Sign Up for Our Monthly Europe Newsletter
Dubrovnik has always been a maritime city. The old city, founded in the 7th century, is perched on a rocky outcropping know as the Isthmus of Dubrovnik, which juts out into the Adriatic Sea. The city was once part of the Maritime Republic along with other cities such as Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa and Venice. In its hey day, Dubrovnik was the only seaport to rival Venice in terms of trade, and it achieved a remarkable level of development during the 15th and 16th centuries due to its wealth and diplomacy. In the 1970s, the city was demilitarized with the intention of protecting it from future wars but, after the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, Dubrovnik was attacked and under siege by the Serb-Montenegrin forces. The city withstood seven months of shelling and was badly damaged. However, Dubrovnik has since been restored, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is entering a new era of prosperity.
Inside the city walls, a great place to start is the Stradun, the main street, stretching from the Pile Gate to the Ploce Gate. The paving stones of the wide thoroughfare were placed in the 15th century, and the walkway is lined with shops and eateries.
Another must is a stroll around the city’s walls, which were constructed around 1450, forming a fortress around Dubrovnik. Other worthy sights are the Sponza Palace, which houses the city’s archives and is also used for exhibitions during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, and the Great Onofrio Well, which brought water to the city from the Dubrovacka River. A walking tour of the city takes approximately 2½ hours, or visitors can head out to the Old Harbor, just beyond the Ponta Gate, and take one of several cruises that sail around the city’s walls for a panoramic view of the area.
KorculaFor those who want to explore beyond Dubrovnik’s metropolis, an excellent way to relax is to spend time on one of the islands that dot the Dalmatian Coast. Several ferries leave from the city. One of the most popular lines is the Jadrolina Ferry, but there are several other domestic ferries and hydrofoils available to take visitors to the islands.
Korcula, one of the larger Croatian islands, is a perfect stop for a more local and in-depth discovery of the country and its people. Part of the central Dalmatian archipelago, Korcula is the sixth largest Adriatic island. The three main towns are Korcula, Vela Luka and Blato. The island’s biggest claim to fame is that, according to local tradition, Marco Polo was born here. While there is no actual proof of this, the island embraces this bit of history. The Marko Polo Hotel, is one of the island’s most popular and has a prime, seaside location close to the old town.
One of the unique aspects about a visit to Korcula, and many of the islands of the Dalmatian archipelago, is the ease in which visitors can arrange a private homestay. Many locals rent homes, apartments and condominium-style accommodations to visitors. When booking these types of accommodations, be sure to note their proximity to the island’s cities. For those who would like a more active vacation, staying in a remote part of the island may offer too much seclusion. For those who like the idea of getting away from it all, this type of accommodation may be right up their alley.
Activities in Korcula are mainly water-based. Fishing and windsurfing are the most popular outdoor sports. Many people like to hike here, as it is one of the greenest of the Adriatic islands. Also, several historic sites, including the Monastery and Church Sveti Nikola are available to those interested in the island’s medieval history. Just walking around the island and sightseeing may be enough for most visitors.
HvarHvar is one of the jewels of the Adriatic. Because of its strategic location, it has been an important maritime hub for hundreds of years and, lately, the island is experiencing a rebirth after several celebrity visits. This isn’t surprising because of the island’s friendly local people and unique landscape.
One of Hvar’s most attractive features is its landscape. An island is an unusual place for a fertile coastal plain, but Hvar’s hillsides are covered in pine forests, with vineyards, olive groves, fruit orchards and lavender fields in the agricultural areas. The climate is characterized by mild winters and warm summers with many hours of sunshine. Reachable by ferry service, Hvar is the fourth most populated island in the Adriatic.
Hvar is home to a variety of stunning hotels with pools and rooms that hug the coastline. While its bustling harbor area offers great dining opportunities, quaint shops and a vibrant nightlife, escaping to a secluded villa or a small inn offers the opportunity to truly enjoy the beauty of the island.
Though relaxing is the chief occupation for most who come to Hvar — beautiful beaches dot the coastline — boating, hiking, visiting vineyards and more can keep clients busy for days. Because the island is home to vineyards and olive farms, foodies may enjoy stopping in at a konoba (small inn) rather than at a restaurant, where innkeepers offer homemade vintages as well as a taste of local culture.
Hotel Lone: Hotel Lone is the first Croatian Design Hotel. The 248-room property, located in Rovinj, Istra, was built to resemble a sleek, white ocean liner floating on the hillside. The hotel features three restaurants, three bars, a night club and a Mediterranean-style wellness center as well as a 600-seat auditorium and nine additional meeting and conference spaces.
Fans of the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” will want to take advantage of the similarly named package at the property, which offers 10 percent off the best available rate and a buffet breakfast. Rates vary, and a two-night stay is required. Packages are available through October.www.lonehotel.com
Hotel Villa Kapetanovic: Hotel Villa Kapetanovic is a four-star hotel with 21 rooms and three apartments. The property, located near Opatija in the picturesque town of Voloski, features an outdoor swimming pool, a convention center, a spa and the restaurant, Laurus.
