When you spy one of the picturesque terracotta towns across the shimmering azure waters of the Adriatic, you’ll understand why Croatia sailing tours along the Dalmatian Coast have become one of the must-do experiences in the Mediterranean. But there’s more to Croatia than just stunning coastlines – the cities are full of art and culture, the restaurants stock the freshest seafood and local produce, and outside of the town walls, you’ll find striking waterfalls, brushy forests, and mountainous terrain that is beautiful in its desolation.
If you love balmy days, historic towns and friendly locals, an Albatross Croatia tour itinerary – including a short stopover in historic Bosnia-Herzegovina – is the perfect sun-kissed escape for you.
Croatia & the Adriatic
- Leisurely 2, 3 and 4 night stays
- Small group tour, maximum 28
- Character hotels in superb locations
- Guaranteed 'My Time'
- Trogir – Established by the Greeks, developed by the Romans and then enriched by the Venetians, Trogir is a small but charming historic town that has embraced its diverse past to create a unique, thrilling cultural experience. All of the town’s terracotta-roofed buildings face towards the harbour, where tall yachts prepare for the Croatia cruises that are so popular with tourists.
- Krka National Park – Most famous for its glorious waterfalls, Krka National Park is a can’t-miss destination for any nature lover. Whether you’re traversing the incredibly scenic Krka Gorge or simply admiring the tranquil and crystal-clear rock pools, it’s all too easy to lose track of time in this unspoilt Croatian wonderland.
- Šibenik – Šibenik is one of the Adriatic Coast’s most fascinating towns from a historical point of view. Its foundation by Croats makes it a rarity amongst a shoreline of cities and towns with Greek, Roman or Illyrian origins. One site you can’t miss during your time in this town is the Cathedral of St James, which is Croatia’s most significant monument to Renaissance architecture and has been a World Heritage site since 2000.
- Klis – Croatia’s most well-known fortress has swapped hands between many powerful forces since its foundation over 2,000 years ago. Visiting this fascinating defensive complex is a Croatia tours essential for history buffs and novices alike. Even those with no interest in the past will enjoy exploring the limestone fort, while Game of Thrones fans will likely recognise certain areas from scenes of the TV show.
- Split – This port town’s pedestrianised centre makes it the ideal place to enjoy a guided walking tour. Once you’ve visited the astounding Diocletian Palace and the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, relax with cake and coffee in one of the many cafés. If you believe all good holidays should feature a little retail therapy, you’ll be glad to know Split also offers one of Croatia’s best shopping experiences.
Island of Hvar
- Hvar Town – Nestled around a small bay on the island of Hvar, this destination is a stunning port town with marble streets, ornate Gothic palaces and fine Mediterranean dining. The city has a rich cultural tapestry, with many Croatian writers, architects, sculptors and painters basing themselves here to hone their craft. Outside the walled city, the island of Hvar is covered in lush pine forests, stunning lavender fields, and picturesque orchards, vineyards and olive groves.
- Stari Grad – This port town is an ideal place for a relaxing break during your tour of Croatia. With a name that literally means ‘old town’, it’s hardly surprising that Stari Grad is Croatia’s most ancient town. On top of being drenched in history, Stari Grad has a distinct aesthetic appeal created by its blue bay clashing with its green fields.
- Jelsa – Quaint and picturesque, Jelsa is one of Hvar Island’s gems. The town is built around a beautiful bay and encircled by lush forests. Time spent in Jelsa should never be rushed; stroll the relaxing streets leisurely to get a great feel for what life is like in this Croatian island town.
- Dubrovnik – Once the capital of the now-defunct Republic of Ragusa, Dubrovnik is a picturesque portside city where the cobblestone streets meander among Baroque buildings before spilling out into the stunning azure waters of the Adriatic. It’s a sophisticated city that has lovingly been referred to as ‘the Pearl of the Adriatic’, and it was once regarded as the only city that could rival Venice. There are numerous historic sites to explore, such as the stately Minčeta Tower, the gothic Rector’s Palace and the clifftop ruins of Lovrijenac fortress.
- Mount Srđ – Without a doubt, one of the best ways to get a true appreciation for the scope and wonder of Dubrovnik is to ascend Mount Srđ and gaze out upon the cityscape. The views from here are absolutely breathtaking, whether you’re admiring the buildings below or facing the other way for majestic panoramas of the Dinara Alps.
- Mali Ston and Veliki Ston – Linked together by Europe’s longest complete city walls, these fascinating twin towns always provide one of the most memorable experiences of our Croatia tours. Enjoy stunning views of the bay and the mountainous wilderness before preparing for one of Croatia’s best culinary delights: Mali Ston oysters (read more about this in ‘The Foods You’ll Eat in Croatia’ section below!).
- Cavtat – This port town is as pretty as a picture, even by Croatia’s high standards. Cavtat, which is also the country’s southernmost town, is blessed by gorgeous Mediterranean flora, pristine sea waters, and delightful architecture.
Neighbouring Country: Bosnia-Herzegovina
Make no mistake: Bosnia-Herzegovina is very much its own country. However, when your Croatia tour takes you through the Dalmatia region, the opportunity to detour into Bosnia-Herzegovina for a couple of days is simply too good to pass up. This is why our Croatia & the Adriatic Tour includes a visit to the two cities below.
- Mostar – Carefully rebuilt since the widespread destruction of the Balkans War, Mostar is a testimony to the pride and love of its locals. Perhaps the most impressive reconstruction is that of the old bridge, which allows pedestrians to cross the River Neretva. Muslims, Christians and Jews have coexisted here for hundreds of years, turning Mostar into a beacon of multiculturalism where the streets are shared by churches, synagogues, cafés and war-torn ruins.
