Tour description

There’s a world of wonder to discover in beautiful Croatia! From its dreamy climate, deep history, and culture and its unique natural features, there’s so much to uncover in this magnificent country. Croatia is the meeting point between the Mediterranean and Central Europe, bordered by the Alps and Pannonian Plain, creating a dynamic geographical environment. From uninhabited craggy gorges to steep river valleys and a stunning coastline, the dramatic vistas in Croatia will sweep you away. Despite its small area, Croatia doesn’t disappoint and is a big player in the art, history, and culture scene of Europe. Its culture, rooted in ancient European empires and modern conflicts, has been uniquely shaped to create the popular holiday destination it is today.

Famous artworks and architecture have made their way over to Croatia over the years to develop a distinctive style and culture just waiting to be explored. Take a journey into this magnificent country on our 12-day small group tour and experience the magic of Croatia. 

Read what our friends have to say about this fantastic tour over on Tripadvisor


HIGHLIGHTS & INCLUSIONS: 12 DAYS/ 11 NIGHTS

Highlights

  • Over 15 cultural and sightseeing experiences.
  • Walking tours of Zagreb, Ljubljana, Split,Dubrovnik
  • Visit Varazdin, the former capital town of Croatia, which today is a true baroque gem
  • Explore Trakoscan, the most romantic castle in Croatia
  • Enjoy Croatian wine tastings
  • Explore under the floorboards of an ancient Roman Arena
  • Relax in a traditional gondola on Lake Bled
  • Get to know some of the most authentic Croatian dishes, their tradition and preparation
  • Ride the funicular to Ljubljana Castle
  • Explore the most visited European cave system-Postojna Caves

Included

  • Small group tour of 12-14 participants
  • Knowledgeable English-speaking tour director
  • Entrance fees for all sites
  • Tour transportation in a private air-conditioned motor coach
  • Local guides in the outlined cities and towns
  • Hotel city and service taxes at all accommodations and restaurants are included
  • Transfers to Zagreb and Dubrovnik Airport at scheduled times
  • Baggage transfers and porters are included
  • All breakfasts, two lunches, and five dinners are covered. Main meals include wine, mineral water, espresso, or tea
  • Activity level: Light/Moderate
  • Terms & Conditions/single supplement and FAQ

Not Included

  • Travel insurance and visa fees/Trip Interruption & Cancellation Insurance
  • Any charges for extras not listed in the itinerary
  • Room services, telephone charges, laundry fees
  • Gratuities for the tour director and local driver
  • Single room supplement
  • Airfares
OUR UNIQUE ACCOMMODATIONS

DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY

Day 1: Welcome to Croatia

Welcome to magnificent Zagreb, the nation’s capital. We’ll stay here for three nights at the central Hotel Le Premier (or similar), close to the city’s heart. Join us this evening for a welcome dinner in a local restaurant.

Meals: Breakfast and lunch on your own, dinner included

Accommodation: Overnight in Zagreb

Day 2: Walking Tour of Historical Zagreb                

Art, culture, and a vibrant cafe’ scene are the keynotes of this easy-going Central European metropolis. Stylistically close to cities like Vienna and Budapest, Croatia’s laid-back capital city is very different from the Mediterranean-flavored towns of the Adriatic coast. Our walking tour this morning will explore the dynamic intersection of Eastern and Central Europe that is visible in Zagreb. We’ll see sites like the busy central square, the Neo-Gothic Cathedral, and one of Europe’s most colorful markets, Dolac Market. Afterward, we’ll stroll up Radiceva Street to the atmospheric Upper Town, a well-preserved Baroque quarter where we’ll find the church of St Mark’s, a popular feature. For lunch well, experience Croatian street food in a cozy wine bar before visiting the Neo-Baroque and Rococo Croatian National Theater. The interior is richly decorated with works by Croatian and Viennese artists. The remainder of the day is at leisure to discover Zagreb. 

Meals: Breakfast included, lunch and dinner on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Zagreb

Day 3: Baroque Varazdin & Trakoscan Castle

Today, we’ll depart for the nearby hilly region of Zagorje. This magnificent region of Croatia is filled with Medieval and Renaissance fortresses and numerous Baroque castles, all coming together to create a memorable, romantic landscape. With more than 50 castles with lush green gardens, this is one of the wealthiest regions in Croatia! Here, we will visit the charming so-called “Little Vienna” of Varazdin, a city of baroque, young people, music, flowers and bicycles. Our first stop will be the 17th-century Sermage Palace, displaying Croatian and International paintings, both old and modern. We conclude the visit by discovering the romantic Trakoscan Castle, where you can enjoy the surrounding nature and a picturesque lake. A rustic lunch is included today in the heart of Zagorje paired with well-known local wines. As we return to Zagreb in the late afternoon, you’ll have the rest of the day and evening to explore and discover this dynamic city! 

