Day 1 - Dubrovnik
Dobro Dosli! Welcome to Croatia. The undisputed jewel of the Dalmatian Coast, Dubrovnik is a beautiful white stone town surrounded entirely by city walls. Although it experienced devastation during the war in the early 1990s, the old town – with its tiled roofs and stone buildings – remains as charming as ever, with extensive restoration to return it to its original splendour. With the sparkling water of the Adriatic in the background, Dubrovnik is picturesque, full of character, and can easily be covered on foot. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today, and you can arrive at anytime before then – check with reception to confirm the time and place. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the accommodation by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. After the meeting, perhaps head out for a walk around Dubrovnik to help find your feet. Later on, possibly enjoy a meal with the group so you can get to know your fellow travellers.
Day 2 - Dubrovnik
Today is free to explore the beaches and scenery of this idyllic coastal city that overlooks the Adriatic. Maybe take a walk along the city walls of ‘Game of Thrones’ fame, enjoying views of the sparkling Adriatic Sea in this renowned jewel of the Dalmatian Coast. Visit Big Onofrio's Fountain, built by architect Onofrio della Cava in the 15th century to supply water to the city. Perhaps check out the Franciscan monastery, home to one of the world's oldest continuously-functioning pharmacies, founded in the 13th century. Perhaps check out the 13th-century Franciscan monastery or the Sponza and Rector's Palaces, the only Renaissance buildings in the city to survive a devastating earthquake and fire in 1667. You might like to check out the city's War Photography Museum, or if you have time, even take a boat trip to nearby Lokrum Island, where you will find the French-built Fort Royal Castle, a monastery, and a botanical garden that dates back to when the Austrian archduke Maximilian had his holiday home on the island. Otherwise, maybe relax on the pristine Banje beach.
Day 3 - Split
Take a public bus up the coast to Split (approximately 4,5 hours). If Dubrovnik is considered the heart of Dalmatia, Split is certainly its soul. Situated on a small peninsula on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea, it's the second largest city in Croatia. This stunning seaside town is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the coast. Enjoy a free afternoon exploring the historic streets, and make sure you see the World Heritage-listed Diocletian's Palace. Alternatively for a more in-depth introduction to this fascinating city why not join an optional guided tour with a local guide. Split grew out from the 3rd century Roman Emperor Diocletian's Palace and you can almost see it evolving in a multitude of different ways. Some cultures might have made the palace a museum, but the city of Split has always been a dynamic and vibrant place, and the palace houses many businesses and homes. If your feet get tired, why not grab a drink at a cafe on the Riva Promenade and people watch for a while. You can get lots of local interaction in Split, such as at the fish market on Marmontova Street or the markets just outside the palace walls.
Day 4 - Split / Brac Island
Take a daytrip out to the island of Brac, the third largest of Croatia's islands and host to enchanting harbour villages, set among steep cliffs and a distinctly Mediterranean landscape. Villagers have farmed wine, olive oil, figs and almonds in the difficult interior of this rock-strewn island for centuries, but it's the small, beach-side towns that draw the crowds. Brac's most famous export is the gleaming white stone mined from the island's quarries, cladding buildings as deep in antiquity as Diocletian's Palace in Split, and as far afield as the White House in Washington DC. Visit the town of Supetar - your leader will show you around on an initial orientation walk. Spend a day exploring this island on your own steam, or simply take it easy, lie on the famous Zlatni Rat beach and enjoy the sun with a drink in your hand.
Day 5 - Plitvice Lakes National Park / Zagreb
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 is 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 or simply follow your leader to see the best spots – 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. A series of wooden walkways pass over the landscape, ensuring that there's as little impact on the park as possible. Look to the canopy for over 120 species of birds, including hawks and owls. After your memorable visit to the lakes, drive to Croatia's capital, Zagreb. Take an afternoon orientation walk on arrival. Your leader will point out local amenities and attractions you might want to visit along the way, so ask any questions you might have about the city during the walk.
