From the Slovenian Alps to the Dalmatian and Montenegro coast and on through oriental Bosnia, we discover the rich natural and cultural beauty of these lands – the crossroads where the west meets the east.
Now a peaceful region, some of Europe’s most interesting and spectacular locations are getting the attention they truly deserve.
Your tour will be a private one, specially arranged for your party which means that should you require any customization to the itinerary or any other aspect of the tour this can easily be arranged.
The itinerary assumes arrival to Zagreb and departure from Dubrovnik Airport. If that is not the case we can alter the running order to take account of your plans.
Zagreb, the largest city and the capital of Croatia has managed to stay romantic and clean offerring its visitors pleasant walks and enjoyment. By its historical tradition, cultural relations, and above all, its urban planning (the Lower town “horseshoe”, the area around the national theatre) Zagreb is a distinctly central European city. Situated in the middle of the triangle of Vienna, Budapest and Venice. Its architecture, streets, the squares of the Upper and Lower town, open air green markets, churches and monuments are the witnesses of a history that successfully resisted the fast tempo of life at the end of the last century.
The guided tour of the old town includes a visit to St. Mark’s church, reknown for its’ colorful tiled roof depicting the Croatian Historic emblem, the main square Ban Jelačić and the cathedral St. Stefan.
Visit to Zagrebs’ famous cemetery “Mirogoj”, considered to be one of the most beautiful cemetery parks in Europe and, thanks to its design, numbers among the more noteworthy landmarks in the City of Zagreb. In the arcades, of the main building , designed by the architect Herman Bollé, are the last resting places of many famous Croatians. Overnight in Zagreb.
After breakfast, departure for Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Nestled between the Alps and the Adriatic sea, Ljubljana is characterised by a unique fusion of complementing contrasts. A history going back to 2000 BC, Ljubljana has managed to retain traces from the legacy of Roman Emona; through to the Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau periods characterised in the house fronts and ornate doorways of the city centre with the romantic bridges adorning the Ljubljanica river. Ljubljana’s old city centre has a unique architectural appearance, particularly due to a combination of Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture and masterful creations by the 20th century architect Jože Plečnik. Our city tour includes a walk past the major sights of the old part of Ljubljana and a boat ride along the Ljubljanica river passing under several of Ljubljana’s famous bridges, learning about the legend of the Ljubljana Dragon.
Overnight in Ljubljana.
Today we explore the famous Postojna Caves, the world’s biggest underground cave complex, and a visit to the nearby Predjama Castle, built into a cave in a vertical cliff face. The Postojna Caves, one of Slovenia’s most notable natural sights, consist of a 27-kilometre system of underground caves, tunnels, galleries and halls with spectacular dripstones. A small cave train will take you on a tour around the caves, which are also known for providing habitat for Proteus anguinus, an endemic amphibian salamander. We continue our journey through Slovenia to discover another curiosity, the Lipica Stud Farm. Founded in 1580 by the Austrian archduke Charles of Hapsburg, it was the world’s first stud farm to breed Lipizzaner horses. At the farm, you will learn about the breeding, raising and training of Lipizzaner horses and see an equestrian show. In the afternoon we head back to Croatia to the Adriatic coastal town of Opatija.
Overnight in Opatija.
After breakfast our day of discovering the natural & cultural sites of Istria begins with the smallest city in the world – Hum, after which we pass through green Istria to the historically rich coastal town of Porec with a visit to its, most prized treasures, the complex of Euphrasian Basilicadating from the 6th century. The interior of the basilica is ornamented with beautiful mosaics, a splendid witness of the golden age of byzantine art. South of Porec we arrive to the picturesque medieval town of Rovinj. Originaly settled on a small island connected to the coast in 1763, Rovinj is Istria?s most enchanting seaside town. After Rovinj we leave the coast to discover the hinterland of Istria and its small town of Buzet, the capital of the Istria’s gastronomical treasure the Truffle. Lunch in the Istrian hinterland tasting local specialities is included.
Overnight in Opatija.
Today we head for the islands of Cres and Krk. The largest islands of the Kvarner bay, Krk and Cres differ greatly one from the other. Krk is gently undulating, cultivated and well populated while mountainous and sparsely inhabited Cres is predominantly covered with grazing land and macchia. We start our journey through the riviera of Opatija by the scenic coastal road to Brestova, where we take the ferry for a short sail to Cres. After leaving the main island road we take the local road offering us splendid views of the coast towards Valun, by some one of the most charming places on the island. Our next stop is Lubenice, a little town situated on a cliff overlooking the sea at 378m. In the afternoon we make a ferry crossing to Krk, visiting the old town. Krk is well known for its wines and Vrbnička Žlahtina, a wonderful fruity white wine we can taste in Vrbnik. Lunch and wine tasting is included.
Overnight in Opatija.
Nestled amongst a cluster of lush mountain valleys is a mysterious ancient forest known as the “Devil’s Garden”, home to the brown bear, lynx, black stork and Ural owl – living in an enchanted world of thunderous waterfalls, cascading lakes, and subterranean caverns. Underneath the Dinaric Mountains, rainwater gathers and rushes through subterranean caverns, drawing lime from the stone. Here, stalactites hang and species dwell that are so rare and strange they defy the imagination. This Eden is Plitvice Lakes National Park, the oldest national park in Europe. Today we explore this magical world of Plitvice and discover its unique animals and breathtaking landscape during a walking tour of about 3 hours (on foot, a boat trip crossing the biggest lake and a panoramic bus drive). As by now we are hungry as bears, the national restaurant “Licka Kuca” awaits us with its regional specialties.
