'Our Full Northern Italy & Adriatic Trip'


Eternal Rome; Mountain vistas at Lake Garda, boat trip on Lake Bled; Water taxi ride on Venice canals; Plitvice Lakes hike; Day tour of stunning Istrian Peninsula; Rebuilt Mostar bridge, symbol of Bosnia-Herzegovina; Walking Dubrovnik's medieval walls


Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Sat 07 May 2016Sun 05 Jun 2016 $8780
Sat 09 Jul 2016Sun 07 Aug 2016 $8780
Sat 10 Sep 2016Sun 09 Oct 2016 $8780

Optional Single Supplement: $1660 (number of singles limited).

Tour Overview

Historical structures throughout Italy have seen extensive restoration and it's all been worth the effort. This country's history doesn't just offer snap-shots of moments in time, but allows visitors to step into what seems like a history that's still alive. Looking at the 55,000 seats in Rome's Colosseum, it's easy to imagine the energy that once emanated from crowds cheering the gladiators. Standing in the square of Largo Argentina is standing on the spot where Julius Caesar bore the wrath of Marcus Brutus. Once in Vatican City, you can inspect the mastery behind each of Michelangelo's brushstrokes in the Sistine Chapel or appreciate his steady hand when visiting his Pieta sculpture in the St. Peter's Basilica. The past seems closer to the present when considering how the architectural achievements of the red dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Florence still baffles engineers today. The beauty of Venice's St Mark's Square justifies Napoleon's reference to it as 'the drawing room of Europe'. Sense the sentimentality in watching a Shakespearean performance in Verona; the setting of one of his most famous plays: Romeo and Juliet. Witness glorious sunsets during a hike between the coastal villages of Cinque Terre and marvel at incredible nature. Once it's time to wander the Balkan countries of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, there will be plenty of opportunity to snap enough stunning photos to fill several albums. The surreal image of an ancient castle reflecting off a crystalline lake is not an uncommon sight in the Slovenian town of Bled. Take time to relax in Croatia's most popular resort, Opatija, which is primed to satisfy the royalty who would come from surrounding countries in the past. Wander the markets of Dubrovnik, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and meet the colourful merchants who display the spoils of the Adriatic Sea.

Regions visited: Western Europe and Central And Eastern Europe
Countries visited: Italy; Slovenia; Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Rome
Today we arrive in Rome and transfer to our hotel.

Few cities in the world are as beautiful as Rome, and few are as glamorous. The Eternal City's ancient monuments and spectacular galleries are looking more magnificent than ever after an extensive restoration program.

Overnight in Rome.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2 Rome: City Tour
We begin our guided tour* of Rome at the 2,000 year old colosseum. Built to seat 55,000 spectators, this arena staged Rome's most brutal gladitorial combats. Next we walk through the Roman Forum where we will see the Curia, the Rostra, the Temple of Vesta, the Basilica of Constantine, and the Arch of Titus. Continuing onwards and upwards we reach the Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill), seat of the Roman Senate since the 12th century and the original citadel of the city. This beautiful square was redesigned by Michelangelo in the 16th century.

We arrive at Piazza Navona where we can break for lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafes on or near the square. In the square itself we can admire the impressive Fountain of the Four Rivers, with detailed figures representing the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Palata rivers.

We continue to the famous Trevi Fountain, designed by Nicholas Salvi in 1732. It's water was supplied by one of Rome's earliest aquaducts. Throwing a coin into the fountain is said to ensure your safe return to Rome. We also visit the temple-turned church called the Pantheon, and have the opportunity to admire its perfect proportions on our way to the Spanish steps, where we finish our day's tour. Balance of the day at leisure.

* NOTE: Due to traffic problems and the fact that today's sites are reasonably close to each other, much of today's tour will occur on foot and with Rome's efficient public transit system (cost of tickets included).

Overnight in Rome.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Rome: the Vatican Museums & St. Peter's
Today we begin our visit to Vatican City with a guided tour through the immense Vatican Museums.* This amazing collection houses some of the most important Greek and Roman sculptures, Renaissance paintings, Flemish tapestries and mosaics in the world. Understandably this collection is visited by more than 3 million people a year. We also visit Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel to take in its breathtaking frescoes. Heading into the cavernous interior of St. Peter's Basilica, we can appreciate it's many treasures, including Michelangelo's Pieta. At the end of the tour we visit the elegantly symmetrical Piazza St. Pietro.

* NOTE: The timing of today's sightseeing can vary depending on seasonality. Early spring and late fall tours can often begin in the morning due to lighter crowds at these times of year. Busier times often dictate an afternoon visit in order to avoid morning crowds. Weather may also be a consideration. Your Tour Leader will advise further upon your arrival in Rome.

Overnight in Rome.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Rome - Assisi - Siena
This morning we drive from Rome to Siena, a region famous for its wines.

