- Immerse yourself in Dubrovnik's history & culture on a tasty culinary tour
- Cycle through Lumbarda wine country on Korčula and taste native Grk wine
- Cover island terrain on an exciting offroad tour of Hvar
- Learn to cook authentic Dalmatian cuisine on the eclectic island-city of Trogir
- Enjoy stunning scenery and visit small villages on a bike tour of Split's hinterland
|Day 1||Welcome to Dubrovnik, Walking Tour of Old Town||Dubrovnik|
|Day 2||Explore Dubrovnik, the "Pearl of the Adriatic"||Dubrovnik|
|Day 3||Dubrovnik Food & Wine Tour||Dubrovnik|
|Day 4||Ferry from Dubrovnik to Korčula||Korčula Town|
|Day 5||Explore Korčula||Korčula Town|
|Day 6||Walking & Wine Tasting Tour in Lumbarda||Korčula Town|
|Day 7||Ferry from Korčula to Hvar||Hvar Town|
|Day 8||Hvar Offroad Tour||Hvar Town|
|Day 9||Explore Hvar||Hvar Town|
|Day 10||Ferry from Hvar to Split||Split|
|Day 11||Explore Split and Diocletian's Palace||Split|
|Day 12||Krka National Park (Day Trip from Split)||Split|
|Day 13||Cooking Class in Trogir (Day Trip from Split)||Split|
|Day 14||Zagora Bike Tour (Day Trip from Split)||Split|
|Day 15||Depart Split|
Day 1: Welcome to Dubrovnik, Walking Tour of Old Town
Welcome to the "Pearl of the Adriatic." A piece of history, Dubrovnik is one of the most ancient fortress cities in Europe. And while there's evidence of settlements as far back as the Byzantine era, this area only came into its own as an important power since the 13th century due in part to its strategic coastal position. Dubrovnik's long and storied history is told in its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque churches, monasteries, palaces, and fountains all found within its imposing fortress walls.
Upon arrival at the airport, you'll transfer to your hotel for check-in before setting out and embarking on a guided walking tour of Dubrovnik's historic Old Town. Begin at the 16th-century Pile Gate and enter the medieval city where you'll uncover centuries of Dubrovnik's rich history as you listen to stories of local life and legends and of the importance Dubrovnik once held in the Republic era. Highlights include Onofrio's Fountain, the 15th century Rector's Palace, the Church of St. Blaise (St. Vlaho), and the café-lined streets of Brsalje Street.
After spending some time getting to know the city, you'll want to duck into one of Dubrovnik's many wine bars to relax. Alternatively, come early evening, you can get stunning panoramic views over the city and Adriatic by taking the cable car up to Srđ Mountain before descending back down in time for dinner at one of Dubrovnik's great restaurants.
Day 2: Explore Dubrovnik, the "Pearl of the Adriatic"
Spend the day as you like, exploring this ancient medieval city. Get up early to take advantage of all that Dubrovnik has to offer, starting with a visit to the quaint, open-air Gundulić Square Market for authentic Dubrovnik wares, like dried lavender, local brandies, and dried fruits. From there, take a stroll through the narrow streets of Old Town, walk atop the encircling city walls, or head to Lovrijenac fortress and Orlando Column.
Be sure to break up your walk by sampling the local cuisine. Dubrovnik's location on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro mean there is some unique fusion cuisine here as well as downright wild fast food options (think octopus burgers). But you can also find good-old Italian-inspired comfort food like pasta in meat sauce, black risotto, and basic but hearty meat-and-potato dishes.
In the afternoon, head to Banje Beach for a swim and some relaxation on the sandy stretch of beach close to Old Town. There’s also the option to join a kayak excursion to the islands facing the city. A great way to end the day is to catch the sunset from the water on a sunset dinner cruise (2.5 hours) on a replica of a traditional karaka ship or from your own private boat. Enjoy the view of Old Town from this vantage point.
Day 3: Dubrovnik Food & Wine Tour
One great way to experience Dubrovnik is on a food and wine tour. You'll spend the day eating and drinking your way through the city's ancient streets while visiting bustling markets, modest bakeries, old wine bars, and various locally owned eateries. Together with your appetite, you'll meet your guide and set out to sample authentic Croatian cuisine from a number of historic locales, all the while immersing yourself in the city's rich history. Along the way, you'll also get to meet interesting locals who are at the heart of these food traditions.
With a full belly, you'll have the afternoon free to explore the city at your own pace.
Day 4: Ferry from Dubrovnik to Korčula
Catch a ferry from Dubrovnik to Korčula in the morning. 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.
Ferry time (Dubrovnik to Korčula): 2 hours
Day 5: Explore Korčula
Take the day to get out and explore Korčula. There are, of course, many historic sites in town worth visiting, though if you haven't yet, consider dedicating time to Korčula Old Town's famous fortress walls and battlements.
Venturing beyond Old Town is also an excellent way to spend a day. The island itself is 107 square miles and consists of a gorgeous mix of beaches, vineyards, villages, and quiet, harbor-side restaurants and resorts. For a pleasant and scenic way to cover the most ground, rent a bike or scooter and find your way to a secluded beach or hidden cove. Alternatively, to get a unique local experience, perhaps join a cycling and wine tasting tour of the Lumbarda wine region, easily accessible from Korčula Town.