Day 6 - Zagreb
Today is a free day in Zagreb, so check out both the upper town and the lower town to understand the city's culture. The tallest building in town is the gothic Zagreb Cathedral, with iconic twin spires that dominate the city's skyline. Ban Jelacic Square is the city's central point, which is surrounded by multiple structures that reflect different periods of Zagreb's past. There is so much to see and do here, the hard thing is deciding what to choose. There are a number of excellent museums to visit including the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships.
Day 7 - Ljubljana
Travel by train across the Slovenian border and arrive in the cosmopolitan capital (pronounced 'Lyub-Li-Yana') (approximately 2.5 hours). On arrival into Ljubljana, check in to your accommodation and then head out to get to know the city on a short orientation walk where the leader will point out some of the highlights. The rest of the day is free for you to delve deeper into this beautiful city. Located in the centre of Slovenia, Ljubljana is a city full of style and sophistication, history, monuments, churches, museums and great restaurants. In your free time, you can wander around the old city centre, renowned for its unique architectural appearance. The Old Town consists of three main squares and Baroque houses, and you can visit the Ljubljana Castle, the Town Hall, Cathedral of St. Nicholas, and the Dragon Bridge. Stop at the central Prešeren Square, dedicated to the Slovenian romantic poet, France Prešeren. With views of the Triple Bridge and Ljubljana Castle on one side, and a magnificent Franciscan church on the other, you’ll feel like you’ve just walked right into a scene from a beautiful postcard. Maybe also drop by the open market under the arcade. This evening enjoy Ljubljana by night.
Day 8 - Ljubljana
Today is a free day. You may want to decide to take an optional day trip to Bled. With immense natural beauty, Bled, together with its surroundings, ranks among the most beautiful of alpine resorts. With a stunning lake, a castle, a picturesque island church and plenty of outdoor activities, Bled is a great place to explore. It's renowned for its mild, healing climate and thermal lake water. Maybe head to the cliff-top Bled Castle, dating from the 11th century and overlooking sparkling Lake Bled, then take a Pletna boat ride (a wooden, awning-covered boat rowed by a special oarsman) to the island on Lake Bled – climb up the 99 steps to St Mary's Church. 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. There's also plenty of action for adrenaline junkies: rafting, caving, cycling, canoeing, boating, and swimming, to name a few.
Day 9 - Venice
This morning travel by bus to one of the world's most unique cities, legendary, romantic Venice, the final destination of this trip (approximately 3.5 hours). A grand city of canals, Venice is built over a hundred small islands connected by 400 bridges. This watery wonderland of towers, piazzas, canals, churches and gondolas – practically unchanged for 600 years – is literally sinking under the weight of its iconic sights. Still rich with artistic masterpieces, modern Venice combines history with contemporary life through food, performance, art and architecture. The best way to enjoy your free time and explore is by foot, taking in all the famous sights – the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge, Doge's Palace (the ruler of Venice), the Piazza San Marco with its golden Basilica, and of course, the evocative Bridge of Sighs. Wander the cobblestone streets and spacious piazzas, crossing hundreds of tiny bridges. There are shops, markets, galleries and churches around every corner. Don't miss taking a gondola trip through the romantic canals or sampling a slice of region's desert speciality, tiramisu (coffee-soaked sponge cake). In the evening, perhaps join your fellow travellers for a final group dinner at a local restaurant. Venice is famous for its specialities of fresh lobster and squid ink spaghetti dishes, so make sure you give one a try as this trip comes to an end.
Note: Please note that the accommodation we use in Venice is not located in the lagoon, but in the mainland suburb of Mestre, which is a short train ride away from the city centre and the lagoon of Venice.
Day 10 - Venice
On the final day of the trip, there are no activities planned and you're able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there is so much to do in Venice we recommend you to extend your stay by a few days. We are happy to book additional accommodation for you, subject to availability. Please enquire at the time of booking.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money