A cruise tour from Zagreb to Dubrovnik is not your typical European tour – it's way better. In one week, venture from historic Zagreb along the Adriatic Coast to stunning Dubrovnik. Along the way, you'll hit the highlights – did we mention the beautiful lakes of Plitvice or the island of Hvar? But you'll also discover a Europe too often ignored by travellers. See dreamy landscapes and wander historic and picture-perfect old lanes.
Garden Highlights Include:
Visit one of the world's most beautiful waterfalls. Discover the beauty of Croatia's oldest and most visited National Park, Plitvice Lakes, enlisted as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Embrace the natural beauties and enjoy breathtaking views of the waterfalls and flora that surrounds you.
Within the boundaries of this heavily forested national 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. Clouds of butterflies drift above the 18 km of wooden footbridges and pathways that snake around the edges and across the rumbling water.
Zagreb Botanical Gardens
Just west of the train station and forming the east-west arm of the Green Horseshoe, these lovely gardens were founded in 1889. The first plantings took place in 1892. Since then, the 4.7 hectares (11.6 acres), dominated by an English-style arboretum, and containing rock gardens, lily-pad-covered ponds, symmetrical French-inspired flowerbeds and ten glasshouses (closed to the public) have been an island of tranquility in the city center. It's an idyllic spot to grab a shaded bench in summer. About 10,000 plant species come mainly from Croatia, some from as far as Asia.
The Black Gardens of Predjama Castle - the Castle in a Cave
Predjama Castle is one of the most famous in Slovenia, attracting thousands of tourists each year. Located in small village of Predjama, this amazing Renaissance fortress, built within a cave, is not at all the kind of castle we're familiar with.
This ancient castle doesn't have crenellated towers, sumptuous interior decorations or refined details, but it is a special place in so many ways. Predjama castle is not incidentally among the most visited places in Slovenia. The first thing that attracts attention is the castle's location. At some point one could surely believe that the castle is almost one with the mountain in which it lies. And the contrast between the blackened cliffs and the white walls of the castle offers the sensation that it's almost unreal.
The Botanical Gardens of Split, Croatia
A waterway flows through the garden and on an islet is a wooden sculpture of Noah's Ark by renowned artist Vasko Lipovac. Across the little stone bridge is a large lawn, perfect for a Sunday family picnic with breathtaking views over the Bay of Kaštela. At the far corner of the lawn you will pass a large apple sculpture, a very important symbol in the bible, leading you on to a miniature vineyard with vines of California Zinfandel, Italian Primitivo and Croatian Kaštelanski Crljenak, all the same sort with a different name which came from this very mountain.
Regardless of whether you are visiting Dubrovnik for the first time or the hundredth, the sense of awe never fails to descend when you set eyes on the beauty of the old town. Indeed it's hard to imagine anyone becoming jaded by the city's marble streets, baroque buildings and the endless shimmer of the Adriatic, or failing to be inspired by a walk along the ancient city walls that protected a civilized, sophisticated republic for centuries.
Although the shelling of Dubrovnik in 1991 horrified the world, the city has bounced back with vigor to enchant visitors again. Marvel at the interplay of light on the old stone buildings; trace the peaks and troughs of Dubrovnik's past in museums and visit the beautiful gardens. The Trsteno is one of the most famous gardens in the region dating back to the 15th century. It is managed by the Croatian Academy of Sciences and is known for 2,500 exotic Mediterranean plants and trees.
For more information on this Fall 2017 tour to see Croatia by land and by sea, go to alkitours.com
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By Susan Martin for Proven Winners,
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners
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