Meanwhile, across the island on the west coast sits Vela Luka. A relatively modern town that acts as a great jumping-off point to the nearby small island of Proizd. Choose any of the well-marked paths from Proizd's pier to three striking (and rocky) beaches that slope steeply into turquoise waters. Back on Korčula, there's also the important Vela Spila Cave. A major archaeological site about a mile (2 km) outside of town, the cave offers an interesting look into the area's past.
No matter how you decide to spend the day, know that the best activities involve lazing on beautiful Mediterranean beaches, snacking on local cuisine, and indulging in an adult beverage or two.
Day 6: Walking & Wine Tasting Tour in Lumbarda
Enjoy a free morning at your leisure before readying yourself for a late afternoon walking and wine tasting tour of the Lumbarda region. After transferring the 10-minute distance from Korčula Town to Lumbarda, you'll commence your walk through the charming countryside of vine-covered hills. Boasting beautiful beaches and centuries-old winemaking traditions, the region is home to Grk, a white wine grape variety that pairs well with any meal. Some of Croatia's best white wines are produced on Korčula and you won't be left wanting.
You'll sample the local Grk and the red Plavac Mali grape at two separate wineries, as well as enjoy traditional Dalmatian appetizers at the first and indulge your senses in a full dinner at the second. Cap off the decadent evening with a final stroll through the vineyards and end the tour relaxing on the Lumbarda beach with a glass or two of wine.
Day 7: Ferry from Korčula to Hvar
Catch a morning ferry from Korčula to Hvar and check into your hotel. A Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea, Hvar draws visitors for its natural setting, mild climate, and its historic town of the same name. You'll have the rest of the morning to explore Hvar Town, where you can visit the Renaissance-era Cathedral of St. Stephen or climb the steps to the terrace outside of the historic Arsenal to enjoy views over the harbor and the surrounding area.
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. Or, join a kayaking tour and head out on the Adriatic to discover the many secluded coves that outline the islands. To cover some ground and appreciate the variation in 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. 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.
Ferry time (Korčula to Hvar): 1.5 hours
Day 8: Hvar Offroad Tour
Enjoy a full day of guided offroading fun as you cover the undulating island terrain, accented with vineyard-covered hills, thick olive groves, and fragrant fields full of rosemary and lavender. Set out from Hvar Town along a dirt road to the abandoned 16th-century village of Malo Grablje before carrying on to the slightly older, UNESCO-protected Velo Grablje. Once home to a thriving lavender industry, Velo Grablje is slowly undergoing a revival. Today, only a few people inhabit the village throughout the year, but many gather for the annual lavender festival.
Stop for an authentic lunch at a family-run tavern where your meal is traditionally prepared using locally sourced ingredients and the peka, a bell-shaped lid that is covered in coal. Next, you'll spend a little time relaxing on Soline beach on the northern coast of the island near Vrboska before it's time to head up Vidikovac for views over the Stari Grad Plain, an agricultural landscape that was first colonized by the Greeks and is still maintained today, as well as Stari Grad itself, Croatia's oldest township.
After a moment to absorb the breathtaking surroundings, you'll ascend Hvar's tallest peak, St. Nicholas for additional sweeping vistas over the Adriatic and neighboring islands like Brač, Korčula, and Vis and possibly even the east coast of Italy! On your way down the sloping hillside lies Sveta Nedija, a village surrounded by vineyards so steep they’re renowned the world over for being extraordinarily difficult to tend; but they're also known for the high-quality red wine they produce from the Dalmatian plavac grape. Continue along the southern edge of Hvar as you make your way back to your accommodation.
Day 9: Explore Hvar
Today, you have free range to explore Hvar at your own pace.
A great way to discover much of the island is to rent a scooter in Hvar Town and drive along the coastline through olive groves, lavender fields, and vineyards, stopping along the way to lie out on a beach you happen upon. In the afternoon, switch gears and join a half-day wine tour to sample some of the region's best wines as well as learn about its 2,400-year-old history. In the early evening, bring a bottle of wine and head to Tito's Caves, just north of Stari Grad, for a picnic as you watch the sunset from these hidden-away caves.
The more athletically inclined might prefer an early morning start to trek up to the 16th-century Španjola Fortress for views over Hvar Town and the Pakleni Islands, followed by a cycling tour around Hvar to explore the interior of the island. Another great option is to embark on a hike from Hvar Town to visit Velo Grablje, a near-deserted 500-year-old town, and Malo Grablje a nice hike that takes you down a canyon into the village. Here you can stop for lunch to enjoy a delicious meal at perhaps the most authentic of the island's taverns.
One last option is to explore the nearby Pakleni Islands. You can rent a private taxi boat to tour around the islands for the day, where you might consider taking a 15-minute water taxi to Jerolim and Stipnska or continue on to other islands further out to walk around and explore. For the more adventurous, there is the option to go on a guided full-day or half-day sailing or kayaking tour of the islands—a great way to discover the many secluded beaches and lagoons!
