“They are group of enthusiastic and passionate professionals.”
Written by the people who have explored this stunning region with us, the selection of testimonials below highlights the places, the people and the feelings you are bound to experience on your journey. Honest and unrevised, they give you a clear idea of the personal efforts and virtue which go into crafting each individual itinerary and have over time become the trademark of travelling with Secret Dalmatia.
We’ve returned to Canada and are attempting to recover from the jet lag. We have wonderful memories of the program you put together for us. We really liked the hotels you put us into and the varied programming. We especially loved the day on the boat, the hiking and fabulous wine pairing lunch on Brac with Dom and the day touring the hilltop towns from Rovinj although the rest was also very enjoyable.
If we had to make one suggestion, the day we drove from Split to Plitvice Lakes to Rovinj was a long one, with over 6 hours of driving. Although the lakes were beautiful, it might have been better to shorten the drive by going straight to Rovinj and then doing a little touring or time on our own exploring Rovinj after we arrived. However, that’s not to say we didn’t enjoy that day – we did.
All of the guides and drivers were friendly, professional and enjoyable to spend time with.
As I told you on the phone, we really had a wonderful time with all you planned for us and we will highly recommend you to others.
Stephen and Shari
As promised, what follows is a more detailed description of what we thought of the various hotels, guides and tours. All in all, it was an amazing trip that you put together for us. I wrote this and Ellyn took a look at it, so I think it encompasses both of our views but she can add in anything I missed. (Rich also read it and concurs.)
Airport transfers and drivers during the trip – on time, nice people, nice clean cars.
Hotel Kompas – We were very happy with the hotel. The rooms were large, we had good service and it was a beautiful setting to watch the sunsets. We enjoyed our breakfasts outside as well as one dinner. The breakfast spread was huge with a lot of variety of Croatian and other dishes, pastries etc. I was concerned about the hotel not being in the city, but we were quite pleased with the location and so glad you recommended it. It was easy and quick to uber to the Old City for dinner, and we enjoyed the beautiful location. We are sorry that we were so busy that we didn’t have time to enjoy the pool or beach.
Old City Tour – Matija was an excellent and informative tour guide with a good sense of humor. We would highly recommend him to anyone – not just Jews, but it was especially interesting to learn about Croatian Jewish history from him.
Just a note on activities on our own. We loved walking the city walls in the late afternoon. Based on Matija’s recommendation, we did not take the tram for the view. Matija said that the lines were long – an hour to wait for a quick view and the view was nice from the walls. Instead he recommended that we visit Lokrum Island and we followed his advice. On a hot afternoon, wandering in the shaded trees among the peacocks and rabbits was delightful.
Korcula Island –
Korcula Tour – Lea our guide was excellent and informative. She told us so many interesting things about the architecture and history. We also loved that she had lived in Korcula all her life and could share so many stories and facts about the island and its residents, even introducing us to one of the first female stone masons. We recommend her highly. We all enjoyed our tour with her and she recommended a nice restaurant along the water.
Driver – Eddy – great guy, stopped when we wanted to stop, interesting information about Croatia etc. Having a good and interesting driver was important to our day because it was such a long drive. We were able to learn about Croatia from him.
This day trip was fun and we liked Korcula but it was a long drive (as you had warned). It would have been better if we could have spent more time in Korcula but the ferries were not that frequent and we wanted to get back in time for an 8 pm dinner in the Old City. One issue was the timing on the way out – we spent 45+ minutes in Ston. We think that 15 minutes would have been enough, and then we could have taken an earlier ferry. Instead, when we arrived for the ferry, one had just left and we had to wait 45 minutes in that town.
Drive/Ferry to Stari Grad –
Driver – Eddy – again, so glad we had him as our driver. Stopping along the way at the markets was a highlight.
Hotel Apolon – This is a charming hotel and we liked the location along the water in Stari Grad. However, as you know, we were very unhappy with the lack of hot water in the morning (both days – even though after we told them the first day, they said they would fix it). This is really unacceptable for a hotel not to have enough hot water for the guests. We were happier with the hotel than the Pontells – their room was much smaller. Breakfast was fine with made to order eggs, but was the worst of all of the hotels. They ran out of fruit and didn’t have much selection of anything else – limited cheese, croissants etc. All of the other hotels had much more to offer.
