Dalmatia is Croatia’s largest tourist region in whose waters you can find as many as 926 large and small islands, cliffs and reefs. Rocky drywall labyrinths across countless vineyards and olive groves follow you through three parts of the region – Northern, Central, and Southern Dalmatia. Each region contains unique cultural sights hidden in Mediterranean towns, as well as delightful, untouched nature.
Dalmatia is specific for long pebbly and sandy beaches, including the proximity to popular islands like Brač, Hvar, Korčula and Vis, but also Ugljan, Pašman, and Kornati. Once in Dalmatia, you simply can’t skip the tasting of local specialties. Easy, simple Mediterranean cuisine with many Italian influences, a paradise for lovers of fresh fish. Dishes that come highly recommended are brodetto or fish stew, roasted gilthead with chard, scampi on the vine grill, lobster fisherman style, boiled scorpion fish, scampi stew, squid stuffed with prosciutto and rice, black and white seafood risotto, and octopus salad. Eels and frogs in brodetto are very popular in Neretva valley, while people living along the Cetina river enjoy simple dishes made from frogs.
Croatia invites you to spend musical evenings in the acoustic church of Saint Donatus, a symbol of the city of Zadar since the ninth century. The modern face of Dalmatia is revealed in the installations on Zadar’s waterfront – the stone stairs of the Sea Organ create the melodies, while the glass panels of the Greeting to the Sun change color under sunlight.
The Saint James Cathedral of Šibenik, included in the UNESCO World Heritage list, is a construction phenomenon built entirely of stone. The most intriguing detail is the seventy-four heads of stone, which surround the cathedral’s facade.
Among Croatia’s most prominent natural wonders is the Kornati National park, with its eighty-nine rocky islands. In the Telašćica Nature Park, an eight-kilometer deep bay indented into Dugi Otok island, Dalmatia holds a unique sight – a seawater lake lifted by the rocks onto an elevation higher than sea level. The Krka National park will win over visitors thanks to clear waterfalls descending the seven travertine barriers of its eponymous river.
Split, the hub and center of Dalmatia, awaits with its 1700-year-old Diocletian’s Palace, protected by UNESCO. Numerous concerts and a Roman army reenactment from the days of Emperor Diocletian, whose mausoleum has become the cathedral of Saint Dominus, are waiting for you. Trogir, a UNESCO town, will impress you with the Portal of Radovan where biblical details of medieval art decorate the entrance to the Saint Lawrence Cathedral. In Omiš, a town whose past was marked by ruthless pirates, you can try a Dalmatian rafting adventure on Cetina river. In the traditional tourist favorite, Makarska, Croatia has something for everybody – a museum with 3000 shellfish specimens, a Marian sanctuary in a cave amidst lush greenery, not to mention the well-known miles and miles of beaches all along the Riviera. Dalmatia offers an escape from the summer heat on Brač island, in the embrace of Croatia’s most famous beach, Zlatni rat (whose name means golden horn or cape.) Hvar, the sunniest island, a modern hub of summer fun for the young, has one of Europe’s oldest theaters.
Dalmatia’s UNESCO story continues in Dubrovnik, a city of culture belted by nearly two kilometers of defensive walls, with an array of fortresses and towers. Classical music concerts echo in the atrium to the Prince’s Palace, while the plays performed during the traditional Dubrovnik summer games are staged on Lovrijenac – a fortress sitting atop a 37-meter tall cliff.
On the island of Korčula, numerous sword dances await, the most famous of which, the Moreška, are held throughout the summer. In the town of Korčula, the birthplace of Marco Polo, if the medieval towers fail to charm you, the Hald New Year masquerade certainly won’t. In the National park Mljet, Croatia will delight you with two seawater lakes in the midst of the most forested island of the Adriatic.
On the Pelješac peninsula, Southern Dalmatia will pleasure your palate with the world-famous Dingač wines and the flavor of fresh shellfish, which have been cultivated here since the ancient times.