A Romantic Sojourn to Northern Croatia and Venice
Begin in Croatia's capital, before exploring Rovinj and surrounding Istria and then head to Venice
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- Privately guided and exclusive tours
- A private hot air balloon flight over Istria and a gondola ride in Venice
- Luxury accommodation throughout
- Private transfers
- Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
At a glance
Imbibe Croatia’s fine food, wine and culture before a romantic finale in Venice.
This intimate journey starts in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city. It’s a place that retains a warm old world charm yet, as the home to around a quarter of the population, is the country’s cultural heart with a slightly offbeat arty feel, always buzzing cafés and a happening culinary scene. You’ll spend two nights here, with a private walking tour and a trip to Zagreb’s renowned markets with a local foodie, and an afternoon spent discovering the fairy-tale castles in the mountains to the north.
Next head to Croatia’s Adriatic coast via the incredible turquoise waters of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Spend the next five nights in Rovinj, a beautiful fishing town on the Istrian peninsula. Think steep cobbled streets lined with medieval townhouses leading to Venetian piazzas, little artist workshops and fine-dining restaurants, all looked over by the towering St. Euphemia’s Cathedral.
Explore the old town and venture out into the surrounding countryside, tasting some of Istria’s famous wines, hunting for truffles, seeing the Roman ruins of Pula and hopping islands in Brijuni. To top it all off, soar above the peninsula on an unforgettable hot air balloon flight ending with champagne.
And then to Italy and a final three nights in Venice. Wind your way through its alleys and waterways to St Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge and for that most quintessentially romantic of things to do in Italy, take a gondola ride along the city’s canals. You will also visit some of the lesser known islands out in the lagoon and learn how to prepare some Venetian specialities at an expertly led culinary class.
Example Trip Itinerary
Private transfer to your hotel in Zagreb
Accommodation in Zagreb
- 208 rooms
- Marble bathrooms with L'Occitaine toiletries
- Two restaurants, Zinfandel’s fine dining and Le Bistro
- Esplanade 1925 Lounge and Cocktail Bar
- Oleander terrace
- Health club with fitness area, spa therapy rooms, beauty salon, and sauna
- Croatian design gift shop
The illustrious Esplanade Hotel was first built in 1925 to accommodate passengers of the famous Orient Express. Since then, its grand, neoclassical facade has become one of Zagreb’s most loved icons, epitomising the city’s old-world, gracious charm. Refreshed regularly, the hotel’s interior simmers with an art deco design that flawlessly blends in the best of 21st century comforts. Each of the 208 spacious rooms have been beautifully furnished to capture the history of the 90 year-old building whilst offerring all the contemporary comforts that today’s traveller has come to expect: elegant and distinctively marble bathrooms delicately conceal heated floors and mirrors lined with generous L’Occitaine toiletries, while in-room entertainment systems rest on polished and sturdy cabinets. After a day spent captivated by Zagreb’s sights, you have a choice of two restaurants to enjoy. Zinfandel’s Restaurant is widely regarded as one of the best fine dining options in Croatia and offers a contemporary take on traditional Croatian cuisine, whilst Le Bistro mixes Croatian cuisine with Parisian traditions in a relaxed setting. Both offer outside seating, with Zinfandel’s large and graceful Oleander Terrace renowned throughout Zagreb. After dinner, venture towards Esplanade 1925, a stylish art deco lounge and cocktail bar run by a top Croatian mixologist and frequently offerring live jazz evenings. There is also a health club with a fitness area – open 24 hours a day with available personal trainers, spa therapy rooms, a beauty salon, and a sauna at your disposal. Location beside train station, Hotel Esplanade perfectly places you to explore both the city and further afield. Wander out of the hotel and you’ll first come to the historic City Square. The grand National Opera is also just 10 minutes away, and if you stroll through the safe and colourful pedestrian streets of the upper town, you’ll be greeted with a plethora of interesting boutiques, cafes that have been made for people watching, and trendy bars.
