Gardens of the Adriatic
Tour includes 3-night cruise
Travel north along the enchanting Dalmatian Coast from Dubrovnik to the island of Hvar and onwards to Venice, visiting the elegant gardens that grace the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea.
Begin in Dubrovnik, whose UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town is still ringed with Mediaeval walls, and visit the botanical garden on the verdant island of Lokrum. Explore the Arboretum of Trsteno with its pair of 500-year-old Oriental Planes and the fields of delightful spring blossoms on the island of Hvar. Continue up the spectacular Dalmatian Coast to Split, the vibrant city which grew up around the site of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s vast palace, and onwards to Opatija and the floral abundance of the Villa Angiolina.
Finish in the stunning city of Venice, the ‘Queen of the Adriatic’, with visits to some of its ‘secret gardens’ as well as its cultural and architectural gems, and cruise past Renaissance and Baroque villas along the Brenta River.
Depart Australia or New Zealand in the evening on suggested Emirates flights to Dubrovnik via Dubai. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
Arrive in Dubrovnik in the early afternoon and make your way to the hotel.
Check in to the hotel and enjoy an afternoon at leisure. In the early evening, attend an introductory briefing at the hotel, followed by a special welcome dinner with Helen and fellow travellers.
In the morning, enjoy a talk by Helen, and then set out on a walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town of Dubrovnik. Visit Large Onofrio’s Fountain and the Church of St Blaise, patron saint of the city. See Orlando’s Column and the Sponza Palace, and then continue to the Franciscan Friary and the 17th century Baroque Cathedral. Conclude at the St John Fortress, part of Dubrovnik’s extensive Mediaeval walls which stoutly defended the then-Republic of Ragusa against the Venetians, Ottomans and pirates alike.
After lunch, take the ferry to nearby Lokrum Island for a visit to its delightful botanical gardens, featuring a healthy collection of 800 species of exotic plants, such as palm trees, eucalyptus and cacti, many dating from the 19th century plantings of Archduke Maximilian, brother of the Emperor of Austria.
Return to Dubrovnik for an evening at leisure.
Enjoy a morning at leisure to stroll through Dubrovnik and relish the delights of spring on the Dalmatian Coast.
In the afternoon, travel to the town of Trsteno and explore its extensive arboretum, the oldest in the region, which was founded by the Gozze family in the late 15th century. Count Gozze requested that Ragusan traders bring back seeds and cuttings from all the lands they visited, and from these varied samples he founded his diverse collection.
In the morning, check out of the hotel and transfer to the wharf to embark on the MS Adriatic Sun, a luxury private-charter boat which will be our home for the next three nights.
Cruise through the Elaphiti Islands, which fringe the Dalmatian Coast, to the island of Mljet, almost all of which is still covered with ancestral Adriatic forest. Visit Mljet National Park, a highlight of which is the serene Great Lake and the Monastery of St Mary on its central islet – that is, an island, in a lake, on an island, in the sea.
Overnight moored in Mljet.
While cruising from Mljet to the island of Korčula, enjoy a talk by Helen on the flora and horticulture of the region.
In the afternoon, visit St Mark’s Cathedral in Korčula, constructed by local builders in the 15th and 16th centuries. Standing proudly above the fortified town, the cathedral contains an altarpiece painted by Tintoretto.
Overnight moored in Korčula.
Cruise from Korčula to the island of Hvar.
In Hvar, visit St Stephen’s Cathedral, built in the distinctive syncretic architectural style of the Dalmatian Coast and containing elements of the Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque traditions. Then take a stroll through the fields of Hvar, where an abundance of spring wildflowers makes for one of the most delightful experiences of the Dalmatian Coast.
Cruise onward to the island of Brač, and then in the evening uphold nautical tradition by celebrating the final night of our Dalmatian cruise with the Captain’s farewell dinner.
Overnight moored in Brač.
In the morning, cruise from Brač to Split on the mainland and disembark.
Split is Croatia’s second largest city, and traces its history to the Hellenistic Greek town established on the site and named after the indigenous spiny broom plant (Calicotome spinosa) that covered the hillside: the plant’s Greek name was Aspalathos, which became the Latin Spalatum and then Croatian Split. Split’s great treasure is the Palace of Diocletian, built in the 4th century AD as a luxurious seaside retirement home for the Eastern Roman Emperor (who was himself a native of Dalmatia). The first Roman emperor ever to voluntarily abdicate the throne, Diocletian lived out the last seven years of his life in this elegant palace-fortress, and reportedly spent his days tending his vegetable garden. He was particularly proud of his cabbages.
