Zagreb Vila Bled View Lubljanna, Slovenia

Ultimate 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 Here

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.

Originally built by the Orient Express Train Company for guests who traveled between Western Europe and Istanbul, a careful restoration has the hotel back to its original splendor with modern comforts. Staying here is a treat and a journey back in time.

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: Airport Transfer

Hotel: Esplanade

Day 2
Zagreb | Zagreb

This morning, explore Gornji Grad (Upper Town) with your guide. The best way to get around the Old Town is on foot, so wear your most comfortable walking shoes.

Begin your stroll with a visit to the Dolac, the open-air fruit and vegetable market in Old Town. You will see the Church of St. Mary and the towering spires of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the most prominent landmarks on the city’s skyline. The Cathedral contains the tombs of Croatia’s important personages including Ivan Mestrovic, the famous Croatian sculptor. Don’t miss the historic stone city gates and the booming cannon of the Lotrscak Tower! Stop by the 17th century church, dedicated to St. Catherine.

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Today, you will have a private tour of the Mimara Museum’s extensive collection of art from around the world with a museum curator. 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 exotic locales.

End the day in the cobble-stoned streets of Lower Town (Donji Grad) full of boutiques, cafes and bookshops.

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

Services: Guide Only

Hotel: Esplanade

Day 3
Ljulbljana |

This morning, depart with your private driver to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Today you will explore this medieval city, dominated by its old castle. Ljubljana is the world’s second oldest philharmonic society where Gustav Mahler started his career!

Begin at the Baroque Town Hall building, with the Robba Fountain next to it. 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.

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

Hotel: Antiq Palace

Day 4
Bled & Bohinj | Bled & Bohinj

This morning, your guide will meet you for a tour of the charming towns of Bled and Bohinj. Take a morning stroll to Lake Bled and a boat to the baroque Church of the Virgin Mary that stands on an island in the middle of the lake.

In 1004, the German Emperor Henrik II gave Bled to Bishop Albuin of Brixen as a gift. The building was expanded and fortified 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 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.

Continue your day in 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. The journey continues with a cable car ride to Mount 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.

Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Antiq Palace

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. Your hotel has a wonderful spa and gorgeous pool. Stretch your legs with a bicycle ride through the countryside. (The adjacent park offers bicycle rentals and the views are stunning).

Services: Transfer Only

Hotel: Monte Mulini

Day 6
Istria | Istria

This morning, your driver and guide will meet you to explore the Istrian peninsula to Pula.

Pula is a story of fortunes gained and lost. The Romans, the Ostrogoths and the Byzantines all held sway over it, and the Austro-Hungarians established a naval base here. Start at the historic center of the city at the Pula Amphitheater - one of the best- preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. Today it is Pula’s main cultural venue.

Continue to visit the Golden Door at the Temple of Augustus, built between 2 BCE and 14 CE. 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, medieval Pula’s central square.

Today all that remains are fragments of the once large Basilica of Mary Formosa in Byzantine design. Off to the side of the Basilica you will see the Arch of the Sergii. Smaller than the Hercules Gate, the arch is distinctly Corinthian in style.

Continue towards the Cathedral of Pula, which stands today is a graceful Renaissance building overlooking the Adriatic. If you like, visit 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.

Return to Rovinj, which is at its most charming at dusk. Your guide will take you to visit the Church of St. Euphemia. The Venetian Baroque structure dominated the Old Town center of Rovinj and is dedicated to St. Euphemia, the patron saint of Rovinj. The rest of the evening is at leisure.

Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Monte Mulini

Day 7
Istria | Istria

Today you will explore the inland regions of Istria. 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. 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. Continue to Livade, a 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.

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

Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Monte Mulini

Day 8
Plitvice Lakes | Plitvice Lakes

This morning, depart on a three and a half-hour journey with your guide and driver to Plitvice Lakes, a UNESCO World Heritage site and national park where sixteen breathtaking lakes lie interconnected by a series of waterfalls.

After exploring Plitvice, continue to Zagreb for your last overnight. An evening at leisure at the Hotel Esplanade.

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

Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Esplanade

Day 9
Departure | Zagreb

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

Services: Transfer Only

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