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Green Charms of Slovenia: Bled to Ljublijana

Duration
8 Days
Prices From:
AU$ 4,589

The words 'hidden gem' get thrown around a lot in travel, but it's a fair description of Slovenia. Enjoy this premium, privately guided trip, discovering exhilarating mountain scenery, mesmerizing lakes, historical cities, an impressive culinary scene, and an alluring sliver of the Adriatic coast.


This 8-day trip through Slovenia invites you to explore one of Europe’s hidden treasures in detail. Begin at picture perfect Lake Bled and weave through the mountains and lake districts before finishing in lovely Ljubljana.

A short drive from Ljubljana airport, Bled might just be one of the most beautiful small cities in Europe. Your English-speaking driver-guide escorts you to this jewel of the Julian Alps, with its striking castle overlooking the serene lake. At its centre, a gothic church stands upon Bled Island, once the site of a temple dedicated to the Slavic love goddess Ziva. Don’t forget to ring the wishing bell! Your guide will also take you to Bled Castle, Vintgar Gorge, Mount Vogel, and Bohnij Lake. The lake was one of Agatha Christie’s favourite places in the world, one so beautiful she supposedly refused to sully the place by writing about murder there.

The Zgornjesavska Valley is all about jaw-dropping Alpine scenery. Skiers descend in the winter, while the summer rolls out the valley’s greener charms, dotted with small towns and villages such as historic trade centre, Bovec. You can go rafting on the river if you wish before heading to the Adriatic Coast. Visit Kobarid, the site of the Battle Caporetto, made famous in Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, and the culinary capital of Slovenia. Enjoy lunch at once of the town’s most lauded restaurants, and explore the ritzy seaside resort of Portoroz. This is also a great region to try some of Europe’s most delicious fish dishes, and get a taste of Slovenia’s small but busy wine and olive industries.

Postojna Caves are among the highlights of Slovenia, but before you explore them, enjoy a tour of Predjama Castle, the largest cave castle in the world. After hearing the story that connects the caves to the castle, it’s time to explore the caves proper, before heading to Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, after lunch. With influences dating back 3,000 years, this is one of Europe’s most unassuming yet delightful capital cities. Famously friendly, it invites you to explore its outdoor squares and eateries, keeping an eye out for its signature dragons, dotted throughout the city.

A day trip takes you to Ptuj, Slovenia’s picturesque oldest town which packs a wide range of historic sights into its small area. Pop into the Ptuj Wine Cellar before you depart.


 

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Duration
8 Days
Prices From:
AU$ 4,589

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Bled

Upon arrival at Ljubljana airport, meet your English-speaking driver-guide for a 'Meet and Greet' before taking a short drive into the delightful Alpine town of Bled. It's almost as if a magical world unfolds once you get close and set eyes on its stunningly beautiful lake. Emerald-green and immediately mesmerizing, it is framed by the Alpine splendour of the Julian Alps and Karavanke Mountains, with a medieval castle cradled upon its slopes. A leisurely stroll around the lake offers lots of opportunities to sit down and relax on one of the cozy benches or stop at one of the many lakeside cafes and indulge in a piece of kremna rezina, a cream cake so special that Lake Bled's patisseries have been granted 'protected designation of origin' status by the European Union.

In the evening, the promenade and old town, with plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars, offer a lively atmosphere and the proximity of neighbouring Italy and Austria is noticeable with Schnitzel and Pizza on most menus, aside from delicious, local Slovenian specialties.

Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Hotel Park

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    Hotel Park



    The hotel is an excellent base for active adventures in Bled and to explore the surrounding area. Bled promenade is just a few steps away and offers plenty of opportunities for a leisurely walk. In line with its natural surroundings, Hotel Park offers several wellness ...

    The hotel is an excellent base for active adventures in Bled and to explore the surrounding area. Bled promenade is just a few steps away and offers plenty of opportunities for a leisurely walk.

    In line with its natural surroundings, Hotel Park offers several wellness facilities and the signature thermal pool on the highest floor of the hotel provides magnificent views over the lake and the Julian Alps. Its rooms are large and comfortable, elegantly furnished and come with private balconies.

