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The Dalmatian Islands
The Dalmatian Islands are most enjoyable in late spring – when the landscape is still green, the sea has warmed up to feasible swimming temperatures, but the crowds have yet to descend – and early autumn, when the summer hordes have departed and the sea is at its warmest. In both spring and autumn you can expect attractive prices compared to summer. Many people come to Croatia to indulge in its Mediterranean diet - wines and olive oils, seasonal fruit and vegetables, and fresh fish. Thanks to rich fertile soils and a warm, sunny climate, Croatia abounds in vineyards, olive groves and orchards. Wherever you go, you are more or less guaranteed warm, sunny days and balmy nights from June through to September. Like other Mediterranean countries, Croatia sees its peak tourist season in the hottest months, July and August. If you want to avoid the crowds, and the heat, try to visit in June or September, when the sea is warm enough to swim, the hotels and restaurants open for business. Sailing is one of Dalmatia’s top appeals, and travelling by private yacht is undoubtedly the best way to explore the islands. Nothing else gives you such close contact with the sea and so much flexibility - you can plan your route as you wish, sailing from island to island, stopping at whim to put down anchor for a swim or mooring up in a harbour to step ashore for a meal.
The Adriatic Sea
Easily reached from anywhere in the world, Croatia has a quite a few feathers in its cap when comes to natural environment. The Adriatic Coastline covers an area of over 1,185 islands and islets, 8 national parks, 11 nature parks and the cleanest sea in Europe - the Adriatic.
The natural environment is remarkably preserved and regulated by strict environmental laws. With its stunning coastline, unspoilt beauty and crystal clear waters, the Adriatic is arguably the most beautiful sailing destination in the world. Stretching from Venice to Corfu, it is an area where the new world meets the old world. The diversity of life and culture comes from many influences, yet the towns and villages are all, in their separate ways, typical for the Adriatic.
The Istrian Peninsula
We begin with the North Adriatic and the Istrian Peninsula where the most charming villages are found deep in the mainland. The medieval town Hum, also known as the smallest town in the world, was founded by the Mirna River and it has not changed much over the centuries. The narrow stone-paved streets and medieval houses are still there resisting the change. Buzet, the town of truffles offers the best white truffles in this part of the world.
The national park Brijuni, once the residence of Josip Broz Tito is an oasis for peace and tranquillity where many come to unwind from the stressful and hectic everyday life. An exceptionally rich cultural and historical heritage of 14 islets archipelago. The place is also a hotspot for celebrities whose yachts can be often seen in Brijuni during the summer. For the nature lovers there are 2 parks, the Ethno Park and the Safari Park. The Ethno Park is a part of the Safari Park enriched with mainly local wildlife consisting of Istrian Ox and Sheep, donkeys and goats. The Safari Park has an exotic collection of animals, some of which are Blue Antelope from India, Marsh Antelope from Zambia, Somalian Sheep from Ethiopia, Lama from South America, Zebras from Guinea and cattle and Elephants from India.
Our favourite is Rovinj, a breathtaking small town built on a small hill overlooking the sea. It is the most romantic and the most colorful town on the Adriatic Coastline.
Other places worth exploring are: The Amphitheatre in Pula, a magnificent monument of Antiquity dating from the 1st century, once the gladiators area, today a world stage for festivals and classical music concerts. Ecomuseum Batana, the museum is set up to promote the local fishing boat called Batana and the local community spirit around Batana. Groznjan and Motovun are hosts of the film festivals. The Istrian peninsula is famous for truffles and home made pasta 'fuzi'. The local wines are Istrian Malvazija and Teran.
The Kvarner Riviera
The Kvarner Riviera with its centre Rijeka is the busiest port on the Adriatic. The most famous resort in the area is Opatija, with Lovran, Crikvenica, Kraljevica and Novi Vinodolski also popular. There is a 12km long promenade that runs from Opatija to Lovran. The Kvarner Riviera has a long association with tourism. Opatija in particular was an upmarket resort visited by many aristocratic families in the late 19th century and is still considered as an upmarket resort today.
The Northern Dalmatia
Rab, Cres, Krk, Losinj and Pag are a group of islands located in the northern Adriatic. Cres is the least visited of all Croatian islands. There are colonies of the Eurasian Griffon near Beli, to the north of the island. Conservation of the birds lies with the Eco Centar Caput Insulae. Cres also features one of the loveliest beaches in the area called Lubenice. A small village of a few houses sits on the top of the hill above the beach. Sailing south from Cres you pass Osor, a connection point between two islands - Cres and Losinj.
Losinj is known for its lush green vegetation and one of the most beautiful harbours in the Adriatic - Mali Losinj. Other places include Cikat Bay great for windsurfing and swimming. The museum of Apoxyomenos is not to be missed. The Museum is a place fully dedicated to only one sculpture – the bronze statue of a young athlete, the Apoxyomenos. The statue was discovered in 1997 by a Belgian tourist at the depth of 45 m. The statue dates back from the 2nd century BC and it is fully perserved. The statue tells a story of an athlete that is cleaning his body from oil, sweat, and sand after exercise. Lastly, Losinj is also one of the best places on the Adriatic for Dolphin Watching. The dolphins are very often seen in the Losinj Channel south of Osor.
The next destination is Rab. The legend says a stone cutter called Marin left the island to Italy and founded the republic of San Marino. He was from Rab Island. The most magical island of all, Rab hides the best sandy beaches and it has a mild climate throughout the whole year. The old town of Rab is dominated by three bell towers and many historical sites.