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Zagreb

Day 4: Ljubljana City Tour & Its Elegant Castle

Just across the border in Slovenia is the vibrant capital of Ljubljana, one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. A youthful city, it’s well known for its university, green spaces, and Ljubljanica River, winding through the old town. Upon arrival, we’ll meet our local expert guide, who will introduce us to this quaint town, bringing to life the works of Slovenia’s greatest architect, Joze Plecnik. We’ll see sights like the impressive City Hall, the magnificent Cathedral of St.Nicholas, the outdoor markets, and the jewel of the town, Ljubljana Castle. We’ll be staying in Ljubljana for the next two nights in a charming boutique hotel. You are free to discover more of the colorful winding streets and local shops, or maybe take a walk through Tivoli Park, take a boat ride, or watch the world go by.Tonight, we’ll have dinner together in a local bistro featuring Slovenian cuisine with hints of Slavic, Mediterranean, and Germanic influence.

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Ljubljana

Day 5: Marvelous Lake Bled & The Julian Alps

With its emerald-green lake, picture-postcard church, a medieval castle clinging to a rocky cliff, and some of the highest peaks of the Julian Alps, it’s easy to see why Bled is Slovenia’s most popular resort town. Today, we’ll explore this beautiful resort town and the towering Bled Castle. The castle itself is perched atop a steep cliff more than 100 m above the lake. The medieval fortress features towers, ramparts, a moat, and a terrace offering magnificent views. The Castle houses a museum collection that traces the lake’s history from the earliest times to the development of Bled as a resort in the 19th century. We’ll conclude our day with a lovely ride on the lake in a traditional gondola. Return to Ljubljana for the rest of the evening at your leisure. 

Meals: Breakfast included, lunch and dinner on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Ljubljana

Day 6: Postojna Cave & Charming Opatija

Today, we’re en route to the coastal town of Opatija. Along the way, we’ll stop to explore Postojna Cave, the almost 13-mile-long karst cave system where an electric train will take us deeper than any other cave in the world. Then, after lunch in a local restaurant, we’ll continue on to Opatija, a popular seaside resort town. You’ll have the afternoon to explore the city or relax by the sea. We’ll spend the next two nights at the lovely boutique Hotel Palace Bellevue (or similar). 

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Opatija

Day 7: Pearls of the Istrian Riviera: Pula & Rovinj 

Today, we will discover the richness of the Istrian Peninsula with its strong Italian and Croatian influences. Standing at the southern apex of the Istrian peninsula, the ancient port city of Pula is dominated by the 1st century Roman Arena with one of the largest surviving amphitheaters in the world. You’ll be able to go beneath the arena floor to see the actual passageways and rooms where gladiators and their foes, including wild animals, awaited their turn in combat. Afterward, we’ll drive to the picturesque Venetian-style coastal town of Rovinj, with its well-preserved medieval center, quirky galleries, and romantic atmosphere. Explore the city on your own and perhaps enjoy lunch in one of Croatia’s best restaurants. Dinner is included this evening in a local bistro. 

Meals: Breakfast and dinner included, lunch on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Opatija

Day 8: UNESCO World Heritage Lakes & Charming Split

Today, we will travel over scenic roads that wind their way over the Velebit mountain range, a dramatically dry and rocky place on its seaward side, lush and forested further east. On the far side of the Velebit’s main ridge lies the stunning UNESCO Plitvice Lakes National Park, known as the “Falling Lakes,” a frothing sequence of waterfalls, lakes, and streams. We will have some time here to walk around these beautiful lakes. After some time on your own for lunch, we’ll continue to the town of Trogir, a beautiful tiny island treasure declared a UNESCO World Heritage. Trogir’s roots are Greek, not Roman like Split, and its crown jewel is the spectacular 13th Cathedral of St. Lawrence. Its daring portal, carved in 1280, is a precursor of the wonders inside. In the late afternoon, we’ll depart for Split, where we’ll spend the next two nights at a central hotel. 