    Facilities

    • Car Rental Service
    • Conference Facilities
    • Fitness Centre
    • Free Parking
    • Free WiFi
    • Laundry Service
    • Massage Services
    • Pool
    • Restaurant
    • Room Service
    • Sauna

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Day 2

Bled - Bohinj Lake

In the morning, after breakfast and checking out of your hotel, it's time to meet your guide to enjoy a very short trip on a traditional 'Pletna' boat to Bled island.

Bled Island
The island is tiny but offers one of the finest morning walks imaginable. It's a short trip to the island and getting there is easy. Traditional Pletna boats, usually adorned with colourful awnings and reminiscent of a type of gondola, take visitors to and from the island all day. The Gothic church, the island's centrepiece, replaced what was once a temple of the ancient Slavic goddess of love Ziva. There are other interesting buildings such as the chaplain's house or the small hermitage, and inside the church you can admire an exquisitely gold-plated main altar or contemplate climbing up the 99 stairs to the top of the bell tower. Ask your guide to tell you the tale about the 'Wishing Bell'. After leaving the island, it's a short five-minute drive up to fabulous Bled Castle.

Bled Castle
Perched high on a steep cliff on the mountain slopes, and presenting a breathtaking view over the lake, is Castle Bled. Its drawbridge, the now filled-in moat and red-topped turrets might have come straight out of a fairy tale. The Gothic chapel on the upper courtyard is, probably, the most interesting of all the preserved buildings but today's castle serves as an exhibition with interesting display rooms next to the chapel, a castle printing shop as well as an excellent museum.

Vintgar Gorge
Your journey continues for about 4 km to one of the most fabulous natural sights in Slovenia: the Vintgar Gorge. Over the next 1.6 km, intricate boardwalks crisscross their way through canyon-like vertical rocks along the Radovna River, creating an incredibly enchanting scenery while passing waterfalls, pools and rapids. The final captivating view at the end of this amazing experience is on a bridge, overlooking Slap Sum, a beautiful 50 feet high waterfall. After the gorge enjoy, for the next 45 minutes, a marvellous drive through the heart of the Julian Alps before stopping for lunch stop (not included). Here at the Pokljuka Plateau, at an altitude of just over 4,000 feet inside Triglav National Park, the scenery is peacefully alluring. During the summer months, mountain meadows are in full bloom with wildflowers, occasionally separated by patches of green forest, while pretty hamlets and shingle-covered wooden cottages stretch across the open, traditional farming pastures along the way.

Mount Vogel
After lunch, a quick 20-minute drive takes you to the base of Mount Vogel, in the Southern parts of the Julian Alps. It's a great hiking area but you are here to enjoy a ride on the Mount Vogel cable car. As the car starts to pull upwards on it's four-minute journey, forests give way to bare cliffs and it is possible to see goat-like chamois leaping around the rocks. There are no seasonal breaks at the very top of Mount Vogel and snow shrouds might slowly float towards the horizon while people enjoy a swim in Lake Bohinj below. After a very steep ascent up to about 5,000 feet above sea level, the views of Lake Bohinj framed by the surrounding mountains of the Slovenian Alps, are totally stunning. Take your time to appreciate the scenery from the viewing platform on the upper station, or add a final flourish to your adventure, depending on the season, taking the chairlift to Orlove Glave, which is an even higher viewpoint.

Bohinj Lake
Lake Bohinj is right in the middle of a glacier valley in the heart of Triglav National Park, and a marvellous experience not to be missed. While not as widely known as Lake Bled, it is a magical and incredibly tranquil spot. Agatha Christie used to come here but, apparently, not to write. Allegedly, she said that the valley was "too beautiful a place for murder." The delightful town of Ribcev Laz is a perfect place to admire the delightful trail that follows the entire perimeter of the lake and its many small beaches. Close by are the iconic St. John the Baptist church and the statue of the fabled Zlatorog or iGolden Horn, which according to legend is a Slovenian god or a golden-horned chamois that lives in the surrounding mountains.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Hotel Jezero

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    Hotel Jezero



    Located in a prime spot in delightful Ribcev Laz, Hotel Jezero is a perfect base for most activities around Lake Bohinj. Scenic boat excursions depart on frequent sightseeing trips not far from the hotel and the iconic Church of St. John the Baptist, with its ...

