Croatia has 9 national parks of incomparable beauty, true gems of nature beauty of Europe. This tour gives you the unique opportunity to see 5 of the national parks: Brijuni, Plitvice, Velebit, Krka and Mljet (and so much more on the way) in just 11 day! As we strive to give you the best service possible, you are given great flexibility with the itinerary and the route – you can change the route at any given moment, perhaps do a small detour or visit a interesting sight of the beaten path. This is made possible by traveling in a small, intimate group of like minded people, in the Mercedes Sprinter 513, a luxurious minivan that is more a moving hotel for its conform than a vehicle. See the best of Croatia’s natural beauties with this luxury, tailor made tour!
This is a blueprint for the tour – if you wish to change anything, just contact us prior to departure and we will do everything in our power to make this a unforgettable experience for you!
All the late afternoons, unless specified otherwise in the itinerary, are free
DAY 1 – Arrival
Your private driver will come to collect you at the Zagreb airport at the appointed time, and then drive you towards the Esplanade Hotel.
If you wish, we can arrange dinner for you at one of Zagreb’s premier restaurants, like Otto and Frank, and give you advice at where to eat best.
DAY 2 – Zagreb and Pula
After breakfast at 8.30 am, it’s time for the walking tour of Zagreb.
Zagreb truly is a modern European capital in the vein of Vienna and Budapest; you can easily find well-maintained parks, superb late 19th century houses, spacious squares and skyscrapers rising as gracefully as Greek temples, visible long before a traveler reaches them.
You will visit and learn more about landmarks like Ban Jelaćić square, Zrinjevac, St. Mark’s church, Cathedral of the Assumptions….
Lunch will be served to your pleasure, wherever you want it. Of course you can consult with the guide, who is a connoisseur of all things related food in Croatia, including the restaurants of Zagreb. Our recommendations are Otto and Frank restaurant in the old part of town, or restaurant Okrugnjak, well known for its food specialties and delicatessen from the nearby region of Zagorje.
After lunch, we will drive towards the Istria peninsula, the city of Pula to be exact. We will arrive in Pula late in the afternoon and check into the Hotel Resport de Mer. Then, we will enjoy a short walk to the famous Pula Arena.
Looking at Pula today, with her modern houses, big arsenal, spacious docks, pretty public parks, and fine museums, one might forget her ancient glory, were it not for the magnificent remains of the wonderful amphitheater. Sir Humphry Davy, writing of it several centuries ago, said:
“We entered the harbor in a felucca as the sun was setting. I know of no scene more splendid than the amphitheater seen from the sea in this light. It appears not as a building in ruins, but like a newly erected work; and the reflection of the colors of its brilliant marbles and beautiful form seen upon the calm surface of the waters gave to it a double effect that of a glorious production of art, and a magnificent picture.”
We will also stroll down the old streets, see the ancient Roman arch of triumph, Apollo’s temple and visit the place where famous Irish author James Joyce lived and worked (while Pula was a part of Austro-Hungarian Empire).
Afterwards, if you wish it, we can arrange dinner at some of Pula’s premier gastronomic destinations.
DAY 3 – Brijuni national park
After breakfast at 8.30 am, we will depart towards Fažana, a small, cmarming seaside town. There, we will board the boat bound for Brijuni national park.
BRIJUNI NATIONAL PARK
The sightseeing tour includes: a ride by tourist train, visit to the remains of the Roman villa rustica from the I century B.C. in the bay of Verige, and the safari park where visitors can the following animals: zebra, Somali sheep, zebu (the holy east Indian humped ox), dromedary, llama and elephant.
The tour also includes visits to the Church of St. Germain with permanent exhibition of copies of centuries old frescoes and Glagolitic writings from Istra.
In the afternoon, we will return to Pula.
DAY 4 – Plitvice lakes national park
After breakfast at 8.30 an we will check out of the hotel and start the drive towards Plitvice national park. On the way, we will stop to see the many interesting landmarks of the Istrian peninsula. We will get to Plitvice at about 12 am, and start the walking tour of the park.
PLITVICE NATIONAL PARK
The oldest and best known National Park in Croatia (also a World Heritage Site), it’s a stunning combination of endless lakes and wild, untamed waterfalls. It is one of the best examples of the beautiful works of art the water makes while trying to pave its way from the highest mountain peaks to the sea. We will start our Plitvice tour by walking ancient woodlands led by our experienced guide. The path takes us first across Gornja Jezera (Upper Lakes),a system of 12 lakes separated by travertine barriers. Then it’s time for a peaceful boat ride towards the second area called Donja Jezera (Lower Lakes), placed in a limestone canyon. The barriers, sills and other forms created in these lakes, karst rivers and streams are still an ongoing process and change every year, so his is a place you will hopefully visit again the future.
