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Discover the Best of Croatia, The Dalmatian Islands and Slovenia.

Discover the Best of Croatia, The Dalmatian Islands and Slovenia.

Imagine a travel itinerary that takes you through some of the most beautiful places in Europe. Exploring Croatia’s Adriatic Coast and Dalmatian Islands. Taking in the best of Slovenia and finishing in Italy’s most romantic city, Venice.

Now, imagine this as an all inclusive package with all travel and tours arranged by a dedicated tour manager. The finest hotels, restaurants, and experiences in each region. Top of the range transport throughout the tour and a full porter service means you never have to move your bags – Luxury!

Discovery Tours by Gate 1 Travel offer a 14 Day Dalmatian Isles, Croatia & Slovenia small group tour that captures the very best of these regions and offers an experience you will never forget. And if 3 countries in 2 weeks are not enough, an optional tour to gorgeous neighboring Montenegro will complete your Adriatic experience. 

Beautiful Montenegro The Best of The Balkans- Perast

Jump to Facts Below.

We have talked about the merits of small group travel before. Exclusive itineraries and access, the best accommodations and authentic dining experiences. Convenience, comfort and, value for money. This tour far exceeded our expectations, especially when it came to the quality of hotels and tours. 

While we found the tour arrangements surpassed our expectations, it was ultimately the itinerary which left the greatest impression. An itinerary carefully crafted to ensure the best of each region is experienced without any of the hustle endured in large tour groups. The flexibility of the itinerary also allowed ample time to explore on our own, an aspect we loved . 

Each destination reached in comfort and explored to it’s fullest without any rush. Private tours run by local guides at each destination offered a great start to our own explorations.

This is the best of Croatia, The Dalmatian Islands, and Slovenia. 

Croatia 

Croatia’s coast is the perfect Mediterranean package. Ancient walled towns rise from the sea while an unending number of islands seemingly float in the crystal clear Adriatic. Croatia delivers more than just a wonderful summertime destination. It is incredible history and architecture. Delicious local cuisine and world class wines. It is breathtaking natural beauty. 

Fort Lovrijeneac The Best Photography Locations Dubrovnik Croatia

Dubrovnik

Beginning in Dubrovnik is the perfect start to the tour. With 3 nights in one of the most beautiful hotels in Dubrovnik on the beach, there is ample time to relax and unwind after your journey to Croatia and still plenty of time to explore the best of Dubrovnik. 

Hotels in Dubrovnik on the beach, Croatia

The magnificently intact walled city on the coast in the south of Croatia is one of the Mediterranean’s best-known tourist destinations. Set against the magnificent blue of the Adriatic, even for second-time visitors, the old city of Dubrovnik never fails to impress.

Our introduction to this magnificent city was a private Dubrovnik walking tour. A few hours spent with an authority on the city was not only a wonderful insight into the history but a wonderful way to get our bearings in the walled labyrinth.

Dubrovnik Walking Tour

Old City Dubrovnik

Included in our tour was entry to walk the walls, one of the most popular things to do in Dubrovnik. While some of the stair climbs may have left us a little short of breath, the views from the top literally took our breath away.

Fort Lovrijenac Photography Tips For Dubrovnik

Having 3 nights in Dubrovnik also allowed us plenty of time to explore on our own. This meant the luxury of choosing the best time to visit Dubrovnik’s old town. After the walking tour, we retreated to the hotel to relax by the pool and wait for the crowds of the day to disappear.

Dubrovnik by night is not only wonderful due to lack of crowds, the ancient city of limestone lights up in more ways than one. Streets polished through thousands of years of foot traffic literally, shines under the lights, creating a beautiful setting to indulge in some Croatian cuisine at any number of restaurants within the walls. 

These handy travel photography tips will help you get the best photos of Dubrovnik.

What to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Korcula Island – Dalmatian Coast

Beautiful Korcula Island, the sixth largest on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is known for its dense forests, pretty Mediterranean olive groves, and outstanding wines. It is also reputed to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. While not as popular as the northern islands of Brac and Hvar, it is still one of Croatia’s most treasured holiday islands.

Korcula Island - Croatia Dalmatian Coast

After a private tour of the Korcula old town often referred to as “Little Dubrovnik”, we enjoyed a sunny afternoon exploring the islands namesake town. Beautiful medieval streets spill from central squares down to the waterfront promenades. Stylish cafe’s and restaurants with Adriatic views offer a modern take on Dalmatian cuisine. Wine lists boasting exceptional local wines begged to be tasted.

