Jewels of Croatia
Featuring Zagreb and the Adriatic Coast
Explore Croatia in depth from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, as you discover pristine parkland and miles of sun-drenched Adriatic coastline and experience its vibrant cultural heritage.
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Situated on the pristine Dalmatian coast—at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Central Europe, and the Balkans—Croatia offers a remarkable history and dramatic landscapes. Join us to experience a vibrant cultural heritage, historic cities, lush parkland, and miles of sun-drenched pristine coastline.
- Zagreb: Explore the historic Upper Town of Croatia’s capital and see the detailed Art Nouveau architecture that is a legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Travel to the lush forests of Plitvice Lakes National Park to enjoy the crystal blue lakes and cascading waterfalls.
- Split and Hvar: Discover the seaside town of Split, home of Diocletian’s Palace, the preeminent Roman monument on the Adriatic coast and a World Heritage site. Plus, explore Hvar and Stari Grad, and savor a local vintage at a winery and traditional cuisine in the company of a local family.
- Dubrovnik: Conclude in beloved Dubrovnik, the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” During a walking tour, marvel at the Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque architecture tucked inside the medieval city walls and enjoy time to explore this World Heritage site at leisure.
Day 1 — Depart the U.S.
Smithsonian Journeys Travelers depart on a transatlantic flight for Zagreb, Croatia.
Day 2 — Zagreb
After an afternoon flight arrival and brief formalities transfer to the deluxe Esplanade Zagreb Hotel. You’ll have personal time to relax and refresh before joining fellow travelers at a Smithsonian Journeys Welcome Reception with lively Folk Entertainment and followed by Dinner. (D)
Day 3 — Zagreb
Explore contemporary Croatia at a lecture given by an expert speaker. Depart the hotel for an excursion to see the Highlights of Zagreb. See the fortified Upper Town the city’s historical center, St. Mark’s Church including the city’s art nouveau architecture that provides a lasting reminder of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The balance of the day will be free of planned activities so you can explore on your own. In late afternoon, your Smithsonian Journeys Expert will give an engaging lecture. Join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers' Corner for a drink and lively conversation. (B)
Day 4 — Zagreb
Explore the small hamlet of Klanjec, about 30 miles northwest of Zagreb, known for being the home of sculptor Antun Augustincic, whose most famous work is the Monument to Peace found in front of the U.N. building in New York City. At a museum dedicated to his work, visitors will see his art and learn about his life. Also of note in Klanjec, see a 17th-century Franciscan Monastery and the baroque Church of St. Mary. A monument created by Robert Franges-Mihanovic and dedicated to poet Antun Mihanovic, composer of the Croatian national anthem, can be seen in the main square. The excursion continues to visit Kumrovec, the birthplace of the late Yugoslav President Tito. The old quarter of Kumrovec, known as Kumrovec Staro Selo, is an open-air museum with beautifully restored thatched cottages and wooden farm buildings, orchards, and a stream that offers an authentic look at 19th-century rural life. Lunch will be served at a family-run restaurant featuring local specialties. Continue to see Veliki Tabor, a 12th-century fortress surrounded by remarkable rural Zagorje landscapes that convey the romantic and dramatic past of Hrvatsko Zagorje. (B,L)
Day 5 — Zagreb to Split
From Zagreb, motor to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Plitvice Lakes National Park. See pristine lakes located at different levels and linked by spectacular cascading waterfalls. The forested land surrounding the lakes is home to bear, wolves, wild boar, deer, and many species of birds. After lunch, continue the journey to Split on the remarkable Adriatic coast. Accommodations have been reserved at the Cornaro Hotel. This evening sit down with fellow travelers for dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Split
Croatia’s seafaring heritage will be the subject of a fascinating morning talk. Next engage in a walking tour of Split, including Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll visit the Ancient Cellars and the Peristyle Square in the center of the palace. Continue to see the Cathedral of St. Domnius, one of the most beautiful on the Adriatic coast, former Roman Temples, the famous Golden Gate, and the statue of Grgur Ninski, an honored Croatian bishop. Continue to the bustling local fish market. A special lunch will be served in a local restaurant. After lunch, let your curiosity be your guide and explore Split at your leisure. This afternoon your Smithsonian Journeys Expert will offer an interesting lecture. Gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers' Corner for a drink and to exchange experiences and lively conversation. (B,L)
Day 7 — Hvar
This morning, cruise to the island of Hvar and continue to the lovely Adriana Hvar Spa Hotel (accomodations for our September 5-16, 2016 program are at the Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Hotel) where accommodations await. Join an afternoon walking tour of this small island town rich in history and culture. Largely designed and built by the Venetians, Hvar is home to a lovely 17th-century baroque cathedral, numerous picturesque squares, and the 13th-century Arsenal. A stop will be made at a Benedictine Convent where the nuns make intricate lace from agave plant fiber. (B)
Day 8 — Hvar
One of the joys of foreign travel is discovering new cuisine. A local expert will give a talk about Croatian food and wine. The remains of ancient fortifications can still be seen in settlements on the island. After visiting Stari Grad, the oldest town in Croatia, continue to a winery for a sampling of the local vintage. You’ll sit down with fellow travelers to a traditional Peka Dinner in a charming country house. Peka is a traditional specialty featuring veal, lamb, chicken, and potatoes roasted over hot coals under an iron bell and accompanied by an assortment of roasted vegetables. During dinner, you’ll meet members of the Dubokovic family, who will tell you about life in today’s Croatia. (B,D)
Day 9 — Dubrovnik
Depart Hvar and travel by deluxe motor coach to the remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site of Dubrovnik. Accommodations have been reserved for you at the renowned Grand Villa Argentina Hotel, where the remainder of the day is at leisure. This evening, gather for dinner with other Smithsonian Journeys Travelers and enjoy delicious Croatian specialties made with locally sourced seasonal ingredients. (B,D)
Day 10 — Dubrovnik
Each corner of this legendary city is its own unique experience. Join a memorable excursion through Croatia's most famous medieval city that begins at the monumental Pile Gate, located at the top of the Stradun, the splendid main promenade of the Old Town. See the Franciscan Monastery, whose cloister is one of the most magnificent sites in the city, and then to the site of the oldest pharmacy in Europe that first opened in 1317. A little further on is the Sponza Palace, notable for its portico with columns and elaborate stone carvings, which today houses the State Archives. Visit the Cathedral that was built on the ruins of a 12th-century church destroyed by the great earthquake of 1667. Continue to explore the fabled walls of the Old Town. Late this afternoon, your Smithsonian Journeys Expert will gather travelers for an engaging talk. Have a drink and conversation in the Smithsonian Travelers' Corner. (B)
Day 11 — Dubrovnik
The city is yours, so follow your own path to explore and discover at your leisure. This evening, join fellow Smithsonian Journeys Travelers for a Farewell Reception and Dinner served in the hotel. (B,D)
Day 12 — Depart for the U.S.
Depart the hotel for the airport and your flights to the U.S. (B)