My Irresistible Istria and Splendour of Slovenia Tour

Day 1 Saturday Arrival into Zagreb-Transfer to Poreć in Istria, a 2.5 hr drive.   Embarkation on M/Y ‘Playfellow’, one of my most favourite cruise boats in the whole of the Adriatic, accommodating 8 guests only.
Embarkation at the Marina at 17.00. Heading to Limska Draga fiord to stay overnight. This is the most dramatic sight in Istria located between Rovinj and Poreč. A 10 km valley, 600 meters wide, with steep 100ft walls formed during the ice-age. Here in this deep green bay can be found superb oysters, mussels and shellfish served right at the source. The name ‘Limski’ comes from the Latin for “limit”, referring to the landform’s position at the border of two Roman provinces: Dalmatia and Italia. Anthony Bourdain visited Tony’s Oyster Shack while filming his popular TV show “No reservations” in Croatia.

Day 2 Sunday
Heading to the National Park of Brijuni. (Brioni in Italian) Habitation goes back 2000 years, yet it was the extravagance of Tito the president of the former Yugoslavia who turned Brijuni into his private retreat where he often entertained foreign dignitaries, heads of state and well -known movie stars. This was his summer playground. Today the 14 Brijuni islands are a firm favourite
with the international yachting crowd and distinguished guests. Apart from lovely nature, there are also several archaeological sites worth seeing such as 13th century AD St. Mary’s Church, an ancient Roman villa and remains of a Byzantine palace among other places of interest. After Brijuni the next stop is Medulin where you will stay overnight.

Day 3 Monday
Opatija is next on the schedule. On the way, we can stop for a swim. Opatija is one of Croatia’s most spectacular sights. A traditional seaside resort on the Kvarner Gulf. Because of its history, it is a mix of Austrian and Mediterranean architecture. It was this breathtaking location and the agreeable year-round climate that made Opatija the most fashionable seaside resort for the Viennese elite during the Austro- Hungarian Empire. Overnight in Opatija.

Day 4 Tuesday
From Opatija, we will head to the town of Cres, on the island of Cres. A visit to Lubenice can be arranged so we can enjoy an ancient mountain village with a great view of the sea and neighbouring islands. Wandering around sun-drenched Cres Town, with old ladies chattering away in Italian, you may wonder if you’ve accidentally stayed across the border into Italy! pastel coloured terrace houses and Venetian mansions hug the medieval harbour of Mandrać.

Day 5 Wednesday
We will head to the nearby island of Mali Lošinj. It offers a variety of beaches, museums and parks for you to enjoy. Vestiges of its 19th-century prosperity can still be seen in the stately sea captain’s houses that line up along the seafront of the pretty old town retaining the charm of a small Mediterranean village. Overnight stay.

Day 6 Thursday
From Mali Lošinj we will head to Pula, the largest city in Istria.  It is known for its multitude of ancient Roman buildings, the most famous of which is the Pula Arena, one of the best-preserved
Roman amphitheatres, and its beautiful sea. The city has a long tradition of winemaking, fishing, shipbuilding, and tourism. Overnight stay in Pula.

Day 7 Friday
Heading back to Poreč. On the way back we’ll stop at Rovinj(Rovigno in Italian) coastal Istria’s star attraction. A place of Venetian history, cultural and historical sights, museums, archaeological sites and much much more. (Trust me!)

Day 8 Saturday
Disembarkation in Poreć (Parenzo in Italian) – This morning, before driving to our hotel in Brtonigla, we’ll visit the 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica, one of Europe’s finest intact examples of Byzantine art. What makes this place so popular are the glittering wall-mosaics in the apse. These 6th-century masterpieces feature biblical scenes of archangels and Istrian Martyrs. Accommodation: Hotel San Rocco 4* Brtonigla.

Please note: We would like to point out that the sailing route above depends on the weather report. In case of bad weather, the captain reserves the right to change the route.

