Experience the wonders of Croatia, Slovenia and Italy

A bite of the Balkans, a dash of Central Europe and a slice of the Med – get a lovely sampler of Europe’s diverse delights on this 17-day Lonely Planet Experience powered by Intrepid. Wander through Dubrovnik’s World Heritage-listed Old Town and explore Plitvice Lakes National Park. Travel up the Dalmatian Coast and cross into Slovenia, where adventure junkies can get their fix biking, hiking, canyoning or caving. Head on to Italy and 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
Destinations
Croatia, Italy, Slovenia
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience
Code
ZMRDC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • The dramatic romance of Italy, the coastal castles of Croatia and a sampling of Slovenia – this tour is a great way to see Europe from multiple angles.

  • Explore beautiful Ljubljana, Slovenia’s green-hued heart. You will enjoy two nights in the capital to soak it up at your own pace.

  • Stroll through Plitvice Lakes National Park, marvelling at luminous lakes and waterfalls that look like they were sketched by an artist.

  • Take a hike along Cinque Terre's rocky coastal pathways, calling into the sleepy pastel villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore and Vernazza.

  • Take a guided walk around Rome’s famous landmarks including the Colosseum, Vatican City, Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is a Lonely Planet Experience powered by Intrepid, made for travellers who value their independence but also want the benefit of a local leader and a group of like-minded travellers. The itinerary has a mix of included activities and free time when your leader will offer suggestions. Please budget spending money for optional activities you want to partake in.

  • This tour is a ‘combo’ – a combination of two shorter itineraries that have been stitched together to make a longer adventure. Because of this, your group leader and the composition of your group may change in Venice.

  • As space it at a premium in Europe, a single supplement is not available on this trip. Single travellers will share a room with other travellers of the same gender. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people. Couples should be aware that hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together. Rooms can be rather small by American or Australian standards and in most cases bathroom facilities will be shared rather than en suite.

  • Summer temperatures can be very high in many of the regions visited (over 40°C). Please keep in mind that many European hotel rooms are not equipped with air conditioning and carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.

  • The primary means of transportation in Italy is by train. Train travel is a fast way to traverse long distances, allowing you to avoid traffic jams and arrive right into the city centre. Trains are comfortable and often decked out with air conditioning, toilets, a snack bar (or vending machine) and power points. Please note that you'll have to carry your own luggage on and off the train, so make sure it doesn’t exceed the weight recommendations in the ‘Packing’ section of the Essential Trip Information.

  • If you have more time to explore the region you may want to check out our other trips in Europe, such as our trip ‘Budapest to Rome’ (trip code ZMRRC), a 26-day trip taking in the highlights of the Balkans and beyond. It takes in Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. This trip can also be booked in individual segments to suit the amount time you have available for your trip in Europe.

