General

Croatia

If your Mediterranean fantasies feature balmy days by sapphire waters in the shade of ancient walled towns, Croatia is the place to turn them into reality.

The Edge of Empires

Precariously poised between the Balkans and Central Europe, this land has been passed between competing kingdoms, empires and republics for millennia. If there’s an upside to this continual dislocation, it’s in the rich cultural legacy that each has left behind. Venetian palazzos snuggle up to Napoleonic forts, Roman columns protrude from early Slavic churches, and Viennese mansions face off with Socialist Realist sculpture. Excellent museums showcase treasures from most key stages of Europe’s history, telling a story that is in equal parts fascinating and horrifying.

Cultural Feast

If you’re lucky enough to cross the tourist/guest barrier and be invited into a local’s home, you’ll soon become acquainted with the refrain ‘Jedi! Jedi! Jedi!‘ (Eat! Eat! Eat!). It’s little wonder that sharing food and drink plays such a big part in the culture here, when the country is blessed with such top-notch ingredients from the land and sea. Simple home-style cooking is a feature of family-run taverns, but increasingly a new breed of chefs are bringing a more adventurous approach to the table. Meanwhile Croatian wines and olive oils are making their mark on the world stage, garnering top awards.

Why I Love Croatia

By Peter Dragicevich, Writer

I’ll admit, I’m more than a little biased, but Croatia is quite simply my favourite country to visit. For me, it offers a unique combination of all the things I love: breathtaking natural beauty, great swimming, summertime sun, oodles of history, interesting architecture, incredible wine, delicious seafood… I could go on. True, Croats don’t always present the sunniest face to complete strangers, but break through that initial reserve and you’ll discover the friendliest, most hospitable people you could hope to meet. I’m sure that even if my grandparents didn’t hail from here, I’d still adore the place.

Beauty on the Inside

Shift your gaze for just a moment from the glittering waters and chances are an almighty mountain will loom into view. The Dinaric Alps, which stretch all the way from Italy to Albania, hug much of the coast. The limestone karst has bequeathed a wonderland of craggy peaks, underground caverns, river canyons, dramatic waterfalls and ridiculously picturesque lakes. Head further inland and things flatten out again into rolling farmland. Active types will find plenty of chances to get amongst it on the numerous hiking and biking trails.

Coastal Croatia

Croatia’s extraordinary island-speckled coastline is indisputably its main attraction. Part of the appeal lies in its diversity. You’ll find glitz and glamour in places like Hvar, where fancy yachts and fancier threads are de rigueur. In other locales Croatian families get busy with buckets and spades, Aussie backpackers slop about in flip-flops and German naturists free themselves from the tyranny of apparel altogether. For those wanting peace and quiet, there are plenty of secluded coves and Robinson Crusoe–style islets to discover.

Source: Lonely Planet

Hungary:

Hungary has always marched to a different drummer – speaking a language, preparing dishes and drinking wines like no others. It’s Europe at its most exotic.

Super Structures

Hungary’s scenery is more gentle than striking, more pretty than stunning. But you can’t say the same thing about the built environment across the land. Architecturally Hungary is a treasure trove, with everything from Roman ruins and medieval town houses to baroque churches, neoclassical public buildings and Art Nouveau bathhouses and schools. And we’re not just talking about Budapest here; walk through Szeged or Kecskemét, Debrecen or Sopron and you’ll discover an architectural gem at virtually every turn. Some people (ourselves included) go out of their way for another glimpse of their ‘hidden’ favourites like the Reök Palace in Szeged, the buildings of Kőszeg’s Jurisics tér or the Mosque Churchin Pécs. It is almost as if they’re afraid these delightful structures will crumble and disappear unless they are regularly drenched in admiring glances.

Eat, Drink & Be Magyar

There is a lot more to Hungarian food than goulash and it remains one of the most sophisticated styles of cooking in Europe. Magyars even go so far as to say there are three essential world cuisines: French, Chinese and their own. That may be a bit of an exaggeration but Hungary’s reputation as a food centre dates largely from the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th and, despite a fallow period during the chilly days of communism, is once again commanding attention. So too are the nation’s world-renowned wines – from the big-bodied reds of Villány and white Olazrizling from Badacsony to honey-gold Tokaj.

In Hot Water

Hungarians have been ‘taking the waters’ supplied by an estimated 300 thermal springs since togas were all the rage and Aquincum was the big Smoke. They still do – for therapeutic, medicinal and recreational purposes – but the venues have changed somewhat. Today they range from authentic bathhouses dating from the Turkish occupation and Art Nouveau palaces to clinical sanatoriums straight out of a Thomas Mann novel. This is where the older generation like to rejuvenate and catch up on the local gossip. More and more though, you’ll see clear chlorinated waters in organically-shaped pools that bubble, squirt and spurt at different rhythms and temperatures alongside the requisite wellness centre offering a myriad of treatments. Good for the kids, good for the grown-ups, good for the whole family.
Source: Lonely Planet

Slovenia

An earthly paradise of snow-capped peaks, turquoise-green rivers and Venetian-style coastline, Slovenia enriches its natural treasures with harmonious architecture, charming rustic culture and sophisticated cuisine.

