Croatia’s fairly Dalmatian Coast attracts the crowds. This is how one can keep away from them

Editor’s Observe — Join Unlocking the World, CNN Journey’s weekly publication. Get information about locations opening and shutting, inspiration for future adventures, plus the newest in aviation, food and drinks, the place to remain and different journey developments. (CNN) — Like Venice, Barcelona and Prague, Dubrovnik is a sufferer of […]

Editor’s Observe — Join Unlocking the World, CNN Journey’s weekly publication. Get information about locations opening and shutting, inspiration for future adventures, plus the newest in aviation, food and drinks, the place to remain and different journey developments.

(CNN) — Like Venice, Barcelona and Prague, Dubrovnik is a sufferer of its personal success.

In 2019, greater than three million vacationers poured into the fabled walled city alongside Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and native authorities count on the quantity to achieve that time once more over the following few years as international tourism recovers from Covid-19.

Such have been the pre-pandemic crowds and their influence on the historic metropolis that UNESCO at one level threatened to revoke Dubrovnik’s World Heritage standing.

The rise in visitation was largely fueled by the launch of a brand new cruise ship terminal that would deal with 5 ships directly and disembark as many as 10,000 passengers per day and an expanded worldwide airport that would funnel these passengers to and from their boats.

As if that wasn’t sufficient, alongside got here a worldwide hit tv present that lured a complete new breed of vacationer.

“Earlier than ‘Sport of Thrones,’ most people I guided have been excited about artwork and structure, that form of factor,” says veteran Dubrovnik information Ivan Vukovic. “However then increasingly more individuals simply needed selfies at locations the place they made the present — like Pile Gate and Fort Lovrijenac.

“And we had an enormous, large downside with bare Instagramers doing their very own ‘stroll of disgrace’ on the Jesuit Stairs.”

That does not imply you should not go to Dubrovnik — it stays one of many coolest city areas on planet Earth. However for many who like their historical past, artwork and structure with far fewer individuals, these seven different Croatian coastal cities ship an analogous vibe with far fewer individuals.


Simply an hour’s drive up the coast from Dubrovnik, Ston is one among Dalmatia’s best-kept secrets and techniques. Based by the traditional Illyrians, the laidback seaside village is famend for its stone partitions and unimaginable seafood.

Like a Croatian model of the Nice Wall of China, the 14th-century battlements crawl up and over a mountain behind the village. It takes just a few hours to trek Europe’s longest fortified construction (3.5-miles/5.5-km), even much less to run the ramparts throughout the annual Ston Partitions Marathon.

A vehicle-free pedestrian avenue in Ston’s previous city is full of out of doors cafes like Konoba Bakus that serve seafood specialties like Adriatic oysters, black cuttlefish risotto and mussels buzara. Be at liberty to linger all afternoon; the locals do.


The town of Trogir feels more like Venice than any other Dalmatian Coast location.

The city of Trogir feels extra like Venice than another Dalmatian Coast location.

dreamer4787/Adobe Inventory

Half an hour up the coast from Break up, this tiny island metropolis is sort of a miniature Dubrovnik, formed by almost 4 centuries of Venetian rule and totally unspoiled. Surrounded by water, Trogir feels extra like Venice than another outpost alongside the Dalmatian Coast.

When Trogir was named a UNESCO World Heritage Website in 1997, the quotation described the town as “a wonderful instance of a medieval city… that has conserved its city cloth to an distinctive diploma and with the minimal of contemporary interventions … in each side of the townscape.”

Even if you happen to’re not into quaint cobblestone streets and palm-lined waterfront promenades, the Cathedral of St. Lawrence — with its iconic Venetian-style belltower and lavish Radovan’s Portal — ought to put Trogir in your Dalmatian bucket checklist.


Famend for its summertime people competition and donkey races, Primošten is sort of one other historical island city. Through the Renaissance, residents constructed a slim causeway that connects their insular residence to the mainland.

The city’s slim lanes harbor handicraft retailers, one-off clothes boutiques and conventional konoba eating places. Rising excessive above their red-tiled roofs, St. George’s Church dominates a hilltop with superior Adriatic views.

Throughout the causeway are sandy Mala Raduča and different seashores and a hinterland full of vineyards that produce a few of Croatia’s most interesting wines.

Biograd na Moru

Sprawling throughout a small peninsula, Biograd boasts one more medieval previous city closely influenced by centuries of Venetian rule. However its actual energy is Adriatic entry.

As one of many nautical hubs of the Dalmatian coast, Biograd gives quite a few methods to get out on the water. Scuba and snorkel day journeys depart every day for Kornati Nationwide Park and its myriad unspoiled islands.

