ON THE TRAILS OF UNESCO
15 DAYS / 14 NIGHTS (days are flexibile for private tours)
Zagreb - Krapina - Varaždin - Trakošćan - Pula - Brijuni - Rovinj - Porec - Motovun - Hum - Opatija - Plitvice lakes - Smiljan - Zadar - Šibenik - Split - Trogir - Salona - Hvar - Korcula - Mljet island - Ston - Dubrovnik
Taking this tour, you’ll visit the most of historical and cultural places of Croatia. Ideal for those eager to learn about first settlements on the territory of today’s Croatia and enjoy stunning sceneries of deep blue Adriatic Sea and country’s inland hills and valleys. In northern continental cities Zagreb and Varaždin discover strong influence of past Austro-Hungarian impact visible not only in architecture but also cuisine. But history in this region goes centuries back. Visiting a unique museum in Krapina you can see the intriguing life of a Neanderthal tribe living in a nearby cave 100,000 BC. Experience all the glory of Istria admiring Roman amphitheater in Pula and Byzantine Basilica of St. Euphrasius, National Park Brijuni with its famous past, and inland hills with stunning views. Croatia is a small country blessed with outstanding nature of 16 cascading, turquoise lakes Plitvice. Great minds like Nikola Tesla were born here, so step inside the museum built in his honor. The best of Croatia is yet to come – beautiful coastal region of Dalmatia. Old roman cities of Zadar, Šibenik, Solin and Trogir are perfect for discovering country’s culture identity, more than 3,000 years old. Hop on the most seductive of Croatian islands following the path of old Greek culture on Hvar and Venetian culture in Marco Polo’s birthplace – Korčula. At the end, be amazed by the Pearl of the Adriatic – Dubrovnik. Climb its walls and absorb all its shining beauty that takes you back in 14th century when it was known as the Republic of Ragusa.
o Go back to 100,000 BC visiting KRAPINA where Neanderthal man used to live.
o Visit the 6th largest surviving amphitheater in the world located in PULA.
o Enjoy BRIJUNI NATIONAL PARK’s beauty and history shown in rich flora and fauna where late Yugoslav president Tito welcomed major statesmen.
o Stroll through the cobbled streets of Mediterranean jewel with Venetian past – ROVINJ.
o Be amazed with a unique example of early Byzantine art - Basilica of St. Euphrasius in POREČ (UNESCO).
o Hike between 16 turquoise lakes, waterfalls and cascades in PLITVICE LAKES NATIONAL PARK, Croatia’s absolute highlight (UNESCO).
o Visit tiny village SMILJAN – the birthplace of Nikola Tesla, and learn about Nikola’s contributions to world science.
o Admire Croatia’s most significant architectural creation of the fifteenth century - St James cathedral in historical ŠIBENIK town (UNESCO).
o Walk through the picturesque gem with more than 2,300 years of history, the city of TROGIR is a unique representation of Greek, Roman and Venetian influences (UNESCO).
o Revive the third century AD stepping inside Roman emperor Diocletian’s Palace in SPLIT which served as a residency of the world’s most powerful man (UNESCO).
o Go back in time by visiting the ancient Roman ruins of SOLIN, the presumable birthplace of Diocletian.
o Visit the sunniest place in Croatia, the lavender island of HVAR which is hiding the 2,400 years old best-preserved Greek parcellation of land on the Mediterranean – Stari Grad Plain (UNESCO).
o Enjoy the picture-perfect KORČULA town, surrounded by 14th century walls, where great explorer Marco Polo was born.
o Spend your day on the most seductive island in the Adriatic –MLJET, renowned for its deep bays, lush and diverse Mediterranean vegetation and rich cultural heritage.
o Explore DUBROVNIK – the pearl of the Adriatic, guarded by its medieval walls wandering through the streets with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture (UNESCO).
DAY 1 ARRIVAL TO ZAGREB
As you arrive to Zagreb airport, meet your driver and head for a quick and comfortable transfer to your hotel in Zagreb, check in at the hotel and have some leisure time. Overnight at the hotel in Zagreb.
