Whilst staying in Dubrovnik in 1929, the playwright George Bernard Shaw remarked: “If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik”. The ancient walled medieval city of Dubrovnik is Croatia’s crowning jewel. Jutting out into the azure blue sea, is the old town of Stari Grad with marble-paved squares, tall houses convents, churches and palaces all cut from the same light-coloured stone. Built between the 13th and 16th centuries, the imposing city walls (some 25m high with 16 towers) are still intact today. A walk along the city walls is highly recommended!
In the heart of Dalmatia, Split became a popular retirement destination in the 4th century for Roman emperors such as Diocletian. Today, it is renowned for its variety of archaeological, historical and cultural monuments among them the UNESCO-listed Diocletian Palace. Climb to the bell tower in the palace for wonderful views of the city.
A centre of culture, Split has a number of museums, the National Theatre and hosts a summer music festival. The city offer plenty of eateries, bars and cafes. To experience some local culture head to the Green Market (Pazar) where you can jump in and join in the hubbub. The buying and selling frenzy involves a variety of goods from fresh fruits and veggies, to clothing and other odds and ends.
The greenest island in Croatia, Korcula is filled with woodlands, vineyards, fishing villages and is the reputed birthplace of the famous explorer Marco Polo. Though Korculans like to identify Antenor fleeing from Troy as the city's founder, there are even older Neolithic burial mounds, and a possible Phoenician settlement, demonstrating the island’s long and illustrious history.
The walled old city of Korcula has streets arranged in a herringbone pattern allowing free circulation of air but protecting against strong winds. The city is notable for its Statute dating back to 1214, which prohibited slavery, making Korcula the first place in the world to outlaw the practice. There's small but interesting local galleries and a town museum. In the evening try to find a Moreška sword dance, originally performed across the Mediterranean since the 12th century, it’s still very much alive and a proud Korčulan tradition. A great way to see the island is by scooter or push bike. Trekking tours are also available locally.
Discovered by the Ancient Greeks, Mljet was called "Melita" or “honey” which over the centuries evolved to the current Slavic name. Mljet is carpeted with verdant forest (over 70%), sprinkled with fields, vineyards and tranquil villages. The western half of the island is a stunning national park. The park is characterised by two deep bays, which are called lakes due to their very narrow passages to the open sea. On an island on one of the lakes is a 12th century Benedictine monastery. With five distinct forest tree varieties, abounding fauna, plus lush vegetation, it’s easy to see why Mljet is called the ‘Green Island’. To really understand the beauty of Mljet National Park you have to visit it!
Sitting at the foot of pine-clad slopes, the medieval old town of Hvar on the island of the same name is crammed to the gunnels with historical sights, cafes, boutiques and bars. Located on the Dalmatian coast, the island of Hvar is separated from the island of Brac by the Hvar Channel. With a very mild Mediterranean climate and beautiful beaches, Hvar is blessed with around 2715 hours of sunshine per year, the island promotes itself as the ‘island of sunshine. Hvar could also be called the ‘island of lavender or wine’ as it cultivates vast quantities of this aromatic botanical for oils and soaps and is one of Croatia’s most famous regional producers of wine.
Elegant Opatija is situated on the Gulf of Kvarner in a sheltered position at the foot of a mountain. Owing to its pleasant temperatures, Opatija has always been a favoured year-round resort and has been attracting tourism for more than 160 years. Surrounded by beautiful woods of laurel, the entire maritime coast to the north and south of Opatija is rocky and picturesque, and contains several smaller winter resorts.
The oceanfront promenade is lined with grand buildings in the Austro-Hungarian style (a reference to the history of this region), has well-maintained public gardens, and an illuminated 12-km-long coastal promenade known as the "Lungomare". There are well-kept beaches, restaurants, cafes, bars and shops all of which make Opatija a real northern drawcard.