Take 13 days to venture across Croatia on this luxury itinerary from the charming capital city of Zagreb to the medieval fortress town of Dubrovnik. Along the way, you'll visit ancient Roman coastal cities of Zadar and Split, stopping to discover the turquoise lakes and cascading waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes and Krka national parks. You'll end your stay with time spent covering island terrain on Hvar, sipping native wines on Korčula, admiring the Blue Cave on Biševo, and relaxing on gorgeous Stiniva beach on Vis.

Highlights

  • Admire Zagreb's attractions from the vantage of an antique Ford Model T
  • Dine al fresco from an exclusive rooftop terrace above Diocletian's Palace in Split
  • Soak in the Adriatic views on a luxury speedboat to Biševo, Vis, & Pakleni islands
  • Dive into history with a private tour of Dubrovnik's medieval Old Town & city walls
  • Learn to cook like a local on a family-run estate in the Konavle

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Zagreb Zagreb
Day 2 Private Guided Walking Tour of Zagreb & Vintage Car Ride Zagreb
Day 3 Zagreb to Zadar, Private Guided Tour of Plitvice Lakes Zadar
Day 4 Private Guided Walking Tour of Zadar Zadar
Day 5 Private Transfer & Guided Tour of Pag Island Zadar
Day 6 Zadar to Split, Private Guided Tour of Krka National Park Split
Day 7 Private Walking Food Tour of Split Split
Day 8 Split to Hvar, Half-Day Private Island Tour Hvar Town
Day 9 Private Speedboat Tour: Blue Cave, Vis Island, & Pakleni Islands Hvar Town
Day 10 Hvar to Korčula, Private Lumbarda Wine Tour Korčula Town
Day 11 Korčula to Dubrovnik, Private Walking City Tour Dubrovnik
Day 12 Konavle Region Private Culinary Experience Dubrovnik
Day 13 Depart Dubrovnik  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Zagreb

Zagreb's Cathedral
Zagreb's Cathedral

Welcome to Croatia! Start your luxury adventure from Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Upon arrival at the Franjo Tuđman Airport, you'll board your private transfer to a centrally located hotel in the heart of the city. After settling into your historic accommodations, you may wish to set out to familiarize yourself with your surroundings. The city center is easily walkable and the streets and parks are easy to navigate by foot. All the main attractions and restaurants are within walking distance. 

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. There's no better way to commence your trip than with a welcome dinner and toast at one of Zagreb's fine restaurants as the capital boasts a highly regarded food scene.

Enjoy an evening stroll through the charming city center, passing by the Zagreb Cathedral as you make your way to vibrant Tkalčićeva—a café and restaurant-lined street that comes alive at night and offers an energetic nightlife scene. Choose between a variety of pubs and bars for a local craft beer or cocktail a perfect way to cap off the day.

Day 2: Private Guided Walking Tour of Zagreb & Vintage Car Ride

Ban Jelačić Square
Ban Jelačić Square

Chock-full of museums, great architecture, trendy neighborhoods, and nightlife, immerse yourself in Zagreb's delights on a private guided walking tour of the city's top sights.

Start at Ban Jelačić, the main square, and then wind your way through the network of small streets through the oldest part of Zagreb, Gornji Grad (Upper Town), an area that stretches between two hills: Kaptol and Gradec. You'll visit the Dolac, a buzzing historical market, the Cathedral, Tkalčićeva street, the Kamenita Vrata (Stone Gate), and St. Mark's Church with its famed multi-colored roof as well as learn why the Grič cannon fires from the Lotrščak Tower every day at noon. 

You'll then take the funicular down to Donji Grad (Lower Town), an area made up of spacious parks and boulevards, like the impressively grand, Lenuci Horseshoe (or Green Horseshoe) capped by the neo-baroque Croatian National Theater. Here you'll have the opportunity to explore part of Ulica street, one of the longest streets in Zagreb and a great place for shopping, cultural sites, and finding a restaurant to grab a bite.

Discover the local lore as you listen to your guide share stories of the forgotten past from a shaded bench in Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square (better known as Zrinjevack park). And if there's interest, your guide will lead you to one of Zagreb's excellent museums, such as the Museum of Illusions or the ever-popular Museum of Broken Relationships, a unique museum that displays personal objects from former lovers.

After a morning of walking, you'll rest your feet and travel in style in a vintage Ford Model T for a different perspective of the city and a lovely way to complete your tour. The rest of the afternoon is yours to relax in your hotel or continue to explore the city at your own pace. And when it's time for dinner, you'll want to have a reservation made for Dubravkin Put, a contemporary restaurant with a separate wine bar that peacefully sits in a wooded glen between Upper Town and the Tuškanac woods.