Our first stop will be Assisi. Despite the millions of tourists and pilgrims it attracts every year, the hometown of St Francis remains a beautiful and tranquil refuge. St Francis was born here in 1182 and his spirit hovers over every aspect of the city's life. He renounced his father's wealth in his late teens to pursue a life of chastity and poverty, founding the order of mendicant friars known as the Order of Minors (the Franciscans after his death) which attracted a huge following in Europe.

St Francis' Basilica is the city's, and possibly Umbria's, primary attraction. Unfortunately, this peaceful town was hit by a strong earthquake on the morning of the September 26, 1997. During the initial shock, the Basilica of the upper church was damaged. An aftershock later that day brought the cupola down. The community of Assisi with assistance from individuals and organisations worldwide is now trying to save and restore as much of Assisi's priceless masterpieces as possible.

After a guided tour of the Assisi Basilica we depart for Siena, arriving later in the afternoon.

Overnight in Siena.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Siena & San Gimignano
Siena is best seen on foot. In fact, the city council was Europe's first to ban motor traffic from the city centre. Siena today seems frozen in time. The town has traditionally been Florence's rival as the centre of art and architecture in Tuscany. While Florence is known for its Renaissance art and buildings, Siena takes us straight back to the Middle Ages. Perhaps by preserving its original character more than any other city in Italy, Siena is a showcase of the Italian Gothic style. The walled city of Siena occupies three hill tops and contains a rich artistic heritage.

Included on our guided walking tour of Siena's charming medieval streets and squares is a visit to the Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall), a famous example of Italian medieval architecture with Gothic influences. Also famous for its frescoes, the best-known are a secular series on government in the Hall of the Nine (also known as Sala della Pace), by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. These frescoes are collectively known as "Allegory and Effects of Good and Bad Government."

Our next stop is the Duomo. This huge cathedral, built in bands of black and white marble, dates from the 12th century. Built in the Romanesque and Italian Gothic styles, it has a dramatically painted façade -- partly designed by Giovanni Pisano -- and a soaring black and white bell tower. The inlaid marble floor depicts different Biblical scenes and the cathedral contains a glass-enclosed box with an arm. Tradition maintains that the arm is that of John the Baptist and was used to baptise Christ.

This afternoon we drive to San Gimignano, called the Manhattan of Tuscany. The medieval town preserves 13 of its noble brick towers, which give it a skyscraper skyline. Today its fortress-like severity is softened by the subtlety of its quiet, harmonious squares, and many of its places and churches are enhanced by Renaissance frescoes.

Our drive this afternoon back to Siena takes us through the wine growing region of Chianti.

Overnight in Siena.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Siena - Volterra - Pisa - Lerici
This morning we drive through beautiful and quintessential Tuscan rolling countryside to Volterra.

Situated like many Etruscan cities on a high plateau, Volterra offers uninterrupted views over the surrounding hills. In many places the town's ancient Etruscan walls still stand. The exact origins of the Etruscans and when they arrived in Italy, are unknown. Their civilisation was centred in the area between present-day Rome and Florence, and had its Golden Age from the eighth until the sixth century BC. After this period the Etruscan empire was gradually superseded by the rising power of Rome, although in the process, the Romans incorporated many aspects of Etruscan culture into their own society and beliefs. Although the Etruscans had their own language and alphabet, nothing of their literature has survived. What we know of their civilisation comes mainly from their highly decorated tombs which were stocked with everything the deceased would need in the afterlife -- food, drink, clothes, weapons and furniture.

We visit Volterra's famous Museo Guarnacci, which contains one of Italy's best collections of Etruscan artifacts. Pride of place in the museum goes to the collection of 600 Etruscan funerary urns, depicting many aspects of Etruscan customs and beliefs.

We also visit the city walls and the Etruscan Gate with its basalt heads of Etruscan gods dating back to the sixth century BC. Before leaving Volterra we view the Roman amphitheatre, dating to the first century BC. This is one of the best preserved Roman theatres in Italy and enough of the original structure has survived to allow an almost complete reconstruction.

Our next stop is Pisa, where we will spend most of our time concentrating on the town's principal monuments -- the Duomo, the Baptistery, and the most famous structure in Pisa, the gravity-defying "Leaning Tower." We will take ample time to view and photograph the tower from the outside (to climb the tower requires advance reservations and a considerable amount of time to queue for entry; time constraints make this impractical for our tour).

We continue to Lerici, set dramatically on a beautiful bay on the Ligurian coast.