- Sarajevo – Similarly to Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s capital city owes a lot of its fascination to its post-Balkan War recovery. During the ‘90s, Sarajevo played host to modern warfare’s lengthiest siege, an event that has left an enduring mark on the city. Yet, Sarajevo’s nomination as 2014’s European Capital of Culture bears witness to just how extraordinary and resilient this city truly is.
Neighbouring Country: Montenegro
As with Bosnia-Herzegovina, it makes perfect sense to extend your southern Croatian journey slightly into Montenegro.
- Kotor – Nestled between the Bay of Kotor and dramatic mountains, this attractive town blends in perfectly with its surrounds. Protected by its ancient city walls, Kotor is a flourishing destination filled with fantastic shops, popular bars, and beautiful churches. While the bay is technically not a fjord, the majestic views it affords you will reveal why people are quick to think of it as one – get ready to take some fabulous photos!
- Perast – This Montenegrin village is simply gorgeous, with some sections still stuck in the town’s impressive past while others leap forward into the contemporary. Perast is the perfect launching pad for a boat ride to St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks, two islands that are as contrasting as they are stunning to behold. One is masculine, brooding and natural, while the other is feminine, whimsical and manmade.
Touring Croatia via Coach
Croatia is one of Europe’s most visually stunning and historically intriguing countries. The sheer number of places to visit and things to do can quickly overwhelm anyone planning a holiday here. When you choose to tour Croatia with Albatross, however, you can forget about stressing over accommodation bookings and spending hours on an itinerary. Our expert travel guides do all this for you – and more.
You’ll find your Croatian getaway is that much more blissful and enjoyable when you don’t have to worry about the little details. The hassle-free trip through the country will enable you to truly immerse yourself in the unique culture and community that is Croatia.
At Albatross Tours, we also place great emphasis on staying for longer in each place and travelling with smaller tour groups. This ensures that no highlights get missed and also allows for a more intimate and personal experience of this delightful nation.
When to Visit Croatia
As with much of Europe, Croatia is best enjoyed in the months from May to early October (with the exceptions of July and August, when wiser travellers leave the country for the general tourist masses). It is during these warmer months that the country really comes alive and the picturesque towns and landscapes look their best. Those embarking on Croatia tours during these shoulder periods can look forward to Mediterranean sunshine, pleasant breezes, low humidity, and terrific temperatures.
The Foods You’ll Eat in Croatia
No matter which country you visit in Europe, there’s no escaping the fact that cuisine will be a highlight of your time abroad. Needless to say, a Croatia tour is no exception. While influences from its geographical neighbours are abundant, there are also plenty of menu items that are distinctly Croatian. Here are just five of the gastronomic delights you can anticipate sampling:
- Sensational Seafood – A country with so much beautiful coastline was always destined to have one of the world’s best seafood scenes. It’s fresh, it’s flavoursome, and it’s everywhere. Seafood specialities along the Dalmatian coast include crni rižot (black risotto made with squid and cuttlefish) and brudet (a stew made with various fish in a pot that is shaken, not stirred).
- Oysters of Mali Ston – If you’re wondering why this isn’t covered in the above seafood section, the answer is that it’s just too good not to get a separate mention. And it’s not just us who thinks this; the oysters harvested from the bay of Mali Ston are widely considered some of the best in the world. Of course, washing them down with some fine wine is practically mandatory.
- Pag Cheese – Thanks to the interesting plant life that grows here, sheep on the island of Pag produce some truly unique-tasting cheese. While some might say it’s an acquired taste, many who have tasted this delightful dairy product would say they acquired it immediately.
- Split Cakes – No, these aren’t cakes that are split down the middle. Rather, they are cakes made in the exquisite bakeries of Split, one of the wonderful cities that appear on our Croatia tours. While traditional Croatian cakes can be found throughout the country, Split is easily one of the best places to satisfy your sweet tooth. The Kruščić artisan bakery is a particular gem of the city.
- Pašticada – Hailing from the Dalmatia region, this traditional meaty meal is typically cooked for several hours in a special sauce consisting of garlic, red wine, and herbs. Asking which specific herbs are best for this will invite a different response depending on who you speak to, while some chefs will simply refuse to give you any hints about their ‘secret recipe’. Pašticada tastes best when paired with potato gnocchi.
Things You Should Know About Croatian Culture
Here are some things to take note of about Croatian culture before beginning your tour: •
- Saying Grace – If you dine with any locals, don’t be too quick to dig into your delicious food. With most of the country being Christian, a grace will be said before eating more often than not. Be mindful of this and avoid being the first to reach for the cutlery.
- Wet Hair – Croatian customs claim it’s dangerous to your health to step outside with wet hair. Will a stranger reprimand you on the street for failing to dry? Probably not, but why take the risk?
- Not Yugoslavia – ‘Our Beautiful Homeland’ isn’t just the national anthem here; it’s also the typical mindset. Croatians are generally very proud of their country’s history and character. Referring to their nation as Yugoslavia is a quick way to offend a local; the country has fought hard for its independence and visitors are expected to respect this.
- Language – The most common language you’ll hear during your tour of Croatia is indeed Croatian. Many people speak English as a second language, but it could also be useful to teach yourself a couple of local phrases.
The Money You’ll Use in Croatia
Croatia is one of the few European countries that does not have the euro as its official currency. Instead, transactions during your Croatia tour will take place using the kuna. As with dollars and cents, each kuna is comprised of 100 lipas. Coins you’ll see in Croatia include the 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 lipa, and the 1, 2, 5, and 25 kuna. There are also banknotes, which range from 5 kuna to 1,000 kuna.
While exchange facilities are available, using them may not be necessary; there are several ATMs in most cities and towns where you can use a credit or debit card to withdraw some Croatian cash.