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Guide to the Dalmatian Coast

Croatia’s stunning Dalmatian coast is the ultimate destination to explore on a cruise adventure in Eastern Europe. As you sail in the sparkling, calm turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea, you can enjoy outstanding panoramas and coastal scenery that is absolutely breathtaking. The best Dalmatian coast cruises visit beautiful seaside cities and fashionable waterfront resorts where you can relax, soak up the sunshine, and discover Croatia’s history, culture, and charm.

Set sail from the UNESCO World Heritage site-listed cities of Dubrovnik and Split, and the elegant coastal town of Opatija, and explore Croatia’s historic region that is situated on the east shore of the Adriatic. The magnificent Dalmatian coast stretches from Rab Island, in the north, to the southern Bay of Kotor, offering an ample selection of iconic historic landmark attractions, gorgeous beaches, and plenty of opportunities to taste authentic Croatian cuisine, along the way.

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Split to Dubrovnik

One of the most popular Dalmatian coast cruises sails one way from the spectacular historic city of Split to the UNESCO-listed, ancient walled city of Dubrovnik. The scenic route visits many of the idyllic archipelago islands for a unique and unforgettable island hopping experience as you cruise the Adriatic and Dalmatian Coast.

Before you depart from Split, there is ample time to take a leisurely tour around one of Croatia’s most iconic attractions. The imposing Diocletian’s Palace is a majestic sprawling complex that features regal architectural structures, columns, and sphinxes, as well as 200 buildings that include cafes, bars, shops, and restaurants. Your coastal adventure continues with an excursion to Brac Island, where the white stone of Diocletian’s Palace was originally quarried and offers an opportunity to swim and sunbathe on Croatia’s most photographed beach – Zlatni Rat (or Golden Cape).

The cosmopolitan island of Hvar is not only Dalmatia’s sunniest resort but also boasts historic, cultural, and entertainment options that are highly popular with royalty and A-list celebrities. From Hvar, join a guided excursion to the phenomenal natural attraction that you can discover on the nearby island of Bisevo. Return to the cruise, via Vis Island and continue to Korcula Island, the birthplace of the world explorer Marco Polo.

No relaxing sightseeing in Dalmatia cruise would be complete without a visit to a beautiful National Park. En route to the final stop in Dubrovnik, visit the breathtaking Mljet National Park and admire jewel-colored lakes and gorgeous flora and fauna, and hop aboard a boat to St Mary’s Isle.

If you’re interested in a Split to Dubrovnik cruise, check out our 7-Night Split to Dubrovnik Deluxe Cruise.

Split, Croatia

Dubrovnik to Split

One of the best places for a small-ship cruise, it’s no wonder these island-hopping trips through Croatia have become so popular. While there are multiple options for your Dalmatian coast cruise, the Dubrovnik to Split route is particularly ideal. All are 7-night adventures that allow guests to experience an excellent mix of world-famous destinations along with some alluring lesser-known gems. Look forward to savoring delicious Dalmatian flavors on board and off, exploring the rich history, gazing out at magnificent scenery, and enjoying frequent swim stops in secluded bays and off the shores of postcard-perfect beaches. Unique tastings from fresh oysters to local wines are typically included too.

Enchanting excursions may bring you to the renowned Blue Cave to marvel at one of Mother Nature’s most incredible phenomena when sunlight beams into the interior, illuminating it in a brilliant silvery blue glow. Intriguing locally led tours provide authentic experiences that will allow you to get to know the places visited in an in-depth way by bringing the sights to life. Discover the many delights of Old City Dubrovnik and its UNESCO-listed limestone paved streets. Gaze up at centuries-old medieval architecture, baroque churches, and aristocratic palazzi within the imposing stone walls. “Game of Thrones” fans will appreciate the many filming sites revealed here too.

Walk through Korcula’s storybook Old Town, surrounded by walls, gates, towers, and bastions, and marvel at the lush greenery in Mljet National Park with its saltwater lakes in dazzling shades of turquoise and emerald, along with the waterfalls in Krka National Park. That’s just a sample of what you can look forward to. Of course, that’s in addition to your elegant yacht-like ship where you’ll overnight in a spacious, en-suite cabin, enjoy the friendly, personalized service provided by the attentive crew, and mouthwatering meals prepared fresh by the onboard chef.

Take a look at our 7-Night Dubrovnik to Split Deluxe Balcony Cruise here>

View of Split through ancient walls
Plitvice Lakes National Park

Split to Split

A small-ship cruise sailing round-trip from Split, the ancient city dominated by UNESCO-listed Diocletian’s Palace, will bring you to some of Croatia’s most magnificent destinations. On a 7-night trip, you’ll cruise for several hours each day, enjoying swim stops in the clear blue waters of secluded bays. In the ports moored in, you’ll often enjoy intriguing, locally-led guided tours with time to explore on your own. Evenings are typically spent sampling authentic cuisine in some of the restaurants and bars known for serving local specialties.