Note on dinner - We didn’t eat at the hotel. Someone in one of the shops told us that it had gone downhill since its Michelin mention. We noted some reviews online said the same thing. We ate at Pharia which was recommended by a local and it was very good in a charming setting.
Guided tour of Hvar
Guide was good and informative, but not as outstanding as Matjia, and the two Leas. She just didn’t have the same warmth but she was still a good guide and tried to cater to our interests. For example, we walked down from the fort and she knew we liked plants and she then incorporated that into our tour. She was more interesting and excited about Hvar Town (where she was from) than Stari Grad.
Wine tasting – excellent. We had resisted doing a wine tasting when you suggested it but it was really fun and we so were glad we did. The wine and snacks were great. We liked the setting and enjoyed the chance to sit and sample the wine and food. We were sorry that we couldn’t ship the Croatian wine home to the US.
Lunch – excellent. We loved the setting and the traditional food (Peka). It was delicious, and we loved that we had our private meal outside. It was a very special lunch (and then we just ate ice cream for dinner).
Driver – Rich left his prescription sunglasses in the van. The driver went above and beyond in returning Rich’s sunglasses to him the next morning on the ferry – it was amazing that he tracked us down and boarded the ferry before it left to find us.
Hotel Piazza Heritage – We were very happy with the hotel. It has a great location, beautiful large rooms in a charming small hotel. We enjoyed the delicious breakfasts at the restaurant next door.
Spllt Walking Tour - Our guide Lea was outstanding. We learned so much from her and she gave us an amazing tour. You could feel her genuine warmth and excitement about Split. It was also really interesting to meet her father at the synagogue and talk to him as well. Although she gave us a tour with a focus on the Jewish aspects, she also was excellent on everything else and we would highly recommend her. She was so organized in her presentation of Split and its history, and gave so many interesting details. After a 3 hour tour it was dinner time (8 pm) and she tried to get us into one of her two favorite restaurants. We ate at them (one each night) and enjoyed them (Bokeria and Apetit: you also had recommended Bokeria).
Cooking Class with Chef Tatjana – As promised, this was an amazing day, even for those of us who don’t like to cook (my husband). Going to the market to shop with Tatjana was fun, we all enjoyed cooking, and the lunch was delicious. It was great to cook and then try so many dishes. The day was made special by Tatjana who is such a fun person to be with.
Hiking Tour & Picnic with Dom - As promised, this too was an amazing day and one of our favorites. We didn’t really know what to expect but we loved our guide, Dom, and had so much fun with him. We loved all of our stops – from cappuccino in the square, to the lakes, old church, and the hike by the river. The picnic he prepared for us was delicious. Again, the day was made special because Dom was fun and interesting, and he planned a great day with interesting stops. One note – his SUV was a little tight in the back for 3 people (for poor Ellyn who was in the middle as she had the shortest legs). It was fine and we were OK with it, but other tourists may not be as comfortable.
Plitvice Lakes National Park - Our guide was fine and know the best way to see the park to avoid some of the ferry lines. He knew the material well about the Park but he wasn’t the same quality level as the other guides we had during the drip.
Driver to Zagreb was very nice, interesting to talk to, etc.
Hotel Explanade – This is a beautiful hotel with beautiful rooms and good service. We are sorry we didn’t have time to enjoy it except for drinks and dessert in the lobby bar that evening after dinner.
We were sorry we didn’t have more time in Zagreb. Even just a morning for a tour of the old city would have been nice but we did see a bit of it at night and had a very good meal at Trilogija.
We had a wonderful trip and I have been telling people to visit Croatia and if they do, to contact you to arrange the trip! Croatia is a beautiful trip and the people are so nice and friendly to tourists.
Now, do you want to plan a trip for us sailing from island to island? Maybe in another summer or two...
