Croatia Calling: Dalmatian Islands

[trip style = beach & sun]

It's hard to choose an island or two when visiting Croatia — especially with over a thousand to choose from. Set against the shimmering Adriatic, Croatia's islands boast romantic towns, pebbled beaches, fresh seafood and dramatic landscapes. Whether you're looking for a low-key escape or a jet-set experience, there's an island for you.

I visited two Dalmatian islands — Korčula and Hvar — during shoulder season, before the hiking sandal and bikini clad crowds {respectively} took over these otherwise sleepy southern islands. Korčula is humbler than its hipper and ritzier sister island; with an easygoing appeal. Picture-perfect as either a day trip or a two-day vacation from your vacation, Korčula — the purported birthplace of Marco Polo — is also known for its medieval old town and local dessert wine. Hvar is Croatia's answer to Ibiza, otherwise known as the "Croat d'Azur". In the summer, this fishing village turns into a catwalk as multiple yachts drop anchor in the busy Hvar town harbor. I was amused by the signs outside businesses {even the fortress} banning visitors wearing only bathing suits. Its popularity must be due to its undeniable beauty — a harbor edged with bougainvillea, crystal-clear water and an intoxicating scent of sea air and lavender.

Korčula

 DO // Travel via car ferry to  Kor  čula.

DO // Travel via car ferry to Korčula.

 DO // Enjoy a coffee or beer along Šetalište Petra Kanavelića in Old Town.

DO // Enjoy a coffee or beer along Šetalište Petra Kanavelića in Old Town.

 A fisherman on the Adriatic Sea 

A fisherman on the Adriatic Sea 

 DO // S et off on foot to explore the island and find secret swimming spots, basketball courts or vineyards

DO // Set off on foot to explore the island and find secret swimming spots, basketball courts or vineyards

 STAY // Our charming apartment in Old Town , recommended by Rick Steves and found on Booking.com

STAY // Our charming apartment in Old Town, recommended by Rick Steves and found on Booking.com

Hvar

 DO // Travel via catamaran from Korčula to Hvar {BYO Gravol}

DO // Travel via catamaran from Korčula to Hvar {BYO Gravol}

 STAY // Our room at  Adriana Hvar Spa Hotel , a modern waterfront hotel 

STAY // Our room at Adriana Hvar Spa Hotel, a modern waterfront hotel 

 View of the Hvar town harbor from our hotel room balcony 

View of the Hvar town harbor from our hotel room balcony 

 Indoor infinity seawater pool with adjacent rooftop terrace

Indoor infinity seawater pool with adjacent rooftop terrace

 Harbor views from our hotel restaurant, which served a champagne breakfast {included in room rate}

Harbor views from our hotel restaurant, which served a champagne breakfast {included in room rate}

 Sailboats lined up along the Hvar harbor

Sailboats lined up along the Hvar harbor

 DO // Hike up to Hvar Fortress for gorgeous views and tiny churches {see image at top for harbor view}.

DO // Hike up to Hvar Fortress for gorgeous views and tiny churches {see image at top for harbor view}.

Things to know

  • A little pronunciation help: KOR-choo-lah and h-VAR
  • To avoid Hvar's Ibiza-level crowds, visit before or after the height of summer in mid May/June or September/early October.
  • Don't miss out on the regional cuisine: fresh-off-the-boat, melt-in-your-mouth fish and shellfish.
  • Croatia has a very good national ferry company, Jadrolinija. Buy tickets early for peak-season travel.

This post is written by Trip Styler's Assistant Wayfarer/Editor Heather.

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[images by @heatherlovesit]