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Dalmatia travel guide

Read our essential Dalmatia travel guide to discover the best destinations on the Dalmatian coast, with great things to do, sightseeing, bars, hotels, restaurants and more...

Every summer, thousands travel to Split, the departure point for the key islands of BračHvar and Vis. More are also taking time to explore the city itself, where, behind the terraces of the Riva, a gastronomic revolution has taken place. Meanwhile, a regular traffic of car ferries, catamarans and fast boats glide to the islands: family-friendly Brač with its famous beach of Zlatni Rat; party-centric Hvar, darling of the yachting crowd; and the more remote Vis.

Zadar and Šibenik in northern Dalmatia are far from famous given the historic lack of international transport links. Yet they offer history, natural beauty and, in Zadari's case, entertainment. Šibenik is still isolated as far as planes, trains or boats are concerned but Zadar is now firmly on the map thanks to the success of Brit-run bar the Garden and its famous music festivals in nearby Tisno. The Zadar archipelago and the islands of the Kornati National Park are reason enough to visit the region; the cathedral city of Šibenik is the gateway to another great natural attraction, Krka National Park

The strikingly beautiful southern Dalmatia has the clearest waters and, in Dubrovnik, the lion's share of Croatia's high-end tourist industry. Yet the celebrated Old Town and pristine sea around it remain intact and open to all. Swamped in high season, Dubrovnik is best enjoyed, as much of Dalmatia, in the colder months, when hotel rates fall and the compact historic centre is bearable. In the north, Pelješac is an interesting diversion for windsurfers and wine buffs, and the accessible island of Korčula is just the thing after the hurly-burly of Dubrovnik in high season.

RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Popular destinations in Dalmatia

Dubrovnik
Things to do

Dubrovnik

Split
Things to do

Split

Vis travel guide
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Vis travel guide

Vis island has a special place in the hearts of many Croatians, who consider this a truly unspoiled example of the best of the Dalmatian coast. Its designation as a military base under Tito froze development for more than 40 years, allowing farming and fishing to remain the dominant activities.  Now tourism is taking over this remote spot, one of the farthest islands from the mainland. Vis has become a hot destination among those in the know who want a quiet getaway amid a gorgeous patch of clear sea, which provides great fish, swimming and diving. While the party scene here may not be as raucous as on Hvar, Vis island’s gastronomy can compare with any Dalmatian destination. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Zadar travel guide
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Zadar travel guide

There seems to be no stopping Zadar, the main city of northern Dalmatia. This once-Italianate seaside town has in the last few years attracted some of Croatia’s most visionary initiatives: the Garden club and its various festival offshoots; landmark public installations such as the Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun; and the Arsenal, an arts centre in a beautifully restored Venetian armoury. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Hvar travel guide
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Hvar travel guide

Outside of Dubrovnik, Hvar is the epicentre of the Dalmatian travel industry. Holidaymakers come to be around the yachts lining the harbour of the island’s namesake capital and among the revellers forking out more than top dollar (in Croatian terms) to party into the night. A massive overhaul of key hotels here, in the Sunčani Hvar chain, has been followed by a slower stage of development as the town comes to terms with its stardom. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Brač travel guide
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Brač travel guide

Travelling to Brač is easy, yet despite being one of the closest islands to the mainland, less than an hour by ferry – and a prime candidate for the most popular – Brač lets you carouse with the hordes or get lost in solitude. In many ways, it’s Croatia’s ‘everyisland’. And, because Brač is so close to Split, you can do it in a day trip. A ride in a bus or hire car from the northern entry port of Supetar – the other main tourist centre and family-friendly resort with sand-and-pebble beaches and package hotels – goes past pines, olive groves and marble quarries to the southern coast and Bol. When explored, Brač allows travellers to step off the tourist conveyor belt, take a break from the herd and gain a deeper sense of the island and its culture. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Split and the south Dalmatian coast

Split
Things to do

Split

Split is more than just a gateway to the islands. Discover great things to do, places to stay, restaurants, bars and more.

Vis travel guide
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Vis travel guide

Vis island has a special place in the hearts of many Croatians, who consider this a truly unspoiled example of the best of the Dalmatian coast. Its designation as a military base under Tito froze development for more than 40 years, allowing farming and fishing to remain the dominant activities.  Now tourism is taking over this remote spot, one of the farthest islands from the mainland. Vis has become a hot destination among those in the know who want a quiet getaway amid a gorgeous patch of clear sea, which provides great fish, swimming and diving. While the party scene here may not be as raucous as on Hvar, Vis island’s gastronomy can compare with any Dalmatian destination. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Hvar travel guide
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Hvar travel guide

Outside of Dubrovnik, Hvar is the epicentre of the Dalmatian travel industry. Holidaymakers come to be around the yachts lining the harbour of the island’s namesake capital and among the revellers forking out more than top dollar (in Croatian terms) to party into the night. A massive overhaul of key hotels here, in the Sunčani Hvar chain, has been followed by a slower stage of development as the town comes to terms with its stardom. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Brač travel guide
Travel

