5 Reasons Why You Should Choose the Island of Korčula in Croatia for Your Next Sunny Getaway
It’s a dreary February afternoon and it’s pouring rain outside in our West Coast Canadian city. It’s been raining for days, and it will continue to rain for the rest of the winter and right through the spring. It’s no surprise that we are eagerly planning our next sunny getaway — Croatia this June!
The last time we visited Croatia’s stunning Dalmatian coast was August 2010. My husband’s parents live in Split — a fabulous old city on the Adriatic Sea. Our daughter was only seven months old and we were primarily there to give her “Dida and Baka” (grandma and grandpa) a chance to spend time with her. To maintain our sanity (we stayed for two weeks with my in-laws in a cramped apartment), we took off for an exciting 5-day adventure to Korčula, an island in the Adriatic Sea. This small island combines alluring beaches, glorious sunshine, fabulous restaurants, breathtaking architecture, and fascinating history!
Here are our five reasons why you should choose the island of Korčula in Croatia as your next sunny getaway:
Reason #1: The historic town of old Korčula is majestic, romantic, and charming.
The first thing that you see when you approach Korčula on the ferry is an ancient fortress wall that lines the seashore and protectively encompasses the charming town of old Korčula. The original canons are still strategically positioned on the wall, pointing out to the sea, as if expecting a ferocious attack. Inside the protective walls are stunning stone churches and a magnificent cathedral that was built from the beginning of the 15th to the end of the 16th century. A stone belfry towers above the rest of the town. Everything in this extraordinary, fortressed town appears the same as it did six hundred years ago! Outside the fortress wall, there are picturesque, grand buildings made of stone with red-shingled roofs and palm trees lining the sea. These palatial carved-stone houses were built during the first half of the 16th century and belonged to nobility or high-ranking people.
The medieval town of Korčula exudes cultivated beauty. Narrow, cobbled streets and passageways (barely wide enough for two people) lead you through this breathtaking medieval town. To really feel the magic of this special place, head out for a walk in the early morning when the tourists and locals are still deep a sleep. The solitude and quiet allow you to imagine what it was like to live here centuries ago. At this hour, only the resident cats meander the tiny corridors and lounge on the antique rock benches in front of the church.
During the day, peruse galleries and souvenir stores. Sip an espresso on an outdoor patio or observe the happenings in the town square. Sample the local goat cheese, fresh fish, and delicious bread at the market. There are no mega-resorts here. Even though tourists venture here in big waves, they surprisingly don’t appear to be the tacky travelers who storm many other European and international destinations. It’s busy here with visitors, but somehow it still feels peaceful.
Reason #2: Korčula has an extremely rich history.
Korčula’s history dates much further back than the 15th century when the building of the cathedral commenced. The oldest written document found in Croatia is from this small island. It is a stone tablet written in ancient Greek, dating back to the 4th century BC! You can view this relic in the town’s museum. This beautiful Adriatic island was ruled by many neighboring states and was home to different ethnic groups, including the Illyrian tribes, the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Croats and the Venetians.
According to the locals, Marco Polo was born here in 1254 to a merchant family. However, many historians claim that Marco Polo was born in Venice. The people of Korčula are stubbornly sticking to their story! Half of the galleries, stores, restaurants and hotels in the town of Korcula are named after this famous explorer. We counted 25 signs in one hour with Marco Polo’s name on them!
Reason #3: The sea is crystal clear and warm.
The sparkling Adriatic Sea is a stunning blue and turquoise color. It is brilliantly clear and clean, allowing you to see right to the bottom. The sea here is rich with marine life. The temperature of the sea in August is a delightful and inviting 26 degrees celsius. (A “hot” summer day in our hometown of Vancouver, Canada is not much warmer than this!)
Reason #4: The island of Korčula is home to a plethora of stunning beaches.
If you love the beach, then Korčula is the place for you! There are an abundance of beautiful beaches all over the island! Beach Vela Przina Lumbarda, Beach Zakrjan, Vaja Beach Racisce, Pavjaluke Bay & Beach…the list goes on and on! Some of these alluring beaches are sandy, while others are pebble beaches and some are clothing optional.
We spent many days soaking in the sun at Banje Beach, which is just a short walk from old Korčula. This small pebble beach boasts inspiring views of the fortified ancient town and a semi-arid mountain across the bay. Enjoy a refreshing swim while watching the expensive mega yachts cruise into the port!
Reason #5: Korčula has fabulous restaurants.
For me, there are three necessary ingredients that make a fabulous restaurant: stellar ambiance, mouthwatering seafood, and fantastic wine! The restaurants here successfully meet these criteria! There are about eight restaurants located side-by-side along the fortress wall — all of them offering unbeatable, spectacular views of the sea from their outdoor patios. There are even steps descending the wall to the sea, encouraging some diners to dive in for a quick swim!
As you approach the restaurant strip, the smell of “lignje na žaru” (grilled squid), “skampi” (prawns) and “riba na žaru” (grilled fish) fill the air and tantalize you with their delicious aroma. Caught in the Adriatic and served fresh on your plate, these enticing dishes are specialties of the Dalmatian cuisine. For something perhaps completely new, try the “Papalina” (tiny, fried fish). But be aware that this dish may attract the neighborhood cats to your outdoor dining table! The final imperative component of an exceptional dining experience is good wine! To compliment your meal, try “grk” and “pošip”, which are local dry white wines.