Croatia is blessed with a landscape of extraordinary beauty and some of Europe’s most dazzling coastlines. Its history too is everywhere apparent, from Greek and Roman colonies to imperial palaces, Byzantine mosaics, medieval fortresses, Venetian Renaissance towns, and the resurgence of its cities after the ill-fated experiment of Yugoslavia. Discover Croatia’s extraordinary past at the meeting point of Venetian, Habsburg and Ottoman empires on this new 16-day tour. Land-based exploration of Zagreb and Istria is combined with a private cruise of the fabled Dalmatian coast aboard the luxuriously-appointed, 19-cabin MV Memories.
The MV Memories is a brand-new vessel. We have an exclusive charter of this deluxe cruise ship, holding only 19 luxury cabins. Onboard, the MV Memories features a spacious salon-style restaurant and bar, a sundeck with sun beds and a jacuzzi to relax in, an outdoor shaded lounge area, and a swimming platform on the back of the vessel. WiFi onboard is complimentary throughout.
Seven nights on the luxury 19-cabin MV Memories, dining al fresco and swimming in the crystalline Adriatic
Zagreb and Varaždin, Croatia’s new and old capitals, with their architectural gems and beautifully curated galleries
Outstanding Roman and Byzantine sites in the Mediterranean, including dazzling mosaics in Poreč and Diocletian’s opulent palace at Split
The gracious former Venetian enclaves of Rovinj, Zadar, Trogir and Korčula
UNESCO World Heritage-listed Dubrovnik, with its marble streets and elegant Romanesque churches
The spectacular Bay of Kotor, a limestone fjord in Montenegro, Croatia’s Orthodox southern neighbour
Days 1–3: Arrive Zagreb and explore the city. Day trip to Varaždin.
Days 4–6: Travel to Poreč (Istria) via Ljubljana in neighbouring Slovenia. Walking tours of the spectacular Byzantine mosaics at Euphrasian Basilca and the Roman amphitheatre at Pula.
Day 7: Travel via Rovinj to the Austro-Hungarian resort town of Opatija. Board the MV Memories.
Days 8-14: Cruise along the Dalmatian Riviera, stopping at Pag, Zadar, Šibenik, Split, Korčula and Dubrovnik.
Days 15–16: Disembark MV Memories. Excursion to Kotor (Montenegro). In Dubrovnik, explore its marble-lined streets and charming back alleys.
The tour begins in our hotel in Zagreb and ends in our hotel in Dubrovnik. Qatar, Emirates, Lufthansa and Qantas all offer suitable connections into Zagreb and out of Dubrovnik from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Sunday 20 September: Arrive Zagreb
Our hotel is located on the edge of Zagreb’s so-called “Green Horseshoe”, an elegant 19th-century belt of parks, gardens and museums. The tour commences at the hotel at 6.00pm, where we enjoy a light welcome meal together in the evening. Overnight Zagreb (D)
Monday 21 September: Historic Zagreb
We begin our exploration of Zagreb with a walking tour of Gradec and Kaptol, the twin medieval townlets that today make up Zagreb’s Old Town. Highlights include Kaptol’s imposing neo-Gothic Cathedral of the Assumption, the impressive, classically pedimented former Habsburgs’ Viceroy’s Palace in Gradec, and the iconic 13th-century Church of St Mark with its distinctive polychromatic roof. We conclude the morning’s touring with a visit to the sumptuous, 17th-century baroque Church of St Catherine, with exquisite stucco reliefs by Quadrio, Jelovsek and Robba. After lunch at one of Zagreb’s fine restaurants, we continue our tour of Zagreb’s cultural heritage by coach with a visit to the acclaimed Mirogoj Cemetery, whose ivy-covered, neo-Renaissance arcades are part of what is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe. Overnight Zagreb (B, L)
Tuesday 22 September: Varazdin & The Northern Wine Country
We travel this morning by coach for an excursion to the Northern Counties, a heavily fortified area that was the first part of Croatia to be reconquered from the Ottomans after their 1526 invasion. After exploring the provincial capital of Varaždin, with its Renaissance-era castle and fine ensemble of elegant aristocratic mansions and baroque churches, we enjoy a traditional lunch at a winery in the rolling vine-covered hills of Croatia’s northern wine country, renowned for its Austrian-style whites. We return to Zagreb in the early afternoon and conclude the day by discovering the work of modern Croatian sculpture master, Ivan Mestrovic, in the beautiful 17th-century town house that was Mestrovic’s home from 1922 until 1942. Overnight Zagreb (B, L)
Wednesday 23 September: Exploring Ljubljana