Day 3: Zagreb to Zadar, Private Guided Tour of Plitvice Lakes

Boardwalk snakes through Plitvice Lakes National Park
Boardwalk snakes through Plitvice Lakes National Park

In the morning, you'll meet your driver and venture south to the sunny shores of Dalmatia and the beautiful town of Zadar. En route, you'll stop to visit one of Croatia’s most popular national parks, Plitvice Lakes.

Plitvice Lakes National Park is Croatia’s natural masterpiece, gorgeous at any time of year.  A must-visit for any traveler to Croatia, the UNESCO-protected park is comprised of 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. 

You'll walk throughout the park along wooded boardwalks following your guide as they show you the most interesting places and explain the significance of its history and natural features. And for something truly special, you might like to bring a prepared lunch and a bottle of wine with you to enjoy a picnic amid postcard-perfect environs.

Following lunch, your journey south to the ancient Roman city of Zadar will continue. A historical center of the Dalmatian Coast, Zadar is famous for its picturesque coastline full of islands and vibrant blue waters, as well as fresh seafood and unforgettable sunsets. The rest of the day is yours to relax and explore after checking into your boutique hotel in the heart of Zadar's old town. For dinner, head to the Michelin-guide restaurant, Foša, specialists in Croatian seafood.

Day 4: Private Guided Walking Tour of Zadar

St. Anastasia's Cathedral
St. Anastasia's Cathedral

Today you'll meet your guide for a private walking tour to discover the often-overlooked star of Dalmatia. Set on a peninsula surrounded by the sparkling Adriatic Sea, today Zadar is home to a tidy network of polished stone streets and public squares. Explore the walled Old Town—a treasure trove of ancient city ruins and architecture from Roman and medieval times—and discover the 9th-century Church of St. Donatus, a 16th-century Venetian city wall, and the Roman Forum dating back to the 1st century. 

Carry on to the popular Gold and Silver Museum and its exhibit of bejeweled vessels in the shapes of various body parts, each containing a bone or other relic. Paintings, church artifacts, and other artwork are on display, too. From there, visit the modern Museum of Ancient Glass showcasing ancient glass artifacts and glassblowing demonstrations.

After touring the city by day, come to the waterfront just before dusk to witness another of Dalmatia's most beautiful sunsets. During this time, you can marvel at Croatian artist, Nikola Bašić's 72-foot Monument to the Sun art feature while you listen to the nearby Sea Organ play its unending melody, fueled by the ebb and flow of the Adriatic Sea's current. Return to the historic center to choose between a number of excellent to-die-for seafood restaurants, followed by a stroll along the Riva, a wide ribbon of stone paths bordered by a grassy park on one side and the sea on the other.

Day 5: Private Transfer & Guided Tour of Pag Island

The moon-like surface of Pag Island
The moon-like surface of Pag Island

After a leisurely start to your morning, you'll meet your private transfer in your hotel lobby and make your way to the moon-like Pag for a full-day special tour of the island's more important attractions. Barren in its appearance from the mainland, Pag is home to around 8,000 people looking after three times as many sheep, whose diet mostly consists of the grey-green carpet of sage that covers the eastern side of the island. While Pag is known for its cheese, it also has a long history in the salt trade as well as a long-standing tradition in lacemaking. 

There are two main settlements on the island: the 15th-century Pag Town with a pleasing seafront promenade and pebbly stretches of beach and the more modern and lively Novalja with nearby Zrće beach acting as a nightlife hub.

You'll begin with a few of Novalja's ancient Roman remains, including an underground water conduit known as Talijanova buža or "Italian Hole" to the locals. You'll find your way to the Town Museum's basement where you can access the Italian Hole as well as check out a few of the artifacts in the museum, including encrusted amphorae from a shipwrecked Roman merchant ship. And when it's time for lunch, you'll sit down to a meal of paška janjetina, a traditional dish of roasted Pag lamb and potatoes—dobar tek (bon appétit)!

Next, you'll make your way to the 16th-century salt warehouse near Pag Town where you'll also learn about the UNESCO-protected lace industry. From here, you'll venture to a private cheese factory to sample Paški sir, the award-winning cheese the island is known for across the country.

Day 6: Zadar to Split, Private Guided Tour of Krka National Park

Krka National Park's Visovac island and monastery
Krka National Park's Visovac island and monastery

Only a couple of hours away from Zadar, you'll stop to spend some time exploring Krka National Park on a private tour. With seven waterfalls—the largest and most impressive being Skradinski Buk—Krka National Park is one of Croatia's top-rated parks 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. 

Accompanied by your guide, you'll follow the winding wooden paths that traverse emerald pools and river islands to prime lookout spots in which to view the falls. If the mood should strike, you can take a dip in one of the lagoons as Krka is the only national park in Croatia where swimming is allowed. Meanwhile, for a unique perspective of the captivating landscape, you'll cruise out to Visovac, an island in the heart of the park upstream from Skradinski Buk. Here you'll visit the 15th-century church and Franciscan monastery and tour its rich library of historic books and paintings.

