Zagreb Vila Bled View Lubljanna, Slovenia

Essential North Croatia, Istria & Slovenia

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

As the Julian Alps give way to the Adriatic, Croatia and Slovenia merge into one another in a seamless blend of geography, history and culture. Austro-Hungarian, Roman, Venetian, Greek and more recently, Yugoslavian, influences coexist in a living, breathing history that has been integrated into a part of every day life. Vibrant towns and sleepy villages emerge out of the ruins of empires long gone. An inherent culture of wine and cuisine makes this a gourmand’s delight. Undulating mountains, karst formations and miles of stunning coastline dotted with islands make it a haven for those who enjoy being active and in nature.

From the capitals of Zagreb and Ljubljana to the serene countryside of Istria, Exeter International curates experiences that cater to your interests. Be it an olive oil tasting to a curator led museum tour, to countryside bicycle rides, the soft-spoken charm of the locals and their laid-back lifestyle make it a perfect retreat from every perspective.

The following is just a suggested daily touring schedule. You will have complete control over your daily schedule and may change your plans at any time by simply telling your guide. Your time in Europe is yours to enjoy as you like!

For custom luxury travel and tours to Croatia and Slovenia, please contact one of our travel experts.

Captivating Croatia Downloadable PDF

Download PDF Itinerary.

ITINERARY

PRICING FROM

$4,500 per person, based on two people traveling together. Please contact Exeter International for exact pricing and specific availability. 

Day 1
Arrival | Zagreb

Afternoon arrival into Zagreb. Your driver will meet you outside of customs to transfer you to the historic Hotel Esplanade, in the center of the city. The Esplanade was originally built by the Orient Express Train Company for guests to overnight as they traveled between Western Europe and Istanbul. After a careful restoration, the hotel is back to its original splendor but with all modern day luxury amenities added. Staying here is a true treat and a journey back in time.

While it has only been the political capital of Croatia since 1991, Zagreb has long enjoyed the influence of both the Eastern and Western culture. In medieval times, Zagreb consisted of two separate towns, Kaptol, the religious center, and Gradec, the commercial hub. The river Medvescak in-between the two towns was often the site of fierce battles between them. Today, Gradec and Kaptol together form the Upper Town, or Gornji Grad, which forms the historic Old Town of Zagreb. The Lower Town, or Donji Grad, on the plains is more chic and contemporary. Don’t worry, your guide will help you understand all this and even assist with pronunciation!

Exeter Services: Airport Transfer

Hotel: Esplanade

Day 2
Zagreb | Zagreb

This morning, your guide will take you to Gornji Grad (Upper Town) for your tour of the historic heart of Zagreb. The best way to get around the Old Town is on foot, so wear your most comfortable walking shoes. If you happen to be in Zagreb on a Saturday, you will find a bustling market square – full of locals out shopping and socializing.

Begin your stroll with a visit to the Dolac, the open-air fruit and vegetable market in Old Town and the Church of St. Mary and the towering spires of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the most prominent landmark on the city’s skyline. As you approach the front of the church don’t miss the ornate sculpted doorway. The Cathedral contains the tombs of the most important personalities in the history of Croatia including Ivan Mestrovic, the famous Croatian sculptor. While in the Old Town, don’t miss the historic stone city gates and the booming cannon of the Lotrscak Tower! Before leaving the Upper town, stop by the 17th century church, dedicated to St. Catherine.

Step inside the Mimara Museum’s extensive collection of art from around the world. Your guide will help bring to life some of the extraordinary pieces of the collection. Objects on display include an awe-inspiring collection of European artists, icons from Russia and the Middle East, magnificent carpets from Turkey and Morocco and several other artifacts from places as far reaching as India and South America.

At the end of the day, enjoy the charming ambience of the cobble-stoned streets of Lower Town (Donji Grad) full of boutiques, cafes and bookshops. You might want to explore a bit more on your own with a visit to the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships. Alternatively, delve into Croatian art at the Croatian Museum of Naive Art.

Note: All services today are on foot. Please wear appropriate footwear.

Exeter Services: Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Esplanade

Day 3
Ljulbljana | Ljulbljana

This morning, depart with your private driver to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Upon arrival in Ljubljana, your guide will meet you and will take you to explore the old mediaeval city with its numerous historical monuments and a dominating old castle, and the world’s second oldest philharmonic society where Gustav Mahler started his career!

Your tour will start off in front of the Baroque Town Hall building, the seat of the municipal government with famous Robba Fountain next to it, and continue across the lively fruit, vegetable and flower market designed by architect Joze Plecnik, past the Cathedral of St. Nicholas. Cross the Dragon Bridge, an Art Nouveau masterpiece adorned with dragons, the symbol of Ljubljana, and stroll alongside the Ljubljanica River to the centrally located Presernov Square.

The remainder of your afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the convivial café atmosphere of Ljubljana.

Note: If you would like a countryside base instead, the itinerary can easily be modified to base you in the town of Bled, right on the shores of Lake Bled.

Exeter Services: Transfer (Zagreb-Ljubljana); Half-Day Guide in Ljubljana (4 Hours)

Hotel: Vander Urban Resort

Day 4
Bled & Bohinj | Bled & Bohinj

This morning, meet your driver and guide for a day trip to the charming towns of Bled and Bohinj. Once you arrive, we suggest a morning stroll to the picturesque Lake Bled and a boat ride to the baroque Church of Virgin Mary that stands on an island in the middle of the lake.

