Eat your way from Ljubljana to Split via Motovun, Pula and Zadar

If it’s a gourmet feast you want, a gourmet feast you shall get! This food-inspired escapade through Bled, Piran, Motovun, Pula, Zadar and Split includes visits to vineyards, salt pans, a truffle farm and fishing villages. Discover why Istria is considered one of the world's leading producers of quality olive oil; eat mouth-watering, slow-cooked meat cooked Dalmatian-style under a metal bell ; and perhaps slurp down an oyster or two...or three. Raise a glass of refosk (Slovenian wine) or slivovitz (plum brandy) and shout ‘zivjeli!’ to the simple, home-style cuisine this region is famous for.

Start
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Finish
Split, Croatia
Countries
Croatia,
Slovenia
Themes
Food
Code
ZMZE
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
0kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Discover why the Balkans are the next big thing in food – explore the major foodie regions of Istria (prsut ham, olive oils, wine, truffles) and Dalmatia (sheep’s milk cheese, lamb, maraschino cherrys)
  • Delve into the diverse world of food that lies beneath Slovenia’s fairytale landscape, and find out why this country has more than 20 distinct culinary regions
  • Taste some of the newest players on the world wine scene – teran, refosk, Marastina, and Kurtelaška bijela (and try to pronounce them after a few glasses)
  • Root out the reasons why Croatia has become the Italy of the East – world-class olive oil and truffles abound
  • Watch the catch of the day sail back to shore in the seaside village of Zadar

