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 an eye-less salamander. Ride the cable car up Mt Vogel for exceptional views over the astonishingly beautiful Lake Bohinj and the foothills of the mighty Alps. Soak up the vibrancy of Zadar and experience the deep Dalmatian heritage visible at every step – contrast the Roman ruins and medieval city walls with the modern sea organ and sun salutation. Delight in a truffle tasting in Motovun where the delicacies are combined with local speciality dishes and a sommelier will pair your tasting with suitable Istrian wines to try.
Spectacular natural beauty and fascinating cultural heritage go hand in hand in Slovenia and Croatia.
This 9-day Premium journey will take you from the glittering canals of Venice to the beaming waters of Lake Bled and the underground world of the Postojna Caves. Ride the cable car up Mt Vogel for views over Lake Bohinj, and appreciate the caves and waterfalls abound in Plitvice Lakes National Park. Indulge in the epicurean delights like truffles, wine and Adriatic sunshine. Let Croatia and Slovenia enchant you on this fulfilling small-group adventure.
Breakfast Included: 8 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included: 2
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.
Your adventure comes to and end after breakfast this morning. If you would like to extend your stay in Split, additional accommodation can be arranged ahead of time (subject to availability).