    Located in a prime spot in delightful Ribcev Laz, Hotel Jezero is a perfect base for most activities around Lake Bohinj. Scenic boat excursions depart on frequent sightseeing trips not far from the hotel and the iconic Church of St. John the Baptist, with its unusual frescoes, is a short stroll across the bridge outside the hotel. A three-minute walk in the other direction allows you to admire the statue of the fabled Zlatorog or Golden Horn. Trails around the lake are literally on your doorstep.

    The exterior of the hotel is in the typical style of a small Alpine resort and has a welcoming atmosphere. Rooms are comfortable, elegantly furnished and feature balconies with garden furniture and lovely views.

    Facilities

    • Bike Rental
    • Fitness Centre
    • Free Parking
    • Free WiFi
    • Indoor Pool
    • Laundry Service
    • Restaurant
    • Sauna

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Day 3

Bohinj Lake area - Bovec

Amazing scenery is waiting to be explored on the drive to the Zgornjesavska Valley, one of the most appealing Alpine valleys in the area, and its major resort town, Kranjska Gora. In winter, this is a major region for alpine skiing and is, in fact, a regular stop on the FIS Ski World Cup.

Leaving town, exhilarating vistas continue with the formidable Vrsic Pass. It's a gorgeous stretch of road that follows 24 hairpin turns, with bewitching views trying to persuade you to leave the car and take photos before you reach the top at 5,200 feet above sea level. On the way down, with its own set of 26 hairpin turns, you enter the Soca Valley, dominated by the Soca, one of Europe's most beautiful rivers. Its radiant turquoise hue flows for about 100 km against a backdrop of imposing limestone mountains cloaked in dense forests, lush meadows and a clutch of small towns and villages. The town of Bovec is the center of the Soca Valley region and has a rich, colourful history. It was once an important trade route between Vienna and the port of Trieste but today enjoys an enviable location close to one of Slovenia's most attractive areas for outdoor activities. Once you arrive at Bovec and check into your hotel, the rest of your day is at leisure.

If you are interested to have the full Soca River experience, an afternoon of rafting including services for beginners or families, is available on an optional basis to be paid for locally. A typical trip takes place on the most attractive section of the Soca river from the waterfall at Boka to the village Trnovo ob Soci, covering a length of approximately 8-10 km and spending around one and a half hours on the water. Please note this will have to be booked locally at least 24 hours prior.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Hotel Dobra Vila

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    Hotel Dobra Vila



    Hotel Dobra Vila was once home of a historic telephone switchboard and successfully plays up on its retro flair. The center of town with a few bars and restaurants is just 600 feet away, but at Dobra Vila you'll find a serious wine cellar, a ...

    Hotel Dobra Vila was once home of a historic telephone switchboard and successfully plays up on its retro flair. The center of town with a few bars and restaurants is just 600 feet away, but at Dobra Vila you'll find a serious wine cellar, a library and a gorgeous conservatory that invites to daydream.

    The rooms are plush and refined, yet traditionally decorated. A touch of whimsy is that each and every room number has a special significance. 386, for example, stands for Slovenia's international dialling code, while 501 is a tribute to one of Levi Strauss's finest. 2001 is, of course, a nod to Stanley Kubrick's A Space Odyssey.

    Facilities

    • Bike Rental
    • Concierge
    • Free Parking
    • Free WiFi
    • Library
    • Restaurant
    • Wine Cellar

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Day 4

Bovec - Portoroz

Leaving the Julian Alps in the morning, you'll see the shores of Slovenia's Adriatic coast by afternoon. At first though, after breakfast and checking out of your hotel, a stop at the town of Kobarid will take you back in history. Around here, the Battle of Caporetto pitted what was then the Kingdom of Italy against a combined Austro-Hungarian-German army in October 1917. In his famous novel 'A Farewell to Arms', Ernest Hemingway described the retreat of the Italian forces in considerable detail. The battle, and other historical events, is well documented in the Kobarid Museum, for which it received the Council of Europe Museum Award.

