Sept 30 – Oct 14, 2022
BY THE BEAUTIFUL SEA
The word “Balkan” is Turkish and means “mountain.” The Balkan Peninsula of Eastern Europe is dominated by this type of landform. Mountains create glittering bays in Montenegro and line the coast of the Adriatic Sea up the length of Croatia. They form the dazzling Julian Alps in Slovenia.
Our tour begins in one of Croatia’s most fascinating places — the fortified city of Dubrovnik. After a visit George Bernard Shaw wrote: “If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik.” Fans of “Game of Thrones” will recognize it as the setting for many scenes at Kings Landing.
A day trip to Montenegro enchants with the magnificent old towns of Kotor and Budva set on the stunning Bay of Kotor. Among the crowning jewels of Croatia are its Dalmatian Islands, known for pristine beaches, limestone cliffs, crystal clear waters, and beautiful vineyards and olive groves. We’ll enjoy sights and gastronomic delights on two of these islands: Korčula and Hvar.
Marvel at the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace in Split. Continue up the coast to the cultural center of Trogir and the walled city of Zadar. Turning inland, we visit Plitvice Lakes National Park and the capital city of Zagreb.
Four nights in Slovenia bring this tour to a spectacular conclusion. Ljubljana, the capital city, is straight out of a medieval fairy tale, with winding cobblestone streets, ancient churches, and quaint ambience. It serves as our base for exploring this small but delightful and varied country.
Balmy sea breezes, majestic mountains, fascinating history, diverse culture and exquisite cuisine — this delectable adventure has it all! Come with Toto Tours to see the beautiful Balkan jewels of Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia.
COVID-19 VACCINATION POLICY:
All plans for this tour are made considering the COVID procedures in effect at the time of publication. Entry requirements and vaccination requirements are subject to change at any time without notice. Please be sure you comply with the latest Croatia entry requirements at the time of departure. For the safety of our groups, we only accept tour participants who are fully vaccinated, and current with their covid vaccines (including any recommended boosters) as of 4 weeks prior to departure. Proof of vaccination will be required no later than 4 weeks prior to departure.
- Kotor and Budva on the UNESCO listed Bay of Kotor
- Ston Town on the Pelješac peninsula
- Oyster tasting at the banks of Mali Ston
- Korčula Town, birthplace of Marco Polo
- Hvar Old Town tour
- Wine and Culinary tour on Hvar Island
- Split city tour and the palace of Emperor Diocletian
- Lunch at Traditional House of Prosciutto near Sibenik
- Full-day cruise in Kornati Islands National Park
- Plitvice Lakes National Park with boat ride
- Four nights city-center hotel in Ljubljana
- Ljubljana Castle tour
- Bled Lake and Bled Castle
- Bohinj in Triglav National Park
- Cable car to top of Mt. Vogel
- Istrian village of Abitanti
- Truffle hunting with truffle tasting
- Medieval town of Piran on the Adriatic
- Farewell seafood dinner among the olive trees
Arrive in Dubrovnik – Welcome to Croatia
Arrive today at the Dubrovnik International Airport. Use the code DBV when searching for flights. Because international airfare is not included and participants will arrive on different flights (perhaps even on different days), we are not including a group transfer from the airport to the hotel. Final documents sent three weeks prior to departure will detail your options for booking a private transfer or for making your way to our hotel using public transportation. Our rooms should be available for check-in by 3:00pm. If you arrive early, enjoy time for independent exploration of our hotel and its environs. Please let us know on your reservation form if you prefer to arrive one day early in order to relax and recover from jet-lag before the tour commences. We convene at the hotel bar this evening for drinks before continuing to one of the great restaurants in Dubrovnik for our Welcome Dinner. (Welcome Dinner included)
Dubrovnik City Tour / Mt Srd Cable Car
Today is devoted to exploring and enjoying Dubrovnik — the Pearl of the Adriatic—both from the high vantage point of a panoramic plateau and within the historic old center. Walk its glorious walls with fortresses and bastions and views of the magical Elafiti Islands. From the Onofrio fountain to the city bell tower, along its main street, and in the small and quiet cobblestone streets, every step in this town will be an experience to remember. Special highlights today are the Rectors Palace, where scenes from Game of Thrones took place, and the Franciscan Monastery featuring the third oldest pharmacy in the world still in operation, dating from 1317. We end our tour with the exciting trip by cable car to the top of Mount Srd to appreciate from a birds-eye perspective the magnificence of the walled city and the surrounding area. Returning to the hotel, enjoy a free evening to sample delicacies from the restaurant of your choice in Dubrovnik. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Day Trip to Montenegro