After the tour, a special dinner can be arranged for you, so you can taste all the local delicacies and wines. We recommend Lička kuća restaurant, where they make dishes based strictly on traditional recipes.
After we are finished we will start the drive towards Zadar. During the drive, you can enjoy the view of National Park Northern Velebit (which we do not have the time to visit, sadly).
NATIONAL PARK VELEBIT
The national par covers 109 km2 of the northern section of the Velebit mountain, the largest mountain in Croatia. If you ever have the chance to see Vebebit from the sea, it will be a scene of incomparable loveliness: Velebit, like the Alps, rises behind the shore, softly colored, the lights a faint pink, the shadows a yet fainter, softer azure. Once out and away from the shore, it is all like a huge opal. Up close, when you see Velebit, you can see their summits hidden in the clouds, blushed a beautiful warm rose colour, and the slopes, steep and dangerous, but nonetheless possessing a singular allure.
We will arrive in Zadar late in the afternoon, and check into the Bastion Hotel.
As per your wishes, a dinner can be arranged. Our recommendation is
DAY 5 – Kornati National Park
After breakfast at 8,30 am, a private boat with our very own captain will wait for us at the harbor to take us to Kornati National Park.
KORNATI NATIONAL PARK
DAY 6 – Zadar, Šibenik, Krka National Park
After breakfast at 8.30 am, we will take the walking tour of Zadar with a local guide.
Zadar is one of the oldest cities on the Adriatic coast – in it pulsed the luxurious life of ancient Rome at the same time as Salona, in days before the Emperor Diocletian built his palace in Split.
Where now the ancient Church of St. Donat stands was the forum, a centre of the city’s life and round about were noble temples dedicated to the gods and many stately homes of proud patricians. Broken fragments on which St. Donato rests, and two beautiful Corinthian columns, one of which still stands, are a testament to this time long gone. Since then, Zadar has had along, complex history, more than evident at this eclectic architecture: Byzantine Zara, medieval Zara, replaced the Ancient one. In turn ; and medieval Zara has been wiped out by twentieth-century Zara.
When viewed from the waterfront, there is nothing but a long line of modern buildings fronting the water-side; however, the Old Zara is within, old Zara with her narrow streets, the forgotten country where the Middle Ages linger and time has stood still! However, due to the extensive damage done to the city during WW2, it was rebuilt in grand style after the 1950s. The highlight is the impressive promenade down the waterfront, especially notable for Salute to the Sun and Sea Organs, as modem as anything seen in Europe, and as inherently Mediterranean and authentic, completely natural, as anything you can see on the Adriatic coast. You will also visit the 19th century University building, Queen Jelena park, various churches…
After the walking tour of Zadar, we will first check out of the Bastion hotel, then start the drive towards Šibenik. Once we arrive in Šibenik, we will start another walking tour.
A.A. Paton wrote in his book, Highlands and the islands of the Adriatic, published in 1849 (note that this was more than 150 years ago!) the following passage about Šibenik, then known as Sebenico (its Italian name)
Next day was devoted to seeing the town; and following the street to the piazza, I found myself at the gate of the Cathedral, whose dome had formed so prominent an object during my passage in the Sebenico channel. Commenced in 1443, and completed in 1536, the discrepancy of the style of the basement and superstructure of the close of the middle age and the beginning of the cinquecento afford room for criticism ; but altogether it is one of the most extraordinary structures I ever saw in any country. The peculiar style of Lombardy predominates. The lower part is overlaid with ornament ; and two detestable statues of Adam and Eve, standing on each side of the great entrance, look like caricatures of the Apollo Belvedere and the Venus de Medicis by George Cruikshank. But the interior is truly grand, not so much in mere dimension as in effect. The boldest of arches, springing from the lightest and airiest of Gotho-Saracenic columns, attract by their harmony and surprise by their hardihood ; and the cupola rising high in the air, and enthroned on the keystones of the lofty arch of the transept, has an awful simplicity, congenial to the purposes of a sacred structure. The roof of the nave is a masterpiece of technical ingenuity, being a semi-cylinder com- posed of flat flagstones, some of them twelve feet in length, the edges fitting into each other with knees and angles, the whole forming an unadorned vault, but so unusual in effect that the spectator, on a superficial view, fears that if one gave way the whole might fall in ; but the architect charged with the repairs of the Cathedral, having shewn me the sections of the edifice, assured me that, aerial as the roof might seem, it had a chance of lasting as long as any part of the Cathedral. On referring to the ground plan, I found that, like many of the mosques of Cairo, it was not a parallelogram ; so that the architects must have been, like the early painters of Italy, more skilled than schooled, and knew more of the practice of a workshop than the theories of an academy. Spalatino was the name of the principal , and the building cost, from first to last, 80,000 gold ducats. Opposite the Cathedral are loggie, or porticos, which the sees in all the cities of , and in the time of the Venetians served as places for transacting public business. The port of Sebenico is so excellent that a frigate of considerable tonnage can lie almost close to the quay, the entrance to the gulf being by a narrow slit, the command of which appeared so important to the Venetians, that Sammicheli, their great military architect, constructed at the part the Fort of San Nicolo, which is his masterpiece in fortification..
