History of Croatia escorted small group tours
On this small group tour of Croatia, you can expect to experience the sights that make this country so unique while also discovering its rich and complex history. Over 19 days, we explore Croatia with the services of local guides. Starting in Zagreb, the capital city, we visit Porec on the coast of the Istrian Peninsula, the island of Cres and the crystal clear waters of Plitvice Lakes National Park. We also explore the Roman and Venetian ruins of Zadar on the Dalmatian coast, Trogir's Renaissance and Romanesque buildings, Hvar's hilltop fortress, the gorgeous old town on the island of Korcula and end our trip in stunning Dubrovnik. Many of these must-see attractions are recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The History of Croatia
As we make our way through the diverse villages and cities of Croatia, we begin to build up an understanding of its intricate history, from ancient times to now.
The area we now know as Croatia has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic Age. This was confirmed when the remains of a Neanderthal man, thought to be 130,000 years old, were discovered in a small town outside of Zagreb called Krapina at the beginning of the 20th century. The Neanderthal became known as Krapina Man and thanks to those bones, palaeontologists have been able to conduct important research about human development.
Recorded history begins much later than Krapina Man, around 1200 B.C, when the Illyrians migrated to the region. By 400 B.C. the Greeks began colonising the Adriatic coast and while the Illyrians traded with the Greeks, conflict arose when the Illyrians tried to form an independent state. In 229 B.C. the Greeks, troubled by this, enlisted the help of the Romans which marked the beginning of a series of war which would see the Illyrians defeated and the region converted to a Roman province.
The Romans ruled for 500 years, building roads that brought trade, goods and Christianity to the region. Following the decline of the Romans, Croatia suffered a series of invasions and territorial disputes against the backdrop of dynastic wars. During the medieval period, many towns in Croatia flourished and this meant different powers sought to control the region. For many centuries, the Venetians, Ottomans and Croats controlled various parts of what is now Croatia. All the while, Croatian nationalism grew. Our program helps to make sense of this turbulent history and gives an insight into Croatia's long journey to independence and how different religions and civilisations have shaped its rich culture.
Tracing our way along the coast
Odyssey's Croatia tours follows the coastline, not only because of it's beauty and the hidden gems along the way, but because it also gives a sense of how trade and outside influences made their mark. Before we reach the coast, we explore sites as diverse as the Glagolitic Alley, a memorial of eleven outdoor monuments marking the road between Roc and Hum. These pay tribute to the ancient Glagolitic script, which was invented as a means for making Latin more accessible. Hum is one of the tiniest villages you will ever visit, with an equally tiny gateway leading into it.
After this, we weave our way down along the Dalmatian coast to Dubrovnik taking a route away from the popular tourist trails. This allows you to have an authentic travel experience, seeing everything Croatia has to offer without the crowds.
Included in Odyssey Traveller's tour package is the expertise of our knowledgeable local guides. We will see the murals, paintings and mosaics that (in addition to the Venetian architecture) have shaped and influenced the North of the country. As we travel south, the influence of the Adriatic and trading becomes apparent through the traces of history that live on.
During this vacation in Croatia, our experiences are many and varied. We explore pristine coastal islands and admire the Plitvice lakes before reaching Dubrovnik and having the opportunity to walk its walled city and catch sight of Lokrum Island. The coast part of the tour gives us an appreciation of the incredible Dalmatian coast and the islands that dot the Adriatic waters. The tour combines the incomparable beauty of the region with a fascinating history, creating a truly unforgettable experience.
Small group tours for senior travellers
This tour includes a range of hotel styles. The accommodation has been selected to maximise your experience throughout Croatia. The Croatia small group tour is designed for seniors - both couples and solo travellers are welcome. Our Croatia tour joins the Balkans small group tour, should you wish to extend your European coastal holiday.
For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.
Overview: After making our own way from the airport, we meet at the hotel for a welcome dinner and program orientation.
Accommodation: 2 nights at Best Western Premier Hotel or similar
Overview: Today we spend the morning visiting the main sights of the city including Stone Gate, Sun Clock and Upper Town. We’ll also visit Dolac Market and Mimara Museum. The afternoon is free to explore more at your own pace.
Accommodation: Best Western Premier Hotel or similar
Overview: Today we transfer by coach to Rijeka for a guided tour of the Croatian National Theatre which contains some ceiling frescoes painted by Gustav Klimt. We continue on to Opatija for a short stroll along the promenade before transferring to Porec.
Accommodation: 3 nights at Valamar Riviera Hotel or similar
Overview: In the morning we head to the Lipica stud farm, where they breed and train the horses for the Spanish Riding school in Vienna. While here, we also enjoy an equestrian training performance. On our way back we stop at Socerb to see the ruined castle, taking in the breathtaking views. We then continue on the small roads to Hrastovlje where we see amazing frescoes of Dance of Death (Danse Macabre) at the Church of the Holy Trinity.
Accommodation: Valamar Riviera Hotel or similar
Overview: Today we visit the Euphrasian basilica in Porec, taking in its remarkable mosaics before heading to Motovun to view the hilltop medieval hamlet and take in the views. We continue on to Buzet for a lunch tasting session of truffles and other local specialities. After lunch, we drive the short distance to Roc, where we take in the unusual Glagolitic Alley to Hum. This is a series of sculptures that pay tribute to the monks who preserved the national Glagolitic script. Hum is one of the tiniest villages you will ever visit, with an equally tiny gateway into it. Our next stop is the small village of Beram where we visit the Church of St Mary with its wonderful wall paintings illustrating the “Dance of Death.”, on a smaller scale than those we viewed yesterday in Hrastovlje.
