“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 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.
" Beyond expectation " is the way I would describe your travel plan for us. The accommodations were well diversified from historic to new luxury which allowed us to experience two worlds of living. The Vans were very comfortable and the drivers excellent in knowledge as well as interesting and humorous and safe. The guides were exceptional in all respects, the food experiences a real pleasure and the wines superb. Many times I am asked by service providers. "how could we improve?" I really think you have, and are the perfect team, a dream accomplishment in business. After travelling to over 50 countries Croatia / Dalmatia rates in the very top.
Thanks for designing our trip, then keeping us on track by the day with your experts. Every aspect of your services was indeed "beyond expectation".
Larry Buhler Winnipeg Canada
I had a relative good flight home. The tour was enjoyed by everyone and I want to thank you for all you did. Here is some feedback.
Sarajevo: All about Sarajevo was perfect. The hotel could not have been better located and the hotel itself was very nice, very comfortable new rooms. The dinner at Dvery was very good with good local food. After an initial misunderstanding of just one d rink with dinner, the problem was quickly solved – they checked it and the wine was flowing freely..
The drive to Dubrovnik was very scenic and we had a good stop in Mostar with one of the most memorable lunches. The food was good but, the view over the mountains, the sunshine and great service made for a perfect lunch stop. Everyone was impressed with Dubrovnik and loved their stay at Pucic Palace, so convenient. Some of the rooms overlooked the square in front of the hotel and my room and the room for Kitchen and Wray looked out on their terrace restaurant. On the second night they had a party there and a live band which made going to sleep impossible until midnight when it ended. The next evening they had another party but it started earlier and was over by nine. It rained the morning we had the city tour, but I asked the restaurant if we could sit in the bar while Jasmina was telling us a bit a bit about the history of Dubrovnik. This actually worked out very well and we did it several other times. It is much more leisurely than standing in the street. The lunch at Maarojice Kaboge was very good, upscale cooking, but we had a set menu and were told it has to be the fish menu. No one minded, but the steamed cold cold tune (exceptionally good in my opinion) but some asked to have it put on the grill since they thought it was raw tune which of course is was not. We also had just one small glass of wine each and paid for additional. The restaurant was not very busy, in fact we were the only guests during the whole meal. But from the looks of it, I think this restaurant is more a dinner restaurant than a place were people go for lunch.
On the free day everyone went up to the everyone went up to the peak which was very much enjoyed and all had lunch there. This may be a good alternative to eating in town. While everyone went up to the peak I went to look at the Excelsior and its sister hotel the Argentina. When Pucic Palace has a great location in town, the view over the Dubrovnik from these hotels is spectacular. But I was most impressed with Villa Ursula, it’s a fantastic little hotel and I loved it. In fact I quite seriously considering staying there if I do this tour again.
Split: Everyone loved Split and those who stayed at Judita Palace loved the place. The Hotel Coronado was very good as well and definitely the best option for the man who could not walk well. Beside, it was very close to Judita Palace. Dinner at Restaurant Konoba Korta was great, very good food, very good service. It is a small restaurant and most of their tables are outside, but it was raining this had to eat inside. The owner was very congenial and suggested all his specialties and the wine flowed freely. Fun evening.
The city tour and the tour in Trogir was very enjoyable, as was the lunch there.
Losinj: Unfortunately as you know we could not take the boat. High winds, and the sea was very rough. When we arrived in Zadar they thought we may be able to take the boat after all. We went to a hotel where we had cocoa while the guide gave us some history of Zadar. but the weather did not improve and thus we took the bus with Kristijan. It was a long drive and we made the ferry to Losinj with two minutes to spare. Everyone was a little tired as we drove the hour from the ferry to the hotel. The Hotel Belvedare more than made up for the long drive. It is an amazing place. Five-star plus. The weather had improved a lot and we had two days of sunshine there. After we arrived, we met in the bar where we had something to drink and to eat. The half-board dinner is expensive, but I suggest that on the first night, dinner at the hotel should be included since there is nothing nearby to go out to eat. On the second night we went to Veli Losinj, a small fishing harbor a few km from the hotel. We had invited Kristijan to eat with us and had a great seafood dinner at the Marina Restaurant on the harbor. When you open the web site for Lonsinj Island, the picture that comes up is this little town. I would definitely include dinner there into a tour to Losinj.
