- Discover Split and learn about its 1,700-year-old Roman history
- Visit the waterfalls and lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Hike the interior of Hvar and sail the nearby Pakleni Islands
- Explore medieval Dubrovnik from the vantage of a Kayak
- Take a tour of the beautiful Bay of Kotor in Montenegro
|Day 1||Arrive in Split||Split|
|Day 2||Explore Split||Split|
|Day 3||Ferry from Split to Hvar||Hvar|
|Day 4||Hvar Day Tour: Hike to the Hidden Villages||Hvar|
|Day 5||Sea Kayaking Tour around Pakleni Islands||Hvar|
|Day 6||Ferry from Hvar to Dubrovnik||Dubrovnik|
|Day 7||Sea Kayaking Tour around Lokrum Island & City Walls||Dubrovnik|
|Day 8||Day Trip to Montenegro||Dubrovnik|
|Day 9||Depart Dubrovnik|
Day 1: Arrive in Split
Welcome to Split and central Dalmatia! From the airport, you'll have a 45-minute drive to the town center. Depending on your arrival time, check into your hotel and take the rest of the day to explore the historic port city on your own.
Founded 1,700 years ago by Roman emperor Diocletian, Split's Old Town consists of a number of impressive sites, including Peristyle, Cathedral of St. Dominus, the Piazza, and Diocletian's Palace, one of the best preserved Roman buildings in the world. Start in Peristyle Square, taking in the 3,500-year old sphinxes Diocletian brought back from Egypt before exploring the 4th-century complex. From there pass through the Iron Gate and into Pjaca Square for pretty views of white marble tiles, a Romanesque clock tower with the remains of a medieval sundial, and the 15th-century Town Hall.
In the evening, take a stroll along Split's seafront Riva to admire the waterfront views before finding the off-beat Konoba Dioklecijan restaurant, just to the left of the Bronze Gate for a bite to eat, its outdoor terrace built into the walls of Diocletian's Palace.
Day 2: Explore Split
Today is yours to explore Split at your own pace. An ancient coastal city founded 1,700 years ago by Roman Emperor Diocletian, its Old Town includes a number of impressive sites, including Peristyle, Cathedral of St. Dominus, the Piazza, and Diocletian's Palace, one of the best preserved Roman buildings in the world. Start in Peristyle Square, taking in the 3,500-year old sphinxes Diocletian brought back from Egypt before exploring the 4th-century Diocletian's Palace.
For stunning views over the city and Adriatic be sure to climb the Romanesque bell tower of the Cathedral of St. Dominus (St. Duje)—considered the oldest Catholic cathedral still in use. Another option for great views is to hike or bike to the top of Marjan Hill. The entire Marjan peninsula is dotted with tiny centuries-old churches, large cypress and black pine trees, and Mediterranean plants and herbs and is commonly referred to as the "lungs of the city". In addition to the stunning vistas, you'll be rewarded with attractions less visited: the Jewish cemetery and 13th and 15th-century churches, St. Nicholas and St. Jerome, respectively.
Head to Bačvice Beach and relax on the sand warmed by the day's sun before choosing a nearby restaurant for dinner.
Day 3: Ferry from Split to Hvar
After breakfast, catch a ferry (2 hours) to the island of Hvar and check into your hotel.
A Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea, Hvar is a popular destination with tourists due to its natural setting, mild climate, and its historic port 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.
For some of the best views of the island, Hvar Town, and the nearby Pakleni Islands, it's an idea to take a short walk up to the 16th-century Španjola Fortress. Or, join a kayaking tour and head out on the Adriatic to discover the many secluded coves that outline the island from the sea. For better coverage of the island itself, you may want to join a (wine tasting) cycling or hiking tour to cover some ground and appreciate the variation in island landscape: from lavender plantations to olive groves, from vineyards to pine woods. The less active might opt to rent a scooter for faster coverage of the local scenery.
After the day's adventures, treat yourself to a drink in the ancient piazza of Hvar overlooking the Venetian loggia, 7th-century fortification walls, and the oldest municipal theater in Europe.
Day 4: Hvar Day Tour: Hike to the Hidden Villages
Lace up your hiking boots for a day hike along rocky paths amid vineyards and olive groves to discover abandoned villages and hidden bays.
Meet your guide in Hvar town's port and transfer to Velo Grablje, the starting point of the hike (about 8.5 miles or 14 km away). Velo Grablje was founded 500 years ago when Hvar’s patricians and nobles sought refuge in the hills during a revolutionary period. Today, only a few people inhabit the village throughout the year, but many gather for the lavender festival to harvest and to celebrate the village's saints.
