Dubrovnik, Croatia

Self-Drive Croatia & Slovenia

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Exeter International White Glove Self-Drive Program Includes:

  • A pre-programmed GPS system for you to use while in Europe.
  • Every day will be set up for you and you can’t get lost!
  • 24-hours local help line available to you as you travel and manned exclusively by Exeter local staff.
  • Our expert advice in finding the perfect car for your trip. Your car will be waiting for you to pick up locally and will show you exactly where to return it when you are finished.
  • The freedom to deviate and explore on your own and then jump back into your planned itinerary at any time.

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

Day 1
Arrival | Ljubljana Ljubljana, Slovenia

Arrival in Ljubljana—Slovenia’s capital and largest city. You will be met by your private driver and guide, who will be waiting for you just outside of customs after you pick up your luggage. You will be transferred to your hotel in the city center.

After some time to drop off your luggage, your guide will meet you for an overview tour of the city. Ljubljana’s Old Town is located on the right (eastern) bank of the Ljubljanica River and at the foot of the historic Castle Hill. You may start your tour in front of the Baroque Town Hall building – the seat of the municipal government, which is highlighted by its clock tower and the inner courtyard surrounded by pillars and arcades.

In the Town Square (Mestni Trg) in front of the city hall you will see the famous Fountain of the Three Rivers, which was originally designed in the second half of the 18th century by the Italian Baroque sculptor Francesco Robba and became his most famous work. The figures with vases represent the rivers Ljubljanica, Krka, and Sava. Robba was inspired by Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers on Piazza Navona in Rome.

Continue across the Dragon Bridge – an Art Nouveau masterpiece adorned with dragons, and stroll alongside the western bank of the Ljubljanica River to the centrally located and bustling Prešeren Square. It is named after Slovenia’s greatest poet who also wrote the lyrics to the national anthem. On the south side of the square, the Ljubljanica River is crossed by the city’s most famous bridge – the Triple Bridge, designed by Jože Plečnik who added the side spans to the already existing central part of the bridge.

Later, you may take the funicular to reach the top of Castle Hill. The Ljubljana Castle offers some great views over the city and the surrounding countryside. The castle was first mentioned in 1144 and was later enlarged and surrounded by a wall with towers and a drawbridge. Gradually losing its strategic importance in the area, the castle began falling into disrepair. In the early 20th century, the castle was redesigned partially and used as a prison and a military stronghold. Since the 1970s, long and extensive renovation works have been underway.

Exeter Services: Arrival transfer only; Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Cubo

Day 2
Bled & Bohinj | Bled & Bohinj Lake Bled

This morning, pick up your rental car in the location closest to your hotel, and transfer approximately 25 miles to the picturesque Lake Bled region.

During your transfer, we recommend a stop in Radovljica, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the country, with houses dating from the 15th and 16th centuries.

Upon arrival in Bled, we suggest a visit to the lake and a boat ride to the church, which stands on the island in the middle. The lake was formed after the recession of the Bohinj glacier. After the last Ice Age, the Bohinj glacier deepened the natural tectonic hollow and gave into its present form.

You can also visit the beautiful and historic Bled Castle, which is also the oldest in the country. In 1004, the German Emperor Henrik II gave the Bled estate to the Austrian 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, arranged around two courtyards, which are connected with a staircase. Today the castle is preserved as a museum, where you will be able to see various exhibits depicting the history of the region. Enjoy the sweeping views over the lake and the surrounding mountains.

In the afternoon, you may continue on to the charming region of Bohinj, which 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 Bohinj, you may decide to visit the gothic St. John the Baptist Church, which has well-preserved frescoes from the 15th and the 16th centuries. The journey continues with a cable car ride to the mountain Vogel (5.000 ft), from where there is a wonderful view of the lake and the surrounding parts of the Julian Alps.

Exeter Services: Guide in Bled (3 Hours)

Hotel: Cubo

Day 3
Ljubljana to Rovinj | Ljubljana to Rovinj

This morning, head out with your car across the border to Croatia. You will drive through Slovenia’s Karst region, located between the capital Ljubljana and the Adriatic coast and stretching across the border with Italy. This area is in essence a huge limestone plateau famous for its massive cave systems, which were cut into the soft stone by underground rivers and some of which are now protected as UNESCO Heritage sites.

En route, you may want to visit the unique Škocjan Caves. These caves were formed by the Reka River and have been on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites since 1986. You will begin your guided tour at the Visitors’ Center and walk to the man-made entry into the Globocak Collapse Doline. From there your guide will take you through the Silent Cave (Tiha jama), the massive cave where the Reka river flows and the Tominc Cave (Tominceva jama). Please note that the temperature inside the caves is usually around 53 degrees Fahrenheit. Wear appropriate clothes and footwear.

If you are interested, you can also visit the scenic Predjama Castle – a true masterpiece of medieval architecture. The castle was built under a natural rock arch high up a limestone cliff overlooking the valley. The first castle was actually a small fortress deep inside the cave to make it more inaccessible and easily defended. Over the centuries, the original Gothic castle was redesigned and reshaped many times, gradually moving away from the cave. The present castle was thus called Predjama, meaning ‘in front of the cave’. Please note that there are some very steep and slippery steps.