Brač travel guide

Travelling to Brač is easy, yet despite being one of the closest islands to the mainland, less than an hour by ferry – and a prime candidate for the most popular – Brač lets you carouse with the hordes or get lost in solitude. In many ways, it’s Croatia’s ‘everyisland’. And, because Brač is so close to Split, you can do it in a day trip. A ride in a bus or hire car from the northern entry port of Supetar – the other main tourist centre and family-friendly resort with sand-and-pebble beaches and package hotels – goes past pines, olive groves and marble quarries to the southern coast and Bol. When explored, Brač allows travellers to step off the tourist conveyor belt, take a break from the herd and gain a deeper sense of the island and its culture. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Trogir travel guide
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Trogir travel guide

Trogir was first settled by Greeks from Vis in 300 BC. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town reflects the influence of subsequent periods of Roman, Hungarian, Venetian, French and Austrian rule. Its walled medieval centre is a warren of narrow cobbled streets, radiating from the cathedral square of Trg Ivana Pavla II, flanked by a wide seafront promenade, the Riva. In summer, the harbour wall is lined with luxury yachts and tripper boats, and the lively summer festival has entertainment on offer most evenings. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Šolta travel guide
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Šolta travel guide

Now with a major boutique hotel, the island of Šolta is looking to attract tourists away from Brač and Hvar. Itís not only about heliports and heated pools, although the seriously high-end Martinis Marchi can provide both. Šolta is a haven of olive groves, vineyards and unspoiled beaches. There ís more beach fun at Rogač, which is also the main ferry port for the frequent, cheap services from Split.

Northern Dalmatia: Zadar & Šibenik

Zadar travel guide
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Zadar travel guide

There seems to be no stopping Zadar, the main city of northern Dalmatia. This once-Italianate seaside town has in the last few years attracted some of Croatia’s most visionary initiatives: the Garden club and its various festival offshoots; landmark public installations such as the Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun; and the Arsenal, an arts centre in a beautifully restored Venetian armoury. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Šibenik travel guide
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Šibenik travel guide

After a long period of playing second fiddle to more glamorous neighbours Split and Zadar, Šibenik is swiftly turning into Dalmatia’s surprise package. Like Zadar, Šibenik suffered a hammering in the 1991-95 war and is still recovering but change is evident. The industrial suburbs, a reminder of its past and significance as a port, camouflage a delightful Old Town. Alleyways and stone steps threaten to lead nowhere but are full of surprises; historic churches and atmospheric squares are tucked around almost every corner, and the golden globe atop the unmissable Cathedral of St James pops up in the distance when least expected. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Primošten travel guide
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Primošten travel guide

Primošten is an easy hop away from nearby Šibenik. Buses leave every couple of hours and take 25 minutes. Despite its lack of tourist attractions – or tourists – this half-island is a place to unwind. Fragrant pines back pretty beaches, hilltop restaurants offer fresh seafood and great views, and seafront cafés fill with locals. Younger visitors come for the Aurora and similar nightspots within an easy drive.  RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.  

Tisno travel guide
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Tisno travel guide

Tisno is named after the narrow passage that separates the island of Murter from the mainland. A town with rich heritage displayed in its Italianate buildings, Tisno is a pleasant option if you just want to get away from the madness of The Garden nearby. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Korcula & Pelješac Peninsula

Korčula island travel guide
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Korčula island travel guide

As you travel to Korčula from the mainland nearby, the crowded little houses on the edge of the island seem to be pushing each other out of the way to see if you are friend or foe. Holding them in, stern medieval walls centrepieced by the slim belltower of St Mark’s Cathedral stand guard over the narrow Pelješac Channel, protecting the riches contained on the sixth largest island in the Croatian Adriatic. So lush with dark pine forests, vineyards and olive groves the ancient Greek settlers called it Korkyra Melaina (‘Black Corfu’), Korčula has managed to avoid the tourist trap tendencies of its original Greek namesake to the south. No longer fought over by Turk or Venetian, by French or Austrian, by Partisan or German, Korčula is one of Dalmatia’s most relaxing getaways. The main town of the same name, set on the north-eastern tip of the island opposite the Pelješac peninsula, has one of the best-preserved medieval centres in the Adriatic. Historic Korčula is therefore the most popular south-Dalmatian destination after the more crowded Dubrovnik, with which it is often compared. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Korčula town travel guide
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Korčula town travel guide

Abound with rustic charm, the medieval settlement of Korčula town has a year-round appeal. The palm-lined streets and ancient surrounding walls regularly invite comparisons with nearby Dubrovnik. And it's not hard to see why - but Korčula town tends to remain unbothered by the droves of tourists swarming the maritime capital over the summer months. All the better for the locals, and in-the-know vistors, who revel in its laidback, Mediterranean lifestyle. Read on for our insider's travel guide to Korčula town. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Pelješac travel guide
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Pelješac travel guide