DAY 2 ZAGREB
On this day, get ready to be enchanted by the medieval stories as you pass by the Gothic Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the Stone gate and the Tower of Lotrščak. Be sure to visit Dolac farmers market, Zagreb’s colorful fruit and vegetable market that attracts traders from all over Croatia and enjoy the refreshing mixture of smells and colors, the Museum of Broken Relationships, a unique museum dedicated to the mementos left after the end of a relationship that struck a chord with the public and became an instant success or take a bus ride to the Mirogoj cemetery, one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe designed by Herman Bole in 1876 dominated by the majestic arcade topped by a string of cupolas that looks like a fortress from the outside, but feels calm and peaceful on the inside. While walking through Zagreb’s Upper and Lower towns, you will be amazed at it’s 900-year history peering from every corner. After this amazing exploration of Zagreb, enjoy what’s left of your time sipping coffee in one of the many charming cafes or have a traditional lunch and sample some great Croatian cuisine. Overnight in Zagreb.
DAY 3 ZAGREB – KRAPINA – TRAKOŠĆAN – VARAŽDIN – ZAGREB
Today we head towards the northern part of Croatia, the majestic Zagorje and Međimurje regions. On our first stop we will visit the amazing Museum of the Krapina Neanderthal. Built into a vertical rock and fronted with a glass wall, this cavernous two-floor space has high-tech exhibits tracing the region's history and geology. The museum, with its subterranean chambers, hyper-realistic dioramas and interactive games, has attracted tourists since 2010 and has become the highlight of the town of Krapina. Next stop is the most beautiful and preserved castles in Croatia, the Trakošćan castle. Trakošćan castle is one of Croatia's most popular day trip destinations. Its jaunty turrets and custard-colored battlements are one of the most celebrated sights in the Zagorje region. With a well organized museum inside and a landscaped park with boating lake outside, you could easily spend a good half day here or more. We continue towards the Međimurje region and the former capital town of Croatia, the baroque town of Varaždin. Varaždin is one of the best-preserved Baroque towns you are likely to find anywhere in Central Europe. Varaždin boasts a lot of Baroque palaces, many of which remain resplendent in their original cream, ochre, pink and pale-blue colors. Hidden inside Varaždin you can find lots of museums, artisan shops, bars and restaurants to visit.
DAY 4 ZAGREB – PULA
We say good by to Zagreb as we head towards Istria, the region of Croatia that caries the title “the new Tuscany”. We head for Pula, the biggest city on the peninsula. Stroll through this ancient town and learn about its long history dating back to Roman times. Visit sites like the remains of the Hercules temple, Forum Romanum with Augustus and Roma Temple and its most recognizable landmark, the Roman Amphitheatre. A huge and truly magnificent structure, the Arena, as the locals call it, is one of the best preserved amphitheaters in Europe. Built as a stage to host gladiator battles, it’s now Istria’s most recognizable tourist attraction that serves as an entertainment hot spot during summer months where some of the best music performers held concerts like Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, David Gilmore of Pink Floyd and many others. Overnight in Pula.
DAY 5 PULA – BRIJUNI – ROVINJ – POREČ
Today we head for Fažana to embark a boat that will take us to Brijuni national park. Covered by meadows, parks and oak and laurel forests – and some rare plants such as wild cucumber and marine poppy – the islands were pronounced a national park in 1983. Former the summer residence of the Yugoslav president Tito, this popular day trip destination will surly make your day. Next stop is Rovinj, the most romantic city in Istria. Described as “a bit of Venice spilled on a hill”, this stunner of pastel colored houses, polished stones and clear blue water, will make your stay in Rovinj a memorable one. As you walk through its narrow alleyways and courtyards, you will find lots of restaurants, bars and shops filled with people enjoying the charm and the hospitality of Rovinj and its local population. Next we continue towards our last stop of the day, Poreč, where we will spend the night.