You'll get to see Roški Slap, where you can take a short walk across the river to a small set of rapids, said to resemble a pearl necklace from above and then, of course, carry on to Skradinski Buk. The final of the seven waterfalls, 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, though you'll do well to save room for a traditional lunch in a hidden-away location.

Come mid-afternoon, you'll venture further south to Split, settling into your upscale heritage boutique hotel set within the walls of famed Diocletian's Palace. Split is a dynamic ancient coastal city, founded 1,700 years ago by Roman Emperor Diocletian. Today its UNESCO-protected Old Town includes several impressive sites, including Diocletian's Palace, one of the best-preserved Roman buildings in the world. 

You'll have the rest of the afternoon 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. And in the evening, take a stroll along Split's seafront Riva to admire the views over the Adriatic before finding your chosen restaurant. Perhaps an establishment with views overlooking the sea.

Day 7: Private Walking Food Tour of Split

Plate of soparnik (a type of savory pie) with prosciuto and cheese
Plate of soparnik (a type of savory pie) with prosciuto and cheese

One excellent way to experience Split is on a private food tour. You'll snack your way through the city's historic streets while visiting street markets, modest bakeries, and old bars while on the hunt for sweet and savory local delicacies.

You'll meet your guide in the morning and meander over to 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 sample prosciutto and cheese together with rakija, a typical fruit brandy of the region. Step back in time as your guide escorts you underground to the palace's cellars all the while listening to intriguing accounts of its history. 

Next, you'll stop to discover, as well as enjoy, how the savory soparnik—a type of Swiss-chard filled pie thought to be the prototype of the Italian pizza—is made. Following the tour, you'll dine al fresco from an exclusive rooftop terrace above Diocletian's Palace.

If there's interest following your tour, climb the Romanesque bell tower of the Cathedral of St. Dominus (St. Duje)—considered the oldest Catholic cathedral still in use—for stunning views over the city and Adriatic. Another option for great views is to hike or bike to the top of Marjan Hill. Referred to as 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 and relax on the sand warmed by the day's sun before choosing a nearby restaurant for dinner.

Day 8: Split to Hvar, Half-Day Private Island Tour

Hvar and the Pakleni islands in the distance
Hvar and the Pakleni islands in the distance

This morning you'll board a catamaran from Split to Hvar. A Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea, 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, the 16th-century Španjola Fortress, and the main square anchored by the Renaissance-era Cathedral of St. Stephen.

You'll check into your hotel to drop off your luggage before joining your local guide and setting out on a half-day private excursion to cover the undulating island terrain, accented with vineyard-covered hills, thick olive groves, and fragrant fields full of rosemary and lavender. You'll find your way 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. 

Stop for an authentic lunch at a family-run konoba for a traditionally prepared meal in the peka, a bell-shaped lid that is covered in coal. Next, you'll spend a little time visiting a family-owned vineyard or two where you'll have the opportunity to try wines endemic to the island paired with regional delicacies before heading up Vidikovac for views over the Stari Grad Plain. An agricultural landscape set up by the ancient Greeks (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site) you'll meander amid small villages in the inner part of the island stopping to visit Stari Grad, Croatia's oldest town. 

After the day's adventures, treat yourself to a drink in the town's ancient piazza that overlooks the Venetian loggia, 7th-century fortification walls, and the oldest municipal theater in Europe.

Day 9: Private Speedboat Tour: Blue Cave, Vis Island, & Pakleni Islands

Scenic view of picturesque Vis Town
Scenic view of picturesque Vis Town

Today you'll set out on an exciting full-day outing to discover the islands of Biševo, Vis, and the Pakleni islands. On a private luxury speedboat, you'll first cruise to the east coast of Biševo Island, a popular, though often crowded destination, to see the mesmerizing iridescent blue waters of the Blue Cave (Modra špilja). Upon landing on the island, you'll transfer to a cave friendly boat before floating inside the cave to discover the natural phenomena for yourself.

From Biševo, you'll then travel to the southern coast of nearby Vis Island and to the stunning pebble beach of Stiniva Bay. Obscured by towering cliffs, the hidden-away beach offers excellent crystalline waters for swimming and snorkeling as well as shade for a respite from the mid-morning sun. 

When you're ready, you'll hoist anchor and continue your journey around Vis to the fishing village of Komiža. An incredibly picturesque Mediterranean town, Komiža is made up of narrow winding streets and attractive stone houses. Find your way to a café amid 16th-and 17th-century Venetian-style buildings to soak in the charming scenery or visit the Kaštel, a squat centuries-old fortress that is now home to the comprehensive Fishing Museum. Be sure to check out the traditional falkuša fishing boat before choosing a restaurant for lunch.

