Treasure under the ancient sun
DAY 01: ZAGREB
Arrival to Zagreb airport; flight details TBA. Meet your driver for a private transfer to your centrally located hotel, The Regent Esplanade, and spend the evening at your leisure.
Dinner in the hotel.
Overnight in Zagreb.
DAY 02: ZAGREB - TRAKOSCAN - ZAGREB
This morning meet your guide and driver for a full day tour of Hrvatsko Zagorje and Zagreb. After a 1-hour ride you will arrive to Trakoscan Castle. Sitting upon a hill and facing its reflection in the lake underneath, the castle leads us into a true fairy tale. A stunning neo-gothic castle dates all the way back in the 1334, when it was only a fortification of Trakoscan. It changed quite a few hands throughout the history and was finally inherited by the count Janko Draškovic, who decided to build himself a summer residence. Walking through the halls furnished with Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and neo-classicistic pieces, with stoves and mirrors, you will able to reconstruct a whole world gone by.
Then you will return with your guide to Zagreb. The capital of Croatia illustrates both the continental and the Mediterranean spirit of the nation it spearheads. The façades of Zagreb's buildings reflect the ebb and flow of history, while its streets and squares bear witness to the coming together of the many cultures that have shaped its identity.
Your guide will take you for a walk from Zrinjevac, through the avenues of trees and flowers to the main city square of Ban Jelacic, the heart of the city. You will continue the tour to the Upper Town and its mediaeval twin settlements: secular Gradec and ecclesiastical Kaptol, both preserved till today. You will discover its cobblestone streets, mediaeval towers, the vivacious green market; old houses and churches such as the Cathedral of Mary's Assumption and St. Mark's church with the beautiful multi-colored roofs and Croatian coats of arms. Then you will continue by funicular or walk to the Lower Town, dominated by the impressive building of the Croatian National Theatre. The neo-baroque edifice is surrounded by numerous Art Nouveau buildings that represent Croatian architecture of the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
Spend the rest of afternoon at your leisure in the Lower Town where you will enjoy the charming ambiance of the streets full of boutiques, cafes and bookshops.
Overnight in Zagreb.
DAY 03: ZAGREB - PLITVICE - ROVINJ
Meet your driver for your private transfer to Rovinj. On your way, you will stop to visit the Plitvice Lakes, the most beautiful national park in Croatia, protected by the UNESCO as the World Natural Heritage.
The beauty of the National Park lies in its sixteen lakes, inter-connected by a series of waterfalls, and set in deep woodland populated by deer, bears, wolves, boars and rare bird species. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colours, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The waters flowing over the limestone and chalk have, over thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams which in turn have created a series of beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls.
Your guide will take you through the park by a well-laid out system of wooden walkways that allow you to experience the best of your visit. Enjoy the unspoiled beauty of a grand collection of waterfalls, gallery of lakes, forests and diversity of animal life. Discover the mesmerizing ever-changing landscape - created by water, gravity, limestone and time - in this unique park of nature. The watery wonderland will seduce you and you will never want to leave...
After some time at leisure, you will continue with your driver towards Rovinj. Upon arrival, you will check in to your hotel - Hotel Lone - a new design hotel.
Dinner in the hotel.
Overnight in Rovinj.
DAY 04: ISTRIA TOUR
This morning your guide and driver will meet you in the hotel to begin your exploration of the Istria's small towns and hilltop villages. The dreamlike nature, almost mythical landscape and picturesque mediaeval towns will awake all your senses.
First you will visit Groznjan, a 14th-century Venetian town known nowadays as Town of Artists. Since 1965, Grožnjan is an art colony, meeting point for numerous painters, sculptors and musicians. The mediaeval urban core has remained untouched, so you can enjoy the walk through narrow streets to the main town gate, Renaissance loggia and the baroque church with frescos. From the city walls, enjoy the breathtaking views on the Adriatic Sea and the Mirna Valley in this one-of-a-kind fairytale land.
Few kilometres away, you will discover Motovun - the charming mediaeval town placed on the hill in the heart of Istria. Motovun is a town-monument, an ancient Istrian acropolis, known for its position and vistas that make it one of the most beautiful towns on the Mediterranean. Today the interior walls serve as a promenade from which one can enjoy the magical Istrian panorama. Motovun forest, which extends for kilometres along the valley, is the dwelling place of the famed truffles that are extracted in this region.
