Itinerary Highlights
    • Journey from the lakes of Lombardy to the azure shores of the Adriatic in a family-friendly car
    • Stay in memorable accommodations everywhere you go, from palatial Venetian properties to luxurious beachside resorts
    • Enjoy unforgettable experiences along the way: bear hunting in the forest, boat rides on the lake and bike rides through the countryside

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Alpine lakes, dense forests, pristine wine lands, Mediterranean sea: beauty and adventure are the hallmarks of this 20-day road trip through Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. You’ll start your road trip in Italy, where scenic and cultural delights are never far away. Enjoy boat rides on Lake Orta and through the canals of Venice and tuck into an impeccable array of culinary specialties (and plenty of pizza and gelato for your younger travellers). Then it's onto Slovenia and Croatia, where each destination brings something new: dramatic gorges in Bled, ancient cave networks in Pivka, dinosaur footprints in Bale, water sports in Portoroz and bike rides (and vineyards for mum and dad) in Smartno.


Everything is 100% tailored to you


After spending some time packing for the three weeks of travelling to come, head to the airport, whizz through security and enjoy some nibbles and refreshments in the airport lounge before boarding your two-hour flight to Milan. On arrival, collect your family-friendly hire car and travel one hour to Pettenasco, a beautiful village on the eastern shore of Lake Orta. Settle in for two nights in an elegant hotel on the water’s edge. Spend the rest of this afternoon settling into your new environment before tucking into a hearty Italian meal at the hotel’s restaurant this evening.



After a fuelling breakfast overlooking the lake, it’s time to start exploring. The charm of Lake Orta lies not just in its luxuriant scenic delights, but also in its rich architectural heritage. From Piazza Motta in nearby Orta, you can catch a boat to the tiny island of San Giuli. Here, you can visit the Basilica of San Giulio, a first-rate Romanesque and Gothic monument. Inside, you'll find highly refined decor, featuring the chase of San Giuli, a fine collection of 14th to 16th-century frescoes and a 12th-century ambo (pulpit) adorned with powerful bas-reliefs. Back on the mainland, visit the Sacro Monte di Orta, a complex of 20 Franciscan chapels and UNESCO World Heritage site. Each chapel depicts an episode in the life of Saint Francis of Assisi through frescoes and statuary. The construction of the complex lasted from the 16th century to the 18th century and encapsulates architectural features from the Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque and Neoclassicism periods.



Today you’ll be swapping the lake for another of Italy’s watery wanders: the ‘floating city’ of Venice. The journey is around three-and-a-half hours and passes some beautiful towns and cities, including Milan, Lake Garda and Verona. On arrival in Venice, check in for two nights in a charming waterfront hotel in the Cannaregio neighbourhood. The rest of this afternoon is yours to spend getting your first taste of Venice. We recommend hopping onto a vaporetto (a classic waterbus) from the grand canal in Cannaregio and winding your way down to Saint Mark’s Square. Here, you can enjoy some central sites, including the Basilica, Doge's Palace, a coffee break in Cafe Florian (the oldest cafe in Venice), Gallerie dell’Accademia and the Bridge of Sighs. If you’re feeling a little peckish, continue on to the Rialto fish market to sample everything from anchovies and eels to latterini and sea cicadas. If you still have some steam left in the tank then you could also visit the Lido beach, the Pinault collection of contemporary art or the Punta della Dogana, or hop onto a gondola for a peaceful ride through the city’s network of canals. Head back to the hotel this evening to enjoy a delicious meal before heading up to bed for a good night’s rest.



After ticking off the main sights of the city yesterday, today you’ll have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Venice with a family walking tour to discover local crafts. In the company of a private local guide, you’ll visit a traditional squero (gondola building site) and a mask factory. There are fewer and fewer squeri these days, which makes them particularly precious. These gondola building sites are the custodians of traditional techniques and ensure the renewal and upkeep of the boats. Masks, as emblematic of Venice as the gondolas, have their own workshops too. You’ll have the opportunity to visit one and learn about the art of mask making. The rest of today is yours to spend discovering the charming nooks and crannies of Venice independently. Gelatos in hand, stroll along the canals, rest in the shady piazzas, step into crumbling courtyards and just get a little lost in the enchanting city. Today is also your last day in Italy, so make sure to sample any last delicacies you haven’t yet tried: sardines with onions, sultanas and pine nuts, spaghetti with squid ink, polenta or cod brandade.



