Two Weeks in Croatia


From Split to Dubrovnik
Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Alas, my recent spring foray along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast required making many painful omissions. In particular, I regretted skipping the Istrian peninsula, known for its wine and food, and the beautiful resort island of Hvar. 

But the southern half of Dalmatia provided ample compensation. Wineries produce world-class bottlings, usually from character-rich indigenous grapes, and restaurants take full advantage of the bounty of the Adriatic, as well as excellent local produce and cheese. Old Venetian towns hug peninsulas and islands, their unspoiled centers filled with shops, wine bars and cafés. 

Start in Split, home to some of the most impressive Roman ruins outside of Rome and a good base for day trips to visit wineries and Krka National Park. Then take a ferry to Korčula, an exquisite island of rugged limestone mountains, hill towns and more fine wineries. End the trip in Dubrovnik, with its gorgeously preserved walled center and magnificent surrounding countryside. 

This itinerary closely follows the trip I took in April, when the weather is unpredictable but crowds are quite manageable. May, September and October are also good months to visit the region, but June, July and August should be avoided. Dubrovnik becomes insufferable during the summer because of the many large cruise ships now stopping there. 

For Andrew Harper’s full account from Croatia, see the July 2018 Hideaway Report.

Our itineraries are for your inspiration. If you do not see specific departure dates listed, please contact Andrew Harper Travel to customize this itinerary to fit your needs.
Highlights
    • Explore Diocletian’s Palace
    • Tour the medieval city of Split
    • View art at the Meštrović Gallery
    • Visit the island of Korčula
    • Take a romantic two-hour sunset cruise
    • Enjoy multiple wine tastings
    • Eat at Michelin-starred restaurants
    • Take a cooking class with a local

Day 1 : Split

Fly into Split’s airport, with connections to several major European gateways (the airport was undergoing a major expansion when I visited). Meet your driver and transfer to the Hotel Vestibul Palace. Even though the suites there aren’t especially large, some incorporate ancient Roman walls, and the hotel’s location is perfectly central. 

Settle in and, if time permits, start by exploring Diocletian’s Palace, the Roman emperor’s massive retirement complex, which now forms the center of downtown Split. Many of the medieval buildings incorporate Roman architecture, and the cathedral is the former mausoleum of Diocletian. 

Have dinner at ZOI, ideally on the roof terrace, overlooking the harbor of Split.

Day 2 : Split

Take a full day to explore the center of Split, a medieval city with obvious Roman bones. A guide can bring Diocletian’s Palace to life.

Have lunch or dinner at stylish Bokeria Kitchen & Wine, a wine-focused restaurant with simple but satisfying local cuisine. I also recommend stopping for a glass or two at Paradox, a friendly contemporary wine bar with a roof terrace.

Day 3 : Split - Marjan peninsula

Head to the leafy Marjan peninsula, just west of central Split, to visit the Meštrović Gallery, dedicated to the expressive sculptures of 20th-century artist Ivan Meštrović. The sea-view Roman-inspired villa housing the museum was originally his home. Nearby is the Crikvine-Kaštilac complex, incorporating a chapel with a beautiful cycle of wooden friezes carved by Meštrović. 

Walk back to central Split, passing numerous other villas along the sea, and break for a snack or drink at F marine, a café on Split’s harbor. 

Have lunch at Diocletian’s Wine House, a wine bar and restaurant under three massive Roman arches, followed by a private wine tasting with a sommelier.

Day 4 : Split - Krka National Park or Vinarija Rak

If time is short, skip to Day 5. Otherwise, make an excursion from Split today, either with a rental car or driver. One of the most popular day trips is Krka National Park, where you can take a boat through a gorge to a dramatic waterfall. But note that the park can be crowded in summer (arrive early if possible). 

Alternatively, visit Vinarija Rak, an unassuming family-run winery in the village of Rakovo Selo. I very much enjoyed Rak’s full-bodied Maraština-based whites, the unique oak-aged Opolo rosé and the rich and lively Babić-based reds. 

For lunch, head into the steep city of Šibenik and park your car along the sea by the cathedral. Just up the steps is Pelegrini, one of three restaurants in Croatia with a Michelin star. It’s an ideal stop for lunch.

Explore Šibenik before returning to Split in the late afternoon.

Day 5 : Korčula

Have the hotel make up a little picnic for you before you check out. Take the 10:30 a.m. Jadrolinija car ferry from Split to the island of Korčula. The route passes steep coastline and green archipelagoes, some punctuated with old fortifications or lighthouses. 