Leaving Zagreb by coach, we follow the valley of the Sava River north to Ljubljana, the orderly, neo-classical capital of neighbouring Slovenia. After breaking for lunch and a stroll among Ljubljana’s fine collection of squares and bridges, we travel back across the border into Croatia’s Istria region, often dubbed “Croatia’s Tuscany” on account of its heavy Italian influence. Stopping en route to explore the evocative hilltop town of Buje, we arrive in the afternoon at our destination of Poreč. Situated on an island across the harbour from Poreč’s Old Town, our hotel offers lovely views and waterside amenities. Dinner is at your own leisure, buffet-style, in the hotel restaurant. Overnight Poreč (B, D)
Thursday 24 September: Porec
Historically, Istria has had a sizeable Italian-speaking population and like all towns in the region, Poreč (Italian Parenzo) has two names and a long history of Roman, Byzantine and Venetian rule and settlement. After being sacked by the Goths in the 5th century, Poreč was reconquered by Justinian for the Eastern Empire in AD 539. The Euphrasian Basilica complex – Poreč’s most spectacular site and one of the most complete ensembles of early Byzantine mosaic art anywhere in existence – dates from this period, when Istria was ruled from Constantinople. We spend the morning investigating the basilica complex, a window on the lost world of Byzantium, before exploring the rest of the old town and archaeological museum on foot. Even today, Poreč’s essentially Roman street plan remains little changed. The afternoon is at leisure. Dinner is at your own leisure, buffet-style, in the hotel restaurant. Overnight Poreč (B, D)
Friday 25 September: Pula
60km south of Poreč lies the old Roman colony of Pietas Julia – modern Pula (Pola) – and home today to one of the largest amphitheatres to survive from the Roman Empire. Built by the Emperor Vespasian in AD 79, it could seat 23,000 spectators. Today, the remarkably well-preserved structure is an evocative venue for summer concerts. After visiting the amphitheatre, we continue to trace Istria’s Roman history with a walking tour of Pula’s other classical sites, from the Temple of Romae and Augustus to the Arch of the Sergii and Gate of Hercules. In more recent times, Pula served as a base for the Austro-Hungarian navy and, beyond the historical centre, the modern city retains the gritty character of a working port. After lunch in the rolling hill country of Pula’s hinterland, we return to Poreč. Dinner is at your own leisure, buffet-style, in the hotel restaurant. Overnight Poreč (B, L, D)
Saturday 26 September: Opatije – Embarkation
The beautiful island-peninsula town of Rovinj (Rovigno) is today one of the major centres of Istria’s remaining Italian-speaking population. Departing Poreč this morning, we stop here to admire its remarkably well-preserved ensemble of Venetian Gothic and baroque buildings. We then cross the heart of Istria to Opatije, an old Austro-Hungarian resort town on the steep slopes of jagged Kvarner Bay, where we embark the MV Memories for a private, seven-night cruise of the Dalmatian coast and islands. Dinner is aboard the MV Memories. Overnight MV Memories (B, D)
Sunday 27 September: Pag
Negotiating the islands of Krk, Cres, and Rab, we spend the day cruising towards the barren, windswept island of Pag – a finger of land running parallel to the equally desolate coastline of northern Dalmatia. A land of scrub, olives and sheep-raising, Pag is famous for its distinctive sheep’s cheese and the intricate designs of its hand-made lace. After enjoying lunch onboard, we spend the evening in Pag Town, a Venetian settlement that prospered on the industry of the local salt pans. Dinner is at leisure in port. Overnight MV Memories (B, L)
Monday 28 September: Zadar
Raising anchor just before breakfast, we arrive after lunch on board at Zadar, an elegant town that for centuries was the capital of Venice’s Dalmatian holdings and its main fleet base in these waters. Surrounded by massive walls constructed to repel the Turks, Zadar retains a charming historic core. We visit its interesting historical buildings, including the 9th-century Byzantine Church of St Donat, the magnificent Romanesque Cathedral of St Anastasia, and the great Venetian Renaissance Land and Sea Gates. Designed by Croatian architect Nikola Basic, the modern Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun provides a natural, wave- and solar-powered “sound and light” show on Zadar harbour. Dinner is at leisure in port. Overnight MV Memories (B, L)
