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May 1 2019

The Croatian Coast and Montenegro

An Active Adventure for the Discerning Traveller

Overview

Equally attractive to active younger explorers and to more seasoned travelers, Croatia is calling. Adagio’s meandering sojourn along the sun-bathed coast provides an experience that far exceeds a mere tourist visit. You’ll learn of Croatia’s eventful history. Over the centuries their governments have included Greek, Roman and Early Croatian, Venetian, Austrian and more recently the Yugoslavian government with which we are more familiar. But just as important, you’ll enjoy a true holiday of superb yet simple food and wine, and the chance to blend in with the locals by adopting their no-stress lifestyle.
Our 11-day tour of the Croatian coastline will take you from the romantic and picturesque town of Rovinj, the gem of the Istrian peninsula in the north, down the rugged Dalmatian coast toward the region’s capital of Split. Affectionately called ‘the most beautiful city in the world’ by its locals and the home of UNESCO-protected Diocletian’s Palace, Split is underrated and you’re among the lucky few to discover it before the crowds. Our journey continues to the medieval ‘pearl of the Adriatic’, Dubrovnik, on the southern tip of Croatia. Finally, the adventure ends with two nights in exotic Montenegro.
Enhanced with an array of activities such as scenic bike rides, island hopping, hiking trips, kayaking tours, visits to family farms, and carefully selected gastronomic experiences, this exciting adventure along the Croatian Adriatic will engage all your senses and provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
This trip can also be run on a custom basis for specific groups on alternative dates. Please inquire for more information.

Day-By-Day

NOTE: We encourage you to arrive a couple of days early into Venice in order to rest from your journey across the Atlantic, and would be happy to help you with pre-tour arrangements there. There are daily ferries from Venice to Rovinj, and this cost is additional to the tour cost. We are happy to book the ferry for you on May 1, 2019, which is Day 1 of this adventure.

DAY 1 – Rovinj

Independent arrival (we recommend the ferry from Venice) and check-in at the at the Spirito Santo Palazzo Storico Heritage Hotel in the center of Rovinj, an elegant boutique property that will be completely be at our disposal. Take some time to settle in and relax. This evening, wander with your local guide through the picturesque town of Rovinj, nestled on a peninsula dominated by the lofty bell tower of the Church of St. Euphemia. The labyrinth of narrow streets climbing up to the church is lined with art galleries and shops, offering plenty of temptations. After the pleasant stroll, enjoy cocktails at Valentino’s bar, followed by a welcome dinner in a local restaurant, where we have booked the best table on the terrace for you to enjoy the spectacular view of Rovinj and its fabled sunset while sipping a glass of wine. Cheers – or shall we say, “Živjeli “! Welcome drink, D

Lodging for the next two nights: Spirito Santo Palazzo Storico (double rooms, each unique)

DAY 2 – Exploring the Istrian Peninsula

After a hearty breakfast you will depart for the town of Grožnjan, where you will hop an E-bike for a scenic guided tour through the serene verdant surroundings of rural Istria. Explore small hilltop towns with ease thanks to the “little engine” on your bike! At midday, stop at a family-owned farm for an authentic meal made from locally grown ingredients and homemade wine. After lunch, continue cycling to the town of Motovun, a quaint artistic oasis on top of a hill, where the E-bike tour will end. Free time to wander through the maze of Motovun’s cobbled streets and lovely squares. From there we’ll give you a lift back to Rovinj for a pleasant leisurely evening and a well-deserved rest after this eventful day. B,L

DAY 3 – Rovinj – Pula – Split

Hearty breakfast and checkout, followed by a scenic 40-minute flight from the Pula Airport to Split, Croatia’s second largest city. Feel the wind in your hair as you’re whisked from the airport to the Split city center via speedboat, then disembark right in the inviting old town center. Start the afternoon with a food & wine pairing treat at Zinfandel Food & Wine Bar, where you can treat your palate to some scrumptious bites and a bottle of premium, locally-produced wine.

After the savory lunch it’s time for hotel check-in and free time during which you can relax and re-charge your batteries for the late-afternoon guided walking tour of Split. Split is not only a city; it is a living monument of antique architecture intertwined with early Christian, Byzantine and Medieval art, listed as a World Heritage Site since 1979. The city originated from a spacious Roman palace built by the charismatic Roman Emperor Diocletian as his retirement residence. From a place of pagan worship housing the Emperor’s mausoleum, over the centuries the structure has evolved into a true Mediterranean city featuring one of the first Christian cathedrals in the world, dedicated to Split’s patron saint – St. Domnius. The Imperial substructures, the Peristyle, temples, sphinxes, medieval palaces, fruit market, fish market, picturesque streets and squares… the vivid pulse of the city will capture you! Dinner on your own tonight. B,L

Lodging for the next three nights: 4* Cornaro Hotel, Split (deluxe city view rooms)

