A very diverse region of Europe, with no notable thread between these countries except that they are in the south(east)ern corner of Europe, and depending on the choice of definition, may be considered a part of the "Balkans".
Croatia & Slovenia, as part of the former Yugoslavia, along with Romania and Bulgaria, were formerly under the Soviet Union's sphere of influence. Greece was the exception.
The diversity is even more obvious in the landscape and experiences. Croatia and Greece has vast stretches of Mediterranean coastline, yet offers different interpretations shaped by geographical and historical influences. Slovenia is mostly associated with alpine mountains, green valleys and quaint towns whereas the main draw of vast Romania is the Carpathian Mountains with atmospheric medieval Transylvanian towns and cities.
The Former Yugoslavia
Among the bloc of countries which was the former Yugoslavia, Croatia, Montenegro & Slovenia are today the most prominent tourism destinations, offering a variety of contrasting experiences.
No less interesting are Serbia as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, packed with many interesting cities and towns, which we are happy to arrange personalized journeys for although they are currently not featured.
Croatia/Dalmatia: The Croatia Everyone Knows
Perhaps thanks to Game of Thrones, Split and Dubrovnik is essentially the Croatia in most people's minds. Both are fascinating in their own ways. Split draws on its Roman beginnings as Emperor Diocletian's retirement palace, whereas Dubrovnik is a story of an maritime republic independent of the dominant Venetians.
Beyond this two big names, and numerous small coastal cities and towns with their own historical flavors (Korcula, Trogir, Sibenik, Zadar and more), there are plenty of activities available: an Adriatic Sea cruise combined with island hopping, lovely wine tastings, oysters in Ston, nature walks & hikes in lush green forests or in karst mountains, lunar landscape in Pag Island, quad biking and more.
Croatia/Croatia: The "Original" Croatia
Few realize that what is today Croatia was once four fairly distinct regions - the Istrian peninsula in the north, Dalmatia stretching along the southern Adriatic coast, Croatia in the center and stretching inland, and Slavonia sandwiched between Hungary and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The historical Croatia region may not be the most exciting region, yet it has pleasant highlights including the country's capital, Zagreb and the somewhat unvisited Varaždin, a complete contrast to Dalmatia.
Croatia/Istria: Tuscany of Croatia
With numerous hilltop towns and villages from artsy Grozjnan to Motovun to tiny Hum and many more, it is little wonder the Istria region of Croatia is often likened to Tuscany. It doesn't help when this region also produces many great wines, olive oils, truffles and other tasty delights, often in such small quantities and thus not sold outside Istria.
The difference from Tuscany? Splendid historical centers by the sparkling Adriatic coast in Rovinj and Pula reminiscent of Split & Dubrovnik.
And while Istria is increasingly popular, it is still slightly less trodden than Dalmatia.
Those with time can attempt to cover Slovenia & Croatia in about two weeks, perhaps less if rushing through or simply break it into two different trips
For a week long journey, expect to start from SGD 3,200 per person based on two persons travelling privately with accommodation, tours/activities & transfers or car rental excluding meals & airfares.
Typically 4 or 5 nights is sufficient to cover the essentials, more days can be added if you wish to do long hikes, or consider extending into Croatia or northern Italy instead.
Mountains, Crowd-Pleasers & Slow Food
In the northwestern corner of Slovenia is the Julian Alps where hikers can choose from walks of varying challenge and duration in Triglav National Park, and where drivers can take on scenic mountain roads such as the Vršič Pass.
There are also the usual crowd-pleasers, the beautiful Ljubljana with typical European city charm, the immensely popular Lake Bled, Predjama Castle, as well as the UNESCO Heritage Site Škocjan Caves.
The Slow Food movement is also gaining traction in Slovenia, with many restaurants serving up exceptional local dishes from traditional recipes using local ingredients, often from a small family producers.
Definitely one of our non exotic countries, mention Greece and about everyone you know can rattle off Athens, romantic Santorini, maybe Mykonos and possibly the stunning rock monasteries of Meteora.
There is certainly merit in this classic well trodden path, but why not elevate your Greek journey with perhaps a less touristy island in the vast Aegean Sea as a contrast to busy Santorini, or add little twists to stand out from how everyone else does Greece?
Consider also a self-drive up to Meteora which allows for short detours to experience lake and mountains around Ioannina or to seek out mostly overlooked quaint villages in Pelion.
Or even venture up to Thessaloniki for a dose of Macedonian, Byzantine and Ottoman history and discover the modern vibe of Greece's second largest city.
Discovering Beyond - The Peloponnese
For those with more days to spare, or simply wish to revisit Greece, an excellent self-drive region is the Peloponnese. Packed with numerous fascinating archaeological sites like Sparta, Olympia and Mystras as well as charming stone cities and towns from romantic Nafplio to astounding Monemvasia.
From 8 days for the classic Athens, Meteora & Santorini circuit to as many days as you desire for the various extension options.
Sample programs coming soon, for now please contact us for more details.
Culture & History
Besides the capital, Bucharest, the most prominent landmarks of Romania are found in the Transylvania region. This was where Saxon settlers built fortified communities to protect the eastern borders of the Hungarian kingdom.
Most well known of them are Brasov, Sibiu and Sighişoara, with enchanting and colourful medieval centres. A self-drive journey will afford the convenience of dropping by one or more of villages with a fortified church, another of the Saxon legacy.
To appreciate the full tapestry of Romanian cultural heritage, venture beyond the Transylvania region - speak to us for more inspiration.
Raved as one of the most spectacular roads to drive on in the world, the Transfăgărășan is one of Romania's best known highlights.
Pretty much overlooked, but no less stunning, is the Transalpina, the highest paved road in the country. Fans of mountain roads can consider fitting in both for an epic Romania self-drive journey.
While the Communist past under the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu can be seen throughout the country, nowhere is this most evident than in Bucharest. This was where the megalomaniac Nicolae razed most of the historical city centre to build a modern Socialist city around the monumental Palace of Parliament, one of the world's largest buildings.
Romania's neighbor to the south, Bulgaria, can always be added to a Romania journey for a contrast. Bulgaria is characterized by many historical towns and cities - Sofia, the present capital, Plovdiv, an ancient city with influences from various conquerors, Ruse, an elegant city on the border with Romania, Veliko Tarnovo, a youthful university city with an ancient fortress and Sozopol, a bustling fishing village on the Black Sea.
About 09 days to tour the standard Bucharest and Transylvania route, or 10 days to include Transalpina, or more days as desired to visit other parts of Romania, or even Bulgaria.
For a 11 days journey, expect SGD 1,800-2,800 per person based on two persons travelling privately with accommodation, tours/activities & private driver/car rental excluding meals & airfares.