Overnight in Lerici.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Lerici - Cinque Terre - Florence
Today we leave behind Lerici and travel (weather depending) by boat along the Ligurian coast to village of Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre. Here we begin our easy-paced walk between the coastal villages. This spectacular section of the Italian Riviera is considered to rival the Amalfi Coast near Naples for its stunning views and gorgeous sunsets. From Riomaggiore we take an easy half hour walk on the Via D'Amore (lover's Walk) to Manarola. The next section (about 1 hour) takes us to Corniglia.*

Those not wishing to continue with the next two more difficult sections may walk up to Corniglia centre to sample the delightful town with its wonderful panoramic views. It is also possible to take a local train to the nearby town of Vernazza to enjoy this jewel of a village. Those wishing to continue may start on the 2-hour hike to Vernazza. The hills of the rugged coast are covered in vineyards which grow the grapes for the local Morasca, Chiaretto del Faro and Sciacchetra wines.

We continue by train to Monterosso Al Mare, thus named for the red color of the area. Here we find a large statue carved into the cliffs and a lovely beach.

* PLEASE NOTE: Due to the flooding that occurred in the region in late 2011, our day may need to be adjusted depending on what trails are open or under repair, and any repairs or re-construction occuring in the impacted villages.

Tonight we arrive in Florence.

Overnight in Florence.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Florence: Walking Tour
Florence is a city steeped in history and art. Our walking tour today begins with a guided tour of the Accademia, which was Europe's first Academy of drawing and today houses a superb art collection, including Michelangelo's David, probably the most famous statue in the world. We then proceed to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo), complete with its magnificent red dome. Upon its completion in 1436, the dome was hailed as the greatest architectural achievement of its day, equaling, perhaps even surpassing, the monuments of antiquity. The cupola's diameter is greater than that of St Peter's in Rome and the nave is the third largest in Christendom. Even today its brilliant engineering is not fully understood.

We continue along the pedestrian mall to the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence and the only one in the city to survive World War II. The Ponte Vecchio was built in 1345 and used to be lined with butchers' shops which have now been replaced by rows of gold and silver shops on both sides. At the Piazza Santa Croce, we stop to admire the facade of the Franciscan church of the same name. Inside we see the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei and chapels covered in frescoes by Giotto.

Balance of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Florence.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Florence: Uffizi Gallery
This morning we visit the Uffizi Gallery, Giorgio Vasari's extraordinary administrative buildings which he designed for Cosimo I Medici in the mid-sixteenth century. The galleries here contain the greatest collection of Italian artworks, including hundreds of paintings by such great artists as Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian and Caravaggio. The galleries also contain one of the most famous paintings in the world -- Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus.'

The afternoon is free to take in the atmosphere of this sophisticated city.

Overnight in Florence.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Florence - Ravenna: Town Tour
From Tuscany we drive into the region of Emilia Romagna, an area of fertile plains surrounding the Po River.

We arrive in Ravenna, an incomparable treasure-store of Byzantine monuments. Ravenna was made capital of the Western Roman Empire in AD 402 as Rome was threatened by the unstoppable Barbarians. Later in the fifth century Ravenna also succumbed, but was recaptured in 540 by the Byzantines under the emperor Justinian. From the sixth to the eighth centuries Ravenna flourished as a great centre of Byzantine (Eastern Orthodox) culture and religion. Its influence came not from the rest of Italy but from Constantinople (today's Istanbul). Today the humble-looking churches of Ravenna house the most spectacular Byzantine mosaics outside Istanbul.

We also visit the spectacular mausoleum of Galla Placidia, a Roman princess who married a Barbarian chief. The walls, floor and ceiling of her tomb are completely covered in dazzling decoration. The Mausoleum of Theodoric, built in AD 520 to house the mortal remains of an enlightened ostrogothic ruler, has a dome cut from a single block of stone weighing almost 336 tonnes (300 tons)! Later we visit the Basilica of Sant Appollinare in Classe with its stunning mosaics. Today we will also have a walking tour of the charming streets of Medieval Ravenna.

Overnight in Ravenna.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Ravenna - Verona - Padova (Padua)
Today we drive from Ravenna to Verona via the Colli Eugani region, known in English as the Eugenian Hills. This glorious area is well-known for its thermal springs and terrific wines.

The area is also known for balsamic vinegar, and today we'll visit an acetaia where balsamic vinegar is produced. We will see the machinery, cellar, the barrels, indeed the whole process and all the products that result.

Onto Verona, the setting for Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet'. With its pink marble Roman structures and rose-painted buildings, Verona is one of Italy's most appealing towns. The town contains many Roman ruins including the first century Arena which is now used as Verona's opera house, the third largest such structure in existence. The Teatro Romano is often used for the performance of plays, particularly those of William Shakespeare.

During our time in Verona we'll have a walking tour starting with the Piazza Bra, the centre of Veronese life. We'll wander the rosy-hued streets admiring the palaces, townhouses and churches. We see the Gothic mausoleum of the Scaligeri rulers of the 13th and 14th centuries. We also visit the family's fortified residence on the River Adige and a bridge named after them.

We continue to Padova.

