Byron christened it, ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, George Bernard Shaw ‘Paradise on Earth’, to us it’s simply idyllic. Naturally beautiful, historically fascinating and wonderfully Mediterranean. Croatia is simply one of Europe's 'must see' destinations, with a recent past unique in European history. Within just five years it experienced the fall of communism, a war and then full independence. Today however, with the scars very much healed, this matchless blend of history, Mediterranean ambience and truly stunning natural beauty is, and rightly so, on the discerning traveller’s map once again.
Ruled for 2,000 years by some of the greatest powers of their time: The Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and the Habsburgs amongst others, have all left their mark both architecturally and culturally. There are Roman palaces, amphitheatres, baroque churches, imposing civic buildings and even mosques. Dubrovnik in particular is a delight, almost a living museum, medieval in character with a heavy influence of the baroque period in the numerous churches and where life spills spontaneously onto its pedestrianised marble streets. Once the centre of a thriving commercial empire, Lord Byron christened it ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, whilst George Bernard Shaw thought it simply ‘Paradise on Earth’. In our view – it is simply idyllic!
The Dalmatian coastline is legendary: one of the most dramatic in Europe, extending for hundreds of miles, where steep limestone cliffs plunge into sapphire-blue waters. Just offshore the mirror-like Adriatic is studded with countless islands, some tiny, some large, some inhabited, some not, but giving scenery almost reminiscent of a series of huge intertwining lakes. The hillsides are clad in a green carpet of lush pine-forests giving that instantly recognisable Mediterranean aroma to the air. Clinging to the coast or nestling in picturesque coves are medieval fishing villages, with tiny shops, refreshingly free from tasteless development, where the alleyways are simply pebbles set into the earth and overhead shutters precariously sway and squeak in the warm, gentle breezes. Life continues much as it has for centuries with the elderly still clad in black, so typical of southern Europe.
Whilst this is a unique country, the Croatians appear very much Mediterranean in character: effervescent, friendly and open. The cuisine really is superb too! Heavily influenced by nearby Greece and Italy, everywhere you find exquisite fish like sea bass, tuna and bream fresh from the sea and cooked in a variety of ways, but best simply grilled. Excellent meats abound too and fresh colourful Mediterranean vegetables such as peppers, aubergines and courgettes, combined with olive oil, create tasty, healthy menus.
Take your arranged flight to Croatia, where you will be met at the airport by your tour manager. We then transfer to our hotel for the next three night with breakfast and dinner.
After breakfast we drive inland to the Krka Valley, home to an immensely impressive sequence of lakes, where water cascades dramatically from one to the next via vertiginous interlocking waterfalls. Minerals dissolved in the water trigger stunning colour changes, from turquoise to azure-blue and from vibrant green to steely grey. With reflections of the majestic surrounding peaks and luxuriant forests rippling on lake surfaces, it’s impossible not to be awestruck. You’ll witness one of the most dramatic stretches of the river as you walk past several tiers of waterfalls tumbling magnificently into a broad, shallow pool, before we take a boat trip along the river. There’s ample time to absorb the surroundings before we return to our hotel during the afternoon.
We drive along stunning Dalmatian coastline on our way to Split. Croatia’s second-largest city is most famous for a single building, the colossal palace of Emperor Diocletian, which makes up much of the city’s Old Town. It’s one of the great structures of the Roman Empire and has survived in amazing condition since it was built at the turn of the 4th century. A guided walking tour this morning of the fascinating complex will bring its storied history to life.
We visit the nearby medieval citadel of Trogir, one of the most beguiling little ports in Dalmatia. The Old Town is actually an island. A wealth of Renaissance and Romanesque buildings line a veritable maze of charmingly chaotic lanes. At the centre is the exquisite Cathedral of Saint Lawrence, whose long cycle of construction is reflected in its contrasting architectural features. Wander where your feet take you, cast an eye over one of the many antique shops or just enjoy a coffee in a pavement café – the choice is yours, before returning to the hotel in time for dinner.
This morning we say goodbye to our hotel in Omis or Vodice, and travel across the border to Mostar. Please note that for the border-crossing you will need passports in your hand luggage with you. The ancient town of Mostar is nestled in cliffs, overlooking the Neretva river. It was once a provincial capital of the Ottoman Empire, was later annexed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and is now part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Much of its renown rests with Stari Most, the bridge linking the two halves of the Old Town. Originally built in the 16th century, it was left in ruins in 1993 but rose again the following decade, painstakingly rebuilt to the original Balkan Islamic design as a symbol of reconciliation and as the visual focus of the city.
Once you’ve experienced the marvels of the city, we continue to Dubrovnik, where we stay for four nights with breakfast and dinner.
Dubrovnik, an independent city-state for much of its history, has evolved differently to the rest of Croatia. This morning, we take a tour with an expert local guide explaining the city’s landmarks and intriguing history. Dubrovnik threw off its Venetian masters in medieval times and founded a commercial empire, trading with the eastern Mediterranean, France, Spain and, later, the Ottoman Empire. The economic boom that resulted in the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ found beautiful expression in the likes of the Rector’s Palace, now a museum, and Sponza Palace, currently housing centuries of historical city documents. The main avenue, lined by enticing shops and cafés, is completely paved with marble, which strikingly reflects the midday sun. Add in a wonderful array of monasteries and monumental ramparts and you’ll find this is a wonderful city, nestling in a location of outstanding natural beauty.
You are free to explore before we return to the hotel for dinner.
You have the day to yourselves, so what is it to be? Watching the world go by as you have a leisurely lunch in the main square? Enjoying a cruise around the harbour? A stroll around the city walls that once protected the city’s inhabitants, but now offer unbeatable views? The options are many and the choice is yours.
This morning we drive south away from the rugged coast around Dubrovnik and through the lush fields and immaculate vineyards of Konavle, Croatia’s southernmost region nestled between the mesmerisingly blue Adriatic Sea and the dramatic mountains. This fertile land became the main granary of the Dubrovnik Republic and has produced grapes, olives and even silk for hundreds of years. Dotting the landscape are villages with centuries-old stone houses, where traditional farming methods and crafts are still very much a part of modern life.
The rivers that flow through the valley encouraged the construction of mills for agricultural development over the centuries, but today only three remain operational. We visit one of these faithfully restored watermills to learn how woollen cloth was produced here – the traditional processes of spinning, weaving and stamping are fascinating. Afterwards we enjoy a welcome drink made with homemade liqueurs, figs, sugared orange, lemon peels and candied almonds, as well as a selection of local cheeses, prosciutto, bread and wine for which Konavle is renowned.
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a room. Single rooms are available at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
Where the hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, this will be open during the summer months - weather permitting.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitabilty of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Arrival airport||First hotel location||Transfer time||Final hotel location||Departure airport||Transfer time|
|Dubrovnik Airport||Omiš||4 hrs 30 mins||Dubrovnik||Dubrovnik Airport||30 mins|
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