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Off The Beaten Path in Southeast Europe

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Hidden gems and food tour

Dine, wine and explore the tranquil countryside in stunning Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Experience relaxed travel with private transportation throughout the trip just for you and your travel companions. Accompanied by an English-speaking driver/guide for a deeper understanding of the region and for unforgettable experiences with local farmers, artisans and wine producers. A one-of-a-kind trip with authentic food, country living and lots of good company.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Zagreb

Arrival at Zagreb airport and transfer to the Istrian Peninsula, the idyllic Croatian region dotted with hilltop villages, undulating green hills, olive groves and vineyards. (Note: transfer can also be arranged from Venice, Italy.)

Overnight at a charming countryside villa-hotel.

Day 2: Truffle hunting in Istria

After a homemade breakfast, some truffle hunting is in order. In Istria, truffle hunting is a well established tradition tied to the region’s love of natural food products. Learn the tips and tricks of truffle hunting from a local family who will demonstrate how to find these precious fungi with the help of their sniffer dog.

As is customary, before going out in the field, toast for good luck. Your host will serve you local delicacies to go with the toast – typically a honey, mistletoe or cherry brandy, or a homemade wine. Taste a variety of Istrian cheeses, sausages, scrambled eggs, canapés, honey and oil, all made with truffles.

At last, you are finally ready to go truffle hunting! Accompany your host and his dog on a hike in the nearby forested hills while admiring the scenic views over the valleys, lakes and villages scattered in every direction. Celebrate the unearthing of the first truffle and cheer along every time the dog finds another treasured fungi. Hold the truffles up close to feel and smell them, an experience you will never forget!

After the truffle hunting there will be time to visit Motovun, one of the most picturesque medieval towns in Istria overlooking the Mirna River valley and the forest where the largest white truffle (2.8 lbs) was found in 1999 – entered in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Overnight at a countryside villa-hotel.

Day 3: Wine and olive oil tasting

Discover Croatia’s best wines on a full-day wine tasting excursion. Winegrape growing and winemaking have a long history in the region going back to the Bronze Age. Croatia is also home to indigenous grape varietals you won’t find anywhere else in the world. In fact, one of Napa Valley’s most prominent winemakers, Mike Grgich of Grgich Hills Estate, is a native of Croatia! The highlight of your day will be meeting a local producer and tasting their superb wines. In addition, you will have the opportunity to take a fun wine and bike tour.

Finally, visit another local producer and taste Istria’s other highly prized product, the spicy, bittery golden-green olive oil. End the day with a traditional dinner at a local family restaurant.

Overnight at a countryside villa-hotel.

Day 4: Fruits of the mountains

Head to the unspoiled region of Gorski Kotar, a haven of lush green landscape, tranquility, friendly people, excellent cuisine and a wealth of natural beauty. Spend the day picking and sampling wild berries, such as strawberries, blueberries and elderberries, or wild mushrooms, depending on the season. Visit a lively country fair and taste some more deliciousness. If you are traveling later in the fall you are in for a treat preparing and tasting various local pumpkin dishes.

Overnight at a quaint country guesthouse.

Day 5: Foodie paradise in Lika

Discover Lika County, a true hidden gem of sensorial experiences enhanced by the scent of the sea, northerly bura winds, sage and hay. Meet the farming community known for their sustainable growing practices and production of healthy foods. Škripavac cheese, cottage cheese, cow and sheep’s curd are the traditional staples of the region’s dairies. Visit a small family owned cheese factory to experience how cheese is made following the methods passed down for generations and to taste the mouthwatering products. Afterwards, head to the nearby Gacka River to unwind with kayaking, fly fishing or biking along the riverbanks. Dinner with traditional local specialties.

Overnight at a quaint country guesthouse.