Your journey in the land where hills meet the sea ends in Rovinj, one of the most "photogenic" towns in the Mediterranean. Once a fishing town, it now offers a warm Mediterranean setting to its visitors. Experience the sights of this magical town while strolling with your guide up narrow streets to the magnificent church of St. Euphemia, the town's most important monument. This baroque building made in Venetian style was dedicated to the saint and martyr whose sarcophagus was miraculously washed ashore somewhere around the year 800.
The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure.
Overnight in Rovinj.
DAY 05: ROVINJ - ZADAR - SPLIT
This morning meet your guide and driver in the hotel for a private transfer to Split. On your way, you will stop to visit Zadar. An ancient Greek foundation under the name of Iader, later an important jewel in the Venetian crown as Zara and today the centre of the region, Zadar is a town-monument with layers of history that can be revealed on every step. Centuries-old tumultuous history, numerous destructions and reconstructions have left scars but also a rich historical legacy and today's valuable monumental heritage of the city. Numerous churches and cultural monuments dating from all historical periods have been preserved thus representing architectural works of art, from the Roman period trough Middle Ages up to the modern architecture.
Your guide will take for a walk through the cobblestone streets, from the church of St. Donat and the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, to the Benedictine convent of St Mary and the largest Roman forum on the East of the Adriatic, founded by the first Roman Emperor Augustus. You will also discover some contemporary attractions of Zadar. One of them is the Sea Organ, the site that is a blend of human ideas and the energy of the sea, a place for relaxation and contemplation with the sounds of the endless concert of the "Orchestra of Nature". Walking further down the waterfront, you will discover the "Greeting to the Sun", an impressive urban installation. Simultaneously with the "most beautiful sunset in the world", the lightning elements turn on and produce a marvelous light show in the rhythm of the waves and the sounds of the sea organ.
After the tour, spend some time at leisure before you continue to Split. Upon arrival, you will check in to your centrally located hotel - Hotel Luxe.
Dinner in one of the local restaurants.
Overnight in Split.
DAY 06: SPLIT & TROGIR TOUR
This morning meet your guide and driver in the hotel lobby for private sightseeing tours of Split and Trogir, historic towns included in the UNESCO's World Heritage list.
Set on a small island just off the mainland, Trogir is a tiny charming town surrounded by impressive fortress walls. As you enter the fortified town through the Land Gate, you will stroll along its narrow streets, flanked by ancient stone houses. In the walk through this picturesque town you will come across numerous valuable edifices, such as the St. Lawrence Cathedral with a magnificent 13th century Romanesque portal; the Old City Hall from the 15th Century, the Kamerlengo tower on the relaxing waterfront promenade and many others.
Afterwards your driver and guide will take you back to Split where you will enjoy a guided tour of the 1700 years of the living monument. The first inhabitant of Split was the Roman emperor Diocletian who started to build his palace in this friendly bay around 293 AD. After his abdication he withdrew to this luxurious palace to enjoy the rest of his days. The following turbulent centuries made the palace into a town first populated by the citizens of the nearby Salona, fleeing before Avars and Slavs. The town overgrew the walls of the palace and its authorities kept changing - from Croatian kings, Hungarian and Venetian administration, to French rulers and Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Your guide will take you for a walk through this living monument and all its magnificent sights. You will discover the basement halls of the Palace and their unique role in the history of Split. In Peristyle, the main square of the Palace, you will visit the Cathedral of St. Domnius, the patron-saint of Split. Your walk will then take you to the Split City Museum, situated in the beautiful Gothic-Renaissance Palace of the noble family Papalic. Within the museums walls, which are part of the Palace of Diocletian, you will be able to enjoy a unique historical setting and a story about the city of Split.
The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Overnight in Split.
DAY 07: SPLIT - DUBROVNIK
Spend the morning at your leisure and in the afternoon meet your driver in the hotel lobby for a transfer to Dubrovnik. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel - Dubrovnik Palace Hotel and spend the evening at your leisure.
Dinner in the hotel.
Overnight in Dubrovnik.
DAY 08: DUBROVNIK TOUR
This morning meet your local guide for a private walking tour of Dubrovnik, one of the most beautiful stone-built cities in the world.
An important maritime port and a one-time state, it has always been a cultural metropolis. More than a thousand-year history is reflected in every part of the town. As one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Dubrovnik owes its special charm to the historic monuments which testify to its rich history. The works of artists, writers and scientists of Dubrovnik have been woven into the texture of the town.