Overnight in Padova.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Padova: Town Tour - Venice
We begin our walking tour of Padova with a visit to the towering Basilica of Saint Anthony, patron saint of lost things. With its minaret-like towers and byzantine cupolas, the structure is a blend of eastern and western elements and a focal point for a constant flow of pilgrims. When we step inside its precincts, we leave Italy and enter the Vatican State. This is the only Vatican property (apart from Vatican City) in Italy that is extra-territorial. We continue on to the small Scrovegni Chapel, situated near the town centre. Here we view exquisite frescoes by Giotto, who led the way to the Renaissance by piercing the wall of two dimension and introducing perspective and humanism into painting in the fourteenth century. We also visit a unique structure -- Europe's oldest permanent anatomy theatre, built in 1594, with viewing balconies so narrow that when students fainted they would be prevented from falling. After a short walk from the university we come to the Piazza Bo, the scene of one of the liveliest daily markets in Italy.

We then travel the rest of the distance to Venice by road. After a brief orientation by your Tour Leader, you will have free time this afternoon for independent exploration. This evening you may choose to visit the casino, take a gondola ride, or perhaps spend an evening at the theatre.

Overnight in Venice.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Venice: City Tour
On our guided walking tour this morning we concentrate on St Mark's Square, surrounded with elegant, historic buildings. Napoleon called Piazza San Marco, "the drawing room of Europe". We start with a tour of the Doge's Palace. This former seat of Venetian power has the second largest wooden room in Europe. Of interest as we walk through the council rooms, is Tintoretto's Paradise over the Grand Council Chamber -- alleged to be the largest oil painting in the world. The palace is connected to the old prison by the 'Bridge of Sighs.' In the late 16th century the decision was made to build new airier prison cells to replace the original dark dungeons. It was from this new prison that Casanova made his daring escape across the rooftops in 1755.

The highlight of the square is St Mark's Basilica, a Byzantine masterpiece. This cathedral was begun in 830 to house the tomb of St Mark whose relics were stolen from Alexandria in Egypt. The inside walls are encrusted with precious art, rare marbles and magnificent mosaics. Behind the altar is the famous gold altarpiece, 'Palla d'Oro,' which is one of the finest examples of gold craftsmanship. (We do not include a tour of the interior of the basilica as lengthy queues usually make this impractical for our program. We encourage you to visit the site during your free time this afternoon.)

Later we take the vaporetto, or public water bus, on the Grand Canal and then walk along the maze of canals, sidewalks and bridges that are uniquely Venice. At the Rialto Bridge we visit the market area. The name Rialto derives from 'high bank' because this area was one of the highest points on the islands that make up the core of Venice and was thus considered a safe gathering point. The market here is vibrant with locals buying fruit and vegetables brought in from the mainland, and a vast array of fish caught fresh in the Adriatic.

Overnight in Venice.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14 Venice, Italy - Ljubjana, Slovenia
Today we travel from Venice to Ljubjana, Slovenia.

NOTE: This portion of the tour has changed since the printing of our general catalogue.

Overnight in Ljubjana.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 15 Ljubljana: City Tour
Today we enjoy a walking tour of "Bela Ljubljana". This was the nickname given to this delightful city after it was entirely rebuilt following a major earthquake in 1511. A walk through the streets of this charming city reminds one of Vienna and Prague. However, Ljubljana is tiny in comparison, and easily visited on foot. We go up to the highest point of the city to visit the 16th century castle; the castle today houses a Virtual Museum, which gives a superb overview of the city's history, and a climb up the main tower affords a wonderful panorama of the town and surrounding mountains.

We then visit the old town by foot, stopping along the way to see the Parliament building, university, beautiful squares, and unique bridges. We also see the city's Cathedral, with its modern bronze doors commemorating the history of Slovenia and its struggle towards independence. A tour of Ljubljana would not be complete without a stroll through the great outdoor markets, where locals come to buy fresh mountain herbs and flowers, wild mushrooms, and fresh fruit and vegetables from nearby farms.

Overnight Ljubljana.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 16 Ljubljana - Skofja Loka - Kropa - Bled
Today we drive through the countryside, with small hamlets and farms scattered across the green rolling hills. This area has some of this new nation's oldest inhabited settlements, three of which we will visit today. Our first stop today is Skofja Loka, or "Bishop's Meadow," one of the most charming towns in Slovenia with its historic streets, houses and its castle perched high above. We will wander the Mestni Trg, the main street of the town, see the Granary, St. James' Church, Homan house, and visit the 13th century castle, which today houses the finest ethnographic museum in the country.

Our drive continues through small hamlets, with traditional farmhouses and steepled churches, where crops of potatoes, corn, turnips and hay are grown. Our next stop is Kropa, a tiny town on the Kroparica River which was historically famous for its iron forging industry. The forges here produced iron objects of all kinds were traded throughout Europe. From the huge spikes which were used in the construction Venice, to the tiny tacks used in Austrian mountaineering boots, Kropa produced over 130 varieties of nails.

