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Dubrovnik to Bled


Take a scenic journey through Croatia and Slovenia on this 15-day tour from lively Dubrovnik to pristine Bled. Experience both history and nature at their best – from Roman ruins and walled cities to unspoilt beaches and rugged islands just off the Adriatic Coast. Quaff wine with locals in Korcula, delve into the ancient history of Split, hike through the Hvar hinterland and be swept up in the magic of Bled. Discover a wealth of European islands and architecture and lose yourself in the serenity of this charming and picturesque region.

15 days, from

$3,633

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: ZMSUC
Style: Original
Theme: Explorer

Details

Countries Visited:  Croatia Slovenia
Accommodation: Hostel with private facilities (2 nights), Hotel (5 night), Guest House (1 night), Private apartment (6 nights)
Transportation: Public bus , Private vehicle , Ferry , Taxi , Funicular , Train
Included Meals:

  • 9 breakfasts
  • 1 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12
Minimum Age: 15

  • Spend a full day exploring the green island of Mljet – with its small seaside villages, lush national park trails, shimmering waters and largely untouched environment, you’ll never want to leave!

  • Snack on salty cheese made from sheep’s milk during a trip to the karst island of Pag, where a determined group of islanders wring themselves a living from the barren, rocky landscape.

  • A guided tour of the 4th-century Diocletian’s Palace in Split reveals not just Roman-era beauty, but also the local businesses that operate in the alleyways and cellars of this epic structure.

  • Gaze over the beautiful hillside, lavender fields and vineyards of Hvar Island during a leisurely organic dinner at an agriturismo.

  • Stroll through Plitvice Lakes National Park, marvelling at luminous lakes and waterfalls that seem to have been sketched by an artist.

  • Explore the stunning Lake Bled, with its famous island church and aquamarine water, on a guided walk with your leader.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Dubrovnik

Dobro Dosli! Welcome to Croatia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Although it experienced devastation during the war in the early 1990s, Dubrovnik’s old town is the undisputed jewel of the Dalmatian Coast. With its tiled roofs and white stone buildings, the old town remains as charming as ever. Extensive restoration has taken place to return it to its original splendour, and even today repairs are still being undertaken. With the sparkling water of the Adriatic in the background, Dubrovnik is picturesque, full of character and can easily be covered on foot. If you do 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, which is the most populated of the isles and reputedly has the most hospitable inhabitants. Alternatively, you might choose to simply laze about on one of Dubrovnik's beaches and people-watch for hours.

Day 2: Dubrovnik

Start the day by beating the crowds with an early morning walk along Dubrovnik's famous 2-kilometre-long city walls surrounding the old town. Enjoy views of the sea from the fully intact medieval structure, then enjoy all that Dubrovnik has to offer with the remainder of the day free for you to explore. Visit Big Onofrio's Fountain, a masterpiece built by famous European architect Onofrio della Cava. This 15th-century landmark was built to supply water to the city, flowing from the spigots into the collection trough surrounding it. Be sure to check out the Franciscan monastery with one of the world's oldest, continuously functioning pharmacies, founded in the 13th century. 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. Otherwise, the newly restored cable car can whisk you to the top in no time. The hill is topped by a castle of Napoleonic times, which now houses the Museum of the Croatian War of Independence.

Day 3: Peljesac Peninsula / Korcula Island

Journey to Korcula (approximately 4 hours). You will travel along the narrow and scenic Peljesac Peninsula to its very tip. The last stretch to Korcula will be done by car ferry. 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. In the evening perhaps head out to a local restaurant. Make sure you try the traditional Dalmatian meat loaf, or pasticada (traditional stewed beef), and some fresh grilled vegetables with olive oil, usually 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 a herb called verbane) and some Korcula cakes for dessert.

