Enjoy a total tranquillity at the Hotel Istra on its own private island, and soak up incredible views of the Adriatic from your guesthouse on the unspoiled Lastovo Island – your two feature stays for this trip.. Relish the best of Adriatic cuisine as you dine out in Split and Dubrovnik, eat freshly caught fish at sea, sample locally produced wine and delight in a truffle tasting.. Travel with experienced local leaders who will share local secrets, insider knowledge and historical information and follow a local guide through Diocletian’s Palace in Split.. Immerse yourself in local culture as you head out with a fisherman from Lastovo Island, helping to bring in the daily catch and enjoying an on-board lunch of the freshest seafood imaginable.
Discover a piece of paradise as you dive into the best of Slovenia and Croatia on a 16-day Premium adventure. Explore the glittering canals of Venice, the beaming waters of Lake Bled, the underground world of the Postojna Caves and the caves and waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Go beneath the surface of Split and Dubrovnik, get away from the modern world and in with the locals on the remote island of Lastovo, and soak up ancient riches on the historical island of Korcula. From sun-soaked beaches to fantastic local wine, you’re never far from a good time on the beautiful Adriatic coast.
Your adventure begins today in the marvellous city of Venice. You will be collected from the airport on arrival and transferred to your hotel by car and water taxi, where you will meet your leader and fellow travellers for a 6pm welcome meeting. 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. 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 meeting tonight, join your leader and small group for a welcome dinner at a fabulous local restaurant. Venice is famous for fantastic seafood and fresh Veneto vegetables – perhaps try some fritto misto, a delicious mix of fried seafood, or risotto with asparagus.
Postojna Caves / Ljubljana / Bled
Farewell Venice in the morning and travel to the Postojna Caves, where you will take some time out for 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, and the leader will explain the geology of these natural wonders. Continue to Ljubljana, a city full of style and sophistication. On arrival take a guided tour around the Old Town with your leader. Learn about the city’s history as you 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.
Lake Bohinj / Bled
This morning you’ll drive through the misty Sava Bohinjka Valley to beautiful Lake Bohinj, 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. Take some 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
Farewell Slovenia this morning and drive to Motovun, one of Croatia’s most interesting towns. Motovun sits on the top of a cone-shaped hill surrounded by the natural diversity of the bountiful Mirna River Valley, whose forests are famous for truffle hunting. The medieval charm of the town is still found in its well-preserved architecture. Today you will have the chance to sample the delectable local product during 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. Among Rovinj's qualities is the beautiful, architecturally intact old town centre, and its venetian-style St. Euphemia Church. Tonight’s feature stay accommodation is the spectacular Hotel Istra, set on a private island just a short boat ride from Rovinj. Away from the pressures of the mainland, here you’ll experience total tranquillity on your own slice of paradise. The hotel makes the most of its scenic setting, with stunning views at every turn. Combine that with fantastic facilities, gorgeous rooms and polished service and you’ve got an experience to remember.
Opatija / Plitvice
This morning you will make your way inland with a stop at the town of Opatija, 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 your will arrive at your accommodation, tucked away in the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Enjoy an evening at leisure.
Plitvice Lakes National Park / Zadar
Today you will explore one of Croatia's most beautiful sites – Plitvice Lakes National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage site is fairy-tale land of wooded hills, rare creatures, turquoise lakes and stunning waterfalls. Enjoy some time to discover the park’s wonderful trails. Your leader will recommend the best routes to take to suit your interests and will outline the rules of the park. After your memorable visit to the lakes, drive to the walled city of Zadar. 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 with a local guide. Learn the ancient history of the Roman Forum built in the first-Century and St Donatus' Church. Visit 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.
The day is yours to continue to get to know Zadar. Speak to your leader for advice on how to tailor a perfect day in this city – there’s so much to do, the hard part is deciding what to choose. There are a number of excellent museums to visit including the Museum of Church Art, the Archaeological 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. In the late afternoon meet up again with your leader. Do as the locals do and cross the bay in a barkajoli, a type of traditional rowboat that has been commonplace in Zadar since the 14th century. Top off the day with a sunset drink overlooking the bay.
Sibenik / Primosten / Split
After breakfast, drive to Split, making a few interesting stops on the way. Your first stop is at the town of Sibenik, where you have the option to visit St Jacob's Cathedral, a 15th-century jewel that’s UNESCO protected. After some time out for lunch you will drive to Primosten, one of the most famous and picturesque small towns on the Adriatic. Explore the stone houses, churches, narrow alleys and lanes around the town’s old walls, where past and present sit in harmony. Continue on to your final destination of Split. 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. This evening you may like to head to one of Split’s excellent restaurants with your group for dinner.
Enjoy a day at leisure in Split. You may like to visit the Mestrovic gallery, which displays the remarkable work of one of Croatia’s greatest sculptors, or head out for a stroll along the delightful seafront promenade. As this is a combination trip, a meeting will take place at your hotel at 6pm this evening to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your adventure. After the meeting tonight, get to know your fellow travellers and group leader over dinner at one of Split’s excellent restaurants. Perhaps try some brudet, a rustic seafood stew, or rozata, a creamy custard pudding.
This morning meet with a local guide who is an expert on the area and embark on a sightseeing tour of Split. Your guide will provide profound insight as you discover a living textbook on history and architecture. Dating back 1800 years, the city began as a monumental imperial residence for the retirement of the Roman emperor Diocletian. This ancient fortress still makes up half of Split’s old town, and today is an intriguing warren of narrow cobblestone streets where pre-Romanesque churches exist alongside Gothic chapels and a multitude of museums. Stop by the statue of Grgur Ninski and learn how this tenth-century bishop once opposed the pope and introduced the Croatian language into his services. The evening is free for further explorations. Perhaps dive deeper into Split’s booming gastronomy scene - your leader will know some great spots to grab a bite to eat.
Split / Lastovo Island
Enjoy a relaxing morning in Split before boarding an afternoon catamaran to Croatia’s most remote island - Lastovo. This little piece of paradise is home to your feature stay accommodation for the next two nights. The protected island nature park remains free from the effects of mainstream tourism and has retained its local flair. Without the infrastructure that caters to mass tourism, and with a dwindling population for the same reason, your leader will introduce you to scenes of traditional Adriatic island life as it once was. As a bonus, our sustainable tourism here supports the locals who have decided to remain. Arrive at your guesthouse and let the peaceful nature of Lastovo Island wash over you as the Adriatic Sea gently laps at your doorstep. Views from your spacious room look like they’re straight off a postcard, with charming houses fringing the glittering turquoise bay. This evening, take in the view over a wonderful included dinner with your group.
Today you will immerse yourself in island life and learn an important local trade as you rise early and take to the seas with a local fisherman, his wife and his crew. Help them to bring in the day’s catch, usually a selection of scorpion fish, mackerel, sardine and bream, then enjoy the fruits of your labour with a delicious seafood lunch prepared on board - it doesn’t get more fresh than that! The captain will discuss their self-sustaining lifestyle and provide unrivalled insight into daily rituals, leaving you with an unforgettable impression of life on this remote island. Return to land and enjoy the rest of the day as you see fit. Perhaps unroll your beach towel and enjoy a few horizontal hours, or explore the peace and quiet of the stone waterfront and tiny port of this slice of heaven lost in time.