We drive through spectacular scenery to Bled, where we will spend two nights. Bled is located on the edge of an emerald green glacial lake. The views upon approach are stupendous, with the town's castle perched above, Bled Otok, the small island with a church in the center of the lake, all set against the spectacular backdrop of the Karavanke Mountains and Julian Alps.

Overnight in Bled.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 17 Bled - Lake Bohinj - Bled
Reflecting the high mountain peaks, Lake Bled has always been considered sacred by the locals. Our first visit is to the 11th century castle which houses a small museum and provides magnificent views of town, lake and mountains. After our visit we will catch a small traditional boat, or pletna, to visit the country's only island, Bled Otok. On the island we will visit the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, also known as "Our Lady of the Lake". Legend has it that if you make a wish while ringing the bell your wish will come true.

This afternoon we drive through lush green valleys to Bohinj, one of the gateways to the Julian Alps. The name Bohinj refers to the entire valley and its numerous small settlements. Lake Bohinj is the largest permanent lake in Slovenia, and protected from development. It is fed by the Savica waterfall, which Slovenia's greatest poet, Francis Preseren celebrated in his poem "Baptism at the Savica Waterfall". We will visit the Church of St. John the Baptist, famous for its beautiful frescoes, located on the lake's edge in the charming town of Bohinjska Bistrica.

Further along the lake's shores we will take a cable car which climbs 1537m / 5,072 ft up to Mt Vogel, the only mountain ski resort within Triglav National Park. On a clear day we can view the peaks of the Julian Alps, some of the highest in the country, and see Mt. Triglav, a holy mountain and national symbol of Slovenia. There is also a spectacular panorama of Lake Bohinj and basin.

Upon our return to Bled, you may choose to walk around the shores of Bled, or even swim (!); an excellent path takes you on a 6km (3.75 mi) walk around the lake.

Overnight in Bled.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 18 Bled - Kobarid - Bovec
This morning travel to Triglcav National Park. Our First stop will be at Kranjska Gora, popular winter and summer tourist resort for a short walk. Then continue via the mountain pass of Predil into the Log pod Mangrtom town -- a small town that was devastated by an avalanche in 2000. From there continue to Kluže fortress situated on the scenic gorge of Koritnica River.

We drive to the pretty town of Bovec nestled in the Soca Valley and near the Kanin ridge, the highest ski resort in the country. We finish our day just down the road at Kobarid, known for the Battle of Caporetto where the Italian retreat was documented by Ernest Hemingway in his novel 'A Farewell to Arms.'

We will go up to the Italian Charnel house and Church of St. Antony, located on a hill above Kobarid town. It houses the bones of over 7,000 Italian soldiers killed here during World War I. The church was redesigned in the 20th century by an Italian architect, when the bones were gathered from the surrounding valleys and placed here; Mussolini himself dedicated the church and Charnel house in 1938.

Overnight in Bovec.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 19 Bovec - Predjama - Postojna Caves - Piran
Driving the along the banks of the Soca River, we make our way out of Alpine territory to the region and plateau of Primorska. The Soca is a valley of wonderful colours, full of waterfalls, pools, ravines and canyons, with its own distinct flora and fauna. The impossibly blue-green Soca River flows over white gravel and through a fairy-tale landscape with a stunning vista at every turn.

Our next stop is Predjama Castle, located in the middle of a 123m (403 ft) high, overhanging, limestone cliff, in the entrance of a cave. The cave was utlitised by a robber baron from centuries ago to become his stronghold. It's been described as a "masterpiece of medieval ingenuity, courage, cunning and defiance". Its white walls, roofs, turrets and chimneys jutting from the mountainside, built onto solid rock, make it the most unique and picturesque fortress you will ever come across in Europe.

We continue through the limestone plateau, or "karst" region en route to the Postojna Caves where we have a guided visit. This region was once submerged by a deep sea; today the landscape is characterized by subterranean rivers which have carved out magnificent caves, and by the rich red soil deposits in poljes, the depressions left when caverns collapse. The cave is 27 km (17 miles) long and over 2 million years old, and consists of a series of caverns, halls and passages with enormous stalactites and stalagmites. The caves also have their own unique ecosystem, flora and fauna; the most famous creature endemic to the caves is the so called Proteus Anguinus, or "human fish", a small pink, blind type of salamander equipped with both gills and rudimentary lungs.

We continue to Piran, Istria, beautifully located on the Adriatic. The town resembles a large open-air museum, with medieval architecture and a rich cultural heritage. Narrow streets and compact houses give the town its special charm.

