Experience the wonders of Croatia, Slovenia and Italy on a small group adventure.

A bit of the Balkans, a dash of Central Europe and a slice of the Med – this 17-Day journey through Croatia, Slovenia and Italy takes in plenty. Kick the adventure off with a wander through Dubrovnik's World Heritage-listed Old Town, then cruise out to the island of Brac for some beach time, believe the beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park and uncover the secrets of Croatia's capital, Zagreb. Coasting up the Dalmatian, cross into Slovenia, where adventure junkies can get their fix biking, hiking, canyoning or caving, before carrying on and into Italy. Live out your grandest gondola and tiramisu fantasies in Venice, stroll the twisting trails between the Cinque Terre's towns and see the artworks that inspired the Renaissance in Florence.

Start
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Finish
Rome, Italy
Countries
Croatia,
Italy,
Slovenia
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMRDC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
0kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Stroll through Plitvice Lakes National Park, marvelling at luminous lakes and waterfalls that appear to have been sketched by an artist
  • Croatia's amazing array of food specialities mix multiple European influences, and Zagreb harnesses the best of them. Feast on Mediterranean fresh seafood, Italian-influenced antipasti and the crunchy, doughy dessert of fritule
  • The floating city of Venice is one place you’ll be happy to get lost in. The city's maze of alleyways, canals and lagoon islands lead to over 130 churches, all with their own distinct character
  • Walk along Cinque Terre's rocky coastal pathways, calling into the sleepy pastel villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore and Vernazza
  • Wander around Rome's famous landmarks including the Colosseum, Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, St Peter's Basilica and much more. This is a city where you'll be able to tick a lot off your bucket list

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 22 October 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Welcome to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the entrance area or ask at reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform 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. After the meeting perhaps head out for a walk around Dubrovnik to help find your feet. Later on, possibly enjoy a meal with the group so you can get to know your fellow travellers.

Day 2 is free to explore the beaches and scenery of this idyllic coastal city that overlooks the Adriatic. The walled city of Dubrovnik is a great place to discover on foot, with its cobblestone streets, tiled roofs, white washed walls and stone buildings. Stroll down the main street of Stradun that runs straight through the World heritage listed Old Town, with its baroque monuments and gothic buildings. Be sure to check out the 13th-century Franciscan Monastery, which has one of the world's oldest, continuously functioning pharmacies or relax on the pristine Banje beach.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive to the welcome meeting in time, 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).
Take a public bus for about three hours up the coast to Split. Situated on a small peninsula on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea, it's the second largest city in Croatia. Split grew out from Diocletian's Palace and you can almost see it evolving in a multitude of different ways. Some cultures might have made the palace a museum, but the city of Split has always been a dynamic and vibrant place, and the palace houses many businesses and homes. Interact with the locals of Split at Marmontova fish market or the markets just outside of the palace walls.

On Day 4, take a daytrip out to the island of Brac and visit the town of Supetar. Spend a day exploring this island or simply take it easy, lie on famous Zlatni Rat beach and enjoy the sun with a drink in your hand.
Travel by bus to Plitvice Lakes National Park and continue later in the day to Zagreb (approximately five hours of driving in total). Plitvice Lakes National Park is a forested area of waterfalls and blue lakes, which is fed by the Bijela and Crna (White and Black) Rivers. Walk around the upper and lower lakes, exploring grottoes, pine tree forests and search for an abundance of wildlife. A series of wooden walkways pass over the landscape, ensuring that there's as little impact on the park as possible. Look to the canopy for over 120 species of birds, including hawks and owls.

Leave Plitvice Lakes National Park behind and head to Zagreb, where you'll go on an orientation walk on arrival. Your leader will point out local amenities and attractions you might want to visit along the way, so ask any questions you might have about the city during the walk. Day 6 is a free day in Zagreb, so check out both the upper town and the lower town to understand the city's culture. The tallest building in town is the gothic Zagreb Cathedral, with iconic twin spires that can be seen from virtually everywhere in the city. Ban Jelacic Square is the city's central point, which is surrounded by multiple structures that reflect different periods of Zagreb's past. One of the more unusual places you could visit is the Museum of Broken Relationships, which documents the history of failed relationships and unrequited love.
Travel by train for around two and a half hours to Ljubljana (pronounced 'Lyub-Li-Yana'), the cosmopolitan capital of Slovenia. On arrival into Ljubljana, check in to your accommodation and then head out to get to know the city. Located in the centre of Slovenia, Ljubljana is a city full of style and sophistication, history, monuments, churches, museums and great restaurants. In your free time you can visit Ljubljana Castle, the Town Hall, Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Dragon Bridge or the open market under the arcade.

There may be time on Day 8 to take an optional day trip to Bled. With a stunning lake, a castle, a picturesque island church and plenty of outdoor activities, Bled is a great place to explore. There's also plenty of action for adrenaline junkies, from cycling, hiking and skiing, to canyoning, caving and boating.
This morning travel by bus to one of the world's most unique cities - Venice (approximately 3.5 hours). A grand city of canals, Venice is built over a hundred small islands connected by 400 bridges. Still rich with artistic masterpieces, modern Venice combines history with contemporary life through food, performance, art and architecture. The best way to enjoy your free time and explore is by foot, taking in all the famous sights - the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge, Doge's Palace (the ruler of Venice), the Piazza San Marco with its golden Basilica, and of course, the evocative Bridge of Sighs. Wander the cobblestone streets and spacious piazzas, crossing hundreds of tiny bridges.

