Just mentioning the word ‘Mediterranean’ is enough to stir up images of aquamarine waters, warm days and fascinating history. Croatia is the place to turn those images into reality and there are no better spots to visit than the four best known and most popular destinations for travellers in Croatia: Hvar, Brac, Split and the Dalmatian Coast.
Hvar, a Croatian summer resort island in the Adriatic Sea, is one of the world’s most beautiful islands and the sunniest spot in the country. A luxurious beach destination, Hvar offers travellers plentiful beaches, historical highlights and more opportunities to soak up the sun than any other place in Croatia. The port town has walls dating back to the 13th century and a main square centred around the Hvar Cathedral.
Highlights of Hvar
Hvar boasts many beautiful beaches just waiting to be explored including the tiny pebble Zavala Beach, Dubovica Beach with its picturesque cove and clear waters, Brusje Beach with its many hidden coves and Vrboska Soline the best family beach on the island.
In addition to the beautiful beaches, the island is also brimming with history. Take a visit to the Stari Grad Plain of the town Stari Grad and find an agricultural landscape set up by the Greeks in the 4th century BC. In the tiny town of Vrboska, you’ll discover the fifteenth-century churches of St Lawrence and Our Lady of Mercy. And, if you’re in the main port town, don’t miss the beautifully situated Franciscan Monastery overlooking the Hvar harbour.
When you’ve had your fill of history, and need a break from the crowded beaches, take a boat trip to visit the nearby Pakleni Islands and discover remote, untouched beaches and hidden coves.
Easily accessible from Split via ferry, the stunning island of Brac is a haven for sunseekers, windsurfers, divers and families wanting a quieter, more relaxed beach holiday. Brac is the third largest of the Croatian islands and is quieter than the more popular destinations of Split and Hvar. For that reason, it is the best island to get a glimpse into authentic island life.
Highlights of Brac
For sunseekers and windsurfers, the island is best known for Zlatni Rat Beach (Golden Cape), a white pebble beach in the small village of Bol. This is the most photographed beach in Croatia that changes from shallow to deep and sunny to shady depending on the time of day and the direction of the wind. When the wind gets us it’s particularly popular with windsurfers.
For divers, the Lucice Bay has an underwater cave made up of two chambers, the larger is 37 metres deep and the smaller, 42 metres deep. The magnificent setting is supported by beautiful stalagmites, stalactites, corals and sponges.
There also are a number of small towns and villages to explore on the island. Starting with Supetar, the main entry point to the island, you’ll find an 18th-century church and a cemetery full of sculptures. The tiny village of Splitska with only 400 inhabitants is the perfect destination for a quiet beach holiday. An easy walk away is Skrip with its medieval town centre and a museum that documents the history of Brac. Pucisca is famous for the white stone that is still carved in the town’s well-known stonemason school. While you’re there, stroll along the harbour and notice the Renaissance buildings.
Holiday in Split
Split, Croatia’s second largest city, is big and busy and to this day remains one of the Adriatic Sea’s most bustling, alive port cities. The city, sandwiched between the sea and the mountains, is the cultural and economic centre of the Dalmatian Coast. There’s so much to do in the city from exploring some of the history to visiting the nearby beaches or simply joining the locals by getting into fjaka, the Dalmatian art of doing absolutely nothing.
Highlights of Split
Known for its beaches, Split is home to the top beaches of Bacvice, a very popular blue flag beach, Ovcice, a gravel and small pebble beach and Firule, with shallow waters making it perfect for children. If you continue east, you’ll discover Trstenik bay and beach and Znjan. There are also the beaches of Marjan to explore including Kastelet, Kasjuni, and Bene.
For culture, Split offers the Mestrovic Gallery in honour of Ivan Mestrovic, Croatia’s most famous sculptor. The gallery has landscaped gardens, 192 sculptures and hundreds of drawings by the master. There is also Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction of this impressive fortified palace began in in the year 295 and was later added on to with gothic and baroque buildings that date back to the middle ages. If you’re a fan of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones, don’t miss a visit to Diocletian’s Palace which served as Danaerys’s throne room, or the nearby fortress of Klis which was the city of Meereen in the series.
Journey Through the Dalmatian Coast
The Dalmatian Coast stretches from the island of Rab in the north to the Bay of Kotor in the south including Dubrovnik, Hvar, Korčula and Split. The name is derived from an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae who lived in the area thousands of years ago.
Highlights of the Dalmatian Coast
Aside from the popular areas of Dubrovnik, Hvar, Korčula, Brac and Split there are some other highlights that are not to be missed.
Visit Plitvice and Krka National Parks and enjoy the spectacular scenery and impressive waterfalls or the impressive Dinara mountains. One of the most beautiful places to visit on the Dalmatian Coast is the 22-mile long Omis Riviera. The town of Omis itself is an easy day trip from Split built originally at the foot of the Dinara mountains. The small fortified old town is distinctive because of the huge stone rocks that hang over the town and the river. It was the home of the infamous, dangerous Otis Pirates who were active in the thirteen century. Also not to be missed is the awe-inspiring Waterfall Gubavica, the scenery around Matokit and Kamen Brela (the Brela Stone), a small rock island just off the main beach in Brela.