After arriving at Zagreb Airport, meet your driver in the arrivals hall for your private transfer to your hotel. After checking in, the remainder of the day is free for relaxing or exploring on your own. Zagreb is made for strolling. Wander through the Upper Town's red-roof and cobblestone glory, peppered with church spires. Then duck into one of their many cafes before reaching the Bohemian Lower Town, lined with secessionist, neo-baroque and art deco buildings. Dinner will be on your own this evening, and your hotel will be able to offer some suggestions.
After breakfast meet your guide at the appointed location for a tour of Croatia's capital city. Along the way, you guide will provide interesting tidbits, such as how the city got its name, and pointing out the fascinating mixture of classic Austro-Hungarian architecture with the gritty, former socialist structures. First you'll explore the fortified Upper Town, passing by Kamenita Vrata (Stone Gates), and the tower of Lotrščak, whose cannon is fired every day at noon. Marvel at the multi-colored roof of St. Mark's Church, the Cathedral, Croatian National Theater and the University, before enjoying lunch in a popular restaurant. Afterwards, in an exclusive wine tasting, enjoy a vicarious journey through Croatian wine regions, as you sip their signature reds and whites. You'll learn that Zinfandel is identical to their Tribidrag grape, creating Croatia's most popular red wine, Plavac Mali.
Spend the remainder of the day discovering Zagreb on your own. The city offers unusual museums, including the Museum of Broken Relationships and Croatia's Museum of Naïve Art (a form that was highly fashionable in the 1960s and '70s).
(Breakfast, Lunch & Accommodations, Zagreb)
After breakfast, meet your guide as you head into the countryside. As the dreamy vistas of vineyards and rural landscapes replace the image of the bustling city, you'll reach Varaždin, which was Croatia's original capital. Their baroque buildings have been scrupulously scrubbed and maintained, making it one of Europe's most intact baroque centers (after Prague). Perched on the banks of river Drava, it's renowned as the city of music, as well as its many Baroque palaces, secret courtyards, churches, and monasteries. Enjoy strolling through the old town, which is compact, pedestrian friendly, and a throw back in time to a fairy tale era. Less than an hour away, make your way to one of the most beautiful Croatian castles, Trakoščan, with a history dating back to the 14th century. The castle was restored in neo-Gothic style in the mid-19th century, and the castle grounds are landscaped into a romantic English-style park with exotic trees. Inside, step back in time by crossing a drawbridge, and marvel at antique furnishings, medieval weapons, stunning tapestries. There will be time allotted for lunch before returning to Zagreb.
This evening promises a feast of continental specialties prepared by one of Croatia's favorite chefs, and served in one of the acclaimed local restaurants. Here, you'll find Croatian traditional dishes, interpreted in an innovative way, made with the freshest seasonal and locally foraged ingredients.
(Breakfast, Dinner & Accommodations, Zagreb)
In the morning, your guide will escort you to Plitvice Lakes, Croatia's most popular national park. With its exceptional natural beauty, this area has always attracted nature lovers, and now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. You'll discover 16 cascading lakes, which overflow in a spectacular play of over 90 waterfalls. Your guide will explain the inspiring works of nature behind the beauty of Plitvice and you will have a chance to enjoy a panoramic boat and/or train rides. There will be time to explore on your own as well, before heading back to your hotel for your last evening in Zagreb.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Zagreb)
After a leisurely breakfast, meet your driver for your private transfer to Zagreb airport and on to your next Avanti Destination!