Croatia’s beautiful islands are attracting the attention of celebrities and Hvar is a popular hangout for A-listers, who flock here in their luxury yachts to enjoy its walled town and fragrant fields of lavender, rosemary and heather. Brac is another island on every must do itinerary; it’s famous for its white stone, which has even made its way over to America to be used in the building of the White House.
On the island of Korcula, the 13th-century walled town is located on a peninsula jutting out into the Adriatic and a walking tour takes you through its towers and bastions built by the ruling Venetians in the 15th century.
Two of Croatia’s most important historic jewels are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Dubrovnik and Split. Dubrovnik is the embarkation point and final destination for the cruise and is one of the most celebrated sights in Croatia. It’s also one of the busiest, but there’s no denying that the picturesque, walled, orange-roofed town is worthy of so much attention.
The walking tour takes you through its cobbled streets, up narrow stairs built into the side of the walls and past well-known monuments such as the Big Fountain of Onofrio, built in 1438, which stands in the square in front of the equally famous Pile gate. Dubrovnik has many monasteries and intriguing old buildings to explore.
Further north, Split is another treasure trove of historical sights – on the edge of the old town you can stand on the sun deck of your boat for an excellent view of the Roman remains of Diocletian’s Palace, which was built from 305 AD. Split is Croatia’s second largest city and it feels less like a museum than Dubrovnik, with a captivating mixture of architecture and styles.
Visitors can go underground ‘inside’ the walls of Diocletian’s Palace to find out more about the original Roman military camp that was based there and see houses that were built into the walls during later centuries. Since Roman times, many civilisations have tried to conquer Croatia’s coast and the country still carries fascinating reminders of these troubled times in the form of its fortified towns, hidden island harbours and shrapnel scars. The unrivalled beauty of Croatia’s lush forests, pristine beaches and coastal towns have been well worth protecting and can now be seen from the perfect viewpoint – the sea.