Running from Rijeka on the Kvarner Gulf to Karasovići on the border with Montenegro, Croatia’s Jadranska Magistrala or Adriatic Highway offers one of Europe’s most unforgettable journeys. Whether weaving its way round deeply indented bays or skirting scree-covered mountains, there’s scarcely a single boring stretch in its 650 kilometre length. The Magistrala may frequently set your stomach a-churn with its endless twists and turns, but the views it offers are unforgettable, with the Adriatic’s famously stark islands parading in stately procession before your eyes.
Travelling along the Magistrala used to be a severe test of holiday-season nerves, with its columns of caravans, straggling towns with speed restrictions, and enough blind corners to make overtaking a near impossibility. With Croatia’s still-growing motorway network now taking the pressure off much of the route, however, it is re-discovering its reputation as one of Europe’s greatest coastal odysseys.
The secret of enjoying the Magistrala is knowing when and where to turn off it. Some of the best-kept secrets of Croatian tourism lie three kilometres to the south, or a 30-minute drive to the north. The following are just a few places at which you should consider breaking your journey – the Magistrala is not the kind of trip that should be done in a hurry.