Pag Island has a little vegetation due to harsh weather conditions in the area. The strong wind Bura makes the living conditions on the island very difficult. The locals have built numerous stone walls for protection against these harsh conditions as well as to allow for some cultivation. Although the island is very remote and underdeveloped, it hosts the best beach parties in the country.
The island of Krk is the most developed island of all in the Northern Adriatic and it would suit those who are looking for a resort holiday with a wide range of tourist facilities.
Next to Zadar there is a small heart shaped island called Galesnjak. Since discovered on Google Earth, the island has been so popular for romantic breaks and it can be all yours for the weekend.
The Central Dalmatia
Emerged from a palace bulit in the 3rd century by Roman Emperor Diocletian, Split is the largest city on the Adriatic Coast. Perched on the waterfront, the city has many historical sites most of them nestled within the walls of the Palace. Every year from mid July to mid August the city is a host to the Summer festival, where the palace becomes a large stage where the most famous operas and musicals can be seen. Split proves just as gorgeous as the more celebrated Dubrovnik and only half as crowded. Much of the old town occupies Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (and major Game of Thrones filming location), where monumental gates lead through the walls into a maze of medieval alleys, temple courtyards, cellars and palazzos. There are chapels, bakeries piled high with krafna (marmalade doughnuts), and corner konobas (simple eateries) serving brudeto, a stew of seafood fresh from the local fish market. At the smarter joints, glasses of prosek (prosecco) and plates of prsut (prosciutto) are further reminders of the area’s enduring Italian influence.
The island of Vis has only two villages - Komiza and Vis, both on the coast both retaining their centuries old architecture. The island owes much of its preservation to its previous state as a national naval base that barred any foreigners from its shores for 50 years. Komiza, on the south west shore is the home of two outstanding restaurants, rustic but with haute cuisine food.
Hvar, the most visited island of all, offers a vibrant restaurant and café life. Despite its popularity, Hvar has nevertheless maintained its authenticity. Amongst other attractions, Hvar hosts one of the hippest clubs in the region,' Carpe Diem'.
The Southern Dalmatia
A thriving independent merchant republic for 700 years, and rival to Venice, Dubrovnik today is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Adriatic. Set on a rugged limestone peninsula, the city enchants with postcard images of medieval walls, a skyline of red roofs and church steeples, marble-paved squares, steep cobbled streets, palaces, churches, fountains and museums. The vibrancy of this Unesco world heritage site - light stone walls towering over the crystal sea reflected in the sky - is at its height in summer with a host of cultural, art and music events.
The most southerly and easterly of the larger Croatian Adriatic islands and also the greenest, Mljet is covered in a mass of pine forests. Of volcanic origin, the island has a number of chasms and gorges including two inland salt water lakes, the 12th century Benedictine Monastery located in the inlet of Lake Veliko Jezero and a National Park in the north. Rich in mythology, Mljet, is the island where it is believed that St Paul spent three months preaching the gospel after being shipwrecked. The legend says that Odysseus also spent time on the island on his return from the Trojan War - a total of seven years - entranced by the island and nymph Calypso's beauty.
The Elaphiti Islands is the archipelago west of Dubrovnik consists of 3 islands - Lopud, Sipan and Kolocep. Showing evidence of settlements dating back to ancient times, the islands have 30 churches, several monasteries as well as aristocratic summer homes.
The furthest of all inhabited islands, Lastovo is first mentioned in IV. century BC under the name Ladesta and Ladeston. The Dorans, who came from Syracuse, call it Ladestanos. The Romans call it Augusta Insula, ie the imperial island. In the Middle Ages, Augusta, Lagusta and Lagosta were written. In the mid-10th century it was finally called the Slavic name Lastobon. Long before the written documents, the traces of the man on Lastovo date back to 8500 BC, in the Raca Cave. The records, however, mention the Illyrians as the first people on the island, while the Greeks touched it on their way to the Adriatic to the north, and some authors mention Lastovo as part of the Greek colony Issa, based on the island of Vis. In the first centuries after Christ, the Romans left the deepest mark on Lastovo, logically, because they stayed there the longest. Their legacy is the so-called. "Villae rusticae" (Latin villas - farms) or water wells known as "puddles". After the Romans, Lastovo was abandoned. The Slavs arrive in the Adriatic Sea in VII. century, so Croats, along with most of Dalmatia, settled Lastovo.
Accustomed to isolation from the world and the mainland, the inhabitants of Lastovo loved their autonomy. In 1310, Lastovo received its first written regulation - the Lastovo Statute, and in 1486 a large part of the authority was granted to the Republic of Dubrovnik. Due to this, high taxes, the islanders call on Venice for occupation, which the Venetians did, but after only three years, in 1606, they had to return it to Dubrovnik.
Turks also arrive on the historical scene and frequent volatile situations are used by Montenegrin pirates from Ulcinj. Then the Lastovci introduced military service, which was abolished in the 18th century when Montenegrins changed their profession legally and became traders.With the abolition of the Republic of Dubrovnik, the island was occupied in 1806 by the French who, in the battle against the British, built a fort on Glavica Hill. Seven years later, the British occupy the island, and two years later Lastovo would fall to Austria.Traffic until mid-XIX. During the centuries, the need for lighthouses became so necessary that the need to set up an entire network of lighthouses on the eastern Adriatic coast was imposed. Today the island has 778 permanent residents.