An island holiday is a particularly tempting thought this summer and Croatia offers some of the dreamiest retreats. Susie Marquis, founder of TLTB, reveals why the Central Dalmatian Islands of Korcula, Brac and Hvar should be the top of your wishlist, along with her expert tips for the best culinary experiences, top cultural attractions, the finest sandy beaches and the most sought-after luxury villas in Croatia. Get ready to castaway in style.
The island of Korcula lies to the south of both Hvar and Brac and is reachable by ferry from Dubrovnik (1 hour 45 minutes), or a 15-minute passenger crossing from further up the coast at Orebic. The latter is a better option as the ferries from Orebic run more frequently. There are also both passenger and car ferry options from Split and Dubrovnik, as well as a catamaran service. The sixth largest island in the Adriatic, Korcula is approximately 46 km long, and just 7 km wide, with a beautiful landscape of woodland, olive groves, vineyards, small stone villages and beaches. The main town of Korcula is a medieval walled ‘city’ with much architectural evidence of its Venetian history and is claimed to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. The Marco Polo Tower here adjoins the building where the explorer was said to have been born in 1254, and there’s also a Marco Polo Museum. The town is a delight to explore with its narrow, cobbled streets, stone houses, and 15th century monasteries. The cathedral features a 15th century tower and cupola, from where you can enjoy far reaching views of the Adriatic and surrounding islands.
Wine tours and starry nights in Korcula
The island is well known for its thriving wine industry, particularly its crisp white wine made from the Posip grape, as well as olive oil production. A wine and olive oil tour at Krajancic winery is highly recommended. Korcula also offers excellent local restaurants, including one with Michelin star. A not to be missed experience is the famous tradition of the Moreska Sword Dance performance, a danced version of a sword battle which tells the story of an abducted princess. This is normally a regular event during the summer season, held every Monday and Thursday in a small open-air stage right on the edge of the Old Town.
Top beaches in Korcula
There’s no shortage of beautiful sandy and pebble beaches to visit, both on the island, or a short boat trip away. One of the most beautiful beaches, Pupnatska Luka, is close to two of the villas we offer on the south coast of the island, Villa Korcula and Korcula Coast. There are also professional sailing and windsurfing schools, as well as boat rentals. Renting a boat is a great way to explore the stunning coastline, enjoy a picnic in one of the small coves, and visit the neighbouring islands. A day trip to visit the beautiful national park island of Mljet in a high-speed boat can also be arranged.
Luxury villa holidays in Korcula
Our identical twin villas (which can be rented separately for up to 6 guests, or together for up to 12 guests), are situated on the coast opposite Orebic on the mainland, and just steps from a small pebble beach. Each has a rooftop terrace with a heated pool and a hot tub with hydro-massage, as well as a spacious sundeck for enjoying the sea views. Both villas also have a sauna and gym on the ground floor, and jacuzzi outside on the first floor in front of the bedrooms. For a minimum stay of one week, the owners here are offering a complimentary wine tasting during your stay.
Brac is the largest of the central Dalmatian group of islands. It can be accessed both from the mainland town of Split by passenger and car ferry, or from Makarska further down the Dalmatian coast, or from other islands, including Hvar or Korcula – there are a number oftransfer options to choose from. As well as its natural beauty, Brac island is known for its rich cultural and historic heritage that dates to pre-historic times. The island is also famous for its limestone quarries which have been a source of stone for building decorative stonework for centuries, including the Diocletian Palace on Split and the White House in Washington. Outside the island’s charming villages and towns, the island is a haven of peace and tranquility, and a drive along the winding roads will take you through a landscape of pine forests, olive groves, vineyards, orange and lemon groves, many leading to deserted beaches and caves, archaeological sites and ancient monuments.
Best food and wine experiences in Brac
Foodies and wine aficionados will simply adore Brac. The island is known for its fresh fish, and its famous Brac almond cake and sheep cheese. The island also produces excellent olive oil, and there is an olive oil museum with tasting room, in Skrip, in the north of the island, which dates back to the 1860’s. Visits to the local wineries can also be arranged with Stina Winery in Bol, particularly recommended. Here, you can taste a number of both white and red local wines, and enjoy food platters and local olive oil, to accompany the wine. Situated on the south coast of the island, Bol is a secluded harbour town with a long history, including a 15th century palace, a Dominican monastery and a 15th century Gothic church. Bol is also close to famous Zlatni Rat beach, and around 30 minutes’ drive from Sumartin, home to most of our luxury villas in Brac, also on the south coast of the island.
