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.

Accommodation: 

Zagreb: Superior Room for Two (2) nights at the Esplanade Hotel Park; Tax and Buffet Breakfast included daily.

Rovinj: Superior Room for Three (3) nights at the Lone Hotel Park; Tax and Buffet Breakfast included daily.

Split: Superior Sea View Room for Three (3) nights at Le Meridien Lav; Tax and Buffet Breakfast included daily.

Dubrovnik: Superior Sea View Room for Three (3) nights at Hotel Bellevue ; Tax and Buffet Breakfast included daily.

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

Captivating Croatia Downloadable PDF

White Glove Self-Drive Downloadable PDF

Download PDF Itinerary Here

Day 1
Arrival | Zagreb

Upon arrival into Zagreb, your Exeter International driver will meet you just after customs and baggage claim for the private transfer to the historic Hotel Esplanade. Your hotel was originally constructed by the Orient Express company as a luxurious stopping point on the Istanbul to Paris train route and much of the historic ambiance of the hotel has remained, even after a very luxurious renovation. Please note that no airfare is included in your trip cost. The remainder of today is at your leisure to relax, take a stroll or indulge in the hotel spa. 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.

Exeter Services: Arrival transfer only

Hotel: Esplanade

Day 2
Zagreb | Zagreb

This morning your guide will meet you in your hotel lobby for an overview walking tour of Zagreb’s city center. Explore the beauty of this former Hapsburg town with its open-air market and distinct architecture. Your guide will point out many of the architectural treasures that will remind you of Vienna and Budapest, yet remain uniquely Croatian. This afternoon is at leisure to relax or explore on your own. Today you will pick up your rental car from the downtown location near your hotel. Note: Touring today is on foot.

Exeter Services: Half-Day Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Esplanade

Day 3
Bled, Bohinj & Rovinj | Bled, Bohinj & Rovinj

This morning, head out with your car across the border to Slovenia. When you arrive in the Alpine lake town of Bled your GPS will take you directly to Vila Bled, where you will park and your local guide will meet you for an overview of Lake Bled and the town. Take a traditional Pletna boat ride to the baroque Church of Virgin Mary on an island in the middle of the lake.

Next, visit the beautiful Bled Castle with your guide before heading out on your own to explore other alpine towns in the region, which will be programmed in your GPS. After time for lunch, continue back into Croatia toward the Adriatic Sea and the region known as Istria. Your final destination this afternoon is the gorgeous coastal town of Rovinj.

 Exeter Services: Half-Day Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Esplanade

Day 4
Istria | Istria

Today, embark with your guide and driver on a tour of the beautiful towns and villages of Istria. Note: As Croatia has zero tolerance for drinking and driving, today’s touring is with a private driver so you can enjoy the wines of the region. The interior of Istria is very different from its coast. Your first visit today is the artist colony of Groznjan. This hilltop town was all but deserted after WWII until being revitalized as a place for artists. This 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 spring into view. Motovun is an excellent example of the ancient townships that dotted the Istrian peninsula. It’s worth the long trek up to the top of the hill. Motovun is a medieval city that dates back to the 12th century and remains completely original and intact due to its hill-top location and walled fortifications.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

This afternoon your guide and driver will take you to one of the leading, family-owned vineyards of Istria for a private wine and olive oil tasting. Later you will continue your tour of Istria with a visit 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 in the interior of the Istrian peninsula. You can stop for lunch at the most famous truffle restaurants of the region for an unforgettable culinary adventure (lunch cost not included in your program).

Exeter Services: Full-Day Vehicle & Driver (8 Hours);

Hotel: Lone

Day 5
Pula | Pula

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, step back into the driver’s seat and head to the town of Pula (you will receive parking instructions and your GPS will take you to the best place to park), where your guide will meet you.

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.

