- Kayak whitewater as you traverse the Zrmanja River's rapids
- Trek under dramatic limestone cliffs in striking Paklenica National Park
- Hike, climb, swim, and jump your way down the Cetina River
- Paddle the open sea from Hvar to the nearby Pakleni Islands
- Dine on fresh oysters and mussels after a day of hiking the Pelješac peninsula
|Arrive in Zagreb, Free Time in the Capital
|Transfer to Plitvice Lakes National Park via Rastoke
|Plitvice Lakes National Park
|Kayaking & Rafting on the Zrmanja River, Transfer to Zadar
|Guided Hike in Paklenica National Park
|Transfer to Split via Šibenik
|Rafting, Ziplining, & Canyoning on the Cetina River
|Ferry to Hvar, Free Time on the Island
|Sea Kayaking Adventure in the Pakleni Islands
|Ferry to Korčula, Free Time on the Island
|Cycling & Wine Tasting Tour in Lumbarda
|Hike the Pelješac Peninsula, Transfer to Dubrovnik via Ston
|Historical Walking Tour of Dubrovnik
|Konavle Wine Tasting Tour
Day 1: Arrive in Zagreb, Free Time in the Capital
Start your great Croatian adventure in Zagreb, the capital. A gem of a European city, Zagreb is at once historic and new. It's filled with leafy green parks and Gothic/neo-Renaissance buildings, yet there are also modern shopping complexes, outdoor malls, and endless dining and drinking options. On arrival, a private driver will meet and transfer you to your hotel. Refresh and get ready to explore the city's historic heart on a private guided walking tour.
Alternatively, you can visit one of the many museums and art galleries, like the Homeland War Museum, the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, or the ever-popular Museum of Broken Hearts. Or stroll through the city center, enjoying 17th-century neo-Baroque architecture found at Zagreb's Art Pavilion and Croatian National Theater. Zagreb also has a number of beautiful city parks, perfect for exploring and people-watching, especially in the late afternoon. Maksimir is a great option, with a variety of cafés nearby to pick up a coffee for your stroll.
Day 2: Transfer to Plitvice Lakes National Park via Rastoke
Today, begin your great adventure across Croatia. Take a two-hour private transfer south to Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of the country's most popular national parks. You'll pause at Rastoke, a picturesque watermill village set on the small Slunčica River. This fairy-tale village is filled with wooden houses with colorful facades, surrounded by beautiful nature and the sound of cascading falls. In the late afternoon, you'll reach Plitvice Lakes and can explore the UNESCO-protected park at your leisure.
Plitvice is filled with an exquisite collection of 16 glassy emerald green and blue travertine lakes, more than 90 cascading waterfalls that seemingly cover every corner of the park, and numerous caves. The terraced lakes are surrounded by beech and pine forests and are home to extensive wildlife. Choose one of eight different hiking trails, ranging from three to eight hours in duration, where the upper lakes tend to be less crowded during the peak season. You may wish to bring a picnic to enjoy.
Day 3: Kayaking & Rafting on the Zrmanja River, Transfer to Zadar
Leave Plitvice Lakes behind and take a 90-minute private transfer south to Zadar, stopping for an adrenaline-fueled excursion down the Zrmanja River amid Velebit's craggy karst landscape. Picture yourself rafting down rapids, with towering cliffs contrasting the turquoise river color. Your adventure depends on the season and the day's water level, whether there are enough rapids for whitewater rafting or a more subdued kayak trek. Either way, you'll enjoy the dramatic scenery, waterfalls, and crystalline waters. After, continue to Zadar and check into your hotel.
The ancient capital of Dalmatia, Zadar is famous for its picturesque coastline full of islands and vibrant blue waters, as well as fresh seafood and memorable sunsets. Take the rest of the day to relax and explore. You may wish to stroll along Zadar's Riva, a wide ribbon of stone paths bordered by a grassy park on one side and the sea on the other. It runs along Old Town's waterfront, where it comes alive at night with vendors and Dalmatian a cappella groups called klapa that serenade the passersby, including folks on yachts who dock there.
Day 4: Guided Hike in Paklenica National Park
Today, you'll join a guided hike in Paklenica National Park, the most accessible hiking area in the southern Velebit mountains. Made up of dramatic karst formations, the park is most known for two limestone gorges, Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica (literally meaning Big Paklenica and Small Paklenica), which run down toward the sea and offer plenty of hiking and rock-climbing options for the active traveler.
Meet your local guide in Starigrad and set out to trek through black pine and beech forests under the 1,312-foot (400 m) craggy limestone cliffs of Velika Paklenica. A prime rock-climbing destination in Europe, you'll complete a 12-mile (19 km) loop and stop for a traditionally prepared lunch in the one-house village of Ramići before making your way back to Starigrad. After a day of hiking, return to Zadar, where you can take in a legendary sunset from Café Brazil and discover the patterned lights of the Monument to the Sun while listening to the nearby Sea Organ.
