How to Eat, Drink, and Find 'Game of Thrones’ in Croatia

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The port of Dubrovnik (with Bokar Fortress at bottom right).

Dispatch: Croatia

On the itinerary: Truffles, UNESCO treasures, and settings befitting a fantasy.

Kabola Winery and (below) the estate's muscat.

While Croatia remains a below-the-radar destination for many U.S. travelers, this eastern European gem and home to dozens of sites in the HBO series Game of Thrones is “a must-see that offers plenty of immersive experiences – especially for epicures,” says Patricia Shachat, a Virtuoso advisor from Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Here, Shachat shares insights garnered during her recent nine-day journey with Calvados Club Luxury Travel, one of Virtuoso’s on-site tour providers.
PALATE PLEASERS: Shachat raves about her tour of the food-centric Istria peninsula, which included a hunt for white truffles in the village of Livade and a private winetasting in Momjan, epicenter of Istria’s wine country. She recommends a visit to the Kabola Winery to sample its muscat, malvasia, and teran vintages. “The cellar is located underground,” Shachat explains, “and the wine undergoes a prolonged fermentation in amphorae [two-handled storage jars] – a process that goes back millennia.” Her trip also included opportunities to sample Croatia’s regional specialties, many of them seafood based, including “a memorable meal in Rovinj featuring a fusion of traditional and modern Mediterranean dishes.”
FEASTS FOR THE EYES: Ranking high on Shachat’s list of must-see attractions is the UNESCO-designated Plitvice Lakes National Park. “It comprises 16 distinctively colored lakes interconnected by a series of waterfalls and set in deep woodland populated with wildlife and rare bird species. Each turn brings yet another picture-perfect photo op.” Another favorite destination: the island of Hvar. It’s especially popular in summer, she says, “when the small harbor is dotted with celebrities’ yachts.” To get there, Shachat suggests flying via floatplane from Split (“my favorite port city in the country”), to take advantage of the spectacular views of the Croatian archipelago.
IF YOU ONLY HAVE A WEEK: Shachat recommends building your itinerary around Dubrovnik (Croatia’s best-known port), Hvar, Split, and Plitvice Lakes National Park. If time permits, add Istria and Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. Game of Thrones enthusiasts can visit settings featured in the series, including Dubrovnik’s Bokar Fortress (King’s Landing), nearby Trsteno Arboretum (the Red Keep’s gardens), and Split’s Diocletian’s Palace (site of many of Daenerys’ scenes).
WHEN AND HOW TO GO: April through June and September through October are ideal months to visit, Shachat notes. Advisors can work with Virtuoso’s local tour providers to create a tailor-made trip.
Dubrovnik Photo, above: Gunther Kirsch/Alamy