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Slovenia and Croatia — two of the most gorgeous of the Balkan nations — that when combined create an extraordinarily diverse itinerary unlike any other. On this epic journey, we take full advantage of the changes in landscape, each country’s shared yet distinct history, and the outstanding culinary traditions and gastronomic delights found from the Alpine meadows to the sparkling seaside and everywhere in between.
Opportunities for adventure are limitless. From Slovenia’s picture-perfect Lake Bled, we set out on thrilling hikes into the remote corners of the Julian Alps, a mountain lover’s paradise. In Croatia, we venture into Istria, a beautiful peninsula beloved by Europeans but little-known by outsiders, and end our escapade on Hvar Island on the Dalmatian Coast, known as the "new Mediterranean Riviera."
Join us to meander through quiet mountain villages and lively port towns, summit Alpine peaks for panoramic views, and explore on foot and kayak the sun-drenched islands and scenic coastlines of the Adriatic. You’ll wonder why you didn’t go sooner.
Arrive in Ljubljana, Lake Bled & Mostnica Gorge
Welcome to Slovenia! We meet our fellow travelers and guide at 9 a.m. in the lobby of Hotel Vander in Slovenia's hip and happening capital. This is the "new Old Europe," where the 21st century mingles comfortably with a rich blend of cherished tradition and historic architecture. With its artsy bohemian vibe, many have compared Ljubljana to Prague, minus the crowds.
We leave the city for the Alps and the iconic Lake Bled, one of Europe's most scenic spots. Its glacial waters are surrounded by forest and soaring mountains, and its tiny islet — the only natural island in Slovenia — is marked by the storybook bell tower of its medieval church. We take a traditional pletna boat and visit the islet. From the middle of the lake, we have beautiful views of medieval Bled Castle perched high on a rocky lakeside precipice.
To warm up our legs, we hike along Lake Bled, stopping for a delicious signature Slovenian meal before continuing further to Bohinj Lake with its picturesque collection of alpine villages. We hike along the lush Mostnica Gorge carved by the river. Our trail leads us over wooden bridges, where we can easily spot trout, before we turn into the woods to complete our loop with views of alpine meadows.
We check in to our elegant lakeside hotel overlooking Mt. Triglav, Slovenia's highest peak and enjoy our first dinner together.
Hotel BohinjBohinj, Slovenia
The newest accommodation on the lake, this 4-star hotel was designed with nature in mind, from the soft, pine wood room interiors to the views of the lake and mountains. Amenities include a wellness center and onsite restaurant.
Mt. Vogel & Lake Bohinj
This morning, we head into the splendor of western Slovenia and the Julian Alps where the Julian foothills set the stage for our first hiking adventure. A short gondola ride delivers us to the Vogel Plateau in Triglav National Park. Around us, hulking massifs pierce the sky and wild blueberry bushes and pristine alpine tarns cover the plateau above Lake Bohinj. Our destination is the Zadnji Vogel mountain pasture, where we learn about traditional dairy production. We summit Mt. Sija (6,342') where we have spectacular views of Mt. Triglav (9,400'). We stop for a hearty picnic lunch in this beautiful setting before returning to the valley.
Once we reach the Lake Bohinj again, those who have the energy, may choose to join an additional easy hike along the lake. Alternatively, you may enjoy a swim or just relax at our hotel, situated on the shore.
Before dinner, we meet with Marija, a friendly and enthusiastic local resident, who will tell us more about traditional daily life in Triglav and teach us about local plants, ingredients, and gastronomy.
Sleme Viewpoint, Vrsic Pass, & Bovec
After breakfast, we depart Bohinj and drive through the mountains toward the Italian and Austrian borders, stopping briefly in Kranjska Gora, a ski resort town that hosts the annual Alpine Skiing World Cup for slalom competitions. We admire crystalline waters of the Pisnica River and encircle picturesque Lake Jasna.
We then make our way to Vrsic Pass along one of Europe's most scenic mountain roads originally built as a supply route during World War I. Today, it is a boon for trekkers eager to explore this remarkable landscape. From the pass, we set out on foot past larch trees and tiny ponds to Sleme Viewpoint, which overlooks gargantuan walls of solid limestone.
After a lovely picnic lunch, we continue our drive into the emerald Soca River Valley and Bovec, the adventure capital of Slovenia. Here, we settle into our refined boutique hotel and savor a gourmet dinner.