Overnight in Piran.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 20 Piran, Slovenia - Porec, Croatia - Pula - Opatija
We depart Piran and continue by road across the border into Croatia where our first stop is Porec, a pretty seaside town dating back to the Roman period. We will walk through the ancient narrow lanes, see the ruins of the Roman Temple of Augustus, and visit the Euphrasian Basilica. This church houses some of the finest Byzantine mosaics in the world, comparable to those in Ravenna. The Basilica is listed among many other Croatian masterpieces of art and architecture, as a protected UNESCO World Heritage site.

We also stop in Pula, called Pola by the first Illyrian settlers and Polensium by the Romans. We visit one of the most impressive sites in town, the amphitheater, located near the harbour. Built entirely of local limestone, the amphitheater was designed to host gladiatorial contests and could accommodate up to 22,000 spectators.

We finish our day in Opatija, the oldest established and still one of the most popular Croatian resorts. A Rijeka businessman built the first villa here in 1844, and after a visit by the trend-setting wife of the Austrian Emperor, the town was promoted as a handy health resort for aristocratic Austrians.

(Depending on hotel availability, we may overnight in Opatija or continue the short distance to Rijeka.)

Overnight in Opatija or Rijecka.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 21 Opatija - Zagreb: City Tour
Today we travel inland to the capital, Zagreb and have a city tour on arrival, including Governor Jelacic Square, undoubtedly the very heart of the capital. Located in Zagreb's center, the square is dominated by the statue of Josip Jelacic who became the governor of the triple Kingdom of Dalmatia, Croatia, and Slavonia on the 23rd of March, 1848.

Zagreb is located on the intersection of several important routes between the Adriatic coast and Central Europe. It offers visitors the Baroque feel of the Upper Town, picturesque open-air markets, and various kinds of shops.

Overnight in Zagreb.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 22 Zagreb - Plitvice Lakes
This morning we depart for Plitvice, where 16 lakes, each at a different level, join each other in a series of cascading waterfalls. Surrounded by dense woods, this is a region of unique beauty. The travertine terraces have been continuously reforming themselves over 10,000 years as calcium carbonate dissolves and settles, forming barriers and cascades. The lakes are also home to a huge variety of flora and fauna including 120 species of birds and a variety of mammals and fish species. The entire area is protected as one of UNESCO's Natural World Heritage Sites.

Wooded paths at the edge of pine, beech and fir forests follow the successions of lakes and waterfalls which we will follow on our walk* around the Lower and Upper Lakes, ending with a short boat ride across the largest lake.

* Good walkers will have no trouble with the well-maintained trails. If you have concerns about your suitability, please have a word with your Tour Leader.

Overnight in Plitvice.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 23 Plitvice Lakes - Zadar - Split
Today we travel to the coast via Zadar, the ancient capital of Byzantine Dalmatia.

This large city has its historic center crowded on a small piece of land jutting into the Adriatic When it was occupied by the Germans in 1943, Allied bombings destroyed about 60% of the city. Zadar was rebuilt one more time, as it had been many times over its tumultuous history; it is for this reason that one can find a variety of architectural styles, from Roman Corinthian columns to Romanesque churches. We enter the city through one of the Venetian gates and proceed to the Roman Forum, the Church of St. Donatus and Cathedral of Anastasius, and visit the Archaeological Museum, with a fine collection of artifacts dating from Roman and medieval times. NOTE: In the event that the Archaeological Museum is closed, due to erratic opening hours, the Museum will be replaced with a visit of the Treasury, a collection of relics attended to by the order of Benedictine nuns in the Church and Nunnery of St. Mary.

We continue on to the Cathedral of St. James in Trogir, a famous Renaissance church, esteemed as the masterpiece of Croatia. Then it's on to Split (ancient Spalato), the second largest city of Croatia. The historic city center actually lies in the walls of the enormous retirement Palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, built between 295-305 AD. The palace served as a palace, military fortress, and later, a fortified town. The city is enclosed by huge walls, pierced by 4 main gates, one on each side of the rectangular plan. Later you may wish to walk the promenade along the harbour when it comes alive with locals taking an evening stroll or relaxing in the seaside cafes outside the ancient palace walls.

Overnight in Split.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 24 Split - Hvar
This morning we have a walking tour through the heart of ancient Split. We will visit the cryptoporticus (underground vaults) of the Palace, the Mausoleum and Church of St. Donatus, the Peristyle court, and explore the ancient narrow streets still paved with the lustrous white stone of Brac Island. We will also exit the Golden Gate of the palace to see the huge bronze statue of St. Gregory of Nin made by Ivan Mestrovic, the most celebrated sculptor of modern Croatia.

Later we take a short ferry ride to the island of Hvar. En route we will pass the island of Brac, which provided the lustrous white stone for the construction of the Cathedral of Sibenik, Diocletian's Palace at Split, the Cathedral of Liverpool, and the White House in Washington, DC.