Day 4: Mljet Island National Park / Korcula Island

Today, head on a day trip to the stunning Mljet Island. Mljet is Croatia’s greenest island, with a large section of the north western shores part of a national park. The island is well known for its two salt lakes – Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero (big lake and small lake) – that are located at the north end of the island. With some of the clearest waters in the world, any of the Adriatic islands shimmer in the sunlight, but Mljet is extra special. Start Mljet's exploration with a short hike into the island's interior, followed by a ferry ride to St Mary's Benedictine Monastery, located on an island in one of the lakes. Spend the day discovering its tiny towns dotted around the island, the weaving and winding coastline full of nature walks and scenic lookouts and, of course, the sandy beaches, tranquil inlets and turquoise blue shores calling out to be explored. Mljet is a little further away and less visited than the tourist hotspots of Brac and Hvar, so you’ll be able to stray away from the crowds and have this peaceful paradise to yourself. Head back to Korcula in the afternoon for a relaxing evening, hopefully full of delicious food and some great local wine.

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'. Upon arrival, get to know the town with its wonderfully preserved Renaissance facades on an orientation walk. Later you may want to visit the 16th century Spanjola Fortress, from where spectacular views over town and this part of the Adriatic can be had. Feel the history when wandering the backstreets of quirky galleries and unique boutiques, watch the fishermen bring the day’s catch into the harbour, and chill out over a few cocktails in a waterside bar.

Day 6: Hvar Island

Today is a free day to explore this island at your leisure. Perhaps take a bus to the interior of Hvar Island where you can take a leisurely hike through the abandoned villages of Velo Grablje and Malo Grablje, gently descending all the way down to the sea at Milna Bay. On the way you can witness what remains of the typical Mediterranean life that flourished on the Croatian islands in the 18th and 19th centuries. Hike past dramatic jagged limestone cliffs and slow your pace to enjoy the undulating farms, fields of lavender and rosemary, and ancient olive groves. Cool down in the shimmering waters upon arrival into the little town of Milna where the hike ends. Alternatively there are plenty of other options for exciting activities in town. Maybe take a short boat ride to the nearby Pakleni islands – largely uninhabited and often described as being among the most beautiful in the world. If you’re not feeling super energetic today, spend the day lounging at one of the island's many quiet beaches and enjoy a sunset stroll along the harbour promenade. In the evening head to Hora – a local farm-style restaurant, where you’ll have an included dinner in the surrounds of UNESCO-protected fields and farmland, where little has changed since the Ancient Greeks arrived almost 2400 years ago. Taste award winning wines, olive oils and other Dalmatian delicacies like local cheese and prosciutto accompanied with a traditional peka style meal or grill and finish with a Dalmatian desert.

Day 7: Split

Catch a boat to Split (approximately 1 hour). Situated on a small peninsula on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea, Split is the second largest city in Croatia. Join a local guide for a walking tour of this stunning seaside town 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 1700 years old and there’s ample time to walk around. 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 now 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 get your group together for a harbourside dinner – it’s time for more of a relax!

Day 8: Split

Take a full day to explore Split further. You might like to take a day trip to the surrounding area and visit the ancient Roman city of Salona, or the sleepy towns of Trogir or Sibenik. There will be a meeting at 6 pm to welcome any new travellers joining you on the next stage of your adventure. In the evening why not head out for some fresh seafood with your travel companions?

Day 9: Zadar

This morning, you'll travel by local bus northwest to Zadar. For centuries Zadar was the capital city of Dalmatia, and the city's rich heritage is visible at every step. An important coastal town, the musical steps of the ‘Sea Organ’ on Zadar's waterfront express its important relationship with the sea. Trace marble streets through the Old Town and discover Roman ruins in amongst medieval churches. Enjoy some local food and drinks in a city that’s home to a vibrant café culture. Zadarsko pivo is a light beer with a very pleasant taste, just a little bit bitter, with a rich flavour. Afterwards, perhaps treat yourself to a gourmet meal at a contemporary Croatian restaurant. Try lamb in red wine, 'njoki' with Dalmatian ham and rocket salad, or opt for the popular choice of fresh fish: tuna carpaccio or a fillet in scampi sauce. Also try the famous liqueur, Maraskino, made from locally-grown maraschino cherries according to a centuries' old secret recipe. This unique drink was a favourite at European imperial and royal courts and has been produced in Zadar since 1821.

