Peace was settled in 1995 and ever since Croatia has made a determined effort to regain its prominence as a premier international travel destination (we did our first tour here in 1999). The seas are still crystal clear, the islands lush and the fishing villages unspoiled as ever. As you walk within these pristine conditions and through its coastal towns and islands you also discover a land rich cultural heritage. The many palaces, temples, and amphitheaters from the Roman Empire evidence this, as do the remains of its forts, fishing villages and fortified towns from the Venetian realm. This Central Dalmatian island-hoping walking adventure begins at one World Heritage city, Split, and ends in another, Dubrovnik.
Day 1-2: Emperor’s Palace & Brac
On day one we meet you early in Split and we strongly encourage you to spend one pre-tour day in Split. We can make reservations for you in our tour hotel located in the medieval center. In the morning we immediately embark a ferry for the fascinating island of Brac, the largest of the Dalmatian group of islands and 3rd largest in the Adriatic Sea. It is separated from the mainland by the Brac Channel, and from the island of Solta by the so-called "Split Gate" and from the Island of Hvar by the Hvar Channel, which we later visit.
Our 1st walk has all of the classical Dalmatian components; the well-preserved old towns with dominant steepled churches, fishing villages with wide waterfronts and pristine clear waters, and wine making villages lost in time. You'll meet some of the locals along the way, taste their olive oil at the family run farm, learn of the islands long history and see the most important landmarks of the island.
We first make our way to Desert Blaca, which has enormous cultural, scientific and architectural importance, not only for the island Brac, but for the whole of Dalmatia. Desert Blaca is an eremitical monastery which was founded by the Glagolitic priests from the mainland who escaped the Turks around the year 1550. The priests lived independently for over 400 years until 1963 when the last priest died and the monastery was turned into a museum. Built in an interesting position hidden between high cliffs of the canyon and this gives it a mysterious charm, the monastery of Blaca will surely surprise you with its beauty and history.
It’s time for lunch and what better place than Škrip, the oldest settlement on the island of Brac. Set on the top of the hill, with its belfry church facade and huge towers it appears like a town lost solely by coincidence. Škrip is more of a town-monument in which Illyrians, Romans and Croatians deposited their ethnic layers and in itself represents the very heart of the island. Before we have lunch you will meet some of the locals and learn about the olive oil production here and then sample their oil during our delicious lunch of local specialties. Before departing we can visit the very interesting Regional Museum with its rich collection from Roman to present time.
Fully nourished we soon find ourselves wandering down the stony trails with wafts of healing and culinary herbs – rosemary, sage, oregano and more. On Brac you will also discover an island with more than 130 species of birds and among domestic animals, the goat and sheep have been the symbol of the island since ancient times. Until recently, you could not find a peasant without a mule. The dormouse is also a symbol of the island. It is similar to a big mouse, but with a beautiful furry tail; it is also a specialty of the Brac cuisine… After we pass through the wine making village of Dol we make our way to the port of Pucisca. Here we can take time for a swim and enjoy the ambience of this stunning landscape before our visit to the famous stonecutters' school.
The world renowned quarries here mined the building stone used in the construction of the White House in Washington DC and the Palace of Diocletian in Split. We will return to Split with a new appreciation for the stone walls that surround us and enough time to relax before we offer you a welcome aperitivo and briefing of the rest of the week before our first grand meal together.
Walking: 3 to 4 hours, expect uneven surfaces & rocky trails (always options to shorten or lengthen our routes)
Lodgings: A very friendly 4-star in the heart of the historic center.
Dinner: At Josko’s favorite Konoba in the heart of Split.
Day 2 & 3: The Island Hvar
There are 48 islands that dot Split's seafront and our second day of walking we head for the islands of Hvar, often referred to as the Madeira of the Adriatic. Covered in colors from luxuriant green, brilliant patches of lavender, rosemary and heather alongside a cobalt blue sea warrants the comparison as the scenery is nothing short of eye candy.
Cultural highlights offer us a bit of everything from wineries to monasteries, peaceful villages and lovely beaches. We stay on the island at medieval Hvar Town where the 13C walls hide the gothic palaces within its narrow back streets.
Before fully exploring town we board a water taxi for the nearby Pakleni Archipelago, where secluded strands of white sand, hiking trails and pine groves await. There are about twenty islets undulating along the south side of Hvar. This archipelago is considered the most beautiful part of the Hvar Riviera. As we meander along the trails a mixture of pine, fragrant heather and rosemary shrubs and a number of exotic plants fill the air. We will have plenty of shade from the heat of the day, with the sea at your doorstep when you need to cool off.
