The Croatian Coast – Spring 2020
An Active Adventure for the Discerning Traveller
Equally attractive to active younger explorers and to more seasoned travellers, 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 9-day tour of the Croatian coastline starts from the medieval ‘pearl of the Adriatic’ – Dubrovnik, situated on the southern tip of Croatia. Then hop on a speedboat and start an island-hopping adventure across the islands of Korčula, Hvar and Brač, staying overnight in the magical medieval harbor of Hvar town. Our journey continues with a visit to Diocletian`s Palace and the city of Split and a brief panoramic flight above the rugged Dalmatian coast. The trip culminates in a relaxing stay in a Relais & Chateaux wine resort on Croatia’s largest peninsula, the beautiful and verdant region of Istria.
Enhanced with an array of activities such as scenic bike rides, island hopping, light hikes, visits to family farms, and carefully selected gastronomic experiences, this exciting adventure along the Croatian Adriatic will engage all your senses in 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 1 – Arrival day – strolling, welcome drink and dinner in Dubrovnik
Independent arrival and check-in at the iconic Hotel Excelsior. Nestled among pine, orange and lemon trees and surrounded by gardens of bougainvillea and oleander, this exclusive 5-star haven is only steps away from the UNESCO-protected old city of Dubrovnik and offers cinematic views of the Adriatic. Take some time to settle in and relax. This evening, wander with your guide through the picturesque old town of Dubrovnik. The walk will begin on 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, 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.
After the pleasant stroll, let us spoil you with cocktails and a dinner on the terrace of one of the finest fish restaurants in town – Proto, where the superbly cooked dishes will be paired with exquisite, locally-produced white and red wines. Welcome drink, D
Lodging for the first two nights: Dubrovnik, Hotel Excelsior, deluxe double room with sea view and balcony
DAY 2 – Exploring Dubrovnik
Awaken savoring the view of crystal blue turquoise waters of the Adriatic and the Island of Lokrum from your balcony, followed by a leisurely breakfast. This morning you can explore the streets of Dubrovnik on your own, and we’ll also offer some organized activities that may entice you. All of you may want to join in (even if briefly) an authentic experience in a coral gallery – a workshop where you can see the meticulous process that transforms raw red coral into spectacular jewelry. The master artisan will clarify why red coral has been considered one of the world’s most precious materials since antiquity. Others in the group may want to visit, with a guide or independently: the Franciscan Monastery and one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe; military highlights of Dubrovnik, exploring in detail the Homeland War in order to better understand the aggression against Dubrovnik not so many years ago; or the Dubrovnik city walls as seen from the sea, paddling along the majestic towering ramparts in sea kayaks.
No matter your choice, you will have a whole day to immerse in the lively atmosphere of Croatia’s most popular tourist destination. A cable car ride up and lunch at the fantastic Panorama restaurant situated at the top of the Srđ hill is highly recommended! B
DAY 3 – Island hopping to Hvar
Shortly after breakfast and hotel check-out you will hop on your chartered speedboat and set off on a full-day trip towards Hvar, stopping at memorable points along the way.
First is the town of Korčula – one of the finest fortified medieval towns still in existence and a historic Venetian town with timeless beauty. A guided walking tour of Korčula offers an excellent opportunity for a cultural adventure while exploring its enchanting cobbled streets. On the way to Hvar you are free to make stops and enjoy the crystal-clear waters, hidden beaches and secluded lagoons, regardless of whether you prefer swimming or chill-out time in one of the beach bars. Ultimately, the decision may depend on the weather and the amount of time spent on Korčula.
Upon arrival in Hvar, get acquainted with the town during an introductory walk, then take a quick ride up to the Španjola Fortress that dominates the town. The fortress offers delightful views of the town itself and of the nearby cluster of islets called Paklinski Islands. Slowly descending towards the charming port, you will get more information about this ancient bay town that boasts remarkable architecture and stunning nature. With its vivid pulse, 16th-century walls surrounding its beautifully ornamented Gothic palaces, and traffic-free marble streets, it is no wonder that Hvar tops the priority list of most travelers to Croatia. Time to relax before walking to a delicious dinner tonight. B, D
Lodging for the next three nights: Hvar, Adriana Spa Hotel 4* or similar
DAY 4 – Exploring the Island of Hvar
Breakfast is fun at the Adriana, with its “grind your own grain” option and tables right by the water. Depart bright and early afterward for the adorable town of Stari Grad. This day immerses you in the history of the island, its flavors and diverse landscapes, and the character of its people. Start with the long history carved into the old cobbled streets of Stari Grad, followed by a visit to the Dominican monastery. Founded in the 15th century, the building houses numerous works of art on its altars and in the museum. The visit concludes with the summer residence of the Croatian poet Petar Hektorović – the Tvrdalj Fortress. The artist worked on this structure throughout his long life, and for him this well-preserved Renaissance building was a book carved in stone.
