The lush and historic Dalmatian Coast offers Roman ruins, unique natural beauty, superb beaches, traditional fishing ports and an abundance of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The 375km (233 miles) of culturally important Adriatic coast offers dramatic natural scenery, with a wealth of things to see and do all year round.
The city of Dubrovnik established itself as a significant cultural and economic center in years gone by, which is evident in the architecture and heritage. In fact, Dubrovnik once rivalled Venice for supremacy. Dubrovnik peeks out over the Adriatic from behind those famous fortified walls. Today the walls house a fascination open air museum and is surrounded by galleries, churches, palaces and a wealth of museums. The old city of Dubrovnik, which incidentally is a budget holiday hotspot, is dubbed the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ and since 1994 has been an important UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Old Town district is packed with carefully preserved Baroque, renaissance and Gothic style architecture within the monasteries, fountains and churches. Don’t miss a ride on the superb Dubrovnik Cable Car or a visit to the Museum of Croatian War of Independence which details the conflict in the 1990s.
Mljet Island and Korcula Island
The lush unspoilt wilderness of Mljet Island supports a large National Park area that accounts for a third of the land. Dubbed the “the greenest island” within Croatia, Mljet has quaint villages, hidden bays and beautiful beaches along this thin island strip. Soak up the rays on Saplunara beach and Blace beach which are both beautiful sandy examples. Mljet Nation Park is teeming with endemic wildlife, across the two salt water lakes and dense canopy. Heritage wise, visitors are attracted to the 12th century St Mary monastery, the ruins of the Roman Palace of Polace and the archaeological site of St Paul’s church.
Legendary explorer Marco Polo is believed to have been born on the small island off Korcula, just off the coast of Croatia. The island has a rich Old Town with the centerpiece being the handsome gothic and renaissance style St Mark’s cathedral, which dates back to the 13th century.
Both peaceful islands are easily reached via a short sea crossing from Dubrovnik.
The largest city along the Dalmatian Coast is Split, which was first settled at the end of the 3rd century AD. The city is the perfect starting point for your Dalmatia adventure as the region’s boats and buses commence and end here. The highlight of Split has to be the ancient ruins of the Diocletian Palace (pictured above); built by the ruling Roman Emperor and which began the creation of the Split Old Town district. The impressive Palace of Diocletian is Croatia’s oldest UNESCO World Heritage Site and was inscribed in 1979. Also check out the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery and admire the St Domnius Cathedral and belltower. The romance of the region makes this an ideal honeymoon destination.
Journey over to remote Vis Island for a trip day from Split to admire the renaissance period church and the exquisite Venetian Gothic architecture. Vis also offers plenty of eco activities, from climbing Mount Hum to admire the stunning sunsets over the Adriatic. Watersports are also popular on Vis, as is cave diving and walking.
The delightful medieval town of Sibenik also lies along the Dalmatian Coast and boasts a fortified district. The highlight of the Old Town is the ornate Cathedral of St James (pictured beow) which is a UNESCO Site. In fact. Croatia has seven World Heritage Sites in total, with five of those along the stunning Dalmatian coastline! Don’t miss the exquisite frieze with its intricately sculptured faces of 71 men, women and children. And if the heat is getting to you, head to the nearby Krka National Park for a cooling burst of spray from the impressive waterfalls.
Deservedly another jewel of Dalmatia is the historic town and harbour of Trogir. The old town district around the Central Square is teeming with narrow winding streets, just waiting to be explored. Top sights in Trogir include the St. Lawrence Cathedral which is the tallest structure in the town, and is rather confusingly known as St John locally. Don’t miss St Michael’s belltower and the quaint Central Square district. Catch the Easter carnival here and you’re in for a real treat!
In northern Dalmatia is the atmospheric city of Zadar. The number one sight is the absolutely outstanding Church of St Donat, which is considered the finest example of its kind on the world. St Donat’s dates back to the early 9th century. The Cathedral of St Anastasia is also worth a look-in, and the highlight of this Romanesque 12th century masterpiece is the ornate marble sarcophagus. Additionally both the National Museum and the Archaeological Museum provides a valuable insight into Croatian history, with jewellery, paintings and swords on display.