Venice, Italy & Croatia Honeymoon Tips from a Real Couple

See a couple's Old World honeymoon in Croatia, as well as a final stop in Venice, Italy!

Be inspired by Natalie and Tom's European honeymoon that spanned across Croatia – including Dubrovnik, Hvar, Split, and Rovinj – with a final stop to explore the streets and canals of Venice, Italy.

honeymoon photo shoot newlyweds walking up steps in the old city walls dubrovnik croatia honeymoon tips
Photo: Fabijan Drnas

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Following their sunny alfresco wedding at The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, Natalie Kratts and Tom Sauer traveled to Croatia and Italy for a romantic honeymoon filled with enriching cultural and epicurean experiences. 

Destination: Dubrovnik & Hvar, Croatia

Upon arriving at Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik just steps away from the medieval fortress walls of Old Town, Natalie came to the realization that after a busy wedding week and months of planning, it was finally time to relax! “Seeing the glistening Adriatic Sea from our suite, sitting down to enjoy a glass of Champagne, and taking time to be at peace was so welcome in that moment,” smiles Natalie.

honeymoon photo shoot newlyweds posing on steps in the old city walls old town dubrovnik croatia honeymoon tips

honeymoon photo shoot newlyweds posing on steps old city walls old town dubrovnik croatia honeymoon tips

Photos by Fabijan Drnas

Known for its historical significance and use as a filming location in HBO’s Game of Thrones, the couple loved exploring the cobbled streets of Dubrovnik with a local guide, taking time to “walk the walls” around the perimeter of Old Town, and dining at 360 Restaurant and Nautika, as well as the cliffside Buža Bar. “Every last corner of Dubrovnik has something beautiful and charming to explore,” adds Tom.

honeymoon photo shoot newlyweds kissing in the old city walls old town dubrovnik croatia honeymoon tips

Photo by Fabijan Drnas

Next, the pair set off to Hvar, a gorgeous island off the Dalmatian coast, where the five-star Palace Elisabeth served as home base. A private guide shared a cultural tour complete with wine tastings at two of Croatia’s renowned winemakers, along with visits to ancient ruins, a Benedictine monastery, and a local family estate for a traditional peka lunch.

the spa at palace elisabeth in hvar croatia honeymoon tips

dusk sunset photo of the restaurant at palace elisabeth in hvar croatia honeymoon tips

Photos courtesy of Palace Elisabeth

Highlights of Dubrovnik & Hvar, Croatia

Dining in Dubrovnik at Nautika. “It was rated one of the most romantic restaurants in all of Europe and absolutely earned that designation!”

Taking professional photos. “The dreamy, romantic aesthetic of Old Town was perfectly captured by a local photographer… One of our best souvenirs from Croatia.”

Enjoying a traditional peka lunch. “It was remarkable! The family took us back to their rustic kitchen and then seated us to take in the panoramic views of the countryside.”

dusk sunset photo of palace elisabeth from the marina in hvar croatia honeymoon tips

Photo courtesy of Palace Elisabeth

Destination: Split & Rovinj, Croatia

Their next stop is best known for the Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian, one of UNESCO’s most- celebrated World Heritage Sites. “We were able to tour the palace during a guided walk through the city and experience one of the best-preserved examples of medieval times anywhere in the world,” shares Natalie. 

Heritage Hotel Santa Lucia offered easy access to shopping and dining at restaurants including Bokeria, and a private driver took the honeymooners to Krka National Park – “one of the most beautiful natural sites in all of Croatia,” remembers Tom, as well as the town of Šibenik where a six-course dinner and wine pairing at Pelegrini awaited.

honeymoon photo of bride eating at restaurant at pellegrini split croatia honeymoon tips

Photo courtesy of Natalie & Tom Sauer

Their Croatian adventure was made complete at Grand Park Hotel Rovinj on Croatia’s Istrian peninsula. “This was definitely our favorite hotel in all of Croatia!” affirms Natalie. “Neither of us had heard of Rovinj or Istria before, which made it that much more delightful,” notes Tom. 

exterior view of grand park hotel rovinj and marina in rovinj croatia honeymoon tips

bedroom with wraparound balcony views at grand park hotel rovinj and marina in rovinj croatia honeymoon tips