Arrive in Vela Luka at 2 p.m. and drive an hour along the length of Korčula, a route of uninterrupted scenic beauty, to the formerly Venetian town of Korčula. The old center resembles a leaf jutting into the Adriatic. 

Check into the Lešić Dimitri Palace, a delightful small hotel in the heart of the old town, a short walk from both the cathedral and the sea.

Settle in and have a walk around compact Korčula, before dinner on the seaside patio of the hotel’s superb restaurant.

Day 6 : Korčula

Continue exploring Korčula this morning. After lunch, drive 10 minutes to the Bire winery, famous for its Grk, a rare and delicious white (Bire’s Plavac Mali is also excellent). 

In the evening, head to the harbor for a romantic two-hour sunset cruise in the hotel’s sleek wooden sailboat (wine and cheese included).

Day 7 : Korčula

Head toward the center of Korčula island after breakfast, driving to the hillside town of Čara. The road down the hill leads to the seaside village of Zavalatica, home to Vinarija Krajančić, one of my favorite wineries in Croatia. Reserve a private tasting on the balcony overlooking Zavalatica’s harbor, and enjoy some superlative Pošip, a white that reaches Burgundian heights of excellence, as well as powerful Plavac Mali. 

For a late lunch, head to Konoba Mate, a charming family-owned restaurant in the town of Pupnat. The family makes many of the ingredients, including Dalmatian ham and smoked bacon, that go into the recipes. The restaurant is informal, but it offers memorable hospitality and deeply satisfying, if relatively simple, food. 

Return to the Lešić Dimitri Palace after lunch, and indulge in a treatment at the property’s extravagant spa.

Day 8 : Head to Dubrovnik

After breakfast, take the car ferry across the channel to the Pelješac Peninsula. Near the port is Korta Katarina, another family-owned winery with a slick tasting room overlooking the sea. After a tasting accompanied by cheese and charcuterie, continue southeast down the dramatically beautiful peninsula, toward the towns of Ston and Mali Ston. They are connected by one of Europe’s most impressive fortification systems, built to protect their salt pans.

After lunch, explore the walls of Ston and Mali Ston, or backtrack about 10 minutes to the world-class Vinarija Miloš, for a tasting of its Plavac Mali-based reds. They have power and richness, as well as a lift of freshness, giving them complexity and balance.

Continue on to Dubrovnik, arriving in the early evening. Check into Villa Dubrovnik, a luxurious resort-style hideaway a short distance outside the walled center (the hotel’s scheduled motor launch travels between the two), or St. Joseph’s, a friendly small inn in the heart of town. 

Have dinner at Victoria Restaurant & Lounge Bar, a Peruvian-Croatian fusion restaurant at Villa Orsula, a 10- to 15-minute walk from either hotel. The patio has wonderful views of the sea and Dubrovnik.

Day 9 : Dubrovnik

If staying at Villa Dubrovnik, take the morning to relax at the hotel. Loungers by the pool overlook the green island of Lokrum, and loungers on the “beach,” a series of interconnected white concrete polygons, overlook the old harbor of Dubrovnik.

Have lunch at the hotel, or lunch in Dubrovnik at either Proto Fish Restaurant or Restaurant Posat, both of which serve excellent seafood.

Explore Dubrovnik in the afternoon, visiting the Rector’s Palace and circumnavigating the city walls. (Alternatively, if you’re a morning person, arise early and walk the walls before cruise ship passengers have a chance to disembark, and take the afternoon to relax at Villa Dubrovnik.)

Have dinner at Villa Dubrovnik’s Italian-inflected Restaurant Pjerin, with views of Dubrovnik and the sea. 

Day 10 : Dubrovnik

This morning, you can continue exploring the center of Dubrovnik, make an excursion to Lokrum or do some guided kayaking around the walled center and villa-studded coast nearby.

Or, if the day isn’t too hot, take the cable car up to the top of Mount Srđ for panoramic views of the Adriatic and Dubrovnik. Make a short visit to the Museum of Croatian War of Independence, where pictures showing the Siege of Dubrovnik hang in a dank Napoleonic fortress, and have a snack or lunch at the Panorama Restaurant & Bar. Its tables directly overlook the cable car, the walled center of Dubrovnik and the sea.

Return by cable car, or walk along the narrow cliffside road to the pine-filled village of Bosanka. Take the stony path to the right of the war memorial down the cliff for sensational views of the coast.

After freshening up at your hotel, have dinner at Michelin-starred Restaurant 360°, ideally on the unique terrace, which occupies part of an old harbor-view bastion.