Next comes a ride through the UNESCO-protected area of Stari Grad Plain – the largest plain in the Adriatic. This area is known for its Greek subdivision of the land according to geometrical principles, which has persisted for 24 long centuries. The dry stonewalls dividing the parcels have been restored many times, but always respecting the original division. In the very center of this field is an organic farm where everything served was actually grown by your hosts. The main course at lunch is a well-known delicacy called peka. The good times roll on with a chocolate&wine tasting (again, locally produced) in the picturesque village of Vrboska. Hvar town awaits at day’s end, and you cannot miss the Benedictine Monastery and another UNESCO heritage – the uniquely exquisite Hvar Lace made from agave cactus thread. B, L
DAY 5 – Island hopping to the Island of Brač
Following breakfast, embark right by the hotel on your chartered speedboat and feel the morning breeze as you are whisked to the island of Brač. A scenic ride awaits you to the top of Vidova Gora Hill which is, at 780 meters, the highest peak of the Adriatic islands. It 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, explored yesterday on the neighboring Island of Hvar.
After some picturesque photo time, it’s off to Škrip village, the smallest and the oldest settlement on the island. Here are hidden some of the most important island monuments, including the Brač Museum, the Roman mausoleum and sarcophagi, and beautiful narrow streets lined with houses built using the dry-wall technique. Following a toast with the Brač local sparkling wine in an authentic ambiance, you’ll leave this charming little settlement for a 200-year-old wine cellar, where you will savor a seven- course (small and gorgeous, each a work of art) slow food tasting lunch paired with their premium wines. This fourth-generation family-owned “hip and humble” winery presents superb examples of the grapes indigenous to the island. Afterwards you will return to Hvar on a (merry!) speedboat, arriving in the early evening. Enjoy the city’s rich and lively bar scene and/or fine dining opportunities this evening. B, L with wine pairing.
DAY 6 – Hvar – Istria
The day starts with a seaside-terrace breakfast and check-out, followed by a scenic one-hour boat ride from Hvar to Split, Croatia’s second largest city. You will disembark right in the inviting old town center. Start the day with a relaxing coffee break on the riva seaside promenade and charge your batteries for the guided walk. 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, Peristyle, temples, sphinxes, medieval palaces, fruit market, fish market, picturesque streets and squares… the vivid pulse of the city will capture you!
Following the stroll through Split, the adventure continues with a scenic one-hour flight north to Pula. Upon your arrival, our coach awaits to whisk you quickly to a late lunch. You’ll dine amid greenery immersed in a hidden rural estate, one of the most beautiful mansions on the Mediterranean and is your final “home” in Croatia. Remainder of the day free to meander around this corner of paradise. B, L
Lodging for the next three nights: Bale, Stancija Meneghetti Wine Hotel 5*, one-bedroom residences on two floors
DAY 7 – Bale – Rovinj
Surrounded by spacious meadows and forests, the stancija (which translates as homestead here in Istria) is an oasis that offers peace and quiet and a perfect place to relax and reconnect with nature. It is also a getaway made for foodies, as it features an outstanding restaurant offering their own award-winning wines and olive oils. The chef and sommelier will ensure a true gastronomic revelation.
The morning is free to relax by the indoor or outdoor pool or wander the estate (the beach is a nice stroll away). Light lunch today includes a guided tasting of several single fruit olive oils and premium wines, and a menu that beautifully represents Istrian cuisine at its best. Mid-afternoon short drive to Rovinj, the most romantic town on the Adriatic, nestled on a man-made peninsula and 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. At dusk, it’s cocktails on the rocks at Valentino’s bar, followed by a dinner served in our favorite local restaurant – La Puntulina, situated just a few meters away from the water. B, L, D and cocktails
DAY 8 – Istria – E-bike & farewell dinner
After a hearty breakfast, departure for the artsy town of Motovun (famous for truffles!), where you will hop on E-bikes for a scenic ride through the serene surroundings of rural Istria. Explore small hilltop towns with ease thanks to the “small 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 Grožnjan, a quaint artistic oasis on top of a hill, where the biking will end. Free time to wander through the maze of Grožnjan’s cobbled streets and lovely squares. From there we will give you a lift back to Bale for a well-deserved rest after this eventful day. Free time to pack and enjoy a bit more relaxation before a farewell dinner, with splendid wines and excellent food in the gorgeous setting of the Meneghetti estate. B,L,D
DAY 9 – Istria – Departure Day
Sadly, this is the morning of farewell. After breakfast and hotel checkout, independent transfer to the Trieste, Ljubljana or Venice airports. Dreaming of future destinations! B
Note: We can also offer pre or post-stay add-ons, such as an additional stay in northern Italy, Slovenia, Istria, Dubrovnik, Montenegro, or Bosnia & Herzegovina.
We also offer pre- or post-stay add-ons in Lake Como and/or Venice. If you opt NOT to do a pre-tour stay, we strongly encourage arrival in Dubrovnik at least one day prior to the start of the tour. Please contact us for details.