Today is dedicated to exploring Montenegro — a tiny country that boasts Europe’s southernmost fjord forming the UNESCO-listed Bay of Kotor. You simply cannot believe your eyes as you survey this breath-taking beauty. We’ll learn about Montenegrin history and culture during our guided tour of Kotor’s beautiful Old Town. Enjoy delicious seafood during lunch on stunning Kotor Bay. Afterwards enjoy a guided tour of Budva, the main seaside resort in the region. It was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 1979, but the entire historic center has been completely restored to its original glory. Upon returning to Dubrovnik the evening is free. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Pelješac Peninsula / Korčula
We check out this morning and drive to the sister cities of Ston and Mali Ston on the Pelješac Peninsula. The two are connected by an historic wall dating from the 14th century that was once more than 4 miles long and referred to as “The Great Wall of Europe.” In addition to this architectural wonder, the Ston area is also known for great seafood. We take a private boat tour to the oyster banks of Mali Ston to savor an oyster-tasting lunch. After lunch we proceed for wine tasting in one of the most renowned Croatian wine regions — Pelješac. Continuing on to nearly the end of the peninsula, we board a small boat to cross to Korčula Island where we check into our beautiful resort hotel at Korčula Old Town for a one-night stay. The evening is free to enjoy the amenities of our hotel. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Korčula Old Town / Hvar
Take time this morning to luxuriate at the hotel pool or take a dip in the sea. After checking out we take time for lunch in Korčula Old Town. This afternoon, take a guided walking tour of the medieval Old Town, the reputed birthplace of Marco Polo. It is surrounded by 14 th century stone walls and contains a succession of narrow streets that branch off the spine of the main thoroughfare like a fish bone. It has numerous gothic, renaissance and baroque palaces, monuments and galleries. Later we transfer to the port and take the catamaran ferry from Korčula to Hvar. We check into our beautiful waterfront spa hotel and walk to a restaurant in the old town for dinner. (Breakfast / Dinner)
Hvar Old Town / Wine & Culinary Day on Hvar Island
This morning we take a guided walking tour of Hvar Old Town, best known for its medieval buildings which are the legacy of four centuries of Venetian rule. The town is the site of the oldest municipal theatre in Europe which opened in 1612. Perched high on a hill overlooking the town, the gleaming white limestone walls of the medieval Spanjol Fortress afford breath-taking views for those that climb to their summit. Optionally you can visit the Cathedral and the Arsenal followed by time at leisure to lunch while you enjoy Hvar Town’s stonepaved harbour front, the Venetian piazza and yacht harbour with views across the sparkling Adriatic Sea. After our lunch break we embark on a fabulous Wine & Culinary trip on Hvar Island. Visit two wineries for tastings of wine, cheese, bread, and olive oil and learn about how wine is made. First, the Romanesque cellars of Andro Tomic (togas optional). He is a French-educated vintner from Jelsa and also the face of Croatian EU integration in his battle to protect the Prosek brand. Continue to another part of the island to Zlatan Otok, Hvar’s most famous producer, featuring underwater tasting rooms, Decanter gold medals and Croatia’s only Grand Cru. Complete the day with a traditional dinner in the village of Malo Grablje. Return to Hvar Town for overnight. (Breakfast / Dinner)
Ferry to Split / City Tour
After breakfast, board a catamaran ferry for the 2.5 hr voyage to Split. Upon arrival we check in at our city-center hotel (a mere 6-minute walk from the Diocletian Palace) and take a lunch break, after which we embark on a guided tour of this historic city. The highlight of our tour is the Diocletian Palace in the heart of Split, built as a residential palace seventeen hundred years ago by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. It is a priceless monument included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Several scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed in the catacombs and underground hallways that are still intact and functional underneath the palace. It is here that Daenerys Targaryen's grand-looking Meereen throne room was located. The evening is at leisure to enjoy the vibe of the famous Split waterfront promenade, called The Riva. It is bursting with cafes and restaurants and is called the city’s living room where everyone loves to meet and be seen. (Breakfast)
Trogir / Sibenik / Zadar
