Dalmatia is the most popular tourist destination in Croatia due to its crystal clear waters, splendid white-sand beaches and a wide variety of islands. With its archipelago of 1208 islands of all sizes, it is also the largest tourist area of the country. But travellers do not only find coasts and islands in Dalmatia. Its fascinating historical towns attract more and more fans of nautical tourism.
In this article you can read about:
- Sailing in Dalmatia: Information about the region
- Ports and islands in Dalmatia: Discovering the Dalmatian archipelago
- Islands in Northern Dalmatia
- Central Dalmatia
- Southern Dalmatia
- Sailing in Dalmatia: What to discover in a week among the coasts and islands of Dalmatia
Dalmatia is divided into different areas. The region is so large that it is no wonder that tourists sailing along its coastline see an ever-changing coastline. When you set off to explore the Dalmatian islands you will find that the northern area offers you an archipelago of small islands with romantic bays, while in the south you can choose from a variety of bigger islands and holiday resorts. In bigger towns (and others of similar size) have well-equipped marinas with plenty of room for those enjoying nautical tourism along the coasts and islands in Croatia. Dalmatia has a typical Mediterranean climate due to which you can expect pleasant weather during the whole sailing season. In the south, the temperature of the see often reaches 28 C with a 30 C average daily temperature of the air. The northwesterly mistral can bring in some fresh air.
There are about 50 smaller and bigger islands, almost all of which can be easily reached from the well-known marina D-Marin Dalmacija. Most of these islands are quiet and safe places, offering lovely and relaxing beaches. A typical feature among these islands and coasts are the clear, bright blue lagunas.
The Kornati Islands
Kornati National Park is one of the most beautiful sights to visit near Zadar. Its 150 islets, shallow waters and teal lagunas will give you an unforgettable experience. In this National Park, you will find plenty of beaches for swimming and sunbathing.
Donji Kornati means Lower Kornati and this part of the archipelago offers a unique experience. Here is to be found the probably most awe-inspiring natural phenomenon of the area: the so-called Klifovi cliffs. These huge cliffs stand side by side, facing the open sea, creating a natural gate for who arrives on the boat. Their height is impressive, 82 meters above sea level. Undersea level divers can follow them downwards even a 100 meters.
Mala Proversa is a narrow strait between the islands of Dugi Otok and Katine, where you can marvel at the remains of the Roman building complex. The complex is approximately 90 metres long and in the Roman times, it was situated beyond sea level. To add to its incredible diversity, the area counts an additional four National Parks covering the Paklenica karst river canyon, the Plitvice lakes, the Krka River and the Velebit mountain range.
Juxtaposed to North Dalmatia, this region is characterised by the dominance of bigger islands such as Brac and Hvar. The area stretches from Trogir Island all the way to the Makarska Riviera.
The island is situated in one of Croatia’s opulent areas in the eastern part of the Split bay. Its northern neighbour is the island of Brac, whereas in the south it’s bordered with Korcula Island and the open sea. With its 300 square kilometres of territory, Hvar Island is the fourth-largest island in Croatia. Its lands are flecked with light blue bays, olive groves and lavender fields. The most beautiful city of the island is the one with an identical name to that of the island: the city of Hvar. A picturesque bay and innumerable Venetian style buildings and palaces all add to the enchanting beauty of the place. Watching from the sea, one can wonder at the fortress of Fortica majestically looming above the city of Hvar.
Situated 60 kilometres away from the coast, Vis is one of the Croatian islands furthest away from the mainland. The island is virtually unspoilt, dotted with bays with pristine waters, the most popular of which is the so-called Stiniva bay. Vis is almost entirely covered in woodland thus gaining the title of the „greenest island of the Adriatic”. Travellers also have the chance to sail across to the adjacent islands: Sveti Andrija and Bisevo Island, the latter of which is famous for its Baluni bay where the enigmatic Blue Cave–Modra Spilja- is located.
South Dalmatia is the region of bewitching natural beauty. It has everything one might need for a pleasant holiday. The area is widely renowned for its exotic beaches, tiny fishing villages, historic towns and their atmospheric old towns.