Dobra VilaBovec, Slovenia
The Dobra Vila is a very well appointed, stylish boutique hotel just a few minutes walk to the center of Bovec. It offers an extraordinary restaurant with a menu reflecting the bounty of each season, and outstanding wine list featuring Slovenia’s finest. Rooms are tastefully and artistically decorated, and the property offers beautiful terraces, perfect for enjoying the magnificent views of the surrounding alps.
Soca Trail & Kobarid
We head into the northern reaches of the Soca Valley to an area called Trenta. This region is awash in both beauty and history. During World War I, the Italians and Austro-Hungarians battled at the Isonzo Front, loosely defined by the waters of the Soca River (known as the Isonzo River in Italy). Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms vividly depicts the events that unfolded here. This farming area is also known for its cheeses and is home to some of the best Slovenian producers, nestled at high altitudes where pristine grazing areas make for a top-quality cheese. We hike on the Soca Trail to discover these remote cheesemakers, learn about their craft, and do some grazing of our own as we sample their products.
In the afternoon, we drive to the nearby village of Kobarid to enjoy a private tour of the award-winning World War I Museum to learn more about the area's turbulent history.
Kobarid has become world famous for its gastronomy thanks to Netflix star chef Ana Ros, one of Europe's most progressive chefs, and her restaurant, Hisa Franko. We are treated to dinner at the sought-after restaurant to experience traditional Slovenian flavors with an imaginative flair.
Istria: Groznjan to Motovun
We continue our journey south towards Istria, the heart-shaped peninsula at the northern end of Croatia's coast surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. We traverse the rolling hills and fertile plains of the picturesque interior.
Our first stop is at the medieval town of Groznjan with a rich history having been ruled in succession by the Republic of Venice, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Napoleonic France, and Italy. Groznjan then became a part of Yugoslavia, and in 1965, painters and sculptors took advantage of a state-funded program to restore old houses into studios and galleries. It is now a colourful, creative community filled with musicians and artisans in the summer.
After lunch at a local konoba (small, family-run restaurant)where we might try home-made minestra soup and Istrian fuzi pasta, we explore the bucolic surroundings on foot following the Parenzana Trail. This route was once the narrow-gauge railway line that connected Trieste in Italy with Porec (Parenzo) in Croatia.
We end our day in the medieval, hilltop town of Motovun, perched above the Mirna Valley. This area is famous for its acclaimed gastronomy including fragrant white and black truffles, wild asparagus, top-rated olive oils, and award-winning wines such as Malvazija or Teran. We enjoy a gourmet dinner with a breathtaking view.
Hotel KastelMotovun, Croatia
Hotel Kaštel is located at the very top of the medieval town of Motovun in the 17th-century Palace Pollesini. This family-run hotel offers a traditional, pleasant ambience both inside and in the shade of ancient chestnut trees on the dining terrace.
Truffle hunt, winetasting, & Rovinj
After breakfast, we delve deep into the forest on a truffle hunt with a local Istrian family that has been hunting here for three generations. We join them for a foray and walk, learning about this skill. Of course, our experience wouldn't be complete without sampling all kinds of truffled goodies; including cheeses, spreads, jams, and even chocolate.
On our way to Rovinj, we detour to one of the very best Croatian wineries, Roxanich, a chic wine estate that blends local heritage with modern design. Their selection ranges from light and refreshing whites and roses to the rich, long aged wines such as Teran. They promise that we can taste sunshine trapped in their wine bottles.
We continue an hour more towards Rovinj, one of Croatia's most attractive coastal towns. This area has been inhabited since prehistoric times when Histrian tribes traded with Etruscans on the Italian peninsula and Greeks further south. Rovinj prospered under the Venetian Republic, which is reflected in its architecture. After five centuries of Venetian rule, Napoleon seized the region only to lose it to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With arrival of Austrians, tourism came to Rovinj as wealthy barons invested in railroads and built glamourous seaside villas. One of them, Georg Hutterott, made sure to include tree-lined pathways and landscaped meadows, which is now a protected park called Punta Corrente (Golden Cape), a beautiful natural attraction.
After checking in to our seaside design accommodation, we walk through this unique park and continue on to the Old Town where we meet our local guide for a city tour. The Old Town is topped by the church of St. Euphemia from where we enjoy the best sunset views. Today's dinner features succulent, day-boat seafood.
Hotel LoneRovinj, Slovenia
As a 5-star Design Hotel, Lone features an impeccable blend of luxury, beauty, style and cultural heritage. All well-appointed rooms have balconies featuring either sea views or views onto the Golden Cape Forest Park. Amenities include a spa, pool, and restaurant.
