Road Trip

Discover Croatia's Dalmatian Coast

Located along the picturesque Adriatic Sea, Croatia's Dalmatian Coast is fast becoming popular with tourists keen to explore different sides of a region steeped in history.

Realistically, you'd need months - maybe even years - to discover all of the islands and villages which make up 12,000 sq km stretch of land, which reaches from Split to Dubrovnik.

However, for those with a few days to spare, we teamed up with Frank, co-founder and editor of Frank About Croatia, to get the lowdown on the best way to spend a long weekend in Croatia.

First day: Trogir / Split

After flying into Split airport your first stop should be Trogir, a small medieval town which is only 7 km from the airport. It features a lovely seafront promenade, limestone buildings and cobbled streets and alleys. The entire old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend couple of hours exploring this little gem, and then head off to Split, the largest town in Dalmatia. Its historical old town dates back to roman times, and its Diocletian’s Palace has pride of place right in the heart of the town among many other historical buildings and sights. Spend your day exploring Split old town, stop for a coffee on the town’s seafront promenade which is lined with lined with coffee bars and vibrant restaurants. Enjoy a pre-dinner glass of wine in one of the cool, small wine bars, before heading for a dinner at Tavern Fife or Matejuska. Many eateries in Split are family-run places where locals and tourists mix together, giving visitors a real authentic feel of the area. Prices are affordable, cuisine is authentic and all ingredients are locally sourced. The perfect end to your day in Split is a post-dinner drink at Luxor Bar, which has the best terrace in Split. Located in Split's small square and surrounded by historic roman buildings, you’ll not sit at a traditional table, but on the palace stairs with a pillow. It has live music almost every night during the summer months, but be warned, the drinks do not come cheap! However, I'd recommend sipping one and enjoy the atmosphere - it’s worth the money.

Second Day: Rafting on Cetina and driving along the coastal road

Omiš is a small seaside town, about 25 km south of Split. Its hinterland is mountainous with the beautiful Cetina River making its way down to the sea. I'd say it is the 'must-visit' place for adventure lovers. Whether you enjoy free-climbing, rafting, kayaking, cycling, or hiking, Omiš has it all. I'd recommend starting your second day in Croatia with Cetina River rafting. There are many tour companies which offer the experience, and your guide will pick you up before a 30-minute drive inland to reach the starting point. It's a fascinating drive along a winding road, passing traditional Dalmatian villages, and offering lovely views of the river. The rafting itself lasts about three hours, and in the summer you might be allowed to stop for a swim in the river as a break. The route is 12 km long, and it ends at the restaurant RadmanoveMlinice. It's a great place to stop for lunch before heading back to your car to continue the scenic drive along the coast.

Third Day: Peljesac wine tour, lunch in Ston and arrival into Dubrovnik

Continue your drive south, and head for the peninsula of Peljesac, Croatia's second-biggest peninsula. It is a steep and mountainous region with dramatic vineyards, stunning views and beautiful beaches. Peljesac is the home of a wine named Plavac Mali, which grows on the south slopes of the peninsula with vineyards planted on a 45 degree slope. The most popular producers of this red wine are the Bura family, Grgich hills of Napa Valley, and Miloš. Visit one of the many wine cellars along the route, and buy a bottle of this great red wine to bring home.

On your last day before dropping off your car and flying back home, explore Dubrovnik old town. Dubrovnik is a real gem, built on a rocky peninsula and surrounded by centuries-old fortification walls. It can get crowded, so the best time to visit it is in the early morning. Stroll along town’s main street, stop at Onofrio’s fountain, and visit the third oldest pharmacy in Europe. Have a coffee at one of the charming terrace cafes and watch the world go by, before climbing the town’s famous walls. If there's time, take a cable car up to the mountain Srd for great views over the old town, the sea and nearby islands.

Frank is a four-time Canadian expatriate currently living in Croatia. He writes the blog

Road Trip Photos

Image Credits: Under Licence from Shutterstock:
port in Split – Image Number: 168641054, Copyright owner: stepmorem
Aerial view - Omis city in Croatia. between Adriatic sea, mountain Omiska Dinara and river Cetina – Image Number: 164957894, copyright owner:
view of an old city of Dubrovnik, Croatia – Image Number: 167280974, copyright owner: Slawomir Kruz