Korcula Island - Croatia Dalmatian Coast

Korcula Beaches - croatia Dalmatian Coast

A lovely night in Korcula’s other main resort town of Vela Luka confirmed why this island is so popular with summer vacationers. The boutique, cosmopolitan vibe, along with Korcula’s beaches and quiet coves make this one of the prettiest we have ever visited.

Hvar Island – Dalmatian Coast

Further north on the beautiful Adriatic coast sits one of the most popular Dalmatian Islands – Hvar. Rated as one of the world’s top 10 islands by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, Hvar has a well-earned reputation for a luxurious island lifestyle and as Croatia’s premier party town. It is not surprising during the peak summer months, as many as 20,000 people travel from Split to Hvar each day.

Hvar Island - Croatia Dalmatian Islands

Famed for its inland lavender fields, pristine beaches and the marble traffic free streets of Stari Grad, the islands 13th-century old town, Hvar offers the perfect Mediterranean island experience.

We had two glorious nights to enjoy Hvar. Being there in October seemed to be the perfect mix of mild weather and a notable lack of crowds. We were able to soak up Hvar’s charming boutique atmosphere at our leisure.

Hvar Island - Croatia Dalmatian Islands

Whether exploring the back streets of the medieval village or sipping coffee on the main square with Hvar’s notably well-heeled locals, this Dalmatian island exudes a delightful ambiance that makes you want to stay a little while longer. Had we slipped into the lovely Croatian lifestyle already or do the Dalmatian Islands leave this impression on everyone who visits. The feeling of wanting to linger a little longer?

Hvar Island - Croatia Dalmatian Islands

Split

A leisurely morning ferry from Hvar to Split afforded us one last glimpse of the beautiful Dalmatian Islands from the sea and a wonderful view of Split as we sailed into Croatia’s second largest city.

A vibrant waterfront promenade set against a 1700-year-old UNESCO site and lived-in atmosphere seem to set this city apart from Dubrovnik. Split has the right balance of new and old, tourist and local. We just loved this city.

Split Croatia. Diocletians Palace

After a nice alfresco lunch, we enjoyed a private tour of the Diocletian’s Palace, the 3rd-century retirement home of the Roman Emperor. Step inside the atmospheric palace walls, or “Old Town” as it is mostly referred to, and you will find a thriving world or restaurants, bars, and shops. Life ticks along here as it has for thousands of years.

Split Croatia

Our local guide took us for a tour underneath the palace, here we got a true understanding of the grandeur of the Emperor’s vision when he ordered this city to be built. The few Game of Thrones fans amongst us were also rewarded with a glimpse of where  Khaleesi kept her dragons in the TV series.

Split Croatia. Diocletians Palace

After an afternoon of exploring Split on our own, we found, much like Dubrovnik, there is no shortage of beautiful hotels in Split and no shortage of wonderful dining options. We were treated to not just a hotel of the finest standard, but exceptional fine dining.

Plitvice Lakes

A short detour inland, not far from the Bosnian border is one of Europe’s most stunning national parks, Plitvice Lakes National Park. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the park boasts 16 terraced crystalline lakes, laced together by a series of waterfalls within a densely forested park.

Plitvice Lakes Croatia

The mineral-rich waters deposit tufa on their journey down the rock canyon creating continually changing formations. A phenomenon known as petrified or tufa waterfalls.

18 km of wooden pathways snake their way around the edges of the lakes and across the many falls. This makes a hike through the park very accessible to most fitness levels. We spent a few hours strolling the park, working our way up the terrace of lakes with a local guide in tow. It really was a highlight to see this magnificent natural wonder in the full color of Fall.

Plitvice Lakes Croatia

While it would normally take around six hours to explore all the lakes, we took advantage of the park boat services to cross the larger lakes and shaved a few hours off our hike.  A boat ride across the lake was a welcome viewpoint to take in the brilliant display of color.

Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Opatija 

A full day to explore the beautiful seaside resort town of Opatija. Even on a very rainy day, Opatija oozed the same kind of chic charm that obviously appealed Austro-Hungarian nobility.

Stunning belle-époque villas still dominate the town’s landscape, spruced up since the fall of Yugoslavia to bring back some of the grandeur of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Opatija Croatia tour package

Opatija has always had a reputation as a genteel place to escape as reminisced by our lovely guide Maja. She remembered fondly coming to the seaside resort as a child to enjoy the beaches and grand hotels. Relaxation and rejuvenation seem to be de rigueur again as a mild climate and grand spa hotels attract a mainly mature clientele.

Slovenia

Ljubljana

Leaving Croatia, we crossed the border into Slovenia to the capital, Ljubljana. Ljubljana is one of those cities that endears itself to you the minute you arrive. This wonderful little city boasts a youthful university population, large green spaces and some of the most charming architecture we have seen since Riga, Latvia.