Today we progress up the beautiful coast to Zadar, making some interesting stops along the way. Our first is at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trogir. Its preserved old town, known for its mix of Renaissance, Baroque, and Romanesque buildings, lies on a small island connected to the mainland and the island of Čiovo by bridges. The 13th century Cathedral of St. Lawrence houses the Renaissance Chapel of St. John and offers sweeping views from its bell tower. Parts of the medieval city walls remain intact. Continuing north we stop at the Traditional House of Prosciutto where the owner, Mr. Roca, one of the most famous persons in Croatia, will greet you with open arms. Here we will have an authentic Croatian lunch. Finally, we reach Zadar where we tour this splendid walled city and see the Roman Forum built in the 1st century. St. Donatus’ Church dates to the 9th century and is the most famous medieval basilica and trademark of the city. After seeing many other landmarks, we reach a square near our hotel with a unique sea organ. After checking into our hotel, the evening is free. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Day Trip to Kornati Islands National Park
A memorable day on the water awaits as we cruise among the Kornati Islands. This archiqelago of more than 140 uninhabited islands creates a surreal dreamscape of random beauty. This National Park occupies an area of about 54,000 acres. The islands, islets and reefs form the most indented group of islands in the Mediterranean, resulting in over 150 miles of coastlines. If the weather is good, swimming will still be possible at this time of the year! Our tour includes a 3-course lunch. After returning to our hotel in Zadar, the evening is free. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Plitvice Lakes / Zagreb
Plitvice Lakes is the oldest and largest national park in Croatia, and it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Within the boundaries of this heavily forested park, 16 crystalline lakes tumble into each other via a series of waterfalls and cascades. The mineral-rich waters carve through the rock, depositing tufa in continually changing formations. Walk through clouds of butterflies along some of the miles of wooden footbridges and pathways that snake around the edges and across the roaring waterfalls. Take a short boat ride on one of the larger lakes to an island with a small church. Continue to the Croatian capital, Zagreb, where we check into our hotel and walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner. (Breakfast / Dinner)
Zagreb and Ljubljana City Tours
We check out of our hotel and enjoy a tour of Croatia’s capital city this morning. Highlights include a visit to the biggest church in Zagreb, a traditional market, the only surviving medieval gate — the Stone Gate — and also a meaningful insignia on St Mark’s Church. Then we descend the south slopes of the Upper Town and go from the Lotrščak tower to the main square, the most popular meeting place of the locals. At the end of the tour we grab a quick lunch and then commence the short drive to the capital city of Slovenia — Ljubljana. After checking in at our city-center hotel we meet our Slovenian guide and take a tour of this magical city. See the main city sights while getting to know its historical and cultural side. Walk through the medieval Old Town and see famous attractions such as the Triple Bridge, St. Nicholas Cathedral, and more. Dinner is at a nearby restaurant and afterwards our guide will accompany those who wish to sample some nightlife to a local pub. (Breakfast / Dinner)
Postojna Caves & Predjama Castle / Ljubjana Castle
This morning we head to the Karst region, the land of numerous natural phenomena and limestone caves. Visit the biggest and most beautiful cave in the world, the Postojna cave, and also see one of the most fascinating attractions of Slovenia — Predjama Castle. The castle is literally built into the rock. After some free time for lunch return to Ljubljana for a guided tour of the Ljubljana Castle which has been standing on a hill above the city for about 900 years. The castle's Outlook Tower and ramparts offer some of the most beautiful views of the city. Dinner tonight is at one of Ljubljana’s many fine restaurants. (Breakfast / Dinner)
Bled / Bohinj / The Julian Alps
After breakfast, enjoy a scenic drive to Bled with its gorgeous lake and castle. The castle stands on a promontory above the lake with wonderful views of the town, lake and surrounding countryside. The castle museum has a large collection of armor and weapons from the 16th to 18th centuries. After visiting the castle it is time to sample Bled’s famous cream cake, Kremna Rezina. Fortified, we board a traditional wooden boat called “pletna” and an oarsman rows us to the small island in the middle of the lake. After landing, climb 99 stone steps to reach the Assumption of Mary Church, where you can listen to the church bell and ring it yourself as you make a wish. After a lakeside lunch we continue to Bohinj Lake, one of the top natural pearls of Slovenia. It lies within Triglav National Park and is enclosed by the beautiful Julian Alps. Take the cable car up Mount Vogel to an elevation of just above 5,000 feet to enjoy spectacular views of the Julian Alps. This is the ideal starting point for a nature hike with our guide. There are cafe options on the mountain for those who prefer not to go hiking. We return to Ljubljana for a free evening. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Slovenian Istria / Truffle Hunting & Tasting / Piran
