Our expedition around the Balkan region begins in Zagreb. After getting to know Croatia's wonderful capital, our next destinations are just over the border in striking Slovenia. From Ljubljana, the greenest of capitals, to world-famous Lake Bled and the magical Julian Alps, down to the captivating Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle. Such a colourful introduction to Slovenia’s unique historical and geographical multiplicity.
Then it’s back to Croatia as we venture into the Istrian Riviera before venturing further to the natural miracle of Plitvice National Park, a forest reserve with captivating lakes and waterfalls, and Zadar, a beautiful coastal town in Dalmatia. We continue down the sunlit coastline to Šibenik and the ancient town of Trogir, before arriving in Croatia’s second largest city of Split. The latter is a superb stepping stone to some of Dalmatia’s most attractive islands, Hvar and Vis, as well as the roman ruins of Solin.
The third country on our tour is Bosnia & Herzegovina. We’ll be visiting Mostar, the country’s acclaimed cultural heritage site and the meeting point of cultures. We round up our amazing journey by heading back over the border to do some sightseeing in the ancient relic of Ston and the unbelievably gorgeous walled town of Dubrovnik, a sensational Adriatic port of immense historical importance.
And just in case the carefully assembled list of unforgettable destinations isn’t enough, we have also added a few extra options for you to extend your holidays with. The Istrian Peninsula, Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo, the Kornati Islands and Montenegro’s Kotor – each is a very promising add-on adventure for some more Balkan soulfulness. For a more detailed description of what to expect on this Balkan road-trip, please check out the itinerary.
Croatia’s flourishing modern yet traditional capital Zagreb is drenched in culture. Fantastic sightseeing options will keep you very busy on your first day. There will be plenty of strolling down picturesque streets and stopping by the Neo Gothic Cathedral, St. Mark’s Church, and more. The city might be buzzing with excitement, but Zagreb’s Old Town centre is just small enough to wander around carefree. It is the Balkans, after all, so a relaxed pace is obligatory.
From one cute capital to another, day two is reserved for Ljubljana. Slovenia’s charming Old Town always strikes a very special chord with its visitors. Lovely architecture, a proud medieval castle on a hill, and the winding Ljubljanica River with its vibrant café scene promises a wonderful guided tour. Ljubljana is much smaller than Zagreb, but there’s a fantastic list of things to see and do.
On the third day, we leave the urban hype behind and head for the pristine Alpine countryside. Lake Bled, with its iconic church island and ancient castle atop a giant cliff, is our morning destination. The afternoon is spent walking through a mystical gorge and visiting another glacial lake called Bohinj where the idyllic surroundings are simply breath-taking. And when the mountain backdrops aren’t enough, we finish the day with a cable car ride to the top of one – Mt. Vogel, to gaze across this picture-perfect landscape.
One cannot visit Slovenia without descending into the spellbinding depths of Postojna Cave. It’s the oldest show cave, home to incredible underground formations and the indigenous ‘human fish’. Just down the road from this subterranean gem is Predjama Castle, the biggest and most fascinating cave castle in the world. To get our first taste of the sea, we travel from the Slovenian Karst to the Istrian Riviera and the gorgeous seaside resort of Opatija.
*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.
Another day, another mesmerising destination. Day five brings some more natural splendour to our tour. We’re visiting Plitvice National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Croatia’s first national park. Its limestone formations, waterfalls and 16 terraced lakes will take your breath away as you walk down the park’s interlinked walkways and hiking trails. In the evening, it’s onward to the Dalmatian coastal town of Zadar, a historic port and lively Old Town.
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.
Our next destination is Šibenik. Sightseeing around this Dalmatian jewel includes the 15th-century Cathedral of St. James, the 14th-century Prince’s Palace, and the white stone St. Michael’s Fortress with views of Šibenik Bay and the neighbouring islands. Not far off is Trogir, an authentic medieval town connected to the mainland and an adjacent island by bridges. Trogir comes in a mixture of Renaissance, Baroque and Romanesque architecture and a soulful atmosphere. The busy day draws to a close with a drive to the sunny port city of Split.
The seventh day is spent according to your wishes. You can investigate Split’s gorgeous old centre, hop on a boat tour of the beautiful nearby islands of Hvar and Vis, or stroll around the roman ruins of Solin, the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. Whatever you opt for, know that a splendid time is guaranteed.
On the eighth day another country enters our itinerary. It’s off to Mostar, the famous heritage site of southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostar is known worldwide for its iconic Old Bridge over the Neretva River. It’s a reconstructed medieval arched bridge that connects the two sides of the city and boasts incredible cultural significance. Mostar’s amazing Turkish heritage also includes the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque and stunning views from its minaret. The day is spent exploring the narrow streets and markets whilst enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of a place lost in time.
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.
The first fantastic destination on day nine is Ston, an antique walled settlement, which used to be an important political, cultural and ecclesiastical centre through the centuries. The second is Dubrovnik, one of Europe’s most acclaimed and best-preserved ports. Dubrovnik’s iconic Old Town is encircled by a massive stone wall from the 16th century. You can walk the entire length of the wall and witness this time-capsule of town from above. Dubrovnik’s architecture spans through centuries: the baroque St. Blaise Church, the Renaissance Sponza Palace and the Gothic Rector’s Palace.
The final (official) day of our Balkan Holiday is spent in Dubrovnik. There are plenty of awesome things to see and do in and around the Old Town that will certainly capture your imagination and leave a lasting impression.
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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