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Grand Tour of Northern Croatia - from Spilt to Istria

12days from
£2,999*per person


12 Days - European Tour

The northwest region of Croatia, where we spend our first few days exploring is very different from the idyllic Dalmatian Coast of southern Croatia. This heart-shaped peninsula over the Adriatic boasts a landscape of undulating hills and fertile valleys attracting food- and culture-focused visitors.  The region's undeniable and pervasive Italian influence reveals a connection that dates back to ancient times. We'll even hop over the border to visit Italy's Trieste so you can see the similarities for yourself!  Travelling down the coast, we'll stop at much-loved towns and cities, including Zadar, and cross the sea to visit two of Croatia's largest islands, Krk and Brač. We’ll end our Grand Tour in the central-southern region, with time in Trogir and the historic city of Split where we'll see the famous Emperor Diocletian Palace.  Our Grand Tour is ideal for travellers who want to get under the skin of Croatia at a leisurely pace. 


  • Arrival in Split Arriving in Split, we'll transfer to the hotel for a six-night stay in the charming coastal town of Opatija.
  • Opatija This morning, we'll enjoy a guided tour of the elegant resort town of Opatija on the Opatijan Riviera. Dating back to the Middle Ages, it became a must-visit destination during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. You'll be forgiven for thinking you're in the French Riviera - there are still many fine villas and residences built for the wealthy and fashionable who spent their summers here hoping to rub shoulders with European Royalty. Free time in Opatija During time at leisure in the beautiful town, you could explore the parks and churches. Alternatively, walk along the Franz-Joesf Promenade – a beautiful promenade passing many of the town’s attractions, from gardens and parks to picturesque harbours, bays and coves. Or perhaps stop for a swim in the warm blue waters of the Adriatic. This evening, you could sample the local flavours in one of the town’s many restaurants. Included experience: Guided tour of Opatija.
  • Krk Island Over 1,000 islands punctuate the Adriatic off the coast of Croatia and, today, we'll visit one of the largest. Located in the Bay of Kvarner, Krk - named "the Golden Island" during ancient times - offers an abundance of natural and cultural beauty. Krk Island is connected to the mainland by a 1,430-metre-long bridge, which we'll cross on our journey. From the comfort of the coach, you'll be treated to glittering views of the sea and rocky limestone coastline covered in patches of sub-mediterranean foliage and pine forests. Our first stop is the island's eponymous walled town, where we'll enjoy a guided tour. As one of the oldest towns in the Adriatic, Krk has been inhabited for more than 2,000 years - that pre-dates the arrival of the Romans! As we wander the narrow streets, our guide will bring to life the maze of ancient buildings we see, such as the 5th-century Krk Cathedral, which is part of a larger complex of church buildings featuring different architectural styles. Another highlight is the 12th-century castle by the sea. Built by the Frankopan family, one of Croatia’s leading aristocratic families, it offers wonderful views over the bay - and an atmospheric, open-air venue for summer concerts. Free time in Krk After our guided tour, there'll be free time for you to continue to explore or try the local cuisine. Here you'll find a perfect example of the Mediterranean diet - healthy foods made with fresh ingredients, from homemade olive oils and locally grown herbs to freshly caught fish - perhaps this is the reason the people of Krk Island live longer than their mainland counterparts! Vrbnik Later this afternoon, we'll drive across the island to Vrbinik, a pretty village set on a rocky hill overlooking the sea. Known to Croatians as the home of many stone inscriptions, missals, codices, registers and legal manuscripts written in Glagolitic - the oldest known Slavic alphabet - elsewhere, it's more well-known for its dry white wine, Žlahtina. We'll stop at a local winery to taste the golden-hued wine, paired with delicious homemade cheese and prosciutto, before heading back to the hotel. Included experiences: Guided tour of Krk and wine-tasting at a winery in Vrbnik.
  • Trieste Today you'll see not one but three countries! This morning, we'll drive north and cross the border into Slovenia, driving straight through to our first destination, Trieste in Italy. During our guided tour, we'll be introduced to the city's highlights, including the interesting blend of architectural styles in the Old Town and the well-situated Miramare Castle, located on a hill overlooking the harbour. At the foot of the hill lies the ruins of a striking Roman theatre, only rediscovered in 1938! It once had a magnificent proscenium decorated with ornate statues and archways looking out to the sea – in Roman times, the sea reached inland as far as the theatre. Another must-see is the San Giusto Cathedral, known for its Byzantine mosaics. Free time in Trieste After our tour, you have free time to wander at your own pace and soak up the café culture. Why not try a strucolo de pomi - the Triestine take on apple strudel - with a cup of Illy coffee, the famous brand that was founded here? After our Signature experience at a Slovenian winery, we'll head back to Croatia - and our hotel - for an evening at leisure. Included experience: Guided tour of Trieste. Signature experience: On our way back to Opatija, we'll visit a local winery in Slovenia for a tour and tasting. Slovenia is home to the oldest vine in the world, so you can bet these exceptional winemakers know their stuff! 
  • Plitviče Lakes National Park Today, be prepared to be mesmerised by the beautiful lakes and waterfalls of the Republic of Croatia's oldest and largest national park, Plitviče Lakes. Located in the mountainous region of Lika, halfway between Zagreb and Zadar, the park is home to a series of around 90 waterfalls that connect 16 turquoise-coloured lakes. The highest waterfall, Veliki Slap - or Great Waterfall - stands 78 metres high but Sastavci Slap is considered the most beautiful waterfall in the park, situated in serene surroundings near Novakovića Lake. Rumour has it, it's affectionately named after a local man who was always seen crossing the lake in his boat. Here, we'll enjoy a boat ride out for some awe-inspiring views - keep your cameras at the ready! Should you prefer, you can also take the panoramic land train ride around the lakes or, if you’re wearing sturdy shoes, you may want to follow some of the wooden footpaths at your own pace. Included experience: Visit to Plitviče Lakes.
