Provider: Sights and Soul Travels
Price: from $2,795
Sights and Soul Travels' small group European vacations provide the antidote to the typical "If-It's-Tuesday-This-Must-Be-Belgium" Europe trip—with a women-only twist. "During our tours we emphasize in-depth cultural and historical immersion," says Yolanta Barnes, who co-owns the company along with fellow European Kasia Slabs. "We also realize the importance of having fun and relaxing during a vacation, so each of our tours are split in two parts: one when we focus on discovering the culture and the other when we focus on relaxation with spa treatments, walks along the beach or hikes in the mountains, wine tastings, and visiting with locals."
Past guests praise the owners, who lead the trips themselves, for their attention to detail and their thoughtfulness. "Yolanta and Kasia deserve recognition," says Canadian Lillian Bas, who went on the company's Poland trip with her daughter, who has Down's Syndrome. "They are very special people who made us feel special in return. They worked very hard behind the scenes so that we could have the best experience possible."
Besides Poland, Sights and Soul Travels also runs Hungary and Czech Republic trips, and for the first time this fall, a 10-day Croatia program. "Croatia is often called "the vintage Mediterranean," says Barnes. "It is reminiscent of the Greek or Italian Mediterranean with whitewashed, red-tile roofed towns spilling into the dark-blue sea, but it has a distinct flavor, provided by its hundreds of islands." On Sights and Soul's trip, you'll halve your time between the seaside gems of Dubrovnik and Split, exploring both cities and venturing out to the islands by boat and into the countryside for wine tasting. Relaxation time, including spa visits and beach breaks, is also scheduled.
The Croatia tour departs September 14 and October 12. Rates include accommodations, meals, ground transportation, sightseeing and activities, guides, and a spa package. Airfare to Croatia is extra. Fall flights from New York to Dubrovnik start at $466 plus taxes on Austrian Airlines.