Sorry for the delay in getting back-things got a bit busy, but here we go! Lynn and I were blown away by the royal treatment provided by Secret Dalmatia! Seriously, we have done cruises, river trips and usually do all our own planning and driving, but this trip was very special!!! Having everyone else take care of transfers, driving, hotel logistics made the trip relaxing and allowed us to focus on the people, local history, and even rest a bit between events. First, you and your staff did a remarkable job planning and coordinating and sensing what type of trip we desired. Every hotel met and exceeded our expectations. Do not worry about leaky bathtubs-not a big deal! Each one provided a unique experience that we totally enjoyed. While at first Hotel Lero in Dubrovnik seemed a bit far out, after experiencing the crowds in the old city, it proved a welcome respite! You were correct in choosing Port 9—it was beautiful and the taxi boat ride to Korcula was a treat. Hotel Cornaro in Split was perfect. We looked at other hotels as we walked around, but decided Cornaro would be our choice. The breakfast was spectacular and the rooftop lounge can’t be beat. We had two dinners up there and the views and food were outstanding!
Next, our drivers were great!! We got to know them on a personal level and you must tell Marko that he has some really great guys. Special kudos to Eddie who took us three times and was a blast. He and Tom had a lot of things in common. Will never forget Vedran (sp?) who loves his Mercedes-we had a great time talking cars, family, history, etc. Peter was a veritable history professor and Tony was such a gentleman when touring Hvar. Adriatic Transfer was always on time, always had clean vehicles, and every driver was so professional and did little extra things to make the journey interesting. Plus, the special boat transfer to Split was an incredible treat we will always remember!
Third, our tour guides made the cities come alive with their local knowledge. Natasia, Marija, Lea, Mryna, and Nives all felt like good friends by the time we had to say good bye. We shared lots of laughs, had some good back and forth ( I guess we will be remembered because we asked a lot of questions!) and learned so much about the history and people that you could never get from a guidebook. Visiting the silkworm lady, Dragona, will never be forgotten, and also the abandoned village was a totally unique experience. The wasps were very plentiful, but we didn’t let that deter us from having a great experience. Our home cooked meal with Tatjana in Trogir was a hoot, as we say, because she is such a character. We had so much fun talking about food, cooking and laughed about so many things. Plus she was introduced to our little travel mascot, the Pillsbury Doughboy, who is quite the foodie himself. Got some great photos of the two cooks “interacting”. We will send some pictures soon.
Lastly, the Croatian people were very special. They made us visitors feel very welcome, safe and wanted. We know tourists are a large part of the economy and in some countries we have felt like we tourists were taken for granted, but not in your country. The Croatian kindness and hospitality was very real and genuine, from the drivers, the guides and people we met at cafes, hotels and in the shops. And of course, Secret Dalmatia!! What more can we say except that we want to come back to Croatia and travel with you!! And we will! We have told many of our friends about your company and hope they will consider you for their travels.
Thank you for a most memorable trip. Keep up the excellent work and know how much we appreciate everyone who made our journey a special memory! And we hope we in turn have been good ambassadors for the USA!
Until next time,
Lynn and Tom Casper
Dear Natasa and Tea
Thank you so much for making our trip to Croatia a most memorable and cherished experience!
Using Secret Dalmatia to take care of our itinerary was the best decision we made.
Everything went according to plan, and the coordination between drivers, guides and hotels was flawless.
We were pleased with all of the hotels that you chose for us.
The rooms were clean and comfortable, and we were impressed that the most historic hotels still had very modern amenities.
Our overall favourite was Hotel Judita Palace in Split for its gorgeous room, delicious breakfast, central location, and friendly service.
We highly recommend every one of our guides: Vanja (Zagreb), Maja (Pula/Motovun), Mario (Plitvice), Nives (Sibenik/Split), Ana (Hvar), Lea (Korcula) and Maris (Dubrovnik).
We liked the fact that all of them were either born and bred or had lived for many years in the city that they were showing to us.
We also appreciated that you had chosen them (or briefed them) to match our interests in history, culture, food and wine.
We were consistently impressed by the depth of their knowledge, their sense of humour and their pride in being able to share their country’s rich heritage with us.
Their resourcefulness and initiative in dealing with long queues or other obstacles were most helpful.
We were also very satisfied with our drivers: they were always punctual, polite and professional.