Day 9 Sunday A day exploring the Istrian countryside. Motovun, Groznjan, Hum, and Buje, will be on our agenda, tasting superb Malvasia white wines, Teran reds, truffles and porcini mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, local cheeses, prosciutto, hand made pasta, and the symbol of Istria, the long-horned white beef called Boškarin, a delicacy served not only in Istria but approximately 50 higher-end restaurants throughout Croatia. Vegetarians are also well catered for.

Day 10 Monday Truffle Hunting Day. Embark on an adventure with the Karlić family in Buzet, who for the third generation have been hunting truffles. 
These kind hosts will tell you all about truffles, the tradition of hunting and their truffle dogs. They will prepare a tasting of truffle products in a beautiful setting, and you will also be able to buy them at their store. The adrenaline that you will experience with them in the truffle hunt will certainly not leave you indifferent, because truffles are their love and a way of life. It is their passion! 

Day 12 Tuesday – Today we say goodbye to Istria and drive to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia via the westernmost point on the Slovenian coast, the old Venetian town of Piran. It’s almost a well-known fact that Slovenia is becoming an increasingly popular travel destination. During peak travel season, cities and towns, such as Ljubljana and Bled, are filled with international travellers. This growing Slovenia craze totally makes sense though. From gorgeous snow-capped mountains, unlimited outdoor adventures, magnificent architecture, and mouth-watering cuisine, Slovenia has a lot to offer. Yet, compared to other parts of the country, Slovenia’s 47 km coast, also known as the Slovene Riviera, doesn’t always make the cut on travellers’ itineraries. Today, I’m going to try to change some of that by sharing the medieval city of Piran with you.

A little history..From the late 13th  century to late 18th century, Piran was part of the Republic of Venice. This means that today, the old town is full of Venetian Gothic architecture. In addition to the bell tower, you can head on over to Tartini Square, the main city square, for more sightings of the architectural style. of PiranSlovenia. It was named after violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini. Accommodation: Hotel in Ljubljana 4*

Day12 Wednesday Beautiful Lake Bled and Bohinj by day, and we’ll enjoy Ljubljana by night. The small atmospheric city of Ljubljana is a favourite with all of my guests to this part of the world. A sweet city, delicious cuisine, friendly people, colourful flower boxes, handmade crafts and art are plentiful, and always music in the main square!

Day 13  ThursdayAna Roš. Today we’ll visit one of the world’s leading female chefs at her restaurant ‘Hiša Franko’ which owes its existence to traditions and local environment of the lush Soča Valley – harsh, remote, but breathtakingly beautiful. Set at the foothills of the towering mountains and next to the emerald river Hiša Franko’s cuisine sources from what nature has to offer. The diet in these parts was always dairy and meat-based, so expect a lot of cheese and all its by-products on our menu. The restaurant is closely knit with the community of foragers, shepherds, cheese makers, hunters and fishermen. It’s an area abundant with trout, deer, goats, fruits and wild plants that we incorporate in our plates on the daily bases.

Hiša Franko’ Restaurant is one of the newest entries on the 50 Best list, but its legacy goes back 50 years when Valter’s father Franko, served his famous English roast-beef in the house where during World War I Ernest Hemingway may or may not have written ‘Farewell to Arms.’ “As I see it, the kitchen is a symbiosis of 3 elements: the territory, the season and the personality of the chef.” -Ana Roš

Day 14 Friday Transfer back to nearby Croatia to Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb 5*. We’ll spend late afternoon and evening exploring the city and maybe enjoy a famous Lado folklore concert in the evening? A glorious way to end our tour in style, spending a night at the Esplanade hotel, built-in 1925 to accommodate the elite passengers, presidents, VIPs and movie stars of the day on their way from Paris to Istanbul on the famous and elegant ‘Orient Express.’

Day 15 Saturday Depart from Zagreb. Doviđenja, ’till we see you again.