“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 definitely enjoyed a memorable trip. Working with you we were able to pack quite a bit into 8 days; day 9 we left so I am not counting that although the driver that morning provided wonderful commentary-historical and current events-on the city of Zagreb. So, even day 9 had its informative moments and created a feeling that we knew Zagreb. On the next trip, we all decided we needed a bit more time there.
Based upon a series of emails between a Croatia highlights tour was created within the time constraints outlined. As a result, we were able to see a part of the Dalmatian coast and get a sense of the place visited. That happened as a result of your efforts before we arrived and while we were there.
The hotels you selected were very good. First of all, the location allowed us to be either in the city center (Dubrovnik, Hvar & Zadar) or quickly inside the walls with a short walk (Korcula & Split). Staff in each location were very helpful providing maps, directions and recommendations for food that we used along with yours. The rooms at the Hotel Korsal were not as well appointed as the other sites, but the views from the rooms, a beach, and the cleanliness mattered more to me. A hotel is a base to get out and explore my surroundings. A traveler looking for more may find that hotel less attractive.
The restaurants you provided, like Adio Mare in Korcula, were very good (The waiter at that restaurant showed my wife and Amy how to debone a grilled fish and pull it apart with one’s fingers, which was a first for both). Hotel staff also were very good with recommendations.
Tours and guides were exceptional. First, each tour was well-timed. It allowed us enough time to get rooms, luggage and other details out of the way. Secondly, the tour took place on our first day and allowed us to explore with knowledge of the site on our next day. Vesna knows the city of Dubrovnik, and Nevis knows Split. They are good communicators, personable and can speak to the historical and the present challenges faced. Both provided suggestions for our free day, which we followed—swimming at the island of Lokrum was great fun and a relief from the heat in Dubrovnik; the Jewish cemetery and the home of Mestrevic were part of our free day in Split.Through them we gained our sense of the uniqueness of these cities. Mario provided the hiking tour at Plitivice Lakes and information on all aspects of the park. No one fell into the lake, and I think Mario has a new perspective on what retirees can do. Including that visit gave us a chance to explore another part of Croatia and break up the ride to Zagreb.
The use of drivers was a suggestion you made to me when I inquired about renting a car. You were right. They were always on time, professional, informative, and able to get us from one site to another with little delay. We would never have been able to do as much had we rented a car. True we may have had other experiences, but we were limited in time, and we wanted to experience as much of your country as we could. Again, you were right to make use of a driver.
If you were looking for some negatives, there are none I can share. More importantly, your attentiveness to the details in planning and your follow-up while we were traveling account for our ability to travel broadly, quickly and still feel the differences among the various places we visited. I came to Croatia because I always wanted to see Dubrovnik, and I loved it. Each place was unique. Including the towns of Korcula and Hvar on their respective islands provided some additional experiences. Again, I have to agree with you; Split is really special.
In addition to the planning and the attention paid while we were there, you took time from your work to greet us on the dock at Split and that was greatly appreciated. You will laugh but the moment we left Croatia, a major problem developed—all of our luggage was lost between Zagreb (there was a layover in Barcelona) and landing in Naples. Rich and I flew back home on Sunday, July 3 without luggage; luggage turned up on July 4 so Amy and Lin were there to get it. We all agreed this would not have happened if Dubravka was planning this. You’re indispensable.
Croatia was absolutely beautiful! Michael and I enjoyed our trip very much.
We loved the rich history, friendly people, delicious food & wine.
Thank you for thoughtfully planned our itinerary as all left us speechless.
All local guides- Mislav, Marija, our driver Tony and two skippers were wonderful! They were all enthusiastic in sharing their own culture with us. It was also amazing to see Mario's vineyard and dined at his home for lunch prepared with love and fresh ingredients. We have been praising how beautiful (& delicious) Croatia is to all of our families and friends.
As I am typing this email to you, I'm daydreaming about our trip and can't wait to return in the ear future.
Again, thank you for your professional guide in helping us to create beautiful memories on this trip.
Btw, I did receive the picnic refund.
All the best,
Dani & Michael
We are back home again now, although the cold here is a bit of a shock!
On behalf of the three of us, I wanted to send you a big thank you for organising a wonderful tour for us. We enjoyed every minute of it, and were so happy and thankful that we had you to organise it. Thanks for all your good advice, and for your patience with all the changes we needed to make. I really felt that you were putting the tour together to suit us, rather than what was easiest on your side. Everything went like clockwork, the guides and drivers were all excellent and went out of their way to help us with little extra things, and we really enjoyed the hotels as well (the Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb was a highlight, and a bit of a treat at the end). We also really enjoyed our afternoon with Chef Sandra, she was great.
But most of all, it was particularly good to meet you on the dock in Split, a lovely surprise, and to speak to you on the phone at the end. And, at all times we felt you were looking out for us, and that the guides and drivers were too, all that communication between you all made us feel looked after, and valued.
Good luck in the future, and please if you visit Sydney at some stage, please let us know!
Jennifer, Tom and Gordon
Dear Vlasta and Alan,
We couldn't have been more pleased with our experience with Secret Dalmatia, from our first phone call from Alan, until we were picked up promptly at the hotel and delivered to the airport in Dubrovnik to return home.
