The Adriatic Sea is the northernmost and the most indented part of the Mediterranean Sea, separating the Italian peninsula from the Balkan peninsula. The countries with coasts on the Adriatic include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia. The Croatian coast, which is the topic of this article, includes Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia. Istria is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic sea
; the peninsula is located between the Gulf of Trieste and the Kvarner Bay. The Kvarner Bay is a bay in the northern Adriatic Sea, set between Istria and the northern Croatian littoral mainland. Dalmatia is a narrow belt of the east shore of the Adriatic
, stretching from the island of Rab in the north to the Kotor Bay in the south. The origins of the name Adriatic are linked to the Etruscan settlement of Adria, which probably derives its name from the Illyrian adur meaning water or sea. Croatia’s coast and islands are governed by a Mediterranean climate. In the summer, the mean temperature is between 24 C and 26 C along the coast, a little bit cooler in Istria (22 C).
There are 1,246 islands
in Croatia, including small islets and rocks of all sizes. The largest Croatian islands are Cres and Krk (the two have been fighting for the title for a long time), while the smallest one is Smokvica Vela (Kornati). Most of the islands in Croatia are uninhabited. There are 47 permanently inhabited islands in Croatia, the most populous among them being Krk, Korcula and Brac. The least populated island is Male Srakane near Losinj, with a reported population of just two people, who reside there only during summer.
Those were the basic facts. You probably already heard about beautiful Dubrovnik (or watched Game of Thrones, which was filmed in Dubrovnik) or Split
(lovely city full of stunning architecture). Istria is gaining popularity quickly, thanks to its charm, diversity and delicious food (Anthony Bourdain found that out back in 2012.) You can find more about Istria in one of our articles, about romantic Rovinj
, historical Pula
or the touristic hotspot Porec
. The Croatian coast is full of interesting places, exotic locations and hidden gems, so here is a very short list of must sees in Croatia
(the real list would be muuuuch longer).
One of those places is the island Brac
. Brac is the largest island in Dalmatia and the highest island point in the Adriatic. It is mostly known for Zlatni rat
, the beach that keeps on moving. Depending on the sea currents and wind change, its peak shifts left and right, sometimes up to 50 meters.
Another thing Brac is famous for is marble
. Some claim the stone from the island was used to build the White House, but there is (sadly) no historical proof of that. Still, the marble was used to build the Diocletian palace in Split, the UN building in NY, the House of Parliament in Budapest and many more. What I like in Brac is “the house in the house”
, literally a house surrounded by walls of another house. According to the story the house was built in the 19th century when 3 brothers from the Vukovic family married and decided to build a big house for the whole family. However, there was already a house located there. The brothers wanted to buy the house, but the owner (a man called Marko Sila) declined. The brothers used their influence with the mayor, there was a huge fight and murder threats (Croatians are very passionate people)and Marko fled to the Republic of Dubrovnik. The brothers began to build the walls around Marko’s house, planning to bring it down in the process. As they sailed to Venice to get the material for the building, they were caught in a storm and died in a shipwreck (karma, I guess). Since they had no heirs, Marko came back to live in his old house, surrounded by the walls of the unfinished house, that are still there today. The “house in the house” is today a protected monument of culture and a sight you do not see every day.
Did you ever hear about the “European Wall of China”
is a city and municipality in the Dubrovnik-Neretva county, located on the Peljesac peninsula. The Walls of Ston, a series of defensive stone walls, are one of the longest preserved fortification systems in Europe (5 km long). The wall links Ston to Mali Ston, and is in the shape of an irregular pentangle. The construction began in 1358, but it was completed in the 15th century, along with its 40 towers and 5 fortresses.
