Enter the fantastical underground world of the Postojna Caves – one of the longest karst caverns in the world – home to strange rock formations and creatures like the eye-less salamander.. Cruise into the Kornati National Park archipelago to explore the bays and untouched islands. Use the on-board kayaks, take a dip or simply relax on deck with a drink in hand.. Take a small boat into the waterways of Krka National Park and cruise past waterfalls that spill from verdant forest, traditional windmills and medieval structures.. Indulge in epicurean experiences like truffle tasting in medieval Motovun, sampling local honey on a farm in Hvar and lunching on Peka lamb in the Opuzen wetlands.
Spend 22 glorious days exploring the myriad delights of Slovenia and Croatia, with a small jaunt into Bosnia and Herzegovina, by land touring and cruising. Combine well-known highlights such as Split’s Old Town with the quiet charm of a winery in small Sibenik village and simple pleasures like swimming in the waters of the Adriatic – this trip is the perfect way to see guidebook favourites and little-known treasures alike. Contrast well-preserved medieval cities like Venice, Dubrovnik and Korcula with the rugged, evergreen wilderness of national parks like Plitvice Lakes, Kornati and Krka.
Arrive in style! Your airport arrival transfer is by private water taxi. Glide into the centre of Venice by boat to gain an appropriate sense of perspective of this unique city from the water… don’t forget to keep your camera handy! This watery wonderland of bridges, towers, piazzas, canals, churches and gondolas – practically unchanged for 600 years – is literally sinking under the weight of iconic sights. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you have time to spare before then, you may wish to take a walking tour of the highlights, including St Mark's Square and the Basilica, Doges’ Palace, Accademia Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs. After the group meeting tonight, do not be afraid to lose yourself on a short walk of discovery, through mysterious, quiet alleys and sleepy canals.
Postojna Caves – Ljubljana – Bled
Farewell Venice in the morning and travel to the Postojna Caves (approximately 2 hours), where you will have some free time to have lunch before exploring. A network of 20 kilometres of passages, galleries and chambers, Postojna is the largest classic karst cave in Europe. Begin with a two-kilometre open-top train ride through narrow tunnels into the jungle of stalactites and stalagmites. In the vast chambers the electric lighting allows you to admire the size and splendour of the underground world, where the geological past is recorded in a unique manner. Continue to Ljubljana (approximately 1 hour), a city full of style and sophistication. On arrival take a guided tour around the Old Town. Visit Ljubljana Castle, the Town Hall, Cathedral of St Nicholas and the Dragon Bridge. You'll also pay a visit to the open market under arcades before continuing to the lake side town of Bled (approximately 1 hour).
Lake Bohinj – Bled
This morning you’ll drive through the misty Sava Bohinjka Valley to beautiful Lake Bohinj (approximately 30 minutes), the largest permanent natural lake in Slovenia. Take a cable car to the top of Mt Vogel, where you will be greeted by simply astonishing views of evergreen woods sloping down the mountains to touch the brilliant blue waters. Enjoy free time to enjoy this amazing area before returning to Bled, renowned for its mild, healing climate and thermal lake water. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then embark on some sightseeing. Take a Pletna boat ride (a wooden, awning-covered boat rowed by a special oarsman) to the island on Lake Bled and climb up the 99 steps to St Mary's Church. Enjoy a free evening. Be sure to seek out the famous Bled cream cake, which isn’t hard; nearly every cafe and cake shop in town claims that theirs is the best.
Motovun – Rovinj – Pula
Farewell Slovenia this morning and drive to Motovun, one of the most interesting towns in Croatia (approximately 2 hours). Motovun sits on the top of a cone-shaped hill, 277 metres above sea level, surrounded by the romantic and natural diversity of the bountiful Mirna River Valley, whose forests are famous for truffle hunting. Motovun is the one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Croatia's Istria region, with houses scattered all over the hill. The town grew around a core settlement surrounded by well-fortified walls, and its Celtic origin name comes from the word 'Montona', which means the 'town on the hill'. The medieval charm of the town is still found in its well-preserved architecture. Truffles are a glamourous-sounding local produce in this region. Enjoy a truffle tasting combined with fritaja (Croatian omelette), a local speciality. Your sommelier will pair your tasting with suitable Istrian wines to try, such as the famous Malvazija. Continue on to the romantic Croatian town of Rovinj, one of the best-kept towns on the Adriatic Coast (approximately 1 hour). Among Rovinj's qualities is the beautiful, architecturally intact old town centre, with a relaxed Mediterranean feel. Through the centuries, Rovinj’s character has enchanted many an artist or writer, including Jules Verne. Whilst in Rovinj you will also pay a visit to the venetian-style St. Euphemia Church, dedicated to the early Christian martyr whose marble coffin is said to have floated to the Rovinj shoreline. Continue on to Pula, only a short drive and tonight’s destination (approximately 40 minutes).