Their vehicles were clean, comfortable and well air-conditioned (much needed in the September heat!).
As someone who is prone to motion sickness, I was grateful for their care they took to make each journey smooth.
Finally, we must give special mention to the wonderful gastronomic experiences that you arranged for us: the truffle degustation in Motovun; sampling the oysters, mussels and sea bass in Ston Bay; and of course, shopping, cooking and sharing lunch with the ultimate Croatian chef, Tatjana! These are truly unique memories that we will cherish for years to come.
We cannot end without expressing our deepest thanks to both of you for all your help before and during the trip.
Being able to stay in contact with you via email and WhatsApp made us feel safe and confident at all times.
We were also grateful for your kind and generous assistance with the retrieval of a certain item left behind in Zagreb and returned to us in Split ?
We look forward to coming back again and have already recommended Secret Dalmatia to all of our relatives and friends who are now inspired to visit Croatia as well.
First allow me to start by saying how much we all enjoyed our Croatia visit. Every driver and guide was informative, attentive, friendly and welcoming. We would like to especially thank Vladimir, who added to the local flavor and color of every place he drove us. As the first person to greet us in Croatia, he was a great ambassador for both your country and your company. We’d also like to mention the outstanding guides Eva, Denise, Natasa and Marija, who were simply over the top phenomenal and a treasure trove of information.
As for the hotel incident in Split, we appreciate all you’ve done and the immediate response we received from you. The refund you arranged will be fine. We are grateful for all you did under the circumstance. However, we would like to add that although the refund is welcomed, our primary reason for emailing you was to make sure you were made aware of the switch as to avoid future problems. We had no doubt what they provided was not what they had promised you. We assure you any displeasure was not with you or your company, but rather with the hotel in question.
Croatia was a joy. From arrival to departure we have nothing but fond memories. We hope to visit again and assure you Secret Dalmatia will be who we reach out to and recommend.
Thank you for taking such good care of us and making our adventure so wonderful.
Thank you again for all of your work to make our trip so amazing. We know there are a huge number of moving parts to this and appreciate the care and attention you took to make it happen so smoothly. Croatia is an amazing and beautiful country. We are so glad we got the chance to explore some of it .
Here are some specific and general comments:
1. I appreciated you checking in with us.
2. Our transfers all went well – we were delayed into Venice but you guys reacted well with little delay.
3. Our drivers were outstanding – I may not have their real names (even though I’m now fluent in Croatian....) but Daniel, Harry and Franke were all professional and engaging. We enjoyed learning about the country through their experiences and thought all of them were very thoughtful and fun.
4. Our guide in Venice (Stephania?) was good, not great. We tend not to like getting into too much tedious detail on some of the religious symbols and like the scenery and bigger historical picture. We really liked the stroll through the town with Stephania – especially since this was our first stop.
5. Hotel Locanda Vivaldi was a perfect location and very nice.
6. The stop at Motovun was great and fine without a guide.
7.. I really appreciated your creativity and planning – the stop at San Servalo was a nice break and a good introduction to the craft beer world in Croatia.
8. We really liked Rovinja – and really liked having 3 days there. If we would do this again with more time, we’d plan to have 3 days in each location. Hotel Adriatic was perfectly located. We were in one of the top rooms which was pretty unique – not sure I would have picked it – we banged our head on the ceiling a number of times – more form than function. We didn’t change rooms but might have another time. It was nice to have bikes available.
9. The olive oil tasting and Villa Meneghetti were wonderful. We felt pretty special on both of these.
10. Plitvice Lakes and Krka were amazing and must see places for anyone traveling to Croatia – amazing – and you should really recommend swimming at Krka – it’s crowded but cool.
11. We were totally bummed we didn’t get more time in Zadar – what a wonderful city and such a cool “vibe”. We got there just in time to see the sunset from the waterfront – along with the sea organ and the “greetings to the sun” art work. I wish we had gotten more time here.
12. I know I’ve used a lot of superlatives already – but our stay at Tatjana’s and the meals/cooking lessons are something we’ll remember for a long time. It’s hard to pick the highlight of our trip – and I’m not going to try – but Tatjana was so gracious, amazing and so much fun. I suspect you’ve heard this before, but what a special stop on our trip.