After some free time for lunch at leisure, check in to the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon and evening are at your disposal to continue your exploration of Split at your own pace.
Check out from the hotel and drive to Plitvice Lakes National Park. After lunch at a local restaurant in the park, visit the stunning complex of lakes and waterfalls at the heart of the park. A series of dazzling blue lakes steps downwards through a verdant valley in the Dinaric Alps, with waterfalls cascading from one level to the next.
Continue to Opatija, and check in to the hotel, followed by dinner.
After a morning talk by Helen, visit the Villa Angiolina and its adjoining park. The villa was built in 1844 by Iginio Scarpa, a wealthy merchant, and it started the fashion for Austrian nobility taking their summers in Opatija. The adjacent park contains more than 150 species of plants from as far away as China and South America, collected through Scarpa’s extensive trading network. Ginkgos, pines, cedars, spruces, palms and camellias are all to be found in the park’s extensive collection.
Lunch and the remainder of the afternoon are at leisure, with the opportunity to visit Opatija’s Church of St James and Church of the Annunciation.
Check out from the hotel in the morning and bid farewell to Croatia, travelling westward along the coast to Venice, the ‘Queen of the Adriatic’. Stop for lunch en route.
Arrive in Venice in the afternoon and check in to the hotel, followed by an evening at leisure.
Spend a day exploring some of the public and private gardens of Venice. The city’s status as one of the mighty ‘maritime republics’ of the Middle Ages brought wealth and exotic goods flowing into Venice, and leading citizens confidently displayed the spoils of their commerce by constructing elegant villas and formal gardens amongst the dense alleys of the city. In the morning, visit some of these ‘hidden gems’ of Venice, such as the gardens of Ca’ Zenobio, the former home of the scholarly Armenian Mekhitarist monks, and the elegant Italianate gardens of the Palazzo Malipiero which overlook the Canal Grande.
Enjoy a light lunch at a local restaurant in Venice, and then visit the Hotel Cipriani on the island of Giudecca in the afternoon to explore its exquisite gardens, followed by afternoon tea.
The evening is at leisure.
Today, travel inland into the Venetian countryside, tracing the Brenta River past Renaissance and Baroque villas which were once home to noble Venetian families such as the Foscari and the Pisani. Cruise upriver to the Villa Foscari, known as ‘La Malcontenta’ after a bride who married into the family and found her husband less than satisfactory. Designed by Andrea Palladio, this temple-villa is nestled between weeping willows on the banks of the Brenta. Visit the Villa Widmann, an 18th century mansion surrounded by Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) and horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) trees.
After some free time for lunch in Dolo (own arrangements), visit the Villa Pisani in Strà, decorated with magnificent frescoes which were the final works of Giambattista Tiepolo.
Return to Venice in the afternoon. This evening, join Helen and fellow travellers for a special farewell dinner in Venice.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
If you are leaving Venice today, make your way to the railway station or airport for your onward journey. If returning to Australia or New Zealand today, suggested afternoon flights on Emirates via Dubai. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any additional accommodation, either before or after the tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
28 January 2019
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit either Croatia or Italy.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally-located 4 and 5 star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wine with dinners
- Airport/hotel transfer on arrival
- Three-night luxury cruise from Dubrovnik to Split aboard the MS Adriatic Sun with private en suite cabin
- Transportation on comfortable air-conditioned coaches throughout
- Comprehensive sightseeing including entrance fees as per itinerary
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- Hotel/airport transfer on departure
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry etc.
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Dubrovnik – Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik *****
Dubrovnik–Split Cruise – MS Adriatic Sun ****+
Split – Radisson Blu Resort & Spa ****+
Opatija – Remisens Premium Hotel Kvarner ****
Venice – Palazzo Veneziano ****+
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted
Welcome aboard the MS Adriatic Sun
Newly launched for the 2018 season, the MS Adriatic Sun offers a stylish way to explore the Croatian coastline in the company of a small group of fellow travellers, with 19 cabins for a maximum of 38 passengers.
All cabins are air-conditioned, and feature double or twin beds, en suite facilities, portholes or window, LCD TV, sofa, wardrobe and ample storage space. Cabins are serviced daily, with linen and towels changed mid-week. Bathrooms include a shower, toilet, wash basin and hairdryer.
The public area of the MS Adriatic Sun boasts a large, air-conditioned restaurant, opening on to comfortable outdoor seating for passengers. On the partially-covered Sun Deck, passengers can recline on ample deck chairs while they watch the gentle waters and coastline of the Adriatic slip by. And for those who want to take a dip, a swimming platform at the aft end of the ship provides easy access to the water.