  • Rovinj From the early 13th century to the late 18th century, Istrian coastal towns came under Venetian rule, and today we'll visit one of the most intriguing, Rovinj, known as Istria’s most picturesque fishing harbour. Set on an oval Peninsula, the charming old town has managed to preserve its character. During free time to explore as you wish, you'll really feel like you've stepped back in time as you lose yourself in the medieval lanes and cobbled piazzas. Over the terracotta-coloured rooftops, you'll spot the town's hilltop church modelled on the campanile of St Mark's in Venice - a legacy from the Venetians. And you'll find even more evidence of its past rulers in the colourful buildings by the water's edge. Leaving Rovinj, we'll head to Bani for our Signature experience. Included experience: Visit to Rovinj. Signature experience: After our time in Rovinj, we'll head to the countryside to Bani where we'll visit a restaurant that serves dishes prepared with a local delicacy - truffles! Istrian truffles only grow in a very small area on the peninsular and are highly sought after - trained dogs are used to sniff out this delectable treat. They’re said to rival Italy's truffles in terms of quality and taste - just a few shavings can take any dish from diner-quality to fine dining. 
  • Zadar After a scenic journey along the coast this morning, we'll arrive in the ancient capital of Dalmatia, Zadar. Centuries under Venetian rule give the city an Italian feel with its old ivory buildings with gently sloping roofs and deep overhanging eaves. Streets paved with marble that's been polished with centuries of wear lead to a Venetian fortress, turned public park, partly hidden by a canopy of trees.  During time at leisure, you can see a captivating mix of ancient Roman ruins, medieval architecture and modern attractions. Perhaps visit the Romanesque cathedral with its beautifully carved stonework, climb the bell tower for spectacular views over the city’s rooftops or take a stroll on the promenade and linger by the waterfront to hear the rhythmic sounds of the Sea Organ. You could even uncover some of its hidden secrets like the 1,000-year-old chapel tucked away at the back of Kavana Lovre.  Coffee is another Croatian essential: first thing, mid-morning, after lunch, mid-afternoon, dusk, at midnight, it's always coffee time - so there are plenty of places to stop and watch the world go by. Included experience: Visit to Zadar.
  • Split We'll drive along the Dalmatian coastline on our way to Split. Croatia’s second-largest city is most famous for a single building, the colossal palace of Emperor Diocletian, which makes up much of the city’s Old Town. It’s one of the great structures of the Roman Empire and has survived in amazing condition since it was built at the turn of the 4th century. This morning,  guided walking tour of the fascinating complex will bring its storied history to life.  Mestrovic Gallery We'll also visit the Mestrovic Gallery. Housing masterpieces of Croatia's most famous sculptor, Ivan Meštrović, carved in marble, bronze and wood. The building was also based on Meštrović's designs and was intended to be his family's summer residence, studio and exhibition space. Here, you're free to explore his works and the Mediterranean gardens and have lunch before returning to the hotel. Free time in Omis Spend the rest of the day and evening at leisure in Omis, exploring or taking advantage of our hotel’s facilities. Included experience: Guided walking tour of Split and visit to the Mestrovic Gallery.
  • Free day in Omiš The town can trace its roots back over 2,000 years and much of its early prosperity is thanks to pirates. The much-feared Omiš pirates, led by the famous dukes of the Kačić family, ruled the waters all the way down to Dubrovnik and any ship passing the mouth of the Cetina near this small town were forced to pay tribute for passage or risk battle. As time went by, the pirates of Omiš grew more powerful, fending off many attacks, including a crusade organised by the then Pope, Honorius III. They were eventually defeated in the 15th century by the Venetians and much of the town's appearance and architectural style can be attributed to the wealth that flowed through the streets under Venetian rule. Today you are free to wander the narrow streets of the old town and explore numerous squares and piazzas which were the home of public life in the early Modern Period. There are also a number of historic churches to discover, including the 10th-century Church of St Peter, the 16th-century Church of St Rocco and the 17th-century Church of St Michael.   The town has two fortresses, Mirabella and Starigrad. Once lookout towers and a refuge for the town's inhabitants when they came under attack, now they offer glorious views over the rooftops, the river and the Adriatic to the islands beyond.   If you'd prefer to put your feet up, you could lay out on one of the nearby beaches. The closest, Velika Plaza is located in the centre of Omiš with golden sandy beaches and shallow waters - the perfect place to relax and have a paddle in the warm waters of the Adriatic.  Alternatively, take a trip out of the town to the Omiš Riviera, stretching out over 20km along the coastline. From small fisherman's ports with cosy restaurants to secluded coastal villages, you'll find plenty of peaceful places to relax and uncover something new and unique everywhere you stop.
  • Brač Today, we'll take the ferry to the Croatian island of Brač, the third largest island in the Adriatic and the largest on this dramatic stretch of coast. Its typically Mediterranean landscape is an interesting mix of beaches, pine forests and fertile valleys carpeted with vines, olives and orange trees.  Once dependent on its grape harvest, the island also relied heavily on the export of its stone – a mixture of marble and limestone – used in the construction of Diocletian’s Palace, the White House in Washington and Berlin’s Reichstag and, closer to home, the high altar in Liverpool’s cathedral. We'll head to Bol, where we'll be welcomed by the view of a cluster of little fishing boats jostling in its picturesque harbour, fringed by characterful stone cottages. Here, we'll enjoy time at leisure to explore the tangle of winding lanes that are unchanged by time, stopping to admire the cheerful blooms cascading from wrought-iron balconies and shuttered windowsills. Or perhaps you might like to take the opportunity for a swim from the sandy beaches. Included experience: Visit to Bol on the island of Brač.
  • Trogir Visiting the nearby medieval citadel of Trogir, today we'll get to explore one the most beguiling little ports in Dalmatia. Here, the Old Town is actually an island with a wealth of Renaissance and Romanesque buildings lining the veritable maze of charmingly chaotic lanes. At its centre is the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence, whose long cycle of construction is reflected in its contrasting architectural features.  Wander where your feet take you, cast an eye over one of the many antique shops or just enjoy a coffee in a pavement café – the choice is yours as we enjoy free time in Trogir before our Signature experience over lunch. Included experience: Visit to Trogir. Signature experience: This afternoon we'll visit a local producer that has been farming in the area for generations and now shares this heritage with visitors. Here, we'll explore the gardens to understand how local delicacies are produced, as well as the importance and cultural heritage of the olive tree, and everything that can be made from it. Exciting all our senses, we will end our visit with tastings of the cheeses, cured meats and olive tapenades produced by the family in the same way for generations.
  • Return home All good things must come to an end and our Grand Journey of Norther Croatia is (sadly) no exception. Today, we'll transfer to the airport for your flight back home to the UK.