A city of grand Austro-Hungarian architecture and home to a multitude of museums and the majority of the country's residents, inland Zagreb is Croatia's cultural hub. Enjoy your time in this lively little capital strolling the cobbled streets, watching the world go by in busy cafes and darting between collections in the many museums and galleries. You'll also find that it's a year-round outdoor city thanks to the presence of Jarun Lake in the southwest where people venture to swim and sail; Mount Medvednica where Zagrebians hit the ski slopes; and the hiking destination of Samobor.
Meet your guide for a private walking tour of the city center. Founded in the Middle Ages, Zagreb began life as two separate entities, Kaptol and Gradec, which today comprise the historic Gornji Grad (Upper Town). Centred on the city's landmark cathedral, Kaptol was a religious centre, while Gradec was home to craftsmen and merchants. Outsiders collectively referred to the settlements as Zagreb (meaning 'behind the hill'), although they were not officially united as the City of Zagreb until 1850. Boom time followed with the late 19th century characterized by the arrival of the railways and the construction of Donji Grad (Lower Town). You will also visit Museum of Broken Relationships, innovative museum that exhibits include personal objects left over from former lovers, accompanied by brief descriptions.
Embark on a culinary journey today, visiting open food markets Zagreb is known for, stopping to taste some of the local specialties, before a classic Zagreb home cooked meal. Zagreb’s markets are scattered throughout the town and present an ideal opportunity to get a deeper understanding of the local culture, see locals as they interact in this important daily activity, and witness the exact amounts of freshness delivered daily onto the Zagreb plates. During the tour, you will have a chance to sample other local specialties, such as štrukli, small squares of dough layered with soft cheese, boiled and baked at the same time, gemišt – a Croatian version of spritzer, white wine with sparkling water or rakija, a potent brandy produced from different sorts of local fruits and herbs and claimed to improve blood circulation and immunity.
Head out of Zagreb to picturesque Zagorje, a hilly region filled with medieval and Renaissance fortresses, and numerous Baroque castles all blending into a wonferfully romantic landscape. Explore the most famous of all Zagorje castles, Trakoščan, which was originally a small medieval observation fortress until it was turned into a castle for noble families Today, Trakoščan features an impressive weapons collection, an ethereal music salon, integral architecture and décor of its noble times and innumerable picture-perfect moments throughout the estate.
En route to Rovinj, stop at Plitvice Lakes National Park for a private guided walking tour. According to legend, the Plitvice lakes were created after a long drought when the "Black Queen" took pity on the people and animals that cried for water. Heavy rain began to fall and continued until they formed the lakes we see today. Plitvice National Park is Croatia’s natural masterpiece. Even for seasoned world travellers, the overpowering beauty and grandeur of Plitvice National Park is simply astounding. With waterfalls spilling over impossible hills, sixteen different lakes, and fascinating flora and fauna, Plitvice is the most visited place in Croatia. Since 1979, the park has been under the protection of UNESCO as a rare World Heritage Site.
Pribate transfer to your hotel in Rovinj
Accommodation in Rovinj
- 113 rooms
- Indoor and outdoor pool
- Fitness centre and spa with sauna, hot tub, hammam, and massage rooms
- Private beach area
- Two restaurants and a bar
- Gift shop
The five-star Monte Mulini occupies a covetable position just a 10-minute walk away from Rovinj’s town centre. Part of the exclusive Maistra Hotel Collection, guest at this boutique hotel will enjoy its surrounding lush parkland and bay views. Effortlessly combining natural materials, luxury comfort, and elegant design, each of the 113 rooms come with balconies offering views over the pool, the garden, and the sea. Air conditioning, satellite TVs, and bathrooms with walk-in showers are standard throughout. During your stay you will have a choice of two restaurants to enjoy. The relaxed Mediterraneo offerring Mediterranean-style dishes and the fine-dining Wine Vault serving French cuisine and the option of a Chef’s table experience. You’ll also benefit from use of the Art Wellness Centre comprising indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, a gym, and a Mediterranean garden. When you’re not out exploring the stunning Istrian Peninsula, relax on the Mulini Beach, a private pebble-strand looking out to Lone Bay and presided over by the Cocktail Bar. Take some time here to enjoy the personalised service of a beach concierge and hostess along with changing facilities, showers, a towel counter, and sun-lounger rental.
