With more than 1,100 miles of coastline and hundreds of islands, everything about Croatia is connected to the seas. Known as the Dalmatian coast, southern Croatia is recognized for its charming medieval cities, national parks, and rich Mediterranean cuisine. Of course, the traveler will recognize cities like Dubrovnik and Split, but there are other areas begging to be explored like Ŝibenik and Trogir, both just a short drive from Split. There are also other charming cities ringing the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, which is a short 1-hour drive from Dubrovnik.
I recently spent a week discovering this beautiful country with Leonidas, a destination company that works closely with Morris Columbus travel. They have built unique relationships throughout the region with hotels, tour guides, and restaurants to provide travelers with a remarkable, unique experience.
Croatia is small country of 4 million people. Its most visited city, Dubrovnik, has a population of only 40,000. Croatia shares a border with Montenegro, Serbia, Hungary, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Until 2023 one could not travel from southern Croatia along the Dalmatian coast to northern Croatia without crossing a 12-mile coastline of Bosnia. In early 2023, Croatia built a bridge that skirts the Bosnian border by taking advantage of the many islands along its coastline. This new road system makes the drive from southern Croatia to northern Croatia seamless.
There are so many amazing food experiences in southern Croatia: fine dining, local flavors, farm-to-table, and sea-to-table options. One of the lunches we enjoyed was provided by a local agritourism company. Here the guests assist in gathering fresh ingredients from the garden and then join in the meal preparation. We enjoyed homemade bread, vegetable soup, lamb kebabs, mashed potatoes, and a cake prepared by the family’s grandma. Another amazing food experience was on a local fisherman’s boat; we watched the captain pull up the ropes that dangled into the ocean where the oyster and muscle made their homes. He then served the oysters right from the shells with only fresh lemon juice. They were amazing. The muscles were steamed, creating a rich flavor.
Leaving southern Croatia, it is simple to visit nearby Montenegro from Dubrovnik. After arriving at the Dubrovnik airport, I took the short 40-minute ride to the One&Only resort in Portonovi on the Bay of Kotor. The border crossing was easily navigated by the transfer company, although it can become crowded, so during the busy season it is best to arrive early to the border.
Nestled within the picturesque landscape of Montenegro, the Bay of Kotor is a breathtaking destination. It captivates visitors with its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. The medieval city of Kotor, with its well-preserved architecture and winding cobblestone streets, invites exploration, while the panoramic views from the ancient fortress provide a mesmerizing perspective of the bay's intricate fjord-like formations. Travelers can also venture to Perast, a quaint town boasting Baroque architecture and the famous Our Lady of the Rocks islet.
After the Bay of Kotor, we traveled north to Dubrovnik back in southern Croatia. Visiting Dubrovnik is like stepping into a medieval fairy tale where history, culture, and the breathtaking Adriatic Sea converge. We had a unique tour of the city by combining food, culture, and architecture as we tasted our way through the city’s Old Town. After our food tour, I ventured out on my own to get lost in the labyrinth of narrow stone streets and charming squares. For a unique perspective of the city, our group took a 4x4 buggy ride into the nearby foothills where we could enjoy the view of Dubrovnik and the coast. For a quick return to the city, there is a tram that transports travelers to just outside the city gate.
Our final visit on our southern Croatia trip was to Ŝibenik, located about 1 hour north of Split. Ŝibenik offers a sophisticated, calm alternative to Split. It is also very close to Krka National Park. Krka National Park is a breathtaking natural wonder known for its cascading waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, and lush greenery. Visitors can explore the park on wooden walkways that lead through the forest, providing panoramic views of the waterfalls and the surrounding landscapes.
Southern Croatia has so much more to offer than this small sampling–culture, cuisine, adventure, and beautiful scenery to name a few. If you haven’t made a point to visit this part of Europe, you should.
All the best,
Morris Murdock Travel - Salt Lake City