The time has come to bid farewell to Italy and continue your European adventure in Slovenia. Your first destination in the lush alpine nation is the sweeping Triglav National Park, just south-west of Bled, a four-hour drive from Venice. Settle in for three nights in a traditional property surrounded by nature. Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing. The kiddos can enjoy some outdoor games, while you parents kick back in your elegant new digs. For dinner this evening, enjoy your first taste of Slovenian specialties with a sampling of some delicious dishes at the in-house restaurant.



For the next few days, you’ll be immersed in the wilderness. Triglav National Park is known for its flourishing landscapes: alpine meadows, high-altitude lakes, dramatic gorges and soaring peaks, all of which can be enjoyed by heading out on the park’s well-marked hiking trails. The forests are dominated by beech, while edelweiss, gentian and bluebells can be found growing at higher altitudes. In terms of fauna, keep your eyes peeled for chamois, capercaillie and griffon vultures. Today, you’ll be armed with an entrance ticket to Vintgar Gorge. Here, the River Radovna has carved out a narrow mile-long passage with limestone cliffs soaring high into the sky either side. You can walk through the gorge on wooden footbridges clinging to the rock. There is also the Sum Waterfall, where a powerful stream of water flows into an emerald pool of water. Both adults and children alike can enjoy a day of feeling like a true explorer in this mystical setting.



Lake Bled has become something of a Mecca among lovers of the great outdoors. Its lack of overtourism, its snow-capped peaks and its charming island (the only one in the country) all come together to create an enchanting alpine setting like no other. You can head onto the water on kayaks or traditional boats and head out to the 17th-century Baroque church that graces the lake’s tiny island. In town you can feast on local Slovenian delicacies. Kremsnita, in particular, is a must-try: a pastry base generously topped with whipped cream, thin puff pastry and icing sugar – the perfect sweet treat for the nippers after a busy day of outdoor adventures.



After a hearty breakfast this morning, jump back into your hire car and travel three hours to Sneznik Forest, near Pivka. Your home for the next two nights is a comfortable and cosy guesthouse on the edge of the forest. After settling in and freshening up, it’s time to get out exploring. You’ll have a ticket to the beautiful Postojna Cave Park, one of Slovenia’s natural wonders, located just six miles from Pivka. A small electric train takes you into the heart of the karst system. You then walk on foot through a collection of majestic chambers where stalactites and stalagmites create dramatic landscapes. You can also visit the nearby Predjama Castle, which was built directly into a huge cliffside between the 13th and 16th centuries. Head back to your hotel this evening to enjoy a delicious meal based on local produce, usually the game found in the forest.



Today you’ll be stepping into the boots of the adventurous family from the beloved children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt with a guided walk through the forest to catch a glimpse of the three great European predators: bears, wolves and lynx. Your guide is a talented forest ranger who knows exactly how to safely lure in these creatures by laying out some nibbles on the edge of a clearing and waiting for them to come. Other creatures roaming the wilderness include stags, does and grouses.

DAY 10


It’s time to (temporarily) say goodbye to Slovenia and hop across the border to the third and final country you’ll be visiting this trip: Croatia. Your first destination is the beautiful village of Bale, nestled in the heart of the Istrian countryside, a two-hour drive from Pivka. Settle in for four nights in a charming hotel in the centre of the village. Spend the rest of today settling into your new Croatian setting before tucking into a delicious meal this evening at the hotel’s restaurant.