Brijni National Park & olive oil tour
Following breakfast, a short ferry ride brings us across the channel to the scenic Brijni National Park made up of fourteen islands and islets. Among them, Veliki Island stands out as the most fascinating and is where we enjoy our walk passing 130-million-year-old dinosaur footprints, ruins of a Roman villa, a 1,600-year-old olive tree. In the 19th-century, an Austrian industrialist built the first hotels on the island, and shortly thereafter, Viennese psychiatrists were sending famous patients — James Joyce, Gustav Klimt, and the Archduke of Austria — for rest and relaxation. When this region was part of Yugoslavia, President Tito made Brijuni his official summer residence and entertained over 90 heads of state and celebrities here, including Che Guevara, Sofia Loren, Carlo Ponti, Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton.
Once we encircle the island on foot, we take the ferry back to the mainland and visit a local olive oil producer. Although not as famous as Italian or Spanish oil, Istria is recognized as a top olive oil region for the olive's unique color and pungent taste. We learn about the production and enjoy a tasting.
We return to our hotel in the afternoon for leisure time. Perhaps take a refreshing swim, indulge with a spa treatment at the hotel, or walk into the Old Town to explore independently. Dinner is on your own this evening, and our guides are happy to make some recommendations.
Ucka Nature Park & Sibenik
Our day begins with a transfer to Ucka National Park where Mt. Vojak dominates over Istria and connects the peninsula with the rest of the country. We hike through dense beech forest to the summit from where we have breathtaking panoramic views. We stop for lunch at a small mountain hut popular with local hunters where we may try some venison salami and homemade gnocchi with venison goulash.
After the hike we drive to Opatija on the coast, once a popular resort for European aristocracy. We enjoy afternoon coffee with famous Opatija chocolate before continuing our drive south to Dalmatia. Our final destination is Sibenik, the only city in Croatia (and one of only a handful in the world) boasting two UNESCO sites. One of them, the Cathedral of St. James is an exquisite example of Gothic Renaissance craftsmanship; the structure is held together entirely by interlocking stones — no nails, glue, cement, or any other kind of fastenings were used. The other is the Venetian-built, 16th-century St. Nicholas Fortress, said to have successfully escaped any attack due to its formidable reputation. We learn more about Sibenik's rich history before our dinner at the exclusive Pelegrini Restaurant, a Michelin Star restaurant and routinely listed as the best in the country.
Heritage Hotel Life PalaceSibenik, Croatia
Located in a Renaissance palace nested in a small town square, Heritage Hotel Life Palace’s seventeen rooms were designed with love and enriched with select details that pay tribute to Šibenik’s glorious history. Amenities include a hot tub, Finnish sauna, and cafe.
Sibenik, Split walking tour & Hvar
We start our day with a lovely coastal and clifftop walk along St. Anthony's Channel. This scenic trail reaches from Sibenik harbor to St. Nicholas Fortress offering spectacular views of the town and archipelago.
After getting our muscles moving, we drive about an hour to the bustling city of Split, one of the Adriatic's most vibrant ports of call. Through the centuries, it has been ruled by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Austrians (among others), but perhaps the city's greatest claim to fame is its enormous, 3rd-century Palace of Diocletian. Built as the Roman emperor's retirement home, the structure is an important example of transitional style, comprising an imperial villa, Hellenistic town, and Roman camp. We meet our guide for a walking tour that will introduce us to Split's rich history. As we explore the Old Town, we stop at a local farmers' market where we can sample specialties directly from the producers. We'll find a variety of local cheeses, prosciutto, pogaca (flatbread similar to focaccia), burek (Balkan pastry filled with cheese, meats, or vegetables), and an endless selection of tasty and flavorful fresh and dried fruits — the fresh figs are to die for!
We then board our ferry for a scenic ride to the island of Hvar, where we visit the charming town of Jelsa, sandwiched between the island's two highest mountains, St. Nikola and Hum. At day's end, we retire to our boutique hotel in the town of Hvar, which offers panoramic views of the town and marina. Dinner tonight is on your own, and our guides are happy to provide recommendations for one of the many excellent restaurants in town.
Hotel AdrianaHvar, Croatia
A seaside hideaway just steps from UNESCO Hvar Old Town, the hotel offers a spa, a rooftop terrace with a saltwater swimming pool, a restaurant, bar, and panoramic views of the cathedral, the piazza, and the bay. Guestrooms have natural hardwood floors and offer views of the old city or harbor. Hotel Adriana is Croatia’s first and only member of the ‘Leading Small Hotels of the World.’