Tuesday 29 September: Šibenik
Today’s cruising takes us through the spectacular, crystalline waters of the Kornati Islands, a mesmerising archipelago of over a 100 limestone islands, islets and reefs, sprinkled with the remains of Roman villas and medieval fortresses that form a stunning national park. After lunch onboard, our destination is Šibenik, which, as one of the liveliest cultural centres of former Venetian Dalmatia, presents a superb array of Venetian Renaissance architecture. We visit the barrel-roofed Cathedral of St James and view the graceful, balustraded Old Loggia that was once the seat of the town council. Dinner is at leisure in port. Overnight MV Memories (B, L)
Wednesday 30 September: Split
After a day’s cruising with lunch onboard, we berth this afternoon in Split, a bustling port that is at once the unofficial capital of modern Dalmatia and the site of one of the great surviving monuments of ancient Rome. On arrival we travel by coach to the nearby Roman town of Salona, which is today an impressive archaeological site. On our return to Split we tour the fabulous marble-clad Palace of Diocletian. Built at the end of the 3rd century AD, it the only residence of any Roman emperor to survive relatively intact into modern times. In the middle ages the palace was converted into a fortress and colonised as a ready-made, walled town for the inhabitants of nearby Salona when the latter was razed by barbarians in the 6th century. Dinner is at leisure in port, with fashionable shops and restaurants lining the elegant waterside. Overnight MV Memories (B, L)
Thursday 1 October: Korcula
South of Split, the Dinaric Alps come almost all the way down to the Adriatic. Hugging the mountainous coast, we cruise to the peaceful island of Korčula, cloaked in a patchwork of pine, oak and cypress forests, vineyards and olive groves. Lunch is served onboard. Originally settled by the ancient Greeks, Korčula Town was in turn Roman and then Venetian, and has been dubbed a miniature Dubrovnik. We explore its lovely backstreets, splendidly preserved 13th-century walls, towers and Venetian Gothic churches. Dinner is at leisure in port. Overnight MV Memories (B, L)
Friday 2 October: Dubrovnik
Passing the thickly forested island of Mljet and the small coastal archipelago of the Elaphite Islands, we head for the fabled port of Dubrovnik, the “Jewel of the Adriatic”. For centuries a self-governing city state known as the Republic of Ragusa, Dubrovnik grew rich on the maritime trade of the lower Adriatic, defending itself from Venetians and Turks alike through the construction of the massive towers and curtain walls that still ring the city today. After enjoying lunch onboard, we arrive mid-afternoon, and make a preliminary exploration of this wonderful, but popular, destination. The Captain will host dinner onboard the ship this evening. Overnight MV Memories (B, L, D)
Saturday 3 October: Disembark – Kotor
Bidding farewell to the MV Memories, we transfer to our hotel, a historic, 19th-century building just outside the walled Old Town before embarking by coach for a cross-border excursion to Orthodox Montenegro. After stopping at the waterside village of Perast, with its mansions and island churches, we continue to the old Venetian fortress town of Kotor, evocatively situated on a deep limestone fjord at the foot of the all-dominating Mt Lovcen. We explore the tangle of medieval streets with their mix of Catholic and Orthodox churches. If you’re feeling energetic, you can climb to the top of Kotor’s hillside fortifications for a spectacular view of the town and fjord. The evening is at leisure. Overnight Dubrovnik (B)
Sunday 4 October: Explore The Old Town
We devote this day to Dubrovnik. The city’s splendid, marble-paved Stradun, its fine baroque churches and seductive warren of backstreets reflect the wealth of its heyday when Dubrovnik was a city state in its own right and a major Adriatic trading power. We spend the day exploring the city indepth, including the Fountain of Onofrio, Rector’s Palace, Church of St Blaise and the medieval Franciscan and Dominican Monasteries. This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Dubrovnik (B, D)
Monday 5 October: Departure
The tour concludes after breakfast at the hotel. (B)
Dr Matthew Dal Santo
A writer, historian and foreign affairs commentator, with Honours degrees from both Sydney and Cambridge Universities.
