Afternoon arrival into Zagreb. Your driver will meet you outside of customs to transfer you to
the historic Hotel Esplanade, in the center of the city. The Esplanade was originally built by the
Orient Express Train Company for guests to overnight as they traveled between Western
Europe and Istanbul. After a careful restoration, the hotel is back to its original splendor but
with all modern day luxury amenities added. Staying here is a true treat and a journey back in
While it has only been the political capital of Croatia since 1991, Zagreb has long enjoyed the
influence of both the Eastern and Western culture. In medieval times, Zagreb consisted of two
separate towns, Kaptol, the religious center, and Gradec, the commercial hub. The river
Medvescak in-between the two towns was often the site of fierce battles between them.
Today, Gradec and Kaptol together form the Upper Town, or Gornji Grad, which forms the
historic Old Town of Zagreb. The Lower Town, or Donji Grad, on the plains is more chic and
contemporary. Don’t worry, your guide will help you understand all this and even assist with
This morning, your guide will take you to Gornji Grad (Upper Town) for your tour of the
historic heart of Zagreb. The best way to get around the Old Town is on foot, so wear your
most comfortable walking shoes. If you happen to be in Zagreb on a Saturday, you will find a
bustling market square – full of locals out shopping and socializing.
Begin your stroll with a visit to the Dolac, the open-air fruit and vegetable market in Old Town
and the Church of St. Mary and the towering spires of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the most
prominent landmark on the city’s skyline. As you approach the front of the church don’t miss
the ornate sculpted doorway. The Cathedral contains the tombs of the most important
personalities in the history of Croatia including Ivan Mestrovic, the famous Croatian sculptor.
While in the Old Town, don’t miss the historic stone city gates and the booming cannon of the
Lotrscak Tower! Before leaving the Upper town, stop by the 17th century church, dedicated to
Step inside the Mimara Museum’s extensive collection of art from around the world. Your
guide will help bring to life some of the extraordinary pieces of the collection. Objects on
display include an awe-inspiring collection of European artists, icons from Russia and the Middle
East, magnificent carpets from Turkey and Morocco and several other artifacts from places as
far reaching as India and South America.
At the end of the day, enjoy the charming ambience of the cobble-stoned streets of Lower
Town (Donji Grad) full of boutiques, cafes and bookshops. You might want to explore a bit
more on your own with a visit to the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships.
delve into Croatian art at the Croatian Museum of Naive Art.
Note: All services today are on foot. Please wear appropriate footwear.
Vander Urban Resort
This morning, depart with your private driver to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Upon arrival
in Ljubljana, your guide will meet you and will take you to explore the old mediaeval city with
its numerous historical monuments and a dominating old castle, and the world’s second oldest
philharmonic society where Gustav Mahler started his career!
Your tour will start off in front of the Baroque Town Hall building, the seat of the municipal
government with famous Robba Fountain next to it, and continue across the lively fruit,
vegetable and flower market designed by architect Joze Plecnik, past the Cathedral of St.
Nicholas. Cross the Dragon Bridge, an Art Nouveau masterpiece adorned with dragons, the
symbol of Ljubljana, and stroll alongside the Ljubljanica River to the centrally located Presernov
The remainder of your afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the convivial café atmosphere of
Note: If you would like a countryside base instead, the itinerary can easily be modified to base you in
the town of Bled, right on the shores of Lake Bled.
Vander Urban Resort
This morning, meet your driver and guide for a day trip to the charming towns of Bled and Bohinj. Once you arrive, we suggest a morning stroll to the picturesque Lake Bled and a boat ride to the baroque Church of Virgin Mary that stands on an island in the middle of the lake.
Next, your guide will take you to explore the beautiful Bled Castle. In 1004, the German Emperor Henrik II gave the Bled estate to Bishop Albuin of Brixen as a gift. The building was expanded and fortified since then and today there are several buildings that make up the castle complex. The most interesting of them is certainly the chapel on the upper courtyard, which was consecrated to the Bishops St. Albuin and to St. Ingenium. It was built in the 16th century, and was renovated in the Baroque style around 1700, when it was also painted with illusionist frescoes. Today the castle is preserved as a museum, where you will be able to see various exhibits depicting the history of the region.