Day 11 : Dubrovnik

Make an excursion from Dubrovnik to take a cooking class with Katja in Trsteno, famous for its seaside botanical gardens. Katja’s outdoor kitchen, shaded by a grapevine-covered pergola, is across the street from the gardens’ entrance. Spend the day cooking with Katja, nibbling local cheese and olives from her olive grove until lunch is finished. (Contact Culinary Croatia to make the arrangements.)

Return to Dubrovnik in the midafternoon. Continue exploring, or perhaps arrange for a spa treatment at Villa Dubrovnik’s spa.

Day 12 : Dubrovnik

Enjoy one more day in Dubrovnik to explore. For your final dinner in Croatia, I recommend splurging on Nautika Restaurant, a traditional spot with a spectacular terrace on the bay between the Bokar and Lovrijenac fortresses. Service is formal but highly professional and welcoming. 

Day 1 : Split

Fly into Split’s airport, with connections to several major European gateways (the airport was undergoing a major expansion when I visited). Meet your driver and transfer to the Hotel Vestibul Palace. Even though the suites there aren’t especially large, some incorporate ancient Roman walls, and the hotel’s location is perfectly central. 

Settle in and, if time permits, start by exploring Diocletian’s Palace, the Roman emperor’s massive retirement complex, which now forms the center of downtown Split. Many of the medieval buildings incorporate Roman architecture, and the cathedral is the former mausoleum of Diocletian. 

Have dinner at ZOI, ideally on the roof terrace, overlooking the harbor of Split.

Day 2 : Split

Take a full day to explore the center of Split, a medieval city with obvious Roman bones. A guide can bring Diocletian’s Palace to life.

Have lunch or dinner at stylish Bokeria Kitchen & Wine, a wine-focused restaurant with simple but satisfying local cuisine. I also recommend stopping for a glass or two at Paradox, a friendly contemporary wine bar with a roof terrace.

Day 3 : Split - Marjan peninsula

Head to the leafy Marjan peninsula, just west of central Split, to visit the Meštrović Gallery, dedicated to the expressive sculptures of 20th-century artist Ivan Meštrović. The sea-view Roman-inspired villa housing the museum was originally his home. Nearby is the Crikvine-Kaštilac complex, incorporating a chapel with a beautiful cycle of wooden friezes carved by Meštrović. 

Walk back to central Split, passing numerous other villas along the sea, and break for a snack or drink at F marine, a café on Split’s harbor. 

Have lunch at Diocletian’s Wine House, a wine bar and restaurant under three massive Roman arches, followed by a private wine tasting with a sommelier.

Day 4 : Split - Krka National Park or Vinarija Rak

If time is short, skip to Day 5. Otherwise, make an excursion from Split today, either with a rental car or driver. One of the most popular day trips is Krka National Park, where you can take a boat through a gorge to a dramatic waterfall. But note that the park can be crowded in summer (arrive early if possible). 

Alternatively, visit Vinarija Rak, an unassuming family-run winery in the village of Rakovo Selo. I very much enjoyed Rak’s full-bodied Maraština-based whites, the unique oak-aged Opolo rosé and the rich and lively Babić-based reds. 

For lunch, head into the steep city of Šibenik and park your car along the sea by the cathedral. Just up the steps is Pelegrini, one of three restaurants in Croatia with a Michelin star. It’s an ideal stop for lunch.

Explore Šibenik before returning to Split in the late afternoon.

Day 5 : Korčula

Have the hotel make up a little picnic for you before you check out. Take the 10:30 a.m. Jadrolinija car ferry from Split to the island of Korčula. The route passes steep coastline and green archipelagoes, some punctuated with old fortifications or lighthouses. 

Arrive in Vela Luka at 2 p.m. and drive an hour along the length of Korčula, a route of uninterrupted scenic beauty, to the formerly Venetian town of Korčula. The old center resembles a leaf jutting into the Adriatic. 

Check into the Lešić Dimitri Palace, a delightful small hotel in the heart of the old town, a short walk from both the cathedral and the sea.

Settle in and have a walk around compact Korčula, before dinner on the seaside patio of the hotel’s superb restaurant.

Day 6 : Korčula

Continue exploring Korčula this morning. After lunch, drive 10 minutes to the Bire winery, famous for its Grk, a rare and delicious white (Bire’s Plavac Mali is also excellent). 

In the evening, head to the harbor for a romantic two-hour sunset cruise in the hotel’s sleek wooden sailboat (wine and cheese included).

