Board the in Split. We head north to Pag Island with a stop en route in Zadar. Zadar’s Old Town is fascinating with one highlight being the unusually “round” 9th Century church of St.Donatus. Then, it’s on to Pag. Pag is an island of contrasts – culturally, it is well-known for its lace-making, wonderful cheese and mouth-watering lamb. Hedonistically, it is – fast becoming famous for its fantastic nightlife which is mostly centred on Zrce beach – also referred to as the Ibiza of Croatia! We offer the choice of accommodation in the vicinity of party action or alternatively for a more relaxed and intimate afternoon and evening you can stay in a quieter location in Novalja. Please note – the adventure trip only runs to Pag during June, July and August as the Zrce beach clubs do not operate in September.
The next morning (though not too early!) we move inland, driving up through the impressive Paklenica National Park and getting a spectacular view of the coastline as we do so, to visit one of Europe’s most breathtaking natural gems: the Plitvice lakes and waterfalls. This UNESCO-protected series of interconnected cascades is a must-see. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to turquoise, grey or blue. The colors constantly change depending on the amount of minerals in the water and the sun’s angle. A neatly-designed walkway takes you through the park, across the waters that teem with fish to the foot of one of the highest waterfalls (75m) and on to the pleasure boats. Accommodation that evening is at a local ranch.
After breakfast we set off, heading back southwards to Split. If you are leaving the trip to catch a flight, then there is the option of either a drop-off in Trogir (another UNESCO-protected jewel of an Old City) or in Split itself, near Diocletian’s Palace. The bus may be on its way to Mostar but there is a swimming stop in one of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s secret paradise spots. Halfway between Split and Mostar is a truly spectacular waterfall with a large, deep plunge pool to bathe in. It has to be seen to be believed and is perfect for those in need of a refreshing dip! After a swim and a beer or two at the water’s edge, it’s onward to Mostar. This city, famous for its arched bridge and Turkish Old Town, is one of the most stunning places in Bosnia-Herzegovina. You will have the entire day in and around Mostar on the Tuesday so for now it’s time to kick back in the evening and savour the amazing restaurants, bars and clubs that this warm, friendly town has to offer. Recommended Evening Activities: trying the local specialties of grilled trout, filled steaks and pastries in one of the many riverside restaurants in the Turkish Old Town, Sipping a cocktail under the stars at the fabulous open-air Sky Bar, Lounging and dancing at Ali Baba’s. A club that is literally a massive cavern in the Turkish Quarter and one of the coolest nightspots in the region.
There is so much to see and do in and around Mostar that we have allocated a whole day for you to choose a great activity or just chill out and explore the city yourself, it’s up to you. Here are the choices: a guided tour of Mostar that takes in all the main sites, a guided tour to Blagaj, a village only 15 mins from Mostar that boasts a 500 year-old Turkish Dervish monastery that sits right on the source of the river Buna, a whole day white-water rafting trip, a horse-riding excursion where it is possible to take the horses into the river Neretva and even sometimes get them to swim with you in the saddle! Finally, in the evening we leave for Sarajevo, the enticing of the capital of the melting pot that is Bosnia-Herzegovina. Having checked in to the hotel, you are free to discover the city’s bars and restaurants for yourself.
Sarajevo really is one of Europe’s crossroads, which other capital has a mosque, Orthodox church, synagogue and a Catholic church all within meters of each other? It is also an Olympic City with the 1984 Winter Olympics famously held here. However, it also has a darker history – the shots that started the First World War were fired here and the longest siege in modern history meant that the city was under bombardment for 3 years during the Yugoslav Wars of the ‘90s. The city the shopping is superb and we offer these options: guided tours, from simple short one and a half tours to longer ones that take in the story of the war and the tunnel museum or mountain biking, a great adventure for those who are fond of biking. The tracks range from easy to hard depending on your skill. After Sarajevo’s delights we head back to the glittering Adriatic coast to visit the jewel in Croatia’s crown. We set off in the late afternoon and as the drive is over 4 hours we stop off in the UNESCO Turkish town of Pocitelj for a refreshments break. Upon arrival in Dubrovnik, you have the evening to yourself, with an evening walk on the city walls strongly recommended.
The sight of Dubrovnik’s walls set against the seductive Adriatic sea is worth the visit alone and the chance to explore the Old Town in addition to the other available activities means we dedicate the whole day and night to staying around the city. Dubrovnik has a fascinating past, both as an independent republic in its own right and as part of Croatia. The amazing natural surroundings also mean that there is plenty of scope for slightly more strenuous options. You can spend your day on one of the local beaches or in the town or mix it up with the following possibilities: there is a good choice of walking tours from the story of the 90s war and the Jewish Quarter to wall and hidden gems guided walks, sea Kayaking around the island of Lokrum to the outer walls of the town, a ferry to Lopud island and walk across the island to the picturesque sandy beach of Sunj or a half-day tour of Cavtat and Konavle’s villages. Concludes with the local culinary tradition: succulent lamb slowly roasted under an iron pan covered in hot coals.
After a leisurely breakfast, morning swim and last-minute pottering around Dubrovnik, we leave before midday to head back north up the coast. An hour later we arrive in Ston, another of Croatia’s marvels. Ston was a fort town guarding the edge of Dubrovnik Republic and an integral part of the fortification walls that marked the edge of the territory. Ston’s 5km of defensive walls have been described as Croatia’s “Great Wall of China” and large sections can be walked and explored. Helpfully, Ston is the oyster-centre of Croatia and so this trip can include an oyster-tasting lunch. After lunch we hit the road again for the hop back up to Split. We overnight in Split, leaving plenty of time to relax in Diocletian’s Palace.
Departure or possibility of continuation of the trip with an amazing cruise of the Adriatic.