Crossing Croatia and Slovenia, from convivial Zagreb to elegant Ljubljana, this is a tour of capital cities, coastal towns, and natural wonders; where a Roman theatre, medieval churches, and modern resorts share the bill with magnificent lakes and mythical caves
Zagreb - 2 nights
Opatija - 3 nights
Bled - 2 nights
A marvellous meandering of these two compact countries begins in Croatia’s capital, Zagreb; small enough to stroll around, large enough for a lively cultural calendar, and blending several centuries of architecture with a vivacious café scene. From city sights to scenic Nature, the tour takes in the flora and fauna, karst rocks, and waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park; then heads for the coast, where Opatija’s temperate climate, sheltered shore and bay-forest backdrop tempted Chekhov, Puccini, and James Joyce to its glamorous Habsburg-era villas. On the sunset seafront of the Istrian Peninsula, Pula boasts one of Europe’s best-preserved Roman amphitheatres, while nearby Rovinj brings romance and charm to its old-world streets and colourful water’s edge. Crossing the border into Slovenia, our first stop is a fascinating visit to the fabled formations of Postojna Caves, before continuing to blissfully beautiful Bled; a ‘green destination’ in every sense, set against a backdrop of Julian Alps, hemming a gorgeous glacial lake, and focused on sustainable tourism. Last, but most definitely not least, we visit Slovenia’s picturesque, pint-sized capital, leafy Ljubljana, recently voted ‘European Best Destination’.
Cultural & Countryside Tour
Jules Verne Sightseeing
UNESCO: Plitvice Lakes
Local Guide Throughout
Day 1 Fly from Heathrow to Zagreb and transfer to the 4-star Double Tree by Hilton for a two-night stay in the Croatian capital.
Day 2 A little city with a lively vibe and lovely setting, Zagreb combines cobbled streets and medieval church spires with 19th century palaces and Austro-Hungarian façades, the ornate roof tiles of St. Mark’s church and the steel and glass Sky Tower. A walking tour shows you the 13th-15th century Cathedral of Sveti Stjepana in the Upper town, its famous twin towers visible across the city; and takes you to the sculptures, cloisters, copper domes and tree-shaded tranquillity of the vast Mirogoj Cemetery. This evening, enjoy dinner and wine tasting at a family farm. (B, D)
Day 3 A full day excursion takes us to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia’s oldest and largest, with a landscape of striking karst rock formations, and a stunning tiered chain of sixteen lakes, with numerous cascades connecting each lake with the next. The visit includes a walk along the canyon’s east side, another through the limestone gorge of the Lower Lakes, and a boat trip across the largest lake, Kozjak. Continue to Opatija, tucked in a rocky bay at the entry to the Istrian Peninsula, for three nights at the 4-star Amadria Park Hotel Royal or 4-star Villa Royal. (B)
Day 4 Home to the Adriatic’s first sailing club, now a 200-berth marina; and hemming the shore with its 12km Lungomare promenade; Opatija (meaning ‘abbey’) was first recorded in the 15th century, as a tiny hamlet beside a Benedictine Abbey. The Church of St. James, on the site of the original monastery, is one of our visits on a walking tour of the town, which also includes the iconic ‘Maiden with Seagull’ statue, set atop a seafront rock plinth in 1956; and the beautiful nature and botanical park, surrounding the 19th century Villa Angiolina. Conclude the tour with coffee and cake. (B)
Day 5 A full day excursions takes us first to the seafront city of Pula. Its chequered past of wars and occupations has resulted in a mis-matched, much-rebuilt mix of architectural styles, but its oldest and most iconic monument, the Roman amphitheatre, survived and is still in use as a concert venue. Known as the Colosseum, we visit the 1st century structure today, and enjoy a tasting of local food, before continuing to Rovinj. With its characterful old town crammed onto a headland, a walking tour climbs the cobbled streets to the hilltop Baroque ‘basilica’, the church of St Euphemia, with a soaring belltower, serene interior, and splendid sea views. (B)
Day 6 Cross into Slovenia and visit Postojna Cave, an atmospheric underworld of high halls, murmuring rivers and legends of baby dragons; crossed by a cave train, and containing ‘the Brilliant’, a five-metre-tall, bright white stalagmite, one of world’s largest karst columns. A few kilometres away, enjoy the view of Predjama Castle, built into a cave mouth, halfway up a towering cliff, and overlooking the Lokva River. Continue to lakeside Bled for two nights at the 4-star Park Hotel. (B)
Day 7 A morning tour of Bled visits the island in the lake, reached by pletna rowing boats, where the medieval St. Mary’s church and belltower sit atop 99 stone steps; takes you to panoramic views from the clifftop perch of 11th century Bled Castle, overlooking the water; and pauses for coffee and a slice of ‘kremsnita’ cream cake. Afternoon at leisure to explore Bled. (B)
Day 8 This morning, drive to the capital, Ljubljana, for a walking tour. Lining the river with lively cafés, and crossing it with the Triple Bridge, Slovenia’s largest city is one of Europe’s smallest capitals. Uncrowded, unhurried, and remarkably green, its UNESCO listed monuments, designed by the architect Joze Plecnik, are a 20th century adaptation of ancient Athenian classicism. Transfer to Ljubljana airport for the return flight to London. (B, L)
This is a busy itinerary with many visits on foot including some uneven surfaces and inclines.
A modern 4-star hotel close to Zagreb’s old town. Restaurant, bar, gym, pool, sauna and WiFi (free). 152 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
A comfortable 4-star design hotel with fine views to the bay and harbour. Restaurant, bar, private beach access and WiFi (free). 54 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar and satellite TV.
A small 4-star hotel with a waterfront location. Restaurants, bar, pool, sauna, private beach access and WiFi (free). 32 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar and satellite TV.
A modern 4-star hotel in the centre of Bled and next to Lake Bled. Restaurant, bar, gym, pool, sauna and WiFi (free). 217 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar and satellite TV.
per person in a twin/double room
British Airways from Heathrow (17 May - Croatia Airlines from Heathrow outbound)
Supplements per person
Single supplement £555 (17 May £495)
Sea view (Opatija)
3 nights £35
Single supplement £70
Lake view (Bled)
3 nights £40
Single supplement £80
Croatia Airlines Business Class - On request
Extra nights – Zagreb
DoubleTree by Hilton
(per night) £70
Single supplement £55
Extra nights – Bled
(per night) £105
Single supplement £60
Lake view £125
Single supplement £80
Transfer to airport £40
Arrival transfer £30
Departure transfer with group included
Air travel and taxes, transfers, 7 nights' accommodation, breakfast daily, 1 dinner and 1 lunch, itinerary as described, services of guides and local representatives. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.
Travel insurance, optional excursions, tipping, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.
Please complete this form and a member of our sales department will contact you as soon as possible to confirm your booking and take payment. Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm and Saturdays 10am to 2pm