Interestingly, the town is also considered by many to be Slovenia's culinary capital, creating an entire hidden foodie scene in the region and there are, consequently, many great choices for lunch (not included). Hisa Franko is, probably, the most well-known, but please note that since the restaurant's co-owner and chef, Ana Ros, was voted 'The World's Best Female Chef' in 2017 bookings are required at least three months in advance. After lunch, you are, finally, leaving the mountains to experience the Mediterranean ambience of Slovenia's largest seaside resort, Portoroz. Most people like to think of it as a Slovenian version of Monte Carlo and during the summer months, the bars and cafes that line the strip along the wide, sandy beach are alive and bustling. With the well-maintained beach and crystal-clear waters also come a wide range of premium and luxury hotels, spas and wellness centres that successfully promote the area to travellers interested in wellness holidays.

The rest of the day is at leisure with plenty of time to have a relaxing stroll along the shoreline before dinner and, perhaps, enjoy a little resort nightlife afterwards.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Lifeclass Hotel Neptun

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    Lifeclass Hotel Neptun



    The Hotel Neptun, a LifeClass hotel, is in a quiet part of Portoroz, above the main seafront promenade with lots of pine trees providing a lovely setting. Its location on a slope offers an element of tranquility and, of course, beautiful views over the sea. ...

    The Hotel Neptun, a LifeClass hotel, is in a quiet part of Portoroz, above the main seafront promenade with lots of pine trees providing a lovely setting. Its location on a slope offers an element of tranquility and, of course, beautiful views over the sea. The Terme and Wellness LifeClass spa center is linked to the hotel through a covered passage which also connects with the heated saltwater swimming pool. The rooms are comfortable and spacious with elegant, yet unpretentious, furnishings.

    Facilities

    • Bar
    • Fitness Centre
    • Free WiFi
    • Indoor heated pool
    • Laundry Service
    • Meeting and Event Facilities
    • Wellness Center

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Day 5

Portoroz

After breakfast, you'll discover a relatively little-known stretch of coastline with some of the most pristine beaches of the Mediterranean. Even Italians drive across the border for a bite of grilled branzino or sea bass because the waters around Piran have some of the tastiest fish in the Mediterranean. Ask your guide to recommend a place for lunch (not included) around Tartini Square, the starting point of your walking tour afterwards. Piran is one large museum, replete with medieval architecture, centred by the square named after its most famous citizen, the musician Giuseppe Tartini.

Walking around town won't take that much time, but the key is that you explore some of the alleyways at a leisurely pace. The best vistas are often from above and it's well worth climbing up the 146 steps to the bell tower at the Church of St. George. A pretty lighthouse sits at the very tip of the peninsula and this is literally as far as you can walk. After a delightful stroll around Piran, you're off to a short but beautiful half-hour drive along the coast past Koper, Slovenia's main cruise ship port, until you arrive at Vinakoper Wine Cellar, an award-winning winery that has produced top-quality wines since 1947. Here you are on the outskirts of Koper and just a few kilometers from Trieste in Italy. The coastline is, in fact, so narrow that you can see Italy from various parts of town.

Vinakoper Wine Tasting
Slovenia's wine industry is, certainly, one to watch and has received accolades from sommeliers and other industry experts around Europe. It is, probably, a little know fact that oenology and viticulture in Slovenian Istria goes back 1,000 years, passed on from generation to generation by people who have always lived closely connected to the soil. Your visit to Vinakoper's 'cellar' will include the tasting of three different wines that might include samples from the 'Treasury of the Istrian Rubies' but Vinakoper has also won awards for its Capris Noble White, a sweet Moscato, Capris Merlot or Refrosco Capo d'Istria. Allow an element of surprise and learn more about Slovenian wines at their 'Wineacademy'.

