The Dalmatian adventure begins in Split, Croatia?s second-largest city. Trip members and guides meet at our city center hotel before sharing a welcome drink. Thirsts quenched, we set out for a short walk through our scenic surroundings. Take in sea views from the city?s palm tree-lined promenade, wander stone-lined streets and explore the famed Diocletian Palace. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the palace was originally built in A.D. 295 for a local boy who made it big?the Roman emperor Diocletian. He retired here after famously stepping away from power to focus his energies on growing cabbages in peace. Even if cabbage isn?t your thing, venturing through ancient Roman architecture will work up a traveler?s appetite. Dinner included.
Walking: 1 hour
Today we awake and set our sights on Marjan Hill, that big green mound rising above the city. The locals call it the "lungs of the city." By bicycle, we leave the city behind and make our way through a nature preserve filled with cactus and Mediterranean pine trees (the shade is appreciated). Rock climbers dangle off rugged rock faces below as we take in views of the city and sea from atop the hill. From here, we cycle on through the old fisherman and farmer?s neighborhood of Veli Varo?. We then ride to the outside walls of the Diocletian Palace. After lunch, a ferry takes us to the island of Bra?, the largest island in Dalmatia and our home for the next two evenings. All meals included.
Cycling: 6 miles, elevation gain/loss: 820?
We make our way to the town of Bol and the famous beach named Zlatni rat (Golden Horn). This spit of pebbled beach juts out of a pine forest into the turquoise sea like a dagger. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, it makes an ideal spot for a few hours of swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, windsurfing or beach napping.
Later, we head to one of the best wineries on the island for an authentic and traditional Dalmatian wine tasting experience. The sun-soaked slopes of the island create one-of-a-kind conditions for high-quality vintages.
Dinner is on you tonight, so venture through the town of Supetar to find the meal of your choosing. Breakfast and lunch included.
Water activities: 2?3 hours
Curious what the monks on the south side of Bra? have been up to for the past 450+ years? Oh, just escaping Turkish invaders, dwelling in caves, farming, teaching, making advancements in astronomy, etc. All will be revealed after a hike through Dalmatian black pine to the museum that was once the monks? monastery.
We continue our hike down to the quaintest of coves, Blaca Bay. Relax with a picnic lunch and some swimming. A private boat takes us to the island of Hvar, said to be the sunniest place in Croatia. Enjoy some free time exploring Hvar Town and its waterfront promenade, gothic palaces and 13th-century walls. It?s an easy walk up to the Spanish fortress for the best views of Hvar and the Pakleni Islands. Overnight in Hvar town. All meals included.
Hiking: 5 miles, elevation gain/loss: +250? / -1,960?
Kayaking is the ideal way to explore the crystal-clear waters around the Pakleni Islands. This stunning archipelago is a collection of 16 islands, dotted with pristine, secluded bays and beaches throughout. We?ll paddle to a beachside restaurant for lunch and then return to Hvar Town to catch a boat to the island of Vis, the farthest inhabited island from the Croatian mainland.
During your free time before dinner, enjoy the peaceful grounds of the hotel or take a walk along the seaside promenade. Discover the highlights of Vis town, which include Greek and Roman ruins, Renaissance churches, and palaces. We meet up in the evening and walk to a restaurant for a seafood feast. All meals included.
Kayaking: 3 hours
Due to its geographical isolation and lack of development and tourism, Vis has maintained much of its natural beauty and traditional stone villages. This is largely due to its time as a restricted Yugoslavian military base which kept it off limits to virtually everyone until the early 1990s. Fun fact: The movie Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was filmed on Vis rather than in Greece.
Explore this hidden little island on foot, beginning in the charming fishing village of Komiza. Hike along tidy lanes past centuries-old houses leading to the seafront promenade. Trek through villages high up in the hills and gain an appreciation for traditional stone-building techniques. Continue to scenic Barjoska Bay, and then return to Komiza via a wooded path. A late lunch will be enjoyed on the Komiza promenade as we watch the fisherman pull their boats into the harbor. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 5 miles, elevation gain/loss: 880?
Our journey starts on a small boat destined for the island of Bi?evo. We slip through a small gap in the rock and find ourselves in the famed Blue Cave. It's incredible?sunlight reflects off the white sea floor and rises up through the water to fill the sea cave with a luminous blue glow. Just... wow.
Back on Vis, a caravan of 4x4 jeeps takes us on an off-road tour of a fortified base befitting a Bond villain. The abandoned Yugoslavian military compound features a hidden submarine base, a maze of underground tunnels and more. Other stops include a hike to Tito?s cave, where Josip Broz hid during World War II.
Lunch follows at a family-run restaurant serving peka. This rustic dish is slow-cooked in a bell-covered pan surrounded by coals. Returning to our hotel, the remainder of the day is free and dinner is on your own. Breakfast and lunch included.?
Walking: 1.5 hours
We board our ferry for our return to Split. Once there, optional activities include hanging out at caf�s, hiking in Marjan Forest Park, parading along the promenade or exploring Split?s museums. Everyone meets up in the evening for a farewell dinner, just a short walk from our hotel inside the city?s walls. Breakfast and dinner included.
The time has come to split from Split (forgive the pun!). Here are some ways to say "goodbye" in Croatian: Zbogom, dovi?enja and opro?taj. You choose the time of your departure. Breakfast included.