Tour begins: 6:30 PM, Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik. A transfer is included upon your arrival from Dubrovnik Airport to the Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik, a historic hotel overlooking the Adriatic Sea and the medieval Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Meet a lecturer this evening who shares expert insights, past and present, about the country formerly known as Yugoslavia and the places you'll explore on this trip, before joining him for an intimate welcome dinner at a popular restaurant, accompanied by a private performance of traditional Croatian a capella "klapa" singing.
Old Town by land & sea & wine tasting
Rise and shine this morning for a day of cultural delights. Ride a cable car to the top of Srd Hill for dazzling views of Dubrovnik and the surrounding landscapes. Get a closer perspective when you descend for a walking tour through Old Town and visit the Main Square. Dubrovnik's Old Town is completely surrounded by enormous stone walls that date back to the 10th century; view them from the outside in on a boat ride along the walls. Wine tasting is on the menu this afternoon during a visit to a winery where you sample wines made from ancient grapes known as "Malvazija" with the guidance of a renowned viniculture engineer. En route back to your hotel, stop in the village of Gruda to meet an "academic artist" who serves as the keeper of local traditions. During your visit, she will present a step-by-step tutorial on silk making as you are treated to homemade juice and cake typical of this region.
Kotor & Montenegro
Cross the border into neighboring Montenegro and the tiny bay-front village of Perast, built by wealthy sea captains during the 17th and 18th centuries. Walk past the town's stone houses to the pier for a sail to the man-made islet of Lady of our Rocks, topped by a lone church and steeped in legends. Back on shore, drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kotor for a walking tour and a visit to the Maritime Museum. En route back to Dubrovnik, explore the port of Montenegro.
Orašac Village, Mostar & Split
Depart for Split this morning, driving through Dalmatian landscapes of seaside villages and farmland to the village of Orašac, founded in 1040. A family-hosted visit to a private farm reveals the time-honored steps of producing olive oil the old-fashioned way and includes a morning snack of fresh cow cheese, home-grown vegetables, warm-from-the-oven bread and wine. Drive to Bosnia for a visit to Mostar, known for its old Turkish houses and Old Bridge, Stari Most, after which it is named. Damaged during the 1990s conflict, the Old Bridge, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been rebuilt, as have many of the edifices in the Old Town. A guided walking tour ends inside a Turkish house where a resident who lived through the bombings of the 1991-1995 war shares personal stories of survival. After lunch, drive to Split for a two-night stay.
Sculpted Art, A Palace & a ferry ride
See the acclaimed collection of works by Croatia's premier modern sculptor, Ivan Meštrovíc, at the gallery he built as his private residence. Drive to Diocletian Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built by the Roman emperor Diocletian as his retirement home between the late 3rd and the early 4th centuries using local limestone and Brac marble. A walking tour of the vast palace complex includes the palace cellars. Your explorations continue on a ferry ride to Brac Island where you will enjoy a family-style lunch in Donji Humac overlooking the bay. Visit Jaksíc gallery after lunch, going behind the scenes to see the artist's studio and myriad works of art. A late afternoon ferry brings you back to Split for time at leisure.
Krka National Park & Fly to Zagreb
Take a scenic drive to Krka National Park to see its spectacular waterfalls and inherent natural beauty. From there, board a boat and sail to Skradin for a visit to Roca, the House of Dalmatian Smoked Ham, a talk with a farmer and a wedding-style lunch featuring traditional culinary specialties and entertainment. Fly to Zagreb this afternoon for a two-night stay in Croatia's capital city; enjoy dinner at your leisure at your hotel tonight.
Discover Zagreb & meet Croatia's former Tourism Minister
Strategically located at the crossroads where western and eastern Europe meet, Croatia's capital city of Zagreb is a blend of old and new, informed by wars and steeped in culture. Start off your day by meeting Croatia's former Minister of Tourism for refreshments and a discussion on current affairs before setting out to explore Zagreb on foot, the best way to experience this fascinating city. Join our local guides for a walking tour that includes the neo-Gothic Cathedral, a cheese tasting at the fresh market, the main square and a funicular ride to the Upper Town, where you will have lunch at a local restaurant. The rest of the day and evening are yours to spend as you please, pursuing what interests you most in Zagreb.
Trakoscan Castle & Ljubljana
One of the most impressive castles in Croatia, Trakoscan Castle dates back to the 13th century and reflects myriad architectural styles and restorations over its 800+-year history. Costumed knights and ladies in waiting welcome you to the castle for a tour and lunch inside the Knights' Hall, open exclusively for Tauck guests only. Your final destination today is Ljubljana, Slovenia, where your high-rise city-center hotel overlooks the heart of the city. Take a walking tour of Slovenia's capital before enjoying a taste of local culture during dinner at a popular local restaurant.
Tauck Treats at Ljubljana Castle
Ride a funicular up to Ljubljana Castle this morning; experience the castle's Time Machine tour and savor panoramic city views and tastings of local cookies, teran liqueur and honey. Drive next to a gingerbread making workshop in a country village to see how these beloved decorated pastries have been made for centuries, with a tasting of course! Lunch is followed by a drive to 1,000 year-old Bled Castle. Your visit includes a live printing demonstration, a talk with the cellar master about the castle's famous wines and entrance to the upper courtyard museum to learn about the history of Bled. Return to Ljubljana to do as you wish.
Postojna Caves, truffles & fritaja
Tauck has arranged an exclusive early morning visit to a subterranean world of caverns, halls and passages some two million years in the making when you explore the surprise-filled Postojna Caves from aboard a private electric train and on a guided walk. Head off for another Tauck Exclusive experience at a family-owned truffle farm. Meet the dogs who sniff out this underground delicacy, have a glass of grappa from the vineyard and sit down for a taste of the region's famous scrambled eggs, cooked just for you by the lady of the house. Continue on from Slovenia back into Croatia to Savudrija on the Istrian Peninsula for a two-night stay.
Pula, Olive Oil & a Beer Pairing dinner
Drive to Pula at the southern tip of the Istria peninsula for a visit to its great amphitheatre, constructed between 27 BC - 68 AD with much of it still standing today. Continue on to a family-run olive oil farm in Vodnjan, renowned for producing one of the top 15 olive oils in the world, for a tasting tour. Enjoy lunch at your leisure in the fishing village of Rovinj before returning to the hotel. Dinner tonight is a special affair at San Servolo brewery and includes a guided tour of the production process, expert insights by the beer master, and a beer pairing dinner featuring six beers and six courses, presided over by a professional beer sommelier. To top off a great evening, a guitar player will entertain with a repertoire of traditional Istrian songs.
Explore Venice & the Doge's Palace
Travel from Croatia to Venice, Italy, today, arriving in the "City of Canals" midday for a walking tour and a visit to the Doge's Palace. We invite you to join us this evening for a farewell dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant in your historic hotel, just steps away from Piazza San Marco.
Tour ends: Venice. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Metropole Hotel to Venice's Marco Polo Airport. Allow a minimum of three hours for flight check-in.