PEARLS OF THE ADRIATIC SEA: ROMANTIC VENICE, MEDIEVAL DUBROVNIK AND BEAUTIFUL BAY OF KOTOR; VENICE, DUBROVNIK, MONTENEGRO
Day 1 – Arrive Venice, Italy
There are direct flights to/from Venice, Italy from Europe’s International Hubs, such as Paris, London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. At the Venice Marco Polo Airport, there are efficient transfer services, including water taxi and the Alilaguna water bus. The Alilaguna water bus arrives at the Arsenale water bus stop, situated within 200 meters from our hotel. In the afternoon, we walk by the lagoon, relax at the nearby park, explore the architecture of the Piazza San Marco and dine at the Ristorante Quadri, serving traditional Italian and Venetian cuisine.
Day 2 – Venice, Italy
We walk few minutes by the lagoon to the central square of the Piazza San Marco. We visit the Basilica San Marco, a masterly designed Byzantine structure decorated with beautiful mosaics painted in gold. At the balcony of the basilica, we enjoy lovely views of the Piazza San Marco. A walk through the Piazza San Marco reveals the historic buildings of the Procuratie with beautiful arcades lined with shops and restaurants. We climb to the top of the Campanile, a watchtower offering the panoramic views of the city. Along the lagoon, the Palazzo Ducale is the historic official residence of the rulers of Venice. The palace’s Gothic architecture is defined by a three-storey white façade, an arcade with stone carvings and arched columns. We walk by the Piazza San Marco to the historic Gran Caffe Quadri to have lunch. In the afternoon, we take a Gondola ride along the Grand Canal and narrow waterways, enjoying the views of the historic palaces, grand mansions, elegant hotels and old bridges. We get lost in the city, strolling the narrow streets, visiting quaint shops before finding our way to dinner.
Day 3 – Venice, Italy
An excursion across the Grand Canal takes us to the laid back district of Dorsoduro, defined by its quaint architecture, art galleries, university residences and historic churches. We walk 20 minutes to the Ponte dell’Accademia, a bridge crossing over the Grand Canal and connecting the districts of San Marco and Dorsoduro. At the banks of the Grand Canal, the Gallerie dell’Accademia exhibits the collection of Venetian Art from the 14th to 18th centuries. The nearby Palazzo Venier dei Leoni serves as the Collezione Peggy Guggenheim museum with an impressive collection of modern artwork. At the tip of the island, we admire the Roman Catholic Church of Santa Maria Della Salute and the magnificent views of the city. We walk 25 minutes to the Campo Santa Margherita, we stop for lunch and continue exploring the city’s ancient architecture. We visit the historic Rialto Bridge, a beautiful bridge crossing over the Grand Canal. In the evening, we have a relaxing dinner at the wonderful Osteria alle Testiere Restaurant.
Day 4 – Venice, Italy Departure, Arrive Dubrovnik, Croatia
In the morning, we transfer to the Venice Marco Polo Airport and take the flight to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Upon arrival in the Dubrovnik Airport, we transfer to our hotel (a 30 minutes’ drive) and spend an afternoon in the Old Town. We walk 15 minutes to the Old Town and enter the walled city at the Ploče Gate. We pass the local artisans selling regional handcrafts and souvenirs. We stop at the Luža Square and explore the Rector’s Palace, a historic and political landmark. Nearby, we observe the Onofrio’s Little Fountain, the city’s historic water supply system. We visit the city’s religious landmarks, such as the Church of Saint Blaise and the 17th century Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. We walk on the Stradun, a primary street running through the Old Town, arriving to the Pile Gate and the nearby Onofrio’s Great Fountain. A stroll along the narrow alleyways and stone stairways reveals the city’s medieval architecture, quaint souvenir shops, pretty squares and plentiful restaurants and cafes. In the evening, we degust the regional cuisine in the Old Town.
Day 5 – Dubrovnik, Croatia
After breakfast, we walk 15 minutes to the walled city of Dubrovnik to explore its historic ramparts and fortresses. We visit the Minčeta Tower at the North wall where we admire the spectacular views of the Adriatic Sea and Dubrovnik’s terracotta rooftops. We walk atop the fortified walls to the Bokar Fortress, the historic defense system protecting the Pile Gate. We visit the St. John’s Fort and the picturesque Old Harbour to take a boat ride on the Adriatic Sea. After our excursion, we pause for lunch at a seafood restaurant. In the afternoon, we visit the Franciscan Monastery, designed in the Romanesque and Gothic styles. A walk in the courtyard and gardens reveals the monastery’s cloister, designed by the sculptor Mihoje Brajkov of Bar. We explore the old library and its collection of books and valuable manuscripts. We spend our evening in the Old Town, dining and appreciating its energy.