DAY 4 – Walking and drinking on the Island of Brač

The morning ferry ride (50 minutes) to the island of Brač marks the beginning of Day 4 and the chance to explore this magnificent island on foot. Upon disembarking in the town of Supetar, you will journey to the starting point of an easy 30- to 40-minute ascent to the Blaca Hermitage – a monastic complex built around a stone cave in which Croatian monks found shelter from the Turks. Using the hermitage as a farm, school and a private astronomical observatory, the monks produced wine, grew olive trees, pressed the oil, raised sheep, oxen and mules, and tended to more than 230 unique stone-carved bee hives. Apart from the interesting historical facts, your guide will also share numerous legendary tales about this magnificent place, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2007.

After visiting the monastery, continue ascending toward Obršje, one of the many abandoned shepherds’ villages on the island. There’s a bit of time for some picturesque photos, then we’ll move on to the Senjković winery. This fourth-generation family-owned “hip and humble” winery presents superb examples of the grapes indigenous to the island. You’ll visit a 200 year old wine cellar and then sit down in their simple courtyard to a seven (small!) course slow food tasting lunch paired with wines. On the way back to the ferry you’ll stop at the top of Vidova Gora Hill. At 780 meters, the highest peak of the island of Brač and the highest mountain peak of the Adriatic islands offers a stunning view of the town of Bol and the famous “white tongue” Golden Horn beach (Croatia’s most spectacular), as well as of the remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stari Grad Plain on the neighboring island of Hvar – the unique land division system deriving from Ancient Greek times.

Back on the (jovial!) ferry for the ride back to Split, where you will arrive in early evening. Enjoy the city’s rich and lively bar scene and/or fine dining opportunities tonight. B,L with wine pairing

DAY 5 – Free day in Split / Lavish dinner

Today is yours! Explore the 1700-year-old city of Split at your own pace. You may enjoy simply strolling around the old town center soaking in the atmosphere of the vibrant streets and admiring the various architectural styles fused together in the uniquely charming fabric of the city. Art and history buffs can visit one of the city’s numerous museums and galleries. Sports enthusiasts can spend the day in nature on Split’s iconic Marjan hill, where finally the Croatian flag proudly flies in place of the Yugoslav flag that stood there for 40 years. Here you can jog, hike, trek, cycle, swim or free climb. If you are an adventurous foodie, treat yourself to a tasting of exotic middle European delicacies in one of the city’s countless catering establishments. In any case, Split is a colourful postcard providing a myriad of options that can cater to any taste.

* For those of you whose love for food also includes a talent for cooking, we can organize an optional cooking class (with lunch included!), preceded by shopping at the traditional fish and farmers’ markets.

In the evening we have a gastronomic experience in store for you: an authentic gourmet meal paired with premium, locally-produced wine, and presented with a modern twist (either Makarun or Bokeria). B,D

DAY 6 – Split – Dubrovnik (Island-hopping day)

Shortly after breakfast and hotel checkout you will hop a speedboat and set off on a full-day trip toward Dubrovnik, stopping at several memorable points along the way. The first one is the island of Hvar, a rather busy summer destination frequently visited by celebrities. Although Hvar’s present-day reputation is that of a glitzy party hub, it is in fact one of the oldest tourist destinations in the Adriatic. Its pearl is the small bay town of Hvar in which 16th century walls surround beautifully ornamented Gothic palaces and traffic-free marble streets.

There are several options for the first break on today’s island-hopping tour: if the group prefers to visit the cultural sights, we can organise a guided walk through the old town followed by a coffee break. If, however, crystal-clear waters, hidden beaches and deserted lagoons sound more appealing to you, we can visit the Paklinski Islands, a scenic chain of wooded islets which stretch out immediately in front of the town, for some swimming and chill-out time in one of the beach bars. Ultimately, the decision may depend on the weather.

Continuing southward, you will stop for lunch in the town of Korčula. Your destination: a local tavern, renowned for its outstanding food and tucked away in a quiet street at the very heart of the town. Before reaching Dubrovnik, you can stop again for a swim (or hiking) break either on the island of Mljet or one of the Elaphite islands. Upon arrival in Dubrovnik, you can stroll in the city center, which is very close to the hotel. B,L

Lodging for the next three nights: 5* Argentina Hotel (deluxe double sea view rooms with balcony)

DAY 7 – Dubrovnik – City Walls from the Sea and …

Savor the pristine view of Dubrovnik’s old town and the Island of Lokrum from your balcony, followed by a leisurely breakfast. Afterward, how about kayaking beneath Dubrovnik city walls, enjoying the view of the majestic towering ramparts from the sea?  Plan B in case of crowds in the waters right below the walls: same thing but at the nearby Zaton Bay, Dubrovnik’s green and unspoilt oasis of tranquility boasting aristocratic summer mansions. Kayaking will be finished by midday, leaving several hours to immerse in the lively atmosphere of Croatia’s most popular tourist destination before the early evening walking tour of Dubrovnik’s city walls and the old town.

