With stories of pristine waters, majestic ancient walled towns and infinite islands to explore, you can’t deny the lure of Croatia’s Dalmatia for your next adventure. Croatia is the newest member of the European Union and is also one of the most up and coming destinations for those seeking a unique adventure with a Mediterranean vibe. Situated along the Adriatic Sea, a journey through Dalmatia will open your eyes to otherworldly landscapes and this culture’s resilient sprit. Your itinerary begins in Split, an exuberant sea-side town with lively shops and restaurants tangled amongst the ancient sites providing a glimpse into the lives of past occupants of this area. From Split, you’ll travel to the islands of Hvar and Vis for turquoise water views like none other, as well as a quick stop to Mostar for a photo opp with the Old Bridge before heading to Dubrovnik. With cobble stoned streets, ancient towers and walls and the most incredible views, Dubrovnik will feel like a fairytale. You’ll end your journey in Montenegro, one of Europe’s best kept secrets before heading home. You have to see this indescribable place to believe it.
Day 1: Arrival (Split)
Your driver will meet you just outside customs and baggage claim and transfer your party to the Hotel Marmont, right in the heart of Split’s historic center. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. Split, the second largest city in Croatia, is a busy maritime and shipbuilding center, but also the home of the Diocletian Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site complex built in the Third Century and covering a considerable area in the heart of the old town.
About the Hotel Marmont
Your accommodations for the next 4 nights are in a Deluxe Room with ensuite facilities, and include breakfast. This small property only has 21 rooms, each one featuring 260 square feet of space and offering contemporary and minimalist interiors with dark walnut furniture and oak flooring. All rooms have king-size beds, individually-controlled air-conditioning, free wireless internet access, LCD TVs, and minibars.
Day 2: Split – Trogir – Split
This morning, your guide will take you for a walking tour of Old Town where you’ll have the chance to wander around more than 200 buildings within the boundaries of the Diocletian Palace complex. Many of these are still homes, while others house cafes, restaurants, and shops. 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. Later enjoy a private visit to the gallery of Ivan Mestrovic – the most celebrated Croatian artist of the Twentieth Century. Take a short drive to Trogir, which was first settled by the ancient Greeks before falling to the Romans and later the Byzantines. Destroyed by the Saracens and abandoned in the Twelfth Century, the town was revived and became an artistic and cultural center under the Austro-Hungarians and later the Venetians. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Old Town is surrounded by a fortress wall with two gates and is connected to the mainland with a bridge. The evening is at your leisure.
Day 3: Split – Hvar Island – Split
Take a short stroll to the port for a high-speed catamaran to the island of Hvar. The main square is dominated by a Renaissance cathedral. You may visit the Benedictine Convent, where nuns spend their lives praying and weaving elaborate laces. To the north, explore Hvar’s fortress. The steep hike to the top of the fortification is well worth it for the beautiful views over the bay. Continue south along the row of cafes and bars to the other side of the town to the Franciscan monastery and the exquisite Church of Gospa od Milosti (Our Lady of Charity). Its museum houses works by Venetian and Croatian artists, including a magnificent Seventeenth-Century painting of the Last Supper, as well as coins from as early as the Fourth Century BC and Greek amphorae.
This afternoon your driver will meet you so you can explore more of the island as you make your way across the island to Stari Grad. Begin with a journey just outside the city to the small coastal town of Jelsa and a visit to the family winery of Tomic – one of the most famous wine producers in all of Croatia. You will enjoy a private tasting of wine and locally-produced olive oil.
Later continue to the town of Stari Grad. This UNESCO protected settlement is believed to be the oldest in Croatia. Stari Grad charms the visitor with its authentic Venetian port town ambience. Your guide will point out the Seventeenth-Century St. Stephen’s church and Bianchini Palace, which houses a museum including finds from the original Greek settlement of Pharos.
Next, your guide will take you to the Tvardalj Castle, which houses an ethnographic museum. At the fort, admire the Renaissance garden and seawater fishpond, built in the Sixteenth Century. You may also stop at the Dominican Monastery, which was founded in the Fifteenth Century. Afterward, board the ferry with your guide for the 2-hour journey back to Split. Stroll back to your hotel and the remainder of your day is at leisure.
Day 4: Split – Vis Island – Split
Today, you will explore the Island of Vis with a private boat. The island’s strategic location was discovered in Antiquity when the Greeks chose it as a naval base for controlling the Adriatic. Later, the Romans, Byzantines, and Venetians also ruled the island. Until the 1990s, Vis Island was a military base and strictly off-limits for tourism and development, but has now been gradually rediscovered. Its main attractions are the untouched nature and local people who, because of the long years of isolation, are genuinely hospitable. Southwest of Vis, on the island of Bisevo, you will have the chance to experience the beauty of the Green cave, the Blue Cave, have a relaxing swim at the Stiniva beach, and explore Komiza.
With around 1,500 inhabitants, Komiza is the second-largest town on the island of Vis. Until recently, its main source of income was fishing and agriculture. You may wish to visit its castle, which was built by the Venetians. You will return back to Split for an evening at your leisure.
Day 5: Split – Mostar – Dubrovnik
This morning, your private driver will meet you in the hotel lobby to continue south along the Dalmatian coast toward Dubrovnik. You will be crossing the border into the now independent country of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In early afternoon you will reach Mostar, where a local guide will take you on an overview walking tour of Old Town, along the Old Bridge and to the cobbled Ottoman Quarter, which houses the city’s artists and craftsmen, as well as beautiful Sixteenth-Century mosques, museums and cafes. Continue this afternoon to Dubrovnik. Upon arrival, your driver will take you to the newly renovated Villa Dubrovnik. The remainder of your evening is at leisure.
