Croatia is blessed with a wealth of natural riches – a fabulous Mediterranean shoreline dotted with islands and idyllic beaches, beautiful mountainous country with far-reaching vistas, and charming old towns, with histories dating back millennia. This really is Europe at its most unspoiled. There are also plenty of gorgeous hotels, sophisticated restaurants and incredible cultural sights with ancient ruins and some wonderful old-world charm.
This two-week tour to discover the delights of Croatia (and a little bit of Slovenia) will start and finish in Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana. You can either drive to Ljubljana, or fly and hire a car.
Leave Ljubljana and head via the amazing Postojna Caves into Croatia, and stay in the gorgeous coastal town of Rovinj. Discover the Istria Peninsula and then the beautiful Adriatic coastline heading down to Zadar then Split. Spend a couple of nights on the stylish island of Hvar and then onto stunning Dubrovnik. Wind your way north via the incredible lakes at Plitvice National Park and then Croatia’s capital, Zagreb. Visit lovely Varazdin and cross back into Slovenia. Gentle in pace, this trip allows you to discover some of Europe’s prettiest towns and cities, stunning scenery and cultural sights.
May be subject to change.
Day 1 10 miles
Fly into Ljubljana Airport and collect your hire car for the 25 minute journey from the airport to the city centre, if you have not driven your own car to Ljubljana.
The hotel is the finest in Ljubljana, in the beautiful old town, and just a few moments walk from the very centre. There is time to explore the old town, which is based around the river, and discover the charming alleyways, little boutiques, castle and history of this enchanting city.
Day 2 164 miles
A lovely drive from Ljubljana to the fabulous Predjama Castle, with its dramatic setting in the gaping mouth of the mountain. Then head to Postojna Cave to enjoy its spectacular stone formations. The Postojna Cave is one of the world’s most important show caves and one of the most popular sights in both Slovenia and in the Alps-Adriatic Region.
Cross the border into Croatia and visit some of the prettiest places in Istria. Grožnjan is an ancient hill village, given a new lease of life in the 1970s when many of its properties were offered to artists and musicians as studios. It’s an undeniably attractive spot, with its jumble of shuttered houses made from honey-brown stone, covered in creeping plants. The town’s battlements command superb views of the surrounding countryside, with Motovun perched on its hilltop to the south east, and the ridge of mountains dominating the horizon beyond it. Motovun is situated on the top of a cone-shaped hill, amidst the romantic and natural diversity of the bountiful Mirna River Valley. It is the one of the most beautiful medieval towns on the Istrian peninsula, with houses scattered all over the hill. The medieval charm of the town remains through its well preserved architecture.
Stay for the next two nights in the gorgeous town of Rovinj, situated on the coast of Croatian Istria, a medieval port with well-preserved character. Spacious Venetian-style houses and elegant piazzas lend an overridingly Italian air to the town, and the harbour is a likeable mix of fishing boats and smart yachts. Our hotel is a fabulous, luxury, yet very contemporary and stylish hotel just on the outskirts of town.
Enjoy a day with no driving – just pottering around Rovinj and exploring this enchanting place. Or just relax on the beaches or the lovely grounds of the hotel, which is just a delightful 15 minute walk from the old town, along the sea front. The delights of Rovinj will no doubt beckon for dinner.
Day 4 76 miles
A lovely tour of the Istrian Peninsula. Head south from Rovinj, past fields of rich red soil and pinewood sloping gently down to the sea, to Pula, with its beach-lined coast and incredible Roman remains. The Romans built a particularly impressive amphitheatre, whose well-preserved remains are the city’s greatest attraction, although surrounded by other classical and medieval sights. Then continue along the wonderful coast to the town of Opatija. The town is graced with luxury hotels and villas, surrounded by parks and gardens, dating from the turn of the century, as this was a fashionable resort for the Habsburg Empire. Stay overnight in the best hotel in town, overlooking the sea.
Day 5 167 miles
A sensational drive down the Dalmatian coast, passing along the edge of the Velebit Mountains National Park to Zadar, the historical centre of Dalmatia. Walk around the atmospheric streets in the old town and see numerous historic monuments. See and hear 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! It’s a beautiful, haunting, and always alternating sound. Spend one night in a Relais & Châteaux boutique hotel in the old town. There are many places to dine in Zadar.
Day 6 147 miles
Leave Zadar and head south along the coast to Sibenik and explore its beauties and culture: the famous Cathedral of St. James, built in the early 4th Century, St. Laurence’s garden, Town Hall, the port and more. Then head to delightful Trogir, the picturesque UNESCO town built on the small island, which makes a perfect lunch stop. Take a ferry from Split to the island of Hvar for two nights at a fabulous hotel in Hvar town.
Enjoy a day exploring the island of Hvar or relaxing on the beach. Hvar has long been a favoured island in Croatia, being a summertime celebrity haunt, yachting centre and base for all that is elegant. It is well-endowed with natural beauty, with inlets and coves, dotted with lavender fields, vineyards and charming stone villages along the steep central ridge of the island. The island’s eponymous capital is one of the Adriatic’s best-preserved historic towns – and one of its most glamorous. The other main settlements offer old stone houses and an unhurried, village feel. We hope to have a sailing trip organised for a late afternoon/early evening excursion. There are some great cafes and restaurants to sample in Hvar town.