13. Our guides –
Miko in Krka was outstanding. Dennis in Plitvice Lakes was good – not great. I can’t remember our guide in Rovinja, but she was really interesting and informative.
14. I really liked your choice of going inland from Split – Dom was outstanding and we saw a part of the country I never expected. I would keep this as a regular activity. Dom was great – we had to picnic in the car because of the rain but it was still fun. Dom worked so hard to recover from the rain – and we really appreciated it and thought it was a great success - and I really appreciated the craft brews...Dom also gave us the info on craft brews in Split.
15. We needed 2 or 3 more weeks. But the ending with Dennis was quite a surprise. Lauren is ready to move to Ston just to be nearer to the oysters. This was another experience we’ll remember for a long time.
16. This was a first class operation – and it was nice to hear such great things about Secret Dalmatia from all of your contractors.
Thanks again for making this so special. Let me know if you want to talk more on this.
Stuart and Lauren
Hi Dubravka...thank you for checking in with us. We had a great trip. Thank you for all of your help. We loved our itinerary. You did a great job!
We loved all of the destinations. For me, the highlight of the trip was the Lemongarden on Brac. It was really special. In all of my travels, the Lemongarden stands out as my all time favorite hotel and destination. The hike to the monastery was amazing (even though it was hot!). I am really glad we got to see it.
I thought we had just the right amount of time in each location. We never felt rushed and we did not run out of things to do either. It really was perfect.
We loved Judita Palace and of course, Lemongarden. We thought The Excelsior was fair. The service was not great and it felt a bit big for us and was very crowded. We were not able to sit outside near the water because there was not enough room. All of the chairs were taken. However, it was perfectly fine. I wanted to let you know this just for feedback purposes. Its not meant to be a complaint at all!
All of our transfers/tour guides were great. Everyone was helpful and right on time.
You were a pleasure to work with. You are incredibly professional and an expert at your job. We are lucky to have worked with you! If any of our friends decide to visit Croatia I will be sure to put them in touch with you.
Enjoy the rest of your Summer.
If you are considering a visit to Croatia, there is only one travel agent to contact, Secret Dalmatia. Secret Dalmatia planned our entire three week trip. They reserved small, historic lodgings in picturesque locations; secured the best educated, experienced and local tour guides enabling us to see all that we wanted to and more; and scheduled both land and water transportation that was flawless. Our vacation turned out to be much better than we anticipated thanks to Secret Dalmatia! It will truly be a life time memory!
Sue and Jay Jensen
Hello Dubravka, we have finally sat down to talk about our trip and wanted to give you some feedback on our trip so you may continue to give people a wonderful experience.
First the hotels, all the hotels were wonderful but maybe you should have an option of something a bit closer to the center in Dubrovnik for people who would like to explore it more on foot.
Transportation: Was excellent. All the drivers were very professional and good drivers they were also always on time. You could see they wanted us to be comfortable and happy. Our only suggestion is that on long drives they might offer to stop for a short bathroom break.
Tour guides: All of them were very professional but our favorite was Katherina (Montenegro) she was polite, knowledgeable and discreet. We also really liked Bine in Slovenia he was fun and warm and helped us order delicious local food.
Ana in Hvar was too loud and talkative for our taste and the lady in Medugorje was a bit too insistent that my mother in law not climb the hill up to the apparition site of the Virgin. (She did and loved it)
The guide in Bosnia Herzegovina was great because not only was he knowledgeable but he could tell us things from a first hand experience.
Tours and experiences: We loved all of them they were a very good balance between culture an cuisine and nature. Our favorites were: cooking with Tatjana, Villa Meneghetti wine paired dinner, the Oyster tasting, and Leslic Dimitri Palace. Lake Bled, and the Plitvice park were amazing.
As an interesting experience, the olive oil tasting was great.
We loved our trip and will be recommending you to our friends and family.
The team at Secret Dalmatia were an absolute pleasure to work with. They helped create a truly customized experience that delivered me and my group a holiday we'll never forget. The lunch at Senjkovic Winery was a real highlight. When we come back to Croatia, Secret Dalmatia will be the first people we call.