The walls were of great importance because they were defending the saltworks, the shellfish farm and the city itself. Today, the walls are on the tentative list for the World Heritage List.
is a historic town in Dalmatia, named after the greek word “tragos” meaning goat. It has 2300 years of continuous urban tradition, a high concentration of palaces, churches and towers, and was listed in the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites
in 1997. As stated by Unesco, “its beautiful Romanesque churches are complemented by the outstanding Renaissance and Baroque buildings from the Venetian period”. Trogir's grandest building is the church of St. Lawrence, whose main west portal is a masterpiece by Radovan, and the most significant work of the Romanesque-Gothic style in Croatia. The portal is decorated with lions, apostles, saints, statues of Adam and Eve and other ornaments. Other interesting sites in Trogir are the Fortress Kamerlengo, a castle from the 14th century that serves today as a stage for theatrical performances, the Duke’s palace which dates back to the 13th century, the Cipiko palace, a complex made of several buildings in a combination of architectural styles… Trogir also has a love tree, a unusual tree that offers a discreet place for couples. According to the legend, the couple exchanging kisses in this place will carry eternal love in their hearts. Is there a better souvenir than eternal love? ;)
The Baredine Cave
is a geomorphologic monument of nature and the first speleological locality opened for visits in Istria, in 1995. It is situated 6 km north-east from Porec. You can visit a 300 m long pathway up to 60m below the ground. There are 5 beautifully decorated chambers: the cave is a real treasure of stalactites and stalagmites, underground sculptures created by patient and long-lasting work of water. You can also see the Proteus anguinus, the olm or as we call it “covjecja ribica”. The olm is an endemic species, which can only be found in this karst area.
, a town in central Istria, is claimed to be the smallest town in the world, with approx.20 inhabitants. It was first mentioned in 1102 in the deed of gift by Marquis Ulrich II. A legend says the towns in Istria were built by giants. Each giant settled on a certain hill and built the cities of Motovun, Sovinjak, Zavrsje, Roc, Vrh and Groznjan (you can read more about Groznjan in this article). After they were done building, they were left with some excess material, so they collected the remaining stones and assembled the charming town of Hum. Although Istria is famous for its wines (there are more than 300 geographically defined wine-producing areas in Croatia), Croatians do love schnaps, or how we call it “rakija” (Croatia is also ranked 4th in the world for alcohol consumption per capita.) Rakija can be made from pretty much anything: plums, grapes, pears, sour cherries, honey etc. Hum has been promoted as the Town of biska (a rakija made out of mistletoe) and is the host of a Rakija exhibit, a yearly manifestation that gathers producers and devotees from the region. Hum is also the final point of the monument complex composed of eleven outdoor monuments known as the Glagolitic Lane.
Here are 10 fun facts
you probably didn’t know about the Croatian coast ;)
The island of Galesnjak located in the Pasman channel is known as the Island of Love or Lover’s Island for its naturally occurring shape in form of a heart.
There is a genuine Egyptian sphinx in Split’s Diocletian Palace, which was brought in from Egypt by Emperor Diocletian to adorn the entrance to his tomb. Allegedly, Cornelius Vanderbilt, the American business magnate, wanted to buy the sphinx while visiting Split, but the people of Split declined his offer.
In the last 600 years, fifteen tsunamis have occurred in the Adriatic Sea.
Agatha Christie, the best-selling novelist of all time, spent her second honeymoon in Dubrovnik and Split.
If you give birth on a Jadrolinija ferry from Hvar, your child will be able to travel for free on the ferry for life.
On the island of Dugi Otok stands the highest lighthouse in the Adriatic, the Veli Rat lighthouse. Locals will tell you that the bright yellow color painted on the lighthouse is due to the 100 000 egg yolks that were mixed into the paint (ok, this is maybe not a fact).
Women from Susak Island are known as the only ones in Europe whose traditional garments are above their knees.
The farm Jola, located near Savudrija produces an olive leaf tea. This green tea with its pleasant mild, aromatic, slightly bitter taste has a proven positive effect on the human body.
In 1999 the largest truffle ever to have been discovered was found in Motovun. Giancarlo Zigante found the giant truffle (1,31 kg) and still holds the world record for locating the largest white truffle ever.
Pisa is not the only town with a leaning tower. The belfry in Zavrsje, Istria is 22 meters high and is tilted 40 cm to the north.