The Best of Croatia and Slovenia, Dubrovnik to Ljubljana
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This lovely 8-day itinerary will show you a quick glimpse of all the beauties Croatia has to offer. You’ll visit the baroque and renaissance buildings of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, the imposing defense walls and glittering saltpans of Ston, and the Roman- and Venetian-influenced city of Split. Admire the captivating beauty of Krka and Plitvice Lakes National Parks feast of straight-from-the-sea fare in Zadar, and discover why the capital of Croatia, Zagreb is so popular. Hike, row, or swim in Lake Bled to take in its enchanting beauty, and finally, join a walking tour of the always elegant Ljubljana. This trip will be dynamic and yet relaxing, but most of all, it will leave you wanting more.
🏁 Tour Itinerary: The Best of Croatia and Slovenia, Dubrovnik to Ljubljana
Day 1: Welcome to Dubrovnik!
Welcome to the “Pearl of the Adriatic”. Upon your arrival at the airport, you’ll transfer to your hotel for check-in. Despite being tired from the journey, you’ll likely want to get out and explore. Can’t-miss activities include riding the cable car up to Srđ Mountain to take in the sunset over the nearby Elafiti Islands, visiting Lovrijenac and Bokar fortresses, and walking along the smooth, limestone-paved streets of the historic Old Town.
A piece of history, Dubrovnik is one of the most ancient fortress cities in Europe. And while there’s evidence of settlements as far back as the Byzantine era, this area only came into its own as an important power since the 13th century due in part to its strategic coastal position. Dubrovnik’s long and storied history is told in its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque churches, monasteries, palaces, and fountains all found within its imposing fortress walls.
After spending some time getting to know the city, duck into one of Dubrovnik’s many wine bars to relax. It’s a good plan, as there’s no better manner in which to celebrate your first day in Croatia than by enjoying a glass of white or red wine as the sun goes down over Dubrovnik’s Old Town. For dinner, you can choose from a number of great restaurants.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Royal Blue Hotel or Similar.
Day 2: Walking Tour of Dubrovnik
Make sure you fill up for breakfast as you will be doing a lot of walking today! The walking tour route takes you around the Old Town via Onofrio’s Fountain and up Prijeko Street to the Old Port – the key to Dubrovnik’s trading and maritime success. Along the way you will pay a visit to St. Saviour’s, the grandiose Franciscan and Dominican church, and see wine-producing vines believed to be more than 100 years old.
Ships from Dubrovnik were renowned throughout the Mediterranean and galleons from the Republic could be found in navies across Europe and beyond. These ships were built and loaded in the legendary Arsenal, which is another stop on the tour. Once in the “Old Port”, your guide will relate the intriguing stories of the famous Quarantine and the nearby fortresses of St. Luke and St. John as well as fascinating legends about the Church of St Blaise, the Cathedral, the Rector’s Palace, Sponza Palace, and Orlando’s Column.
The rest of the day explore Dubrovnik and its surroundings on your own, or simply enjoy the nearby beaches. Come early evening, you can get stunning panoramic views over the city and the Adriatic by taking the cable car up to Srđ Mountain before descending back.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Royal Blue Hotel or Similar.
Day 3: Dubrovnik to Split via Ston
After breakfast, you’ll pick up your car rental and set out this morning to transfer along the coast to central Dalmatia and to the city of Split. En route, you’ll stop at the edge of the Pelješac peninsula to spend a little time in Ston.
Here you can trek one of the longest defensive stone walls in Europe (originally built to keep predators away from the town’s saltpans) and discover the importance this area held in the 14th century. Once in Ston, you’ll embark on an oyster tasting experience, a unique gastronomic attraction. Sailing in a boat you will enjoy the untouched natural beauty of the protected ecosystem of Mali Ston bay. The entire experience also has an educational character since the guides will gladly share their knowledge and experience about the process of cultivating oysters & you will enjoy tasting world-famous oysters, just taken out of the sea, on a floating dock in the middle of the oyster farm. The tour starts by boarding on the boat where you will be welcomed with homemade aperitive & sweets. While sailing to the oyster farm an appetizer will be served. Once on the farm, you will enjoy tasting oysters and after the tasting, lunch will be prepared with mussels caught from Mali Ston bay in white wine sauce. All the preparation will be made in front of you and this way you will enjoy a unique and unforgettable gastronomic experience in the middle of the oyster’s farm on the floating bar.
When you’re ready, continue your journey up the coast and further north to your final destination, where you’ll check into your hotel and settle in before taking the rest of the afternoon to wander Split’s historic center.
In the evening, take a stroll along Split’s seafront Riva to admire the views over the Adriatic.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Cornaro Hotel Split or Similar.
