Dalmatian Sunshine: Cultural, Culinary, Historic Tour of Croatia & Slovenia

Plitvice Lakes National Park was among one of the first natural attractions deemed an UNESCO World Heritage site.
A 9 day trip to Croatia & Slovenia 
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Slovenia and Croatia combine to create a luxurious yet adventurous experience in these emerging travel destinations. From the shores of the Adriatic Sea to the depths of the Postojna Caves, and up into the Julian Alps, over the course of a week you will experience the ethereal beauty, the vibrant history and the captivating cultures of these central European countries. Amidst the excitement, romance is found along the Riva promenade and beneath spruce trees, while culinary delights are sampled in the capitals of Zagreb and Ljubljana. Take delight in this unique fusion of history, culture and nature as you explore it all against a truly exclusive and completely indulgent backdrop. 

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Dubrovnik, Split, Trogir, Zadar, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Opatija, Postojna, Bled, Ljubljana, Zagreb

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Land on the Edge of the Adriatic Sea in Dubrovnik, Croatia

This morning, your airplane will descend over what some might recognize as King’s Landing from Game of Thrones. Characteristically orange roofs sit atop Baroque-style buildings, that nest together protected by the outer wall of Dubrovnik’s Old Town.  After clearing customs and collecting your baggage, a private driver will meet you and together you will enter this Medieval-feeling city. After familiarizing yourself with your first of many exquisitely luxurious hotels, you will have what remains of the day to explore Dubrovnik. In the late afternoon, you may find yourself most content at a seaside café where you can sip on a glass of local Croatian wine as the sun turns the facades of nearby buildings a dusty shade of rose. Enjoy dinner tonight at your chosen hotel, where you will feast on local specialties that revolve around daily catches, local olives and cheese. Welcome, finally, to the Mediterranean!

Day 2: Wander the Historically-Rich Area of ‘Old Dubrovnik’, Before Venturing Out to the Distinct Shoreline

The entirety of today will be devoted to familiarizing yourself with the history and culture of Dubrovnik. In the morning, you will join a walking tour of ‘Old Dubrovnik’, which will lead you to sights including the Franciscan Monastery – home to one of Europe’s oldest pharmacies. You will also pass by the Old Harbor, the St. Laurence Fortress, the Sponza, and Rector’s Palace, each of which has been protected through wars by the perimeter wall. Listen to stories of how foreign powers have challenged Croatia and admire the resilience of this vibrant country. The country is, in many ways, reinventing itself with a distinct and ever-elegant central European flair after years of struggle and turmoil.

In the afternoon, continue your explorations of Dubrovnik. Having learned about the city center, venture out beyond the wall to explore the pebbled beaches, the rocky cliffs and the gentle Adriatic Sea. Soak in the warm Mediterranean sun on a rock ledge, before you dive into the clear aquamarine waters around you. As the sun sets, return into the Old City for another taste of Croatian culture at a candlelit table.

Day 3: Drive along the Dalmatian Coast, Ultimately Arriving in the Cosmopolitan Seaside Town of Split

This morning you will leave Dubrovnik, traveling north up the Adriatic coastline. Fishing villages and rural landscape characterize the roadside, until you approach the ever-chic marbled town of Split. The history of this seaside town is palpable as you wander between Roman, Renaissance and Gothic style buildings. But of course it is Diocletian’s Palace that truly captivates visitors. Better understood as a walled city center than it is a palace, this sprawling compound encompasses over 200 buildings and is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within it, modernity abuts antiquity as vendors lean up against walls built during the Middle Ages. Stroll through the basement, along the seashore and into the central courtyard as you search for two black granite sphinxes that protect two sacred sites.

In the evening, emerge from the Palace and out onto the Riva, which pulses with activity and excitement. With countless restaurants and innumerable flavors, spend the evening exploring the vivacity of this seaside promenade.

Day 4: Drive through History in Trogir and Zadar, Before Drifting Away in the Ethereal Forests of Plitvice

Today, you will continue to explore Croatia’s colorful history as you detour through the towns of Trogir and Zadar while en route to Plitvice National Park. Your first stop, Trogir, is home to a talented group of artists and scholars drawn here to study and paint. The allure of Trogir is obvious immediately after stepping into this 17-century old town: ancient stonework and lively street performers bring history to life in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Following Trogir, you will continue on to Zadar, the oldest Slavic city on the Adriatic. Once the heart of regional culture, today Zadar boasts a number of monuments and ruins that date back to the Roman Era. A walking tour carries you past the ruins of the Roman Forum, the Cathedral and the Church of St. Donatus, all of which are surrounded by memories of Second World War bombings, Soviet reconstruction and the Serbian occupation.  Following Zadar, you will continue to drive up the coast before venturing inland to the forest. The day will conclude on the edge of Plitvice National Park, the perfect complement to the Adriatic Sea.

