Peter Smith, general manager, business development growth, for the recently launched only Australian dedicated Croatian cruising specialist operator, Cruise Croatia, shares his insider tips on booking the most suitable small ship coastal cruise in Croatia.
The best cultural arts festivals to visit in Croatia during the summer
There are numerous summer festivals held around Croatia on the mainland and surrounding islands.
The ‘Sword Dance Festival’ is held mid-June every year and is home to with two types of sword dance groups since at least the 17th century: village Kumpanjija members dance in a linked unified group by holding each other’s single long sword, while the municipal Moreška members clash their two swords in a mock battle. Each year also sees the island host international guest groups from across the globe.
There are also numerous wine festivals held in July and August in Korčula town and Čara, Smokvica and Lumbarda places that are presenting high quality Korčula island white wines, such as Pošip, Grk and Rukatac for travellers to experience some local produce.
Every year during the last weekend in August a traditional wine fair is organised in the town Jelsa, located in the middle of the island of Hvar. The best wines from Hvar are on display as well as a variety of local gastronomic specialties for guests to enjoy.
Hotels in the area provide music for dancing, games and shows, including an outdoor “nightclub” in the centre of Jelsa. Surrounding squares and the local open-air cinema serve as a stage for contemporary music concerts
The Dubrovnik Summer Festival is being held from July 10- August 25 this year and is filled with local food, music and dancing in the streets- a real chance to get involved with local culture.
The Croatian Festival of jams & marmalades runs from Oct 7 2017 to Oct 8 2017 in Dubrovnik.
In the atmosphere of preserving culture, heritage and traditions, the event is held on Stradun in front of the Church of St. Blaise. Exhibitors dress in the national costumes of the places from which they come, from counties from all around Croatia, and present their products to visitors and Dubrovnik restaurateur’s caterers, who will use these native delicacies to elevate and enrich their gastronomic offerings.
The Hidden corners of Mljet in Korita, Mljet, is held on August 15, 2017. It is ethno – gastro manifestation held exclusively in old villages of the island of Mljet. Visit Korita and enjoy in skills of local houswives and a couple of men, while they are preparing homemade products with fresh ingredients. Taste Mljet`s delicacies like makaruli, which are made of garlic and goat cheese and spread scents of welfare, pandišpanj- old cake, not so rich with ingredients as with emotions and nostalgic scent of past times; priklice, susice, arancini and product of locals – golden Mljet`s olive oil, marmalade, brandy and wine. Together with live music, klapa and folklore with interactive workshops, visitors will be able to enjoy in exhibition of old photographs and crafts – like knitting fish trap, košic (basket) and Mljet`s embroidery.
Wine Night is held of August 5, 2017. For a few years in a row, on Ston walls, Tourist board of Ston and Municipality of Ston together with Pelješac wines, organize “Wine Night” on the fortress of Kaštio. With the sound of dalmatian music, sea food specialities and quality wines, you will spend unforgettable night.
The Salt Festival runs from August 28 to September 3, 2017. Salt festival is being held in the oldest salt work in Europe. In the time of Dubrovnik Republic, salt was very important and was called a “white gold“. Salt was the main reason why city walls were built so this valuable treasure needs to be in the centre of an attention as it was in 14. century.
Local specialty restaurants
Each island and towns have a wonderful selection of restaurants to choose from, here are some suggestions on where the locals eat.
- Giaxa- for an intimate fine dining experience with a seasonal changing menu depending on the freshest food available
- DVA Ribara- a small family run restaurant with a long history and a stunning sea view. Its produce is all home-grown eco products, with its speciality being ‘Peka’- food (meat and vegetables)are prepared in a large metal baking dish with a bell-shaped dome lid, cooked in an open fireplace with hot coals and embers place on top of the dome.
- Tavern Humac- a unique taven that is a bit off the beaten track but definitely a place worth visiting. It is located near Jelsa about 30 kms from Hvar so you will need a car. Humac is a small village with beautiful traditional Dalmatian stone houses. The restaurant is famous for traditional food and offers a variety of met and organically grown vegetables prepared under the lid and all accompanied with a glass of local wine.