Itinerary

Dobro Dosli! Welcome to Croatia. 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, with extensive restoration to return it to its original splendour. With the sparkling water of the Adriatic in the background, Dubrovnik is picturesque, full of character, and its old town can easily be covered on foot. After tonight's group meeting at 6 pm, perhaps head out for a walk around Dubrovnik. Later on, possibly enjoy a meal with the group so you can get to know your fellow travellers.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today, and you can arrive at anytime before then – check with reception to confirm the time and place. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the accommodation by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early. 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 have these on hand.
Today is free to explore the beaches and scenery of this idyllic coastal city. Take a walk along the city walls of ‘Game of Thrones’ fame, enjoying breathtaking views of the sparkling Adriatic Sea. Visit Big Onofrio's Fountain, built by architect Onofrio della Cava in the 15th-century to supply water to the city. Perhaps check out the Franciscan monastery, home to one of the world's oldest continuously-functioning pharmacies, founded in the 13th-century, or the Sponza and Rector's Palaces, the only Renaissance buildings in the city to survive a devastating earthquake and fire in 1667. You might like to check out the city's War Photography Museum, or if you have time, take a boat trip to nearby Lokrum Island, where you will find the French-built Fort Royal Castle, a monastery, and a botanical garden that dates back to when the Austrian archduke Maximilian had his holiday home on the island. Otherwise, Banje beach is an ideal spot to relax and savour the Adriatic views.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Dubrovnik - Lokrum Island Boat Trip - HRK150
  • Dubrovnik - Franciscan Monastery - HRK30
  • Dubrovnik - War Photography Museum - HRK50
  • Dubrovnik - City Walls Walk - HRK150
  • Dubrovnik - Mt Srd Museum of Croatian War of Independence - HRK30
  • Dubrovnik - Game of Thrones Tour - HRK200
  • Dubrovnik - Rector's Palace - HRK120
  • Dubrovnik - Church of St. Blaise - Free
  • Dubrovnik - Srd Hill Hike - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a public bus up the coast to Split (approximately 5 hours). 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. Enjoy a free afternoon in this stunning seaside town, exploring the historic streets, and make sure you see the World Heritage-listed Diocletian's Palace. Alternatively, for a more in-depth introduction to this fascinating city why not join an optional guided tour with a local guide.
Accommodation
  • Pension (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Split - City Museum - HRK20
  • Split - Marjan Hill Hike - Free
  • Split - Gallery of Fine Arts - HRK40
  • Split - Cathedral & Tower - HRK45
  • Split - Diocletian's Palace - HRK42
  • Split - Fish Market - Free
  • Split - Hiking in Mosor with Traditional Dinner - EUR64
  • Split - Cooking Class including Lunch or Dinner - EUR80
  • Split - Ivan Mestrovic Gallery - HRK40
  • Split - Dalmatian Wine and Dine Urban Adventure - EUR100
  • Split - Wars, Warriors and Reforms Urban Adventure - EUR35
  • Split - Game of Thrones Urban Adventure - EUR54
  • Split - Secrets of Split Urban Adventure - EUR47
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free day in Split. At the heart of its atmospheric Old Town is a fascinating city-within-a-city – the remains of a third-century palace built for Roman Emperor Diocletian. Some places might have protected such an impressive complex in a museum, but not enigmatic Split. These ancient walls now house a vibrant mix of shops, cafes, restaurants and houses. Step back in time strolling its sprawling maze of passageways and courtyards and you’ll also find a 16th-century synagogue and a courtyard often filled with music. If your feet get tired, why not sample Croatia’s fine coffee culture with a frothy kava from a cafe on the Riva waterfront promenade, a prime spot for people watching. In the evening, Split boasts an increasingly bustling nightlife scene.
Accommodation
  • Pension (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you will visit one of Croatia's most beautiful sites – Plitvice Lakes National Park (approximately 3 hours). The park was given World Heritage status 20 years ago and is 19 hectares of wooded hills that surround 16 stunning turquoise lakes, all connected by a series of waterfalls. The area is populated by deer, bears, wolves, boars and some rare bird species, and the thick, primeval forest vegetation of beech trees, fir spruce and white pine adds another element to the park's beauty. You’ll have free time to explore here or simply follow your leader to see the best spots – all trails in the national park are well marked so it's difficult to get lost, but please follow the national park rules, which your leader will outline to you. 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. After your memorable visit to the lakes, drive to Croatia's capital, Zagreb (approximately 3 hours).
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Plitvice Lakes - National Park Visit
  • Plitvice Lakes - Picnic
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Special Information
Today will involve a lot of walking, so please make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes.
Take a morning orientation walk with your leader who 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. The rest of the day is free, 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 twin spires that dominate the city's skyline. Ban Jelacic Square is the city's central point, which is surrounded by multiple structures that reflect different periods of Zagreb's past. There is so much to see and do here, the hard thing is deciding what to choose. There are a number of excellent museums to visit including the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Zagreb - Mirogoj Cemetery - Free
  • Zagreb - Cathedral - Free
  • Zagreb - Lotrščak Tower - HRK20
  • Zagreb - Museum of Broken Relationships - HRK40
  • Zagreb - The Croatian Museum of Naive Art - HRK25
  • Zagreb - Mimara Museum - HRK40
  • Zagreb - City Museum - HRK30
  • Zagreb - Ivan Meštrović Atelier - HRK30
  • Zagreb - Funicular - HRK5
  • Zagreb - Made in Croatia Shopping Tour: Crafts & Cuisine Urban Adventure - EUR65
  • Zagreb - Wine & Dine Urban Adventure - EUR110