Day 10: Zadar

Head out of the city this morning and enjoy a special experience meeting with the local Benedictine nuns on a visit to their nunnery and their farm. You'll get a chance to connect with them and learn about their way of life in the nunnery and on the farm. You'll even get the opportunity to taste test the preserves and pickles they make on the farm. After some time to explore and meet the locals, you'll head back to Zadar in the afternoon and enjoy free time in this charming and vibrant city.

Day 11: Plitvice Lakes National Park

Take a drive inland and travel north to your next base of Grabovac. Here, you’ll visit Plitvice Lakes National Park, a misty Eden of endless waterfalls and spectral blue lakes. Fed by the Bijela and Crna (White and Black) Rivers, the waters tumble from a high, tree-lined ridge down through the valley and skirt dense forests of beech, spruce and pine. A series of wooden walkways pass over the landscape, ensuring there’s little impact upon the park. Sixteen stunning turquoise lakes, fed by underground springs, are split into the upper and lower lakes. The upper are in the dolomite cliffs, where rushing water weaves in and out of the karst, dropping dramatically down to the lower lakes, with enchanting forests, grottoes and steep cliffs. This interplay of water, rock, and plant-life creates a wondrous, dynamic landscape, changing the water colour from azure to bright green, deep blue to grey. Look to the canopy for over 120 species of birds, including hawks and owls. The butterflies that hover through the trees transform the park into a riot of colour in the autumn. Even amongst this pristine natural beauty, the Plitvice Lakes are shadowed by the region's history. The 1991 civil war erupted here after rebel Serbs took control of the park's headquarters, holding the park for the duration of the war and devastating infrastructure, though thankfully leaving the natural landscape intact.

Day 12: Zagreb

Continue to Croatia’s capital and largest city, Zagreb. Full of parks and squares, Zagreb is a laid-back place, proud of its coffee culture and the perfect spot to simply wander. Follow your leader on an orientation walk upon arrival and then enjoy some free time for the rest of your day here. Maybe join in one of the many free walking tours in the city and engage with a local here to learn about their daily life, or browse the city’s stunning architecture from neo-baroque to gothic and more. You could check out Tkalciceva Street’s lively social scene, or head up Medvednica Mountain where the views stretch as far as neighboring Slovenia on a clear day. To live like a local, may be head to Zagreb’s open-air markets where you’ll find all kinds of fresh vegetables, nuts, honey and liqueurs. With plenty of things to do and sights to see in this city, your choices for today are endless.

Day 13: Ljubljana/ Bled

This morning, take the train and cross the border to Ljubljana first. One of the smallest capital in Europe, Ljubljana makes up by being one of the greenest and vibrant city in Europe.Follow your leader on an orientation walk here and then take the funicular up to Ljubljana Castle where you'll have a great view of the city. After some time here, take a local public bus and continue to Bled, situated on the stunning lake of the same name. Take in the mountainous backdrop, lake, and impressive cliff-top fortress, which all combine to make this a wonderful place to visit. There are many outdoor activities to get the blood pumping in Bled: rafting, caving, canoeing and swimming, to name a few.

Day 14: Bled

This morning embark on a walk around beautiful Lake Bled with your leader. This scenic walk passes some impressive villas, mostly from the beginning of the 19th century, including the residence of the former Yugoslav president 'Marshal' Tito – today the Hotel Vila Bled. The rest of the day is free for you to explore all that Bled and the surrounding area has to offer. If you’re feeling active, consider riding out to Vintgar Gorge (4 kilometres) and walk through the natural canyon. Bled is renowned for its mild, healing climate and thermal lake water. Maybe head to the 100 metre high cliff-top Old 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 and ring the wishing bell. 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. You might even consider doing a day trip to nearby Ljubljana, Slovenia's compact yet cosmopolitan capital city. Then, why not celebrate the end of a remarkable journey with a final group meal.

Day 15: Bled

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 and do in Bled and the surrounding mountains you may want to consider extending your trip and stay longer in Bled. We are able to book additional accommodation for you, subject to availability. Please enquire at the time of booking.