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My Route du Bonheur

My Route du Bonheur between Slovenia and Croatia

Tania Unsworth
By Tania Unsworth, Co-managing director of Lešić Dimitri Palace, Korčula, Croatia

Plan your personalized
itinerary with our concierge

+1 800 735 2478 * *Local charges apply
"Although I was born in London, I spent all my childhood holidays on the Croatian coast in Dalmatia. My grandfather was originally from Korčula. It was in this island surrounded by blue that my parents had the opportunity to buy and restore a magnificent 18th century palace, close to the house of Marco Polo. Korčula is the final destination of this superb Route du Bonheur exploring the splendours of Slovenia and Croatia. This journey takes us from the rich Slovenian forests to the jewel-city of Dubrovnik. It takes us on beautiful Ljubljana's Triple Bridge, to small farms where they produce delicious goat cheese and to little-known and sublime vineyards. Throughout the road, you'll venture across the cliffs, in small bays or sand spits and heavenly beaches. These landscapes have not yet been affected by the presence of man, so you should enjoy them while you still can..."
Suggestion of itinerary
  • 6 hotels
  • from US$ 1,427.62 *
1
160 km
2
190 km
3
90 km
4
90 km
5
280 km
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To give you inspiration, Relais & Châteaux presents the Routes du Bonheur: suggestions for travel itineraries that you can fully personalise according to your wishes and the experiences you would like to discover. Our consultants are available to help customise your route and assist you in making reservations at our properties. It is up to you to reserve any recommended activities on-site or nearby that might interest you.
*Total price provided for information only, based on accommodation for two people in a double room for the number of nights per property as indicated on this page, exclusive of recommended activities, properties that cannot be reserved online and restaurants.


1 Otočec — 1 Night
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Hotel + Restaurant
Hotel + Restaurant

Hotel Grad Otočec

Otočec - Slovenia

Hotel and restaurant on a river. In a haven of peace where the spirit of the past blends marvellously with the rhythm of modern life, Otočec Castle offers an atmosphere that has retained its character and authenticity. This unique castle is on an island right in the middle of Krka River. This magical setting invites relaxation in the heart of Slovenian nature and cultural history: a gentle morning walk accompanied by birdsong, an unforgettable game of golf at one of the best European golf courses or a gourmet candle-lit dinner and a delicious glass of wine in front of the crackling wood fire. Everything here, right down to the attentive staff keen to fulfil every wish, contributes to well-being. ... Learn moreless

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Key Services
16 rooms
(from) US$ 269.88
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On the route

Lose yourself in the Kočevje primary forest

Lose yourself in the Kočevje primary forest

Protected since the late 19th century, the Kočevje primary forest is still an enchanting world. In the shade of the ancient trees - some of them are over 500 years old!-, the brown bear (the biggest population in Europe) is king alongside the eagles and a fauna that is both wild and fascinating.

Cviček wine, Trška Gora

Cviček wine, Trška Gora

You have to try Cviček, one of the famous Slovenian wines grown on the hills of Trška Gora, Vinji Vrh or Otočec. A light red, ruby colour and fresh and fruity aromas have naturally put it on the menus of the greatest restaurants in the country. Already mentioned in writings from the 12th century, the southern slopes of Trška Gora are known for gathering one of the highest concentrations of vineyards in the world…

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160 km
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190 km
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90 km
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90 km
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280 km
2 Spodnja Idrija — 1 Night
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Hotel + Restaurant

Hotel Kendov Dvorec

Spodnja Idrija - Slovenia

Hotel and restaurant in a village. The story of this old mansion dates back to 1377, when its first landowners came to farm the land above the Idrijca River. Sitting amid the alpine peaks and Karst Plateau, Kendov Dvorec is now an elegantly furnished hotel with touches of traditional Slovenian style in its antique interiors of carved wood and decorative lace handmade in Idrija. From the property's lovely landscaped gardens, guests will enjoy picturesque views over Spodnja Idrija. This medieval village is home to the famous pilgrimage church of St Mary on the Rock and crystalline rivers, great for fly fishing marble trout. Nearby, there is also the mercury mine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. ... Learn moreless

TripAdvisor
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Key Services
11 rooms
(from) US$ 163.29
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On the route

Discovering Ljubljana

Discovering Ljubljana

I have often visited Ljubljana, one of the most charming and smallest European capitals. You can walk on foot along the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship around the city before climbing into the funicular railway up to 16th century castle and admiring the capital from its heights. From there you can contemplate 5,000 years of history! The ethnographic museum is particularly interesting and provides an insight into the history and lifestyle of its inhabitants. 

