations, each lake has unique microbiota, and as a result, the lakes are different colors. The best way to see that is, IMO, to make a single, long loop through the park -- something on the order of 6 hours or more (including time for the boat that connects the lower and upper lakes). By all means, start at the lowest part of the park so you are facing the falls as you proceed. And yes, you this route includes a boat ride in the middle -- the segment when you transition from the lower to the upper lakes.

    To my knowledge -- which could be wrong -- staying IN the Krka National Park is not an option. You can stay in very tiny, quiet Skradin (the usual access point for the park) or in reasonably close Zadar or Sibenik.

    Given your plan, I would turn the car in ASAP after leaving the Plitvice Lakes, but if you also plan on visiting the Krka National Park, you might wait until after visiting it. IME, a car will NOT serve you well -- and could be a detriment -- in Zadar.

    Sorry, but I don't know Slatine / Čiovo.

    If I'm reading your plan correctly, you aren't giving yourselves any time for Split itself. Maybe that's intentional? Not everyone likes Split, but FWIW, it was one of my favorite places in Croatia -- lively and energetic and dynamic, not fully dependent upon the tourism industry, LOTS to see and experience....

    If you decide to skip Split, I would encourage you to explore options to avoid an overnight there just to transition from your yacht to Dubrovnik.

    Dubrovnik: The Buza Bar. Seriously. Google it. :-)
    Also, 1/2 day for Lokrum ... but then, depending on your arrival and departure times, you might need an extra night in Dubrovnik.

    For your travels to / from Split / Dubrovnik, I would recommend a ferry one way and a bus the other way -- very different experiences!

    You might consider bus Split to Dubrovnik, ferry to Korcula for a night or two, ferry to Split....

    Hope that helps!

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