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Stretching along the stunning Adriatic coastline, Croatia harbors an enchanting intermingling of imperial influences—its shores having been conquered by Roman emperors and Venetian doges, Ottomans and Austro-Hungarians. Discover the country’s diverse cultural history in the long-time capital of Zagreb; Diocletian’s Palace in Split; and Dubrovnik, a former maritime power. Cruise to picturesque islands that beckon from just off the coast, meander along a chain of gem-like pools in Plitvice Lakes National Park, and cross the border into Montenegro to explore the magical medieval villages dotting the shores of the Gulf of Kotor.
Set out on private tours of four UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Old City of Dubrovnik, Plitvice Lakes National Park, the Palace of Diocletian, and Montenegro’s Gulf of Kotor.
Walk the wall of Ston, one of Europe’s longest fortifications, and then board a boat for a private oyster tasting straight from the sea.
Kayak along the Adriatic to the islet of Lokrum, taking in views of Dubrovnik from the water.
Sample Croatian wines during a tasting on the enchanting isle of Hvar.
Itinerary - 10 Days
Day 1 — Arrive Zagreb, Croatia
Arrive in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital since 1557. Transfer to your hotel, located steps from Ban Jelačić Square—the city’s central gathering spot. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, exploring streets where Austro-Hungarian, Baroque, and Brutalist architecture intermingle. Consider a stroll along the cobbled lanes of medieval Gornji Grad, or Upper Town; or take a seat on a sidewalk terrace to experience Zagreb’s thriving café culture. Hotel Dubrovnik
Day 2 — Zagreb
Set out on a private walking tour of Zagreb, beginning at the Lenuci Horseshoe—a series of interconnected parks lined with stately Habsburg-era architecture. Visit the 13th-century St. Mark’s Church, and admire its quilt-like tiled roof, and then step into the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to view the artistic masterpieces within. Continue through the Stone Gate—the eastern gate to medieval Gradec that also serves as a religious shrine—and then browse the stalls at Dolac Market. Ride the shortest cable car in the world to the city’s Lower Town, and stop by the Croatian Parliament. Enjoy an afternoon to explore on your own. Hotel Dubrovnik (B)
Day 3 — Plitvice Lakes National Park
Travel to Plitvice Lakes National Park, where beech forests harbor a terraced limestone landscape of 16 aquamarine lakes, connected to one another by tumbling waterfalls. Join a private guide for a walk along the boardwalks that weave through the picturesque scenery, learning about the unique geologic phenomena that created this World Heritage site. Enjoy time to explore the park on your own this afternoon.
Ethno Houses Plitvica Selo (B)
Day 4 — Split
Head to Dalmatia and begin your exploration of the stunning Adriatic coast in Split. This economic and administrative hub was first settled in the third century, when the Roman Emperor Diocletian built his palace here. Take a private tour of the lively seaport and its old town, a World Heritage site located within the ruins of the old palace walls. Pass through the Golden Gate; step into the Temple of Jupiter; and browse the City Museum, housed in a 15th-century Gothic building. Visit the fish market, and then see the works of Croatia’s premier modern sculptor at the Meštrović Gallery. Enjoy the rest of the day to explore on your own.
Marmont Hotel (B)
Day 5 — Hvar Island/Split
Board a ferry bound for the charming isle of Hvar, whose town center was built by the Venetian doges. Visit the Arsenal and Cathedral of St. Stephen, and then climb to the hilltop Hvar Fortress for sweeping views over the red roofs of the old town and the sparkling Adriatic beyond. Enjoy a tasting of local wines, including Prošek, a dessert varietal made from dried grapes. Return to Split for an evening at leisure.
Marmont Hotel (B)
Day 6 — Ston/Dubrovnik
Transfer to Dubrovnik, stopping en route at Ston, home to one of the longest fortifications in Europe. Walk atop this stone wall, which winds its way across a lush hillside, and explore some of its many towers and forts. Then board a boat for a private excursion to offshore oyster beds and enjoy a tasting straight from the sea. Continue to Dubrovnik and settle into your waterfront hotel. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure in this stunning city, known as the Pearl of the Adriatic.
Hotel More (B, L)
Day 7 — Dubrovnik
Enjoy a half-day private tour of Dubrovnik, beginning in the World Heritage-listed Old City. After breaking from the Venetian Republic in the 14th century, the city became a major maritime power of the era. Take a walk along the ancient city promenade called Stradun, and venture into the magnificent cloister of the 14th-century Franciscan monastery. Visit the Rector's Palace with its mix of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, and then ride a cable car to the top of Srd Hill to take in views over the Old City rooftops. Later, set out on a kayaking excursion along the Adriatic’s sparkling waters and paddle to the nearby island of Lokrum for breathtaking views of Dubrovnik.
Hotel More (B)
Day 8 — Gulf of Kotor, Montenegro/Dubrovnik
Cross the border into Montenegro and spend the day discovering the beautiful Gulf of Kotor, designated a World Heritage site for its harmonious integration of medieval architecture into the terraced waterfront landscape. Visit the enchanting Venetian town of Perast to discover its many churches and grand palazzos. Continue to the city of Kotor to explore its perfectly preserved center, brimming with Roman, Byzantine, and Gothic buildings; and step into its 12th-century Cathedral of St. Tryphon. Return to Dubrovnik later this afternoon.
Hotel More (B)
Day 9 — Korčula/Dubrovnik
Cruise to the island of Korčula, and set out on a private tour of the island’s well-preserved medieval walled city—the purported birthplace of Marco Polo. Stroll narrow streets and step into stunning palaces, piazzas, and Renaissance and Gothic churches. Visit St. Mark’s Cathedral and, if you wish, climb its bell tower for breathtaking views over the town.
Hotel More (B)
Day 10 — Dubrovnik/Depart
Transfer to the airport to catch your flight home.
About Private Expeditions
National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. Simply select a trip and decide whom you'd like to travel with and when you want to travel. We'll take care of the rest.