Accommodation: Valamar Riviera Hotel or similar
Overview: Today we travel south to the small town of Rovinj on the coast. Here, we enjoy a stroll to take in the sights of the old town. We then continue to Vodnjan to visit Church of St Blaise, with its famous mummies. Our next stop is Pula where we visit the Roman amphitheatre. We then cross over the mountains to Brestova, to we take the short ferry crossing to the island of Cres. We then drive over the mountain to the small village of Beli, where we visit the eco centre that is working hard to preserve the European Griffon Vulture. The centre always has several on display who are being nursed back to health, and we also take the opportunity to hear about the challenges the workers face in preserving this species. The remainder of the day is spent in the town of Cres, where we have the chance to stretch our legs and take a short stroll around the harbour and old town. This area of the city is very pretty and showcases the Venetian heritage in its extraordinary architecture. Dinner this evening is at our hotel.
Accommodation: 2 nights at Hotel Kimen or similar
Overview: Today we spend the full day exploring Cres with our local guide. We stop to view the Venetian gates and the church of Our Lady of the Snow (Church of Saint Mary the Great). Later we transfer south to Osor for a walking tour of the village and to view the stone walls. The remainder of the afternoon is free to further explore the city on your own.
Accommodation: Hotel Kimen or similar
Overview: After breakfast, we take the ferry to Krk and then we drive across to visit the famous Plitvice National park with its famous terraced lakes connected by waterfalls. Here, we enjoy a boat ride and electric train ride to view the spectacular waterfalls.
Accommodation: Overnight at Hotel Jezero or similar
Overview: In the morning we transfer to Nin and visit the Salt Museum and tour around the salt pans before continuing our journey to Zadar. In the evening we enjoy a walk around the harbour and dinner at a local restaurant. We’ll also have the opportunity to to hear the sea organ – a collection of musical pipes set in the sea wall to make sounds as the waves pass through and see the Sun Salutation installation – a design of photovoltaic cells set in the pavement.
Accommodation: Overnight Hotel Mediteran or similar
Overview: Today we travel the short distance to Sibenik, where we visit the Cathedral of St. James, a world heritage site, to see the famous carvings. Next stop is the Krka national park, where we see the waterfalls at Skradinski buk, before taking a short boat ride on the lake to Vivovac island. We also take in the region’s other major waterfall, Roski Slap. In the afternoon and evening, we have free time to explore Trogir, a historic and beautiful city.
Dinner this evening will be at our hotel.
Accommodation: 3 nights at Palace Derossi or similar
Overview: In the morning, we take a tour of Split and visit the famous Emperor Diocletian’s palace complex. We also experience the wonders of the Mestrovic gallery, which is set in the villa that the Emperor designed. We see the extraordinary sculptures in the garden and inside the villa. In the afternoon, we make a quick stop at the Roman ruins of Solin.
The rest of the day we have free time to explore Trogir, a historic and beautiful city.
Accommodation: Palace Derossi or similar
Overview: After breakfast we drive to Omis where we take a cruise along the river Cetina through the gorge to Radmanove mlince (Radman’s mills) where we enjoy a lunch. We then return to Trogir and have free time to continue exploring the city on our own.
Accommodation: Palace Derossi or similar
Overview: Today we transfer to Split and take the ferry to the small town of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. We take a short tour of the town that includes a visit to Tvrdalj, a small palace built by a poet in the 16th century. We also take in some of the island’s sights on the drive across to Hvar town.
Accommodation: 2 nights at Amfora hotel or similar
Overview: Today has been set aside as a relaxing rest day, with a walking tour of the town this morning, followed by a walk up to the Spanish fortress. After a delicious quayside seafood lunch, the afternoon is free to explore our own interests.
Accommodation: Amfora hotel or similar
Overview: This morning, we take the fast catamaran to Korcula where we enjoy a guided walking tour of the area. The afternoon is free to explore the aspects of the island that most appeal to you. Suggestions include the Icon Museum, the Town Museum, Abbey Treasury and St.Mark’s Cathedral. Dinner this evening is at our hotel.
Accommodation: 2 nights at Hotel Korsal or similar
Overview: Today we enjoy an extensive Island tour that takes in the Marmont route, built by Napoleonic troops. This route offers a memorable way of taking in the sights of the island. We enjoy stops in Zavalatica, a tiny seaside hamlet, Cara, for a vineyard tour with tasting, and Lumbarda, where we enjoy a tasting of different island wines and local snacks.
Accommodation: Hotel Korsal or similar
Overview: This morning we take the ferry to the mainland and drive to Ston. We make one short stop to view the long city walls stretching up the hillside, which was built to protect the town and its salt stores. Before reaching Dubrovnik, we visit the extraordinary arboretum at Trsteno, which features extensive gardens with amazing views. The gardens were first planted in the 16th century, and have many exotic plants, not just trees. For a spot of popular culture, scenes from the Game of Thrones television series were filmed here too.
Accommodation: 2 nights at Hotel Zagreb or similar
Overview: Today we enjoy an extensive walking tour of Dubrovnik that takes in many of the main sights of the city like the Franciscan Monastery and pharmacy, War Photo Museum and Rector’s Palace. To finish the tour, we take the cable car to Mt Srd, where we experience majestic views over the city and sea.
Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodation: Hotel Zagreb or similar
Overview: After breakfast, we say our farewells and the tour draws to a close.
What’s included in our Tour
- 18 nights of hotel accommodation.
- 18 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 10 dinners
- Transport and field trips as indicated.
- Applicable entry fees and services of local guides.
- Services of an Odyssey Tour Leader.
- Gratuities and necessary tips.
- Detailed tour information booklet.
What’s not included in our Tour
- Comprehensive international travel insurance.
- Return international airfares and departure taxes.
- Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.