DAY 6 POREČ – MOTOVUN – HUM – OPATIJA
Today we discover Poreč and the first UNESCO protected site on this tour, the Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica. The basilica, atrium, baptistery and episcopal palace are outstanding examples of religious architecture, while the basilica itself combines classical and Byzantine elements in an exceptional manner. The basilica is a great example of an early Christian episcopal ensemble that is exceptional by virtue of its completeness and its unique Basilican cathedral. Walking around the basilica will surly take you back to the early years of Christianity and religious worship. Next stop is Motovun, a captivating little town perched on a 277m hill in the Mirna River Valley. Walk within the walls of Motovun, an atmospheric cluster of Romanesque and Gothic buildings that house a smattering of artist studios, galleries and shops. Next stop is Hum, the smallest town in the world. Heaped up on a hill surrounded by grasslands and forest, Hum has only 14 inhabitants, but has preserved all the attributes that a town has to have - walls, gate, church, campanile. We continue towards Opatija, one of the oldest tourist destinations in Croatia. Tourism in Opatija dates back 170 years as it was used as a resort for the Austro-Hungarian elite during the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as evidenced by the many handsome belle-époque villas that the period bequeathed. Overnight in Opatija.
DAY 7 OPATIJA – PLITVICE – SMILJAN – ZADAR
On this day, we head for another UNESCO protected site and the most beautiful destination Croatia has to offer – the Plitvice lakes national park. The first Croatian national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Plitvice lakes offer its visitors a blend of vivid colors, sounds and smells that are spectacular and memorable. Its 16 cascading lakes and numerous waterfalls make up one of the greatest wonders of the world. Surrounded by high wooden mountains and fed by many small rivers, the lakes are a mesmerizing view of green and blue accompanied by the thundering sounds of the many waterfalls that connect the lakes to create a true paradise on Earth. Enjoy a relaxing hike through the park, take in the sights and the sounds that it offers and complete that with lunch at the park’s restaurant to round up this perfect day of exploration of this great natural wonder. After Plitvice lakes, continue towards Smiljan, the birthplace of one of the most brilliant scientists that ever lived, Nikola Tesla. Enjoy a walk through the museum dedicated to this famous scientist and discover displays about his life and working replicas of some of his most famous inventions. After Smiljan, head towards Zadar. Zadar and it’s 3000-year history has a lot to offer. Boasting a historic old town of Roman ruins, medieval churches, cosmopolitan cafes and quality museums set on a small peninsula, Zadar is an intriguing city. It’s not too crowded, it’s not overrun with tourists and its two unique attractions – the sound-and-light spectacle of the Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun – need to be seen and heard to be believed. Overnight in Zadar.
DAY 8 ZADAR – ŠIBENIK – SPLIT
Today we visit another UNESCO protected sites, the St James cathedral in Šibenik. The Cathedral of St James in Šibenik bears witness to the considerable exchanges in the field of monumental arts between Northern Italy, Dalmatia and Tuscany in the 15th and 16th centuries. With its pale stone dome rising above the city like a gargantuan crocus bulb, Šibenik’s magnificent Cathedral exerts a dominating presence over the huddled buildings of the Old Town. Combine the visit to the cathedral with a stroll through its medieval heart, stone labyrinths of steep backstreets and alleys and you will have a truly memorable visit of this medieval town. After exploration of Šibenik, our trip takes us to Split where you can explore another UNESCO World Heritage site, Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian. Walk inside Diocletian’s Palace, once the summer residence of the Roman emperor Diocletian and you’ll see bars, restaurants and shops thriving amidst the atmospheric old walls where Split life has been going on since the 4th century. Various cultural monuments like Renaissance Prokurative Square, noble family’s palaces, churches, galleries and museums are all ready for your exploration as you stroll around this 1700-year-old town. Overnight in Split.
DAY 9 SPLIT – TROGIR – SALONA – SPLIT
Today, drive towards Trogir and its UNESCO protected old town. Called “the town museum”, its entire old town core has been protected by UNESCO and you will immediately see why. Trogir is one of the most seductive towns on the Dalmatian coast with its old-town cluster of palaces, belfries and cobbled alleys. Gorgeous and tiny Trogir is beautifully set within medieval walls, its narrow streets knotted and mazelike. It’s fronted by a wide seaside promenade lined with bars and cafes, and yachts in the summer. Trogir is unique among Dalmatian towns for its profuse collection of Romanesque and Renaissance architecture (which flourished under Venetian rule); this, along with its magnificent cathedral, earned it World Heritage status in 1997. Continue your trip towards Solin and go back in time by visiting the Roman ruins of Salona, presumably the birthplace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Situated at the foot of the mountains just northeast of Split, the ancient ruins of Salona are the most archaeologically important site in Croatia. After you have discovered Salona, head back to Split and overnight.