Day 7 : Korčula

Head toward the center of Korčula island after breakfast, driving to the hillside town of Čara. The road down the hill leads to the seaside village of Zavalatica, home to Vinarija Krajančić, one of my favorite wineries in Croatia. Reserve a private tasting on the balcony overlooking Zavalatica’s harbor, and enjoy some superlative Pošip, a white that reaches Burgundian heights of excellence, as well as powerful Plavac Mali. 

For a late lunch, head to Konoba Mate, a charming family-owned restaurant in the town of Pupnat. The family makes many of the ingredients, including Dalmatian ham and smoked bacon, that go into the recipes. The restaurant is informal, but it offers memorable hospitality and deeply satisfying, if relatively simple, food. 

Return to the Lešić Dimitri Palace after lunch, and indulge in a treatment at the property’s extravagant spa.

Day 8 : Head to Dubrovnik

After breakfast, take the car ferry across the channel to the Pelješac Peninsula. Near the port is Korta Katarina, another family-owned winery with a slick tasting room overlooking the sea. After a tasting accompanied by cheese and charcuterie, continue southeast down the dramatically beautiful peninsula, toward the towns of Ston and Mali Ston. They are connected by one of Europe’s most impressive fortification systems, built to protect their salt pans.

After lunch, explore the walls of Ston and Mali Ston, or backtrack about 10 minutes to the world-class Vinarija Miloš, for a tasting of its Plavac Mali-based reds. They have power and richness, as well as a lift of freshness, giving them complexity and balance.

Continue on to Dubrovnik, arriving in the early evening. Check into Villa Dubrovnik, a luxurious resort-style hideaway a short distance outside the walled center (the hotel’s scheduled motor launch travels between the two), or St. Joseph’s, a friendly small inn in the heart of town. 

Have dinner at Victoria Restaurant & Lounge Bar, a Peruvian-Croatian fusion restaurant at Villa Orsula, a 10- to 15-minute walk from either hotel. The patio has wonderful views of the sea and Dubrovnik.

Day 9 : Dubrovnik

If staying at Villa Dubrovnik, take the morning to relax at the hotel. Loungers by the pool overlook the green island of Lokrum, and loungers on the “beach,” a series of interconnected white concrete polygons, overlook the old harbor of Dubrovnik.

Have lunch at the hotel, or lunch in Dubrovnik at either Proto Fish Restaurant or Restaurant Posat, both of which serve excellent seafood.

Explore Dubrovnik in the afternoon, visiting the Rector’s Palace and circumnavigating the city walls. (Alternatively, if you’re a morning person, arise early and walk the walls before cruise ship passengers have a chance to disembark, and take the afternoon to relax at Villa Dubrovnik.)

Have dinner at Villa Dubrovnik’s Italian-inflected Restaurant Pjerin, with views of Dubrovnik and the sea. 

Day 10 : Dubrovnik

This morning, you can continue exploring the center of Dubrovnik, make an excursion to Lokrum or do some guided kayaking around the walled center and villa-studded coast nearby.

Or, if the day isn’t too hot, take the cable car up to the top of Mount Srđ for panoramic views of the Adriatic and Dubrovnik. Make a short visit to the Museum of Croatian War of Independence, where pictures showing the Siege of Dubrovnik hang in a dank Napoleonic fortress, and have a snack or lunch at the Panorama Restaurant & Bar. Its tables directly overlook the cable car, the walled center of Dubrovnik and the sea.

Return by cable car, or walk along the narrow cliffside road to the pine-filled village of Bosanka. Take the stony path to the right of the war memorial down the cliff for sensational views of the coast.

After freshening up at your hotel, have dinner at Michelin-starred Restaurant 360°, ideally on the unique terrace, which occupies part of an old harbor-view bastion.

Day 11 : Dubrovnik

Make an excursion from Dubrovnik to take a cooking class with Katja in Trsteno, famous for its seaside botanical gardens. Katja’s outdoor kitchen, shaded by a grapevine-covered pergola, is across the street from the gardens’ entrance. Spend the day cooking with Katja, nibbling local cheese and olives from her olive grove until lunch is finished. (Contact Culinary Croatia to make the arrangements.)

Return to Dubrovnik in the midafternoon. Continue exploring, or perhaps arrange for a spa treatment at Villa Dubrovnik’s spa.

Day 12 : Dubrovnik

Enjoy one more day in Dubrovnik to explore. For your final dinner in Croatia, I recommend splurging on Nautika Restaurant, a traditional spot with a spectacular terrace on the bay between the Bokar and Lovrijenac fortresses. Service is formal but highly professional and welcoming. 

Two Weeks in Croatia

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