The Grand Tour is a bit like the “best of” old Yugoslavia fit into 15 days. There’s the obvious tourist ‘hits’ like Dubrovnik, Split and Lake Bled plus a good selection of places that are left off many other tours but quite deserving in their own right. Bosnia’s amazing countryside and mountain villages or the wine and food in Slovenia’s farmhouses usually end up on guests’ favorites places of the tour.
We don’t like to rush guests from one hotel to the next so we spend 2 and 3 nights at all of our destinations. This allows everyone more time to explore and gives a better feel for the way of life. We select lodging based on location, quality and atmosphere. There are no socialist concrete hotels from the Yugoslav days for our guests.
It’s possible to add on a few days in front of the tour or at the end. Activities like sailing around Kornati islands or a visit to Plitvice Lakes are possible. Just let us know your wishes.
- Walk atop the 80 foot high walls of Dubrovnik, situated on the Adriatic
- Take a gondola ride across the beautiful fairy tale setting of Lake Bled
- Dive into the Oriental atmosphere and authentic artisan shops of Sarajevo’s Turkish quarter
- Take a step back in time in Herzegovina to see traditional lifestyles, crumbling fortresses and the countryside's stark beauty
- Relax amongst scenic fjords and Venetian towns in Montenegro’s majestic Bay of Kotor
- Soak in the cafe culture, art nouveau buildings and outdoor markets in Ljubljana, Slovenia
- See the 16th century stone bridge, lively cafes and bazaar in old town of Mostar
- Explore the amazing underworld of Skocjan caves
- Wander the cobble stone streets, art galleries and Roman ruins at seaside towns of Rovinj and Pula
- Enjoy vineyards, hill towns and hidden castles tucked away in Slovenia’s karst region.
Day 1: Overnight: Ljubljana, Slovenia. Our tour begins with a with an evening walking tour in Ljubljana, the charming capital of Slovenia. On this two hour tour we’ll see the Cathedral, open-air market, and plenty of works by renowned architect Joze Plecnik. Our guide will give guests an insight into Slovenians and to the rich history of Ljubljana. Dinner at an old town restaurant with many traditional Slovenian dishes on the menu. Guests can enjoy a local beer or one of many great wines from this country.
Day 2: Overnight: Ljubljana, Slovenia. All day at your leisure to explore. Some of Ljubljana’s highlights include walking up to the castle overlooking the city, visits to one of the many museums & galleries and browsing the outdoor market alongside the river. Away from the center, Tivoli Park offers many pleasant walking paths, a fine graphics art museum and a good opportunity to watch the locals enjoy their city.
Day 3: Overnight: Karst, Slovenia. Onto the Karst region, boasting rolling hills of vineyards, caves and limestone villages. A visit to the dramatically situated Predjama Castle and learn about Slovenia’s own Robin Hood. Walking tour of Stanjel, the region’s most captivating hill town with lovely old stone houses and gardens, followed by lunch at the town’s castle. A traditional home-cooked karst dinner awaits you at our pension tucked away in the village of Tomaj. The Skerlj family offers up mouth-watering prsut, pastas and fresh vegetables with a good dose of local Teran wine. Save room for their honey ice-cream.
Day 4: Overnight: Karst, Slovenia. Excursion into Croatia’s Italian-hued Istria region, famed for its beautiful countryside and tasty truffles and wine. Our first stop is the charming hill town of Groznjan. In the 1960’s it was nearly abandoned as most residents emigrated back to Italy so the Yugoslavian government turned it into an artists colony. It’s now bustling with artists galleries, handmade jewelry shops and gourmet food shops.
Afternoon in the charming seaside town of Rovinj, including a guided walking tour and a great viewpoint of the town and offshore islands atop St. Euphemia’s Church (for those willing to climb its 60m tower). At your leisure time to explore artists’ galleries, a myriad of cobblestone alleys or just sip back an espresso at one of the many boardwalk cafes. Late afternoon walking tour of Pula, Istria's port city loaded with rich history that spans over two millennia. Included is a visit to its Roman Amphitheatre, 6th largest in the world.
Day 5: Overnight: Karst, Slovenia. Start off the morning with a carriage ride through the karst countryside on majestic Lipizzan horses. Then it’s time to explore one of the most spectacular cave systems in Europe, the fascinating underground world of the Skocjan caves - boasting the world’s largest subterranean canyon and many subterranean halls filled with beautiful limestone formations. In the afternoon we’ll peek inside the church at the tiny village of Hrastovlje, renowned for its vibrant and colorful Dance of the Macabre frescoes. Dinner and visit to wine cellar in the evening.
Day 6: Overnight: Sarajevo, Bosnia. Morning visit to picturesque Lake Bled. We will visit the castle overlooking the lake (great photo op) and then take a gondola boat ride on the lake to the tiny island in the center. Afternoon flight from Slovenia to Sarajevo in Bosnia. Early evening walking tour of Sarajevo, which focuses on city’s turbulent history and old Turkish quarter (known as the Bascarsija). There’s a heavy oriental feel mixed with Austro-Hungarian buildings, scars from last decade’s war, vibrant cafes, sweet shops and very warm people that give the city an astonishing vibe. Dinner at the city’s oldest restaurant, situated in a traditional wooden house and featuring a heavenly sirnica (baked cheese pie in phyllo dough) and delicious Bosnian soup.