Triglav National Park

Triglav National Park

This is the highest mountain in the country (2,864 m) which gave its name to the only Slovenian national park. Home to the majority of the 400 peaks over 2,000 metres, the park provides a wonderful playground for all hiking and climbing lovers. I often used to come walking in this area which is rich with an incredible heritage, both natural and cultural as well as culinary (sampling the local cheeses!)…

Go down into the Škocjan caves

Go down into the Škocjan caves

Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, the magnificent Škocjan Caves are one of Slovenia's tourist highlights. An unequalled karstic phenomenon, the caves stretch over more than five kilometres and up to 250 metres underground! Jules Verne could have written his Journey to the Centre of the Earth in these cavities…

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160 km
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190 km
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90 km
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90 km
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280 km
3 Bale — 1 Night
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Meneghetti Wine hotel & Winery

Bale - Croatia (Hrvatska)

Hotel and restaurant in a vineyard. The superb property build in istrian white stone mansion is a foretaste of the country stay to come: the singing of the crickets, the tranquil beauty of the vines and olive trees, the gentle caress of the sea breeze and an entrancing Mediterranean atmosphere. Merely a handful of guest rooms are available in this heavenly setting guaranteeing a secluded stay at Wine Hotel. This will give you total peace and quiet to soak up the sun beside the pool, stroll through the grounds, or sample the restaurant’s delights: healthy, fragrant Mediterranean cuisine which showcases local ingredients (including home-produced olive oil) served with the property’s own wine. ... Learn moreless

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Key Services
24 rooms
(from) US$ 258.54
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On the route

The Kozlović Winery, Momjan

The Kozlović Winery, Momjan

Franco Kozlović's family has been producing wine on the beautiful lands of Istria since 1904. The majority of their vineyards are planted with a white grape variety of Malvasia (malvazija), which is typical of the region. I like both their sustainable approach to wine growing and their desire to acquire modern facilities, like their stunning cellar which sprung from the earth in 2011. It is real contrast with the neighbouring citadel of Momjan, to be admired from the terrace with a drink in your hand…

The fishing port of Rovinj

The fishing port of Rovinj

Rovinj remains one of the most authentic fishing ports of the Adriatic Sea for many people. The price of its fame is that tourists rush to visit it. Yet having a coffee in the morning facing the fishermen throwing their nets out remains one of those precious moments that you'll take with you for much more than just one day...

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160 km
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190 km
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90 km
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90 km
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280 km
4 Opatija — 1 Night
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Hotel Bevanda

Opatija - Croatia (Hrvatska)

Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. The contemporary-style Bevanda seems to be placed on the rocks, fully turned towards the sea. This refined hotel has only ten rooms, each bearing the name of a celebrity who visited the town: Gustav Mahler, Isadora Duncan, or even Albert Einstein. Their picture windows open towards large terraces overlooking the Adriatic, offering stunning views of Opatija, Rijeka and the islands in the distance. Designed by Croatian architects and designers, it is built on the site of a regionally renowned restaurant founded several decades ago. Supported by the freshest ingredients of the land and of the sea, Bevanda’s cuisine is based on modern adaptations of traditional Mediterranean recipes. ... Learn moreless

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Key Services
10 rooms
(from) US$ 181.43
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On the route

Summer films and music

Summer films and music

The medieval town of Grožnjan is now a favourite haunt for Croatian artists after being asleep for so long. On the heels of the sculptor Aleksandar Rukavina, the town has attracted many painters and musicians who have installed their studios there. Every summer, the Musical Youth of Croatia invest in these places (church, Grand-place, Loggia, etc.) and give free concerts! Meanwhile, the beautiful hilltop village of Motovun organises a major independent film festival with indoor and outdoor screenings…

Istrian white truffles

Istrian white truffles

Although less famous than the white truffle of Piedmont, Istrian white truffles have become an important product for food lovers in the last fifteen years. So in the autumn, thousands of specially trained dogs (breks) roam the forests between Oprtalj and Livade in the hope of finding a truffle as big as that found in November 1999: a white truffle weighing 1,310 grams!

