In a time where Europe has seen its capitals of leisure and relaxation move eastward, Croatia has emerged as a destination of choice for those seeking Mediterranean beachside retreat. The nation’s addition to the European Union in 2013 only served to strengthen the flow of European and international tourists. It is no longer a well-kept secret that Croatia’s Dalmatian coast delivers quintessential Mediterranean romanticism complete with a lurid nightlife culture that can only be described as distinctly Balkan.
Located where the Dinaric Alps rise from the Adriatic, the Dalmatian coast comprises a vast majority of Croatia’s coastline, spanning the cities of Dubrovnik, Split, and Zadar. And while its rocky beaches might painfully disappoint those wishing to recreate From Here to Eternity, a ferry ride from one of the main cities to a nearby island opens up a world of small beach towns, waterfront apartment rentals, and afternoons of waiting out Rakia-induced hangovers with the aid of, well, more Rakia.
A destination famous for its fabled yacht week parties, Hvar is one of the more popular Dalmatian locations. The small villages and towns that dot the 40-mile island are separated by prominent rocky hills and sprawling vineyards. The City of Hvar, the island’s largest and most visited location, leaves no shortage of options in the realm of nightlife and seafood restaurants. The wise, however, will not forget to drive, bike, or bus across the island to the smaller towns of Jelsa or Sveta Nedilja to unwind with some locally made olive oil and wine.
One of the Dalmatian’s best-kept secrets, Korčula does not disappoint. With incredibly well preserved historical towns that lack the typically abundant tourist traps, it has emerged as a welcome alternative to the jam-claustrophobic, Game of Thrones-Mecca that is Dubrovnik. The main town of Korčula is mostly still contained within the historical city walls, and offers sweeping views of the surrounding hills.
Few places in the Mediterranean can provide a more intimate and private atmosphere than Šolta. Its a population of only 1,700 makes it the smallest island on this list, and one of the more rustic and untouched spots in Dalmatia. Yachts and sailboats of all sizes dot the coastline, anchored for the afternoon or an extended stay. A walk up the island’s main road to its peak provides breathtaking views of Split, the country’s second largest city.
Evan Ottoni is an associate producer at a video production company based out of Toronto, and moonlights as freelance writer.
Photo courtesy of the author.