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
We awake and hike into the hills above Split where the coast blends into the interior. Following an old trade route, we make our way through villages that formed the autonomous peasants? republic of Poljica during the Middle Ages. We take in incredible sea views as we trek through sparsely populated hamlets until we reach an abandoned village. Here we enjoy a traditional lunch with a local family in an old home they are restoring. We?ll rest our legs aboard the ferry to the island of Bra?, our home for the next two evenings. All meals included.
Hiking: 2.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 260? / 600?
Begin the day with paddle board instruction in Sutivan?s protected harbor. Our guide then leads us on a picturesque paddle along Bra??s northwest coastline. We hug the shoreline and take in views of pebbled beaches, quiet valleys and the deep blue Aegean. Our appetite grows as we arrive at Dol, a tiny village famed for the unique cake made there. We stroll through the village while listening to a local woman share stories about everyday village life. She shows us the 400-year-old castle she calls home and we share local sheep cheeses and wines. Next, the time has finally come to learn to make the village?s rich and delicious cake?hrapo?u?a. Then we eat hrapo?u?a! Breakfast, lunch (and hrapo?u?a) are included.
Stand up paddle boarding: 1.5?2 hours
Start the day with a private boat trip to the island of Hvar, said to be the sunniest place in Croatia. Once there we set out in kayaks to explore the clear blue waters around the Pakleni archipelago?s wooded islands. We paddle to a beachside restaurant for lunch and then return to Hvar Town for some free time. Explore the town and its waterfront promenade, gothic palaces or numerous cafes. It?s an easy walk up to the Spanish fortress for the best views. After that we catch a private boat to the farthest inhabited island from the Croatian mainland?Vis. Relax at the hotel, take a walk along the seaside or seek out the town?s Greek and Roman ruins. We?ll meet back up later for a seafood feast at a local restaurant. All meals included.
Hiking: 5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +250? / -1,960?
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. There 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, a rustic dish slow-cooked in a bell-covered pan surrounded by coals. Returning to our hotel, the afternoon is free to explore 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, strolling 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.
Return to Split for a farewell dinner.
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.