Guests looking to add some romance to their Croatian vacation can book the Romance Package, which includes a one-night stay in a room with a view, breakfast, a romantic dinner, a massage and use of the Aqua Zone — with a Jacuzzi, a sauna and a Turkish bath — for two hours as well as a bottle of champagne. Prices are $170 and $190 per person, per night. www.villa-kapetanovic.hr
Truffles in Livade: October and November are the high season for Istrian Truffles, and where else is there to go for a taste of this delicacy that is better than the town of Livade in Istria? Livade is known as the truffle capital of Croatia, and clients can wander into any local konoba, or small inn, for a taste of these fresh delicacies.www.istria-gourmet.com
Sweet Tooth: For clients who have a sweet tooth, tell them to visit Cukarin, a small sweet shop on the island of Korcula, for traditional local sweets, especially cukarins, klasuns and amaretas. The cookies will practically melt in their mouths and leave them wishing for more.www.cukarin.hr/da_mi_je_en.html
Culinary Tradition: Stari Fijaker restaurant in Zagreb was one of the first to receive the special Croatian Authentic Cuisine designation. Stari Fijaker offers a full menu of authentic, traditional culinary delicacies representing the Zagreb-Zagorje region of the country. Try punjeka paprika (stuffed peppers), sarma (cabbage rolls) or stukli (cooked cheese-filled pastry).www.starifijaker.hr/en/about-us.htm
Vintage Sailings: Cruising with vintage sailing ships along the magnificent Kvarner coastline and islands is an unforgettable opportunity. For this itinerary, just about all clients need to pack are a few T-shirts and a swimsuit to spend seven memorable days sailing on the northern Adriatic Sea, stopping at various islands along the way. Onboard, clients will relax and let the captain and his crew — especially the cook — take care of them. During the day, activities include swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing and more. In the evenings, passengers have free time to explore local restaurants on shore, discover old churches or other historical monuments and more.www.katarina-line.com
Adriatic Cruise: Onboard the Royal Clipper, clients can see some of the best places in the Adriatic with a new tour offered by the Kompas Holidays International. The eight-day tour takes guests to Rovinj, Zadar, Split, Korcula, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Hvar and Mali Losinj. Additional tours are available and can be combined to create a longer itinerary. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included daily as well as onboard entertainment.www.kompas.net
Forgotten Recipes of Old Zagreb: This three-day tour will acquaint your clients’ palates with the tastes of continental Croatian cuisine and wine. Similar to a weekend-long cooking class, the tour offers guests the opportunity to sightsee in the city of Zagreb and learn how to make traditional Croatian recipes. One of the highlights of the tour is the open-air market of Dolac where a chef shows clients how to choose the best ingredients to pair with local dishes and wines.www.kompas-travel.com
New and Noteworthy
Croatian Authentic Cuisine Project: The Croatian tourism minister, Damir Bajs, has launched a special project to help visitors identify local, indigenous cuisine offered by restaurants in Croatia. The program, Croatian Authentic Cuisine, entails a list and description of approximately 500 names of meals and recipes recognized as native to Croatia. Restaurants will be able to apply for a badge, which will identify them as carrying these local items on their menus. A special authority will be created to inspect and decide which restaurants will be able to carry the badge.
Stara Skula: A multifunctional gallery, Stara Skula has recently opened on the island of Mljet, in the picturesque village of Govedari. The exhibition space dates back to the last century, when it housed a school and then became a local post office. Now, this exhibition space will hold various exhibitions, film projections, concerts, video installations, guest speaker presentations, literary events and more throughout the year. The gallery, built in Dalmatian stone, is located inside an architecturally unusual house in the center of the village. The owners of the gallery also offer boutique accommodations.www.mljet.hr
11/2The Romberg Music Evenings: Sigmund Romberg, an influential 20th-century composer, spent a part of his childhood in Belisce, and the locals gladly remember their most famous fellow citizen. Visitors can experience some of the composer’s most famous works and more by visiting the Romberg Music Evenings dedicated to the promotion of amateur theatre. Nov. 5, 12, 19, 26 and Dec. 3.www.belisce.net/
11/27Advent in the Heart of Zagreb: Advent in the heart of Zagreb is a traditional pre-holiday event held in the central city square offering visitors a rich musical and arts program. Locals, guests and passers-by can enjoy numerous performances by cultural-artistic societies, children’s choirs, drama ensembles, dance groups, magicians and more. Nov. 27-Dec. 18.www.adventzagreb.com
12/19The Christmas Story in Cazma: The Salaj family in Grabovnica on the island of Mljet brings Christmas to life when they transform their garden with thousands of multicolored lights, offering all who come a magical sight and an idyllic atmosphere. The Christmas stable, the manger and the decorations all over the garden give visitors an unforgettable picture of a true Croatian Christmas. Dec. 19-Jan. 15. www.tzbbz.hr; www.salaj.net
12/29New Year Spear Fishing Championship: The best confirmation of how highly the people of Losinj regard their spear-fishing skills is The New Year Spear Fishing Championship, comprised of two cups: New Year Cities Cup and European Nations Cup. Both cups are equally important and offer visitors an opportunity to celebrate the New Year in the company of the brave fisherman in a sportsmanlike environment. Dec. 29-Dec. 30. www.udica.hr
Croatia National Tourist Boardwww.croatia.hr
Dubrovnik Tourist Boardwww.tzdubrovnik.hr
Hvar Tourist Boardwww.tzhvar.hr
Korcula Tourist Boardwww.korculainfo.com