Travel to cities, mountains and beaches in Croatia and Slovenia

This adventure bounds from the Gothic monuments of Split, through the pristine scenery of Plitvice Lakes National Park and ancient streets of Old Town Zadar, then on to the island of Pag. After a blissful beach break, cross into Slovenia to discover the enchanting surrounds of Bled. This jam-packed journey offers lush forest hikes, breathtaking landscapes, medieval architecture and scrumptious food along with a good taste of the ancient Croatian and Slovenian culture.

Start
Split, Croatia
Finish
Bled, Slovenia
Countries
Croatia,
Slovenia
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMSY
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
114kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Be blown away by Zadar and its extensive Roman ruins, medieval city walls and the modern sea organ and sun dial
  • Embark on a day trip to famous Plitvice National Park, and be awed by the colours of the lakes and waterfalls
  • Explore beautiful Split, where tradition, modernity and a variety of European influences come together. A visit to the Diocletian’s Palace reveals some of the Adriatic Coast’s most important surviving Roman buildings

Itinerary

Dobro Dosli! Welcome to Croatia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

If Dubrovnik is considered the heart of Dalmatia, Split is certainly its soul. Situated on a small peninsula on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea, it's the second largest city in Croatia. Explore the impressive ruins of Diocletian's Palace - Split's most imposing structure and indeed some of the most interesting ruins on the Adriatic coast. Diocletian (245-313 AD) was a Roman Emperor infamous for his cruel treatment of Christians in the 3rd century. He chose the peninsula at Split to build this huge palace for his retirement, near to the Roman settlement of Salona (Solin), the ruins of which can still be seen today. There's not much time in Split on this trip, so if you want to see the sights we recommend booking some extra days before the trip to explore the area. we are happy to check availability for you. please enquire at the time of booking.
An important coastal town, the musical steps 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. Ozjusko pivo is a light beer with a very pleasant taste, just a little bit bitter, with a rich flavour. Afterwards, 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. As early as the 19th century, this unique drink was a favourite at European courts (London, Vienna, Moscow) and has been produced in Zadar since 1821.
Today embark on a full day trip to Pag Island. The karst island of Pag is home to sheep, an intricate lace and determined islanders who wring themselves a living from the barren, rocky landscape. Settled in pre-Roman times, the island has been at the mercy of the shifting fortunes of various Dalmatian rulers, and today reminders of its prosperous salt-mining past lie in the main town, Pag. One of Croatia's most prized cheeses is paški sir - Pag cheese. Eaten sliced with black olives, or grated and used instead of Parmesan, paški sir is salty with a sharp tangy flavour. This distinctive cheese comes from Pag island's sheep, who roam the rocky island eating aromatic herbs and grass on slopes coated in salt deposits by strong sea winds. The milk is collected in May, left unpasteurised during fermentation, then rubbed with sea salt and olive oil and left to age anywhere from six months to a year. In the afternoon travel back to the harbour town of Zadar.
Take a drive inland and travel north to our next base Rakovica, near Plitvice Lakes (approx 2 hrs). Upon arrival we 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, teeming with abundant wildlife. A series of wooden walkways pass over the landscape, ensuring that there is as little impact upon the park as possible. The lakes, which are also fed by underground springs, are divided into upper and lower lakes. The upper lakes are contained within dolomite cliffs, where the rushing water deposits minerals onto mosses and algae and forms travertine, a porous limestone rock. Weaving in and out of the karst, the rushing waters drop dramatically down to the lower lakes, with enchanting forests, grottoes and steep cliffs. This continuous interplay of water, rock and plant-life creates the wondrous, dynamic landscape of Plitvice Lakes, changing the colours of the waters from azure to bright green, to deep blue and grey. Look to the canopy for over 120 species of birds, including hawks and owls. Butterflies hover through the trees and patches of whitebeam, hornbeam and flowering ash 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 leaving the natural landscape intact.
Take the drive to Pula, the capital of the province of Istria (approx 4 hrs). A Roman amphitheatre, a wealth of architectural sights and a hedonistic bent make Pula a great place to catch a concert or sample some Istrian cuisine. Pula has a long history as Roman citadel, a pirate target and a naval port, and today this regional and economic centre is powered by shipbuilding, textiles, metals and glass. A wander through Pula's Old Town is like a step back in time, to its heyday as a Roman regional administrative centre. Follow the Roman walls on the town's eastern boundary and pass through the Triumphal Arch of Sergius, erected in 27 BC to commemorate a prominent family. On the pedestrianised streets of the Old Town see the ancient Forum, whose sole remaining structure is the Temple of Augustus, rebuilt after almost total devastation in World War II. There is also a 3rd-century Roman floor mosaic with geometric motifs framing the punishment of Dice, who in Greek mythology attempted to murder her cousin. The Roman amphitheatre is Pula's most impressive sight. Overlooking the harbour, it was built in the 1st century and designed to hold up to 20,000 spectators, who revelled in the bloodthirsty gladiatorial contests shown there. The 30 metre-high wall, inset with two rows of arches, is made entirely of local limestone, with gutters on top for collecting water and slabs that were used to hold a shady fabric canopy in place. Tonight we stay at a Boutique Hostel in the heart of Pula, a stone's throw from the Arch of the Sergii.
Cross the border into Slovenia to the pretty town of Bled (approx 3,5 hrs), via the coastal gem of Rovinj. There will be time to wander the picturesque streets of Rovinj this morning, taking in colourful buildings, and a splendid waterfront. Climb the campanile of Sv Euphemia Cathedral in the middle of the old town, or browse the stands of the daily open air market for truffles, olive oil, seafood or fruit and vegetables. Alternatively you may just want to find a spot for a cold drink and watch the world go by. After another short drive, arrive in Bled, situated on the stunning lake of the same name at the edge of the Julian Alps in Slovenia. There are many outdoor activities to get the blood pumping in Bled: rafting, caving, canoeing, swimming, to name a few.
Today is a free day for you to explore all that Blerd and the surrounding area has to offer. Perhaps hire a bike and cycle the 6km bike path that circles the lake. This scenic ride passes some impressive villas, mostly from the beginning of the 19th century, including the former residence of Tito—today the Hotel Vila Bled. If feeling active continue riding out to Vintgar Gorge (4 km) and walk through the natural canyon. Make sure to also explore Bled Castle, perched atop the 100-metre cliff overlooking the lake, or catch a pletna (small wooden boat) over to the island in the middle of the lake to ring the wishing bell. For a sample of Bled cuisine, you must try Bled cake - a vanilla, custard, cream and pastry delight. You might also consider doing a day trip to nearby Ljubljana, Slovenia's compact yet cosmopolitan capital city.
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.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
3 breakfasts
Transport
Public bus, Private vehicle, Taxi
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 night), Hostel (1 night), Hotel (5 nights)
Included activities
  • Pag Island with visit to cheese makers
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park
  • Pula Arena

Dates

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Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Croatia & Slovenia trips score an average of 4.56 out of 5 based on 41 reviews in the last year.

Croatia & Slovenia , September 2015

Croatia & Slovenia , September 2015

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