Spectacular scenery along the Dalmatian coastline
Captivating Medieval, Renaissance & Baroque architecture
Explore Emperor Diocletian’s Palace in Split
Visits to Hvar Island & the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
Centrally located hotels in Split, Dubrovnik & Hvar
Hanging ‘necklace-like’ along the Adriatic coast, Dalmatia has deep historical roots embedded in many competing cultural identities. To begin, Illyrian tribesman held out until the Greeks took charge, followed by the Romans, who divided the long coastline and its hinterland into the provinces of Dalmatia and Illyricum. When the eastern Roman Empire metamorphosed into ‘Byzantium’ power oscillated between the constantly warring forces which dominated the complex Slavic migrations of the medieval period. Venice took full advantage of Byzantium’s weakness, placing its naval bases in strategic bays, such as at Ragusa (now Dubrovnik), allowing it to consolidate its grip on trade from the east. Venetian domination ended as the approaching Ottoman Turks swept through the Balkans. Indeed, Ottoman and later Habsburg expansion would carry the region towards the artificial ‘Land of the Southern Slavs’, a dubious entity which eventually became Yugoslavia.
During the region’s evolution, the islands of Dalmatia played host to frequent naval confrontations between the trading nations that used this busy Adriatic channel. In search of such encounters, we shall travel by boat to Hvar and onto Korčula. Venice’s dominant role is perfectly expressed in many of the beautiful towns where classical loggias, handsome piazzas, splendid churches and secular buildings carved from brilliant white Istrian limestone proudly dominate many of the almond-shaped Medieval centres we shall visit.
Given the physical length of Dalmatia we shall stay in two locally rated 4* and one locally rated 5* hotels. The 4* Hotel Cornaro is ideally located at the edge of the old town of Split whilst the 4* Hotel Adriana on the island of Hvar looks directly onto the town's charming little port. The 5* Grand Villa Argentina is just that, with a terraced formal garden overlooking the sea and a spectacular view of Dubrovnik's walled old town.
Day by day
- Day 1: Friday 8 September
- We fly from Gatwick to Split, and on arrival we drive the very short distance to the seductive island of Trogir whose architectural veneer is Venetian in inspiration, wonderfully handled by the skills of the local Slav master masons as seen in the Cathedral which we shall visit. We continue to Split where we spend 3 nights at the 4* Hotel Cornaro. There will be a group dinner in the hotel - wine, water and coffee are included with all group lunches and dinners.
- Day 2: Saturday 9 September
- Our day in and around Split will be dominated by Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus, better known as the Roman Emperor, Diocletian. First, we drive the short distance to Salona, a small Roman settlement where the emperor, slave-born, began his rise to military success. We return to Split and visit the town's Archaeological Museum, rich in finds from both Salona and Split. We then have some free time for lunch in the old town (not included) after which we explore the temples, porticos and peristyle of Diocletian's Palace. It was built by the Emperor as a 'retirement home as in an unprecedented decision he resigned all his Imperial dignities in 305. The evening will be free.
- Day 3: Sunday 10 September
- Today we drive north to the ancient Byzantine coastal city at Zadar. Venice long strove to impose its will, reflected in the terrible toll in human life lost here when the Venetians took it at the outset of the Fourth Crusade in 1202. Our morning will include visits to a number of churches around what was the old Forum: The Cathedral, the Rotunda of St. Donatus and Santa Maria’s Museum of Church Art. After a group lunch we drive south to visit the fortress town of Šibenik. Here we shall find the fine, Renaissance St. James’ Cathedral. We then return to Split and the evening will be free.
- Day 4: Monday 11 September
- After a leisurely free morning we depart Split at midday and take the two hour ferry crossing to Stari Grad on Hvar Island. On arrival we continue via local transfer to Hvar Town and check in to the Hotel Adriana for 2 nights. Our afternoon’s walk around the old town will include the Cathedral of St. Stephen and the richly endowed Franciscan Monastery. The day ends with a group dinner in our hotel.
- Day 5: Tuesday 12 September
- We travel from Hvar by catamaran to the Island of Korčula. Korčula Town is a tightly-packed Medieval walled city and one of Venice’s first and most important Adriatic strongholds, reflected in its urban plan and the architectural styles present. We visit All Saints Church, the Cathedral of St Mark and its adjacent Bishop’s Treasury filled with many Venetian paintings. After a group lunch there will be time to explore this stunning little place before we return by catamaran to Hvar Island. The evening will be free.
- Day 6: Wednesday 13 September
- We depart Hvar Town and drive along the island to its eastern tip at Sucuraj and take the quick ferry crossing back to the mainland at Drvenik. We continue south and enjoy a group lunch at Ston after which visit the Renaissance Gardens of Trsteno. Created by a sixteenth century nobleman of Dubrovnik, the beautifully situated terracing is arranged in the formal manner of its time. We arrive late afternoon in Dubrovnik where we shall spend three nights at the 5* Grand Hotel Argentina. The evening will be free.
- Day 7: Thursday 14 September
- We spend today exploring Dubrovnik’s rich past. The city was originally called Ragusa, an independent maritime republic and the bitter enemy of Venice. Destroyed in a sixteenth century earthquake, what we see now is a ‘new’ city built in the fine local marble. We begin with a visit to the Dominican Monastery, with its cloister and its small, yet excellent picture gallery, including a painting by Titian. We continue to two remarkable baroque churches, St Blaise’s and the city’s Cathedral. We end our morning at the Rector’s Palace, once the seat of the Republic’s government. After some free time for lunch we visit the Maritime Museum which offers an essential overview of the city’s history. The remainder of the afternoon and the evening will be free - you might like to walk on Dubrovnik’s historic walls?
- Day 8: Friday 15 September
- On our penultimate day we travel south into Montenegro and drive around the spectacular Bay of Kotor to explore Kotor. Wedged between Mount Lovcen and a narrow bay, Kotor was Acruvium in Roman Dalmatia and was known as Cattaro during four hundred years of Venetian rule. We shall spend the morning ambling amongst its Venetian-style palaces and squares with visits to the splendid Romanesque St Tryphon’s Cathedral containing fine architectural detailing. St Luke’s was later gifted to the Orthodox Church and its seventeenth century iconostasis is one of Montenegro’s most handsome. After some free time for lunch (not included) we return to Croatia via the coastal village of Perast. There we board a private boat for the very short journey to the richly decorated island church of Our Lady of the Rocks. We return to Dubrovnik where later in the evening we shall enjoy our final group dinner in the Old Town.
- Day 9: Saturday 16 September
- We depart at midday for the airport and the return flight to London Gatwick.
- Price: £2,950 per person
- Price without flights: £2,730
- Deposit: £400
- Single Supplement: £595 (Double Room for Sole Use)
- Tour Manager: James Hill
8 Nights with Breakfast: 3 nights at 4* Hotel Cornaro, Split; 2 nights at 4 * Hotel Adriana, Hvar: 3 nights at the 5* Grand Villa Argentina, Dubrovnik
Outward: EZY8395 Depart London Gatwick (South Terminal) 0955, arrive Split 1320
Return: EZY8518 Depart Dubrovnik 1045, arrive London Gatwick (South Terminal) 1235
4 Dinners & 2 Lunches with wine, water & coffee, all local transfers, entry fees & gratuities, services of James Hill & local tour guides
Travel to/from Gatwick, 4 Dinners & 6 Lunches
Weather Conditions for Croatia in September are:
Average Temperature between: 18oC - 25oC / 64oF - 77oF
Rainfall: 101mm / 4 inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.