I had goose-pimples when I read your request. As a fellow Australian who took her first trip to Croatia 14 years ago, I know all too well how exciting it is to plan such a special holiday. As a local living in Croatia, I can guide you to the most luxurious (yet affordable) hotels to ensure you stay on budget.
You mentioned that you enjoy the finer things in life, so allow me to provide you with suggestions for where to eat great Croatian cuisine (like the famous black risotto and Plavac Mali wine) and how to avoid the places those pesky backpackers head to. My itinerary will include visiting a little seaside on the Peljes?ac peninsula, well known for its excellent wine. Island hoping and sailing in between the 1,000 islands on the majestic turquoise waters of the Croatian coast is by far the best way to enjoy Croatia, for which I can share how best to experience the islands of Mjlet, Korcula, Hvar and Brac as a solo traveller. I have some wonderful suggestions for how you can get the most of of your 12 days, while soaking up Croatia’s rich history, including a private guide of natural wonders of Plitvice Lakes, your own chauffeur and a local chef to take you to the market to get all the fresh provisions for a hands-on cooking course. I’ll make sure you leave relaxed and with a tan. All you need to do is pack your bikini and sun lotion…
Let the adventure begin
Your luxurious holiday starts in Zagreb, and like a movie star I have teamed you up with the best of the best. At Zagreb airport, a driver will be waiting for you to take you to your 5 Star Hotel in Zagreb city centre.
After a big flight, I suggest eating in the hotel’s restaurant or order room service -its the best room service you’ll ever have!
Coffee in Zagreb – Day 2
Walk through the historical city centre with a local guide. Enjoy the funicular ride to Gradec hill, colorful roof tiles St Mark’s church, the Parliament building, one of its kind Museum of Broken Relationships, the old Stone gate shrine. Plus visit the always busy Dolac’s market. Plus the Flower market and Jelacic town squares and Zagreb’s famous cathedral.
Enjoy an afternoon of free time roaming the small and compact city centre…maybe even a spot of shopping.
Enjoy lunch and dinner in anyone of the cities restaurants, ask your guide for his best pick based on your desire of the day.
Plitvice Lakes await you – Day 3
An English speaking driver will be your host for next two days until you reach Split. He will drive collect you from your hotel, and drive you to Plitvice Lakes National Park and show you around.
Plitvice lakes National park is the UNESCO protected complex of sixteen lakes, numerous waterfalls and travertine cascades. Enjoy the walk in nature, electric boat & park train rides. (All included in your package)
Late in the afternoon you can rest your weary legs as you check into the hotel. It’s best to eat dinner in the hotel (included in your package price) as there are very few other options in that area.
Leave the lakes behind for the sea – Day 4
Your same guide will drive you to Zadar, an old city and important port of Northern Adriatic. Your hotel is situated on a main pedestrian street of the historical town centre.
Wander in and out of Zadar attractions, including Ancient Glass Museum, Donat Church. It takes around 3-5 hours to enjoy all of the main sites. Be sure to sit and enjoy the sunset (around 9pm) while sitting by the Sea organ which plays a special tune.
I suggest to eat lunch at Skoblar Konoba, Right next to the Five Wells Square and the Captain’s tower. For dinner pre book into Fosa, the town’s best seafood restaurant.
Cook up a storm in a UNESCO city – Day 5
Your driver with take you to Trogir, a beautiful stone built town with Venice Republic style architecture and cobbled streets. A young and creative Chef will be waiting for you to take you to a private guided Dalmatian cuisine tour. In your tour (included in your package) you will go to grocery market to get all the fresh provisions to prepare a meal.
You’ll enjoy a hands on cooking course accompanied with an occasional glass of wine or two. Our guide will drive you to nearby Split harbour where’ll you’ll check in for your deluxe Sailing adventure.
After you get settled in, a guided tour of the city. Split is a historic town under UNESCO protection and as it is a part of the world heritage. One will find an abundance of Roman architecture – of special interest is the magnificent Diocletian palace, once inhabited by the Roman emperor. After the tour of Split, return to the ship for a welcome cocktail and enjoy the meet & greet party on board.
Begin the island life – day 6
You’ll depart early and head to the island of Korcula, said to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. The captain will stop for lunch (on board the ship) in one of the secluded bays en route. Early afternoon you’ll arrival at Korcula, where you’ll be taken on a guided walking tour (included in package) of this lovely town and fortified walls. On this Island you can find legends, tales and monuments as you wonder along the herringbone pattern streets. The guide will complete the tour in a local winery to taste local wines.