Day 5: Spend and Entire Day Exploring the Mythical Beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park

Today, the rhythm of your adventure will shift as you enter into the heart of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Epitomized by cascading waterfalls, turquoise lakes, flowering fields and towering forests, this park is often recognized as Croatia’s top natural gem. Trails weave together over 12,000 acres, providing you with ample opportunity to seek out a quiet corner on the edge of one of the 16 interconnected terraced lakes, where you can enjoy solitude and perhaps a glass of wine. The lakes themselves are perpetually clear and turquoise, as a result of the minerals embedded in the surrounding cliffs. Coupled with the smell of fir and pine that wafts from the forest, Plitvice is nothing short of a mythical and truly surreal wonderland.

A full day outdoors will likely leave you ready for a relaxing afternoon. Enjoy a quiet evening at your hotel’s restaurant, before retiring for the night. Tomorrow, you will move on to Slovenia.

Day 6: Climb through the Massive Caves of Postojna, Before Arriving in Bled, Slovenia

With your passport in hand, this morning you will say a temporary goodbye to Croatia as you move on to explore Slovenia. Traveling back towards the coast, you will pass through the Bay of Kvarner before moving further north towards the Caves of Postojna. Upon arrival, you will descend into a mythical subterranean world as you move through a segment of the 12.8 mile long cave. Traveling on the cave’s interior double track railway, you will explore a series of caverns before disembarking in amidst pillars of stalactite. Created over two million years ago by the Pivka River, you will follow the twinkles of stalactite and stalagmite curtains, pillars, and columns until eventually finding the Diamond Stalagmite and the Pillar Column, two of the cave’s most coveted wonders. The morning concludes with a live musical performance in the sprawling underground concert hall, which has the capacity to hold up to 10,000 guests. After listening to a solo violinist perform a familiar piece with surreal acoustics, you will return to the surface to continue on with your journey.

In the late afternoon, you will reach our final destination of Bled, located high in the Julian Alps on the edge of a brilliantly blue glacial lake. Fashionable and adventurous, take the time to familiarize yourself with some of the highlights of Bled and this new destination by strolling the perimeter of the iconic central lake before settling in to your first Slovenian meal.

Day 7: Enjoy a Full Day Exploring Bled, Wandering up to the City’s Iconic Lakeside Castle

Following a classic Slovenian breakfast complete with local sausage and fresh pastries, you will embark on a sightseeing tour of Bled. Inevitably, this will first begin with a hike up to Bled Castle. Perched 300 feet above the electric cobalt lake on a rocky outcropping, the orange roof of this 11th century castle is among the most recognized and cherished Slovenian sights. Currently a museum, inside the castle you can examine Slavic jewels, carvings, armor, weapons and art. Then, returning to the lakeshore, the thermal-heated waters may just lure you in for a dip on a sunny day. Otherwise, consider renting a boat to paddle across this tiny alpine sanctuary. With the some of the highest peaks of the Julian Alps in the backdrop, and the saturated hues of the city more broadly, this is sure to be a top photo opportunity!

Depending on preferences, the remainder of the day might be spent shopping in town, or exploring the surrounding landscapes on foot or by bicycle. The Vintgar Gorge is an extremely popular trail, which carries hikers along the Radovna River before eventually reaching the 50 foot high waterfall. No matter where you spend your day, be sure to incorporate a tasting of the classic vanilla and cream pastry that makes Bled famous with local Slovenians!

Day 8: Explore the Markets and Fountains of Ljubljana before Driving to Croatia’s Capital, Zagreb

This morning you will descend from your mountain sanctuary, traveling towards Slovenia’s capital: Ljubljana. You will stop here for a few hours, taking time to wander between the city’s treasured sights. A top priority will be the riverside Central Market, where savory delicacies and mementos spill out of the Renaissance-era arcades. Sample Karst prosciutto, cheese and paté, and tuck traditional potica cake in your bag for later, before carrying on to the Three Bridges, Robba’s Fountain, City Hall and the Parliament buildings.

From Ljubljana, you will then return to Croatia, arriving in the capital of Zagreb in the late afternoon. You will have just enough time to visit St. Mark’s Cathedral, before settling into one of the innumerable restaurants that are innovatively modernizing classic Croatian dishes to rave international reviews!

Day 9: Travel Home on an International Flight Departing from Zagreb’s International Airport

This morning, take time to enjoy one final Croatian breakfast, before driving to Zagreb International Airport. Should your departure be later in the afternoon, you may have enough time to explore the cafes, museums and galleries that speckle the streets of the capital. Alternatively, you might also consider extending your vacation by a few more days, just enough to allow you to explore a few more quintessential central European sights.

Price

Price 

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final hotel choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.