  • Zagreb - Secrets & Legends of Zagreb Urban Adventure - EUR71
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel by train across the Slovenian border and arrive in the cosmopolitan capital (pronounced 'Lyub-Li-Yana') (approximately 3 hours). On arrival into Ljubljana, check-in to your accommodation and then head out on a short orientation walk with your leader. The rest of the day is free for you to delve deeper into this beautiful 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 wander around the old city centre, renowned for its unique architectural appearance. The Old Town consists of three main squares and Baroque houses, and you can visit the Ljubljana Castle, the Town Hall, Cathedral of St Nicholas, and the Dragon Bridge. Stop at the central Preseren Square, dedicated to the Slovenian romantic poet, France Preseren. 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 walked right into a scene from a beautiful postcard. Maybe also drop by the open market under the arcade.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day to further explore Ljubljana. You have the option of heading on a day trip to Bled. Gifted with immense natural beauty, Bled ranks among the most beautiful of alpine resorts. Its fairy tale-like scenery which includes a castle, a stunning lake and a picturesque island topped with a church, is a dream to explore. Maybe head to the 11th-century cliff-top Bled Castle. Take a Pletna boat ride (a wooden, awning-covered boat rowed by a special oarsman) across sparkling Lake Bled to its island, then climb the 99 steps to St Mary's Church. Be sure to seek out the famous Bled cream cake. It isn’t hard to find; nearly every cafe and cake shop in town claims their cream cake is the best. There's also plenty of action for adrenaline junkies: rafting, caving, cycling, canoeing, boating and swimming are all on offer.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ljubljana - Sights & Bites Urban Adventure - EUR65
  • Bled - Day Trip by Public Bus - EUR15
  • Ljubljana - Dragon Bridge - Free
  • Ljubljana - Metelkova Neighbourhood - Free
  • Ljubljana - Castle and Funicular - EUR13
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning, travel by bus to one of the world's most unique and romantic destinations – Venice (approximately 3.5 hours). Renowned for its canals, Venice is comprised of hundreds of small islands connected by nearly 400. Its famous sights – such as the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge, Doge's Palace (the ruler of Venice), the Piazza San Marco and the evocative Bridge of Sighs – are easily explored by foot. Wander the cobblestone streets and spacious piazzas, crossing hundreds of tiny bridges and you’ll find shops, markets, galleries and churches around every corner. Don't miss the chance to take a gondola ride through the romantic canals and sample a slice of tiramisu (coffee-soaked sponge cake), the region’s specialty.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy free time in this watery wonderland of bridges, towers, piazzas, canals, churches and gondolas – practically unchanged for 600 years. Rich with artistic masterpieces, modern Venice combines history with contemporary life through food, performance, art and architecture. Take a walk around the maze of streets behind San Marco square and begin to understand the complex canal system of Venice.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Venice - Gondola Ride - EUR80
  • Venice - Doge's Palace and Bridge of Sighs - EUR25
  • Venice - Guggenheim Museum - EUR15
  • Venice - St Mark's Campanile - EUR8
  • Venice - St Mark's Basilica Treasury - EUR5
  • Venice - Accademia Gallery - EUR16
  • Venice - Venezia Ca' d'Oro - EUR14
  • Venice - Ca' Rezzonico Museum of Eighteenth Century Art - EUR10
  • Venice - Glass Museum Murano - EUR10
  • Venice - Museum of St Mark's Basilica - EUR5
  • Venice - Scuola Grande di San Rocco - EUR11
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a another group meeting 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. After the meeting perhaps enjoy dinner with your fellow travel companions at a local restaurant.
Today you will have another free day to delve deeper into this beautiful city. The Grand Canal is a great place to start, as you can stroll over the Rialto Bridge and browse the endless amounts of boutique shops that sell Venetian masks and handmade Murano glassware. Venice is famous for its specialities of fresh lobster and squid ink spaghetti dishes – make sure to give one a try.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Venice - Chicchetti & Wine Tour of Venice Urban Adventure - EUR90
  • Venice - The Sweet Taste of Venice Urban Adventure - EUR94
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Board a morning train through the scenic north of Italy to the once important naval base of La Spezia (approximately 6-7 hours). La Spezia is known mainly as the gateway to the gorgeous Cinque Terre (Five Lands). The name comes from the five tiny villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore – positioned on a series of coves between sheer cliffs. On arrival in La Spezia there won't be too much time to explore (that’s what tomorrow is for), but after checking into your hotel perhaps get your bearings with a short walk around the pedestrian zone on Via del Prione or head out for dinner with the group.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend today exploring winding footpaths and pastel coloured villages with your included Cinque Terre Pass. The pass gives you access to the paths and trains of the area for 24 hours. Please consult your leader on which section is right for you, as some have challenging uphill stretches, narrow paths, steep cliffs and foot bridges. It's also possible to take the train between any of the villages, or back to the group's base in La Spezia whenever you want. After working up an appetite, maybe take advantage of an optional pesto class. Focaccia is also a speciality in this area and makes a great start to lunch, if you’d prefer.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cinque Terre - Day Trip, including Cinque Terre Pass
Optional Activities
  • Cinque Terre - 'Il Laboratorio del Pesto' Making & Demonstration - EUR15
  • Cinque Terre - Coastal Cruise - EUR30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Please remember to bring comfortable footwear such as trainers or light hiking shoes. 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's possible to take the train for these sections. Due to safety reasons some sections of any path can be closed at short notice.