Rijeka Carnival

Rijeka Carnival

Every year around the last Sunday of Lent since the Middle Ages, the largest carnival in Croatia is held in Rijeka. Over two weeks you can watch dancing, concerts, parades and processions along the Korzo, some of which bring together masked men wearing animal skins (the famous zvončari) who are supposed to drive away evil spirits…

www.rijecki-karneval.hr

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280 km
5 Zadar — 1 Night
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Hotel + Restaurant

Hotel Bastion Zadar

Zadar - Croatia (Hrvatska)

Restaurant and hotel in town. The tiny town of Zadar, sheltered behind its city walls, at the edge of the Adriatic, exercises its many charms: tiny cobbled roads, ancient ruins and treasures from the Renaissance await the visitor. Hotel Bastion was built in this historic centre, at the tip of the peninsula, on the remains of a former 13th century Venetian mediaeval fortress. The town’s main monuments are very close by, including the sea organs. This charming hotel offers elegant rooms, a cosy bar, a spa which has retained some of the original fortress walls, and a restaurant with delicious Mediterranean cuisine that can also be served on the terrace, in the shade of large parasols. ... Learn moreless

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27 rooms
(from) US$ 150.81
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Close to the property

Maraschino, Zadar's traditional liquor

Maraschino, Zadar's traditional liquor

After discovering the old town of Zadar, why not go to the terrace of a cafe and order the local speciality: Maraschino is liquor (25°) made from sour cherries which have already been referred to by Balzac in his novel called A start in life (1842). My favourite place in which to sample it is: Gourmet Kalelarga, Art Hotel Kalelarga.

The Zadar archipelago

The Zadar archipelago

There are nearly 300 islands scattered along the Zadar coastline! Only a dozen of them are inhabited. I have raced a few times between the islands of the natural park from the Bay of Telasčica. You will see steep cliffs, olive trees and salt marshes: there is a new horizon each time you change direction. In the evening you can dock in Dugi Otok, or the "Long Island", which has preserved its beautiful Gothic and Renaissance mansions. 

Paški sir, a unique cheese

Paški sir, a unique cheese

It is a cheese that is unlike any other: the Pag Island cheese is both very salty and strong in flavour. The wind deposits sea salt on the island's vegetation, making both the meat and milk of the sheep slightly salty. The milk is collected in May of each year. The unpasteurised cheese is rubbed with sea salt, coated in olive oil and kept for up to a year. It is perfect with black olives!

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160 km
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190 km
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280 km
6 Korčula — 1 Night
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Lešić Dimitri Palace

Korčula - Croatia (Hrvatska)

Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. People say that the Silk Road started from this island; Korčula has good reason to be proud to be home to Marco Polo's house, a stone’s throw from Lešić Dimitri Palace. The building's history dates back to the 17th century, when the Lešić family, rich property owners and merchants combined a number of semi-detached houses to create a palace worthy of that name. It has been meticulously renovated yet with a touch of contemporary design; its historical character and original layout have been retained and it now offers a small number of independent suites. Each evokes a step in Marco Polo's journey towards China, in a harmonious décor, with top-quality materials. ... Learn moreless

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5 rooms
(from) US$ 403.68
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Close to the property

Marco Polo's birthplace, Korčula

Marco Polo's birthplace, Korčula

Marco Polo is said to have been born in the city in 1254 - other towns also claim the birth of the great traveller - which was then part of the Republic of Venice. For us there is no doubt about it! A museum is housed in the former home of the Polo family: a narrow tower with dizzying views. Maps, portraits and carved busts illustrate the life of the author of the Book of Wonders.

Vrnik Island

Vrnik Island

Located in the archipelago of Korčula, the small island of Vrnik is accessible by boat taxi. Known since ancient times for the quarries used to build the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul or the Parliament of Vienna; it is also the reference point of one of the great Croatian sculptors, Lujo Lozica, who set up up his workshop here.

On the route

The Bibich family's wine estate, Skradin

The Bibich family's wine estate, Skradin

The vineyards of southern Croatia have enjoyed a good reputation for many years now. Close to the island of Korčula, the Peljesac peninsula produces some of its best wines (and oysters!). Ernest Tolj and Saint Hills, Korta Katerina or Bura-Mrgudic all offer remarkable wines. Further to the north, I love the Bibich family's wine estate, which was also one of the first exporters of Croatian wine to the United States. The Bibich R6 Riserva, a 2011 vintage, is one of my favourites...

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Texts : © Gallimard Loisirs