Itinerary

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

Zivjo! Welcome to Slovenia. Known as ‘Europe in Miniature’, tiny Slovenia has a huge heart and a wealth of diversity. The soaring Julian Alps capture a touch of Switzerland, the radiating coastline oozes Mediterranean charm, and Bled’s island church appears to have come straight out of a fairytale. This small country is home to a surprisingly complex cuisine, divided into 23 culinary regions by local ethnologists. Best known for hearty, alpine stews, goulash and sauerkraut, Slovenia also boasts wonderful cakes and strudels, not to mention the culinary treasures found in the coastal Karst region, including teran wine, prsut (air-dried ham) and sensational olive oils. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting tonight at 6pm. Please ask reception to confirm the time and place of your meeting. Have your insurance details and next of kin information on hand for collection by your leader. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. Picturesque Ljubljana is perfect for starting a food odyssey, with a surprisingly diverse food scene that belies its size – great local eateries, progressive modern restaurants, street food, cafes and cake shops. Toast to your trip with a glass of Slovenia's national drink: schapps (snopec in Slovene). This fruit-based liqueur comes in a variety of flavour incarnations, although the local favourite is viljamoka, flavoured with Williams pear. Your leader will suggest a great eatery in the heart of the city to sample some delicious traditional dishes.
Get to know this fairy tale city on a breakfast food tour. Savour delicious pastries, cheeses and charcuterie, and in the Central Market discover the importance of apples and especially honey – there are more than 9,000 beekeepers in Slovenia! Along the way, learn a little of the city's history and culture. Stop at the city centre Prešeren Square, dedicated to the Slovenian romantic poet, France Prešeren. With views of the Triple Bridge and Ljubljana Castle on one side, and a magnificent Franciscan church on the other, you’ll feel like you’ve just walked right into a scene from a beautiful postcard. In the afternoon, take a public bus to Bled (approximately 1 hour). Situated on stunning Lake Bled at the edge of the Julian Alps, there are many outdoor activities to get the blood pumping in Bled: rafting, caving, canoeing, and swimming, to name a few. But you’ve come for one reason – a delicious cream cake called kremna rezina (kremsnita to the locals). It’s thought to have been invented in the kitchens of Hotel Park in 1953 by Ištvan Lukačevič, chef of the hotel's confectionery store. Since its invention, more than 10 million kremsnita have been baked at the hotel's patisserie. Tuck in to your own slice to find out what all the fuss is about. Return to Ljubljana by early evening.
Travel by public bus to Piran this morning (approximately 2 hours). Piran is a stunning coastal town, located near the border of Italy and Croatia. The region is renowned for it's production of fantastic quality olive oils, wine (especially the distinctive teran and refošk), as well as a cured ham called prsut. This is air-dried in the cold, dry wind known as the bura, which sweeps down to the coast from inland. Sample all of these local specialties and more on a tasting tour of the town, culminating in lunch at a charming tavern. Next, head to the nearby salt pans of Piran. Here, salt is still manually harvested with traditional tools according to a seven centuries' old process. Cross the border into Croatia and continue on to Motovun by private vehicle (approximately 1 hour), arriving in the early evening. Motovun sits on the top of a cone-shaped hill, 277 metres above sea level, surrounded by the romantic and natural diversity of the bountiful Mirna River Valley. The town grew around a core settlement surrounded by well-fortified walls, and its Celtic origin name comes from the word 'Montona', which means the 'town on the hill'.
Croatia has long piqued the interest of curious travellers searching for sunshine, sand and scenery, with charming cobblestone towns and World Heritage sites. Recently it has gained recognition as an exciting food and wine destination, with the region of Istria leading the charge as the culinary capital of the country. Motovun is one of the best preserved medieval Istrian towns in Croatia, with houses scattered all over the hill and a spectacular view of Mirna River Valley. Motovun Forest is the best place for hunting the famous Istrian truffle, and the nearby village of Livade is considered the truffle capital of Istria. Take a walk through the nearby woods with an experienced truffle hunter, and learn how to sniff out a truffle and about this intriguing vocation. Then enjoy a tasting of regional specialties including truffles (of course), olives and honey. Spend the afternoon at your leisure. The medieval charm of the town is still found in its well-preserved architecture, so explore Motovun's winding cobbled lanes, discovering churches, towers and the municipal palace, or enjoy a glass of wine at Josef Ressel Square.
Travel on to the romantic Croatian town of Rovinj, one of the best-kept towns on the Adriatic Coast (approximately 1 hour). Among Rovinj's qualities is the beautiful, architecturally intact old town centre, with a relaxed Mediterranean feel. Through the centuries, Rovinj’s character has enchanted many an artist or writer, including Jules Verne. Take an orientation walk through the old town. For fans of oysters, a cruise on Lim Bay is highly recommended. Stop into an oyster farm and taste freshly shucked bivalves straight from the ocean. You may also choose to enjoy a spectacular optional lunch in a celebrated local restaurant that specialises in Mediterranean flavours, using ingredients sourced from the surrounding countryside. Continue on to Pula (approximately 40 minutes) via one of Istria's celebrated boutique wineries, where the winemaker is paving the way for Croatian wines on the international stage. Enjoy a tasting of his signature drops. You’ll arrive in Pula in time for dinner and your leader can point you in delicious directions.
Wake up in Pula, the capital of the province of Istria. 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. On a free day, 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 and pass through the Triumphal Arch of Sergius from 27 BC. 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. Today there is the option to take a cooking class, focussing on Istrian cuisine and cooking methods. Depending on the week, topics may vary from Istrian pasta-making to perfecting the art of fileting fish. Check with your leader at the start of the trip for more information or to book, as placed are limited. In the evening and weather permitting, you may wish to meet up with your leader for a picnic overlooking the Roman Amphitheatre, 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. It’s a spectacular sight as the sun sets.
Travel to walled city of Zadar by bus (approximately 5 hours). For centuries Zadar was the capital city of Dalmatia, and the city's rich heritage is visible at every step. It’s also celebrated for many culinary treasures, including fresh seafood, the sheep and goats that are reared for their meat and milk in the mountains to the north, and the wonderful fresh produce that is grown in a broad belt of land surrounding Zadar. The city is also home to a vibrant café culture. To refresh, on arrival stop into one of our favourite cafes in the city and enjoy a spot of people watching alongside the locals. Your leader will then invite you to try 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, 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.
Rise early for a stroll through Zadar's vibrant fish markets. The fish market is built into the city ramparts at the spot where the fishing trawlers land with their catch. This will also give you an opportunity to ogle some of the produce grown in the area. Depending on the season, you may find citrus fruits and kiwis from the islands, fresh and dried figs and home-made olive oil. Then travel by bus to nearby Pag Island (approximately 1.5 hours). The karst island of Pag is home to sheep, an intricate lace, and a determined group of 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. Meet a producer of the island's renowned cheese ‘paski sir’. This artisan sheep's milk cheese has long been a valued commodity of the island. Discover more about the production process and enjoy a tasting. There may also be time for a swim in the shallow coves that make Pag Island a popular destination for beachgoers. Return to Zadar by late afternoon. Perhaps visit the famous ‘Greeting to the Sun’ and the ‘Sea Organ’, two of the more modern sights of Zadar.
Travel by local bus southeast to Split (approximately 4 hours), taking in vistas over vineyards, olive groves, bays, beaches, steep cliffs and islands along the way. A vibrant mixture of golden history and present-day delights, the city of Split grew out from the remains of Diocletian's Palace – some of the most impressive ruins on the Mediterranean. 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 there’ll be ample time to truly experience this amazing, time-defying structure. Next, meet up with a local chef for a visit to the markets. Collect your ingredients, return to the hotel and ascend to the rooftop where you will be treated to a masterclass in some classic Dalmatian dishes. Savour the results as you sit down to a final feast with new friends.
Your Real Food Adventure Slovenia & Croatia concludes this morning. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are free to leave at any time. Should you wish to continue your food adventure through the Balkans, perhaps consider joining the Real Food Adventure Macedonia & Montenegro, commencing Wednesday evening in Skopje, Macedonia.
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Inclusions

Meals
4 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Transport
Private minibus, Public bus, Taxi
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nights), Hotel (7 nights)
Included activities
  • Day Trip to Bled
  • Bled - Kremsnita Tasting
  • Ljubljana - Tasting Trail
  • Piran - Tasting Trail including lunch
  • Motovun - Truffle hunt & tasting
  • Rovinj - Winery tour & tasting
  • Zadar - Cafe experience
  • Pag Island - Cheese tour & tasting
  • Split Guided City Tour
  • Split - Hands on cooking class including market visit & dinner

Dates

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Trip notes

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Reviews

Our Real Food Adventure - Slovenia & Croatia trips score an average of 4.79 out of 5 based on 14 reviews in the last year.

Real Food Adventure - Slovenia & Croatia , July 2016

Real Food Adventure - Slovenia & Croatia , July 2016