Depart La Spezia today and catch a train to Florence (approximately 3.5 hours). On arrival, check into the hostel and go for a brief walk around the immediate area to get your bearings. Florence is one of the most culturally rich and beautiful cities in Italy, known to many as the beating heart of Tuscany. The Medicis, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Donatello and Michelangelo all lived in Florence at the height of their creative reign. Food is a major part of the city's identity and the optional activities on offer reflect this. Maybe explore the city’s culinary history (and taste some local treats) on a Florence Foodies Walk with Urban Adventures. Carnivores might be drawn to try the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, the Florentine Beef Steak, essentially a huge T-bone steak that comes with classic sides.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Florence - Foodies Walk Urban Adventure - EUR67
  • Florence - Aperitivo Time! Urban Adventure - EUR77
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy another day in beautiful Florence. It's impossible to see everything in this Renaissance wonderland, so the best idea is to relax and pick a few things you really want to do. Maybe start with a visit to the Galleria dell'Accademia where you can see Michelangelo's famous statue of David, or perhaps stop by the Uffizi, one of the world's oldest art galleries. Active types might want to walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which is set on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River, to take in beautiful views of the city – a lovely way to while away the day. There are plenty of optional activities on offer during your time here, so be sure to grill your leader for the details on each so you can get a sense of what interests you.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Siena - Day Trip to Siena by Public Bus - EUR24
  • Florence - Baptistry, Museo Opera del Duomo, Giotto Bell Tower and Brunelleschi Dome - EUR15
  • Florence - Palazzo Vecchio - EUR10
  • Florence - Accademia - EUR16
  • Florence - Uffizi Gallery - EUR24
  • Florence - Pitti Palace (Boboli Gardens, Museo Argenti, Costume Gallery, Porcellain Museum) - EUR12
  • Florence - Bargello Museum - EUR12
  • Florence - Medici Chapels - EUR15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
The individual Florentine State Museums have slightly different opening times and closing days between them, but the website firenzemusei.it has everything you need to know about all of them, including the option to purchase tickets. We suggest that you pre-book your visit to the Uffizi, as this museum experiences enormous queues (up to 5 hours) all year round. Make your reservations for these museums for any time today. To book an Urban Adventure in Florence go to urbanadventures.com/destination/florence-tours or speak to your booking agent.
Take the morning train to Rome (approximately 2 hours). Join your leader on an orientation walk around the city to see icons such as the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine, the Forum (centre of ancient Rome), the Victor Emmanuel Monument, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, Via Dei Condotti and Piazza Venezia. Phew. After all that history it’s probably time for lunch. Maybe grab a slice of the good stuff and a strong espresso at the Piazza Navona. You can spend your afternoon how you wish and there are plenty of heavy hitters to choose from. Maybe enter the Vatican and check out St Peter's Basilica. Art lovers could visit the Sistine Chapel to admire the timeless work of Michelangelo, while history buffs may enjoy a jaunt through the ancient halls of the Pantheon. Rome is packed full of trattorias that cater to every taste and budget, so this evening maybe link up with the group for dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Rome - Castel Sant'Angelo - EUR10
  • Rome - Christian Catacombs - EUR8
  • Rome - Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill - EUR16
  • Rome - Keats-Shelley Memorial House - EUR5
  • Vatican City - Vatican Museum - EUR16
  • Rome - Pantheon - EUR2
  • Vatican City - St Peter's Dome Climb & Elevator - EUR8
  • Rome - Venezia Palace - EUR5
  • Rome - Galleria Borghese - EUR15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
There are strictly enforced dress codes that apply to those wishing to enter the churches of the Vatican City. Men must wear long trousers (no shorts) and cover their shoulders and women must cover from shoulder to below the knee. Check the Vatican website (vatican.va) for updated information on when you can visit. Tickets for the Vatican Museum can and should be booked online at: biglietteriamusei.vatican.va. 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). Tickets for Galleria Borghese can also be booked online at galleriaborghese.it. In order to allow enough time in the museum and to avoid the crowds it is recommended to start the museum visit as doors open. Please note that pre-booked tickets are not required if you just want to visit St Peter's Basilica and the dome.
Your adventures comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you're free to depart the accommodation at any time after check-out. As there is so much to see in Rome, we recommend you stay a little longer to soak it up. We are happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). Please speak to an agent at the time of booking.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
If you have some more time in Rome, why not check out the day trips offered by Urban Adventures. Speak to your booking agent or go to urbanadventures.com/destination/Rome-tours for more information.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

10 breakfasts, 1 lunch

Transport

Train, Public bus, Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (4 nights), Hostel (10 nights), Pension (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Plitvice Lakes - National Park Visit
  • Plitvice Lakes - Picnic
  • Cinque Terre - Day Trip, including Cinque Terre Pass

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A single supplement is NOT available on this trip.

COMBINATION TRIP
As this is a combination of two trips, your group leader and the composition of your group will likely change in Venice.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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 Essential Trip Information

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