Again on the town, Marina Šangulin is homebase to a number of yacht constitution companies providing a wide range of motor- and canvas-powered vessels. You may as well lease paddleboards and flit between the scenic coves south of the previous city.


Zadar is located just a couple of hours from the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Zadar is situated simply a few hours from the Plitvice Lakes Nationwide Park.

Leonid Tit/Adobe Inventory

Lodged between a photogenic yacht-filled harbor and the island-spangled Adriatic, Zadar’s previous city gives a setting each bit as magical as Dubrovnik.

From a ruined Roman discussion board and Romanesque church buildings to its sturdy Venetian partitions and an occasional communist-era construction that just about appears to be like classic, the previous city’s structure is a mashup of the varied individuals who have dominated Zadar over time.

Alfred Hitchcock as soon as remarked that Zadar had probably the most lovely sundown he’d ever seen. And there’s something particular in regards to the metropolis at nightfall as lights twinkle across the harbor, the waterfront sea organ performs a wave-generated tune, and the previous city’s cafes and bars spring to life.

Past its personal sights, Zadar is a superb base for visiting medieval Nin (Croatia’s first royal capital), bungee leaping off towering Maslenički Bridge, or climbing and mountaineering in Paklenica Gorge. And it is only a two-hour drive from the turquoise swimming pools and copious waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes Nationwide Park.

Break up

Encircled by factories and sprawling suburbs, Break up is not probably the most enticing Dalmatian vacation spot. But Croatia’s second largest metropolis gives loads to ponder.

Town’s pleasure and pleasure is Diocletian’s Palace, erected within the 4th century AD by a paranoid Roman emperor who was sure he can be assassinated if he did not relocate from the imperial capital and surrounded himself by impregnable partitions.

A UNESCO World Heritage Website all by itself, the palace is sort of a small metropolis. Even at the moment, greater than 3,000 individuals dwell inside its huge outer partitions. Do not miss the huge cellars, particularly the gritty interface with parts which have but to be excavated — a cross part of residential trash deposited over 1,700 years.

Break up’s waterfront bustles with ferries certain for well-liked Adriatic islands like Brač, Hvar and outlandishly good-looking Vis, the place “Mamma Mia! Right here We Go Once more” was filmed on location (slightly than real-life Greece).

Positioned in a park-like setting on the town’s outskirts, the traditional Roman metropolis of Salona preserves a big amphitheater, baths, basilica and lots of different buildings. Looming on a close-by mountaintop is Klis Fortress, an imposing medieval citadel as soon as occupied by the Knights Templar and the legendary metropolis of Meereen in Sport of Thrones.


The Roman Arena in Pula.

The Roman Enviornment in Pula.

Viliam/Adobe Inventory

One of many northernmost cities of the Croatian coast, Pula lies alongside the western fringe of the Istrian Peninsula not removed from Venice. A star-shaped Renaissance citadel crowns the previous city. However Pula’s declare to fame is Roman relics.

Almost 2,000 years after it was constructed, Pula Enviornment stays one of many world’s best-preserved Roman buildings. These days the colossal stadium gives a venue for performs, live shows and the annual out of doors Pula Movie Pageant.

Quick forwarding to the communist period, the intriguing Memo Museum Pula gives a stroll down reminiscence lane to on a regular basis life in Tito’s Yugoslavia, of which Croatia was as soon as an element. Pula can be the gateway to the islands of Brijuni Nationwide Park with its seashores, climbing trails, golf course and safari park.


If you cannot resist the lure of Dubrovnik, just a few issues could make your go to simpler.

Whereas staying at a short-term rental or small lodge inside the town partitions might appear to be the last word in romance (and it’s), this usually entails schlepping your luggage up a whole bunch of stone stairs. In the meantime, these with rental vehicles will uncover that probably the most handy parking runs to round US$100 per day.

The choice is staying simply outdoors the partitions at a rental or lodge (just like the Hilton Imperial) that provides free parking. Or simply do not have a car; native bus providers are quick, frequent and environment friendly, as are taxis and experience shares. At lower than US$1 per kilometer, Uber charges to the previous city run round US$8 from the cruise port and US$27 from the worldwide airport.

Given the delicate Mediterranean local weather of the Dalmatian coast, you do not want many garments. So preserve your baggage to a minimal, particularly if you happen to’re staying contained in the partitions.

Keep away from the heaviest crowds by exploring the previous city earlier than and after the every day excessive tide of cruise ship passengers. Strolling the polished limestone streets is particularly nice at daybreak or late night.

Rent a information for a strolling tour. Not only for native historical past and structure, but additionally for the lowdown on how Dubrovnik weathered the civil struggle that adopted the breakup of Yugoslavia within the Nineteen Nineties and what life is like at the moment for these whereas nonetheless dwell contained in the partitions.

Kristian Gul

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