A list of carefully selected must-see destinations from Ljubljana to Dubrovnik awaits. This amazing expedition begins with sightseeing around Slovenia’s lovely capital, Europe’s little green gem, and the nearby mountainous region of Lake Bled. After exploring the highlands, with their alpine lakes, scenic valleys and hidden gorges, it’s off to the Karst, home to world-famous Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle.
Crossing the southern border, it’s time to stroll around Zagreb, the magnificent capital city of Croatia. Zagreb’s architecture and charming old town will leave you breathless, as will the natural grandeur of Plitvice National Park, a forest reserve with captivating terraced lakes and waterfalls within a limestone canyon. For a dose of culture, we continue to the Dalmatian town of Šibenik, visit the ancient jewel of Trogir, before heading to Bosnia and its renowned heritage town of Mostar.
It wouldn’t be a Balkan trip if we didn’t offer some more Adriatic splendour, so it’s back to Croatia and the coastal city of Split, which is just a boat ride away from the picture-perfect islands of Hvar and Vis. And the final leg of our journey is reserved for the medieval town of Ston and the most famous port in Dalmatia – Dubrovnik. We believe the latter needs no introduction, but just to give you a teaser: the fact that Game of Thrones was filmed there is the least interesting thing about this incredible walled time capsule.
Oh, did we mention you can extend your holiday? Well, you can! There are several incredible add-on options you can choose from, like discovering Croatian Istria, Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo, cruising to the Kornati Islands or hopping down to Montenegro’s Kotor. A superbly diverse blend of history, culture, people and breath-taking natural phenomena would be a nice way to describe this Balkan Holiday of a lifetime. For more, please check out the itinerary and let’s hit the road!
We start our adventure on the “Sunny Side of the Alps” in Slovenia’s cute subalpine capital. Strolling around Ljubljana, you will get to see all the main sights and learn about its rich history. The Old Town is bound to charm you with its timeless architecture and the medieval castle above the city offers yet another perspective of this amazing place. The colourful markets and squares and the green Ljubljanica River, which winds through the heart of it all, will surely leave a lasting impression.
The second day promises some more of Slovenia’s awe-inspiring beauty. We will pop over to Lake Bled. It’s arguably the symbol of Slovene tourism. The alpine lake with a church in the middle and an ancient castle standing guard atop of a colossal cliff is beyond impressive. The afternoon will be spent walking through a glorious gorge and visiting another wonderful lake called Bohinj. Not to mention a cable car ride to the top of the Vogel mountain for some panoramic shots.
Have you heard of Postojna Cave? It’s a spellbinding cave located in the Slovenian Karst. It’s the oldest tourist cave and one of the most stunning in the world. There’s even a special creature living in its depths called ‘the human fish’ or ‘baby dragon’. It’s where we’re headed on the third day, so be prepared to be amazed. A photo stop and an optional visit of the nearby Predjama Castle, the largest ‘cave castle’ on the planet, is also planned.
*Optional add on - 3 days of Istria (Poreč, Rovinj, Motovun, Grožnjan, Pula, Opatija):
You can spend an extra 3 days travelling down the Istrian Peninsula where the coastal towns are exceptionally beautiful, the climate is more than pleasant and the cultural ingredients of the place are super interesting and diverse.
Next on the list is Slovenia’s wonderful neighbour, Croatia. Or rather its flourishing capital Zagreb, to be precise. Steeped in culture, Zagreb offers a long list of sightseeing attractions, which are in walking distance from each-other and the streets are never too overcrowded, making sightseeing a dream. The Neo Gothic Cathedral, St. Mark’s Church, the charming old town and its pulse - all add to this attractive city’s appeal.
Strap in for day five! It’s time to enter the wonderland that is the Plitvice National Park. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice is Croatia’s first national park. It boasts incredible limestone formations, characterised by dreamlike waterfalls and 16 terraced lakes. Interlinked with walkways and hiking trails which wind around and across the water, the lakes are a fantastic way of spending the day. In the evening, we arrive in the Dalmatian coastal town of Zadar and spend the night in this historically significant port.
Optional add on - 1 day of Kornati Islands:
The Kornati Islands are an archipelago off the Dalmatian coast, near the city of Zadar. The islands are a national park, the natural beauty of which is beyond comparison. A day trip to Kornati is certainly an add-on option worth exploring.
A short drive south from Zadar takes us to Šibenik, where we will spend day number 6 on a walking tour of the town’s lovely sights. These include the 15th-century Cathedral of St. James with its 71 sculpted faces, the 14th-century Prince’s Palace, and the white stone St. Michael’s Fortress with its open-air theatre and views of Šibenik Bay and the neighbouring islands. From Šibenik, the road leads to Trogir, a truly fascinating medieval town connected to the mainland and an adjacent island by bridges. Trogir is a well-preserved blend of Renaissance, Baroque and Romanesque architecture you won’t find anywhere else. Our curiosity sufficiently quenched, the evening will be spent in Croatia’s second largest city of Split.
The way you spend the seventh day of your Balkan Holiday is your call. You can either explore Split’s gorgeous old centre, hop on a boat tour of Hvar and Vis, two of the most beautiful islands in the Southern Adriatic, or visit the roman ruins of Solin, once the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. Whichever option you choose, be sure a very thrilling time will be had and unforgettable scenes witnessed.
Our next stop takes place in another country. It involves a tour of Mostar, the cultural heritage gem of southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Situated on the Neretva River, Mostar is known worldwide for its iconic Old Bridge, a reconstructed medieval arched bridge that connects the two sides of the city. The narrow alleys and fragrant market stalls will be our constant companions as we discover the history and amazing Turkish heritage of this storybook town, including the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque and the views its minaret boast.
Optional add on - 2 days of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia:
Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo is truly a city worth visiting. It’s steeped in history and a hub of cultural symbiosis. A two-day addition to your holiday will take you to see all the highlights Sarajevo has to offer and feel the rhythm of this classic Balkan beauty.
All good things must come to an end, but how brilliant is it when they do so in such a spectacular fashion. We’re talking about the last pitstops of our Balkan adventure. The first is Ston, an ancient settlement with roots reaching back to Illyrian antiquity. Ston is where a giant wall had been constructed centuries ago and remains a must-see attraction in the region.
The second is none other than Dubrovnik, one of Europe’s oldest and best-preserved trading ports. Known for its distinctive Old Town, encircled by a massive stone wall from the 16th century, Dubrovnik is guaranteed to make you fall madly in love with its architecture, which spans through the centuries and includes the baroque St. Blaise Church, the Renaissance Sponza Palace and the Gothic Rector’s Palace. Its limestone-paved streets are lined with shops and restaurants that give Dubrovnik its unique “when old meets new” charm.
Spend your last morning in Dubrovnik, exploring the town's secrets before saying goodbye to the beautiful Adriatic holiday.
Optional add on - 1 day to the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro:
Not that far from Dubrovnik is the small state of Montenegro. An optional extension of your Balkan experience is a visit to Kotor, a charming medieval old town with a rich and ancient history and breathtakingly stunning surrounding landscape.
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