Outdoor Pursuits

Slovenia is first and foremost an outdoor destination. Local people favour active holidays, and you’ll be invited – even expected – to join in. The list of activities on offer is endless, with the most popular pursuits skiing, walking and hiking in the mountains, and increasingly, cycling. Fast rivers like the Soča cry out to be rafted and there are ample chances to try out more niche activities like horseback riding, ballooning, caving and canyoning. If all this sounds a bit much, you can always decamp to the coast and sunbathe on the Adriatic.

Architectural & Cultural Treasures

You might be forgiven for thinking that anything of beauty in this greenest of green lands is, well, all natural. But it ain’t necessarily so. Where man intrudes is often to good effect, such as at Lake Bled, where a tiny baroque chapel on a picturesque island and a dramatic castle looming above complete a harmonious whole. The architecture is wonderfully varied – from the Venetian harbour towns of the coast and the rustic Hungarian-style farmhouses of Prekmurje to the Gothic church of Gorenjska and art nouveau splendours of Ljubljana – the museums are rich and the culture vibrant.

Why I Love Slovenia

By Steve Fallon, Writer
Even serial visitors to Slovenia like myself often stop and stare, mesmerised by the sheer beauty of this land. The wondrous bucolic valley of Logarska Dolina brings heaven to earth, and at the dramatic Vršič pass through the Alps I feel on top of the world in every sense. I can never tire of the wonderful and varied architecture, excellent wines and traditional dishes, and vibrant folk culture. But for me the country’s greatest attribute is the Slovenes themselves: quietly conservative, deeply self-confident, remarkably broadminded, especially tolerant and very, very hospitable.

A Matter of Taste

Slovenian cooking borrows a little something from each of its neighbours – Italy, Austria, Hungary and the Balkans – synthesising and reinventing dishes that emerge both familiar and unique. Slovenians have an obsession for using only fresh and locally sourced ingredients. The result is a terrific foodie destination, where you’ll sample dishes in unusual combinations featuring items like scrumptious pasta dumplings of potato, chives and bacon, salads drizzled with nutty pumpkinseed oil, and multilayered gibanica, a wildly decadent dessert. Slovenian wine is an unheralded strength, and regional whites and reds pair well with local specialties.

Jaw-Dropping Beauty

From the soaring peaks of the Julian Alps and the subterranean magic of Postojna and Škocjan Caves, to sparkling emerald-green lakes and rivers and the short but sweet Adriatic coast, Slovenia has it all. An incredible mixture of climates brings warm Mediterranean breezes up to the foothills of the Alps, where it can snow even in summer. And with more than half of its total surface covered in forest, Slovenia really is one of the greenest countries in the world.

Source: Lonely Planet

Itinerary Details

Day 1: Arrival to Zagreb: Welcome to Croatia!

Arrival to Zagreb airport where you will be met by your driver for private transfer to hotel located in the very center of Zagreb. We wish you a warm welcome to Croatia.

Day 2: Zagreb

Discover Zagreb (a little treasure trove of European culture and civilization) through the eyes of your local private guide. This tour gives you an overview of all the main attractions of Zagreb. Starting at Ban Jelačić Square (main Zagreb square), it includes St. Stephen‘s Cathedral (biggest church in Croatia), open market Dolac, Stone Gate, Parliament and Government House, St. Mark‘s Church with its multi-coloured roof, St. Catherine‘s Church, Lotrščak Tower and vibrant Tkalčićeva street with many charming cafes. Besides the main sights, we will show you few hidden corners to spice things up. Enjoy the atmosphere of the city of million hearts.

Day 3: Zagreb – Bled – Ljubljana

Today we are driving from Zagreb to neighboring Slovenia. We take you to the breathtaking lake of Bled. Its beauty and natural environment rank Bled among most beautiful of alpine resorts. Afternoon drive to Ljubljana, Slovenian capital which maintains relaxed atmosphere of a smaller central European city.

Day 4: Ljubljana

Discover charming Ljubljana through the eyes of your local guide: Dragon’s, Triple, Keychain and Shoemaker’s bridges, old medieval castle on a hill above the city center, colorful Baroque façades, St. Nicolas Cathedral and many other attractions. Evening at leisure.

Day 5: Ljubljana – Postojna – Opatija

After breakfast, we will take you to visit Postojna, the best known cave in the world. It is also the best known tours attraction in Slovenia and one of the world’s largest karst monuments.Tour through amazing passages and incredibly diverse cave landscape by train and by foot, where you admire amazing stalactite forms. Visit Opatija, charmingtown that will thrill you with its distinctive architecture that evokes the times that are long gone by, but whose traces are still present at every turn. The town’s historic and modern hotels and villas surrounded by perfectly manicured parks and fountains, still today exude the 19th-century aristocratic charm.