Dr Matthew Dal Santo is a writer, historian and foreign affairs commentator who currently resides in Copenhagen, Denmark. Born in Sydney, Matthew lived most of the past fifteen years in Europe. The current focus of his interest is Russia. From 2014 to 2017, Matthew was Danish Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen, with a grant to study how Russians think of themselves in the light of their history 25 years after the collapse of Communism and 100 since the 1917 revolution. He is particularly interested in how the revival of Orthodoxy has encouraged the return of the age-old idea of ‘Holy Rus’ as well as rehabilitation of the culture and achievements of Imperial Russia, as for example in the canonisation in 2000 of the last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family as saints. Matthew has travelled extensively in the Russian-speaking world, from Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus to Siberia and the Russian Far East. He is currently writing a book called The Romanovs and the Redemption of Putin’s Russia: Remaking Holy Rus. Before returning to academic work, Matthew was briefly a policy officer with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Matthew has a PhD in Ecclesiastical History from the University of Cambridge, where from 2005 to 2008 he held the Lightfoot Scholarship. In 2007 he was elected Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge’s leading college, and was appointed Associate Lecturer in the award-winning Faculty of History. Matthew also has an MPhil from Cambridge and a BA (Hons I) from the University of Sydney, where he won the University Medal in 2004.
In addition to English, Matthew speaks Danish, French, Italian and Russian.
We asked Matthew, what motivates him to lead a tour to Russia?
“I lead Academy Travel’s annual Russia tour. This is something I really enjoy. My aim with the tour is not only to provide people the opportunity to visit Russia’s famous historical sights and great collections of art in St Petersburg and Moscow, but also a chance to engage first-hand with the way the identity and world view of this most perplexing of countries has been transformed in the two and half decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union. My lectures take a close look at Russian history and politics, with the aim of showing how ‘Putin’s Russia’ (so-called) is still grappling with processes set in motion hundreds of years ago, often in ways that have a deep effect on Russia’s often difficult relations with the West.
Coming from a long line of teachers, I also find the training and development tours that I lead for the NSW History Teachers’ Association a great source of pleasure and inspiration. Of course, Russia is a very big country and my view is that too few people ever get to its vast reaches east of the Urals. In the future I would like to offer a tour of Siberia from beautiful Lake Baikal to Russia’s eastern capital and gateway to Japan and China, Vladivostok. I also have a budding interest in the naturally spectacular and culturally rich Caucasus…”
Hotels have been carefully selected for comfort and location.
Zagreb, Hotel Esplanade (3 nights)
The Hotel Esplanade, Zagreb, is housed in an imposing, historic building from the Austro-Hungarian period, in Zabreb’s gracious “Green Horseshoe” district. www.esplanade.hr/
Poreč, Valamar Isabella Island Resort (3 nights)
The Valamar Isabella Island Resort is a modern, resort-style hotel, located on a small island in the bay opposite Poreč, with a swimming pool, beach area and wonderful views across the water to the Old Port. www.valamar.com/en/
At Sea, MV Memories (7 nights)
The MV Memories is a brand-new vessel with 19 luxury cabins, including both upper deck cabins with a private balcony and lower deck cabins with porthole windows. Onboard, WiFi is complimentary throughout. unforgettablecroatia.com/
Dubrovnik, Hilton Imperial (2 nights)
The Hilton Imperial boasts stunning views of Dubrovnik’s magnificent walls and the Adriatic Sea. Situated on the very doorstep of the Old Town, the hotel is set in a 19th-century historic building and features an indoor swimming pool. www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/croatia/
What is included in the tour price?
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price?
Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.