Venice is a perfect starting point for venturing to other parts of Europe. One of our favourites is unquestionably the Balkan region. Ah, the food, the natural wonders and the culture – it’s the sweetest combination ever! The first destinations are just over the border in magnificent Slovenia. From world-famous Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle, to sightseeing in Ljubljana and soaking up the wonderland of the Alps.
Then it’s time to get to know Zagreb, the vibrant capital city of Croatia. The city’s architecture and charming old town will leave you speechless, as will the natural grandeur of Plitvice National Park, a forest reserve with captivating lakes and waterfalls within a limestone canyon. For a dose of culture and Mediterranean climate, we continue our journey to Šibenik, a coastal town in Dalmatian, before visiting the ancient spectacle of Trogir and popping over yet another border to Bosnia and its pearl of Mostar.
Next in line is another dose of the Adriatic Sea, so it’s back to Croatia and the sunny city of Split. A boat ride away are the picture-perfect islands of Hvar and Vis, which certainly come highly recommended. The final leg of our Balkan adventure is reserved for the medieval town of Ston and the most famous port in Dalmatia – Dubrovnik. The latter may be famous for the Game of Thrones, but its soul is much deeper and the town simply has to be put on your bucket list.
There are also several incredible add-on options you can extend your holidays with. Croatian Istria, Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo, the Kornati Islands and Montenegro’s Kotor – each has must-see properties and is definitely worth considering. In short, a Balkan Holiday is a road trip of a lifetime. For a more detailed line-up of the wonderful things you can expect to experience, please check out our itinerary. Then grab your passport and join us!
And we’re off! We will pick you up in Venice, either at the Airport or somewhere nearby, and cross the border into Slovenia. It won’t take long before we reach our first destination: the spellbinding Postojna Cave. It’s the oldest show cave, made even more impressive by its ‘human’ fish inhabitant. Then it's a short drive to Ljubljana, Europe’s prettiest capital. The Old Town, with its timeless architecture and medieval castle above the city, is bound to melt your heart the moment you set foot on its cobblestone streets. Colourful markets, historic squares, and the Ljubljanica River are sure to amaze.
On the second day, we leave the city and head for the Alpine countryside, more precisely Lake Bled. It’s the iconic symbol of Slovenia. The church in the middle of the lake, an ancient castle atop of a giant cliff and the idyllic mountainous backdrop are out of this world. The afternoon will be spent walking through a mystical gorge and visiting another glacial lake called Bohinj. It’s a wilder version of the one in Bled and promises stunning surroundings. We will top it off with a cable car ride to the top of Mt. Vogel for some amazing panorama.
Day number three: Croatia and its flourishing capital Zagreb. Drenched in culture, Zagreb offers superb sightseeing, which involves strolling down its streets and visiting places like the Neo Gothic Cathedral and St. Mark’s Church. Zagreb is much bigger than Ljubljana, but its Old Town centre is just small enough to wander around carefree. Sit down, have a coffee, and watch life go by in this renowned Balkan city.
Another day, another fascinating destination. We like to mix things up, so on this day, it’s time for some more natural splendour: Plitvice National Park. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Croatia’s first national park. It prides itself on incredible limestone formations, characterised by waterfalls and 16 terraced lakes. We will take a walk down the interlinked walkways and hiking trails which wind around and across the water. It’s basically like entering a dream. In the evening, the Dalmatian coastal town of Zadar awaits us with its historic port and cosy bay.
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.
Šibenik. It’s our next destination. A walking tour of the town’s lovely sights 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. A stone’s throw away is Trogir, a truly magical medieval town connected to the mainland and an adjacent island by bridges. Trogir is a well-preserved blend of Renaissance, Baroque and Romanesque architecture. After we are sufficiently inspired by all we have seen on this busy day, we drive down a bit further to Split, Croatia’s second largest city.
Waking up in Split, the choice of how you spend the day is entirely yours. The city’s gorgeous old centre and marketplace are certainly entertaining, or you can hop on a boat tour of nearby islands of Hvar and Vis, two of the most exotic islands on this southern part of the Adriatic. Another option is to visit the roman ruins of Solin. It was once the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia and holds some very soul-enriching secrets. Whichever option you pick, a superb time is guaranteed.
Our next pit-stop is in yet another country. We are going for a captivating tour of Mostar, the cultural heritage jewel of southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostar is known worldwide for its iconic Old Bridge, a reconstructed medieval arched bridge that connects the two sides of the city over the Neretva River. Narrow alleys, local markets and squares promise an interesting visit back in time. Mostar’s amazing Turkish heritage also included the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque and stunning views from its minaret.
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.
Our Balkan Holiday might be drawing to a close, but that only means we’ve saved some more fantastic locations for last. The first is Ston, an ancient settlement with roots stretching back to antiquity and an impressive wall that is simply a must-see. The second is Dubrovnik, one of Europe’s most praised and best-preserved trading ports. Dubrovnik’s iconic Old Town is encircled by a massive stone wall from the 16th century and the town’s architecture spans through the centuries and includes the baroque St. Blaise Church, the Renaissance Sponza Palace and the Gothic Rector’s Palace.
The final day is spent in Dubrovnik. Because the place is so incredibly interesting and there is such an enviable list of things to see. Getting lost in its maze of alleys, walking along its colossal, or hiking up the nearby hill for some crazy hot views – whatever strikes your fancy, Dubrovnik has you covered.
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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