Day 5: Transfer to Split via Šibenik
This morning, continue south along the Dalmatian Coast to Split. Halfway along the 2.5-hour transfer, you'll pause in Šibenik, a true Croatian town founded by the Croat king Petar Krešimir IV in the 11th century. Šibenik is home to impressive fortresses, music festivals, and medieval gardens. Start with a visit to the famous UNESCO-protected St. James' Cathedral before selecting a restaurant for your lunch—perhaps Pelegrini, just above the cathedral. From here, continue to Split, the second-largest city in Croatia. On arrival, check into your hotel and refresh.
Split, an ancient coastal city, was founded 1,700 years ago by the Roman emperor Diocletian. He built the dazzling Diocletian's Palace in the fourth century, which became the blueprint for Split's Old Town. The well-preserved palace has been transformed into the heart of this ancient city, and you can wander its halls. Visit the Cathedral of St. Dominus, the Piazza, and Peristyle Square, where you can admire the 3,500-year-old sphinxes that Diocletian brought back from Egypt. If there's time, climb the Romanesque bell tower of the Cathedral of St. Dominus—for stunning views over the city and Adriatic.
In the evening, take a stroll along Split's seafront Riva to admire the views over the Adriatic before finding the offbeat Konoba Dioklecijan restaurant, its outdoor terrace built into the walls of the ancient palace.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Rafting, Ziplining, & Canyoning on the Cetina River
Get an early start this morning with today's day trip that takes you south from Split and along the coast to Zadvarje for a day of rafting and canyoning the Cetina River—ending with an optional zipline in Omiš. You'll begin by rafting through a protected area of the river canyon, popular with tourists in summer. The quiet parts of the river and the second and third-grade rapids create the perfect combination of relaxation with high-adrenaline adventure. After your three-hour rafting experience, meet your guide and charge your gear.
You're about to hike, climb, slide, swim, and cliff jump your way down the river until you reach Omiš. Celebrate the fun with a break for lunch before your next adrenaline rush. You'll have the chance to zip your way across the magnificent Cetina River Canyon, suspended by a harness and wire. There are eight wires in total running a length of 6,890 feet (2,100 m), the highest wire reaching 492 feet (150 m) above the river canyon. Enjoy incredible bird's-eye views of the surrounding scenery on this three-hour excursion. After the tour is complete, you'll transfer back to Split.
Day 7: Ferry to Hvar, Free Time on the Island
Catch a 90-minute morning ferry to Hvar, the most popular island in Dalmatia. Hvar draws visitors for its natural setting, mild climate, and its historic town of the same name. Highlights of Hvar Town include its 13th-century walls, a hilltop fortress, and the main square anchored by the Renaissance-era Cathedral. The rest of the day is yours to explore your way, so check into your hotel and set out to see the town and island.
For some of the best views of the island, Hvar Town, and the nearby Pakleni Islands, take a short walk up to the 16th-century Španjola Fortress. To cover some ground and appreciate the variation in the island landscape, from lavender plantations and olive groves to vineyards and pine woods, you may like to join a wine-tasting, cycling, or hiking tour. After the day's adventures, treat yourself to a drink in the ancient piazza of Hvar, overlooking the Venetian loggia, seventh-century fortification walls, and the oldest municipal theater in Europe.
Day 8: Sea Kayaking Adventure in the Pakleni Islands
Pack your swimwear and towel this morning and head to the beachfront for your guided kayak and snorkel trip to the Pakleni Islands. The islands are considered the most beautiful part of the Hvar Riviera and are a favorite retreat for locals seeking to escape the summer heat. Altogether, there are 14 wooded and rocky islets with many hidden beaches and lagoons, which you'll get a chance to explore by kayak.
Meet your guide at Križna Luka Beach, just a short walk from Hvar's city center, to choose your kayak (single or double) and grab your gear. From Križna Luka, you'll paddle southeast along the coast to a secluded beach before continuing on through the short channel to the south side of the Islands. You'll get to experience the open sea and unending views of the horizon, and admire views of Hvar Town from this vantage point. Exploring by kayak will reveal small, pebbled beaches—which you'll have all to yourself for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing.
Day 9: Ferry to Korčula, Free Time on the Island
Collect your things and catch a 90-minute ferry to Korčula. Upon arrival, the afternoon and evening are yours to discover this little island's numerous restaurants, taverns, shops, and bars as you roam the maze of gray stone houses, alleys, churches, and squares. Enjoy a traditional lunch of lamb and goat in Korčula's Old Town, one of the finest examples of Venetian architecture on the Dalmatian coast. Next, visit the 14th-century Land Gate on top of an elegant staircase, before heading to the St. Mark's Cathedral to admire its strange sculptures of beasts and people.
Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Bishop's Treasury next door for a small but impressive art collection, including works from Carpaccio, Bassano, and Tiepolo. From there, you may wish to visit the unremarkable house thought to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. If beaches are what you're after, rent a bike or ride the bus the 5 miles (8 km) to the sandy beaches of Lumbarda. Afterward, grab a bite to eat and pair it with the local dry white, grk, indigenous to Lumbarda and nowhere else.
Day 10: Cycling & Wine Tasting Tour in Lumbarda
Olive groves and vineyards dot the landscape of Korčula, contributing to the island's agricultural richness. Today, you'll jump in the saddle of a bike for a two-wheel wine-tasting adventure across the island. Meet your guide in Korčula Town and ride out of the town south toward Lumbarda. You'll cycle through fields, villages, and wineries, covering asphalt, gravel, and dirt roads with vistas opening up to the Adriatic Sea and across to the impressive Mount Ilija on the nearby Pelješac peninsula.
This gentle route explores the ancient and historic sites of the eastern side of the island as you work your way to the spread-out village of Lumbarda. Boasting beautiful beaches and centuries-old winemaking traditions, Lumbarda is home to grk, a white grape variety that will pair well with your lunch or dinner. Some of Croatia's best white wines are produced on Korčula, and you won't be left wanting. Spend some time relaxing on one of Lumbarda's beaches before returning to Korčula Town for the evening.
Day 11: Hike the Pelješac Peninsula, Transfer to Dubrovnik via Ston
Start the morning early with a short boat ride to the 15th-century maritime town of Orebić on the Pelješac peninsula. From Orebić, you'll pass charming stone villas, once occupied by famous sea captains, as you start your hike (2.5 or 6 miles / 4 or 9.7 km, depending on the route) out of the town. You'll trek the southern slopes of Mount Ilija, passing remote vineyards and an old Franciscan monastery. Along the way, stop to enjoy great vistas of Korčula and the Pelješac archipelago before continuing your coastal hike to the laid-back Dalmatian villages, Kučište and Viganj.
Later this afternoon, you'll transfer to Dubrovnik, pausing in Ston en route to explore one of Europe's longest defensive stone walls. Discover beautiful views over Ston and its glittering ancient salt pans from a parapet walkway on Ston's wall. Reward your efforts with a light meal of fresh oysters or mussels before continuing overland to Dubrovnik. Often referred to as the "Pearl of the Adriatic," Dubrovnik is a world-renowned city of exceptional charm. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure, allowing time for you to wander and explore this enchanting city.
Day 12: Historical Walking Tour of Dubrovnik
Start your day early to avoid the crowds and meet your expert guide at the 16th-century Pile Gate. Together, you'll enter the Old Town to uncover centuries of the city's rich history while your guide shares stories of local life, legends, and tales of the importance Dubrovnik once held in the era of its Republic. Highlights include Onofrio's Fountain, the 15th-century Rector's Palace, Luza Square, the Church of St. Blaise (St. Vlaho), and the café-lined streets of Brsalje Street.
After touring the streets, you'll head for Lovrijenac Fortress and the city's impressive defensive walls, the second-largest set of city walls in the world. At certain places, the wall rises 75 feet (22 m) high, offering excellent vantage points for photos of the coastline. For the rest of the afternoon, explore Dubrovnik on your own or enjoy the afternoon sun on the nearby beaches. You could venture up Mount Srđ either by cable car or an uphill hike. At the top, you'll find panoramic views over the city and Adriatic. Stay for dinner and a sunset at Panorama Restaurant or hike back down.
Day 13: Konavle Wine Tasting Tour
This morning, you'll head to Konavle, a famous wine region outside of Dubrovnik, where you'll visit three wineries and their famous winemakers—all families whose winemaking tradition has endured for centuries. The tour lasts six hours and starts with a panoramic transfer along the coast to Konavle. First, you'll stop at the awarded winemaker, Crvik, to taste the local white, red, and rosé, including a unique white, dubrovacka malvasia, pressed from old grapes from the days of the Dubrovnik Republic.
Next, you'll continue to another winery belonging to the Ljubić family, where you'll taste merlot and a variety of herb liqueurs and enjoy a traditional meal in their wine cellar. From here, you'll carry on through the Konavle Valley to the Karaman family's award-winning winery to sample their dry dessert wines, prošek alongside traditional padispanj cake. After, return to Dubrovnik for a night by the sea.
Day 14: Depart Dubrovnik
Depending on when you depart, you may have time to visit one of Dubrovnik's museums, like the Franciscan Monastery and Museum. This large complex houses many treasures, including the world's third-oldest pharmacy, dating from 1317. Alternatively, visit the Rector's Palace and Cultural Historical Museum to explore a well-preserved palace-turned-museum filled with details of life in the Republic of Ragusa during medieval times.
Then, when the time is right, make the 45-minute drive to the airport with enough time to drop off your rental car and check into your departing flight home or onward. This concludes your grand Croatian adventure. Safe travels!
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