The island of Hvar receives 2,724 hours of sunshine per year, more than anywhere else in Croatia, and is thus called the "Island of the Sun". Greeks from Paros first settled on the island in the 4th century BC in Pharos, the modern town of Stari Grad. In the 13th century, the capital of the island was transferred to the town of Hvar (a mutation of Pharos in Slavic) and prospered during the 3.5 centuries of Venetian rule. This picturesque town and marina is alive with the constant hum of activity.

Overnight in Hvar.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 25 Hvar: Walking Tour
This morning we have a walking tour through narrow streets to the 15th century Franciscan Monastery, visit the Renaissance cloister, the old rectory that today houses a collection of lace, manuscripts and books; and the church with its remarkable collection of paintings. We also visit St Stephen's Cathedral.

The afternoon is free for independent exploration on this beautiful island. For those interested, there is an excellent hike up to the Venetian castle above town.

Overnight in Hvar.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 26 Hvar, Croatia - Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Today we depart Hvar by ferry to Drvenik from where we drive along the coast to Opuzen where we turn inland to the border crossing at Metkovic. After crossing into Bosnia, we drive to Pocitelj where we have a chance to stop and discover the exquisite blend of Mediterranean and Oriental architecture. From Pocitelj we will continue our drive to Mostar arriving in the afternoon.

Despite great damages suffered in the last war, the city on the emerald green River Neretva has preserved a great part of its authentic Oriental architecture and the way of life conceived on the boundaries of civilizations.

Overnight in Mostar.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 27 Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina: Walking Tour - Dubrovnik, Croatia
We begin our day with a walking tour of Mostar. Our tour will include a visit to the ancient city dating to the 16th/17th centuries, a visit inside a traditional house dating to this period, and a visit to the recently rebuilt Mostar Bridge, the emblem of the city. After our tour of Mostar, we will begin our journey to Dubrovnik. En route we will stop at the historic, fortified town of Ston. We arrive into Dubrovnik in the late afternoon.

The history of Dubrovnik, or ancient Ragusa, begins in the 7th century, when it was under the protection of the Byzantine Empire. In the 12th century Ragusa, formerly an island, merged with mainland settlements and the channel between was filled in with carted-in material. Today this area is the main street of the old city named the Placa or Stradun. After shaking off the yoke of Venice in 1385, Ragusa became an independent republic. It remained one of the most powerful maritime powers in the Mediterranean for over four centuries (until 1808). Ragusa was the link between the Mediterranean and the Balkans and hence developed into an important centre of trade and shipping. Dairy products, wax, honey, timber, coals, salt, silver, lead, copper, wine, oil, fish and slaves were all traded. During the "Golden Age" of Ragusa in the 16th century, she had the 3rd largest merchant fleet in the world and consulates in over 50 countries. After changing hands a number of times, the city was finally ceded to Croatia (former Yugoslavia) and in 1918 the Slavic name of Dubrovnik was officially adopted.

Overnight in Dubrovnik (outside Old Town).

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 28 Dubrovnik - Montenegro - Dubrovnik
Our encounter with one of Europe's newest countries begins in Boka Kotorska, the only fjord in the Mediterranean, a bay of 32 km / 20 miles cut deep into the stone tissue of the Orjen and Lovcen mountains. We then visit the town of Perast where we see the two small islands of St. George & Our Lady of the Rocks. We take a boat from Perast to Our Lady of the Rocks before continuing our drive along the coast to Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we visit the cathedral and Maritime Museum.

Return to Dubrovnik in the evening.

Remember your passports for today's excursion!! Border delays are possible and are taken into account when planning the content and pacing of today's programme.

Overnight in Dubrovnik.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 29 Dubrovnik: Walking Tour
This morning features a walking tour of Dubrovnik's historic center. Dubrovnik has been called "Croatian Athens" and the "Pearl of the Mediterranean" for its astounding beauty, sophisticated history and culture, and prosperity.

Over the course of its tumultuous history, the city had to be extensively reconstructed; the earthquake of 1667 destroyed much of the city; and in recent memory, the town was bombarded by over 2,000 shells in 1991-2. After great international efforts, the city has been restored to its former glory, with its towering fortifications, magnificent medieval architecture, red tiled roofs, winding paved streets and picturesque harbours.

Today we visit the Cathedral and Sponza Palace; en route we will see many famous landmarks including Onofrio's fountain, the Clock Tower, Roland's Column and the Church of St. Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik.

We also walk the walls of Dubrovnik, considered by many to be a highlight of our visit. The total circuit is nearly 2km / 1.25 mi, and from the bastions you will have magnificent views of the city's monuments, including the Minceta Tower, Revelin Tower, and the mighty fortress of St. Lawrence, with walls 12m / 40 feet thick!

Your afternoon is free to enjoy this memorable place.

Overnight in Dubrovnik.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 30 Departure
Departure from Dubrovnik.