Slovenia has 29 miles of coastline on the Gulf of Trieste, and we head there today to experience a totally different side of Slovenia. At the traditional Istrian village of Abitanti we set out on a real truffle hunting and truffle tasting adventure. Truffle is king in culinary circles, and Slovenian Istria boasts numerous spots where this precious specialty grows. Today we enter the world of professional truffle hunter Dejan and his dog. The truffle hunt is certain to be a favorite memory of this tour and we’ll savor a truffle tasting lunch at the end of the hunt to celebrate. Continue to the jewel of the Slovenian Adriatic Sea — Piran. A church crowns the town at the top of a hill with stunning views over Slovenia’s coast. Narrow streets with closely constructed houses descend from the hill to the central square which opens onto the sea, emphasizing its Mediterranean character. This worldly coastal town, which developed under the influence of Venice and the wealth of salt production, is considered to be one of the most authentic and most photogenic towns on the Adriatic coast. Our Farewell Dinner tonight is unique in the three decades’ history of Toto Tours! Set among the ancient trees of an olive plantation above the historic saltpans, feast on a combination of local seafood, meat and vegetables. This exclusive celebration in an unforgettable atmosphere brings our Balkan Beauties tour to a rousing conclusion. Sated, we return to Ljubljana for our final overnight stay. (Breakfast / Lunch / Farewell Dinner)
Departure from Ljubljana
The Ljubljana International Airport (use LJU when searching flights) is about 15 miles outside the city. Toto Tours provides one group transfer to the airport today, timed to accommodate the greatest number of passengers with similar departure times. We’ll assist those who are not able to take advantage of this group transfer to book their own private transfer according to their flight schedule. Please let us know on your reservation form if you would like us to reserve an additional night for you at our Ljubljana hotel. (Breakfast)
EASY TO MODERATE WALKING
This Toto Tours Cultural and Scenic Expedition is accessible and suitable to all those with good health and who are able to walk 2-3 hours without much carrying. This tour is based on moderate city walking for several hours daily. Walks on medieval city walls and in the national parks will be more active with some gain and decrease in elevation.
Entry Requirements - For citizens of the United States and Canada, no visas are necessary. All you need is a passport valid for at least 3 months from date of arrival (6 months if you are transiting through a Schengen country on your way to Croatia)
Immunizations - You are required to bring proof of Covid Vaccination with you. The US Embassy in Croatia has created this helpful website identifying current entry requirements relating to Covid-19 precautions. Travelers can facilitate faster processing at the Croatian border by completing the Enter Croatia web form and uploading their information and attachments ahead of their arrival. No other immunizations are required, but it is wise to have your inoculations up to date. Is your tetanus booster current?Exit Requirements - Your airport departure tax will be included in the cost of your international airline ticket. Please check the requirements for entry to your final destination. For example, the United States currently requires a negative antigen test taken within 72 hours of arrival in the US. Antigen testing is widely available in pharmacies in Slovenia, and costs about €20-25 per person, with results immediately available. We will help to organize this at the right time prior to your departure. After receiving the test results you must file this with your airline.
Making Travel Arrangements to the Balkans
International airfare is not included in your tour price. You will need to purchase your international air to Dubrovnik, Croatia, and return from Ljubljana, Slovenia. We encourage you to work with Steven Goldberg at Frosch Travel in Chicago, who can help you choose the best flights to meet the following requirements.
Your arrival flight is to the Dubrovnik International Airport (airport code DBV). You need to leave the U.S. or Canada by the evening of Thursday, September 29, 2022, in order to arrive in Dubrovnik by Friday, September 30, 2022. Schedule your departure from Ljubljana International Airport (airport code LJU) for any convenient time on Friday, October 14, 2022.
Steven Goldberg / Frosch Travel
Toll-Free in USA: 1-800-323-1276
International guests, please call +1-312-371-9686
When calling, please identify yourself as a Toto Tours participant. If you leave a message on Steven’s voice mail, he will return your call promptly. He will be happy to discuss your travel plans and help you decide when to purchase your ticket for the best rate.