- Aterina- is known as a local hotspot located on the western edge of the Old City. Homemade food, daily baked fresh bread and house-made brandies for after dinner.
- Konoba Pagar- best known for fresh fish caught daily by local father and son, with the best prices- according to the locals.
- Aborda- located in Korcula ACI marina, the restaurant has a nice atmosphere with beautiful views of the old city and the Peljesac Peninsula. A blend of local Korcula and traditional Dalmatian dishes and delicacies with local wine and live music.
- Pantarul- known for its homemade bread and pasta as well as a great selection of Croatian wines- open until midnight so great for a casual late night snack.
- Proto- for fine dining, reservations needed with the reputation of some of the best food in the city.
- Orsan- located near the yacht club in Lapad, fantastic ocean views and is known for its seafood and reasonable prices.
- The Family Farm Household Novakovic- its setting is in a charming rural ancient village. Located im a town near Dubrovnik presenting the life in the countryside in the past and present. Most of the products on the table are grown on their own soil and they strongly recommend their home made cheese and smoked ham, dry figs, wine, olive oil, a special herb brandy called travarica and other liqueurs. It is possible to walk along the garden and see the agricultural goods and a small folk museum which consists of three small arches representing a part of history of Konavle region and a tavern with a wine cellar, and a selling room with exhibited handmade souvenirs.
- For top quality dining visit restaurant “360 by Jeffrey Vella” at St Dominika street with exclusive location, impressive design and innovative food or “Atlas Club Nautika” outside the Pile Gate, which are considered the best for seafood restaurants in town.
- Good food at moderate prices can be found at “Lokanda Peškarija” (sea dishes) in Old port; “Kamenica” (shellfish) near Cathedral; “Dubrovački Kantun” (local fresh cuisine) at Boškovićeva street, restaurant “Klarisa” (local fresh cuisine) near Onofrio’s big fountain, Bosnian cuisine in restaurant “Taj Mahal” (meat & vegetarian dishes) at Gučetića street or “Wanda” (Mediterranean cuisine) at Prijeko street.
Getting out and about off-shore
Croatian towns are small; the best way to get away from all the tourists is rent a bike or car for the day and explores the islands.
- It is always fun to rent a scooter and discover the islands on our own randomly, be brave and knock on a local door that has a sign for homemade wine for sale, a great way to meet locals.
- In Dubrovnik, take a snack and a drink and ride the cable car to the top of SRD Mountain and watch the sunset.
- In Korcula, visit a local sweet shop called Cukarin for some sweet delights. Or if you are looking for a nice sunbathing beach there are numerous beaches in and around Korčula like popular sandy beach in nearby village Lumbarda “Vela Pržina” and pebble beach near Pupnat.
- In Hvar check out the beaches on the south side of the island.
- In Split enjoy a coffee or cocktail on “The Riva”, a promenade that is known as the city’s living room, great for people watching
- In Mljet- cycle around all the salt lakes, it is a very easy flat ride and bike hire is reasonable. Cool off with a dip in one of the many salt lakes and test out the fresh fish in a local restaurant.
- Also in Split visit the Diocletian Palace Cellars, you can do a walking tour with a guide or just walk the rooms yourself. It often holds artistic exhibitions of local and international artists.
- In Brac go to Bol and visit the Golden Horn beach for fun seaside activities and try some local wines at an old winery with a modern twist- Stina Winery.
- Also in Brac, is the famous Zlatni rat beach situated outside of the town of Bol. The beach is a favourite destination of surfers and all water sports lovers. In the smaller places on the island such as Milna, Supetar or Bobovišće one can easily find peace and quiet in the authentic stone architecture. Visitors who wish to experience the atmosphere of a fisherman village are recommended to visit Positra, a small place near the bay of Lovrečina, an ideal spot for a fish picnic. Brač is famous for high quality stone, which was used for many cultural monuments in Croatia and abroad.
For more information visit www.cruise-croatia.com.au