DAYS 11 & 12


The next two days are yours to spend freely discovering the scenic delights of Bale and its surroundings. You’re in striking distance of the beautiful Istrian coastline, which means snorkelling, diving and canoeing are all on the agenda. It’s also well-worth visiting the nearby city of Rovinj, one of the most beautiful towns in Croatia. Closer to home, the surrounding countryside of Bale can be explored on bikes, horses or simply on foot. Any budding paleontologists in your brood will be happy to hear that the gigantic Histriasaurus dinosaur once roamed these lands. You can visit their fossils at the town’s local museum. For a dose of culture, Bale has plenty to offer. Its rim-shaped core clustered around the parish church is typical of regional settlements and there’s a small 15th-century Church of the Holy Spirit which has some beautifully preserved Gothic frescoes. Further afield are some other impressive sites, including the first-century amphitheatre in Pula and the Byzantine mosaics of the sixth-century Euphrasian basilica in Porec.

DAY 13


Today is your last day in Croatia and what better way to spend it than exploring one of Croatia’s most beautiful national parks: the Brijuni Islands? Head off this morning for Veliki Brijuni, the largest island in the archipelago, in the company of a friendly local guide. Here, you’ll hop onto a bike to start discovering the island. The park boasts beautiful Mediterranean vegetation, including cedars, bamboo and pyramidal yew. In terms of fauna, the islands’ Safari Park is home to a range of exotic species gifted by former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito during the Communist era, including elephants, mountain zebras, crescent cobes, moufflons, hares and chitals. You’ll also have the opportunity to see dinosaur footprints at paleontological sites and stop for swimming breaks at some peaceful coves.

DAY 14


After four days of Croatian fun, it’s time to head back to Slovenia. After a delicious breakfast at the hotel, bundle the family back into your hire car and drive to the beautiful coastal town of Portoroz, a one-hour drive away, where you’ll settle in for three nights in a comfortable contemporary hotel close to the seafront. The rest of today is yours to play with. You could head down to the beach to enjoy a swim before sunset or spend the afternoon enjoying the facilities offered at the hotel. When dinnertime comes around, head to the hotel’s restaurant to tuck into a hearty meal.

DAYS 15 & 16


The next two days are all about slowing down and enjoying your coastal surroundings. The beach is geared towards both fun and relaxation, with watersports galore to entertain your youngsters as well as sun loungers where you parents can spend hours getting lost in your holiday read. Other activities on the agenda include beach volleyball, bike rides and Nordic walking.

DAY 17


The time has come to leave the beach behind and head into the countryside. After a hearty breakfast at your hotel this morning, hop back into your hire car and drive one-and-half hours to Smartno. Your home for the next two nights is a classic property in the heart of the village. Spend the rest of today settling into the rhythm of the countryside: enjoy a stroll around town, sample some local delicacies and enjoy a delicious home-cooked dinner.

DAY 18


Make sure to fuel up at breakfast this morning as today you’ll be discovering the scenic and cultural delights of the region by bike. The Goriska de Brda wine region is a beautiful emerald landscape dotted with pretty villages. Vines cover much of the region, but there are also plenty of olive trees. Continue on to the village of Dobrovo, where you can taste local wines, tour a 17th-century castle and visit an exhibition of paintings by the famous Slovenian painter Zoran Music.

DAY 19


Today you’ll be heading back to Italy to enjoy one last day of la dolce vita before flying home. Your final destination on this epic European adventure is Bergamo, a charming city just northeast of Milan, a four-hour drive from Smartno. Check in for one night in an elegant hotel in the centre of town. After settling in and freshening up, head out to discover Bergamo. The historic sites in the city’s old town are a fine example of Renaissance military architecture. There is also the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which dates back to the 12th century and features some magnificent marquetry works attributed to Lorenzo Lotto, reminiscent of the paintings in the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice. Enjoy your final meal at a traditional restaurant in the heart of the city; make sure to order a polenta-based dish, as this is a Bergamo specialty.

DAY 20


After one last delicious Italian breakfast at your hotel this evening, drive one hour back to the airport in Milan. Drop off your hire car and enjoy a moment of peace and quiet in the airport lounge before hopping onto a two-hour flight back to the UK.

A Rough Idea of Price

Dependent on season, accommodation and activities
The estimated cost for this trip starts from £2,035 to £3,040 per person. The final cost of the trip depends on the way we tailor it especially for you. The final cost varies according to several factors, which include the level of service, length of trip and advance booking time. The exact price will be provided on your personalised quote. The average starting price for this trip is £2,605 per person.
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