DAY 10 SPLIT – HVAR
On this day, catch a catamaran for the sunniest island in Croatia, the lavender island of Hvar. Spend a day exploring the island making numerous stops along the way including small places and villages like Sv Nedjelja, a small village situated on the sunny southern slopes of the island offering breathtaking landscapes, scenery and panoramas, Jelsa with its maze like old quarter of ancient alleyways and of course Stari Grad and its UNESCO protected site, the agricultural Stari Grad Plain. Stari Grad Plain is a cultural landscape that has remained practically intact since it was first colonized by Ionian Greeks from Paros in the 4th century BC. The original agricultural activity of this fertile plain, mainly centering on grapes and olives, has been maintained since Greek times to the present. The landscape features ancient stone walls and trims, or small stone shelters, and bears testimony to the ancient geometrical system of land division used by the ancient Greeks, the chora which has remained virtually intact over 24 centuries. Overnight in Hvar.
DAY 11 HVAR – KORČULA
Arrive to Korčula in the morning and spend the day exploring Korčula town, also called “little Dubrovnik” because of its old city walls protecting the old city core that’s packed with churches, narrow alleyways, loggias and restaurants. This small romantic town offers the same medieval charm as his older brother does. Also famed for being the presumable birthplace of Marko Polo, Korčula is a town filled with history that attracts visitors from all over the world. Pay a visit to the birth house of Marko Polo, get lost in it’s cobbled streets, take in the history and experience this truly exceptional medieval town. Overnight in Korčula.
DAY 12 KORČULA – MLJET - KORČULA
Get ready to explore the island of Mljet, one of the most seductive islands in Croatia. The ancient Greek poet Homer wrote about Mljet in Odyssey, as his hero Odysseus sailed in this region. The legend then continues that the beautiful goddess Calypso kept Odysseus as her lover for seven years, her prisoner in his cave. Much of the island is covered by forests and the rest is dotted with fields, vineyards and small villages. The island is home to the Mljet national park. Wander around its lush vegetation, pine forest and spectacular saltwater lakes and lose yourself in the calm and the serenity of this “green island”. Overnight in Korčula.
DAY 13 KORČULA – STON – DUBROVNIK
Today we leave the island of Korčula and head towards Dubrovnik. After a pleasant boat ride back to Orebić on the Pelješac peninsula, head towards our en route stop at Ston, a small, but packed with history little town. The first thing you notice is its old walls, a system of fortifications originally 7 kilometers long, making them the second biggest wall fortification in Europe. Often named “the European wall of China”, they stood the test of time and since the 14th century dominate the Ston landscape and attract tourists from around the world. Along its old walls, Ston is also known for its salt pans (the oldest in Europe!) where salt production has been going on unchanged since the Roman times and Ston oysters, a delicacy known around the world. After Ston, head for an hour long drive towards Dubrovnik where we will spend the night in excitement of tomorrows exploration.
DAY 14 DUBROVNIK
Regardless of whether you are visiting Dubrovnik for the first time or the hundredth, the sense of awe never fails to descend when you set eyes on the beauty of the old town. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine anyone becoming jaded by the city’s marble streets, baroque buildings and the endless shimmer of the Adriatic. Named “the pearl of the Adriatic” by lord Byron, Dubrovnik hides a treasure trove of old houses, spectacular monuments, churches, museums, bars and restaurants all defended by its massive old walls fortification system, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. These ancient city walls have protected a civilized, sophisticated republic for centuries. System of white stone walls constructed by forts, bastions, casemates, towers and detached forts 1.940-meter long dominate the city making it the most recognizable landmark of the city attracting tourists all over the world. Round up your tour by visiting the Rectors palace, the cathedral and its rich treasury or by taking a cable car ride to Mt Srđ for breathtaking views of the old town and we’re sure that Dubrovnik will not leave you wanting. In the afternoon, go for a private tour of Cavtat and Konavle region.
DAY 15 DEPARTURE
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