Essential Dalmatia

Friends and guests often ask what I would do on a holiday to Dalmatia – what are the quintessential elements that make Dalmatia unique. My answer –  what is truly special about Dalmatia – is its vibrant lifestyle, the spectacular sailing, the unspoiled villages, the emerging wines, the friendly people and the culture & history preserved in the villages scattered over its 1,000 islands.

  • Split:  Walk through the narrow cobbled streets and squares of the old town, stopping in the cafes to absorb the ambience of its culture & history.  Spend an evening strolling along the harbor front, the traditional pastime of locals since the founding of the port of Split in the 4th century BC.
  • Sailing: Spend at least a few days sailing around the islands, it is the best way to appreciate why Dalmatia is so special – the feel of the sea, the air, the traditional lifestyle & the unspoiled villages are inexhaustible.
  • Seaside Konobas:  Eat at family owned seaside konobas (Croatian Trattoria), of which there are many in the quiet coves and hidden bays – you won’t find them by land.  You’ll get traditional dishes, true island hospitality, fresh food & a totally authentic experience.
  • Stone Masons on Brac:  Visit 16th century Blaca Monastery and the stone masons & carvers on Brac island – the stone carving school in Pucisca is a good start.  Discover what is so special about the quality of the natural stone and why it was chosen for use all over the world, including the White House in Washington DC.  Visit the myriad carved bell towers, ancient cemeteries & stone ruins scattered across the island.
  • Island olive harvest:  If you can come in the fall, join the olive harvest on Brac island – the weather is still fine and the sea still warm.  Time stands still on Brac during the picking season.  The picking is done by hand in the time honored method.   The trees are gentle and the field feasts at the end of the day are an unbeatable experience.  Don’t miss the pressing – each village has its own olive press.
  • The hidden side of Hvar:  Spend a day or two exploring Hvar island, with an evening in Hvar town.  But don’t miss a visit to the boutique wineries & the port towns of Stari Grad, Jelsa & Vrboska.  The tiny villages on the south side of the island are breathtaking.   Don’t miss the lavender fields, specially around the tiny village of Velo Grablje.  The lavender harvest & pressing is a treat to experience.
  • Wine country:  If you are a wine & food lover, the Peljesac Peninsula is fabulous – a wide variety of wineries from boutique to larger production to tiny family wineries, which produce only a few, but great wines.  And the town of Ston is a must for its oysters, seafood, medieval fortress and grand stone wall.
  • Inspiring Korcula:  Korcula town is lovely.  Claiming to be the birthplace of Marco Polo, whether it is or is not, it still should not be missed.  The spirit of the explorer lives on and charming cafes line the fortress, port and waterfront – perfect spot to while away a clear morning, sleepy afternoon or romantic evening.  With its narrow cobbled streets glimmering from the bright sun and reflection from the sea, Korcula town just might be my favorite Dalmatian village.
  • Iconic Dubrovnik:  Finally Dubrovnik is truly the classic icon of Croatia and the Balkans.  This graceful city embodies the history of commerce between east and west.  A walk along its wall, facing the sea, transports you back to medieval times.  Be sure to spend an evening strolling the old town and dining in one of the many excellent restaurants featuring new Dalmatian cuisine (an emerging fusion of fresh ingredients & traditional dishes prepared in a new creative style).

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