Image: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Mark Lennihan  /  AP
The Affordable Croatia and Slovenia package includes round-trip airfare and nine nights accommodations divided between Opatija, Split, Dubrovnik (pictured), and Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, and Bled in Slovenia.
updated 10/31/2008 11:46:53 AM ET 2008-10-31T15:46:53

The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, nine nights' accommodations, some meals, ground transportation, and sightseeing, from $1,399 per person—plus taxes of $134.

When: Depart Nov. 27, 2008; add $100 for Nov. 20; $200 for March 5, 15, 19, 22, 2009; $290 for Dec. 25, 2008, and March 12, 2009; $300 for March 26.

Gateways: New York City; add $40 for Houston; $100 for Chicago, Miami; $180 for L.A., Seattle; $200 for Denver. Note that the add-on charges may vary and that additional gateways are available.

The fine print: Breakfast daily, two dinners, hotel taxes, airline fuel surcharges, all transfers, guided sightseeing tours, some admission fees, the services of an English-speaking tour manager and local guides, and transportation in an air-conditioned bus are included. Airport taxes and fees are an additional $129 per person. The starting rate does not include a $5 charge that covers restaurant, tour escort, and driver tips. Based on double occupancy; single supplement starts at about $280. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: Gate1 Travel, 800/682-3333, gate1travel.com.

Why it's a deal: According to a recent Kayak search, the lowest round-trip airfare between New York City and Venice starts at $634 including taxes for departures in late November (Iberia). For an additional $899, the Gate 1 package covers international airfare as well as nine nights' accommodations at five different locations, all ground transportation, sightseeing, admission fees, the services of English speaking tour guides, and all taxes. You also get the convenience and reassurance of one-stop shopping.

Trip details: The Affordable Croatia and Slovenia package includes round-trip airfare between New York City and Venice on a major airline carrier, such as Alitalia or Delta, and nine nights accommodations divided between Opatija, Split, Dubrovnik, and Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, and Bled in Slovenia.

Once you land in Venice, Italy, you'll transfer by private bus to Opatija, Croatia, about 140 miles away. You'll stay two nights at the 262-room Grand Hotel, which overlooks Kvarner Bay and the hillsides of Ucka.

Apart from a welcome dinner and orientation at your hotel, there are no included activities while in Opatija. You're free to explore on your own or, if you prefer, to join a full-day guided tour of the historic Istrian Peninsula ($54 per person).

From Opatija, drive another 209 miles to Zadar, one of the oldest cities on the Dalmatian Coast (dating back some 3,000 years), and then continue on to Dalmatia's seaside metropolis and the second largest city in Croatia, Split. You'll spend the night at Atrium Hotel in the heart of the city. The hotel was built on top of an aqueduct built by Emperor Diocletian in the fourth century, which can be viewed in the gallery next to the main entrance.

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While in Split, you'll enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of the city's most notable landmarks, including the ruins of the palace of Roman Emperor Diocletian, the Cathedral of St. Domnius, and the Temple of Jupiter.

Next on the agenda is Dubrovnik, about 140 miles south of Split at Croatia's southernmost tip, with breathtaking views of the Adriatic. Also known by the Italian name Ragusa, the former city-state once rivaled Venice. The included guided tour will cover's the city walls, the old harbor, the Fort of St. Lawrence, the Franciscan Monastery, and the Sponza and Rector palaces. The Hotel Petka will be your base for three nights.

You can also opt for a full-day tour of the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, during which you'll visit Cetinje, Sveti Stefan, and Budva ($54 per person).

For a change of pace and scenery, you'll drive about 290 miles inland to Plitvice Lakes National Park, known for its lush vegetation and lakes. You'll stay overnight at Hotel Grabovac.

After a walking tour of the national park, board the bus for the 80-mile drive to Zagreb. Explore the Croatian capital on your own, then proceed to Ljubljana, Slovenia. During the included city tour of Ljubljana, you'll check out an open-air market, City Hall, Parliament, Robba's Fountain, and the Three Bridges. There's also an optional traditional Slovene dinner with wine at a country inn in the medieval town of Radovljica ($46 per person).

You'll spend two nights in Bled, about 40 miles from Ljubljana, at Hotel Jelovica. A sightseeing tour of Bled and its famous castle is included, as is a farewell dinner.

The trip winds down with a ride back to the Venice airport (about 190 miles from Bled), where you'll catch a flight home.

If you'd like to spend more time in the area, you can opt for a similar Affordable Croatia and Slovenia package featuring two post-tour nights in Venice, starting at $1,799 for air and 11 nights.

For more tips on what to do, visit the official tourism Web sites of Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

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