Korcula has an abundant choice of restaurants where you can continue your gourmet experience and there are many bars and evening entertainment options.
Ancient Benedictine Monastary and kaykaying – Day 7
Today you’ll sail further south to the Island of Mljet. Take a stroll to the famous salt lakes in the Mljet National Park and enjoy the boat ride to the St Mary Isle, where you will visit an ancient Benedictine monastery, an old abbey and a Church dating from the 12th Century.
Or you could rent a kayaks, bicycle, a scooter or aconvertible cars to roam around the National Park .
Then return to the ship for lunch, and get ready to depart for Dubrovnik.
Once Gruz harbour Dubrovnik, the captain will take you for a walk along old city walls. Then you can return to the boat where buffet feast is served on deck. If you wanted to enjoy a meal alone, you could head to the Restaurant & Lounge 360, which was the choice of by Beyonce and Jay Z.
The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ – Day 8
Today you have a whole day to enjoy this magical town. After breakfast transfer to the old town a guided walking tour (included in the package) or head out of foot on your own. Be sure to ride the cable car from the Old Town to Srd mountain to enjoy scenic views of the Walls and Elaphiti Islands enabling you to take best pictures of the town of Dubrovnik.
I’d suggest spending the afternoon at Buza Bar, and or head to one of the many local beaches and relax.
Small village and wine – Day 9
In the morning your ship will leave Dubrovnik & cruise towards the little seaside village of Trstenik on the Peljesac peninsula, well known for its excellent wine. Before lunch a stop is made at one of the Elaphiti Islands.
In the afternoon you’ll arrive and get to explore the rural area of Kuna for a tour (included in your package) of the local church and monastery followed by a visit to a local farm where. After all of that sightseeing, you’ll be hungry and so a typical village feast with Croatian delicacies will be prepared for you (included in your package). The dinner is made up of local dishes made from local produce.
The sunniest spot you can find – Day 10
Set sail for Hvar, Croatia’s sunniest island. A lunch stop on the small Island of Scedro will be made followed by a swim stop at the amazing Pakleni Islands.
Hvar is the longest Island in the Adriatic and one of the sunniest; known for lavish lavender fields and breathtaking beauty. After disembarking you’ll be guided on a tour of the town (or you can go it alone if you prefer).
You’ll find many historical landmarks in Hvar: the Renaissance Cathedral with its original tower, and the oldest active community theatre in Europe which was founded in 1612.
I’d suggest you take the hike up to the town fort overlooking the harbour to get some scenic views of your ship and the Pakleni islands.
In the evening Hvar offers an abundance of entertainment – many restaurants, bars and cafes are open long into the night. Our fave is Restaurant Zori, try the scampi, fig and cheese salad!
The famous beach – Day 11
Your final stop will be the Island of Brac and picturesque town of Bol. Wander along the promenade and swim at one of the most famous beaches in Dalmatia – Zlatni Rat. The Golden cape – known for its gravel promontory shifts from side to side as the wind and waves constantly change its shape. Bol is a typical fishermen’s town turned into a popular tourist destination.
You’ll have lunch on board (included) or you can head to anyone of the local cafes and spend the afternoon in the resorttown. The evening is reserved for the Captain’s farewell dinner with entertainment (included in package) but do not miss the sunset at Zlatni Rat – it’s a must!
One last morning coffee – Day 12
Early morning departure for Split and on arrival it is time to say goodbye to the crew and all your new friends! Check out by 9.00 am and transfer to Split airport.
TIPPING These are not mandatory, but are often given. Carry plenty small coins, such as the 2 and 5 Kuna.
SOUVENIRS Licitar hearts or lavender products make lightweight and inexpensive gifts to take home.
TOILETRIES While these can be found in all shops the quality is not the same as Australia, so if you are picky i say pack your own stash.
FOOD Croatia has so much food on offer, try to order the black cuttlefish/squid risotto and be sure to try the yummy pastry known as ‘burek’.
PACK Even in summer the evenings can get chilly, so pack a light cardigan just in case – one will be enough. Also bring a pair of closed in comfy shoes to wear while at the national parks, and don’t worry about your high heels, they don’t go well with cobbled streets.
HURRY! Your travel dates are peak season, as most places are booked or are booking fast.