You will see all of these sights and more on the tour. Enjoy!
Afterwards, we will start the short, 20 minute drive towards Krka national park. Once we arrive, the walking tour of the national park will start.
KRKA NATIONAL PARK
One of the major thrills of visiting Krka is the boat-ride, which will take you down a romantic passage, to the end of the lake, just above where the Krka rushes over the precipice. The vicinity of the fall, the column of spray rising in the rays of the afternoon sun, the roar of the river dashing and resounding, with a strong hint of freshness, is just a part of what makes Krka such a magical, marvelous place.
Afterwards you will walk along a ledge of the mountain, and just above the column of spray the lake ceases and becomes a number of rivulets, flowing between green banks and trees, uniting, for the most part, just before the brow of the precipice, and then, with a tremendous roar, bursting over the rocks. Many mills are built immediately below the falls, today part of the historical heritage of this region.
If you visit Krka in the spring, you will be surprised by the the unusual mass of water, flowing like an enchanted river of some far gone legends, full of magical beauty, leaping, foaming and sparkling in the sun, hurrying from the mountains onward to the sea.
Afterwards, we start the drive towards Split, and check into the Hotel Park upon arrival.
DAY 7 – SPLIT AND TROGIR
After breakfast at about 8,30 am, we will start a walking tour of Split.
Once you come to Split, you can truly feel its original, ancient atmosphere, even with a string of modern buildings that fit soundly into the landscape. The natural surroundings are superb, with Mount Mosor as a background and the rocky foothills reaching almost to the shore to frame the enormous bulk of Diocletian’s palace, with its southern facade turned into one of the most modernists but purely Mediterranean promenade.
Split center is both the palace and the tomb of Diocletian, last really great emperor of the Roman Empire. Here, you can see something that will never be seen in any other place in the world: a medieval city center of built largely inside the walls of an imperial fortified villa-palace, planned like a military camp and yet a monument of luxury and magnificence. As Rome embodied Augustus and the beginnings of the Empire, Split typifies Diocletian and a twilight of the Empire. It is almost like a night-blooming cereus, a splendid, lurid flower, unused to the light of day but superb in tone and outline.
One is fairly tempted to say that Split is the best remaining embodiment of late Roman ideals. Later the city grew and expanded as centuries went by, always adapting to the times and changing aesthetics – much of the center today is Medieval. A big part dates back from the 19th century, built under the influence of General Marmont, Napoleon’s regent in Dalmatia, a truly great man who ushered Dalmatia into modern times.
After the walking tour of Split, we will drive towards Trogir, and have another walking tour of the town
Trogir, the stone beauty of the Adriatic coast, is a place with a long, long history. Once called Tragurium, it was founded in the fourth century B.C. by Greek Sicilians from Vis. At a later date it was certainly a Roman colony. After the fall of the Western empire it was subject to the emperors of Byzantium, and for forty years or so in the ninth century belonged to the Franks, after which Hungarians, Byzantines, Genoese, and Croats struggled to subjegate it, till in 1420 it was taken by Venice.
It was during the tenure of Venice that most of the city as we know it today was built – Trogir is almost wholly medieval in its heritage, one of the few such superbly preserved cities in the world. We will visit the St. James cathedral, Camerlengo Fortress, Church of St. Barbara, St. Michael Belltower among others.
If you wish, we can arrange either dinner of lunch in either Split or Trogir. In the end, we will return to Split for the afternoon.
DAY 8 – SPLIT, STON, DUBROVNIK
After breakfast, we check out from the Hotel Park and drive towards Dubrovnik. On the way there, is you wish it so, we can take a short trip to the oyster farm on Ston, a small town on the Pelječac peninsula.
One of the most beautiful peninsulas in Croatia, Pelješac is truly a sight to behold. If you ever come there during a warm summer day, you will see incredible colors float round the coast – all faint in the light, yet so pure and distinct: amethyst, emerald, opal, agate hues, all mingling in the wavelets, and melting into the fields of vast sapphire blue beyond. Across these plains of gently swaying colour, in the great days of the peninsula, here lived acnient Greeks and Romans. Today, Pelješac is known for its extensive wine making tradition.
First, we will take a tour of the oyster factory. We will sail to the oyster farm by boat, tasting fresh oysters and mussels en route.