You chose terrific hotels for us. They were all clean, adequately spacious for our needs and located perfectly -- considering factors such as noise, access to city center attractions and our ability to walk to the best sites.
The guides were all prompt, friendly, professional and had a great sense of humor which we appreciated. The drivers were welcoming, helpful in orienting us to the area and added the personal touch of allowing us to learn about their home and work lives in Croatia.
We had some real surprises on this trip. As our time to fly from Milan to Zagreb approached, I had some anxiety about how we would manage on our own for most of two days in the City. How would we order food, find our way around, ask for help if we needed it? It was such a relief to learn that nearly everyone in the country speaks English -- far more common than in Italy, where we'd just left.
Croatia values cleanliness -- I'm embarrassed to say, more than in our country. We felt comfortable and safe everywhere we went. We also never felt any discomfort with being a same sex couple traveling in Croatia.
One regret -- I wish we had included Plivitce on the itinerary while traveling from Zagreb to Split. Toni took us to an overlook where I got some fantastic shots of all the waterfalls. In talking with him and with other travelers, it's not always jammed with tourists. I think if we had planned an 8 a.m. arrival to somewhere other than the main gate, we would have been very pleased. One suggestion -- as you write out the itinerary, give a more explicit idea of the time we'll spend with guides. For example, we knew that on Brac, we'd be returning sometime in the afternoon. It would help to know it's really an all day excursion and the boats return only at 3:30 and 6:00 p.m. Spending any less time than a full day on Brac would be a mistake. That island with its diversity, history, archaeology and beauty is an absolute gem.
Croatia is a relatively new destination for Americans. The numbers will undoubtedly blossom in coming years, and your business will continue to grow. You have my permission to use these comments in any publicity and you can forward requests for references for potential future travelers to me.
All our best, and thanks for a wonderful Croatian experience!
Eric and Lorn
We had a fabulous vacation in Croatia. You live in such a beautiful country with very nice people. - Croatia exceeded my expectations by a long shot.
I really enjoyed the day with Dom- Braca Island- good challenging hike for sure with a delicious lunch. Goren was great- very interesting tour of the military tunnels- he also provided some information regarding herbs growing on the island- and had us smell some of them he was able to locate on our tour. He recommended a terrific restaurant for dinner- Rocki's- had the best squid. - Anna and Maria were very informative and easy to talk to . I enjoyed my time with both of them.
The day we spent with Mario at his vineyard and then did some mountain biking was really fun- I'm not as big on wine as Tim- very interesting - and a very delicious lunch.
THe 2nd winery was disappointing and nothing that special- the bike ride was nice with Draco.
I would have preferred to go to the WIld Life Reserve near Dubrovnik on instead of the 2nd winery or probably the best day to go would have been the day we went kayaking. - I wouldn't recommend the kayaking- it was a bit boring (group tour, not private)
I would definitely would suggest to anyone going to Croatia to make sure to see one of the National Parks now that I know more about them from Croatians that we met. That the only thing I was disappointed that we didn't get to do.
Overall, a terrific vacation for sure and will definitely speak highly of your agency and Croatia. All the drivers were very polite and helpful. - really great staff.
Thank you for a wonderful vacation!!
Here are some thoughts regarding our trip:
1. All logistics, connections, transfers, etc. were seamless. No glitches anywhere.
2. We liked all of your guides and drivers. Not only did we learn a tremendous amount about your country's history and culture, but we also truly enjoyed their company! They were all willing to answer endless questions from us.
3. The hotels were all wonderful in a different way. The Palaca Judita was exceptional in terms of service, ambience and location and was the perfect introduction to the country and culture. The Adriana was beautiful in a totally different, more contemporary way and had a great location. However, the rooms were not perfectly functional (extremely dark, and we could not control the temperature--front desk told us to open the window to stop the air conditioning since that was the only way to make the room warmer on a chilly, rainy day). To balance that, the food was excellent, both breakfast buffet and lunch. And lastly, the Royal Princess was wonderful, and the perfect place to be for the last few days when we wanted a little relaxation. The suite was perfect with stunning views and by that time we were very happy to be away from the crowds and spend time by the sea!
4. All of our tours were great, but looking back I might have skipped the Montenegro day trip. Kotor bay was beautiful, and the walking tour was interesting but by that time I felt a little overload and the drive, although scenic, was a bit long. And as Drazan (spelling?) may have told you, we skipped the visit to Our Lady of the Rocks because we were a little tired. The place he suggested for lunch was perfect, though. Maybe we should have taken a day "off" somewhere along the way. We sure did enjoy the last 2 days of relaxation!
5. Your effort to retrieve our adaptor/converter was greatly appreciated! Lessons learned: bring more than one next time we travel overseas, and make sure you have a good travel agent to come to the rescue in case of "emergency".
In summary, our vacation was amazing--one of our best trips, and we are very happy with our decision to use Secret Dalmatia. Please feel free to use my comments in any way that would be helpful, and I will be writing a positive review on TripAdvisor and/or Facebook.