Lisjak Olive Mill Visit and Tasting
After tasting some delightful 'Slovenian grapes' a ten-minute drive takes you into the hinterland of Slovenian Istria and your chance to experience a taste of Gold, Istrska Belica, Cuvee, Poison, Truffle and, maybe, 'One Love'. If you wonder if they're reds or whites, they are neither. All of them, and there are more, are the most exquisite products produced by a company called Lisjak Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil. During today's Olive Mill Visit and Tasting, you get to know about the entire live oil pressing process, experience how to taste it and learn a lot more about its best uses and benefits. For the Lisjak company, proud of an olive-growing tradition that goes back more than 150 years, this is not simply a passion, it is their life.

After an afternoon of grapes and olives, it's a pleasant drive of 30 minutes or so back to Portoroz and your hotel, where the rest of your day is at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 6

Portoroz - Ljubljana

Today, your trip takes you to the capital, Ljubljana, but not before you have experienced one of Slovenia's most awesome natural attractions, the world-famous Postojna Caves.

Predjama Castle
Before experiencing the actual caves, enjoy a 45-minute visit of the dramatically picturesque Predjama Castle, the largest cave castle in the world, wedged into the middle of a towering cliff. Perched up high for more than 800 years, its look, dominating the surrounding countryside, is magnificent, defiant, mysterious and impregnable. According to legend, in the 15th century a robber baron acquired the castle and land around it. Power got to his head and he killed, on one of his raids, a kinsman of Frederick III, the Holy Roman Emperor. Frederick sent a formidable force to hunt him down but a secret tunnel from the castle, allowed him to stay safe for a whole year until one of his servants sold him out. At a time when indoor plumbing was still a pipe dream, the outhouse was high up on the outside face of the castle which was to be his undoing. Raising a flag when the baron was using the facilities, he was blasted off his toiled with a single cannon shot. The baron's hiding place can still be visited today. After exploring some other features that will excite kids of all ages, including a very dark dungeon, holes to pour boiling oil on intruders and a 16th century treasure chest, a short drive of 9km takes you the famous caves.

Postojna Caves
An extraordinary underground world, Postojna Caves is one of the largest and most beautiful caves in Europe. It's like an entirely new world below the surface, shaped over millions of years, with its own mountains, rivers, vast underground chambers as well as smaller passages that have created a breathtaking diversity of shapes and cave formations. It is also home to over 150 animal species, some of which can be admired in the Vivarium exhibition area by the cave entrance. Your regular tour lasts 90 minutes, allowing you to explore 5 km of the cave passages, including 1.5 km of walking, while the Postojna Cave railway takes you around for the remaining 3.5 km. Once you emerge from this wondrous subterranean realm, it's time to enjoy lunch (not included) before you're off to Ljubljana, just 54 km away, to check into your hotel and freshen up. You have one more experience to look forward to, namely a delightful walking tour of Slovenia's capital, as soon as you are ready to join your guide in the lobby.

Ljubljana
Ljubljana is easily one of Europe's best-kept secrets. Looking back on a vibrant history that traces 3,000 years of Roman, Medieval, Baroque and Italian influences, it's a friendly and cosmopolitan city today. Your tour takes in all the major attractions and over the next 90 minutes you'll see the Republic, Congress and Preseren squares, before savouring a stroll alongside the shimmering Ljubljanica river, dotted with outdoor cafes and eateries. A unique architectural gem is the Triple Bridge, the central part of three separate bridges, which is close to the bustling Ljubljana Central Market colonnade and the cobblestone streets of the Old Town. Ask the guide to tell you the story about the city's most recognizable resident, and sentinel of the iconic Emperor Franz Josef Jubilee Bridge: the Ljubljana Dragon.

After you return to your hotel, the rest of your day is at leisure. As a special evening treat, you might consider exploring Ljubljana Castle, a 15-minute drive from your hotel, on your own.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Best Western Premier Hotel Slon

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    Best Western Premier Hotel Slon



    The Best Western Premier Hotel Slon is conveniently situated in the city center of Ljubljana and offers easy access to major government, diplomatic and corporate offices. The hotel is also near the National Theatre and the impressive historical art housed in the National Gallery Museum. ...