Day 6 – Dubrovnik, Croatia
After breakfast, we walk few minutes to the nearby Banje Beach, a beautiful white sand beach overlooking the Old City. We spend few hours swimming, sunbathing and lounging on the beach. We return to our hotel for lunch and enjoy delicious local seafood at the Beach Terrace. In the afternoon, we lounge at our hotel’s outdoor swimming pool and swim in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea. In the evening, we enjoy a romantic dinner at the terrace of La Caravelle Restaurant in our hotel.
Day 7 – Montenegro Cruise
In the morning, we take a day cruise from Dubrovnik to Montenegro, following the route along the Adriatic Sea and the Bay of Kotor. We stop at the village of Perast and at the small Island off the coast of Perast with the historic Abbey of Saint George. We depart Perast and arrive to the medieval town of Kotor with beautiful cobblestone streets, thousands year old red-roofed houses, pretty squares and historic fortifications. We explore the city’s ramparts and climb up to the Castle of San Giovanni, overlooking the Old Town and the Bay of Kotor. A maze of streets in the Old Town guides us to the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, a Roman Catholic Cathedral designed in the Romanesque style. We depart Kotor and head toward the Budva Riviera, the beautiful coastal town with white sand beaches and historic Old Town. We observe Budva’s Venetian style architecture and admire the panoramic views near the city walls. At the end of the day, we return to Dubrovnik, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the dimming lights reflected in the sea.
Day 8 – Dubrovnik, Croatia Departure
After breakfast, we transfer to the Dubrovnik Airport to take our international return flight.
Venice – In the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy is a symbol of glorious history, unique culture and sophisticated cuisine. Italy’s diverse topography offers visitors an immense selection of ancient towns and villages, scenic coastline, beautiful islands and picturesque countryside. In the northeast of Italy, Venice is a romantic city with narrow alleyways, quaint bridges stretching over the water canals, beautiful waterfront mansions and ancient churches. The Venetian Lagoon, a picturesque bay of the Adriatic Sea, is the scenic backdrop for this beautiful city. Venice and the Venetian Lagoon are recorded as the World Heritage Sites. The Piazza San Marco is an imposing square with architectural treasures. The Basilica San Marco is a magnificent cathedral designed in the Byzantine style, featuring a façade of columns, five domes and arched entrances. The Basilica’s interiors are decorated with beautiful mosaics in gold and multi-colored stone flooring. The vivid mosaics illustrate the Basilica’s history and emphasize the Biblical themes. On the balcony, the statues of bronze horses overlook the Piazza San Marco. Around the parameter of the square, the Procuratie are historic buildings that served as offices for San Marco’s Procurators. The buildings’ façade has beautiful arcades that house today a collection of shops and restaurants. At the corner of the square, the Campanile is a watchtower that offers panoramic city views. The extravagant Palazzo Ducale, also known as the Doge’s Palace, is the historic official residence of the rulers of Venice. Historically, Venice was ruled by Venetian merchants and their elected ruler, called the Doge. This waterfront palace displays a Gothic architecture, defined by a three storey white façade and arcade with stone carvings and arched columns. Visitors to the state apartments follow the steps of the Scala d’Oro, an impressive Golden Staircase. A walk along the Piazza San Marco guides us to the Gran Caffe Quadri, a historic café that retains its original charm and serves food, desserts and drinks. The Grand Canal, an important water-traffic route, flows along historic palaces, grand mansions, elegant hotels and old bridges, including the Rialto Bridge. The beautiful Rialto Bridge is an old bridge that crosses over the Grand Canal and connects the districts of San Marco and San Palo. The district of Dorsoduro offers laid back atmosphere with art galleries, palaces, university residences, churches and restaurants. At the southern part of the Grand Canal, the Ponte dell’Accademia connects San Marco and Dorsoduro. Inside the former Santa Maria della Carita church, the Gallerie dell’Accademia houses an amazing collection of Venetian Art from the 14th to the 18th centuries, including art by Giovanni Bellini, Titian and Veronese. Along the Grand Canal, the 18th century Palazzo Venier dei Leoni was the home of the American art collector Peggy Guggenheim. The Collezione Peggy Guggenheim museum houses an impressive collection of modern artwork. At the banks of the Grand Canal, we admire the Roman Catholic Church of Santa Maria Della Salute (Basilica of Saint Mary of Health) and the magnificent landscape of Venice. The church is located in the Punta della Dogana, the tip of the island where the Grand Canal and Giudecca Canal meet. The Campo Santa Margherita, an open square with a pastel colored architecture, outdoor restaurants and lively cafes, creates a relaxing setting for lunch. A visit to Venice is not complete without a romantic Gondola ride along the Grand Canal and the narrow waterways. We are seduced by the breathtaking views of the old city houses, quaint bridges, historic mansions, elegant palaces and majestic churches. Venice, city of walkways and waterways, epitomizes romance, glamour and culture at every corner. We love getting lost in the city, strolling the narrow streets and passing the colorful houses with decorative windowpanes, the charming courtyards and the lively restaurants with terraces, serving authentic Venetian cuisine.