Proceed to the beautiful Bohinj region that is divided into the Upper and Lower Bohinj Valley. There are twenty-four typical Alpine villages in these two valleys. In the Upper Valley by the lake, visit the gothic St. John the Baptist Church with well-preserved frescoes from the 15th and the 16th centuries. The journey continues with a cable car ride to mountain Vogel (5000 feet), from where there is a wonderful view of the Lake Bohinj and the Julian Alps. Return to Bled through the scenic Lower Valley.
This morning, your driver will meet you for your journey west from Ljubljana into the Istrian
Peninsula. You will arrive into the beautiful coastal city of Rovinj and the remainder of your day
is at leisure.
The facilities of your hotel include a wonderful spa and a gorgeous pool. We suggest that you
stretch your legs with a bicycle ride through the countryside, as the adjacent park offers bicycle
rentals and the views are stunning.
This morning, your driver and guide will meet you to explore the Istrian peninsula. Today you
will drive down the western Istrian coast along the Adriatic Sea to Pula, at the southernmost tip
of the Peninsula.
Pula is a story of fortunes gained and lost. It gained fame under the Romans during the 2nd
century BCE, and became an Episcopal seat of power during the 5th century. It was sacked by
the Ostrogoths but regained power under the Byzantines as a naval port during the 6th and 7th
centuries. It fell into decline until the AustroHungarians gained power and established their
naval fleet here. The ancient barracks of the Austro-Hungarian Empire still house Croatia’s
Upon arrival, your guide will take you on a walking tour of Pula. You will start at the historic
center of the city at its most famous landmark, the Pula Amphitheater, which dates back to the
1st century – one of the bestpreserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. Today it is Pula’s
main cultural venue and is known for its music and film festivals.
Continue to visit the Golden Door at the Temple of Augustus, built between 2 BCE and 14 CE,
which is dedicated to the goddess Roma and the emperor Augustus. You will also see the City
Hall with its blend of architectural styles, the Hercules Gate and the fragments of the city walls,
as well as the Forum, the central square of classical and medieval Pula.
As time allows, you may wish to enter the Archaeological Museum of Istria, which contains
several exhibits from Neolithic times to the medieval period of objects found in Pula and the
The interior of Istria is very different from its coast. Your first visit today will be the artist
colony of Groznjan. This hilltop town was all but deserted after WWII until being revitalized as
a center for artists. Groznjan is also a favorite of musicians, as the International Cultural
Centre of Young Musicians has its seat here. You will have time to wander the twisting streets,
filled with shops from local artisans, or perhaps to take in an impromptu music or drama
performance in the main square.
Riding through the rugged and hilly terrain you will come to the medieval ruins of the town of
Motovun, which suddenly springs into view. Motovun is an excellent example of the ancient
townships that dotted the Istrian peninsula long ago. We think it’s worth the long trek up to
the top of the hill, so eat a hearty breakfast! Motovun is a medieval city that dates back to the
12th century, which thankfully remained intact owing to its hilltop location and walled
Later your guide will take you to Livade, the small village in the Istrian countryside famous for
being one of the best-known truffle regions in Europe! White Istrian truffles are among of the
most expensive mushrooms in the world, and truffle harvesting is a local tradition. We highly
recommend stopping for a truffle lunch here; make room in your luggage for truffle oil to take
Exeter International Extraordinary Experience
This afternoon you will be invited to a private wine and olive oil tasting at one of the private
family vineyards in Istria.
This morning, depart on a three and a half-hour journey with your driver to Plitvice Lakes, one
of the most unspoiled natural parks in Europe and UNESCO World Heritage site. Within the
national park lie sixteen breathtaking lakes, interconnected by a series of waterfalls, over an
area of 70,000 acres, whilst the lakes join together over a distance of five miles.
A local park guide will meet you for a tour of this highlight of Croatia’s natural beauty.
After exploring Plitvice, return to Zagreb for your last overnight.