    The Best Western Premier Hotel Slon is conveniently situated in the city center of Ljubljana and offers easy access to major government, diplomatic and corporate offices. The hotel is also near the National Theatre and the impressive historical art housed in the National Gallery Museum. Hotel guests will enjoy the hotel's complimentary spa and fitness area, restaurants and pastry shop as well as the complimentary full breakfast and newspaper each morning.

    Facilities

    • 24 Hour Reception
    • Business Centre
    • Complimentary Newspaper
    • Concierge
    • Currency Exchange
    • Dry Cleaning
    • Elevator
    • Gift Shop
    • Guest Laundry
    • Hot Tub
    • Lounge
    • Multi-lingual Staff
    • Restaurant
    • Safety Deposit Box
    • Smoke Free Hotel
    • Steam Room

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    Preferred Hotel
Day 7

Ljubljana - Ptuj - Ljubljana

Today you are visiting Ptuj, the oldest town in Slovenia and a delightfully languorous place, with a lovely riverside location, where daily life seems to unfold at a pleasantly calm pace. It flowered during Roman times when it was granted city status by the Emperor Trajan, although its full history can be traced back to the Stone Age.

Your walking tour includes the impressive castle above town and climbing up the fairly steep hill to reach it will be rewarded with marevellous views over the entire town and surrounding idyllic countryside. Its grand chambers host several exhibits, including an interesting array of rifles, Slovenia's largest collection of musical instruments and an exhibition of traditional Ptuj Carnival masks. Down in the city center, you'll walk past the Dominican Monastery, a Baroque and Gothic-style structure from the 13th century with the Old Prison, which is now a unique historical exhibition center, close by.

All attractions are very close to each other, which means that a leisurely stroll should be your speed limit. The Slovenian Square, a key highlight, has played an essential part in everyday life since antiquity. The Orpheus Monument is one of its notable attractions but so is the nearby City Tower, famous for missing a clock on the side that faces Ptuj Castle. Legend has it that the citizens only installed three clocks because the lords of the castle refused to pay their share of the installation. Wandering down Drava Street offers fabulous views over the Drava River and you can find many fine places for lunch (not included).

Ptujska Klet (Ptuj Wine Cellar)
Leave some room for wine and cheese because after lunch you are going to visit Ptujska Klet, the oldest winery in Slovenia. While viticulture and cellaring in the area dates back at least two millennia, Ptuj Cellar itself is proud of its seven-hundred-year-old tradition of wine production and cultivation. Many memories and the spirit of the past are preserved in the bottles that are kept here, among them the oldest archival wine in Slovenia, Zlata trta, meaning Golden Vine, from the year 1917. Today, wines from Ptuj Cellar have been awarded many prizes at prestigious competitions all over Europe and even farther afield including Tokyo and San Francisco, among others. Experience a guided tour of the cellars followed by a short audio-visual presentation titled 'When A Drop Sparkles'. This beautiful tale about a winery's love of vine and wine culture is, however, best experienced once a sommelier let's you taste some of the excellent wines.

With pleasant memories about Ptuj, you can sit back and relax while your driver-guide gets you back to Ljubljana and your hotel.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 8

Departure

The drive to Ljubljana airport takes approximately 30 minutes. After breakfast and checking out of your hotel, your driver-guide will take you to the airport for your departure.

Meal Plan Breakfast

Other Information

DEPARTURES:

Saturdays, Mondays, Wednesdays

PRICE INCLUDES:

  • 7 nights' first class accommodations
  • Breakfast daily
  • Englsh speaking guide/driver
  • Entrance Fees
  • Pletna boat ride and visit of St. Mary's Church
  • Wine tasting in Koper

PRICE EXCLUDES:

  • Travel insurance
  • International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes
  • Visa fees if applicable
  • Meals and beverages not mentioned
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.

TB LIBERTYBLE20SG: GCS 2
11 Dec 2020
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