Meal plan: Breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Hotel Augusta Lucilla Palace

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Rome
Country: Italy

Augusta Lucilla Palace Hotel is a newly refurbished 4 star Hotel situated in the historic centre of Rome, only 5
... walk from the central train station, Termini.
The hotel is newly refurbished, characterized by Roman architecture of the 19th Century. The interiors have been entirely renovated, embracing the benefits of modern technology with a touch of elegance and style.

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Hotel Minerva

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Siena
Country: Italy

The Hotel Minerva is situated in the historic center of Siena and commands a view over the whole town. There
... 59 bedrooms with private bath, phone, colour TV, safe deposit box, air conditioning, fridge-bar, laundry service, WI-FI.

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Hotel Europa

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Lerici
Country: Italy

Only 250 meters from the historic center of Lerici and conveniently accessible by a stairway that leads from the hotel
... the seafront and Piazza Garibaldi in only a few minutes, the Grand Hotel Europa is situated in the midst of a grove of olive trees on the hill of Maralunga, overlooking the splendid Bay of the Poets.

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Hotel Caravaggio

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Florence
Country: Italy

Hotel Caravaggio, is within a walking distance from the railway station and, most important, it is very close to the
... famous monuments and museums, which make Florence unique. Hotel Caravaggio has 37 rooms with private facilities, equipped with satellite TV, telephone, minibar, air-conditioning, hairdryer, safe, laundry service, and WI-FI.

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Hotel Belle Epoque

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Venice
Country: Italy

The Hotel Belle Epoque is located in the heart of Venice, a short walk from St Mark's Square (Piazza San
... Complementing the grand palaces and illustrious canals that make Venice famous, the Hotel Belle Epoque bathes guests in the radiance of classical Venetian design. Decor is in the style of the golden age of Venice.

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Hotel Slon

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Ljubljana
Country: Slovenia

Best Western Premier Hotel Slon is located in the heart of Ljubljana just steps away from all major historical and
... sights. SAT TV, mini bar, safe, ISDN telephone, WLAN wireless internet connection, air-conditioning, hair-dryer, in-room coffee / tea maker.

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Hotel Kanin

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Bovec
Country: Slovenia

Hotel Kanin is located near Bovec centre in a quiet location, surrounded by a large garden. The hotel has 125
... and some triple rooms, most of them with balcony on the south side with nice mountain and valley view. All the rooms have private bathroom, cable TV and telephone.

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Hotel Piran

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Piran
Country: Slovenia

Hotel Piran is situated next to the beach and at the same time only 150 m from the centre of
... The hotel was built in 1964 and almost entirely refurbished in 2002. It is a 4-star hotel with modern furnishings. Standard rooms have a shower, WC, telephone, satellite TV and hair dryer.

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Hotel International

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Zagreb
Country: Croatia

The newly refurbished Hotel International is located in the heart of the Zagreb, just minutes away from the main square,
... and other cultural sites. The hotel offers spacious rooms, completely renovated, air conditioned, with wireless internet access.

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Hotel Jezero

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Plitvice
Country: Croatia

Completely renovated, the Hotel Jezero shines in all its beauty and soft luxury with a natural setting and a
... atmosphere. The lake and mountain paths are just a stone's throw away. Rooms have direct telephone link, cable TV, mini bar, hairdryer.

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The Palace

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Hvar
Country: Croatia

As the oldest hotel in Hvar, The Palace is a grand dame framed by Gothic and renaissance architecture. History lovers
... particularly enjoy its central location, which provides romantic views of the ancient piazza and neighboring buildings. The rooms at The Palace have been equipped with modern fixtures and furnishings that provide comfort and convenience while allowing guests to thoroughly enjoy all the natural charm and beauty of this historic hotel.

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Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


Breakfast and dinner (mostly local restaurants) daily. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.


Lunches, Tour Leader gratuities, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), air taxes (if applicable), and excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered in spring, summer, and fall, the most popular being spring and fall when temperatures are milder and air fares lower. The region has a mild Mediterranean climate with early springs, long hot and dry summers, and autumns that are bright and warm into late October. Showers are possible in spring, rare in summer, and possible in fall. Spring is popular with visitors who enjoy green landscapes and wildflowers. Spring is also not as busy in coastal towns that can see a great deal of cruise ship traffic in September.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Transport throughout by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Though we will have some full bus days, road travel is not particularly arduous as there are plenty of stops and beautiful scenery along the way. Roads are in good condition, though a little winding and slow on some stretches. Some short ferry crossings, walking tours on cobbled surfaces.


Well-located, air- conditioned, mid-range hotels and inns (3-star) used throughout. Some hotels are smaller properties (3-4 story) that may not have elevators. All hotels have en suite bath, though some may have shower only. Porter service is usually available (see 'inclusions') though you should be independent with your luggage. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, driver (s), local step-on guides in various locales.

Group Size

10-21 plus Tour Leader