A sailing trip along Croatia’s Dalmation Coast is now firmly on the holiday map for Aussie, Kiwi and South African travellers.
Here are our top five things to do along Croatia’s Dalmation Coast.
1) Sail the Dalmation coast
Spend a week or so venturing between the islands and the coast, stopping during the day to explore an island, then mooring each night at a different town.
You’ll have plenty of time to sit on the deck of the boat and simply do nothing, aside from jumping in for a swim.
2) Explore the mountains and islands
Mljet is one of the prettiest and most tranquil of the Dalmation islands. The western half is a national park, best explored by bike – hire one in Pomena (where most boats dock).
It’s also worth taking a free boat ride across the inland lake to Marija Island, which is home to a decrepit yet fascinating Benedictine monastery.
The coastline of the mainland is dotted with mountains and forests. A trek in the hills of the Biokovo Nature Park, near Makarska is a fantastic way of seeing the region, and there are plenty of spots for white-water rafting.
3) Eat some Croatian food
However along the Dalmatian Coast, food is much more Mediterranean.
Once you see how clean and clear the water is, you’ll realise why the seafood in the region is so renowned.
4) Bars and clubs
Hvar – The Adriana Hotel has a rooftop bar and pool. For celeb spotting try Carpe Diem. It’s super-trendy and its harbourside terrace is no more than 15m from where the boats are anchored.
Split – If you want a coffee or beer among locals rather than tourists, head to Teak Café in the north-east corner of the palace. For serious boozing and partying, there are numerous heaving bars in the south-east corner.
Korcula – The al fresco Bar Massimo is atop an old tower of the town walls, accessible by a steep ladder; the cocktails are hauled up to the top from the bar below on a pulley system. Arrive before sunset to get a seat and soak up the million-dollar views.
5) Historical towns
Dubrovnik – Surrounded by an imposing wall that weaves above sheer cliffs, Dubrovnik’s old town is a collection of alleys, churches and cobbled squares.
Hvar – With quaint, charming marble and red-roofed buildings, palm trees lining the foreshore and the fortress overlooking it all, this town encapsulates all that’s great about the Mediterranean.
Split – Explore the marvel that is Diocletian’s Palace. Built in the 3rd century, it’s a Unesco World Heritage Site, and an impressive Roman ruin.
Korcula – The reputed birthplace of Marco Polo, but you needn’t share his adventurous spirit to enjoy this laid-back harbourside town – it’s more sedate than Hvar, Dubrovnik and Split.
Sailing Croatia: what you need to know
WHEN TO GO: Sailing season is April to October.
GETTING THERE: Fly from London to Split or Dubrovnik.
GETTING AROUND: An organised tour is easiest, see tntmagazine.com/toursearch. Public transport, including ferries, is good, so it’s feasible to see the coast and islands independently.
VISAS: South Africans need a visa, see croatia.embassyhomepage.com.
CURRENCY: Croatian kuna. 1 GBP = 8.38 HRK.
LANGUAGE: Croatian. English is spoken widely in tourist areas.
GOING OUT: A cocktail in a harbourside bar costs about 40-50 kuna.
ACCOMMODATION: A basic hotel double in Dubrovnik starts at about 100 kuna per person.
» A one-week Navigator Cruise between Split and Dubrovnik (for 21-35s) with Sail Croatia Adventures (0845 257 8289; sail-croatia.com) starts from £319