It was such a pleasure to meet you last night. Thank you for taking the time to come to the restaurant. Our trip was once again amazing and even more special to share with my parents!
I meant to tell you yesterday how much we loved our guide in Dubrovnik, Maris. She was incredibly knowledgeable with the history of the area, and gave us such an in depth tour that helped to bring together everything we learned during our trip about Croatia. We also loved her passion for her job.
Every aspects of our trip was fantastic! We can't wait to come back. We will be in touch!
Brooke Zrno Grisham
We are now home. It was a disappointment that there was no shiny, black Mercedes with a driver organised by Secret Dalmatia to pick us up on arrival at Heathrow!. We had to wheel our own cases and drive ourselves..........
I know that everyone in our party was delighted with everything you organised and all of the guides and drivers you allocated to look after us. They were all very special.The guides were knowledgeable, articulate and knew their subjects well and were able to express themselves in an interesting and understandable manner.They were a pleasure to be with. The drivers were pleasant young men who were courteous but friendly and skilful in handling the vehicle in such a way as to give a safe and comfortable ride. Everyone was prompt and on time for appointments.
The choice of hotels was perfect, each different in its own way but all providing comfortable accommodation in beautiful locations.
The itinerary gave great variety so that we did not do too much of the same thing on consecutive days. It allowed us to see a great deal of your wonderful country in a short time. I think we were all surprised by the beauty of the countryside and the coast and the way the towns and cities are being maintained. The people were always friendly and helpful (with one small exception at the seaplane check in!).
Thank you for all of your help in giving us all a wonderful holiday. Please pass on our thanks to all of those who made our stay such an enjoyable one.We will recommend Secret Dalmatia to all and everyone.
MORE INFORMATION in the book: http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/7153513-carry-on-in-croatia
Hello Mariana thank you for the wonderful pictures and memories it was great fun. Mike and I had an amazing trip and we cannot even tell you how much we love Nevis. She became our family and she was so intelligent on all topics. Her knowledge of Croatia and the history was impeccable. We would do Secret Dalmatia again and again with the exception of having Nevis as our guide. At the end of our trip in Venice we were all in tears, it felt as though we were leaving family behind.
The itinerary was great! We felt like we learned the essence of Croatia, and it people. Mike and I hope to return again someday.
Please tell Nevis thank you again and we miss her!
Sincerely Kimberly and Mike Janes
It was so nice of you to meet with us in Split. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip through Croatia and into Italy. My expectations were exceeded and I have heard the same from others in the group. I have done many of these trips with small groups and this was by far the best. The people of Croatia were delightful, warm, friendly, open and spoke English well. I am touched by how tradition is still so strong and passed on to the younger generations. The country is amazingly beautiful and I only want to return to explore it more and maybe move there for a while as a base to explore other destinations in Europe.
Nives was the most amazing guide. We all cannot say enough, how much we loved her. She felt like family by the time we had to say goodbye. You are very lucky to have her guide for you. We understand she has had some very recent personal loss and I hope that we were able to distract her yet provide warm and comforting companionship for her.
All of our lodging was very comfortable and nicely located for exploring during free time.
The only slightly disappointment was on the island of Hvar. I would have enjoyed staying in Hvar town which was fabulous and lively but Stari Grad was very sleepy with very little open for business. I’m sure in a few weeks, things would be different but we saw much construction getting ready for the opening of the season and closed stores and restaurants. I chose not to go to Sibenik because we were enjoying Split so much and had not had time to explore on our own with shops open. It seemed a few hours there would not be worth it. Now, after doing more research on what we missed and seeing photos, I cannot wait to get there next time, spending a few days at least. Not to mention, it is where my grandparents are from.
By far our favorite wines and wine experience was at Bibich. The food pairings were amazing and beautifully presented, a caliber of culinary execution we had not experienced elsewhere in Croatia. In general, the food was rustic and delicious. I felt we ate like the locals not tourists. The meals were filling and memorable as well as those doing the cooking, welcoming us into their homes. My favorite food experience is hard to pick but i am an oyster lover and they were fabulous as well as the mussels. I don’t know if you are aware but because we had some people that did not want oysters we expected fish, but they cooked chicken. Tom was really looking forward to fish and sitting a the table without the chicken eaters so our host just caught a few fish off his dock and cooked them up. We were impressed! The water is so clean I only wish it was warm enough to get in at least once. We also all loved the spit roasted lamb and everything cooked in the peka.
As for Italy, our hotel was in a wonderful location away from the tourists and easy to get around and enjoy the back alleys and canals. Francesca did a great job setting up our transportation for our day touring Valpolicella and it was very enjoyable.
Our driver Ivan was great and most transportation connections were perfect except for the ferry to Hvar that was full and we had to wait for the next one. It is understandable with ferry schedules and so many people to move.
A lot of people that visit our wine tasting room, once they heard about our plan to go to Croatia expressed interest in visiting and those who have gone, rave about it. We can all be added to those that will rave about it!
I understand we were a larger group the you are used to accommodating.
Thank you for making the trip so successful and feel free to use me as a reference.
Terra Vina Wines - Respecting the Earth, Creating Great Wine.