Start your walk with your private guide at the historic center of the city at its most famous landmark, the Pula Amphitheater. This impressive Roman structure dates to the 1st century and is one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. Today it is still in use as Pula’s main cultural venue and is known for its music and film festivals. Continue past the City Hall with its blend of architectural styles and later, visit the Church of St. Francis and the Franciscan monastery that is adjacent to it. The Franciscan monastery in Pula, as in other parts of Croatia, is still in everyday use. Walking along the waterfront you will come to the main Cathedral of Pula. The church was rebuilt several times and what stands today is a graceful Renaissance building that overlooks the Adriatic. A few steps from the Cathedral you will walk into the main square of Pula, distinctive by the prominence of one of Pula’s finest examples of Roman architecture: the original temple dedicated to Romae and Augustus. Dating back to the 1st century, the temple is distinguished by its graceful columns and carved capitals.

As time allows, you may wish to enter the fascinating Archaeological Museum of Istria, which contains several exhibits from Neolithic times to the medieval period.

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

Exeter Services: Half-Day Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Lone

 

 

Day 6
Zadar & Split | Zadar & Split

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 give you several route options. 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”. Continue on your way to Split for an early evening arrival. Your seaside hotel is a short drive from the city center and has extensive facilities of its own, including a dramatic pool overlooking the Adriatic Sea. If the weather is nice, we suggest dining al fresco at Spalatum (formal) or at the 7 Palms Bar & Grill on the beach.

Exeter Services: None

Hotel: Le Meridien Lav

Day 7
Split | Split

This morning, drive into Split (your GPS will take you to the perfect place to park) and meet your guide to explore the city of Split, including the ancient Diocletian Palace. If you prefer to leave your car at the hotel, taxis are available for the short ride into the city center.

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 is at your leisure to explore Split and Diocletian’s Palace, or enjoy your seaside resort.

            Note: Touring today is on foot.

Exeter Services: Half-Day Guide

Hotel: Le Meridien Lav

Day 8
Hvar | Hvar

This morning your guide will meet you at your hotel for the short walk to your hotel’s 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.

To the north of the main square and towering over the town, you may decide to explore Hvar’s fortress, which is known as Spanjola as it was partially built by Spanish engineers. The steep hike to the very top of the fortification is well worth it for the beautiful views over the bay. As you continue your walk south of the harbor and along the row of cafes and bars to the other side of the town, you will come to the Franciscan monastery and the exquisite Church of Gospa od Milosti (Our Lady of

Charity). The still functioning monastery dates back to the 14th century when it started as a hospice for ill sailors. Its museum houses a collection of works by Venetian and Croatian artists, including a magnificent 17th-century painting of the Last Supper by an unknown artist.

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.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Guide (8 Hours); Motorboar Charter

Hotel: Le Meridien Lav

 

Day 9
Dubrovnik | Dubrovnik

Today you will continue your drive with the journey to Dubrovnik. En route, you will drive past 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. We suggest that you stop in Ston for lunch and a brief stroll about town.

During the days of the Roman Empire, the Ston oysters were famous for being a great aphrodisiac. Later, Ston was a military fort of the Ragusan Republic whose defensive walls are a notable feat of medieval architecture evident even today.

Late afternoon arrival into Dubrovnik and the remainder of your evening is at leisure. If you’re up to it and if you arrive early enough (they’re generally open until 7:30PM), we highly recommend a walk into town and a walk atop the fortress walls surrounding the Old Town (a ticket is required and this is not included in your program). Just over a mile long, this stroll usually takes about an hour and 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.

Exeter Services: None

Hotel: Bellevue

Day 10
Dubrovnik | Dubrovnik

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

You will start at the Ploce Gate (East Gate), one of the two extremities of the walled city. As you descend down the stone steps of the fortification, you will see the old Harbor Front of the city overlooking the Adriatic and the islands off the coast. As you continue, you will come to 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. Interestingly, the Stradun

was once a marshy canal separating the Ragusa Island from the mainland, which was later filled in and paved. The Loggia square is at the heart of Dubrovnik, and is surrounded by its most important and historic buildings.