Tours to Croatia and Slovenia - Ljubljana

Traffic restrictions mean all the areas surrounding the banks of the Ljubljana River, which divides the city’s old town from the commercial center, are free to be enjoyed by pedestrians and cyclists. Perhaps this is why Ljubljana has been voted one of Europe’s greenest and most livable cities. 

Tours to Croatia and Slovenia - Ljubljana

Tours to Croatia and Slovenia - Ljubljana

After a private tour of Old Town, we were free to enjoy this delightful town on our own. For a small city, Ljubljana certainly packs a punch. No end of exceptional quality restaurants and cafes line the river and narrow streets of old town. Take the funicular up to the 15th century Ljubljana Castle, which is visible from all over the city.

Tours to Croatia and Slovenia

 Walk the riverfront and find the famous Dragon Bridge, not just a nod to the city’s coat of arms but also a protected technical monument. Soak up the atmosphere at the outdoor central markets or visit any number of the city’s galleries and museums. Our suggestion – just go for a stroll. Day or night, Ljubljana has a wonderful atmosphere to be enjoyed and so much to see around the city streets. This city left a very big impression on us.

Tours to Croatia and Slovenia

Lake Bled

You know when you see a photo and instantly want to know where in the world this beautiful place could be? Lake Bled has this effect on so many.

Lake Bled Croatia and Slovenia tours

Lake Bled is only a short drive from Ljubljana. A postcard church on an islet sits centrepiece on a perfectly mirrored lake. A medieval castle clings impossibly to a rocky cliff face and boatmen, the legacy of generations row gently from church to shore.

Lake Bled Croatia and Slovenia tours

A spectacular view from Bled Castle above was only overshadowed by the serene boat ride to the church on Bled Island. Hand crafted pletna boats, a tradition passed down from generation to generation of local men row between the church and shore. Each son must learn how to build and to row the boats to keep the traditional alive.

While we imagine the peak summer months must be busy in such a beautiful place, there was a peaceful calm while we were there. We could have believed nothing on Lake Bled happens above a whisper.

To get a full impression of the magnificent Julian Alps, we took a drive to Bohinj, an alpine resort town. Passing through stunning landscapes we stopped to sample various fresh locally produced cheeses and for lunch in a local village restaurant. A day in the Slovenian countryside is like the pages of a fairytale. It is almost too picture perfect.

 Venice

What better place to finish two fabulous weeks working our way up the Adriatic Coast than in Venice, Italy’s most romantic city.

We arrived in Venice via private water taxi, an indulgence in itself. First stop Murano Island, famed for its high quality glass production. For centuries, Murano’s glassmakers have handed down their craft, earning a reputation as the highest quality glass on the market. A demonstration of the technique confirmed why this is such highly prized glass.

5 Days in Venice - Murano Island Glass Blowing

A cruise down the famous Grand Canal arriving in time to enjoy lunch at our leisure. A lovely introduction to Venice. Then, an afternoon spent with a local guide on a tour of Piazza San Marco and the Basilica. After, our guide took us on a lovely stroll around Venice to capture the heart of this unique city. While we would love to say this helped us gain our bearings in the city, we don’t believe you could ever get your bearings in Venice. Where would be the fun in that?

5 days in Venice - The Grand Canal

5 Days in Venice - Basilica di San Marco

One final dinner to farewell our group and to enjoy our last evening in Venice .

Four countries in two weeks on one of the best quality tours we have taken. Highlights for us were the high quality of arrangements and quality of experience in the itinerary. For us, this equates to a value for money, quality experience.

Venice Small Group Tours

Facts.

Discovery Tours by Gate 1 Travel 14 Day Dalmatian Islands, Croatia & Slovenia tours run between 01 April and end October. Peak season in these regions is between June and September.

Small group of maximum 22 travelers guaranteed.

Early Bird prices start at $2749 for land only packages and $3839 for land and air if traveling to Croatia from the US.

The tour includes –

  • Accommodation – Hotel porterage – Some meals
  • All transfers in high quality vehicles – comprehensive guided sightseeing and entrance fees – bottled water during excursions. A local, English speaking tour manager throughout.
  • Additional or Optional Tours can be purchased. Optional Tours start at $63 

Check the Discovery Tours by Gate 1 Travel 14 Day Dalmatian Islands, Croatia & Slovenia for a more comprehensive list of pricing and inclusions.

(Return to Start of Article.)

We would like to thank Discovery Tours by Gate 1 Travel for hosting us on the 14 Day Dalmatian Islands, Croatia & Slovenia tour. As always, all opinions expressed are our own and have not been influenced in any way.

