Duration: 12 days
Price: $2500-$2800 USD
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Vipava vineyards

 

Hello friends of Hillary! I’m Andrew, an ex-pat from Seattle but now living in Slovenia. For the past 15 years, I’ve been running tours all around this country and her Balkan neighbors. I’ve helped Hillary on her two trips over here and this  is my special tour offer to you. It’s like a “best of” with many of the sights and spots that she’s been to (and loved) – all fit into 12 days.

This small group tour takes in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Montenegro with some of the obvious tourist ‘hits’ like Plitvice, Diocletian’s Palace in Split and gorgeous Lake Bled. But there’s plenty more to discover with a plethora of off-the-beaten-path spots such as Ottoman hill towns in Bosnia, truffle hunting and olive tasting in Istria and the beautiful wine and food served up in Slovenia’s rustic countryside.

From the beautiful coastline of Dalmatia to the grand mountains of Montenegro, from the Turkish influences in Bosnia, to the dramatic caves and castles of Slovenia, this tour takes you to the hidden gems, traditional eateries, storied towns and rural locations. Connect with my friends whose stories about their cities, their lives or their wine and food they produce you won’t find on the standard bus-about tours. This is a great intro to one of Europe’s most fascinating, culturally and historically diverse regions where authenticity can still be found just around the corner from mass tourism.

Options for overnights in Dubrovnik, Croatia (post-tour) can be easily arranged.

 

      • Soak in the charms of Rovinj, Perast and Kotor on the Adriatic coast
      • Relax in the cafe culture and lively outdoor markets of Ljubljana – Slovenia’s art nouveau-rich capital
      • Discover the rich history of the region, from Diocletian’s 1700 year-old palace in Split, to the dervish houses and Ottoman fortresses of Bosnia’s Herzegovina region
      • Savor  local flavors and unique wines with a four-course dinner paired with wines in Vipava Valley, Slovenia’s premier wine region
      • Explore the underground caverns and secret passage ways in the Skocjan caves and legendary Predjama castle
  • Upon Request for 2019

  • $2500 USD for groups of 4-7 OR $2800 USD for groups of 2-3

    5 dinners, 5 lunches, 12 breakfasts, 12 nights lodging at boutique hotels and B&Bs (all rooms en-suite), private transport, entrance fees to all places listed on itinerary (except ‘optional’ items), tour leader and local guides.

  • Charms of Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor

    Culinary experience at Slovenia’s Majerija restaurant

    How to properly drink Bosnian coffee in Mostar

Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Slovenia

Overnight: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Arrive in Ljubljana and transfer to your lodging. Guided walking tour of the city and welcome dinner at a traditional Slovenian evening featuring live Slovenian music, folklore show with costumes and dances from different regions of Slovenia and a 3-course meal. D

Day 2: Ljubljana and Lake Bled

Overnight: Ljubljana, Slovenia

First part of the day will be at your leisure to explore Ljubljana. Perhaps visit the castle, browse the outdoor market along the river, take in a museum or just people watch along Preseren Square. Then head to Lake Bled and visit the castle perched up on a cliff top. Lunch is at a traditional farmhouse in a small rural village where the proprietor makes her own Slovenian cakes, strudel, soft cheeses, herbal liqueurs and beer! She also has a great ethnographic museum of items her family has collected from the past 100+ years! After lunch a visit to local beekeeper to learn about importance of beekeeping in Slovenia and tastings of honeys. Return back to Ljubljana by early evening. Dinner on your own. B, L

Day 3: History, Nature and Wine

Overnight: Vipava Valley, Slovenia

Depart Ljubljana and visit to Predjama Castle. This 16th century castle clings to limestone cliffs and has a rich history, including folklore about the Slovenian Robin Hood who once lived there. Wine tasting of macerated (known as orange wines) in Slovenia’s Vipava Valley. Visit to hill towns in later afternoon followed by a very special four-course dinner paired with local wines. Overnight at rustic pension. B, L, WD