Next, your guide will take you to explore the beautiful Bled Castle. In 1004, the German Emperor Henrik II gave the Bled estate to Bishop Albuin of Brixen as a gift. The building was expanded and fortified since then and today there are several buildings that make up the castle complex. The most interesting of them is certainly the chapel on the upper courtyard, which was consecrated to the Bishops St. Albuin and to St. Ingenium. It was built in the 16th century, and was renovated in the Baroque style around 1700, when it was also painted with illusionist frescoes. Today the castle is preserved as a museum, where you will be able to see various exhibits depicting the history of the region.

Proceed to the beautiful Bohinj region that is divided into the Upper and Lower Bohinj Valley. There are twenty-four typical Alpine villages in these two valleys. In the Upper Valley by the lake, visit the gothic St. John the Baptist Church with well-preserved frescoes from the 15th and the 16th centuries. The journey continues with a cable car ride to mountain Vogel (5000 feet), from where there is a wonderful view of the Lake Bohinj and the Julian Alps. Return to Bled through the scenic Lower Valley.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Vander Urban Resort

Day 5
Istria | Istria

This morning, your driver will meet you for your journey west from Ljubljana into the Istrian Peninsula. You will arrive into the beautiful coastal city of Rovinj and the remainder of your day is at leisure.

The facilities of your hotel include a wonderful spa and a gorgeous pool. We suggest that you stretch your legs with a bicycle ride through the countryside, as the adjacent park offers bicycle rentals and the views are stunning.

Exeter Services: Transfer Ljubljana-Rovinj

Hotel: Hotel Lone

Day 6
Istria | Istria

This morning, your driver and guide will meet you to explore the Istrian peninsula. Today you will drive down the western Istrian coast along the Adriatic Sea to Pula, at the southernmost tip of the Peninsula.

Pula is a story of fortunes gained and lost. It gained fame under the Romans during the 2nd century BCE, and became an Episcopal seat of power during the 5th century. It was sacked by the Ostrogoths but regained power under the Byzantines as a naval port during the 6th and 7th centuries. It fell into decline until the AustroHungarians gained power and established their naval fleet here. The ancient barracks of the Austro-Hungarian Empire still house Croatia’s naval forces.

Upon arrival, your guide will take you on a walking tour of Pula. You will start at the historic center of the city at its most famous landmark, the Pula Amphitheater, which dates back to the 1st century – one of the bestpreserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. Today it is Pula’s main cultural venue and is known for its music and film festivals.

Continue to visit the Golden Door at the Temple of Augustus, built between 2 BCE and 14 CE, which is dedicated to the goddess Roma and the emperor Augustus. You will also see the City Hall with its blend of architectural styles, the Hercules Gate and the fragments of the city walls, as well as the Forum, the central square of classical and medieval Pula.

As time allows, you may wish to enter the Archaeological Museum of Istria, which contains several exhibits from Neolithic times to the medieval period of objects found in Pula and the surrounding areas.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (6 Hours)

Hotel: Hotel Lone

Day 7
Istria | Istria

The interior of Istria is very different from its coast. Your first visit today will be the artist colony of Groznjan. This hilltop town was all but deserted after WWII until being revitalized as a center for artists. Groznjan is also a favorite of musicians, as the International Cultural Centre of Young Musicians has its seat here. You will have time to wander the twisting streets, filled with shops from local artisans, or perhaps to take in an impromptu music or drama performance in the main square.

Riding through the rugged and hilly terrain you will come to the medieval ruins of the town of Motovun, which suddenly springs into view. Motovun is an excellent example of the ancient townships that dotted the Istrian peninsula long ago. We think it’s worth the long trek up to the top of the hill, so eat a hearty breakfast! Motovun is a medieval city that dates back to the 12th century, which thankfully remained intact owing to its hilltop location and walled fortifications.

Later your guide will take you to Livade, the small village in the Istrian countryside famous for being one of the best-known truffle regions in Europe! White Istrian truffles are among of the most expensive mushrooms in the world, and truffle harvesting is a local tradition. We highly recommend stopping for a truffle lunch here; make room in your luggage for truffle oil to take home!

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

This afternoon you will be invited to a private wine and olive oil tasting at one of the private family vineyards in Istria.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Hotel Lone

Day 8
Plitvice Lakes | Plitvice Lakes

This morning, depart on a three and a half-hour journey with your driver to Plitvice Lakes, one of the most unspoiled natural parks in Europe and UNESCO World Heritage site. Within the national park lie sixteen breathtaking lakes, interconnected by a series of waterfalls, over an area of 70,000 acres, whilst the lakes join together over a distance of five miles.

A local park guide will meet you for a tour of this highlight of Croatia’s natural beauty. After exploring Plitvice, return to Zagreb for your last overnight.

Note: Today’s touring involves walking over uneven surfaces. Please wear appropriate footwear.

Exeter Services: Vehicle & Driver (8 Hours); Park Guide (3 Hours)

Hotel: Esplanade

Day 9
Departure | Zagreb

Today is at your leisure until your transfer to the airport for your flight onward.

Exeter Services: Transfer Only

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