A sample itinerary for FIT touring in Northern Croatia, Istria and Slovenia
For 25 years, Exeter International has established itself as the leading deluxe specialist operator to Central and Eastern Europe, Russia & Central Asia. We use our intimate regional knowledge and expertise to create unique, often limited access travel experiences. Our multi-national, multi-lingual specialists craft authentic insider experiences, created with imagination. When you book with Exeter International you can expect the top guides in each city pre-reserved weeks in advance, matched to your preferences. Our specialists have also been recognized by the Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure top agent list since their inception.
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Reviews and Recommendations for Exeter International
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Reviewed on: 06 Jun 2013
Exeter International was staffed with first class personnel from the drivers to the EXTRAORDINARY guides through out the trip. The vehicles used to transport us were luxurious. The hotels were commensurate with the level of quality expected by the cost and located in the most advantageous sites. Totally organized and stress free experience.
Exeter was very well organised with very good guides and drivers. Our requests were responded to with professional speed. Some of our hotels could have been better. But we understand that they were the best available. We would have no hesitation using this agency again and recommending them to others.
Exeter provides luxury travel with all the hassles and worries removed.
The quality of their drivers and guides is first rate. From the minute you arrive until your final departure you are in excellent hands. The itinerary is well thought out and provides many special visitations not offered to other tourists. I have heartily recommended Exeter to several people without any reservation.
We have used Exeter on a prior trip and were equally happy with them this time. We did have a Russian Visa situation which could have been serious, but was resolved quickly.The guide spoke very good English and was knowledgable in history and art along with the local architecture. The driver was also very safe in a chaotic traffic system.
All of the services provided by Exeter were truly outstanding. The hotel accommodations were excellent. The guides were extremely knowledgeable and well organized. The drivers were prompt and courteous. The suggestions for restaurants and additional things to do and see were very good. The printed booklet of helpful hints and language support was a nice bit of support for travelers who are visiting countries for the first time.
Everything was perfectly planned and resulted in a wonderfully exciting trip with all of our interests and needs taken into account. going on such an adventurous and challenging trip, so far away when one is no longer young could have been quite difficult, but instead was nothing but a fabulous experience. Wonderful guides and wonderful experiences on the Trans-Siberian Express and the cities of the Russian Far East, and a lovely hotel at the end in Moscow.
Exeter provided all of our guides and support for a 9 day family trip to Russia - very well informed, personable guides and smooth transportation. We were a bit hesitant to go to Russia but highly recommend - the trip of a lifetime !
From the beginning to the end this organization really surprised me! From getting our travel visas for Moscow to every detail of the tour pick up transfers and tours through the city were perfectly executed
Exeter planned an excellent two week trip for me and my three teenagers. We went to Poland, Germany and Amsterdam. We focused on WWII and Cold War history. The plan was thoughtful and well paced. When I had questions Exeter staff responded promptly. A very good experience.
Our driver and guide could not have been better. Polite and accommodating for the three days we were in St. Petersburg. We saw a lot of attractions, got some behind the scenes tours and were able to access some sights prior to the general public. I would use Exeter again without hesitation!
I strongley reccomend Exeter for shore excursions. Their staff and vehicles were first class, and the value was tremendous. We never felt uncomfortable or worried about being back to the ship on time. True professionals.
Knowledgable, efficient and friendly tour operators!
Reviewed on: 17 Sep 2017
Fantastic tour service. Their guides and drivers were outstanding. Guides all had an excellent knowledge of the city and the history. We are very pleased that Ralph recommended Exeter. When comparing notes with others that had used the tours supplied by the ship, we learned that we had seen and accomplished much more than they had. Our guides were able to make special arrangements that others could not. Will always use Exeter when it is available
The tour guides and drivers were outstanding plus. They were very personable, always early, and their local knowledge was excellent. All of them were eager to please and all adapted to the changing crowd situation caused by weather, national holiday, or political meeting.
From getting visas for us to planning a private visit to Russia for us, Exeter International was top notch. No detail was overlooked. The guides that Exeter provided were outstanding, spoke fluent English, had a good grasp of Russian history and were willing to accommodate our every interest. The guides were truly experts about their cities: museums, palaces, and surroundings. In addition, the guides were friendly and helpful.