You will visit the Church of St. Blaise with its distinctive baroque façade. On the main altar stands a statue of Dubrovnik’s patron saint made of gold plated silver and holding a model of the city from the middle ages. Next, you may decide to step into th 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. Next door to the Rector’s Palace is the ancient town hall which today houses the National Theater of Dubrovnik.

You may also visit the Dubrovnik Synagogue, the oldest Sephardic Synagogue still in use in Europe! Today, it also houses a small exhibition dedicated to the history of Dubrovnik’s Jews.

If you’re interested, your guide will also take you into 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. The treasury houses a collection of gold and silver artifacts and sacred objects. It is said that the English King Richard the Lionheart was shipwrecked nearby on his return from the Third Crusade so he built the original cathedral on this spot to thank God for his salvation. This old

Romanesque cathedral was unfortunately destroyed in an earthquake four centuries later and the current cathedral was erected in the Roman Baroque style.

This afternoon is at your leisure. You could choose to relax in Dubrovnik or to use your car to journey into the Dalmatian hinterland to the area of Konavle. Explore old villages where the traditional lifestyle of the area is still in practice.This afternoon, return your rental car to the local office.

Note: Touring today is on foot.

Exeter Services: Half-Day Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Bellevue

Day 11
Montenegro | Montenegro

This morning your driver will meet you for day trip across the border to nearby Montenegro (also part of the former Yugoslavia). The country's name, meaning "Black Mountain", dates back to the era of Venetian hegemony over the Adriatic coast in the middle ages. Your local guide will meet you as you cross the border into Montenegro and your first stop today will be the port town of Kotor. Located at the head of a deep fjord, Kotor’s fortified Old Town was strategically built at the foot of a high cliff and is now protected by UNESCO. The fortified Old Town resembles Dubrovnik a bit, but is smaller, less crowded, and certainly more idyllic.

The best way to explore this very compact part of town is to simply allow yourself to get lost in the maze of narrow streets and small squares and to wander around admiring the historic buildings. Of course your Exeter guide will be there so you can’t really get all that lost! Continuing your walk south, you might want to stop in to visit the Catholic Cathedral of St. Triphun, which was originally built in the 11th century, but was later reconstructed several times due to damage caused by frequent earthquakes. Its Romanesque-gothic interiors feature frescoes, vaulted ceilings and a gilded-silver iconostasis. The remains of St. Triphun, Kotor’s patron saint, are also kept here. If you are interested, your guide will take you to the small Maritime Museum, housed in an old aristocratic mansion which includes an armory, a collection of model ships, traditional costumes, and the coats of arms of Kotor’s ruling families.

Time (and fitness level) permitting, you may consider climbing the 1,500 steps of Kotor’s old fortress walls on the hills above the town. The fortifications were started in the early middle ages by the Byzantines and were later expanded by the Venetians. Throughout the centuries, the city survived many attacks and was successively controlled by Bulgarians, Serbians, Venetians, Ottomans, and Austro-Hungarians. Nowadays, the impressive city walls stretch some three miles from the waterfront to the steep cliffs above the town, range in thickness from five to 50 feet, and offer some of the best views over the Old Town and its surroundings. There are several access points to the fortress walls, so one does not necessarily have to walk their entire length, but those who do are rewarded with extraordinary and sweeping views of both the Old Town and the dramatic fjords filling the horizon.

After Kotor, continue with your driver and guide towards Njegusi, a typical Montenegrin village. In Njegusi you will have the opportunity for a light snack. A special tasting of the local honey wine, accompanied by homemade cheese and prosciutto, has been arranged for you. Later you will drive to Cetinje, where a visit to the Monastery of St. Peter has been arranged. You may also visit King Nicola’s Museum- the only king of Montenegro. This fascinating former palace takes you back in time with its with original furniture, works of art, porcelain and remembrances of a former glory. Late afternoon return to Dubrovnik.

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

Hotel: Bellevue

Day 12
Departure | Dubrovnik

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

Exeter Services: Departure Transfer Only

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