Right above the Ionian Sea lies a jewel often overlooked. Savvy travelers will tell you that the Adriatic Sea is a perfect destination that combines most of the desirable elements of a top notch vacation with extremely reasonable prices. What’s more, the relative obscurity of the Adriatic means you’re likelier to avoid big crowds and queues to the venerable cultural institutions of Croatia and Montenegro on the Dalmatian Coast. Which is perfect. Because Game of Thrones fans are flocking down to the Croatian city of Dubrovnik to see the hugely impressive backdrops in hordes. But its appeal extends well beyond that. The Dalmatian Coast is a wonderful stretch of land along the Adriatic with fantastic beaches and amazing scenic views. If you’ve been to the Ionian Sea, you will love the Adriatic.
And how can you not? Dubrovnik is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Dubrovnik is a city. So yeah, no big deal. It boasts 16th century stone walls encircling the Old Town, an architectural treasure trove of Gothic, Byzantine, Baroque and Renaissance monasteries, churches and palaces and a warm climate to match. And if that isn’t enough, Elafiti islands are sure to change your mind.
The quaint sea side town of Sibenik, and its magnificent 16th century St James Cathedral is situated not too far, either. Sibenik is in fact the oldest native town in Croatia, which is nifty. Its Old Town is worth checking out if only for the 4 standing fortresses of St Michael, St John, St Nicholas and Subicevac.
In Korcula island, however, things are slightly different. The life of pace slows down. The edges are rounder. Traditions held for centuries and a tight knit community are what define this place. In Korcula you’ll be able to swim in one of the prettiest cove beaches around; Pupnatska Luka. And you’ll be able to sample the world famous white wine variety made out of Grk and Posip grapes. Grk grapes are only found in Korcula, just to add some perspective. Korcula is a naturalist’s paradise, with dense green forests and secluded bays. Awesome!
And so is Hvar. However, the Venetian fortress island town that oozes glamour and glitz is really a vibrant party town that also happens to be extremely well endowed, culturally speaking. The Cathedral of St. Stephen is the jewel amongst the many Gothic palaces around.
And in Split, the second biggest Croatian town, the meaning of palace has different connotations. Why? Because Split is home to Diocletian’s Palace, a 4th century Roman palace replete with a walled fortress and everything.
Not to be outdone, Montenegro offers a similarly attractive set up as Croatia. Or maybe more. Admittedly, one would gravitate towards the former after visiting the magic that is Kotor. And one would be forgiven for thinking Kotor is a mirage. Because Kotor is jaw-droppingly, face palmingly, rub your eyes in disbelief, pinch me I’m dreaming gorgeous. And we may just be under-selling it, too. Because few words exist to describe such a place. Even photographs do it half the justice.
Nestled on a fjord-like bay reminiscent of the Swiss Alps, lies Kotor and all its splendor. Like a postcard from ‘The Sound of Music’, Kotor and its Venetian walled castle are a veritable time capsule that lets you peek into the distant past. The past and present mix up alongside the steep mountain tops and rugged slopes. Lush beaches flanked by pine trees, cobble stone streets and remarkable architectural beauty. Oh, and people actually live here, which adds an extra bit of allure to the whole place. Word to the wise: Get there before the secret is out!
For Budva, no such luck. The genie’s out the bottle. The Budva Riviera and its 22 km of pristine coastline are now game, and they’re a game changer. Venetian fortress citadels, orthodox churches, Roman baths, and a healthy night life are Budva’s top draws. Add in the wonderful beaches and scenic mountains and you’re all in on Montenegro.
The Adriatic is absolutely breath taking. The variety of architectural styles, the abundance of medieval castles, citadels and fortresses make it a destination like no other. The wonderful Mediterranean climate and lush, pristine environment are a deal clincher.