Day 1 - Dubrovnik
Dobro Dosli! Welcome to Croatia. Dubrovnik is a beautiful white stone town surrounded entirely by city walls. Although it experienced devastation during the war in the early 1990s, the restored old town remains as charming as ever. 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 – check with reception to confirm the time and place – and you can arrive at anytime before then. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel 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. If you arrive early, why not head out to one of the Elafiti Islands. There's Lopud, a quiet island with lovely hikes, clean beaches and a ruined castle. Kolocep is a sleepy enclave that boasts walks for every fitness level, and Sipan is the most populated of the isles and reputedly has the most hospitable inhabitants. After the meeting, perhaps enjoy a meal with the group so you can get to know your fellow travellers.
Day 2 - Dubrovnik
Today is a free day for you to enjoy all that Dubrovnik has to offer. Maybe take a walk along the city walls of ‘Game of Thrones’ fame, enjoying views of the sparkling Adriatic Sea in this undisputed 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 pharmacies, or the Sponza and Rector's Palaces, the only Renaissance buildings in the city to survive a devastating earthquake and fire in 1667. You can get a snapshot of Croatian history at one of many museums, take a quiet moment inside an old cathedral, or cruise out to nearby Lokrum Island. If you still feel energetic after a day exploring the city, you can take the switchbacks leading up Srd Hill behind Dubrovnik for spectacular views of the city and the Dalmatian coastline. Alternatively, the newly restored cable car can whisk you to the top in less than 10 minutes. The hill is topped by a castle from Napoleonic times, which now houses the Museum of the Croatian War of Independence.
Day 3 - Korcula Island
Journey by bus and boat to Korcula (approximately 4 hours). The time you depart and your travel time may vary depending on the transport schedule. For the next two nights, stay with generous hosts – locals who rent out their rooms in the summer season. The rooms, while simple, are the best way to put money back into the local economy. Later in the afternoon, make the short journey by local bus (approximately 30 minutes) to the tiny village of Pupnat (population: 300) in the interior of the island. Here you’ll visit a local farm/restaurant and eat outside on the patio. Sample some of the family vineyard's wines and be treated to a meal made entirely from ingredients found on the farm. Perhaps you can drink your wine like the locals do: mixed with a bit of water. The traditional Dalmatian meat loaf, or pasticada, and fresh grilled vegetables with olive oil constitute a typical dish, all served with fresh goat and sheep cheeses, and maybe some smoked ham to tie it all together. Don't forget to have a bit of travarica (a grappa-like drink made with the herb called verbane) and some Korcula cakes for dessert before heading back to Korcula town.
Day 4 - Korcula Island
Today is a free day for you to take in the serene forest landscape, dotted with tranquil inlets and character-filled vineyards, on an island where natives believe Marco Polo was born. Whether or not this can be proved (the Venetians have a similar claim), Korcula is steeped in a long history and the islanders are proud owners of this little gem, smaller than Dubrovnik but no less precious to its inhabitants. Greeks settled in the 6th century BC (they called the island Black Korcula), but the town was also occupied by the Romans, the Slavs, and then the longest period of rule passed to the Venetians between 1420 and 1797. Even Napoleon was ruler for a while. As a result of all these influences, Korcula has a stunning Old Town – romantic and evocative. And what's more, there are plenty of warm beaches to relax on if that's more your speed. You might like to take a swim, walk around the bays and villages near Korcula town, pay a visit to the Marco Polo Tower, go shopping, or just soak up the ambience. If you're feeling energetic, take a snorkelling, kayaking or mountain-biking day trip. Your leader can help arrange these activities from your base in Korcula.
Day 5 - Hvar Island
A hydrofoil ferry takes you to the neighbouring island of Hvar (approximately 90 minutes). Beautiful Hvar has an air of Venice about it, and is known as the 'Queen of the Dalmatian Islands'. Wander around a town with wonderfully preserved Renaissance facades, hike past dramatic jagged limestone cliffs and slow your pace to enjoy the undulating farms, fields of lavender and rosemary, and ancient olive groves. Upon arrival, get to know the town with an orientation walk and visit the 16th century Spanjola Fortress, from where spectacular views over town and this part of the Adriatic can be had. For the next two nights, you’ll stay in private apartments that locals rent out during the summer months. They are diverse and can vary in size and most may not have air-conditioning. All are located within 15 minutes of the main square. Feel the history when wandering the backstreets of quirky galleries and unique boutiques, watch the fishermen bring the day’s catch into the quay, and chill out over a few cocktails in a waterside bar.
Day 6 - Hvar Island
Today is a free day. There are plenty of options for exciting activities in town, or take a short hike on the nearby Pakleni islands – largely uninhabited and often described as being among the most beautiful in the world. Depending on the weather, there is the option to join a four-hour walk through the lavender fields (they are blooming in June) and olive groves that are abundant on this pearl in the Adriatic. If you don’t feel energetic today, spend the day lounging at one of the island's many quiet beaches and enjoy a sunset stroll along the harbour promenade. Alternatively, why not visit the island of Brac, with its famed white pebble beach, Zlatni Rat. 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. The island is famous for milk-white marble, which was used for the construction of the White House in Washington DC and Diocletian's Palace in Split. Tonight, be sure to sample the some of the best seafood around, caught fresh that day.
Day 7 - Split
Catch a boat to Split (approximately 2 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. Join a local guide for a walking tour of Split and get to know its history. See the original and fantastically preserved basements under the city, as well as the Cathedral in Diocletian's Peristyle and Jupiter's Temple. Explore the impressive ruins of Diocletian's Palace, Split's most imposing structure and some of the most interesting ruins on the Adriatic coast. Portions of the Palace are over 1,700 years old and there’s ample time to experience this time-defying structure. Split grew out from Diocletian's Palace and you can almost see it evolving in a multitude of different ways right before your eyes. Some cultures might have made the palace a museum, but Split is 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. Be sure to celebrate this final night with the group as your Croatian exploration comes to an end.
Day 8 - Split
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there is so much to see in Split and the surrounding area, such as Salona, Trogir or Sibenik, you may want to consider extending your time in Split. 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
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