The picturesque town of Rovinj sits on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula, facing out towards Venice. While one of the Mediterranean's last true fishing ports, it's also an important city as the third most populous in Croatia. Once an island, the old town now occupies an intriguing oval-shaped peninsula that juts out from the mainland. Its past stretches back through Illyrian, Roman, Byzantine, Frankish, and Austrian settlers and today, you can see the remains of medieval defensive walls and one of the old town gates, the 17th century Balbi's Arch. Inside the town proper, you'll find steep cobbled streets leading to Venetian piazzas, little artist workshops, fine-dining restaurants, a Baroque palace turned heritage museum, and even a late-Renaissance clock tower.
The old town occupies an intriguing oval-shaped peninsula that juts out from the mainland. Its past stretches back through Illyrian, Roman, Byzantine, Frankish and Austrian settlers and today you can see the remains of medieval defensive walls and one of the old town gates, the 17th-century Balbi's Arch. Inside the town proper, you'll find steep cobbled streets leading to Venetian piazzas, little artist workshops, fine-dining restaurants, a Baroque palace turned heritage museum and even a late-Renaissance clock tower. Get a bird's eye view of all of this from the top of the 60-metre-high bell tower of St. Euphemia's Cathedral.
Discover Istria’s traditional and modern views on the the regions long winemaking tradition. Curiously diverse with authentic sorts such as Malvazija (white) or Teran (red), the region features many small wineries each bringing a unique take on the peninsula’s favorites. The Kabola winery, the first stop, is an authentic Istrian estate with a farm house, endless vineyards and a century of experience. Founded upon the mastery of Momjan Muskat, sweet white wine made from an indigenous grape variety of the area, Kabola is today best known as the pioneer of Istrian indigenous Malvazija macerated in amphora’s (clay vessels) for seven months.
Following a scenic drive, next arrive at the Kozlovic winery, repeatedly awarded for both its wines and the impressive modern design of the winery. Sitting atop the hidden valley of Vale near historic Momjan, this estate fits perfectly with surrounding landscapes. Despite their top class takes on local sorts of Malvazija, like the fresh and fruity Valle or rewardingly complex St. Lucia, and Teran, Kozlovi is still known as the 'King of Muskat', for the playful wines made of this grape.
Visit Motovun, a picturesque settlement perched on the very top of the hill, protected by the strong defensive wall. The Motovun forests and surrounding area is home to the precious white and black truffles, which attract food-lovers from all over the world. A private truffle hunting tour will bring you a culinary experience quite like no other you have experienced. The stop is the nearby village of Livade, where you will learn all about truffle hunting and different delicacies produced using the various truffles you have found.
Pula, as the largest town on the Istrian peninsula, offers a diversity of attractions to lovers of culture. With 3000 years of history, every step through the old town uncovers a different landmark, none more impressive than the Roman amphitheatre. While strolling through Pula you will come across numerous other monuments of Roman architecture such as the Triumphal Arch of the Sergi from the 1st century BC, Hercules’ Gate and the Temple of Augustus. The main town square has managed to retain its role as the meeting place since the Augustan Age.
Meet your guide along with your chauffeur for a private exploration of National Park Brijuni. Upon arrival, enjoy guided tour of this beautiful island and its safari park. Explore Brijuni with golf cars, see the remains of ancient Roman villa and visit the safari park which breeds unusual animals such zebra, Somali sheep, zebu (the holy east Indian humped ox), dromedary, llama and elephant, all gifts to Croatia from heads of state over the years.