NOTE: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible, we often must turn away last minute registrants because we relinquish hotel space and any internal air reservations 8 – 12 weeks prior to departure! Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.
WHAT TO BRINGAverage October Temperatures in the region are as follows:
- Montenegro / South Croatia: Max 72°F and min 60°F
- Zadar: Max 69°F and min 56°F
- Zagreb: Max 61°F and min 48°F
- Ljubljana: Max 60°F and min 45°F
Pack light and limit yourself to no more than one suitcase and a carry-on bag. Pack medications in your carry-on just in case your suitcase doesn’t arrive when you do. We suggest leaving expensive jewelry at home!
Suggested Packing List:
- Proof of citizenship. Passport required.
- Proof of full Covid-19 vaccination.
- Lightweight slacks for city sightseeing and evening meals
- Shorts for hiking or excursions on warm days
- Socks and underwear for several days (laundry service readily available at all hotels)
- Sweater and/or windbreaker
- Rain jacket / umbrella (for walking at Plitvice near waterfalls)
- Comfortable walking shoes
- T-shirts / polo shirts / short-sleeved shirts (5 - 6)
- Casual long-sleeved shirts (3 or 4)
- Sunscreen / lip balm / sunglasses / sun hat
- Personal toiletries
- Swimsuit (water will be cold)
- Camera, lots of digital memory, extra batteries
- Electrical Adapter. The electricity supply in Croatia and Slovenia is 230 Volts/50 Hertz. Click here to see examples of the outlets you will encounter, and the plugs you will need.
- A good book for the long flights.
MONEY MATTERSMontenegro and Slovenia are on the standardized European currency, the Euro (EUR). As of November 21, 2021, the interbank exchange rate was about US$1.13 to €1.00. Bank debit cards, Visa & Mastercard work for Euro cash withdrawals in most ATMs, which are widely available throughout both countries. The currency in Croatia is the Kuna (HRK). As of November 21, 2021, the interbank exchange rate was about HRK6.65 to US$1.00. ATM machines for withdrawals in Kuna will be easily available. It is wise to carry some cash with you, however, in case you get caught in a situation where an ATM is not available. Click here to find the most up-to-date exchange rate.
Tipping Guidelines: Tipping is customary in these countries and 10% is a general rule in restaurants, even if there is a service fee added to the bill. We will give group tips at appropriate times throughout the tour, and guidelines concerning this will be sent to you prior to departure.
THE TOTO SPIRITToto Tours provides Adventure Travel Experiences as differentiated from tours in the traditional sense. Adventure Travel allows (even encourages) you to be an active participant. Adventurers can be identified by certain traits. They are:
- fun-loving optimists who have a sense of humor and accentuate the positive;
- good natured realists who are willing to accept situations as they exist;
- undaunted by the unexpected, like occasional delays or bad weather;
- willing to forego some of the amenities we normally take for granted;
- eager to try new things & test limits;
- not whiners!
Travel InsuranceWe recommend you purchase travel insurance with Travel Guard to cover for unforeseen events prior to and during your trip. Please click on the image or link below, or call us for more information.
(tour prices per person)Price: $6,600 in double occupancy hotel accommodations
Single Supplement: $1,600 additional, for a total tour price of $8,200
(Due at time of registration for the tour. May be paid with a credit card.)
Remaining Balance : $6,000 double / $7,600 single
Remaining Balance Due: June 15, 2022 (80 days prior to departure)
(Full payment required with reservation form if enrolling after this date.)
Included: Full time tour leader; full time tour guide; private vehicle and driver; 14 nights hotel accommodations; hotel breakfasts daily plus Welcome & Farewell Dinners and other meals as specified in the itinerary; sightseeing activities and entrances as listed in the itinerary; one group departure airport transfer in Slovenia; fully guided and escorted tour.
Not Included: International airfare to Dubrovnik, Croatia (DBV) returning from Ljubljana, Slovenia (LJU); arrival airport transfer in Dubrovnik; ground transportation for sightseeing on your own (taxis, local guides, etc.); meals and optional activities not specifically listed in the itinerary; camera fees; alcoholic beverages; insurance; laundry, telephone calls, faxes, or any other expenses of a personal nature. Tips to drivers and guides and other conveyance attendants are not included; tipping guidelines for our group tips will be provided prior to departure.