Dubrovnik – Croatia, a country situated in southeastern Europe, borders Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Adriatic Sea. The eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea is Croatia’s historic region called the Dalmatian Coast. The beautiful coastline is defined by its karst topography, white sand beaches and over 1,000 islands and islets. At the southern part of Dalmatia lies Dubrovnik, a historic city with a majestic architecture and an intriguing culture. Dubrovnik, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, stands out with its awe-inspiring ramparts, terracotta rooftops, beautiful architecture and pretty cobblestone streets. Dubrovnik, a medieval old city, is encircled by fortified walls that served as a defense system against invaders. The Minčeta Tower, a historic round fort situated in the North wall, offers spectacular views of Dubrovnik. The Bokar Fortress is part of the western defense system, protecting the Pile Gate. The 14th century St. John’s Fort was designed to protect the Old City’s harbour. A walk atop the fortified walls offers panoramic views of the Old Town’s colorful terracotta rooftops, rocky coastline and the Adriatic Sea. Few entryways guide visitors to the Old Town, including the eastern entrance at the 16th century Ploče Gate and the western entrance at the Pile Gate. The ancient Ravelin Fortress was constructed as a detached fortification system, designed to protect the eastern part of the city at the Ploče Gate. An Old Town entryway through the Ploče Gate guides visitors to the Stradun, the main cobblestone street that runs along the ancient architecture, historic fountains, souvenir shops and cafés with terraces. Situated at the Luža Square, the Rector’s Palace is Dubrovnik’s historic and political landmark. This beautiful Gothic and Renaissance structure serves today as a museum and a cultural center. The Onofrio’s Little Fountain at the Luža Square and the Onofrio’s Great Fountain near the Pile Gate are historic symbols of Dubrovnik’s water supply system. The Old Town hosts few religious symbols, including the Church of Saint Blaise that was rebuilt in the Baroque style after an earthquake and the 17th century Baroque style Cathedral that contains an extensive collection of religious artifacts. The Franciscan Monastery, designed in Romanesque and Gothic style with an inner courtyard and gardens, is an architectural jewel of Dubrovnik’s Old Town. The monastery’s cloister, designed by the sculptor Mihoje Brajkov of Bar, is a beautiful example of the Romanesque style, defined by double pillared columns around the courtyard. The monastery hosts an ancient library that houses thousands of books, including many valuable manuscripts. The beauty of Dubrovnik’s Old Town is defined by its narrow alleyways, stone stairways, medieval architecture and preserved culture. The promenade along the Old Harbour shows a lovely scenery of fishing boats and tourist vessels offering excursions on the Adriatic Sea. A walk outside the city walls along the coast guides us to Banje Beach, a beautiful white sand beach overlooking the walled city. The Dalmatian Coast is a historic center, a beach-lovers’ preferred destination and an underwater paradise with vibrant coral reefs, natural caves and ship wrecks surrounded by a colorful marine life.
Montenegro – Previously part of Yugoslavia, Montenegro is a country in Southeastern Europe, situated on the Adriatic Sea in the Balkan Peninsula. It borders Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania. Montenegro has a mountainous terrain, a picturesque coastline, a medieval architecture and a fascinating culture. A Day Cruise from Dubrovnik to Montenegro follows a scenic route along the Adriatic Sea and the beautiful Bay of Kotor. Montenegro’s southwestern coast has high mountains and a sub-tropical climate, which makes it a very humid region. The Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska) is a winding bay surrounded by the Orjen massif and the Lovcen massif, offering incredible scenery of the mountains, steep cliffs, blue sea and coastal towns and villages. The village of Perast impresses us with its stone architecture, historic churches and picturesque shore lined with small traditional boats. The small Island of Saint George, situated on the natural island off the coast of Perast, hosts the historic Abbey of Saint George. Our journey from Perast continues along the Bay of Kotor and the karst mountain topography to the medieval town of Kotor, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Old Town of Kotor is situated along the Adriatic Sea, the Skurda River and the mountain peak of the Lovcen massif. Kotor is a charming city with cobblestone streets, thousands year old red-roofed houses, pretty squares and historic fortifications. Kotor’s fortification system, constructed by the Republic of Venice, includes the ramparts, the Kampana Tower and the Castle of San Giovanni. The climb to the Castle of San Giovanni offers panoramic views of the Old Town and the Bay of Kotor. A maze of streets in the Old Town guides us to the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, a Roman Catholic Cathedral designed in the Romanesque style. After visiting Kotor, we head toward the Budva Riviera, the beautiful coastal area with white sand beaches and a Mediterranean climate, a preferred destination for Montenegro’s wealthy residents. The town of Budva offers something for everyone, such as lovely beaches, historic Old Town, plentiful restaurants and an exciting nightlife. A Venetian style architecture permeates Budva’s Old Town. A walk along the walls surrounding the Old Town provides lovely views of the Adriatic Sea and a Sveti Stefan, a small islet hosting a luxury resort. Toward the end of the day, we depart to Dubrovnik, enjoying the sea views and the dimming lights.