Day 6: Opatija – Hum – Motovun- Opatija

Depart in the morning hours towards Hum, officially the smallest town in the world. With only 18 houses, surrounded by walls and gates, guarding the ancient Croatian secrets, this little place preserves the medieval atmosphere. Afterwards head to Motovun, the most famous medieval town in Istria region famous for its Film Festival. It is a fortified town on the top of the mountain, overlooking splendid Mirna River Valley. If you want, you can enjoy a local dish in the restaurant, where replica of largest white truffle in the world (certified by Guinness) is exposed. After sightseeing, we drive back to Opatija.

Day 7: Opatija – Plitvice – Zadar

Today we leave Opatija and drive the scenic route along the rugged coastline of Northern Adriatic. Discover the natural wonderland of Plitvice fairytale lakes. The magic of 16 lakes and hundreds of waterfalls is breathtaking. Arrival to Zadar in the late afternoon.

Day 8: Zadar

Discover the city of Zadar with your private local guide. In every corner of the city you will see rich heritage of world importance: Roman Forum, St. Donatus’ Church, the reconstructed Romanesque St. Grisigono’s Church, St. Mary’s bell tower, St. Anastasia’s Cathedral. Visit new Zadar’s attraction: The Sea organ, an architectural object and an experimental musical instrument which plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps.

Day 9: Zadar – Trogir – Split

Depart from Zadar to the historic stone city of Trogir, Unesco Heritage site. The orthogonal street plan dates back to the Hellenistic period and it was embellished by successive rulers with many fine public and domestic buildings and fortifications. Trogir is affectionately known as the city that has not changed in 2,300 years. The whole city is made of stone and there is no modern architecture. Its beautiful Romanesque churches are complemented by the outstanding Renaissance and Baroque buildings from the Venetian period. Visit the Cathedral of St. Lawrence (St. Lovre), famous by Radovan’s portal and beautiful Kamerlengo Tower. Arrival to Split in the afternoon hours.

Day 10: Split

Explore Diocletian Palace in Split on a tour with your private guide, and see the highlights of the UNESCO-listed palace complex, underground cellars, Peristyle Square, Cathedral of St. Duje and the Temple of St. Jupiter. Your guide will want to tell you the myths and legends about the Roman Emperor Diocletian who decided to spend his last days in the sunny harbour of Asphalatos.

Day 11: Split – Ston – Dubrovnik

Your Croatian adventure continues discovering the Croatian coast driving from Split to Dubrovnik. We will stop in Ston, the Peljesac town closest to the mainland. Ston’s obvious draw is the 5km (3-mile) 14th-century defensive wall that stretches above the town from both sides and forms a horseshoe above it in the hills. Ston is famous for oyster and mussel beds and restaurants that serve fabulous versions of these shellfish. Arrival to Dubrovnik in the afternoon.

Day 12: Dubrovnik

Discover beautiful sights of Dubrovnik Old town like Rector’s Palace, Sponza Palace, Cathedral of Our Lady, Church of Sv. Vlaho, Franciscan Monastery, one of Europe’s oldest synagogues, and many more of the incredible attractions Dubrovnik offers. We will wander along the famous main street (Stradun) where you will want to stop and enjoy in one of its charming cafes. The most impressive and intriguing site of the city are the fortified city walls, which are 2 km long and 22 meters high.

Day 13: Dubrovnik – Kotor bay – Dubrovnik

Kotor Bay, one of the world’s 25 most beautiful bays and protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, is undeniably most impressive when approached from the sea. Due to its unusual look, the bay is often called Europe’s southernmost fjord, but in fact it’s a submerged river canyon. At the head of the bay lies the old city of Kotor, one of the most exquisitely preserved medieval centres in the Mediterranean. Continue trip to Budva, which Old town lies on a small peninsula and represents a treasure chest of culture heritage. Return to Dubrovnik.

Day 14: Dubrovnik – Korčula – Dubrovnik

Departure from Dubrovnik to Pelješac peninsula, famous for high quality wine, salt and seafood. From Orebić, it is a half-hour’s boat ride to the island of Korčula and the walled city of Korčula Town where Marco Polo supposedly was born. The old city is surrounded by walls, and the streets are arranged in a herringbone pattern allowing free circulation of air but protecting against strong winds. The town’s historic sites include the central Gothic and Renaissance Cathedral of St. Mark, the Town Hall and the massive city fortifications. Once back in Dubrovnik, you can reprise your favorite experiences or see the things you missed when you arrived. In the evening try some local specialties as you share travel memories and toast new friends.

Day 15 – Departure from Dubrovnik

Today is the last day of our tour. No better place to end your travel than Dubrovnik – this romantic city leaves none indifferent and always wanting to return. Your guide and driver will take you to Dubrovnik airport where you will be expecting your flight back home. We wish you a safe journey! We hope that you will keep in your hearts beautiful memories on your tour that helped you to discover the pearls of Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro and we also hope you will remember these days spent with us. Doviđenja and see you again soon!