From here you will hike down a canyon, following an old trail—the main thoroughfare in medieval times connecting the north and the south of the island—to the village of Malo Grablje. Enjoy a delicious lunch at perhaps the most authentic of the island's taverns before carrying on the gravel road to the beachside town of Milna.
Depending on your energy level, you will have the option to continue your trek to Hvar town from Milna (1.5 hours) or transfer back to town (20 minutes).
Hiking distance: 3.4 miles (5.4 km)
Hiking time (including stops): 5-6 hours
Day 5: Sea Kayaking Tour around Pakleni Islands
In the morning, head out on a sea kayaking adventure to the Pakleni Islands, just off the coast of Hvar and explore their many hidden beaches and lagoons. The islands are 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.
You'll meet your guide at Krizna Luka beach, just a short walk from Hvar's city center, to choose your kayak (single or double) and grab your gear. Here you will listen to a short safety talk and be introduced to the sea kayaking basics. From Krizna Luka, you'll paddle southeast along the coast to a secluded beach before continuing on through the channel to the south side of the Islands. You will get to experience the open sea and unending views of the horizon, as well as admire views of Hvar Town from this vantage point.
If there are southerly winds, the alternative is to stick to the north side of the islands to be protected from the winds. This route takes you through narrow straits and around the islands to reveal small, pebbled beaches—beaches you will have all to yourself for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing.
Day 6: Ferry from Hvar to Dubrovnik
After breakfast, board a four-hour ferry to Dubrovnik.
Often referred to as the "Pearl of the Adriatic", Dubrovnik is a world-renowned city of exceptional charm. Take the time to explore its 16th-century stone walls, including the Minceta, Lovrijenac and Revelin fortresses, visit Onofrio's Fountain and St. Vlaho's Church, and stroll along the limestone-paved Stradun, Dubrovnik's main street to get your bearings. Dubrovnik offers excellent nightlife and some of Croatia's best restaurants and wine bars.
The remainder of the day will be at your leisure, allowing time for you to wander and explore this magical city. Depending on when you arrive, you may have time to hop aboard a cable car and ride to the top of Srđ Mountain for stunning views of Dubrovnik and the nearby Elafiti Islands. Stretch your legs and enjoy unobstructed views of the city as you walk back down the hill. Be sure to take the path going down for the best views and the most direct route home. Celebrate a day well spent at Buza Bar, great for sunset cocktails with a view.
Day 7: Sea Kayaking Tour around Lokrum Island & City Walls
Explore Dubrovnik from the water and go on a half-day guided kayaking tour around the city and Lokrum Island—the closest island to Dubrovnik.
Starting from Banje Beach, you will paddle to Lokrum Island where you can enjoy a swim in the saltwater lake named the Dead Sea, explore the 15th-century Benedictine monastery, and trek along the car-less trails through overgrown gardens. This is a great way to experience the cultural and historical sites of Dubrovnik from a unique perspective.
Day 8: Day Trip to Montenegro
Today you will take a panoramic drive south from Dubrovnik and along the coast to explore the Bay of Kotor (also referred to as Boka Bay) in Montenegro. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, Boka Bay is considered to be one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Its shoreline extends for 67 miles (107 km) and is hemmed in by two towering massifs of the Dinaric Alps. As the Bay has been inhabited since antiquity, its neighboring medieval towns offer much to discover: prehistoric fossils, remnants of the Illyrian epoch, and gothic, renaissance and baroque architecture.
Stop in Kotor's Old Town for lunch at one of their many cafés before wandering the maze of cobblestoned streets to admire the blend of historic and present-day influences. Visit the 12th-century Romanesque Cathedral of Saint Tryphon (Kotor Cathedral) to view gold and silver religious relics and frescoes. The more athletic may wish to climb the 1,350 steps up to St. John's Fortress for beautiful views of the Bay. If there's time, rent a boat to explore Boka Bay and cruise to the nearby town of Perast to visit the manmade island, Our Lady of the Rocks.
Day 9: Depart Dubrovnik
Depending on your departure details 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. Or, for a collection of 15,000 pieces of interesting works, visit the Rector's Palace and Cultural Historical Museum. Wander this well-preserved palace-turned-museum and explore its exhibits, some detailing life in the Republic of Ragusa during medieval times.