Shakespeare once wrote: “The world is your oyster” – meaning that you can achieve anything you wish in life or go anywhere because you have the opportunity or ability to do so. Of all the things he could have chosen to express this strong sentiment, he chose oysters, and one has to wonder why.
Infinitely patient and completely devoted, oysters take their time – centuries even – to create the ultimate treasure – the pearl. Pearls are very hard to locate, yet very precious and beautiful.
Oysters with have a strong, peculiar taste of the sea, unlike any other food. Oysters usually come with various accoutrements (lemon, cocktail sauce, a mignonette sauce of red-wine vinegar and shallots), but purists recommend eating it totally raw. And yes, when eating them, chew. It’s an urban legend that it’s best not to bite them at all. However, it’s this simple: if you don’t chew the oyster, you won’t get the full flavor.
Afterwards, we will drive towards Dubrovnik and check into the Bellevue hotel. You have the rest of the afternoon free. As per your wishes, dinner can be arranged.
DAY 9 – Elafiti national park (Mljet)
After breakfast at 8.30 am, a private boat, with our very own captain, will wait for us to depart to Elafiti Islands National park.
ELAFITI NATIONAL PARK
Meleda, the ancient Melita, is the place supposed by some to be the island on which St. Paul was shipwrecked. This is a very old tradition, a St. Paul’s Bay being shown as one of the sights of Meleda. The highlight and most unusual feature of Mljet National Park is the two inland salt water lakes–Malo Jezero and Veliko Jezero–connected to the sea by a narrow canal.You can stroll along the lakes on paths shaded by pine trees, bicycle through the park, rent a kayak to paddle the lakes or simply swim the clear, blue water. In the middle of Veliko Jezero is the tiny islet of Sv Marija which contains a former Benedictine monastery dating from the 12th century.
In the afternoon, we will return to Dubrovnik. If you wish, dinner can be arranged in a restaurant of your choice.
DAY 10 – Dubrovnik
After breakfast at 8,30 am, it’s time for a walking tour of Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic, one of the most popular cities in the whole of the Mediterranean, truly is unlike any other Dalmatian cities, it’s more spacious and more regularly built, but also in the character of architecture, which reflects the difference of her history. Like the ancient free cities, she possesses all the material apparatus of an independent commonwealth, a strikingly modern outline. As in ancient Greece, so here, the splendor of the city depends on public buildings, which were the common property of the citizens. After we descends from the grove of ancient mulberries by the wining road that leads him under the shadow of enormous medieval fortifications to the Porta Pile. The stately Corso lies before us, running with an even and imposing width between regularly built houses, which, though not older than the great earthquake of 1667, are not without a certain grave dignity ad simple elegance. As we advances between the graceful votive San Salvador Church and the public fountain of Onofrio di La Cava and traverses the length of the Korzo, the interest increases in proper dramatic ratio ; fresh buildings come successively into view ; and when he arrives at the dogana, and a new vista opens to the right, disclosing the palace of the rectors of the republic, the cathedral, and the Church of San Biagio, a very imposing architectural climax is reached. Enjoy the stunning view! We will also climb the City Walls, and walk down endless stone streets.
If you wish, we can arrange dinner/lunch at a restaurant of your choice. We recommend Matusko Bar, and will be more than pleased to advise you and find a perfect restaurant tailored to your tastes!
The rest of the afternoon is free.
DAY 11 – LAST DAY
After breakfast, we will check out of the hotel, and your personal driver will drive you to any destination is a reasonable vicinity you need to go to – Dubrovnik airport, Split…
PRICE : from 2000 €
MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PEOPLE: 11
TRANSPORTATION: Luxury mini bus, Mercedes Sprinter 513, the only one of its kind in Croatia
PICK UP LOCATION: Airport Zagreb (or other location : Venice, Vienna, Budapest… You just have to tell us in advance what city)
DROP OFF LOCATION: Airport Dubrovnik (or other location)
DURATION : 11 days , 10 nights
ADDITIONAL INFO :
Confirmation will be within 72 hours of booking, depends on availability
The durations of transfers/guided visits are approximated
We can also arrange a travel companion/guide, which can be with your group during the whole journey
This tour is planned for max 11 people/passengers
VOUCHER INFO : paper or electronic
- 11 days – 10 nights in 4*/5* hotels (Bed & Breakfast)
- Our agent at disposal for any assistance, help or information
- Full time services of a professional English (or other language) speaking driver
- Licensed local guides
- Transfers, pick-up and drop-off by luxury car/van/minibus
- Boat rides mentioned in the itinerariy
- Entrance fees for the landmarks mentioned in the itinerary
- Organization and VAT
- Food and drinks
- Entrance fees not mentioned in the itinerary
- Personal travel insurance (can be arranged by us for passengers) and personal expenses