Great active pursuits in Brac
Our recommended land-based activities on the island include hiking and mountain biking. Popular hiking trails include the hikes from Bol to Vidova Gora summit, and from Sumartin to Planik. The former offers sensational views over the island, and for those who don’t want to climb, the summit can also be accessed by car. Excellent bicycle hire can also be found in Bol, with a great choice of bicycles (for both adults and children) as well as recommended routes. The south coast of Brac is one of the best places for watersports, including windsurfing, waterskiing, kayaking, scuba diving and kiteboarding. Bol and Supertar are well known for the many water sports and activities available on this stretch of the island. It’s also easy to arrange a day trip by catamaran or private boat to neighbouring Hvar Islandor by ferry.
Luxury villa holidays in Brac
The most recent of our selection of villas to rent on Brac is the very charming four-bedroom Villa Sumartin 2, situated right on the edge of the sea. Close by is Villa Sumartin 1 with 6 bedrooms, and luxurious Villa Bliss with 5 bedrooms. These three villas are private but can also be perfect for groups of friends and family, wanting to stay close by. All the villas benefit from direct sea access, and the staff can arrange many local activities, including boats with skippers, yoga, hiking, massages, paddle boards, bikes and kayaks. Check out also our latest villa addition, the stunning Sumartin Bay
Situated between the islands of Brac and Korcula, Hvar also offers an impressive combination of a rich history and plenty of local activities. There are several ways to get there, including two companies which offer ferry service between the port of Split and Hvar town, Jadrolinija, and Krilo.If you’re taking a car, Jadrolinija also runs a daily car ferry service from the Port of Split to Stari Grad on Hvar – a 20-minute drive from Hvar town. If you want to arrive more quickly, there’s also a private speedboat transfer option from Split airport to Hvar town, which takes one hour.
Historical and modern delights
The fascinating history of Hvar dates back to 384 BC when the island was colonised by the Greeks. Hvar was also ruled by the Romans, at the start of the 3rd century BC, then followed by Ostrogoths, Neretvans and Byzantines. In 1420, Venice took control and used Hvar as a stopping point for ships sailing between Venice and the rest of the Mediterranean. The island has also since been under Austrian, French and Italian rule, before finally becoming part of Yugoslavia in 1922, and subsequently Croatia, when it declared its independence in 1991. The rich history and culture of Hvar town is visible at every step, with its charming cobbled streets, and main tree-lined promenade overlooking the sea. Highlights include the Fortica fortress, which can be reached on foot or by car, and offers wonderful views over the island and the sea. Other sights in the town include the cathedral of Hvar, the Franciscan monastery, with its Renaissance architecture and paintings, as well as one of the Europe’s oldest public theatres, established in 1612. The town also offers an extensive range of restaurants and tavernas, cafés and bars and night clubs.
Top luxury villas in Hvar
Our stunning five-bedroom Villa Hvar, with garden swimming pool (heated on request), is located in the historic centre of the town, and just 20m from the waterfront. The owner here can arrange a boat and skipper - and will also recommend special restaurants accessible by boat. If you are travelling in a smaller groups, we also offer one and two-bedroom apartments, located in the heart of the historic centre, in a charming street, just 50m from the waterfront.
Sensory feast of travel experiences in Hvar
Numerous bays and beaches on Hvar lie within close reach, some set against a backdrop of vineyards and olive groves. Vineyard visits and wine tastings can be arranged with the tastings paired with local food recommendations. Due to its warm, sunny climate, Hvar was also once the centre of lavender production in Croatia, and is still known for its beautiful lavender fields, situated around the village of Velo Grablie (just a 10-minute drive from Hvar town) and home to an annual Lavender Festival at the end of June. A half day tour can be arranged, with a brunch or supper included.
Best island-hopping tours from Hvar
We also recommend coastal and nearby island trips, including an island cruise by luxury yacht, or a visit to the Blue and Green Cave. The same company can also arrange transfers to and from Split airport, and also trips to other islands, including Brac and Korcula. A day trip to the wonderful Pakleni Islandsis not to be missed. Located in front of Hvar town on the western side of the island, they’re known for their crystal-clear waters, secluded beaches and easy hiking trails. Popular hiking trails include a walk to the top of Vela Glava Hill to see the views of the whole archipelago - also an ideal late afternoon hiking trip to watch the sunset.
We also offer many more beautiful villas to rent in island locations:
Greek Islands - Hydra, Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Crete, Balearics - Ibiza, Mallorca