Your final destination this afternoon is the gorgeous coastal town of Rovinj.

Exeter Services: No Services

Hotel: Grand Park

Day 4
Istrian Countryside | Istrian Countryside Motovun - Istria, Croatia

This morning, embark with your guide and driver on a tour of the beautiful towns and villages of Istria. The interior of Istria, with its rugged and hilly terrain, is very different from its coast.

There are many picturesque villages in this area, such as the artist colony of Groznjan and the medieval town of Motovun. Your guide will discuss with you which villages that they recommend you should visit, based on your interests.

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You will also visit Livade, a small village in the Istrian countryside famous for being one of the best truffle regions in Europe. White Istrian truffles are among the most expensive in the world, and harvesting them is a local tradition going back centuries. Enjoy a truffle hunting demonstration, guided by an expert and a trained dog (pigs are no longer used in Croatia).

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This afternoon your guide and driver will take you to one of the leading, family-owned vineyards of Istria for a private wine tasting with snacks and olive oil.

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

Hotel: Grand Park

Day 5
Pula | Pula Amphitheatre, Pula, Istria, Croatia

Today we recommend that you utilize the bike rentals available at your hotel to explore the town of Rovinj, with its narrow, winding streets. You can also explore on foot, if you prefer.

This afternoon, head to the town of Pula where you will meet your guide. Pula became famous under the Romans during the 2nd century BCE, and became an Episcopal seat during the 5th century. It was ransacked 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 Austro-Hungarians 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 best- preserved 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: Guide (4 hours)

Hotel: Grand Park

Day 6
Rovinj to Split | Rovinj to Split Split, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

Today is your longest day of driving and you may elect to drive straight through or stop en route during the journey to Split. Your GPS will list all our favorite stopping points.

If you would like a break while driving on the beautiful coastal highway, just north of Split you will find the charming town of Zadar. Parking is a challenge here, but your GPS will take you to the best place to park. The historic city center is very charming and well worth the stop. The highlight of the city, other than its ancient Greek and Italian heritage, is the sea organ. Stone steps built into the sea play seven chords of five tones, making it a unique “orchestra of nature”.

If exploring nature is more to your liking, choose Krka National Park on your GPS. With its seven travertine waterfalls and total drop of 242 meters, the Krka River is a natural and karst phenomenon. Skradinski buk is one of the most attractive parts of the park and features a clear pool with high waterfalls and cascades. It’s considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Europe. You’ll also find ruins in the park that date back to Roman times, along with the Visovac Monastery founded in 1445.

Continue on your way to Split for an early evening arrival. The hotels in Split are chosen for ease of parking. Other options are available.

Note: We recommend you drop the car off either today or tomorrow morning to be able to fully enjoy the cities and region.

Exeter Services: No Services

Hotel: Briig

Day 7
Split | Split Judita Palace Heritage Hotel - Split, Croatia

This morning, meet your guide to explore the city of Split, including the ancient Diocletian Palace. Also, today you will be returning your rental car.

Diocletian’s Palace, facing onto the Split harbor, is one of the most impressive Roman architectural monuments in the world and is protected as a UNESCO Heritage Site. The Roman Emperor Diocletian, noted for his persecution of early Christians, was a native of nearby Salona before rising through the Roman military ranks to be eventually crowned emperor by his legions. He ruled for 20 years before abdicating and retiring to this palace. After his death, the palace was abandoned until the 7th century when refugees from the surrounding areas, fleeing foreign invasions, sought shelter within the palace’s protective walls. In the following centuries, the population outgrew its capacity and the town sprawled outside the walls. Today, Split is a major port and industrial center, as well as a perfect base for day trips to nearby attractions.

You will have the chance to explore with your Exeter guide the more than 200 buildings within the boundaries of the Diocletian Palace complex, many of which are still homes, while others house cafes, restaurants, and shops. Like a typical Roman fort, in its original form the palace had a square layout and was surrounded by a thick wall with gates and watchtowers. Some of the best-preserved sites you can visit are the Vestibule, the Temple of Jupiter, the Peristyle, and Diocletian’s Mausoleum – now the Cathedral of St. Dominus.

This afternoon, we suggest visiting Trogir on your own.

Exeter Services: Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Briig

Day 8
Hvar & Pakleni Islands | Hvar & Pakleni Islands Hvar, Croatia

This morning your guide will meet you at your hotel for the short walk to the marina, where your private motorboat will be waiting for you. Today your motorboat will take you to explore the neighboring island of Hvar. Through the course of history, Hvar Town has been a melting pot of cultures and influences and is still bursting with history, art and culture, and the home of Europe’s oldest municipal theater, which was built in the early 17th century over an arsenal in a peace-making attempt by the then ruler of Hvar.

You will start from Hvar’s main square, right next to the harbor, which is dominated by the Renaissance Cathedral with its distinctive bell tower dedicated to St. Stephen. The square is surrounded by buildings dating from the 16th – 17th centuries when the town was an important Venetian trading and seafaring center. Also in this part of town, you may wish to visit the Benedictine Convent, where the nuns spend their lives praying and weaving elaborate laces from the fibers of the agave plant.

