Background

While visiting Croatia, Anthony Bourdain defined the cuisine as the finest in the Mediterranean, with world-class food, cheese and wine, and hospitality of the Gods. During your time in this gourmet destination, you’ll eat in the places Anthony ate, learn the history behind the cuisine and wine, and get your hands dirty with various cooking and sommelier workshops.

You’ll explore Croatia’s diverse culinary regions form North to South, including continental Istria’s Konobas (countryside inns/pubs for food), the area’s heavier meat and pasta dishes, truffles, risottos, cheese, prosciutto and sausages; the Pelješac region and its beautiful, complex wines, and the Dalmatian coast; known for its fish and seafood, salty cheeses and grilled meats and lamb. Try the freshest oysters you´ll ever taste, visit a fig farm, and other unique culinary treats.

In between these hedonistic pleasures, you’ll enjoy cultural immersion, hiking, cycling and kayaking, to see Croatia from all angles and throughout the many parks, mountain ranges and vistas. 

This private guided trip is available in April-July 2018 and September-November 2018.

 

Day 1:

Arrival at Zagreb, capital of Croatia. In the evening you’ll put on an apron and participate in a hands-on culinary course with our professional chef instructors. Today’s menu will highlight specialties from the Zagreb area, accompanied by great locally-produced Chardonnay, among other wines.

Accommodation is a boutique hotel  - a modern haven in the heart of the lively metropolis Zagreb.

 

Meals: D (cooking class)

Transfer time: 1 Hour

Cooking class activity time: 3 hours

 

Day 2: Zagreb Gastro-Adventure; Hrvatsko Zagorje

Be prepared, because we have a big day of tasting and exploration. First you’ll have a gastro guided tour through Zagreb’s fish and food market led by one of Croatia’s most famous gastro-nomads. Next you can feast on freshly prepared snacks, right in the Dolac, one of Zagreb’s best-known farmer’s markets.

In the Zagorje region, just outside Zagreb, we’ll learn how to make “štrukli,” – a creamy, cheesy doughy treat, served across Hrvatsko Zagorje and Zagreb, followed by a wine tasting. We’ll work off all the wining and dining with a hike through the Zagorje hills’ beautiful valleys and vineyards. In the evening we’ll settle into our Zagorje guesthouse, and enjoy a traditional village meal. Our accommodation is in a renovated farmhouse on a stunning estate stretching over 12 hectares.

 

Zagreb Cuisine :The cuisine of Zagreb is a bit more complex with Viennese, Hungarian, Turkish and Balkan influences. Steaks and stews or grilled meats with eggplant relish are very popular, stuffed cabbage leaves and peppers, also pork or veal coated in breadcrumbs and stuffed with cheese and ham.

 štrukli - a dish of rolled dough, fresh cheese, eggs and cream, is considered a cultural icon.

Try the strudels, or Paprenjak (spiced biscuits) or yeast bread rolls with nuts or poppy, all washed down with Gvirc, a beverage of wine and honey.

 

Day 3: Gorski Kotar: Foraging in the Countryside

Croatians have been foraging their rich and fertile land for centuries. After breakfast today we will drive to the region of Gorski Kotar to meet a traditional forager who will give you hands-on foraging tips and techniques. You’ll spend a relaxing morning searching for wild edible plants like mushrooms, asparagus, capers, wild sorrel and herbs – whatever is in season. After a hearty lunch, featuring your foraged finds, you will have the chance to create a memory that will literally last a lifetime and benefit the local community. As part of the region’s reforestation project to recover areas damaged by forest fires and to increase environmental awareness, we’ll each plant a tree, a pine perhaps, and next time you visit Croatia you can check back to see how your tree is growing!

The rest of the day you’ll enjoy cycling through the area’s local villages, the best way to get to know the area, much of which has been proclaimed a special geo-morphological reserve. The two hour bike ride will take you from Brod na Kupi village to 'Vrajži prolaz' (Devil’s passage), 'Zeleni vir' (Green spring) and the cave 'Muževa hiša.’ The rest of the afternoon is yours to spend at leisure. In the evening our chef will demonstrate how to cook a local surprise specialty. 

