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20 Best things to see & do in Dalmatian Islands

  • Dalmatian Islands, Dalmatia, Croatia

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Jane Foster
  • Dalmatia, Croatia

Aerial view of Paklinski Islands in Hvar, Croatia. Turquise water bays with luxury yachts and sailing boats. Toned image.

Bucket List Experience

Sail the Dalmatian Islands

With sheltered waters, a steady breeze and a plethora of blissful, uninhabited islands close to the mainland, the Dalmatian islands are made for sailing.

Hoisting a sail is the ideal, and most flexible, way to explore this beautiful and still largely unspoilt archipelago, discovering secret coves, swimming in azure waters off the boat, and stopping in local towns.

Charters tend to be for a week and various itineraries are available. The main ports of call are the islands of Korcula and Hvar.

Adult price: £600

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 3-7 days

  • Vis, Dalmatia, Croatia

Inside the dark cave with bright blue illuminated water

Bucket List Experience

Blue Cave

On the unspoilt islet of Bisevo, take a boat that passes through a narrow tunnel into a vast chamber, illuminated an amazing shade of luminescent blue – the so-called Modra Spilja (Blue Cave).

The unique blue glow inside this cave is caused by a partial submarine hole in the cave entrance, which lets in direct sunlight at certain times of day. From inside the cave, the light seems to emanate from the water itself, which casts an aquamarine glow on the walls, while objects in the water appear to be silver.

It’s an unearthly, magical sight.

Adult price: £25

Good for age: 8+

  • Korcula, Dalmatia, Croatia

local men doing the Moreska Sword Dance in Korcula Old Town

Bucket List Experience

Moreska Sword Dance

This traditional medieval sword dance, dating back hundreds of years, recounts the love story between a beautiful Turkish maiden and a local knight.

Accompanied by music, two bands of men dressed in traditional costume perform an increasingly frenzied dance, brandishing and crossing their swords till sparks fly and sweat drips. They fight it out till the end, when love prevails and the best man wins.

All performers must be native to Korcula.

Adult price: £13

Good for age: 8+

Duration: 30 minutes

  • Hvar, Dalmatia, Croatia

Hvar's Old Town

Bucket List Experience

Hvar’s Old Town

One of the most picturesque towns in the whole of the Croatian archipelago, Hvar Town is an elegant patchwork of historic Venetian townhouses and palaces, many carefully restored, opening out onto the marble-flagged St Stephen’s square.

Behind the square, terracotta-roofed houses rise up to overlook the horseshoe-shaped harbour, lined with bars and restaurants, with wide promenades leading off in both directions to quiet coves and pine-fringed beaches.

Sightseeing is best puncuated with coffees, or a cold Posip (Croatian white wine) from one of the café terraces above the main square (Teraca is particularly good), which are perfectly-placed to watch the yachts and wooden fishing boats glide in and out of harbour.

At the days’ end, go for dinner at Maconoda, on the narrow stone alley between the main square and hilltop castle – home to the best seafood in Hvar.

Good for age: 18+

  • Korcula, Dalmatia, Croatia

landscape of Korcula's Old Town

Bucket List Experience

Korcula’s Old Town

A picture-perfect walled town, set on an oval-shaped swathe of land surrounded on three sides by the crystalline Peljesac channel, Korcula Town is one of the most beautiful in the Croatian archipelago.

Famous for its elegant Venetian mansions and the narrow medieval alleyways that branch off the main pedestrianised street, this is a place to wander and soak up the history – including the house where explorer Marco Polo is said to have been born.

Good for age: 18+

  • Dalmatia, Croatia

Seafood dominates – expect high-quality shellfish, and fresh fish barbecued and served whole, plus quality local wines. Classic Mediterranean flavours – tomatoes, parsley, garlic and rosemary – are often paired with fish.

Croatia’s Italian heritage is seen everywhere, with pizzerias and gelaterias in every town.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

  • Mljet, Dalmatia, Croatia

Monastery on an island surrounded by shallows

Bucket List Experience

Mljet National Park

For those in search of peace and pristine nature, this stunning national park covers one-third of the remote island of Mljet. Besides hiking and mountain biking through magnificent forests of Aleppo pines and holm oaks, you can swim or kayak in two emerald-blue saltwater lakes; one is home to a picturesque islet crowned by a 12th-century monastery.

Unusually, there’s great food too – there are plenty of small waterside restaurants and cafés within the park (most are in Pomena), serving up the famous Mljet lobster, renowned throughout Croatia.

There is only one hotel on the island (the comfortable, three-star Hotel Odisej), but many locals rent out private rooms and apartments to visitors during the summer.

Good for age: 8+

  • Dalmatia, Croatia

Vineyard in Dalmatia, Croatia, at the Adriatic coast.

Bucket List Experience

Dalmatian Islands Wine Region

Croatia has a long history of wine making, stretching back some 2,500 years, with many indigenous grape varieties still in use. (Croatia is also home to the oak forests that produce most of the oak casks favoured by wine producers across Europe).

Sprinkled throughout the islands are a number of excellent family-run vineyards open to the public during the summer. Tastings of the region’s truly excellent wines usually takes place in a stone cellar, where the wines are stored, often accompanied by platters of savoury nibbles.

If you’re lucky (and you often will be), the winemaker will be present to explain something about the winemaking process and the history of the vineyard.

Good for age: 18+

Zlatni Rat Beach

  • Brac, Dalmatia, Croatia

aerial view of Zlatni Rat Beach

Experience

A photogenic 500m-long cape of fine golden shingle, that changes shape with the tide. Lined with sunbeds and good for watersports, it’s a great family beach.

Good for age: 4+

  • Hvar, Dalmatia, Croatia

Just offshore from the town of Hvar, this archipelago of 21 islets is a paradise of pinewoods, secluded coves and fine pebble beaches.

Closest to Hvar lies Jerolim, which is predominantly nudist; next up is Marinkovac, with the chic Carpe Diem Beach Club and another lovely sheltered cove, Zdrilca. Sveti Klement is the largest island and is home to Palmizana Bay, a long, narrow pebble beach overlooked by five restaurants and a centuries-old botanical.

Alight the ferry at Palmižana Bay and walk the length of the islet to Vlaka, following the marked hiking path through unspoilt Mediterranean vegetation and swimming in lovely coves along the way.

Boating and kayaking are great ways to explore these small islands – both can easily be rented in Hvar. There are also 15 excellent reef and wreck dives for all levels; the Viking Diving Centre in Hvar can make arrangements.

Good for age: 8+