Overnight at Plitvice.
Leaving the Plitvice region we take the new highway passing through the Velebit mountain for more breathtaking scenery as we drive to the Adriatic coast stopping on our way to Makarska Riviera to enjoy in the splendours of the cultural heritage of the coastal medieval towns, making Zadar our first stop. We begin your tour of Zadar by admiring the defensive walls that protect the city on three sides. They were built first by the Venetians in the 16th century as a defense against the Turks, then reinforced at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The oldest part of the walls is on the eastern side where a footbridge connects the old town with the newer parts. Opposite the footbridge there are four medieval gates. We can still admire the 16th century Port Gate where the Venetian lion, the symbol of Venice, guards the entrance. It was here along the obala Kresimira IV, the western quay, that Alfred Hitchcock once remarked that Zadar’s sunsets were among the world’s finest and it is here at the end of the Western Quay, that Zadar has added to the beauty of its sunsets a unique feature, the Sea Organ. Our next stop is Šibenik, where we visit the Cathedral of St. James a successful fusion of Gothic and Renaissance art which bears witness to the considerable exchanges in the field of monumental arts between Northern Italy, Dalmatia and Tuscany in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Overnight in the region of Šibenik.
Today we visit the capital of Dalmatia. The story of Split goes back to the end of the 3rd Century, when the Roman emperor Diocletian, tired of ruling, suffering from arthritis and nostalgic of his homeland, gave orders for a palace to be built on the coast of the Adriatic just outside the largest roman town on the east coast, Salona. The Peristyle, the heart of the palace had always been the liveliest square of Split, where a 3500 year old sphinx sits beside antique colonnades guarding the entrance to a mausoleum transformed into a cathedral, opposite a renaissance palace turned coffee house. In spite of its 1700 year old history, Split is bursting with lively youthfulness. It is also the best place do some souvenir shopping with many shops and a busy and colourful marketplace. After Split we continue south to a little fishing village for the night.
Overnight in Podgora.
Today we cross the border again for a complete change of scenery, both natural and cultural, we are going to Bosnia and Hercegovina, to Mostar. The town of Mostar nested in the deep valley of Neretva, began to develop in the 15th and 16th centuries as an Ottomantrading and frontier town and continued its growth in the Austro-Hungarian period. The ancient Turkish houses and the Old Bridge give Mostar an oriental flavour. During the conflict of the 1990s a great part of the historical town together with its bridge (built by the famous Ottoman architect Sinan in 1566) were destroyed. Fortunately under Unesco supervision and international aid many historical buildings and the bridge itself were rebuilt in their original splendour. The Old Bridge area, with its pre-Ottoman, eastern Ottoman, Mediterranean and western European architectural features is an outstanding example of a multicultural urban settlement.
Overnight in Mostar
We go back to the Adriatic coast to its southern part, to Dubrovnik. Encircled by its famous walls Dubrovnik, once called Ragusa, had been one of the most important maritime powers of the Mediterranean. During five centuries an aristocratic republic,an independent city-state and a grand rival of Venice. Masters in the art of politics, reknowned for their able Diplomats with remarkable negotiating skills, the city-state managed to preserve its independence, sometimes paying a high price to Venice or later the Ottomans, until in 1806 Napoleon’s troops arrive and put an end to the “Independent Republic of Ragusa”. During our morning visit in the company of a local guide we will learn about the rich and glorius history walking through the streets with wonderfully preserved gotic and renaisance monuments, churches, monateries palaces and soon understand why Dubrovnik has been put on the Unesco World Heritage map. In the afternoon you will have time to wonder and explore all the little streets or walk around the walls at your leisure.
Overnight in the region of Dubrovnik.
Only a short drive south of Dubrovnik and we arrive to the border crossing with Monténégro, once a part of Yugoslavia, today an independent state. It is at this part of the coast that the Adriatic sea forms the biggest bay of all, the Boka Kotorska. We first pass by the outer bay, about 15 miles long, then by Verige, a narrow strait once closed by chain-booms, into the inner bay, as large as the outer, which holds Kotor, Perast and its two islands, St. George and Our Lady of the Rock. The whole bay is encircled by mountains rising to the sky from the water’s edge. The seamen of Boka have always been accounted as the finest in Dalmatia. The rules of the Guild of Boka Sailors (Bokeljska Mornarica) far outdate the ancient Laws of Oleron, the records of the Guild go back to 809, when the patronage was transfered from St. Nicholas, patron of all sailors to St. Trifun, patron of Kotor. Only Rodes has a prior claim. At the heart of this mountainous landscape, the small city of Kotor, with its narrow, sinuous streets, maintains traces of the Middle Ages despite the cataclysms it suffered since that time. Our visit to Kotor’s Maritime Museum will reveal the importance and presence of the sea to the whole of Boka’s history.
Overnight in Dubrovnik.
Today’s activities will be determined by departure times. For those with late flights it is a good opportunity to see any places that were missed on our day in Dubrovnik. We will be at your service right up to your departure, when it will be time for you to say farewell – not goodbye! – to Croatia and head home with some wonderful memories. Come back soon!