 

Meals: B, L, D plus snack & wine tasting

Transfer time: 1 hour

Hiking: 2 hours (about 4 KM) 

 

Gorski Kotar Cuisine: The forests and mountains of the Gorski Kotar region and its cooler continental climate mean a cuisine predominantly of grains, meat and dairy products. Smoked meats and smoked meat products, game, roasts, braised and baked dishes are common. Hearty lamb, mutton or pork dishes accompanied with mushrooms, root vegetables and flavoured with aromatic herbs is traditional and a must try, as well as the tasty fermented cheeses. For desserts the apple strudels are well-known, and brandies of forest fruits or plums.

Meals: B, L (green lunch), D

Accommodation: Agrotourism - Farmstay

Transfer time: Total about 3 hours (About 2.5 hours to Gorski Kotar; 30 to 45 mins to accommodation)

Riding: 2 hours (on combination of dirt and asphalt trails)

Foraging and Cooking: 3 hours

 

Day 4: Trekking on Ucka; Off-Roading in “The New Tuscany”

After breakfast, enjoy a morning of free time either strolling the edge of Lake Bajer or doing whatever your heart desires!

Mid-morning we’ll depart for Nature Park Ucka, a scenic mountain range on the Istrian peninsula, where you will have beautiful views of the sea during your two-hour hike. After a well-earned lunch, the real adventure begins. We will explore Istria - deemed ‘The New Tuscany’ and its fertile plains, rolling hills topped with quaint villages and rugged seaside.

Istria is likened to Tuscany not just for its landscape, but for its wine, and during your off-roading tour you’ll visit one of many wineries for a special wine tasting. The conditions here are perfect for grape growing, including position, soil, climate and relief, each contributing to the excellent wine. Tonight, relax and dine in a local tavern in one of the many Istrian village homesteads! Our accommodation is in a converted hotel, perched on a hill in a typical Istrian village.

Istria (Brtonigla, Brijuni islands, Pula, Opatija) Cuisine:

Istrian cuisine is a mix of continental European and coastal Dalmatian cuisines. The handmade pasta dishes of Istria are famous, and the fertile grounds and mild climate is ideal for truffles. Try the Fuži handmade pasta in a truffle or venison sauce. In addition, the cheeses, Pršut (prosciutto) and sausages are all dishes you can try in Konobas, which are usually family-owned small taverns. For special occasions and large parties, it is not uncommon to see whole lamb roasting on spits. Istria has excellent fish and seafood as in Dalmatia: fish soups and stews, seafood risottos or shrimps and shellfish are prepared in the Buzara style - which includes white wine, olive oil, garlic and parsley.

For those with a sweet tooth, the fig and walnut cakes are delicious. Don’t miss the cakes and marmalades of wild forest fruits, often blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.

 

Meals: B, L, D

Transfer time: 2 hours to Nature Park Ucka

Hiking: 2 hours (on dirt trails; can be pebbly/stony)

Off-road tour on all-terrain vehicle (4WD): 3 hours (including 1 vineyard visit & wine tasting)

 

Day 5: Brtonigla, Exploring Veliki Brijun Island by bike; Opatija Cooking Class

After breakfast we’ll boat across the Istrian sea (20 minutes) to visit the beautiful archipelago of lush islands with a surprisingly diverse range of fauna, such as ox, deer and hare. The mild climate and the favourable geographical conditions, deep retracted bays and elevated fortifications, have secured a continuum in the human activity on the island from the pre-historic age until the present day.

You’ll have the option to explore the Park by bike or electric cars. Next we’ll head to Pula, on the mainland, for lunch at one of Croatia’s best restaurants, Batelina. After lunch you’ll have time to relax in, according to legend, a three-thousand year old town.

Next we’ll take a drive to Opatija where you can enjoy another cooking class in the chic Le Mandrac with a well-known chef in Croatia, this time focusing on Kvarner risotto and other wonderful local dishes.

Our accommodation tonight in a heritage hotel will delight you.