It’s located in South Dalmatia and with its territory of 276 square kilometres, it’s the sixth-largest Croatian island, whereas its population of 17,000 residents makes Korcula the most densely populated island of the country. Its name dates back to ancient times and stems from the dark Brunswick green shade the Aleppo pines and parasol pines gave it. The world-famous globetrotter and sailor, Marco Polo, was also born on the island, his house is located in Korcula city.
Dubrovnik is one of Croatia’s most popular and most beautiful cities. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and is rich in castles, towers and culture, all encircled by the 1940 metres long city walls. Those who wish to relax in a more active way will indeed be spoilt for choice in Dubrovnik. Visitors can try themselves climbing the Croatian peaks of the Dinaric Alps for instance. Diving and water sports opportunities are plentiful, for which the Lopud Island is meant to be a superb spot.
Taking into consideration its great expansion you can plan a one- or even two-week itinerary to explore the area, and the number of possible combinations is infinite. If you wish to visit more national parks and explore as much ports with a rich history as possible, it’s advised to plan a two-week itinerary that enables you to discover the area in a more relaxed and laid back pace. Below, you will find a one-week itinerary which comprises the main islands and the major coastal towns.
Day 1– Sibenik
Situated where the river Krka flows into the Adriatic Sea, Sibenik is the third-largest port city in Croatia. Its centre is located around the port, which is sheltered from the wind. Visit the Krka National park or the adjacent Kornati National Park. Sibenik also boasts splendid historic monuments the most famous of which is the St. Jacobs Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Spend the night in the city port.
Day 2-3– The islands of the Sibenik archipelago
The archipelago encompasses about 250 islands and reefs, only a few of which are inhabited. These islands are accessible by boat (or alternatively by ferry) and the only ways of transport on them are walking or cycling. Situated closest to Sibenik is the island of Zlarin with a territory of 8 square metres. Characterised by cypress and pinewoods as well as mellow fig and olive groves. Breathtaking, secluded beaches and stretches of coastline are waiting to be discovered. Spend the night in Sibenik or in the port of an inhabited island.
Day 4– Split
The administrative and economic centre of Dalmatia as well as a significant port. The atmospheric historic old town abounds in narrow, labyrinthine, winding alleyways. Its main landmark is the remains of Diocletian’s Palace. Musicians, dancers and concerts zing up the buzzing vibration of the city. It’s also renowned for its Riviera and splendid beaches, as well as for Marjan hill that provides visitors with an awe-inspiring view over the city. Spend the night in the city’s port
Day 5-6–Brac island
Brac is the largest island of Central Dalmatia. Quiet, tranquil island offering a variety of natural beauties and splendid beaches. It’s perfect for families. Dotted with villages, pinewoods and bushes; the landscape undoubtedly has a true romantic Mediterranean feel to it. The houses, dating back to the 19th century give Superat, the little town near the port, a pleasant atmosphere. Apart from its lovely old town, Bol allures tourists with one of its most prominent landmarks: the distinctively shaped beach of Zlatni Rat, expanding far into the sea. The beach has become the most representative showpiece of the area, the Croatian tourist prospects are overflowing with the photos of its stunning scenery. Bol is also the windsurfing hub of Croatia. The best spot for it is Potocine beach, just west of the city. Spend the night in one of the ports or in Split.
Day 7– Makarska
Makarska is a charming little town with a buzzing nightlife. Explore the palm-lined promenade, the renowned beaches (Baska Voda, Gradac, etc.) and the even more popular Makarska Riviera. The coastline here is fringed with extensive, splendid pebble beaches, boasting crystal clear waters. From the peaks of Biokovo Mountain, you will have the chance to revel in the enthralling scenery and to spot some obscure vegetation. Spend the night in the town port.
To whichever part of the Dalmatian coastline the wind happened to blow you, you are granted to have an unforgettable experience. The alluring coastline and its archipelago stretching for 4000 kilometres are brimming over with sights and will surely captivate your heart as well.