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Some call it the "Dalmatian riviera", a sun-toasted series of coastal villages and forested islands that runs from Split to Dubrovnik. For most visitors, this region is Croatia's major highlight and it's usually the region first-time visitors check off as a "must". In two weeks you can get an in-depth experience of the natural beauty, history, architecture and traditional way of life that survives in Dalmatia, plus have some time to relax on the beach or engage in some outdoors activity.
If you only have one week, see my special one week "honeymoon" itinerary.
For more islands, see my island-hopping itinerary.
It's preferable to rent a car for this itinerary as you'll save time but you could also do it by bus and catamaran. If you choose the latter, contact the local tourist offices for local bus schedules.
Split is one of the Adriatic's most exciting port cities with beaches, bars, restaurants and Roman ruins. Soak up Split's eventful history by exploring Diocletian's Palace, a Unesco World Heritage Site, in the center of Old Split. Explore Split's museums, beaches, nightlife and restaurants. Take a breather and join the locals for a breath of fresh air on verdant Marjan hill.
Recommended Hotel: Piazza Luxury Suites "Exceptional"
Take a day trip to Trogir, a jewel of the Dalmatian Renaissance and another World Heritage Site. The streets of this tiny walled town are crammed with finely-sculpted facades and historic churches. Trogir is easy to get to by bus or car and there's even time for a stop to visit the Roman ruins at Salona.
Brac is the largest island close to Split. Take a fast local ferry (see the schedule here) to its capital, Supetar, a bustling island town, and then drive or take a bus to Bol to relax on extraordinary Zlatni Rat beach. As a beach alternative, take a peak at island villages such as Milna, Splitska and Pucisca.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel Bluesun Elaphusa in Bol "Fabulous"
Take the car ferry from Sumartin on Brac Island to Makarska, (see the schedule here) a busy port town at the foot of Mount Biokovo. Stroll the promenade, head a short distance to the beaches of Baska Voda or stretch your legs with a hike up Mount Biokovo. The views from the top are spectacular.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel Milenij "Superb"
From Makarska, it's an easy drive to idyllic Brela, one of Croatia's best beaches. The azur water laps at a seemingly endless series of pine-shaded coves. Relaxation guaranteed!
Hvar is one of Croatia's most celebrated islands, mainly for stylish Hvar town, ancient Stari Grad and a lush interior dotted with mountain villages. Drive to Hvar Island via the car ferry from Drvenik to Sucaraj. The hour-long drive to Hvar town takes you through the island's famed lavender fields.
Recommended Hotel: Holiday Home City Walls "Exceptional"
Go to Korcula Island either by catamaran or by returning to the mainland and taking the car ferry Ploce-Trpanj and then Orebic-Korcula. (see getting to Korcula) Explore the exquisite stone architecture of Korcula Town, the alleged birthplace of Marco Polo.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel Korsal "Very Good"
Drive to Dubrovnik via the Peljesac Peninsula, visiting its renowned vineyards and stopping for lunch at Ston. No car? Take the daily Korcula-Dubrovnik bus, or the seasonal passenger ferry (see getting to Dubrovnik).
Recommended Hotel: Prijeko Palace "Wonderful"
Walk Dubrovnik's famous walls and explore the beautiful old town, visiting the Franciscan Monastery, Rector's Palace, and Dominican Monastery. Don't miss a trip up to Srd Hill for the unforgettable views.
For a taste of something completely different, take a day trip across the border to Montenegro and stunning Kotor Bay.
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