Adriatic Sea – An arm of the Mediterranean Sea, the Adriatic Sea separates the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan Peninsula. It serves as a beautiful coastline for Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Italy’s Veneto Region, Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor enchant visitors with magnificent coastlines, defined by the blue Adriatic Sea, white sand beaches, cliff topography and vibrant coral reefs. The southern coast of Dalmatia includes over 1,000 islands and islets, creating a paradise destination for scuba divers. Steep cliffs and a crystal clear sea create the ideal conditions to explore the underwater flora and fauna, the natural caves and the hidden ship wrecks. A day cruise to Montenegro follows a picturesque route along the Adriatic Sea and the Bay of Kotor, offering unobstructed views of the karst mountains, peaceful beaches and medieval towns and sleepy villages. The Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean climate create an ideal natural place for lovers of nature, beaches and sea.
Razor Clams – The Italian cuisine is a colorful artwork, perfectly marrying all diverse ingredients. Admirers of Venice love the city’s magnificent architecture, fascinating culture and world renowned cuisine. In Italy, razor clams have a thin shell and are 10-15 centimeters in length. We sample the Venice Razor Clams served on the half shell and baked in butter with a bit of breadcrumbs. A sprinkle of parsley completes perfectly this simple dish. The Venetian cuisine perfects the art of simple cooking by choosing fresh and complementary ingredients, resulting in surprisingly decadent flavors.
Dalmatian Prosciutto – Croatia’s region of Dalmatia is celebrated for its pristine coastline, medieval architecture and regional cuisine, gifted by seafood and specialty meats. For centuries, the Roman Empire controlled Dalmatia, impacting its culture and cuisine. The Prosciutto di Parma, the famous consortium-branded product of Italy, is a specialty ham made from a pork leg by the dry-curing process. Influenced by Italian culinary techniques, the Dalmatian Prosciutto, called Pršut in Croatian Language, is made using its own natural curing process. Pršut is a regional specialty ham made from the pig’s hind legs, cured with sea salt, wind-dried and smoked. Pršut has a dark color, rich flavors, a mixture of soft and dry textures and distinct aromas. It is simply delicious.
Metropole Hotel – The Metropole Hotel is a charming boutique hotel, set along a scenic lagoon and draped by the labyrinth of narrow backstreets. This Venetian hotel is beautifully decorated with antique furniture, expressive paintings and colorful tapestry. Stepping outside the hotel, there is a view of San Gorgio Island and a lagoon side promenade guiding to the Piazza San Marco. Our selected suite has lovely lagoon views and is decorated with antiques and velvets. The classic style is preserved inside the spacious bathroom decorated with Italian marble and tiles. The Citrus Garden Restaurant serves a delicious breakfast in a Mediterranean style courtyard. The Metropole Hotel boasts an excellent location, within a walking distance to historic sites, picturesque bridges and canals, quaint alleyways and wonderful restaurants serving authentic Venetian cuisine.
Grand Villa Argentina Hotel – On the Dalmatian Coast lies the Grand Villa Argentina Hotel, an elegant seaside retreat. Steep cliffs along the Adriatic Sea, a pine forest mountain, terraced gardens and fruit trees encircle this lovely hotel. The Grand Villa Argentina Hotel, originally a private mansion, is designed in the Mediterranean style and includes a main building, private villas and a cliffside swimming pool overlooking the sea. Our selected higher floor Villa Argentina suites with sea view and balcony overlook the Adriatic Sea and the Lokrum Island. La Caravelle Restaurant serves a wonderful cuisine, including a delectable breakfast buffet, consisting of the regional Dalmatian prosciutto, fresh breads, Mediterranean figs and classic breakfast dishes. In the morning, the restaurant’s terrace becomes our preferred dining venue with magnificent views of Dubrovnik. The Beach Terrace serves regional seafood delicacies for lunch. The Grand Villa Argentina Hotel, at a 10 minutes walking to Old Town, is a classic European villa offering easy access to Dubrovnik’s Old Town and the Dalmatian Coast.