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.

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Download PDF Itinerary Here

ITINERARY

PRICING FROM

$5,050 per person, based on two guests traveling together.  Please contact Exeter International for specific pricing and availability. 

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. 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 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.

Afterward, 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: Hotel Lone

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.

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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 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: 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.

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: Half-Day Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: 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 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.

Exeter Services: None

Hotel: Judita Palace

Day 7
Split | Split

This morning, meet your guide to explore the city of Split, including the ancient Diocletian Palace.

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.

Note: Touring today is on foot.

Exeter Services: Half-Day Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Judita Palace

Day 8
Hvar | Hvar

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.

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); Motorboat Charter (8 Hours)

Hotel: Judita Palace

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

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. Guests of Villa Dubrovnik are invited to use the hotel’s private motorboat to transfer to Old Town and you won’t want to miss this entrance into the historic district!

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.

If you like, you may visit Dubrovnik’s Sephardic Synagogue. The synagogue was established in the 15th century, survived earthquakes and wars, and is still in service today. 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.

The remainder of your afternoon is at leisure. You can stay in the city to enjoy the shops and cafes or return to your hotel and indulge in the spa. Should you want to venture out into the countryside, some of our favorite towns will be stored in your GPS.

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

Exeter Services: Half-Day Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Bellevue

Day 11
Dubrovnik | Dubrovnik

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: 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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