Pakleni Islands kayaking
This morning, we take to the Adriatic for a sea kayaking excursion to the Pakleni Islands, a gorgeous emerald archipelago with white-pebble beaches and secluded coves dotted with Aleppo pines (once an import source of resin used for centuries as a protective coating for the islands' sea-faring galleys).
In the afternoon, we return to Hvar for a stroll inside the city's 13th-century walls to its sprawling central square, Trg Svetog Stjepana. Here, we enjoy a talk with the island's foremost aromatherapist.
As the day wanes, you may choose to make the climb up to Fortress Spanjol, a medieval citadel built to defend the city against the Turks, for stunning views of Hvar's Old Town at sunset.
We raise our glasses this evening and toast to our adventures with a celebratory dinner at one of Hvar's finest restaurants.
Return to Split & departure
The morning is at your leisure. Our ferry back to Split departs at 11:30 from Hvar Island arriving at 13:30. From here, there is a group transfer to the airport or you may continue to explore the charms of Split on your own.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Jun 4-14, 2021
Jun 18-28, 2021
Sep 5-15, 2021
Sep 17-27, 2021
$6,995 Per Person
First two reserved:$795
See single supplement policy below.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. This trip is rated 2+, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The walks and hikes on this trip range from 1-4 hours. The terrain is mixed, with both gradual and steep sections encountered on most days on unpaved paths and trails, with minimal vehicle support. No experience is necessary for our sea kayaking excursion on Day 10.
Most Convenient Arrival Airport: Ljubljana Airport; Ljubljana, Slovenia (airport code LJU)
Meeting Time and Place: Your guide(s) will meet you in the lobby of our first hotel; Ljubljana, Slovenia. Please be dressed for city walking!
Most Convenient Departure Airport: Split Airport; Split, Croatia (airport code SPU)Departure Time and Place: Day 11 mid-day upon our return to Split via ferry; Split, Croatia
As we will be journeying through three regions each with its own microclimate, weather is variable throughout the trip, especially when in the mountains and at higher elevations. Therefore, dressing in layers will be essential to your comfort. Rain is possible at any time in the Alps, and weather conditions can change rapidly, so having rain gear on hand is advisable. At the same time, the sun is strong at higher elevations and along the coast, and therefore adequate precautions should be taken to prevent sunburn, even on cool, sunny days.
The experience of Slovenian cuisine is inseparably connected with the concept of gostilna restaurants, traditional places to enjoy good food and wine often serving dishes prepared with old recipes using local ingredients. The Slovenian countryside is dotted with small family farms, and food ingredients are relatively healthy and often organically grown. Slovenian wines, meanwhile, can enthuse even the most demanding connoisseur. Our evening meals are enjoyed at our hotels, or at some of the best restaurants in the area.
Traditional Croatian cuisine reflects diverse cultural and geographic influences as a result of access to the sea and fertile farmland, as well as foreign occupiers who imported their flavors and recipes. Freshness and simplicity best characterize coastal Croatian cuisine. Main meals typically start with prsut and paski sir (thinly sliced dry-cured ham and sheep milk cheese), often scattered with olives. As you might expect, fish is common, usually grilled with olive oil. Garlicky seafood stews and roasted pork are seen on many menus as well.
Vegetarians can be accommodated with advance notice, though choices tend to be more limited. Please contact us with any questions.
Irena hails from the southern islands of Croatia and currently lives in Slovenia. A passionate and curious traveler, she has been exploring remote regions in Asia and southeast Europe for the last 15 years. Irena knows every small corner of the Balkan region, is an outdoor and adventure enthusiast, and for as long as she can remember has spent part of each year hiking, rock climbing, and participating in summer and winter sports in the Julian Alps.
With a degree in cultural studies, a passion for exploring, and her friendly nature, Irena makes the ideal traveling companion to either country. It's clear that she truly enjoys guiding and sharing this area of the world with travelers.
Joze is an engineer, and after a successful career of leadership in a multinational company, his passion for traveling and sharing his homeland got to the better of him and led him to a new career of guiding. Every tour with him is well organized and runs smoothly, as one would expect of an engineer!
Joze has spent the past several years traveling and guiding extensively worldwide, spending his summers in the Julian Alps and winters in Southeast Asia. He is also a keen photographer, hiker, and avid mountain biker. He enjoys cooking classes and appreciating good food and wine. Joze is fluent in English, German, and Serbo-Croatian and is a wonderful hiking companion on the trail.
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Walking and hiking 2-4 hours each day, and one half-day kayaking excursion (no experience necessary).
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
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