This afternoon your private boat will take you to explore some of the coast of Hvar as well as the neighboring Pakleni Islands. These islands face the town of Hvar and are uninhabited and mostly woodlands. They feature a myriad of small secluded beaches. Some of these are nude beaches, so please do let your guide and skipper know if you would like to avoid this! You can stop as you desire for swimming or snorkeling.

Note: A visit to Hvar can also be arranged via public catamaran (lowering the cost of the program). Note: A visit to Hvar can also be turned into an overnight trip. Please inquire for cost.

Exeter Services: Guide (8 Hours); Motorboat Charter (8 Hours); Port Transfers (Two Included)

Hotel:  Briig

Day 9
Split to Dubrovnik | Split to Dubrovnik Dubrovnik, Croatia

Today you will continue your journey with a private transfer to Dubrovnik.

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En route, you will drive to the Peljesac Peninsula, which, similar to other coastal settlements, was first colonized by the Greeks, later by the Romans and Byzantines, and in the Middle Ages often changed hands between the Venetian and Ragusan Republics. The peninsula is known for its fine vineyards and the best oysters in Dalmatia, farmed in the town of Ston.

Upon arrival in Ston, you will enjoy a 45-minute private boat tour. You will head to the oyster banks and see how these rare oysters and mussels are being cultivated in the region.

Afterwards, join your oyster farmer on his little private island for a picnic lunch hosted by his family. You’ll have an oyster tasting and a light lunch of local specialties, along with local wine.

Late afternoon arrival into Dubrovnik and the remainder of your evening is at leisure.

Exeter Services: Transfer Split – Dubrovnik via Ston

Hotel: Excelsior

Day 10
Dubrovnik | Dubrovnik Dubrovnik

This morning, your guide will meet you at your hotel for an overview walking tour of the historic center of Dubrovnik, which is protected as a UNESCO Heritage site.

Begin in Dubrovnik’s main square – the Loggia Loza, situated at the eastern extremity of the Stradun – the centuries-old promenade which runs through the walled city from East to West. Your guide will take you into the Rector’s Palace. The Rector was the highest authority in the city and his palace now houses the Museum of Dubrovnik. Over 15,000 works are on display documenting the economic and cultural history of the city. You can also visit the Dubrovnik Cathedral and its treasury famous for the ancient relics including a fragment of the ‘true cross’ on which it is believed that Jesus was crucified.

Make sure to see the Franciscan monastery of the “Order of Minor Friars” (Ordo Fratrum Minorum) which includes one of the three oldest pharmacies in Europe, still serving customers. Part of the Franciscans’ mission was to take care of the health of the local residents, so they opened the pharmacy in 1317 and it has been in operation ever since. The monastery contains numerous medieval pharmacists’ tools and medical books which belonged to the English kings’ physicians, as well as 10th-century manuscripts.

Later, we highly recommend a walk into town and a walk atop the fortress walls surrounding the Old Town. Just over a mile long, this stroll will help you get your bearings and enjoy the splendid views of the historic Dubrovnik and the sea. The fortification includes several bastions, the tallest of which is the Minceta Tower, located just near the Pile gate in the north-western part of the town.

Note: All touring today is on foot on cobblestones. Please wear appropriate footwear.

Exeter Services: Guide (6 Hours)

Hotel: Excelsior

Day 11
Dubrovnik | Dubrovnik Wine Tasting Konavle - Dubrovnik, Croatia

This morning, your driver and guide will take you farther south along the Dalmatian coast to the town of Cavtat. This historic town dates back to the 6th century BC and was first a Greek colony and later a Roman town called Ephidaurum. When Slav tribes invaded the area in the 7th century, the local population sought refuge up the coast where they established Ragusa, which later expanded to become today’s Dubrovnik. Today, Cavtat is one of the most charming towns on the coast and retains a small town, laid-back ambience. Of historic interest here is the Baltazar Bogisic Collection, which includes many fine paintings and works of art and is housed in a 16th century Count’s Palace. You will also see a Franciscan monastery from the 16th century and a monument designed by Mestrovic.

Later, you will continue your drive through the southern Dalmatian countryside and the region known as Konavle. This is Dalmatia at its most traditional, where people still maintain the old customs and authentic costumes and cultivate olives and vineyards.

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This afternoon you will visit the winery of Niko Karaman, a local enologist who is quickly making a name for his tiny operation. He is known for dry wines and exquisite sweet Prosek (dessert wine) that he makes from rare indigenous grapes. His wines have already been awarded the title of World’s Best Dessert Wine in 2009. Konavle is also known for its excellent cuisine and we recommend having lunch at the restaurant Konovaski Dvori, a traditional southern Dalmatian restaurant located on the banks of the Ljuta River. (Cost of lunch is not included).

Later this afternoon, your driver and guide will take you back to Dubrovnik. The rest of the evening will be at your leisure.

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

Hotel: Excelsior


Day 12
Departure | Departure Botanical Gardens - Dubrovnik, Croatia

Morning at leisure before check-out and transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

Exeter Services: Departure Transfer Only

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