CROATIA, ON THE ADRIATIC SEA, AT THE CROSSROADS OF CENTRAL & SOUTHEAST EUROPE
July / August 2021
8 Days / 7 Nights (3 Nights Dubrovink / 2 Nights Vela Luka / 2 Nights Hvar)
Price starting @ USD 1,540 pps / ZAR 23,799 pps (excl. scuba diving package)
Croatia is magical, it oozes culture and blends a modern style of tradition sealed in its old-time resources. Having survived war & turmoil its people are cool, grounded & endlessly friendly. It really is an all-round happy place, with beauty in the 13th century architecture, the ocean, cuisine, forests & hills, monasteries, museums, islands, streets, parks, walkways, art & wine!
ABOUT YOUR TOUR
As a traveller one is absolutely spoilt for choice – be it a love of history & culture, stylish cities or old ruins, islands & beaches or land-locked adventures, modern or traditional – it will really only be the availability of time (and perhaps a few Euros!) that dictates how much of Croatia you get to enjoy.
This tour plan includes 7 nights accommodation, starting with the historically acclaimed Dubrovnic on the southern-most tip of the Dalmation coast. We keep you within the Old Town – 3 nights’ accommodation with the option of self-catering or hotel.
There is never enough time to absorb all that this 13th century city has to offer. First of all, you are totally surrounded by original architecture with modern décor hidden within. As you venture off the main walkways each side street holds a treasure trove of its own. Restaurants, bars, art shops, jewellery shops, clothing, museums, churches, theatres spilling over with live performances and ice-cream bars. There is really nothing strange to see people sitting on the staircase – of anywhere – with an ice-cream in hand and staring at the scenery before them. You will certainly walk the main streets and their tributaries more than once (and the Dubrovnik Wall at least once) – just to make sure you have not missed anything. Hovering over Dubrovnik is Sri. Hill – a cable car ride takes you to the top – and while you are there it is well worth making your way through the Homeland War Museum. The older folk will know Croatia for its participation in the War of Independence (1991 – 1995), while the much younger generation will know Dubrovnik as one of the primary locations for the shooting of the hit series “Game Of Thrones”. Dubrovnik is meticulous and clearly the pride of the local residents, business owners and entertainers. Must see’s and do’s include:
- Walk the walls of Old Town Dubrovnik to enjoy a complete 360 scenic delight of both the architecture as well as the surrounding ocean – simply breathtaking!
- Day trips eg. Sarajevo, Montenegro, Mostar or Split, Dubrovnik & Ston including oyster-tasting.
- In the Old Town – visit the Homa Art Gallery, Buza Bar & Above 5 Bistro & Bar. Start your late afternoon with a beverage at Buza Bar (do yourself a favour) and then onto dinner on the rooftop of the Stari Grad Hotel, at Above 5 Bistro & Bar – for a breath-taking view of the old town while enjoying an amazing gourmet-filled evening!
- The cable car to the top of Srd. Hill and a visit to the Homeland War Museum.
- “Game of Thrones” Walking Tour.
- Scuba diving – a variety of diving experiences around the Dubrovnik coastline with varying depths. Must do is the dive through the Lokrum Island wall.
- Theatrical performances.
- A visit to Lokrum Island – visit the monastery, snorkel on the ocean side or sunbathe on the in-land beach.
- Find the ice-cream shop “Gossip” – located in the main street of the old town, Stradun. The limestone-paved pedestrian street runs some 300 metres through the Old Town.
- At the top end of Stradun you will find Onofrio’s Fountains.
- Sailing trips amongst the islands surrounding Dubrovnik.
Korčula & Vela Luka
Your next stop is a beautiful scenic drive from Dubrovnik to Korčula. There is an early morning coffee and pastry stop at a tiny village en-route and finally a ferry crossing to make your way to Korčula’s Old Town. After breakfast you can spend a few hours exploring before your onward road transfer takes you to the fishing island of Vela Luka. Set around a lagoon, Vela Luka is eerily quiet in the off seasons and a relaxingly bustling village during peak seasons. There is much to do on the out-skirts and probably a day of wine tasting is the way to go. Vela Luka boasts some of the nicer diving sites in the area, so if you are prepared to bring your diving gear over land and sea, then a good day spent out on the ocean is well worth the effort.