Day 6: Cooking in the Dalmatian hinterland

Make your way to the Dalmatian Zagora, the hinterland located beyond the mountain range that separates the Croatian inland from the crowded, fast-living coastal towns. In a village that seems to be forgotten in time, your host will teach you how to make an authentic meal based on old family recipes handed down from one generation to the other. During your hands-on cooking class learn how to make sausages from scratch, how to roast lamb on a spit, and prepare other authentic dishes from soups and stewed vegetables to fruit desserts. At the end of the class gather around the dining table and enjoy all the delicious dishes in the company of your host.

Overnight at a lovely countryside guesthouse.

Day 7: A day in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Departure for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia’s neighbor to the east. Visit Jajce, nicknamed the “Bosnian Venice“, a charming and remote town nestled in the heart of Bosnia and blessed with an abundance of water. Make your way to the historic watermills at Pliva Springs, a group of about 20 little huts, that once served as mills for local farmers. It’s a miracle that they survived the forces of nature and recent human development! On your way back visit a local beekeeper and taste some honey, and get introduced to propolis processing.

Overnight at a charming family hotel.

Day 8: Mesmerizing Slavonia

Continue your journey to Slavonia, Croatia’s most north-eastern region distinctively different from the rest of the country. The landscape here consists of fertile plains crisscrossed by numerous rivers. Untouched by mass tourism, Slavonia is remarkable for its natural beauty. The cuisine is different, too. Try some of the local specialties, such as freshwater fish stew, carp on a spit, or a spicy fish soup prepared with lots of paprika denoting Hungarian influences. Later, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride in the tranquil countryside and stroll around the quaint village.

Overnight at a traditional village guesthouse.

Day 9: Biodiversity in Baranja

After a hearty breakfast, head to Kopački Rit Nature Park situated in the Danube floodplain between two major European rivers, the Drava and the Danube. Fondly called the European Amazon, this protected area is home to a rare ecosystem rich in biodiversity. Recognized as part of the Mura-Drava-Danube Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, the main ecological significance of Kopački Rit lies in its flood dynamics, therefore the park is always different. An excursion through the park is a unique experience where you can observe everything from songbirds to large wild animals and from delicate wildflowers to rare indigenous oak forests. In the afternoon you’ll have options for fun activities in the Baranja area, such as horse riding or wine tasting at a local winery.

Overnight at a traditional village guesthouse.

Day 10: Zagorje wine country

On arriving in the Zagorje region – an oasis of greenery, fresh air, and healing waters – meet your winemaker host and enjoy another special winetasting experience, this time wines made from popular grape varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. See if you can notice a difference in wine style compared to similar wines from other regions. Is it the soil, cultivation methods or wine making techniques that make each bottle of wine unique?

Spend the rest of the day hiking through the vineyards, orchards, forests and pastures soaking in the soothing views of this charming region. Farewell dinner at your accommodation.

Overnight at a rustic country cottage set in the middle of a vineyard.

Day 11: Return Home

Transfer to Zagreb airport. Return home.

Book this itinerary for $4,360.00/person.

Pricing is based on double room occupancy. Other options (i.e. single supplement, family rates) are available on request. Rates valid for travel in 2021. Trip is customizable for an extra fee.

Package includes:

  • Rustic accommodations in holiday homes
  • 10 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners
  • Private transportation
  • Guided tours in Motovun, Lika and Jajce
  • Truffle hunting in Istria
  • Olive oil tasting in Istria
  • Wine experience & biking in Istria
  • Activity in nature in Gorski Kotar
  • Activity in nature (fishing/biking/canoeing) in Lika
  • Honey tasting in Jajce
  • Horse carriage ride in Baranja
  • Horse riding or wine tasting in Baranja
  • Wine tasting in Zagorje
  • Entrance fees to Motovun Walls & Kopački Rit
  • Emergency customer support

Package does not include:

  • International airfare
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Personal expenses
  • Extra meals and drinks
  • Gratuities

Payments

  • Deposit 35% of total – paid at booking
  • Trip balance – 60 days before travel date

Cancellation and Refund Policy

  • Cancellable and refundable up to 60 days before trip start date
  • Refunds are subject to 10% administrative fee