Beautiful Lake Bled Slovenia.
Lake Bled Slovenia. A highlight of our 14 Day Croatia, Dalmatian Isles and Slovenia Tour
Beautiful Lake Bled Slovenia.

The best of Croatia and Slovenia in Two weeks
Small group tours of Croatia and Slovenia
Experience the best of Croatia and Slovenia on a two week small group tour
The best of Croatia and Slovenia on a 14 day small group tour.
14 Days on the Adriatic Coast, Dalmatian Isles and Slovenia - Heaven. Croatia and Slovenia small group tours

35 comments

  • I have to say I am a huge fan of small group holidays and have enjoyed some great ones myself. This looks like a fantastic itinerary. It particularly appealed to me as I have always fancied exploring the Dalmatian Islands. From your pictures, I can see that it is as beautiful as I have always imagined. And it sounds like the cultural heritage didn’t disappoint either. It must have been awesome to get a private tour of the Diocletian’s Palace! A 3rd-century retirement home of a Roman Emperor – who would not be impressed by that!! I really fancy doing this trip. But I would have to start saving!

    Reply
    • We really enjoy small group vacations they are so much more personal and you get to see so much more without breaking the bank. You are right Amanda the culture and history is quite mind blowing and you can spend hours daydreaming about how life was as noble on holidays at their summer Palace.

      Reply
  • We visited Hvar and Dubrovnik years ago and would love to return. I think it’s a great idea to do this trip as a cruise because so much of the sights are accessible by water. In fact, in Hvar we got stranded for an extra day because the waves were to high for the ferry boat to take us back to the mainland.

    Reply
  • Ahhh… I almost was afraid to read the article and now I wish I didn’t! Croatia is very high on my 2017 wishlist and now I feel even more drawn to explore the area. The tour sounds like a dream and the way travel is meant to be: in style! Loved all the images too.

    Reply
  • wow, what a tour! That hit some of our favorite spots. We just did a 2-month road trip across Italy and the Balkans, and made it to all of these destinations! The Croatian coast is beautiful, and Venice is a truly unique city, but Slovenia is the real gem we’ve found. Such an amazing country, absolutely stunning and full of charm, and not on many tourists radar.

    Reply
    • Looks like we went to a lot of the same places Drew. The road trip would have been brilliant. You are right about Slovenia, it is an undiscovered gem and we don’t think it will be long before it hits the tourist radar. We loved the Croation coast and will definitely be back.

      Reply
  • What a grand tour! I usually fix up my own itinerary but seeing this trip of yours I feel such small tour packages are good too.
    I will study the finance part that you have given. I have not done these countries yet so definitely I can look up these.
    Yes GREAT captures! Particularly the last one with the reflections captured.

    Reply
  • Oh my goodness, this may be the most beautiful tour I’ve ever seen in my life! I don’t even know where to begin. Dubrovnik and Venice were of course already on my travel wish list, but I would like to see every single place you just described. I’m a big Game of Thrones fan as well, so seeing a few familiar places in some of the most beautiful cities on Earth sounds just perfect. And can I just say, your photos are always STUNNING. Seriously, you truly capture the beauty of these places.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much Beth, we are so glad you enjoyed our pics. This was such a fantastic tour, we can highly recommend this itinerary to anyone looking to visit this part of Europe. Make sure you keep Croatia and Venice on that list!

      Reply
  • These places are absolutely beautiful! I’ve always been fascinated by Croatia for some reason. I think it might have something to do with their national football team and its colourful kit! Definitely on my list for the future!

    Reply
  • I have heard the most wonderful things about Croatia and judging from your photos – they are all true! What a spectacular trip. Croatia has just moved up really far on my list of places I want to see!

    Reply
  • Great suggestions! I went to Slovenia a couple of months ago and loved it. Such a beautiful place to be + it’s very budget friendly! I loved Lake bled. Although it’s a little touristy it’s just such a awesome place to be and so magical!

    Reply
  • Croatia is at the top of my bucket list and we’ve been contemplating this tour. Did you go on either of the optional trips? We’ve never done a tour before and not sure if it is good to have some free time to explore on our own or if we would regret not exploring the surrounding areas.

    Reply
    • Hi Cathy

      We can highly recommend this tour, we just loved it. On this particular tour, we didn’t do the optional trips because we had been to both places before but usually, we do take advantage of any optional trips on offer. What we liked about this tour, other than the great itinerary, even with the optional trips you still have plenty of free time to explore.

      Croatia is such a beautiful country, we are actually talking about going back again in the summer! We would love to hear if you decide to do the tour and if you do, your thoughts on Croatia.

      Reply

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