About the Villa Dubrovnik
Your accommodations for the next 3 nights are in a Superior Room with ensuite facilities, and include breakfast. The Villa Dubrovnik is a deluxe and boutique hotel located just a short walk (15 – 20 minutes) from the Eastern Gate of Dubrovnik’s famed Old Town. All 56 rooms and suites offer spectacular views of the Old Town, the Adriatic, and the Island of Lokrum. A roof-top bar and lounge also feature unforgettable vistas.
Superior Rooms offer amazing sea views from the teak wood balconies overlooking the Adriatic and the island of Lokrum. The King beds are covered with the finest Egyptian cotton linen. Each Superior Room is equipped with state-of-the-art technology including wall-mounted flat screen TV and broadband Wi-Fi internet connection.
Day 6: Dubrovnik
Your guide will meet you for an overview walking tour of the historic center of Dubrovnik, which is protected as a UNESCO Heritage site. Start at the Ploce Gate (East Gate). As you descend the stone steps of the fortification, you will see the old harborfront overlooking the Adriatic and the islands off the coast. Continue to Dubrovnik’s main square – the Loggia Loza, where the centuries-old promenade which runs through the walled city from East to West. Visit the Church of St. Blaise with its distinctive baroque façade. Next, you may step into the Rector’s Palace. The Rector was the highest authority in the city and his palace now houses the Museum of Dubrovnik. More than 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 Sephardic Synagogue, the second largest in Europe.
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 also 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. You will also visit Dubrovnik’s Sephardic Synagogue, and the museum in the Franciscan monastery of the “Order of Minor Friars” (Ordo Fratrum Minorum) which includes one of the three oldest pharmacies in Europe. You may take a walk atop the fortress walls surrounding the Old Town. 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.
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.
Day 7: Dubrovnik – Konavle Region – Dubrovnik
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 Sixth Century BC and was first a Greek colony and later a Roman town called Ephidaurum. Cavtat is one of the most charming towns on the coast and retains a laid-back ambience. Of historic interest is the Baltazar Bogisic Collection which includes many fine paintings and works of art and is housed in the Sixteenth Century Count’s Palace. You will also see a Franciscan monastery from the Sixteenth Century and a monument designed by the famous sculptor Ivan Mestrovic.
Continue your tour of 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. Visit the winery of Niko Karaman, a local enologist who is quickly making a name for his tiny operation. He’s 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. Later this afternoon, your driver and guide will take you back to Dubrovnik. The rest of the evening will be at your leisure.
Day 8: Dubrovnik – Kotor – Sveti Stefan
Your driver will take you to the southernmost tip of Croatia to Montenegro. Once you are at the border, your Montenegrin guide will join you for the day. Your first stop is 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 bears similarities with the one in Dubrovnik, but is smaller, less crowded, and 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. A good place to start is the Main Gate. Next to it, the Square of Arms used to house the Venetian Arsenal. Today it is ringed with small shops and cafes.
Continue south to visit the Catholic Cathedral of St. Triphun. Its Romanesque-gothic interiors feature Fourteenth-Century frescoes, vaulted roofs and a gilded-silver iconostasis. If you are interested, your guide will also take you to the small Maritime Museum, which includes an armory, a collection of model ships, traditional costumes, and the coats of arms of Kotor’s ruling families. Time and fitness 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 after expelling the Goths and were later expanded by the Venetians. The impressive city walls stretch some three miles from the waterfront to the steep cliffs above the town, range in thickness from 5 to 50 feet, and offer some of the best views over the Old Town and its surroundings.
Then head toward the Lustica village (45 minutes) to meet the Morić family, locally famous for olive oil production. This olive grove is family-owned and operated in an area renowned for the quality and complexity of its extraordinary artisan olive oils. Savor the goodness of their estate-grown artisan oils. All of the olives are organically and sustainable farmed and hand-harvested. You will also have the opportunity to get to know the Moric family, witness how they produce their domestic olive oil and enjoy a homemade meal of Montenegrin specialties.
This afternoon, you will continue your trip to Sveti Stefan and check in to the Aman Sveti Stefan. The evening is at your leisure.
About the Aman Sveti Stefan
Your accommodations for the next 2 nights are in a Village Room with ensuite facilities, and include breakfast. The island of Sveti Stefan was formerly a fortified fishing village dating to the Fifteenth Century. This valuable treasure has been renovated and restored and is now comprised of 50 cottage-style accommodations.
No cottage is the same and therefore it is virtually impossible to describe in detail as they are all unique. All are decorated in a subtly elegant fashion, providing every modern comfort whilst retaining the historic air and ambiance of the island. Village Rooms are approximately 485 to 540 square feet. Each one consists of bedroom and bathroom or shower room (bathroom with shower only – no bathtub). The views from the windows are to rooftops or quaint courtyards, and piazzas.
Day 9: Sveti Stefan
Enjoy an entire day at your leisure at the Aman Sveti Stefan resort and take advantage of its beaches, spa, and restaurants.
Day 10: Departure
Check out and meet your driver in the hotel lobby for the transfer to the airport in Montenegro for your onward flights. We hope you visit us again soon!