Exeter ran a well organized, well thought-out tour of Russia
for the two of us.
My experience with Exeter was positive. The drivers were on time and very courteous. There was water in the cars for us. They had information to offer as we drove to destinations. They were accommodating to our schedules and were very helpful if we had questions. We missed walking around the interior of a famous church due to the day the tour was scheduled. There were services going on and we could not enter.
Another tour was partly taken up by a long walking tour to get to a castle. I would have rather spent time inside the castle. We had to exit with the guide and missed a lot of interesting things. Too bad we were not allowed to stay inside on our own to see more.
We had a wonderful trip. Hotel was excellent. They were able to accommodate our special requests and schedule. We highly recommend the local guide, Anya, who was extremely knowledgeable about local and Russian history.
We had basically positive experiences both days we toured with Exeter guides.
The first day there was a little too much emphasis placed on taking us to "gift shops" and expecting us to buy tourist trinkets.
The heat and the crowds may have been easier to bare if we had gone to the Hermitage in the early morning instead of wasting 45-50 minutes in a trinket shop.
The second guide was very professional and led us seamlessly through Catherine's palace and the palaces on the canal in St. Petersburg.
Exeter was a joy to work with. Our drivers and tour guides were helpful, friendly, and very knowledgeable. I traveled with my 13-year-old daughter, and our tours were uniquely tailored to interest her. I had heard horror stories about obtaining Russian visas. Not for us! Exeter took care of everything, and quickly. I loved the custom packet that they sent me in advance of the trip. It listed our itinerary in detail, helpful phone numbers, restaurant recommendations, and travel tips that were specific for our destinations. I would enthusiastically recommend Exeter for travel planning.
Becky recommended Exeter International for my party of four. We all agreed after two full days of touring with our guide and driver that we would not have wanted to see St. Petersburg any other way. Our guide was excellent and very informed and we liked the driver too. We were able to avoid the long lines and were admitted to areas of the palaces that other visitors would never have the opportunity to see. We invited her to join us for lunch on both days whereby we learned even more about St. Petersburg.
Exeter (Jody Ricottone) coordinated my recent sole tour of Norway. This involved guides in three cities, hotels in those cities and in two fjordside locations, trains and ferry, rental car and other transfer arrangements. I was very pleased with everything, including that Jody paid close attention to what I wanted and was responsive to my requests. Her recommendations and examples of somewhat similar sole tours really assisted me in my planning. The entire trip went off without a scheduling hitch, and introduced me, as I had wished, to Norwegian sites and experiences I never would have seen or had without Jody's good work.
The guide and driver were both wonderful and full of knowledge and professionalism. I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone. They also had great suggestions for lunch venues, during our stay in and about St. Petersburg.
We engaged Exeter to provide a private tour in St Petersburg, Russia. Exeter was outstanding!! We had a guide, Anya Smirnova, and driver for 3 days and it was a fabulous experience. Anya spoke perfect English and was able to relate the sites we saw to Russian history and culture in a fascinating manner. We asked her many, many questions that she readily answered. Her knowledge was extensive. We had special entry to the exhibits, bypassing the long normal entry lines. We had the flexibility to see what was of interest to us, and the ability to visit sites that the ship tours did not include. For lunch we stopped at wonderful restaurants that served authentic Russian food at reasonable prices, which was far better food than on the ship. The day at Peterhof Palace, with the extravagant fountains and grotto, was especially memorable. Our experience with Exeter was outstanding and I would highly recommend them for future private tours.
Great Tour Group
Reviewed on: 07 Oct 2018
We had a four day touring experience with Exeter in Prague and both my wife and myself could not be happier. Peter, our driver met us for the transfer from our ship to Prague right on time and throughout our tour. He was extremely professional and made sure we were where we needed to be and was always pleasant. We felt very comfortable while being driven.
Lucie, our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable in all areas that we visited and made sure we got to see everything we were supposed to see and more. She worked things out while we were with her to ensure things went like clockwork and we were not disappointed. I can't say enough how using Exexter made our time in Prague a wonderful experience and I would not hesistate using them again.