Our guide to your overnight stopovers
Dubrovnik’s baroque architecture and luxurious marble streets are the first thing you’ll note when seeing the city for the first time. Easily one of the world’s most beautiful walled cities – Dubrovnik offers so much to those that travel there. We love to lounge on the picture perfect beaches, stroll the pedestrian only old town taking in the Baroque churches and striking red roof houses before resting in quaint cafes, taking in hundreds of years worth of architecture (Sponza Palace and the historic 12th century pharmacy) and eating divine dinners in the city’s astounding collection of waterside restaurants.
Dusk is our favourite time in the city – when the streets become dark and dimly lit by orange tinted streetlights, and Dubrovnik’s finest take their heels out to play in what is by far one of Croatia’s most exciting nightlifes – either don your most exquisite outfit to join the throngs or take it all in from the deck of a yacht perched in the marina.
Korcula’s astounding natural beauty is heavenly to say the least. The island is one of the greenest in the Adriatic and is lush with olive groves and vineyards – making it perfect for those who like to explore Croatia’s much loved wine varieties. The southern part of the island is formed by small quiet beaches and private coves where it’s possible to spend an entire day without seeing another person. Head inland to the main city of Korcula for an authentic small island market day – which serves, along with the islands 300 residents, a slow but steady stream of tourists.
Covered by lush deep emerald forests, light green fields, vineyards and the tiniest of villages, Mljet Island is otherworldly in its beauty and unforgettably tranquil. The north of the island is the most beautiful, home to the Mljet National park and painted with saltwater lakes and pine forests – though there isn’t a single part of this island which is not exceptional.
Šipan is home to a thoroughly gorgeous marina where tiny boats brush against the shore as both residents and travellers alike share tales of Croatian adventures in water side cafes and bars. The island has a real lost at sea atmosphere to it – which only serves to accentuate the fable like shorelines that are lined with a modest selection of rocks, old wooden row boats, trees and all shades of sands – though the beaches here are not as interesting as the two beautiful towns – Sudurad & Sipanska Luka – which are linked by a road that runs directly through the olive and citrus groves on the island. Luckily, the road also brushes past the islands vineyards – home to the grapes that when ready, become the wine that is Sipan’s greatest feat so far.
Split’s most striking feature is the stunning UNESCO listed Diocletian’s Palace, a Roman monument that stands at the centre of the city and is now filled with bars, restaurants and shops. The Palace was an inspiration for Robert Adam’s new style of neoclassical architecture – a simplification of rococo and baroque style – it has a good selection of bars on the ground floor and upper levels as well as a maze of underground temples and tunnels beneath it that add a layer of mystery to any visit there.
The city balances tradition and modernity with a fabulous zeal – there is an excellent collection of modern bars and restaurants along the Riva, incredible pieces of architecture including the towering Split Cathedral, the colourful Croatian National Theatre and of course the gorgeous harbour where one can stare out to the deep blues of the sea or even lay back on a private yacht soaking up the atmosphere.
The island of Hvar is one of our favourites in Dalmatia – you’ll find lush vineyards and pinetopped hills, medieval streets and modern bars and restaurants that contribute to what is one of Croatia’s most talked about nightlife spots. The old town is encircled by a 13th century wall, it’s traffic-free, adorned with Gothic palaces and lined with marble streets, and at the centre is St. Stephen’s Square – the best al fresco dining spot on the island. It is simply remarkable.
As well as nightlife, impeccable beaches and wonderful food, the island has a variety of secrets should you wish to uncover them – from abandoned villages and rugged cycle paths that take in the best views, to antique architecture and numerous coves and inlets that allow for privacy and heaven-like perfection away from the crowds.
Brac’s sumptuous white beaches are world famous – but the most famous of them all is the pointed pebbly beach at Bol which sticks out far into the Adriatic sea. There are several towns and typical sleepy villages to explore, as well as miles of beautiful countryside adorned with pine forests, fields of rosemary and bright flowers, and steep viewing points where it’s possible to look as far as Hvar. Interestingly the white stone that created both the Diocletian’s Palace in Split and the Whitehouse in Washington is from Brac.
Vis is a somewhat isolated island, but its isolation has served to preserve the island’s authenticity. Travellers flock to Vis to experience serenity on the rugged coastline, gourmet cuisine that holds strongly to Croatia’s traditional roots, and beautiful, almost entirely untouched and unspoiled nature. For wine connoisseurs there is no better island in Croatia, especially for those who favour Vugava – one of Croatia’s most loved whites – which is almost entirely cultivated on Vis. Seafood is resplendent on every corner though we prefer the chic restaurants of Vis Town to the rustic eateries of Komiza – though it’s in Komiza’s stoney backstreets and small but vibrant harbour where you’ll find many of the fishermen that ensure fresh produce each day.