Private transfer from Rovinj to Venice
Private boat transfer to your hotel in Venice
Accommodation in Venice
- 96 rooms and suites
- Fine dining, al fresco and poolside restaurants
- Wellness centre
- Olympic-sized swimming pool
- Red-clay tennis court
- Private shuttle boat to St Mark's Square
- Children's club
The iconic Belmond Hotel Cipriano is located on Guidecca Island, across the water from St Mark’s Square, a most enviable location that has long helped make the hotel one of Venice’s most exclusive. 96 rooms and suites, split between the mid 20th century building and historic palazzo, are decorated in an opulent and impeccably Venetian style, with views out across the lagoon and cityscape or the lush Casanova gardens. Fine dining options, such as the Michelin-starred Oro Restaurant and Cip’s Bar, take full advantage of the location’s wonderful vistas, while the Gabbiano Bar, Wine Cellar and Piano Bar are each draws in the evening. The famous Olympic-sized swimming is at the centre of the property, the only one of its size in central Venice. There is a personal trainer on site, red-clay tennis courts, and a fitness centre, as well the Casanova Wellness Centre for something a bit more relaxing. It is just five minutes from the Belmond Hotel Cipriani’s own pier to St Mark’s in the heart of Venice. Here the city’s highlights await.
- 61 rooms and 21 suites
- Club del Doge Restaurant
- Bar Longhi
- Culinary school
At the Grand Canal’s edge, the historic Gritti Palace occupies a building that dates back to 1475 as a private home for the noble Pisani family, followed by the distinguished Doge of Venice, Andrea Gritti. Carefully restored in 2013, the Gritti’s heritage and culture have blended with a renewed Venetian style. 61 luxurious guest rooms and 21 sumptuous suites, including some with canal views, are replete with rare archival fabrics, the finest Italian marbles and a stunning array of new and original chandeliers from Murano, as well as the latest technology and sumptuous beds. Gritti’s famous terrace has long been a social hub. The splendid Bar Longhi features some of the best cocktails in Venice and the Club del Doge Restaurant features regional specialties, casual chic by day and a more formal affair at dinner. The palace is also home to the Gritti Epicurean School, an informal Venetian open kitchen that hosts wine tastings, cooking workshops and celebrations. Well located by the Grand Canal on the southern edge of the San Marco district, Venice’s great opera house, cathedrals, museums and palazzos are all close by.
- Two suites
- Five themed rooms
- Five deluxe rooms
In the gallery-filled Dorsoduro borough, hidden away by the Salute church, is the intimate Ca’ Maria Adele in its quaint 16th-century palazzo. There are just twelve sumptuous rooms, including two suites and five themed rooms inspired by Venice’s history, such as the Oriental Room, a nod to the travels of Marco Polo, and the Doge’s Room, all deep-red damask drapes and gold accents. The vibe is Venetian and decadent – think terrazzo floors, Murano chandeliers and antique furnishings – but playful touches of African wood, polished concrete and a laid-back, bohemian atmosphere make it modern. Whilst lacking a restaurant of its own, breakfast is served wherever you feel, whether in room, in the lounge or out on the terrace, a setting where Italian-style tea can be enjoyed in the afternoon. There is also an exceedingly well stocked bar. Ca’ Maria Adele can organise tailored tours in and around the city, the Royal Palace a short gondola ride away from the hotel’s own water entrance. Being in Dorsoduro, the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Punta della Dogana and the Magazzini del Sale are a short stroll away.
