Days One and Two - Ljubljana, Slovenia
Known as 'Europe in Miniature', Slovenia may be tiny but nonetheless has a huge heart, and a wealth of diversity, and it's here, its capital, Ljubljana, that your food adventure begins. The country's landscapes - ranging from the soaring Julian Alps, which are reminiscent of Switzerland, to the enchanting Mediterranean charms of the radiating coastline - are as eclectic as the country's surprisingly complex cuisine, which - according to local ethnologists - is divided into 23 culinary regions. Although hearty, alpine stews, goulash and sauerkraut may be what Slovenia is best known for, you can also savour wonderful cakes and strudels, and discover a whole bundle of culinary treasures in the coastal Karst region, including teran wine, prsut (air-dried ham), and olive oils. On day one, you'll arrive into Ljublana and have time to explore or relax, before meeting your tour leader and fellow travellers at a welcome meeting at 6pm.
Your first taste of Slovene cuisine begins with a breakfast food tour on day two, during which you'll also get to know the fairy tale city of Ljublana, learning about the city's history and culture as you savour delicious pastries, cheeses, and charcuterie. As you browse through the Central Market, you'll learn about how important apples and especially honey are to Slovenia; with over 9,000 beekeepers in Slovenia, there's nothing funny about honey here! As your tour continues, you'll stop at the city centre Prešeren Square, dedicated to the Slovenian romantic poet, France Prešeren, and offering views of the Triple Bridge, Ljublana Castle, and a magnificent Franciscan church. In the afternoon, you'll take a bus to Bled, a picture-postcard town sitting pretty on the shores of Lake Bled, at the edge of the Julian Alps. Here, you'll enjoy a delicious cream cake called kremna rezina (or, as the locals call it, kremsnita), which is believed to have been invented in 1953 in the kitchens of Hotel Park, by Ištvan Lukačevič, chef of the hotel's confectionery store. Since 1953, the hotel's patisserie has baked over 10 million kremsnita, but try a slice for yourself to see what all the fuss is about! You'll return to Ljublana for an evening at leisure afterwards.
Included meals: Breakfast (day two)
Day Three - Piran, Slovenia, and Motovun, Croatia
Before leaving Slovenia behind, you'll head to the stunning coastal town of Piran, located near the borders of Italy and Croatia, in a region renowned for its excellent olive oils, wine (particularly the distinctive teran and refošk), and a cured ham called prsut, which is air-dried in the cold, dry wind - known as the bura - which sweeps down to the coast from inland. You'll enjoy a tour of Piran before heading to a nearby village, where you'll be welcomed into a local home and join the family for lunch and a wine-tasting. Everything you eat is grown and prepared on the property; it doesn't come much more local than that! Your next stop after your home-cooked lunch is the nearby salt pans, where salt is still manually harvested using traditional tools and a process which dates back over seven centuries. Afterwards, you'll leave Slovenia behind, and cross the border to neighbouring Croatia, heading for Motovun, which - taking its name from the Celtic word 'Montona', meaning 'town on the hill' - sits atop a cone-shaped hill, 277m above sea level, amidst the romantic Mirna River Valley.
Included meals: Breakfast and lunch
Day Four - Motovun, Croatia
Along with its reputation for sunshine, sand, scenery, cobblestone towns and World Heritage Sites, Croatia's recently been gaining more attention for its food and wine, with the region of Istria emerging as the country's culinary capital. Motovun is one of the region's best-preserved medieval towns, and it's also the best place for hunting the famous Istrian truffle, so you'll head today to the nearby village of Livade, which boasts the honour of being Istria's truffle capital. In Livade, you'll join an experienced truffle hunter and take a walk through the nearby woods, learning about this intriguing vocation, and maybe even sniff out a truffle of your own! Your truffle hunt will be followed with a tasting of regional specialities including, not least, truffles, olives and honey, before spending the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Motovun's winding cobbled lanes ooze medieval charm, with its well-preserved architecture, from churches and towers to the municipal, and it makes for delightful exploration.