Meals: B, L, D (cooking class)

Transfer time: Total 3 hours (1.5 hours Brtonigla to Veliki Brijun (including boat); Veliki Brijun to Opatija 1.5 hours)

Riding: 2 to 3 hours, on a choice of asphalt trails (24 KM) or unpaved trails.

Cooking class: 3 hours (including dinner)

 

Day 6: Hiking National Park Paklenica

After breakfast you will drive towards Zadar. En route is the National Park of Paklenica, in the region of Starigrad, northern Dalmatia at the southern slopes of Velebit Mountain.

Velebit is the largest, though not the highest, mountain range in Croatia. Velebit begins in the northwest near Senj with the Vratnik mountain pass and ends 145 km to the southeast near the source of the Zrmanja River northwest of Knin. 

 

We will hike along the trail of Premužiceva staza which leads through the northern and middle parts of Velebit (about 2 hrs.) This trail's total length is 50km, and was built between 1930 and 1933 to connect northern and southern Velebit. We’ll enjoy a welcome lunch upon completion of the hike, and of course a snack along the way.

With a vigorous morning behind us, we’ll spend the afternoon at the Nin Saltworks Park to see how salt is produced in the traditional, natural way. We’ll also take a short visit to a fig plantation before arriving in Zadar.

We’ll celebrate the day’s accomplishments with a meal in a fine restaurant.

Our accommodation will be a boutique hotel in the historic centre of Zadar, which was built on the remains of the medieval fortress Kastela from the thirteenth century.

Meals: B, L, D

Transfer time: Total 3 to 4 hours (about 3 hours to Starigrad; 45 mins Starigrad to Zadar)

Hiking: 2 hours (Uphill, mostly dirt trails, can be pebbly/stony, a bit of asphalt trail)

 

Day 7: Zadar, Prosciutto Sampling, Maraschino and Fig Cake Feast, National Park Krka

In the morning we’ll sightsee through Zadar, a city monument surrounded by archaeological and monumental riches of ancient and medieval times. There are many contemporary architectural achievements here as well, such as the first sea organ - a structure which plays music by way of sea waves and tubes underneath a set of large marble steps. Your walking tour will end as all should, with maraschino and fig cake tastings!

Next you’ll head toward National Park Krka waterfalls, making a short break en route at the House of Dalmatian Prosciutto to enjoy brunch with prosciutto tastings, and of course, more wine.

At National Park Krka we’ll traverse the area by bike, seeing the travertine waterfalls of the Krka River close up. Later we’ll drive toward the small town of Skradin on the coast, with a 6000 year-old history.  In Skradin you’ll experience fishing for oysters straight from the sea.

Tonight’s meal will be in Skradin followed by a late evening transfer to Split.

Our exclusive accommodation in Split is a converted 19th-century stone house which was created by merging 3 palaces from the Roman, Gothic and Renaissance periods with the wall elements of the Diocletian Palace.

 

Meals: B, L, D, plus oyster and wine tastings

Transfer time: Total 2.5 hours (Zadar to Krka 1.5 hours; Krka to Skradin 30 mins; Skradin to Split 1 hour)

Walking: 2 hours in the city

Riding: 2 hours (mix of dirt trails and asphalt)

 

Day 8: Split Gastro Tour, Pelješac Wine and Oyster tastings, Dubrovnik

In case you have not enjoyed enough of the Mediterranean’s best food, today you will explore Split’s delicious side, beginning with a jaunt in the city’s abundant food market, which is a monument in and of itself. Everything that the Adriatic Sea has to offer can be found on the fish market’s white tables, from sardines to scarp to lobsters. (Fun fact: The natural sulfur smell from the springs nearby keeps the flies away.)

Split Riviera cuisine is defined by tasty white fish, cheese and prosciutto.

After the tour you will try cooking lunch alongside a local chef, using the market ingredients you purchased this morning.