There are shops, markets, galleries and churches around every corner. Don't miss taking a gondola trip through the romantic canals or sampling a slice of region's desert speciality, tiramisu (coffee-soaked sponge cake).

Notes: As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting on day 10 to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
This morning after breakfast, spend the day travelling to La Spezia, the gateway to the Cinque Terre by train. The journey usually takes around six to seven hours via Milan, and is a very scenic trip through the north of Italy. On arrival at your base in La Spezia, and after checking in to your hotel perhaps get your bearings of the area with a short walk or head out for dinner with the group.

On day 13, venture out on the footpaths of the Cinque Terre (Five Lands), a region of Italy famed for its coastline and pastel villages. The footpaths that run between the villages were once the only way to travel in the region, and take you through olive groves, vineyards and to idyllic vistas. Walking the entire network of paths can take from five hours (12 km in total) and will need a good level of fitness. Some sections of path can be difficult, as there are challenging uphill stretches, narrow paths, steep cliffs and foot bridges. Please remember to bring comfortable footwear such as trainers or light hiking shoes. It's also possible to take the train between any of the villages or back to the group's base whenever you want. After working up an appetite, take advantage of the foods of the Liguria region with a pesto class. Focaccia is also a specialty in this area and makes a great start to lunch. In the late afternoon, the rest of your day is free.

Notes: Due to recent landslides in the area it is currently not possible to walk the Via dell'Amore and the coastal section between Manarola and Corniglia. There are alternative inland routes, however these are of a higher physical rating and involve steep ups and downs. It is possible to take the train or a bus for these sections. Due to safety reasons some sections of any path can be closed at short notice.
Board a train today and head to Florence, which should take around three and half hours. On arrival, check into the hotel and go for a brief walk around the immediate area to get your bearings. Food is a major part of the city's identity, so use your evening wisely and maybe head out for dinner with the group. Regional specialities are noted for their simplicity and fine flavour, and the use of high-quality olive oil, cannellini beans and fresh herbs. Meat lovers should try the bistecca alla fiorentina, a huge T-bone steak that's usually shared between two people, or ribollita - a thick delicious vegetable soup with bread, beans and greens.

After breakfast on day 15, head out into the centre of Florence. Perhaps visit the Uffizi, one of the world's oldest art galleries, or see Michelangelo's famous statue of David in the Galleria dell'Accademia. Walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which is set on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River affording great views of the old city centre. There are plenty of sights to see during your free time in Florence.

Notes: Florentine State Museums (Uffizi, Accademia, Pitti Palace, Medici Chapels, Bargello, Archaeological Museum, Davanzati) can all be booked in advance. Reserve tickets by phone on (+39) 055 294883 or book online at weekendafirenze.com. We suggest that you book in advance (your leader can be of assistance), especially for the Uffizi as this museum experiences enormous queues (up to 5 hours) all year round. The individual museums have slightly different opening times and closing days between them but the website - www.firenzemusei.it - has everything you need to know about all of them. Make your reservations for these museums for any time on Day 15 of this itinerary.
In the morning take the train to Rome, which should take around one and a half hours. Join your leader on an orientation walk around the city, where you see some of the iconic sights such as the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine, the Forum (centre of ancient Rome), the Victor Emmanuel Monument, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Via Dei Condotti and Piazza Venezia. No visit would be complete without a trip to Vatican City and St Peter's Basilica. Entry to the Basilica is free and there's a small charge to climb the dome for a panorama over the city. Use your free time to also visit the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museum is closed on some days, including most Sundays. On the last Sunday of the month, it's open and free (but expect large crowds).

For meals, Rome is packed full of restaurants and trattorias that cater to every taste and budget. Local specialities tend to be quite heavy, and include pastas such as carbonara (egg, cheese and bacon) and amatriciana (tomato, bacon and chilli). Eating in trattorias will give you a chance to sample some Italian wines, with house choices usually very good and affordable. Head out in the evening with the group for a final farewell dinner.

Your 'Dubrovnik to Rome' adventure comes to an end in the morning of day 17. There are no activities planned and you're free to leave the accommodation at any time. It's worth booking an extra few days of accommodation in Rome, so you're able to see as much as possible while you're here. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team can help (subject to availability).

Notes: Check the Vatican website (vatican.va) for up-to-date information on when you can visit. Tickets for the Vatican Museum can be booked online at: biglietteriamusei.vatican.va, and tickets for Galleria Borghese can be booked online at: galleriaborghese.it.
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Inclusions

Meals
4 breakfasts
Transport
Train, Public bus, Private vehicle, Ferry
Accommodation
Guesthouse (4 nights), Hostel (6 nights), Hotel (4 nights), Pension (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park - Entrance

Dates

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Trip notes

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