Vela Luka is really your spot to breath – mornings spent enjoying a long relaxing breakfast and coffee, afternoons over a pizza and local beer at one of the top rated restaurants in Croatia and then you may just as well stay there for snacks and wine into the evening. The lagoon is just across the road, so you can view the fishermen activities, seagulls and absorb the soft breeze off the ocean. It is all about chilling! Your itinerary includes 2 nights in Vela Luka, self-catering apartments on hotel accommodation.
Korcula & Vela Luka Highlights
- Wander through Korčula Old Town.
- Wine tasting at traditional family vineyards.
- Enjoy a variety of restaurants serving traditional meals & beverages.
- Visit the local brewery and enjoy a taste of Croatia’s craft beer.
- Cylcle through the country-side, wine farms, around the islands and along the beaches.
- Visit to olive tree groves – famously known as Croatia’s “liquid gold”.
- Visit to Vela Spila Cave – a limestone rock shelter – it is also an archaeological research site.
- Day hikes including a climb to the top of Mount Ilija above Orebic, the Land Gate in Korčula Old Town or the Cathedral Bell Tower, the Hum Fortress or Defora village ruins.
- Museums including the Culture Centre in Vela Luka and the Marco Polo Museum in Korčula.
- You can enjoy a wide range of water activities including sailing, kayaking, paddling around the archipelago or windsurfing or a boat trip to enjoy Korčula’s coastline.
- And if all you want to do is nothing, Vela Luka has a string of pebble white beaches and beach bars for a long lazy day of . . . . nothing!
So you’ve experienced Dubrovnik – Croatia’s most sought-after destination. You have scaled down a little to enjoy the simple life of Vela Luka and then off to Hvar – they call it the playground of the rich – here you will hover around a little, while your accommodation is a beautiful seaside resort. But leave behind any perception that you may have of the term “seaside resort”. It is tucked away in a bay and really as private as you could wish to have, with the luxuries of a lovely restaurant, bars, a spa, an onsite dive centre, and a really scenic walk down to the Hvar’s main square or Stari Grad harbour – where it’s all happening.
Hvar also has an Old City, Stari Grad, for you to stroll through. Pay attention to what is happening IN the harbour – some of the yachts are a tell-tale sign of the life that some may live. Regarding cuisine – there is a legendary fish restaurant at the end of the walkway along the harbour and tucked away in one of the side streets is a restaurant that actually serves Karoo Lamb! On the hilltop above Hvar is the Fortica museum with a derelict church that you should visit. If you are taking along some spending money to buy some memoirs then Hvar is the place to keep it for – especially considering the many beautiful hand-made creations that are on display in the boutique style shops of beautiful Hvar.
- Hvar is renowned for being stylish – and party minded – so here is the setting. . . . . open air clubs, loungers on the beach, live dj, champagne, yachts hovering in the background, sunset and a marina lined with bars and restaurants . . . . .
- Visit the Franciscan Monastery, the Church of the Lady of Merci and the museum, including the impressive 6 x 2m painting of The Last Supper, one of the greatest masterpieces on the Adriatic coast.
- Discover the finest Dalmatian wines, visit the vineyards all displaying their wine making techniques.
- Sail the Pakleni Islands or discover Hvar’s beautiful and secluded beaches.
- Cycle around the island – with both road or mountain biking and a bit of climbing – a route of about 40kms will take you from Stari Grad to Hvar Town and back.
- Outdoor activities include sea kayaking around Hvar and the Pakleni islands, rock climbing on the cliffs of Sveta Nedjelja or hiking.
- Some of Hvars most popular beaches include Dubovica and Lucisc. For something more glamorous (and exclusive) you can try to find your way to Bonj Les Bains Beach Club.
