One of the four historical regions of Croatia, the coast of Dalmatia is revered the world over for its panoramic views, rhythmic waves and cornucopia of architectural influences. The shores are lined with flawless beaches as far as the eye can see. Each picturesque town along the coast cradles a vibrant culture behind centuries-old walls. In some places, the mist rolling off the sea has made the surrounding hills so lush you’d be forgiven for mistaking them for those of Central America or Southeast Asia.
The following are four of the many towns and cities that make up the fabric of this daydream-worthy destination. Guests on our sailing of Italy, Montenegro & Croatia will visit each of these towns and partake in the very best excursions Croatia has to offer.
It’s fitting that Dubrovnik is referred to as the Pearl of the Adriatic, given that much of its beauty is housed behind 6-metre-thick walls. These same walls played an important role in the many historical conflicts to which the city has been subject, dating back as far as the 8th century. Presently the walls are a more serene part of Dubrovnik life, providing a walking path with striking observation points second only to the view from the top of the town’s cable car. For those interested in strolling at sea level, Dubrovnik is dotted over a dozen sand, pebble and rock beaches. If you would rather enjoy a cold treat while watching locals amble about, head over to the limestone-paved street of Stradun in old town.
The summer resort town of Hvar is a favourite of those seeking to experience the Adriatic’s unique brand of relaxation. As you step ashore, you are greeted by tailored spa experiences, small, well-appointed eateries and rooftop patios offering a clear view of the marina below. This tranquil isle is a full sensory experience, complete with the scent of lavender drifting down from the fields further inland. The calm you will experience has been known to lower shoulders and raise spirits.
A few kilometres southeast of Hvar, Korčula is a rather small and unassuming island town, belying its fascinating European history. The Cathedral of St. Mark has been a central part of life in Korčula since its completion in the 15th century. Around the corner, you will find the rumored birthplace of Marco Polo. Look back through the eyes of history with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gaze across the sea atop the same town the Italian merchant once inhabited. This location is also a prime place to watch the sunset, as the sunlight cascades over the brilliant cylindrical roof tiles of the surrounding homes. Before leaving, be sure to visit the renowned Toreta winery to sample local wines, such as Posip, Grk and Rukatac. It would not be a proper visit to Europe without putting your wine palette to work!
The final architectural marvel on the list is also the most populous city in Dalmatia. The city’s core is a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up primarily of the famed Diocletian's Palace. The complex was built to house the fourth century Roman Emperor and the quality of aesthetics suits his station in Roman society. There you can view classic Roman decoration, the Silver Gate and, surprisingly, a millennia-old collection of Egyptian sphinxes the Emperor had imported. The imposingly tall stone ruins stand in sharp contrast with the more modern limestone buildings surrounding the complex. The rest of the city abounds with sightseeing opportunities, including the Mestrovic Gallery of sculptures, Saint Domnius Cathedral and Bacvice Beach.
Croatia boasts approximately 2,715 hours of sunshine annually, making this an uplifting and serene locale. Not long into a journey to the Dalmatian Coast, you will see this bright energy reflected in the people you meet and the local foods you eat. Before long, you will become totally immersed in what makes the Dalmatian Coast spectacular.
At Journeys by Van Dyke, we focus on being your destination for the experience of a lifetime. During our journey to Italy, Montenegro and Croatia, our guests will visit each of these towns in addition to Lake Garda, Venice, and many other unmissable stops along the way.
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