Next, you'll return toward Hvar, stopping to sunbathe and swim the bays and inlets of the nearby Pakleni Islands archipelago. A collection of 14 wooded and rocky islets, the Pakleni Islands are the most beautiful part of the Hvar Riviera and are a favorite retreat for locals and the rich-and-famous seeking to escape the summer heat.

After a full day, you'll return to Hvar Town in the late afternoon for an evening of your own making.

Day 10: Hvar to Korčula, Private Lumbarda Wine Tour

Fortified Korčula
Fortified Korčula

Starting the day early, you'll transfer aboard a catamaran to Korčula and to your hotel in Korčula Town to settle in. The morning is yours to discover the numerous restaurants, taverns, shops, and bars as you roam the maze of gray stone houses, alleys, churches, and squares of Old Town, one of the finest examples of Venetian architecture on the Dalmatian coast.

You might like to get out and visit the 14th-century Land Gate on top of an elegant staircase or check out 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.

In the afternoon, you'll meet your guide to indulge in a wine tasting tour of the Lumbarda region on the southeastern tip of Korčula. En route, you'll pass through fields, villages, and wineries with vista opening up to the Adriatic Seas as well as to the impressive Mt. Ilija on the nearby Pelješac peninsula.

The short drive covers ancient and historic sites of the eastern side of the island until you reach 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.

You'll have the opportunity to visit two wineries, one of which is Bire Winery, a family-run winery that produces Grk wine as well as its varietals, including a rosé. All the wineries in the area produce Grk, which is unique to this region due to its sandy soil and Plavac Mali (a red grape grown extensively across South Dalmatia that acts as a pollinator for the Grk vines). Following dinner at a local konoba with a view of the setting sun, you'll return to your elegant villa to relax poolside, taking in the sight of the Luka Korculanska bay.

Day 11: Korčula to Dubrovnik, Private Walking City Tour

Cable car heading up Srđ Mountain, overlooking Dubrovnik
Cable car heading up Srđ Mountain, overlooking Dubrovnik

In the morning you'll embark on a catamaran to the far south of Croatia and to one of the most ancient fortress cities in Europe. Known as the "Pearl of the Adriatic," Dubrovnik is a world-renowned city of exceptional charm. While there's evidence of settlements as far back as the Byzantine era, this area only came into its own in the 12th and 13th centuries when it was under the rule of the Venetians. Throughout the middle ages, it was a fortress port encircled by stone walls and filled with baroque churches and renaissance/gothic palaces that still stand today.

After checking into your accommodation, you'll set out to explore your surroundings on a private guided walking tour of the old city. Entering the medieval Old Town through the 16th-century Pile Gate, you'll uncover centuries of the city's rich history as you listen to stories of local life and legends and of the importance Dubrovnik once held in the era of the 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 and alleys, you'll head for Lovrijenac Fortress as well as the city's impressive defensive walls, the second-largest set of city walls in the world. At certain places the wall rises 75 feet high, offering excellent vantage points for photos of the coastline. 

For the rest of the afternoon, explore Dubrovnik and its surroundings on your own or enjoy the afternoon sun on the nearby beaches. Alternatively, you might like to join at Game of Thrones tour or opt for a kayaking tour around the city walls. Come early evening, however, it's an idea to take the cable car up to you Srđ Mountain for stunning panoramic views over the city and Adriatic before descending back down for dinner at one of Dubrovnik's great restaurants.

Day 12: Konavle Region Private Culinary Experience

Konavle wine region, Photo taken by Kay M
Konavle wine region, Photo taken by Kay M

Today is reserved for a unique tour of the Konavle countryside, a famous wine region that stretches from Cavtat to the south-easterly tip of Croatia at the Montenegrin border. Its small population lives in some 32 villages scattered across the fertile land where you'll have the opportunity to visit a local family estate and participate in a cooking class.

You'll board your private transfer and head out to a family-run farmhouse where you'll meet your hosts and soon learn about the regional gastronomy as well as Croatian culture and history. Together with your hosts, you'll take in the picturesque scene as you explore the grounds by bike before picking fresh vegetables from the garden and preparing a four-course dinner. And when it comes time to sit down and taste your efforts, you’ll have the added pleasure of sampling homemade wines paired appropriately with your meal.

Day 13: Depart Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik at sunset
Dubrovnik at sunset

Your exploration of Croatia will end after breakfast with a transfer to the airport to catch your flight home or to your next destination. 

Map

Map of Luxury Croatian Highlights: Zagreb, Zadar, Split, & Dubrovnik - 13 Days
Map of Luxury Croatian Highlights: Zagreb, Zadar, Split, & Dubrovnik - 13 Days