Meals: Breakfast included, lunch and dinner on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Split

Day 9: Split, The Palace of Diocletian & a Cooking class

Welcome to Split, one of the oldest cities in this historic region. In the morning, we’ll explore the ancient Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your special tour also takes you into the mysterious passages in the lower levels of the palace’s massive structure — Game of Thrones fans will recognize this site as one of the show’s filming locations! Afterwards we’ll visit the Palace of Diocletian, a complex fort-like palace that was once the residence of a Roman emperor. You’ll have the rest of the day free to explore Split on your own. Join us at 16:00 for a hands-on cooking lesson with a popular local chef. This is the perfect opportunity to learn how to cook traditional Croatian dishes and have a delicious meal all in one! 

Meals: Breakfast and dinner included, lunch on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Split

Day 10: The Island of The Sun, Wineries, and a Private Cruise

This morning, we’ll spend the day exploring one of the Mediterranean’s most celebrated islands. We’ll start by taking a speedboat to the lavender-covered island of Hvar. This island is included in the top ten list of “World’s Most Beautiful Islands”, one of three European islands to make the list. Upon arrival, we’ll take a guided tour of Hvar Old Town. We’ll have time to explore the island: enjoy the many secret beaches and coves, walk up to the medieval castle overlooking the town, walk among the lavender fields and olive groves, or spend time in a cafe. Afterward, we’ll visit a local winery for a tasting and lunch. We continue our journey by private boat to the famous and beloved historic walled city of Dubrovnik for the last two nights at a central boutique hotel. 

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Dubrovnik

Day 11: Dubrovnik’s Old Town

George Bernard Shaw was so enchanted by this beautiful city he famously described it as “the pearl of the Adriatic.” Dubrovnik is a stunning city with its amazing Old Town, which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. Today, we take a walking tour to discover the city whose ancient walls have withstood time and tide for hundreds of years. We begin with a walking tour around the city walls, whose original ramparts and bastions date to the 12th and 13th centuries. Then we continue through the Old City, visiting the Baroque Cathedral and the Treasury, whose gilded shelves and historic relics sit behind locked wooden doors, and the Franciscan monastery with a 14th-century pharmacy. The afternoon is free to explore on your own, getting to know this magical city. In the evening, celebrate your Croatian adventure with a local dinner, sharing travel memories and toasting new friends. 

Meals: Breakfast and dinner included, lunch on your own

Accommodation: Overnight in Dubrovnik

Day 12: Goodbye Croatia

Morning transfers are provided today at scheduled times to Dubrovnik airport. If you’d like to continue your European adventure, we recommend our small group tour to Sicily or the Northern Italian Lakes.

TOUR PRICING & AVAILABILITY

2024 TOUR PRICE: € 4,800           SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: € 800      Currency Converter   

Prices are per person based on double room occupancy for 12 days/11 nights

REVIEWS
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Another Incredible Tour from Aldo!

20/10/2023

This is the third tour that my wife and I have taken through Secret Italia Tours; the first being a private tour of Tuscany and the second a small group tour of Puglia. They were incredible, and consequently, since my wife had wanted to visit Croatia for a very long time we booked this Small Group Tour of Croatia, a very wise decision. Seven nights in three cities; the Capital city Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik, as well as a day trip to Hvar, and the Plitvice Lakes National Park. During this vacation we were provided with a private tour in each city. Each guide was knowledgable, personable and on time, and each of these experiences was very enjoyable. The hotels were top notch, and the included breakfasts delicious. Lunches were also included during at least two of the tours. One of the high points was the included dinners. In each city Aldo finds the perfect restaurant. For us this included a Michelin Star venue at the Vapor Restaurant in the Bellevue Hotel, Dubrovnik. There was a wine tour on the Island of Hvar which included more great food as well as the tasting of a number of wines. (I might add that all of the pours were significant). Croatia boasts excellent wines which are not exported to the US due to a simple lack of available product. As stated previously, on our final evening in Dubrovnik we enjoyed a seven course tasting dinner complete with seven wines at the Hotel Bellevue, where we stayed. The dinner took place outside on a beautiful patio overlooking the sea. We were served by Petra, the sommelier and Mario, who actually runs the restaurant. I should also mention Antonio, Mario’s assistant, and Victor who I go to know from breakfast, as well as our drivers Patrick and Buje.

This was just a remarkable trip. How Aldo manages to create such amazing adventures is hard to ascertain. The hotels, restaurants, tours and tour guides, as well as the nuts and bolts of moving from city to city, are all done seamlessly. There is absolutely nothing for you to do but relax and enjoy the experience.

Thank you Aldo, once again.

Richard Sheridan