Your Dalmatian coast cruise travels on what’s like a floating boutique hotel, with accommodation provided in spacious twin or double cabins, all of which are air-conditioned and en-suite with private bathrooms that have showers. You’ll have a dedicated cruise manager although the entire crew is renowned for exceptional service, ensuring a personal experience for each and every guest. Meals are all prepared fresh on board, often using local ingredients gathered at the destinations visited. With gourmet tastings and visits to award-winning wineries included too, the Split-to-Split cruises provide a very well-rounded experience while getting to know the country through its most delicious flavors.

A Split-to-Split cruise can reveal the unspoiled beauty, rich history, and culture of the Northern Dalmatian coast. It’s a classic Croatian cocktail made up of rugged limestone mountains, brilliant turquoise waters, sun-kissed beaches, island gems, breathtaking historic buildings, and Dalmatian cuisine. Sail between uninhabited islands, enjoy a swim stop at a romantic heart-shaped isle, discover the Mediterranean of old, and wander scenic paths where bears still dwell. You’ll explore three of the most impressive national parks in Croatia, getting off the beaten track to lose yourself in a maze of endless waterfalls and lakes at Plitvice Lakes National Park. Marvel at moon-like landscapes contrasted by an electric blue sea in Kornati National Park and the untouched surroundings of Telascica National Park too.

This Northern Dalmatian coast cruise also visits the thousand-year-old fortified town of Sibenik and its awe-inspiring St. James Cathedral with its 71 sculpted faces, used as the home of the many-faced God in “Game of Thrones.” See a mix of new in the up-and-coming town of Zadar, including its famous pair of art installations powered by nature and its alluring Old Town. There will be countless photo-ops throughout, the Split-to-Split cruise is a photographer’s dream, but no matter what type of traveler you are, this is one you’ll want to put on your bucket list.

Banje Beach, Dubrovnik
Maiden with the Seagull, Opatija

Dubrovnik to Opatija

This luxurious balcony cruise begins in Dubrovnik, the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” sailing on the elegant MS My Wish, with its impressive upper deck cabins that include private balconies. You’ll depart for Korcula to enjoy the island’s highlight, Old Town Korcula, surrounded by medieval walls, gates, towers, and bastions. Our local guide will meet you at the entrance for a walking tour that explores the centuries-old buildings and their Venetian influence.

Continue to glamourous Hvar, known for its world-class dining and nightlife scene that draws international jet setters from across the globe, including quite a few celebrities. You’ll visit a family-run vineyard for a wine tasting, enjoying picturesque views of the island’s landscapes along the way, including the vineyard- and lavender-covered rolling hills and beaches that edge turquoise water. Heading back to the coast, you’ll get to visit the remarkable city of Split, birthed when Roman Emperor Diocletian decided to build his palace here in the late 3rd century. A locally guided walking tour will bring you to explore the cobbled streets of the massive complex and the adjacent Green Market. Continuing north along the coast you’ll take a guided tour of Krka National Park, known for its numerous waterfalls, river, and abundant flora.

You’ll overnight in the town of Sibenik, with time to explore attractions like St. James Cathedral which you might recognize as it appeared on the hit series “Game of Thrones.” Continue to Zadar, which has a long, rich history with many intriguing landmarks, but it’s also become famous for its waterfront that features an impressive pair of art installations. The Sea Organ uses the power of the waves to play tunes, while The Greeting to the Sun is illuminated by the power of the sun. Rab Island is your next stop where you’ll explore the walled Old Town of Rab on a guided tour of the enchanting historic center.

Your final destination sits along the renowned Opatija Riviera. Opatija is an elegant town that has long attracted VIPs of all sorts, including various celebrities and royals. A tour here includes the Chocolate Museum, with samples, and pretty Angiolina Park.

Check out our 7-Night Dubrovnik to Opatija Deluxe Balcony Cruise here>

Kotor, Montenegro

Croatia with Montenegro

As Montenegro is one of Croatia’s next-door neighbors, it’s easy to combine a visit to both countries by booking the Croatia Montenegro Deluxe Balcony Cruise. Sailing on the chic MS Markan, known for her luxurious cabins with private balconies, you’ll depart from the ancient city of Split where the fun immediately gets underway with a tour of Split’s famous 4th-century Roman emperor Diocletian’s Palace, home to some of the world’s most well-preserved Roman architecture.