Day 10: Ferry from Hvar to Split
In the morning, you'll catch a one-hour ferry from Hvar to Split. Upon arriving in Split, check into your hotel and settle into your accommodation before taking the rest of the day to wander Split's historic center.
Start at Pjaca Square for pretty views of white marble tiles, the Iron Gate (the western entrance to Diocletian's Palace), a Romanesque clock tower with the remains of a medieval sundial, and the 15th-century Town Hall. Stop for lunch at Trattoria Bajamont, just north of the Iron Gate. From there, visit the popular Voćni trg or Fruit Square. Here you can enjoy renaissance architecture, influenced during Split's Venetian era. For a bit of shopping and a bite to eat head to Marmont Street, though you'll want to make your way to the waterfront to catch the sunset.
In the evening, take a stroll along Split's seafront Riva to admire the views over the Adriatic before finding the off-beat Konoba Dioklecijan restaurant, just to the left of the Bronze Gate for dinner, its outdoor terrace built into the walls of Diocletian's Palace.
Ferry duration (Hvar to Split): 1 hour
Day 11: Explore Split and Diocletian's Palace
Today is yours to explore Split at your own pace. An ancient coastal city founded 1,700 years ago by Roman Emperor Diocletian, Split's 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 "lungs of the city," the entire Marjan peninsula is dotted with tiny centuries-old churches, large cypress and black pine trees, and Mediterranean plants and herbs.
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. Afterward, head to Bačvice Beach to relax on the sand warmed by the day's sun before choosing a nearby restaurant for dinner.
Day 12: Krka National Park (Day Trip from Split)
Prepare for an unforgettable day trip to nearby Krka National Park, one of Croatia's top-rated parks. You'll meet your private transfer this morning to drive to Skradin at the entrance to the park. With seven waterfalls—the largest and most impressive being Skradinski Buk—Krka National Park is home to a network of striking waterfalls. The Krka River, another highlight of the park, carves through the limestone and creates a spectacular canyon on its 44-mile journey (70 km) from the foothills of the Dinaric Alps to Šibenik.
You can request to have a private local guide to take you throughout the park or opt to discover Krka on your own following the well-marked winding wooden paths. You'll traverse emerald pools and river islands to prime lookout spots in which to view the falls where you'll even have the opportunity to take a dip in one of the lagoons as Krka is the only national park in Croatia swimming is allowed.
Skradinski Buk is the final of the seven waterfalls, and Mother Nature saved the best for last. Cascading 78 feet (24 m) down into an emerald lagoon wider than the falls are tall, you'll find restaurants, snack stands, and ice cream shops at the base of this postcard locale to satisfy any food-related cravings, perfect for lunch. Afterward, you'll meet your driver and transfer back to your hotel in Split.
Driving time (Split to Krka): 1.5 hours
Day 13: Cooking Class in Trogir (Day Trip from Split)
Located 45 minutes west of Split is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trogir, a port town on a small island just off the mainland. Encircled by medieval walls, Trogir's gorgeous Old Town is a mix of romanesque and neoclassical architecture, making it a romantic destination on any Croatian vacation itinerary. Moreover, the town's location in the heart of the Dalmatian coast makes it the perfect spot to take a cooking class, learn the secrets of the region's delicious cuisine, and enjoy a traditional Croatian gozba (feast).
This half-day culinary adventure begins by meeting your host and cooking instructor and planning a menu according to your food preferences. Then you'll hit Trogir's cobbled streets and browse the markets for the freshest produce. With ingredients in hand, you'll head to the kitchen and start preparing the meal. At the end of the experience, you'll sit down with your host and enjoy the fruits of your labor, together with a glass of one of Croatia's famous wines.
Day 14: Cycling Tour through the Zagora (Day Trip from Split)
Today is reserved for a memorable cycling tour of the Dalmatian hinterland beyond Split. You'll first meet your guide along the Riva harbor, before being transported to a starting point in the countryside. You'll pedal along a rural track through the zagora taking in the beautiful views as you cover the rugged and wild terrain. After a short ride, you'll reach the ruins of the medieval Nutjak Fortress where you'll stop to rest and admire the sweeping vistas over the Cetina river and surroundings.
From here, you'll continue to the picturesque and ancient town of Trilj and then venture to discover a 600-year-old working mill in Grab. Next, you'll ride to the Ruda springs, considered to be one of the hinterland's most beautiful landmarks and the perfect setting for a relaxed buffet-style lunch. The final leg of the tour takes you to the small settlement of Otok before you cycle back to the starting point and then transfer back to central Split.
Cycling distance: 25 miles (40 km)
Day 15: Depart Split
If you have a free morning before departing, check out the Green Market (Pazar Market). A lively fruit and vegetable outdoor market just east of the Diocletian Palace, this is a great place to see how the locals shop and to pick up some fruit for your flight home. Farmers from the surrounding areas of Split come into town every day to sell their seasonal local produce from sunrise to 2 pm.
Depending on traffic, it usually takes 45 minutes to travel from Old Town to the airport. Best to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to your international departure (and with some extra time to drop off your rental car, if you have one).