Visit Croatia and Slovenia on a tour from Dubrovnik to Bled.

Visit Croatia and Slovenia as you take the scenic route 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 architecture and lose yourself in the serenity of this charming and picturesque region.

Start
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Finish
Bled, Slovenia
Countries
Croatia,
Slovenia
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMSUC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
214kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Dubrovnik's charms reach far beyond the UNESCO-listed city walls. Cruise to Lokrum Island where a botanical garden, Benedictine monastery and excellent swimming spots await
  • A highlight for many travellers, Hvar Island seems to have it all: Renaissance architecture, beautiful beaches, lush green landscapes and excellent Dalmatian cuisine
  • Indulge in local island specialties during a feast in one of Korcula Island's sleepy villages
  • 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 ancient 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

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 01 October 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

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.

The undisputed jewel of the Dalmatian Coast, Dubrovnik is a beautiful white stone town surrounded entirely by city walls. Although it experienced devastation during the war in the early 1990s, the old town - with its tiled roofs and stone buildings - 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 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.
Today is a free day for you to enjoy all that Dubrovnik has to offer. Enjoy views of the sea from the 2 km-long city walls surrounding the town. 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. Alternatively the newly restored cable car can whisk you to the top in less than 10 minutes. The hill is topped by a castle of Napoleonic times, which now houses the Museum of the Croatian War of Independence.
Journey by bus and boat to Korcula (approx 4 hrs). The time you depart and your travel time may vary depending on the transport schedule. Natives of Korcula believe Marco Polo was born on the island. Whether or not this can be proved (the Venetians have a similar claim), Korcula is steeped in a long history and the islanders are proud owners of this little gem, smaller than Dubrovnik but no less precious to its inhabitants. Greeks settled in the 6th century BC (they called the island Black Korcula), but the town was occupied by the Romans, the Slavs and then the longest period of rule passed to the Venetians between 1420 and 1797. Even Napoleon was ruler for a while. As a result of all these influences, Korcula has a stunning Old Town - romantic and evocative. And what's more, there are plenty of warm beaches to relax upon if that's more your speed. For the next two nights stay with local hosts who rent out their rooms in the summer season.
Today you might like to take a swim, or walk around the bays and villages near Korcula town. If you're feeling energetic take a snorkelling, kayaking or mountain-biking day trip. Your leader can help arrange these activities from our base in Korcula. The rooms, while simple, are the best way to put money back into the local economy. Later in the afternoon make the short journey by local bus (approx 30 mins) to the tiny village of Pupnat (population: 300) in the interior of the island to visit a local farm/restaurant and eat outside on the patio. Sample some of the family vineyard's wines and be treated to a meal made entirely from ingredients found on the farm. Perhaps you can drink your wine like the locals do - mixed with a bit of water. The traditional Dalmatian meat loaf or pasticada and fresh grilled vegetables with olive oil constitute a typical dish, 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 the herb called verbane) and some Korcula cakes for dessert before heading home.
A speedboat takes us to the neighbouring island of Hvar (approx 90 mins). Hvar has an air of Venice about it, and is known as the 'Queen of the Dalmatian Islands'. Wander around a town with wonderfully preserved Renaissance facades, hike past dramatic jagged limestone cliffs and slow your pace to enjoy the undulating farms, fields and ancient olive groves. Upon arrival embark on an orientation walk around town and visit the 16th century Spanjola Fortress, from which spectacular views over town and this part of the Adriatic can be had.

Note: For the next two nights we are staying in private apartments that locals rent out during the summer months. They are diverse and can vary in size and most may not have air-conditioning. All are located within 15 minutes of the main square.
Today is a free day. There are plenty of options for exciting activities in town or take a short hike on the nearby Pakleni islands. Depending on the weather there is the option to join a four hour walk through the lavender fields (they are blooming in June) and olive groves that are abundant on this pearl in the Adriatic. If you do not feel energetic today, spend the day at the beach at one of the island's many quiet beaches and enjoy a sunset stroll along the harbour promenade. Alternatively why not visit the island of Brac with its famed white pebble beach, Zlatni Rat. Brac is the third largest of Croatia's islands and hosts enchanting harbour villages. The island is famous for milk-white marble, which was used for the construction of the White House in Washington DC and Diocletian's Palace in Split.
Catch a boat to Split (approx 2 hrs). 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.

Join a local guide for a walking tour of Split to get to know its history a little. See the original and fantastically preserved basements under the city as well as the Cathedral in Diocletian's Peristyle and Jupiter's Temple. The Peristyle is a large rectangular open space framed by columns and arches on the long sides, with the entrance to the Emperor's old living quarters at one end. Portions of the Palace are over 1,700 years old and we allow ample time to truly experience the amazing, time-defying structure. 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 the city of Split has always been a dynamic, vibrant place and the palace houses many businesses as well as being home to locals. You can get lots of local interaction in Split, such as at the fish market on Marmontova or the markets just outside the palace walls.
Today you'll have more time to explore Split. 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. As this is a combination trip, your leader and the composition of your group may change at this point. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary. You're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers. In the evening after the meeting, why not head out for some fresh seafood with your new friends?
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.
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Inclusions

Meals
5 breakfasts, 1 dinner
Transport
Public bus, Private vehicle, Ferry, Taxi
Accommodation
Guesthouse (3 nights), Hostel (4 nights), Hotel (3 nights), Private apartment (4 nights)
Included activities
  • Dubrovnik City Walls
  • Wine Tasting and Dinner in Pupnat Village - Korcula Island
  • Hvar Orientation Walk
  • Spanjola Fortress - Hvar Town
  • Split Guided City Tour
  • Diocletian's Palace - Split
  • Split Cathedral & Tower
  • Pag Island with visit to cheese makers
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park - Entrance
  • Pula Arena

Dates

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information. The price of the Single Supplement does not include the following nights where single rooms may not be available. If a single room becomes available at check-in for these nights, there may be the option for you to upgrade to a single room and pay the surcharge locally for that night:
- Days 7 & 8 - Split

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.

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Reviews

Our Dubrovnik to Bled trips score an average of 4.6 out of 5 based on 20 reviews in the last year.

Dubrovnik to Bled , August 2016

Dubrovnik to Bled , July 2016