Day 7: Overnight: Sarajevo, Bosnia. All day at your leisure to explore Sarajevo. Browse the art galleries, old Turkish quarter, master craftsmen shops and outdoor cafes while soaking in the rich history and culture. Optional excursion to Travnik, a town that served as the Ottoman’s seat of power for many centuries. Climb around its ancient fortress, tour the house of Nobel prize-winning author Ivo Andric and relax by the Plava Voda (Blue Waters) to enjoy fine Turkish coffee and sweets. Visit can be done For a shorter trip you can do yourself, hop on a tram in Sarajevo and head out to nearby Ilidza Park and enjoy a nice stroll or carriage ride.
Day 8: Overnight: Herzegovina, Bosnia. One of our most unique excursions on the tour, a visit to the highland village of Lukomir. It is the highest and most isolated village in Bosnia (1500 meters). Traditional dress, the occasional turban and fez are still worn. We will first visit with the local villagers before heading off into the canyon to witness Peruc waterfall and the amazing Rakitinca Canyon. Picnic lunch will be served on a high ridge over the 800meter drop into the canyon with stunning views of majestic mountains. Drive to Herzegovina region in southern Bosnia. Overnight and dinner at the family run Sunce guesthouse. The homemade organic meals here are delicious!
Day 9: Overnight: Herzegovina, Bosnia. Guided walking tour of Mostar, the former oriental trading center of Herzegovina, home to the famed 16th century stone bridge spanning the Neretva River. Next we’ll visit Blagaj and see Ottoman house that onced functioned as a Dervish monastery. Next to this house is the source of the Buna Spring, pouring out of a cliff wall. We’ll enjoy a lunch at a local fish restaurant before gathering our energy and doing a 1hr hike to the top of the cliff where we encounter grand views of Herzegovina and remains of a 13th century fort built by Duke Stjepan. Dinner at our hosts' guesthouse.
Day 10: Overnight: Herzegovina, Bosnia. Busy day of sightseeing. First off the Oriental hill town and art colony of Pocitelj. Then time to enjoy the Kravica waterfall, a wonderful, green oasis in the rocky Herzegovinan landscape. We take a 1 hour boat ride and have lunch at Hutovo Blato, a great place for nature and bird watching. At the end of the afternoon we slowly wind our way back via Radimlja ,with its beautiful Christian Medieval tombstones, to Podvelez to enjoy our last night in this oriental wonderland. Dinner at our hosts' guesthouse.
Day 11: Overnight: Trogir, Croatia. On the way to our hotel in Croatia (approximately 3hours) we will stop by for a tasty lunch and wine tasting in Etno Village Medjugorje in Herzegovina. The restaurant is located in the centre of the village, perfect for enjoying the uniqueness of its food and wine, and especially for its famous varieties of Zilavka and Blatina. Enjoy the charms of little Trogir, a small island connected to Croatia’s mainland by a short bridge. A local guide will show your around the town and St. Lawrence, a stunning 12th century cathedral.
Day 12: Overnight: Trogir, Croatia. Enjoy an entire day in historic Split, Croatia’s 2nd largest city and main port. Our guide will show you around the old town and focus mostly on the remains of Diocletian’s palace. This was built by Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 300 AD. Much of it is still intact and the rest of Split’s center has been built around it. Those interested in art should pay a visit to the Ivan Mestrovic museum/gallery, Croatia’s most famous sculptor. And we recommend guests enjoy dinner and evening stroll here, Diocletian’s is most atmospheric when lit up at night.
Day 13: Overnight: Dubrovnik, Croatia. Gorgeous drive down the Dalmatian coast. A short stop to see the towns of Ston & Mali Ston, once important for their salt production. The walls surrounding Ston are the longest in all of Europe. Enjoy a coffee and cake in Mali Ston before heading on. Late-afternoon guided walking tour of Dubrovnik, a magical walled city with a rich and important history. Heavily touristed but much less so when the day trippers leave around 4pm. Our local guide will take guests for a great dinner after the tour.
Day 14: Overnight: Dubrovnik, Croatia. All day at your leisure to see Dubrovnik. Take an unforgettable walk along its 80 foot high walls. Other sights include the Dominican and Franciscan monasteries, Lovrijenac Fortress, Rector’s Palace, an excellent photo gallery regarding the 1990’s war and more cafes and gelaterias than probably necessary. For nature over culture, escape the crowds with a trip to nearby Lokrum island. Short ferry rides start at the old town harbor
Day 15: Overnight: Dubrovnik, Croatia. A very scenic drive around Montenegro’s lovely Bay of Kotor (dramatically situated below fjords) leads to the alluring Venetian town of Perast. A short tour of the maritime museum and church will be followed by a boat ride out on the bay to Our Lady of the Rocks church, situated on one of two jewel-like islands in Kotor Bay. Lunch followed by a tour of walled town of Kotor, including the Cathedral of St. Tryphon. Return to Dubrovnik in the evening.
Day 16: Transfer to airport on the following morning.
Price: Single Supplement add $550
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Europe Slovenia Croatia Bosnia-Herzegovina Local Culture Cultural Journey Sightseeing