Photos courtesy of Grand Park Hotel Rovinj

They enjoyed a private tour of Rovinj and a custom tasting menu with wine pairing at the hotel’s Cap Aureo Signature restaurant, and a day trip took them to the Roman ruins of Pula, medieval hilltop towns, and Brijuni National Park – an archipelago of 14 islands showcasing natural and archaeological sites, dinosaur footprints, and more. “We would definitely make a trip back to Croatia just to visit Rovinj again!” confirms Natalie.

restaurant with views at grand park hotel rovinj and marina in rovinj croatia honeymoon tips

sunset dusk pool view with cocktails at grand park hotel rovinj and marina in rovinj croatia honeymoon tips

Photos courtesy of 
Grand Park Hotel Rovinj

Highlights of Split & Rovinj, Croatia

Hiring a private guide in Split. “Having a knowledgeable local guide is the best way to experience the city because so many sites do not have placards indicating their significance.

Walking the streets of picturesque Rovinj. “We would go back in a heartbeat just to explore and get lost together all over again.”

Sampling wines on the Istrian Peninsula. “Istria is probably best known for its wine, so we made a point to enjoy Istrian wine during each of our meals in the region.”

honeymoon photo bride and groom at pula amphitheatre in pula croatia honeymoon tips

Photo courtesy of Natalie & Tom Sauer

Destination: Venice, Italy

Before heading home, Natalie and Tom spent three nights at Londra Palace Venezia in Venice, Italy. “We were eager to experience the city and its canals and famous architecture,” Tom shares. As their five-star hotel was just moments away from Piazza San Marco, the centrally located property provided the perfect accommodations for the newlyweds’ first visit to Venice. To properly view the sites – including St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace – the couple took a private guided walking tour and also made sure to explore the tiny waterways by way of a traditional Venetian gondola.

view of londra palace venezia hotel from grand canal in venice italy honeymoon tips

junior suite bedroom with balcony grand canal view at londra palace venezia hotel in venice italy honeymoon tips

restaurant with views of grand canal and altana la salute church from londra palace venezia hotel in venice italy honeymoon tips

Photos by Dario Garofalo


Exploring the sites. “We especially enjoyed the Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica, and a romantic evening gondola ride through the canals.”

Getting lost. “My favorite part of any trip is taking time to get lost and wander around a new city… We had plenty of time built into our itinerary to explore on our own.”

Touring Piazza San Marco. “I especially loved seeing the Four Horses and the rooftop view from St. Mark’s Basilica and the famous Bridge of Sighs in Doge’s Palace.

honeymoon photo shoot professional photos on gondola grand canal venice italy honeymoon tips

Photo courtesy of Michele Agostinis

As the pair wanted their honeymoon to be romantic, epicurean, and culturally enriching, they were grateful to have worked with luxury travel agency Scott Dunn to organize an itinerary filled with restaurant reservations and private guided tours. “They work with tour agencies in Croatia and Italy, so we were able to have in-country contacts for each place we stopped,” Tom describes. “They were seamless to work with and attended to every detail, so that all we had to do was check our schedule and show up on time.”

“The trip was a whirlwind and an adventure!” Natalie marvels. “Four years ago when we started dating, I never would have imagined we would have such a fairy-tale wedding, followed by the absolute trip of a lifetime for our honeymoon.”

Croatia & Italy Honeymoon Tips from Natalie & Tom:

“Although the official language of Croatia is Croatian, most Croatians speak fluent English, eliminating any concern of translation issues.” 

“The summer is the best time to visit Croatia. We learned from our guides that the country practically shuts down in the off-season, so it may be hard to fully enjoy it outside of late spring, summer, and early autumn.” 

“It was not too busy in mid-June, as this is the early part of the busy season, so we would definitely recommend visiting at that time.” 

“We found that the country is incredibly safe and that petty crime or pickpockets are exceedingly rare in Croatia.” 

“In Venice, there’s a strict dress code to enter St. Mark’s Basilica. We saw many people waiting in long lines just to get turned away at the entrance. Women are required to have their shoulders and knees covered to enter, and everyone is expected to be respectfully and modestly dressed.”

honeymoon photo shoot professional photos while exploring old town dubvrovnik honeymoon tips

Photo by Fabijan Drnas

This story was originally published as a Travel Diaries feature in the Winter 2024 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. To order a copy of the Winter 2024 issue, visit our library of Inside Weddings back issues available for purchase.