- 210 rooms and suites
- Rooftop restaurant
- Wine suite
Set on the lively Riva degli Schiavine promenade, Hotel Danieli is the epitome of Venetian style and elegance. On entering the hotel you are welcomed by rich golds and reds, marble floors and beautiful tapestries. This classic décor is carried throughout the 210 rooms and suites which feature high ceilings, Murano glass lamps and large windows through which you can take in the views of the canal or the cobbled streets of the city. The rooftop restaurant allows guests to gaze out across the Grand Canal, watching the gondolas glide across the water while enjoying traditional Venetian cuisine influenced by the spice traders that used to pass through the city. For a pre-dinner aperitivo or a morning cappuccino, Bar Dandle with its marble columns and chandeliers has plenty of atmosphere. You’re ideally situated to explore Venice, just minutes from the Bridge of Sighs, Piazza San Marco and the Palace Gardens.
Sat within a shallow lagoon between the mouths of Po and Piave rivers, Venice is formed of 118 islands formed by some 170 canals connected by over 400 bridges. The entire city is considered a World Heritage Site, an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building may contain works by some of the Europe's greatest artists.
Iconic attractions on the main Rialto islands are evocative by name alone - Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace, Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Grand Canal - a unique collection of brooding Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque architecture. Days can be spent discovering tucked away galleries, museums and palazzos. Away from the crowds, other islands are where traditional Venetian culture still runs deep.
As you wander through Venice's winding streets and waterways, you'll learn all about the city's history and development. A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the Doge's Palace is just as impressive inside with works by Titian, Veronese, Tintiretto, Vittoria and Tiepolo adorning the walls. Your historical walking tour will also take in a visit to the shimmering, mosaic-filled St. Mark's Basilica, the mightiest of Venetian monuments. Its architecture, a mixture of Byzantine, Roman and Venetian, is the work of artists and craftsmen from all over the world.
You'll also visit the lively market on and around the Rialto Bridge, where sellers hawk their mountains of colourful fruit and veg and shimmering seafood.
No visit to Venice would be complete without experiencing it. Travel like a Venetian on a gondola down the city’s iconic canals. It gives you a very special point of view and it is from the water that Venice offers its most spectacular side.
Enjoy a typical Venetian cooking class at the Venice Lido. The cook will introduce you to the secrets of this tasty cuisine, and teach you how to cook a 5 course menu. All necessary equipment is provided. You have different possible options, one includes the shopping at the famous Rialto market, where you will buy fresh products as ingredients for your meal. Learn how to identify the freshest fish and seafood before creating your dishes. Home made pasta, a Venetian menu for fish lovers and a vegetarian menu are all possible.
Your first stop will be Murano, famous worldwide since the 1200s for the art of glass making. You will visit one of Venice’s most important factories to learn how the intricate glasswork is made and tour the showroom with works of masters like Signoretto. The second picturesque island is Burano, a fishermen’s island known for its brightly coloured houses and lace school. You will also visit the lesser known island of Sant'Erasmo. Ruined fortifications ring the isle, including the Torre Massimiliana - Tower of Maximilian - which was used by the Italian army during WWI. You will enjoy a short bike ride here.
The Brenta River connects Venice with the city of Padua and was considered by many Venetians to be a continuation of the Grand Canal. Winters would be spent in the grand palaces along the canals in Venice, while in summer noble families would head to their villas in the countryside, giving rise to the Brenta Riviera. Amazingly there are about 3000 such villas in the Veneto and today you will be visiting two particularly beautiful ones.
Today, visit Asolo, one of the most charming small towns in the Veneto and long a favourite with artists and writers. Its nickname of ‘the city of a hundred horizons’ refers to its magnificent position with views across to the foothills of the Dolomites. One of the first streets you will come to is the Via Browning, named in honour of Robert Browning, who was one of many famous visitors and whose last work, ‘Asolando’ was written here. Another famous resident was the actress Isabella Duse, whose tempestuous love life caused her to seek refuge here. The whole town is a delight to wander around and has some lovely shops and galleries as well as a museum and castle.
Private boat transfer from your hotel to Venice airport
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A Romantic Sojourn to Northern Croatia and Venice
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