While strolling with your guide down Stradun, the main street, you will stop to visit the Franciscan monastery of the "Order of Friars Minors" that preserves one of the three oldest pharmacies in Europe. You will continue down to Orlando Column and the Sponza Palace and visit the Church of St. Blasius, the patron-saint of the town. You will also discover Rector's Palace, the magnificent structure of the dukes of Dubrovnik, and the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary with a treasury containing the originals by Tiziano and Rafaelo and many other valuable relicts.
The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to explore this stunning town on your own. Dubrovnik is full of charming cafes, boutiques and local curiosities, nestled in the intricate network of the cobblestone streets. We recommend you to take a walk along the city walls (2500 m around the old town) or visit one of the numerous museums.
DAY 09: MONTENEGRO HIGHLIGHTS
This morning meet your driver in the hotel lobby for a private transfer to Montenegro - a mystical land of wild beauties. Your local guide will welcome you at the borderline of Croatia and Montenegro. In Boka Bay, the only fiord in Mediterranean, mountains sink in the crystal-clear sea in front of your eyes in the unique harmony of intact nature and cultural heritage, that is today yours to discover.
Your first destination is the old town of Perast, a sleepy baroque place on the seashore. The strong merchant navy tradition represents the best preserved baroque entity in the Adriatic. The most beautiful buildings of this small town were built in the 17th and 18th centuries. At that time seafaring was growing and captains built magnificent villas that even today capture you with their beauty. Perast also abounds in sacred monuments, such as the Church Sveti Nikola and Our Lady of the rocks, built on the artificial island just opposite of Perast.
Following your visit to Perast, your guide and driver will take you to Kotor, home-town of the famous sailors and traders of Boka Bay. Kotor's architecture, a post-modern mix of the various epochs and its position at the bottom of the sharp cliffs of the Lovcen Mountain, makes it different from any other Mediterranean town. Your guide will take you to the Cathedral of St. Trifun, a monument of Roman culture and one of the most recognizable symbols of the town. You will also visit the Maritime Museum, the custodian of Boka navy fame. Here, among other things, you can admire portraits of the famous captains, models of old galleys and sail boats and other very valuable exponents of the rich heritage of Kotor.
Then you will continue to Budva, considered to be one of the oldest settlements in the Balkans. According to Greek mythology, Cadmo, the son of the Phoenician King Agenon, established Budva. After his expulsion from Thebes, Cadmo arrived in this area by ox-drawn cart, and founded Budva. This ancient town lies on a little island that was linked to land by a sandbar and in time became a peninsula. Your guide will take you for a walk around the 15th century ramparts and medieval fortifications. Inside the walls, you will find the town to be a combination of narrow streets and little squares, with superb monuments of the different Mediterranean cultures.
After the tour you will say goodbye to your guide and continue with your driver back to Dubrovnik.
Overnight in Dubrovnik.
DAY 10: KONAVLE TOUR
This morning meet your guide and driver in the hotel lobby for a private tour of the Dubrovnik Hinterland - the region of Konavle. The region of contrasts and exceptional beauty, mountains and valleys, green hills and naked stone; inclines down to the cozy coves of small fishermen villages. Your first destination is the ancient Mediterranean town of Cavtat. Like many Dalmatian towns, Cavtat began as a Greeksettlement, called Epidaurus, and later became a Roman colony. At the beginning of the 7th century, Avars and Slavs invaded Cavtat and destroyed the town. Refugees from the town formed another settlement - Dubrovnik. Since those times, Cavtat has always been inseparably bounded with the history of Dubrovnik. Your guide will take you for a stroll through this picturesque little town - its cobbled streets with traditional red-roofed houses, narrow stairways and charming promenade along the shore. Your walk will take you to the top of the hill, where you will discover the extraordinary Mausoleum of Racic Family, a work of Ivan Mestrovic, the most prominent Croatian sculptor.
After the walk, you will continue your exploration of the countryside of Konavle. In the village of Cilipi, the local family Novakovic will welcome you at their humble estate that has a small ethno museum presenting Konavle region history, a tavern with a wine cellar and a variety of agricultural structures. You will enjoy their hospitality in a unique ambiance of a traditional stone-built house. You will be treated with a light snack of their home-made cheese, prosciutto and bread, dipped in a golden liquid of the finest olive oil.
Afterwards, your guide and driver will take you back to your hotel where you will enjoy a farewell dinner.
Overnight in Dubrovnik.
DAY 11: DUBROVNIK - onward...
This morning meet your driver for a private transfer to the Dubrovnik airport for and your flight onward.