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Highlights:
  • Guided walking tour of Split including Emperor Diocletian’s monumental Palace - one of the greatest ancient Roman structures - and see the sculptures at the Mestrovic Gallery
  • Visit to medieval Trogir, one of Dalmatia’s most seductive old ports
  • Spend time at leisure exploring Rovinj, Zadar, Bol and Trogir
  • Enjoy a guided tour of Opatija and Trieste, home to Europe’s largest seafront square
  • Discover the breathtaking scenery and powerful waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park, the largest and oldest national park in Croatia
  • Signature Highlights:
  • Stop in the Slovenian countryside for a visit to a local winery and tasting
  • Savour a Croatian delicacy in Bani with lunch at a truffle restaurant
  • Visit a local farm and olive grower for a tasting of locally produced cheese, meats and olive tapenades
  • Enjoy the more exclusive atmosphere of travelling in a small group with an average of 22 guests

Our Price Includes

  • The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a twin room. Single and sea view rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes: 
  • Direct return flights 
  • 11 nights’ accommodation 
  • Daily breakfast and 6 dinners 
  • All local taxes and transfers 
  • All tours as mentioned 
  • The services of a Riviera Travel Tour Manager 
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Dates and Prices

May 2025
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Price from:£2,999
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Holiday provided by Riviera Travel

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: change your booking for free, Covid-19 cancellation protection included as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Riviera Travel (ABTA V4744, ATOL 3430). These ABTA and ATOL bonds mean that, when you book a Riviera Travel holiday, you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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