Rovinj: The Hotel Monte Mulini is not far behind Belvedere. Very luxurious and the grounds are fabulous, the walk into town is very easy. Dinner at the Puntalina Restaurant was greatly enjoyed by all. I had gone there in the afternoon to check on the dinner and the table. They gave us great table looking out onto the sea. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the the evening. The tour to Pula was good, we decided to do in the morning which was a good decision. The Coliseum is fascinating, but there is not much else in Pula and we went back to the hotel instead of the walking tour. It was a hot day and everyone wanted to to spend the afternoon enjoying the fabulous grounds and swimming pools at the hotel.
Buzet: The drive from Rovinj to Buzet is scenic, but the drive up to the town is not easy for a bus the size we had. The drive was short and we should have left the hotel at noon, since the rooms were not ready when we arrived thus we spend an hour on the terrace of a hotel in the town below. It was very difficult to take the bus up since there are no places to turn it around. The hotel send a small car down to pick up the man who could not walk well. Kristijan took us as far as the town gate from where it was a short walk to the hotel. They transferred out luggage with the small hotel car. By the time we arrived at the hotel we had a thunderstorm that lasted a couple hours. Buzet is a very small town, there is nothing in town at all, no stores, there are two galleries but they had not yet opened. At one time we were going to have a bakery snack there, but the bakery does not open till June. The dinner was in a rather plain restaurant near the hotel since the hotel’s restaurant was not yet open. The truffle menu was nothing very special, cheese with dried truffles, noodles with dried turffles, chicken and vegetables, and ice cream with dried truffels. They also had an issue with the wine. Only one small glass was included. She di however, bring a small carafe of extra wine and said ist was a present. I bought another bottle of wine for everyone. I don’t know if I would include Buzet again, it very difficult to for the bus to get there. Kristijan had to back down a windy road quite a ways, when we first had driven up and were told the rooms are not ready. Buzet is a unique in its own quaint way though. I walked around the town outside the walls that enclose it, which was quite enjoyable and impressive, but people have to be good walkers since it is just a narrow foot path.
There is a supposedly very good restaurant 17 km before getting to Buzet, set at the foot of a hill with a castle. This could be a good place to have dinner if it would not be such a difficult drive up and down the hill from Buzet. A bigger bus than what we had could not get to Buzet at all.
Zagreb: I liked the Hotel Dubrovnik very much. The location is more than perfect. The hotel has a new wing with attractive rooms. But the original hotel facing the square is in my opinion the best. The rooms are big, although a little dated. New furniture, curtains and carpets would improve it greatly. All in all it is a very good hotel. Both dinners were great. Trilogija was fantastic, very good food and wine, and great service. I had a bit of hard time finding it. No one really knew where it was. Eventually though I found, but it is not in the walking zone. It is up the hill to the upper town alongside a road. Walking leisurely it is about 20 minutes from the hotel, but the road is fairly steep. Thus I suggested for everyone to take a taxi. Kathy Kitchen and I would have been the only ones who could have walked it in ten minutes.
The tour to Samobor was nice, although it was raining. There is not much in Samobor except the restaurants around the town square, which is quaint. There is a very interesting museum though with furnishings from the Austro/Hungarian Empire days. Among the artifacts are three absolute fabulous tiled stoves. I would definitely include it in another tour. Another interesting museum is the Croation Museum of Naïve Art in the upper town of Zagreb. It is half a block from the stop of the Funicular. It displays the paintings of five well known artists from the around the 1960s. Even people who don’t like museums, would be amused by it.
As to the guides, they were all very nice and very good. Dajana in Sarjevo was very kind and fun to have along.
The guide is Mostar was good but we had her such a short time that we did not really get to know her to much.
Jasmina in Dubrovnik was very intelligent and knew her history. She made her commentary very interesting and it was enjoyable to listen to her.
Maris in Split was great, we all liked her a lot. She took Mickey, the man who could not walk well, under her arm and he was more than impressed with her. Had a smile on his face the whole time. She was fun.
The guide in Zadar again was with us a very short time, but she gave us a good insight into Zadar and its long history while we sipped our hot chocolate at the hotel. We enjoyed having her along.
In Rovinj the guide did not dwell long on history, but told us much about the life in Rovinj and in the countryside around it, and the food and wines of the area which interested all of u.
The guide in Zagreb gave us a lot of insight in the city and had Kristijan take us through some of the interesting sections of Zagreb. Of course in Samobor wasn’t to much to talk about , but she told us some rather interesting things about the old section of Sambor and its legends and some true stories from the past.
No need to say much about Kristijan. We all loved him, he is a very good driver, to back down the narrow winding road from Buzet, truly showed his driving skills. I suggest you book him for any American groups. Below is a picture of Kristijan at the dinner in Vali Losingj with Kathy Kitchen and Bob Wray.