Go hunting for truffles in Istria and explore Croatia’s rugged coast from Pula in the north, down to Dubrovnik in the south. Swim in the tranquil Adriatic Sea and soak up Croatia’s Mediterranean sun.
Lightfoot Travel specialise in tailor-made itineraries for family holidays, honeymoons and corporate travel around the world. Each holiday is hand crafted by one of our Travel Designers, an expert in the region. Below is a sample itinerary for an intimate small group tour of Croatia, and can be adjusted based on your time, number of travellers, budget and interests.
Day 1 Your Journey Begins in Istria
After travelling by private transfer from northern Italy, you’ll arrive in Istria, where your journey begins. Istria is an enchanting seaside retreat full of idylic hilltop villages and picturesque ancient towns. The 3600-sq-km peninsula attracts a cultured set. Explore its famous farmhouse restaurants, or lounge next to the sea. Check into the Kempinski Hotel Adriatic, featuring 186 luxurious rooms and suites with spacious balconies and terraces. Surrounded by picturesque olive groves and vineyards, this secluded paradise offers privacy, comfort, and breathtaking views over the Adriatic Sea. Leave the everyday world behind and being your journey of infinite relaxation and enjoyment.
Stay: Kempinski Hotel Adriatic
Day 2 A Private Tour of Pula & Lunch on an Olive Oil Farm
This morning you’ll enjoy a private tour of Pula, a 3000-year old city best known for the “Arena”, one of the six largest Roman amphitheatres in the world. Today the arena is primarily used for film festivals and music events, but during its 1st century heyday it was the site of gladiator fights in front of 20,000 spectators from near and far.
At lunch, delight your taste buds and acquaint yourself with one of the region’s most famous exports, olive oil. Many of today’s most renown growers and and producers are in the Istria Region, among them, Chiavalon. It is here, at the Chiavalon property, that you’ll enjoy a delicious 5 course lunch featuring local delicacies, seasonal produce, and of course, top quality Chiavalon oil. Bon appetit!
Though you may think it impossible, by evening time your tummy will be rumbling and it will be time to eat once more! Istria is a mecca of Mediterranean farm-to-table cuisine and tonight you’ll sample some of Croatia’s best. Fresh seafood, maneštra od bobići (the famous minestrone with sweet corn), local truffles, pork loin and sausages, wild asparagus, incredible cheese. Begin with a mistletoe aperitif (kisses optional) and end the night with a traditional dessert. With such passion for gastronomy it should come as no surprise that Croatia’s first Michelin star restaurant is located in Istria, in the heart of Rovinj’s old town.
Stay: Kempinski Hotel Adriatic
Day 3 Truffle Hunting
The highly coveted, rare, and expensive tuber known as the truffle is famous in France and Italy, but did you know it also growns in the fertile soil in inland of Istria? Today you’ll see first hand as you go hunting for truffles in the hillside. Your efforts will be rewarded with opportunities to taste – olive oil with truffles, salami with truffles, vanilla ice cream with truffles. Truffles all around!
In the afternoon you’ll explore Motovun, a medieval town and an excellent example of Venetian colonial architecture, and Grožnjan, a town best known as the “town of artists.” It’s medieval beauty and authenticity have been well preserved. Stroll cobblestone streets and marvel at the old churches, forts, and stone and squares.
Tonight enjoy a private dinner and wine tasting at Villa Maneghetti, a hotel, restaurant, and winery set on a 120,000 square metre estate surrounded by olive groves and vineyards.
Stay: Kempinski Hotel Adriatic
Day 4 Plitvice Lakes National Park
Be ready this morning for a private transfer to National Park Plitvice Lakes. Within the boundaries of this heavily forested national park, 16 placid lakes mingle with a series of rushing waterfalls. Most visitors will walk the 18 kilometres of wooden footbridges and paths that crisscross above waters carving through rock, but you will enjoy the park by private boat tour, taking in the rich flora, fauna, and forest from a front row view directly on the water.
At night you’ll retire to the Hotel “Ethno Houses Plitvica Selo”, situated in the heart of the National Park. The family-run resort is modelled after a traditional village, and provides an authentic experience you’ll never forget.
Stay: Ethno Houses Plitvice
Day 5 Šibenik - Split
Today is dedicated to the letter “S” with stops in Šibenik and Split. First enjoy a bespoke city tour of Šibenik with a private local guide. Have lunch at a restaurant voted Croatia’s best 2 years in a row, where you’ll be greeted by chef and owner, Rudolf Štefan. Continue on to Split where you can spend the evening at your leisure, walking the famous Split Riva and soaking up the city’s buzz.
Your home in Split is the Hotel Park, a flagship hotel where, upon entering, you’ll immediately be greeted by the piano’s light melody, a warm reception, and a glass of champagne. This is hospitality, Croatian style.