Pula – Opatija – Plitvice
This morning, explore the famous Roman Amphitheatre of Pula with a local guide, and step back in time to the town’s heyday as a Roman regional administrative centre. Overlooking the harbour, the arena is the sixth-largest surviving amphitheatre in the world. Built in the 1st century, it was designed to hold up to 20,000 spectators, who revelled in the bloodthirsty gladiatorial contests shown there. The 30-metre-high wall, inset with two rows of arches, is made entirely of local limestone, with gutters on top for collecting water and slabs that were used to hold a shady fabric canopy in place. In the late morning you will make your way inland with a stop at the town of Opatija (approximately 1.5 hours), a former resort town for wealthy Austro-Hungarian families. Here you’ll have the opportunity to walk along the famed centuries-old Franz Joseph I Promenade, better known as the Lungomare – a coastal footpath that stretches from Volosko to Lovran. There will be time for you to explore the stretch of the promenade closest to town, and to have lunch. In the afternoon, you will transfer to your hotel (approximately 2.5 hours), located in the Plitvice Lakes area.
Plitvice Lakes National Park – Zadar
Today you will visit one of Croatia's most beautiful sites – Plitvice Lakes National Park. The park was given World Heritage status 20 years ago and comprises 19 hectares of wooded hills that surround 16 stunning turquoise lakes, all connected by a series of waterfalls. The area is populated by deer, bears, wolves, boars and some rare bird species, and the thick, primeval forest vegetation of beech trees, fir spruce and white pine adds another element to the park's beauty. You’ll have free time to explore here – all trails in the national park are well marked so it's difficult to get lost, but please follow the national park rules, which your leader will outline to you. After your memorable visit to the lakes, drive to the walled city of Zadar (approximately 1.5 hours). For centuries Zadar was the capital city of Dalmatia, and the city's rich heritage is visible at every step. Take an afternoon sightseeing tour of this splendid city – see the Roman Forum built in the first-Century and St Donatus' Church, which dates back to the ninth century and is the most famous medieval basilica and trademark of the city. You’ll also see numerous other fascinating constructions from between the 12th and 16th centuries, like the reconstructed Romanesque St Grisigono's Church, St Mary's bell tower, St Anastasia's Cathedral, and the People's Square. Lastly, you will visit the Three and Five Wells Squares. There is also an opportunity to visit the Gold and Silver Museum.
Today is a free day in Zadar. There is so much to see and do in this harbour city, the hard thing is deciding what to choose. There are a number of excellent museums to visit including the Museum of Church Art, the Archeological Museum and the National Museum. Don't forget to visit the famous ‘Greeting to the Sun’ and the ‘Sea Organ’, two of the more modern sights of Zadar. The latter is a man-made organ on Zadar's Riva that works with the motion of the waves and 35 pipes to create a musical soundscape. You could also visit the vibrant fish markets of this port town, take a dip in the clear coastal waters, or explore the cafe culture and do some people watching. Your leader will also be able to offer you suggestions.
After breakfast, you will drive to Split, making a few interesting stops on the way. Your first stop is at the town of Sibenik (approximately 1 hour), where you have the option to visit the 15th-century St Jacob's Cathedral. After some free time for lunch, drive to Primosten (approximately 30 minutes), one of the most picturesque small towns on the Adriatic, then onwards to Split (approximately 1 hour). This is Croatia's second largest city, located in the heart of the Dalmatian coast and set on the azure waters of the Adriatic Sea against a backdrop of coastal mountains. On arrival, transfer to your ship for the Adventure Cruising section of your journey, with boarding at 5 pm. Meet your crew and fellow travellers over a welcome drink, and have an introductory meeting and safety briefing. In the evening, sit down to an on-board dinner and watch the sun set over the sparkling Adriatic.
Sail to Sibenik, take a short orientation walk with your leader, then a transfer to a nearby village. Here you are treated to a traditional Dalmatian lunch in an agriturismo. This particular spot is famous for its smoked ham, known in the to the locals as pršut. You visit the farm, and enjoy the local countryside, before returning to Sibenik in early evening.
Travel to Zadar, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Croatia, you'll take a walking tour with a local guide. This includes admittance to St Donatus Church, an imposing 9th-century domed building still used for music performance. Later in the afternoon you'll head to the unique Sea Organ, which generates music via sea waves, using tubes placed beneath a set of broad marble stairs. It's not only a profound piece of art, highlighting the long history of the town, but also a feat of engineering. As darkness falls you'll enjoy a glass of sparkling wine at nearby Greeting to the Sun, an in-ground monument consisting of 300 multi-layered glass plates in a 22-metre (72 foot) diameter circle that produces a stunning show of light after dark. It works in tandem with the Sea Organ -- one communicates with light, the other with sound.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Transfer by coach to Plitvice National Park, where a leisurely hike with your leader is a lovely way to take in all the natural beauty. While you can't swim in these lakes, the experience of nature is a profound one, with waterfalls and butterflies piercing the ambience of the lush green forest, providing many a photo opportunity. Return to Zadar in the afternoon.
Kornati National Park
Sail to Kornati National Park, a nautical wonderland made up of 89 islands. Explore the bays, stopping for a swim. Those keen for some kayaking are welcome to take that option; alternatively, sit back and take in the endless blue-green vistas and snap some photos. Stay overnight in Telascica.