In the afternoon we drive towards Dubrovnik, making a short but important stop on the Pelješac peninsula to sample the freshest and tastiest of oysters with some crisp, cold wine. Our arrival in Dubrovnik in the late afternoon allows us time to relax before dinner. We overnight in Dubrovnik in a boutique 5 star hotel with lush seafront gardens and breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea, Lokrum Island and Dubrovnik Old Town.

 

Dalmatia (Split, Zadar, Peljesac, Dubrovnik) Cuisine:

The simple and tasty Mediterranean cuisine of Dalmatia with its liberal use of olive oil, herbs and garlic is the favourite cuisine of many. Fresh fish, shellfish, molluscs and crustaceans are grilled, boiled or marinated. Brudet is a mouth-watering stew with different kinds of fish, one of which should traditionally be monkfish, frogfish or angler fish. Fresh oysters, octopus, calamari, mussels, clams and prawns are everywhere but perhaps the simplest dish is the best - just fresh fish grilled on an open fire with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil, some sea salt and a squeeze of lemon.

Besides the seafood, Dalmatian meat stew (Pašticada) with gnocchi is a festive favourite. Peka anything is great – this dish is usually lamb or octopus with potatoes and herbs cooked slowly for hours under a cast-iron bell (peka). Often dishes are flavoured with rosemary, laurel, thyme and sage. Šporki makaruli (meat and macaroni) or “dirty” macaroni is another classic dish of Dubrovnik, with a meaty sauce with onion, tomato and red wine.

Fruit and dried fruits, nuts, honey and eggs are all typical ingredients used in Dalmatian pastries and desserts. Try Rozata (caramel flan), Arancini (sugared orange rinds), spiced roasted almonds and Fritule (fried sweet pastries).

 

Meals: B, L (cooking class), D, plus oyster and wine tastings

Transfer time: Total 4 to 5 hours with break in Pelješac peninsula

Cooking class: 3 hours

 

Day 9: Dubrovnik, Konavle

This morning we'll head back on the water, this time by sea kayak along the Adriatic coast, beginning beneath fort Lovrjenac in the small port called Pile. Accompanied by instructors, we'll set off to explore the caves and jewells of Lokrum Island until we reach the hidden cave beach of Betina, where we'll break for snorkelling and snacks.

Upon our return, we’ll get acquainted with Dubrovnik from the seaside. After our kayaking excursion you will have free time, either to explore Dubrovnik's old town by foot or to relax on any of the many beaches.

This evening we will visit the small, picturesque villages of the Konavle region. Throughout the centuries the region of Konavle has managed to maintain a traditional rural style of living. The area is dotted with charming chapels, cloisters and summerhouses that once hosted the Dubrovnik´s high-class lairds. We’ll have a cooking class and dinner in the region.

Before heading back to Dubrovnik, we’ll pass through an oasis of vineyards and olive groves where we´ll stop for a bit of wine tasting.

 

Overnight in Dubrovnik.

Meals: B, Snack (sandwich), D

Transfer time: 1.5 hours

Kayaking: 3 hours in open sea

Cooking class: 3 hours

 

 

Day 10: Dubrovnik

After breakfast, transfer to the airport, complete with the kind of happiness only good food, wine and an amazing holiday in the sunshine can bring.

 

 

Included

Accommodation and meals:

9 nights´ amazing accommodation (twin share) inclusive with daily breakfast

Single or double accommodation upon request

Exclusive touring includes all meals, refreshments and water on the road, all activities and equipment, wine tastings, oyster tastings, cooking classes, and all admissions to venues as listed.

Equipment, logistics and personnel details:

Private transfers in a Mercedes Viano

 Bicycles and helmets/NP Krka

 Trekking sticks and head lamp if needed

 Sea kayak and paddle

 

Other items:

24 hour service hotline

 

Excluded

Tips, personal expenses, personal gear, international flights,

 All other alcoholic beverages not indicated in program, and refreshments not part of a set meal.

 

Hike, Bike & Eat in Croatia

Days:10
Luxury:Medium to high
Type of Tour:Private Guided Tour
Experience: Hike, Bike, gourmet food & wine
Challenge: Easy to moderate
Cost: from $6299 per person

Croatia Journeys