Day 8 132 miles
Drive the length of Hvar and take a ferry from Sucuraj back to the mainland at Drvenik. Enjoy a scenic drive along the coast passing by numerous small towns and villages. Stop for lunch in the medieval town of Ston for the best seafood in this area. Ston is famed for its incredible 14th century, 5km wall from Veliki Ston to Mali Ston.
Arrive in Dubrovnik and explore this most breath-taking Adriatic city, which is included in UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Walk around the ancient city, full of architectural and cultural masterpieces and surrounded by a magnificent wall and fortresses. Stay for two nights in one of the city’s best hotels, located with the perfect view of the old town and Mediterranean.
A full day to experience the delights of the stunning medieval city of Dubrovnik. Admire the Rector’s Palace, Onofrio’s fountain and the Franciscan and Dominican monasteries. Spend free time relaxing, exploring the lively market, or perhaps enjoy lunch at a seaside restaurant. A day free for sightseeing, tasting the food and enjoying the day and nightlife of Dubrovnik.
Day 10 148 miles
Leave Dubrovnik and head north to Split, the second largest Croatian city, situated on the shore of Adriatic Sea. The historical centre is full of beautiful monuments: Diocletian’s Palace (UNESCO), the Cathedral, medieval fortifications, Gothic palaces and more. See the remains of Split’s Roman heritage, its Renaissance and Gothic structures, Jupiter’s Temple, the Perisil and the Cathedral. Stay overnight in a stunning hotel in Split, just a few minutes walk from the old town.
Day 11 183 miles
From Split it’s a short drive to Salona, with is fabulous Roman remains. Then drive north to visit small town of Skradin. This historic town is the gate to Krka Waterfalls National Park. Named after the Krka River, the Park covers an area of just over 142 square km and includes two thirds of the river itself. The top attraction of the Park are its magnificent waterfalls, including the famous Skradinski Buk falls which are one of Croatia’s most famous sights. It’s a beautiful stroll alongside the falls, which are punctuated with old mill buildings, now interesting little museum displays.
Then on to the forested National Park of Plitvice. Stay two nights in a charming and comfortable hotel fashioned as a traditional hamlet, with a variety of buildings located around the grounds.
Spend the day in the Plitvice Lakes National Park – the country’s biggest single natural attraction, and with some justification. Admire the waterfalls and lakes of this incredible UNESCO World Heritage site. The crystal clear water appears many colourful shades of green, grey and blue in the lakes, which are linked by spectacular waterfalls.The eight-kilometre string of sixteen lakes, hemmed in by densely forested hills, is some of the most amazing scenery in Croatia. This unique landscape has lakes teeming with fish and watersnakes, and in the quieter parts there are heron on the shores, and in the forests there are deer, wolves, bears and wild boar. There are some fabulous hikes through the park, which is accessed on foot from the hotel.
Day 13 75 miles
Leave Plitvice and head north towards the Slovenian border for a beautiful drive through the mountains and on to Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. Enjoy walking around the compact city centre, visiting Zagreb’s most memorable sights, such as the beautiful historical old town, Government Palace and Cathedral. Overnight in Zagreb in a wonderful luxury hotel next to the botanical gardens in the old town. There are lots of places to discover in the city to eat and drink.
Day 14 188 miles
From Zagreb the tour continues north to Varazdin, one of the best-preserved Baroque towns in central Europe. It was an important military stronghold for Hungarian and Habsburg rulers in the fight against Ottoman expansion. Many noble families built houses here and the town became Croatia’s capital from 1765 to 1776 until a fire forced the relocation to Zagreb. The Baroque palaces remain in their original colours of cream, pink, ochre and pale blue. The picturesque castle is now home to a wonderful museum and the compact old town is a lovely place to explore.
Leave Varazdin and drive towards the border with Slovenia – an area known as Zagorje. The region is enchanting with perfect castles on miniature wooded hills, streams tumbling through lush vineyards, and delightful little cottages and patchwork rural villages. Visit the castles at Trakoscan and Velike Tabor and the museum village of Kumrovec.
Cross into Slovenia and drive to Ljubljana for the final night of the tour, staying once again in the same hotel as the first night. Walk around the old city centre and take a train ride to the castle hill with a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Explore the picturesque Central open-air Market and the Three Bridges, Baroque Town Hall and Robba’s Fountain.
Depart for home.
Stay in some of the most glorious and luxurious hotels in Croatia. All the hotels are individual and unique and, overall, are of an extremely high standard – mostly five star and some four star. Due to the nature and age of these hotels the rooms vary from charmingly comfortable to the utmost luxury. We have hand-picked the hotels for their unique atmosphere and style. All accommodation includes breakfast, and dinner is included where stated. Suitable parking for your car is, of course, a feature of each hotel, and it is usually, but not always, undercover in secure garages.
Click here for the Photo Book from the 2016 Croatia tour
Flights to Ljubljana
Airlines that fly direct to Ljubljana from the UK are Easyjet and WizzAir.
There is no classic car hire available in Slovenia or Croatia.
- Each person must have a passport (and any necessary visas for non-EU passport holders) valid for Slovenia & Croatia, and any other countries you may visit to participate on the tour.
- All passports must be valid for six months after the end of the tour.
- If you are taking your own vehicle you will also need your vehicle registration documents, driving licence (a photo-card licence or international permit is best), and an international insurance green card, which includes cover for Bosnia.
- Please check with your travel and motor insurers that you are covered for travel in the required countries.
- You are also required to carry a warning triangle, first-aid kit, fluorescent jackets, set of replacement bulbs, headlamp converters, two breathalysers (if travelling via France) and a national identification sticker.