Stay: Hotel Park
Day 6 Enter the World of a Private Atelier
This morning enjoy a private tour of Split and get to know one of the most beautiful towns in the Mediterranean. Located on a peninsula at the foot of Marjan hill, Split has been a coveted spot for holiday-seekers for almost 2000 years – Roman emperor Diocletian made his holiday home here as far back as 317 AD. Split is home to a number of impressive monuments including Diocletian’s Palace (a UNESCO World Heritage site), the Temple of Jupiter, St. Duje and St. Frane churches, and today you’ll see them all.
After some free time to wander the town on your own you’ll head to the private atelier of Vasko Lipovac, the late Croatian painter, sculptor, printmaker, designer, illustrator, and scenographer who died in 2006. You will be guests of Lipovac’s family, one of whom will be in attendance to host you for a dinner of music, art, and traditional “klapa”. This is a unique opportunity to enter the private world of this celebrated artist.
Stay: Hotel Park
Day 7 The Mestrovic Gallery
Artistic pursuits continue with a tour of the Mestrovic Gallery, a museum dedicated to the work of the 20th-century beloved Croatia sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. Mestrovic’s masterpieces can be seen all over the world (his «Indians» also known as «The Bowman and The Spearman” stand as gatekeepers in Congress Plaza in Chicago, USA) and today you will see his work with your own eyes in this permanent collection that includes works of sculpture, drawings, architecture, and furniture design.
In the afternoon, hop on a private speed boat for transfer to the island of Hvar. Tour the old town then spend your evening at leisure before heading back to Hotel Adriana, Hvar’s most stylish boutique hotel.
Stay: Hotel Adriana
Day 8 The History of Hvar
Hvar is famous throughout history thanks to its important strategic and nautical position, its culture, literature, and breathtaking natural beauty. Today, learn all there is to know about the island from master wine maker Jo Ahearne. Rumour has it wine tastings are also on the agenda.
In the afternoon wander the charming island streets, or opt for a panoramic helicopter ride, where you can take in the lush forests and turquoise waters from high above.
Stay: Hotel Adriana
Day 9 Hvar, Korčula, Dubrovnik
Continuing your tour of the exquisite Dalmatian coast, this morning you’ll transfer to Korčula, Croatia’s sixth largest island, known for its dense forest and medieval squares. You’ll stop at Marco Polo’s house, where the famous explorer is said to have been born in 1254. You’ll visit the Cathedral St. Marco, a magnificent 15th-century cathedral, built from Korčula limestone in a Gothic-Renaissance style. When your head is bursting with historic facts and figures you’ll head off to Orebić and into the Saints Hills vineyards where you’ll enjoy an exclusive 7-course lunch and winery tour.
Bellies full, you’ll continue to Dubrovnik and check in to the Hotel Excelsior, a spectacular seaside hotel with stunning Adriatic and Old Town views, that has been welcoming royalty and celebrities for decades.
Day 10 Dubrovnik Old City Tour
Dubrovnik has been dubbed the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, and savvy travellers agree, this seaside city is a gem. Dubrovnik became an important Mediterranean sea power in the 13th century and has continued to flex its muscle for almost 1000 years. Tour the ancient city where architectural and cultural masterpieces abound. Visit a 13th century Franciscan monastery and its famous pharmacy, the 3rd oldest functioning pharmacy in the world. Take a cable car to Srdj hill and be regaled with tales of history and fantasy by your private guide.
Have your camera at hand because the best views of Dubrovnik are, without a doubt, experienced at the top of Srdj Hill. If you fancy a walk, why not trek the Old Town walls, almost 2 kilometres that circle the town, giving you views over the pristine terra cotta roofs and to the cobblestone streets below. A birds eye view will give you an appreciation for the city and all its beauty.
Day 11 A Lighthouse Visit
On your second to last day, visit the Grebeni Lighthouse, a historic structure situated on Grebeni, dating back to 1872 and still in use today. Re-visit any last items on your Dubrovnik bucket list, then get ready for a farewell dinner at Portrait, a renown restaurant in the heart of Dubrovnik where the signature cuisine of chef Jeffrey Vella comes together with unique contemporary reinterpretations of priceless Vlaho Bukovac portraits on the walls. Eat, drink, and be merry, sharing stories of your Croatian adventure with your fellow travellers, who have now become lifelong friends.
Day 12 Bon Voyage
This morning prepare for your private transfer to the airport where you’ll catch your flight home. Bon voyage until your next adventure.
|Day 1||Your Journey Begins in Istria||Kempinski Hotel Adriatic|
|Day 2||A Private Tour of Pula & Lunch on an Olive Oil Farm||Kempinski Hotel Adriatic|
|Day 3||Truffle Hunting||Kempinski Hotel Adriatic|
|Day 4||Plitvice Lakes National Park||Ethno Houses Plitvice|
|Day 5||Šibenik - Split||Hotel Park|
|Day 6||Enter the World of a Private Atelier||Hotel Park|
|Day 7||The Mestrovic Gallery||Hotel Adriana|
|Day 8||The History of Hvar||Hotel Adriana|
|Day 9||Hvar, Korčula, Dubrovnik||Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik|
|Day 10||Dubrovnik Old City Tour||Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik|
|Day 11||A Lighthouse Visit||Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik|
|Day 12||Bon Voyage|