Walking: 2-3 hours walking time, flat coastal rocky trails
On our first full day on Hvar we partake in a 4 hour hike that explores the ancient villages, the fascinating caves along the way, the quaint fishing villages and the rich history that the island has endured. We begin from the abandoned shepherd's village of Humac, one of the delights of Hvar. Dating back to the 15thC, Humac has been totally abandoned for many years, yet retains a magical atmosphere in arguably the most authentic village on the island. After exploring we make our way to the Grapceva Cave, considered the cradle of Hvar's culture and civilization. The cave is one of the prehistoric findings dating back to the New Stone Age (Neolithic Period) 5000 - 4000 years BC and one of the oldest discoveries in the entire Mediterranean. It is situated 239 m above sea level and was the cultish place of a Neolithic Islander. The cave consists of a small hall (13,5 x 5 m) and a larger one (22 x 23 m) surrounded by hallways and chambers. The towering stalactites and stalagmites that decorate the cave resemble an ancient organ and along with the absolute silence and solitude of the cave offer a magnificent and unforgettable sight.
The second half of the day we head down to the nearby quaint port of Jelsa and make our way to the Greek Tower of Tor, a square tower built of megalithic (Cyclopean) blocks (230m above sea level). This solid, massive fortification is built of huge regular shaped blocks of stone joined without mortar. It was an observation point, which stands on an older Illyrian fort which today offers fantastic views of the valley of Stari Grad, the Hvar channel and the high cliffs behind surrounding Jelsa. Heading east of Tor we complete our exploration of Hvar’s early history at the fort of Grad (Galesnik), which as an observation point had the same importance as Tor from the late ancient times & into the Middle Ages
Our walk continues along the sea to the quaint fishing village of Vrboska. Here we visit the quaint fisherman’s museum and then enjoy the hospitality of our dear friend Mile, who treats us to a tour of his private wine cellar and tasting of the many products he produces.
Walking: 4 hours walking time, downhill and flat coastal rocky trails
Lodgings: 2 nights in a chic 4-star along the Sea
Dinner: Free night out & one in quaint Konoba in the old part of town
Day 4 & 5: Hvar & on to Korcula Island
Before leaving Hvar we enjoy one more full day of walking that leads to the abandoned 15th century village of Velo Grablije, once the largest lavender production area on the island. Here we take time to visit one local producer at his family house where you will hear history of the lavender production of this village and of village life itself.
After the visit of Velo Grablje, we meandering down to the coastal village of Milna, where a beach café offers outstanding salads with creamy sheep cheese tossed over local tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers and the opportunity to relax on the sheltered, pebbled beach. The narrow hiking trail hugs the rugged coast and leads us straight into Hvar town before we enjoy a scenic catamaran ride to Korcula in the later afternoon.
Korcula Island is maybe best known today as the disputed birthplace of Marco Polo, but there is much, much more to this island than just Marco Polo. For starters there is more wine produced here than in any other region in Croatia. The island is rich in vineyards, olive groves, small villages and hamlets with medieval walled town centers. The island caves are of prehistoric origin & there is a rich cultural history that started with Greek settlements from 6 BC.
Our morning walk leads through sleepy villages such as Zrnovo, and through pine forested trails offering spectacular vistas that gradually lead down to a sheltered beach for lunch. Why not go for a swim or taste some of the local wine before exploring the UNESCO town of Korcula, a true gem on the Adriatic Coast. Following our private guided tour of Korcula Town, where you learn about more than just Marco Polo, a small boat brings us back across the Channel to our Beach Hotel with enough time to watch the sunset from the terrace with a glass of Frano’s favourite Posip in hand. Then enjoy the special treat of peka for dinner; a Croatian specialty.
Lodgings: 2-nights at a beautiful 4-star villa along the sea with outstanding views of the islands dotting the waters.
First class cuisine at our Villa & a night of peka (traditional Croatian BBQ)
Day 6 & 7: Peljesac Peninsula & Dubrovnik
Our last day of walking explores the coastal wine trails of the Peljesac Peninsula. This region is home to some of the best beaches in Southern Dalmatia, with wide sandy coves bordered by groves of tamarisk and pine.
At least one wine tasting is sure to be arranged as we make our way down this lush peninsula to the fascinating fortressed town of Ston. Here we take time to tour the salt flats and walk the massive 14th century walls that protected what once was an important center of this so important salt production.
Our last stop in our walk will delight oyster lovers, as nearby Mali Ston is world renown. Soon after this late afternoon treat we make our way to the World Heritage UNESCO sight of Dubrovnik. You’ll arrive early enough to enjoy a city tour then be able to freely wander around this medieval jewel at your leisure before our grand farewell feast.
Lodgings: Along the waterfront, a 5-star hotel with extremely friendly staff. Dinner: in town or along sea
Itinerary changes: Please bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, which will be adjusted on a daily basis according to weather and travel conditions, at the discretion of the tour guide(s). We will try to cover all of the major islands, but the actual walks and sites may vary due to season, ferry schedules, special events or weather.
Links to helpful sites for getting to or departing Croatia:
Viamare (for meeting/departing your tour by ferry to/from Italy)
There are several low cot carriers flying into and out of Croatia from most European cities. Please call our office at 1.800.549.2363 for other suggestions.