You should arrive at the airport to take your flight to Dubrovnik or Split from your selected airport. On arrival, you will be taken to one of our carefully chosen four-star hotels for three nights with dinner, which will vary according to the date and flight you select. The rest of the day will be spent at leisure, allowing you time to settle into the hotel and start exploring if you wish.
After breakfast we take the drive inland to the Krka Valley where the River Krka flows through a series of gorges, lakes and rapids before meeting the sea. The whole valley has been awarded national park status and today we will visit part of this stunning area. It is home to an eye-catching series of lakes where water cascades from one to the next in an extensive series of interlocking, dramatic waterfalls and cataracts. Due to minerals dissolved in the water, the colours change from turquoise to azure-blue and vibrant green to steel-like greys. With reflections of the surrounding majestic peaks and luxuriant forests dancing on the mirror-like lakes, it is impossible not to be awe struck. We will see one of the most dramatic stretches of the river where several tiers of waterfall tumble magnificently into a broad, shallow pool where you may swim should you wish. We will spend some time taking in the beautiful surroundings before returning to our hotel during the afternoon.
Today we drive along the stunning coastline before arriving at Split, principally famous for a single building, in fact one of the greatest structures of the Roman Empire – the huge palace of the Emperor Diocletian. No expense was spared in its construction, marble came from Italy and columns and sphinxes came from Egypt. What makes the palace so special is that during medieval times it was fully integrated into the fabric of the town with a jumble of buildings grafted onto it. This meant for example the temple of Jupiter became a baptistry. All the more fascinating is that today 3,000 people still live within its walls. You will find surprises at every turn: there are tall medieval buildings lining the streets but buttressed by unmistakable roman columns! This morning we will have a guided walking tour of this fascinating complex. This afternoon we visit the nearby medieval citadel of Trogir, one of the most charming little ports in Dalmatia. The old-town is actually an island and a wealth of Renaissance and Romanesque buildings line a veritable maze of delightfully chaotic lanes, nestling behind its seemingly impregnable ramparts. At the centre is the exquisitely decorated 13th century cathedral, but the real monument is the town itself. Just to wander where your feet take you, cast an eye over one of the antique shops or just enjoy a coffee in a pavement café is a real pleasure before returning to our hotel in time for dinner.
This morning we head south, our journey hugging the beautiful coastline. We then traverse the river Neretva delta, a veritable haven for birdlife before arriving at the ancient town of Mostar perched on lofty cliffs overlooking the turbulent river below. Once a provincial capital of the Ottoman Empire then annexed by the Austro- Hungarians, Mostar has changed little over the years and its appearance reflects this multitude of influences. There are 16th century mosques, Turkish houses and the fine 19th century town hall which could have been transplanted from central Europe! You can still see and hear skilled artisans making all sorts of metal goods in their tiny workshops as they must have done for hundreds of years. Mostar’s principal claim to fame is its amazing bridge linking the two halves of the old town. Constructed of stone centuries ago, it was damaged during the 1990s but has been totally reconstructed as a symbol of reconciliation. We then continue to our hotel in Dubrovnik where we stay for the next four nights.
Dubrovnik, an independent city-state for much of its history, has evolved differently to the rest of Croatia. The city threw off its Venetian masters in medieval times and founded a commercial empire trading with the eastern Mediterranean, France, Spain and later the Ottoman Empire. As so often happens, the city started to reflect its resultant wealth. Today this wonderfully beautiful baroque city nestles behind its huge imposing ramparts in a situation of outstanding natural beauty. The main avenue, lined by unspoilt intimate cafés, is completely paved with marble, which dazzlingly reflects the midday sun, giving credence to its description ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. Throughout the city you will find a wonderful array of monasteries, beautifully decorated churches and civic buildings dating from the 14th century, reflecting Dubrovnik’s outstanding artistic heritage. This morning we have a guided walking tour seeing all of this and more. In the afternoon, you are free to explore before we return to the hotel.
Today we take the short drive south to one of Europe’s newest countries, the outstandingly beautiful Montenegro. We cross the border, still following the sapphire-blue coastline and prepare to be truly amazed by the views we take in en route! Our journey takes us around the Bay of Kotor, a huge inland sea, which resembles a lake with the topography rather reminiscent of Switzerland. Reflections of the surrounding mountains dance on the water whilst sleepy, picturesque and beautifully timeless fishing villages line the shoreline. Our first stop is the picturesque small town of Perast which overlooks the famous a jewel in the bay of Kotor, the island Church of “Our Lady of The Rocks”. Our second visit is the medieval town of Kotor, nestling below a mountainside, in probably Montenegro’s most dramatic setting. Walled, with a labyrinth of cobbled streets surrounding its Orthodox Cathedral that radiate to quiet intimate squares, it really is a delight to explore. Its bustling market really is from yesteryear, with individual stalls selling local homemade cheese, cured hams, honey and Mediterranean vegetables of every colour, shape and size in a refreshingly eclectic manner! You can try some of the local wine too, which, despite its lack of international exposure, really is rather good – and exceptional value. Afterwards we cross the inland sea at its narrowest point by ferry returning to Dubrovnik at the end of the afternoon.
Today you have a free day, so what is it to be? Enjoy a coffee on the main square, watching the world go by, take a relaxing cruise around the picturesque harbour crammed with luxurious looking yachts, take a stroll around the city walls, soak up the sunshine, enjoy a leisurely lunch or perhaps simply catch up on some reading. The choice is yours.
Today a coach will return us to the airport at the appropriate time for our flight home after a memorable tour.