With its sprawling coasts, rich fisheries and a major wine-growing industry, Pelješac is generating a buzz as a less-discovered alternative to Dubrovnik. Indeed, many pass over this peninsula, making their beeline straight for the ancient walled city. All the better for the locals who are drawn to Pelješac for its very lack of tourists, fine wines, long shingle beaches and the best mussels and oysters in Croatia. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

City breaks in Dalmatia

Dubrovnik
Things to do

Dubrovnik

Split
Things to do

Split

Zadar travel guide
Travel

Zadar travel guide

There seems to be no stopping Zadar, the main city of northern Dalmatia. This once-Italianate seaside town has in the last few years attracted some of Croatia’s most visionary initiatives: the Garden club and its various festival offshoots; landmark public installations such as the Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun; and the Arsenal, an arts centre in a beautifully restored Venetian armoury. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Šibenik travel guide
Travel

Šibenik travel guide

After a long period of playing second fiddle to more glamorous neighbours Split and Zadar, Šibenik is swiftly turning into Dalmatia’s surprise package. Like Zadar, Šibenik suffered a hammering in the 1991-95 war and is still recovering but change is evident. The industrial suburbs, a reminder of its past and significance as a port, camouflage a delightful Old Town. Alleyways and stone steps threaten to lead nowhere but are full of surprises; historic churches and atmospheric squares are tucked around almost every corner, and the golden globe atop the unmissable Cathedral of St James pops up in the distance when least expected. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

The best islands in Dalmatia

Vis travel guide
Travel

Vis travel guide

Vis island has a special place in the hearts of many Croatians, who consider this a truly unspoiled example of the best of the Dalmatian coast. Its designation as a military base under Tito froze development for more than 40 years, allowing farming and fishing to remain the dominant activities.  Now tourism is taking over this remote spot, one of the farthest islands from the mainland. Vis has become a hot destination among those in the know who want a quiet getaway amid a gorgeous patch of clear sea, which provides great fish, swimming and diving. While the party scene here may not be as raucous as on Hvar, Vis island’s gastronomy can compare with any Dalmatian destination. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Hvar travel guide
Travel

Hvar travel guide

Outside of Dubrovnik, Hvar is the epicentre of the Dalmatian travel industry. Holidaymakers come to be around the yachts lining the harbour of the island’s namesake capital and among the revellers forking out more than top dollar (in Croatian terms) to party into the night. A massive overhaul of key hotels here, in the Sunčani Hvar chain, has been followed by a slower stage of development as the town comes to terms with its stardom. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Brač travel guide
Travel

Brač travel guide

Travelling to Brač is easy, yet despite being one of the closest islands to the mainland, less than an hour by ferry – and a prime candidate for the most popular – Brač lets you carouse with the hordes or get lost in solitude. In many ways, it’s Croatia’s ‘everyisland’. And, because Brač is so close to Split, you can do it in a day trip. A ride in a bus or hire car from the northern entry port of Supetar – the other main tourist centre and family-friendly resort with sand-and-pebble beaches and package hotels – goes past pines, olive groves and marble quarries to the southern coast and Bol. When explored, Brač allows travellers to step off the tourist conveyor belt, take a break from the herd and gain a deeper sense of the island and its culture. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Šolta travel guide
Travel

Šolta travel guide

Now with a major boutique hotel, the island of Šolta is looking to attract tourists away from Brač and Hvar. Itís not only about heliports and heated pools, although the seriously high-end Martinis Marchi can provide both. Šolta is a haven of olive groves, vineyards and unspoiled beaches. There ís more beach fun at Rogač, which is also the main ferry port for the frequent, cheap services from Split.

Korčula island travel guide
Travel

Korčula island travel guide

As you travel to Korčula from the mainland nearby, the crowded little houses on the edge of the island seem to be pushing each other out of the way to see if you are friend or foe. Holding them in, stern medieval walls centrepieced by the slim belltower of St Mark’s Cathedral stand guard over the narrow Pelješac Channel, protecting the riches contained on the sixth largest island in the Croatian Adriatic. So lush with dark pine forests, vineyards and olive groves the ancient Greek settlers called it Korkyra Melaina (‘Black Corfu’), Korčula has managed to avoid the tourist trap tendencies of its original Greek namesake to the south. No longer fought over by Turk or Venetian, by French or Austrian, by Partisan or German, Korčula is one of Dalmatia’s most relaxing getaways. The main town of the same name, set on the north-eastern tip of the island opposite the Pelješac peninsula, has one of the best-preserved medieval centres in the Adriatic. Historic Korčula is therefore the most popular south-Dalmatian destination after the more crowded Dubrovnik, with which it is often compared. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

Pelješac travel guide
Travel

Pelješac travel guide

With its sprawling coasts, rich fisheries and a major wine-growing industry, Pelješac is generating a buzz as a less-discovered alternative to Dubrovnik. Indeed, many pass over this peninsula, making their beeline straight for the ancient walled city. All the better for the locals who are drawn to Pelješac for its very lack of tourists, fine wines, long shingle beaches and the best mussels and oysters in Croatia. RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

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