- Fortica – a fortress above Hvar (and a lovely walk) – you can see all of Hvar Town, the sea and the Pakleni islands. There is a small café at the top – expensive but the views are worth the drinks!
- Malo Grablje is an abandoned stone village with a surprise – in amongst the ruins is an exquisite little tavern called Konoba Stori Mlin, serving traditional cuisine.
- Take a scheduled tour to one of the oldest sites of civilization in the whole Adriatic – the Grapčeva Cave near Jelsa. This Neolithic cave lies close to the abandoned village of Humac.
- Arriving at Stari Grad harbour – take some time to explore this beautiful Old Town first – rich in history and plenty of interesting landmarks to discover. It is said to be the oldest city in Croatia and one of the oldest in Europe.
You will travel by ferry from Vela Luka to Hvar and then same from Hvar to the city of Split, your last day stop before you depart to either the next country (Italy, Venice perhaps . . . ) or back to South Africa.
It is best to depart to Split as early as possible as there are some world famous art galleries, churches and museums to visit in Split. There is also a network of local markets that run through the old town. Upon arrival we will put all luggage into storage, keep our walking shoes, have a quick breakfast and then everyone will scatter in different directions to pursue their own interests. From Split we will transfer to the airport for our onward flight, If 5 hours for the day in Split is not enough then you can opt for an extra day or two stay over.
- Diocletian Palace – this 1700 year-old palace overlooking the harbour is an important architectural heritage of the Roman Empire.
- Cathedral of St.Duje (Saint Domnius) – a magnificent cathedral with a bell tower of 57 meters high, built in the 13th century in honor of the first Bishop of Salona.
- Peristyle Square – located in front of the cathedral this square is surrounded by columns and forms the center of cultural life in Split – it hosts the extraordinary acoustical traditional, cultural and musical events of the Split Summer Festival.
- Statue of Grgur Ninski – created by the most famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic this 6 feet tall statue is believed to bring happiness and make dreams come true if touched on the thumb.
- The Republic Square of Prokurativa – one of the most beautiful Neo Renaissance squares in Split – decorated by three side columns while the fourth side is open to the sea.
- Riva on the Split waterfront – the most favourite meeting point in Split – from here everything that happens in Split can be seen!
- Piazza, the People’s Square – includes the Renaissance Clock which was erected on the ruins of a Roman Tower, the first town hall, the Renaissance Palace and the legendary City Café (Gradska Kafana).
- Poljud Stadium – the stadium is the soccer field of the oldest Croatian soccer team “Hajduk”.
- Split Croatia National Theater – once the biggest theater in southern Europe, hosts opera, drama, concerts and ballet.
- Varos or Veli – located west of the city, at the foot of the celebrated Marjan hill, is one of the oldest parts of Split and used to be inhabited only by farmers and fishermen. It is known for its farmers’ stone houses, with small and tight streets, a witness of poor and hard life.
- Ivan Mestrovic, the Croatian Michelangelo (sculptor, painter and writer) one of the greatest Croatian sculptors whose works are visible in every corner of the city. (Grgur Ninski, Marko Marulic). His gallery was founded in 1952 and is located in the southern slopes of Marjan Hill. It is one of the prominent Split attractions.
- Cindro Palace – this 17th century Baroque palace lies on Kresimirova street just a few steps from the Iron Gate and in the vicinity of Narodni Trg (Piaca) Square.
- The Four Gates of Diocletian’s Palace – this should be your first port of call. Diocletian’s Palace can be entered through four gates, each named after a different type of metal: Bronze gate, Golden gate, Silver gate and Iron gate. Most of the attractions in Split are located within the palace walls so knowing the location of each gate will help guide you around the old town.
- Marjan Hill attractions – is a must see day activity. This wooded hill hovers above the city center and waterfront promenade. It is a relatively small geographical area (length of 3.5 km and a width of 1 to 1.5 km), but is important both in terms of diversity of plant species as well as for its cultural monuments.