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Croatia via Venice for two weeks - itinerary suggestions

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Dear Fodor friends:

My husband and I are traveling to Croatia for 13 nights, arriving in Venice on May 21, 2015 and departing on June 3, 2015. We are using miles and Venice was our only reasonable choice so this cannot be altered. In any case, we have been to Italy but not Venice, so plan to spend a couple of nights there at the end of the trip (staying in the Jewish ghetto). We are an active couple in our mid 40s, who enjoys culture, architecture, food, wine, beaches, culture, art, hiking, walking. We like to spend hours walking around towns, sitting in cafes, enjoying the local culture.

I have been browsing travel books, this and Tripadvisor's forum, and various internet sites, and have found excellent information. However, I am still struggling with the itinerary and would love some ideas from experienced travelers or locals. Our preference is to limit travel (driving, trains) within a trip and stay in just a few locations to have more time to enjoy and absorb the culture. At the same time, we'd like to see several areas.

Here is our current plan...

Arrive Venice May 21 in the am (hopefully rested as we are flying business class!), rent a car, drive to Rovinj
Rovinj May 21-25 - explore area of Istria, including Hill towns
May 25 - Plitvice Lakes, overnight, hiking and enjoy the park
?
3-4 nights in Split (used as a base to explore area), then
?
return to Venice, drop off car, stay 3 nights (May 31-June 3)

My question is if we should just extend our time in one of our current locations, or if perhaps we should tack on another location. For example, we could ferry from Split to Korcula (leave car) for an overnight? However, given the time of year we'd most likely need to stay two nights, leaving 3 for Split. Is 3 nights sufficient to explore the area, or would we be better off with 5 and taking a day trip to Hvar? Note that we are less interested in staying in Hvar, as it does not sound our style in particular. Or we could stay four nights in Split and stop perhaps in Zadar on the way back to Venice? Is there anywhere else I'm not considering that would be an interesting overnight stopover and would cut the length of the drive?

I'm wondering if the time of year influences how we should plan. I think it will be too cold to swim (and we live in San Diego near the beach so not a critical priority) so perhaps the island overnights aren't necessary, though Korcula looks beautiful.

We'd love to see Dubrovnik, but this would mean too much driving. I've looked into one way flights and car rentals but the costs are high and timetables aren't ideal.

Any and all feedback is most welcome. Thank you!!

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