Included meals: lunch
Day Five - Rovinj and Pula, Croatia
Your next destination is the romantic coastal town of Rovinj, one of the best-kept towns on the Adriatic Coast, beautifully combining an enchanting, architecturally-intact old town centre with a relaxed Mediterranean feel; it's easy to see how the town's character has enchanted many an artist or writer - including Jules Verne - throughout the centuries. You'll take an orientation walk through the old town, and there's some free time in Rovinj - so perhaps take a cruise on Lim Bay if you're a fan of oysters, or stop into an oyster farm and taste freshly shucked bivalves straight from the ocean, or enjoy a spectacular lunch in a celebrated local restaurant - before continuing on to Pula, enjoying a stop en route at one of Istria's celebrated boutique wineries to enjoy a tasting of the winemaker's signature drops, before arriving in Pula for an evening at leisure and an overnight stay.
Days Six and Seven - Zadar, Croatia
Leaving Pula behind, today's journey will take you to the walled city of Zadar along the Dalmatian coast. En route, you'll enjoy a visit to the spectacular UNESCO-listed Plitvice Lakes National Park, where you'll admire sixteen lakes inter-connected by a series of waterfalls set amidst picturesque woodland. Later you'll arrive in Zadar, once the capital of Dalmatia, and you can still see the city's rich cultural heritage, from the Roman-era Forum to the Venetian gates in the city walls, the 11th-century St Mary's Convent, which houses religious art dating back to the 8th century, and the grand, 12th century St Anastasia's Cathedral. There's also many culinary treasures to discover too, including fresh seafood, as well as sheep and goats reared for their meat and milk in the mountains to the north, and wonderful fresh produce from the surrounding land. But be sure to try Maraskino, the famous liqueur made from locally-grown maraschino cherries, once a favourite at European imperial and royal courts, and produced in Zadar since 1821.
On day seven, start the day with a stroll through the city's vibrant fish markets, which are built into the city ramparts at the spots where fishing trawlers land with their catch, and soak up some of Zadar's vibrant cafe culture, stopping into a cafe to enjoy some people watching before travelling by bus to nearby Pag island, a karst island home to sheep and a determined group of islanders. The island has been settled since pre-Roman times and at various times during its history has been at the mercy of the shifting fortunes of various Dalmatian rulers, whilst traces of its prosperous salt-mining past can still be found in the main town. Here you'll meet a producer of the island's renowned cheese, paski sir, an artisan cheese made from sheep's milk. The producer will tell you all about the production process, and you'll be able to enjoy a sample for yourself, before perhaps enjoying a swim in the shallow coves, later returning to Zadar for an afternoon at leisure.
Included meals: Breakfast (on day seven)
Days Eight and Nine - Split, Croatia
Your final destination is Split, and you'll take in vistas of vineyards, olive groves, steep cliffs, islands, bays and beaches along the way, before arriving in the historic and beautiful city of Split, famous for the remains of Diocletian's Palace, some of the most impressive ruins on the Mediterranean, which sprawls across over 200 buildings. On arrival in the city, you'll take an orientation walk around the town, before taking part in a cookery masterclass to learn how to prepare classic Dalmatian dishes, savouring the results during a final feast. Your tour concludes on the morning of day nine, and you're free to depart as you wish - although you can continue your food adventure through the Balkans by joining the Real Food Adventure Macedonia & Montenegro, which begins in Skopje, Macedonia.
Included meals: Breakfast and Dinner (on day eight)
Our travel specialists can help tailor this holiday to suit you, including a pre- or post-tour extension to relax or explore further
Various departures available
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*No single supplement - based on sharing accommodation with a member of the same sex. However if you require or prefer a room of your own, please note that a small surcharge will apply. A single supplement will apply on any accommodation booked for pre- or post-tour stay.