Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast enchants with rugged islands, hidden coves, and a rich maritime history dating back to the Venetian Empires. Hike through pine forests, fields of wildflowers, and vineyards to medieval monasteries and sun-drenched villages. Further north, venture into the lush hills of the Pelješac Peninsula and soak up the lively seafaring tradition of Orebić. The nearby island of Korčula offers a beautifully preserved medieval town. Conclude your trip in the walled city of Dubrovnik, the “pearl of the Adriatic.” Throughout our island-hopping adventure, discover Croatia’s unique history and charm.
Arrive in the bustling port city of Split, Croatia. Check in to our hotel and gather for a tour the Roman-era palace of Diocletian, built by the Roman emperor in his hometown. In the medieval era, a village was built within the palace’s walls, forming the center of today’s Split. Enter this beguiling maze of marble streets, churches, and fortified walls.
This morning, take a boat to the picturesque island of Hvar, with a landscape of lavender fields, vineyards, limestone cliffs, and emerald coves. Explore the rural interior, dotted with small medieval villages, and join a local artist on her rustic estate for lunch and an olive oil tasting. Then hike an old route across the island to the hamlet of Velo Grablje (once an important producer of rosemary and lavender oils) and through a small canyon to the deserted stone village of Malo Grablje. End at a white pebble beach for a refreshing dip in the Adriatic. (6 miles hiking, 3 hours)
Today, kayak in the Pakleni Islands, pausing on a beach to enjoy a picnic lunch of market-fresh delicacies. In the afternoon, tour the charming town of Hvar, walking small cobbled alleys draped with bougainvillea and learning their rich history. The walk ends in a beautiful Hapsburg garden where our guide—a trained aromatherapist—talks about the town’s tradition of making aromatic oils. (5 miles kayaking, 4 hours)
The largest of the central Dalmatian islands, Brač is famous for its rugged natural beauty and for white limestone used for decorative stonework since Roman times. Our private boat drops anchor in the hidden bay of Blaca; hike up to the 450-year-old hermitage surrounded by pine trees, fragrant flowers, and the scents and sights of the sea. The hermitage once traded honey, wine, and olive oil with the Venetians and became known for its gastronomy. Have lunch under old oak trees in a perfectly preserved Dalmatian stone village high in the hills, feasting on local specialties cooked over an open fire. Continue to the top of Vidova Gora, the highest peak in the Dalmatian islands, and shuttle down to the town of Bol, where our boat awaits. (6 miles hiking, 3 hours)
Cruise to the island of Korčula, passing by Hvar’s western shore of craggy cliffs and hidden coves. En route, enjoy a swim in the sapphire waters of the Adriatic and visit the home of a local producer of Hvar’s renowned Plavac red wine. Arrive at Vela Luka on Korčula and hike to charming lunch place all carved in stone. Enjoy local dishes in the shade of a centuries-old house. End the day in the medieval city of Korčula, thought by some historians to be Marco Polo’s hometown, then check into our boutique hotel just across the channel in Orebič, on the Pelješac Peninsula. (4 miles hiking, 2 hours)
Pelješac’s mixture of hilly slopes, warm Adriatic air, and sunny days is perfect for producing Croatia’s best red wine, Dingač, as well as plump oranges, pomegranates, and figs. Hike up to a 15th-century Franciscan monastery and church, and continue to a viewpoint for an extraordinary vista over Dalmatia’s islands. Follow the footpath past abandoned stone houses and ancient chapels, and descend to the coast for a swim in the sea. Try Dingač wines at a local wine cellar and visit one of the most authentic traditional konobe, or taverns, still found in Croatia to savor homemade salamis and bread and freshly caught fish. (4 miles hiking, 2–3 hours)
A scenic drive takes us to the town of Ston, with one of the longest defensive stone walls in Europe, built to protect salt ponds that brought wealth to the Dubrovnik republic. Ston is also known for its oysters, and we'll visit a local family of oyster farmers. As a grand finale, explore restored Dubrovnik, which became a major maritime power after breaking with the Venetian Republic in the 14th century. Its marble streets are lined with baroque architecture from the 1600s and surrounded by medieval walls. Enjoy the views with a guided walk along Dubrovnik's walls before our farewell dinner. (4 miles hiking, 1–2 hours)
Transfer to the airport for flights home.