Most visitors adore Croatia for its picturesque pebbled beaches, but outside the city limits is where you will truly experience all that the Dalmatian coast has to offer.
Brimming with cypress-shaded fort walls and biodiverse parks, this stretch of the southernmost region runs from the island of Rab to the Bay of Kotor.
Fortunately, much of the destination is well-connected with city airports, which means you can be unwinding on a yacht in Split or Vis Island in under three hours.
And while Makarska Riviera and Mljet Island take a bit more time—and an offbeat route—to reach, the journey is worthwhile for idyllic coves surrounded by turquoise waters and dramatic rocky outcroppings.
Explore Old Town of Dubrovnik
A labyrinth of 11th-century stone walls with grand forts and mapped by scenic walkways that overlook the spectacular sapphire sea, Old Town of Dubrovnik is known as one of the world’s finest and most perfectly preserved medieval cities.
Take a tour of the Rector’s Palace, before climbing up the Minčeta Fortress for a panoramic view of the King’s Landing.
Take a tour of the Lovrijenac Fortress
Although this landmark is less than a mile away from Dubrovnik’s focal center, St. Lawrence Fortress is worlds away from the city. While much of the architecture is relatively modernist, chronologists have traced the fort back to 1018 or 1038—and an important structure in resisting Venetian rule.
Pop landmark standing upon a 100-foot rock, or take a 15-minute walk around Kolorina Bay and climb the stairs after sundown for breathtaking views.
People watch from the pavements of Riva in Split
Riva in Split is a busy boardwalk lined with shaded beaches and a great place to get a cocktail and do some people-watching. First, there is the southern wall of Diocletian’s Palace, with its maze of cafés and cobblestone alleys lined with palm trees. Stroll through the Marmontova shopping strip, where most shops are open way into the night.
There are also art galleries, local craft boutiques, hole-in-the-wall tavernas, and a lively curbside market. Toss in several European-style restaurants—plus a three-mile-long white-tiled promenade—and you will get why this waterfront in Split is the most recommended place to be.
Spend a Sunday at Marjan Hill
Marjan Hill is a natural preserve situated on the Split peninsula, home to art enclaves of the famous artist Ivan Mestrovic. The viewpoint sits high above the Marjan Park-Forest, which it overlooks.
You get lovely views over the sea, the Old Town, and the countryside from the hill. Much of the pleasure of trekking the Marjan Hill is in wandering through the thick pine forestation and trails lined with the Adriatic Sea and admiring the preservation of nature away from the city.
Lend an ear to the Sea Organ in Zadar
Hiding in plain sight on a busy sidewalk in Zadar, the Sea Organ is an interactive art display on a 72-foot-wide photovoltaic glass created by artist Nikola Bašić. The organ–made of 35 polyethylene pipes tucked under white marble steps–transforms the breeze and the waves into an endless stream of cutting-edge sounds.
Make sure you arrive early to grab a seat on the stairs and enjoy the “music” as you watch the glowing halo of the sunset over the Adriatic Sea.