The walk will begin on the city walls and continue with the city’s lifeline, Stradun promenade, which encompasses all the major sights of Dubrovnik’s historic center. Starting from the Gate of Pile and the Church of Saint Saviour, you will see Onofrio’s Fountain, Franciscan and Dominican churches, the bell tower, the old city harbor, and the Cathedral – each a significant historic landmark. The crown jewel of Dubrovnik is the Knežev Dvor, or the Rector’s Palace, now the city`s historical museum.

For a proper closure of the day, you will enjoy dinner on the terrace of one of the finest restaurants,in town – Arsenal, where the superbly cooked Mediterranean dishes will be paired with exquisite local wines. B,D

DAY 8 – Dubrovnik 

Following a free morning, we depart with speedboats at 11am to the Elaphite Islands where we will lunch in a Robinson-like Bowa restaurant.  On the way back, we are free to make stops and enjoy some swimming or explore Lopud and Šipan island (if the weather permits!)

The afternoon will be free for you to spend as you please, with suggestions of where to shop for unique items to bring back to friends and family … and yourself! On the other hand, if you still feel energetic and would like to explore, we suggest taking the cable car and perhaps having dinner at Panorama restaurant. Note: The view from this restaurant is unique so it must be booked well in advance. Please let us know at least 2 months prior to the trip if you’d like reservations. B,L

DAY 9 – Dubrovnik to Perast (Montenegro)

Set off after breakfast to Kotor Bay (Montenegro). Wedged between brooding mountains and a moody corner of the bay, the achingly atmospheric Kotor is perfectly at one with its setting. Hemmed in by staunch walls snaking improbably up the surrounding slopes, the town is a medieval maze of museums, churches, cafe-strewn squares and Venetian palaces and pillories. It’s a dramatic and delightful place where the past coexists with the present; its cobblestones ring with the sound of children racing to school in centuries-old buildings, lines of laundry flutter from wrought-iron balconies, and hundreds of cats – the descendants of seafaring felines – loll in marble lanes.

From here we’ll take a boat ride to the most famous island in Montenegro – Our Lady of the Rocks. According to legend, the islet was made over the centuries by local seamen who kept an ancient oath after finding the icon of Madonna and the Child on the rock in the sea on July 22, 1452. Upon returning from each successful voyage, they laid a rock in the Bay. Over time, the islet gradually emerged from the sea. After a quick visit here, we continue by boat to Morinj, where a delicious lunch awaits us in the peaceful setting of an old watermill. Then back to Perast where we can have some free time to enjoy the charming atmosphere of the quietest town in all Boka. Every single piece of this town is hiding a story of its own written by Ottomans, Venetians and Christians. We’ll head back to Kotor for an early evening walking tour, then choose among the local restaurants tonight. B,L

Lodging for the next two nights: 4* Conte Hotel, Perast (double Seaview rooms/junior suites)

Day 10 – Perast – Budva – Sv. Stefan – Centinje

We’ll take off after a seaside breakfast for Budva (time for shopping and coffee) then on to an unforgettable view of Sveti Stefan. Of all the stupefying sights along the Adriatic shoreline, Sveti Stefan is the coast’s money shot. A fortified island village connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway, its photogenic jumble of 15th-century stone villas overlook an impeccable pink-sand beach and tempting turquoise waters. The island was nationalized in the 1950s and is now part of – and owned by – the luxurious Aman resort, meaning it’s off-limits to all but paying guests. But ogling comes for free; Sveti Stefan has unsurprisingly been named as Montenegro’s most photographed site. After a panoramic lunch, we continue to Cetinje: rising from a green vale surrounded by rough grey mountains, this town is an odd mix of erstwhile capital and overgrown village, where single-story cottages and stately mansions share the same street. Several of those mansions – dating from the days when European ambassadors rubbed shoulders with Montenegrin princesses – have become museums or schools for art and music. In Cetinje we will enjoy an exclusive VIP tour of the King Nikola’s and the Billiard Palace. The day ends with a descent on an old, single-laned Austrian road to Kotor that offers jaw-dropping views around every bend.

Arrival at the hotel in time to rest and pack for tomorrow’s departure. Dinner this evening will be a private function with entertainment in the town’s central square. B,L,D

Day 11 – Departure day

Sadly, this is the morning of farewell. After breakfast and hotel checkout, independent transfer to the Dubrovnik airport. Dreaming of future destinations! B

Special Features

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We also offer pre- or post-stay add-ons in Venice, and we do encourage arrival in Venice at least two days prior to the start of the tour. Please contact us if you are interested.

Register here for this private journey to Croatia!