The first stop on your itinerary is the island of Korcula, known for its dense forests, picturesque beaches, and fairytale-like Old Town, surrounded by walls, bastions, towers, and gates. You’ll take a tour with a local guide to discover the historical center with its significant Venetian influence. Cruising back to the mainland, explore Dubrovnik, one of the most famous cities in Croatia, known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” Marvel at its magnificent historic buildings lined along the limestone paved streets on a tour with a local guide, including the Renaissance-style Sponza’s Palace and Gothic-style Rector’s Palace.

From here, you’ll head to Montenegro, just an hour’s drive away, for a full-day trip. Marvel at some of the most awe-inspiring mountain and fjord scenery along the way, with a stop to visit the gorgeous Venetian-Gothic buildings in Perast along the Bay of Kotor. After a short guided tour here, you’ll head to the walled Old Town of Kotor for a locally-led tour of its numerous medieval buildings and enjoy a traditional Montenegrin lunch before returning to Dubrovnik. Continuing the cruise to the Peljesac Peninsula, you’ll get to know it through its flavors, including a tasting of freshly harvested mussels and oysters, said to be some of the world’s best.

The remainder of this unforgettable journey includes sailing through the dazzling Pakleni Islands and visiting sunny Hvar with its endless vineyards, lavender fields, idyllic beaches, and historic landmarks in Old Town Hvar. Your final stops bring you to one of Europe’s most famously beautiful beaches, Zlatni Rat, and medieval Trogir, which is like an open-air museum.

Zadar waterfront
Wine and truffles, generic, Croatia

A Guide to the Dalmatian Coast

All passionate travelers should visit Croatia at some point in their lifetime. This majestic Balkan destination packs in a huge array of appeal, yet still carries an undiscovered charm. The highlight of any trip to Croatia is spending time along its magnificent Dalmatian Coast. With so many towns and islands to explore, and so many excellent activities to partake in, we’ve put together our travel guide to this incredible corner of southern Europe.

Dalmatian Coast
Dalmatian Coast coastal view

What is the Dalmatian Coast?

The Dalmatian Coast is off-shore Croatia’s portion of the Adriatic Sea – the larger body of water that separates the Italian peninsula from the Balkans. The coast is known for its incredible natural beauty. Glittering azure seas and majestic beaches are backed by dense pine forests, limestone cliffs, and – to the north – soaring mountains. The culture and history of the coastline are equally mesmeric, littered with beautifully preserved Medieval old towns, and with a food and wine scene to die for.

Dalmatian Coast sea and mountains
Dalmatian Coast

Where is the Dalmatian Coast?

Geographically, the Dalmatian stretch of Croatia’s coast begins from the town of Zadar at the foot of the Northern Velebit Mountains. Heading south, the major towns along the coast at Sibenik, Trogir, Split, the villages of the Makarska Riviera, and finally Dubrovnik, the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. The many Dalmatian Islands are equally stunning and ripe for visiting. The Kornati Archipelago off Zadar is prime sailing territory, while the island group which includes Brac, Hvar, Vis, Korcula, and Mljet is impossibly beautiful.

Dalmatian Coast
Dalmatian Coast

When to visit the Dalmatian Coast?

As with the rest of Croatia, the Dalmatian Coast has a typically Mediterranean climate with cool winters and hot summers. Temperatures reach a peak in July and August – as do tourist numbers, with the coinciding European school holidays. Therefore in our opinion, the best times to visit are May and June, and then the end of summer in September and early October. At this time you’ll find pleasant sailing conditions, warm waters for swimming, and thinner crowds in the old towns and beaches.

Dalmatian Coast
Dalmatian Coast

What to do on the Dalmatian Coast?

During your cruise, you’ll call in on national parks – such as Krka, with its majestic waterfalls – and head ashore for guided city walks in atmospheric old towns along the coast and on the islands of Vis, Korcula, and others. A cruise through the coast is an opportunity to enjoy fine food and wine – with experiences such as oyster farming and truffle tasting – as well as enjoying the verdant natural scenery of pine forests, olive groves, and picturesque sand and pebble beaches.

Dalmatian Coast
Dalmatian Coast

Best way to travel the Dalmatian Coast?

While connecting these beautiful towns and islands by road and short ferry journeys is possible, we emphatically believe that the best way to traverse the waters of the Adriatic is on a high-end small-ship cruise. Our Deluxe and Deluxe Balcony cruises travel between key ports Split and Dubrovnik, calling in on the gorgeous islands of Hvar, Brac, and more, as well as the ancient cities of Zadar, Trogir, Sibenik, and Korčula town.


Dalmatian Coast
Dalmatian Coast

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