Day 4: Split to Zadar, E-Bike Tour & Krka National Park
Today, you’ll spend time exploring the Adriatic coast as you make your way from Split up to Zadar. On your way, you’ll break up the trip with a visit to Krka National Park, stopping first in Skradin. A romantic Mediterranean town with narrow cobbled streets, passages, arches, and stairs, it is best known as the gateway town to Krka National Park, though it’s home to notable archaeological sites within the local vicinity. Cycling around the Krka River National Park is breathtaking. There is hardly a better way to discover the park than by cycling. The trail will take you through the protected nature rich with history. Your first stop will be at Lake Visovac where a boat will take you to the small island of the same name. Situated on that islet is a Franciscan monastery. You will visit the museum and learn about the interesting history of the area. On your way back you’ll stop for a swim at 44 m (144 ft) high Skradinski Buk waterfall. Swimming under this impressive waterfall is surely an experience you will never forget. When you finish your tour in Skradin, where you started, you can stay in Skradin for a bit and explore or simply make your way towards Zadar.
A historical center of the Dalmatian Coast, Zadar is famous for its picturesque coastline full of islands and vibrant blue waters, as well as fresh seafood and unforgettable sunsets (Alfred Hitchcock is on record saying they’re the best in Zadar). Take the rest of the day to relax and explore. Perhaps stroll along Zadar’s Riva, a wide ribbon of stone paths that runs along Old Town’s waterfront, where it comes alive at night with vendors and Dalmatian a capella groups (Klapa) that serenade the passersby, including folks on yachts who dock there.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Hotel Bastion or Similar.
Day 5: Zadar to Plitvice Lakes National Park
After breakfast and packing up your belongings, you’ll drive to Plitvice Lakes National Park, the first Croatian national park—and one of the most popular parks in the country.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is Croatia’s natural masterpiece, gorgeous at any time of year. A must-visit for any traveler to Croatia, the UNESCO-protected park is comprised of an exquisite collection of 16 glassy emerald green and blue travertine lakes, more than 90 cascading waterfalls that seemingly cover every corner of the park, and numerous caves. Beech and pine forests surround the terraced lakes and are home to extensive wildlife.
Here, an expert local guide will lead you throughout the park along the wooden paths and bridges to show you the most impressive points of interest and explain the significance of its history and natural features. After your tour, you will have some free time to continue exploring.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Fenomen Resort or Similar.
Day 6: Sunrise at Plitvice Lakes, Transfer to Zagreb
After enjoying a leisurely morning in Plitvice, carry on your way north, venturing farther inland to Croatia’s capital, Zagreb. Settle into your hotel before venturing out to your Private Zagreb Pedi Tour. The PediCab is a fun and eco-friendly way of exploring the city without having to do much, just sit back and relax.
Your well informed local pedicab driver/guide will take you on a ride through Zagreb`s top attractions while showing you the most important sights placed on Kaptol, Gornji grad (Upper Town), and Donji grads (Downtown) such as Zagreb Cathedral, Dolac open market, Parliament, National Theatre, many museums, but also giving you tips for the best coffee & ice-cream, local food or popular nightspots and music venues.
🏚️ Hotel Option: The Westin Zagreb or Similar.
Day 7: Zagreb to Lake Bled, Walking Tour of Ljubljana
If there was ever a morning worth getting up early, this is it! We can even arrange for some lunch boxes at the hotel if you don’t want to waste any more time than you have to. Your 2-hour drive will take you west to cross the border into Slovenia to the fairytale shores of Lake Bled, with a quick detour to Ljubljana, where you will pick up your guide for the day.
Bled, this postcard-perfect lake with an island in the middle and surrounded by the soaring peaks of the Julian Alps is one of Slovenia’s main attractions. If you’re up for a hike, you can choose from a variety of trails through beautiful gorges or to scenic viewpoints. The craggy walkways and waterfalls of the popular Vintgar Gorge are just 2.5 miles (4 km) from town.
You can also climb up to Bled Castle and tour its smithy, wine cellar, and printing press before enjoying a traditional meal in the restaurant, or row or paddleboard across the placid waters of the lake. If you decide to go to the fairytale island at the lake’s center, climb up the church’s 99 steps, where legend has it the ringing of the bell can grant your wishes. Then, cycle your way through typical Slovenian countryside, or simply sunbathe on the lakeside with a slice of the famous Bled cream cake at the Park Hotel or Slascicarna Zima bakery.
In the afternoon, you’ll circle back to Ljubljana to check into your accommodation. Your guide will wait for you to give you a tour of the dynamic capital. Explore the lively city center and saunter down the main street along the banks of the Ljubljanica River, stopping in whatever small boutique, outdoor café, or wine bar terrace strikes your fancy as you breathe in the fresh air of one of the continent’s greenest cities.
🏚️ Hotel Option: hotel Lesar Angel or Similar.
Day 8: Depart Ljubljana
It’s time to say goodbye to Slovenia! Savor one more local breakfast before you head out to the airport where you will return your car. Make sure you arrive at the airport at least 2 hours prior to your departure.
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