Day 4: Spectacular Caves, Delicious Olives and Enchanting Hill Towns

Overnight: Istria region, Croatia

Visit to the amazing underground world of Skocjan caves featuring the largest subterranean cavern in Europe which evokes Lord of the Rings. Tour of organic olive farm with all bio-products including olives, oil, olive salts, cheese and even bio certified wines. Enjoy lunch with a view to nearby salt flats where they still collect salt from the Adriatic Sea. Cross border into Croatia’s Istria region and visit artist hill town of Groznjan. Check into B&B. Dinner on your own at wonderful, family-run B&B/winery. B, L

Day 5: Truffle Hunting

Overnight: Istria region, Croatia

Delve into the Istria forests with a local woman and her dogs to sniff out and dig up truffles. Regardless of what we find, there will be a special truffle-themed lunch in the countryside and a visit to the family’s olive orchard. Then browse the charming hill town of Motovun with glorious views all around. Late afternoon visit to enjoy romantic Rovinj, Croatia’s most beautiful seaside town. Dinner on your own.. B, L

Day 6: Plitvice National Park

Overnight: Plitvice National Park, Croatia

Early AM departure to Croatia’s most visited national park, Plitvice. We’ll spend the whole day walking around several of the Lower and Upper Lakes of the National Park. Plitvice is filled with waterfalls, breathtaking scenery, and sixteen terraced lakes surrounded by thickly wooded mountains and lush vegetation. B

Day 7: Introduction to the Dalmatian Coast

Overnight: Brac Island, Croatia

Drive down to Croatia’s Dalmatia coast. Guided tour through Roman Emperor Diocletian’s palace from the 3rd century AD in Split. Leisure time in Split before catching the ferry across to Brac Island. Brac is famous for sheep cheese, ancient villages, olive oil and its long history of stone masonry with its white stone used to build the White House and Vienna’s Parliament building. B

Day 8: Secrets of Brac Island

Overnight: Brac Island, Croatia

Visit to authentic traditional stonemasonry village and to the island’s oldest settlement of Škrip where we’ll taste of olive oil, mini distillery of essential oil of lavender and immortella. Plus a stop at top of the mountain Vidova gora, the highest peak of all Adriatic island with spectacular views. Dinner of lamb cooked peka style at a family-run restaurant (called konoba) tucked away in small village. B, D

Day 9: Traces of the Orient in Mostar

Overnight: Mostar, Bosnia

A journey into Bosnia to sample the unique eastern charms of these lands that still bear the mark of the Ottoman Empire. Arrival into historic Mostar. Guided walking tour of Mostar, the city which used to be a major trading center of the Ottoman empire. The Iconic 400 year-old Turkish bridge was destroyed in the 90’s Balkan war but has been meticulously rebuilt with original stones and materials. The bustling Bazaar quarter has an oriental feel not found elsewhere in Europe.. B, D

Day 10: Exploring Ancient Lands of Hercegovina

Overnight: Mostar, Bosnia

Morning at leisure to soak in Mostar’s unqiue atmosphere. Afternoon spent visiting town of Blagaj where an old Dervish House now museum in a splendid spot at the base of the River Buna. Lunch along the Buna at fish restaurant. Coffee and views from an ancient fortress in the hill town of Pocitelj. B, L, D

Day 11: Exploring Montenegro’s Gorgeous Bay of Kotor

Overnight: Perast, Montenegro

Scenic drive from Bosnia into Montenegro. Stop in town of Trebinje for coffee break. Arrive into small seaside town of Perast located in spectacular setting of Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor. Short boat ride out to tiny islands in the bay with a beautifully decorated church. Leisure time to enjoy Perast. B

Day 12: Historic towns and Dinner with Locals

Overnight: Perast, Montenegro

Guided tour around picturesque Kotor, a historic walled town built up by Venetians, just 15 minutes from Perast. Head up the mountains to old royal capital of Cetinje. Special dinner with a local family that keeps bees and makes medovaca (honey brandy), loza (grape brandy) and wines made from local vranac grapes. B, W, D

Day 13: Tour Ends —  transfer to Dubrovnik, Croatia

Lodging and guiding options for post-tour in Dubrovnik can be easily arranged.